I’m working on the sequel to Moonlight, Roses & Murder. Read the beginning of the story right now!
Selina picked up the phone and smiled as she heard Damian’s voice.
“Carina, I would like to ask you to dinner,” he said. She realized his accent still caused a shiver to run down her back. And she loved the way he called her darling in Italian.
“We’ve been going to dinner every night this week,” Selina reminded him, “except for the takeout on Wednesday.”
“That was very nice,” Damian replied, letting his mind wander back to that night. They’d eventually finished their food. “This time, I will cook for you, Carina.”
Selina was surprised. She knew Damian could make an amazing omelet, but he had never offered to cook dinner before. “That would be lovely.”
“I will bring all the ingredients,” Damian assured her. “Seven o’clock at the club?” He paused, and she could picture the way his eyebrow raised slightly. “I take it the girls will be in Port Townsend?”
“Yes, the club is closed tonight, so we’ll be all alone,” Selina replied. “Are you sure I can’t do anything to help you. With dinner, I mean.”
“Wear something that is easy to clean,” Damian said. “Spaghetti can be a bit…messy.”
“All right.” Selina started to ask him something else, but he had already hung up. “Until tonight,” she whispered, setting the phone back down on the table.
Selina checked in the mirror and smoothed the long skirt of her black lace dress. It wasn’t exactly easy to clean, but she knew he’d like the way the black bustier peeked through the lace. She’d been with Damian Salvadori for over a month and still felt slightly anxious when she was about to see him. Isabella called it butterflies. Apparently, it was a good thing.
Her nieces had given her their blessing to date this Interpol agent and wolf shifter. She had to admit, he was like no other man she’d ever met. He made her very happy. In so many wonderful ways…
She almost jumped as the bell rang. He was at the back door of the club. She walked through the living room and out to the more public office, then through the club and up the stairs to the street level. She loved this nightclub with its combination of Victorian Gothic parlor and Steampunk details.
“Carina, you look beautiful,” Damian said as she opened the door. “Perhaps I should have dressed more formally,” he added, glancing down at his dark pants and white shirt. She loved the way his sleeves were rolled up just enough to give her a glimpse of his powerful, lower arms. Those arms that could hold her as though she weighed nothing.
Forcing herself to look up at his face, she smiled, then kissed him on the lips. Taking a step back, she asked, “Are you sure I can’t help you carry anything?”
Damian wanted to drop the sacks of food and put his arms around her, but instead he just smiled and shook his head. “Let’s go down to the kitchen, and we’ll get started.”
The way he said the last part had Selina wondering what exactly he had planned for this dinner.
Damian set the bags down on the kitchen counter and pulled out a bottle of wine. “I thought something Italian would be appropriate.” He took a step closer and lifted a lock of dark hair off her shoulder and ran a finger along her cheek. “Italian wine is always best with Italian food.”
Selina just nodded. After a moment, she let out a breath and said, “What exactly do you have in there?”
“Pasta, tomatoes, onions, garlic, zucchini…have you had thinly sliced zucchini in spaghetti before?” He looked at her and raised one eyebrow. “It’s amazing.”
“I’m sure it is,” Selina agreed, wondering how the room had gotten so warm. Although she was a vampire and normally cool to the touch, Damian managed to warm her up in a way she could not quite explain but very much enjoyed. “Why don’t I open the wine?”
Damian handed her the bottle, then took more vegetables out of the bags. “I thought we could have a salad with the pasta.”
Selina took two glasses out of the cupboard and poured the wine. “What type of salad? Caesar?”
“No, I was thinking of making something a little different,” Damian replied, pulling out a large bottle of olive oil. “The secret is in the dressing.”
“I already have olive oil,” Selina said, handing him a glass of wine. Taking a sip of the merlot, she added, “This is very good.”
“I thought you would enjoy it.” Damian looked at the olive oil. “This is also from Italy.” He smiled at her in a way that sent heat down to her toes. Opening the oil, he poured a few drops on his finger. “Everything is better from Italy, don’t you agree, Carina?”
She thought he was going to have her taste the oil, but instead he reached out with his other hand and turned her wrist over. Gently dabbing the oil on her wrist, he leaned down and lightly licked off the oil. Then, he kissed her wrist and slowly began working his way up her arm.
