Nightglow (Forever 3)
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Copyright ©2014 B.J. McCall
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"A vampire? Here, tonight in city hall?" Cate Auburn shot out of her chair. "Without a Dead Souls agent present? Forgive me, Mr. Mayor, but isn't that risky?" Foolish was a better description, but Cate held her tongue. "Perhaps you should call the DSA?"
"Calm down, Cate. An armed agent isn't necessary. Nick Marcus has vouched for the vampire."
Cate had worked for Edwin Lynch for three years. Just shy of sixty, Lynch was good at his job. His gray hair, silver tongue and distinguished appearance made him very popular with the residents of Bright Center. As his senior assistant, Cate was accustomed to long hours and midnight meetings, but if Nick Marcus was bringing a vampire to city hall something unusual was afoot.
Nick Marcus was the grandson of the legendary Orvin Marcus and the sole heir of Marcus Designs. One of a small group of city residents who had managed to hold onto their fortunes despite the decades of economic depression, Marcus had supported Lynch's bid for mayor. Lynch owed Marcus, but vampires were dangerous.
"If you're frightened, I won't force you to stay."
Cate stiffened her spine. Good paying jobs were rare and Cate wanted the mayor to see her as indispensable. If meeting a vampire increased her value she'd have to tough it out.
"We'll need another chair." Cate crossed the room and picked up one of the armless chairs bracketing a console table. She placed it slightly to one side of the mayor's desk. Meeting a vampire up close and personal was exciting, but one had to remember the threat they posed to the living.
"Thank you, Cate."
"What's this meeting about?"
"Marcus has a new project. He wouldn't tell me the details, but Nick swears his newest design will be a smash and will put Bright Center back on the map."
Before the worldwide economic crash, Bright Center was a thriving, robust city. Once Bright Center was dubbed the city of lights, but now the locals called it Blight. The city's skyscrapers were mostly vacant and at night the windows were dark. Business was stagnant and unemployment was at fifty percent. The mayor had promised jobs and an economic turnaround. Perhaps Marcus' new project would help. But why was Marcus bringing a vampire?
The mayor glanced at his watch. "Our guests should be arriving momentarily at my private entrance. I'd like you to meet them."
"I'd be honored. It's not every day I get to escort a vampire through city hall."
"Nick assures me that Dunn is a gentleman, but keep your phone in your pocket."
"A gentleman vampire." She patted the pocket of her suit jacket. "I guess I don't need to have the Dead Souls Agency on speed dial."
Cate exited through a side door. City hall was an architectural masterpiece and Cate loved working in the building. How ironic was it that the place was designed and built by vampires who now were imprisoned in the windowless cement structure called the Cemetery.
Two flights down, she reached the mayor's private street entrance.
When the outside buzzer rang, Cate touched the security code into a keypad. She opened the door and Nick Marcus stepped into the lighted stairwell. Thirty something, Marcus was good looking with wavy brown hair and brown eyes. She'd met him before, but had no idea if he'd remember her. "Welcome, Mr. Marcus. I'm Cate Auburn, Mayor Lynch's assistant."
Nick shook her extended hand. "Miss Auburn, it's good to see you again. This is my friend, Dunn."
For the first time in her life she was face-to-face with a vampire. Her pulse leaped and her underarms dampened. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Dunn."
"Just Dunn," he said, stepping inside.
Cate gasped. She'd expected an evil face and black soulless eyes, not drop undead gorgeous. He stood about six feet and wore a black tailored suit that fit his athletic build. His black hair was cropped short on the sides and swept up in a contemporary style that looked effortless. His face was classic, his white skin flawless and his cheekbones high. Dark brows were slashed above a pair of glinting midnight blue eyes that sucked her in and held her fast.
Her heart pounded. Not in fear, but in amazement. Dunn's sculpted face was a masterpiece.
As if he were used to such reactions, Dunn smiled, but did not take her offered hand. "Nice to meet you, Miss Auburn."
Aware of nothing but the fluttering of her heart and Dunn's gorgeous face, Cate stood stark still and staring.
"Shall we go upstairs?"