As Lee got dressed she couldn’t keep her eyes off her new purchase hanging on the wall in her bedroom. Earlier in the day, she’d gone in to one of the shops on Royal where her paintings were on commission and had spent three hundred dollars because a painting had pulled at her. There was something incredibly compelling about it, it spoke to her, drew her in. She placed it in her bedroom, across from the bed so that she could look at it as she was going to sleep. It was very modern, an explosion of color and emotion, something she wouldn’t normally have liked much less spent that kind of money on, but she knew she couldn’t have left the shop without it.
After she’d changed into a flirty sun dress and some sandals, she pulled her heavy hair back to the nape of her neck with a silver clip, careful to not catch the amulet that her mother had given her on her tenth birthday. She reached up to trace the stylized circle of three bent sevens, wrought from silver that hung between her breasts. It was special. According to her mother, Annalisa Charvez, one of her foremothers had worn it. Of course now that she knew the whole story about the Compact and Annalisa’s part in it, it felt even more special to her.
On the way out to her car, she pulled a sprig of jasmine off a bush and tucked it into her hair and breathed the night air into her lungs.
Walking around the corner to the garage, she had been watching the color of the night sky deepening and the stars beginning to wink, and in not paying attention, slammed into someone.
“I’m sorry, I was looking up at the sky,” she said in apology and looked up into the face of her victim.
He smiled down at her and she blinked up at him several times. “The color, when it goes from dusky blue to the deeper blue of night,” he said, his voice smooth and thick, like honey. It rolled over her skin and sang to her very DNA. Everything in her life seemed to click into place, the moment was meant to be, fated. She was face to face with her partner, her heart. She was unafraid, excited.
It was him, the man from her dreams. He was tall, with a mane of golden hair, his eyes were chocolate brown, or at least that’s what they looked like by the light of the streetlamp. “I’m Aidan, Aidan Bell. I just moved here from Chicago.”
She cleared her throat, willing her voice to come back. Heat coursed over her body and moisture pooled, the man did things to her. “Uh, Amelia Charvez, Lee. Your name sounds familiar.” It tickled the back of her brain until she remembered the painting she’d bought earlier that day. “Oh wait, do you paint? I bought one of your paintings today.”
He smiled and her heart thudded so hard against her chest she was afraid he’d be able to hear it. “Yes, that’s me. Your work is at Lenora’s gallery too, right? Beautiful. I’m honored you like my work.” He could hear her heart pounding in her chest and felt satisfied that she was as affected by this meeting as he was.
“I love it. It’s very bold, vivid.” No wonder it had called to her, it was an extension of his soul.
He stared at her for a moment and she felt his power run along her skin. He was more than human, she could feel it. Tentatively, she sent her own power back at him and caressed him with it. He gasped and looked at her, eyes widened.
“This is going to sound weird, but can I take you to dinner tonight? I’ve only just moved to town and I don’t know very many people,” he said, unable to stop himself from reaching out to touch a tendril of her hair that had escaped the clip.
That little touch sent heat coursing through her body. When she found her voice she was proud that it didn’t sound breathy. “Well, actually, I have plans to go to dinner and go dancing to some live music with some of my family. Would you like to join us?”
“Are you sure they won’t mind? I haven’t been much of anywhere but the French Quarter. I did a walking tour of the Garden District the other day but not much else.”
“I’m sure, Jacques-Imo is here in the French Quarter but Maple Leaf is out a bit more, not too far. I can give you a guided tour of the Garden District if you like, I grew up there. Where do you live, by the way?”
He pointed to her building. “Here. I moved into number four a few days ago. I have been in Lafayette for the last two days though, dealing with some business matters.”
She looked back to the large mansion that had been made into apartments. “You live right above me,” she said with a smile. She was totally drawn to this man, she felt safe with him in a way she’d never felt with anyone before.
“Oh? Well, it’s nice to have such beautiful neighbors. I’ve only met Mrs. Ellis and while she and her yappy dog are nice enough, you are certainly more pleasant to look at.”
She laughed and hit the garage door opener. “Shall we then?” She motioned to the car.