The Vampire's True Love Trials

By: Kristen Painter


Chapter 1





Sebastian knew Tessa was tired. She’d said very little since they’d returned from giving their statements to the vampire council. She sat in a chair on the balcony of their suite, staring out over the canal below and watching the sun rise over Amsterdam.

The night had been long and grueling with hours of questions and testimonies, and neither of them was used to typical vampire hours, which was what the council kept.

But at least the situation with Evangeline was resolved. Whatever punishment the council meted out was their business. All he cared about now was his darling valkyrie. And now that this ordeal was over and Evangeline was behind them for good, he was finally going to ask Tessa to marry him. Because, more than anything, Sebastian wanted to marry this woman and make her his wife. He believed she wanted that just as much as he did. He stepped onto the balcony. “Are you all right, love?”

She glanced at him, her smile weak. “Yes. Just tired. And hungry.”

“Let me order something for you. What would you like?”

“Are you going to eat with me?”

“Absolutely.”

“Good.” She leaned back. “I need comfort food. Pasta. And steak.” Then she smiled in earnest. “And something chocolate.”

He laughed. “I’ll take care of it.” He went back into the suite and ordered everything on the menu that he thought she might like, then joined her on the balcony again. He sat next to her and took her hand. “Anything else I can do for you?”

She shook her head. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt so drained. Physically, emotionally, mentally… I’m wiped out.”

He nodded. “Testifying in front of the vampire council wasn’t easy for me, and I’m a vampire. I can only imagine how hard that was on you. But you did beautifully. You were intelligent and articulate. Just as I thought you’d be. I’m very proud of you.”

“Thanks.” She squeezed his hand. “I don’t think I could have done it without you by my side. I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

She sighed and stretched a little. “I’ll feel better after a good meal and a long nap.”

“We both will. I just wish we could have seen more of the city.”

Her eyes brightened. “You mean you would have played tourist with me?”

“There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you.” He meant that as deeply as he could. “We still can, you know. There’s no reason for us to head back immediately.”

She tipped her head, her expression skeptical. “There’s at least one good reason.”

“Which is?”

“Your sister-in-law could go into labor at any moment. You’re about to be an uncle.”

“Ah, yes, that. Well, I’ll be an uncle wherever I am. And while the birth of my first niece or nephew is definitely a momentous occasion, I would much prefer spending time with you.” He cocked a brow. “What do you say? Shall we recover for a day, then take in the sights of the city?”

“If you’re going to approve my time off, then…yes.”

“Excellent. And of course your time off is approved. I’m on the board of directors at Harmswood Academy. If I say the dean of library studies needs some additional personal time in Amsterdam, who’s going to argue with me?”

She grinned. “Good point. But you should still probably let someone know.”

He pulled out his phone. “I’ll take care of it immediately.” This was just the chance he needed. With more time in the city, he could set up a lovely little dinner for two somewhere, then ask her the big question. He had the ring. Hell, the ring had been on his person since he’d bought it so that no opportunity might be missed.

Tessa stood and stretched again. “I’m going to take a quick shower before the food arrives.”

“All right.” He lifted the phone to his ear.

She bent and kissed him, her touch soft and lingering. “Don’t get into any trouble while I’m gone.”

“I’ll do my best.”

She traipsed off as his brother Hugh answered. “Sebastian? How did it go?”

“It was arduous. You know how thorough the council can be, but it’s done and our end of things is finished.”

His brother grunted. “Good. Any idea what Evangeline is going to get?”

“Could be five years. Either way, she’s no longer my concern.”

“We’re all glad you’re free of that woman.”

“No more than I am.”

Hugh laughed. “Yes, I suppose that’s true. And Didi? How did she do?”

“Fine.” Their grandmother had accompanied Sebastian and Tessa since a very old friend of hers—and the vampire who’d sired her—was on the council. “I actually think she enjoyed testifying.”

“Running Evangeline down has always been a hobby of hers.”

Sebastian snorted. “She’s probably disappointed those days are over.”

“I doubt that.”

“Well, you can ask her. She’s on her way home. Didn’t want to miss her first great-grandchild arriving. Speaking of, how’s Delaney? Am I an uncle yet?”