Black Tie Bingo
“This sounds daring,” Lucas said, pointing to an ad in the newspaper.
I set my coffee on the kitchen table and looked over his shoulder, slowly, incredulously, reading the small print. “Black Tie Bingo?”
“Yeah, it’s exciting and different. You said you wanted to try something different.”
I inwardly cringed, grabbed my mug, and topped it off. How could a night of Bingo be exciting? I’d told him I wanted an adventure, to hike the Application Mountains and camp under the stars or take a trip to Tahiti and go sailing. Instead, he suggested we play bingo.
“It could be really fun,” he continued. “What do you think darling?”
I turned and faced him. His tweed sports jacket, button down white shirt, and slacks made him look like the textbook image of a bland college profession, but that was why I loved
and agreed to marry him. After my last boyfriend, who cheated on me and spent more time with his motorcycle, steady and reliable was exactly I needed. The corners of his mouth pulled upward, his enthusiasm beaming from his expression. Despite how lame bingo sounded, I knew he was only trying to please me.
I plastered on a fake smile and said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster up, “Sure, a night out would be good. When is it?”
Three weeks later, arms locked together, we entered a lavish hall in downtown Dallas. Lucas looked exquisite in his black tux. I wore a beautiful strapless chiffon gown. It hadn’t been my idea of fun, but I learned the grand prize was a trip to the rugged Australian Outback.
We were escorted to our assigned seats and table near the stage where the bingo board was set up. Staff mingled among the crowd serving champagne and hors d'oeuvres. Over the next half an hour, three other couples arrived at our table. We greeted each other conversationally. By far, the most intriguing individuals were Jenny and Leeann, who explored Hawaii last summer and more recently tried skydiving.
Finally, a handsome gentleman with slicked-back shoulder length brown hair entered the stage. He couldn’t have been much older than me. “Welcome,” he announced. His voice was smooth and caressing. His hypnotic deep blue eyes met mine as though he spoke directly to me. Something fluttered in my stomach. I mentally scolded myself and quickly glanced away. “My name is George Stanton, organizer and sponsor of this event.” People clapped and he continued describing the prizes and types of accepted bingo for the beginning games. A chorus of applaud erupted again when he announced the grand prize, which was the only prize that made my heart flutter.
Letters and numbers were called. Prizes were won. Lucas shrilled over the rare author-signed copy of The Great Gatsby that fell into his lap after a winning a long round.
George kept looking at me and I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, wondering if it was my imagination or the anticipation he represented for the grand prize.
Hours later, the final round came. Blackout. I felt sweat building on my brow with each letter-number combination called. My entire card was covered with chips except one spot.
I bit my lip, silently praying my letter and number were called. The seconds that ticked by between each combination called felt excorticating.
“B13,” George said.
“Bingo!” I screeched and leaped up from my seat.
Murmurs of frustration and cheers echoed around me. One of the staff members came over calling out and verifying each of my letters and numbers. My entire body shook. After my last spot was verified, George announced, “We’ve got a winner. I’ll see you in a minute to give your prize.”
The crowd erupted with applauds. George thanked everyone and hoped they had a wonderful evening. A moment later, he bounded down the stairs and extended his hand as he
“Thank you.” My voice cracked with excitement. I wiped my sweat hand down my dress and shook his.
“I’ll need you to come with me to sign over the paper work.”
Lucas stood up and hooked his hand in the cock of my elbow. George said to Lucas, “I only need Miss…”
“Benson. Isabel Benson,” I offered.
“It's a pleasure to meet you,” he said to me, casting an alluring grin, and turned back to Lucas. “I’ve been running these events for years. I won’t put both your names on the documentation. I’ve seen too many squabbles that turned out badly. You understand, right?”
Lucas nodded and gave me a kiss on my cheek. “I’ll see you in a little bit.”
I smiled favorably and followed George to a room in the back. It was an office lined with hand-carved dark bookshelves. An oversized ornate desk sat in the middle. He closed the
door behind us and told me to take a seat in one of the two black leather seats in front of the desk. He sat beside me and held my gaze. I felt that strange flutter in my stomach again. I should’ve insisted Lucas come with me I told myself and looked away as though admiring the beauty of the office.
“This place has been with me for...well a long, long time,” he said.
“You own this?” I said incredulously. “You must come from a wealthy family.”
He laughed. “My parents were peasants.”
I felt my eyebrows narrow. “I hope you don’t find me presumptuous, but you look awfully young to be running these events and to own a grand building like this. What kinds of work to you do?”
“I’m a businessman and this is just one of many buildings that I own from all over the world.”
I yearned to ask him more—to hear about his adventure in the world—but guilt and my marital promised to Lucas forced me to stop. Instead, I said, “You have paperwork that I need to sign?”
“Yes.” He pulled a manila envelope off the top of his desk and placed it on his lap. “The trip is yours, but I have another proposition.”
“As a businessman, I make it my point to know who works for me and I’d like you to be one of those individuals.”
“But…” I stuttered, trying to wrap my brain around how this sudden offer came about. “I’m not looking for another job. Plus, you don’t know me. I could be one of those people that gets fired for never showing up.”
He leaned back, propping his elbows on the armrest. “You’re not,” he amused. “You’ve held the same waitressing job since you graduated high school four years ago.”
My jaw dropped. How could he possibly know that about me?
“I make it a point to know everyone that comes to these events too. You aren’t happy in your situation. I can offer you a job—a venture—in any European country and some other countries as well, but my offer comes with a condition.”
“Training you would be an investment. I’d want you to work for me for a long time—not forever, just a century or two.”
“What?” I squeaked feeling like the conversation was growing more and more bizarre.
He smiled and this time I really wished he hadn’t because he revealed perilous razor-sharp fangs.
I gasped and recoiled in my seat.
He chuckled, “You see, I’m a vampire and I want to make you one too.”
“What about Lucas?”
“What about him? He’s dull. I won’t change him. He’s welcome to come with you where ever you choose to go. But I’m warning you, the chance of you biting and killing him are very high.” He paused, staring at me with those alluring deep blue eyes as if reading my expression.
A lump formed in my throat. I felt too shocked to speak.
He pulled out he papers from the envelope, showing me the contents. “Here’s your trip to Australia and the travel agency you need to go through to confirm your vacation dates. This second paper is the contract to work for me. You may look through it, but as you can see, I give generous vacation and pay. You won’t need medical benefits, but if you remain with Lucas, I offer them too.”
I took them from him, hiding the contract behind the trip information. When I began stuffing them back in the envelope, his hand whipped out, clutching my wrist. “Isabella, I’ll need your decision now.”