Jessamy and Danette called to demand details just before dawn. I loved those two. When Frederic dumped me in Chicago, on my own for the first time in my immortal life, they’d gotten me on my feet. They’d hooked me up with a blood bank so I didn’t have to hunt to feed. They’d housed me until I could afford a place of my own. But some things are too personal to tell even your best girlfriends. I told them I was safe, I told them I was seeing him again, but I didn’t tell them how he made me feel. That was too new, too private. Then I told them I’d talk to them later, hung up and crawled into bed, reliving those moments over and over in my dreams.

Of course they showed up on my doorstep about a half an hour after dusk. I’d been working so I didn’t hear the doorbell at first—especially since I was back in my office. The big open space behind the kitchen had been intended as the family room of my townhouse. There are lots of windows so I’d paid a fortune for the UV tinting but it was worth it. Modern technology has made life much better for us. With UV-treated windows, I could wander my house freely all day long, even without sunscreen.

My computer desk took up one corner of the room while the rest was arranged as a sitting room with a comfy floral-print sofa and two velvety-soft overstuffed armchairs. This room was my private retreat from the world. When I’m on my computer, I get so into what I’m doing that a nuclear blast could go off across the table and I might not notice. It’s for exactly that reason that Jess and Dani have keys to my front door.

“So. No date tonight with the big, bad werewolf?” Danette duBois plopped down onto a couch. “Spill, cherie. We want to hear everything.” Dani had been a courtesan at the court of Louis XIV, but she’d adapted beautifully to modern life and idioms. Her sleek curves were hugged by a pair of black jeans and a low-cut black silk sweater. Her bright red hair curled wildly, almost to her waist.

Jessamy Maitland, on the other hand, just lowered her tall, willowy form into a chair and smiled encouragingly. The proper English miss was elegant in camel-colored trousers and a hound’s-tooth blazer, her shining blonde hair perfectly smooth. Between the two of them, they always make me feel like a frump. Especially since I’d been typing in baby blue sweats and my favorite bunny slippers. “Come on, sweetie,” she coaxed. “You have to tell us.”

I rolled my eyes, saved my work and switched my computer to standby. No way would I get any work done now. I crossed the room and dropped into the empty armchair. “What’s there to tell? I went home with the werewolf. We’re going out again tomorrow. I’d have thought you two would be happy about that.”

“Oh, we are,” Dani assured me with a twinkle in her green eyes. “We just want to know the good stuff.”

“It was good, wasn’t it?” Jess’ voice was soft with concern, even though she’d also encouraged me to go for it when I’d left the bar last night. “You’ve been so shy about getting involved with anyone, we want to make sure he’s treating you right.”

Taking a deep breath, I nodded. They were only prying out of concern for me. “It was wonderful. Jack is a really nice guy and nothing like Frederic, believe me.”

Dani waved a hand. “Of course he’s nothing like that asshole. I know a couple of the Marceski wolves. They’d gut one of their own if they caught him abusing women. I told you, Jess, our girl couldn’t be in better hands.”

“I sure couldn’t.” I let a note of sexual satisfaction creep into my tone then giggled. “Oh wow, does he ever know what to do with his…hands.”

Both of my friends laughed delightedly. “Oh honey, I’m so glad,” Jess said. “You deserve to be treated like a princess.”

“So what’s up with your date tomorrow?” Dani asked. “Are you going out or staying in?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “He said he’d call me tonight to let me know.”

“What are you wearing?” Dani looked at my bunny slippers with a rueful grin. “The stores are open for a couple hours yet. Do we need to take you shopping?”

Shopping? I know it’s against some girl code or something, but I hated shopping. I shuddered. “I’ll wear the black dress I bought for your Christmas party,” I told her. It was the nicest thing I owned—not overtly sexy, but if I wore my black boots, it wouldn’t look too dowdy either.

“I think that will be fine,” Jess interjected. “You should wear something you feel good in. That will give you more self-confidence.” She glared at Dani, who subsided with a rueful nod.

“Oh,” Dani piped up after an awkward moment. “Speaking of Frederic the asshole…”

“Were we?” Jess asked. “I can’t imagine why.”

“No, really.” Dani sat up straight and her playful demeanor turned serious. “I talked to a friend of mine in Detroit the other night. She said some asshole was asking about a vampire named Ariana. There were other names too, but that’s the one my friend remembered—I think you met Jacob a few years ago. Anyway, the guy he described sounded exactly like Frederic.”

I pondered that. There was a small psychic link sometimes between a vampire and the one who’d converted them. I shuddered at the thought, but Frederic might know I hadn’t died. Of course he also might have just heard my name and assumed it was the same person. The idea of him asking about me gave me the creeps, but there wasn’t much I could do. According to Dani, her friend Jacob didn’t know any way of contacting the man, and thought he’d already left Detroit.

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