THe VAMPIRE SHRINK - EXCERPT #2
Vampire in the Waiting Room . . .
I met with a few more clients that afternoon and early evening and had just kicked off my shoes when I heard the door to the reception area open. I quickly scanned my appointment book to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anyone. Finding I hadn’t, I put my shoes back on and opened my office door.
Sitting in one of the chairs in the waiting room was the very same gorgeous, blond-haired, leather-clad man I’d seen outside my building and in Midnight’s drawing.
My stomach lurched and I think I gasped out loud.
He stood when I opened the door and it was fluid motion, as if he had simply willed himself vertical. His body was all lean muscle radiating some kind of primal power. He moved elegantly over to me and gave a slight bow of his head. He offered the kind of smile that made my Inner Nerd want to fan herself and hide in the closet.
Dressed in black, his snug leather pants, form-fitting silk T-shirt, and long leather duster gave the impression of high fashion rather than Harley-Davidsons.
I froze in the doorway with my mouth hanging open, speechless, staring into the most amazing pair of turquoise eyes I’d ever seen.
He picked up my hand gently and kissed the back, his lips soft and silky. “I am Devereux. Is this a good time for an appointment?”
So many emotions slammed against each other inside me that I didn’t know which one to act on first. Fear decided to step to the front of the line and my mind began to weigh options in case the man physically attacked me. He didn’t seem menacing at the moment, but he was much bigger and stronger than me, and I hadn’t spent nearly enough time in the gym. Hell, I hadn’t spent any. Obviously, he had.
My heart raced and I still hadn’t formed a coherent sentence or done anything beyond stare at him like a zombie. What was happening to me? My eyelids felt as though they were coated with cement, my jaw sagged open, the air suddenly became thick, and a sumo wrestler was pounding on my chest. The normal background white noise acquired a sharp edge and turned into a persistent buzz, vibrating in my ears. I felt as if I was in some kind of trance.
“I am very sorry.” He took a step back from me and released my hand. “I have frightened you. That was never my intention – sometimes I forget how intense we can be. You must be a keenly sensitive individual. I will endeavor to control myself. Please accept my sincere apologies.”
You will endeavor to control yourself? I’m the one having the meltdown here.
He lowered his gaze for a moment, and when he met my eyes again, the tension drained from my muscles and I could breathe. It felt as though a switch had been thrown and I was once again in charge of my bodily functions. I could still hear the hum in my ears, but it had diminished in volume. I ran my tongue over my very dry lips.
“You did startle me. I wasn’t expecting anyone this evening.”
“Again, my sincere apologies.”
Both times I’d seen this man, he’d caused my anxiety levels to blast through the roof. I wanted to scream at him that it was absolutely not acceptable he’d come unannounced to my office, and that his habit of lurking around me was going to earn him a trip to the police station. He was altogether too sure of himself. I wanted him to know he couldn’t just stroll in and expect me to drop everything and attend to him. No matter how gorgeous he was.
Instead, I swallowed the irritation, opted for whatever remnants of professional demeanor I could summon, and said, “Well, Mr. Devereux, why are you here?”
“Just Devereux.” He cocked his head and flashed that godlike smile again. “As I mentioned a moment ago, I had hoped this would be a good time for our appointment. I trust Midnight told you I wished to meet with you?”
His voice was unusually pleasant. The timbre of it flowed through me like a favorite song, as if I were listening to him with my entire body. He had a lilting European accent, sounding almost old-fashioned, like he’d stepped out of another century. Strange how a voice could be so enticing.
I closed my eyes and sniffed the air. What was that wonderful aroma? It seemed to hover around him like an olfactory aura. Maybe he used a special kind of soap or shampoo, something spicy and masculine and unusual.
He brushed a finger lightly along my arm. “Dr. Knight?”
My eyes flew open and I realized I’d been standing there, blatantly reveling in his scent, making sniffing noises. How embarrassing. What the hell is wrong with me? Come on, Kismet. Talking has always been your strong suit. Just one word at a time. Concentrate.
“Yes.” I cleared my throat. “She did mention that you might call to set up an appointment. Would you care to schedule one for later this week?” I inhaled a deep breath and tried to remain professional.
I was so nervous my stomach contracted, my hands were sweating, and my knee twitched. I’d always had a fear of small spaces, and something about this situation gave me that same closed-in panicky feeling. He had done nothing obvious to make me afraid, but my entire body felt as if it was waiting for some other shoe to drop. He radiated danger. Almost raw power.
