Vignettes flash brightly in the cloudy swirl of memory...
A flea market in a high-tech world. Eric took me browsing through
the 'antiquities' to see me wonder. I bought him a necklace here, a
silver medallion. The symbol was strange to me but it gleamed so prettily
on his broad chest. He laughed for almost half an hour when I gave it to
him but still refuses to tell me why. Merely says it's inappropriate.
Last time I buy *him* a present.
The brothel where we met Vikas. Viktoria dancing hip to hip with
a red-bearded stalwart, then stripping on the table 'til they clamored for
her custom. I prefer to pay.
Eric's first encounter with Claude...he had a sort of pleading
look in his eyes but I wasn't about to interfere. He signed up for this
job with great alacrity, as I recall.
Hunting in a glade somewhere in Shadow. Sun and warm blood.
Mona stripping and Lucien's face. Ariana's smile.
Lunch in Amber. Eric across a shining table and no family in sight.
Stefan's hands moving from me to Viktoria, and the scent of rose
oil in the air.
The wooden pearl going up over the door of the brothel. Realizing
that I have built something that will change the face of Amber. A sense
Watching Eric watch Diva. And reaping the rewards.
Finally, a stack of invitations - cream and gilt-edged and signed
by Oscar over my own new seal. Eric's head bent over the guest list,
shining blue-black in the sun through the windows.
Anticipation, and a little doubt.
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