Copyright © 2017 by Betty Shreffler
“What is your name?”
A sharp, painful smack of a wooden staff cracked the outside of her thigh.
She grimaced. “Anya Carlisle.”
“What are you, Anya?”
The staff snapped with precise efficiency against her shoulder.
“An Arcane Hunter,” she growled.
“What is the sole purpose of an Arcane Hunter?”
Anya’s own staff rang in her ears as she blocked the next blow.
“To hunt and kill preternatural demons. Those that live among us, hidden by their powers. My duty is to balance the scale.”
Anya’s eyes caught the twitch in her trainer’s shoulder. She shifted her foot and ducked as the lengthy, thin wooden staff of pain missed her left shoulder. She swung her own, hitting the backside of Dillon’s knee. His leg reflexively bent forward giving her the opportunity to spin and swing, applying another debilitating blow to her trainer’s back.
His teeth clenched as he stomached the pain. He lowered his staff. She cautiously lowered hers.
“Very good, Anya. You’re quickly exceeding my expectations. You’ve surpassed your brother’s skills.”
Anya instinctively swung her staff forward, blocking another strike intended for her ankles. Her staff cracked against her trainer’s. His eyes gleamed proudly.
She followed Dillon to the wall and tucked her staff into its place in the rack.
“How will I know when I’ve found them?”
She looked to her longtime mentor and trainer.
He smiled, the wrinkles in his warm chocolate eyes creasing. “You’ll know when you’re around them. Your instincts will tell you. Instincts I am confident you possess.”
Anya pulled the soft white towel from atop the bench and her shoes. She wiped the towel over her face and neck, removing the damp sweat settled there.
“My first kill? What will it be like? What will I be like after?”
Dillon placed a firm hand on her shoulder. Her eyes drifted to his.
“You’ll kill quickly. The troubling sensation will fade. It’s your duty, Anya. Remember that, always.”
Anya clenched her fist and teeth and swung—once, twice, a third time—her knuckles reddening from the coarse impact of her tender skin against the boxing bag. She swung her body, raising her leg high, contacting the bag just below her shin. Her best friend, Jackson, staggered in his attempt to hold the bag still.
“Easy, girl, this bag didn’t do anything to you.”
Anya rolled her eyes and shoved another fist into the bag.
“All right, what’s going on?”
She slowed the force of her swings. “I’m done, Jackson. I’m walking away.”
Jackson stared at her, confused. “What do you mean you’re walking away? Isn’t it your duty as an Arcane Hunter to protect schmucks like me?”
Her fist hit the bag, taking with it her anger and confusion. She placed her hands against the bag, leaning into it. “I used to believe that when I was younger. I thought I had been born into a destiny to protect the innocent. I’m not so sure anymore.”
She glanced at Jackson, admiring his toned biceps, short, dirty-blond hair and pleasant face. He was an attractive guy that women often flocked to, but she wasn’t one of them. His personality had always been a perfect match to hers, but only as a friend. Romantically it just wasn’t there, never had been. Only once in their ten years of being friends had he shown interest in her. At sixteen, she and her twin brother, Leo, had moved to Jackson’s town. As the new girl, every boy in the school saw her as fresh meat. Jackson had been one of the only boys to treat her as a female worth respecting. She’d grown fond of him quickly and appreciated that he wasn’t buddies with her popular, cocky, football-star brother, even though he played on the same team as him.
Jackson helped keep the lascivious boys away because everyone assumed they were a couple. Because of Jackson, her first year at Middleton High had been better than any other year at the multiple schools she’d attended. On her seventeenth birthday when he admitted he had a crush on her at a high school party, it was incredibly difficult to admit she didn’t feel the same. Thankfully Jackson healed quickly from his wounds when a girl on the marching band showed interest in him. Their friendship took a backseat to his new obsession, Leyna, but it couldn’t keep them apart. Every fight he and Leyna had sent him to Anya’s house as an escape from Leyna’s nagging. His frequent visits came more often when her training started. He loved having a “tough” female best friend that he could work out with and ask “girl” questions. Not that she was the best one to give advice.
Her own relationships had been few and then completely nonexistent once her training as an Arcane Hunter began. Jackson had been the only friend she could confide in once her world got turned upside down by the knowledge that demons existed and she’d been born into a legacy required to hunt and kill them.
