Vampire Kisses - Royal Blood Part 6

"We are so happy Alexander has found someone to keep company with," she said fondly.

"Mrs. Sterling and I understand that Alexander has told you about our family," Mr. Sterling said. "We'd expect a far different reaction from a girl in your situation and find not only your tolerance but your enthusiasm refres.h.i.+ng."

I didn't know what to say, so I remained silent, "We find it very intriguing that you have the same pa.s.sion for certain things that my mother did," he continued, gesturing toward his family. It seemed as if he was alluding to the Underworld without actually saying it. "Alexander shared her interest in painting, while you seem to share her other pa.s.sion."

Vampires?They waited for my reaction. How was I supposed to respond? I turned to Alexander for help. His normally soulful eyes appeared to be red."I think we should talk about something else-," Alexander said to his father.

"I must say, it does concern Mrs. Sterling and me," Mr. Sterling continued. "My mother was a very lonely woman isolated in a town very different from her own family. I wouldn't want you to suffer that same fate."

Alexander was fuming. "We've invited Raven over for dinner, not a dissertation."

"Constantine, Alexander's tight," Mrs. Sterling interjected. "There is plenty of time for such matters."

"Let's just say we appreciate your acceptance of our lifestyle and leave it at that," he said.

"So what do you enjoy doing?" he asked politely, changing the subject.

"I love to go to the cemetery, watch TV, and listen to music."

"How about school?Do you enjoy your studies?" Mr. Sterling wondered.

"Not much. I'd rather be homeschooled, like Alexander."

"Is there a subject you are attracted to?Something that you fancy becoming?" Mr. Sterling asked.

A vampire,I was dying to say.Like all of you. But I didn't have the guts.

"Raven has plenty of time for questioning," Mrs. Sterling said. "Let her eat."

Jameson came in with a tray of almost too fresh meat. It was about as unappetizing as it could be. I was really too nervous to eat anyway and figured I'dget my calories from the veggies.

Jameson handed me a special plate-a quarter chicken fully cooked.

"Are you sure you wouldn't prefer some of ours?"Mrs.Sterlingasked. "There is plenty here."

"Raven prefers hers well done," Alexander responded. "Be sure to try it this way, It's very addicting,"

Mrs.Sterling added.

It was then the candlelight caught the wounds of her bite marks.

Was being vampires something Alexander's parents had wanted? Or would they resist bringing me further intothe vampire world than I already was?We retired from the crisp night air of our backyard party to the chilly living room of the Mansion, Jameson brought in our desserts.

Above a small fireplace was a portrait of a das.h.i.+ng gentleman, "That was my father," Mr. Sterling offered, noticing my stares.

"He was very handsome,"Isaid.

Mr. Sterling laughed.

"He would have been pleased to know you thought so."

"This Mansion was built in honor of him,"Mrs ,Sterling began."And used to its fullest. It's been a wonderful place for Alexander, too. He has accomplished a lot here." " I'llsay," I remarked. "He has painted so many paintings,You could decorate the Mansion with them,"

I went on.

"You've seen his artwork?" Mr. Sterling asked.

"Yes. He won an annual arts fair contest. Didn't Alexander tell you?"

"No, we didn't know that," Mr. Sterling said.

"Alexander, you are holding back on us," Mrs. Sterling said.

"It was a picture of me," I gloated, "and people said it was dead-on."

"Interesting," Mr. Sterling said. "So that is what you've been doing with your spare time?"

"He paints all the time. He's made dozens. Have you seen them?"

Alexander shook his head and signaled me to cut off this discussion.

"No, Alexander doesn't share his work with us," said Mr. Sterling, "Well, why don't we bring some down?" I offered.

Suddenly there was ice in the air.

"Later," Alexander said. "Constantineis a very busy man. He's too preoccupied with professional artists. I'd rather not waste his time."

Constantine?Alexander called his father Constantine? "But-"

"So,Raven ," Mr. Sterling said, changing the subject, "Tell me about your parents."

"They are just like everyone else here in town." Then I realized I could be accentuating their mortality.

"But they really like staying up late and they love the night. And my dad likes his steaks really rare. Growing up we watchedDracula movies together. He loves vampires."

The three vampires looked straight at me. I hadrambled on too far.

"I've finished my dessert now, Alexander," I said.

"It's time I take you home," Alexander responded right away.

Alexander held my hand as theSterlings accompanied me to the door.

The ghoulish, couple stood statuesque and imposing, yet mannerly.

"It was great to meet you," I said sincerely. "And thanks for dinner."

"Please give our regards to your parents," Mr. Sterling said, and gave me a polite kiss on the cheek. It was enough to make my frozen heart melt.

" Yes, we must meet them," Mrs. Sterling said. "We'll have Jameson set something up immediately."

Bad idea,I wanted to say. "I know they'd be honored,"Iuttered instead.

