"Whoa! Slow down." Alex leaned to scoop up her keys then straightened and gave her a grin.
"You scared me."
"That's obvious. Sorry. I didn't mean to." He leaned a hand against the roof of her car, then bent forward and folded his lips over hers. Naomi's knees weakened. Her head spun. Inside her a voice screamed, No you idiot. Resist him. But the kiss continued, unhurried, intoxicating, until Alex pulled back.
"How was the research?"
Research? What was he asking her? Naomi leaned a hip against the car door and tried to still the fluttering dysrhythmia of her heart.
"Yes, research. I imagine that's what kept you here all day." Alex reached out and handed Naomi her keys. "What are you doing for dinner?"
"Uh. I hadn't thought of dinner." Naomi shook her head, veered her eyes away from Alex's brooding look. What the hell was wrong with her? Why couldn't she form a coherent sentence. How was it that he seemed to be able to hear her thoughts? Or was that just her active imagination?
"Well, I've thought of dinner." He smiled. "And dessert." He winked, then tossed his head back and laughed. "Get in your car, Naomi, and follow me."
"To dinner and dessert of course." He leaned forward and kissed her cheek. "Unless you're not interested."
"I'm interested," she said, and slid behind the wheel of her car.
Naomi followed Alex's black Corvette southeast, along a dark road with more curves than straight-aways. The wind had picked up and the trees blew against the sky, sometimes obscuring the almost full moon. Alex drove recklessly, accelerating into the curves then braking against them when his car fishtailed a bit. Naomi followed, keeping close to his taillights despite the nagging voice that told her she was crazy.
Alex turned down a dirt road. Naomi had to steer around potholes and away from scratchy branches that had overgrown into the road in places. At the end of the road a huge house rose into the night sky.
"Wow," she whispered.
She stopped her car directly behind Alex's, killed the engine and got out. The moon lit the walkway to the house's front door.
"Here we are," Alex said.
"And where is here?"
Naomi gazed up at the dark turrets and darker windows. The house looked gothic with a huge front porch and a wrought iron fence framing the lawn.
"You actually live here."
Alex laughed. "What? You don't think a professor makes enough money? I have investments." He took her elbow and steered her toward the door. His touch sent electricity shooting up her arm. Her heart picked up its beat. Her mouth went dry.
Alex led her into an expansive entryway where a curved staircase rose to a second floor. Candles flickered on a hallway table, throwing shadows on the walls. To Naomi's left dark furniture lay in the gloom of what appeared to be a living room. She followed Alex down a hallway to the dining room where a granite fireplace sat against one wall. A huge dark wooden dining table sat in the center of the room. Gleaming wood floors were covered with more of those plush Persian carpets. More candles cast their orange glow on the walls. Had he known she would be here tonight? Naomi felt a twinge of annoyance that he had been able to predict her behavior so easily.
Alex picked up a book of matches from the hearth, struck a match and held it to a teepee of kindling and paper in the fireplace. The paper caught, glowed, then rippled to life, torching the kindling. Naomi watched as Alex gradually built the fire using wood from a box next to the fireplace. He stood and turned.
"Dessert first?" He came toward her, his face obscured by the shadows of the room. The fire flickered behind him. He took her in his arms, lifted her and carried her to the table.
"Wait," Naomi whispered, but she didn't resist when he lay her on the cool, waxed wood of the table. Her clothes slid away. She closed her eyes and let the passion rise in her. She was powerless to stop him, had she even wanted to do so.
"You're mine," Alex whispered against her ear.
Naomi woke in Alex's bed alone. Memories of the night before washed over her and blurred together. When had they come up to this room and gone to bed? She could remember only the hazy mask of Alex's face in the firelight, and her surrender to his needs.
Now, sunlight streamed through the tall windows and paled the cream colored walls. Naomi rolled over and saw the note, pinned to Alex's pillow. She hoisted herself up on one elbow and leaned closer to it.
Last night was wonderful. I have some things I have to do today. Help yourself to coffee and breakfast (whatever you can find). Check your research notes...I've left you some information to help you. How about dinner again tonight? Alex
Naomi fell back on the pillows and smiled. Could he really want a relationship?
"And if not," she spoke aloud to the room, "then at least I'll have had some killer sex."
Naomi found Alex's comments in her research notes. They directed her to look further at Alexandre St-Castin's generational lines.
See what you can find out about Alexandre. He is the really interesting figure during this time period.
Naomi was back at the research center by late morning. The research librarian was very helpful.
"You'll find some really interesting books that relate to Alexandre St-Castin. Go to Room F and find these titles." She handed Naomi a list of six books to check out.
Naomi had no trouble finding the reference books; the trouble she had was lugging them to a table to look at them. The volumes were thick and heavy. Inside, the tiny print filled the pages.
