I am so sorry it's been over a week since I sent the last Nora and Jared scene! The last couple of weeks have been ROUGH, but the boys' first day of school was today! I hope it goes well. One is nervous/excited. The other is anxious/I-hate-school. I'm anxious/excited because I'm going to finally be able to write uninterrupted again! Yay!
As always, rough draft warning
If you love it or hate it, let me know! And to read all the scenes I've emailed so far, click here.
Nora reapplied her lipstick in the rear view mirror. She’d used darker eye shadow today. It contrasted with her amber eyes, making them appear harder than usual, more don’t-fuck-with-me. With her long hair pulled back into a slick ponytail, she looked severe, which was exactly what she wanted. She needed a shield between her and the rest of the damn world if she was going to endure this going away party.
“Well, that’s different,” Jennifer said from the passenger seat. Nora returned the mirror to its proper position then followed her friend’s line-of-sight to Swirl’s front door. More specifically, to the tall man standing behind a red-roped barrier outside it.
“When did Swirl hire a bouncer?” Tasha asked from the back seat.
Eyes narrowing, Nora opened the car door. The wind was blowing just right, and the unmistakable smell of vampire hit her.
Son of a bitch.
She stood, shut her door, then strode toward the wine bar, ignoring the calls of her friends to wait. The vampire let in a small group of humans then rehooked the rope and faced her.
“We are full,” he said.
“Step aside,” she ordered.
The bouncer crossed his arms. She would kill him. Then she would go inside and kill his master…
Only that wouldn’t go over well. Jared wasn’t just an old vampire; he was the scion, the right-hand man, of Arcuro, a vampire so ancient he might be next in line to be the king of the bloodsuckers should the current one turn to dust. Killing him would have consequences just like sleeping with him would if the wrong people found out.
“We come here all the time,” Jennifer said when she reached them and caught the gist of what was going on.
“New owner, new rules,” the vampire said. “Boss expects a crowd tonight, so we’re under orders to be selective of who we allow in. You don’t pass muster.”
“Are you kidding?” Jennifer asked. “We always pass muster, and we—”
“You two can enter.” The bouncer indicated Jennifer and Tasha.
“New owner?” Nora’s voice would have made a human stumble out apologies, but the vampire stared at her, unimpressed.
Jennifer looked uncertain. Nora was welcomed everywhere. She was the reason Jennifer and Tasha were able to get into exclusive clubs. Nobody denied her anything.
“Nora comes here just as much as we do,” Jennifer said.
The bouncer unhooked the rope. “You two want in or not?”
Nora’s friends looked at her.
“Go ahead,” she said.
“Are you s—”
Jennifer and Tasha gave her apologetic looks, but did what she said. She didn’t blame them. This gathering was for them, and some of their friends were already inside. Besides, Nora felt bloodthirsty tonight. She couldn’t kill the vampire, but as long as she was out of sight of the humans, she could break every bone in his body, let them heal, then break them again.
“Alley,” she growled.
“I’ve been instructed not to touch you.”
“Not a problem.” She’d be the one touching him when she bashed his face in.
He gave her a sinister smile then reached inside the back pocket of his slacks. He held out a business card. “Call the boss. He might change his mind.”
She stared at the small white rectangle, glaring at the looping letters that spelled out Swirl and the more rigid, blocky font of Jared’s name and number. The bastard wanted her to ask permission to enter the bar. He wanted her to submit to his authority. No fucking way.
She turned abruptly. Her heels made sharp clacks across the sidewalk as she headed to the back of the building. Nearby vampires would be able to sense her, and she was certain the bouncer was watching her walk away, so if they wanted to stop her, they would have to intercept her in the alley.
Her body thrummed as she entered the dark passageway. She knew her eyes were glowing, her aura flaring. She ached to let her wolf free, but there was no one to attack yet. Plus, if she shifted, she would have to remain in animal form unless she wanted to return to her car naked. She didn’t, so she held in the urge. She could damage these assholes without the change.
The door to the furniture store had been repaired. She ignored the throb that pulsed through her. The sex had been good—great—but she never would have hooked up with the vampire if she’d known who he was. If her pack found out, they wouldn’t brush it off. They would see it as a personal attack against their alpha.
And maybe it was personal. Jared had known who she was and yet, he’d still broken into the furniture store and escorted her inside.
She tried the handle on the door to Swirl. When it didn’t turn, she punched above the lock just like Jared had on the furniture store's door two weeks ago, splintering the wood.
She yanked it open. The scent of humans and wine and vampire welcomed her in. There were at least three of the latter. None of them smelled like Jared.
Music and conversation vibrated through the air. She left the hall and stepped into the main room, scanning for her friends. They had two tables in a corner. Jennifer and Tasha had found the others. They already had drinks in their hands and were laughing and talking and having a great time.
Nora drew in a breath and let out the tension in her body. She had to keep it together in front of the humans. No one was drunk enough to dismiss glowing eyes.
She bypassed her friends, though, and strode straight to the bar. The elegant bartender behind it didn’t glance her way. She took her time serving the man in front of her, who was completely enraptured by her demure smile.
Nora scanned the wooden shelves on the wall behind the bar. Overhead lighting brightened the bottles of wine, which were lined up in perfectly straight rows. A rolling ladder gave access to the more expensive bottles on the top shelf, and it gave the place a sophisticated feel. A single shelf in the middle of the wall held a selection of harder liquor, and below that, pristine wine glasses hung waiting for use.
More glasses waited on the counter in front of Nora. She waited a full minute for the vampire bartender to acknowledge her existence. When she didn’t, Nora placed a single finger on the wine glass in front of her and tipped it off the bar.
