Hello and happy holidays! In January I’ll be delving into the vampire world with my first vampire, witch, time travel series, A Times Journey. It is a three book series and book one releases on Jan. 11th and is available for preorder. The series is a journey through time for Zak and Cadence after a sinister witch sends them back in time. This short, holiday story takes place after books one and two. At the moment, Cadence and Zak are in Paris in the early 1800’s. I hope you have a great holiday and enjoy!
Zak clasped Cadence’s gloved hand as he led her through the snow-covered grass. The ground crunched beneath their boots and light snow fluttered around them. Their breath floated in the air. Cadence shivered next to him, drawing her wool cloak tighter.
He pulled her closer; wrapping an arm around her waist, praying his lukewarm body heat would warm her. Her teeth chattered as she burrowed against him. It was frigid for December—not that he felt cold like she did. Perks of being a vampire, he mused. His witch didn’t complain. She never did. He often feared she’d get frostbite in her eagerness to see the world before she’d ever admit to being cold.
“Almost there,” he promised as they neared the spot where the Eiffel tower would one day be built. Paris was one of his favorite cities. He’d visited the tower enough times to know where it was approximately. The only downfall was that he couldn’t show Cadence the real thing.
In this time, there was nothing here other than a large clearing with small, quaint houses. Paris was nothing like the modern city it would become in the next century. He couldn’t wait to show Cadence it again. It always amazed him how excited and genuinely happy she was to see the monuments of the world. Hopefully, the Towers absence wouldn’t disappoint her. It was Christmas.
He didn’t celebrate the holiday. Even as a human his family had never celebrated Christmas. His father had thought it silly and a waste of a perfectly good working day. As a vampire, he’d never found a reason to celebrate or enjoy the holiday either. Truth be told, he’d never had anything to celebrate until the day Cadence had given him a chance.
Part of him still expected to wake up from this dream and realize it all had been a figment of his imagination. Perhaps even some evil spell Liana had concocted to mess with him.
“It’s lovely out here,” Cadence commented as her teeth clicked together. She snuggled closer, resting her head on his shoulder as they continued over the snow. A few wisps of her sandy hair escaped her hood and blew on the breeze, tickling his nose.
The flurries were beginning to pick up and visibility was dissipating. As long as it didn’t ruin the experience for Cadence he wasn’t worried about the weather. He could have her home in a matter of seconds once they were done.
Zak peered down at the blonde beauty, meeting her brown eyes as she peeked up at him. He wasn’t entirely sure what Cadence wanted from him, but he hoped he could live up to her expectations.
Christmas was her favorite holiday, and he wanted this to be one that she remembered. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for her. Cadence was his light in the darkness.
He stopped and looked around as he grinned. They were here. “This is where it is,” he announced.
Cadence stepped away from him, pushing the hood of her cloak down so she could peer around. “It’s hard to believe an icon will be in this spot in another century,” she whispered as she turned around in a small circle.
“Change happens so swiftly that if we blink we don’t even notice it,” he replied. Take the two of them for example. In the matter of a few months they’d gone from enemies to lovers and something so much more. When they’d landed in the water so many months ago he’d never anticipated they’d end up here enjoying each other’s company. His mother’s spell, thought malicious, had inadvertently given him the one thing he desired. His mate—his true love. Cadence.
Cadence beamed as she nodded. “True. But the Eiffel Tower that’s…it’s an icon for the city. Whenever people think of Paris it comes to mind. Now, I can tell people I was here before it was built.”
“Not many people can do that,” he admitted. “I wish we could see the undertaking of it. Watching them build it always fascinated me.”
“You watched it?” she wondered as her eyes widened.
Zak chuckled. “I told you Paris is one of my favorite cities. My family was here during its construction.”
“It must have taken them ages to build,” Cadence said as she stared up at the sky.
“Not really. It only took about two-and-a-half-years,” he told her.
Speaking of building things, he drew in a deep breath. “I made something for you,” he murmured as he swallowed.
