I heard Kendra lock the door and drag her dresser in front of it. I rounded on Erik. The force of her push made him trip over his feet and he fell over. He was getting back to his feet.

"Erik!" I snapped. "What were you thinking!?"

"I lost my temper," he said. "I did not mean to hit her."

"What happened?"

"I was trying to make her understand, Camille!" he said. "I was trying to make her see that she does not really love Mr. Lance; that her feelings are merely lust. But she will not listen!"

I threw my head back with a groan.

"Erik, you are as blunt as a hammer," I said.

"And what is that supposed to mean?"

"It means that you need to go and calm down," I said and got a vial out of my pocket. "Fill this with some blood, first."

He did so reluctantly then stormed down the hall. He slammed our door shut and I knocked on Kendra's.

"Just go away, Mama," she said.

"Please let me in, Kendra," I said. "You are injured."

"It'll heal," she said stubbornly.

"No, my sweet, it will not."

I heard the dresser move and she opened the door. She stepped to the side but closed it again immediately.

"What do you mean?" she asked as I looked at her cheek. It was bruising and I passed her the vial. "This is Papa's blood. I don't want it."

I shook my head. "The bruise will not go away unless you drink it," I said. She huffed but did as I said. "When a vampire strikes you, they are the only one who can heal it."

She put a hand on her neck and stomach. "Is that why...?"

"Yes," I said and she sat down heavily.

"He hit me, Mama," she whispered and started to cry.

I put my arms around her and let her cry into my chest. Her tears were thick and I shut my eyes, my heart aching for her. I remembered the first time Erik had hit me after we had both fallen in love with each other.

"He regrets it," I whispered back. "He did not mean to."

She sniffled and I helped her wipe the blood off her face.

"Then why'd he do it?"

"His master," I answered, being careful not to say his name. I sat beside her. "When he was turned, anytime he was disobedient or displeased him, his master would hit him. It is all Erik came to know."

"Did he hit you, too?"

"A few times," I said honestly and stroked her hair. "I have taught him how to control his hand over the years." I shook my head. "You have to stop arguing with him, Kendra. He is looking out for you. He does not want you to get hurt."

"Then he wouldn't say such hurtful things," she mumbled.

"I will make a de- compromise with you," I said and she looked at me nervously. "I will go talk with him if you promise to stop fighting with him."

She nodded. "I promise to try."

I kissed her forehead. "Get some rest, my sweet."

When she had fallen asleep and I knew she wouldn't have a nightmare, I walked into our room. Erik had his head against the wall and I wrapped my arms around him from behind.

"I am an idiot," he mumbled.

"No, you just have a short temper. She has promised to hold her tongue if you do so as well."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean stop talking about Benjamin and Mathias Lance to her," I said, changing into a nightgown. "And you will not be the one escorting her to her lessons. Colin will."

Erik sighed, changing as well. "But what if he tries to hurt her?"

I wanted to ask like Erik just did but I stopped myself.

"Kendra is a smart young woman," I said. "We raised her well. She knows how to take care of herself."

He shook his head. "I cannot stand the thought of a man hurting her again."

We got into bed and I put my head on his chest. "Then stop yelling and do not ever hit her again."

He sighed again. "Yes, Camille."


Mama had talked Papa into letting Colin be the one to escort me to the piano lesson the next day. I was nervous and kept straightening my hair and dress. When we got closer, Colin slowed down.

"I know what you're doing, Kendra," he said quietly.

I gulped. "I don't know what you mean."

"Then listen to the ramblings of your brother. Don't do anything with Mr. Lance. If you two do end up falling in love, tell Father."

I didn't answer but knew he wasn't expecting one. For being almost 17 years old, Colin was very mature. I knew he got that from our papa.

When we got to Mathias' home, I bit my lip. It was large, just as I thought it would be. Colin knocked and a young woman answered. She narrowed her eyes at me.

"Yes?" she asked harshly and I gripped Colin's arm, feeling like I'd faint.

"I am Colin Moreau," he said. "I'm escorting my sister, Kendra, to her piano lesson with Mathias Lance."

"Oh," she said. "Come in, then." She slammed the door. "Wait here."

"Colin," I whispered. "She smells like him."

He looked at me. "Don't jump to conclusions, Kendra," he said quickly. "Perhaps they are siblings."

I shook my head. "I looked in her mind. She-She loves him."

He sighed. "If that is the case, then perhaps Father is right."

I didn't want to even consider such a thing so I remained silent. The woman didn't return but Mathias came down the stairs. He beamed when he saw us.

"It's so good to see you," he said. "Come with me; the music room is just down this hall."

We walked through an archway and Colin cleared his throat.

"So, the woman who answered the door," he said.

"Ah, my wife?" he asked and I shut my eyes briefly. "She is beautiful, no?"

"Very," I whispered.

I felt like someone had squeezed my heart. I tried not to cry as we went into the music room. There was a beautiful white grand piano set up for us. Colin sat down on one of the couches, glaring openly at Mathias. I sat down on the bench beside him stiffly.

"Your brother seems upset," he said.

"Because he is," I said quietly.

I sensed her nearby and kept my eyes focused on the ivory keys.

"Ah! Anna!" he said and got up. I saw him kiss her. "Have you finally agreed to show Sir Colin the estate?"

"Yes," she said stiffly."

"No, I think I'll stay right here," Colin said in a hard voice. "I shouldn't leave my sister alone."

Mathias looked at him. "I'll be with her."

"I'll be okay," I said to Colin. His eyes searched mine and I smiled. "I promise. I'll come find you."

He sighed and stood up, gesturing for Mathias' wife to lead the way out. Mathias closed the door a little and sat back down. I just wanted to leave but my parents had already paid for the three lessons.

"You look beautiful," he said.

"Where do we start?" I asked.

"Kendra," he said.

I glared at him. "Lady Kendra," I corrected.

"What's wrong? I thought-"

"So did I," I said coldly and his shoulders fell.

"Oh. Anna." He shook his head. "It's not what you think, Lady Kendra."

"Then what is it?" I demanded.

He sighed. "We have no love for each other. I moved here to get away from her. I have filed for a divorce but she has been fighting me. She followed me and claims she is ready to finalize everything."

"Why are you divorcing?" I asked with a frown.

"She has been entertaining the company of other men," he said and I stood up.

"And you are about to do the same with me," I said.

"No," he said quickly and tried to take my hand. "No, it's different with you."

"No it isn't, Mathias." I shook my head and stepped away. "You should have told me the truth."

"Please," he said. "In one month, everything will be signed and she will go back to Romania."

"Then that is when we might pick this back up," I said.

"I don't want to wait that long," he said. "I-"

"I will not be your mistress!" I hissed.

"You won't be! I'll just be courting you in secret! Just like what we are doing with your father."

I shook my head again. "No. That's different, Mr. Lance, and you know it." I blinked away my tears. "When you find that you need not lie to me, then perhaps I will see you again."

"Please don't leave it like this," he begged, holding my hand as I tried to leave the room.

"Where did your wife take my brother?" I demanded.

"The east wing. Do you wish to continue the lesson?"

"I've learned all I need to," I said and stormed out of the room.

Anna was showing Colin a painting but it was clear they were both uninterested. Without saying anything to her, I grabbed Colin's arm and dragged him back to the house. He sighed.

"Kendra," he began.


When we got home, Mama was in the foyer, talking to Johanna.

"Ah, Kendra," she said. "How did it-?"

I ignored her and ran up the stairs, passing Papa, and slammed my bedroom door shut.

The End

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