Chapter 17

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As I crossed the sand to my date with Noah, I felt like I had stepped inside some crazy, romantic fantasy. There stood my dark prince, surrounded by candlelight, waiting silently for me. I was his, hopelessly his.

I stepped into the circle of cushions and Noah reached for my hands. As soon as my fingers met his, the same familiar current of heat flowed between us.

"Keira," he spoke, his voice soft and low. "Thank you for joining me for dinner."

"Thank you for asking me. This is amazing," I gestured around. It was such a wonderful idea. I was blown away by Noah's thoughtfulness. The man himself looked as good as the setting. Noah wore a jet-black suit with a black tie and black shirt to match. He wore a long, black overcoat to hide his wings from any early evening beach walkers. He was regal and dark and gorgeous.

We sat down on the soft surface, the sand giving way comfortably under the blankets. Noah handed me a glass and we toasted.

"To the most beautiful girl, in all the land and all the sky," said Noah, sounding as though he was reading from a card. It didn't matter. Being by his side was all that mattered.

Noah took a small sip and then put his glass down. "So. Would you like to talk now?" he asked, in a tone of voice that you might use when asking if someone needed the bathroom. Perfunctory, slightly embarrassed, necessary.

I really did want to talk with Noah. I wanted to crawl inside his skull and understand every part of his psyche. For whatever strange physical connection existed between us, I wanted to know his thoughts as well. "Sure," I answered quickly, before this precious window disappeared.

He closed his eyes for a moment and came back with a question. "How do you like your job?"

Okay... "Well, I actually love my job. It's fun dancing, and the casino pays pretty well."

"What? You work for the casino?" Noah's tone was high and tight with disapproval.

"Yeah, of course, I told you that the other... no, wait that was Leigh." Oops.

He frowned at me. "So you dance for money. Does it make you feel good to have people pay to watch you?"

I tried to laugh. "You make it sound so sordid. I don't take my clothes off, Noah, it's a blend of contemporary and ballet with..."

He waved a hand at me. "Never mind. I'd rather not think about it." He searched for something else to ask, again sounding like he was using a script. "Do you have any pets?"

"No," I said sadly. "I always wanted a dog though."

Noah screwed up his face. "Why?"

"Because! They're adorable and loyal and funny..."

"And smelly and drooling and flea-ridden."

I had a thought. "You're a cat person aren't you?"

"Cats were the choice of royalty for thousands of years, back to the Egyptians." Of course he likes cats. Despite having the wings of a raven, Noah carried himself with the haughty elegance of a feline.

"Did you ever have a cat?" I questioned.

Noah shook his head once and said, "No. I've never had a pet."

"You have Buster."

"Buster is Leigh's pet. Buster is the reason I can't have a cat."

"Oh. Well, maybe one day." I tried to give him hope. "I don't mind cats. They just always seem a bit snobby to me."

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