top of page

A Moonlight Valentine's

Chapter 1 - Byron

I haven’t done the Valentine’s thing since I was human. That’s over four decades ago! Dani was not the sort of woman that wanted to be wooed. The first Valentine’s we were together, I tried to give her roses and had a candlelit dinner planned. Do you know what it feels like to have a rose stem in your eye? No? Just me? Okay.


Before you say Dani is nuts, as true as that statement might have been, she had her reasons. She told me very clearly that she did not want to celebrate this holiday under any circumstances. I didn’t believe that because my experience with women told me if I didn’t do something, I was going to be in the doghouse. I later learned that Valentine’s Day was the anniversary of her mom’s murder, and her dad had sent her and Mariana a dozen long-stem roses to fuck with them. 


It was a learning lesson. It happens to all of us. We live and learn from our past experiences. Since Dani dumped me, I haven’t dated, so I didn’t bother with Valentine’s Day. I didn’t desire or need to be in a romantic relationship. Did Dani break me? Yes, yes, she did. I poured so much of my time into our relationship, even transitioning to being a vampire to be with Dani, and she didn’t want to be with me. It hurt when she chose a human, worse, a fucking HUNTER. However, I’m over it. I promise I’m over it. I can hang out with Dani and Khalid without issue these days. 


Shannon Thorn was a big factor in that. Not that Shannon even knew her contribution to moving on from my failed relationship. From working with Shannon as her publisher, reading and editing her books, and getting to know the woman behind these passionate novels, I realized I wanted romance and love in my life. The fact that her stories held so many familiar moments intrigued me. 


As much as I claimed I loved Dani and how profound the feeling was, it paled compared to what this is with Shannon. I was DREAMING about her, or rather about the scenes in her books. We still don’t know how or why that happened. It’s certainly not my power. And it’s nothing magic because I’d know if magic was being used on me. Plus, Shannon isn’t a witch or descended from witches that I’ve been able to find. 


All that aside, I know what I feel for Shannon is real. It’s not the foolishness of a young man with no real-life experience thinking he loved the mysterious and wild woman that crashed into his life. I can say without a doubt my ever-growing feelings for Shannon are real. I knew how her ex-husband treated her and wanted nothing more than to rip his throat out and drain him of all his blood. Not to drink. That blood would be disgusting. 


Killing him wasn’t an option. It wouldn’t truly be justice. It wouldn’t properly sever Shannon’s tie to him. It wouldn’t set her free the way she should be. Death would free her, but then she’d be his widow, and she’d never have gotten to take her stand. She’d never have gotten to leave him and put herself and her children first. So, I acted when she finally went for it and left him. 


I worked with Silvercloud from Bloodmoon and made sure the son of a bitch would never darken Shannon’s doorstep. Not that he’d know where her doorstep is as I bought her a new house to raise her darling children safely away from her fucked up and toxic as fuck family and ex-in-laws. The only person from the Thorn family Shannon and her kids have a relationship with is her sister Shikoba, and that’s because Shikoba is the only one with half a brain. Plus, she’s mated to a Bloodmoon wolf and works for Silvercloud. Thus, she’s cool.


I knew that Shannon had never been truly and properly cared for. Her ex was a narcissist asswipe who wouldn’t know how to spell romance, let alone provide it. If her stories are a glimpse into their marriage, they paint a tragic picture of a relationship that revolved around his wants and needs with no thoughts for her and certainly no passion. And while vampires are cold-blooded, we know passion. 


I want to show Shannon that passion and romance aren’t just fantasy. I want her to know they aren’t just real, but she deserves them. I want to show her a night of romance and passion. We’ve been taking this slow since she got away from her ex. And the ink on her divorce decree was only recently dry. I don’t want to overwhelm her, and I certainly don’t want her to think my plans mean she had to have sex tonight. I was and will never be that kind of man.


I’ve booked everything. All that’s left is making sure Evie can babysit. I know it’s a holiday, but Evie hasn’t had her first shift, so it’s not like she has a mate to spend tonight with. And while I know she had a thing for Shikoba’s nanny, Sophie, till she could know for sure if they were mates, nothing but friendship would transpire between them. Bloodmoon seems to take waiting for their mate rather seriously. 


Byron: Are you still on board for tonight?

Evie: I already said yes.

Byron: I know, but I would like to confirm. I am springing this night out on Shannon. I need her to be comfortable going out. And knowing that the kids will have a familiar and trusted sitter will help.

Evie: Yadda yadda yadda. I get it, old man. You want to whisk the weary mom away for a night of sex.

Byron: Don’t be rude. One, I’m aware I’m old by some standards, but I’m young by vampire standards. Two, sex while not off the table till she says otherwise is NOT the purpose of tonight.

Evie: eye roll emoji I’m just messing with you. Drink a blood bag and chill. I’ll be at Shannon’s on time for you to pick her up and whisk her away for a well-deserved night out.

Bryon: Thank you. 


“What are you doing, Byron?” Caleb startled me as he came up behind me.


I nearly fell out of my chair while trying to hide my phone. “Nothing.”


“Liar.” He laughed as he pulled my desk chair out and managed to snatch my phone.


I thought I was safe, given my phone was locked, but I underestimated my best friend and Ductus. He quickly cracked my password, giving me a devious grin as he looked through my phone. I grumbled and tried to take it back, but he stayed out of reach.


