Angler Christmas One
Time moved faster now that I was mortal. After centuries of being a vampire it took the courage of one delicate human heart to give me a second chance at living.
And to be a father…
I kept to the shadows outside my daughter’s nursery, not wanting to disturb the monster hovering over her crib. Fisting my hands, I held my breath. The King of vampires could slaughter the island population, where I and Connie had made our home, with just a thought. Yet, a tiny infant girl held his heart so tight in her grasp it pained me to see him so vulnerable. Who knew how long Tane had been watching Margaret sleep? He hadn’t been in the house two hours ago when Connie had put her to bed.
The urge to protect her flowed so strong in my blood that sometimes I wondered if it gave my heart the strength to beat. Technically, I was a miracle. A vampire turned human. What did make my daughter?
“You’re thinking too hard.” In a blink of an eye, Tane stood in the doorway. His gaze grew heated, undressing me in a single glance. Power radiated from my lover and intoxicated me. Anticipation left me dizzy as my cock thickened.
I snorted. “It’s part of my allure.” I should have known he would sense my presence, no matter how quiet I tried to move in this new body. The link between us was strong ever since he’d saved my life with his blood. Like Connie, I now belonged to him. Though, I wouldn’t say that to her face. Connie doesn’t think she belongs to anyone and that we all belong to her.
“What’s taking Tane so long to get…” Speaking of the she-devil, Connie stormed down the hall of our small home and paused as her gaze dagger through both of us. “”I swear, if either of you wake her, there will be no hole deep enough to hide from me.” Her cloud curly hair seemed even wilder since Maggie was born. The bruised tender skin under her eyes came from lack of sleep and not abuse. She couldn’t have been more beautiful.
Gathering her in my wake, I guided her back to family room where Christmas had exploded on every surface over the last week. “Drink.” I set my hot apple cider in her hand. She had it shipped in yesterday in memory of her grandmother. “Sit.” I pushed her into a plush chair. “You’re doing too much.”
Tane wandered into room and poured himself a cup. “I can assure you Maggie will sleep.”
“Did you do something to her?” Her voice rose and she held her cup more like a weapon than a drinking vessel. I couldn’t have picked a better mother for my child.
I rested my hip on the arm of the chair and kissed the top of her head. She tasted of cinnamon and walnuts. She’d been baking all afternoon and it seemed she’d doused herself with the ingredients. It took all my control not to laugh. I didn’t want her directing that sharp tongue in my direction.
“I’d never do anything harmful to our daughter. I merely peeked in her dreams.” He sipped his cider and stared at the Christmas tree.
Connie went very still and quiet. Never a good combination.
I glimpsed the sheen of tears in eyes. “Hey, what’s this?” With my thumb, I lifted her chin so she couldn’t hide.
She jerked her chin away. “It’s nothing.”
Tane frowned. He set his cup on the counter and knelt in front of her. “You know I’d never harm her.”
She nodded and wiped her cheeks. “I’m hormonal, not homicidal.”
Meeting my stare over her head, he asked. There’s a difference? Using our mind link.
I shrugged. Apparently.
“Stop talking about me.” She gave my thigh a painful squeeze but caressed his cheek. “That’s the first time you called her your daughter, Tane.”
He blinked. “Out loud, maybe, but I’ve always considered her mine.”
Connie visibly relaxed and took a long swig from my cup. “Okay, I need a shower. I won’t be long.”
“Famous last words.” I slapped her ass as she scooted between us. The pregnancy had enhanced her curves and it had been too long since we’d had time to let me explore them.
She vanished into our bedroom. I loved that word. Ours. It had made a world of difference when I’d abducted Connie all those years ago and added it to my vocabulary. Seemed like Tane was trying this word.
The ancient vampire strolled back into the kitchen assessing the plates piled high in various foods. “Are we expecting guests?”
“No.” I chuckled. “Connie is learning to cook.”
He picked up a piece of walnut cake, a local Christmas traditional dessert, and sniffed. “Is she any good?”
“No, but if you tell her I said that, I will deny it until I’m in my grave.”
“Smart man.” He grimaced. “Don’t joke about your grave. How are you adjusting?”
I shrugged again. “I like the sunshine.” This was Tane’s first visit to our Greek home since my transformation back to human. He needed to keep his distance from Connie as not to attract attention to her new human lover. If word spread that I still lived, the Nosferatu would rectify their error. Let alone the fact that Connie and Tane had made me human by sheer chance. “I hate being weak or needing to breath.” I popped a piece of cake in my mouth and grimaced. “I love the eating.”