As she was about to suggest they wait to make dinner, he stopped. “As I said, the secret is in the dressing.” Still holding her hand, he moved her closer to the counter. “Lemons, sea salt, a little red wine vinegar…and of course, some freshly ground pepper.”
Selina wasn’t sure what he had planned, but she could tell he enjoyed keeping her guessing. Two could play at that game. She slowly pulled her hand away and picked up the olive oil. Putting some on her finger, she ran it across her lower lip, then tasted it. “You’re right. Italian is definitely better.”
Damian felt the wolf want to leap out and claim her. It always wanted her, needed her. It was something he had to fight against constantly, keeping that part of him under control, and he wasn’t sure if she knew how dangerous it could be.
Selina sensed something was bothering him. Deciding to slow things down a bit, she took his hand and smiled up at him. “Let’s dance. We haven’t done that in quite a while.”
Damian nodded. “That is my mistake, Carina. You are beautiful on the dance floor.”
They walked out of the apartment and back through her office. As they reached the dance floor of the club, he leaned down and kissed her hand. “A waltz?”
“I would like that.” She watched him as he walked behind the bar and chose the music. When he got back, he smiled and waited a moment. As soon as the first notes began, he swept her into a slow circle, and they waltzed around the floor. He had his arm wrapped around her and his hand pressed lightly against her back, guiding her around the dance floor. She looked up into those blue eyes and wished the dance would go on for hours.
“I’ve missed this,” Selina said, sighing slightly as the music ended. She lifted her hand from his shoulder and took a step back.
“Then, there is no excuse for me not asking you to dance more often.” Damian pulled her to him and looked into her eyes for a moment, then bent her back very slowly and kissed her.
When he finally pulled her up, he gave her a wicked grin. “As much as I love to waltz, perhaps next time we should try the tango.”
Selina only nodded, still trying to catch her breath after that kiss. Finally, she managed to say, “That would be very nice.”
Damian was still holding her. “There is so much I would like to do with you tonight, but I did promise to make you dinner. Why don’t we finish, and then I can show you some of the other things I have planned for this evening.”
Selina felt that warmth again and did her best to keep her voice even. “After we finish dinner, I’ll show you some of the things I have planned for this evening.”
Damian smiled, then twirled her around very slowly before leading her off the dance floor. As they walked through the club, Selina stopped at the bar. “Your Italian wine is very good, but I think champagne would be nice with dessert.” She smiled. “French champagne perhaps?”
“French is my favorite,” Damian said. “At least, it is now, Carina.”
“Not Italian?” Selina teased him.
“France has the most beautiful women.” Damian kissed her hand. “You are proof of that.”
Selina picked up the champagne bottle. “You finish making your special dinner, then I’ll show you what we’ll have for dessert.”
The sauce was simmering on the stove as Damian put the pasta in the pot of boiling water. “Carina, you have not tried the dressing yet.”
“You said you wanted to surprise me,” she reminded him.
“That is true,” Damian admitted, “but I think we’ve waited long enough.” He tore a piece of lettuce off and dipped it in the dressing. “What do you think?”
She took a bite and nodded. “I can taste the lemon…and the sea salt. Dill, tarragon, but there’s something else.”
“My secret ingredient,” Damian replied. “I added a little chopped basil that I had left over while making the sauce.”
“Why is it you won’t let me try this sauce of yours?” Selina raised an eyebrow. “I’ve never known anyone to be so secretive about their spaghetti.”
“You will have to wait a little longer.” Damian smiled. “No sauce is complete without the pasta.”
Selina had a feeling he was talking about more than food, but she just smiled. “I can be patient.”
“Sometimes,” Damian replied.
As Selina started to object, he pulled her into a kiss. After a few moments, he let her go. “Shall we continue this later?”
“That depends on how good your sauce is.” Selina picked up their wine glasses. “I’ll refill these while you finish the pasta.”
As Damian set the plates on the table, his cell phone rang. Ignoring it, he sat down and lifted his wine glass. “To you, Carina. You are always beautiful, but in this candlelight you are breathtaking.”