“Oooo… big plans to woo your human?” Caleb taunted.


“Don’t call her that,” I grumbled as I managed to take my phone back.


“Mrs. Keaton?” He arched his brow as I glared at him. 


“Ms. Thorn?” He chuckled, amused at my reaction to using her ex-husband’s surname. “Dawn Phoenix?”


I rolled my eyes as he used her pen name. He knows I’m her publisher and that her stories share scenes with the vivid dreams I’ve been having. Caleb liked Shannon. Everyone in the clan does. That doesn’t mean they don’t taunt me for having dreams about a human before I met her. I’ve not told them I still dream about her. It’s still weird when what I’ve dreamed turns up in her manuscripts that she sends me for editing. 


“Shannon.” Caleb grinned as he put his hands in his pockets. “I saw you’ve got a sitter, spa reservation, tickets to that candlelit concert, and a reservation at a very nice French restaurant the clan owns.”


“Shannon has never tried French cuisine and has wanted to try it. If I could take her to France, I would, but that would be difficult to accomplish when she has five children. At least difficult without asking Isis for a favor, and she has better things to do on Valentine’s Day, or better unless Kurt is slacking.” I shrugged.


“I’m not dissing your plans. They sound great. I hope you two have a great time. Tell Shannon and the little ones the clan say hello.” Caleb smirked and waved as he left my room.


I hope we have a great time too. I hope I didn’t plan all this for nothing. Shannon deserves a night out like this if she accepts it. If, for some reason, she doesn’t want the night out I have planned, we’ll do whatever she wants, and I guess I’ll give our night to her sister Shikoba and Rohan if they don’t already have plans.

Chapter 2 - Shannon

“Aw, thank you, babies.” I smiled as my five babies gave me their Valentine’s.


Since they stopped making us give out Valentine’s in school, the only ones I’ve gotten have been from my kids. And even then, I didn’t start getting them till Kennedy was in Pre-School, and she learned about Valentine’s Day and giving people cards and candy to show you love them. After that, she saved some of the candy she’d get and made me a card. 


Kennedy then taught each of her younger siblings Valentine’s and had them help her make cards. She even helped my actual baby Russ make me a card. He’ll be a year old next month, so his card was more Kennedy’s effort with his scribbles and handprint. I still love and treasure each card my babies give me. Their father may not have loved me, but I never doubted they did. 


“Happy Valentine’s Day, Mommy!” Those old enough to say it shouted with smiles on their faces.


“Mama!” Russ clapped as he wiggled out of Kennedy’s arms to reach for me. 


I chuckled and set down my beautiful cards, chocolates, and drawings to take my youngest baby from my oldest. I may regret that I was ever involved with Eric, let alone married to him for so long, but the one thing I won’t regret is my babies. Despite their father being trash, I ended up with five of the sweetest children a mother could ask for. 


“How lucky am I? I have five of the sweetest Valentines.” I smiled and kissed Russ’ cheek.


“We aren’t your ONLY Valentine’s, mom,” Kennedy said. 


I furrowed my brow. I was trying to think who else Kennedy could mean when I heard the doorbell. My heart leaped in my throat, fear gripping me as I held Russ tighter. I wasn’t expecting anyone today. Nor was I expecting any deliveries. When I was married, unexpected visitors were unwelcome visitors. Unexpected visitors meant dealing with Eric’s controlling bullshit. Logically, I know Eric is in jail, we’re divorced, and no one from my family or Eric’s except my sister Shikoba knows where I live. Logic doesn’t apply when you’ve spent years being abused.


“I’ll get it!” Walt shouted as he raced out of my office to get to the door.


“Wait!” I exclaimed, moving to try and stop him. 


“BYRON!” Walt exclaimed.


I blinked and glanced at the window. I hadn’t realized how late it was. The sun was already setting. I had been so absorbed in working on my new book that I’d lost track of time. I took a short break to pick the kids up from school and daycare. I hadn’t realized I’d been back in my office this long. I also hadn’t expected to see Byron tonight.


“Hey, Walt. How was school? Still have trouble with that long division?” Byron’s voice carried in from the foyer before he appeared in the French doors to my office carrying Walt while holding a bouquet of long-stem white, red, and pink Kaleidoscope roses.


The fear I had a moment ago was gone. Byron is a vampire, yet I wasn’t afraid of him. Despite my little faith in men after my marriage, I trust Byron. I trust he wouldn’t hurt me or my children. He drinks blood to live, yet I trust him more than I ever trusted my ex. I blame the dreams I have that involve him. 


He never scared me in my dreams. Then, when we met in real life, that trust carried over. It helps that he went above and beyond to help me and my kids. He ensured Eric went to jail. And despite my hesitation, he bought this house, which gave my family the space we sorely needed. I know he wants to be more than my publisher and friend. I want that, too. Every time I see or think about him, my heart beats faster, and only to myself will I admit I get turned on. 


I mean, who wouldn’t? He’s so handsome, and I guess being a vampire results in this supernatural allure. My attraction to him is undeniable, though I try to downplay it. I still don’t understand why he’s interested in me. The dreams that have started to overlap with reality aside, it makes no sense. 


