“I can’t believe you were able to fix that woman’s car so easily.” Dagen followed me inside his house, carrying all our luggage.
“It was a battery cable, not an engine rebuild. I assure you I can do all kinds of things,” he explained, dropping our bags.
“Yeah, but you’re so refined,” I remarked, looking him over. “You didn’t even get dirty.” He kissed me and swatted my hip.
“You are the only person to ever accuse me of being refined. What’s for dinner tonight, boys?”
A young man walked out of the kitchen, wiping his hands on a towel. “Spaghetti with bread and vegetables.” He stopped in mid-step and stared at me.
“Al, this is Levi. He’s home for a few weeks.” Levi looked like a young version of my uncle Mike. I almost did a double-take.
“This is Al?” he asked, looking me up and down. “Nice to meet you,” he stammered, shaking my hand.
“Okay, unhand her. I don’t need more competition.”
“You coming out with us tonight, Dag? It’s Ander’s birthday.”
“Not till Sunday,” Dagen snapped.
“He’s got work, and so does Gael, so it’s tonight or next weekend.”
Dagen looked at me. I shrugged my shoulders. “Sound logical to me.”
“Sure, we’ll go out with you guys for a few hours,” Dagen confirmed.
“The Yard downtown around ten,” Levi replied.
“Ooo fun, I can’t wait to dance with you.” I kissed Dagen quickly and took my bags to his room. Leaving him alone with his boys.
The guest room still held all my stuff. Most of my clothes were hung in the closets. I wanted to run out and hug Dagen. I found a burgundy club dress I liked and set it in the bathroom to steam. The last time I wore it, I was with Leo. The memory of that fun night made my eyes water.
The club was surprisingly full for a Thursday night. I felt great. I did my hair and makeup and found the heals and leather jacket I wanted to wear in my boxes. Dagen wore a burgundy shirt and matching tie under his leather sport coat.
I walked out to the living room, still putting on my earrings. The boys were ready to go. They all stared at me quietly. Dagen seemed was in a good mood, but I could see he wanted to stay home.
I took off my jacket and walked up to the front of the line like I always do with Leo. The bouncer tried letting me in without my group. I waved my hand back toward the guys. Two girls in line were eyeing Levi. I motioned for them to join me.
“Okay now, how many do you have with you, Sweet Cheeks?”
“Just these few, my friend. Who’s the DJ tonight?”
“Some girl. It’s her first night.”
“Ooo, I love me a virgin.” The bear of a man gave me a fist bump and lifted the rope. Dagen tipped him as the boys and their new friends ran inside. The two exchanged a few words before the bouncer patted Dagen on the shoulder.
We found an open table. I waved over a waitress, handed her two hundred-dollar bills, and asked for a tray of shots, bartender’s choice.
With Levi occupied, I turned my attention to the other boys. “Okay, jackets off. Do you guys see anything you like out there?”
“Yeah, the blond with the skinny guy by the DJ and the brunette by the bar.” Dagen looked at me suspiciously. I winked at him before heading out to fetch the girls.
The one by the bar came easy. The blonde took a few minutes, but her date was no match for the gorgeous buffet I was offering up. With the boys happily entertained around a tray of B-52’s, I sat next to Dagen and watched the awkward conversations unfold. The song changed, and I tried to pull Dagen out to dance.
“This isn’t music,” he complained, grabbing a shot from the tray. I motioned for the guys to take the girls out to the floor.
Dagen’s cell rang. He got up and walked to the entrance to talk. Levi stood talking to two girls. I was suddenly sitting alone. A nice-looking guy came up to me with a dirty martini, one of my favorite drinks. I thanked him, refused the drink, and explained I was waiting for my boyfriend.
Dagen was back in time to see a not so nice-looking but confident man ask me to dance. I declined, nodding toward Dagen. Another unsolicited drink appeared from the bar. I shrugged my shoulders.
“What do you expect, going out looking like that?” he growled.
Levi wasn’t having any luck getting his companion to the dance floor. He motioned to Dagen then led me out to dance. We had a great time for a few songs. When we got back to the table, Levi’s friend was chatting up Dagen. The girl could smell the money on him.
Dagen stood up and looked around. “Okay, if you want to go, we stayed long enough.”
“Oh, come on, Leo—dance with me.” I smiled at Dagen then realized what I just said.
He looked blankly at me and walked toward the door. I grabbed my coat and followed after him.
“I’ve never had so many men stop and congratulate me for being with a woman, but you’re not with me, are you. You’re with Leo.” Dagen pushed his car keys into my hand and hailed a cab.
