Fern lay awake and picked out patterns on the ceiling. It was close to sunrise, she could feel the temperature rising and the traffic becoming loudly. The back out blinds with black curtains over them, refused to let any light into the large master bedroom. Her eyes were getting use to things faster and though she still couldn’t see all the way through the darkness, Fern was comfortable enough.
She rolled over and studied the sleeping form of Brook. He looked so much younger and carefree. She had never noticed before, nor she realised had she asked how old he was in both human and vampire age. Maybe that would have been a good question to ask before all of this had happened, she scolded herself.
Shutting her eyes she tried to sleep, but her mind was too awake. Fern took a few deep breaths then began to picture a field full of sheep. Slowly, she added a wooden fence and a gate, thinking about them in great detail. Next, a sheep jumping over that gate and flying towards freedom. She counted eighty sheep before she gave up and got out of the bed.
The floor felt nicely warm under her bare feet and she guessed as she went quietly into the living room that there must be under floor heating. She turned on a lamp and sent the cover of darkness away. She went to the bookcase, twice glancing at the bedroom door on her way. Scanning the shelves, she saw a mixture of fiction and non-fiction books. None of the titles seemed familiar to her, until she saw Dickens’ Great Expectations. She slide it out a little, just so she’d spot it more easily if she had to come back for it. Looking at the other books, she spotted a few more she recognised; Wuthering Heights, The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Little Women and The Secret Garden. The last one, she took it off to the shelf and went over to the long deep sofa next to the lamp.
The book had been read a number of times and was showing its age. Fern opened it and saw a scrawl of handwriting across the back of the front cover. She lent in and whispered the words to herself, ‘For my darling son, Jay, may your magic rekindle. Mother.’ Her eyes darted up to the photo of Brook and the young man as questions circled her mind. She shook them away and pulled a woollen blanket that was draped across the back of the sofa on top of her. Fern turned to the first page and began reading.
When her eyes began to feel heavy and sleep was tugging at her, she closed the book and pressed her head into a cushion. As she slipped into a doze, she thought she stood get up and go to bed. She’d be warmer and safer with Brook. Sleep won the battle through and she dreamed that she was lost in a never ending garden looking for someone or something.
The sound of her name drew her back from the heavy sleep, she felt a hand moving her hair and lips kissing her forehead. She struggled to open her eyes, but was glad when she did because Brook was standing over her. She eased herself up, Brook helping with a hand on her arm.
‘Are you okay?’ he asked.
Fern nodded and wiped the sleep from her eyes and face.
‘I thought…Don’t do that again!’ Brook suddenly snapped, his grab on her arm tightening.
Fern came fully awake and scolded up at him, ‘I’m not a child, let me go.’
Brook let her snatch her arm back, noticing the book on the floor as he did so. He tapped it with his bare toes then picked it up.
‘What do you think had happened?’ Fern cut in.
Brook ignored her and looked at the front cover of The Secret Garden before opening it.
Fern, having wrestled off the blanket stood up and felt a small ache in her back and legs. She went to take the book back, but then decided against it. Her stomach growled and she pressed her hands over it and looked down.
Brook closed the book and moving as quickly as he had lit the candles the previous night, put the book into its place on the shelf then came back again. He glared at Fern, making sure she saw the full anger across his face before he stormed back into the bedroom. The door slammed shut behind him and Fern could feel it vibrating across the floor.
‘What’s wrong with you?’ she shouted, ‘it’s just a book!’
Dragging in a deep breath, she sat on the edge of the sofa then got up and went to the door. Pulling back the curtains and putting up the blinds, she unlocked the door and went out on to the balcony. The cooling sea air wrapped itself around her and the hum of traffic remained her that she wasn’t truly alone. Looking up, she saw a new night sky with the pin pricks of stars just coming through and a crescent moon. She put her arms on the iron rail and lent on it, looking out.
She suddenly realised that she was smelling the air like a hunting dog. Her nose and tongue were full of the salty ocean and beach. She could smell the earth too and the trees, the sour notes of pollutions and warmth of food. Her stomach growled louder and the idea that she was searching for blood dawned on her.
Fern knew it was out there under the rest of the smells. She just couldn’t pick it out. She shut her eyes and put all of her concentration into it. She thought about what people smelled like and tried to direct herself to the nearest person. In a flash she saw something; a man standing by a broken down car. She opened her eyes, rocked back on her feet and almost climbed over the railings.
‘What are you doing?’ Brook’s rough smoker’s voice called out.
Fern turned, guilt colouring her face and stepping down from the railing, ‘just getting some fresh air…’
Brook shot her a look and lit up. He cupped the match and cig together then flicked the match away and stuck the cig in his mouth. He inhaled, small wisps of smoke escaping around him.
Fern turned back and listened to him puff out the smoke before walking over to her.
‘You should get dressed. We’ll have to go out,’ Brook stated.
Fern stopped herself from growling at him and hurried inside before regrettable things spilled from her mouth.