Chapter 90 - Cat
Byron waited until they reached the boat before he greeted them with relief and honest welcome on his stern face. He hugged Sarah close to him with none of that reserve in his manner. The vampire women glanced away quickly, fighting the all too human loss they felt at that moment and a tinge of jealousy. Byron was a good man and a good father.
The storm lashed at the ship with uncharacteristic violence, and in the wake of its passing, Rowan stood at the prow staring out at sea. She acknowledged that the storms that had to yet to rock their lives, would not pass with so little damage.
They enjoyed the luxuries of the ship for a few days, Byron had stocked up well on the few comforts they enjoyed, and a proper bath didn’t hurt. Not a tiny bit of water in an even tinier basin, but a real bath in a huge tub that Byron acquired while they were gone.
It was the first such luxury that Rowan had ever known, and Alena laughed as Rowan played with the bubbles, but inside her, something became immeasurably sad. She grew up with such luxuries and never appreciated them until she got to see her life through Rowan’s eyes.
Byron carefully stocked the brandy, and wine Marcus enjoyed, from ports near and far, into his personal store. As an unsubtle reminder, there were dressmaking materials of every kind imaginable, and Rowan shook her head at this extravagance.
“All dressed up and nowhere to go,” Rowan scoffed, but Alena had the light of longing in her cool gaze as her fingers caressed the materials.
“I bet you’ve never worn a proper dress in your life,” Alena murmured, and Rowan got that closed off look that Alena hadn’t seen in a while.
“Let’s say - been there, done that, and didn’t care for the ride,” Rowan countered grimly.
“Martin never had much flair for dressing. I don’t imagine it translated into the clothes he bought for you,” Alena murmured as their eyes met and held, but there was no malice in her words, only something oddly wistful.
“Nor do I think it was what Father intended,” Alena continued, and Rowan would have shut her out, but she didn’t allow it. Rowan ran away from the truth for long enough.
"Don't allow Martin to color your judgment, sister," Alena said almost harshly.
“You make yourself a dress if you want to, but I like my clothes,” Rowan declined with a tight smile and a touch of hurt in her eyes.
“That is a pity, mistress,” Sarah commented from the door, and from Alena’s lack of reaction, she was not caught as unawares as Rowan. Rowan had to admit to herself that her emotions had a way of clouding her senses.
“If I had a body like that? I’d flaunt it,” Sarah continued as she straightened her white flannel nightclothes.
“Body like what?” Rowan asked with amused satire.
“Let’s see: tall, graceful, just enough of everything in the right places? Men have killed for less,” Sarah counted off on her fingers and her cheeks colored when she remembered who she spoke too.
“Sorry mistress, that was forward of me,” Sarah apologized as she curtsied, but she wasn’t sorry.
“Forward of what?” Alena asked with amused tolerance, and Sera colored even more.
“What’s wrong with your body?” Rowan asked to take the focus off herself, and Sera smiled as she shook her head.
“It suits my face,” she chuckled as dryly as her father would have. Rowan frowned.
“Nice and homely, but I don’t turn heads. Enough for a roll in the hay, but no gentlemen would write plays in my honor.” There was an alarming coldness in her eyes when she spoke of a roll in the hay, but mirth replaced it in an instant.
“I think both of you are badly in need of a mirror,” Alena drawled, and at the mention of mirror Sarah got this odd expression on her face.
“We have a reflection,” Alena teased.
“Sometimes,” Rowan chose to confuse the issue.
“We’ll have to convince her,” Alena sighed dramatically, and Sarah nodded with a smirk.
“My mother was a seamstress, and I know a few tricks,” Sarah informed them with both sadness and strength in her eyes.
“Did you want something?” Rowan tried to distract them, and from the long-suffering look the other two shared, they knew.
“I just came...” Sarah started, looking both uncomfortable and guilty.
“To see the kittens?” Alena asked, and as if Rowan only then understood what had been bothering her, her eyes lighted up with something akin to excitement. She let Sarah pass, but she followed. Sarah shifted a container, and there they were.
The black and white cat lay on her side with all the pride of a mother, and Sera took care to rub her first before removing one of the tinier kittens from the cozy little nest.
The kitten was black, but for three perfect white socks on its feet and a white blaze that ran from its throat to its tummy.
The cat stared warily at Rowan with an intensity that warned that she sensed another predator. Sarah held the little kitten out to Rowan.
“I don’t think its mother would appreciate it if I touched her kitten,” Rowan murmured and in her eyes reflected the longing of a child who had never owned a pet of her own.
“Jesse,” Sarah warned with authority, and when the cat made a soft growl sound, Sarah leaned in closer.
“If she tries anything we’ll put her in her place, but until then? You’re fat on their food and no milk for ill-mannered pets,” the cat blinked as if it understood, and Sarah dumped the kitten into Rowan’s hands.