The buoys rang in the harbor as seagulls squawked merrily in the morning air. I groaned and rolled over, wishing for more sleep. I sensed it before I heard it and pulled my pillow over my head.
"No," I whined before he could knock. "I don't want to."
"Come on Kendra," my little brother, Colin, said. "It's time for breakfast."
"I'm tired. I'll come down later."
"Yeah, I'll let you be the one to tell Father that."
"Ugh. Fine. Go. Tell them I'm getting dressed."
I heard him leave and sighed, reluctantly dragging myself out of bed. I tossed my nightgown in the hamper and picked a casual dress. As I got ready, I looked out my window at the New York City harbor. We had been in New York ever since Colin was two, nearly twenty years ago. It was because of his nature that we had to leave. Even though Benjamin was dead, some of his 'children' were just as cruel as he was. The fact that Mama gave birth to a human was enough to bring them out of the shadows.
We tried going to Romania first. Papa loved Romania. However, the ruling clan were uncomfortable with us being there. Word had spread about Mama's vampire and they didn't want us living among them. Papa was furious but I could understand their trepidation. I wasn't able to witness her vampire, but I heard it was enough to make even Benjamin beg for mercy.
We came to New York first as just your normal, run of the mill family. Papa's desire to be social soon overcame him, though, and we rose in society. We were now one of the richest and most respected families in the area. My brother's good looks and natural charisma were enough to keep people from asking why my parents were still so young looking.
As for me, Papa did everything he could to keep me under the radar. I had many young men come to me over the years, wanting to court me. Though I received the bite at twelve years old, I kept aging until I turned nineteen. Freddy said it was the nature of child vampires.
"Think about it," he said to my parents. "Have you ever really seen a child vampire?"
Papa frowned. "No, I suppose not. I guess I just assumed they stopped aging like we did."
"Nah. Their bodies finish growin' then they go from there."
I sat at my vanity to do my makeup and brush my hair. I had long black hair that I never put up. As I brushed it, I stared in the mirror. My eyes changed to Mama's silver; she said that's what normally happens when you get turned. When I asked why she didn't have Papa's amber eyes, she said it was because those weren't his natural eye colors. I was very grateful I didn't have that hateful amber. There were some days I couldn't even look Papa in the eyes. I didn't blame him, of course, but all I could see was Benjamin.
I shut my eyes.
"No," I whispered to myself. "No, none of that."
I heard a meow and grinned down at my cat. Unbeknownst to Papa, Uncle Ilya had helped me find a way to extend her life. Cammie was as old as Colin but looked like a young adult cat. Papa didn't really like cats, but he knew how much she meant to me so he let her stay.
"I guess I should go down now," I said with a sigh.
We lived in a large manor, not unlike the one we had in Shadow's Hollow. I missed the old town but, from what we last heard, it had bloomed into a city that could rival London. We had no intention of going back there, though, not after everything Mama and I had been through.
"Kendra," Colin groaned up the stairs. "Seriously! How long does it take you to get ready?"
I rolled my eyes and turned the corner.
"I'm right here," I said. "Goodness. Learn some patience."
"Father said you had to be here this morning," he told me as we walked to the dining room. "Don't ask me why, I don't know."
"Fine," I grumbled.
Tensions between Papa and I had been at a high lately. It wasn't always like this. We were close when I first started living with them. He wanted to make up for accidentally killing my birth mother when I was only two. After seeing everything Mama went through, though, I never really blamed him.
But something has changed. We fight almost every other day while Mama tries to be the mediator. Some days I even fight with her. My patience was always close to the snapping point and our last argument still rankled with me.
Mama wanted to find me my soulmate. I wasn't interested. Even though I would never tell them, I was scared. I didn't want someone who ended up like Benjamin.
Papa was sure that it wasn't the case; that I was only thirty-two and had only been a vampire for twenty of those years. It wasn't long enough and Mama eventually relented. I was with Papa on this one. Surely it's just some weird vampire puberty that we haven't heard of.
That was the running theme with my family. We were firsts for a lot of people. Mama's vampire was the first one they had seen be so strong right away, she was the first vampire to get pregnant in many years, Colin was the first human born of two vampires, and now my emotions and my own vampire were in turmoil.
My vampire has only come out once and that was when Colin was still a baby. Men had broken into our home to kill him and I killed one of them before my parents brought me out of it. I had nightmares for weeks about it. Since then, I've always been good at keeping her at bay. Lately she's been more restless.
When we walked into the dining room, my parents were both talking in low tones. They stopped and Papa stood to embrace me.
"Good morning, sweet," he said.
"Morning, Papa," I returned, stifling a yawn. "Good morning, Mama."
She kissed my cheek before sitting back down.
"How are you feeling this morning?" she asked, studying my face.
I sighed. "I'm just fine."
"No residue?" Papa asked.
"No. It was just the nightmare."
"I'm sure it's nothing," Mama said and I smiled a little at her.
In the beginning, she spoke with the vocabulary of a duchess for she had been one. Camilla Crowe went missing one night only to return ten years later, claiming to have been abducted. Then her father, Duke Archibald Crowe, caught her feeding one night and had her tortured. I had been presented to her as a source of food but she spared me. Over time, things like using contractions became easier for her.
"What do you plan to do today?" my papa asked, changing the conversation.
I shrugged. "I was thinking a walk."
"Colin has lessons today," he said.
I groaned. "Papa, I can walk on my own. I'm not going to run off."
"You know that's not what I'm worried about," he said. "We have an image we have to maintain, Kendra."
I narrowed my eyes at him. "That image is the same one you made Mama stop doing."
"Kendra," she said, her tone warning me to stop.
Papa's eyes narrowed, too. "Don't keep challenging me, Kendra," he said in a low voice. "You are not to walk around without an escort."
I crossed my arms. "Colin gets to! Why can't I!?"
"We've been through this. It's too risky!"
"Fine," I snapped. "Then I'll just stay locked up in my bedroom like every other day!"
Without even eating anything, I left the dining room and stomped back to my room.