Vance returned a short while later with coffee and pastries. He took a bite of his scone and patted the Formica kitchen countertop. “What color granite do you want?”
“What? I can’t just go around changing the place like I own it!”
“Sure you can,” he insisted. “You can easily switch it back when you’re ready to move out. Why not live with the upgrades until then?”
“Really? I can do that?” I asked excitedly.
He grabbed my hand, pulling me into the kitchen. “Karli, you have the most powerful magic in existence in the palm of your hands. You can do whatever you want with the right focus.”
“Whoa, that’s a very dangerous thing for one person to have.” I paused. “It’s scary to even imagine. What if I get too cocky, or even worse, what if I like the power? What if I get so hungry for it that I can’t stop myself? I could essentially bend the world to exist around my whims if I wanted.”
He smoothed away the crinkle that I was making between my brows. “First of all, it will take you a long time to get up to that level. Secondly, and most importantly, you will never get out of control. Goodness is ingrained into your DNA. I have never met a single Fae who doesn’t exist to make the world a better place.”
“How can you be so sure? I was raised differently than they were, in a world filled with corruption. For Christ’s sake, I grew up in the town that is dubbed Sin City! I’m hardly what someone would call altruistic.”
He kissed my forehead. “Don’t worry, Karli. I know you, and I know the people that you come from. Just trust me on this, okay? You will not interfere with the natural order of things. You will only contribute positive things to this world, with or without your magic.” He moved over to the counter next to my stove. “Now, get over here and try this. We’ll start with the smallest piece first and move on until the whole kitchen is done.”
Before I knew it, my entire apartment had been transformed into something out of a Better Homes & Gardens magazine. I chose black granite countertops with real oak cabinetry for the kitchen and bathroom. The linoleum floors in those two rooms became multi-colored slate tiles while thick, plush beige carpeting blanketed the rest. The stark white walls throughout were now painted in beautiful shades of red, gold, or blue. My appliances were all top of the line; I even converted my standard bathtub into a slightly larger Jacuzzi model with dual shower heads. The TV Vance had conjured was hanging on my living room wall in front of my new chocolate brown leather sofa and oval glass top coffee table.
I stood back to admire my work as a single tear escaped my lids. “I can’t believe this is the same place. It’s beautiful.”
He came up to me and kissed the tear away from my cheek. “No more so than its creator.” He looked at the clock on my new microwave and sighed. “It’s after five, Karli. I need to drop by the station and you need to get ready for work. Are you going to be okay?”
I choked back a happy sob. “Yeah, I’ll be fine.” I framed his face with my hands. “Thank you, Vance. Really. I would’ve never dreamt any of this was possible if you weren’t around.” I stood up on my toes to kiss him. He responded by parting my lips with his tongue, slowly thrusting into my mouth. This felt so right, nothing like my experience with Tanner the night before. I felt like I belonged there, with this man and no one else. I didn’t know if it was just the high from my newfound abilities, but I felt a void when he pulled away.
He kissed the tip of my nose and smiled. “Have a good night at work, Karli. I’ll see you soon.”
I showed up for work with a spring in my step, ready to conquer the world. Leo came up to me with a curious look upon his face. “Good evening, my love. What may I ask is responsible for painting that beautiful smile on your face?”
“Am I smiling?” Damn, my cheeks hurt. Guess so.
He frowned. “Yes, my sweet, you are. Quite a bit. What have you been up to these past few days? I’ve missed you.”
“Um, not a whole lot really. I went out with Erica and some friends last night, otherwise, I’ve just been at home learning some new…uh, spells and stuff.”
He raised an eyebrow in disapproval. “Really, Karli? Spells and stuff?”
“Yeah, you know…like witchcraft?” He started walking away from me, throwing off some major wounded puppy vibes. “Leo, wait!” I said as I chased after him.
He took me by the arm and pulled me into a corner. Looking around, I could see that we were drawing too much attention to ourselves. In a hushed tone he said, “Karli, I thought we were making progress. I understand if you feel the need to omit certain truths about yourself, because you doubt my trustworthiness, but please do not lie to me. I can sense it from a mile away and quite frankly, it hurts me. I have been nothing less than completely honest and trustworthy with you and I simply do not deserve it.”
