Home > The Coffin Club (Vampire Kisses #5)(4)

The Coffin Club (Vampire Kisses #5)(4)
Author: Ellen Schreiber

I thought she might have gotten lost. Dinner is ready.

I was just on my appetizer, he whispered to me with a wink.

Desserts are even better, I said, and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.

I felt as tiny as a Polly Pocket doll in a Barbie Dream House as I sat alone at the limousine-length table in the stately and stark mile-high-ceilinged dining room. A black lace tablecloth was draped over the stone tabletop, and a single candelabra flickered as the centerpiece. The macabre table was set with Wedgwood china plates, sterling silver cutlery, and crystal goblets--everyday settings for my vampire boyfriend. The Madison family ate this fancy only once a year, when my grandmother dusted off her china and made Christmas dinner; otherwise it was strictly Pfaltzgraff.

My combat boots grazed the patched wooden floor as I anxiously swung them back and forth underneath the table, impatiently waiting for Alexander`s entrance. I was hoping a ghost would float by to keep me company, but no specters arrived. Soon I sensed a familiar presence behind me, followed by hands caressing my shoulders.

I felt two lips press against my neck. I grew so hot I thought I`d melt the ice cubes in my crystal goblet. The ends of Alexander`s midnight-colored hair were still damp from a quick shower and brushed against the back of my bare shoulder. He smelled heavenly with the sweet scents of Drakkar and Irish Spring.

I shouldn`t have barged in on you like that, I apologized as he stood next to me. You are a much better sport than I am, I added. I`m not sure how I would have reacted if I woke up and found you watching me. I know exactly how you would have reacted. Alexander made a Godzilla-like monster face and we both cracked up knowing he was right.

Alexander moved his chair and place setting next to mine. Jameson entered the room pushing a squeaky-wheeled metal cart carrying a covered sterling silver serving tray. He removed the lid to reveal two sizzling, dripping red steaks.

I took the liberty of cooking yours medium-well, Jameson said, serving me. I assumed you didn`t like yours as rare as Alexander`s.

I glanced over at Alexander`s plate. The barely cooked strip steak was almost floating in a pool of blood.

Mine is perfect, I said with an oversized grin.

Isn`t it a nice surprise that Raven has come to town? Jameson asked, spooning out steaming-hot buttered peas.

It`s the perfect way to wake up, Alexander said with a twinkle in his eyes.

Will there be anything else?

I think we are fine, Alexander stated.

I scooted my chair even closer to Alexander`s. I couldn`t believe that my boyfriend, who had been so far away for so many days, was now by my side. All the pain I`d felt in the last month or so disappeared.

Alexander seemed ravenous as he tore into his bloody steak. I was reminded each time I was in Alexander`s company that I was truly dating a vampire. He had just woken up, while I, on the other hand, had been awake for more than twelve hours. Upon awakening, my boyfriend craved blood the way I craved a caramel latte.

There was so much I wanted to ask Alexander I didn`t know where to begin. As we continued to cut into our steaks, I pried for the info I`d missed over our time apart.

Is Valentine here? What have you been doing? When are you planning on coming home? I babbled.

Slow down, he said, tapping my hand.

Tell me about Valentine. Is he okay?

Yes, Valentine is fine. He returned to his family.

I paused, waiting to hear more. But Alexander just winked and took a bite of his sweet potato.

That`s it? I asked.

Where Becky and I would begin retelling a juicy event by setting the scene, followed by a description of clothing and dialogue, finishing with overheard gossip and our biased commentary, Alexander would simply provide one-word answers. How was I supposed to get a nitty-gritty fleshed-out story this way?

Is Valentine here or in Romania? I continued to pry.

Romania, I guess.

Did you see Jagger?

Yes. Alexander went back to cutting into his meat.

You did? What did he say? Was he threatening? Where did you meet? In Hipsterville`s graveyard?

I showed up at his apartment at the Coffin Club. I have to admit, he was surprised, Alexander began. When he lifted the door open, he saw only me standing before him-- Valentine was hanging by the elevator. Jagger was primed for an encounter, his fists clenched, his fangs flashing. But when he saw Valentine next to me, a wave of relief overcame him. I`d never seen him like that. Jagger was so happy to have Valentine safe I think all the blood rushed out of him.

