“Care for a drink?”
As casual as Vincent tried to keep his voice, he couldn’t keep a note of excitement from his words. Without breaking her stride, Lilia turned a raised eyebrow toward him.
“A drink? When you’re on the job?”
He slipped the crossbow strap over his shoulder and showed her his empty hands. “Not on the job anymore. Let’s go. The Edge is just a couple of blocks away.”
She still looked suspicious as she looped her arm through his and said with easily recognizable surprise, “You don’t like The Edge.”
“I don’t like to be around too many vampires,” he corrected, then added, tongue in cheek, with a sly sideways look, “But you’re there to protect me, aren’t you?”
She snorted. “Don’t let other S.E.s hear that. They’d tease you forever.”
Vincent’s good mood started fading away. He’d never told Lilia, because it wasn’t any of her business, but he did get a lot of flack from other S.E.s and even some police officers for being in a relationship with a vampire. On top of that, the bite mark on his throat was all too visible, pale and neat, often reopened, and if no one so far had recognized it as a sigh that he and Lilia were Mates, he was sure that, eventually, someone would add up the odd, silver color of the scars and the matching, rounded bite mark on Lilia’s throat, and figure out what they had done. He wasn’t ashamed of it, but he had no interest either in explaining the spell they had been caught in, and everything that had followed.
Still, those were worries for another night, and he chased them away as the club’s sign came into view, its glow at times red, at times blue. The security gorilla at the door nodded at them, and Vincent nodded back. This guy and two or three others, all wearing black t-shirts, black jeans, a walkie-talkie at their belts and a stern expression on their faces, were the reason why Vincent rarely bothered to come to On The Edge as part of his regular patrols. It had been years since anyone had been hurt in connection to the club, and even then no one had ever been killed on the premises.
Lilia held on to his arm until they reached the bar in the center of the room. Vincent had hoped to find a seat in a private booth, but she hopped onto a stool and was already hailing the bartender before Vincent had even taken a seat next to her.
The bartender, tall and dark-haired, came to stand across from them. His eyes flitted between the crossbow protruding above Vincent’s shoulder, Vincent’s neck, then Lilia’s, but whatever he thought of it all, he didn’t say anything other than a genial, “What can I get for you? Tonight’s special is a great local microbrew.”
“Blood cocktail,” Lilia demanded at once, while Vincent asked, “Do you have champagne?”
The bartender nodded, his smile widening a little more. “Celebrating, huh? Just a minute.”
He turned away to reach for one of the fridges that lined the inside of the bar. Pivoting on her seat to face Vincent, Lilia frowned at him.
“Champagne?” she said, a wary glint in her eyes. “Are we celebrating?”
Vincent grinned. She had never liked surprises all that much – or at least, she claimed she didn’t. This one, though, would be a good one, he was sure of it.
“Jordan?” she insisted when he didn’t answer right away. “What’s going on?”
The bartender was back. He set a champagne flute in front of Vincent, but poured the second flute inside a mixer, which he closed and proceeded to shake. A few seconds later, he poured a reddish drink into a cocktail glass and set that in front of Lilia. Vincent paid for the drinks, then tried not to look too closely when he picked up the glass and handed it to Lilia. Next he picked up his own, and clinked it against Lilia’s.
“To our new house,” he said, beaming at her.
An array of emotions crossed her features, and Vincent read each of them as though in a book. Confusion was first, followed by surprise, then a burst of joy quickly tempered by reserve.
“You don’t mean—”
“The mansion with the fireplace you liked so much,” he confirmed, unable to wait until she was done. “It was foreclosed. I pulled a few strings, pointed out that leaving it empty was an invitation for another clan of vampires to move in…”
Lilia’s mouth fell open and she just stared at Vincent. It was a rare feat for him to make her speechless, and he couldn’t help chuckling lightly even as he leaned forward and brushed his lips to her mouth. The kiss seemed to snap her out of her daze, and she blinked twice.
“You got us the house.”
“No. I got you the house.”
Vincent had been perfectly content with his townhouse, but ever since she had moved in with him Lilia had complained about the lack of space – and the lack of a tub in the bathroom. But when they had been to that abandoned mansion after vampires had been reported there, when he had seen just how much she liked it, he hadn’t hesitated for a second.
He was still waiting for Lilia to finally react and was somewhat disappointed when all she did was bring the cocktail glass to her lips with a slightly shaky hand and drained it in one long gulp. She set the empty glass on the counter then gestured at Vincent’s champagne.
“Drink up,” she said, her voice a little rough. “So we can leave and go have spectacular, mind-blowing sex.”
A bark of surprised laughter escaped Vincent. He raised his glass in a toast, emptied it. Already Lilia was on her feet, her hand seeking his to drag him toward the exit.
He really ought to surprise her more often.