Her friend nodded and made his way to the archives.
Raven thought of one word as she walked toward the restoration lab.
During her lunch break, Raven contemplated calling Ambrogio in order to leave a message for William.
But she didn’t.
He didn’t communicate by telephone, text, or e-mail. If she asked him to come to dinner with her friends, he’d decline, of course.
How could she introduce her . . . vampyre to her friends?
The answer was clear and concise.
Raven didn’t see William again until Saturday evening. He’d been busy day and night trying to locate the hunters.
It was a plausible explanation.
But Raven couldn’t help the doubt that crept into the back of her mind. She wondered if he’d seen the red-haired vampyre while he was hunting. She wondered who he was feeding from, since he wasn’t feeding from her.
She cursed herself for being jealous of his food sources.
On Saturday evening, at William’s request, she put on a little black dress that dipped very low in the back, exposing a great deal of skin. The dress would have looked better with stilettos, but now that her leg was back to its previous form, she couldn’t wear high heels without excruciating pain.
She took time brushing and styling her long black hair, curling the ends. And she made up her face with a light hand, accentuating the natural color of her lips and highlighting her green eyes.
William had said he was taking her out for the evening, but that she was to be ready before sunset.
A knock sounded at the door and she looked through the peephole.
It was Marco.
She opened the door to let him in and retrieved her purse. “Where’s his lordship?”
“In the car.” Marco moved past her, searching the apartment. When he seemed satisfied with what he saw (or didn’t see), he accompanied her to the landing, keeping careful watch on the stairwell as she locked the door.
When she entered the Mercedes, she found William in the backseat.
“Good evening.” He greeted her with a passionate kiss.
She kissed him back earnestly, for she’d missed him.
“I like this.” His fingers descended to where the dress began at her backside.
“You requested it.”
“I may have requested it, but only you could wear it.” He grasped her wrist, moving her bracelet aside so his lips could meet her skin. “You’re stunning.”
Marco pulled away from the curb and they began driving.
“You won’t need this tonight.” William undid the scarf that covered her neck.
Slowly and sensuously, he slid the silk across her skin, allowing the end to trail across her breast.
Raven stopped breathing for a moment.
“We won’t be in public this evening.” He touched her neck with a single finger. “But I need you to close your eyes.”
“Why?” Raven looked out the window in alarm. “Are you taking me back underground?”
“No. Trust me.”
Raven didn’t trust him. Not completely.
But she swallowed her doubts and closed her eyes.
She could hear the sound of other cars and Vespas as they passed. She could feel the movement of the car, the acceleration and deceleration. There were several stops and several turns.
She had no idea where they were going.
All this time, William’s thumb stroked the back of her hand.
Suddenly the car came to a stop.
Raven opened her eyes and saw they were in an alley. She didn’t recognize the buildings on either side.
Marco opened her door and helped her out, reaching inside to pick up her cane.
“Thank you.” She took it from him and walked around the back of the car to where William was waiting.
“That will be all, Marco. I’ll ring you when it’s time to return.”
Marco nodded and returned to the driver’s seat.
William stood in front of a rusty metal door. He pressed a stone in the wall to its left and a security panel emerged. He entered a long series of numbers and Raven heard a loud click.
William opened the door, allowing her to step inside.
“What’s this?” she asked, her eyes peering into the dark space.
“This is Teatro.”
“It doesn’t look like a theater.” Raven strained to make out the features of the room.
Behind her, William switched on the lights.
The lights were dim, but they illuminated a long bar that ran along one side, what looked like a stage that stood in front of a dance floor, and a series of couches and tables and chairs on the other two walls.
“It looks like a club.” Raven gave William a curious look.
“Where is everyone?”
“It’s closed this evening for a private engagement.”
He gestured to one of the velvet couches and Raven sat down.
William went to the corner, where the dj booth was located. Soon music filled the room.
Raven recognized it as Madeleine Peyroux.
“I thought you didn’t listen to modern music,” she called.
“I’ve been persuaded to expand my universe.” He smiled as he approached her. “Can I offer you a drink?”
Raven looked toward the bar. “Do you have human drinks here?”
“This is a club for vampyres and humans.”
Raven found herself disquieted by the revelation.
“I’d like red wine, please.”
William bowed and withdrew to the bar.
Raven took the opportunity to examine the large space more closely. There were flat-screen televisions on the wall, all of which were switched off. There were a few doors that led from the central room to places unknown.
It was, perhaps, a club like any other dance club. Except it catered to vampyres.
William approached with a bottle of wine and two glasses balanced on a tray. He poured a glass for her and one for himself.
“Going human tonight?” she asked as he handed her a glass.
“I enjoy red wine.”
He settled next to her on the sofa and clinked their glasses together.
Raven tasted the wine. It was excellent.
“Do you spend a lot of time here?”
“Never.” William sipped his wine pointedly.
“Decadence bores me.”
“Why? What happens here?”
William swirled the contents of his glass, his face studiously blank.
“Nothing of importance.”