To celebrate the return of the critically acclaimed Blood Books in collectable paperback and e-book edition, Titan Books and Freda Warrington are serialising two rare and risquÃ© stories set within the universe of the Blood Books across a series of websites and blogs.Â
Weâ€™re publishing the fourth part of a short story called Little Goose. Read the rest of the tale here: http://titanbooks.com/blog/freda-warringtons-blood-wine-tour/
Little Goose: Part 4
By Freda Warrington
Her designs grew wilder. Eggs of dark pink tourmaline cupped in storms of jet. Snow-white jade, cracked with veins of blood ruby.
One day her father came unannounced, and I must be stuffed like a corpse into a cupboard. Yet I have ways of watching unseen, and I saw.
He stalked the gallery, a forensic examiner. He frowned. His nostrils flared as if he could smell me. Rebecca watched in silent annoyance as he perused her workbench; the designs scattered everywhere, the new pieces taking shape in chaos. He picked up drawings, judged and set them down again, lips pursed.
â€˜You have done all this in so short a time?â€™ he said.
â€˜Why?â€™ Her voice was high and taut. â€˜Is the work substandard?â€™
â€˜No. No.â€™ Then, harshly, â€˜How long have you been taking drugs?â€™
She was indignant, outraged. â€˜Iâ€™m not taking anything!â€™
â€˜Have you looked at yourself in the mirror?â€™
She clutched her dressing gown to hide her throat. For she had indeed the look of one who makes love to a vampire, then rises from bed to work the night through. Drained, pale skin. Eyes like feverish rubies deep in purple-brown pits. â€˜Iâ€™ve been working hard, thatâ€™s all.â€™
â€˜You will burn yourself out! What is it that keeps you awake, speed, cocaine? For Godâ€™s sake, Rebecca, whatâ€™s happening to you?â€™
I chose my moment. Stepped out of the shadows, strolled up the gallery stairs in my robe, dishevelled, cool and ironic, as if in a movie. I said, â€˜Rebecca, are you not going to introduce us?â€™
She looked mortified. There was a terrible silence. At last, in a small voice she said, â€˜Father, Iâ€™d like you to meet Sebastian.â€™
It was worse than I had expected. When he looked at me â€“ I say looked; really it was like being X-rayed â€“ he saw what I was. Not literally, perhaps, but so keenly that he was half a whisker from the truth. His eyes burned me black.
â€˜I knew it would be something like this. Knew. I see it all. Heâ€™s the one forcing you to work too hard. Heâ€™s the one who procures the drugs, yes?â€™
â€˜No! He is my inspiration!â€™
A hissing sneer of contempt. â€˜I know him, and dozens like him. Theyâ€™re all the same. They want to feed off your glory, your money! â€œOne more objet, dearest, for us. A few extra works, and weâ€™ll be rich.â€ Heâ€™ll bleed you dry!â€™
â€˜Get out!â€™ she screamed. â€˜Youâ€™ve never let me live my own life! You have to let me go!â€™
â€˜Make a choice,â€™ he said, droplets spitting from his lips. â€˜Go on seeing him and you will never see me again.â€™
In answer, she drew close to me and slid her hand through my arm. â€˜You make a choice, Daddy,â€™ she answered. â€˜Let me grow up, or get out. Theyâ€™re not all the same. Everyone Iâ€™ve ever loved, youâ€™ve driven away! Well, not this time. Not this time.â€™
White-faced and vibrating with emotion, her father left.
And I would have been proud of her if only, sadly, he had not been so right.
Apart, they were paralysed.
For weeks they sulked and grew gaunt, while their workbenches lay idle, and their phones rang unanswered. I know, for I watched them both, even when they had no idea I was there. They wasted in every sense. Yet neither, straight-backed and stubborn, would give in.
I haunted the old manâ€™s house. He was there at his workbench, playing a file, not on gold but on his own callused fingertips. Staring at the dark.
â€˜Go to her, Bartholomew,â€™ I whispered. â€˜Take her in your arms and tell her youâ€™re sorry.â€™
He started, but looked at me without surprise, didnâ€™t even ask how the hell I got in. Hoarsely he said, â€˜She sends you as a go-between?â€™
â€˜No. I came because I canâ€™t bear to see her pining.â€™
â€˜She has her lover, what use has she for a father? I have only loved her all her life. I only taught her everything she knows.â€™
â€˜And this is how she thanks you,â€™ I added. â€˜Have pity on her. She canâ€™t work.â€™
â€˜Canâ€™t she.â€™ A sneer of grim pleasure.
â€˜Nor can you.â€™
â€˜You only care for her work, for the wealth and glory you leech from it! I know you were forcing drugs on her. Nothing else could make her look so ill. I know your sort, predators on my daughter. Happy now, are you? You cut the goose open in your greed and look! No more golden eggs!â€™
â€˜I am irrelevant,â€™ I said softly. â€˜Itâ€™s that your daughter dares to defy you, thatâ€™s what you canâ€™t accept. Itâ€™s that she dares to step from under your wing and be an artist in her own right, to be better than you. And you know youâ€™re in the wrong but you canâ€™t admit it. Youâ€™d rather torture her for the rest of time with your hubris than admit youâ€™re wrong.â€™
With a roar he leapt at me and I, taken by surprise, defended myself. The file jabbed into my eye. Searing pain jolted through my skull. My hand sprang out to grip his throat. What must he have seen? My white face, my eye socket a gelid mess with the file sticking grotesquely from it. And I, not screaming but enflamed, monstrous. For then he was unmanned. He turned purple, he screamed, he twitched and I â€“ I swear I did not mean to harm him but the pain, turning from fire to ice as my unnatural body pushed out the foreign object â€“ the pain took over and I had him to my lips, my mouth full of his neck, his neck a spouting hose of blood, delicious, hotâ€¦
The first book in Freda Warringtonâ€™s Blood Books series, A Taste of Blood Wine, is out now from Titan Books, Â£7.99. Read the rest of the short story Little Goose here: http://titanbooks.com/blog/freda-warringtons-blood-wine-tour/
Â© Freda WarringtonÂ