As that somber year progressed, Claire’s angry outbursts that had been directed at Sean for so many months already had now become nearly nonexistent. Instead, she had started resembling more and more of that empty shell she had been before their move to England. At this point, Sean found himself wishing to see her anger again, for at least if there was anger, that meant there was still some spark left inside her. Lately though, it seemed as though there were barely even an ember left.
On that particular night, as well as many other recent ones, Sean found himself translating his own feelings into darker and darker writing, songs, and paintings. He hoped that on their monthly trip to market, the servants could perhaps find a buyer for any of his works, which would allow some other form of income for them while not violating his current ban from the mortal world, and still manage to help alleviate some the strain Claire had been under lately.
Though even his inspiration was lacking that night as he tossed aside the brush that had barely touched the canvas in front of him for hours now. Instead, he let out a sigh that combined both frustration and sadness as he sat there upon the floor in front of the nearly blank canvas and ran his hands through his long, loose locks of strawberry blonde.
It was in that moment that one of their two current servants, Isabelle, quietly appeared in the doorway of the drawing room that Sean had been using as his studio. Isabelle was a mere girl of seventeen who had long reddish brown locks and sad blue-gray eyes. Though she was nearly skin and bones, she still somehow managed to have an understated beauty to her, as Toreadors did all have a weakness for anything pretty. Unlike many of their former servants over the years, Isabelle had not come to them from one of the plethora of brothels that dotted the London streets. Rather, she had been left orphaned, homeless, and in poor health when her family had been lost to war and sickness not long before meeting Claire and being taken into their home.
“You wanted me to come tell you when it was nearing eleven?” she greeted him softly, not able to hide the frown that his current state had garnered in her as well.
“What’s that?” Sean turned to her, obviously caught in his own head prior to her arrival.
“It’s eleven. You said to come see you about then” she offered in the same small voice as she remained in the doorway of the room.
“I did?” he repeated, his distraction obvious.
“Yes, that’s usually when you… eat” she decided on, those sad eyes moving downwards.
Sean then looked down, “yes I suppose it is” he agreed, his own voice nearly as quiet as hers.
Isabelle tentatively waited for him to stand and move toward her, or at least gesture for her to come to him for a few more moments of silence, Sean still seeming lost in thought despite her reminder.
“My lord?” she finally spoke again, after a few more moments.
Sean couldn’t help scoffing slightly as her words finally broke through his thoughts enough for him to stand at last “sorry, just very distracted of late, though that’s probably obvious” he added, making an attempt at offering a smile to the young girl “And please, you know just Sean is fine” he added.
“You and the La—Claire, do seem distracted quite often” she then remembered herself, “not that it’s my place to say.”
Sean then looked over at her with a slight crease to his brow, “you do know that just because we call you servants, it’s not the most literal of title for yourself and Jonathan” he stated, referencing the young fair haired, blue eyed, somewhat androgynous male servant that Claire had also collected for them since leaving the theatre behind, or rather, being forced to leave it behind.
“Literal?” she spoke softly, trying to determine his meaning as she had previously belonged to a family who had not the means or the desire to educate their daughters all that well in that day and age.
“It means you’re not typical…” he then thought better of his word usage that time, “it means you’re not really servants, like most wealthy families employ. It’s simply a kinder term for…” his voice then trailed off again, “it means that you’re not like the servants of those rich families; You don’t have to bow and simper and address us as though we were your betters” he finally decided on.
“Did I do something wrong, my… Sean” she corrected herself then, her worry obvious.
Sean then sighed with a shake of his head before giving up on his attempt at making the young woman more comfortable, “no, you’re fine” he simply stated before gesturing for her to approach.
That she seemed to understand better as she easily moved to cross the floor to him. Sean then leaned down to gently sink those fangs into her neck as her breath shuddered at the feel of his fangs penetrating her pale flesh and blessing her with that Kiss, her fingers inadvertently moving to cling desperately to the material of his shirt as he took what was needed from her while simultaneously attempting to try to mask the pleasure he too received from their interaction.
When the Kiss ended at last, Isabelle and Sean both needed a few moments to recover from the pleasure before she finally, shakily managed to step back from him, though she was still a bit lightheaded as she struggled to return her breathing and heart rate to a normal pace once more.
After another moment, she swallowed and took a breath before looking back up at where he stood a good eight inches above her own height of just barely five foot eight “will there be anything else… Sean” she managed. Though her current state, which was nearly identical to that of post coital afterglow, did make it sound as though she had merely breathed his name rather than spoke it.
Still recovering as well, Sean did take an extra moment before looking back down into her expectant face “actually, there may be” he finally managed.
Isabelle took another shaky breath before responding “what’s that?”
Allowing himself another moment, he looked around the room and gestured for her to follow him to take a seat upon the richly upholstered red sofa that sat a ways off from his collection of paints and canvases. Though her nervousness was obvious, Isabelle still followed him to that seat without question.
“I have to ask you something”
“Yes?” she returned in a small voice.
