I got back onto my horse after Erik and I fed from the blood we had packed. He gripped his reins so tightly his knuckles were white. Right on the outskirts, we stopped and tied the horses to the trees. Erik didn't want to stay in an inn. After the first day was over, we would go back to the horses.
We walked in and he held my hand. I stepped closer to him, dread starting to settle in my stomach and I frowned. Why did I feel dread? I was about to see my father again! I wouldn't be able to speak with him, true, but at least I'd get to see his face.
We passed by a newspaper and I did a double take.
"Erik," I gasped and he looked at it, too.
BOUNTY RAISED TO 5000£ FOR THE RETURN OF DUKE ABBOTT’S DAUGHTER
"Wow," I breathed. "He is still looking after all these years...."
Erik didn't answer but I had a feeling it was because he didn't know what to say. I kept my hood up. Even though it had been 10 years, I was worried someone would recognize me and want to know why I hadn't aged. Erik and I had played off our constant young appearance successfully but I was still nervous about it.
We turned down the street where I used to live and I stopped walking, feeling like the air had been knocked out of me.
The manor looked the same. Even the pillars shone. It was obvious my father was keeping appearances in case anyone questioned his state of mind. That was always something he would make sure no one doubted: His sanity. I wondered what he would say if he was told his daughter had been turned into a vampire.
"Do you know if he would leave the house for any reason?" Erik asked.
We lingered by a fruit stall. I thought for a while then my eyes landed on another newspaper. I nudge him and pointed.
DUKE ABBOTT'S 60TH BIRTHDAY PARTY
We read the article. There would be a small celebration this evening in the square outside of the manor.
"What shall we do until then?" Erik asked.
"I do not know."
He looked around and took my hand, leading me to a more secluded area of the town. I knew he was very nervous and didn't fight him on it. We strolled down the streets, each consumed in our own thoughts. I had forgotten about my father's birthday. I couldn't believe he was turning 60 already. I wondered if he had ever gotten my pocket watch.
"What are you thinking about?" I asked Erik.
He shrugged. "Nothing in particular."
I sighed. "I have been with your for ten years, Erik. I know when you are lying to me."
He sighed, too. "I am just nervous, you know this."
"Is there anything I can do to ease your mind?" I asked, taking both of us by surprise.
Could it be that I was starting to care for Erik?
He stopped walking and looked at me, probably wondering the same thing. I waited. We had already established I wasn't going to lay with him until we returned home. I had a feeling that would be his request, though.
Instead, he took my chin gently and pulled me close for a kiss. It wasn't like this others, though. This one was more tender and I closed my eyes, kissing him back for the first time. He wrapped his arms around me under my cloak and sighed. He licked my lower lip and I accepted his request. He gripped me tighter. My tongue ran over his teeth and both of us shivered in pleasure. I gripped the back of his neck as he grazed my teeth, too.
I moaned and deepened the kiss. We were in an alley and he pressed me against one of the walls. He bit gently on my tongue and I bit on his, our blood mixing in our mouths. It was the closest we had come to marking each other. I had never tasted something so delicious and sweet in my life.
His hands wandered down to my hips and I felt a strange build up in my stomach. My body moved closer to his and he groaned into my mouth.
He broke away first and put his head on my shoulder. I shut my eyes, holding onto him. He was shaking a little as he held me. His grip was tight. He moved my hood so he could kiss above where he had bitten me so many years ago.
"One day," he breathed, "you will see."
"See what?" I whispered, my eyes shut and my heart slowing as his lips lingered on my neck.
"The extent of my love for you."
The sun set and we held hands as we went to the square. Each step made me shake more. Soon we were right outside the house, mingled among everyone else. We kept our hoods up and I swept my eyes over the crowd. I didn't see my father yet.
The house door opened and I nearly fainted, leaning against Erik for support. There he was.
