by Loren Eaton
The table was sheathed in white linen, piled with pale roses and bore two crystal goblets filled to the brim with claret. When Sylvia saw it, she gasped, “Oh, Andrew!”
Andrew beamed. “Happy anniversary, love.”
“How sweet.” She took up a goblet and swirled it. “The claret looks wonderful.”
“It’s French, a Haut-Médoc from 1940.”
Syliva’s eyes glistened. “The year we met.” She took a delicate sip.
Andrew marveled at the smooth sweep of her throat as she drank. She was so refined. She made most of his clan look like savages.
Suddenly, her brow creased.
“What?” Andrew asked, alarmed. He wanted everything perfect tonight.
“The claret, it’s …” She passed him the goblet.
One taste and he knew: It was flat, tired. Also, too warm. He cursed himself silently. He should have selected a newer vintage, should have let it reach room temperature.
“There’s more in the cellar,” he said, composing himself. “Italian, Spanish, American—”
“Is the American young?”
“Fourteen or fifteen.”
“Perfect. Thank you, Andrew.”
He moved quickly, not wanting to spoil the mood, pausing briefly on the cellar stairs to pick up what he’d need to decant the claret. They were where he’d left them, curled in the corner, hands bound, gags in their mouth. The old man was already cold. A youth with fuzz on his lip trembled when he saw slim steel knife and the pewter pitcher in Andrew’s hands.
“Shhhh,” Andrew whispered, running a tongue over sharp incisors. “You’ll barely feel a thing.”