Two hundred years after that fateful night in Ireland, Brijit has settled in London. Though she lives a comfortable life, she is haunted by nightmares from the past that force her to keep a watchful eye for the return of Eochaid. When a mysterious man enters her life, Brijit must decide if it’s worth letting go of the past in order to feel love again.
Brijit woke screaming, her body trembling from the anxiety her dream had sparked. She bolted upright in the large bed, eyes wide and mouth refusing to close.
The door to her bedchamber opened and Brijit’s housemaid, Gráinne, flew into the room and onto the bed with her mistress. Gráinne gathered Brijit into her arms and held her tight as the remnants of the dream faded and the real world came flooding back. Brijit clutched at Gráinne’s arms. The housemaid winced in pain, but said nothing as Brijit’s screams started to fade, replaced by a steady trembling. Usually stoic, Brijit strove to be a model of coolness and resilience, but once or twice a month, she awoke screaming from her dreams. The loyal Gráinne was always there to comfort her.
Brijit drew in deep gulps of air as her voice trailed off and she loosened her grip somewhat as she willed the trembling to stop, trying to calm her body to the point where she was functional. She was hungry, she needed to feed, and it wasn’t going to do her any good if she was out of control.
“Fecking dreams,” she managed to gasp out, pushing away the images from her mind in an effort to aid the calm.
“Your family and Eochaid again?” Gráinne knew the story well, having loosened Brijit’s tongue one night after she had come home drunk on an over-indulgence of blood.
Brijit nodded shakily and pulled away from Gráinne slowly, sitting up as she drew her knees up under the blankets. She rested her arms on them and placed her face in her hands as she willed herself to calm.
“He made me kill them again.”
Gráinne put a hand on Brijit’s bare back, stroking the cool skin as she did every time this happened. Brijit gave a little sigh as the calm came back to her and she leaned into Gráinne for comfort.
The dreams usually took two forms. The first was Eochaid pursuing Brijit through the forest, eventually catching her and trying his best to have his way with her. The second was a repeat of Brijit’s last night in her home village with the bodies of her family and neighbours strewn about her as Eochaid perched himself like a gargoyle atop a hut and laughed maniacally. With either one, Brijit woke up screaming, and Gráinne always came in to help soothe her mistress.
“And the worst part is I fecking enjoyed it,” Brijit said with a groan. Her trembling slowed to a halt as the disappointment in herself took over. She raised her head and looked at her housemaid. “I didn’t want to do it, but the thirst was too strong and he kept goading me…”
Brijit fell silent and lowered her eyes to stare at the bed. “I wish I could be rid of him. Certainly I don’t need him showing up in my dreams…” She trailed off and shuddered, pulling her knees tighter to her chest.
Gráinne sat in silence for a few minutes, maintaining the comforting presence that Brijit appreciated when she was upset. Gráinne ran a hand through Brijit’s long locks of yellow hair before rising from the bed and pulling aside the thick curtains that adorned the windows.
“The sun is down, Mistress. Maybe if you go hunting, it will help keep your mind off your dream.” She walked over to the large armoire that stood against the wall opposite the bed. “I cleaned your favourite dress, so you should find it to your satisfaction.”
Brijit watched as Gráinne pulled out the dress and laid it on the end of the bed. “You’re too good to me. I don’t know what I did to deserve your loyalty.”
Gráinne gave Brijit her typical small smile, a slight upturn at the corners that was as high as they ever went. “You saved me, mistress Brijit. If it were not for you, I would have been dead on the streets of Falkirk after my master cast me out.”
Brijit nodded as she remembered that night ten years prior. She’d taken pity on the young girl she’d found sobbing in the cold mist inside the walls of Falkirk in Scotland. The pretty brunette was barely thirteen and thrown out into the streets after having refused her significantly older master’s advances. Brijit was going to make a meal out of her, but the tears tugged at her heart and Brijit took pity on Gráinne, especially after finding she was a fellow Irishwoman. Gráinne’s master slaked Brijit’s thirst that night, and she took Gráinne under her wing and into her home.
Brijit didn’t require a servant. However, Gráinne pledged to serve Brijit until the day she died and swore ever-faithful loyalty. In the decade since her rescue, Gráinne had become an indispensable part of Brijit’s life and was treated like family. The two eventually moved to London, where Brijit set herself up in a modest but decked-out home in the middle of the city where she could live more than comfortably, yet still lose herself in the crowd.
“You certainly keep me well, thank you,” Brijit said with as much genuine emotion as she could muster. “I think your debt to me is more than repaid, however, and I wish you would relax a little and act like part of the family rather than an indentured servant.”