I’m going to have a mad rush through Christmas to get this story done now, thanks to a lost few days. Oh, and if you are just joining the tale, start here! But here we go, next chapter, and this one is for all of us who’ve ever wished for our very own Mr Darcy, Edmond Dantes, Jay Gatsby, Romeo Montague, or perhaps, more recently, it’s an Edward Cullen, Christian Grey sort that you’re hoping for. A Prince Charming who can barely keep his demons locked in the closet, and of course, discovers you are the perfect fit to help him fight them. If you are a guy, Nadine is that girl you are going to have to chase. That girl you want to impress, and you can’t even fully explain to yourself why…
An Undead Christmas Carol. J R Manawa.
Do you have a fetish for being vomited on, or something?
It was a good few minutes before Nadine sensed someone behind her, and only a moment after that a chilled hand grasped her own, pulling her back and spinning her around.
“You move pretty quick too, you know.” He laughed. His composure was completely unaffected by the wind, the cold, and the fact he’d clearly run after her. He’d brought no coat with him, no scarf, nothing.
She looked down at his hand holding her own. She didn’t know whether to snatch her hand back on principle or allow it because he was unreasonably attractive. She closed her eyes and shook her head, trying to remove his face from her chain of thought.
When she opened her eyes, he was still there of course, watching her with a cocky smile as the flurries of snow twisted and tumbled about them.
“So what?” she retorted, like a five year old. Her childish reply made her blush again.
Completely unprovoked, or so she believed, he took her chin in his free hand and pulled her in toward him very suddenly and kissed her once, slowly.
“So warm,” he whispered, an amused frown rippling across his face as he drifted his hand over her blushing cheek, catching snowflakes and then watching them melt against her face.
She bit her lip and pulled back from him. “Look, I don’t know what happened last night, but I am not that cheap,” she told him, her eyes flashing angrily.
He let go of her hand and grinned, “You really are a fighter, aren’t you?”
“When a man I don’t know chases me down the street and kisses me, yes. Yes I am.” She folded her arms and leaned back from him, her expression demanding and explanation.
“My sincerest apologies,” he straightened up and bowed his head to her in polite mockery. “We haven’t been introduced. My name is Caleb Adams.”
Nadine’s expression and body language did not change.
“Still offended?” he asked.
“You kissed me,” she exclaimed, “you blatantly invaded my personal space and kissed me! Who does that?!” she put her hands up in frustration.
“It seemed a good ice breaker at the time,” Caleb admitted.
“Look, I don’t care how good looking you are, you don’t go kiss a girl before you’ve even introduced yourself.”
Caleb’s smile only grew. “I just thought if we’d gotten to the stage where you were comfortable vomiting over me, then a kiss was probably miles within the boundaries of our interaction.”
“I what?!” Nadine squeaked.
Nadine blushed even more, “I, I’m so sorry,” she stammered, “I don’t normally drink that much, it was a bad night for me, I’m really sorry.”
“Don’t worry, it’s really my shirt you needed to apologise to.”
Her mind flashed to the Bentley, and the penthouse, “Oh God, it wasn’t expensive was it?”
Caleb shook his head, “It doesn’t matter.”
“I’ll pay for it.”
He laughed, “That won’t be necessary, really,” then he stopped suddenly. “Actually Nadine, there is something you could do for me.”
Nadine blinked twice. It unnerved her a little the way he used her name. It unnerved her because she liked it. “What?” she asked quickly, none too politely.
“I have an interesting family,” he confessed, as he began to weave his careful lie, “My younger brother and I are all that live in London, the rest are spread across most of Europe, and I will confess I detest keeping in contact with the vast majority. However we have a tradition to meet for a Christmas party on the 21st of December every year, at my uncle’s house in Paris.”
“I don’t follow you,” Nadine frowned, confused.
“Well, this is where you could help me.” He smiled, and his eyes locked onto hers as he said, “This year I find myself in the unique position of requiring a date.”
“Unique position?” Nadine scoffed, and then she added, “Wait, are you asking me?”
He did not reply, he just stared.
“You are asking me out on a date to your family Christmas party in Paris?”
She shook her head at him, her mouth open just a little in wonder, “I’m sorry, I’m not quite sure I understand you.” Unable to help herself, her tendency toward sarcasm kicked in, “So you barely know me, I vomit all over you in some trashy club, to which end you suddenly decide that I’m the girl to take to meet your family at a Christmas party in Paris?”
“Well, it’s more of a ball than a Christmas party,” he admitted, quite honestly, and then he let out another devilish grin as he watched the confusion and disbelief dance over her face. This was definitely fun.
“Do you have a fetish for being vomited on, or something?” she asked, knowing it was probably a vastly inappropriate and lewd suggestion.
Caleb Adams managed to contain his laughter and straighten his face for a moment. He was already getting far more entertainment out of this than he’d planned. “Of course not. This is purely a matter of desperation. You don’t know my family; I have to take a partner to this ball. It’s one of those formal events, invitation to ‘Mr Caleb Adams and partner’, if you know what I mean.” He paused and sighed, “I could pay for a date of course, but it would be far nicer to be in the company of someone who isn’t paid to be there, and isn’t fake.” He watched her expressions carefully, observing her silence before he added, “And I thought, seeing as we have already built some sort of rapport, that it might be something you would consider doing for me?”
Her face softened, just a little. She took a deep breath and searched his pale grey eyes to see if she could read any further answers there. But his eyes were clear and his gaze hard, too hard to read. He was waiting for an answer.
“Well, you did rescue me. I suppose there is a debt owed there.” Who was she to question how families interacted anyway? Especially if hers was anything to go by… “I’ll consider it, on one condition.”
“And what is that?” he asked with curiosity.
“That you promise not to kiss me again,”
“Why would I promise that?”
“Because any unsolicited kissing will seriously encourage me slapping you, and I really won’t be bothered who it’s in front of.”
He let out what she now knew to be one of his naughtiest grins, “I might like that.”
“You might not too.”
Silence fell between them, and Nadine shivered as the wind began to blow again. They had been standing in the street for some time now.
“Are you not cold?” she asked suddenly. It was only now, now that she made this seemingly harmless comment, that she glimpsed a failure in his smooth facade.
He blinked, twice. “Yes of course I am.”
“Well don’t let me keep you, you’ve only a shirt on, and I’ve got a friend waiting for me.” She jerked her thumb over her shoulder in the direction of Regent Street. “You ought to get inside and get warm.” She took a casual step backward, as she stepped she noticed the flickering thought across his eyes, again. “I’ll let you know about Friday,” she said.
“Well, you have four days to consider.”
“Yes, I do.”
“Our train will leave from St. Pancras at 3.30pm.”
“On the 21st?”
“You are assuming I have a passport, you know.”
“I know you have a passport. You left your ID in my car, remember?”
“Oh yeah,” Nadine blushed. She adjusted her handbag awkwardly before she said, “Well, goodnight then.”
“Goodnight Nadine,” he replied, as she turned away.
She only walked a few steps before she turned back, “Am I going to need a ball gown?” she asked.
“Right,” she sighed, nodded once, and kept walking.