I sat on my bed and groaned, running my hand through my hair. A few minutes later, Camille walked in, shutting the door quietly.
"Oh, Camille," I moaned. "What have I done?"
"Why would you have said that, Erik?" she asked, walking over and sitting beside me. "You know how sensitive that subject is to her."
"It just came out," I said. "It was like I was not the one talking! Like someone was talking for me!"
"You lost your temper," she sighed. "You cannot do that again."
"How is she?" I muttered.
"Asleep," she answered. "I gave her some of my blood. I do not think she will have another nightmare."
I shook my head. "What do I do?"
"She is very angry with you," Camille said. "Wait until she calms down and then apologize."
"Trust me, Erik," she interrupted. She sighed again. "We need to give her an outlet for her frustrations. I worry she will take it out on Colin."
I looked at her. "She would not hurt him," I said. "She loves him almost as much as she loves that damn cat of hers."
She smiled. "Yes, she loves him, but she has your temper, even if she is not ours by blood."
I rubbed my eyes. "Very well. How long do you think she will be angry?"
"It is hard to say," she said and ran her hand through my hair. "Do you need me, my love?"
"Yes," I whispered and she kissed me, taking my shirt off.
The next morning, I went down for breakfast but ignored Papa completely. I looked at Colin.
"Will you take me on a walk this morning?"
He glanced at Papa.
"Where will you be going?" Papa asked me and I gripped the stem of my goblet tightly.
"It's a beautiful day for a walk by the harbor, Colin," I said and I saw my papa glare at me out of the corner of my eye.
"Sure," Colin said after a few minutes. "Just let me get ready."
"Okay," I said.
I finished my blood, dabbing at my mouth with my neck. Without saying a word to my parents, I stood in the foyer and waited for Colin to come down. I was excited to hear about his walk with the girl named Amanda. Before I left, Mama came up to me.
"I know you are upset with your father," she began and I sighed. "It is rude to ignore him, though."
"I have nothing to say to him," I snapped. "Not after last night."
She hugged me and I rested my head on her chest. I always felt safe when she held me like this.
"I am very sorry you had another nightmare, my sweet."
"Thank you," I mumbled. "I just want to put that behind me. Some fresh air will do me good."
She kissed my forehead as Colin walked in, pulling on his collar uncomfortably. Men always had to have them tight. I took his arm as we walked down the stairs outside of our home.
"You can't keep treating Father that way," he said and I rolled my eyes.
"I don't want to talk about him," I said. "Tell me about your walk with Amanda."
He laughed nervously. "It went well. We strolled through her family's gardens. Her father didn't let me take her anywhere else." I nodded. "She's a lovely young woman."
"How old is she?"
"She's about to turn 16," he said. He cleared his throat. "It was a lovely evening indeed."
"Did you kiss her?" I asked, nudging him a little.
He turned pink. "Not on the lips," he muttered. "I wanted to but Father said it is not appropriate on the first walk."
I scoffed. "Papa doesn't think anything is appropriate."
"Don't be dramatic," he said. "By the way, thanks for telling on me."
I cringed. "Sorry. That really was an accident."
He laughed. "Where are we going?"
"Down to the harbor," I said. "I need some fresh ocean air to get everything off my mind."
He glanced at me as we strolled by the docks.
"Did you dream about that man again?" he asked and I nodded, looking down. "What happened, Kendra? Mother and Father won't say; they keep telling me to ask you."
"I was... attacked," I whispered. "He bit me several places." I showed him the bite marks on my neck then covered them quickly again. "Since he was not the one to turn me, they never healed. Mama had to turn me or I would have died. I was close to death, in fact."
"I'm very sorry," he said. "I can't imagine what that could have been live."
I didn't answer, deciding to spare him the more gruesome details. We had passed my bite marks on my neck off as a snake attack. It usually made those who caught a glimpse of them happily. I never wore my hair up so they were not seen.
We stopped at a bread stall and I bought us half a loaf to share. Colin sighed.
"I'm still not used to all of them staring so openly," he said as we passed by a group of giggling girls. "And the giggling! Good God that's annoying."
I laughed. "You're the only man I know of who complains about those things, dear brother. I'm sure Papa had the same problem growing up."
