Sapphire (Jewels Cafe Book 2), page 1
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Peridot by M. Sinclair
About Eva Delaney
Sapphire: A Standalone Paranormal Reverse Harem Romance
Jewels Cafe Book 2
Copyright 2019 Eva Delaney
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
I stared down the wolf across Jewels Cafe. He curled his lips to show his sharp glinting teeth.
He could be so melodramatic.
“We’re staying here, Wim,” I said.
“Yes, for the third time this week!”
Wim stood up on his hind legs, resting his big hairy front paws on my shoulders and bared his teeth in my face.
So, I did the one thing I could when a wolf threatened me.
I bopped his nose.
Wim blinked, surprised.
“Sapphire,” a woman called from the cafe’s counter.
I turned my head. Amber, who owned the cafe, raised an eyebrow and pushed a seventy-four-ounce cup across the counter. “Sixty-seven shots of espresso, twenty-eight pumps of caramel syrup, a white mocha, a regular mocha, foam, and extra-extra-extra whipped cream. Wim, here’s your small glass of water.”
My drink had everything. Well, almost everything. “Does your blood type change when you shift into someone else?” I asked the chameleon shifter.
“You’ll never find out.”
“So coy,” I said as I stepped away from Wim.
I grabbed the cup in both hands and headed for my usual table in the back corner. Wim shifted back to his human form and plopped down across from me with his tiny cup.
“You promised we’d go dancing,” he said.
“Yes, but this place has coffee,” I said.
He sighed. “I know you’re undead, but that drink might kill you.”
“I have seen empires rise like the slow, bright dawn and crumble to dust like a cookie in a clenched fist. I am as ancient as the foundations of the earth itself. This won’t hurt me.”
“You’re fifty-three, Sapphire. You were turned two decades ago.”
I glared at him across the wobbly cafe table as I sipped my drink through a reusable straw. At twenty-eight, Wim had reached full hotness. Men in their early twenties were awkward still, but Wim was just right. His black hair fell to his shoulders in perfect waves. His dark eyes glinted with a mischievous, predatory light that sent a pleasant shiver down my spine.
“Do you even need coffee?” he said.
“I was never a night person.”
“I mean, does caffeine have any effect on vampires?”
“You know damn well it doesn’t, Wolfie!” Coffee, alcohol, and everything fun had no effect on vampires—at least not on vampires of my lineage. That didn’t stop me from trying.
“What if someone takes cocaine and you suck their blood?” he said.
He was rubbing it in now, probably because I called him Wolfie and he hated the nickname. So, I pulled out my phone and unlocked it, swiping through profile after profile of normal men, right where he could see.
He leaned toward me, resting his forearms on the table. I glanced at his tattoos of nighttime forests and wolves. Something about them made me want to stroke his arm.
“Is that your dating app?” he said.
“Who are you going to feed on and abandon tonight?”
“None of your business.”
“Why don’t you spend the night with me, Fire?”
“You know why…you won’t let me suck on your neck. Besides, I’m ancient, an unending fixed point in time.”
“And that means…?”
“It means I’ll watch you die. You and anyone else I hang out with.”
Wim drummed his nails on the table; perfectly manicured nails, the one thing about him that wasn’t rough or wild. “Why don’t you turn anyone you love?”
Because even vampires can die. Nothing lasts. “Then I’d be stuck with them forever. That’s worse.”
Wim and I grinned at each other, like two conspirators about to burn something down; in this case, love.
“Settling down is living death,” he said.
“Like you know anything about death.”
He shrugged. “I know a cage when I see one, and marriage—that’s a cage.”
“I can’t believe it. You’re right for the first time ever.”
The bells hanging on the cafe door jingled, and in walked a handsome man with eyes as blue as a sunny day and a face perfect for sitting on.
Wim caught me watching him. “Is that your date—I mean meal—for the night?”
“He’s so…normal. Look, he’s even wearing a jean jacket like a Canadian in a beer commercial.”
I flicked my hands at Wim. “You’re just jealous. Unless you’re going to feed me, get out of here.”
I looked over the new man—my Tinder date/meal. With clear blue eyes, he was pretty in a boy-next-door way that he hadn’t lost despite being in his mid-twenties. He was too handsome to spend an eternity with. I’d fuck him, and we’d break up and then keep running into each other and hate-fucking, and doing the “will they or won’t they” thing for a thousand fucking years. No damn way.
“I bet his name is something basic like Mark or Rob,” Wim said.
He always made fun of my man-snacks, even though he wasn’t willing to be one. So, I hit back. “Is Horsey still waiting for me outside? Go tell him to stay there unless he wants to be dinner.”
Wim rolled his eyes as he pushed up from the table. “I’m not scaring off your other boyfriend.”
“Why not? You’re jealous of Mumford.”
Wim bared his fangs at me, and I bared mine back.
