Read an Excerpt
“You’re freaking out about nothing,” Amanda said, her voice full of laughter on the other end of the phone. “It’s one date. It’s not like I expect you to marry the guy or anything.”
I was sitting on the floor of my room, phone cradled to my ear, staring at the piles of clothes that amounted to everything I owned strewn across the bed.
“I never should have agreed to this. I have nothing to wear, plus I’ve put on five pounds this month. I am not in a blind dating kind of mood.”
“The only weight you’ve gained is in your head. Perhaps literally but still.” She laughed again, and it was a struggle not to hang up on her.
Amanda and I had been friends for years, therefore no one could get under my skin better than her. She had set me up on a blind date with one of her husband’s clients. Greg owned an art gallery downtown, and this guy I was meeting, Conner, was an artist. Conner’s latest show had been a smashing success, according to all of the reviews I hadn’t read but Amanda was nice enough to tell me about. His work was ‘sensually riveting’ and ‘reminiscent of a time forgotten’. Whatever the hell that meant.
I hadn’t bothered to go to the opening, no matter how many times Amanda had insisted. I had also turned down numerous dinner invitations to soirees they had thrown for the artist, knowing she had been trying to rope me into going out with him. But as per usual, she had worn me down with her incessant nagging, and I had agreed to go out with him. I have never claimed to be consistent...or smart for that matter.
“I have to go. I have to find something in this mess to wear tonight.” I hung up, dropping the phone onto the ‘no way in hell’ clothes pile. I stood in the middle of the room in my underwear, cussing softly to myself. This was going to be an absolute disaster.
I decided to ignore the clothes for a while longer and work on my makeup. I started with my eyes, because that was going to be the worst of my screwups. I lined my lids with black eyeliner, managing to smudge it pretty well. After removing it twice, the third time my hand stayed steady long enough to make a straight line. I was so distracted by my own excitement at this feat that I managed to poke myself in the eye with the mascara wand three seconds later. Not thinking, I rubbed at my eye, smearing the well-positioned eyeliner down to my cheekbone. Fuck.
Frustrated as hell, I gave up on the eyeliner, swiped the mascara across my lashes with no further injury and decided against any more makeup at all. God only knew the beautiful shade of red my teeth could have been when meeting Conner for the first time had I tried for lipstick.
I brushed out my shoulder-length auburn hair, glad that it wasn’t a humid night. My hair falls in natural waves, but any moisture in the air makes it frizz to unimaginable heights. At least something was going right.
I ended up back in the bedroom, still in my underwear, with a sore eye and nothing to wear. Blind dates are stupid and so was Amanda.
I grabbed a black skirt off the ‘maybe’ pile. After picking out an emerald green shirt, and my adorable knee-high, black patent-leather boots, I figured this was as good as it was going to get. I got dressed in the bathroom, thinking I might try the eyeliner thing again after I was finished.
I turned to look in the mirror and smiled. Not bad. The blouse made my green eyes look even brighter, so the eyeliner probably wasn’t necessary after all. Since
I’m short, the mid-length skirt hit my knee just above the boots and when I walked there were small flashes of skin. I glanced at the clock and saw I needed to get to the restaurant. I didn’t want to keep Prince Stranger waiting.
We were meeting at La Dolce Vita, a small restaurant around the corner from Greg’s gallery. Amanda had picked it out so Conner would be able to find it easily. I would have preferred somewhere busier, louder and less romantic. With the candles and roses on all the tables, the dim lighting, and the strolling violin player, Vita was the kind of place you take someone to propose, not meet them for the first time.
Amanda had described Conner as tall, which I always had to take with a grain of salt coming from her; at five foot two inches everyone was tall to Amanda. She said he had short black hair, grey eyes and a great body. Every time the door to the restaurant opened, I tried to casually glance up, looking for someone who resembled the portrayal I’d been given.
When Conner walked in, I almost didn’t believe it could be him. Sure, he met the vague description, but the guy who walked towards me was flat-out beautiful.
High cheekbones, flawless skin, eyes so bright I could see them shining across the dim room. He was tall, and his clothes were tight enough that I could see his lean muscles under the taught fabric of his t-shirt.
He stood at the table, smiling down at me. I caught a glimpse of his teeth, and it took all of my courage to remain sitting there. Amanda had been pretty thorough in her biography of him, but what she had failed to mention was that he was a fucking vampire.
I smiled softly as I nodded to him. My voice didn’t seem to want to work just then. A vampire? What was Amanda thinking? I mean, I don’t have anything against
vampires, not really, I just preferred to stick to my own species when dating. And she knew that, which was, of course, why she didn’t tell me.
Conner sat down across from me, his thick pouty lips turned up in a smirk. “I take it Amanda forgot to tell you I’m a dead guy, huh?”
“No, she, uh, she didn’t tell me.” Which, considering she had told me everything else she had ever heard about him, was more than a little disturbing.
“Well, if it helps, Greg didn’t tell me you were alive. We could go over to their house and kick their asses if you want.” He grinned at me, and I laughed.
“That’s better. Listen, we don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable around me. You wouldn’t be the first woman to walk out on me for being...what I am.”
“Don’t be silly. I’m sorry if I was rude. It was just sort of a shock. I’d like it if you stayed.” He was cute, he was funny and he seemed like a nice guy. I could do a lot worse on a Saturday night, even if he was a vampire.