Fated (Prologue)

Pulling into the small parking lot and parking a short distance from the entrance, I sat motionless for a moment and drew in an unnecessary breath. Would this be the time that I found her, the enchantress that had graced my thoughts and dreams for two centuries? Or would I fail again, only to be a step behind the woman that had eluded me yet again?

Sliding out of the car, I quietly closed the door behind me. Pushing through the large wooden doors, my eyes efficiently scanned the restaurant deciding where the best vantage point would be to watch for her. Quickly calculating my options, I made the decision that the bar area would be a favorable place to observe the various humans that would come and go as the night progressed. I chose a small table in the corner where I had an unobstructed view of the small restaurant, yet could remain relatively hidden. I folded my large frame into one of the chairs, resting my arms on the wooden table.

I waited for her as I had for the last 200 years.

Hours slowly passed, yet only my fingers betrayed my growing irritation as they absently picked at the label on the bottle of beer I had ordered in my charade to appear human. I had all but given up hope when my attention was drawn to two women entering the bar, approaching a table and greeting another small woman with embraces. The first woman was tall with long brown hair, dressed in a bright pink dress that screamed out for attention. She was brassy and loud, her mannerisms flighty. Feeling my lip curl in disgust, I let my eyes drift to the second woman and it was if time stopped for me. Seeing her standing there made everything except her vanish around me: the inane chatter, the offensive smell of human food, the smell of blood. Nothing else mattered except this woman.

My fated.

She was shorter than the other woman, small-boned and willowy. Her dark, reddish-blond hair was a tumble of glossy waves over her bare, tanned shoulders. Her small, oval face had high cheekbones and finely arched brows. I knew without seeing them that her eyes would be a deep, luminous green. A sleeveless black dress hugged the curves of her full breasts and shapely hips, accentuating her long and lean legs.

My primal instincts threatened to take over as my predatory gaze lingered on her body. I wanted to take her, possess every part of her. Every fiber of my being wanted to walk to her and sweep her away to keep her for myself, regardless if she was willing or not. Clenching my jaw, I let out a ragged breath. I could not scare her after waiting centuries to find her. I had to rely on my patience and wait, like a lion watching its prey. The promise of what she would be to me would make my suffering tolerable.

Silently observing her, it was apparent she seemed uncomfortable as she went through the motions of eating and talking with her companions. It was only after a few glasses of wine that she began to relax, her occasional laughter drifting over the din of the restaurant and the gentle sound was like a soothing balm to my restless soul. I had lost count of the times that I had resisted the urge to go to her, regardless of the consequences. The instinctual urge to have her was all-consuming.

A DJ started playing loud music in the bar, causing humans to slowly fill the small dance floor. My eyes were only focused on her as she waved off her friends' attempts to pull her on the dance floor with them. She waved them off with a laugh, pointing to the door that led to the patio. I calculated the risks of approaching her now or taking the chance and waiting for her on the beach below the restaurant.

Tossing money on the table, I walked at an almost inhuman speed to the door and blurred down the stairs to the beach. I moved a safe distance from the steps and prayed silently to Odin that I had made the correct choice.

Only a few moments had passed when I heard her soft footsteps on the stairs, stopping as she moved gracefully onto the sand. She was still for a moment, a smile gracing her lips. Hesitantly, I began walking towards her, freezing in place when a peal of laughter erupted from her. It was impossible for me to walk away from her now. She was like a siren, calling me to her. I resumed my approach, my feet silent and cautious.

"May I ask what is so funny?"

She startled, her heart race increasing as she spun to face me. She was ethereally beautiful, her reddish-blond hair even darker and gleaming in the moonlight, framing her delicate face. The eyes that had haunted me thousands of times in my mind were dark green and large, shadowed with a fringe of thick eyelashes. Her cheeks were flushed pink over her prominent cheekbones and her pouty lips were parted in surprise. If possible, she was more beautiful than she appeared in my vision.

A mixture of relief and euphoria flooded over me and threatened to bring me to my knees in front of her. After centuries alone, I had found her. My solitary goal was to now to convince her to remain by my side.

"N-nothing," she stuttered, her breath uneven as she spoke. "It's sort of an inside joke about my friends."

"Ah. A joke." I moved to stand close enough to her so that our arms touched, electricity sparking between us. The animalistic urge to take her roared loudly inside of me, begging for release. I swallowed roughly and struggled to maintain my faltering self-control.

She had felt the surge as well. I watched as her fingers brushed absently against her arm. I was only briefly taken aback when I heard her thoughts float through my mind, wondering if she was crazy or if she'd had too much to drink when she felt the energy pass between us. She thought it would make more sense if she was crazy.

Hearing her mental voice in my mind made my vision complete. I knew her voice would 'call to me', yet I had no comprehension as to what that meant until this moment. She would not be pleased to know that I had access to her thoughts. This development could be added to my list of unpleasant things that I would eventually have to explain to her.

Turning my head to look down at her, I was entertained as she continued her inner musings. Her eyes were searching my face, her thoughts filled with confusion. She was comparing me to a memory in her mind. She thought my face was handsome, noting the almost iridescent quality of my skin in the moonlight. Her heart was still thumping wildly as she openly admired me, her thoughts varying from thinking she was out of her league with me to making attempts to try to figure out why she couldn't read me.

It was imperative that I divert her thoughts for the moment. She was much more perceptive than most humans and it was much too early to be forced to play my hand.

"I should introduce myself. I am Stefan Lifsten. And you are?" I inclined my head, extending my hand to her in greeting. Shaking, she placed her tiny hand in mine and the silky warmth heated the coolness of my skin. Another spark passed between us when our hands met. Her mind wandered off to consider that it may not be a good sign that her panties wanted to disappear into the night from just a touch.

She was absolutely intriguing.

"I'm Josephine Anderson. Everyone calls me Josie but you can call me whatever you want…" Her soft voice faltered, having almost a musical quality to it. She was irritated with herself for babbling, cursing herself for her 'verbal diarrhea' and wondering if she could do anything to make herself seem more of an idiot.

"Josephine. It is my pleasure to meet you." I lowered my mouth to her hand, brushing it lightly with my lips. My eyes rolled back as I was bombarded with the allure of her blood pulsing through her veins, the soft heat of her fragrant skin and the sweet bouquet of her arousal flooding my nose. It took every bit of self-control I possessed to pull my lips from her skin to observe her again. She took a deep breath and glanced in the direction of the bar, her mind focused on trying to calm herself before she blurted something else out embarrassing.

Concentrating on keeping my composure, I longed to explain to her that nothing would separate me from her again. I would kill for her and procure any object she desired, no matter the cost or the method required to obtain it.

My life was no longer my own. This beautiful, strange human woman held the fate of my existence in her hands.

I would die a thousand deaths for her.