Authors: Gayla Drummond
Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban, #Mystery, #werewolves, #urban fantasy, #Shifters, #Vampires, #Magic, #Paranormal, #psychic
He chuckled. "Tell that to the butterflies in my stomach."
"At least I'm not the only one who has them." I hoped I didn't end up saying any more stupid things. Anxiety had a way of running my mouth without checking with my brain first.
"Shall we?" Logan cocked his arm for me to take hold.
I smiled. "Let's."
Some women didn't like men doing things like opening doors for them, but I didn't have a problem with him walking me around, and opening the passenger door. I liked it when men behaved like gentlemen, and did those little things. Logan even bent and tucked my coat inside the car before shutting the door.
Once behind the steering wheel, he glanced at me. "I forgot to tell you that you look great."
"I won't hold it against you." But I was pleased he'd noticed I'd gone to more effort than usual with my hair and makeup. "You look great too."
"What, this old thing?" He plucked at the front of his teal shirt. "Had it for ages, but thanks."
"Isn't that supposed to be my line?"
"You missed your cue." Logan started the engine. "I hope you're hungry."
I hoped my idiotic nervousness didn't result in me throwing up whatever we had for dinner. "Starving. Where are we going?"
"It's a surprise." He was backing out at a curve, to turn the car around.
He was wearing black jeans and the long-sleeved teal button-up. Nice, but not super fancy. I had on black palazzo pants and a burgundy, trapeze-cut, nearly sheer top over a black cami. And, of course, the Tear Petra had given me, tucked inside my top, and my faux tiger coat. "Am I overdressed?"
"You look great."
I laughed. "That wasn't my question."
"You're not overdressed," he said, finishing his three-point turn. "How was work today?"
"Frustrating." I filled him in on our lack of tangible progress, and by the time I'd finished yapping, we were pulling into the parking lot of Le Rêve Sauvage. "Ooh. You're spoiling me."
"You enjoyed that lunch so much, I thought this was a good dinner choice."
"You thought right." My nervousness had disappeared during the drive.
he restaurant was decorated in an Art Deco style, all black and white with glints of silver, and had a quiet, relaxing atmosphere. The maître d' seated us at a small, round table for two to one side of the dining area. We ordered Suprême de Faisan Sauce Savagnin et Morilles after discussing the pros and cons of just about every offering on the menu. Logan deferred to me on the wine, and I chose a Pinot Noir.
Once the wine was poured, I couldn't pick a conversation topic. Work was out, having already talked about it. And who wants to spend their date talking about work constantly anyway? "How's everyone settling in?"
"The euphoria would probably knock you out. We haven't had a single complaint yet, about anything." Logan's smile was brighter than the flame of the candle in the center of our table. "I think this is the first time since the clan was formed that everyone is happy."
"That's fantastic. You did a great job." I knew he'd had to work with elves to plan the pocket realm, and had seen the results on Solstice Night for myself. "Exactly how much room is in there?"
"I don't know, because pocket realms are kind of fluid about that. Plenty," he said. "You could run for days before you were looped back."
I raised my eyebrows. "Looped back?"
"Yes." Logan leaned forward. "The outer boundary is kind of an illusion. It'll look like the land keeps going, but when you hit the boundary, the magic will sort of transition you back to the entrance."
"Even if you don't go straight?"
He nodded. "Even then."
"My brain doesn't want to wrap around that." I'd learned that supes had labeled psychics "natural mages" before the Melding, but still didn't feel like what I did was actual magic. There was no way I could create an entire place out of nothing, or do something like transform other people into dogs.
Logan chuckled. "It hurts mine too. I'm just happy it works."
"What about adding new houses?"
"That's built into the magic." He sat back, took a sip of wine, and tried to explain. "A pocket realm is tuned to its inhabitants. If we need more houses, they'll appear. Everything will move without really moving."
"Okay, my head's going to start hurting." I wondered why Nick's father had decreed a house would be built. Did their territory differ from other pocket realms? If so, why? Then again, did I really want to know if they did? Probably not. Explanations of magic usually resulted in migraines, because I couldn't grasp the hows and whys of how magic worked.
Logan didn't mind my call for a subject change. "What would you like to do after dinner?"
"What are the options?"
"Dancing, a movie, or there's a carnival in the Barrows. We could go for a walk at a park, or at home..." He smiled. "Entirely up to you."
"There's a carnival in the Barrows? What's a vampire carnival like?"
"Weirder side shows, but there's rides."
"That might be fun. Would you mind if we stopped by to see Tase for a few minutes?" It hadn't been a week yet, but I thought it might be rude to go down there and not stop by.
"No, don't mind at all."
Our dinner was served then, dropping conversation down to the food, which was delicious.
he vampire carnival was wilder than I expected, and Logan was right about the sideshows being weirder. Human carnivals didn’t offer things like sex shows or vampire feedings. I couldn’t believe people paid to let vampires bite them, no matter how sexy the vamp was. Or, for that matter, to watch them having sex with each other. It was definitely not a family-friendly carnival.
