Every once in awhile I write a scene that just makes me smile. This is one of those scenes. It takes place two-thirds of the way through next month's release, Light Up the Night. The two characters, Heather and Drew, are vampires. He's pretty old, she's very young. And although they've both been falling desperately in love with each other, there are REASONS why he believes they can never be together--reasons which (of course) she doesn't know about yet, because otherwise where would the story be?
Just prior to this scene Heather has been injured. Drew (who runs a vampire nightclub) has been given the job of caring for her and protecting her while her sire, Marc, hunts down the people who hurt her.
This excerpt has been edited slightly to remove spoilers.
The next few hours passed uneventfully. Heather progressed from hobbling around the little bedroom to hobbling up and down the stairs, and then, finally, after she’d successfully traversed the long hallway several times under her own power, Drew pronounced himself satisfied with her improvement, and willing to remove the splint.
They ate together at the bar, talking about nothing of any consequence—mostly gossip about people they both knew. Which, for the most part, meant that Drew talked and Heather listened. She was impressed by his vast wealth of knowledge. He seemed to know everything about everyone.
“Well, I decided, quite a long time ago, that knowledge really was power,” Drew told her, when she asked about it. “Having had my fill of feeling powerless, I made it my business to amass as much information as I possibly could.”
“And did that help?” she couldn’t resist teasing.
“For the most part,” he replied, with complete seriousness. “Although, I have to admit, there have been a few things I’ve learned that I rather wish I hadn’t.”
“Oh, you know; secrets worth killing for. That sort of thing.”
He said it lightly, but there was a certain grimness in his expression that gave Heather pause. “Really?”
He flashed her a smile that did nothing to reassure her. “You know what they say about secrets, don’t you? That the only way two people can keep one is if one of the two is dead?”
“So, can I ask you something?” Heather inquired, a short while later while she was once again exercising her leg. She’d been trying all night to work up the courage to ask Drew about his feelings for her—or to confess her own. Trying and failing. Repeatedly. And then, after she’d complained about being too bored to spend even another minute climbing stairs or navigating hallways, Drew had suggested they put on some music and dance.
“But I don’t know how,” she’d been forced to confess. Her initial excitement had turned to crushing disappointment when it turned out that the dance he’d had in mind was a waltz.
Oh God, it’s hopeless. I should just give up.
He couldn’t possibly have hit on a worse idea, she’d thought, heart sinking with the realization that they had absolutely nothing in common. He couldn’t have made the differences between them seem any more obvious if he’d tried.
“I’ll teach you,” he promised, explaining that all she had to do was follow his lead. It would be fun, he insisted; not too fast, not too strenuous; plus his arms would be there to support her, should she need it. “And, after all, you gifted me with a new experience the other night. It’s only right that I get the chance to reciprocate.”
“That’s true,” she said, brightening at the thought. A vision of what their future could be like appeared in her mind’s eye; an endless round of sharing new experiences with each other. So what, if they had nothing in common? They could change that! Everyone had to start somewhere. “All right. You’re on. Let’s do it!”
So, he put on some music; and she was shocked to find out that The Christmas Waltz really was a waltz—who knew? And he broke out all the club’s effects: lights that were keyed to the music and that cycled through all the colors of the spectrum; an antique disco ball that he swore had been there since the seventies; even a fog machine—installed for some now-forgotten party and never removed—until she felt like she was standing inside a gigantic Christmas snow globe. He taught her the steps, very basic ones so she wouldn’t get hurt stumbling over her own feet, then made her laugh by throwing in a showy little move whenever she was least expecting one.
And they danced. Whirling around on the empty, glittering dance floor; just the two of them in their own enchanted kingdom. His hand on her back was a warm brand that somehow made her felt cherished and cared for. His arm beneath her fingertips promised strength and safety and support—a frame, not a cage. But it was his hand in hers that really sealed the deal. It was the Goldilocks of hand clasps. Not too hard, not too soft. Not too damp. Just right.
We could be partners, she thought as she returned the pressure, as their hands met, palm to palm—like equals; each one secure in their own strength, with no need to be concerned with matters of age, or gender, or ability. We could be lovers. We could be everything to one another. And all she had to do was find the courage to ask…
Heart pounding, she lifted her eyes to meet his gaze—seeing all the tenderness she could ever crave right there in his eyes, along with that hint of sadness she so desperately wanted to remove. This is a face I could look at every day. She took a deep breath, opened her mouth and said, “So can I ask you something?”
“Of course,” Drew immediately replied, as he lifted his hand to guide her through a gentle turn. “Ask whatever you like. Just as long it’s not to divulge dangerous secrets, because that I won’t do.”
Heather is having the worst Christmas ever! Or, at least, the worst Christmas since she was forced to become a vampire. Her sire's distracted, her nestmates have forgotten her, weirdos have taken over the lair. The only bright spot in her life right now is Drew--who didn't even used to like her! She knows he's fond of her now, but that's not good enough. She wants more. She wants everything. She wants him. And she's not giving up.
Drew Geiger gave up on love a long time ago. Such tender emotions have no place in a vampire's heart. But, somehow, the girl he once described as a "feral kitten" has got her claws in him, and she's not letting go. That would be fine, if only someone didn't want her dead--and if her sire didn't recall that it was Drew who once suggested that maybe she'd be better off that way.
Releases December 13th. Available for preorder now.https://books2read.com/u/m0En1l