For those looking for Adult Romance posts for Romance Week - hop on over to Aislynn's blog - she has author Carolyn Brown with an interview and giveaway!
Today YA author, Beth Fantaskey is stopping by with a Valentine's surprise for fans of her Jessica's Guide Series! Check out the wonderful short story below!
Jess and Lucius’s Valentine’s DayBeth FantaskeyNote to readers: This vignette about Jessica and Lucius Vladescu, the vampire princess and prince from my books “Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side” and “Jessica Rules the Dark Side,” is my little “Valentine” to everybody who’s read the novels and asked for more. Thanks for being so great. I feel phenomenally lucky to have such wonderful supporters. May you all have Valentine’s Days filled with love, whether it’s in the form of romance, the warmth of family, a strong friendship – or all of the above!BethPrincess Antanasia “Jessica” VladescuRomania, Mid-WinterEver since childhood, I’d loved math. Therefore, it should’ve been easy for me to keep my mind trained on the sums in front of me, as I set the monthly budget for Lucius’s and my estate in the Carpathian mountains.Unfortunately, my gaze kept drifting to another pair of digits – on my desk calendar.A “one” and a “four,” right in the middle of February.Valentine’s Day.Which just happened to be... TODAY.I glanced out the tall, leaded windows of my office to find that the sun was almost gone – and I hadn’t received so much as a box of candy or a card.Really, Lucius? You’re not going to do ANYTHING?I checked my calendar again, once more embarrassed to see that I’d circled the date in a little heart. I wasn’t normally the kind of girl who did stuff like that, but maybe that was because, in the past, I hadn’t really expected much from Valentine’s Day. I hadn’t had a ton of boyfriends in high school.Okay, I’d only had one – who I’d ended up treating really badly, dumping him in favor of a vampire prince.Maybe that’s why this day’s a dud, too. Maybe you have bad karma, Jess!And why had I gotten my hopes up?When I’d casually mentioned Valentine’s Day to Lucius – dropping a not-so-subtle hint over dinner a few days before – he’d practically laughed it off.“Oh, yes... That primarily American holiday which obligates one to purchase inedible candies with supposedly ‘clever’ sayings stamped upon them, cards with cloying greetings, and completely random items in the shape of – anatomically incorrect – hearts.” He’d been pouring water from a carafe, but had glanced up at me, his black eyes registering surprise, like HE clearly hadn’t even considered the date. “Is that coming soon?”What could I do but pretend like I hardly cared, either? “Yeah. Good thing we’re in Romania, where it’s not such a big deal, huh?”Lucius had nodded agreement, then turned the conversation in a completely different direction – toward a horse he hoped to buy... for himself.I sat back in my huge desk chair, all at once feeling chilly, although a fire roared in the grate across the room. Actually, I felt a little sick.Is the honeymoon over already?Is Lucius, my PREVIOUSLY incredibly romantic husband, BORED with me? With US?Where’s the guy who lit the path to our wedding with a million little candles...?“Princess?”I turned in my chair to see my bodyguard, Emilian, standing in the doorway. I was so used to having him around, by then, that I hardly even noticed him half the time. “Yes?”He gave a slight bow, like he usually did before speaking. I sometimes thought he would never entirely get over feeling bad about dragging me through a dark forest, back when Lucius and I had been practically at war. And Emilian still sometimes did Lucius’s bidding, too – like right then. “Prince Lucius has requested that I conduct you to him, if it is convenient for you. He has some papers for you to sign.”I stood up, but thought, “Seriously? Papers?” But, of course, I couldn’t let Emilian see that I was unhappy – I was finally getting that aspect of being a princess down pretty well – so I smiled and agreed, “Of course. Let’s go.”Then I led the way to Lucius’s office. I’d finally gotten the lay of the land, too, and no longer needed Emilian to lead me everywhere. But when I was about to open the door, he cleared his throat. I turned to him, one hand on the knob. “Yes?”“May I be excused, for the evening?” he requested in Romanian, sounding sheepish and unsure. “It is Valentine’s Day, and if you don’t mind...”For a split second, I was actually jealous of my bodyguard. And did he have a girlfriend? I couldn’t ask – we didn’t get personal like that – but I forced myself to smile again, graciously. “Of course, Emilian. I’ll be with Lucius now.” Signing papers! “Go and have fun.”He nodded deferential thanks and began to walk away, while I turned and opened the door. And what I saw...“Oh, Lucius!”My husband hadn’t forgotten Valentine’s Day. On the contrary, his office – one of my favorite rooms in the castle, because it was warm and cozy and held special significance for us – was actually decorated for the holiday, in a way that was very... Lucius. Ironic, slightly mocking – but incredibly romantic, too.There was one hideous cardboard heart with a Cupid on it, taped to the front of his mahogany desk. And on the ancient, worn leather couch, an almost absurdly huge – also heart-shaped – box of chocolates, which would no doubt be pure Belgian, because Lucius couldn’t get that tacky. And, last but not least, roses. Dozens and dozens of blood-red roses, because the vampire who was standing in the middle of the room, grinning at me with amusement in his dark eyes, loved symbolism and inside jokes.“You really had me going,” I said, laughing and joining him in the very center of the room, where he’d once nearly destroyed me – and we’d first declared our love. I wanted to kiss him, but first I hit him, hard, on his broad shoulder. “I honestly thought you weren’t going to do anything.” All at once, I stopped laughing. “I thought maybe you didn’t care as much...”Lucius got serious, too. He drew me into his arms, pushing aside my curls, like he always did. A gesture that had grown familiar, but which would never get old. “How could you think that, Jessica?” he asked. I saw a hint of bemused mischief return to his eyes. “Do you not know me by now? Did you not suspect anything when Emilian led you to this room, so significant to us?”“Maybe,” I admitted, wrapping my hands around his neck and stroking his black hair. “But I didn’t want to get my hopes up.”He grinned. “I hope I didn’t disappoint. I wanted to give you a true ‘American’ Valentine’s Day.”“It’s gorgeous,” I promised him, glancing at the roses. “And suitably cheesy,” I added, catching sight of that Cupid. “Just perfect.”Lucius kissed me, then, and I realized I’d been ridiculous, worrying that familiarity might take the edge off our romance. On the contrary, it seemed to be deepening the connection between us.Then, without even saying “Happy Valentine’s Day” – I got that message, loud and clear – my husband led me to the couch where I’d first tasted his blood, and I knew that we weren’t going to touch that candy for quite awhile, except to shove it to the floor. No – we had a different kind of sustenance to share, and it was way, way better than even the best chocolate could ever be.Happy Valentine’s Day, Lucius...
About the author:
The best way to read about Beth is to check out her 10 Random Things About Me list on her website. I especially love "Whenever I visit a new country, I try as many ketchups as I can. (Best: Poland, Worst: China".
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