Selina smiled and lifted her glass. “To the first of many dinners cooked by the most romantic man I’ve ever met.”
They toasted and Damian’s phone rang again. At Selina’s look he shook his head. “If it were important, they would text me. Now, tell me what you think of the sauce.”
Selina picked up her fork as Damian’s phone buzzed. “Seems you’re getting a text.”
“I’d better get this. It’s Interpol.” He pulled out the phone and read the text, then he stood up. “I’m sorry, Selina. I need to call them back. May I use your office?”
“Of course.” Selina hadn’t seen him so concerned since they’d been after a murderer the month before. Whatever this was, it had to be important.
Selina sipped her wine and waited. After a few minutes, Damian came back into the apartment. When she saw the look on his face, Selina stood up. “What is it?”
“I have to go to Italy.” He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. “It’s Lorenzo. He and Nora need my help.”
“I understand.” Selina placed her hands on either side of his face. “They are your family.”
“My pack and my family.” Damian looked into her eyes. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
“When do you have to leave?” Selina glanced down at the table. “Do we have time to finish dinner?”
“There won’t be a flight out until tomorrow morning,” Damian replied. “Lorenzo’s already taken care of the travel arrangements.”
“He knew you would say yes,” Selina said, smiling slightly. “I’d like to meet them someday.”
“I would like that, too.” Damian leaned down and kissed her. “I know we talked about going to Paris…”
“We’ll do that later,” Selina said. “And if you don’t have to leave until morning, then we should finish our dinner.”
“It’s probably cold. I can warm it up if you like.” Damian stopped talking as Selina began unzipping her dress. “Carina, what are you doing?”
“I’m making the most of this evening,” she replied, letting the dress slide to the floor.
The next morning, Damian was lying in bed and watching Selina as she slept. She was so beautiful. Not just her looks, but her essence. He hadn’t felt so attracted to anyone in a very long time. Or so protective.
Selina opened her eyes and smiled. “Did you get any sleep last night?”
“A few hours,” Damian replied.
“Were you watching me sleep?” Selina reached over and ran a hand through his dark hair. “When do you have to leave?”
“Soon.” Damian glanced at the clock by the bed. “I need to stop by my hotel.”
“I can drive you…” Selina began.
He shook his head. “You look too relaxed exactly as you are. Besides, it will be easier if I take a taxi.”
Selina took his hand and placed it on her heart. “You know I will be here when you get back. Take as long as you need.”
Damian wanted to say it. To let her know exactly how he felt about her. He cared about her. He probably even loved her. He knew she was more important to him than anyone since Beatrice. “Selina, I…you know how much you mean to me.”
“I know.” She kissed his fingers one at a time, then let go of his hand.
“Carina, I have to be honest with you. Lorenzo didn’t say what it was he needed my help with, but it could very well be…”
“Hunting vampires.” Selina finished his sentence. “It’s what you do.”
“It’s what I did. I don’t have the desire to do that any longer. In fact, I’ve been thinking of resigning from Interpol as well. I don’t think my heart is in either job anymore.”
“You don’t have to stop for me,” Selina said. “You know I’ve never taken a human life, and a rogue vampire can be a threat to everyone.”
“It puts us on opposite sides.” Damian drew her close and almost whispered. “I want us to be on the same side. Now and always.”
It was the closest he could come to telling her how he felt. Maybe going back to Italy would allow him to truly put Beatrice’s memory to rest.
“Be careful,” Selina said, then kissed him very slowly and with such gentle passion, Damian was tempted to try to get a later flight. But the sooner he dealt with Italy, the sooner he could return to her.
“If you need anything, you know you can always call me.” He smiled. “If I don’t answer, leave a message. I will call you back as soon as I can.”
Selina nodded. “I will. Are you sure I can’t fix you any breakfast?”
“I don’t have time. Besides,” Damian flashed her a wicked grin, “I don’t know if we should go into the kitchen again until I get back.”
“It definitely won’t be the same without you,” Selina agreed. She got up and pulled on her robe. “I’ll walk you to the door.”
As they got to the top of the stairs, Selina put a hand on his shoulder. “Be safe.”
“I’ll call you when I land in Italy,” he promised. He leaned down and kissed her one more time, then turned and walked out the door.
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