I CAN BARELY SIT STILL.
I'm in front of the first terminal at San Diego International Airport, one eye on the cop coming up five or six cars behind me, one eye on the doors. If Frey and John-John aren't out in the next thirty seconds, that cop will wave me on and I'll have to make another lap around the parking lot.
Down to ten . . . the cop is eyeing me.
The voice of an angel. I'm out of the car in time to see the cop turn on his heel and start back down the row. In another nanosecond, I've scooped John-John up and we're spinning around the sidewalk. Over the top of his head, I see Frey approach, pulling a roller, a car seat balanced on top, and clutching a couple of duffels.
"A little help here?" he says. But he's smiling.
I set John-John on the sidewalk and pop the remote to the trunk. Frey settles the bags inside. Then we're face-to-face.
He touches my cheek. It's not enough. I put my arms around him and squeeze. John-John hides his eyes behind his hands.
Frey leans his lips close to my ear. "Later."
The one word is breathed with so much promise, my heart starts to race.
Frey steps around and hefts John-John's car seat into the back. I've put the top down on the Jag so it takes only a few moments to secure it and get John-John settled in.
Frey takes his place beside me in the front. "Your place or mine?" he asks.
I glance back at John-John. "Mine. I have a surprise."
"What is it?"
I put the car in gear and pull out. "If I told you, what would be the fun in that?"
"Then go fast, Anna."
And we do.
* * *
I'M NOT SURE WHO IS MORE EXCITED BY THE TIME WE get to the cottage.
"Leave the bags," I tell Frey, grabbing John-John's hand. "We'll get them later."
And then the three of us are through the back gate, across the yard, I've fumbled the lock open and John-John and I are racing up the stairs.
I throw open the bedroom door. "Ta-da!"
At first I get the sinking feeling John-John doesn't like his room. He's stopped at the doorway. In profile, I can see only one wide eye and an open mouth. Frey has come up behind us. His hands rest on my shoulder. I hear his breath catch.
Then John-John whoops and runs to the bed. "Is all this for me?"
And he's everywhere at once, touching the cars and the Legos and books and climbing up on the race-car bed and down again to examine the rug.
"Do you like your new room?" I ask with a hopeful tone.
John-John whirls to look at me. "I love it. You got everything right."
Then it's Frey who pulls me around. His eyes are shining and I've never seen such warmth in a smile.
"You did," he says. "You got everything right."
* * *
JOHN-JOHN IS ASLEEP. FREY AND I ARE UPSTAIRS ON THE deck outside my bedroom, watching a full moon rise over the ocean. There's a circle of light around the moon, a golden nimbus reflected in the still water offshore. The only sounds we hear are the waves gently breaking off the seawall. Even the air is still, heavy with the fragrance of night-blooming jasmine.
Frey and I are seated in deck chairs, glasses of wine sitting untouched on a small table beside us. I feel the heat from his body, hear his soft breathing. His presence is a balm to my soul. This afternoon with John-John was all I'd hoped it would be. It felt like a beginning and an ending. The beginning of our becoming a family and the end of my being alone.
Frey's fingers brush mine.
"The room is wonderful. I can't thank you enough."
"I didn't overdo it? I wanted everything to be perfect for him. I love John-John. I'm so happy he likes me."
Frey pushes himself off his chair and perches on the end of mine. "He more than likes you. Do you know he talks about you all the time when we're in Monument Valley? He sees you the way I do, Anna. He wants you to be a permanent part of our life."
Frey reaches into the pocket of his shirt and pulls out a small box.
"Another gift from Sani?" I ask, holding up my left hand where the moonlight reflects off the silver band of turquoise the Navajo shaman made for me.
Frey doesn't answer with words. He takes my hand, slips the silver ring from my finger and replaces it with another.
A white-gold band with a single, sparkling stone big as the tip of my little finger.
For the first time in my life, I'm speechless.
As if from far away, I hear Frey laughing. "You should see the look on your face. I hope what I'm seeing is 'oh my god yes' and not 'no are you out of your mind'?"
I can't seem to form words. My throat is suddenly too dry, my tongue is stuck to the roof of my mouth. My heart hammers against my ribs until I think it will burst.
Frey pulls me to my feet. "Talk to me, Anna," he says. "I've never heard of a vampire having a heart attack, but you look as if you're about to have one."
I rest my head against his chest. Where do I start? My thoughts and feelings are churning like a maelstrom, my mouth still so dry, I don't think I can speak.
"Anna?" Frey tilts my chin up, his eyes clouded with worry. "Did I overstep? Did I misinterpret your feelings?"
Come on, Anna. Get it together. I swallow hard and reach up to touch his cheek. "You hear about girls who have fantasies about how this moment will be. When the man they love proposes."
Frey strokes my hair. "Was I not romantic enough?"
I look into his face. "I never had a fantasy like that. Ever. I always thought I'd be alone. Even during the love affairs I've had, I knew deep down I wasn't destined for a happily ever after.
"Then I became vampire and the idea that I might someday marry, have a family, seemed even more unattainable."
"And now?" Frey's tone is still unsure, hesitant.
"Now, I'm not so sure."
