When I woke up, Erik was gone. There was a flower and a card on the pillow, though.
I had to go in to the council this morning. I will be back before the sun sets.
All my love,
I smiled and sniffed the flower. I got up and changed into one of my blue dresses then brushed my hair. When I went out, Kendra's door was cracked open. I could hear her playing with the kitten and knocked.
"Come in," she said and I smiled at her.
"Hello," I said softly.
"May I join you?"
Kendra nodded and I sat on the bed with her. I put my legs underneath me and scratched the kitten under the chin. I laughed as it flopped on its back and I tickled its belly. It batted at my hand and Kendra giggled.
I sighed. "Kendra, I have some questions for you," I said and she looked away. "You said you are 12?"
"Yes," she said. "After my mama died, my papa raised me. He told me that a vampire killed my mama and that, one day, he would find him and make him sorry. Two months ago, he sold me to a lady."
I frowned. "What kind of lady?"
"She said she was going to help give me a future," she said. "She said that she had been waiting for me for a long time. My papa had told her I'm real pretty so she paid extra for me." She looked sad. "She made me go into a room with a man."
"Oh, Kendra," I sighed, holding her hand.
"I escaped," she whispered. "He wanted... wanted me to undress him but had to use the bathroom first. There was a window and I crawled out of it. They couldn't find me for a while. I was stealing bread when they did. They were going to take me back but that mean man saw us and said he had a better idea."
"Which is how you wound up in that cell with me?"
She nodded and Cami pawed at her so she started playing with her again.
"Where is your father now?"
"I don't know. He just dropped me off and left. He didn't even say goodbye...."
"I am very sorry," I said and leaned over to hug her. "You may stay with us if you would like."
"Really?" she asked and I nodded, smiling a little. "I'd really, really like that!" Then she frowned. "Aren't you the duke's daughter?"
I sighed. "Yes," I whispered. "You see, Erik found me like he found your mother. Erik was looking for his mate, his wife. He thought your mother was her. She wasn't. He feels very guilty for killing her. When he found me, he took me away and we lived together for a while before we had to move. We moved several times."
I ran a hand through my hair.
"It took a long time but I finally convinced him to take me to London to see my father one last time. I wanted to give him some kind of token that told him I was still alive and okay." I tickled the kitten some more, trying not to cry. "Erik and I got into an argument. When a vampire gets angry, their fangs grow to their chin. I had stormed off and bumped into my father. I did not realize my fangs were still showing. He assumed I was the one who killed the women 10 years ago so he had me locked up."
"But you're his daughter!" she said. "Why would he do such an awful thing!?"
"I do not know, Kendra. I wonder if it was because he was scared. Erik and his brother found me, though."
Neither of us said anything for a while. Kendra was a cute little girl with long black hair and brown eyes. Like many Londoners, she was pale. There were a few bruises from our escape - and probably from those who her father had sold her to - on her arms but she was otherwise okay.
"How are your feet?" I asked and she looked at them.
"They don't hurt anymore," she said.
"Come on," I said and held out my hand. Cami had fallen asleep. "I want to take you to get some new dresses."
She turned pink as she accepted my hand.
"You don't have to," she muttered. "You saved my life."
I smiled at her and pulled her along. "Tell me, have you reached womanhood yet?"
"No," she said, looking uncomfortable.
I put a scarf around my neck to hide the scars from the silver chain. My dress had sleeves long enough to hide my arm but, as I stepped into the humid air, I knew I would have to find something else.
"I will help you through the first one," I promised. "It can be uncomfortable and hurt a little."
She just nodded and we went into the clothing store. I smiled at the shop owner and she returned it but I knew it was only because I was Erik's wife. After everything that happened, I started to wonder if maybe it was time to open myself up to the villagers some more. The best place to start would be with my fellow council women.
I found several cute dresses that Kendra kept nodding at and I narrowed my eyes at her.
"Are you saying yes to each one just to get me to be silent?"
She giggled. "No. I really do like them."
I smiled. "Well, we have ten for you. I think that will be enough for now. Now some decent slippers."
Those were harder to decide on. I wanted to get her at least two pairs: soft soled ones until her feet stopped scabbing, and firm ones for every day wear. Once she found two pairs she liked, we stopped to get some supplies for when she would reach her first monthly.
I could tell it would be soon. Her blood was starting to smell different and I reminded myself to let Erik know. I wondered what he would do when she started. I only had one monthly after I turned and he was absolutely repulsed. He couldn't even look at me until the week was over. At that time, it didn't matter to me for I loathed him.
Kendra was excited about her dresses and laid them out on her bed. Erik was home when we returned and she dragged him into the room to show him. I smiled. He was obviously trying to show he was interested in them but it was very apparent to both of us that he didn't know the last thing about fashion.
I excused myself and got out of my dress so I was in just my slip. I took the scarf off and stood in front of my mirror, sighing. The marks were an angry red and hadn't healed up in the slightest, just as we thought.
"I have something that can help," Erik said, holding me from behind.
I leaned into him briefly. "What do you mean?"
He went to the trunk he kept locked and I hesitated.
"Erik, what is in there?"
He looked at me for a while and beckoned me over. He lifted the lid and I gasped, stepping back. What was making my skin crawl was a silver sword. The handle was wrapped in a leather strap. On the blade, Moreau, was etched in a curving script.
"Why do you have that?" I asked.
"It is a family heirloom," he explained, digging two things out from the very bottom. He shut and locked the trunk securely. "My father gave it to me when I turned 20 in preparation for an emergency."
He sighed. "In case we got tired of this life," he whispered. "Ilya was given the silver cross."
"That is very grim," I said and he smiled sadly.
"These are what I want to give you," he said, dragging me back to the vanity. "They belonged to my mother. At first they were to be wedding gifts but, well, that did not quite work the way I thought it would."
He got behind me and put a red choker around my neck. It had black beads hanging from it and hid the scar completely.
"It is beautiful," I said, touching it.
He held up two sleeves. "The ring goes on your middle finger like this," he said and showed me. "They go all the way up to your elbow."
"They are gorgeous!"
"And that is not even the best part," he said. "Watch." He put his fingers on the left sleeve. "Red," he said in a clear voice and I gasped as the black sleeves turned red. "Blue."
They turned blue and I laughed.
"That is amazing. What kind of magic is it?"
He shook his head, taking them off of me again. "I do not know."
"What happened to your mother?" I asked as we got into bed for the night.
Erik opened his arms and I slid into them hesitantly, still a little frightened of him. He picked up on my fear and sighed. He guided my face to his and kissed me gently.
"She did not survive the turning," he answered, brushing hair from my face.
I frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Sometimes, if a person is too weak, they will die," he said.
"But you had the plague! Surely you were too weak!"
He shook his head and tapped my forehead. "Weak willed," he clarified.
"I am sorry about your parents," I whispered and he held me close.
"Thank you," he whispered back. "But now I have you."