I groaned as I sat in the carriage, rubbing my temples.
"Good Lord," I moaned. "What happened to me last night?"
Ben just shrugged. "Maybe you fell out of your bed?" he suggested.
"Maybe," I said slowly. I touched the back of my head. "Yeah, there's a bump. It feels like more, though...."
"Here," Ben said and offered his wrist.
I drank until the bump disappeared and stared out the carriage window. For some reason, I felt unusually lethargic. I put my head against the side of the carriage and shut my eyes.
This morning had been strange. No one would look me in the eye except for Kendra who was curious about me for some reason. She looked as tired as I was, too. I didn't normally get so tired on trips with long travel so I was concerned. I also felt like I was missing blood. But that was impossible.
I growled, irritated, and sighed. I knew I would get an answer from anyone so I closed my eyes, falling asleep immediately.
"Are you positive I didn't have a nightmare, Mama?" I asked.
"Not that I am aware of," she shrugged.
I looked across the carriage at Colin. "What about you?"
He shook his head, flipping through the novel he was reading.
"I didn't hear anything." He sighed. "This is the last time I don't mark my spot in a book."
"You guys aren't telling me the truth," I pouted but they didn't answer so I leaned into Mama.
Something had happened last night but I couldn't think what it was. I did have a strange dream about Solomon but that was probably just nothing. I was confused, though. It had been so vivid.
I looked at Colin. It was just after lunch and he was fast asleep. I cleared my throat.
"Mama?" I whispered and she looked at me as I sat up straight. "I did have one strange dream last night. I was lying down and Solomon was standing beside me. Blood was dripping down his wrist and fingers. It dropped into my mouth."
"Is that all?" she asked and I nodded. "I am sure it was nothing. Sometimes vampires have dreams like that."
I nodded slowly and yawned. I moved closer and she put an arm around me, sighing heavily.
"What's wrong?" I asked, putting my head on her chest.
"It is nothing, my sweet," she said, kissing the top of my head. "I can tell you have reached the end of your puberty, though."
I nodded. "I can tell, too. Maybe now I'll stop fighting with Papa."
She laughed. "That would be nice."
For the rest of the trip, I slept. When we got to the docks, we were half an hour early so we got in line. We only managed one cabin but it didn't really bother any of us. As we stood in line, I heard Solomon and Ben whispering between each other. I felt strange knowing that soon we would be parting ways.
"How long is the boat ride?" I asked.
"Two days," Mama answered and I nodded thoughtfully.
Once again, I yawned and sighed, frustrated.
"You're not being honest with me, Ben," I hissed as we hung back behind the Moreau family.
He shook his head. "It's nothing, Solomon," he hissed back. "You'll be fine."
"I feel like I'm missing blood," I said through clenched teeth, gripping his arm. "Now tell me what the hell happened last night."
Before he could answer, a whistle blew and we started to board the boat. I let go of him and looked at Kendra. She was leaning into Duchess Camille, looking ready to pass out, too. I was a little jealous. At least she had her mother to talk to about this.
Then I looked at Duke Erik. Would he talk to me? I really was worried. Missing blood wasn't good and I didn't have my master here to tell me about it.
The duke led us all to the cabin and he put the men on the floor, letting the women sleep on the bed. At first Kendra tried to offer to sleep on the floor but Duke Erik shut her down. Finally, I couldn't stand it.
I dropped my bag off and went up to the deck. I took in deep breaths of the salty ocean air and hung my head. Despite what Ben said, something was wrong.
"Hi," a soft voice and I looked up, trying to smile. "Can I join you?"
"Sure," I said and Kendra stood beside me. We watched the stars. "Can't sleep either?"
"No," she said. "Tell me, do our traveling companions seem to be acting strangely to you?"
I looked over my shoulder. "Yes. I can't get an answer out of any of them, though. What about you?"
She shook her head. "They won't answer me, either." She leaned against the railing. "You don't see many stars in New York or London."
I stared up at the sky. "No, you don't."
I glanced over at her. She was looking up at the stars and I had the strangest urge to... kiss her? I sighed and rubbed my eyes, getting more irritable. I didn't want to take it out on her so I cleared my throat to excuse myself. When I looked at her again, though, she was doubled over.
