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Authors: Cheri Schmidt

Tags: #romance, #vampire, #paranormal romance, #fantasy, #paranormal, #young adult, #fairy

Fateful (7 page)

BOOK: Fateful
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“Oh, now you can’t leave me hanging like
that. Tell me. Please.”

After the desperate look he just shot
her, she decided to just spill it. “I hope to find the perfect
husband, or a
mostly
perfect
husband, and then have children.”

“You want to get married?”

“Well, someday. Don’t you?”

“Yes, that is something I want too. And your
fears?” he prompted.

“I guess I fear never being able to find that
person, amongst other things.”

“What other things?”

She sighed. She didn’t really want to talk
about her fears. Danielle answered anyway, knowing she may have
skipped a few—important ones. “I fear spiders. It’s stupid, and I
know it. I just hate those big hairy ones. They creep me out, and …
I fear creepy men in dark alleys.” She shuddered at the memory of
Lucas. She feared any person who was immune to her skills.

“What about snakes?” Ethan asked, eyeing
her.

“I guess I would fear a poisonous snake in
the wild. But I have seen pet snakes, and I don’t really fear them.
I wouldn’t like to hold it, but I might pet it,” she said,
wondering if she’d lied. In truth it was likely she wouldn’t dare
touch the thing either, just in case.

“So you wouldn’t be afraid of a
tame
snake, even though it still had
fangs?”

Danielle got a peculiar feeling he asked that
question for another reason. Repulsion slithered through her mind
as she recalled the little garden snake James had found when they
were younger. The way it slithered between his fingers, the way he
played with it and giggled when it twisted. While the creature was
surely wild, it had never tried to bite him, still she’d run inside
to tattle when he tried to set it in her hair. With her gaze
shifting to Ethan’s she felt her eyes widen at the glimmer of
amusement in his gaze as he watched her squirm. Had she
misinterpreted the good manners to mean he was something like the
dashing Mr. Darcy? Perhaps he was one of the rogues, teasing her
about reptiles, taking notice of her fear, taunting her with
it.

Chancing another look his way, she changed
her mind at the sight of his crooked little smile. It was charming
and certainly not evil.... What was she thinking? He’d shown
nothing but admirable traits so far. Understanding her tendency for
exaggerating, Danielle decided he was simply teasing her. Just as
James would ... there was no menace behind it. When his tawny
eyebrow lifted, she realized she hadn’t answered the question. “I-I
still wouldn’t want to hold it,” she repeated, not really knowing
what else to say.

“Hm...”

Before he asked any more tricky questions,
she decided that maybe it was time to turn the tables on him.
Grinning, Danielle asked, “We’re not going to talk about me the
whole time, are we? Tell me about you?”

“Same questions then?”

He seemed a little reluctant, but it
was
his
idea. “Sure,” she
said.

He dove in regardless of any hesitation she’d
heard. “Okay then, my talents—I can play the mandolin, the guitar,
and the eight string bouzouki.”

Danielle had no idea what a bouzouki was, but
it sounded interesting, and she suspected it was just another
stringed instrument since he lumped it in with the others she had
heard of.

“Hobbies—I hunt.” An odd grin danced at the
corner of his mouth when he said that.

“What do you hunt?” Danielle asked what
seemed like a natural question to her. She knew what her father
liked to hunt: pheasant, quail, geese and deer.

But Ethan eyed her suspiciously, as though it
had not been an ordinary inquiry at all. And his response was curt.
“Deer mostly.”

“My dad too … and pheasant?” she asked
because that’s what her dad liked to hunt.

“No,” he said flatly. “Never fowl.”

“I see.”

“My parents were wonderful, but they have
passed away, and I miss them.” He paused staring ahead into
traffic.

“And your hopes and fears?” She wasn’t
letting him get off any easier than she did.

“I hope for a new life. I hope to find
my one true love, my soul mate, like Beon has. I hope to be a good
person.” Danielle got chills as he spoke. His hopes seemed a bit
more intense than hers. He went on, “I fear, well, I don’t fear
much. But I do fear never finding my one true love, or missing her
if I
did
find her but didn’t
realize it, and … I fear losing control.”

