To Brenna it didn’t seem like it, but Scott had been with her
for twenty-four days. Just before midnight, she strolled with Gordon through the
deserted path of the zoo. The cold December breeze blew, stirring small patches
of leaves that still dotted the landscape. She cherished these wonderful, quiet
times with him. She hadn’t had any real privacy. Rachel and Rory went places
occasionally—movies mainly, because of the late hour—but after a hectic day of
working, Brenna enjoyed the solitude of a night-time stroll or a quiet, evening
“I’m grateful for Scott’s protection.” She had to admit she’d
felt safer since his arrival.
Gordon squeezed her hand. “Just seeing you more relaxed is
She smiled up at him. “I’m not as afraid. I guess Derek and
his friends have decided to leave me alone. Roger and Wayne are still nursing
their injuries and still have casts. Derek is still working, but he stays away
from me, especially after Scott chased him off a couple of times.”
When Gordon frowned, she knew what he was getting ready to
say. “This isn’t over. We’ll hear from them again. That’s why Scott needs to
“I know.” She couldn’t keep the sadness from her voice.
“I’m sorry, Brenna. I don’t mean to sound so negative.”
Of course he didn’t. Her living hell wasn’t his making. She
scowled and changed the subject. “Rachel is in love with Rory.”
“I thought she might be. He has fallen in love with her, too.
I wouldn’t have believed he would care for anyone again after so few days.”
At the emu area, they paused. He took her hand while she sat
on a park bench. He leaned and kissed her gently, then sat beside her. His face
was solemn as if he had something on his mind. “What’s wrong, Gordon?”
“I am what’s wrong.”
His answer couldn’t have been more vague. Was he tired of her?
Was he trying to find an easy way to stop seeing her? God forbid!
“I don’t understand.”
His hands covered her face, and he kissed the end of her nose.
“I wonder...how strong is your love?”
How could he question her feelings? How could he look at her
and not see the love in her face?
“I don’t think it could be any stronger. Why do you ask such a
“Because your love is going to be put to the ultimate test
His grim face unnerved her. Why was he so disturbed?
“I don’t understand.”
“You will, but first I want to know what your future plans
are. Have they changed since we met?”
She tried to see his face in the dark. Shadows intensified his
silhouette. “Everything has changed since we met. I’m in love with you. Before
we met, I didn’t think I would ever find love again, or even want to love again.
Before I know what my future plans are, I need to know yours. Do I fit in them?
Or should I seek a different path?”
He squeezed her hand. “Do you want them to be together?”
“You know I do.” In the dim light, his eyes seemed
bottomless...pained. What was he trying to tell her that hurt so much?
“I want to marry you, Brenna.” Emotion filled his voice. What
should have sounded so uplifting didn’t. “And to live with you...forever.”
She threw her arms around his neck. “Yes! Yes! I hoped you
He pulled her arms from his neck, caught her hands in his and
kissed her fingers. “Don’t say yes just yet, my sweet. There are things you have
to know about me.”
“Like how you get your powers?” At last she’d learn his
secret. “I don’t care. I’ll marry you whatever you say. What you tell me won’t
have any influence on my love for you.”
The doubt in his voice wounded her. “Then put any question out
of your mind, because I love you more than life itself.”
Gordon frowned. He dreaded his next words. He took a deep
breath and exhaled slowly. Her questioning gaze showed the love she spoke. The
violet of her eyes sparkled. Soon he would see fear in their depths.
“What I have to tell you can be frightening for a human; but
realize that I would never hurt you, no matter what creature I am.”
She shifted nervously. “Why do you say that? You may have
special abilities, but you’re not a creature.”
He frowned again. “Please, this is
difficult enough. Give me time to explain.” She nodded and squeezed her lips
together. “Remember the first night we met? Remember when I picked up your book
on Twilight, and I was
fascinated by your interest?”
“Remember how we talked of vampires? And I was able to correct
some of the errors of your thinking?”
Vampires? An uneasiness twisted her stomach. “Yes, but...but
what has that got to do with us?”