Frey's arms tighten around me. "That's the nicest declaration of love I've ever heard," he says. Then we're kissing and I'm so happy, my heart soars
* * *
IT'S MORNING AND ALTHOUGH FREY AND I INTENDED that we'd get up before John-John and make ourselves presentable, a timid knock on the door brings us both straight up in bed.
"Does John-John know that you were going to propose last night?" I whisper, frantically scrambling to throw on a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt.
Frey is doing some scrambling of his own. His suitcase is still downstairs so he has no choice but to slip back into the same clothes he arrived in. "Yes. I thought we'd wait a little while, though, to let him see us-" He gestures at the rumpled bed. "Together in bed. I don't know if he knew of the affair between his mother and Kayani."
But Frey forgot the powerful abilities of his shape-shifter son. A small matter-of-fact voice sounds in our heads.
Mother explained that two people who love each other often sleep in the same bed.
I throw open the door and scoop him into a hug. "Your mother was right. Your father and I love each other. Very much. And I love you, too, and I hope you'll let me become a real part of your family."
John-John throws his head back and holds out his arms to his father so that in the next instant we're tangled in each other's arms.
I can't remember ever being so happy.
* * *
IT TAKES HARRIS TO BRING US BACK TO EARTH.
After breakfast the three of us trek to the office so I can officially introduce Frey and John-John to David and Tracey. A fishing boat is coming back to port and we're all on the deck, watching seagulls dip and swoop for chum, when the front door to the office opens.
David glances in, then gives a low groan. "Shit. It's Harris again. Remember what I said, Anna, tell him you're about ready to sue for harassment."
I leave everyone on the deck and go inside. "What is it now?" I ask.
He's looking through the slider to the group outside. "Good. I see Daniel Frey is here. I have some questions for him."
"How did you know he'd be here?"
But even as I ask the question, I can guess the answer and the idea of a harassment suit becomes more appealing.
"You're having me watched?"
He holds up his hands. "All legal and aboveboard. After all, we're investigating two open cases and you admit you and Frey were around for both."
John-John bounds in and runs up to me. "Anna, Anna-come back out, the birds are catching fish right out of the air."
Harris bends down. "And who is this?"
I have to fight the impulse to physically place my body between Harris and John-John. Instead, I do the next best thing. I pick him up. "John-John, this is Lieutenant Harris. He's a policeman. Lieutenant Harris, this is Daniel Frey's son."
Harris looks surprised. I guess the fact that Frey has a son slipped his mind. I set John-John down and turn him back toward the deck. "Go get your daddy, will you, John-John, and ask David to come here a minute?"
When he's scampered off, I direct my fury to Harris. "I'm going to ask David and Tracey to take John-John for ice cream. Don't you ask a single question until they're gone, do you understand?"
Harris returns my glare but does as I ask. I tell David what's going on and he and Tracey leave to take a giggling John-John to the ice cream shop at Seaport Village. Then Frey and I face Harris.
"Does he know why I'm here?" Harris asks, jerking a thumb at Frey.
"He does," Frey answers, and I'm suddenly glad I took the time last night to fill him in. "So if you have questions for me, ask them."
Harris plops himself down on David's desk chair. I take my own. Frey pulls the visitor's chair to my side of the desk.
"Judith Williams," Harris begins. "What do you know about her?"
"Nothing." Frey leans back in his chair. "Anna and I ran into her in Monument Valley. Anna introduced us. It was the first time I'd ever seen her."
"So you didn't know her personally?"
"No. Should I have?"
"What were you doing in Monument Valley?"
I wonder how Frey will answer but he doesn't even hesitate before telling his story. "Anna and I went to visit my son. He lived on the Navajo reservation with his mother. While we were there, John-John's mother was killed in an accident. I stayed on to care for him. Anna came home."
Harris' eyebrows jump. "Another accident?" He makes a show of taking a notebook from his pocket and scribbling a few words.
I shake my head. Our friend, Kayani, will be getting another call, I'm sure. Harris' next words confirm my suspicions.
"While you were both there something else happened, too. Judith Williams went missing. I understand you were questioned about her disappearance by an Officer Kayani of the Navajo police."
Frey nods. "I was. Briefly. But since I couldn't help with the investigation, Officer Kayani didn't question me again."
Harris shifts in his chair. "What about Warren Williams?"
"What about him?"
"You knew him."
"Not well. Met him once or twice through Anna."
"His body was found outside of Palm Springs. You and Anna had been at the Palm Springs home of Anna's boyfriend, Lance Turner, at the very same time. In fact, according to our reports, Williams was killed coming back to San Diego just hours after you two left to come home."
Frey's expression remains neutral, betraying neither interest nor surprise at the revelation.
His detachment seems to trip Harris' temper. "So you and Anna are in the vicinity of two murders at two different locations and times, know the victims and are alibi witnesses for each other. Is that about it?"
At that, Frey registers shock. "Do we need alibis, Detective?" he asks.
Harris lumbers to his feet. "You two have it all figured out, don't you?" He shakes his head at us, then his eyes widen as they settle on the diamond ring on my left hand. He looks from the ring to Frey and shakes his head again.
"Better be careful with this one," he says. "Her track record with men is lousy."