Veronica Wyndham had no idea that vampires were real, let alone that her new favorite customer—Tall Dark and Handsome—just so happened to be one. And she never imagined she’d overhear a robbery plan with murderous potential while eating lunch in the park. Making those kinds of enemies just wasn’t a good way to spend a day.
Seth Hunter knew he should have been grateful for Veronica’s unintentional help in exposing the traitors, but all he could worry about was how much danger she’d just landed in. Instinct had him taking it upon himself to keep a protective eye on her, but even then he had to keep his distance. If she found out the truth about the world around her, she would surely get Caught in Darkness.
Veronica couldn’t help but feel a little excited and a little self-conscious as she stepped into the restaurant at twelve-thirty. She knew that they weren’t really meeting for a good reason, but that didn’t stop her from smiling. And it certainly didn’t stop the butterflies in her stomach from taking flight as soon as the first whiff of marinara sauce and baked cheese wafted over her. Now, do I find a table or wait in the lobby?
The thought had barely crossed her mind when she turned her head and found her gaze focused on a dark figure sitting in a corner booth. But this dark figure was the good kind of dark because he was the man she was looking for, and despite his seemingly-permanent sunglasses she knew he was looking right at her. She took a deep breath and started toward the booth, trying again to remind herself of what they would actually be talking about. They weren’t about to have a pleasant, lighthearted conversation and it would do her good to remember that.
He slid smoothly out of the booth and stood as she approached the table, and her heart tripped. The man had honest-to-goodness manners! Some jaded part of her had just assumed that any man who qualified as ‘sexy’ (and there was no doubt that he owned the category) was pretty much allergic to good manners.
“Thank you for meeting me,” Seth said, his deep, rich voice sliding effortlessly from his lips to her ears and washing over her.
She offered him a warm smile and assured him, “It’s not a problem,” as she slid into the indicated side of the booth seat. “Thank you,” she added.
Once she was seated Seth reclaimed his seat, and then he did the most unexpected thing. He reached up and slid his sunglasses off of his face, calmly folding them and setting them to the side of the table.
Veronica was breathless as she watched, telling herself not to stare despite knowing that that was exactly what she was doing. Not only had she not expected him to do that, but she couldn’t have predicted the eyes beneath those all-concealing lenses if she’d tried. And she had tried.
Seth Hunter’s eyes were a fierce, striking black. Or what she would have labeled black if black irises were even possible. And she supposed the darkness of his eyes could, arguably, be creepy or unsettling, but she felt none of those things. It was as if his eyes were piercing straight to her soul, and they held her captive without effort. They were the perfect eyes for the man sitting before her.
The waitress bounced over to their table, casually asking if they knew what they wanted to drink and simultaneously tearing Veronica’s attention away from Seth’s newly-exposed eyes. In the time it took her to gather herself, Seth ordered a cup of coffee and placed his meal order as well. Fortunately, when the waitress turned some of her attention to Veronica, she was ready and easily ordered an iced tea to accompany her spaghetti and meatballs. It was a large meal to order for lunch, but she didn’t care; she loved their spaghetti.
Once the waitress was gone Seth turned his attention back to Veronica and asked, “Do you mind if I ask you about that ‘small paranoia attack’ you mentioned earlier?”
That was what she’d needed. It was almost disturbing how quickly that simple question managed to put her priorities—and her focus—back in order. And she wouldn’t allow herself to be disappointed about it, either. Instead, she nodded and explained the two instances from the night before. “And if it weren’t for that second one,” she added, “I wouldn’t even have given it another thought. But there was something about that man walking away…I swear he wasn’t there when I walked out to my car.”
Seth was nodding slowly, clearly mulling something over in his mind. It was a moment before he offered, “It is always possible that your mind was playing tricks on you last night. After what you overheard your subconscious was likely dwelling on it even while you thought you were focusing on other things.”
“I get that,” Veronica replied with a slight nod. “But there’s still a voice in the back of my head telling me that I know better.” She paused, studying him, and realized that she had nearly missed a cue in his body language. “And you agree, don’t you? You don’t think it was just a case of hyper-active paranoia either.”
His dark, serious eyes locked on to hers again and he shook his head. “Honestly, no. I don’t think you were being overly paranoid.” There was another beat of hesitation before he added, “I went looking for them last night, and none of them were home. They didn’t attempt the burglary, but then again, Robert didn’t go out. I thought that would make finding them a little easier, but whatever they were doing…they were out somewhere.”
Veronica collapsed into the back of the vinyl booth cover. She wasn’t surprised to hear that, but she hadn’t really wanted to hear it, either. It was a long minute before she found enough of her voice to say, “So then one or more of them could have been following me.”
“Unfortunately,” Seth declared with a scowl. His pause was shorter this time before he said, “I realize we don’t know each other very well, but if you even think you see one of them again I want you to call me immediately.”
A frown dipping her lips, Veronica asked, “But why? If I think they’re following me then shouldn’t I call the police?”
There was something off about the set of his jaw before he answered, “You could do that, too, of course.”
She got the distinct impression that he didn’t particularly want her involving the police, which made no sense. Weren’t people supposed to call the police when they thought their life was being threatened? Unless…