Flora stood on the front porch, her mind in a foggy haze as Drake repeated himself.
"Did you come alone?" he asked.
It was then that she broke down once more in front of the Vampire. "I was just at the wake," she sobbed, unable to stop the words flowing out of her mouth. "Everything is such a mess! My parents are fighting, my brothers are dead, I, I just couldn't stay there!" she finished, wiping away the tears.
Suddenly her mind cleared and she realized where she was and who she was talking to. Her hands went to her face in embarrassment, "Oh, god," she moaned. "What am I doing here? I don't even remember coming here. I'm sorry, it's so late, everyone must be asleep. I'll just go..."
Drake cut her off by pulling her into a tight hug. Her body went limp in his as she relaxed and let herself be held by his strong arms.
"Shh..." he whispered into her ear. "Worry about nothing. You are safe here."
She reluctantly pulled away from his embrace. "Thank you," she said sincerely, "you've always been so nice to me and my family. It's just that it feels like I don't have anyone else to talk to, you know?"
"I am always available to you," Drake replied with a soft smile.
Flora gave him a weak smile in return and continued, "It's just been so hard since Vincent and Julius were killed. Mom and dad... All they do is fight. Most of the time it's about the stupidest things - the garbage not being taken out, dishes left on the table. I would rather them just ignore each other, like they're doing to me," she finished.
"That should never happen," he said in a smooth voice. "You are too special to be ignored."
She couldn't be sure, but it felt as if Drake was hitting on her. Which, after so long of being in a house of constant invisibility, the attention felt quite nice to her.
"I believe you should come inside, relax for a while and forget about the issues that trouble you," Drake said, gesturing towards the door.
Flora hesitated, knowing that before her lay two very different paths. If she declined his very suggestive offer, she would have to return back to the cold angry house she fled and could quite possibly ruin the friendship she had with Drake. Accepting his invitation, however, opened up a whole different set of questions which she wasn't sure she had the strength to face at the moment.
In the end, she didn't have to say a word.
As soon as Drake's hand touched hers, it was like he'd put a leash around her. She would have blindly followed him anywhere.
In this case, it meant through the front door of the house.
As they sneaked into the Dracul residence Drake whispered to her under his breath, "Under any circumstance, do not let yourself be seen by anyone here. It is vital."
Faith nodded silently and followed him up the stairs to his room.
When they'd realized that Flora had left the wake and not returned, Pete and Faith tried calling the few friends of hers she had, with no luck of finding her. No one had seen her. Pete was out driving around the city searching, while Faith had been camped out on the sofa, her cellphone in hand.
It was at least 2am the last time she had seen the clock before drifting off to sleep on the sofa...
... It was just past 6am when Flora quietly tried to sneak in the front door.
"Pete? Please, tell me you found her," Faith said groggily as she pushed herself upright on the couch. When her hopeful eyes turned and landed on her daughter, relief swept through her.
"Flora, thank god," she exhaled. After the already painful day she'd had, she was too exhausted to be angry with her daughter. She simply gestured to the loveseat, "Please, sit down."
Bracing herself for the angry tirade she was sure was about to hit her, she sat with her eyes downcast while her mother only stared at her. The silence seemed to stretch to eternity.
It was finally broken by Faith, "Listen, I know this has been hard," chosing her words carefully, she tried to talk in an even mannered tone. "This has been hard on all of us. I'm sorry for that. I'm trying to do the best I can do to hold it together, there's only so much -"
Flora interrupted her, unable to stop herself, "You're damn right it's been hard on all of us! When was the last time you asked if I was ok? Or how about Dad? How do you think Dad is coping with the loss of his sons, too, with you yelling at him all the time? This is hard for all of us, but you are making it even harder!"
"I don't want to argue, Flora," she said weakly. The conversation was clearly heading in the direction Faith had attempted to avoid, so she took a pause and tried changing the subject, "So, where did you go tonight?" she asked, trying to keep any judgement out of her tone. "We tried all your friends, but no one had seen you,"
"That's because I wasn't at one of my girlfriends' houses. I was with someone who actually wants to talk to me, who doesn't ignore me or forget that I exist!" she exclaimed loudly. When Faith looked at her questioningly, she tried to stop herself but it just slipped out, "I was with Drake, ok!"
"Flora!" her mother gasped, her hand going to her chest, "why would you do something so stupid, those people are monsters! You could have been killed!"
Flora couldn't believe was she was hearing, "What do you mean those people? He was your friend first! You've been friends with him since you were in High School!" It took her a moment before she realized why her mother was really upset, "You're jealous! That's it! You've wanted him since you were my age and now that I have him you can't stand it!"
Faith suddenly got deadly serious, "You listen to me, missy," she said through gritted teeth, "your brothers didn't die by accident. They were murdered. And it was a Vampire that did it. A Vampire who did it to make a point..." her voice cracked and she was on the verge of tears, but continued, "to make a point to me."
"But Mom, it wasn't Drake," Flora expressed, "he has been nothing but kind to me," she said. Why couldn't her mother see that not all Vampires were the same? It was her mother who had discovered that herself! "Tonight, while we were together," Flora confessed, "he told me he loved me, doesn't that mean anything?"
Faith's fury flared up once more, "you slept with him? Flora, my god! His kind kill! They are trying to take my family away from me," she cried out in anger. "You are never to see him again, Flora, never! If I ever find out you have," she growled, "I know there are ways of taking them out as well. Do I make myself clear?"
The shock of her mother's words hit her hard. Drake wasn't like that. His hands might be cold, but his heart was warm. Even though she was sure her mom was bluffing, the thought of anything bad happening to him was too much to think about.
"Fine, mom," she resigned. "I won't see him again. But you're wrong, he's not like that," she spat out as she left the couch to get away from the true monster in the house.
Faith watched as her daughter walked away with a broken heart. Better a broken heart than a dead one, she thought to herself sadly.
Title / Blondie