HealthyMature

By the fifth day, I was feeling well enough to go downstairs. My parents kept apologizing but I didn't have another nightmare. The bite marks still burned occasionally but the nightmares had stopped and that's what mattered most to me.

Colin sat down across from me and passed me something as my goblet was put in front of me.

"Something to get you smiling again," he said and I opened the gift quickly.

It was a gold feather necklace lined in emeralds. "Oh, thank you, Colin!" I said and went over to kiss his cheek and have him put it on for me.

"I got it at that knick-knack shop next to the bookstore," he said. "It's owned by Solomon Bailey."

"Really?" Papa asked.

"Yes. You should go there, Kendra. You'd like it a lot."

"Maybe," I nodded and finished my blood.

Colin cleared his throat. "I saw Mathias Lance there."

As I expected, Papa broke his goblet, spilling all of his blood.

"Honestly, Erik?" my mama snapped. "That is the seventh one!"

"Did he say anything?" I asked.

Colin rolled his eyes, biting into some toast. "He asked about you." He smirked. "I told him I was ripping up his letters. I conveniently forgot to mention that you told me to."

I smiled but felt a little sad. Someone knocked on the door but no one moved. I looked at Colin but he kept eating. Papa was soaking up the blood and I rolled my eyes.

"Oh, don't worry," I said sarcastically and stood up. "I'll get it."

Papa just shrugged and I scoffed. I opened the door and gasped as a large bouquet of flowers was shoved in my face.

"Oh," I said in shock. I looked around it. "Mr. Bailey."

"For you," he said awkwardly.

Papa came storming over and threw the door open wider. "Leave her alone, Mr. La-! Mr. Bailey," he said, surprised, too. "Er, forgive me. I thought you were someone else."

"That's all right."

"What brings you here?" he asked, letting Solomon walk in.

"A little bird told me that Lady Kendra has been ill," he said. "I thought I would come to give her something to brighten her room."

"Flowers," I said, waving them in Papa's face when he looked confused.

"Yes. Flowers," he said slowly.

"Mr. Bailey, good morning!" Mama said and he bowed to her. "We weren't expecting visitors."

"I just came to give Lady Kendra flowers," he said then glanced at Papa. "And, if the duke agrees to it, take her for a brief walk."

"It is up to Kendra," Mama said before Papa could answer and he glared at her.

"Sure," I said and passed the flowers to Cecile. "Some fresh air should do me some good."

Mama handed me my cloak and I clasped it at my neck. I was still a little weak but fit enough for a short walk. Solomon offered his arm and I took it. He led me down the stairs and I looked over my shoulder. I rolled my eyes. Papa was slowly closing the door, watching us with narrowed eyes.

"I'm sorry you've been ill," Solomon said.

"Thank you but I'm feeling better."

"I see you got the gift."

I looked down at the necklace and smiled. "Yes, Colin gave it to me just this morning, in fact."

We stepped to the side as another couple walked down a small forest path. Many couples took this path on their first walks or when they wanted to be alone together. It made me feel slightly awkward but, for some reason, I didn't mind.

"Ah, glorious shade," Solomon said in relief.

"Yes, one of the perks of being a lady," I said. "Constant shade."

He looked at my parasol and nodded. "Yes, your complexion does suggest the need for shade."

"But yours doesn't," I lied.

"I get hot easily," he said smoothly. "These suits can get quite warm."

"I see."

Suddenly, he walked off the path and I stopped.

"Come on," he said when he noticed I hadn't moved.

"I'm not going in there alone with you," I said. "It's inappropriate."

He smirked at me. "Oh, come now Lady Kendra," he said. "Surely you aren't afraid."

"I'm not," I said defensively.

"We're not going far," he said, holding out his hand. "Besides, something tells me that you can handle yourself in a fight."

I sighed, relenting, and took his hand. We stepped over roots carefully until we broke through. I immediately let go of his hand and we sat down on a grassy slope. We could see the ships and some people on the slope, too, taking advantage of the last warm air before fall came in.

"And yet there are some awful parts of being a lady," I complained as I sat down and my skirts puffed out around me.

He laughed as I punched them down.

"Yes, I can imagine it gets rather... uncomfortable."

"To say the least," I sighed and glanced at him. "So, Mr. Bailey, why did you move to America?" I tested.

He shrugged, leaning back on his elbows. "London was just getting over crowded. So, I packed up my stuff and got on the first boat here."

"And your business partner?"

He chuckled. "Still mad at him, eh? I met him on the way here. He really isn't that bad of a guy; he just makes some stupid mistakes sometimes."

"What about the other men?"

"Just some fools he met at the tavern," he said. "You can relax, you know. I'm not going to hurt you."

I was still sitting upright.

"I'm fine," I said and cleared my throat. "How old are you?"

"I will be turning the grand age of 29 in the winter," he said and sounded a little bitter about it.

I wondered what his true age was.

I looked over at him with an arched brow.

"What?" he asked.

"You lied to me," I said. I thought I saw fear flicker in his eyes. "You said you came here for your sister. You didn't really have a sister, did you?"

He looked back at the river. "Yes, I did. She died in London. I don't like talking about it, okay?"

"Sorry," I said quickly. "I didn't mean to upset you."

He sighed. "I'm sorry I snapped. It's just hard to talk about."

I didn't know what to say so we just sat in silence, watching. It was actually pretty nice and I felt like relaxing. If my last experience had taught me anything, though, it was that being too comfortable could lead to a broken heart. I looked around for inspiration.

"Where did you get this necklace?"

"Hmm?" he asked, looking at me again. "Oh. It was something from London I got last week." He pointed at the emerald. "Those emeralds came from the Queen's personal supply."

I frowned. "I'm wearing stolen jewelry?"

He laughed. "Of course not. He bought it after she died. Her son was selling some of it off." He shook his head. "So disrespectful."

"It looks like it's going to rain," I said a bit later. "Perhaps we should go back, Mr. Bailey."

"You can call me Solomon, by the way," he said and helped me to my feet.

I brushed the grass from my skirts and looked at him. Our eyes met and I felt something strange.

"Maybe someday I will," I said.

The End

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