"Do you see him?" Arabella asked her sister as they stood watching people leave.
"See who?" Ariella asked, her dark red curls bouncing as she turned to look out over the crowd.
"The man sitting next to Michal Dare. He's so intense. So dark..."
"So handsome." Her sister laughed. "You know, if he's a blood drinker, he could very well be hundreds of years old with that old world charm that everyone finds so appealing. It's too bad there isn't a mate for me among them." She sighed. "But with the way he's looking at you, I wouldn't be surprised if he asked Papa for your hand when we get back home."
Arabella shivered. "Do you think so?" She hoped he would. He was handsome. His dark hair hung over broad shoulders and, when he stood to accompany his companion out of the building, she noticed his lean waist and powerful looking thighs. Thighs that could drive a woman wild with passion as he drove into her again and again ... She shook her head. Where had those decadent thoughts come from? Surely she wasn't seeking a man just for sport.
You'd better not be, mate. I have already staked my claim. This voyage of ours will only strengthen our bond. Do not think to try to escape me by staying behind. I know your heritage. I know it means there could be another mate waiting for you on the worlds we will visit. I've waited so long for you, I am willing to share, but I will not give you up entirely. If you stay behind, Michal and I stay behind as well. Would you cheat him out of his chance to find his mate?
She froze when the words entered her mind. She also knew what it meant. Like it or not, if he could establish mental contact without taking her blood, she was his mate. How old are you?
His gaze bored into hers as they stood staring at each other for what seemed an eternity. He bowed his head in acknowledgment. At least you do not deny me. Still, it is a rude question to ask a stranger, is it not?
She knew by his speech and the way he held himself he was old. Yes. He would have that old world charm that she and Ariella so admired. I only ask because you know my age. It seemed only fair.
His mouth quirked up at the corners at her reasoning and he bowed his head again. I am four hundred and sixty. I am not nearly as decrepit as my older brothers. He chuckled into her mind. But I am still experienced enough that you will not be disappointed. He turned to see his nephew head for the exit and raised his hand in a silent salute. Until we meet again, my lovely Arabella. I look forward to spending more time with you.
She sighed when he left, almost feeling abandoned. She cast a glance at her younger sister who stood watching her with a frown.
"Were you just carrying on a complete conversation with that man? In your head?"
Arabella felt her face flush as the blood raced up to the roots of her hair. "Yes, I was. He is rather old, but not nearly so old as his brother, Dare."
Ariella's eyes widened. "He's Dare Raden's brother?"
Nodding, Arabella smiled at her sister. "Yes. His brothers are well over six hundred. He is only four hundred and sixty."
"Only? Only four hundred and sixty?" Ariella rolled her eyes. "He's ancient, Arabella. You can't possibly be attracted to someone so old."
"How old do you think our fathers are, sister?" Arabella arched her brow. "Have you never asked?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. I never thought about it. Dad age, I guess." Ariella looked at her through narrowed eyes. "Why? How old are they?"
"They are both well over two thousand years old and mother was our age when they met. Does she seem unhappy?"
"No." Ariella shook her head. "She doesn't seem unhappy at all. So tell me..." She smiled. "What is his name?" Her sister burst out laughing at her stricken expression. "So, you asked his age, but not his name?"
Dear Goddess! What must the man think of me?