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and complexion and silk flatters your figure. You are a beautiful woman, Anna.
Don't worry that you can't compete.
I was thinking about mydress,Ireplyarchly.Ihave never worried about
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competing.
He smiles.
Well, I haven't, I repeat. It sounds childish, even to my ears.
God, whatifthey heard?
So much for first impressions.My eyes turn back to the group, but talk seems
to have resumed, and no one is looking our way. If they picked up on any of
that, it's not apparent. I touch Avery's arm.
Can we go somewhere else totalk?Igesture toward thefireplace.I'mnot ready for
this yet.
He looks a little disappointed, but he doesn't try to dissuade me. Instead,
he leads me back out to the foyer, where he heads to the right and toward
another set of double carved wooden doors. He passes in front of me to swing
one of the doors open, and I follow him in.
This is the library.
I raise an eyebrow athim.Nokidding? Is that what you call a room with
hundreds of books?A library? I'm glad you cleared that up. Avery, I may live
on the other side of the tracks in Mission Beach, but I do read.
He doesn't appreciate my sarcasm. I can't catch what he's thinking, but
there's no mistaking the set of his jaw or the suggestion of annoyance
hovering in his eyes.
I can't catch what he's thinking. Why is that?
"I'm sorry, I say aloud.  I'm a little nervous."
The apology does the trick. He relaxes, physically and mentally, and opens
his mind to me once again.
You have to teach me to dothat,Itell him, shaking afinger.Youdidn't mention
that you can shut yourself down when you want, did you?
A faint light sparkles in the depths of those greeneyes.I'mnot going to
divulge all my secrets right away. Otherwise, you won't need me anymore. Would
you like a drink?
Red wine, if you have it.
This time he raises aneyebrow.Ithink I can find something you'll like.
He moves away from me and toward a large sideboard. With a push of a button,
a door slides open. Inside the lighted cabinet, crystal decanters wink and
sparkle like so many jewels on a bed of velvet. He chooses one, pours two
glasses, and beckons me to follow him.
We find ourselves on a wide balcony hovering over the dark Pacific many feet
below. I can't see anything except the vast emptiness of the ocean, but I can
hear the waves.
He hands me aglass.Hopeyou like this. It's from my family's vineyards.
Oh, you're fromNapaValley ?
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He has the glass to his lips, but just stops himself from taking a sip as a
gurgle of laughtererupts.No, hesays,notNapa.Provence .
Provence?As inFrance ?
He smiles. It's the same kind of smile I used to give slow students.
Okay. So I forgot for a minute that you're probably a thousand years old with
roots thatgo back to the Stone Age. I told you, I'm not quite with the program
yet. You have to cut me some slack.
Avery still has that smile on his face, but he's taken a seat on a chaise
lounge and motions with his glass for me to join him.
I take a seat opposite him and raise my glass for the first taste of a wine I
suspect I'll never be able to afford. I don't expect to like it, either, so
I'm quite caught off guard by the sublime flavor. It's rich and dry and tastes
elemental, as though made of earth and sea as well as grape. I take a second
sip and smile.
You like it.
I do. And yes, I'm surprised. I've never been a connoisseur of wines. I don't
have the palate for it, or so I've always thought.
I raise the glass.Or is this another acquired vampire thing? Blood and wine,
elixirs of life?
Avery laughs, tilting his head as he watches me over the top of his glass.No
it's not a vampire thing. Not really. But you will find you've misjudged a lot
of things, Anna.
His eyes lock me in their gaze for a long moment. I can't read him again, but
suddenly something vaguely sensual passes between us.
I pull myself away, and stand up.This isn't what I came here for.
He stands, too.I know. You came to talk about Max.
Max. Yes. Just saying his name snaps me back. I look toward the windows
across from us and into the living room, where the fire reflecting on the
glass catches two figures in stark relief.A man and a woman.
I look at Avery.They aren't all vampires? [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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