Though she can’t be mesmerized by his vampire skills, Rafaela can still be mesmerized by the man. She’s both sickened and thrilled by the hold he has over her. Then again, she has the same effect on him, which she wields recklessly. It’s a strange and bizarre relationship they have, but it’s theirs.
Rafaela held out her hand to him. Dirk took it, raising her hand to his lips. He drew her to him, kissing her deeply. Rafaela felt her knees go weak. She fell into his kiss as he pulled her closer, his hard body pressing against hers.
A sound downstairs alerted them to the fact that the others were rousing. Dirk let her go, pushing her sharply away.
“Your friends are awake. I’d better go. You’ll join me, though, right? You promised.” He pointed at her and disappeared before she could reply—this time without the special effects.
The door burst open and Claudette appeared with a stake in her hand. She looked around the room, eyes wide.
“Where is he?”
“He left. Are you all right?”
“We’re fine. Even my guests. Just a snack. The bastard! Luis is modifying their memories as we speak. The others are sanitizing.”
“I’m sorry to bring this down on you. I thought I’d covered my tracks.”
“That bastard could find your scent in a hurricane.”
“I’ll get my things together and leave.”
“You don’t have to. No real harm done. And we see where the holes are in our defenses.”
“Dirk can circumvent even the best of defenses. Honestly, I hadn’t thought of him being able to enter without permission.”
“How did he get around that?”
Rafaela dropped her head. “An obscure clause in ownership laws. Because a customer has paid a fee to be here, they technically own a percentage of the home. That does, unfortunately, include being able to invite someone in. Though you and yours can’t be mezzed, the human guests can. I hadn’t even thought of it.”
“As I said, no real harm done. There is no need for you to leave.”
“I’ve changed plans, Claudette.”
“You’re going to him, aren’t you?” Her voice held angry certainty.
Rafaela smiled. “Yes.”
“You let him get to you again. Will you never learn, Rafe?”
“Apparently not.” She smiled, hugging her friend. “Why do I love him, Claude?”
“We can’t pick the ones we love,” Claudette replied. “The heart decides, not us. Were we to use logic, we’d never be happy. We would end up with the wrong person every time.”
“Sometimes, I wonder if my heart can ever love the way a normal person’s does.”
Claudette smiled, hugging her friend. “Honey, there are many shades of normal. You sure aren’t a single one of them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t love.”
Rafaela gathered her few belongings and bid farewell to her friends. Her back seat was filled with the gifts they had given her. With a lurch, she realized she and Dirk hadn’t set up a rendezvous point. She wondered where she should go.
Somewhere devoid of people where we can be completely alone. The perfect place occurred to her. Smiling, she made a left turn and headed to the mountains.
The cabin sat in the notch of two hills. Behind, a small lake glittered in the waning winter sun. Smoke curled from the chimney, but no car stood in front of the cabin. Disappointed that the place was occupied, Rafaela decided to ask if she could borrow the bathroom before setting out for another location. She couldn’t imagine who would be staying in the cabin. Her family owned it. Well, specifically, it was hers, but a caretaker looked after it and had permission to rent it from time to time.
Keys in hand, she locked the car and walked to the porch. Lifting her hand to knock, she forced herself to smile. She was tired and needed a restroom. She also desperately wanted to see Dirk. She couldn’t believe how strong the urge was.
The door opened before she touched it. No one stood there. The room appeared empty. Wary, her nerves jangling, Rafaela drew her silver hunting knife, holding it casually by her side. She knew from experience that doors didn’t open by themselves without a reason. There was no wind and the latch appeared solid. The slow, inward movement revealed more of the room. Rafaela pushed it back to the wall, checking around and above her before proceeding further. As she’d anticipated, the door swung shut behind her. Good thing she could kick down a door or break a window to escape.
Moving carefully through the small cabin, she walked toward the kitchen to her left. A long bar stretched across the space, separating it from the main room. A cheery fire crackled in the fieldstone fireplace, warming the room. A cast iron tea kettle steamed on the stove and two mugs sat on the counter, filled with marshmallows and hot chocolate mix—the good stuff, homemade. A cinnamon stick perched in each for stirring. Only one person knew she liked her hot chocolate with cinnamon. Only one person would think of this place, like she had. Only he’d thought of it first.
“Dirk?” She called softly. She didn’t put the knife away—not yet. This house was listed under an alias, but that didn’t make it safe.
© Dellani Oakes 2105