“You can’t leave me here. I don’t want to stay without you. I’m sorry it was a meaningless slip.” The cab pulled up, and Dagen left.
The bouncer shook his head. “That’s one stupid man, Honey.”
“Everything I touch turns to shit.” I went back inside the club and told Levi Dagen got a call and had to leave.
Meyer scowled at me when I arrived home with the group a few hours later.
The boys were still excited about the fun night out and went to the back lawn for cigars and more drinks. I didn’t see Dagen anywhere.
“Meyer, I want to know why you have a problem with me today.” I opened the freezer and pulled out a pint of ice cream. He reluctantly pulled spoons from the drawer.
“I don’t have a problem with you,” he moaned.
“You’re mad I’m dating your father?”
“I would rather you were dating me.”
“Oh, I see. Any young woman would be lucky to date you. I think I’m taken at the moment.”
“My father says you sleep with everybody.”
“He said that did he?” I could feel my anger from earlier coming back.
“I overheard him bitching to one of his friends on the phone.”
“Everybody is two men I knew before I met your father. My Clan keeps a human spouse and a wolf lover. We all need magic blood to survive, but it’s how we are raised.
“I found a human I wanted to marry. Turns out he’s an angel and needed to go back in the White. My wolf I’ve known since I was born. He is my best friend and recovering in the Grove because he kept a demon from cutting me in half. My demon friend saved my life. Your father doesn’t care much for him either. My life seems fairly complicated to him.”
“It doesn’t sound that complicated.” Meyer shrugged, shoveling a heaping spoonful of ice cream in his mouth.
“Your father’s vision of our life together doesn’t include anyone else. He thinks his way is the only way.”
“Because he’s perfect, right? That’s why you’re with him?”
“Most men would benefit greatly from watching how your father treats women, but he’s not perfect.”
“Nice to know.”
“My demon friend put me back together after the White, but there are scars. I didn’t want your father to think I was ugly, so I asked for a spell to hide them. I can still see how grizzly I really look, and it bothers me. I dressed up to look good for him and for myself. I assumed I would get some attention but nothing your father couldn’t handle.
“He never said how he thought I looked, and after the fourth guy tried to buy me a drink, he asked me, ‘what did I expect going out looking like that?’ I don’t do shame. Learn all you can from Dagen, but don’t shame your women for trying to impress you. It will make them hate you.”
“So, you hate him now?” Meyer pointed at me with his spoon.
“No, that’s the perverse thing about love. I can’t hate him enough to overcome how much I love him. I’m stuck with it rolling around in my brain until I forgive him.”
“So, you do love him?”
“I do, but he wouldn’t believe me if I told him. I sleep with everybody, right?”
“I shouldn’t have repeated what I heard. It was mean.”
“Why do you want to be mean to me?”
“I like you.”
“There’s nothing wrong with you liking me.” I laughed. “I won’t insult you by telling you I’m too old or you’re too young. You are gorgeous and funny and easy to talk with. The fact is there are going to be pretty people in your life that you can’t sleep with. There are going to be women you find attractive while you’re standing right next to your girlfriend. We can be friends.
“You can be happy for your father. You can think I’m pretty, and I can think you’re handsome. We can enjoy each other’s lives like family. I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable. I want you to let me love you as my friend. A friend I will never allow into battle or any other unsafe place for as long as I live.”
“So, I’m a child to you?”
“I don’t know what it’s like to have a child, but I know what it’s like to have friends I care about.”
“Cool, do you think if you and my father split up, you would still be his friend?”
“Honestly, no. I’d like to think I could forgive anything as long as I wasn’t lied to, but it would be too hard for me to see him if he wasn’t mine.”
Meyer nodded his head and scrapped the last of the ice cream out of the pint.
“On that happy note, I should go.”
“I can show you where Dag went. I bet he’s in the basement.”
“Maybe he’s staying away, so he doesn’t say something he’ll regret.”
“Probably. Hey, where will you go?” Meyer asked.
“A vampire friend lives nearby. It’s a long drive back to my place.”
“You can stay in my room.”
“Nice try, but I don’t want to be drawn and quartered in the morning.” I sent Emma a text asking her if it was okay for me to crash at her place. “See another one of my friends I don’t sleep with.” I showed Meyer Emma’s picture.
“Wow, she’s really pretty.”
“And a vampire I emphasized slowly. “Stay away from her until you are at least thirty.”
“Ooo jealous,” he sang out.
“Concerned for your safety. I wouldn’t introduce you to a human dominatrix either.”
Meyer looked at me, confused.
“Oh my God, I have to stop talking now. Ask your father. I’m not sure how detailed sex talks go nowadays.”