He’s a rich, handsome, immortal vampire. He could have any woman he wants. So, why is he investing so much of his time, energy, and money into me and my children? I’m a human, worn down from life, with five kids and all the stretch marks and extra weight that goes along with it. It doesn’t add up. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. 


Maybe he was only nice to me and my kids because I’m one of his best-selling authors. Or perhaps it’s because Shikoba is with a Bloodmoon werewolf and works for the Bloodmoon Delta. I know his clan is an ally to the pack. Maybe he just wanted to help me to look good in the pack’s eyes. 


“Evening, Byron. We weren’t expecting you. Did I forget to send you my recent chapters?” I asked.


Byron smiled and put Walt down. I love and hate it when he smiles at me like that. It gives me ideas and makes me think of Duke Byron from my dreams. He always looks handsome, but tonight, he had big plans. He was dressed to impress with a black dress shirt, dark jeans, and dress shoes. Maybe he was stopping in on his way to a meeting or a real date. 


I’m sure he has plenty of women who’d love to spend Valentine’s Day with him. I know he’s told me he wants to see where things go with us, but I’ve been clear that I wasn’t ready for a relationship. Beyond that, I need to work through my issues with my ex. I must think of my kids, and well, he’s so far out of my league.


“I’m here to ask you to be my Valentine and to go out with me,” Byron explained, hesitantly offering me the flowers. “These are for you. I wasn’t sure if you’d like to receive flowers, and if they aren’t satisfactory, don’t stab me with them.”


“You’re weird, Byron.” Kennedy shook her head. “Mom loves flowers. Roses are her favorite. No one ever gets them for her.”


“Kennedy…” I stressed her name with wide eyes.


My almost teenager shrugged and took Rus from me. “Come on, guys. Let’s leave Mom and Byron alone so he can convince her to go on a date.” She smiled and led her siblings out of my office.


“I am so sorry about that.” I apologized and awkwardly took the roses. “Despite her delivery and overstepping, Kennedy was right. I do love roses. It’s weird that you’d think I’d stab you with them. That sounds extreme. And like it wouldn’t work. I’m a human. I doubt I can stab a vampire with a rose.”


“Happens more than you’d think.” Byron shrugged. “And never apologize for your kids. They’re good kids and want to see you happy.”


“And you think a date with you would make me happy?” I arched my brow as I sniffed the flowers.


“It certainly couldn’t hurt. I have a whole evening planned. All based on things I know about you, your likes, and desires.” Byron continued to smile.


I felt my heart skip and my pussy clenched when he said ‘desires.’ We’ve shared dreams, and he’s read my books. He knows plenty about my desires. But am I ready for THAT step?


“Byron…” I sighed. “As lovely as a night out sounds… I have five children. Kennedy may turn thirteen in a few months, but that doesn’t mean she’s old enough. I’d leave her home alone, let alone in charge of our siblings.” I shook my head.


“Knock, knock!” Evie Rock’s voice interrupted whatever response Byron had.


I need to remember I gave her a key since she often babysits for me. But I don’t understand why she’s here. I didn’t ask her to come over. Generally, when I asked her to babysit, it was because I had an appointment for myself or one of the kids and didn’t want to drag them all with me. Then it hit me. Byron said he planned everything. 


He called Evie in! I’m being set up! Should I be mad? Is it okay that I’m happy? He took the initiative to plan a night out, including a trusted sitter. I haven’t been on a date since I got married. After we got married, Eric didn’t think we needed to go out anymore. Maybe I should give in and see what Byron has in store.

Chapter 3 - Byron

Fucking hell, I’m making a fool of myself. Tragically, it’s not even the first time. I unintentionally used the same words from her book when I told her what I was. Yes, it was unintentional. While I’ve read her books, in ways I even feel like I’ve lived them given my dreams, but that doesn’t mean I set out to quote a character in her book. Then, when I offered to buy her this house, she was hesitant. The only way I got her to let me buy it was for her to put some of her money into the purchase and that the deed would only ever be in her name. 


Now I’m doing it again. I didn’t check with Shannon in advance. At least not to know she’d even want to go out tonight. I knew she had no plans—just another Friday night at home with her kids. Then, I showed up with my presumptions and overstepping. Shit, was I behaving like a controlling dick? Planning everything without consulting her, and now, with Evie here, putting her in a position where she might feel pressured to say yes. 


“You don’t have to say yes. We don’t have to go out. I can offer the reservations to another couple, and we could stay in. I could run to the store and get stuff to make you and the kids dinner.” I offered her a way out. 


“Holy shit, Delta Dani totally fucked you in the head.” Evie laughed as she patted my back.


“Shut it, wolf.” I hissed, trying to be quiet enough that Shannon wouldn’t hear me.


“Evie, that’s not very nice.” Shannon scolded. “And Byron, it’s okay. An unexpected but not unwelcome surprise.” She smiled and sniffed the roses. 


“So that’s a…” I arched my brow, shrugging Evie’s hand off. 


“Yes. Let me put these in some water and change. Which… given you look nice, I should probably dress up too.” Shannon smiled, and before she passed me, she paid and kissed my cheek. “Thank you, Byron.” 


“I’m going to check on the kids and see what they want to do tonight.”Evie chuckled as she went deeper into the house.


