Coming out June 2012 from Etopia Press. Cover Candy soon.
Pietro took a seat at the bar of the inn. Various guests milled about the reception area waiting to check in. It was a relief to see so many people since it had been a dry winter with very few guests. Even the resident guests had barely come out of their suites. Pietro settled on the bar stool and signaled to Viktor Warren, his partner at the Seven Sins Inn, for a drink. His friend poured him a finger of brandy, put the bottle by Pietro’s elbow, and leaned on the worn wooden tabletop.
“Looks like we’ll make it through the spring. Have you spoken to Jonquil? She’s been obsessing over her cards lately, thinks she’s losing her touch.” Viktor’s electric blue eyes, rimmed with kohl, stared at him, an unasked question hanging in the azure depths.
Pietro sighed. “Spit it out.”
“Do you think we need to call in another matchmaker?” Viktor straightened and poured himself his own drink.
Pietro sighed. “If we bring someone else in, it will freak Jon out. Let her do her job, and if need be, we’ll bring in an expert. Anything else you want to talk to me about before I take off for the weekend?”
“You ducking the council?” Viktor grinned. His pointed ears, pierced with silver hoops, twitched in amusement.
Pietro rolled his eyes. “No. Just not answering their calls. Now answer the question—anything else you want me to take care of before I go?” He prayed it would be something easy that wouldn’t take too much time. Pietro was looking forward to a little down time before devoting his time to figuring out how to bring business back to the inn.
Viktor gave him an impish grin. “I need you to check in on the wedding we’re having over at the Hall of Crystal. Make sure they’re having a good time.”
“You want me to go where?” Pietro looked at Viktor in disbelief. “Why me?”
Viktor slid a simple white invitation over thebartop. Pietro picked up the heavy paper and read over the details of the wedding they’d agreed to host. Nothing struck him as out of the ordinary. In fact, he wasn’t sure why his presence was even needed. “Danica should have everything taken care of.”
Viktor grinned. “Jon saw something in the cards this morning. A devilish recluse and a spitfire with scars on her heart.”
Pietro rolled his eyes. “You two will never stop trying to set me up. What about the last time she saw something in the cards for me? A water sprite. Jesus, the woman was psycho, tried to drown me when I tried to break up with her. I had to move my freaking house, and even then she found me.”
Viktor had the good grace to blush. He slipped a hand under his thick, black braid and rubbed the back of his neck. “Well…um…Jon didn’t actually see you with a water sprite in the cards. She and I…you were lonely! We were concerned. And you hadn’t gotten laid in forever. You were walking around like a frustrated bear.”
Pietro narrowed his eyes at his soon-to-be-dead friend. “You two did what?”
Viktor held up his hands. “Don’t be pissed with us. Please, we love you, and we want you to be happy.”
Pietro growled. “So you lied to me and almost got me killed.” He sighed, all the anger deflating in the face of his friend’s earnestness. “Look, just don’t. Not again. If I find someone, I find someone. If not, we let it go, okay? I’m fine being alone.”
Viktor sighed. “If you say so. You gonna talk to the twins, Valentin and Gavriil? They just want to go over the new specs of the security system they installed.”
Pietro nodded. “Okay, fine. I’ll stop by before hitting up the wedding.”
Viktor’s grin widened.
Pietro pointed at him. “Don’t get happy. Just making sure they’re satisfied with everything.”
Viktor held up his hands. “No, no, no happiness here. See this face.” His features had taken on a serious demeanor, but the humor and joy in his eyes couldn’t be diminished. “All business.”
A customer came up to the bar, sat down, and ordered a drink. Before Pietro could admonish his friend further, Viktor went to serve the new customer.
Shaking his head, Pietro left and headed over to the other side of the inn to check on the wedding. The party was in full swing. The DJ was playing some song Pietro didn’t recognize, and the revelers were doing a dance that looked painful to him. A waiter offered him a glass of champagne. He downed it in one go, impressed by the vintage. They’d gone for the expensive stuff.
Taking a seat at an empty table, he watched the proceedings. So far no one had caught his attention. A smug sense of satisfaction filled him. As much as he didn’t want to tell Viktor and Jon that he hadn’t found anyone, it was beginning to look like he was going to have to.
He accepted another drink from the waiter with a smile on his face. His weekend was beginning to look peaceful. He finished off the drink and stood, ready to go.
When he turned toward the entrance, he spotted her. She was a beauty, wearing a peach silk dress, her milk chocolate skin shimmering under the golden lights of the room.
“Well, at least they got one thing right, I did find someone.”