There was a time Charlotte, blinded by love, saw Caleb as the future and nothing more. Despite the pleasures she discovered within Caleb’s arms, Charlotte grew restless. Caleb’s protective nature bound her to their home. Her nights were training with Lilith or socialising with other vampires. It surprised her, she preferred comforting Cornelius’s bad dreams. She yawned her way through the days, unable to sleep. As her eyes closed in the dawning hours, Charlotte thought of the life before. Memories of her mother, how disappointed she would be with the choices. Scenarios where her daughters accepted her and became a part of her life; shattered. The harshness of the truth that Charlotte abandoned them; behaved selfish and irrational. A bitterness dwelled in her, and their rejection was her punishment. These thoughts denied her sleep and made her toss in the bed beside Caleb.
The walls were cold and dank, the same as they had been since she awoke to her new life. Aside from a few chaperoned trips to Windenberg, Charlotte spent all her time at home. Caleb would hunt when the temptation to feed became too much. Her blood had awoken his thirst, so reigning it in had proved difficult. It angered her; in their years together, Caleb still did not trust she could control her desires. Yet it was he who struggled to stop the urges. Lilith had escorted him home after he made a nuisance of himself in a quest for blood.
Lilith arranged a safe passage for Cornelius to attend daycare in Windenberg. At least he could enjoy a humanised existence until his twelfth birthday. Charlotte hated the quiet following his absence. These daylight hours were for sleeping when their power was weakest. Charlotte longed for the stories with Cornelius. The noise and energy his presence brought drowned her negative thoughts. Caleb and Auntie Lilith, bored of his tales from the nursery, his favourite about a frog. Hidden in another toddler’s lunchbox was a striped leaf frog; it had sat patient and silent. Ms Sole, the nursery teacher, screamed, climbing onto a chair as the frog leapt towards her desk. The children howled, clutching their sides, amused by the reaction. Cornelius wanted to take a frog in for show and tell, but letters sent to the parents ensured this could not happen.
Her engagement with Cornelius gave Caleb hope. He wanted to further their discussion of expanding the Vampire brood. Cornelius had been a happy accident, but he grew too fast for Caleb’s liking. Charlotte distanced herself from these conversations, knowing she could never love Cornelius. That was not quite the truth; on some level, there was love, but to Charlotte, it seemed insufficient. Her mother built a life around her children. It broke Emilie’s heart when Eliza vanished, and somehow she held the family together. Every day, Charlotte’s silent heart ached for the girls she abandoned. There were apologies and grief, and nothing more she could do.
Caleb’s desire for a family came from missing his sister and settling with his vampire bride. This stone building was an impermanence as his dreams stretched further. He planned to knock it down and build a mansion to rival Vlads. The future he saw for them involved many more vampire offspring. Lilith, despite their differences, was his sister, and Charlotte had two siblings. Another child would mean Cornelius would learn and train with them rather than be alone. There were few vampire families, and magic that enabled them to get pregnant was not an exact science. Their bodies were, in essence, dead. The baby, their developing heart, had to circulate the blood and extract the nutrients. It is why many reproduced with humans, and they would watch from afar. Caleb reminded Charlotte, his hand resting on her stomach; they were lucky.