Frankie Bushman was home after a long sojourn abroad. Bran had told Cassy he hadn't seen his brother in many years, as he moved around a lot and traveled the globe. She wasn't sure where he had just come from -- Australia, was it ? Or Alaska ? The only thing that mattered was that when they were introduced, he had looked at her with those startling blue-green eyes of his, and she had felt her entire body tingle. He was, for lack of a better word, beautiful, with long dark lashes framing those piercing eyes, sharp-featured nose and a square jaw. He looked like he was always ready to be photographed: brooding, sucking on a cigarette, like a celebrity idol in a French half-porn-low-budget-type movie. Men such as him smelled good even if they had a gas leak from their body or dressed in just a hat band and nothing else !
Damn! He had been perfectly gracious, well-mannered, and had embraced her as a sister, and to her credit, Cassy's face had betrayed none of the turmoil she felt. She had accepted his kiss on her cheek with a modest smile, had even been able to engage him in the usual cocktail conversation. The soggy weather, the proposed wedding date, how he found North Hampton (she couldn't remember, she might not have been listening: she had been too mesmerized by the sound of his voice -- a low rumble like a late-night disk jockey). Then finally someone else had wanted his attention and she was free to be alone -- and that was when all the small but awful things at the party began to happen.
Cat scratch fever. That was all it was, wasn't it? Like an itch you couldn't quite reach, couldn't placate, couldn't satisfy. Cassy felt as it she were on fire -- that at any moment she would spontaneously combust and there would be nothing left of her but ashes and diamonds.
STOP LOOKING AT HIM !!
She told herself. This is insane, just another of your bad ideas. Even worse than the time she brought the crow back to life (she'd gotten an earful from her mother for that one, least if someone from the Council found out, not to mention that zombie pets were never a good idea -- we learn that so much from Pet Cemetery). Go outside. Get some fresh air. Return to the party. She glided over to the vase of pink roses, trying to suffocate her whirling emotions by inhaling their scent. It didn't work! She could still feel him wanting her.
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