"This could take forever," Naomi complained to the empty room.
She began to flip through the books, scanning the pages for something of interest. One of the books devoted an entire chapter to Alexandre St-Castin, and she opened to the beginning of the chapter with eagerness.
"What the hell."
A cold lump formed in Naomi's belly and rose like bile into her throat. There on the page was a photo, obviously taken many, many years ago, of Alex.
She leaned down and looked more closely. This couldn't be him, but it looked just like him. The same intense eyes, dark hair curved over the high brow, the same charmed smile. Then she laughed. Of course. It must be a relative! That's why Alex was guiding her towards this man; it was his way of getting her to learn about his lineage. For the rest of the afternoon, Naomi read all she could, determined to impress Alex with her knowledge that night.
Naomi arrived back at Alex's house just as the sun was dropping over the western horizon, turning the sky a brilliant burnished orange like the autumn leaves. Alex's car sat in the driveway. Naomi felt a twinge of anticipation. Tonight would be a full moon. Naomi imagined sitting out on Alex's big porch, watching the moon rise and sipping red wine. She was touched that Alex wanted her to learn about his family. She liked his romantic side. Reluctantly she recognized that she could easily fall in love with this man.
Alex's front door was unlocked. She pushed open the door and called out, "Alex?"
Her voice echoed in the big hall. She wandered from room to room, occasionally calling out his name. Maybe he'd gone for a walk in the woods. She shrugged and walked into the kitchen. On the counter was a bottle of red wine with a corkscrew laid out next to it. A note was taped on the bottle.
Hello my love. Pour yourself a glass. I'll be back soon. Alex
"My love?" Naomi giggled while she uncorked the bottle and poured herself a glass of wine. The wine rolled into the glass; so dark it was almost black. She lifted it to the light and swirled it, watching the legs of the wine run down the sides of the glass. "And you certainly have expensive taste," she said.
The sky outside the windows darkened and the air in the house took on a chill. Naomi walked down the hall into the living room and was happy to see the makings of a fire laid out in the fireplace there. She lit the paper and fed the fire with the logs stacked next to the hearth; then settled into a soft love seat with her glass of wine. On the mantle, a clock ticked off the minutes.
She must have dozed, because when she next became aware of her surroundings, the room was dark and the fire had died down to embers. She still loosely clutched her wineglass that had leaned against the armrest of the chair and somehow not spilled.
"I thought you were going to sleep the whole night away."
Naomi lurched upward, her wine sloshing in the glass and spilling over the edge to stain her jeans with splashes of red. Alex sat in a high backed chair to her right. His fingers were steepled beneath his chin. She couldn't see his eyes in the shadows.
"You have got to stop doing that!"
"Scaring the shit out of me."
Alex chuckled. Naomi lifted her wineglass to her lips and took a sip.
"I found Mr. St-Castin today," she said.
"How interesting. And what did you think of him?
"I think he looks just like you." Naomi stood, crossed the floor between them and sunk down at Alex's knees. She sipped her wine, watching Alex over the rim of the glass.
"Do you want me to tell you all I know about him?"
Alex reached out and traced Naomi's jaw with one finger. "You didn't really need to go to the research center to learn all about him, you know." His finger slipped down her neck, then traced a path between her breasts. "He looks like me because he is me."
The words echoed in her head, swirled and bumped against each other. "What?"
"You heard right, my love."
Naomi's eyes widened. The wine glass slipped from her numb fingers and crashed on the floor. Wine bled across the wooden planks and ran unheeded toward the expensive carpet.
"But, but...he lived in 1687. He was a man in his early 20's when he first came to Maine. In 1687. That would make you...." Her voice trailed off. She stared at Alex, mesmerized by his dark eyes.
"Three hundred and thirty-nine years old." His voice had a hypnotizing quality to them. Naomi wanted to run screaming from the room, but her legs refused to respond to her mind's command. "When I saw you, I knew you were perfect. Perfect to be with me forever. And it is forever, Naomi."
"No," she whispered.
Alex's hand slid up to her throat, slipping around her neck, turning her head. "It will be more exquisite than anything I've done to you yet. I promise."
He leaned closer. He smiled.
His teeth, his teeth. Naomi's voice pounded in her head. The moon rose, its beam lighting the room, glancing off the white of Alex's canines. Pointed like a wolf. Sharp. Feral.
"You're mine," he said.
His mouth closed over her neck. She gasped. The warmth of him felt hotter than any fire. Her blood pounded in her head, beating in time to her heart. The room swirled. She heard his voice inside her head: You're mine. You're mine.
"Yes," she whispered as her life flowed out of her body and a cloud blew across the moon.