Velnya

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(You can read about Velnya in Legacy of Ghosts. Traven and Jeda are in Ties of Blood & Ashes of Deceit. This story takes place in 1855 near Springfield, Massachusetts.)

Moonlight splashed on the leaves and the last of the summer grass. Velnya peered through the window and let the evening breeze kiss her skin.

"Turn your head, ma biche!"

She is slipping back to French. Oh dear.

Velnya did as ordered. Her sister's brush strokes were more violent than necessary, and Velnya bit her lip to stop a complaint.

"Place your hand just here." Jeda pressed her fingers against her skull, and Velnya obeyed. This was not the way she had imagined the preparations for her wedding day. In her mind, there was a number of cheerful bridesmaids snipping flowers and giggling, discussing the mysteries that young ladies could only speak of behind closed doors; the dreams, the possibilities, the endless years stretching out before them that would promise them happiness.

Instead she had her sister and her cold, angry eyes staring down at her in the mirror.

It was more than she could bear.

She turned in her seat and caught Jeda's pale hands in her own. "Let's not fight. This should be a happy occasion!"

"And it would be, if you were not going so far away! Why must he take you to the Nebraska territory? He has a fine house here!"

Velnya sighed and drew her hands back. "I've told you already. He's worried that the hostility between the states will turn into something more serious, and he wishes to be as far from it as possible, and of course he wants to move farther away from his master."

Jeda's voice was controlled, but her eyes narrowed dangerously. "The same master he moved here not two years ago to be near? Why the sudden need to get away? And so far away?"

Velnya fidgeted with the lace on her sleeve. "I know, it is far. But not so far as it could be. It's not as if we were going back to the continent."

"For now," Jeda bit back. "Who knows what he plans to do in another year, or five!"

Velnya smiled softly. "Of course we won't. What purpose would such a move serve? Oh, Jeda! It really isn't so very far as it could be, at least there will not be an ocean between us, and we are not going immediately."

"No, you will go to Virginia first, to honeymoon on his plantation – another home he will leave behind – and then you will go to the wilds. There is nothing there, only dirt and shacks made of sod! There won't be any of our kind!"

A soft rap sounded on the door and Traven's voice floated through, "May I come in?"

Velnya glanced down at herself. She was properly dressed, it was only her hair that wanted finished.

"Yes," Jeda called, and forced Velnya to turn back. She forcefully jabbed a pin into a coil of hair and added, "Hold still."

Velnya sat motionless and watched in the mirror as the door opened and Traven walked in. His chestnut hair gleamed in the candlelight and his clothing was more ornate than was the fashion, a remnant of their earlier lives, before they became what they were now.

Vampires.

Velnya had been one for so long, a century at least. Each night the moon had risen to shine on Jeda and her husband and Jeda's lonely younger sister. Though Velnya was with them, she was always alone; the one who allowances must be made for, the extra, the third wheel.

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