“Sapphire?” Bob, the jean jacket man, said.
I snapped my mouth shut and glared at Wim. “I’m going, I’m going,” he said. “Don’t bite your tongue off.”
“Don’t piss on a fire hydrant.”
Wim gave me the finger as he walked away. I smirked. Good. I loved it when Wolfie was pissed off.
Bob looked from Wim to me with his brows furrowed.
I put on my best fake smile. “Hi, Bob, take a seat.”
“Who was that?” He slipped into Wim’s chair, his hands still buried in his jacket pockets.
“An old enemy. How are things at the ice cream factory?” It was the only reason I had swiped right on him—free ice cream. I may be an unending fixed point in time, but that didn’t mean my bank account was.
I did live in a castle though, and by live, I meant I worked in the gift shop in the basement and slept there during my day shifts. I was the manager, so I could do that.
“So…this factory…do you have a key card to get in after-hours? They have walk-in freezers, right, full of the good stuff?”
“Did you swipe right for ice cream?” Bob said. “Shit! I should ha
“No, no!” I said. “I just like adventures and…umm…getting it on in cold places. Temperature play, you know.”
It wasn’t so much that I was still awkward as fuck after fifty-three years, it was that I no longer gave a shit if I was. I would outlive everyone I spoke to, anyway. If they didn’t like me, well…they’d die and I’d masturbate on their graves.
Bob raised an eyebrow. He didn’t play along with my kinky shit, so he was too nice for this. Rare that I met a man who was. Most of the Tinder dates thought I only wanted the D…really, I wanted a sip of blood, so the joke was on them.
Hmmm, if Bob wanted more than a beaver on his face, maybe he was worth talking to for a bit.
“You look better than your profile photo,” he said.
“I know. I use an ugly one to scare away the real perverts.”
“Does that work?”
“No. You look…exactly like your photo.” Which was a damned good thing because he was hot.
“I don’t like to deceive anyone. Not that I’m judging you for it…I mean, I know it’s more dangerous for women…” He stopped and broke into a smile that lit up his face. He laughed nervously. “I’m sorry, I’m messing this up. Can I start over?”
I chuckled. “Hi, Bob, I’m Sapphire.” I stuck out my hand and he shook it. He didn’t comment on the coldness of my skin, and I appreciated that.
“Hi, Saph, I’m Bob. You look lovely. I’d ask to buy you a drink, but…” He stared at my massive cup.
“You can still ask.”
He smiled. “The sign out front says they have pumpkin spice lattes. It’s new,” he shrugged. “Like the blood orange ice cream we’re testing.”
“Yes…blood…ice cream…” I shook my head. “What the hell, I’ll try one of those lattes. Thanks.”
“You’re…sure?” He glanced at my massive seventy-five-dollar drink.
“I can have both,” I said. Whatever made him happy and got us to neck sucking in an ice cream freezer faster.
“Thank you, Saph,” he said with a smile that could warm a heart that wasn’t cold and dead.
I didn’t know why he had decided to call me Saph out of nowhere, but I liked it. It was what my high-school friends called me, back when the earth was still young. It was what Bradley had called me when he was still kicking—tall and gorgeous with skin now as dark and cold as my dead soul.
The door jangled, and I looked up. Wim leaned against it. He pointed at me, then at himself, and drew a heart in the air. I ground my teeth, but couldn’t gesture back without alerting poor Bob who waved at me from the cafe line. Wolfie knew it too and smirked.
Behind him on the sidewalk, someone sneezed, and white horse legs appeared in the doorway.
“Shit,” Wim said and rushed out.
I sighed. Fall allergy season was hell for Mumford—Horsey, as I often called him.
Bob smiled at me from the cafe counter. My gaze roved past him to the window where a white horse stood with Wim shoving against his rear end, trying to force him down the cobblestone road. I grinned, and Bob, thinking it was for him, grinned back before pulling a funny face, sticking out his tongue and rolling his eyes back as though he were dead.
If my heart could beat, it would have skipped. Instead, it contracted like balls retreating from the cold.
Mumford, the white horse, turned his horsey head to stare into the window. Our eyes met across the space.
What? I mouthed. How the hell was I supposed to know what that expression meant when he had limited range of facial movements?
Bob slipped into the chair across from me, placing two paper cups on the table. I grabbed one with a blue jewel on the side.
“So,” Bob said. “Tell me about yourself.”
“Tinder men usually only ask if I spit or swallow.”
“Then they’re crud-holes,” Bob said.
“Yes, but at least they don’t pry.”
“Spitting or swallowing isn’t personal?” He furrowed his perfect blond eyebrows.
Not when the answer concerns what I’m going to do with their blood, I thought.
“Tell you what,” Bob said with that boyish grin. “Let’s play truth or dare. I’ll do one, then you do one.”
“As long as it’s only dares,” I said. “I dare you to give me ice cream.”
