Let’s pretend I didn’t write the wrong title on the schedule.

WARNING: Rudeness and bad language.

Lot finds herself increasingly frustrated.

Missed Charlotte’s previous adventures? Find the full chronological list on the Weekly Serial page.


London – 1839

Sitting in bed with my head against Bran’s shoulder and my hand resting on his thigh I listened to him read, it was lyrical poetry, or some such, written in Bran’s elegant calligraphy in a leather bound volume with crisp yellow pages. He’d read a line, finger tracing it, then repeat an English translation for me and explain how the grammar was different and which words, or collections of words, approximated the English. He’d got a notion to teach me Irish because the workhouse hadn’t allowed it to be spoken.

I didn’t see what use it would do me, I could never go back to Ireland, nor I did sound Irish but I hadn’t mentioned this to Bran. I got the feeling it was important to him to teach me Irish but it had nothing to do with ‘Irish pride’, as he put it.

I didn’t much like learning languages, they were difficult. I could remember the words and the principles but putting them together was difficult. Once my tongue learned its way around the phrases he recited to me I could repeat them ‘til kingdom come but I couldn’t say anything new. As far as I could see all I was going to end up with was a catalogue of Irish poetry that wasn’t going to do me much good, unless I stumbled across a Fenian party. Bran might live long enough to see that change but some of us were going to die in the meantime.

‘What’re you thinking about?’ he asked.

‘Listening.’

Clever man that he was Bran didn’t bother asking me to repeat what he’d said because he knew I could whether I was listening or not. It was a pity, I’d caught plenty of people out with that one before. The disadvantage of someone actually knowing me, I supposed.

‘You’re falling asleep,’ he said.

‘Getting comfortable,’ I replied snuggling closer to him and he put his arm around me.

‘Do I bore you?’ he asked.

I raised my head. ‘No.’ I curled my hand around the back his head and drew him down into a kiss so deep I could’ve counted his back molars. Grinning I eased onto his lap. ‘You can fascinate me all night long,’ I murmured without breaking contact with his lips.

Afterwards I lay dozing against his chest. He shifted and I looked up; his head was tilted to one side and he had the slight frown that said he was listening intently.

‘I have to go, stay here,’ he said and shifted out from under me.

I sat up. ‘Where’re you going?’

Bran pulled on his trousers and started tucking his shirt into them. ‘There’s something I have to sort out.’

‘Bran!’ Someone shouted outside, I could only just hear them. ‘Brandon!’

I wrapped the sheet around myself and got off the bed.

‘Don’t,’ Bran said and grasped my arm very lightly, nothing I couldn’t shake off.

‘Stop fucking your whore and come out here,’ the voice bellowed.

‘How’d he know… never mind,’ I said, in all likelihood the shouty man was a vampire so those heightened senses of his told him we were at the back of the house so that was where he’d come. ‘Maybe he’ll get bored and go away if you ignore him.’ I wrapped my arms around Bran’s neck. ‘Come back to bed.’

Bran unwrapped my arms. ‘He’s old, he can stay out there all night and not think anything about it. Everyone will hear him calling you… names.’

‘Come out, or is the little coward too afraid to face me?’ the voice shouted.

Bran turned red and looked at the ceiling. ‘I’ll just go talk to him and…’

I shoved the window open. ‘Oi! Bugger off, y’drunk old noddy.’

There was a young man stood in the garden but it was too dark for me to make him out clearly. ‘Lucky you, Brandon, your whore’s got a big mouth. Hiding behind her skirts? If she was wearing any. How’d you get such a – Bloody hell.’

The paperweight that had been sitting on the window ledge smacked him in the head, if he was human he would’ve gone down and not got back up. What a pity vampires had such strong skulls.

‘Get control of your woman, Brandon,’ he bellow.

The next closest projectile was a brass bookend on a bookcase but Bran caught my wrist before I could grab it. ‘You don’t want to be doing that.’ He gave me a small push to the side and, as I was interested, I moved. ‘I’m coming down, Jack, leave her be.’

‘You’d better, the boss wants to see you.’

Bran withdrew from the window, pushed it shut and latched it as if that stood any chance against armies of the undead.

He caressed my arms and kissed my forehead. ‘I’ll be back tomorrow, don’t worry.’

I didn’t bother to argue about the worrying, it wouldn’t have done me any favours. ‘Who’s “the boss”? Where’re you going?’

‘I won’t be long,’ he said, pulling on his waistcoat.

‘That’s not the same as tomorrow,’ I shot back. ‘Your idea of not long and mine aren’t the same.’

‘I promise, I’ll be back soon.’ He grabbed his jacket and gave me another quick kiss.

‘That’s a different time all together.’

‘I promise.’ He headed for the door.

‘Don’t treat me like a child, Brandon.’ I grabbed the bookend and flung it.

The heavy brass lump hit the wall beside the door, spraying shards of plaster on the carpet before hitting the floor with a thud. Bran flinched in the doorway then carried on.

I stood there. He’d never flinched before, he knew I’d never hit him, if anything it had the opposite effect. He had strange ideas about my temper.

I went back to the window but Jack was gone and the garden was still. By the time I was dressed they’d be well ahead of me and I couldn’t follow vampires incognito in the dark, there weren’t enough people on the streets to hide amongst.

Frustrated I shoved a heap of books off the top the dresser and they hit the floor in a heavy spray and skidded under the furniture. I grabbed the edge of the dresser then stopped.

The dresser was heavy but I could’ve tipped it. I released the dresser, anger still frothing inside me, but determined not to smash things I’d have to clean up and replace. At least, not big-make-lots-of-mess things. There seemed a lot less point in breaking things when there was no-one there to be annoyed or… not-so-annoyed.

I threw myself down on the bed. Bran’s old book and whiskey scent and the smell of sex filled my nose so I rolled over and looked at the ceiling. I might never be as strong or fast as a vampire but it was the mind that was the best weapon.

I had a good one of those.


For more short fiction see the Short Story or Weekly Serial page.

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