Reconstructionist 1: Wisteria meets Kett
I settled on the dungeness crab risotto to start, and had just reached for the wine list to find a Pinot Noir to pair it with, when I realized that someone was sitting across from me.
Not just a someone. A vampire.
A white-blond, blue-eyed, exceedingly pale, tremendously powerful vampire who I’d thought was dead. Well, more dead. I had reconstructed the moment of his destruction myself. In London, three years before, I’d seen him stabbed through the heart with a magical blade. I’d seen him fall.
Kettil, the executioner of the Conclave, was swathed in expensive green cashmere so dark it was practically black, sporting what appeared to be a solid gold Apple Watch and lounging back in the seat across from me as if he’d been sitting there the entire time. His eyes were so light blue, they could practically have been called silver. He quirked his lips in a shallow, pleased smile.
I hadn’t seen him sit down. I hadn’t even seen him cross the room.
My server, who’d been approaching the table from the back kitchen area, flinched. Her human reactions were even more delayed than mine. Startled, she exhaled, pressing her hand to her chest.
“Wisteria Fairchild,” the vampire said. His exceedingly straight teeth were even paler than his face. I couldn’t see any hint of his fangs.
“Kettil.” He reached across the table.
I lifted my own hand from the linen tablecloth. Pleased that it wasn’t shaking, I grasped his outstretched hand as his gaze fell to my charm bracelet. He wasn’t as cold as I thought he’d be, but perhaps I was still chilled myself. His fingers closed completely over mine, firm but not crushing. Still, I could feel the terrible strength that lay just underneath his hold.
He could tear me limb from limb, slaughter every human in the restaurant, bathe in our blood, and I wouldn’t have been able to do a single thing about it.
I was panicking.
I never panicked.
But I could feel the adrenaline rushing through me as the vampire held my hand.
He lifted his gaze to mine, widening his grin. And without so much as a blink or a breath, he ensnared me. Idiotically, I’d been staring directly into his eyes.
He held his other hand up toward the server. She froze.
His presence flooded my mind in a warm, calming, and almost euphoric pulse.
“Steady,” he murmured.
My heart rate settled. I felt as though my arm was suspended, stretched across the table, lightly cradled in his hand … cushioned by the awesome presence of his mind.
I could have stayed there forever. At peace … protected … cherished …
I could have been his forever.
No Fairchild is weak enough to be ensnared by a vampire.
I wasn’t totally sure whether that was an original thought or a remembered edict of my mother’s, but it was enough to wake me up to the situation.
I gathered my mental shields, imagining a barrier of magic between the vampire and myself. Evoking layers upon layers of magic, similar to the sides of my oyster-shell cubes. I blinked my eyes, then shook my head slightly.
I lifted my hand away from Kettil’s.
He let me go.