It is the meeting where the lover meets the beloved, so it is when Vampire King Maximillion Vander Meer goes to dinner with his son and daughter-in-law. With them is Laura’s sister Evelyn who is a widow and doesn’t want the life of a vampire.
Laura shucked off a shrimp tail and placed it on the little plate, then drowned the fish in shrimp sauce. Evelyn couldn’t help but giggle. How horrible it must be not to be able to eat a favorite food! She remembered how Laura loved shrimp growing up. She glanced over at David. He was doing the same thing. Pity. Laura had told Evelyn that David, being over one hundred, was capable of eating but made a promise not to eat until Laura could too. A promise of love. Evelyn enjoyed watching her sister and brother-in-law. Theirs was what marriage was supposed to be—filled with love, sharing, and humor.
Then, he walked into the restaurant.
Oh, my God, the Viking of my dreams is walking up to the table. This can’t be happening.
Part of her danced with excitement, when she should have been quaking in terror.
After dreaming of him for my entire life, how can he be flesh and blood?
She thrust her trembling hands under the table. Grief must have made her crazy. All she saw was the tall, blond, broad shouldered man, so handsome she could cry, towering over their table. All she could think about was running away. If she looked into his eyes, she would be trapped, and Evelyn didn’t want that. She’d felt trapped half her life, and this would be worse—to be trapped by an illusion of a man, a vampire.
“Max!” David jumped up and the two gripped each other’s arms in a kind of arm shake rather than a handshake.
Laura sipped her blood wine and smiled.
“Laura, you’re looking lovely.”
“Thank you, Max.” Looking in Evelyn’s direction, she added, “This is my sister, Evelyn.”
Max’s heart jumped in his chest. He was sure everyone saw it, but surveying David and Laura’s easy smiles of welcome, he realized they hadn’t. Fear roared like a fire through his veins. He wanted to rush to her and hold her, but experience, taught by time, held him restrained. David showed no indication of picking up his thoughts, and for that Max was grateful. In his dreams he’d watched Svenna’s transformation into this modern woman, but part of him never believed it could be true—that she was out there somewhere waiting for him. He had made his petition to the goddess without believing. Only his pain made him say those words to Freya.
Evelyn was an exquisite human, and his stomach flip-flopped with the idea of talking to her. What if he said something wrong? What if she didn’t like him? Perhaps he should leave. This could be a deception by Loki playing on his desperate need. Evelyn was too beautiful, too delicate. Damn it, she was too human and didn’t want their lifestyle. A thousand questions popped into mind, mocking his insecurities. Her gaze slid to him and then away. Eyes the same brilliant summer blue as his lost love. She concealed her small hands at first, but now they emerged ripping her napkin into fine, long shreds. Concentrating to stop his shaking, he took her delicate hand and pressed her fingers to his lips. Her eyelashes fluttered, sending a tremor of excitement through him.
How often do you meet someone who has walked out of your dreams into your real life?
Now about my contest: I will be giving to one lucky commenter who lives in the USA, a signed print copy of Vampire King of New York. The contest starts here and ends when the End of Summer Bash does. Every time you comment with “I love Max,” along with your name and email, I will enter your name in the hat. Only one comment per post. Contest void where prohibited by law. Good luck, everyone!
Susan Hanniford Crowley