"Oh, I am going to kill your father," Mama said suddenly and we looked at her in shock.
"What happened?" I asked but she shook her head.
"Nothing," she sighed.
I shrugged and went back to my book. Mama and Papa had a telepathic link with one another. They could receive visions of each other. I'm sure they were communicating with each other as we traveled. Had Papa let slip a secret?
I was getting anxious the further northeast we got. I hadn't seen Carol in many years. She had lived with us in the village and escaped when the bandits burned it to the ground. We didn't find out she had survived until she sent us a letter. After we moved to New York, newspapers were printed about how excited they were to have a family of dukes and duchesses living among them. She sent us a letter and we would send letters to each other periodically. She was too old to travel so couldn't make it for my parties but she always sent me something.
I dug the old handkerchief out of my pocket and smiled fondly at it. It was the first time I had something so fine and she had stitched KM on it. That was also the first time anyone had touched on the subject of my adoption.
When the carriages finally pulled to a stop, I was the first one out. I stretched my legs and back and heard a squeal. I looked up and laughed, meeting Carol for a hug.
"Oh, it's so good to see you!" she said and I laughed. "You've become so beautiful!"
"It's great to see you, too," I said, kissing each cheek.
"Camille!" she said and hugged Mama tightly.
The two women hugged each other longer and Carol giggled when Papa snuck up behind her.
"You look exactly like your father," she said to Colin.
Colin laughed awkwardly. "Yeah, that's what they keep telling me."
"These are our companions," Papa said and beckoned for Solomon and Ben to come forward. "Solomon Bailey, Ben Smith, this is our dear friend Carol Hardy."
"It's a pleasure to meet you," Solomon said and they each kissed her hand. "We've heard much."
"Oh, aren't you sweet?" she laughed. "Come in! You must be starving."
Mama led the way in and I looked around. Carol had purchased this inn after her husband had died. He left her everything as a way to atone for what he did. After Carol couldn't bear him a child, he started having many affairs with women in the village. The majority of the children there were illegitimate. When I asked her in a letter why she didn't leave him, she told me she loved him too much. I couldn't imagine being with someone unfaithful but she was happy now.
"How was your journey?" she asked as we sat at a long table.
"Uneventful," I shrugged.
"Are you sure we are not putting you out?" Papa asked as we were each given our own room.
Carol laughed. "I'm sure."
Food was put before us but cold air blew through the inn's windows and Carol sighed as we shivered.
"I'm sorry. I wish I had the money to fix those dratted things," she said. "But travelers have been thin lately with the weather getting so cold."
Something heavy draped on my shoulders and I looked down. Solomon, who was sitting beside me, had gone to get me his coat.
"Thank you," I said, surprised.
He just nodded and went back to his meal.
"So, you're dukes and duchesses now," Carol said.
Papa nodded. "Life has been kind to us."
"I would have to agree. You look like you haven't aged a day!" She shook her head, suddenly getting sad. "I remember when you were taken, Camille. I still feel so guilty about that. That man, Charles, was awful."
"I'm going to bed early," I mumbled and went to my room, shutting it firmly behind me.
I crawled onto the bed and looked out the window. Cold air was still blowing through and I pulled Solomon's coat around me more. For some reason, the tight fabric gave me more comfort than a blanket would.
"Come in," I said when I sensed Mama on the other side of the door.
She sighed and wrapped me in her arms.
"I forgot she didn't know," I mumbled, hiding my face in her neck.
"I am sorry, my love," she said.
Charles had sold me to a whore house when I was 12 years old. I escaped but got caught again. Instead of taking me back to the whore house, they tried to feed me to Camille. After rescuing me, we went back to the village they were living in. He showed up with another man, proclaiming themselves to be vampire hunters.
He took Mama with him and that's when we realized Mama had a tracker in her arm. Before Papa killed him, I spoke to him. I still struggled with what I said.
Papa was on the other side of the door and Mama got up.
"Give this back to Solomon, please," I muttered, passing it to her.