“Would it be terribly inconvenient for us to meet now, since I am here?”
That voice. Maybe he was a hypnotist and he knew how to use it to put people under. It was so soothing, I could stand there and listen to it all night.
I felt myself sliding down that slippery slope again and rallied. I needed to get this guy out of my office before I made a complete fool of myself.
If I’d known I was going to have a mental breakdown today, I’d have penciled it into my appointment book.
“I was just leaving. It would be much better if we could schedule another time—”
He reclaimed the step he’d given up and stated, as if the outcome was already a foregone conclusion, “I would appreciate very much the opportunity to speak with you about Midnight. I am concerned about her.”
Through the cotton candy that had taken up residence in my brain, the voice in my head screamed NO! but my mouth said, “I guess I could give you a few minutes. Please come inside.”
Please come inside? Hey, wait a minute – that isn’t what I meant to say. Where’d that come from?
I backed away from the door, drawing it open so he could enter, leaving it ajar so he wouldn’t be encouraged to make himself too comfortable.
I was about to invite him to sit down when I noticed he’d already seated himself in the chair I normally used. I realized he had no way of knowing that was “my” chair, but it still annoyed me.
“Would you mind filling out a little paperwork for me?” Force of habit had me handing him a packet of papers on a clipboard.
He took it. “My pleasure.”
I sat across from him and studied him while he wrote. His hands were artistic-looking, with recently manicured nails trimmed close. He had very pale skin with a lovely translucent sheen to it, which gave him an ageless quality. It wasn’t often that I encountered someone with skin lighter than mine. His bone structure brought to mind the word chiseled. Perfect features. Almost too perfect.
Midnight was right: his eyes were extraordinary. They were indeed aqua and beautifully shaped with long, dark eyelashes. I was surprised that his eyebrows and eyelashes were dark because his hair was so light, but the combination was very appealing.
His thick, lovely hair flowed down over his shoulders to mid-chest. It looked soft and silky and very touchable. And his mouth . . . Studying his soft, full, generous lips caused a visceral reaction in me. I imagined the feel of them against mine.
What the hell? Take a breath, Kismet. You’re in your office. This is a professional situation. Have you lost your mind? What you’re imagining is beyond inappropriate. Stop daydreaming about what you want to do to those lips and pay attention.
As I raised my gaze from his mouth to his eyes, I found him watching me with an amused expression, apparently finished with the paperwork. Embarrassment warmed my face as I reached for the clipboard. For some reason, I couldn’t take my eyes off him long enough to even glance at the forms he’d filled out.
Why am I acting so weird?
I took a slow breath and struggled to regain control of myself. “What concerns you about Midnight?”
“Before we speak of that, would you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Well, you can ask. I can’t promise I’ll answer.”
“Do you believe in vampires?”
“What?” Surprise radiated up my spine and I stiffened in my chair. The buzzing in my ears got louder and I was suddenly very thirsty.
He toyed with a beautiful antique medallion on a chain around his neck. “Do you believe what Midnight has been telling you?”
Okay. Maybe he has a suggestion about how to help Midnight move beyond her vampire fantasy. He might be crazy, but maybe he can help.
To steady myself, I stood and walked over to the small refrigerator in the corner of the room and selected two bottles of water. I set one of them in front of Devereux, opened the other for myself, took my seat, and drank deeply.
Breathe. Just breathe. This can’t be hot flashes. I’m too young.
“I can’t discuss anything that Midnight may or may not have talked to me about – it’s all confidential. But generally speaking, I can tell you that I’ve never seen any evidence to support the existence of vampires or any other supernatural beings.”
“Ah.” The corners of his lips quirked up. “You are a scientist. Do you wish to see evidence?”
I was getting that claustrophobic feeling again. Maybe this handsome man really was a nutcase and I’d allowed myself to be distracted by his obvious assets instead of following my professional instincts. I switched into the noticeably calm voice I used to soothe disturbed clients. “Is it important to you that I believe in vampires?”
He threw back his head and laughed with pure delight. “I have never been called insane in such a lovely way ever before. I can assure you that it is of no importance whatsoever to me if you believe in vampires or not, but I think the information could prove useful to you. What if I told you that everything Midnight has shared with you is absolutely true?”
Oh, geez. He’s a loon.
“Since we can’t talk about anything Midnight might have said, I can only suggest that you tell me directly what you want me to know.”
“I am a vampire.”
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