He held his hand up. “Don’t, Karli. This is neither the time nor the place for this conversation. If you really want to discuss this, we can do so after the bar closes.”
I stared at my feet, too ashamed to look him in the eye. “Okay.” Walking away I added, “If you need me, I’ll be in my usual spot.”
The night went by in a thick fog. Leo had one of his men stationed at his table while he stayed in the back the entire time. Jesus, he couldn’t even be in the same room as me? I was on autopilot mixing drink orders, avoiding conversation as much as possible. I was on the verge of breaking into tears so many times that I had to keep running to the bathroom to pull myself together. My tips sucked, as expected, making my night even worse.
After closing, Roxy came up to me and whispered, “Hey, Kar, are you okay? You’ve been really out of it all night.”
A tear fell which I quickly wiped away. “Um, thanks for your concern, Roxy, but I’ll be fine. I’m just having a bad night.”
“Does it have anything to do with Leo?” she asked.
“What? Why would you think---”
“Shh,” she warned. “He’s coming out of the back.” She jerked her head in his direction.
I involuntarily looked his way and averted my eyes as soon as the guilt sucker punched me. “Did you need something, Roxy?”
“Um, yeah. I was just going to ask if you’ve seen my cell phone. I haven’t been able to find it since I was at your place.”
“No, I haven’t, but I wasn’t really looking either,” I answered.
“Would you mind if I dropped by tomorrow to check?” she asked. “My life is in that phone and I really need to find it.”
“Yeah, sure. I should be home until five or so. Drop by anytime.”
“Thanks, Kar. I appreciate it.”
I sank into a booth as Leo let everyone out. “Are you coming, Karli?” he asked.
What? Did he change his mind about talking? “Um, I thought---”
“We can talk upstairs,” he growled. I stood up and trailed behind him silently all the way up to the penthouse. He shut the door behind me and started pouring himself a drink from the wet bar. “Karli, would you like one?”
“Yeah, sure. Whatever you’re having will be fine.” He handed me a scotch. “Thanks.”
He took a sip of his drink. “So?”
I drank my liquor slowly, trying to gather my nerves. I finally managed to make eye contact with him. “So…I don’t really know where to start, Leo.”
He moved over to the couch and sat down. “How about the truth, Karli?”
“Will you quit calling me Karli?” I whined.
“Why?” he asked. “It’s your name. Unless that has been a lie as well.”
“Dammit, Leo, you know that is my real name! You also know that you rarely address me using it!”
“I’m sorry if I offended you, my dear. Is this better?”
I pinched the bridge of my nose. “Leo, please stop trying to placate me. I can feel your pain. Trust me; it’s hitting me right in the fucking face. It’s pretty damn hard to ignore.”
“That’s an interesting choice of words…what do you mean when you say you can feel my pain?”
Now what the hell was I going to do? I couldn’t lie to him again. I sat down next to him and let out a big sigh. “What do you want me to say? I’m at a loss for words here.”
He grabbed my hand. “I want you to trust me with the truth about you. What have I ever done to make you think that you shouldn’t? I would give my life for you. Why can’t you see that?”
I sighed even deeper, raking my hands through my hair. “Leo, it’s not what you’ve done or haven’t done. It’s what you are.”
“You mean, a vampire?” he questioned.
I was suddenly feeling nauseous so I tucked my head in between my knees. “Yes.”
“And why is that relevant?”
I groaned. “It matters because of what I am.”
“And what exactly are you, my sweet?”
I sat up and turned towards him. “If I tell you that, I’d be trusting you with my life. Literally. Can I do that?”
“Again, what have I ever done to make you think otherwise?” he asked.
I closed my eyes, not able to bear his reaction to what I was about to tell him. “Leo, the reason I could feel your emotions is because I am empathic. I also have quite a few more…uh, abilities. Most of which I haven’t even figured out yet. The reason I have these abilities is because of what I am…and what I am…is a fairy. A pure-blooded fairy.” I braced myself, ready for the consequences of my confession.
He pressed his lips to the inside of my wrist. “I know, my love.”
My eyes popped open. “You what?!?!?!?!?”
He smiled. “I said I already know that you’re a fairy, my love.”