Authors: Sonnet O'Dell
Tags: #humor, #Romance, #England, #Werewolves, #mystery, #Vampires, #Supernatural, #Urban Fantasy, #Eternal Press, #Sonnet ODell, #king, #Worchester
A Cassandra Farbanks Novel
A division of Damnation Books, LLC.
P.O. Box 3931
Santa Rosa, CA 95402-9998
by Sonnet O’Dell
Digital ISBN: 978-1-61572-592-2
Print ISBN: 978-1-61572-593-9
Cover art by: Chris Gibbons
Edited by: Chris Gibbons
Copyright 2012 Sonnet O’Dell
Printed in the United States of America
Worldwide Electronic & Digital Rights
1st North American, Australian and UK Print Rights
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned or distributed in any form, including digital and electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the prior written consent of the Publisher, except for brief quotes for use in reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
For always making me feel special.
They say the first date is the hardest. They also say you should never sleep with a guy on the first date; it makes you cheap and sleazy. In fact there were a lot of first date rules but none of them told you what to do when the first date was with someone you’d known for years. Years that had been filled by a tangible sexual tension. They didn’t cover what you should wear for that all important crucial first date. And they most certainly didn’t cover what to do when the guy was a five hundred plus year-old vampire. I think even Dear Abby would have struggled with this one.
I was stood before the large full length mirror in my bedroom um-ing and ah-ing over what I should wear over my best pair of jeans when my doorbell rang. I looked at my watch. Aram was an hour early. I quickly pulled one of the tops over my head and opened my bedroom door to make the quick walk to the front door. He’d have to sit and wait, I’d not even gotten to shoes yet. Just as I was pulling the door open it occurred to me that Aram had never used the front door; not ever. I was greeted by a pile of white boxes tied with gold ribbons; the pile had feet and two hands.
The voice was feminine and high pitched. I could just see over the top of the boxes but I couldn’t see the top of the woman’s head meaning she had to be very short indeed.
“Yes that’s me.”
The pile moved past me into the apartment and straight into my bedroom. I let the front door fall silently back into place and followed her, curious.
“Excuse me but who are you?”
She dropped the boxes onto the bed and I could see at last that she was a dwarf. She was about the height of my hips in total which actually made her tall for a dwarf. She had blonde hair in a tangled braided weave tight to the back of her head; it looked a bit like a pretzel. She turned and straightened her dress so the skirt fell properly over her Ugg-like boots.
“I’m here to get you ready for tonight.”
I arched a brow looking down at my ensemble. All I needed was shoes and I told her this. She looked at me, horrified.
The fact that I treated her with no surprised deference proved just how used to this other world I had become. She tutted and started undoing ribbons, pulling the lids off the boxes. I peered over her head as she smoothed back layers of tissue paper.
“Oh, hell no.”
The corset dress that sat in the box was a wonderfully warm peach color with gold woven into an intricate pattern and a complicated lacing up the back. Each box contained a similar horror. Petticoats of white silk and lace, stockings and suspenders that looked sixteenth century, three inch heeled white screw me shoes, opera gloves, a wrap, a box containing what looked like an assortment of hair things and a smaller firmer box that remained unopened.
“You’re going to take all that off, quickly now or we won’t have enough time to do your hair.”
I sighed. Aram had gone to great lengths and expense for this evening. I could let him have his little duchess fantasy. I stripped down to my underwear and rolled my eyes when she held out to me the stockings box to show there was a new set of them too. I scuttled into the bathroom to put on the lace panties and the stockings only half listening as she told me that the panties went on over the suspenders part. I didn’t get why that was important. I wrapped a towel around my bare torso as I came back out. The stockings felt soft on my feet as I walked.
“There wasn’t a bra.”
“You won’t be able to wear one with this.”
I sighed deeply keeping the towel in place as she held the petticoat out for me to step into and pulled a string drawing it tight at my waist. I caught a side glance in the mirror; the material shimmered as it fell down my legs concealing them. She pulled out the dress and looked at me. I squatted down on the balls of my feet while she lifted it over my head and I slowly stood so she could yank the skirt into place. It was very slim lined, more modern and it came together at the rear to make a ruffle down the back that flowed out to make a small train. Once the dress was in place I sat at my dressing table so that she could pull the lacings at the back tight. I gasped as the corset closed in on my ribs. I looked down and my breasts were jammed tight; they’d been pushed in and up jutting just above the top. They looked like two bald headed babies playing peek-a-boo but worse than that, they looked like they were being served up on a plate, like an offering. But damn did they look good almost delectable and that was to my own eyes.