He looked different. His once red hair was now grey and he had more wrinkles. Though he smiled, he looked incredibly sad. My disappearance obviously still weighed heavily on his mind. If only he knew how close I was to him right now. I held onto Erik's hand tighter to keep myself from running to my father.
"Thank you all for coming to my birthday celebration!" my father said and I closed my eyes. His voice was the same and I remembered it singing me softly to sleep. "It is touching to see you gathered here just for me!" Then he sighed. "Another year has passed since the disappearance of my dear daughter, Camille. Please. If you know anything, please tell me. I miss her with everything in me."
"For now, please enjoy the cake and celebration!"
I turned and put my head in Erik's shoulder. He put his arm around me and I continued to cry. Though neither of us realized it, his hood had fallen, prompting someone's attention.
"We should head back," Erik said and I sighed.
"I know," I murmured, my eyes on my father, drinking in his appearance. "I just wish I could tell him the truth. Maybe it would bring him some peace."
"Knowing you are alive will be enough, I think."
"Excuse me?" someone said and we turned. A seedy man stood in front of us. "Are you Erik Moreau?"
"Who wants to know?" he demanded.
The man pointed and we followed his finger. A young man leaned against a building a few doors down. To my surprise, Erik smiled and laughed.
"Come along, Camille," he said. "There is someone you have to meet."
I frowned but followed him. When we got to the young man, I knew right away he was a vampire. His eyes were pitch black and focused on Erik, smiling as well. They embraced, shocking me even more.
"Camille, this is my true brother, Ilya Moreau."
Ilya smiled and bowed to me. "It is a pleasure to meet you, Miss Abbott."
I blinked. "How did you-?"
"Erik has told me much about you," he said and I looked at Erik.
"So this is who you have been writing to!" I said and Erik smiled sheepishly.
"I was going to," he admitted. "But...."
"I was getting concerned," Ilya said. "You have not written in nearly a month."
"That is probably my fault," I muttered.
"The blame is not just yours," Erik said quietly. "So, Ilya, how is our father?"
I frowned. "Your father is a vampire?" I asked and Erik looked guilty.
Ilya glared at him. "Erik," he snapped. "You said you told her."
"It is complicated, Ilya," he said and looked at me. "My father is a vampire, yes. He was going to turn me before Benjamin got to me."
I stepped away from him. "You lied to me!"
"No," he said quickly. "No, I really did not have a say in the matter."
I stomped my foot. "You said you would not lie to me anymore, Erik!"
"Camille," He said, reaching out for me, but I stepped back. "Listen, I know how it seems right now. I promise I will explain."
I just shook my head and stormed off.
I ignored him and pushed through the group of people to get as far from him as I could get for now. I couldn't believe he'd lie to me! He had told me that his father was dead. He told me that his father was a human. He lied to me once again. I was so tired of him lying to me!
I wasn't watching where I was going and bumped right into someone.
"Oh, pardon me!"
I looked up and both of our eyes widened. My father stood before me. When I had fallen, so had my hood.
Time seemed to stand still. His eyes took in my features. I looked around. I had stormed right to the back of our estate without realizing it.
"Camille," he breathed. I looked back at him. His look of shock was replaced with... anger? "Camille," he repeated somewhat angrily.
"F-Father," I gasped, scrambling to my feet.
"Guards!" he shouted.
"Father, what are you-?"
I felt my fangs on my chin and gasped, my hands jumping to my mouth. They were still extended from my anger with Erik.
"Ten years ago, my daughter disappeared," my father said slowly as two guards gripped my arms. "Ten years ago, a vicious murderer was ripping out the throats of young women."
"No, it was not me!" I gasped, trying to push the guards off of me. "Father, I swear it was not me!"
"I cannot believe this," he said. "That is why you disappeared. We were about to catch you."
"No, Father," I said, starting to sob. "No, just hear me out, please. There was another. He made me this way. Please."
"The dungeons," he said to the guard and I whimpered.
"Father, no! I am your daughter!"
He stared at me from my hair to my fangs to my dress.
"I do not have a daughter."