After the ovation, Nikki and I bowed out to let the kids dance, though I noticed Cassie wasn’t one of them. I expected her to be canoodling in some corner, but instead she and Rick stood talking to a group of other students near the buffet table. Most of them did that thing where they had in-person conversations while simultaneously checking and writing things on their phones, a skill I could never master.
“Something troubles you, Matthew?” Nikki asked. “You’ve got that crinkle around your eyes when you are engaged in a mystery.”
“They didn’t sneak off,” I said, “which means it’s something else.”
“Ah, yes, I’m sure it must be off-putting to you that your niece did not sneak away to enjoy in forbidden fleshly—”
“Please don’t finish that sentence,” I broke in.
“I thought you were comfortable with her exploring her sexuality, especially in a controlled, trusting way.”
“Comfortable is not the word I’d really use, more like accept it as a necessity, kind of like my dating a vampire.”
“Oh, and I never want you to feel comfortable, at least not in that way. It’s too much fun keeping you off-balance.”
Cassie’s had trouble making friends since moving here, but she’s got a knot of people around her, now. Hmm.
“Oh, Matthew, I will make you regret so tame a response. I—are you actually looking at your phone?”
I was too focused on scrolling into the social media app to tell if her shock was genuine, and I knew I’d regret it later, but I had to make sense of this. And that’s when I saw the pics and videos on Cassie’s page. More than that were all the comments and praise to her for having such a cool uncle.
I loved that, but I had a concern, too. “Is this going to cause problems for you?” I showed Nikki.
As a vampire, photos and videos showed up blurry, usually a dead giveaway of her supernatural presence.
She smiled at the media, scrolling through, then she bent close to my ear so others wouldn’t overhear. “Not at all. I’m very impressed by the technology, today, which makes corrections to the focus. Our fluid dance can explain any blur, especially as some of it has affected you. Do not worry. But you do seem to have solved the mystery.”
“Yeah, my niece used us to elevate her social status. Clever.”
“Do you plan to reprimand her?”
“Nah. She might have to live with us showing up to all her dances from now on, though. I don’t think she thought that part through.”
“Indeed, I look forward to more of these.”