She sat alone on the porch, staring into the clear night sky. Carwyn had gone back to Isabel and Gustavo’s house to watch a movie with Ben, so Beatrice sat, holding the printout of the e-mail from Giovanni in London.
Six more days.
It was the longest they had ever been apart since he had returned to her. Three weeks. Considering they could be together for hundreds, if not thousands of years, Beatrice knew she should probably be grateful for the solitude.
Six more days.
She sensed Isabel coming through the trees. Even though they could move swiftly, it was considered rude to just appear at someone’s doorstep in the quiet valley commune. So even vampires usually approached at human speed unless there was an emergency, or they were expected.
Isabel said nothing as she sat next to Beatrice on the carved wooden bench Gustavo had made for them as a wedding present.
“Deirdre and Ioan used to separate for months at a time when they were first together… well, after the first fifty years or so. They were both so independent. They once went a year and a half apart, by choice, just sending letters to each other. Ioan was at our brothers’ castle in Scotland and Deirdre was on some island in the North Sea.”
“Really?” If Isabel intended her words to be some strange comfort, she wasn’t successful. Beatrice felt even more feeble thinking about Deirdre and Ioan’s resilient marriage.
“My Gustavo and I though…” Isabel smiled to herself. “We can’t be without each other that long. It doesn’t suit us. He is my other half. I went a month without him once and almost went insane. I snapped at everyone. I was so cross.”
Beatrice gripped Isabel’s hand. “Thanks.”
“It doesn’t make us weak to need them.”
Isabel looked over with a smile. “If your right hand was lame, wouldn’t your left miss it’s mate? You would get along without it, but you’d always be aware that something was missing. That’s natural, not weak.”
“I’m not used…” Beatrice struggled to articulate what had been bothering her for months. “I feel so tied to him. And to my—”
“Your father. You miss the tie to your father.”
“Yes,” Beatrice whispered, blinking back tears. “Even more than when I thought he had died when I was a girl, there’s just this big, empty void in my chest. When Giovanni’s here, it helps. Especially when we—” She broke off, suddenly reluctant to continue.
Isabel smiled. “No need to be embarrassed. When you exchange blood, it’s very intimate. It’s a tie of another sort, and one that will eventually surpass the tie you felt with your father. It’s natural. And it’s natural that you feel this void from your sire’s loss.” She put an arm around Beatrice’s shoulders and pulled her into an embrace. “If I even think about losing Father… It’s too horrible to contemplate. And I was sired over five hundred years ago. For you? You were a newborn when he was lost; his blood still fresh in your veins. I cannot imagine it, Beatrice. You should never feel weak. I believe you are one of the strongest young women I have had the privilege of knowing.”
Beatrice sniffed. “So I’m not a big baby for missing my dad like this? Some days, I barely want to leave my room. And then when Gio left…honestly, if Carwyn would leave me alone more, I would curl up under the covers and never come out.”
“And that is why he pesters you so much.”
She snorted. “Yeah, I kind of figured.”
“You are loved, Beatrice De Novo. By so many. On your darkest days, don’t forget that.”