While the conversation had been different
from any she’d experienced on a date so far, she decided none of it
proved to be a sign of skeletons in the closet either. At least it
seemed that way, though she did wonder what he meant by “losing
control.” Did he have anger issues? That didn’t appear to be
likely. She got the impression he was extremely patient.

 

Thinking the long drive had flown by when
they arrived at the garden, Danielle was finding that it was quite
easy to be around him, comfortable, like someone she’d known for
many years. He parked the car and ran around to open the door for
her. Reaching in, he lifted her hand, and then gently wrapped it
around his brawny arm as she stood. Danielle could feel his muscle
ripple every time he moved, and secretly liked that a lot.

Ethan led her around the garden as he spoke
to her about what he liked most about it. She felt like they were
almost dancing with his graceful way of leading her. Sometimes he
would place one hand on the small of her back as he guided her
along, and Danielle could sense the power behind his touch, though
it was never forceful or bossy. But she did find it interesting
that he seemed to control eye contact carefully as he stayed by her
side or behind her most of the time.

He took her through a flower garden with
ornamental water steps and canals, all linked gracefully by
plantings that reminded her of what one might find growing near a
cottage. Leading to a center gazebo, the borders brimmed with blue,
purple and yellow flowers that nodded cheerily in the breeze.
Stopping her under the wisteria arch, he told her it was planted in
the nineteenth century. He ran his fingers along the draping,
lavender-colored blooms, releasing their fragrance. Danielle
thought it was delightful.

The sunken garden made her think of fairies
and pixies with its woodland design. They paused at the waterfall
and pool, which was surrounded by more colorful plantings. Danielle
gazed into the clear water and was startled with what she saw. In
the refection, Ethan was looking at her, and not their
surroundings. Reflexively, she turned to face him. An unabashed
smile greeted her. It seemed he knew he’d been caught, peering down
at her through half-closed slits, still avoiding any full eye
connection. “I like how you seem to wear a lot of skirts, like a
lady. Girls these days don’t dress-up enough. They dress in men’s
attire far too often.”

Girls these days…?
A puzzled look formed on her face. “You sound like my
grandfather.” While he didn’t look older than twenty-something to
her, sometimes he did act older, especially when he made such
peculiar comments.
Was this a British
thing?
she wondered.

Her statement sent him rumbling with
laughter. “I’m sorry. I just miss the time when women dressed
beautiful and elegant.”

“You say that like you lived through it.” She
continued to eye him curiously.

“I mean like you see in old movies and read
about in old books. That seemed like such a romantic time.”

“I see.” Danielle liked old movies too, but
those movies were usually chick flicks, and not usually liked by
guys. “Don’t you like shoot-em-up, gory guy movies?”

An impish smirk took to his face. “Of course
I do. I do have a slightly aggressive side to me, as does any other
man, I would suspect.”

Oh, good! Then he is a normal guy. She was
beginning to worry a little.

Ethan chuckled nervously while taking her
hand into his and she wondered if he meant to distract her from
this topic of conversation, especially when he said, “There’s a
maze here too. Let’s go do that next, shall we?”

There’s a maze?
Definitely distraction was his plan, and it worked. Disturbed
by the idea momentarily, she finally decided that as long as she’s
with him she won’t have to worry about getting lost, and went along
when he tugged her to the right.

“The maze contains over a thousand full-grown
yew trees. It’s my favorite part,” he said as he pulled her along
swiftly.

Danielle found it difficult to care about the
yew trees, but he was apparently thrilled. Just the sight of it was
troubling when they arrived at the entrance, and she hesitated,
digging her feet in as she tried to slow down his momentum. Not
that he noticed.

Pointing to a tall gothic tower in the
center, Ethan said, “Meet me there, and we’ll go to the top of it.”
Letting go of her hand, he stepped into the maze.

“What! You’re leaving me?”

“It’s a race. We’ll see who gets there
first,” he said, emitting a chuckle from a challenging grin.