Connie strolled out of our bedroom wrapped in a towel. Steam rose from her rosy skin. “He hates having to work out to keep the pounds off though.” She poked my stomach and I flexed so she would only sense the hard muscles. She was right. If not for the long hours swimming, I’d be twice my size.
“It would help if you’d stop baking.” I tugged at her towel, tired of playing nice. Maggie was asleep and I finally had both my lovers under the same roof. Tomorrow was Christmas and it would all be about family. Tonight, though, would be about remembering where the three of us had started.
She laughed and tugged the towel from my grasp. There had been a time she’d never have been fast enough to escape my advances. She leaned against Tane. “No matter how I try he’s still incorrigible.”
“I’d expect no less.” The vampire seemed more somber than usual. I didn’t need a mind link to sense his worry.
Returning to the family room, I settled on the chair Connie had vacated. I couldn’t reach out to my sources for information on the Vampire Nation. I’d been declared dead. My resurrection would be a death sentence to the three people I loved the most. The most difficult thing in my new life was not being the real me—the politician, the spy, the informant to most powerful creature on the planet.
Tane bent closer to Connie and inhaled. I remembered how she smelled when I’d been vampire. A deep well of dark emotions ran through my wife and drew vampires. It made her perfect bait. I made it my goal to fight off her ghosts by brightening her life with positive things. Had Maggie’s birth changed Connie’s scent? I made note to ask Tane in private.
“I thought we’d be in bed by now.” I gave them a wicked smile. The three of us shared dreams but nothing beat reality and Tane hadn’t tasted either of us in months. This alone would have concerned me, let alone the vampire’s grim mood. “What’s bothering you?”
Giving me a sharp look, Tane’s expression hardened. He straightened and set his cup on the counter.
Connie frowned in my direction, clearly not amused by directness. “Can’t this wait until after the holidays?”
“No.” I shook my head. “Are we in danger?”
Tane drew Connie into his arms and led her to the love couch across from me. He sat with her cuddled within his strong arms. “You’ve never been safe.” Seeing these once-enemies so close warmed my heart but his words sent the cold claws of fear into my spine. “Or I should say, not safe enough. It’s only a matter of time that my enemies discover Maggie’s existence.”
Connie closed her eyes, her jaw tightening with determination. “I thought this island was secure.”
“It is as secure as I can make except for one thing.” Tane’s gaze never left mine. “You’d be safer with a vampire living here.”
“Absolutely not.” I slashed my hand through the air to help make my point. “I would be found out.”
“I know.” Tane let those words hang in the air.
I blinked as the meaning sank in. “You want to make me vampire again?”
Connie opened her mouth as if to protest then clamped her lips closed so hard I heard her teeth clank. She stared at her hands clasped on her lap, knuckles white.
Tane stroked her hair. “Maggie would be safer with a vampire protector. I’ve come to make you the offer. I can send for a trusted friend to change you.”
“Why not me?” Connie’s quiet question caught me off guard. She’d never expressed the desire to become vampire. Suddenly, I didn’t want to see her as anything but human.
“Because Maggie will need one of you as human. Someone to meet her teachers and bring her to parties during the day.” Tane rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Rurik is the better choice. He’s been vampire. He knows the life and is the trained warrior.”
I leaned forward, resting my elbows on my knees. I caught her gaze with mine. “What do want me to do?”
She shook her head slowly. “I can’t make this decision. It’s your life. No matter what, I’ll still love you.”
I sighed and turned my stare to Tane. I wasn’t lying when I’d told Tane that I loved the sun. I worshipped the scorching heat and blue skies of our island home. The beat within my chest thrilled me and the daughter this new body had allowed us to create was the center of my universe. “We wouldn’t be able to have more children.” The realization weighed heavy on my shoulders. “What would you do?” I aimed my question at Tane.
He tilted his head to side. “You want more children?”
I nodded and Connie laughed.
The ancient vampire rubbed his chin. “I think we should leave this offer open. When you decide if it is best to become vampire again, I will make the arrangements. In the meantime, I think you should consider allowing a vampire to live among you. Someone tested and trusted.”
“Like who?” Connie rose from the love seat.
“I have someone in mind. I think we have spent enough time worrying.” Tane tugged her towel and it fell to the floor. “I agree with Rurik. We should be naked and fucking already.”
She gave us a salacious grin and strolled to the bedroom. “Who am I to disagree with such sag advice?”