She nodded and kissed my forehead. Papa took her place. He sat beside me and held my hands. When the door shut, he put his forehead on mine. I shut my eyes tightly. Neither of us spoke for a while. Our mutual guilt and grief wrapped around us.
"You were justified," he whispered.
"I keep seeing the look on his face!" I sobbed and he pulled me into a hug.
"Shh," he said, rocking me.
"I was so cruel to him!"
"You were justified," he repeated firmly. "And right."
I sniffled. "I don't resent you," I whispered and his arms tightened. "I know you think I do. I told you to do it."
He shook his head. "Telling me to do it and knowing I did are two different things, Kendra."
I sighed. "I love you, Papa."
"And I love you. Do you need some help falling asleep?"
"Is she all right?" Ben asked as Duchess Moreau returned.
Her eyes were tired and sad. "She will be fine," she sighed.
"I'm sorry," Carol said. "I had forgotten how hard that had been on her."
"What happened?" I asked and she glanced at the duchess.
"You can tell them," she said.
"Two men came to our village claiming they were vampire hunters," she explained. She shook her head. "Howard tried to tell them that vampires weren't real but they wouldn't listen. We thought it would be harmless to let them do their inspections and leave. They took Camille and were very cruel to her."
"I'm sorry," I said to the duchess but she just shook her head.
An awkward silence fell as she passed me my jacket. When the meal was done, I offered to clean up but Carol waved me off.
"You're my guests," she said then she smiled at me. "You'll make a wonderful husband for dear Kendra."
I turned pink. "Oh, no, it's not like that," I said quickly.
She just winked and walking to the back. I pulled on my collar and went into my room. It was beside Kendra's and I could hear the duke talking to her quietly. She responded a couple times then he began to hum. I looked up at the ceiling. This trip was turning into something more than I thought it would. I shut my eyes.
-Kendra and Solomon-
"Undress me, Kendra," Benjamin purred.
I shook as I unbuttoned his shirt. He smiled down at me then had me get on the bed. His eyes ran over my body as his hands massaged my sides.
"So sweet," he breathed, running his nose over the vein in my neck.
"Please don't hurt me," I whimpered.
He pushed my legs open. "It will hurt at first but the pain will go away."
"And you won't hurt Mama and Papa, right?"
He smirked at me. "Really Kendra? As if I would agree to such a ridiculous deal."
"You lied to me!" I sobbed.
He just laughed as he sank his teeth into me.
Ben threw the door open to Solomon's room and shook him.
"Come on, Solomon!" he shouted. "Wake up!"
He slapped him and Solomon shot up. His eyes were cloudy, though, as he stumbled to his feet. Ben tried to stop him, knowing he was sleepwalking. He bumped into the walls while he went to Kendra's room where the duke and duchess were panicking.
"Damn it, Camille!" Erik said. "These were supposed to stop!"
Kendra was screaming and thrashing in her bed, blood seeping through her dress. Solomon bit into his wrist and pushed past her parents.
"What are you doing?" Erik demanded. "Hey!"
He tried to pull Solomon back but Solomon put his wrist to Kendra's lips. She drank and immediately stopped. Her body relaxed and his did, too. He swayed on the spot and fainted, falling onto his back.
We all stared at the young man. Ben knelt down beside him and tapped on his face.
"Solomon," he panted. "Wake up."
I shook my head, stopping him. "No," I said and he frowned. "Just-Just take him back to bed." Ben nodded and picked him up. "Do not mention this to him in the morning."
"Why not?" he asked.
"Just trust me."
"Yes, Duke Moreau."
When he was gone, I shut the door and looked at Kendra. Her face was peaceful again. Camille was changing her into a different gown and sat beside her on the bed. There was a drop of blood on the corner of her mouth and Camille wiped it on her mouth and Kendra sucked it off of her finger. She turned in her sleep with a sigh and smile.
Camille stared at me. "What just happened, Erik?" she whispered.
I put my arm around her waist, watching our sleeping daughter.
"I have no idea, Camille," I breathed.