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A Fall of Secrets(A Shade of Vampire,Book 15)(14) by Bella Forrest

“Then you should go back to sleep,” Caleb said softly, still stroking my forehead.

Caleb was right. I needed more sleep. But as much as I tried, I couldn’t. Caleb even managed to fall asleep before me. I lay awake well into the early morning hours. When I looked over at the clock again and it was four-thirty in the morning, I decided to get up. There was no point in wasting time lying down when so many things needed to be done before noon. I walked into the bathroom and brushed my teeth, then took a shower and got dressed. I checked in the bedroom to see that Caleb was still sleeping before scribbling a note and placing it at the foot of the bed.

Caleb, depending on when you see this, I’m either at my parents’ house or in the Vale. I love you, Rose.

Then I left through the front door and began racing down the mountain. The crisp morning air was rejuvenating, the chirping of the birds filling my ears. I raced through the forest and didn’t slow down until I arrived at the foot of my parents’ tree. I ascended in the elevator and, to my surprise, saw that the kitchen and living room lights were on. Realizing that I’d forgotten my key, I looked through the kitchen window. My parents were both sitting at the dining table, deep in conversation. I rapped against the window. Their eyes shot toward the window and their expressions warmed on seeing me. My mother leapt up and rushed to the door to let me in.

“You couldn’t sleep, Rose? Neither could I.” She beckoned me inside and led me into the kitchen.

“Good morning, sweetheart,” my father said, his voice sounding hoarser than usual. He took my hand and placed a kiss over the back of it.

“I’ve just been thinking about this stupid ball all morning.” I looked at my mother. “Did you manage to speak to Corrine already?”

“Yes, I caught her before she left the beach last night. She’s been working most of the night with Ibrahim and Shayla on the hall in the Black Heights. She said she wasn’t tired anyway and was up for the challenge. Oh, and the witches will take care of the food, too. That’s not a problem.”

“Good.” I breathed out. “I don’t think we should arrive at the Vale any later than eight this morning.”

“I agree. We could probably make that seven forty-five.”

“In the meantime, I’m going to start gathering up my music and deciding what the agenda should be.”

I got up from the table and walked through the penthouse toward the music room. I opened the cabinet in the corner of the room and began paging through my music sheets. Once I was happy with the assortment I’d pulled out, I placed all the sheets into a binder and tucked it under my arm. Then I headed back out of the room. As I neared the kitchen, I could make out my parents in conversation, but as I approached within earshot, they stopped talking. I couldn’t help but wonder what they were talking about that they didn’t want me to hear.

I walked back to the table and placed my music down in front of my father. “Well, that’s what I’ve chosen.”

He opened up the binder and began paging through the sheets, nodding every so often in approval. “Good choice,” he said.

My mother looked at me with concern. “We still have a few hours before we can leave for the Vale, honey,” she said, “why don’t you try to sleep?”

I shook my head. “I just can’t. I already tried. I won’t be able to sleep until this ball is over.”

My father stood up, holding the music sheets in his hands. “Then why don’t we give these a little practice?”

I leapt at his suggestion. “I’d love that.”

We left my mother in the kitchen and headed back to the music room, both taking a seat on the bench in front of the piano.

He took out the first music sheet and placed it on the stand. I began to play. I managed to get through the entire piece without a single mistake, despite not having played this particular composition for at least a year.

When I’d finished, my father was beaming. “I still remember the first music lesson I gave you when you were six. It’s hard to believe you’re the same girl.”

“Caleb’s pretty awesome with instruments, too,” I said, running my hands along the keys.

“Yes.” My father smiled down at me. “I’ve heard him play.” He cupped my face in his hands. As he stared down at me, I could have sworn that his eyes moistened slightly. “I’m proud of you, Rose. I’m so, so proud of you.” He leaned down to plant a kiss on my head. “And I want you to know that… I approve of Caleb.”

I raised a brow. “Really?”

His jaw tensed and even though he looked almost pained to admit it, he nodded, keeping his eye contact steady with me. “I’m not sure there’s anyone in this world whom I could see as truly deserving of you… but Caleb’s a good man. I can’t deny that.”

This was the first time that I’d heard my father outright approve of Caleb. He couldn’t have known how much it meant to me. I flung my arms around his neck and buried my head against his chest. He pulled me onto his lap and cradled me like a baby.

“Thanks, Dad,” I croaked.

We cuddled for a while longer, then I slipped back down onto the bench and continued to play the next piece. I played mostly solo, but for a couple of pieces, my father played an accompaniment.

The rest of the time passed quickly, and before I knew it, it was time for my mother and me to leave for the Vale. We bade goodbye to my father and entered the elevator. On reaching the ground, my mother offered to carry me on her back. Although I was taller than her, since she was a vampire, she was strong enough to carry me and run at the same time without problems. But I shook my head, realizing that she didn’t know about my newfound speed.