Home > Dearest Ivie (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15.5)(2)

Dearest Ivie (Black Dagger Brotherhood #15.5)(2)
Author: J.R. Ward

“Pretty much. Although I managed to keep the Valium comment to myself out of respect for Rubes.”

“I’m sorry?”

Ivie waved a hand. “Nothing. So tell me, what’s an aristocrat like you doing in a human place like this? I thought your kind only socialized with itself.”

As his stare narrowed, she thought, Gotcha.

A couple more comments like that and he was going to huff off and leave her to Uber home in peace. #perfect.

Or…#inevitable might be more like it.

“What makes you think I’m a member of the glymera?”

Ivie counted things off on her fingers, one by one. “That’s a cashmere sweater you’re wearing. Your watch is gold and weighs as much as this bar. And your accent screams multi-millions and a bloodline back to the first time the Scribe Virgin sneezed. Honestly, you stretch those vowels out any longer and we’re going to have to put you on life support.”

He recoiled, and for a second, something crossed his face. But it was too quick and she didn’t know him well enough to read it.

“Maybe I’m a self-made male posing with good enunciation.”

“Bone structure,” she ticked off.

“Plastic surgery.”

“That signet ring.”

“Pawn shop.”

“FYI, this is the best I’ve ever done at playing tennis.”

As he laughed again, she shrugged. “Why don’t you want to be who you are? Most folks in the species would kill to be in the aristocracy.”

“How about you? Do you want that?”

Ivie took a drink to buy herself some time and she was glad that things were getting watered down in her glass. She’d ordered the V&T even though she usually wasn’t into alcohol, to take the edge off that failed job interview. But with this guy sitting next to her? She found herself wanting her brain to function at its highest level.

“The money would be fun,” she hedged. “I mean, I have to stay in the kind of budget where getting clothes from Nordstrom Rack and shoes from Zappos is a treat. It would probably be exciting to have to agonize between whether you’re buying the Porsche or the Rolls—and then say, Screw it, I’ll take them both.”

“There’s a ‘but’ in this statement, isn’t there.”

“Well, here’s the thing. I’m not sure aristocrats are any happier than I am. I mean, especially the females, given all the social restrictions on them. But more to the point, from what I’ve seen at my job, health is the great equalizer. If you’re sick or old, it doesn’t matter what your bank account or your family tree looks like.”

“What do you do for a living?”

She glanced over at him—and promptly got lost in his lashes. Jeez, they made Kyle Jenner look like an alopecia patient. And his weren’t fake.

“Do you like what you see?” he said in a quiet voice.

“Nurse!” she blurted too loudly. “I’m a nurse. I work at Havers’s. As a nurse.”

That chuckle of his was grating as all get out. “Sounds rewarding—”

“Listen, could we just stop right here.” She pushed her tall glass away and got her purse and coat from the back of her chair. As she rose to her feet, she offered him a professional smile—the same one she used when she had to take out a catheter. “It was nice to meet you, blah, blah, blah, but let’s cut the crap and stop wasting good oxygen on this going-nowhere conversation. I am not into casual sex, I don’t get picked up in bars—or anywhere else, for that matter—and I can’t fathom any good reason why a male like you would be out on a night like this sitting next to me.”

“No reason? How about the fact that I saw you and I wanted to talk to you.”

“I said no ‘good’ reason. There are a lot of bad ones.” She went back to ticking things off on her fingertips. “You’re mated, but bored and looking for a little nookie before you go home to your judgmental shellan and your two perfect kids. You have a fetish that involves feet, bunny ears, Krazy Glue in strange places, or maybe, God forbid, gerbils. You have a bet with some other incredibly good-looking male vampire in here about how long it will take you to get the plain girl’s number. You’re a serial killer looking for a victim. You think I’m a lesbian and want a challenge. Maybe you’re mentally ill and believe we’re all going to get abducted by aliens at midnight and you figure, what the hell, I better get it in one more time before we’re all dead. How’m’I doing here? I can keep going.”

The smile he gave her was slow and breathtakingly beautiful.

As in she literally couldn’t breathe as she looked at him.

“I am so impressed you used ‘nookie’ in a sentence.”

Now it was Ivie’s turn to blink like she’d forgotten the language they were using.

“And,” he said as he finished what looked like bourbon or scotch in his rocks glass, “I can tell you with all honestly, I am none of those things. I am not mated, I don’t have any fetishes, I know no one else in this cigar bar, I’m not a serial killer, and I don’t believe in extraterrestrial life.” He leaned in, his lids going half-mast. “Oh, and with the way you’ve been looking at my mouth, I don’t think you’re a lesbian. I also find you far, far from plain.”

“Is it hot in here?” she said out loud.

“When I’m next to you, yes, it is.”

Ivie looked away, to the wall of windows in the front of the bar. The name of the place had been painted on the glass so it showed toward the street, the old-fashioned, 1920s’ writing all cursive and outlined with gold when you were on the sidewalk. When you were inside, however, you couldn’t read it, the reversed pattern opaque and black.

Kind of like destiny, she thought. You didn’t know what was going on until you were out on the other side of things.

“I have to go.”

God, she would have given anything not to have had that sadness creep into her voice right then.

“I’m not even going to ask if I can take you home,” he said.

“Good.”

“But I will see if you’ll meet me for dinner tomorrow night.” When she glanced at him, he put his palms up. “Public place. Let’s say Sal’s Restaurant. Do you know the one?”

“Who doesn’t.”

“Ten o’clock.”

Ivie frowned. “You know…you’re making me think of something my father always told me.”

“What’s that?”

“If something looks too good to be true, it is.” She put her coat on. “It was weird meeting you.”

“So dinner is a no?”

“Yeah, it’s a no.”

“If you change your mind, I’ll be—”

“I won’t.”

She turned around to start working her way to the door, when he said, “Ivie.”

“What.” She focused on the door, aware that she was being rude, but too discombobulated to care.

Wonder if he would like the way she used the word “discombobulate.”

“It was nice to meet you.”

Glancing over her shoulder, she found him staring at her, those pale eyes intense, his elegant hand turning his squat glass slowly around on the bar. He was like an ad in a lifestyle magazine with his elbow braced on the mahogany, his legs crossed at the knees—

Oh, look, his loafers had tassels on them.

Come on, like she’d expect him to be sporting a pair of fuzzy slippers down there?

“Wow, that’s a picture.”

“What?” he said.

“Never mind. Have a good life. I guess. Or…yeah.”

Cutting her losses, before her departure involved a pratfall or a wardrobe malfunction that flashed her butt, Ivie squared herself and weaved her way through the various humans until she could put the exit to good use. Outside, she took a series of deep breaths and was glad it was a cold January night and not the middle of August.

Head clearing and all that.

The neighborhood was full of gourmet restaurants, high-class boutiques that were currently closed for the night, and walk-ups that had brass door knockers and lots of molding around their entrances and windows. Going down one block, she found a nice little dark alley…and dematerialized back to her normal life.

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