I followed Evie because standing in Shannon’s office like a dumbass sounded pathetic. Besides, I wanted to see the kids for longer than a few seconds. I liked her kids, and I never thought I’d like kids. When I was human, I found my little brother insufferable. But I like Shannon’s kids. I found the four smallest ones in the living room watching some cartoon I didn’t know while Kennedy was helping Evie clean up the table in the breakfast area while Shannon was in the kitchen pulling down a crystal vase for the roses. 


“Based on the construction paper, glue, and glitter, you had quite the arts and crafts session,” I commented.


“Up!” Russ demanded, arms raised. 


I smiled and happily held the youngest. I don’t mind that Russ tragically shares some features, especially his hair and eyes, with that scumbag Eric. It’s not Russ or any of the kids’ fault they got a top five worst days I’ve seen. Dani’s dad still wins the #1 spot, even if he’s dead. Mine is in that top five, and in comparison to Eric and Michael, my old man moved down the list. That says a lot since my dad was an abusive alcoholic who kicked me out without a second thought. 


“Hey, little man. Did you make mommy a card?” I asked, investigating his hands to be sure he wouldn’t get glitter on me. 


I am not a fan of glitter. Even less after those Twilight books falsely claimed my people glitter in the sunlight. Ugh. I don’t glitter like some diamond in the sun. I burn like a marshmallow held too close and too long to an open flame. Other than that, I had no real issues with the books. I wouldn’t have published them, but I’m a vampire, so I couldn’t and wouldn’t put my brand on a series that made vampires glitter. I publish supernatural fantasy books. That’s why I even met Shannon, after all.


“Don’t worry, I didn’t let Russ near the glitter. Just watch out for Shauna. She might still have glitter on her hands.” Kennedy shrugged.


“Evie, that means they all need to take baths tonight. And their clothes can be thrown into the wash. I don’t want glitter on any other dirty clothes.” Shannon sighed as if she realized her children probably had glitter on their clothes and persons.


“I DON’T WANNA TAKE A BATH!” Bobby shouted.


“Bobby, do not argue with me. You’ll take a bath and be a good boy for Evie.” Shannon waved a warning finger at her middle son.


“Now I’m going to go change. I’ll be down in like five.” Shannon sighed and paused, kissing Russ and me on the cheek before escaping to the first-floor master bedroom. 


Those five minutes came and went. I helped entertain the little ones while Kennedy helped Evie clean up and start their dinner. Sensing this was taking too long, I extracted myself from Shauna, telling me in great detail why I should love Bluey to check. Evie arched her brow as I cut through the kitchen to the master bedroom. Cautiously, I knocked, and when I heard an eep followed by a thud, I let myself in.


“Shannon? Are you alright?” I called out as I hurried to the walk-in closet through the bathroom.


“No…” Shannon sniffled from the floor, surrounded by a disaster zone of her clothes. 


I sighed and carefully stepped over the clothes to crouch next to her. “Shannon, are you having trouble deciding what to wear?” I asked.


“Is it that obvious? I don’t have anything nice. I have mom clothes.” She sobbed, holding up well-worn plain tops and stained jeans. “I haven’t been on a date since high school.”


I sighed and pulled her into a hug. “That’s the past. This is the present. As long as I’m around, which I’m immortal, and you let me, you’ll be taken out on all the dates you want. And by dates, I don’t just mean dates of us but also dates where we take kids too.” 


“Why?” Shannon pointedly asked tears still in her eyes and staining her cheeks. “Why would you even want someone like me? I have five kids, the wardrobe of a mom with five kids, and like you pointed out, you’re immortal.”


“You won’t believe me yet. But I hope one day you will.” I sighed as I cupped her cheeks, wiping the tears with my thumbs. “You are beautiful just the way you are. You are beautiful inside and out. You are literally the woman of my dreams, or have you forgotten that I dreamt of you before you submitted that first manuscript about Duke Byron.”


She laughed softly. “I haven’t forgotten. In the books, it made sense why Duke Byron would fall for Lady Grace. But that was a fantasy. This is reality.” 


“Reality or fantasy, the reasons I want to be with you are the same. There is something indescribable about you. It draws me in, captivates me, and makes me feel things I didn’t know I could.” I smiled and kissed her forehead. “Now, let’s find you some clothes so we can go.” 


Shannon sighed but didn’t argue with me. Instead, she gestured around her. “Like what? I told you I don’t have anything nice in my wardrobe.”


“You’re just not looking through the proper eyes.” I smiled as I helped her to her feet.


“If you can find something in this disaster of mom jeans that would be suitable for a Valentine’s date with you, go for it.” She rolled her eyes.


I chuckled and, in moments, had her closet back into the impeccably organized state I know Shannon typically kept it in and stopped holding up a simple little black knee-sheath-length dress. 


“This should be perfect. Heels are optional.” I winked and offered her the dress. “I’ll leave you to get changed. I’ll wait for a proper invitation to see you naked.” I smiled and kissed her cheek on my way out.


Building this woman’s self-confidence will be a long road, but I’m here for the long haul.

Chapter 4 - Shannon

Byron had officially left me speechless. A proper invitation to see me naked? Was he out of his mind? I don’t care how often he says I’m beautiful exactly as I am. He’s only seen me with clothes on. I can hide the imperfections under clothes. And I’m very good when it comes to hiding things with makeup. Not that I should brag about getting the perfect combination of foundation to hide bruises. 