Sean then took another momentary pause before speaking, “Does Claire ever talk to you?”
That question did seem to catch the girl off guard a moment as well; “talk?” was the first response she could manage.
“Claire has been close with some of our servants in the past” he began “and I just wondered if you too had become friends as well” he decided on.
Isabelle seemed a little thrown by his explanation as well “Claire barely talks, at all” she answered softly.
“Not even to you?” Sean asked worriedly.
“That was what I was thinking of asking you” she stated with a small smile, nervous though it was.
Sean then looked down again at the fact that Claire’s emotional distance was not only noticeable to even a blood bound servant, but also the fact that it also wasn’t exclusive to only Sean himself.
“I just don’t understand” he spoke quietly, his own emotions failing to remain as well hidden as he always seemed to keep them when around anyone other than his own wife.
“Understand?” Isabelle repeated softly.
“I understood her being angry. The reasons for that were obvious. But what I don’t understand is why such sadness and emptiness? I mean, I don’t understand the reasons for it. Back in America, I knew that she felt isolated from the human world and it tore at her” he then continued, almost as though all his thoughts could not bear to be trapped inside his own head any longer, “but here, now, she’s out there among them every night, and still, she acts as though she’s hardly even here herself. I just don’t understand it” he added the last sentence more quietly.
Isabelle was silent another moment before allowing a response at last “have you asked her?”
Sean did get a little caught by that suggestion being posed by such a docile girl, but he respected that she at least managed to share it “it’s just very hard for me to find a way to talk to her myself, I suppose. I’m always afraid that anything I say, or don’t say, will trigger all that anger that she still has to feel for me, and…” he looked down again, “I hate to be the cause of that anger, but I also can’t bear to see this despair in her either. I just want to be able to fix it…but I just don’t know how to” he confessed at last.
Isabelle sighed sadly, her empathy obvious “If only you could find a way to see inside her head.”
Claire had only one hour left to perform that night before she could return home and let the inevitable sunrise at last bring another of her empty nights to a close. As she moved to the soft music in the parlor, her body was only covered from the waist down, and even that undergarment was so thin, it left no part of her body to the imaginations of the paying customers. She continued to force herself to move to the slow pace of the song, while refusing to lift her eyes to meet any of the libidinous gazes of the men all around her who found excuses to touch themselves as they stared longingly at her, imagining that it was her pale hands bringing them to that moment of pleasure instead.
It was then that a silence fell upon the parlor, leaving no sound but the music as some nobleman or other of note entered the establishment that night. Rather than looking to see who this ever so highly valued customer was, Claire simply forced herself to keep moving to the music, trying to let her mind fool her into believing she was anywhere else at all that night.
Though her attempt at mentally removing herself from her actual present situation was soon foiled as her employer called her over from the pedestal that was her nightly home for the last several months now.
Swallowing hard, Claire attempted to cover herself as much as possible as she stepped down to move through the hooting crowd toward the older woman, having to dodge more than a few instances of drunken men groping at her as she hurried through the crowd.
“What?” she answered, not able to keep the sharpness out of her tone as she finally reached Marta’s side.
Marta raised a brow slightly at the tone, but she had a more important reason to speak to Claire than to waste time scolding her for her obvious mood, “we have a special request from a very important man” she informed.
“Request?” Claire returned as she looked up at the older woman, still holding her arms over her bare breasts, not quite able to fully choke back her slight glare at what Marta may be deeming to ask of her, considering the terms she had agreed to when Claire first accepted employment there.
“Yes, he wishes to meet with you in one of the back rooms. He’s willing to pay a great deal” she added as if that would help soften the request.
“I am not a whore” Claire exclaimed more loudly then she intended, which only caused loud laughter from many of those surrounding her there in the parlor that night, whores and clientele alike.
“Glad to hear it” a man’s voice broke through the cackles of the crowd as he spoke from a place now close behind Claire, which immediately caused her to spin around to face him.
Ready to unleash a tirade on him from her already irreparably frayed nerves, Claire’s words were stopped in her throat as she looked up at him. He appeared to be even younger than Claire’s apparent thirty years and was quite simply, beautiful. He had shoulder length blonde curls and stunningly blue eyes over high cheek boned features that were just feminine enough to add that extra touch of beauty that Claire had always been so very drawn to.
His smile down at her did not help her collect her thoughts any more quickly as she had to will herself out of that near entrancement that befell her any time she found herself in the face of any piece of beautiful art, or any stunningly beautiful human, as was now the case.
“You’re glad to hear that I’m not a whore?” she managed with a bit of disbelief, though her voice still remained tiny in the face of his attractiveness.
“Yes, as I have a different sort of offer for you” he told her sweetly in that accent that nearly dripped from his words.
Claire was caught again for another moment “I find it hard to believe that you came here seeking something other than a whore” she managed.
“But you are something so much more than that, aren’t you, Claire?” he told her softly, placing an unmistakable emphasis on the word as he gave her a more than knowing smile.