He reached into his pocket and withdrew the creation he’d folded up in a handkerchief. His fingers trembled as he thrust it toward her. It was silly and he had no idea if she’d like the handmade carving. When she’d said Christmas was her favorite holiday the other night, he knew he couldn’t go through the day without giving her something. She already had the pendant he’d given her and he wanted to give her something that would mean something. He just prayed he succeeded.
Cadence blinked as she took his present from him and he watched as she unfolded the fabric and picked up the tiny carving he’d made for her. Her fingers trailed over his work and she smiled.
“I know it’s not the same as the real thing, but I figured you can keep it as a promise. One day I’ll bring you back to the Eiffel Tower and you can see it for yourself,” he promised her.
Her eyes flicked up to his and she smiled as she threw her arms around him, enveloping him in a tight hug. She crushed her body to his and kissed his cheek. “It’s beautiful. Thank you,” she gushed as her warm breath ghosted over his ear.
Zak held her close, enjoying the way her body clung to his. If this were just a dream, he never wanted to wake up. This moment was perfect and he could stay here for eternity.
“Thank you,” she said, pulling back and kissing his mouth. “I love you,” she whispered against his lips.
His heart flopped in his chest at her words and he kissed her harder, flicking his tongue into her mouth. He wanted to tell her he loved her too, but the words got stuck in his throat. Instead, he caressed her mouth with his tongue, praying that he could show her how he felt even if he couldn’t say it.
Part of him knew she was expecting him to say the words to her too, but he couldn’t. What if once he admitted his feelings to her everything faded away? What if it was just a dream? His heart would never recover. Monsters like him didn’t deserve a happily ever after.
Cadence pulled back and cupped his check as she brushed her gloved fingers over his skin. “I have a present for you too.”
“You do?” Zak asked. When had she had the time to get him something? He hadn’t let her out of his sight since they’d reunited. After losing her for weeks and wondering if she was okay while he scoured the countryside, he wasn’t leaving her alone for quite some time.
Cadence patted his cheek, drawing him from his thoughts. He flexed his fingers as he watched her. No one had ever given him a gift before.
She reached into the folds of her cloak and pulled something out, keeping the item in her closed fist. “I got this…well I’m not really sure where…I was a bit lost…in case you didn’t notice…when I was running from Malcolm,” Cadence rambled. “But uh…I noticed when I ran into your past self that you wore them and I remembered seeing one on you when we were home too.” She opened her palm, showing him a beaded wood necklace with a hand-carved charm attached to it.
Zak picked it up, running his fingers across the intricate woodwork of the sun and moon. Whoever had made it was skilled. The details rivaled his work. “Thank you, Cadence,” he breathed as he gazed at her gift.
“In witchcraft, the circle represents never-ending life,” she started, trailing her pointer finger around the circle. “The sun and moon represent light and dark. The sun is bright and powerful and exudes strength. The black night sky represents darkness, but as the moon rises it shows that nothing is ever as dark as you think. There is always light. And where there is light, there is strength,” she whispered tapping on the full moon on the carving.
“Where did you find this?” he wondered as he eyed the gift. It was perfect.
“When I was on my own. I saw it at a street fair and it reminded me of you. It reminded me that no matter how dark it seemed right then, my light was looking for me,” she confessed as her eyes darted away from his. Her teeth nibbled on her lower lip and she swallowed, clearly waiting for him to speak.
He cupped her chin and titled her face up to his. “I will always find you, Cadence,” he promised.
“I know,” she admitted, pressing her lips to his again. “It reminded me of you when I saw it. I held it in my palm at night when I tried to sleep and thought of you.”
“Thank you, Cadence,” he said stroking her chin. “This is the nicest, most thoughtful present anyone has ever given to me. Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas,” she answered with a grin. “This has been the best Christmas ever. I’m so glad that we got to spend it together.”
Zak tangled his hands in her long, wavy hair as he pulled her close. “Me too.”
She was right. This was the best Christmas ever and it was because of her. Cadence was his light, his love, and his reason for being. He closed his eyes as he gathered her into his arms.
I love you, he thought as he pressed a kiss to her temple and sped them towards home.