I’m a mother of FIVE! That means over the last THIRTEEN years of my life, I’ve been pregnant five times. I have stretch marks and a muffin top that no diet or exercise will eliminate. My ex used to tear me down about how I supposedly let myself go and how I should be happy that he even wanted to have sex with me. If becoming morbidly obese would have gotten me out of that marriage faster without risk to my health, I’d have eaten buckets of greasy fast food for every meal. 


Either way, there was no way that Bryon and I would be having sex. My vagina may feel differently, but I just got divorced from a controlling bastard that used violence and sex as weapons and forms of control. No matter how close I felt to Byron, given the years we’ve known each other as editor and author. Also, no matter how attracted to him I am, or the dreams I turned into books reinforced that I wasn’t ready for a sexual relationship.


I quickly changed into the dress Byron picked, including my girdle that helped contain my belly fat and jiggly thighs, then did some light makeup and tried to do something with my hair but ended up putting it into a bun. I still needed to figure out where we were going, but he picked the dress, so it better meet the dress code. I paused to do a quick check of myself in the mirror. Not to check myself out. I don’t have that kind of confidence. I wanted to be sure the outfit didn’t have secret stains or rips. 


“Mommy, you look pretty!” Shauna gushed as she noticed me first.


“Thank you, sweetie.” I smiled. “I’ll be home by be…” I started to outline, but Byron cut me off.


“She’ll be back by midnight. Evie, I trust you can manage the children’s bedtime routine. And I am sure that all of you…” Byron made eye contact with all my children. “Will behave for Evie and let your mommy enjoy a night out.”


“It’ll be fine, Shannon,” Evie assured me as she urged me in Byron’s direction. “I’ve got everything covered. Now, go be whisked away for your Valentine’s date with a vampire.”


“There isn’t anything to worry about, Mom. We’ll be fine.” Kennedy assured me.


I sighed and reluctantly gave in. After hugging and kissing all my babies, Byron finally got me out the front door to surprise me with our mode of transportation. I knew Byron drove a nice dark blue SUV, but that’s not what was in my driveway. A black Rolls Royce was waiting with the driver holding the door open. I arched my brow at Byron, but he smiled and gently placed his hand on the center of my back to guide me forward.


The driver smiled and nodded a good evening as we got in. That was it. He didn’t speak another word to use as he drove. I fidgeted in the seat. I’d never been in a car this nice, let alone a car with someone else driving. I don’t count ‘dates’ in high school where dad drove because he didn’t trust boys. That man wouldn’t know a gentleman if he punched him in the face. Oh wait, one did indirectly when Rohan sent him packing from Shikoba’s apartment when they started dating.


“Is the car too much? I didn’t want any distractions. Which included having to focus on driving instead of my lovely companion.” Byron asked and placed his hand over mine.


“Maybe a little. I just… I’m not…” I sighed.


“Used to being romanced? That’s fine. I’m happy to be the man who shows you your dreams and fantasies, and all the romance you pour into your books can be real.” He whispered as he pressed a kiss just below my ear, sending a shiver down my spine.


He’s a predator - a creature of the night that feeds on blood. I should be terrified of his mouth anywhere near my neck. Yet, instead, my thighs were squeezing together to suppress the desire he awakened. How will I get through tonight without letting him do anything and everything I’ve written Duke Byron has done to Lady Grace? 


“Mhm. And what exactly are we doing tonight? You’ve yet to tell me any of your plans. Just showed up, sister on your heels, and whisked me away in a car that probably costs more than my house.” I decided to change the subject.


“I wanted to give you a night out, especially a Valentine’s that you’d never forget.” Byron smiled. “So first, dinner.” He pointed out the window as the car stopped at an exclusive French restaurant.


“le Cheval de Saphir?” I blinked. “You need reservations probably years in advance. There’s no way you got a reservation here on short notice. Even if you’d planned tonight since the day I left my ex, you couldn’t have gotten a table, let alone on Valentine’s Day.”


“You forget who I am, Shannon.” Byron winked as he slipped out the door the driver was holding. “Come, my darling, we have a reservation to keep.” He offered me his hand, and while I still didn’t believe him, I took his hand.


I felt out of place as Byron slipped his arm around me and guided me into the restaurant that looked like it could’ve been plucked from the stairs of Paris and transported to downtown Portland. Everyone here was dressed much nicer than my simple black dress. I don’t belong in a place like this, and the way the hostess eyed me made that clear.


“Good evening, sir and…ma’am. Welcome to le Cheval de Saphir. We are currently booked for the evening.” She greeted us with what might pass as an apologetic smile.


“Good to know. Reservation for two under Byron Grey.” Byron didn’t miss a beat.


There’s no way she’s going to find a reservation for us. Maybe he’s using some vampire power? Compulsion? Is that a thing or just something we writers made up? The girl sighed but checked her book and blinked twice before looking at us again. 


“Um, yes. Your table is ready, Mr. Grey. A bottle of 2011 Château Malescasse is waiting, compliments of Mr. Beaumont.” Her attitude completely changed as she moved to bring us to our table.


“Who’s Mr. Beaumont, and why would he give us a bottle of expensive wine?” I whispered as we were led to a private table overlooking the Willamette River.


