"Of course I can. I'm not blind. It seems like a pest has latched on to you," the Valerian Lord retorted with his eyes still fixated on the man next to Katie and asked him, "Who are you?"
"Forgive my rudeness, my Lord," Malphus bowed his head, "I am Malphus Crook from a small village that used to reside a few years ago near the Western and the Southern Empire."
"Used to?" Alexander looked at the man named Malphus thoughtfully.
"Yes, unfortunately I couldn't find it. It seems to be vacant with only trees and bushes or maybe I forgot the directions," the man gave a troubled expression.
If Alexander wasn't wrong the man was talking about the village that Katie and her parents used to live in before the massacre took place a few years ago. After that incident, Alexander had commanded to bury them all in one place.
"I-is it the village that..." Katie seemed to fall short of words after what the man had to say.
"Hmm?" Malphus turned to look at her in question.
"Do you know how you died?" the Lord asked him.
Malphus stood quietly, trying to recollect his memory. When he woke up after his long sleep in the grave he hadn't remembered anything much apart from his name which was thanks to the tombstone. He didn't have all his memories, they were mostly foggy but as days had passed he remembered bits and pieces.
"I was passing through the forest in the night when a bunch of half vampires attacked me. I tried defending myself but I got outnumbered and one of them took a jab at my stomach. I tried escaping and getting back to the village but there were more half vampires. That wasn't the surprising thing though," Malphus said with his brow scrunched together to form a deep frown, "There was someone in the far corner - a woman standing there and watching men and women getting slaughtered. I don't know what happened after that."
"May I know why you have been following Katherine when you can go on your merry way?" Alexander asked calmly and Katie was the one to speak up.
"Pardon me, Lord Alexander. It is my fault that Malphus woke up from his grave. If I hadn't been making noise while cleaning his grave he would still be sleeping," she said regretfully.
It had never been her intention to awaken the dead soul, not that she had an idea about ghosts coming alive. She looked at Alexander who was in deep thought and he then spoke, "Katie could you get a key from the second drawer next to my bed?" Nodding, she left the room.
"I still haven't received the answer to my previous question," the Lord reminded him.
"She was the one who woke me up, so she can see and hear me. I have no one else to talk to even when there are people surrounding me. I hold no interest in her and mean no harm," the man crossed his heart.
"If it is the company you crave I shall make your wish come true," the Valerian Lord said bringing hope in the man's eyes, "But nothing comes for free."
"I have my ways," Alexander said coolly.
Of course, Malphus thought to himself. The man in front of him was no ordinary person. He was a vampire Lord and it seemed like there was more to him than what he let on. With the few days he had spent around the mansion, he had understood so much that Katie had fallen in love with the Lord.
But the proposition he was making was more than tempting, to be seen and heard again would be a wish come true. To be part of the living than the lonely world he now belonged to.
"What's the offer?" he asked cautiously.
"You will able to talk to the living but not touch them and disappear as you do now." This man was scary, thought Malphus; he was the ghost and yet he hadn't bothered to notice his surroundings, but this man knew what he had been doing, "In return, you will work for me. One more thing. I don't want you hanging around Katherine pointlessly all day long unless she goes to the town alone or I ask you to."
"Oh, I won't Lord Alexander. I won't be a third wheel either," he bowed his head respectfully.
"Good. Fail to abide by any of these and I'll see to it that you go back to sleep permanently. Are we clear?" the Valerian Lord said making the man nod; at the same time, Katie knocked at the door.
"Crystal," Malphus replied, disappearing into thin air.
"I couldn't find the key in the second drawer," Katie said stepping back into the room to see that Malphus was no where in sight.
"I must have misplaced it. How do you feel today?" he asked her, getting up from his seat and walking to where she was.
Katie felt his fingers trace her cheek with a serious face. It turned to a smile after he met her eyes.
"Much better," Katie replied with a smile, "Thank you for letting me take the day off."
She felt herself lean forward as he had taken one step forward and as she was going to lean forward for a kiss he spoke.
"What do you think of having dinner with me?" he asked her, taking her hand to walk out of the room.
Was she imagining it or had he just rejected her when she was about to kiss him? Covering up her crestfallen face she replied,
"Um-I don't know if that would be a good idea," she said looking at him. A maid having dinner with the Lord in the hall would only fuel the servants' gossip.
"Don't worry, we'll be eating in the balcony of my room," he said as though knowing what was going in her mind. He called for the head butler who was standing down at the stairs to send their dinner up in his room.
When the food had arrived, Katie's mouth watered at the thought of getting to eat all that. All this while she had only helped in preparing the dishes and serving them. Katherine and Alexander sat opposite each other where a small table was place outside the balcony.
Daisy was the one who had brought them the food and upon seeing Katie she gave her a smile before nodding in her direction. When the middle-aged woman left them to eat alone, Katie looked at the sleek glass that held a drink that resembled the one she had had during the time they had visited the night theater.
"I asked Martin to find the wine as it seemed like you enjoyed it when you previously drank it," he said making her look up suspiciously, "What is it?"
"Mm, you always happen to know what I'm thinking. Do you have the ability to read minds?" she heard him chuckle at her uneasy voice.
"No darling, I don't. It is all about perception, being aware of your surroundings and people," he replied with an amused smile, "Why are you worried that I'm going to read your mind?"
"N-no no!" she said quickly taking the glass in her hand and drinking the wine until it was finished. Using the fork she picked at the salad before placing it in her mouth.
"I am curious about why you didn't tell me about the ghost following you," she heard Alexander speak as he cut the meat from the large plate, serving it to her.
"It didn't occur to me," she murmured which was the truth, "Why didn't you tell me that you could see him?" she tilted her head.
"It seemed comical and in the end I did," he answered, refilling her glass and caught her staring at her plate without taking a bite.
"Can I ask you a question?"
"You can ask more than one," he replied charmingly.
"How were you able to see him? I mean with what I saw he mostly walked through people and nobody noticed him," Katie asked him with a child's curiosity.
"I wonder myself. It is the first time that I have encountered a ghost and that's all thanks to you. I don't want you cleaning graves. If you feel you're falling short of work, I can always ask Martin to increase your work routine," Katie's eyes went wide.
"I won't be doing it," she said quickly. The last thing she wanted was another ghost following her.
The Valerian Lord looked at her with a satisfied look and continued to eat under the soft moonlight. He was the Lord and yet he was the one to fill her glass and serve her food from the platter.
He was too nice to her, she thought to herself.
He had told her that he wouldn't be touching another woman as long as she was there but she didn't want him to curb his need to drink blood. She had read books on how vampires enjoyed taking fresh blood rather than that stored in preserved containers. Her aunt often told her that she lacked blood in her body as her palms and nails were pale. She didn't mind if he took her blood but she was too embarrassed to tell him that.
"By the way I received news about your cousin's whereabouts," he said making her look up at him instantly, "Tall, reddish brown hair?"
Katie nodded at him furiously, "Where is he? Is he alright? Can I go see him?" she asked him anxious.
"He's fine. Oliver found him in the South Empire and will be bringing him back along with him in a few days," he could see the happiness bubble through her face after hearing what he had to say.
"I-I...thank you," she said her eyes shining with unshed tears.
She was relieved to hear it. Her only blood relative was alive and safe. She couldn't wait to see him.
Katie had thought of visiting her friend Annabelle but now that Lord Alexander had given her the good news about her cousin, she would have to postpone it.
Alexander was glad that he had taken the right decision of sending her to her relatives' when she was a young little girl. She spoke about them fondly. Keeping her in the mansion at such a young age would have turned her into a different person. The way she was now was perfect. The woman in front of him intrigued him.