She snatches her hand away.
“How is that funny?” she snaps.
“I’m sorry,” I say quickly. “I’m not laughing at you, I promise. I never would.”
When I take her hand again, she doesn’t flinch or pull away.
“It’s just the idea of you needing to go on a diet is absurd to me. Firstly, you’re the sexiest goddamn woman just the way you are. Your curves drive me insane. When I had you naked and curvaceous and wet for me—”
“Torsten, we’re in public,” she says, her shimmering heartbeat betraying her.
“Right,” I say, baring my teeth at her, fangless for the time being. “But when I had you like that, I just couldn’t believe how perfect your body was—is. It’s curvy in all the right places. But there’s more to it than that. You have to understand, I’ve lived a long, long time. I’ve been alive long enough to find this modern, Western obsession with stick-thinness thoroughly ridiculous. When it first started appearing, I thought it was a strange phase, and would pass.”
“But it hasn’t, has it?” she murmurs. “And whatever you say, you can’t deny that most people find skinny girls more attractive than—”
“Than curvy fucking goddesses?” I snarl, not caring to keep my voice low now. “No, Tammy, I can’t agree with you there. If you want to go on a diet, then fine, go on a diet. But don’t for a second think you need to, or have to. Don’t feel as if you’re being compelled by me, or society, or whatever else. Because just looking at you drives me into a feeding frenzy, a feeling that, before you, I hadn’t felt for two hundred years.”
She bites her lip, light shimmering in her eyes that makes me want to fist her hair, spoil the intricate artwork of the stylist, and guide her lips to mine as I pulse redder then a crimson sunset.
“You wouldn’t just say that?” she whispers.
“I’d never just say anything with you,” I growl carnally. “You’re going to be the mother of my children. We’re going to spend the rest of our mortal lives together. I wouldn’t just speak empty words to you.”
Her grip tightens around mine, and then an impish smile lights up her face.
“Okay, then I might have the steak.”
“Good choice,” I say. “I’ll get mine nice and rare.”
“Well, I could’ve guessed that,” she giggles, seeming more carefree now as I gesture for the waiter to return.
“So how does it work?” she asks once we’ve made our orders. “Turning you into a human, I mean?”
She shakes her head, laughing under her breath.
And she’s so damn musical that even her quiet laughter is better than half the music filling the charts these days.
“I still can’t believe we’re even talking about this, ceremonies and amulets and magic. It all seems pretty ridiculous. Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to totally call your life ridiculous.”
“No, it is,” I chuckle deeply. “Especially in these modern times, when most people don’t believe in magic. When I was first changed, it didn’t seem that impossible to me. We believed deeply in the gods back then. We saw the world differently. But yes, it is. You’re right.”
“So how then?” she asks.
I can’t help but let heat flare inside of me.
For a second, I see my reflected redness in her eyes, a brief pulsation that I have to grit my teeth and force down before anyone notices.
“We have sex,” I say. “With me wearing the amulet. It has to be on the anniversary of its creation, which is in two weeks’ time.”
“Two weeks,” she murmurs. “What a crazy coincidence, you finding me just in time.”
“No,” I say fiercely. “Even if this makes me sound old-fashioned, I don’t think coincidence had anything to do with it. I think something led me to that rooftop on that specific night when the wind was just right to bring your scent to me.”
“Me too,” she whispers, just as fiercely as me, my perfect equal. “And really, Torsten, if anybody’s allowed to sound a little old-fashioned, I think you qualify. But …”
“What?” I urge when she trails off.
“Well, I know I’m strong enough. But do you think you’ll be able to wait two whole weeks?”
I lean forward, staring into her eyes, reading the playfulness and the banter there.
“Oh, so you can wait, can you?” I grin, baring my teeth and feeling my fangs flare for a moment. With an effort, I retract them. “There’s no part of you that wants me to take you to a hotel this evening? There’s no part of you that’s starving just as badly as I am? Because I want to wait, too. I want to wait until I know I can put a child inside of you. But I don’t know if I’m that strong.”
She makes a soft whimpering noise.
“Is it safe?” she whispers.