The table set a romantic mood with a drippy candle and a single red rose. The whole restaurant honestly had that vibe. The dark and intimate interior of the restaurant catered to the vibe of romance. So, it wasn’t just something they changed up for the holiday. The interior of this restaurant on websites was one of the reasons I wanted to try it in the nearly four years since it opened. The other was because I’ve always wanted to try French cuisine, but Eric always put it down, calling it crap and for queers. 


“Cassius. His last name is Beaumont, and this is this restaurant.” Byron smiled as he pulled a seat out for me. 


I blinked and took my seat. I’ve met various members of Byron’s clan over the months. Cassius was one of them, but I was never given his surname. Now, it made sense. How could Byron have reserved such an amazing table and a bottle of wine? Byron’s second in command of their clan. So, of course, Cassius would accommodate him with as much care and consideration as he’d give if Caleb requested a table.


“Your server will be with you shortly, Mr. Grey. Would you like me to pour the wine?” The hostess offered.


“We’ve got it from here.” Byron waved her off without a glance as he sat, eyes only on me.


“I told you tonight was intended to cater to your dreams and desires. I know you wanted to try this restaurant, that you’ve wanted to dine on French cuisine and someday see Paris for yourself. I can’t whisk you away to Paris... yet. So, bringing you here was the next best thing.” He explained while pouring two glasses of wine.


I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. I have never had someone pay so close attention to me. I mentioned this restaurant maybe once in our texts when I was still married, and Byron was only my editor. But he remembered it and how much I adore French culture. In my books, Duke Byron even whisked Lady Grace away to the French countryside. Byron was serious about wanting to make my dreams come true. I didn’t know if I deserved all this, but I looked forward to seeing what else he had in mind for tonight.

Chapter 5 - Byron

I hadn’t eaten at Cassius’ restaurant since the grand opening when the clan came out to support him. The food was good then, so I also expected it to be good this time. Granted, good is a relative term when you’re a vampire. Food doesn’t have much taste for us. You must put a LOT of spices in food to make it taste like anything but ash. This is why, even though it was a prefix menu for the holiday, all my dishes were prepared with extra seasoning.


“Why did they bring us two plates of appetizers?” Shannon asked as she gestured to the two plates of salmon, oyster, and sea bass tartare on the oyster shell, the two plates of marbled foie gras with artichokes and wild mushrooms, and toasted bread.


“These...” I gestured to the two that were placed closer to me. “Are for me,” I explained.


“But why? Every other table only got one plate of each. It’s supposed to be for sharing. You know, like in romance movies and books where couples share food. Are you a food hoarder?” Shannon asked as she reached to dip a piece of bread into my foie gras.


“Don’t do…” I winced too late as she popped it into her mouth. “That.” 


Shannon’s face reddened, and she started coughing as she swallowed the intensely spiced food. I grimaced and offered her a glass of water. 


“I tried to warn you.” I sighed. “My… people… require extra spice in our food to taste it,” I explained, attempting to keep the conversation appropriate for a public setting. There’s no need to have people give us weirder looks by saying ‘vampire.’ 


Shannon gulped down her water and poured a second glass, drinking it too before she spoke. “Wow. I mean… wow.” She shuddered, shaking her head, obviously still trying to get the taste out of her mouth.


I chuckled and leaned across the table, unable to resist, and kissed her. Being unable to taste food the same is one of the biggest drawbacks of being a vampire—that and being unable to be outside during the sun. Well, I could if I wore long sleeves and used an umbrella. That, of course, would look weird and draw attention, not to mention it wouldn’t be helpful to go to the beach. 


I may not be able to taste food well, but when Shannon kissed back, her tongue cautiously brushing my lips, I tasted that. Or maybe my brain was tricked into thinking I could taste her. I could smell her. She tasted like a strawberry dipped in salted caramel and dark chocolate. 


Fucking delicious.


Reluctantly, I ended the kiss. We are in public, and there is a table between us. It is best not to draw extra attention or risk setting anything on fire by knocking over the candle. I smiled, licking my lips as I sat back. The soft blush that stained Shannon’s cheeks, which was blush and not residual heat from the spices, only made her more beautiful to me.


“I see. Um... now I know better than to share food with you.” She sighed and sipped her wine. “You are also not allowed to share food with the kids.”


“Don’t worry. I wouldn’t do that anyway. And if they don’t heed my warnings, they can learn from experience like their mom.” I winked.


“Might not be a one-and-done lesson with Bobby and Walt.” She sighed, trying her appetizers; a happy mmm escaped her lips at the taste.


“Why? I doubt they would want to burn their taste buds more than once.” I asked.


“Maybe to prove they are manly.” Shannon rolled her eyes. “My ex…”


Nope. I wasn’t letting him be invoked on our first real date. I put my finger to Shannon’s lips and shook my head. I’d rather have my lips on hers, but decorum should be maintained.


“No. Walt and Bobby are better and smarter than that. And we aren’t mentioning that person tonight or any other night.” I said, taking my finger back.


“Fine. I won’t speak of him. But they may still do it to emulate you.” She sighed. “They see you as some white knight. They all do.”


“Flattered as I am, I’ll ensure they understand my food choices aren’t ones to replicate.” I chuckled.


I’m glad her kids like me. It improves my chances of a serious relationship with Shannon. Besides, those kids need all the good male role models they can get. It’s rather sad when their current good role models are werewolves and vampires. Not that supernatural beings can’t be good people, but it says much about their prior human role models if a bloodsucker is a better man.