Colin shrugged. "Don't you notice?" he asked me suddenly and I looked at him.
This time, he laughed. "You're provoking more stares than I am."
I blinked and studied those around us. It was true. Almost every man was looking at me. A few winked when they saw they were caught. It reminded me of Benjamin and I shuddered, flattening my hair over my neck.
"You can't see them," he said and I nodded distractedly.
"Now I know how you feel," I muttered as we passed another group of men who watched me walk.
He nudged me and I nudged him back. Then I smelled him. I stopped walking and he looked at me in concern. I bit my lip and made a rash decision.
"Colin, I think I left my coin purse back at the bread stall," I said. "Could you go get it for me?"
"Of course. Wait here."
I waited until he was out of sight then approached the same fruit stall I fainted in front of. Mathias had his back facing me. I cleared my throat and he turned. He beamed and kissed my hand.
"Lady Kendra," he said. "Where's your escort?"
"Oh- He's- I just-"
He smiled. "You gave him the slip?"
"I wanted to say hello," I said, blushing a little.
"Is it a suitor?" he asked and I cringed.
"Gross. No. It's my brother." I cleared my throat. "Anyway, hello."
He took my arm and pulled me over so we couldn't be overheard.
"Why have you really given your brother the slip?" he asked.
"T-To say hello," I said in a small voice.
"Lady Kendra, I am not a fool."
I sighed. "I really do want to say hello, but I also wanted to talk to you. I didn't get the chance when you came to visit with my papa."
He stared into my eyes. "He has made it clear that he doesn't want me to spend time with you." I shut my eyes wearily. Of course. "But I very much wish to," he added in a whispered and my eyes opened.
"Really?" I breathed.
"Yes," he said.
I thought for a while. "I'm not sure how to manage it," I said in disappointment. "I can't lie to him. He has ways of knowing when I lie."
"I'm a music teacher," he said. "Tell him you want to take piano lessons."
"That's actually a great idea," I complimented and he smiled. I heard Colin calling for me and I jumped. "I have to go."
He took my hand as I walked away.
"I hope to find out that Duke Moreau's daughter wishes to learn the piano soon," he said and I smiled.
"And you will."
I hurried back to where I left Colin and he smiled apologetically.
"It wasn't there. I'm sorry."
"It's okay," I said. "Come on, let's go home. I'm feeling better."
At dinner, I struggled to think of a way to ask for permission.
"So, Kendra," Mama said and I looked up from my plate. "Your father and I were thinking and we have agreed you should have a... hobby."
"Well," I said slowly, "I've wanted to learn how to play the piano." I cleared my throat. "There is only one music teacher in the city, though."
Papa slammed his goblet on the table. "Let me guess: It is Mathias Lance." I didn't answer and he hissed. "Fine. But I will be chaperoning you. Do you understand?"
"Yes," I said, my heart dropping.
I went upstairs to write the official letter and put in a post script to warn him of my papa's condition. Speaking of which....
"I know you are aware I am here," he said. "I am coming in." I rolled my eyes and blew on the ink as he walked in. He sat on my bed. "Please look at me." I did so reluctantly. "I killed your mother."
"I remember," I said in spite of myself.
"I did it because I thought she was my mate, my star," he continued. "I got caught up in her blood and she did not survive." His eyes searched mine. "You are not in love with Mathias Lance, Kendra."
I shut my eyes. "Please leave, Papa," I said. "I am tired."
"You are merely lusting for him," he said, ignoring me. "If you were to try and mark him, you will kill him."
"Leave!" I shouted, anger surging through me as I jumped to my feet and to the door.
His jaw clenched. "What did we just speak about!?" he shouted back. His eyes were already red. "Do not shout at me!"
"I'm tired of this, Papa!" I said, crying a little. "Just leave! I want to rest for tomorrow!"
"I am your father," he snapped.
"Then act like it," I blurted and his eyes widened. I gasped. "Papa, I didn't mean it. I-"
Then he slapped me. I stumbled back into my door, gasping again. I looked at him, touching my cheek in shock. His eyes were blue again and wide.
"Kendra," he said, his voice shaking.
"Erik!" Mama shouted.
"Get out," I sobbed. When he didn't move, I shoved him. "I said get out! I never want to see you again!"
I slammed the door in his face.