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Another Taste of Miss Me When the Sun Goes Down

Hi Guys! I am off and running with Follow Me When the Sun Goes Down, but I thought you might like a little taste of Miss Me for those of you who haven’t picked it up yet. This takes place at Anja’s parents’ place for Thanksgiving Dinner.

The whole time I descended the stairs I recited a feverish plea to the gods to let it be someone else standing on the other side of the door, but there Jakob stood, larger than life, dressed in an elegant gray suit and topcoat. “What are you doing here?” I hissed, stepping out beside him and pulling the door closed behind me.

“I’m embracing human customs. Isn’t that what you asked for?” he beamed, too pleased with himself for his own good. “You look lovely as always, petal.”

“I didn’t mean here! Those are my parents inside.”

“Exactly the reason I’ve come. I know my duty.”

“Your duty?” Why did that make the hairs on the back of my head stand at attention? What was he up to?

“Anja?” My father pulled the door out of my hand, his eyes settling expectantly on me with his best what the heck is going on look.

“Daddy, this is Jake. He’s my, um…”

“Lover,” Jake supplied glibly, an easy smile on his face as if he’d remarked upon the weather.

I stared at him stupidly, sputtering on the inside before I could make the words tumble out. “I am not! We’ve never… Daddy, I swear he’s not my…” I couldn’t even say the word.

“We haven’t shared certain physical intimacies, but make no mistake, I intend to make you mine in all ways.” The man had no shame in such a public declaration in front of my father, of all people.

Oh no… I wanted to crawl into a hole and pull the dirt in after me when I saw the bulge of my father’s eyes. “Daddy, I…”

“All is well, petal. Your father is a man of the world, he understands such things well enough,” Jakob declared confidently, clapping him on the shoulder. “I’ve brought surety so there will be no doubt my intentions are honorable.”

The mind boggled.

“Perhaps we’d better bring this inside.” My father suggested after an uncomfortable silence, turning to go up the stairs to the main living area.

“I couldn’t agree more.” Jakob snapped his fingers, and Gunnar and Isak appeared at the end of the walk, arms laden with packages.

“What is that stuff?” I whispered.

“Is it not customary to bring gifts?”

“That’s Christmas, not Thanksgiving.”

“Ah, forgive me the blunder. I mean to pay my respects to your family.”

Unable to go inside, my bodyguards deposited their bundles on the front porch, and Jakob ferried them in, not allowing me to carry a single thing. I went back upstairs, not having to enter the kitchen to hear the whispered conversation between my parents as my dad brought Mom up to speed on the late addition to dinner.

Thankfully, Jakob refrained from using the L word again during the introductions that followed. I hadn’t brought anyone home with me for the holidays since Trent, and they’d loved him to pieces. But I could tell he’d already won my mother over, and I was pretty sure he hadn’t even had to put the whammy on her. All it took was a case of expensive merlot and a compliment to her hairdo.

“Let’s sit down, shall we?” she suggested, touching her hair almost girlishly. “We don’t want the food to grow cold.”

You know how in vampire movies, the newly turned vamp can’t get enough raw meat when he’s going through the transition? I couldn’t stomach the stuff. Meat – cooked or otherwise – made me gag, but I could still appreciate simple starches. I took the smallest piece of turkey and focused on the mashed potatoes and stuffing, leaving off the gravy made with turkey drippings. Not that I’d eat a whole ton of those sides either, but I could at least make a small dent in my plate.

My father bristled when Jakob took his place at the head of the table, but he didn’t say anything as he took a seat beside my mom. There was general small talk as the meal was served, and I relaxed, trying to find the normalcy in the holiday. If I could just keep Jakob from saying anything boneheaded…

“So… Jake,” my father began once his plate was loaded up. “You said something before about intentions.”

“Indeed,” Jakob replied, draining his glass and pouring another of the merlot. I could begin to see why he’d brought an entire case of wine. His plate was completely covered with food, and as he had on our date, he ate with gusto, already putting away nearly half of it by the time we’d barely started. He wiped his fingers on the cloth napkin in his lap, drawing a sealed envelope from his jacket pocket. “I humbly ask permission to court your lovely daughter, and offer this as a token of my worthiness.”

“Isn’t that nice,” Mom beamed, accepting the envelope and handing it to my father.

“What is that?” I leaned close to Jakob, whispering in his ear, but he only winked, watching for my father’s reaction.

Daddy’s eyes widened as unfolded the sheaf of papers inside. “This is… this is generous indeed, but… hardly necessary to date my daughter.”

“I merely wish to show you I can care for her in a manner which befits her.”

“What is it, Daddy?”

“It’s the deed to this house. Our mortgage has been bought from the bank and paid in full.”

“Oh my…” Mom gasped, and I was right there with her, only with a few choice words in Chinese running through my head. Was he for real? He’d bought out their mortgage as an ice breaker?

“I can’t accept this.” He folded the deed back up and held it out, but Jakob put his hands up.

“There is nothing for you to accept. The debt is paid, there is nothing for you to do but enjoy the peace of mind that comes from land ownership.”

“It’s too much…”

“Too much would have been showing up at your door with a string of goats or a team of oxen.” Jakob’s smile was bright and this time my father matched it.

“And a lot harder on the hedges.” They all chuckled over that and I could tell he’d managed to completely win them over with a single grand gesture.

“What, so you’re going to sell me off?” I demanded, disgusted that my own father could be so easily bought. Where had all his high morals run off to?

“Anja, really.” My mother colored slightly, reaching for her glass of wine. “There’s no need to be so dramatic. You’re ruining his largesse.”

They wanted dramatic? I’d give them a show stopper. Jakob wanted to experience human traditions – a holiday blow-up was right on the menu. “I’m sorry, I’m just having trouble accepting the fact that you’re happy to trade me off to the highest bidder. If I’d known that was all it took to gain your approval, I would’ve raffled off my virginity years ago to pay for Daddy’s car.”

“Anja, that’s enough!” my father thundered, and it was enough to make my mouth snap shut with an audible click before I remembered I wasn’t his little girl anymore.

“Oh stop, you lost the claim to righteous indignation when you accepted that bribe,” I snorted, doing my best to ignore his spluttering apoplexy as I turned to Jakob. “I don’t know what you thought you were doing with this stunt, but this isn’t the way to win my heart. I’m not chucking it all and leaving with you because you set my parents up for a cushy retirement. I’m sorry if that hurts you, but you don’t have the right to run roughshod over my life like this. You can’t trade me to my father for a herd of goats and a cow. I thought you would have learned that by now.”

Jakob leaned forward, an unrepentant tilt to his lips. “Clearly you’re worth far more, as I’ve already demonstrated.”

“That’s really not the point.”

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