It would be their first Christmas together. Antoine decorated the castle in preparation for
Savannah’s return from her university.
“In the ten years I’ve known you, not once have I seen you hang a bulb on the tree,”
Cameron was the manager of the Les Beaux Art at the Chateau DeRoche and Antoine’s
loyal friend. Cameron took care of the daily operations of the art colony while Antoine was
forced to seek cover from the sunlight.
“Haven’t had anyone to share it with,” he replied.
When had Antoine last enjoyed celebrating the holiday with anyone? Likely not since he’d
been a young gargoyle shifter with his family, before he’d been forced to turn over a century
ago. Cameron gave him a slow nod. “I know what you mean.” Although human, he’d mated to a
wolf shifter named Nadya this summer.
Savannah would have a month off in between college semesters. A month that he planned
to exploit to the fullest each night, acting out all his fantasies. She stayed in Boston during the
week to attend graduate classes and returned to the island on weekends. Earning her degree
was important to her, so he tried not to express how he missed her too often. The bed was too
cold, too big. The light all but gone in the chateau. Once she earned her Master’s degree in
June, he’d have her all to himself.
He wouldn’t be able to attend her graduation, which would take place outside during the
day. But after she graduated, she’d return to the island and they’d continue the discussion that
had been plaguing them. The last time they’d tried to talk about it, it had ended in a heated
argument before she’d returned to school. She didn’t understand the sacrifices involved.
Already, she’d given up so much to be his lover.
He would show her how much she meant to him when she returned. He’d learned patience
over the decades, only it seemed more difficult when it came to Savannah. She visited family
and was taking care of a few things before she returned to the island. Only two more nights.
Just in time for Christmas. The hours trudged past until finally it was time for her arrival.
Although the December nights were colder, they were also longer, which gave him more
time outdoors. With the sun setting so early, he was able to trek over to the dock on the other
side of DeRoche Island on the evening of the twenty-third to greet Savannah when her ferry
arrived. He’d brought a single red rose with him and a barrette so she could pin it into her hair.
Maybe it would be considered old fashioned for this era, but Savannah appreciated his romantic
gestures, no matter how small. With the way she favored the old Hollywood styles, he thought
it would look perfect in her dark hair.
The evening ferry arrived. He paced in front of the dock while his heart pounded with
anticipation. He couldn’t wait to rush her back to the chateau, show her how they’d decorated
it-probably to excess.
He searched for her among the crowd. One by one, the passengers disembarked. Until the
She hadn’t made it back on this ferry.
Dark tendrils of fear crawled up and wrapped around him. What had happened?
He rushed up the gangway, in search of someone who could help him.
When he found one of the ferry workers, he said, “I’m looking for a woman. She was
supposed to be on this ferry. Can you check to make sure she’s not on board?”
“No one’s on the decks.” The man turned to shout at another behind him. “Check the
bathrooms. See if anyone’s still in there.”
While he waited, Antoine tried to still his quickened breathing.
“Nope. No one,” came the reply.
“She must have missed it,” the man said. “Maybe she’ll catch the first one in the morning.”
The colors of the seaside village around him swirled. Something was wrong. Very wrong. He
could sense it vibrating along his bones. He dropped the rose.