I kept sobbing until Erik put his arms around me. Blood was running down my arms but I didn't care. Erik held me but didn't try to soothe me. For some reason, that is what calmed me down.
"You desire love," he murmured. "I have given you the only love I know, Camille. I do not know how else to love you and I do not know how to learn."
"You can start by listening to me," I whispered.
He sighed. "Tell me, Camille. What is one thing I can do that will make you happy?"
I shut my eyes. "Let me see my father."
"You know that is impossible, Camille," he said immediately. "It is too dangerous."
I looked at him. "If-If you let me see my father, I will lay with you."
He stared at me for a long time.
"This is dangerous," he whispered. "This is very dangerous."
I shut my eyes again. "Please, Erik. I will not speak to him. I just need to see him. And I need him to know that I am still alive."
"Is a letter not enough?"
"No," I whispered. "Please," I begged.
He sighed heavily and put his head on mine.
"A brief visit to London could not be too bad, I suppose," he murmured and I broke into grateful sobs.
Erik went insane with planning. I knew he was worried we would be recognized but it's been 10 years. My father would expect me to look older.
I was very touched Erik was going through all of this trouble. Though I told myself it was because he wanted to lay with me when we returned, I knew inside he was also doing it because he loves me. I couldn't understand how he didn't know any other way to love.
Perhaps you should show him.
I sighed and finished packing eight dresses. It was a three day trip to London and back. Erik agreed to give me two days to see my father from a distance and give him some indication that I was still alive. I took the picture of us and kissed it with some lipstick on my mouth. Erik immediately made me wipe it off.
"You are too beautiful," he repeated when I asked him why he was so against me wearing any.
I didn't argue. I knew his stress level was high and he was doing something very kind for me.
We didn't take our carriage. His horse would carry our luggage and blood for us to drink on our journey. He chose the fastest horses in the village and we planned to rest only when the horses needed to. Even then I knew he would push it.
The first day, Erik hardly said a word. He kept his eyes forward, frowning and rubbing his chin so much it was red when we stopped for the first time to water the horses.
"Erik," I sighed and he looked at me briefly. I urged my horse to walk beside his. "I know you are worried, but everything will be fine."
"You do not know that, Camille," he said stiffly.
"And you do not know it will go awry," I pointed out. "Please; just calm down. Tell me about your master."
His lip curled. "His name was Benjamin," he said. "As I told you, I was dying of the plague when he found me in an alley. He offered me eternal life. Before I could give him my answer, though, he bit me. After I turned, he explained everything to me. It took about two years. Then he left me."
"You have not heard from him since?" I asked.
"No. That vampire, Roman? He was turned by my master, as well."
"Which is why he was calling you his brother?"
"Precisely," he said. "The last I spoke with Benjamin, he had turned 14 men."
"Only men? No women?"
"No. He refused to turn women. He believes they are not worthy of the dark gift. He would just feed from them and let them die."
"Oh," I whispered.
He just nodded. I thought back to what he said earlier about killing women he thought were the one made for him.
"I did not kill them on purpose." I looked at him and he smiled a little. "I can see you are thinking about them."
"You can read my mind?"
"No. I can feel it from you. I did not kill the women on purpose. I got caught up in their blood."
"Why did you not kill me?"
"Technically, I did," he said. "Your blood tasted better than theirs but I knew you were special somehow so I had you feed. That was when I knew."
I nodded thoughtfully. "I see."
We stopped talking again. It started to rain so I lifted the hood on my cloak. I was nervous about this trip to London. Even though I was glad my father would finally know I was okay, I worried about what would happen if I was caught. Would they try to take me back? Would I go back? I really wanted to but I knew my father would not be open to Erik. For some reason, that made me want to say no if he asked me to stay.
I sighed, getting bored, and shut my eyes.
I woke up several hours later. I was on Erik's horse and in his arms.
"You almost fell off," he said when he realized I was awake. "Would you like to get back on your horse?"
I thought. "No," I whispered, blushing.
He didn't say anything so I looked around. I could tell we were getting closer to London and frowned. We hadn't stopped....
"Why have we not stopped at all?" I asked when I realized how close we really were.
"I want to get there quickly," he said. "That way you can see your father and we can go home."
"And you can lay with me," I muttered, now wishing I was on my own horse.
"No," he said. "We are safe at home, not in London."
I looked at my hands but didn't respond. I didn't know what I'd say even if I tried.
"I am nervous," I admitted and his arms tightened on me.
"What if he is dead?" I whispered.
"We would have heard by now," he reasoned. "You know a lot of London news reaches our little home. News like that would have spread far and fast."
"I want to talk to him," I said.
"I am sorry, Camille, but I cannot let you do that."
"I know," I sighed. "I am just saying I wish to."
"What is your token?" he asked.
"The painting," I answered. "The one of him and I."
"A good choice," he said. "Now, the first day will be finding a way for you to see him in person. We will ask around to find out about his health, if you're concerned about it. The second day will be finding the best way to get your token to him."
"We could mail it," I suggested, leaning into him. "An anonymous drop off."
"That may work," he agreed.
I gasped. London was just a mile away and I could see the towering buildings it had been 10 years and tears fell down my cheeks. Erik didn't even need to see; he wiped my tears away with his thumb.
"Here we go," we said in unison.