We avoided those tents, sticking to the rides and midway games. Logan won a dark purple and lavender stuffed bear for me at the dart game. The bear wasn’t small, but large enough to make carrying it awkward. “I’ll put him in the corner of my bedroom, and his name shall be Mr. Pansy.”
“Pansy?” Logan hefted the bear onto his back, holding onto its arms over his shoulders.
“It’s logical, I promise. Pansies come in the same shades of purple.” I stroked my new stuffie’s side. “He’s so soft. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” We left the dart game’s front and walked down the midway. “What next?”
“Ferris wheel?” I hooked my finger through his belt loop, since his hands weren’t free.
“Sounds like a plan.”
The loading platform for the Ferris wheel wasn’t crowded. Apparently, humans preferred the kinkier sideshows. Go figure.
“Do you want to sit with me, or Mr. Pansy?” Logan asked once he’d put the bear on one of the benches inside our cab.
“With you, of course.”
“Just checking. He has me beat in the cuddly department.”
“But he can’t cuddle back. He’s a cuddlee, not a cuddler.” We sat on the other bench, and I pulled Logan’s arm over my shoulders, scooting closer to him. “You can cuddle back. You win.”
He kissed my temple before saying, “Sorry, Mr. Pansy.”
The ride began, our cab rocking as it rose. I sighed. “These are supposed to be romantic. Jerky movements aren’t romantic.”
Logan surveyed the cab. “We’re in a metal cage.”
“It’s called a cab.”
“It’s still a metal cage.”
I laughed. “Okay, yeah, but it’s a cage for safety reasons, so that no one falls out.”
Of course, since there was an opening in the top half of the door to the cab, someone could jump out. And I’d seen someone do that, in the past. The memory killed my smile.
“I was remembering Rose Middleton.”
“The woman at the fair.”
“You can’t save everyone, but the important thing is, you try. And you did save a lot of people that time.”
“We saved a lot of people.”
Logan gently squeezed my shoulders. “Okay, we.”
I was the worst date ever, killing the fun we’d been having, but was now stuck in a conversational corner. An apology seemed my best bet. “Sorry.”
“For what, remembering a victim?”
“Well, yeah. We’re supposed to be having fun.”
He pulled his arm from around me, and turned a little to face me, reaching for my hand. I turned too, so our knees touched. Logan looked at me for a few seconds. “Here’s the thing: I do have fun with you, but I don’t expect everything to be fun all the time. Life doesn’t cooperate like that. I’m more than okay with sharing the rough stuff too, whenever it comes up. It may not be fun, but it is a sign of trust. I’ll take trust over fun any day.”
“Okay, seriously now, you really are taking classes in how to say the right thing all the time, aren’t you?”
“No classes, promise.” Logan shrugged. “Maybe I’m just saying the things you already know, but need to hear from someone else.”
“I didn’t already know having an attack of the blues on a date wouldn’t bother you.” At least, I didn’t think I knew that, but then again, I’d unloaded my baggage on Logan before, and he’d never flinched.
“You know we’re friends,” he said. “And good friends don’t mind sharing the good and the bad stuff.”
“All I’m saying is, don’t worry about sharing whatever you want to with me.”
“Thanks. The same goes for you.” It was entirely possible I was the luckiest woman in the world. Or perhaps, the most manipulated by gods one.
Not liking that thought, I decided it was time to return to having fun. “Can we get back to where we were snuggling on this romantic ride?”
“We can.” Logan shifted, putting his arm around me again, a huge smile lighting up his face.
e left the carnival about eleven, and decided to walk to visit Tase.
The Barrows were more active and crowded at night. Vampires required their six hours of recharging during daylight hours, though some did need to hit the coffin just before sunrise. Others wouldn’t rise until after the sun set.
Even then, I’d learned their deady-bye times varied from season to season, based on the amount of daylight. That had been a downer for me, since I’d thought those times were set in stone.
But no, only that each slept at a full six hours was a firm rule. Because of that, there were always vampires awake in the Barrows, even during the day. They just had to stay out of the sun.
The tourists were out in full force at night, too, dressed for partying. We passed groups of young adults and older teens, and held hands to keep from being separated. “I don’t get it.”
“Don’t get what?” Logan glanced at me, Mr. Pansy tucked under his other arm.
“Why so many people want to mingle with vampires. What’s the allure?”
“Yeah, but this different is also dangerous, and those two things usually cause fear. Fear can turn to hatred, and that tends to result in prejudice.” Or so said my twenty-one years of conscious experience. “And humans have a habit of wanting to be the same, or trying to force people to be like them.”
He thought about that for a few steps. “As far as I know, that’s not something that only applies to humans. Every species forms groups. Like-minded groups, that feel they’re right or special in some fashion.”
“I guess. Maybe I’m missing the vamp groupie gene.” Probably the elf groupie gene too. “Because I did not like getting bitten and having my blood sucked.”