Home > Love Bites (My Sister the Vampire #6)(9)

Love Bites (My Sister the Vampire #6)(9)
Author: Sienna Mercer

The man tipped his hat. ‘I am honoured to be first to say welcome, beautiful Miss Ivy.’ He took Ivy’s suitcase out of her hand. ‘I’m Horatio, Lazar family butler for four generations. And this must be lovely Miss Olivia?’

‘You speak English!’ Ivy blurted, knowing straight away how rude she sounded. Her face coloured. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said, ‘I wasn’t sure if anyone would be able to.’

Horatio smiled. ‘In our town everyone is taught English from a young age.’ He pulled his shoulders back as he beamed with pride. ‘We have an excellent education system here.’

‘I can see that,’ Ivy said, wondering how long it would take her to learn Romanian.

‘You aren’t wearing a cowboy hat,’ Horatio said, peering at Olivia and frowning.

‘Um . . .’ Olivia looked as confused as Ivy felt.

‘Oh ho ho!’ Horatio chuckled deeply, like Santa Claus. ‘I’m joking! All Americans on TV wear cowboy hats.’

Ivy realised he was trying to be friendly and grinned when Horatio shook their hands gravely.

Horatio turned to their dad. ‘Welcome home, Mr Lazar.’ He picked up both the girls’ fully packed suitcases with one arm.

‘Please, Horatio, call me Charles, Charles Vega.’ Ivy could see her dad was feeling uncomfortable. He kept running a hand through his hair. Her dad hadn’t spoken to his family in years and he’d changed his identity entirely just to avoid them. Ivy hoped this trip wasn’t going to be too awkward for him.

‘It’s great to meet you, Mr Horatio,’ Ivy said. ‘I hope you’ll tell us stories about when Dad was our age and getting into trouble.’

Horatio’s face broke into a grin, revealing teeth as crooked as abandoned gravestones. ‘Once, on a visit to the palace, I caught him smuggling one of Queen’s pet ferrets –’

‘That is enough of that story, Horatio!’

Ivy grinned as her normally composed dad actually blushed. ‘I think we are all keen to bring this journey to an end,’ she said.

Horatio tipped his hat again and resumed his serious expression. But while her dad was putting their passports into his briefcase, Horatio leant down and whispered, ‘I’ll tell you the rest later.’

Ivy smiled and slipped her arm through Horatio’s. He led her out into the chilly Romanian afternoon. She could just make out the tops of mountains in the distance, well beyond the airport.

Waiting outside, being ignored by the attendant shooing away other parked cars, was a sleek grey four-by-four with black-tinted windows. Horatio opened the door and Ivy saw soft leather seats and two velvety blankets for her and Olivia to stay warm under.

‘Ooh,’ Olivia said appreciatively and climbed inside.

It was a little bit more . . . formal . . . than Ivy was expecting, but she followed her sister.

Once they were tucked in, Horatio poured them both a cup of hot tea from a Thermos. Ivy shifted in her seat and banged her hand against the side of the door, leaving a little line where the metal claw of her ring scratched the leather.

Ivy gulped. As her dad got into the front seat, she sat stiffly, trying not to move so she wouldn’t ruin anything else. I’m not used to this luxurious lifestyle, she thought. And it’s not used to me.

Five minutes later, Olivia was snoring lightly. As they drove, the city buildings turned into lush countryside. Ivy had never seen anything so beautiful. Deep green grass stretched for miles into the distance, where the sharp, snow-covered mountains loomed. The car followed a sparkling, slow-moving river and then drove through a village where the closely-packed houses were painted bright red, yellow and blue. They glided past stone mansions and rustic inns. Ivy felt like she had been whisked into a magical fairytale land.

But I’m no princess, she thought. She tried to reassure herself: I suppose I’ll adjust.

After an hour and a half, they turned on to a road that cut through a thick forest. Trees towered over the car like the vaulted ceiling of a cathedral. They blocked out the sun and it was almost as if it were already night.

Olivia woke up as the road narrowed and got bumpy.

Mr Vega twisted in his seat and gave them a tense smile. ‘We do not have far to go now, my daughters.’

Ivy hadn’t been worried before, but with the butler and the fancy car, she was feeling like she wasn’t really prepared to meet her family. What if she kept making a mess? Or she said the wrong thing? She hadn’t really thought what being related to a Count and Countess meant.

Olivia reached out for her sister’s hand and Ivy was glad for the millionth time that she had her twin by her side.

When we left I was trying to perk up Olivia, Ivy thought. Now I’m the one feeling jumpy.

‘Before we arrive,’ Mr Vega said, ‘I want to say something. The three of us are a family and I will never let anything come between us again.’

Ivy saw Horatio glance over at her dad.

Maybe the same goes for the Count and Countess? Ivy hoped. She’d love it if her dad and his parents were able to put their differences behind them.

Moments later, Horatio turned the car down a tree-lined lane and paused at tall iron gates that swung open automatically. They then rolled up the long, sloping drive.

‘That is the vineyard, dormant for winter.’ Horatio pointed out of the left window at neat rows of wooden frames with brown vines clinging to them. ‘And the stables are on the right. I’m afraid the lake house at the back of the property is closed but you might get a chance to skate on the frozen lake.’

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