DecisionMature

Kendra didn't go down for dinner and I paced my room nervously. I desperately wanted to talk with her but Erik encouraged me to give her time. It would seem that, in this situation, he knew more about Kendra's current emotions and thoughts than I did.

Erik and I were getting ready for bed when someone knocked quietly on the door. I could smell Kendra and looked fearfully at him. He opened the door and stepped to the side. Kendra came in, hugging herself. I sat her down by the fire.

"I-I thought about it," she whispered, "and I want to stay with you."

I looked at Erik in shock.

"Are you sure?" I asked, taking her hands.

"Yes," she said, not looking at either of us. "If I go back with him, he'll just sell me again. Or he'll put me in an orphanage. He doesn't love me, Camille."

I sighed and opened my arms. She sobbed into my chest and I shut my eyes tightly. I heard Erik moving around but I wasn't sure what he was doing. I was still fighting inside with what was best for Kendra. She was only twelve years old. Had she really weighed everything?

"If you stay with us, you will have to keep secrets," I told her. "You cannot tell anyone about us. If something were to happen and they become suspicious, we will have to leave."

"I don't care," she said. She gripped me tightly. "I want to stay with you and Erik."

I looked at him. He was sitting on the bed, his head in his hands.

"Okay," I said and kissed her forehead. "You are probably tired. Do you want me to stay with you?"

"Please," she said and I held her hand, taking her to her room.

When she was asleep, I went back to ours. Erik hadn't moved an inch. I was about to sit beside him, but he put his arms around me and pulled me in front of him. He put his forehead on my stomach and I ran my hand through his hair, not sure what to say.

He shook a little and I waited until he spoke first.

"She wants to stay," he said as if he couldn't believe it. "She wants to stay with us, Camille."

"Yes, she does," I whispered, leaning down to kiss the top of his head. "What is wrong, Erik?"

"No one has wanted to stay with me before," he muttered and I shut my eyes, my heart aching.

"Oh, Erik," I sighed and sat down on his lap.

He put his head on my chest and I wrapped my arms around him. I closed my eyes and rested my head against his. I tried to imagine how he was feeling. His master turned him then left him. His mother and father died, in a sense leaving him. His brother cannot be around him for very long, essentially having to leave him over and over again. I spent ten years trying to leave him.

I kissed his head a few times and he took a couple deep breaths.

"I am not used to emotions," he said, his voice thick with them.

"I know," I said.

"What do we do now?" he asked.

"Sleep," I said. "Gertrude said the men have a meeting in the morning."

He sighed and let me stand up. We got under the covers.

"Yes, we do. Are you going to stay here?"

"Yes. I want to spend some time with Kendra. I want to make sure she knows everything she is feeling is okay."

He nodded, staring up at the ceiling. I moved over and put my arms around him. He put an arm around my shoulders and I kissed his neck.

"Try to sleep, Erik," I whispered.

"I will."

-

I slept but I was certain Erik hadn't. He woke me briefly to say goodbye then let me sleep again. I hadn't slept so much before. It was concerning both of us but we had a bigger problem and it was prowling the streets.

During the day, Kendra and I spent the majority of the time playing with Cami. Occasionally, she would cry and tell me how much she wished things were different. Then she asked me something that made me nearly drop the poor kitten.

"When are you going to turn me into a vampire?" she asked and I stared at her.

"We will discuss that later," I said finally. "Now, tell me again how to clean Cami."

I was resting when Kendra barged into the room, sobbing. I sat up, rubbing my eyes.

"Kendra," I said. "Kendra, what is it?"

"It's him!" she sobbed. "He just pushed papa!"

I frowned. Papa? Who was she talking about? I gasped and stood up, wrapping my cloak around my dress.

"Stay here," I ordered. "Do not leave the house."

She just nodded as I ran into the rain. Erik was trying to stand up from the ruined fruit car and I cried out.

"Erik!" I gasped, helping him to his feet. He didn't need my help, of course, but appearances were everything; especially right now. "Are you all right?"

"I am fine," he said through clenched teeth. He glared over my shoulder. "And why, pray tell, did you push me?"

"You were being rude," Charles said haughtily as a crowd gathered. "I was trying to question you and you were ignoring me."

"I was trying to get a gift home to my wife, you fool!" Erik shouted, holding up a bag and Charles looked dumbfounded.

"I- Well- You know I'm here for investigations," he said. "You should have been prepared.

Erik was about to retort but I stopped him.

"Dear," I whispered, staring pointedly at his mouth where his fangs were starting to grow.

"I am sorry about your fruit," he said to the vendor. "I will pay for the damages."

I glared. "No. I think Charles should be the one."

Charles narrowed his eyes at me. "Your eyes. Why do they flash red?"

"What are you talking about?" I snapped.

"Your eyes flashed red," he said, walking closer. "Vampires' eyes flash red when they're mad."

I rolled my eyes and pretended to support Erik.

"Do not make a fool out of yourself, dear man," I said. "You are obsessed; if you keep it up, you will see vampires everywhere. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to get my poor husband home to clean up."

Charles watched us walk back and Johanna opened the door for us. The minute it shut, Erik hissed.

"That bastard," he grumbled, picking melon rind off of his cloak. He sighed. "How did you know?"

"Kendra saw," I said.

"I got these for the two of you," he said. "It was supposed to be a surprise but, thanks to our friend...."

I stood on my toes and kissed his cheek. "Thank you. Erik, she called you-"

Kendra ran down the stairs. She threw her arms around him and he stared at her, obviously not sure what to do.

"Are you okay?" she asked, looking at him with wide eyes.

"Yes, I am fine," he said with a small smile. He pointed to the bag in my hand. "There is a gift in there for you. I need to go wash up."

I watched him go and sighed. Kendra and I stood in front of the fire so I could dry a bit and I opened the bag. There was a box with her name on it and I gave it to her. I opened mine and smiled. It was a crystal rose with glass petals painted red. Whoever made it had sprayed them with a perfume that smelled lovely.

"Oh wow," Kendra breathed. "Look at this."

I put an arm around her and squeezed her. He had gotten her a diamond necklace and earring set. I kissed her forehead.

"I am going to make sure he is okay," I said.

"Can I come?" she asked and I nodded, not sure why. I made sure he was decent before letting her in. She hung her head and offered him the jewelry back. "I'm sorry."

He frowned, pausing as he dried his hair. "What in the world?"

"I don't deserve this," she said. "Not after what he did."

Erik sighed and pushed the box back to her.

"It is a gift for you, Kendra," he said. "And do not worry about Charles. You are not in charge of his cations. I wish you to keep those," he added when she looked doubtful.

"Are you sure?" she asked and he nodded, managing a smile.

I smiled at her when she looked at me then she nodded, too. She left and I shut the door after her, shaking my head.

"Are you really okay?" I asked him.

"Of course," he said. "I am more upset than anything else."

"So he was following you around?" I asked.

"Yes," he said, draping the towel in front of the fire. "I was walking out of the jewel maker's and he saw me. He wanted to talk to me but I was busy. When I asked him to come later, he pushed me."

I shook my head. "I just want him to leave. Him being here makes me uncomfortable."

"You and me both," he said and put his arms around me. He kissed me. "Did she not like my gift?"

"She loves it."

"Then why did she try to give it back?"

I sighed. "She feels responsible for her father's actions." I shook my head again. "Do not take offense, Erik."

He just nodded and I hugged him.

The End

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