“Thanks,” she grumbled before sliding it over her eyes. Maybe Harrington wasn’t as stupid as she thought.
“Can you walk in those heels?” he asked.
“I can manage.”
The guy grabbed her by her upper arms and marched her out of the room. Marched being the optimal word. This guy must have been ex-military because his pace was bruising and it wasn’t a short trek. She didn’t know if the guy was taking her the long way on purpose, but she wouldn’t have been able to find her way back.
Finally, Reyna was escorted up a flight of stairs and then pushed into a room. The door closed and locked behind her. She ripped off her blindfold and found herself in a small conference room. It had a buffet of delicious-smelling foods against the back wall. A television hung suspended to her right and a projector on the left. It was more technology than she had seen in months. A table for one was set up against the opposite wall of the television with an unopen bottle of champagne chilling in an ice bucket and a single lit candle. She was surprised to find it had an actual flame.
But what was the point?
She was circling the room searching for clues when the door sprung open. She stumbled back a step and then straightened her spine. Whatever this setup was wouldn’t change a damn thing in her mind. This was a con. It had to be.
Harrington stepped into the room dressed in a crisp tuxedo. His cane was tucked under his arm and his eyes flashed bright. She’d never noticed how crystal blue they were. She usually only saw his inhumanity. But today he seemed almost human. It unnerved her.
The door slid closed behind him and he smiled. This insane powerful vampire smiled at her. This was bad…very bad.
“What is this?” she asked.
“Ah, my little queen, I knew that dress would suit you. You look like the queen you shall be.”
“Have you tasted the buffet? I had it prepared with your favorites in mind.”
She didn’t answer. How would he know what was her favorite? And since when did he care?
He laughed when she didn’t answer and walked across the room. She followed him with her eyes. He reached for the champagne and looked down at the label. “Champagne is your favorite, no?”
Still she said nothing.
“This is my favorite vintage. It’s a rosé from this little vineyard in France I used to frequent in the early years after I was turned.”
Oh God, he just wanted to hear himself talk again. He made her get all dressed up for this?
“I purchased the property when it was clear that the French Revolution was going to destroy everything good about France.”
Reyna’s eyes widened slightly. The French Revolution. He had been born before the French Revolution?
“America’s fault of course,” he said as he popped the top of the champagne. He poured two full champagne flutes. “If it hadn’t rebelled where would France be now?”
“Are you French?” she couldn’t help but ask. Even when he normally droned on, he never talked about himself.
“Certainly not,” he said without further explanation. He walked back to Reyna and handed her a glass of the champagne. “Taste it for yourself.”
She swallowed in fear. She didn’t know that she liked this new Harrington any better than the old one. She couldn’t figure out his ploy and that made it scarier. But she tilted back the champagne.
The bubbles exploded in her mouth and down her throat. It was crisp and dry and the most delicious champagne she had ever had in her life. Something about it popped and it had the perfect bite.
“You like it,” he said with another candid smile.
“Yes,” she said carefully.
“Good.” He brought it to his lips and took a long swallow. “Ah, as good as I remember.”
Reyna knew that vampires could technically eat food, but they didn’t all that often. They drank but she had never been forward enough to ask if alcohol tasted the same. If anything tasted as good as blood. And yeah, she wasn’t about to now.
“You are probably wondering why you’re here.” He poured himself another glass of champagne and then set the bottle back in the ice. “Come closer.”
She moved an inch. His hand landed on a small control panel she hadn’t even noticed and suddenly glass revealed an enormous ballroom filled to the brim with people.
So many people.
Without meaning to, she moved forward and put her hands on the glass. “What…?”
“It is one-way glass and this is a soundproof room. No one can see or hear us. They will never know that you’re spying on them.”
She deflated. “Then why am I here? What is all of this?” She gestured around the room—the buffet, the candlelight, the champagne, the dress, the heels. “You want to show me the ball but I can’t be part of it?”