It’s so quiet.
Nothing but snow.
He shivered, but it was not from the cold air.
There was no snow.
It was warm outside.
It was a beautiful night and May Rose was beautiful.
He frowned and focused harder on the house.
I will not think of it.
But he thought of it.
And he remembered.
May Rose Farlington wore a butter yellow and white cream colored dress. Her mother had artistically rendered her daughter’s hair into a woman’s hairstyle.
And she looked beautiful.
He did not stare for too long and he certainly did not gape. He knew his place. It would never be with her.
She looked at him. Right at him. There was no mistaking it.
He turned from her and went to check on the refreshments.
Sandwiches. Fruit. Water. Lemonade.
Oh. Lemonade needs to be refilled.
A chill ran up his spine, but he did his best not to show it. He smoothed a wrinkle in the tablecloth. “Is there something I can get for you, Miss Farlington?”
“You can look at me. You can forget all about what society demands of us. Forget our social standings. Forget about my family. Just turn around and look at me, James. Just look at me.”
He turned around and fixed his gaze on the jeweled pin in her hair. “The lemonade carafe needs refilling. I beg your pardon, Miss Farlington. Please excuse me.”
She grabbed his hand. “James.”
He shook his head. “It isn’t possible.”
“Just tell me. One word. One answer.”
“Do you love me?”
I could speak the truth and reveal my heart, but to what end? “You are lovely, Miss Farlington, but I…” Don’t love you. Can’t love you. “I’m deeply sorry. I really do need to refill the lemonade.”
“That isn’t an answer.”
“I have responsibilities, Miss Farlington. As the eldest daughter of the Farlington family, you have responsibilities as well.”
“I don’t care about that.”
“I do. I can’t. I will not let you throw it all away for someone like me.”
“You aren’t a bad person. You’re a good man. You love me. I know you do.” She stepped closer to him.
He tried to back away from her, but the table was right behind him. There was nowhere he could go. Out of sheer desperation, he lunged to his right and grabbed the empty lemonade carafe.
She backed away from him as if she expected him to pelt her with the lemon slices.
“Please excuse me.”
He returned to the house in a state of badly rattled nerves and messed up emotions. He set the carafe on a side table in the hall and entered the parlor to pull himself together.
The parlor wasn’t empty.
A woman sat on one of the stiff-backed chairs.
She rose from her seat to reveal her close-fitting yellow dress.
“I was unaware that anyone was in here.”
She had marigold hair and black eyes. “Well. Aren’t you an interesting fellow?” Her voice made him think of fresh cream on a summer day.
She strolled over to him and smiled.
An irrational fear gripped him. He turned to leave with at least a minimum of decorum.
She grabbed his shoulders and held tight. “Do you have any idea how good you smell?”
“Madam, I need to—“
“You need to just shut up. I don’t care for prey that talks and talks.”
His face turned pale as he understood what he was dealing with. “Vampire.”
“mm. Yes. Vampire.”
He broke free of her grip and ran for the doorway.
She caught up to him and grabbed him.
He struggled, but she dragged him down to the floor.
“No. Please don’t. Please don’t.”
Her claws tore through his collars, exposing his neck.
“No! I don’t want. I…I…”
Her fangs pierced his skin.
Raven shivered again. He didn’t want to remember what happened next.
He refused to remember the rush of pleasure followed by the skin splitting, bone cracking pain.
He didn’t want to remember the shock and loss and despair.
He refused to remember his first kill.
He focused on the house below.
A vampire walked up to Barbara’s front door and scratched on it with its long claws.