"Lady Kendra! Are you all right?"
"I forgot to feed," she breathed, swaying. "I don't like doing it in front of Colin. It makes him uncomfortable. I-I need to get back to Mama."
"I'll help you," I said but she fell to her knees. Shit. Without stopping to think about it, I slit my arm. "Here."
"Are you sure?" she asked.
"Just enough to get you downstairs."
"Okay," she said but still looked doubtful.
When she fed from me, though, I felt something even more strange. She pulled back quickly just as running footsteps announced her mother.
"Are you all right?" she asked, running to Kendra. "I woke up and you were missing!"
"I'm fine," she breathed, licking the rest of my blood off her lips.
I frowned at my arm as it healed over.
"I need to feed," she said to her mother. "I forgot to earlier. Mr. Bailey helped me."
"He did?" Duchess Moreau asked, looking at me fearfully.
"Just a little," I said.
"Come on," she said, helping Kendra walk. "You both need to get some sleep."
I nodded, watching them walk back. I looked at my arm again. It felt... familiar when Kendra had fed from me. But that was ridiculous. She hasn't even touched my arm, let alone feed from it. I shook my head and sighed, going back to the room.
Kendra was alseep already and I got down to where my bag was, using it as a pillow. I didn't have much room to stretch out and squeezed my eyes shut, willing sleep to come.
I woke shortly after noon and fed from Ben. The family was all on the upper deck but I stayed in our room, trying to keep myself from going insane. I felt even worse now. My head was heavy and I kept rubbing my eyes.
I looked up and blinked slowly at the duke.
"Duke Moreau," I said with a nod.
"Are you all right?" he asked.
"Funny you should ask. I don't know."
He sat down on the bed and faced me. "You have been acting strange."
I sighed. "I'm not- Something's wrong, Duke Moreau," I groaned. I told him everything that has been happening. "I don't get it." I hesitated. "Did the duchess tell you what happened last night?"
He nodded. "She said you gave Kendra some of your blood."
"Yeah.... When I did, it felt like she's fed from me before but that's impossible." I rubbed my eyes again. "Is it possible for me to have lost blood in the night?"
"Yes," he said, "if you have bad nightmares."
"But I don't," I said in frustration. "I never dream, Duke Moreau! I don't fucking understand! No amount of Ben's blood helps!"
"Where is your master?" he asked.
"Dead," I spat. "Murdered by Duke Abbott."
Something flashed in the duke's eyes but I ignored it. I was tired of stupid mysteries.
"If your master were here, you would get your nourishment from him."
I scoffed. "Great. So I'll be like this forever."
"No," he said. He looked uncomfortable. "There is someone you can feed from but it is...." He sighed. "I am reluctant to speak of it. I do not even know if it will work."
"Who is it?" I asked. "You?"
"No," he said. "You see, when you cannot get blood from your master, then you get it from your star."
"My star?" I repeated.
"Sorry. That's what Kendra says instead of mate."
"I don't have one," I said bitterly. "I never have and never will."
"Why do you say that?" he asked.
"It doesn't matter," I muttered.
"Well, it is my belief, that if you feed from-"
"Everything okay?" Kendra asked, poking her head in.
She had dark circles under her eyes, too, and Duke Moreau looked on the verge of the same frustration I was.
"Everything is fine, Kendra. Go back to your mother."
She frowned but obeyed.
"Who can I feed from?" I asked desperately. "Please, Duke Moreau. I can't keep living like this. I'll go mad."
"Your mate," he whispered.
"I told you I don't have one!" I shouted, balling my hands into fists. "My master made it clear that I never will!"
His gaze was pitying and I shook my head, looking away. He stood up and cleared his throat.
"Kendra," he called up the stairs and I frowned. "Come down here, please."
"Coming, Papa!" she called back.
"Why are you calling for her?" I asked.
Duke Moreau just shook his head. "Trust me."
I stared and my tired mind started to put things together.
"Wait," I said and his eyes met mine. "Are you saying that you think Lady Kendra is my-?"
"You called for me?" Kendra asked.
The duke was about to answer but the ticket master came by.
"We'll be reaching the dock in ten minutes," he said and the duke sighed.
"Thank you," he said. "We will finish talking about this later."