We drifted into easy conversations after that. I tried to keep the conversation far from Shanon’s ex and not focus on her kids. I adore her kids, and her love for them is one of the many qualities that I love, but tonight is about us. So, I steered the conversation to us and her. I had known her for nearly four years but wanted to know more about her. 


When our server brought out our millefeuille desserts, I learned more about Shannon. In the years I’d known her as an editor, she’s kept many things to herself. Now that she’s free of the toxic people in her life, and maybe because she’s on her second glass of wine, she opened up. She told me more about her childhood, talking about her sisters, her parents, and her beloved grandmother. 


I told her about my family. About my dad, who changed drastically after he was laid off, and how our lives turned for the worse. How I was homeless till I met Dani. I didn’t go into details about Dani. Besides not wanting to discuss an ex, going down that path was a minefield of topics not approved for mixed company. We talked about my parents’ deaths and that I don’t speak with my brother. 


Like the subject of Dani, it was left unspoken why I don’t talk to Emmerson. One cannot maintain family ties with one’s mortal family after transitioning to vampirism. It puts yourself and your family at risk. Shannon and her kids know what I am, but it is different. Her sister is mated to a werewolf. So, if she were going to be in Shikoba and Rohan’s lives, she’d know about the supernatural. 


“Ready for our next activity?” I asked, dropping cash for the check plus a thirty percent tip before offering her my hand.


“There’s more?” Shannon laughed and took my hand.


“There’s always more. And I told your children and Evie I wouldn’t have you home till midnight. The night is still very young.” I winked and escorted her out of the restaurant to where the driver was waiting to take us to our next destination.


“Where are we going now?” Shannon asked as the driver pulled away from the curb.


“Where is the fun in telling you when I can show you?” I chuckled, holding her hand as we traveled from the restaurant to The Old Church.


“What are we doing here?” Shannon asked as I helped her out of the car.


I merely smiled and walked her inside, leading her into the theater. The space was lit by thousands of fake drippy candles, giving a romantic and intimate setting. On the stage was a string quartet, and only one set of pews was blocked off with red bunting. Shannon’s soft gasp was worth every penny I spent on this private candlelight concert. 


Yes, I planned this. Shannon deserves to have magical moments like this. She’d confessed a couple of years ago that she wished someday she could attend a fancy instrumental concert just for her. She’d written about fancy shows in her books but had never attended one unless you counted a Jason Aldean concert that her ex “graciously” let her attend because his buddy was sick. Shannon hates country music, especially dude bro-country.


“I…I can’t believe… you did all this… for me.” Shannon sniffled unshed tears in her eyes as she turned to look at me.


“Believe it. You’re worth it, Shannon. You deserve to be treated not like a princess but the Queen you are.” I smiled and kissed her hand. “Now, let’s take our seats and enjoy an evening of instrumental collection of works inspired by love.”


“This is… you’re amazing, Byron. Thank you.” Shannon kissed me quickly before slipping into the pew so the performance could begin. 


Her happiness is all I need, want, or desire tonight and always. I enjoyed the music, of course, but I enjoyed watching the candlelight dance across her skin and how expressive her face was as she lost herself in the music more. I would ask how this woman couldn’t see or know she’s breathtaking, but I know who’s at fault. It has become my immortal mission to make her see it and own it.

Chapter 6 - Shannon

What romance book pages did I fall into? A romantic candlelight dinner at an exclusive French restaurant, complete with a comedic moment between the leads and now this. I’ve been so accustomed to being treated terribly that I don’t believe it when a man treats me well. It’s too much for me to process and accept. I decided these were all worries for later. I didn’t need to sit here and doubt if I deserved a night like tonight, with a man like Byron, or if this was real. I let myself get lost in the music.


I felt Byron watching me throughout the hour-long concert. He caught me by surprise as we stood, and instead of leading me out, he took my hand and pulled me close as if we were going to dance or he was going to kiss me. I haven’t danced since my wedding unless you count with my kids. A small part of me would find kissing him, a vampire, in a candlelit church was somehow sinful.


As the quartet started playing again, Byron took the lead, and we danced in the church aisle. I gasped softly and did my best to follow his lead, blushing as I felt ridiculous. I danced in a church with a vampire during a private candlelight string quartet concert. I’m embarrassed but so happy. Byron makes me happy. In the three years we’d known each other, every text or email I got from him made me smile, even if it was just to point out that rogue and rouge were very different words. 


“Should this be the last thing I see? I want you to know it’s enough for me. ’Cause all that you are is all that I’ll ever need.” His breath against my ear sent a shiver through my body and straight to my clit.


It didn’t matter that he was whispering lyrics from Tenerife Sea by Ed Sheeran or reading the ingredients of a cereal box. It would have the same effect. His voice just had that effect on me. This reaction to the man’s voice was something I wrote about, not experience. As the music softly ended, so did our dance, but Byron didn’t let me. Instead, his hand slid up my back to hold the back of my neck just as his lips brushed mine. 


Kissing Byron was NOTHING like kissing my ex. Byron’s kiss, his touch wasn’t possessive or controlling. His kiss was slow, gentle, and passionate. It was almost exactly how I described Duke Byron and Lady Grace’s first kiss. I sighed softly into the kiss, wrapping my arms around his neck and letting myself give in the moment.


