Focus (Page 45)

“True.” I turned to rifle through the cabinets for a snack. I’d planned to eat after my shower, but hadn’t exactly gotten that far.

I settled on a granola bar. “You want one?”

“Sure.”

I tossed him one with chocolate chips.

“Is it bad that we’re snacking before this thing?”

“No, you need to eat tonight. You’ll need your energy later.”

“On that note, let’s go.” I threw my wrapper in the garbage, picked up my purse, and headed to the door.

***

For the first time, I actually felt like a princess. Everyone rose to their feet as I walked in on Levi’s arm.

“We are so honored to have you,” a woman said before curtseying to me.

I wasn’t quite sure how to respond, but I figured a simple thank you could go a long way. “Thank you so much for having me.”

“We’d heard you were lovely, but the prince has certainly made a good choice.” A man smiled before taking my hand and kissing it.

Levi stiffened, and the man dropped my hand. “I’m sorry, Sir. Forgive me.”

Levi merely nodded at him and pulled me along further into the room. At first glance, it looked like a room full of regular people, but I knew most of them were anything but human.

It might have been Levi’s first time presiding, but he clearly knew what he was doing. I figured he must have gone with his dad before. He stopped at a small table with only two seats, and pulled one out for me. I sat down and let him push me in.

He stood in front of his chair and addressed the room. “You may be seated.”

As everyone else sat, he took his seat next to me. If it was a wedding, we’d have been at our sweethearts table.

“No cocktail hour first?” I whispered.

“That’s after dinner.”

“Oh…”

“So, I probably should have warned you, but we’re going to be sharing tonight,” he said so quietly, I could barely hear him.

“Sharing?” I whispered.

“Do you see a plate in front of you?”

I looked down and sure enough there wasn’t one. “We’re using one plate?”

“It’s an old tradition symbolizing the complete connection between a royal and his mate.”

“Well, you better not give me cooties,” I pouted.

“It’s a little late for that.”

“Still… Okay, so I get the one plate thing, but I only see one set of silverware.”

“That’s because I’m going to be feeding you.”

My jaw dropped. “Please tell me you’re joking.”

“Afraid not.”

“For future notice, you will not drop these weird traditions on me last minute.”

He leaned across the table slightly. “Telling you wouldn’t change anything.”

“I’d have been prepared.”

“Sir, may I serve you some wine?” I glanced up to see a waiter at Levi’s elbow.

Levi examined the unopened bottle. “Yes.”

Levi tasted it before nodding at the waiter to let him know he approved.

As soon as the waiter walked away, Levi proposed a toast. “To us.”

“To us,” I echoed before taking a sip. At least we each got our own glass.

After one spoonful of the seafood bisque, I was tired of being fed. Levi was enjoying it way too much, especially since everyone was watching us.

“I’m going to save room.”

I didn’t enjoy being served the main course of glazed duck with a rice pilaf and grilled vegetables, but I admit that I let Levi feed me more than my share of the dark chocolate and raspberry torte for dessert.

“So now we stay for a cocktail hour?”

“Pretty much. It’s going to be like a meet and greet.” He used his napkin to dab a little bit of chocolate off my lip.

“I have my own napkin.”

“It’s my fault you have it on your lips. I might as well clean you up.” He smirked.

“You do realize I’m not going to let you feed me every time.”

“We’ll see.”

He took my hand and led me to another room. A large bar at the back of the space was the only furniture, otherwise it was just open.

“Levi, it’s wonderful to see you again,” an attractive brunette crooned. “And your mate is absolutely lovely.”

“Thank you, Gloria,” Levi said politely, but he pulled me closer to his side.

“I’m sure you’ve already been over your roster for tomorrow, but I have a case before you. I hope you take our families long history into consideration.”

“I’m sorry, but you know I can’t let personal connections influence my decisions.”

“Of course not, you’re a good man, just like your father.”

“Exactly.” He tensed at the mention of his father. He was more nervous than I thought.

“Nice meeting you,” I said, pulling Levi with me.

“What was that about?” I whispered.

“She’s a witch who had a fling with my uncle years ago.”

“A witch?”

“Yes, a witch. Although some choose to stay outside The Society, they have to register with us if they want to use any magic.”

“So formal.”

“Very.”

“Excuse me, I hate to interrupt, but I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce myself.” A stout man with a completely pale face and a top hat held out his hand to Levi. He took off his hat before bowing awkwardly.

“Hello, may I get your name?”

“Oh yes, Harold Mayer. I am the new representative of the Bleths.”

“Well, nice to meet you, Harold.”

Levi led me away without introducing us. “What’s a Bleth?”

“A Shifter-Dryad hybrid.”

“Dryad? Like a Nymph?”

“Yes.”

“But aren’t they supposed to be really pretty?”

“Yes. Pure Dryads are, but the Nymph genes can only do so much with the genes of an ugly animal.” He tried to keep a straight face.

“What kind of animal is he a shifter of?”

“A porcupine.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.”

He shook his head. “Nope, there are even rat shifters you know…”

I cringed. “Lovely. I’m glad you’re not one.”

“So am I, love. So am I.”

By the time Levi met and shook hands with everyone at the party, I thought I was going to fall over. Had I known how much standing we’d be doing, I’d have worn flats.