A Fall of Water Page 2

“Probably”—she panted as Giovanni tore her shirt down the front—“the same reason I find the professor voice strangely hot.”

“Let’s not question it, shall we?”

March

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 not a word as she sat next to Beatrice on the carved wooden bench that 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, totally by choice, just sending letters to each other. Ioan was at our brother’s 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 just 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.”

“No?”

Isabel looked over with a smile. “If your right hand was lame, wouldn’t your left miss its mate? You might 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 just feel so tied to him. And to my...”

“Your father. You miss the tie to your father.”

“Yes,” she whispered, blinking back tears. “I mean, 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 chuckled. “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 father’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 feel like I barely want to leave my room. And then when Giovanni 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.”

April

He woke in their bed, alone; her sheets were not even rumpled.

“Beatrice?”

There was no answer. He raced out to the living room, where all the windows had been blacked out and covered by curtains so she could have the freedom of the house during the daylight hours.

“Beatrice?”

She was sitting by the fire, staring into it with blank eyes. There was an open textbook on her lap.

“Tesoro?”

She finally blinked and turned to him.

He walked toward her slowly. “Did you sleep at all today? Have you been reading this whole time?”

Beatrice looked down to the book on her lap, then over at Giovanni, who sat down beside her.

“I can read Greek now.” His heart sank when he saw the lost look she wore. “Do you think he knows?”

Giovanni reached over and closed the book, taking both her hands in his before he pulled her onto his lap. “Yes.”

May

He teased her as she stood in the kitchen, warming the blood before she drank.

“Come outside. Swim with me. We’ll go to the waterfall.” He stood behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist and nipping at the hollow behind her earlobe.

She shrugged as she stirred the blood. “It’s getting cold now.”

“So I’ll heat up the pool. You’re married to a fire vampire; take advantage of me however you like. I’ll make it a hot tub if that’s what you want. Just come swimming. Go running. Leave the house.”

“Gio, you’re acting like I’m a hermit or something. I’ve just got a lot to read right now and I’m working on my Persian so I can read the journals, and—”

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