After the brief silence Galvin downed his drink and moved to the counter to pour himself another. "So do you know who set up the contract? Or what Level is after you?"
"Sorry Rup...dad I never really got into the whole grade them then smite them. I suppose that if I hadn't been tipped off by Tibbs then I wouldn't hav"
"TIBBS!" He roared as he whipped around to face her. "Tibbs?" He asked, at this point he was turning a red with rage.
Trying to ignore his reaction she carried on "Yes, Tibbs. He came to the farm and warned me that many of the top half lives are not too pleased with what I'm up to but more importantly you."
"Well of course not, I'm going round smiting all of their drinking buddies." Typical Jess thought he's trying to make light of things that really get to him. "Why didn't you smite him there and then when he showed up?"
"Oh that's right, I'll smite any half-life that turns up on my door waving a white flag interested in saving my life. Or even better, what would you have done if I killed the one you've been chasing for the last twenty years. I mean you dedicated your life to getting revenge – I suppose it would have been some form of poetic justice but to be honest that doesn't interest me."
"My life is not just dedicated to revenge."
"Isn't it?" They both turned to face Mina who was now stretched out on her sofa, hands rapped around her mug as if craving the warmth. "What about the other month when Tibbs attacked us. It was your bind revenge that almost had the stacks and me blown up, plus you and Luke almost drowned chasing him in the sewers."
"What. Mina you never mentioned that in any of your letters." Jess concerned stepped over and sat on the sofa.
"You two keep in touch?" Galvin almost sounded hurt by this news.
"Yes Galvin, did you really expect me just to let her go without insisting she stays in touch."
"No, it's just that you never said."
"Look dad, back to the point. If Tibbs hadn't warned me then I wouldn't have been prepared for the first few attacks. I mean they were nothing to speak of but without the forewarning they could have gotten the jump on me and I wouldn't be here. Wait before you say anything I know I 'should always be on my guard' but I refuse to live my life jumping at shadows – that didn't help mum…" Jessie got up and went over to her coat which was still draped over the chair from last night. She hesitated as she pulled out a dark object and passed it over to Galvin, not making eye contact as she knew he would be upset with her after she had brought her mum up in conversation. "You might as well have this now. The last one said that it was a message for you. It probably says what they keep telling me – keep training Luke my life is forfeit." Galvins head shot up from the envelope to Jess's face. He was never very good at the whole emotional thing so he did what he did best, turned around and poured himself another drink to numb them. As he turned the envelope a couple of times he noticed it was done in a very old style, single sheet of parchment folded, his name on one side and a wax seal on the other. Breaking the seal the first thing he noticed was the red lettering, from the corner of his eye he saw Mina sit up and look in his direction, so that explains the colouring - blood. It took him a little while to focus on the meaning of the words in front of him.
"What does it say?"
"What does it say?" Mina asked more forcibly this time as she moved over to him.
Before she could get close enough to touch him or the paper he moved over to the sink and set it on fire. Jess watched from afar as her father's shoulders slumped as he poured himself another drink.
"Rupert, what did it say?" Mina was now also at the counter her face full of concern.
"Humm…oh yeah…. It says….. It doesn't matter what it says."
"Really Rupert, don't start keeping secrets from me. So tell me."
"I don't know why you try Mina, he's not changed one bit. Still has his secrets. Still only him and the Van Helsings that can save the world. Why did I think it would be any different? Well I haven't changed that much either; I cannot live or work with anyone that cannot trust me."
Galvin couldn't say anything, his head was pounding and the lack of sleep from previous night's chase was catching up with him. He had only come round to check on Mina after Ruby mentioned that she hadn't turned up at the stacks after her concert. Now here he was faced with something that he could barely handle at the best of times.
"Look let's get over to the stacks, I'll have Luke meet us there and we can work out who it is and..."
"No. You're not listening to me again. See Mina, I knew this was wrong. I don't know why I came back. It was a mistake. You have your mail, now I'll be on my way. Why on earth did I think that I could be a priority over Jay's Lad?"
"Jes, please it's not easy for any of us." Mina pleaded.
"Thanks for the chat and somewhere to crash last night Mina, but I can't stay. It was wrong of me to come here in the first place. Sorry." With that Jessie ran up the stairs and threw the few items she had into her bag. After living on the move for most of her adult life she was used to travelling light. As she headed back down she remembered the towel still around her neck, she put it over the banister, happier memories of doing that came back but she pushed those down. She didn't want to get those mixed up with the sadness that was swelling from the pit of her stomach. As she descended further she could hear raised voices. The words weren't clear but the meaning was.
Trying to creep past the living room door to avoid the awkward goodbye, she was halfway across when Mina called out "Jessie wait". She had forgotten how sensitive Mina's hearing was. The brief pause was enough for Minas features to appear in the door frame, with Galvin timidly hovering behind.
Galvin stood back a little sheepish from the home truths that Mina had said. He admitted that he knew she was right and couldn't believe how much she had been holding back. Watching Mina now fuss over Jessie it reminded him of Jessie's first day at school and again how he watched from afar as she was being fussed over by this dark haired woman.
As Mina hugged Jessie, something shocking caught his eye. He moved forwards and pulled Jessie's long wet hair back further. "Jes, what's this?"
"Hey, let go of my hair."
Mina now pushed slightly out of the way was confused at what was going on as Rupert pulled Jessie over to the hall mirror and made her look at her reflection.
"There, that mark. Where did you get that?"
"Let me go. You're not interested in helping me."
"Hang on I'm your father of course I care about my little girl."
She shrugged out of his grip, furious at his apparent change of heart. "That's rich coming from you. You never cared when it came to raising me. When mum died you just dropped me off here on Mina's doorstep. Turned up once in a blue moon and could never get away from me quick enough. Apart from being your daughter in blood, what tie is there. Never came to see me on my birthdays or even my graduation. What do I know about you? Or for that matter what do you know about me? And Wallis wanders why I've not invited you to our wedding."
"What… I've done what I felt was right for you. And you're avoiding the question. Where did you get that mark?"
"You're the smitter. So why don't you do what you do best. Identify and grade it."
"Don't get smart with me young lady."
"For heaven's sake will someone PLEASE tell me what's going on in my own home."
"So, she didn't tell you."
"Rupert does it sound like I know what you're going on about?"
"Jessie here has a vampire bite on her throat." He hissed through gritted teeth.