She looked up at him and smiled over the cat’s head. “We’d better be. You bought me a new dress today.”
Tessa carried Duncan upstairs to the bedroom. Greaves had laid all her packages on the bed and was already working on putting the cat tree together.
The rustling of the box and the paper the pieces were wrapped in brought Duncan to life. He squirmed in her arms so she put him down. He ran over and started attacking the paper. She laughed. “Looks like you have a helper.”
“Very good. Hello, little man.” Greaves gave Duncan a scratch on the head before resuming the assembly.
“Oh, and just so you know, Sebastian’s gone to talk to Julian about the wedding chapel project but said he’d be home before you-know-who wakes up.”
Greaves nodded. “Thank you for letting me know.” He hefted a section into place and began working the bolts through the guide holes.
“You need help with that? Looks heavy.” It was much larger than she would have chosen, but when Greaves had come to pick her up, he’d insisted it was the one. After that, there was no going back. The trunk on the Rolls hadn’t closed because of it and had to be held down with some packing twine. That alone probably would have upset Sebastian, but when he saw this thing in his bedroom, she was pretty sure he’d have something to say.
“No, I’ve got it. Being a rook means I have considerably more strength than I did when I was fully human. Thank you though.”
“You’re welcome. How exactly did you get to be a rook? I don’t really understand what it means. Valkyries and vampires don’t mix that often so I’m not fully up on all these vampire things. I suppose there’s a book I could read…”
He smiled. “I’m a rook because Sebastian bit me on two consecutive nights. It’s as close as a person can get to being a fully turned vampire without actually becoming one. Another bite on the third night and I would have been turned, but stopping on the second left me as a rook. This way I have the privileges of both sides. I have more strength, more speed, and sharper senses but I’m not affected by the sun either. It’s given me a life far better than the one I’d imagined I’d live.”
“Even taking care of Sebastian the way you do?”
“Even so.” He started attaching a carpeted bed to one of the arms. “Just like Hugh’s rook, I’ve been with Sebastian since he was human. I know the man better than anyone outside his family and I can tell you, he’s one of the good ones. He can be difficult, but he bears a lot of weight on his soul.”
“Because of Evangeline.”
Greaves nodded. “And because he feels responsible for his family. With the death of his father, Sebastian became the Duke of Sinclair and—”
“He’s a duke?” Tessa had no idea. But it made so much sense. Of everyone she’d ever known, Sebastian certainly seemed like the most likely to be nobility.
“Yes. Although I don’t think the title would still hold up after so many years. But he knows it and because of that, he’s taken on the care of his family. Their financial status is all thanks to his careful investments and close eye.”
“Wow.” She sat on the bed, crinkling the edge of one of the shopping bags.
“You’d better put those clothes away before they get wrinkled.” He stiffened. “My apologies, did you want me to do that?”
“Absolutely not.” This life. So different than what she’d known. She’d grown up with money, but as an adult, her own finances hadn’t been so generous. Which was fine. She managed. That’s what adults did. She went to the closet, got some empty hangers and went to work. But the thought of finances made her cringe at how much she’d spent and now had to repay Sebastian. At least the clothes were beautiful, well made, and much chicer than her current wardrobe. They’d serve her for a long time.
When the clothes were hung and the cat tree finished, she and Greaves watched Duncan play on it. He climbed for a bit, swatted at the dangling toys, then went into one of the cubbies and passed out.
“Well, I guess he likes it.”
Greaves smiled. “A purchase well made.”
“Let’s hope Sebastian thinks so when he sees it.”
“He’ll grump and fuss, but he’ll be fine.”
“You know him better than I do.”
“Indeed I do, but that will change.” He brushed a stray carpet fiber off his white shirt and put his jacket back on. “Care for some lunch?”
She raised her brows. “I thought you couldn’t cook?”
“I can’t. But I have an entire binder of take-out menus and am a deft hand at ordering.”
She laughed. “Got it.”
They went down to the kitchen. Greaves pulled out the binder and handed it to her. “There’s Italian, including pizza, Chinese, Thai, American sort of fare—wings, burgers, subs, that sort of thing. Let’s see…Mummy’s Diner is quite good for, well, diner food.”
“That one I know is good. I had a burger there with my sister.” She flipped to that menu. “I could go for a Greek salad. If there’s something from there that you’d want too.”
“Don’t worry about me. I’m happy with the blue plate special, whatever it is. Meatloaf, fried chicken, hot turkey sandwich. It’s all good.”
“You might have just talked me out of that Greek salad. What’s the special today? Do you know?”