New York isn't as glamorous as London but it doesn't hold the nightmares. I live here with my mama, papa, and little brother. But something is changing in me and it has my papa and I on edge.
*Sequel to Moonlight Shadow*
The sun woke me up but I stayed in bed. I yawned and giggled as my cat, Cami, batted my nose. I tickled her chin and glanced out the window. I could see the ships pulling into the New York harbor and sighed when I heard the footsteps.
THUD THUD THUD
"Kendra!" my little brother groaned. "I know you're awake! Come on! I'm hungry!"
I huffed. "Oh, all right. Off with you; I'll be down in a couple minutes."
I heard him mutter something as he walked away and I shook my head. I stretched and went to my wardrobe, deciding on a blue dress. When I sat at my vanity, I glared at my reflection. At least Sir Benjamin kept part of his deal, whether he knew it would have or not.
Even though I had received when I was twelve, I kept aging until I turned 18. My parents didn't understand, nor did my Uncle Ilya. I didn't mind. At least I wouldn't look like a little girl for the rest of eternity.
My hair was long and black. Thankfully, it was still wavy. My eyes used to be brown but changed to bright blue when my mama had to turn me into a vampire. Aside from that, I looked like I used to.
I didn't bother with makeup. Instead, I brushed out my hair and put on a pair of black and blue heels. Heeled shoes were popular in New York and, as prominent members, I was expected to be enthusiastic about fashion.
We didn't move to New York right away. Papa wanted to live in Romania and we did for about five years. The vampire clan that had the ruling, though, weren't too excited to see us there. They asked us to leave until they made a decision. The fact that Papa had been part of murdering his master made them nervous. We got a letter four years ago saying we could never live there, only visit. My papa was angry and spent several days ranting about the Romani.
Out of the 16 years since we left London, eleven had been spent here in New York. I liked it better than London, though I did miss Romania about as much as Papa did. It was a beautiful country.
"Kendra!" Colin shouted from downstairs and I rolled my eyes.
I scratched Cami's back then left, walking downstairs and taking my place at the table. Colin immediately started eating his breakfast as a goblet was placed in front of me. My thirst was stronger than normal and I drank it quickly. I wiped my lips and looked at my parents.
My mama was a beautiful young woman. She had long red hair and the same blue eyes. She was pale but told me she always had been. She wore the necklace I made her when I spent my first Christmas with them and the long sleeves Papa had given her. They covered scars from when her papa's lackeys tortured her after he found out she was a vampire. At the moment, she was flipping through a catalogue of dresses.
My papa was very handsome and was who Colin looked like the most. His hair was cut short and black. Just like us, his eyes were bright blue. He had turned my mama and was her master. He was a kind man but had a very short temper. He was reading a newspaper but, when he sensed me looking, he looked up and smiled at me.
Then he saw my empty goblet.
"Kendra," he began and I sighed.
"I was thirsty, Papa," I interrupted.
"I do not care," he said. "Young women do not gulp."
"They don't drink blood, either," I grumbled.
He sighed and shook his head. "You are as stubborn as your mother."
"You say that like it is a bad thing," my mama said, her lips twitching as she tried not to smile. "Your father is right, though, Kendra. You have to be careful."
"Why? It's not like there's anyone in this house that doesn't know what we are."
"That is not the point," my papa said and I sighed, ready for the lecture. "We have to keep convincing the humans that we are dukes and duchesses. We can only do that by adhering to their social standards. Look at your brother, for instance! Proper posture, no mess on his face, no-"
"Erik," my mama snapped but I stood up.
"Of course, perfect Colin," I spat and stormed up to my room, slamming the door so hard the window panes rattled.
I groaned and tossed myself onto my bed. God. I hated it when my papa said all of that.
Colin was a human, something else that no one understood; not even the eldest of the Romani vampire clan. There was more pressure on Colin to be perfect, though. As far as the people of New York knew, the young duke was going to be 17 and take after his papa's footsteps soon. Though New York didn't need dukes and duchesses, the story was we were sent here from London to expand our family. Papa would never step down, though. He enjoyed it and was paranoid about what people would say or do when he retired.
"Come in," I said, my voice muffled in my pillow, when I sensed my mama on the other side of the door.
She closed the door and sat beside me. She stroked my hair.
"Why does he do that?" I grumbled. "I get that Colin takes better to all of this. This isn't me, Mama!"
"I know," she whispered. "But please see things from his point of view."
"Why?" I demanded and walked over to the window. I crossed my arms. "He refuses to do the same for me!"
She laughed a little. "It took many, many arguments for him to do so for me," she told me. "He is stubborn."
I sighed and put my head on my window.
"Mama, I don't get it. I can't even leave the house without Colin!"
"New York is dangerous," she said.
"Not as dangerous as London," I pointed out.
"Come sit back down, please," she said and I obeyed. "He wants to come up and apologize but I told him to wait until I spoke with you first. I know you think he loves Colin more than you-"
I scoffed. "I don't think he does. I know he does."
She shook her head and put an arm around me. "No, sweetheart, he does not. He loves you both equally. He just wants you to be safe and that means putting up with the appearance I have taught you to do."
Mama had been a duchess, too, before she was turned. When we moved here, I went through many classes with her about being a duchess. Papa knew enough from his experiences with other dukes to educate Colin.
"Can't I at least be myself at home?" I sighed.
"Talk to him about it," she said and led me to my vanity. "Let him brush your hair. I will send him now."
I sighed and slumped in my chair, groaning again. I hated having heart to heart conversations with my papa. It was always awkward; ever since my last monthly. I definitely didn't miss having those.
"Come in," I mumbled and he walked in, closing the door as softly as he could.
He picked up my brush and I sat up straight. He didn't say anything right away. I didn't know why he enjoyed brushing my hair but I let him do it. It seemed to calm him down. Mama said he brushed her hair after their arguments, too.
"That did not come out the way I meant it to," he said finally. "I do not love Colin more than you. But it is important that you do what you can to make the humans keep thinking we are nobility."
"Papa," I said wearily, "we are in our home! Everyone here knows who we really are. Why can't I have the luxury of being myself in here?"
He sighed. "I do not want you to get complacent as I did."
I frowned. "What do you mean?"
"There was a time where I had to pretend to be nobility," he said. "This was nearly a century before I found Camille. I got bored and comfortable. I thought surely no one would notice." He sighed again. "A human caught me feeding from a homeless person; I had to flee."
His jaw clenched. "What have I said about interrupting me, Kendra?" he snapped and I shut my mouth. "I know you would never feed in public, but there are other things you can do that will give us away if you get too comfortable." He shook his head. "What I do not know is why you will not leave the house more."
"Because I can't go anywhere without Colin!" I said, jumping to my feet. "Papa, I can take care of myself!"
"Appearances, Kendra," he snapped. "Appearances! It is expected of you to be escorted. Every young woman here is! We are dukes and duchesses. We have to live that lifestyle, both in the house and outside of it."
"It's not fair," I complained. "Not once have I slipped up!"
He put my brush back on my vanity. "Kendra, I do not like arguing with you. Please. Just take my word for it. I know how hard this has been for you but it will get better." He looked out my window. "I am sure he is here somewhere," he added softly.
"I don't want to talk about that," I mumbled.
He studied me for a while. "Join me for a walk."