Ash loved the night. He had since before that fateful bite that awakened the vampire hunter blood. It had been a night much like tonight – cold and crisp, the kind of weather that froze your nose from the inside out. Tonight was different. Tonight, instead of giving in to fear and walking away from the pretty girl making eyes at him, Ash was treating a wonderful woman who knew his secret to a special evening simply because she made his head swim with her cunning, playful, freckled smile.
It was weird and it was wonderful.
Ash stepped ahead of Ginger to push open the door. He stepped through and held it for her. He fell in beside her on the sidewalk, heading back toward the T-station.
“It was magical!” Ginger did a little skip-twirl move that was similar, yet nothing at all like a pirouette. She wasn’t tall and lithe like the ballerina on the stage, but Ginger’s happiness made her a hundred times more beautiful.
Ginger skipped ahead and spun around to face him. Ash stopped walking and just took in the vision of his lovely girlfriend.
His girlfriend. He never thought he’d be able to say that.
“It was,” he said. He nodded.
“I don’t want to go home yet.” Ginger reached for Ash’s hand and pulled him along as she turned and started walking again. “It’s a nice night.”
“It’s cold. I can see your breath.” Despite his objection, Ash didn’t steer them toward the steps to the T. He let her lead him right past.
“Nonsense.” She waved her free hand, dismissing his words. “Given the weather we’ve had so far this year, this is downright balmy.”
He chuckled. She had a point. Most of the snow had melted, but there were still dirty piles here and there. Before that last storm, the temps had been rocking into the teens. In November.
She squeezed his hand and slowed her walk. When he looked at her, her smile had faded from glowing to a normal level. “If you’re cold,” she started.
“No.” He brushed a hand down her cheek. “Well, yes, a little, but you keep me warm.” Cheesy, he thought, as soon as the words left his lips, but Ginger must’ve disagreed because her smile returned to a beaming grin.
Her voice dropped low and knowing. “I’ll keep you warm. Boiling, if you’d like.” Her gaze held a wicked glint, daring him to take her up on her not-so-subtle offer.
He didn’t know what to say. She knew he wasn’t normal. Maybe it’d slipped her mind. Instead of bringing the conversation down, he kissed her. As their lips brushed, he hoped she didn’t notice him trembling. She was a smart girl. By the time they returned to her place, she’d remember and he wouldn’t have to tell her no.
“Ash.” She did that often, whispering his name against his lips after a kiss.
“Ginger,” he whispered back, and kissed her again.
When he pulled away and nodded his head to the side to indicate they should keep walking, Ginger resisted. She squeezed his hand, and held his gaze for a long moment.
“I get it. You’re scared.”
“Okay, hesitant. But, Ash.”
He covered her mouth with one finger. “Can we talk about this later?”
Her gaze filled with doubt, but she nodded. When he moved his finger, she said, “Will we talk about this?”
He wanted to please her. He was attracted to her – that wasn’t the problem. The problem was, well, she knew. It’d gone beyond blurting out his secret at that first coffee date. She knew he still needed surgery. They’d talked about that. Briefly. Any attempt at intimacy beyond kissing and holding hands would result in frustration and embarrassment. He couldn’t.
Ash forced a smile. Already, she meant so much to him. He would hate every moment, but he would talk about it as much as she needed to. He wanted her to understand that if he could, he’d make love to her every single night, all night long.