A week later, Erik came home with good news. He had been successful in his attempt at a seat on the council and had me dress for our evening walk. That was another thing he insisted we do but refused to tell me why. It was getting exhausting and very frustrating. After all he did to me, surely I deserved an answer or two.
The weather was getting cooler; we had reached late summer. I put on my cloak and put on my black boots. After braiding my hair, I went downstairs. Erik was waiting, a broad grin on his face.
"It should be a lovely evening," he said as I automatically took his arm. "After all, it is a full moon."
"Yes, I know," I said as we strolled down the street.
I frowned down at the ground. Every month on the full moon, I felt more invigorated. I felt like I had more power; as if I had fed from several humans at once. While giving me strength, it frightened me.
"Let me guess, we are feeding tonight," I said.
He glared at me. "Hush," he hissed. There were people nearby. "You will give us away."
"Hypocrite," I grumbled but he chose to ignore me.
Another couple taking a late stroll waved at us and we returned it. Everyone embraced Erik without a problem. As for me, the women avoided me. It didn't bother me at all. I never had many friends. I didn't need them. Now that Erik had managed a seat, though, I would have to open myself up more. He had taught me much over the years about being charismatic and friendly to others.
"As much as I hate to do it," he said when we got further away from people, "I have decided to compromise."
I looked at him but he didn't explain himself. We walked into the forest and I stopped abruptly. Erik smiled and reached over, taking my hair out of its braid. I sensed the deer before I saw it. It was grazing about 50 feet away and I slipped silently through the trees. I hesitated before pouncing on the poor creature. It struggled but didn't even have a chance to take a breath before I dug my teeth into its neck.
My eyes rolled into the back of my head as the warm liquid poured into my mouth and down my throat. I groaned as I drank until it was gone. I stood up shakily. Erik walked over and put his hands on my hips. He licked sensually at the blood on my chin and lips and my body shivered. He kissed me and my vampiric urges took over and I kissed him back. He pushed me against a tree, hitching up my skirts.
I came back to myself and pushed him off of me, panting. He staggered and I ran back home, panicking. When I got to our bedroom, I slammed the door shut and leaned against it, trying to calm my breathing. I stumbled to the vanity and sat down heavily, hiding my face in my hands. I shook in fear, exhilaration, and anxiety.
That was the first time my body had reacted in such a way to Erik's touch. I knew that, eventually, I would have to give in but I didn't want to. I hated to admit it to myself but Erik was handsome. He was kind to others, despite his abrasive nature. He was even kind to me. He spoke the truth: I had everything a woman could ever want.
Except my freedom.
"You must be careful," Erik said and I jumped a little. I hadn't known he was here. He picked some leaves and twigs out of my hair. "If you do not feed regularly, your vampire side will take over and do it for you."
"Why must we do this?" I sobbed, still covering my face.
He sighed and started to brush my hair for me.
"It is the only way to survive, Camille," he whispered.
"But why do we have to kill?" I asked, finally looking up.
His eyes were somber. "Because our victims can tell others."
"Why not modify their memories?"
"It is time consuming."
I shook my head. "All we have is time, Erik," I said. "I cannot stand it."
"Are you really so unhappy with me?"
I looked at his reflection, shocked. His tone suggested he was hurt. He still brushed my hair, not looking at me. He had always been good at hiding his emotions from me so for him to reveal them was odd.
"You did not give me a choice, Erik," I whispered. "Can you not understand how upsetting it is?"
"No," he said honestly. "I was not given a choice, do you not remember?"
I wiped my tears away. "That was different. You were dying."
I stood up and changed into my nightgown, making sure he didn't see my body.
"True," he agreed, turning when I was done. "But you also know my master abandoned me."
Anger flared up in me and I glared at him again.
"At least he answered your questions!" I shouted and his jaw clenched. "You keep secrets from me! What else do you expect!?"
"Your obedience!" he shouted back. "And that means making sure you feed so you do not die! We are going to the council tomorrow; as my wife you are also a council member now."
"I am not your wife," I hissed.
"To them you are!" he yelled, pointing at the curtains. "And you will keep it up if you wish to avoid punishment!"
I rolled my eyes. "What more can you do to me?" I spat. "You stole my life!"
He got up in my face. "I saved your life! I gave you eternity, Camille! You have been nothing but ungrateful!"
"This is not living!" I argued. "This is murder, death, and I hate it! I hate it and I hate you!"
He slapped me and I gasped, stumbling back into the wardrobe. Copper filled my mouth from my split lip and he pushed his lips onto mine. He forced my mouth open and drank my blood until it stopped bleeding. I finally managed to push him off of me, crying.
His eyes showed a flicker of regret.
"Do not make me do that again," he snapped. "Now get in bed."
"No," I snapped back.
"I have lost my patience, Camille!" he roared and grabbed my arm roughly.
Fear shot through me as he dragged me to the bed. He pushed me and I stumbled into it, falling face first onto the bed. I scrambled to the corner of the bed. He got in bed next to me but didn't touch me. He turned to me and pointed.
"You will give yourself to me," he growled. "And you will do it willingly or it will not work."
"What do you mean?" I whispered but, as usual, he didn't answer. "I hate you," I sobbed.
The next morning, I went into the washroom to prepare for this stupid meeting. Erik stood beside me as I rinsed out my mouth. Neither of us spoke to each other. Just like after each major argument, we reached a silent agreement to not mention it.
When I sat down to do my makeup, though, I turned to him.
"You have bruised me," I snapped.
He looked at my face and sighed.
"I truly do regret it," he whispered and bit into his wrist. "Feed. It is the only thing that will cure it."
"Explain," I ordered.
"Only after you drink," he snapped.
I sighed and did as he said. I fed for a few seconds then sat back down. I turned to the mirror and watched as the bruise disappeared. I picked up my foundation and he began to pace behind me.
"I am your master," he explained. "I injured you and it is only my blood that will heal you."
"Oh," I said. "Is it like that with each master and charge?"
"It is like that with any vampire that injures another. Do not paint your lips," he said suddenly. "You are too beautiful."
I sighed again and he brushed my hair.
"We cannot keep arguing like this, Camille," he said.
"You need to control your temper, Erik," I whispered then sighed. "And I need to control my tongue."
He looked shocked at my apology but I just stood up and straightened my dress.
"Are you ready?" I asked, meeting his eyes.
They flicked between mine before nodding once.
"Yes," he said and offered his arm.