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between loud crashes of thunder, the brilliance of the lightning was almost
blinding. Rain battered the castle roof and pelted the windows. I glanced over to
admire Logan’s side profile, but he was fully engrossed in his notes and laptop
and didn’t bother to look back at me. That werewolf sure wasn’t a ghastly
creature out of a horror flick, not a monster at all. He was dangerous through
and through, but he was also sweet and loyal. His brown hair fell just below
his collar, I noticed, but then I couldn’t help turning my focus to his
powerful shoulders and the muscles in his arms.
tear almost escaped my eye as I realized he’d never be mine, because the monks had
ordered him to marry Cindy, to unite the immortal world and all that jazz. Blah, blah, blah, I thought with a roll
of my eyes. Hearing those words at that meeting just about broke my heart. Deep
down, I felt like he was more than a friend, and we’d even sneaked a few
kisses, but part of me hoped for something more in the future. Now, all those
hopes were gone.
he caught me staring at him and stopped tapping on the keys. “What’s on your
mind?” he asked, shooting me a lazy smile.
bit my lip. “Nothing.”
you can tell me.”
Your ESP or sixth sense or whatever the heck it is is the worst superpower
what’s troubling you?”
sighed. “Fine. If you must know… Well, it’s just… I mean, do you want to marry Cindy?”
to? No. Need to? Yes.” He ran a hand through his gorgeous mop of hair, and I
envied that hand. “You know I have to. Time is ticking, and only the monks can
lift the curse. We all have mountains to climb, whether we feel like it or
almost shuddered; I didn’t want to think of him climbing Cindy. “Why are the monks
forcing you into a loveless marriage? It’s basically blackmail!”
“They demand unity in the supernatural world. They
aren’t concerned with me or my love life. Plus, they know I’m not, uh…attached
to anyone else. I’m an eligible bachelor, right?”
I guess,” I said, nonchalantly patting Slayer when the pup jumped on my lap. “I
don’t know anything about your past history with women. You just don’t talk
don’t kiss and tell,” he said, returning his eyes to his monitor. “Besides,
there’s nothing worth talking about. I don’t mean to sound emo, but in my
experience, relationships have meant only heartache and pain.”
that why you build up those brick walls, so no one will get too close to hurt
glanced over, then went back to his screen. “Brick walls are for castles,
castles like yours.”
deflection. I like it.”
tell me, have you ever been in love?” I asked.
he closed the laptop. “No, but…”
be told,” he said quietly, as if he was about to confess some deep, dark
secret, “I guess I would like to know what love is…someday.”
After you divorce Cindy in 100 years?”
A whole century?”
immortal, just as immortal as a vampire. You may as well stick it out till the
hundredth anniversary party.”
he said with a snicker.
on the other hand, couldn’t possibly laugh. “For you, that’ll be over in the
blink of an eye, but I… Well, I’ll be long dead.”
that what’s upsetting you?”
death’s a little upsetting,” I said.
worry too much. Everything will work out. You know the gargoyle has no interest
in me. She’s more into fangs. She likes her men, tall, dark, and thirsty.”
had to laugh at that.
it is,” he said, grinning back at me. “I love that smile.”
you’re going to do this, you have to get Cindy to commit to it. She doesn’t
seem too enthused about your arranged marriage either.”
vampires are starving, and the wolves can’t keep feeding them. I want to lift
the curse, but it’s not my call. Cindy is wishy washy, as usual, and I’m sure
Fred’s whining isn’t helping.”
if she does agree, we’ve already got the perfect venue,” I said softly, waving
my arms up at the ceiling.
here? On the castle grounds? That’s very generous of you.”
definitely plan to have your dream wedding here in my beautiful castle.”
Then the fake fairytale would be perfect, even if we don’t live happily ever
might be happier than you expect,” I said.
highly doubt that.”
you two should own this castle, not me. You have royal blood. I just luckily inherited
it. I’m basically just a caretaker.”
“Look, we’re not entitled to a castle. We both
gave up our royal ties a long time ago.”
at least you’ll have a beautiful princess on your arm, the proverbial blonde
with blue eyes.”
even of that terrible manicure she gets at night when she turns?”
cleared my throat. “No, not at all.”
of rings and vows, I don’t really want Cindy. She’s not my type. Not to mention
that she already belongs to my best friend.”
heard the marriage has to be consummated, to make it official.”
I said, I don’t kiss and tell.”
and I won’t tell them that either! Trust me, I’m not going to fall in love with
her. This isn’t some Hallmark movie or blockbuster romance. I can tolerate
Cindy, for Fred’s sake if nothing else, but we don’t get along that well. It
was rough when I lived with the two of them at their house. At least here, we
have enough space to put between us. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I
guess. That will be the motto of our fake marriage.”
refuse to lose my best friend over some dumb request by the monks. I’ll marry
her, if she’ll go through with it, but nothing about it will be real, and I’ve
got no problem with her seeing Fred on the side.”
we all live here, it’ll be very easy for Fred and Cindy to keep their
relationship in secret.”
as long as the monks don’t order Fred to leave. He was so ticked when they gave
us that ultimatum. We’ve talked it out, and he’s calmed down, but it’s really
up to his girl at this point. Cindy needs to make a decision quickly. Wolf
packs are donating blood all over the world, just to keep the rioting down, but
it’s not enough, and they can’t keep it up much longer.”