“Everything.” Emotion hung on the word. “Sweet Brenna, think
of all the things I can do. I have the strength of ten or more men. I can crush
human bones with one hand. My hearing is so intensified I can hear your heart
beating, even now. When I choose, I can read your mind as easily as I know my
own thoughts. I can use telekinesis to open doors and layers of locks.”
“I know.” The knot in her stomach grew. What was he getting
at? “And I’ve asked about your powers often.”
Gordon looked agonized. “One thing you haven’t guessed is that
I can’t be killed with bullets or knives. That night Derek shot me. He didn’t
miss and I didn’t feel a thing.”
She couldn’t hide her surprise. Bullets couldn’t kill him?
“Then my hunch was right. You’re not from this planet.”
“Wrong, my love.” His gentle voice sounded so pained. “I was
born on this planet, long before you were a twinkle in your mother’s eye.”
“Well.” She couldn’t help the grin on her
face. “You are seven
“Add zeros to that. I’m over seven hundred years old.”
A flush warmed her skin. She tried to jerk her hands away. If
he hadn’t been holding them, she would have jumped up. Over seven hundred years?
That made sense if he couldn’t be killed by normal human dangers. “That could be
feasible. If it regenerates in an inhuman way, your body can even avoid disease.
Your age could surpass human age.” She paused, trying to take it all in. “That’s
great! But that’s cheating. That’s why you know history so well.”
He chuckled. “I enjoy human history. I’ve enjoyed my life, for
the most part.”
Why was he sidestepping? Drawing out his explanation?
“Then just say it, Gordon. No more beating around the bush.
What are you that you can live seven hundred years?”
His face grew stern, his hands gripping hers tighter. “I’m a
While she absorbed his words, she could only stare. Her heart
thudded in her ears. Her skin tingled to her toes. Did he think she was an
idiot? Or was he the idiot? He must have made up this outrageous story to tell
her because of her fascination with supernatural beings. Her lips thinned with
aggravation. “A...a vampire. And I suppose you sleep in a coffin, and turn into
Brenna’s disbelief irritated Gordon. Would she want him to
perform tricks to convince her? Even Donnetta hadn’t thought to disbelieve him
but she had caught him feeding.
“Is that not as fascinating as you have dreamed? Have you made
me out to be a Superman who can jump over tall buildings with a single bound?
Are you hoping that I’ll fly you above the clouds like Lois Lane? I can fly you
around, but I am not a romantic character out of a comic book, Brenna. I am what
humans call a blood-sucking vampire.”
Her face paled and she jerked her hands away from his. His
words had been too strong. “You’re serious, aren’t you? You really think you’re
“I don’t just think it. I live it.” Mercy! His explanation was
poor. He wasn’t as crazy as he sounded. “Brenna, there is no easy way to tell
you. You needed to know before you devote any more of your life to me. I love
you and I’d never hurt you. You’d never be in any danger at night as long as I
am around to protect you. Think about it. How else would I know so much about
vampires? I live it, day after day, year after year, century after...surely, you
see it now.”
Her beautiful face contorted into fear. “You drink...blood.”
“Disgusting to a human, isn’t it? Don’t deny it. Your disgust
is blatant. Blood is a natural taste, immediate with transformation. I guess
you’d have to be a vampire to understand, but feasting on blood is as natural to
me as eating steak and potatoes is to you. Nevertheless, breathing is something
that I don’t have to do, but my heart beats. In all honesty, it beats much
slower than a human’s. Explain that to your scientists.”
He chuckled, hoping to ease her tension. “Forgive me. I’m
straying. Let’s get back to food. Have you ever seen me eat or drink? Why else
would I refuse food from your house? Because I don’t like your cooking? No, it’s
because I dine at the veins of humans, as gross as that may sound to you.”
Panic rose in her, beating her heart like a drum in his ears.
He reached out to take her hand, but she jerked it away. “No!” Her lips
trembled. “Vampires aren’t real. They...” Her breath labored in short spasms.
The smell of fear rose from her. “Vampires are killers!” She jumped to her feet
and backed away. “I can’t love a killer.”
“But I’m not a killer, Brenna. And I would never hurt you.” He
had to calm her. “Believe me. Please. I don’t kill my prey.”
Tears strained at her eyes. “What will you do to me?”