Wow, you really are a hero, I gushed.

It was obvious Jagger had mixed feelings that I was the one who had returned Valentine to him. He`s spent so much time seeking revenge on me for not having a covenant ceremony with Luna he didn`t know how to respond. For the first time I can remember, Jagger and I weren`t rivals.

I wish I`d been there to see it, I said.

He clutched my hand.

After he hugged his brother, Alexander continued, Jagger extended his hand to me. It was then that I knew a truce was formed--between him and me and our families. Returning Valentine safely was more important than completing any covenant ceremony.

Do you think you guys will be friends now?

Alexander shook his head. Sadly no. We`re polar opposites and don`t have much in common. But now that things are peaceful between the two of us, it`s probably best for him and me not to see each other for a while so we can keep it that way.

Alexander took a drink from his goblet.

I am really glad you are here, he said quietly.

I am too!

We locked eyes. For a moment it was as if we were the only two people in the world. Billions of people were shopping, driving, living, but the only person I was aware of was the gorgeous guy staring back at me.

Alexander leaned over and gently kissed me. I was so lost in his kiss, I didn`t realize my sleeve was sitting in my dinner.

Here, let me, he said, dabbing his napkin in his water glass and brushing off the butter stain.

Can`t take me anywhere, I joked. So, when will you be returning to Dullsville? I hinted. Tomorrow? Next week?

I just have one more thing to take care of. It shouldn`t take much longer. I promise. Believe me, it`s lonely not being around the people you care about most. Alexander gently smiled at me. I felt a twinge of sadness for him. In Romania he had his family. In Dullsville he had me and Jameson. But here in Hipsterville, he and Jameson were all alone. How is your family? he politely asked.

Billy Boy misses you like crazy. You`re like a hero to him.

When I return to Dullsville, we`ll have to take him to a science fair or a screening of the original Star Wars.

I laughed. See? That is why you`re so special. You think about doing what he likes to do rather than doing something I'd like to do--like dragging him to a rave.

Alexander smiled.

And Becky? he continued. Is she still dating Matt?

I think she`s picking out her wedding dress as we speak. I`m sure she`s counting down the days until graduation so she can elope.

Alexander laughed. And you? Are you anything like Becky? His gaze was so deliberate, it nearly bore through my soul. For once I was speechless. I was as much of a giddy and googly-eyed girly girl as Becky ever was. But I couldn`t confess that I was weak-kneed in an I`d tattoo your name on my heart if only my parents would let me way. I had to appear at least remotely sophisticated.

Alexander, however, was waiting for my response.

Did you hear that there are crop circles popping up in town? I asked.

Alexander put down his fork. Where did you learn that?

It`s all over the news. Do you think it`s aliens?

He paused. I guess it could be...

Well, my aunt Libby and I had a major discussion about it. Guess what my theory is.

Practical jokers?

I think it`s vampires, signaling the whereabouts of other vampires.

Alexander`s eyes widened and he choked on his water.

Are you okay?

He nodded his head and covered his mouth with his napkin.

It makes perfect sense, I continued. Who else is up at night while most mortals sleep? And who can see the circles better than bats flying over the horizon? I said.

Alexander gave me a blank look.

But I was undeterred. The only thing I haven`t figured out is what the crop circles mean. I leaned into Alexander intently. Are they warning other vampires to stay away or inviting them in?

Alexander quickly broke our gaze.

Jameson burst into the room carrying a dessert tray, ending my investigation.

Just in time, Alexander said. We`re finished.

Jameson presented us with two perfectly delectable cr�me br�l�es.

It`s like eating at a five-star restaurant! I complimented him.

Jameson`s pale flesh turned pink as he wheeled back our dinner plates.

There is so much to do while we are here, I said excitedly, digging into my dessert. You`ll have to meet Aunt Libby. Then there`s Hot Gothics. And of course the Coffin Club!

Alexander gave me a stern look. Not the Coffin Club.

Don`t worry, I can get in. I have a fake ID.

That`s not what I meant. A club like that is not a place a girl like you should frequent.

A girl like me? I laughed in disbelief. It`s a goth club. It was made for me! Ever since I visited it last time, I dreamed that we could return there together. What could possibly happen?

A girl in a bar? he asked, like I had two heads. Don`t you watch the news?