“Okay then. I had fun … this was nice … I’ll
see you another time.” Danielle waved goodbye. She knew she’d never
make it to the tower. It would get dark and she would still be
wandering aimlessly through that thing. Walking into a maze was
like asking to get lost, at least in her opinion.

Some of the excitement fell from his
expression. Seemed he was catching on to the fact she didn’t like
this part of the garden so much. “Please, Danielle. It’ll be fun. I
promise.” When that didn’t get the response she figured he was
hoping for, he changed tactics, moved close and then used his eyes
on her. At the sight of those baby-blues, the feeling of daze
returned and another surge of familiarity hit her. Danielle tried
to shake it off, but found she couldn’t resist because this gaze of
his was actually more convincing than his gentle words.

It took her a moment to realize he’d
gathered both of her hands and already drawn her in well past the
entrance. Panicking now, she spun around when he released her and
found she already didn’t know which way to go. “Don’t worry,
darling. You’ll find your way.” The soft words came to her like the
whisperings of a spirit and she couldn’t tell which way they’d come
from. Surely she couldn’t already be lost. With shoulders drooping,
she thought,
He’s going to be so
disappointed when I don’t actually show up
.

Wondering what she should do next, she
heard a low, husky chuckle as he apparently moved further away.
Danielle merely glowered at the jovial sound and turned back the
way she’d come ... or thought she’d come. Which way
had
she come? Great, she really was
already turned around.

Guessing now, she stomped down one way, but
not without wobbling a bit after the influence of his trance-like
eyes. What was with his eyes? After finding one dead-end and
another, she decided she must have chosen wrong and turned around.
Again she never found her way back to the entrance that shouldn’t
have been that far away. Danielle had hoped to exit, go around the
maze and see if she could find a way to the tower without going
through it.

It soon dawned on her that that wasn’t going
to happen. Danielle abandoned the idea and began wandering, at
first hoping she would be able to hear him ahead of her and be able
to follow, but soon realized she’d lost him already. She then
prayed she would get lucky, be able to see through the yews and
accidentally find the end. But that hope dissolved as well when she
couldn’t see through the greenery and came to a wall of solid
greenery with no exit. She tossed her hands in the air and turned
around angrily.

Picking up her pace to a slow run, she
wanted to get this over with as soon as possible. Growing
frustrated, Danielle stumbled into another dead-end. Crap! She
changed directions again. With heart pounding, she chose another
path, then hit the yews with her fist when she ran into yet another
dead-end.
I’m going to find every single
dead-end in this stupid maze,
she complained in her
head.

She kept wandering until she stopped
cold facing the fourth dead-end or sixth, she’d lost count.
Danielle ran her fingers through her hair as frustration overtook
her emotions.
I may as well just give up
now.
She thought about sitting down right there to
wait, figuring he would come looking for her if she never showed up
at the tower.

Suddenly, strong arms snaked around her waist
from behind. She screamed, and then heard Ethan chuckling softly in
her ear. “It’s this way, Danielle,” he said, his shoulders still
shaking with silent mirth.

He then led her through the maze with his
hands on her waist to guide her. Danielle thought he must have it
memorized because he never entered a dead-end, and never slowed
down to think where he was going. In only a matter of moments the
yews opened to a clearing with the big gothic tower standing above
it all in the center.

“Was I even close?” she asked, feeling
annoyed with the ease he had just finished the maze.

“Not really,” he said, trying weakly to hold
his laughter in.

She rolled her eyes and exhaled. “This
garden is nice, but I
hate
mazes.” She put as much emphasis into the word “hate” as she
possibly could. “I hate getting lost, and I’m really good at it,”
she finally confessed.

Ethan suddenly snatched her close to him,
letting her see the full potency of his blue irises. “Are you mad
at me?”

“Um…” Besides being shocked by his
sudden move, she couldn’t help but ask mentally,
Why is he so familiar?
She was
losing her train of thought, but struggled to hold her ground while
fighting against his dreamy azure eyes. “Yes, a little. You left me
alone in that horrible maze. I should have told you—being lost is
one of my worst fears.”

BOOK: Fateful
5.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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