Reluctantly, I agreed. I was still angry with him but I knew better than to argue with him right now. I took my white parasol and put it on my shoulder. A parasol was an accessory that I liked. It gave me reprieve from the sun and it was rather pretty.
It was shortly after nine in the morning as Papa and I strolled through the merchant street. People called out to us and we waved politely. I obediently put my arm around his and looked at the different stalls. He took me to one that sold jewelry.
"Pick something, Kendra," he said and I arched a brow.
"We've talked about this, Papa," I said.
To my surprise, he laughed. "Just pick something."
I pursed my lips and looked at all the available necklaces. There was a beautiful golden necklace with a sapphire pendant in the shape of a tear drop. I pointed to it and the vendor happily wrapped it up for me.
"This is not me buying your forgiveness," he said as we walked on. "I just know how much you love jewelry."
I smiled a little. "A woman can never have too much jewelry."
He snorted. "Judging by all the jewelry your mother has, I would have to say you are right about that."
I giggled. I inhaled the fresh air. It was rather unpleasant from the stench of fish and horse droppings, but it was better than the air of the house. I closed my eyes and let my papa be my guide. Walking outside was always a sweet moment for me. I just wish I could do it alone at least once.
"Why are we on this walk?" I asked, opening my eyes again as we turned down past the fish stalls.
"It is time to plan your birthday party," he answered. "Your mother and I have a special gift for you."
"What kind?" I asked excitedly and he smiled at me.
"You will just have to wait until we get there."
"Then why are we strolling?" I whined and he laughed again.
The air was getting lighter between the two of us. I didn't understand how it happened, but it was like that for my mama, too.
"I'm sorry," I sighed.
"As am I," he said and I smiled.
It was very rare for him to apologize. He knew how touchy the subject of Colin was to me, though.
"You do not loathe your brother, do you?" he asked suddenly.
"Of course not," I said, frowning at him. "Why would you think that?"
He arched a brow at me, stopping outside of a shop.
"You rarely spend time with him anymore."
I shrugged. "He's too busy flirting with young women when I try to walk outside."
Papa stared at me. "He flirts?"
"Er... perhaps that's a conversation the two of you should have," I said.
"And we will have it," he muttered to himself then cleared his throat. "Well, here we are."
I looked at the building in front of us. I gasped as he led me inside. We were in the best seamstress' shop. She made the most beautiful dresses and I had always wanted one from her.
Marie Tresser beamed at us as we walked in.
"Welcome!" she said and we bowed our heads. "What can I do for you today?"
"This beautiful young woman is turning 20 in one week," my papa said and I stopped myself from snorting. "Her mother and I would like her to have a special dress for the party."
"And you've come to me?" she asked.
"Well of course," my papa said. "You are the best in the city."
She turned red. "Thank you, Duke Moreau." She cleared her throat and smiled at me. "What is your favorite color, Lady Kendra?" she asked, leading me into the back.
We left Papa to wander among the clothes as she took my measurements.
"Blue," I said.
"Any particular shade?" she asked.
I thought it over. "Well, I don't like really light blue. Maybe somewhere between a medium and dark blue?"
She nodded. "I can make that work."
"Thank you very much for making this," I said excitedly. "I've always wanted one of your dresses!"
"You two are flattering me this morning," she said, blushing again.
I giggled. "How long, do you think, until it's ready?"
"I can have it done in three days," she said as we went back out to Papa. We both laughed at the disgusted look on his face. "The frills are optional."
"Forgive me," he said quickly. "I did not mean to insult. We just do not have that in London and it looks-"
"Papa," I said and he cleared his throat, stopping from embarrassing himself further.
"I still don't understand why you came to New York from London," Mrs. Tresser said. "Well, I will send for you when it's ready and to get the final fitting."
"I look forward to it," I said honestly and took Papa's arm again. "Thank you," I added to him as we walked back home.
"Of course. We know you have been wanting one for many years now."
I lowered my voice. No one was around.
"So which 20th birthday are we celebrating this year?" I teased.
He chuckled and spoke quietly, too.
"It will be a public birthday so we had to pick one," he muttered.
"Why public?" I asked.
He stopped outside of a fruit stall and purchased some strawberries. I let go of his arm and clapped happily. He was about to give me some unwelcome news if he was bribing me with strawberries but I didn't care. I held the basket.
"It is time," he said. "As I said, he is somewhere here."
I looked away. "Papa," I began.
Then I froze. He took a few steps before he realized I had stopped. He turned, frowning in concern, as I spun slowly on the spot. The strawberries fell to the ground as I looked everywhere for the source of the scent but it disappeared. I blinked a few times.
"Kendra?" my papa asked, stepping in front of me. "Kendra, look at me."
I obeyed, feeling dazed.
"Papa," I muttered and fainted.
"What do I do, Camille?"
"Calm down first. She is awake."
I opened my eyes. My parents were standing over me and I rubbed my eyes. I was in my bedroom again. I sat up quickly and my head swam.
"Easy," Mama said. "You fainted on your way home. What happened?"
"I-I don't know," I said, frowning at my fireplace in through. "We were talking by the fruit stall and I smelled something... strange."
"What did it smell like?" Papa asked.
"Husky," I said. "And like the cologne from Romania you wear sometimes." I closed my eyes and let out a long sigh. "Oh, it smelled amazing."
Neither of them said anything for a while. My mama cleared her throat.
"Erik, it is time for Colin's classes. Perhaps you should oversee them this time."
"All right," he said, sounding disappointed.
I opened my eyes when the door shut and frowned.
"What?" I asked.
My mama was smiling. She sat beside me.
"Do you remember the letter we got from your Uncle Ilya two years ago?"
I wrinkled my nose. "Of course I do. I've never had such an awkward conversation with Papa!"
She giggled and put her arm around me. "You are going through puberty," she reminded me. "That scent you picked up? That is usually the indication that your star is near."
I looked at her, gasping. "He's here?" I breathed and scrambled out of bed. I ran to my window. "But where? And why can't I smell him anymore?"
"There are many smells in New York," she said. "They are probably covering it."
I groaned. "I was so close to him, Mama!"
She sighed and I looked at her. I had expected her to be happy still but she looked nervously at the door.
"Do not discuss it with Erik," she said.
"Why not?" I asked. "He's been wanting me to find my star for the last five years!"
Over time, Mama and I had referred to it as my star. I liked it better; it sounded more romantic than 'mate'.
"He is your father," she said. "He may have wanted you to find him, but now he is not so sure." She shook her head. "Having a son is one thing. He is not used to romance with a daughter."
I sighed. "So when I meet my star, I can't tell Papa?"
"I do not know," she said. "Perhaps he will be at your birthday."
I gasped and sat beside her. "What do I do if he is?" I asked. "Do I speak to him? Do I ignored him? I've heard of women playing what they call hard to get. Is he a vampire?"
"Slow down," she laughed. "We just need to focus on your birthday first. Uncle Ilya's urges are gone so he will be able to attend."
I beamed. "What about Gertrude and Howard?"
Her smile was sad. "Howard is ill again. They cannot travel."
I pouted. "I understand."
After they moved to a new city outside of London, Howard fell very ill. We hadn't gotten to see them much over the years and I missed them greatly.
She kissed my forehead. "Your father says you are very excited about your dress."
"I am," I said, nodding enthusiastically as Cami jumped on the bed. "I chose a medium blue color. I don't know what else she'll do but it's Mrs. Tresser. She'll create something beautiful regardless."
Mama smiled and hugged me. "You are such a sweet young woman," she whispered. "I am very proud of you."
I smiled and hugged her back. "I love you, Mama."