The vampire glanced her way, those elegant eyebrows dipping before her expression smoothed out and she returned her attention to the man in front of her.
Nora’s finger touched a second wine glass. Pushed it off the counter.
The vampire’s jaw clenched, but she didn’t glance her way this time.
Nora pushed a third glass off. Before it hit the ground, a new vampire swooped in and caught it.
Not Jared. This was a vampire she had definitely not seen before. He wore a swallow-tailed coat over a purple shirt tucked neatly into dark gray trousers. His hair was on the longer side, straight and rather choppily cut, and the hand that set the wine glass back on the bar was adorn with a large, gemstone ring.
“Would you like a broom, Ms. Lehr?” the vampire asked.
“Where is he?”
He gave her a smile and a shrug and said, “He is about.”
She shoved another glass off the counter. He caught it too and, with a sigh, set it out of her reach.
“I suggested he send flowers,” the vampire said. “He decided on this instead.”
“Call him,” she ordered.
“One does not call— Wait!” He held up his hands to stop her from throwing a glass into the wall behind him. “At least allow me to remove some of the more expensive bottles.”
She set the glass back on the counter, said again, “Call him.”
The vampire lowered his hands. “You are causing a scene.”
She let out a sharp laugh. This wasn’t a scene. Not yet.
She started to lift the glass again, but a hand covered hers, keeping it in place.
His body warmed the air behind her as he leaned in close to her ear. “You have my attention.”
She couldn’t stop the chill bumps that spread over her skin. He moved fast, not a sign or scent of him until he was there, half caging her against the bar.
Donning the most unaffected expression on the planet, she looked at him then said, “You bought this place out of spite.”
“It was a good investment.” He put a small amount of space between them. “For financial reasons as well as for sustenance.”
“You’re one of the Aged.” An understatement. “You have vampires throwing themselves at your feet. You don’t need humans.”
“Every vampire needs dessert on occasion.”
Next time, you will scream my name. Nora didn’t know why those words ran through her mind. Maybe it was his voice, that low, rumbling octave that betrayed the amount of power he held inside his very memorable body.
“Is this a bad time to offer a dust pan?” a voice piped up.
Nora looked at the ridiculously adorned vampire on the other side of the bar who held out a dirty white dust pan like he actually thought she might clean up the broken glass.
Loud laughter erupted from the corner her friends occupied. Nora didn’t tense, but the sound grated against her nerves as much as these vampires did.
“Vodka martini,” Nora snapped.
The dust pan-bearing vampire scowled. “I do not wait on—”
Jared looked at him.
With a roll of his eyes, he said, “Apparently, I do.”
He handed the dust pan off to a human then grabbed a martini glass and the bottle of vodka from the back shelf.
“It will not take the edge off,” Jared said.
More laughter came from her friends. She kept her gaze locked on the vampire pouring her drink.
“Why did you come?” Jared asked.
“They’re my friends.”
“Yet you are here with me.”
“I am not with you,” she said, glaring. “You shouldn’t be here. This is my domain.”
“Now it is mine.”
“Are you in the market for a wine bar?”
She didn’t respond.
“Perhaps the more appropriate question is if your father is in the market for one? Since you are one of his agents, your priority is of course to carry out his agenda.”
That was a deliberate jab against her freedom, or lack thereof.
“Tell me, Nora. Did you return to your pack after we fucked? Or did you make excuses to stay far away?”
Her body flushed, partly because his suspicion was correct—she’d avoided the pack—and partly because of the cultured way he spoke the word fucked. It vibrated something deep inside of her.
She controlled her response before it radiated enough for him to notice. For the first time that night, she faced him fully, letting him have an unobstructed view of her tight dress. His gaze lingered on her throat before he took in her breasts, her narrow waist, her long, smooth legs.
“What exactly do you want?” she asked.
“Have I not made that clear?”
“Perhaps the more appropriate question is what does your master want? Since you’re his scion, you don’t fuck without his permission.”
She couldn’t tell if the twitch of his mouth was a semi-smile or a sneer.
“I would take you on the countertop this time.”
She maintained control of her expression, her posture, even the wolf beneath her skin, but her body temperature shot up, and a deep throb of desire pulsed between her legs. It was so very tempting. She’d spoken the truth, though. He was Arcuro’s puppet. Jared had a motive for being there.
“Nora!” Jennifer’s shrill voice preceded her approach. “He let you in!” Her friend swayed between her and Jared, barely catching herself on the bar.
“How is it possible you are already drunk?” Nora asked.
“I’m only drunk because you’re not.” Jennifer waved toward the vampire bearing Nora’s martini.
Nora grabbed her drink and started to turn away.
“That will be twenty dollars,” the vampire said.
Jennifer made a choking sound. “That’s way overpriced, man.”
The vampire shrugged. “New owner.”
Nora had the sudden desire to choke him with his fancy jacket. Instead, she downed the martini then tossed the glass over the bar.
The vampire stared down at the mess, looking utterly offended, then he looked at his master. “Honestly, she is uncivilized.”
“Woah.” Jennifer leaned her back against the bar and stared at Jared. “Who are you?”
She didn’t even recognize him, that’s how strong Jared’s mental powers were.
Jared didn’t glance at her. “Do you wish to escape the festivities?” he asked Nora.
People thought she was cold and aloof? Compared to Jared, she was sunny and sociable. Definitely civilized.
“Not interested,” Nora said. She grabbed Jennifer’s arm and, as she maneuvered her back to their friends, she felt a deep sense of satisfaction at the blatant shock that had widened Jared’s eyes.
Let me know what you think of their story so far! And to read all the Nora and Jared scenes I've written, click here.