Home > Zen and the Art of Vampires (Dark Ones #6)(16)

Zen and the Art of Vampires (Dark Ones #6)(16)
Author: Katie MacAlister

"Oskar," the man said, giving me a faint smile.

"Nice to meet you."

"Still alone?" Denise asked, pretending to look around. "Aww. That's too bad, it really is."

I bit back any number of retorts and just smiled a little smile. "I'm so tired, it's probably for the best. I think I'll go back to the hotel."

"Night's young yet," Denise said, grabbing Oskar with both hands and hauling herself up to him. "But suit yourself. I suppose if I was in your shoes I'd rather be by myself, too."

I gave her victim a sympathetic smile and left Denise to her gloating, thinking with pleasure how her expression would change if she'd known about the two men with whom I'd spend the last hour, not to mention the odd, but now seemingly genuine, offer of marriage by Mattias.

"There you are! We've looked all over for you. Are you going to the hotel?" A hand descended on my arm, but it wasn't the hard, unyielding grip of Kristoff.

Magda emerged from the crowd, her face flushed, her black eyes dancing. Immediately behind her our fellow tourist Raymond followed, his look of anticipation a clear indicator of how he expected his evening to end.

"I am. I'm a bit tired, to be honest."

"We can get a taxi together. If there's a taxi to be had," Magda said, laughing as we wove in and out of the crowd toward the busiest of the streets. "I think everyone in all of Iceland is here tonight!"

"Certainly everyone in this town is," Raymond agreed. "I'll see if I can find you ladies some transportation."

Magda blew him a noisy kiss, taking my arm and walking slowly with me to the edge of the square. I listened with only half an ear to her giddy talk about how much fun she and Ray had during the celebrations, most of my attention being spent on scanning the people wandering around, but I didn't see anyone who resembled a fanged, murderous vampire.

I sat in silent contemplation of the evening as the taxi that Ray had found whizzed us up the hill to the top of the town, where our hotel resided. I thought we passed the street that led to the church I'd been to earlier, but was too distracted to pay much attention. Not to mention the fact that my brain was starting to feel fuzzy around the edges. Magda kept up a non-stop conversation that luckily required only the briefest of responses to keep going.

"... so outstanding, I never could have imagined anything so beautiful in a country that sounds like it's nothing but ice and snow. This is definitely the best money I've ever spent," Magda said, shooting Raymond a mischievous look. "I hope you're having a good time despite that bitchy Denise. She's just horrible, isn't she? And did you see that poor soul she got her clutches into? That man had no idea what he was in for when she spotted him alone. I wanted to warn him, but eh. He is a grown man, and certainly should be capable of telling her he's not interested in what she has to offer."

The memory of nearly identical words directed at me made me squirm uncomfortably on the seat. Is that what I had appeared like to Kristoff? A desperate, man-hungry woman who lacked self-control? I would have rolled up into a mortified ball, but the thought of Alec's smile and the warmth in his eyes gave me a little courage. So his friend thought I was the worst sort of hussy - what did that matter when Alec had a better impression of me?

What foolish thoughts. "It doesn't matter at all what they think," I lectured myself as I got out of the taxi.

"No, of course it doesn't," Magda said, calmly climbing the stairs to the hotel's entrance. She paused to shoot me a conspiratorial smile as Ray paid off the taxi. "You have something on your mind, dear Pia. Or should I say someone?"

My cheeks grew hot again, and I damned my Irish genes that allowed everyone to see my every blush. "It's been an interesting evening. Eye-opening, in fact."

"Ah, like that, is it? Well, I don't doubt it'll improve. Ready for a little nightcap, Ray?"

I left them giggling and stealing kisses and made my way up to my room, emotionally exhausted by the evening's adventures.

Chapter 4

"Could this day get any longer?" I asked my empty room as I closed the door and leaned against it, sagging with the aftermath of far too many emotions felt in a very short space of time.

"Is that a rhetorical question, or an indication you're too tired to feature in the starring role of my fantasies?" a male voice asked, causing me to shriek and clutch the door in fright.

Alec emerged from the bathroom. A naked Alec. A very naked Alec. I stared in utter and complete surprise.

He paused for a moment, striking a pose of which I couldn't help but approve. "Did I startle you? It seemed much more discreet to let myself in and wait for you rather than alert everyone in the hotel to the fact that I sought your company."

I stared some more.

"Pia?" An amused expression flitted across his face.

"Hmm?" My eyes wandered over his body. I felt a bit dirty ogling the man so obviously, but then, he came out of my bathroom that way. Surely he intended for me to ogle?

"You're staring."

I swallowed a couple of times before I could speak. "I know. I'm sorry. I can't seem to stop. I'm trying, but you're naked. All of you. I mean, really naked."

"Yes, I am. I... er... realize that we parted in a less than satisfactory manner. I hope you won't hold Kristoff's determination to seek justice against me."

"Justice? Is he looking for vampires, too?"

Alec smiled. It was really a very nice smile, one I greatly enjoyed. "We are working together, but I can assure you that I mean you no harm. Quite the opposite, actually," he said with a little waggle of his eyebrows.

"Well... I did kind of think you didn't intend for me to get away when we were at the bookstore," I said, trying hard to keep my eyes from wandering. It wasn't easy. "I rather thought Kristoff was going to drag me off despite the fact that I'm not the person you're looking for."

"Ah, but how do you know you're not?" He took a few steps toward me, with a glint in his eyes that had my palms suddenly sweating. His hands cupped my breasts. "How do you know that you're not exactly what I'm looking for?"

I opened my mouth to tell him I wasn't that sort of a girl, wasn't interested in him, and he could just take his extremely gorgeous body to hell, but the thought of saying anything so obviously ludicrous left me with the urge to break into hysterical laughter.

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