She sighed heavily. “The last one, he seemed like a normal guy, had a family, a normal job, but the Arcane Society insisted he be destroyed. The man begged me not to kill him. Said he detested what he was and that he just wanted to live a normal life.”
Jackson’s expression contorted, sadness filling his eyes. “That’s rough, Awn.
What did you do?”
“I apologized for what I had to do. Told him if it wasn’t me it would be another hunter and I could at least give him a merciful and peaceful death.”
Anya turned away from Jackson; she couldn’t bear to see the dejection on his face. She walked to the bench and grabbed the towel out of her gym bag and wiped her face and neck with it. She heard him approaching. She grabbed her bottle of water and chugged.
“You did what you had to do. From what you’ve told me about the Arcane Society it would have been worse for you and him if you hadn’t followed through.”
She lowered the bottle. “That’s just it. What if I stop? What if I refuse to do their dirty work? I’d like a normal life, Jacks. I’d like to make friends, have a normal job, have a relationship and not have to hide what I am.”
Jackson lifted his own bottle, popping the top. He took a swig and looked at her as the thoughts evidently formed in his head. “What would happen if you stopped taking their orders? What would Leo do?”
She glanced at the gym mats, contemplating the consequences. She looked back at Jackson. “Leo’s busy working on acquiring a position in the Society’s ranks. We barely ever see or speak to each other. I’d be amazed if he’d even notice if I stopped responding to the Society’s orders.”
“He’d notice. You know how he is.”
Anya frowned. “Seems that’s the only time I ever receive his attention is when I’m beating him at something or making him look bad.” Anya leaned down, shoving her towel into her gym bag, and pulled the strap over her shoulder. “This isn’t about him though. This is about me. I’ve already made my choice. I’m done.”
Jackson grabbed his own bag. “Should we celebrate your mutiny then? Thomas and Joe want to go out to Donatello’s tonight.”
They stepped in line with one another. Anya eyed him questioningly. “Seriously? Donatello’s? It’s a strip club. What fun am I going to have there?”
Jackson pushed the exit door open for her. The sun’s bright rays blinded her momentarily. She squinted as she walked out.
“It’s not just a strip club. It’s a nightclub with a bar and dance floor. The strippers are in the back. If you’re willing to pay, you get the private shows.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“I’ll pick you up at eight.” Jackson gave his boyish grin as he headed to his sporty Subaru.
Anya tossed her bag into her Jeep. “You’re buying drinks then.”
Anya stepped into her one-bedroom studio apartment and dropped her bag by her bed. She pulled her tank top over her head and padded to her bathroom shower. She jumped in, turning the water to a cooler temperature. Placing her hands on the walls, she let the silky water pour over her face. Flashes of the demon she’d killed the night before crept into her thoughts. She shook her head and opened her eyes, grabbing for the soap.
There was no going back, she was done. She couldn’t continue doing the dirty work of the Arcane Society. All her recent orders had left her with a sullen empty feeling after each kill. The demons seemed like normal citizens or at least they were trying to live that way. Her duty was to balance the scale. Lately it felt the scale was tipping more toward the Arcane Society’s preferences.
Her own brother had become swept up by the power the Arcane Society possessed. Hungry for his own power, he’d played the politics perfectly and killed mercilessly, raising him to the status of their golden prince, destined to be a member of the board.
She couldn’t even remember the last time she recognized him as a person with humanity or compassion. It had been too long. As soon as he hit puberty, she’d become nothing but competition to him or an annoying sister that got in his way. Once they started training they’d split apart further because she’d grown in her hunter skills far faster than he had. Perhaps because her social and romantic life had been nil, leaving lots of room for studying demonology and combat training.
Leo, on the other hand, had been preoccupied with his popularity contest, dating every attractive female that would give him the time of day, and many did, as well as his beloved football. He was the star quarterback and more than anything Leo enjoyed being the star of everything.
Anya stepped out of the shower, ringing the water from her long, wavy, auburn hair. She wrapped a towel around herself and walked to the round mirror. She admired her oddly colored eyes—one a mixture of golden hazel and pale green and the other a solid pale green. A feature she and her brother shared. The only feature they shared.
