“I thought you didn’t eat,” she said, raising an eyebrow as she picked up one of the oysters wrapped in bacon.
“Doesn’t mean I don’t have favourite dishes. When I was younger, Daniel and I went around all the African tribes, trying their food because we lost a bet with Isabella.”
“What was the bet?” Beth laughed.
“Something about the month that Prince Albert would die, I think?”
“Why did she send you around Africa?”
“She thought it would be funny to scare the tribes’ people by showing them the creatures of their tales.”
“Somehow that sounds like her.”
“Typical Ibby,” he mumbled, smiling.
He reached for one of the oysters. Beth decided to try the chicken. She ate it, chewing slowly. It tasted vaguely of whisky, as well as the slightest taste of sugar, garlic and ginger.
“These are really nice,” Beth commented, reaching for another one.
“Glad you think so. So, how’s school going?”
“Good, I guess. I’ve got my exams coming up in the next few months. There isn’t really much point in doing them.”
“Well, if I’m spending the rest of my life with you, you can do all the clever things and I’ll just be, like, a housewife or something.”
Robert laughed and grinned. “I think you’d get quite bored with that kind of existence,” he said.
“Probably. I’m sure you’d find some way of making it interesting though.”
“Now, that I can guarantee. There’s always the possibility of children. I heard that vampire children are quite a handful.”
“Can’t be more of a handful than you,” Beth said cheekily, smiling.
“Oh, Beth, I’m hurt,” he said, feigning shock and upset.
She laughed, shaking her head as she ate a bit more. She stopped suddenly, a thought coming to her.
“Isabella told me once, in a letter, that you saved her from her mother, and took on the consequences. What does that mean?” Beth asked quietly.
Robert thought for a minute, as if he were wondering how to phrase something. “Her mother was a sin-eater. The reason she was running a brothel and an assassin organisation was to feed on the sins. It was a farm, essentially, and Isabella was the prize meat. I accidentally found out the plans that she had for Ibby, and I killed her in her sleep. But that meant... I gained her curse. Thing is, I feed on my own sins, and that’s enough to sustain me. My evils are enough to keep me going.”
Beth stared at him in shock before taking his hands and saying, “And?”
He relaxed and smiled.
“You’re still the same to me. My Robert, mine. My handful,” she whispered.
He laughed quietly and nodded, just as the main course was coming in. There was a plate of trout, a plate with shrimp with rice lying on a sliced pineapple, a platter of meatballs in something that smelt remotely of red wine and, finally, what she recognised to be pork paprika. She looked up at Robert and rolled her eyes as all the plates were set down. All he did was smile.