I watched Kendra disappear into her house. I knew she was aware of what I was. I could sense it. But that wasn't why she fled. I glanced over at Benjamin. What was it about him that frightened her? I looked at my pocket watch and sighed. I sought out Duke Moreau.
"Ah, Mr. Bailey," he said. "Are you enjoying yourself?"
"Yes, thank you," I said. "Unfortunately, I have to turn in for the evening. I wanted to come and thank you for the invitation."
"Of course." He looked around. "Now where have my children run off to?" he sighed.
"Lady Kendra went back inside," I said and he frowned. "I think she is trying to avoid someone."
The glass he was holding shattered and his wife glared at him.
"Was it Mathias Lance?" he asked through clench teeth.
"No," I said slowly. "It was my associate, Benjamin Smith. Why-?"
"I will go speak with her," Duchess Moreau said, looking upset for some reason.
I looked back at Duke Moreau, confused.
"Forgive us," he said. "I am glad you were able to come."
"Will you thank Sir Colin for me?"
"Yes, of course. Good evening, Mr. Bailey."
I walked away, scanning the crowd for Benjamin. He had moved from where I last saw him. I shut my eyes, seeing the square from above. I scoffed and shook my head, coming back to myself. I walked over to the fountain where he was speaking with a young woman, standing much too close.
"Come on, Ben," I said. "We have to go."
"All right," he said then kissed the young woman's cheek. "You know where I live should you desire... company."
She giggled and I rolled my eyes again, grabbing his arm and dragging him back to my store.
"You're a fool," I said.
"Says the man who was walking with Kendra Moreau," he scoffed. "Do you want to give us away?"
I narrowed my eyes at him. "What did you say to her?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mentioned your name and she ran off."
He shook his head as I unlocked the shop.
"She's probably still upset about that bloody dress. Jeez. What's the big deal?"
"No, I don't think that's what it was," I said, slowly.
"Did you at least make an impression?"
"But I don't think it was a good one," I nodded, leading the way up the stairs to our flat. "If anything, I just made her more suspicious."
"What is your obsession with this family?" he asked, pausing outside of his bedroom door.
"I have my reasons," I said quietly. "We open at nine tomorrow."
"Yes, Master," he said with a ridiculous bow and I rolled my eyes.
I stripped down and got into bed. I stared up at the ceiling, remembering the look on Kendra's face when she saw me. I rolled on my side, then thinking about the duke and duchess. I was trying to think of their connection with Duke Abbott but it was hard. I knew he had a daughter and she kind of resembled him....
I had to leave London when Duke Abbott killed my master nearly 25 years ago. Though I didn't like my master, I despised how Duke Abbott didn't even give my master the chance to defend himself. So, while everyone was focused on some vampire getting free of the London jails, I slipped poison into the duke's evening tea.
London went insane and I took the chance to go to America. On the way, I met Benjamin. He had been beaten and robbed and begged me for some help. He was terrified of dying and I could use a traveling companion so I told him what I was.
We came to New York 13 years ago and who knew the Moreau family would arrive just two years later? So, we officially opened Bailey's and I've been waiting for an opportunity to get close to the family since then.
Something about them told me that they had a connection. I just had to find it somehow.
I found it hard to sleep that night. Not only did I feel that jolt in my chest when I though of Benjamin Smith's name, I was worried I'd have another nightmare. I was still awake when the sun rose and dressed before Colin even got all the way up the stairs.
"Wow," he said. "I'm impressed."
I just smiled and sat down at my seat at the table. The blood in front of me smelled of mama and I smiled thankfully at her. She winked and looked back at her book. As I drank, I felt strength return to me. I was still disturbed, though, and went back to my room after breakfast.
I scratched Cami behind the ear and frowned when I bumped into the collar she had gotten used to. That was another worry: Solomon Bailey.
I felt like we had met before but I knew that was impossible. I assumed it had something to do with our connection to London and being vampires. I couldn't quite pick up on his scent, either, and that was a red flag to me. I sat at my desk and began a letter to Ilya.
Dear Uncle Ilya,
I'm writing this to you mostly because I don't want to worry Papa. You know how he is. There is another vampire living here in New York. I met him the other day then went on a stroll at Colin's party. He seems like a kind enough fellow but I can't pick up on his scent. Is this because of me being so different than everyone else? Or could it be something else?
I hope to hear from you soon.
I finished and waited for the ink to dry. I folded it and put it in an envelope, planning to send it tomorrow. I sensed Papa coming so I stood up.
"Come with me," he said, looking nervous.
"Where are we going?" I asked.
"To the parlor," he answered. "Your mother wishes to speak with you."
"Have I done something wrong?" I asked as we walked in.
The air was anxious and Papa immediately took Colin upstairs, his face grim. I looked at Mama. She was holding a small goblet of blood that smelled somewhat familiar.
"What is this?"
"Drink and you will understand," she said gently.
"What do you mean? You're scaring me a little."
"It will be okay," she said. "I promise. Just drink."
I hesitated but did as she said. The second the blood touched my tongue, I dropped the goblet and fell to my knees. I felt like my head was going to split in two and I screamed, gripping my hair.
"Mama, no!" I sobbed. "No, not this!"
"You have to, my sweet," she said and I knew she was crying. "Please do not fight it. You have to give in. Everything will be okay. I am here."
"Don't make me do this!" I cried. "Please!"
"Just let it come, Kendra," she whispered. "You will understand. Just let it come."
I sobbed again as pain forced my eyes shut.