I know, I said, rolling my eyes like I was getting scolded by my parents. It`s not the safest place...but--

Last time you met Jagger. Remember?

Alexander had a point. I didn`t have the greatest track record with my decisions. My curiosity had drawn my boyfriend`s nemesis right to him, creating a lot of danger for him and my family.

All right, I finally admitted. Disappointed, I chiseled away at the burnt sugar topping stuck to the inside of the bowl.

Alexander placed his ghost white hand on my pale one. We will go, but together.

Can we go tonight? I asked, perking up.

How about tomorrow. I wasn`t expecting company, remember? Oh, yes, of course. I remembered intruding on him. Then I furrowed my brow skeptically and challenged him. You don`t have a hot date, do you?

Yes. I do, as a matter of fact.

You do?

Yes, and it is almost ending. Alexander glanced at an antique marble clock sitting on the mantel of the unused fireplace. The clock was barely ticking, and the minute hand was broken. I didn`t want my evening to end, but I knew of course it had to. He wiped his mouth with his linen napkin and then grabbed my hand.

I`m so glad you did come, he said adoringly. You never fail to surprise me.

You surprise me, too... I took a deep breath, then asked, Why are you both still here?

Just then Jameson returned to collect the dishes.

For the time being, Alexander was off the hook. Allow me, Miss Raven, Jameson said. Alexander and his butler placed the dishes on the top shelf of the cart.

Jameson will drive you back to your aunt`s apartment.

I glanced at the broken clock, still struggling to figure out the correct time.

Jameson can drop me off at my aunt`s drumming class. It`s much closer. I believe you may have met my aunt Libby. She works at Happy Homes.

That beautiful woman is your aunt? I should have known. She is quite charming...just like her niece, said Jameson.

I look forward to meeting her, Alexander said. Then with a whisper: Although you`ll have to make a few excuses for me not being seen in the daylight.

Excuses? I wrote the book! I`ve got one for every occasion.

Like a Victorian gentleman minus the top hat, white gloves, and British accent, Alexander escorted me out the door and down the rock path while Jameson brought the car around.

Will I see you tomorrow? I asked my boyfriend as I snuggled in his arms.

Of course.

I miss you already.

I do, too.

Alexander leaned into me and gave me a long, luxurious good-night kiss. He graciously opened the back door of the Mercedes and helped me step in. As we drove off, Alexander stood in the driveway, the mammoth-sized manor house looming behind him like a medieval monster.

Jameson was kind enough to chauffeur me to Hipsterville`s Old Town Folk Music Center, but the short five-mile drive from the manor house to the hippie school of music seemed to take longer than the journey from Dullsville to Hipsterville. If I`d pushed the car myself, we`d have made it faster.

Now that Jameson and I had some quality time, I figured I`d make the most of it. I tried to pump the Creepy Man for info on Valentine and Jagger, but he was as evasive as Alexander.

That was so kind of you and Alexander to reunite Valentine with his family, I began when we drove past Gerald`s Gas Station.

It was the right thing to do, he said sweetly.

Did you see Jagger?

I waited on pins, needles, and piercing, bracing for his response.

No, I didn`t. I left that to Alexander.

So much for the facts on that conversation. I bet Ruby misses you, I said, referring to my former boss who was now dating Jameson.

Jameson`s bulgy eyes brightened in the rearview mirror and his pale face flushed bright red with the mention of her name.

Has she come for a visit? I pried.

Oh, no. We are hoping to return to the Mansion shortly.

Really, then why did you rent the manor house? You could have just stayed in a hotel.

I don`t stay anywhere that already has a housekeeper, Jameson joked.

I felt as if I were playing a game of tennis with my dad. With all my might, I lobbed the ball over the net only to have it returned so hard I didn`t have a chance to swing. Frustrated, I always had to take a moment to collect myself. Time for another serve.

Do you miss Romania? I asked.

Oh yes, it`s so beautiful there. But I am also quite happy here, in America. I`ve met some people that I am quite fond of, Miss Raven.

I knew he was politely referring to Ruby and me.

But I wanted more. What were Alexander`s and Jameson`s plans?

Do you think you`ll marry Ruby?

Uh...

If so, will you live in the manor house? Or in the Mansion?

I`m not planning...

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