"Dinner's on," my mom hollered as if she were Mrs. Walton ringing a dinner bell.
Alexander and I sat on one side and theSterlings on the other, while my parents were at the head of the table. Our dining-room table was a third of the size of Alexander's. We all were in arm's reach of one another, I noticed my mom staring at the wounds onMrs - Sterling's neck, Mrs. Sterling must have sensed it, too as she turned to my mom.
"Just a small bite I received last night, Don't worry- it's not contagious."
"I didn't mean to-," my mom said apologetically, "I thought it was a tattoo," my dad said, and we all laughed.
I caught my reflection in the gla.s.s curio cabinet. I couldn't help notice the lack of our company's shadows.
I knew my parents were now distracted with conversation, but once the wine flowed and thecarb coma hit-it might be more obvious.
"Excuse me," I said, I dimmed the lights so the glare wasn't so noticeable, "Good idea. This is much cozier," my mom complimented me, "I hope pasta is okay," I whispered to Alexander, 'This dinner looks delicious," Mrs. Sterling said.
"Thank you," my mom replied. "I bet you are glad to be settled here."
"Well, we will be off again soon," Mrs. Sterling said.
"Really?" my dad said curiously, "You travel a lot."
"We're going back toRomania ," Alexander's dad stated.
"So soon?You just got here," my mom noted, "For business or pleasure?" my father wondered.
"Both," Mr. Sterling answered.
"Alexander has told us that you are an art dealer," my dad said. "What is your specialty?"
We all laughed at his honesty.
"I have several galleries and showcase up-and-coming artists as well as the masters," he explained.
"Our country club is having an auction next month," my mom chimed in. "Mrs. Mitch.e.l.l is organizing it.
Have you met her? "
Alexander's parents shook their heads.
"They're auctioning paintings from professional artists," my dad said. "I'm sure you might find some wonderful additions to your collection."
"I don't think you'd find a Pica.s.so in this town. Unless, of course, Alexander was selling his work," I said proudly, "I'm sure you could fill several galleries with Alexander's art/' my mom said. "We haven't seen his paintings yet, but Raven has told us he is quite talented."
"I thought he'd need schooling, but he has refused," Mr. Sterling said.
"He's a natural, then," my dad concluded. "My sister, Raven's aunt Libby, saw one of his paintings when Raven visited her. Libby said that Alexander's technique was extraordinary. She should know. She's in the arts."
"Well, he must take after my mother. She was very talented," Mr. Sterling said.
Alexander seemed uncomfortable. It appeared to me that Mr. Sterling didn't think Alexander was serious about his art.
"So Ca.s.sandra, what did you do today?" my mom asked.
"We mostly slept. And you?"
"I love days like those," my mom admitted. "I bet you are still adjusting to jet lag. Sometimes that can take awhile to shake off."
"I must say that Alexander has been such a changed young man since meeting Raven," his mother said.
"That is wonderful to hear." my mom said, touched. "Alexander is so mature for his age.And always a true gentleman."
"Thank you," Mrs. Sterling responded, upbeat. "Yes, Alexander is an old soul."
"You sure raised him right," my mom continued. "Whatever you've been feeding him all these years, I think some other mothers should follow your lead."
I nudged Alexander underneath the table.
"I do keep him on a strictdiet,"Mrs . Sterling said in between sips of wine.
"SoConstantine , do you play golf or tennis?" my dad interjected.
I thought I was going to die. But then again, Alice Cooper was an amateur golfer.
"I haven't played in years."
"So what do you do to unwind?"
"You are a pilot?"
"No, I-" "My dad likes to travel," I jumped to say.
"We are hoping to take a vacation soon. It's just one day flows into another and then soon the kids are grown and the last trip we've taken was to Disney," my dad said.
"Raven tells us you like vampires?" Mrs. Sterling said directly to my father.
"We used to watch monster movies when she was a kid. I hope it didn't scar her."
"Raven's obsessed with them, if you haven't noticed," my mom teased.
"I think we have," Alexander's mom said. "It's something we share."
"You should come toRomania ," Mr. Sterling suggested. "You could tour Dracula's castle."
"That sounds like a fun and very different family vacation," my dad said.
"Thank you again for inviting us, Mrs. Madison. You are a wonderful cook," Alexander blurted.
"We have plenty more pasta," my mother encouraged.
"I'm stuffed," Mr. Sterling said.
"Yes, me, too," Mrs. Sterling agreed.
"Would you like a cigar?" my dad asked Mr. Sterling.
I hated when my dad smoked cigars-though he rarely did. It smelled good for about five seconds until I began wearing it on my clothes and hair. My mother despised it as much as I did, which is odd since they spent most of their college years smoking things with all sorts of bad smells. I shooed them out to the patio as my mom and Mrs. Sterling disappeared into the kitchen.
"They seem to be hitting it off," I said to Alexander.
"This really was nice for them; they needed to get out. I think they were feeling isolated in the Mansion. Maybe if they made more friends they wouldn't want to..." Alexander trailed off.
We heard a dish break in the kitchen.
"I am so sorry" my mom said, "No- it was me," Mrs. Sterling said as we joined them in the kitchen. A china plate was broken on the floor. "We were talking aboutRomania and I just asked Sarah if she believed in vampires."
"I think it's time that we were going, Mom," Alexander said.
"What's all the commotion?" my dad asked as he came in.
"Nothing.A dish just slipped through my fingers," my mom explained, discarding the broken dinnerware into the trash.
"I'd like to pay for that," Mrs. Sterling offered.
"Yes, we'll buy you a new set," Mr. Sterling said. "We insist."
"Please, it's no trouble," my mom stated with a laugh.
"It gives me an excuse to go shopping."
"I had a wonderful time, Sarah," Mrs. Sterling said. "I hope we can see each other again."
"You don't have to leave yet." My mom's voice was sad, as if she was not ready for her party to end.
"Constantine, we must be going," Alexander's mother said. "We've kept theMadisons up far too long"
"We stay up late, too," my mom tried to a.s.sure her.
They stay up until at least six,I wanted to say.
"We'll have to get together again. Next time at ourhome," Mrs. Sterling stated.
My parents were thrilled.
"Then it's a date. This Sat.u.r.day we'll have a c.o.c.ktail party. Just the four of us" said Mrs. Sterling.
"You aren't inviting us?" Alexander asked. "I think we should be there, too."
"For c.o.c.ktails? "Mrs. Sterling wondered.
"And c.o.kes," Alexander suggested.
"Well... of course, darling.We'd never leave you out.
"What can we bring?" my mother asked.
Mrs.Sterling leaned in and said, "Your appet.i.te."
The next night, Alexander and I met at his grandmother's monument in the cemetery.
"I think it went well," I said, rus.h.i.+ng toward him.
He greeted me with a long kiss. "That was so nice of your parents to invite us. No one in town has reached out to them. It meant a lot."
"My parents really like you.And your family."
Alexander brushed my hair away from my face with his fingers. "But there are things you must know"
"Our dads gotalong " I said, dreaming.
"Constantine's really great. But he doesn't see me as a real artist. He thinks I'm just going through a phase."
"Why do you call him by his first name?"
"I just rarely see him. And when I do, he's always focused on his work.Dad never really fell off my tongue. Raven I have to tell you something. Why I didn't introduce you to them before... It's why I've been distracted." Alexander paused, trying to find the right words.
"They like me, but they don't want me to become your grandmother-an outsider in her own family," I said.
"I can imagine if my parents knew you were a vampire, they might have problems with it. I understand your parents might feel the same way about me being a mortal."
"Well, there is that..."
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