I knew Aram was planning to take me as his date to his brother’s theatre excursion, the same theatre my ex, Magnus Reynolds, owns and runs. This dress was almost a perfect ‘screw him’ outfit. What I mean by that was that it would show him exactly what he’d lost. A vindictive part of me wanted to congratulate Aram’s forethought while another part of me was practically going to condemn him at the first opportunity.
That vindictive part of my brain chimed in with, he so deserves to see how good you can look and to see you on the arm of the very man he was so desperate for you not to be with. Magnus had cheated on me. Well, technically it was more complicated than that. Due to a magic spell, Nancy had switched our bodies so that I was stuck in her cat one and took my flesh on a little joy ride. The ride ending in a spectacular naked crash into my boyfriend. Magnus, so paranoid that Aram would secretly bed me first and steal me away, ignored all ‘my’ strange behavior.
I will never forget as I stood in that doorway, too late, as he told me he loved me not able to realize it wasn’t even me in there. Thinking about it now still drives a cold dagger into my heart as if that pain will always be a fresh pain. However, there was a small part of me that felt I had been unfair to Magnus. A part that knew that I should entirely blame Nancy for her betrayal as I know, because Magnus had told me many times, that he was not magically inclined. That weak little part of me was ready to make excuses for my half elf ex-boyfriend, a part that wanted me to ignore that we’d been having problems anyway and that it had just been the thing that tipped me over the edge.
The dwarf women began to un-braid my hair and restyle it so that it was partly up but allowed curls to form and fall over my shoulders. I decided seriously to redo my makeup. I’d not been too bothered before. I’d dusted my eyelids quickly and colored my mouth but now the lack of effort made me feel guilty. This was my first real date with Aram and knowing him for years or not gave me no excuse to not put all I would into a first date with any other person.
The dwarf woman, whose name I really should have asked by then was still fluffing and fussing my hair with spray and a pair of heated tongs I’d not noticed her produce, unless they were mine from in the bathroom.
I layered my lashes with thickening mascara; I dusted my eyelids with golden shadow I rarely used and pulled out a tube of Lacombe peach juicy tinted lip gloss that was rated for special occasions. The last thing the woman directed me to do was put on the gloves, the wrap sat ready on the bed while I stood in front of the mirror. I looked like I was straight out of an eighteenth century oil painting. My likeness should have been hanging in some antiquated French chateau.
The only box left unopened was a much smaller one that looked like it could contain jewelry. The woman reached for it.
“I think,” came a sultry male voice, “that I would like that honor myself.”
I turned to look at my chaise lounge to see Aram was sitting on it. I didn’t know he had been there as he was very good at his silent entrances through my balcony doors. He took the box from the woman while I turned back to the mirror. He was dressed so well. His curls had been tamed, slicked back against his head and tied with a small red ribbon. He wore a frock coat all rich red velvet and gold lace and buttons over black leather trousers and heeled French boots of the same shade. The lace cravat at his throat was pinned by a silver broach that must have been dangerous to put on. He’d never looked more like a vampire, an Anne Rice vampire, all old world decadence. His lips were so close to my ear when he spoke, I almost missed the click as the front door opened and closed. The dwarf woman had left.
“Lift your hair.”
I obeyed, stunned by how beautiful he looked pressed up close to my back in the mirror and his hands curled around my neck. The jewels that dangled against my throat were emeralds. Tiny rows that trickled down in lines towards my breasts which heaved when I realized that I had to be wearing at least half a grand of gems around my neck.
“They bring out your eyes.”
“It’s...it’s too much...” I stammered unable to bring my voice above a whisper myself.
“I didn’t spend a penny on it, pet, I assure you. This,” and he stroked my throat as he said it, “was my mother’s.” I spun to face him and he touched my face. I could feel my cheeks redden under his fingers. He smiled, a contented cat who has the cream smile.
“You have agreed to be mine, Cassandra, and as such I will spoil you as much as I like. You look so beautiful.”
I closed my eyes, he could see the complaint I had been about to voice in them. When I opened them he flung the wrap around my shoulders then offered the crook of his arm to me.
“Hang on, I need a purse.”
I rushed to my dresser. I had a little gold clutch in the bottom drawer.
“What for?” He looked puzzled.
“Wallet, phone, keys.”
“You won’t be needing those things.” He made a dismissive wave with his hand as I emptied out my usual messenger bag to put these items into the clutch.
“How do you expect me to get into my place later without my keys?”
Aram looked suddenly crestfallen and I gave him a surreptitious glance over my shoulder. He’d had plans for me staying with him all night. I smiled at him.
“Even if it’s tomorrow morning, I will need my keys to get back in.”
He perked up, the corner of his mouth rising into a wry smile.
“Indeed. Shall we go now? The car is waiting.”
We took the elevator down to the entrance of my building where a black limo was waiting for us.