I stared in horror as Father carried Kendra back into her room. Mother saw me and came back, hugging me tightly. I felt sick but hugged her back, shaking.
"Why didn't she tell me?" I asked.
"She did not want to scare you," she said and kissed my forehead.
"What can I do?" I asked.
"Do not speak of Benjamin or what happened tonight," she said immediately. "It could bring her nightmares back."
I looked at her door. Father had just closed it and was crying again. It was strange seeing my father cry; especially tears of blood. He told me those only happened when a vampire was experiencing deep, emotional pain.
"I have to go lie down," Father muttered and Mother nodded.
"Why does he look so... guilty?" I asked.
"Because Benjamin was his master," Mother sighed. "We have told him many times that he is not to blame for Benjamin's interference but he still insists on blaming himself."
"Will she be okay?" I asked and Mother nodded with a smile.
"She will just need much rest and blood."
I nibbled my lip. "I wish there was more I could do for her...."
So much made sense now. Father had sent me to my room and locked the door, not explaining. I could hear Kendra's screams as if she were there in the room with me, though. It stabbed my heart as she screamed for our parents while trying to fight off someone named Benjamin. Father explained to me what happened I rubbed my eyes in exhaustion.
Growing up, I asked about the bite marks on Kendra's neck. Father had said that, once you're turned, the bite marks disappeared but Kendra's were still there. That's when he explained that the vampire hadn't given her his blood. That was also when he forbade me from mentioning the bite marks. Tonight I found out she had more than just the one, also explaining why she never went swimming with me.
"I have to go to your father," Mother said and I nodded, hugging her again. "I love you, Colin, very much."
"I love you, too, Mother," I whispered. "And I don't think you or Father are to blame."
She squeezed me then hurried to their room. Before shutting my door, I looked at Kendra's one last time. I couldn't hear anything meaning she wasn't having a nightmare. Cecile was posted outside of her door just in case, though. I sighed again and got into bed, trying to find it in me to fall asleep.
I sat up in bed, panting heavily. Beside me, my pocket watch read midnight. Ben ran in, his shirt flapping open. His eyes were worried.
"Are you all right?" he asked and I nodded.
"I think so," I said. "What happened?"
"You were shouting my name," he said with a frown. "At first I thought you were just pulling my leg. Then you started screaming 'mama' and 'papa'. I tried to wake you up but you wouldn't. I was on my way to get the silver when you woke up."
I rubbed my eyes. "Mama and papa?" I repeated. "Who the hell would I call that?"
"Oh, I don't know," Ben said sarcastically. "Your parents, perhaps?"
I threw my pillow at him. "Shut up. You know they've been dead for a century."
Ben shrugged and tossed the pillow back.
"Seriously, though, are you all right?" he asked.
"Yeah, I should be fine. Go back to sleep."
He nodded and I got comfortable. I didn't remember having a nightmare but my bed was a mess of tangled sheets and blankets. That and my sore limbs were indicative of a nightmare and, if what Ben said was true, then it had been a rough one.
I shook my head and closed my eyes, falling asleep again at once.
Things were quiet at the store for a couple days. I didn't mind that much. We had plenty of money to spare. The shop was just a front.
Bailey's had souvenirs from many different countries. Our most popular country, however, was London. After I murdered Duke Abbott, vampires in London were sending me some of their more... sensitive items. I removed the curses or enchantments then sold them. I also had innocent things like teddy bears and snow globes.
Four days after this nightmare I didn't remember, I had a surprise visitor. I was picking my teeth behind the counter when the bell rang over the door. I looked over then did a double take. I straightened my clothes while Ben helped a woman over by the Germany table.
"Sir Colin," I said, standing and bowing a little. "I'm surprised to see you here."
He stared then laughed. "Bailey's," he chuckled, shaking his head a little. "I don't know why I didn't make the connection." He walked forward and shook my hand. "How are you?"
"Very well, thank you," I said. "What brings you to my humble store?"
"My sister has been... ill lately," he said. "I want to give her something."
"I'd be happy to help," I said and came out from behind the counter. "Does she have a favorite country?"
He laughed. "London, of course."
I led him to the half of the store that was covered with knick-knacks.
"We have everything from jewelry to teddy bears," I said. "Does she have a preference."
"Jewelry," he said, rolling his eyes. "She said, and I quote, 'A woman can never have too much jewelry'."
I scoffed. "Isn't that the truth?" I looked through and pulled out a ring. "This came from the estate of Duke Abbott and-"
"Absolutely not," Colin interrupted and I frowned curiously. He cleared his throat. "She doesn't really like rings. She just has the one and that was a gift for her birthday."
I didn't need to read his mind to know he was lying to me. My curiosity was piqued as I put it back.
"I see," I said. "What about necklaces?"
He nodded and I held up my newest piece. It was a golden feather outlined with emeralds.
"Oh, she would love this," Colin said.
"Well, let's get it wrapped up then," I said and we went back to the counter.
We were exchanging gold when the door opened again. I shook my head wearily. It was Mathias Lance. The fool was coming in almost every other day to find something for a woman he was desperately trying to court. No matter how many times I told him I'd let him know when something new came in, he still showed up.
It was getting frustrating.
Colin looked over his shoulder then crumpled the receipt in his hand. Mathias saw him and hesitated.
"How is she?" he asked.
"Just fine," Colin said coldly and took the bag from my hand. "Thank you."
"I've been sending her letters," Mathias said and Colin scoffed, rolling his eyes.
I was surprised. Colin didn't seem like the kind to be so openly rude.
"I know," he said. "I've been ripping them up."
Mathias' jaw dropped. "You can't do that!"
"Give it up, Mr. Lance," Colin snapped. "You broke her heart. She doesn't want anything to do with you." He paused in front of Mathias. "Come to think of it, neither do I."
He pushed past him and walked out the door. Mathias groaned and it all clicked.
"Kendra Moreau is the woman you're trying to court?" I asked, nearly dropping the gold Colin gave me.
He sighed heavily. "Yes," he muttered. "She found out that I was married when I first tried seeing her." Idiot. "I tried to tell her that we wouldn't be doing anything technically unfaithful, but she still said no. Maybe I should just stop; especially if her brother is getting in the way."
"When a woman makes up her mind, there's very little you can do to change it," I said.
"Yes, I know. Well, still, if you anything comes in...."
"I'll let you know," I said.
I had tended on giving him the feather charm but Colin's appearance was perfect timing. It was getting my foot in the door.
Mathias left, looking more dejected than normal and Ben snorted.
"Talk about the wrong family to piss off," he said, sitting on the other stool. He narrowed his eyes. "What are you thinking?"
I sat back down and put my feet up on the counter.
"A broken heart, huh?"
"No," Ben said immediately. "No. Don't do it Solomon. You'll get caught."
I waved my hand. "No I won't. I need to get close to the Moreau family. This is my chance."
Ben shook his head. "You don't even know anything about courting a woman."
"Yes I do," I argued.
"Oh yeah?" he challenged. "What's the first thing to bring her?"
I thought for a second. "A horse?" I asked and he tossed his head back, laughing. "No? That's not right? Erm.... A cow? A goat?"
"You know what, maybe you should do this," he said as someone came in. "It could be entertaining. The answer is flowers, by the way." He shook his head, laughing. "Farm animals."
"Shut up," I snapped.