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Gabe stretched, yawned, and relaxed into the mattress without bothering to open his eyes. His movements had stirred a soft, womanly scent from the blanket and sheets. He inhaled and held his breath, savoring the subtle fragrance. Coffee and vanilla. He remembered then that he had spent the night in Makenna's bed. By himself.
His stomach growled, encouraging him to roll out of bed. He had left the bathroom light on last night before crawling into king-sized bed, which was a good thing because he never would have found his way across the bedroom now without the sliver of light to lead him. The windowless room shrouded the room in complete darkness. It also robbed him of all sense of time. He had no way to know how long he had slept. It felt like hours but might have been only minutes.
He brushed his teeth, grabbed a towel and turned on the shower. Within minutes he had shampooed, washed down, and turned off the water. He knew now the vanilla scent she carried came from both her shampoo and body wash.
After toweling himself dry, Gabe walked out of the bathroom with the towel around his waist and rummaged through his duffel bag for some clean clothes. Finding something suitable, he dressed and finished his morning routine, folding his clothes and placing them on the end of the bed. He'd have to talk to his hostess about the laundering service. He assumed she had a washing machine and dryer stashed away somewhere inside her apartment; she didn't strike him as the type to run to the laundry mat with a roll of quarters.
Standing behind the bedroom door, one hand on the doorknob and the other gripping his laptop case, Gabe hesitated. Despite the hunger gnawing at his stomach, he wondered if he really wanted to open the door and reenter the surreal situation he had found himself in last night. The moment he stepped across the threshold, he entered her world again, a world where demons walked.
He opened the door.
As he stood at the top of the stairwell leading to the main floor of the apartment suite, he could hear the soft murmur of activity below and knew she had awakened as well. The thought sent a surge of energy through him and he realized he was actually looking forward to seeing her. Strange. He hadn't been so sure just minutes before.
He found her in the kitchen, chopping vegetables. She glanced up as he entered the room. "How does an omelet sound?"
"Sounds great," he said as he dropped his laptop onto the small, sturdy table. "I didn't expect you to cook for me. Thanks."
"Well, it would be rude to cook for just for myself," she said, leaving the onion and green pepper on the cutting board while she rummaged in a cupboard for a skillet. Sausage sizzled in a nearby pan.
"I didn't know vampires could eat."
She muttered an obscenity as a pile of dishes threatened to spill out of the cupboard. When she resurfaced, her hair pulled back in a ponytail and her face glowing like she had just scrubbed it clean, she flashed him a grin. "Most of us enjoy food. Even if it doesn't do much for us."
She shook her head. "Not really. But regular food doesn't really stop the cravings. We can't substitute food for blood. It doesn't work that way."
"So you feel hunger?" he asked, marveling at how easy this peculiar conversation tripped off his tongue.
She shook her head. "No, not really. My stomach never growls." She glanced at his midsection and grinned when it grumbled, almost as if on cue. "But I like the taste and texture of food, so I eat whenever I happen to think about it." She shrugged. "Having you here made me think about it."
Although he wasn't much of a cook, Gabe felt obligated to offer some assistance. When she turned him down, waving him away with a careless flick of her hand, he retreated to the table. He pulled out his laptop and powered it up. As the system booted up he realized he didn't know if he would be able to do half of what he needed to accomplish. "Do you have wireless in here? I told a few of my student's I'd have their papers back to them today."
"Yeah, you should be able to connect without a problem," she said as she cracked an egg on the side of the pan. "Do you want orange juice or coffee? The juice has pulp."
She motioned toward the far end of the counter with a greasy spatula. "Help yourself. The pot's over there. Cups are in the overhead cupboard."
It took her fifteen minutes or more to finish preparing their breakfast. While she moved around the kitchen, Gabe logged in to the University email system. After responding to a few students and downing two cups of coffee, he checked his author's web site. He scrolled through the message boards, replying to various posts.
"Here you go," Makenna said, sliding a plate onto the table near his elbow. The omelet she had promised him took up most of its surface, while the sausage links appeared little more than an afterthought. The combination of egg, cheese, sausage, and green peppers made his mouth water.
She sat down across from him with a plate of her own and began to eat, although she seemed more interested in what he was doing than what she was eating. Her eyes shifted between him and his computer.
"Thank you," he said, surprised at just how healthy an appetite he had. Obviously learning he was a marked man had very little impact on his dietary habits. "It looks great."
"Don't thank me until you've tried it. Just because I like to eat, that doesn't mean I know how to cook."
Gabe smiled and speared the nearest link. He took a bite. Pungent spices filled his mouth. Heaven. "Good enough for me."
She narrowed her eyes at him in mock outrage. "Gee. Thanks."
He laughed. "No, it's really good. Thank you."