December, December, December! Happy Holidays and Almost 2016! Here’s a Teaser Tuesday to tug at your heartstrings. Vance Idol (a.k.a. Jersey Boy Vincent Violetti) and Lorelei make some deep emotional confessions in the calm before the storm.
Want to know what happens next? Grab a copy of Lorelei’s Lyric today!
“You okay, sugar?” “Sure. I’m great. Why do you ask?” “You should cut the bullshit, Lorelei. It’s not your style. Tell me what’s on your mind.” He hated to kill the mood, since they were having a really nice, really normal, low-key evening out. He’d asked her if she wanted to walk down to the bar at the local marina for some food and music. Sometime during their third tango between the sheets last night, he’d gotten the itch to see those long legs move across a dance floor with him.
The marina bar and restaurant was bigger than some of the hole-in-the-wall joints he’d played in the past, but not by much. It looked as though someone had stacked a few ramshackle kid clubhouses side by side over some wooden dock planks and called it an eatery. For what it lacked in size and amenities, it more than compensated for with some out- of-this-world steaks and a killer view of the lake at sunset. Most of the boat owners had docked their expensive toys and abandoned the marina for other watering holes, so he and Lorelei pretty much had the run of the place.
They’d enjoyed dinner and drinks, though naturally he’d opted for soda instead of alcohol and earned a smile full of pride and affection from his lady. Still, between her fidgeting and lowered gaze, he knew something was up. Whatever it was, it made his heart race and the hairs on the back of neck stand on end.
Maybe now that she’d had time to think about what he’d told her the day before, about Maggie, maybe she was having second thoughts. Not that he blamed her. His baggage wasn’t pretty, and even he knew it would be a hell of a lot for anyone to take on. But she had seemed so sincere in her acceptance and desire. He hoped she’d be willing to give him a chance. Though he tried to stay calm and wait for her to open up, he couldn’t help but worry that she was preparing herself to tell him goodbye.
It would kill him if she did.
She looked up at him, her blue eyes blazing, and said, “We need to talk.”
Ah, hell. Here it comes.
Vance Idol had never begged for anything in his life, not even when he’d just been Vincent Violetti. Now he was prepared to say absolutely anything to keep Lorelei from walking out on him.
“Look, I know what you’re going to say, but before you do, let me tell you this. I know I’ve got a ways to go, but I’m committed to seeing this thing through. I can be a better man. I want to be a better man, Lorelei. For you.”
He hated the desperation in his voice, but he couldn’t help it. He was a man in love. He hated the glassiness in her eyes and the way her shoulders slumped even more. He didn’t want to guilt her into staying, but he couldn’t stand to let her go, either. Not without a fight.
“I, look, I know we haven’t known each other that long, and maybe you’re worried about that whole counselor- patient line we crossed, but if you could just trust me enough to give this thing we’ve got between us a chance, to give me a chance—”
“Vincent, I’m not really a counselor,” she blurted out.
“Wait a minute,” she said, looking like a light bulb suddenly went off in her head. “You think I’m…you think I’m leaving you? You think I don’t want you?”
He cleared his throat and said, “Well, the thought had crossed my mind.”
“Oh, Vincent! It’s not that at all. I just….”
He breathed a huge sigh of relief, but decided to press on. Her confession gave him pause, though it wasn’t all that surprising in retrospect. Still, whatever she was, therapist or healer or even some New Age guru, she’d managed to reach into the very core of his heart and soul to find something of the man he used to be—the man he wanted to be again, because of her. And he wanted her to tell him all of her troubles and let him share the load, to show that he could give as well as take.
“Just what, Lorelei?”
“I have to tell you some things that you might not like. Some things about me.”
He didn’t know what shocked him more, the notion that he could not like anything about her, or the quiver in her voice. He wondered if he should let her know that he and Jack had talked a little about her family, assuming that’s what was bothering her. A man-hating mother he could handle. Hell, he could just turn on the rock star charm.
Of course, Mama might not find the details of his past problems all that charming, especially considering how he was still struggling with them, but he’d own up to it and work to earn her family’s trust.
He reached across the table and took her hand, rubbing his thumb over her knuckles. “Nothing you say will change how I feel about you.”
“How can you be so sure? You don’t even know what it is yet.”
He frowned, but didn’t let go of her hand. “Well, why don’t you just tell me now and we’ll start dealing with it.”
She looked back at him and her expression stabbed him through the heart. Sorrow, longing, and something akin to pleading painted her lovely features. He wanted to pull her into his arms, kiss and hold her and erase the uncertainty he read in her gaze.
“I’m done running, Lorelei, and I won’t run from you, no matter what you tell me. You’ve seen the worst of me, and you’re still here. You’ve brought out the best in me, too. I’m asking you to trust me enough to do the same for you.”
She drew in a gasping breath and exhaled with a shudder. Nodding, she said, “I’ll tell you everything tonight when we get back the lake house, I promise. But right now, I want to spend time just being with you. Please.”
“I have an idea,” Vance said. “Hold that thought.”
Strolling over to the classic jukebox in the corner, he fiddled with the machine until it allowed him to select a song. He made it back to the table by the time the first haunting notes of “Sleep Walk” floated out around them. The steel guitar chords thundered almost as loud as his heart.
