Milo tightened his arm around Bobby, making him wince, but Milo didn’t loosen his grip. I have to admit that any information shrouded in secrecy and Violet tended to make me nervous too, but the blood was working against that. I felt almost serene.
The door to Violet’s bedroom opened, but she didn’t step out. Instead, a child of about eight or nine came out of the room. Her wavy brown hair hung neatly around her shoulders, and her skin was flawless and smooth. She moved in a slow, deliberate way, and she had poise like I’d never seen.
When she looked at me, that’s when it really hit me though. Her blue eyes were ancient. They had none of the innocence and energy a child of her age would have.
“Oh my god.” I gaped at her. “How old are you?”
“That’s not polite,” she said, her voice like a cold bell.
“Alice meet Rebekah, the oldest living child vampire I’ve met.” Olivia smiled, and turned to face her a bit. “Can I tell her old you are?”
“I’m over a thousand years old.” Rebekah sounded bored with the idea.
Rebekah didn’t move at all. She had a stillness about her that I didn’t know any living thing could master, and her eyes seemed to stare right through me, right through everything.
“She’s like a porcelain doll, only way creepier,” Bobby said in a hushed voice.
“I know, right?” Violet agreed. She’d come out of the bedroom, but I hadn’t noticed her because I’d been too fixated on Rebekah. Violet twisted a strand of her hair and eyed up Rebekah warily
There was something tremendously unsettling about her. She looked like a child, and she clearly wasn’t one. But it was more than that. I’d never see another vampire that looked less human than her.
“Rebekah, have a seat,” Olivia told her, and with a resigned sigh, Rebekah sat on the couch next to her. “She’s why I’ve been gone. I went to get her.”
“Was she in trouble or something?” I asked, and I pulled my eyes off Rebekah. She had to think it was impolite that I stared, but I couldn’t help it.
“No, I brought her here for you,” Olivia said. “You told me about the predicament with your child vampire, and Rebekah knows how to control them. She’s managed for centuries.”
“I hardly even remember being a child,” Rebekah said with some disdain.
“Yes, well, you’re the only expert I know.” Olivia smiled thinly at her, and Rebekah regarded her with her strange doll eyes.
Rebekah even dressed like a doll. Her dress was more of a gown, and too lavish and ornate for anything a child would wear today. It was as if a porcelain doll had come to life, or at least attempted to, since there didn’t seem to be much life in Rebekah.
“I have helped some children over the years, although I’d rather not be doing it anymore.” Rebekah crossed one of her legs over the other and laced her fingers on her lap. “Olivia pulled me from Prague for this, and here I am.”
“Even you agreed it was time that you returned the favor,” Olivia looked coolly at Rebekah.
“I honor all my debts,” Rebekah said, holding her chin higher.
“What debts did you have to Olivia?” Bobby blurted out, and I elbowed him in the side. “Don’t take me places if you don’t want me to talk, Alice.”
“No, it’s quite alright,” Olivia said and sipped her glass. “Young Rebekah had been living in England with her ‘family’ during the War of the Roses in the fifteenth century. Rebekah allied herself with the house of Lancaster in an attempt to control the throne of England, but that gamble didn’t pay off. Rebekah’s family was slaughtered in a battle, and she was left an orphan, or so it would seem.”
“That’s not entirely accurate,” Rebekah cast a glare at Olivia, but Olivia waved it off.
“Rebekah was cast out of England, penniless and unable to fend for herself, at least not economically speaking,” Olivia said. “I happened to be a courtesan in France, childless and widowed, and that fit Rebekah’s needs perfectly.”
“She turned you?” I sat forward, looking between the two of them.
“Indeed.” Olivia looked over at Rebekah, her expression an odd mix of affection and loathing. “My maker is a child.” Rebekah sighed at the use of the term ‘child.’ “We created an arrangement, after I’d been turned, of course. I would keep her safe, live as her mother in public while in reality I was nothing more than a servant.”
“Don’t be so dramatic, Olivia,” Rebekah said tersely and leaned back on the couch. “We had a good life. Did I ever leave you wanting for anything?”
“You left me wanting my humanity,” Olivia replied, surprising me with her depth of emotion. She rarely expressed anything deeper than hunger or annoyance. “It is a debt that you can never repay.”
“After this, I will consider my debt paid in full,” Rebekah told her.
“I worked for you over two hundred years, and this is only the second favor I have ever asked of you.” Olivia’s voice began to rise, but she shook her head and took another drink from wineglass. “But it’s as you say. This is the last time I call upon you.”
“Very well.” Rebekah’s lips curled up ever so slightly, revealing a hint of a smirk, and she turned to me. “Where is this child of yours?”
“Um, she’s hiding out,” I said. “I didn’t know I was supposed to bring her.”
“I’m certain it’s for the best that you didn’t,” Rebekah said. “How old is she?”
“She’s five,” I said. “And she’s been a vampire since November.”
“I see.” Rebekah pursed her lips and didn’t elaborate.
“You can help her, though?” Milo asked. He’d loosened his grip on Bobby, becoming more interested in Rebekah and what she could do for Mae and Daisy. “You can make it so she stops killing people?”
“She’s a vampire. Of course I can’t guarantee that,” Rebekah said. “I can help her learn control. It’s a myth that child vampires never grow up. We don’t, physically, but with time and practice, we gain the same emotional and mental maturity as our adult counterparts.”
“She eats bugs and kills animals,” I said, and everyone looked disgusted at that. “Can you stop that?”
“Yes,” Rebekah nodded. “It’s fairly common for child vampires to be unable to control their hunting impulse. In truth, vampires do crave more than blood. We were meant to kill. But with time, that urge can be dulled.”