“Done,” Bob said, twirling the latte cup in his hand. “I dare you to tell me your favorite hobby.”
“Filling the hole in my soul with ice cream,” I said. “I dare you to tell me why someone as hot as you has such a terrible fashion sense.” I raised the cup to my lips.
Bob laughed, and the sound was like deep bells from a churchyard, like funeral bells. It made me chuckle, and I placed the cup down.
“My usual date clothes—a big furry fox costume—is at the dry cleaners.”
“No,” he said. “It’s a rat costume.” He laughed. I joined him.
The odd thing about being undead was that some physical sensations no longer existed—heartbeats, for example. But some did, and a good laugh still felt like pressure pouring out of my chest like a dam breaking and letting out the joy.
“The jacket reminds me of home and my family,” he said. “Ranchers back in the Midwest. I like to carry home with me, makes me feel warm and fuzzy…like a rat costume.”
“That’s so sickeningly sweet, I’m diabetic now. My blood could be syrup in a latte…hmmm…not a bad idea…thanks,” I said, and raised the cup to my lips. It smelled like nutmeg and sugar.
Bob frowned and toyed with his cup. “I dare you to tell me where your family is from. I’ll give you an extra scoop of ice cream if you answer.”
I sighed and lowered the cup. Whatever will get us to ice cream and blood faster. “Hexington.”
“The cemetery on the hill?”
“Mmmhuh,” I said and sipped the latte. “Mother, father, sire…I mean…ummm. Other father.” I took another sip. The latte was searing hot as it slipped down my throat, just like fresh blood. It spread warmth through my chest in a way I had long forgotten was possible, like drinking brandy back when I was a human and alcohol had any effect.
I blinked. I felt oddly light, as though my heart had been attached to helium balloons and had floated out of my chest. Bob smiled, and a warm orange light seemed to circle him like a soft-focus in a movie. It made his smile sparkle like sunshine. His eyes were tender and as blue as summer skies during childhood.
Like a faraway, warm sweet place I had forgotten existed.
Why is the air around him orange? I thought, but the question fell away in my mind like melted ice cream off a cone. Because all that warmth and heat soared straight to my pussy. My clit throbbed.
His eyes went wide and hungry as though he felt it, too. He licked his lips, his gaze roving over me, and my skin tingled everywhere his gaze caressed.
Fuck, I had to feel that warm human skin against me.
I leaped at him, and he jumped toward me. We met in the center of the table, lips locking, tongues clashing, and his hand going right between my thighs.
My hands fisted in Bob’s jean jacket, and I yanked it off his shoulders. His hot hands slid underneath my hoodie and thumbed my bra-less nipples. I groaned into his mouth.
“You’re so cold,” he said against my lips.
Shit. He was right.
He was hot and alive. I was cold and would never die, unlike him.
With a grunt and a throb of protest from my pussy, I jerked away from him and slid off the cafe table. My delicious seventy-five-dollar drink was now on the floor, and everyone in the shop stared at us.
“Why is no one taking a video?” I said. “We aren’t hot enough for you?”
The door jangled opened, and Wim crashed inside in a huff. “What the fuck—”
I turned to him, and our gazes locked
“You’re my mate,” Wim said in an awed, hushed voice.
“Does that involve cock?” I said.
“Hey, me first,” Bob said, placing a hand on my lower back.
“Looking at you makes the world suddenly right, like everything makes sense when it never did before,” Wim said. “But…that can’t be.”
My cold, dead heart nearly fluttered as though it could beat again. “Cock or not, Wolfie?” I said to cover it up.
He shook his head and stepped back from me. “Since when do you want me, Fire? In three years of eye contact and little touches, I never once felt like you were my missing half. You never once asked for my cock…” He paused and shook his head again. “Something isn’t right here.”
I frowned at Wim. He looked good enough to lick from foot to ear.
He always had, but I had never wanted to jump him and fuck him in the middle of a coffee shop before. And Bob…he had made my heart soar like it had when I was with Bradley all those years ago, before he died and left me empty.
I felt alive. My heart didn’t beat, but it fluttered like a living, breathing thing, like a bird flying in my chest.
Something had gone terribly, horribly wrong.
Something had filled me with love and gross, wonderful horniness for the first time in fifteen years.
“Shit,” I said.
“I know,” Wim said, taking another step back as though I were diseased. Well, I kind of was. Love was not something you wanted to catch.
I blinked, and the orangey light finally vanished from around the wolf man. The hummingbird feeling in my chest and the throb between my legs were still there. But at least I could see reason again.
“How can you be my mate?” Wim said.
I tensed. “I would rather be eaten by snakes.”
“I would rather be trampled by rabid deer.”
“You didn’t say you had a boyfriend,” Bob said. He frowned, then shrugged. “Oh well, let’s get out of here.” He wrapped his arms around my waist.
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