Home > The Vampire's Mail Order Bride (Nocturne Falls #1)

The Vampire's Mail Order Bride (Nocturne Falls #1)
Author: Kristen Painter

Strawberry was a possibility. Maybe raspberry. Although pomegranate had potential. Or did it? Pomegranate might be a little tapped out. Best to stick to a classic. So raspberry truffle filling. With a dark chocolate shell, because dark chocolate was everything.

And what on top? What went with raspberry? Something borderline savory. Something a little unexpected. Delaney James stopped dead on the sidewalk. A thyme sugar sprinkle? That could work.

Her phone chimed with an incoming text, but she ignored it to nod her head in happiness over what might be her best new truffle idea yet. She was kind of a whiz with candy, cakes and confections, but chocolate was a special passion. Someday, she’d be the Mrs. Fields of confections. She could see the boxes now. Mrs. James, best sweets in the world.

Well, it wouldn’t say Mrs. James, would it? Because she wasn’t married, which was fine with her. And if she ever did find a superhero worthy of making her a Mrs., he’d have to be something special.

The name on her shop certainly wasn’t going to be Mrs. Betts, because Russell was a jerk. Definitely not superhero material. Hell, he wasn’t even qualified to be a sidekick. She should have known. A man without a sweet tooth was not to be trusted. She snorted softly. He’d be so sorry he’d cheated on her when she ruled the confectionary world.

Right now, however, she was a server and part-time pastry chef at Rastinelli’s Trattoria. Actually, she’d filled in for the pastry chef only once, but it was a start.

Rastinelli’s was also known as Brooklyn’s most potentially mobbed-up Italian eatery. She didn’t think it was really mobbed up. Well, maybe it might be a tiny bit. The crucifix next to the pictures of Al Pacino and Marlon Brando was a little on the nose.

Either way, the rumor brought people in by the truckloads and the tips were good, so whenever a customer asked about the possible mob connection, she just shook her head no while giving them a sly wink.

The thought of tips brought her to a stop again. Crap. She’s left her apron on the counter, and not only did it need to be washed, but her tip money was in it. She had no choice but to go back. It would add an extra fifteen minutes to her walk home, and Captain Underpants, her enormous black and white Maine Coon, would yowl his displeasure when Delaney got home. Captain Underpants did not like to wait for his dinner. She had originally named the cat Princess Buttercream, but as it turned out, Princess Buttercream was a boy. Delaney was a whiz with candy, lousy at guessing cat gender.

She headed back to the restaurant, wishing there were more hours in the day. It had been dark for two hours already, but her last deuce had lingered like they thought there was a prize for being the final ones out of the joint.

Even Mr. Rastinelli had given them the stink eye. He always treated his customers like gold, but on Thursdays he hosted a private, after-hours poker game in the restaurant’s private dining room. Another fifteen minutes and the Sandersons would have had to buy into the game or leave their tiramisu behind. (The tiramisu was good, but nothing like the tiramisu she made. It’s how she’d won Russell over, despite his lack of a sweet tooth. In retrospect, it had been a complete waste of perfectly good mascarpone.)

The restaurant was just ahead. Knowing that Mr. Rastinelli would be occupied with his poker game, she went around to the alley and crossed her fingers that the back door would still be open. It was. Sweet.

She slipped in as quietly as she could. Her apron was right where she’d left it—on the counter next to the walk-in. She’d set it there when she was talking to Jose, one of the line cooks. She’d gotten wrapped up in a conversation about Mexican versus Madagascar vanilla while waiting for her table to check out.

Raised voices carried in from the private dining room, which had a side entrance to the kitchen. Mr. Rastinelli and his friends, no doubt. But the voices didn’t sound friendly. She snuck closer to the kitchen door to listen. It was wrong to be nosy, but everyone had faults.

There was shouting this time. Mr. Rastinelli was accusing someone of cheating. Her brows shot up. That wasn’t good. She nudged the swinging door open a crack, but that didn’t help. She grabbed her phone, brought up the camera and stuck the phone far enough through the crack so the lens caught it all.

She stared at the screen.

Holy fudgeballs. Anthony Rastinelli was holding a gun. That looked mobby.

She tried to breathe. This was Brooklyn. Lots of people had guns, right? Sure, but it was still scary. She should go. But her feet wouldn’t move.

There were only two other poker players. A guy she didn’t recognize and Little Tony, Mr. Rastinelli’s son. The table in the middle held plenty of money—more than she’d ever seen in one place—but no cards or poker chips. Nothing to indicate there had actually been a game.

Some twisted sixth sense made her tap the record button.

The other man stood, hands out, face worried but earnest. “Anthony, this is ridiculous. I’m not holding anything back.” He gestured toward the money. “I swear on my mother’s grave, that’s everything I collected this week.”

Mr. Rastinelli pointed at the stacks of cash with his gun. “It’s two G’s short.”

Little Tony sniffed and jerked his shoulders. “Maybe more.”

Little Tony was one of her least favorite people due to his general smarminess and his excessive use of hair gel and cologne.

The other guy’s face collapsed a little, and he wrung his hands. “I would never skim, boss. I would never do anything to go against you.”

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