© L. Rosario
San Francisco – 12:30 am
Seraphina Scala nearly jumped out of her skin when a knock came at the apartment door. She flattened her hand over her pounding heart and stared across the small living room. Who the heck could it be at this hour? Before she could even get off the couch to go check, the phone in the kitchen rang. Great, what to do first?
Whoever was outside, knocked again over the second ring.
Sera rolled her eyes and hurried into the kitchen. She snatched the phone, barked “hello” and headed for the door.
The voice stopped her in her tracks and whoever waited outside ceased to matter. “Hi.”
Even to her the greeting sounded lame. Valentino laughed in her ear, sending shivers up her spine. It didn’t matter that he’d been living with her for almost a year, the simplest things about him still affected her. His laugh was just one of them.
She forced herself to focus on the fact that it was very odd for him to call from work. “Is something wrong at the club?” Most nights Valentino was the one responsible for closing down Captive Fantasy. Once the strippers and the other workers left, he had the peace and quiet he needed to see to the business end of things, but the club wouldn’t close for another hour or so.
“No, nothing’s wrong.” Loud music and screaming women nearly drowned out his voice. “Hey, let me switch phones. I’m behind the bar, and it’s getting too loud.”
Sera smiled. “Who’s on stage?”
“Dominic. You don’t know him. Hang on.” Valentino said something to whomever he handed the phone to, and then there were two clicks. “I’m here. Is this better?”
Before Sera could answer, the person at the door knocked again. “Val, someone’s at the door.”
“Yeah, that’s why I’m calling. Answer it.”
This sounded a tad weird. “You called to tell me to answer the door?” Yes, being a vampire gave Valentino the ability to read minds, but it didn’t explain how he could know someone was at the door. Unless he sent them.
“Just answer it, baby. I promise the guy on the other side won’t bite.” He chuckled. “Only I’m allowed that privilege where you’re concerned.”
Sera refrained from commenting. She and Val usually took their blood from mugs, like civilized vampires, but every now and then the temptation of each other’s veins was too much to resist. Thinking about that now made her blush as she headed for the door to pull it open.
The guy on the other side smiled and extended an enormous bundle of roses toward her. “Are you Miss Scala?”
It was hard to think with the intoxicating smell of the flowers wafting over her. “Yes.”
“Do you like them?” Valentino said in her ear.
The guy thrust the flowers at Sera and touched the brim of his baseball hat, while flashing a wide, dazzling smile. “Have a nice Valentine’s Day, miss.”
Sera juggled the phone and the flowers as she kicked the door shut. “How did you get someone to deliver flowers after midnight?”
“That was Charlie, he’s one of my dancers and he manages a floral shop during the day. I asked for a favor, and he agreed. Is he already gone?”
Sera headed for the kitchen. “Yes.”
“Good, he needs to be on stage in fifteen minutes. So do you like them?”
“They are stunning.” The roses were blood red, in the truest sense of the word, and they smelled divine. She wanted to bury her face in them and inhale until she passed out.
“I knew you’d like them. Happy Valentine’s Day, baby.”