Excerpt from Dare I?

Wondering whether she was at the wrong establishment, she walked over to the bar and ordered a cocktail from a man with the most gorgeous smile—the rest of him wasn’t bad either, from what she could see through a partially unbuttoned shirt and very tight jeans. It was while she was waiting for her change that she noticed people coming up and down staircases on the side of the room. Her glass in hand, she went to investigate. She only needed to descend one flight of stairs to see that she was indeed in a dancing club. Through the metal railing of staircases and suspended bridges, she could make out a dancing floor on the lower level, which seemed darker and louder than the bar area. She stepped down one more staircase and stopped on a catwalk to look at the crowd beneath her. The music was fast, faster than she liked it, but she could see the attraction of such a beat in a place like this one. The air thrummed with energy, and it wasn’t all due to the music. There was something about the dancers, a feeling of raw life and sexuality that Anna had never encountered before.

She took a sip of her fruity cocktail and pulled out her cell phone from her slim purse. If she was going to do this—and at this point there was no doubt in her mind that she would—she wanted Carol to know. Her friend would probably call Jessie afterwards, and the two of them would gossip and wonder about what Anna was up to. Tomorrow, if they asked nicely, she would tell them. And brag about going farther than either of them.

The tone rang twice before Carol picked up.

“Guess where I am,” Anna said loudly to make herself heard over the music.

Carol was silent for only a second or two before she practically shrieked: “You didn’t!”

Anna laughed. “I did! I’m looking for a victim right now. Nice specimens on the dance floor. Isn’t that what you called them?”

“You wouldn’t!” Carol’s shock was clearly audible, even though her words were hard to make out with the still loud but slowing down music. “You’re not!”

“And yet I am! Call me tomorrow afternoon and maybe I’ll tell you about it!”

She had time to hear Carol laugh before she shut off the phone and put it away. The thin shoulder strap was long enough that her purse rested at her waist, leaving her free to move or dance as she pleased without worrying about it.

Focusing her attention again on the dance floor, she let her eyes run over the crowd, trying to guess, as Jessie had described, who down there was a vampire. After a moment, she started noticing something. Most people were dancing with a partner, but there were also small groups, with a man or woman surrounded by a few others fighting for their interest. These centers of attention all seemed to share the same way of moving, the same graceful movements, but also the same intensity in each gesture, and Anna was forcibly reminded of big cats on the hunt. They had to be vampires, she realized. That was why others were dancing around them. What she needed was to find someone who gave off the same aura but hadn’t attracted too many hopeful victims quite yet.

Her eyes lingered for a moment on a dark skinned man in the center of the dance floor. The way he moved had her breath catching in her throat. But when she brought her cocktail glass back to her lips to finish it in one long gulp, a woman joined him, and Anna could only watch, a little disappointed, as the two of them embraced and started dancing together. For a few instants, she felt as a voyeur; they were so close, their hands all over each other’s bodies, that they might as well have been alone in a bedroom rather than in a crowded dance club. Anna regretted suddenly having finished her drink. These two were hot, and she wanted exactly what they had, this carelessness and disregard for where they were and who could possibly be watching. But more than that, she wanted a mouth at the crook of her neck and to look as thoroughly delighted as the woman she was watching.

Abandoning these two to each other, she started once more to observe the crowd, her eyes drifting between bodies and faces, looking for that attitude she was certain came with fangs and immortality. And finally, she found him. He wasn’t on the dance floor, not yet, but his slow steps as he descended the staircase, eyes scanning the crowd as Anna had been doing just seconds earlier, had the same prowling grace as those dancers Anna had labeled as vampires in her mind. She had to reach him before someone else did; this hunter was hers.

As quickly as she could while wearing heels made more for a slow and sexy walk than for speed, she hurried off the bridge and down the metal stairwell, leaving her empty glass on the first convenient surface she found. Her eyes never left the man—the vampire—as she wove her way toward him through the dancing crowd. He was still moving himself, as though looking for someone, but she planned to make him forget whoever it was very soon.

When she finally reached him, she stepped right in front of him and threw her arms around his neck. By a lovely coincidence, at the same instant, the fast beat of the music shifted to something slower even as the flashing lights dimmed slightly. Anna couldn’t have timed it better if she had tried.

The vampire looked at her with surprise as she started swaying in front of him, not too close yet, tantalizing but not, she hoped, overwhelming.

“Hey.” She smiled, swallowing back what remnants of nervousness were trying to come forward. “My name is Anna.”

The music was still loud, even if it was slower, and for a second she wasn’t sure he had heard her. But of course he had; vampires had superior hearing.

“Chase. Can I help you?”

“Yes. You could dance with me for a start.”

… continued in Dare I?

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