We made some small talk. I asked about the magic room we were in. I pried again into his friends and boyfriends. And we ended up talking about his differences between him and other Venatori.

Nox said, “I don’t kill monsters.” very adamantly. His thoughts were clear.

“You’re a hunter aren’t you?” I was tired of standing and sat down in the closest barstool. Nox was watching his cat and his thoughts clearly said this was her seat.

“I am. But I don’t kill unless I absolutely have to.”

“This some new trial the Venatori are doing? Like, let’s see how well this goes over.” I found it strange that he was so different from every other Venatori I’d ever met. But he had always been.

Nox shook his head. “No. Just me being me. You’ve obviously been following me, so you have to know I have friends who aren’t exactly human or Venatori.” He was friends with the Prince of the Vampires. Their golden boy. I knew he had werewolf Alpha friends and vampire friends and other friend throughout the city. I’d seen pictures of him with them. Among others.

“You don’t seemed bothered by this knowledge?” I asked then finished of the last of the beer he preferred. I’d seen him drinking it whenever he went out. I think I was going to need to dispose of all the beer in that fridge and replace it with something decent. He drank wine, I’d prefer that to a beer. Whiskey was better. But the last time I saw him drunk his mother had died. I wasn’t sure I could handle him in a drunken state. He was a mess sober.

“Maybe I like hot guys following me around?” Nox wasn’t lying as he took the empty bottle to the sink and asked, “Another?”

“I’m good.” I said leaning on the counter to play to the words I was about to say to him, “Or are you trying to get me drunk so you can take advantage of me.”

He grinned at me, “I don’t need you drunk to do that.”

“So you just gonna take me here, now?” I teased.

“I might.” He shot back at me.

“I’d like to see you try.” In that moment it was the ruth. I wanted to see him try, my heart was beating in my chest and he was all in too. Or not. Maybe I was I projecting what I wanted him to feel because he didn’t take up my dare at all.

Instead, after a few jokes he said, “After we eat.” He set down a steak and set it aside to rest. It looked and smelled amazing, rekindling my appetite despite my disappointment.. The bread was perfectly crusty as he cut it. The vegetables even looked good and I wasn’t big on the green things, not that there was anything green on the plate.

“You might want to move to the couch while we eat, or Fee might steal your steak. You are in her seat.” Nox really loved his cat. I asked about her a little more in depth as I took our plates to the table, he grabbed wine glasses and a smaller plate and brought them over.

She was toilet trained, and possessed. I really couldn’t believe it but I was dwelling on the idea that he didn’t like the beach. But he tried to convince me that he could handle it. Yet everything I’d seen today said he couldn’t. My one place to be free and he would freak the fuck out.

I cut a piece of my steak and stuck it in my mouth and it melted in my mouth. I drooled, actually drooled. “Holy fuck. You always cook like this?” He reached up and wiped the drool from the corner of my mouth. I wanted to kiss him. “Do all Venatori cook like you?” I asked instead

“Hardly. I learned from a top rated chef when I was a kid.” He said it like it was nothing. Like it was nothing so matter of fact. But he was a trained killer. Everything about him was learned to kill. But he danced like a ballerina. He cooked like a chef. He thought outside the fucking box. Why did Poet want to destroy him?

“Is there anything you can’t do? Hunt monsters, make statues, cook?” I asked before feeding myself more of everything on my plate.

“Don’t forget the running from clowns, crying in elevators and cleaning hordes of sand and being pussy whipped by a cat.” He joked.

Ophelia meowed behind us in agreement. “You can be quiet, Fee. Or I’ll eat all the leftovers.” Nox called at her without looking

“Do you always have conversations with your cat?”

He nodded, “Fee knows all my secrets.”

“Oh really?” I looked back at the cat who sat on the counter lapping at a bowl of milk. “Ophelia, you and I need to have a little chat.” I wondered if she was telepathic and that was why she was trying to beat down my shields earlier, was that how she and Nox had a conversation. Or was it merely just banter they had learned.

Nox was in good humor with his response. “Good luck with that. She’s a brat.”

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