I know, and it’s definitely not safe in town. Eve said they’re still attacking
wolves. If you go anywhere, be careful.”
nodded. “Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. Anyway, you ready to get back to work?”
crystal chandelier overhead flickered from the storm blast, and the hard rain
made it clear that Mother Nature wasn’t going to stop her temper tantrum
anytime soon. It was nearing noon, and we still weren’t sure how to recover the
necklace, the key that would unlock a portal to hell. As we tried to think of
solutions and ideas, we also read about the latest Falcar crime, the murder of
a man at a local gas station, a lead Cindy had left to check out.
look at this!” I said, pointing to a news article on my laptop screen. “It says
an incredible haul of ancient gold jewelry has been unearthed by two treasure
hunters using metal detectors.”
he said, squinting to look more closely at the picture. Suddenly, his eyes
widened. “I think that’s it, the necklace we’re after, right there in the
says that piece was sold to the Louvre Museum in Paris a few years back.”
quickly returned to his own keyboard and started tapping away, digging for
information. “Apparently, it was stolen, valued at over ten million dollars.”
the woman we caught with it is a thief! Either that, or her boyfriend is. Girls
can get a guy to do anything if they bat their eyelashes long enough.”
really?” Logan said, his voice lilting with a tease.
need that necklace, baby,” I said, batting my eyes at him mercilessly, “so I
can totally end the world.”
laughed. “Actually, based on my research, she doesn’t seem like the type that
wants to end the world. She’s not exactly a criminal, and her record’s clean. My
guess is that she is a pawn in someone’s game.”
obviously the boyfriend is some sort of convict.”
trouble, but he only wants money and power, not to end the world or start an apocalypse.
She must be blindly following something else, maybe a friend or relative or
some kind of religious leader. She might not even know she’s being deceived. The
necklace has to be charged by a witch, so maybe someone gave it to her for that
reason, and she’s none the wiser.
way,” I said, shaking my head at him. “Nobody’s that naïve. She can’t be totally
in the dark. She’s wearing a key to open up a portal to hell.”
only thing we know for sure is that she’s wearing a stolen necklace.”
I said, but I wasn’t buying it.
doesn’t look like she’s been using her credit cards anywhere,” he said.
You can see all that? Quite the little hacker, aren’t you?”
laughed. “Yeah, well, I have hobbies. I’ve got a whole eternity to kill.” He
paused and looked at his screen again. “The last time she accessed her accounts
was months ago, so she must be living strictly off cash.”
money from the blood banks before they were dismantled,” I interjected. “I can’t
believe they got away in all the chaos.”
know,” Logan said. “If I would’ve been allowed to stay, I would’ve made sure
they didn’t escape my clutches. I would have sent their asses to immortal jail.”
know, but the Council didn’t want their delicate
flower crushed,” I teased.
the Falcar who said that. He was just trying to degrade you so he could gain the
sighed. “I know. Anyway, do you think our dynamic duo has a secret blood bank
don’t know, but if they do, we’ll find it and end it.”
A short while later, while we sat in the
living room, looking at our notes that were sprawled everywhere, a growling
sound emitted from Logan’s middle.
so hungry I could eat a—”
better to hold your horses than to eat one,” I teased. “Pizza’s on its way.”
I could eat a horse too.”
laughed. “Just promise me Slayer is safe.”
he could answer, the doorbell rang, and the little dog began barking up a
storm, always happy to see company.
glanced up. “It’s about time, and your dog is officially safe.”
stood up and peeked out the rain-streaked window. “You’re not going to believe
what? They brought two pizzas instead of one? Man, you have great wolf vision
through all that torrential rain.”
You better come here and take a look.”
walked over and pulled the curtain back, only to spy my friend Beth standing on
the doorstep, holding an umbrella and a suitcase. “Wow. Let me handle this.”
hurry and get rid of her. I’m so hungry, I might eat her too!”
There will be no eating of human girls in this castle.”
even if you bat your eyes at me?” he teased. “What a shame.”
funny…and that wasn’t what I meant. We have house rules, remember?”
maybe I’ll eat the pizza guy for being late.”
peeked in. “Or maybe I’ll eat him just out of spite, since I can’t eat pizza.”
gaze narrowed. “You two aren’t eating anyone. Now, please find your manners and
try not to act like paranormal creatures who want to devour the pretty girl at
shit. The notes!” Logan started frantically collecting them.
you think she’ll remember you?” I asked.
memories were suppressed. I’m sure she doesn’t even recall your magic or that
you had a sister or that the two of you were running for your lives. She won’t
recognize any of us.”
hope you’re right,” I said over my shoulder as I walked to the door and threw
it open. “Beth! What a pleasant surprise,” I said and pasted on a smile to mask
my nerves. “Come on in.”