Kissing Byron felt like second nature. It felt right. Again, I’ve written about this emotion, yet I have never felt it. I suppose that makes me a damn good writer if I can write about things I’ve never felt. Everything faded. I forgot we were in a church and that the string quartet and the setup crew may be watching us. It didn’t matter. I didn’t care. Let them see. He more than earned this kiss with this magical night. 


“We should go.” Byron sighed, his voice husky as he pulled back from the kiss.


It took me a moment to return to reality. If this was reality. I blushed and glanced over my shoulder to the stage. Thankfully, the quartet was gone. Only the instruments remained. I would have died of embarrassment if they were still watching us. Watching a concert is not the same as strangers watching a couple kissing.


Couple!? Did I refer to Bryon and I as a couple? Are we a couple? Do I want us to be? I don’t even know.


“Okay.” I agreed, nodding softly, and let Byron guide me out of the church. “So… home?” I arched my brow, assuming our night was over after dinner and the concert.


“I still have…” Byron glanced at his watch. “Two more hours before you turn into a pumpkin. And unless you want to go home, I will relish every second I get of you alone.”


I chuckled and slipped into the car. “Is there anything else to do? I don’t exactly stay up late. Bedtime in my house is at the latest ten o’clock.”


“I can think of plenty of things to do that could take two hours. All depends on what you desire.” Byron’s smile offered promises of passion I’d never experienced. 


Part of me wanted to give in. To ask him to take me somewhere, anywhere, private. I wanted him to show me a night of passion I could only write about. But of course, that wet blanket of anxiety, self-doubt, and fear after years of being mistreated reared its ugly head, calling me a whore if I’d dare to sleep with a man so soon after my divorce and on the first official date. 


“Shannon, I can hear your heart beating wildly. I can practically hear the wheels working overtime in your beautiful mind.” Bryon smiled, stroking his finger gently down my cheek. “I’ll never ask or push you to do anything you aren’t ready for. If you are getting this anxious at the implication of an intimate encounter…”


I silenced him with a kiss, feeling brave as I told my insecurities to fuck off. He was frozen for a moment, only a moment before he started kissing me back. I didn’t care that the driver was waiting for some direction. All I cared about was Byron’s lips against mine. 


“I want you, Byron,” I confessed.


“Are you sure?” Byron asked.


“Absolutely.” I nodded. 


“The condo,” Byron instructed the driver as we settled back into the seat.


It was a short drive to a striking and modern building on the river. I’d never been to Byron’s place. I’ve been to the old mall the clan lives in, but I assume this condo is his personal space when he wants privacy from the clan. I didn’t ask questions. I was too nervous and eager to get to his condo. He held my hand as he guided me to the elevator. When the doors closed, I was pressed against the wall, and his lips were on mine.


I didn’t feel caged in or held there against my will. I felt cherished in his arms as our tongues danced and his hands roamed freely over my dress. That burning desire between my legs only grew more intense as we made out till the ding of the elevator made us pull apart, gasping for breath. My legs felt weak as I followed him into the hall and his condo. I didn’t take the time to look around. I didn’t have the chance. 


Like the elevator, he kissed me again once the door was closed. Unlike the elevator, it was more intense as he gripped my thighs and picked me up. I gasped and tightened my arms around his neck as my legs wrapped around him on their own. So, this is what it feels like to be one of the heroines from my books. I moaned into the kiss as his hands slipped under my dress to grope my ass through my underwear. 


Oh, how I wish I could say I was wearing some sexy underwear, but I don’t own any. I should or could die of embarrassment that I was wearing cotton full-coverage panties. Thankfully, he said nothing about my underwear as he carried me expertly through his condo to his bedroom. We left a trail of clothes in our wake. I didn’t feel self-conscious as he laid me on the bed. I blame the endorphins and the misconception that he couldn’t see me clearly in the dark.


“You are absolutely perfect.” He whispered more than once while he explored my body with his hands, lips, and tongue.


For the next hour or so, it was like a sexual game of never have I ever. Never have I ever felt so desired. Never have I ever felt so comfortable in my skin. Never have I ever felt so cherished. Never have I ever had someone go down on me. Never have I ever orgasmed. You heard me. I’m thirty with five kids and never experienced an orgasm. Never have I ever orgasmed THREE times! Byron has officially ruined me. There was no going back to bland and selfish sex.


True to his word, Byron returned me to my doorstep exactly at midnight. My dress was wrinkled, my makeup was smudged, and my hair was a wild mess from the triple orgasm that ended our date. When Byron kissed me goodnight and slipped me a Valentine’s Day card as we parted. Evie chuckled when she saw me but said nothing as I walked past her, opening the card. 


I gasped when I saw what was inside the simple card—a reservation card to one of Portland’s best spas. My phone buzzed in my pocket with a text from Byron.


Byron: Evie will watch the kids while my driver will take you to the spa to enjoy a full day of pampering. I’ll be waiting for you after sunset. XOXO


This man was going to ruin me in all the best ways. And I look forward to living a life where I’m cherished.

168 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Ah I'm gushing this pair are amazing together and I'm all teary they both deserve happiness the kids are adorable and I love evies sass so very enjoyable the spicy stuff too is icing on the cake yum!


This is sooooo cute ... I need moooooore :-D

Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page