"What a sweet girl,"Mrs ,Sterling said. "I'd like to get to know you better, Raven," she remarked before I stepped out the door.

My eyes lit up."Absolutely. I'm free any time." The sight of Mrs. Sterling and I hanging out at the mall together would be sure to turn the town ofDullsville on its head. We'd probably show up on the local news.

13.

Inever expected that I'd have a "girls' night" with Mrs. Sterling. Becky-always a given. My mom-when we both were in good moods.My aunt Libby-when I'd visit herinHipsterville .But Mrs. Sterling?The mother of my true love? I couldn't have dreamed of this night, even with my outlandish overactive imagination. And it was about to take place.

I had to wonder what her motives might be. Was she trying to get the scoop on how I really felt about Alexander? Or was this a chance to get the scoop on me?

Either way, I didn't care. I was preparing to go out with the most fabulous, ghoulish mom on the planet. Everything was working out after all. I got to meet Alexander's parents, have some adult vampire time, and would soon get lull reign of the Mansion again.

I parked my bike at the Mansion's gate at dusk and knocked on the door. Instead of being greeted by Alexander, Jameson bid me welcome.

"h.e.l.lo, Miss Raven. Mrs. Sterling is looking forward to your visit. If you'll wait in the parlor room, she will be with you shortly."

I was leafing throughRomanian Castles when I felt apresenceat the doorway.

Mrs. Sterling, in a black floor-length V-neck dress and a lovely hat secured with a lavender lace scarf, extended her hand to me. Glistening jewels sparkled on her long medieval purple fingernails. "I've been waiting for a night like tonight for centuries."

"Me, too," I said.

"There is something I'd like to show you." She held out an antique photo alb.u.m.

Jameson brought us a tray of drinks and set them on a side table. There was a tall red drink with a celery stick garnish and a c.o.ke with an umbrella.

"You remind me so much of someone I know," she saidin a sultry voice."Who?" I asked. "Alexander's grandmother," she answered.

"Really?"

"Here's a picture of her." Mrs. Sterling opened the weathered photo alb.u.m. "This is my husband's mother." She showed me a picture of a thin woman with high cheekbones and Alexander's soulful eyes.

Some of the pages were fraying away from the binding and a few pictures were coming unglued. "This Mansion meant everything to her. And so did her family. As you might know, she and Alexander's grandfather were barons. They kept company with heads of state and other royalty, such as kings and queens acrossEurope ."

I knew it! She is going to tell me that I'm not of royal blood-therefore I'm not worthy of her son.

"But they escapedRomania ," she continued, "when the family was being persecuted. She saved them, really. If it wasn't for her quick thinking, there would never have been a safe Constantine and never an Alexander. She kept the royal bloodline alive. And that is very important to all of us."

"Wow-she sounds very brave," I began to say.

"When it was safe,Constantine went back toRomania . His mother remained here."

I hung on her every word.

"Did Alexander tell you why he moved here?" she asked.

"Yes, but he may have left something out. He can be mysterious."

"Our family had an arrangement with theMaxwells - another prominent and n.o.ble family inRomania -with their daughter, Luna. We wanted to carry on our royal bloodline. It was very important to Mr. Sterling, you see. He's spent so much time worrying about his mother, isolated in this mansion, away from our own kind. He wanted someone for Alexander who would be like us-who would make us all happy. What we didn't realize was that onthe big day the one person whomattered the most wasn't happy: Alexander.

"Luna was a fine girl and theMaxwells are a wonderful family. But when Alexander rejected them, it sent our world into chaos. The only safe haven was for Alexander to come here and live in the Mansion. Away from theMaxwells .

"My heart broke that day. Alexander has been so far away from me. And now that we have returned for him,there was something else we didn't plan on: You."

I didn't know what to say.

"I was a lot like you when I was your age."

"Were you an outsider?" I asked.

"Yes, and I dressed in wild outfits and danced at parties until sunrise."

I wondered what could be wilder than the attire she was already sporting.

"When I met Mr. Sterling everything fell into place. However, his mother was unlike all of us. She was courageous and regal-and mortal. I never could live up to her image. Mr. Sterling and Alexander think you are like her."

"Courageous?"

"Yes. And she was a true outsider.In her world and in ours. But she was hot-blooded about the Underworld. You have a pa.s.sion for our world thatwe don't even have. And that you share with Alexander's grandmother.

"I just wanted you to know that by dating Alexander-there are concerns we have. We wouldn't be responsible adults if we didn't look out for you- just as we would for our own son," she went on.

Do you want me to be turned?I wanted to say.Just say the date. But I knew it wasn't that simple.

And Mrs. Sterling didn't appear to be heading down that path.

"Now, enough serious talk," she continued. "I'd like to have a little girl time."

"Fine by me."

"Are there any tattoo parlors?" she asked with a whimsical laugh.

"Not around here."

"Soothsayers?"

"A few towns over."

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