They walked past familiar clubs and Julian’s stomach clenched. Ahead of them, the name Magpies flashed in bright neon. They were heading right for it. “I can’t go in there.”
“Sure you can.”
“I used to hang out there. I might run into people who know me.” The idea of his former friends being afraid of him, or worse, ridiculing him, was something he wanted to avoid if at all possible.
“So what? You are what you are. Fuck ‘em if they have a problem. You can’t limit yourself because you might run into someone you knew.”
The hell he couldn’t.
But now that Vali had called him on it, he couldn’t back out and keep any semblance of pride.
“If they don’t like you now, they never would’ve if they’d known you had a vampire daddy. You give a fuck what someone like that thinks? You’re with your own kind now. You’re where you belong.”
The truth of the words burned home. Julian knew his ex-crowd well enough. None of them would have accepted him, nor would he have accepted one of them had he learned they were part-vampire.
He swallowed past what felt like a balled up sock and followed Vali inside the club.
Vali headed straight for the stained bar where a burly man approached on the other side.
“Jack and Coke for both of us.” Vali motioned at Julian.
“I’ve seen you here before,” the bartender said to Julian. “But there’s no way this little snot is old enough to drink.” He looked at Vali with the same disgust a man would have for a dog turd on the sidewalk. “I’m sure you have ID?”
Vali produced a driver’s license and handed it to the bartender.
After a quick glance, he shoved it back with an unconvinced scowl.
Vali slipped his ID back in his pocket and rolled his eyes.
A moment later, the bartender banged the glasses down on the bar and took Vali’s money.
“Come on.” Vali grabbed one of the glasses. “Let’s get a table close to the dance floor.”
Vali maneuvered the crowd, leading Julian through clouds of manufactured fog that reflected an array of dizzying, flashing, multi-colored lights.
Julian’s stomach rolled at the stench of mingled sweat, perfume, men’s cologne, and raw lust. He wanted to go outside where he could breathe. Or throw up. Instead, he followed Vali to a table and settled on an uncomfortable chair.
Vali thunked his glass down hard enough to slosh some of the contents onto the table. “Goin’ to the john. Be right back … unless I find a pretty little gal to dance with.”
Julian downed half the Jack and Coke and nearly choked when he looked up. Rachael strutted toward him, her clothes molded to her lithe form as usual, the black and red silk clinging to barely-concealed curves.
Her approach killed the Ritalin buzz that had kicked in.
Her blue eyes met his in a bold stare. He knew that look and what it meant. He knew what she wanted.
“Julian,” she purred in a silky voice and eased into the chair across from him. Her gaze crawled over him, slow and hot. “I’ve heard things about you. From Tommy. It’s true, isn’t it?”
That big-mouthed fucker had probably told everyone.
“Isn’t it?” she coaxed.
No point in lying. “It’s true.”
She reached over to touch his face, but he caught her wrist.
She frowned, scarlet-painted lips bowing into a pout, as she pulled against his hold.
He released her.
“I’ve always wondered what screwing a vampire would be like. How about it?”
“Don’t think so.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Why not? You should be glad I want you. And you sure didn’t mind sleeping with me before.”
“I’m interested in someone.”
Her brows lifted. “One of your kind?” She made it sound ugly, like something you’d slip into the garbage and hope no one saw.
He ground his teeth. “Yes.”
“She doesn’t have to know. Hell, she probably wouldn’t care. So get off your high horse.” She leaned over the table and her abundant breasts almost spilled out of the wisps of silk containing them. “I want you, Julian. I want you to fuck me. Maybe I’ll let you bite.”
The scent of her excitement touched off a flare of anger in him. She didn’t give a damn about him, never had. She wanted the thrill of screwing a vampire and having something to tell her slutty girlfriends. Just as she’d undoubtedly bragged about screwing the star violinist after she’d slept with him the first time.
“Isn’t happening.” He picked up his glass and drained it.
Her eyes darkened to midnight-blue and color stained her cheeks. “I didn’t want you anyway, you sorry piece of shit.” She stood, spun on her spiked heels, and strode away with her head held high.
She stopped at a table where four men were seated. To Julian’s horror, two of them wore the olive uniforms of Security Center officers.
His skin prickled, first with heat, followed by cold. One officer swiveled in his chair. Julian met the man’s eyes head on, though his insides crawled like snakes.
Where the hell was Vali? They had to get out of there before things got butthole ugly.
Rachael stood with one hand on her hip, her too-short skirt showing a lot of leg. She glanced over at him. Her expression hostile, she raised her chin. Ratting him out and probably embellishing the story. The bitch.
Vali materialized through the mob and took the seat she’d vacated.
“There’s going to be trouble. We have to get the fuck out of here.” Julian got to his feet.
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