"Kendra," Colin groaned, knocking again. "Come on. Wake up."
"I'm trying," I moaned with another yawn. "Shoo. I'll be there soon."
He sighed and left. I didn't sleep well last night. I was worried about talking to my papa about Mathias. And, in the back of my head, I remembered Ilya's warning. I had written it off as an uncle's concern but it still made me nervous.
Once I was dressed, I kissed Cami on the head and went downstairs. Papa didn't like cats and it was his condition that she stay in my room. I didn't mind. With all of her toys, she was entertained and never had the urge to leave.
I sat down at the table nervously and sipped my blood. Colin was eating quickly and looking constantly at his pocket watch.
"Are you going somewhere?" I asked, tilting my head.
"I'm going on a walk," he muttered as his face turned red.
"With whom?" I asked eagerly.
"Her name is Amanda," he answered. "She was at your birthday party."
"You'll have to tell me how it goes!"
He just laughed breathlessly. My mama cleared her throat gently and I hesitated. I tried to think of a way to bring up the topic of Mathias. I didn't need to, though. Papa did.
"So," he said and I jumped. "I have invited Mr. Mathias Lance to tea this afternoon at one," he said excitedly. "I cannot wait to hear of stories of his homeland."
I looked at Mama and she nodded.
"About Mr. Lance," I said and Papa looked at me.
"What is it, Kendra?" he asked, pausing in the act of drinking from his goblet. "Does he make you uneasy. If so then we can meet elsewhere."
"No, no he doesn't make me uneasy," I said and covered my face, too embarrassed to look him in the eye. "Papa, I believe him to be my star."
I had expected happiness from him but he didn't say a single word. Slowly, I looked up and received a shock. He was staring at me, his gaze a mixture of anger and mistrust. I glanced at Mama but she seemed just as confused.
"No," Papa said eventually.
"What?" Mama and I said in unison.
Papa shook his head, leaning back. "No, no he is not."
"How do you know?" I demanded.
"He is not worthy."
My jaw dropped. "Not worthy?" I repeated. "Isn't that my decision?"
"He is not your star, Kendra. I will not accept it."
"What?" I repeated, now getting angry.
"I'm going to get ready," Colin said, slipping from the table as he sensed the danger building at the table.
Papa shook his head again. "I am done talking about this."
"Well, I'm not!" I said, jumping to my feet. "You've been getting onto me for five years, Papa! Now that I have possibly found him, you refuse me!?"
"Do not talk to me like that," he said through clenched teeth. He wasn't looking at me but I knew he was very angry. "We have talked about that, Kendra."
I stomped my foot. "I don't get it! It's not your choice!"
"I am your father," he snapped. "As such, you are to trust me!"
"Enough!" he shouted, standing, too. "We are done with this conversation, Kendra! You are to stay in your room while Mr. Lance is here."
"You're such a hypocrite!" I cried.
He pointed angrily, his eyes red. "Do not talk to me like that," he repeated firmly. I stood my ground as he walked froward. "Do not make me do something I regret."
I rolled my eyes. "Like what?"
"Do you remember Benjamin?" he asked and the color drained from my face.
"Erik!" Mama shouted, getting to her feet, as well.
"I talked to him like this, too," he said, ignoring her. "He punished me most harshly. There have been many times over the years that you have talked back. I do not care if you are going through this puberty or whatever it is. You will respect me or I will punish you as Benjamin did."
I started to cry, shaking my head.
"You're such a hypocrite," I sobbed and ran upstairs, ignoring him calling for me.
"He's demanding you go to lunch," Colin said through the door.
"No," I snapped.
"Kendra, just apologize," he said. "Father's just looking out for you."
I slammed my brush on my vanity. "I'm not the one that need to apologize, Colin! Now go away! If he wants me down there so badly, tell him to come get me himself!"
"Just as long as he doesn't shoot the messenger," Colin muttered and I heard him walk away.
Seconds later, Papa was outside my door. He pounded on it three times when he tried to turn the doorknob.
"Let me in this second," he snarled.
I stormed over to the door and threw it open.
"What?" I spat.
"Get down there for lunch," he ordered, pointing.
"No. I'm not hungry."
"Kendra, I am ordering you as your father!"
"I'm not hungry!" I shouted and picked up his scent. "Besides, your guest is here and I have seclusion to enjoy!"
I slammed the door shut in his face, knowing it would earn me a punishment later. I threw myself onto the bed as I heard the door open.
"Mr. Lance," I heard Papa say. "I am so glad you could make it."
"I'm still surprised you invited me," Mathias responded and I closed my eyes. His voice was intoxicating even from here. "Where is Lady Kendra?"
"Ill," Papa lied and I sobbed into my pillow. "Would you like to sit with us, Camille?"
"Thank you but I cannot contribute anything to your conversation," she rejected kindly.
"Come this way, Mr. Lance."
I shook my head when I sensed Mama outside my door.
"Just go away," I said.
"Please let me in, Kendra," she said.
"Go away," I repeated. "You didn't even help me!"
"I told you I will not take sides," she said.
I glared at the door. "It's obvious you have. Now leave me alone!"
I sighed but left. I shut my eyes and cried more into my pillow.
"So sweet," he breathed. "What if I told you I can make you look young and beautiful forever? To those around, you would seem 18. What would you say to that?"
"But Mama said-"
"I've been alive for centuries longer than your mama," he interrupted. "Here is my deal, beautiful Kendra: You agree to lay with me and be mine, and I will spare all those below, including the unborn."
I looked into his eyes, shaking. He put his lips against mine and I tried to turn away. He grabbed my chin roughly.
"Don't," he said gruffly. "Do it or I will kill everyone."
I whimpered and closed my eyes. We both knew my answer, though, and his hands slowly went up my dress.
"Kendra, wake up!"
"Let me go, Benjamin!" I sobbed, pushing at whoever was trying to touch me.
"Kendra, it is me, your papa! Wake up!"
My eyes shot open and I looked around. I was soaked in sweat. Mama was holding me as Papa sat on the bed beside me. I sobbed, tears of blood streaming down my face.
"Leave me alone," I said when he reached for me.
He sighed. "I only wish to help, Kendra," he whispered.
"You've done enough," I said and hid my face in Mama's chest.