He held out a hand to Lorelei and asked, “May I have this dance?”
Her blue eyes widened and she smiled. When she gave him her hand, some of the tension bled out of him and he was glad for it. He led her to the small dance floor next to the open windows that faced the water. Someone had turned on the string of white Christmas lights adorning the rail of the dock.
They were almost as bright as the light in her eyes.
He pulled her close as they slowly swayed to the bittersweet tune. Feeling her warmth, the slow cadence of her heart beating in time with his, surrounded by the cool air and lapping waves in the background, he experienced something he hadn’t in a long, long time.
He was at peace.
Pressing soft kisses along her temple, over her forehead, in her hair, he took a leap of faith and whispered, “I love you.”
A minute stretched out into eternity as his heart started racing. God, he didn’t want to push her, didn’t want to force a confession of love out of her by pressuring her, or worse. He couldn’t abide her pity. He came close to pulling away.
No, I promised I wouldn’t run. I’m not that man anymore.
Instead, he forced his breathing to slow and bid his body relax. When she leaned into him and rested her head on his shoulder, he sighed and let a wave of relief wash over him. At least he hadn’t scared her off. She moved her hands to his shoulders as she pulled back, her head lowered, not meeting his eyes.
Jesus, here it comes.
She looked up into his eyes. Hers were full of tears. Slowly, she slid her hands up to cup his face and said, “I love you, too, Vincent Violetti.”
As she leaned in to kiss him, Lorelei wondered if this was how the sky people felt when they spoke of soaring.
No, it couldn’t be. Nothing compares to this.
This man loved her, and she loved him back. That was a miracle. He’d heard her song and survived. That was a miracle. No other obstacles they faced would prove insurmountable.
When she pulled away from the kiss, she smiled at him and then steeled herself to face their next obstacle. “I’m ready to talk now, to tell you those things about me that you might not like.”
She glanced around the restaurant to make sure they had enough privacy for the conversation they needed to have, and for Vincent’s likely reaction. Just as she turned back to face him, she sensed a change in the atmosphere around them, an energy surge that could only come from an elemental. Worse, it was an emotionally charged elemental, too, if the drop in air pressure, temperature, and choppy waves breaking in the roiling lake around them were any indication.
She pulled away from Vincent and rushed to the window so she could look out over the expanse of water. Seized by panic, her first thought was getting her mortal out of there. They had no car, so she’d have to convince him to take off on foot.
Spinning around, she took three quick steps and grabbed Vincent’s hand, pulling him with her toward the door.
“Lorelei, what the—”
“We have to go. Right now!”
“But I haven’t paid—”
She conjured some money and plopped it on the hostess stand on the way out. She registered his hesitation. He stiffened when she conjured the money, though she continued to pull him. She imagined his eyebrows were probably stuck somewhere in the vicinity of his hairline, but explanations would have to wait.
After they’d made it out of the restaurant and stood dockside, Vincent tugged hard on her hand and brought them to a stop.
“We have to go,” she urged. The hairs on her arm were standing straight up. Something major was about to happen.
He crossed his arms in front of his chest, nostrils flaring. “Not until you tell me what’s going on. You’re freaking my shit out right now, you know that right?”
“I’m sorry, I—”
“Gal, we’re in trouble,” said a familiar disembodied voice.
Lorelei spun around as Jack appeared. Vincent was about to get even more freaked out. Then again, she was having a hard time holding it together herself.
Vincent paled and his eyes widened when Ondine materialized beside Jack in a shimmering series of waves that coalesced into her human form. Well, almost human—her eyes flashed silver and her skin rippled with scales that hovered just beneath the surface. She was either agitated or influenced by the water energy surging around them. Lorelei’s own flesh itched to morph into her true form.
“Where the hell did you two come from?” Vincent asked, taking a step back and nearly tumbling over the side of the dock.
“Son, I ain’t got time to explain,” Jack said in a lazy drawl that belied the urgency of his request, “but y’all need to either high-tail it outta here or get ready to face the wrath of Lorelei’s Ma.”
“I didn’t tell her, my darling,” Ondine said. Her face was tight and she seemed almost… apologetic.
“Where do we go?” Lorelei asked.
Jack looked back and forth between her and Vincent. “It’d be faster if y’all hit the water. We can stall her for a little while.” He shrugged. “Maybe even talk her down.”
Fresh panic coursed through Lorelei. “But I haven’t told him yet. How’s this going to work?” she asked, nodding toward Vincent.
Jack took Vincent by the shoulders and gave him a serious stare down. “Vincent, you’re just gonna have to trust our gal here to see you safely home.”
Vincent’s eyes went wide with panic. “Can you just please tell me what’s going on? What are we running from?”
“You ain’t running, son. You’re swimming.”
Lorelei took Jack’s cue, grabbed hold of Vincent and said, “I love you. And I’m sorry.”
She leapt and pulled him with her. Once airborne, she willed her fins to replace legs and summoned a protective bubble of air around Vincent’s body.
Then together they plunged into the depths of the lake’s dark water.