While her hair was wavy and auburn and her body molded into a petite, toned, tight package, her brother had jet black hair, the height of a giant and muscles to match. Muscles that never left him no matter how much junk food he ate. Another feature they didn’t share. If she even looked at a cupcake she’d gain weight. That didn’t stop her from enjoying them though. Cupcakes were her secret indulgence, but she always spent the time in the gym to make up for it.
After a blow-dry, light makeup, denim jeans, a flowing tank top, and dangly earrings, she nibbled on her most recent leftovers while she awaited Jackson to arrive. If only she’d learned to cook, she might be enjoying something better than leftover rice and chicken. With a dead mother, and a father who was more interested in his position in the Arcane Society, leaving them moving across the country too many times to count, she never learned to cook. Thankfully living in Atlanta, GA, gave her a plethora of restaurant options. She was working on learning to cook though. She’d successfully mastered a grilled cheese sandwich and warming a can of soup. Jackson praised her grilled cheese–making skills and assured her it was a valuable asset to have in a relationship.
Like she’d know. Being an Arcane Hunter had her going out at all times of the day and night. Her neighbors looked at her strangely enough with her odd behaviors, then add the random blood and cuts. There was no way she could explain those behaviors to a guy she was dating. Unfortunately her relationships consisted of either long bouts of celibacy or short flings. Another reason she wanted to quit the Arcane Society. She’d like to find someone while she was still young and able.
A honk outside her door had her stuffing the Styrofoam container back into her fridge and grabbing her wallet and keys as she rushed out the door. Jackson smiled and waved out the open window of his blue Subaru WRX. Through the open window she could see Thomas and Joe socializing in the backseat. She hopped in and Jackson quickly put the car into reverse, exiting her driveway before she had her seatbelt clicked.
Joe leaned into the front. “Glad you came, Awn. This bar is dope. I’ve been there two times this week. The entertainment is addictive.”
Anya rolled her eyes. “Uh-huh, you mean the strip shows in the back? Pretty soon you’ll be a regular with a nickname and a hole in your wallet.”
Joe shoved her shoulder like she was one of the guys, which admittedly she’d become just that. Her femininity ended with her looks. She could put a beer down faster than any of them and probably throw a punch harder too. A test she always avoided when they got drunk and taunted her to give them her best shot. She feared she’d break bones and she’d never stop feeling sorry about it.
“Does Lily know you’ve visited this place twice this week?”
Joe waved his hand in the air. “Lily does her own thing. She doesn’t care what I do as long as I come home to her at the end of the night.”
She may not know much about relationships, but she surely wouldn’t be comfortable with that arrangement if she did have one.
“Jackson says you’re looking for a new job. My sister works at the hair salon on Fifth and George. She could put a good word in for you.”
Anya looked back at Thomas, surprised. “I don’t have the slightest clue how to do hair or nails.”
Thomas laughed. “I know. They’re looking for someone to run the register.”
“Oh. That’s a nice offer, but not quite what I’m looking for.”
Thomas nodded. “What are you looking for?”
Anya turned forward, staring out at the streetlights and people walking around town. “I don’t know yet.”
A fast turn and Jackson had tires squealing as they lurched into the parking lot of Donatello’s.
“Easy, Jacks, I’d like my stomach to stay where it is.”
Thomas smacked the back of his seat. “I think Jacks here is a little excited to see what’s inside.”
Anya eyed him, disappointed. His cheeks glowed pink as he shrugged.
The four of them exited and stopped at the back of the short line into the club.
“Have your IDs ready,” Joe told them.
Anya pulled it out of her wallet and twisted it impatiently through her fingers until they reached the expressionless and scary-looking bouncer. She showed him hers first and he waved her in with the same emotionless expression.
She stepped through the heavy metal door and resisted the urge to slap Joe as he nearly shoved her out of his way to get into the club. They walked through a short hallway that opened up to a massive dance floor with tons of people jam-packed onto it. A few tables were scattered here and there with people filling them too. At the bar on the right, red lights lit up the choices of liquor and highlighted the attractive bartenders. Most seats were taken there as well. As the heat of the sweaty dancers and the warm temperature of the club hit her, she motioned to the bar.
“I’m getting refreshments. Want any?”
Jackson withdrew his glossy eyes from the women on the dance floor and nodded at her.
“Yeah, get a few beers. I’ll find a table.”
She nodded and left him to his undoubtedly fruitless task.
She straddled a stool and motioned for the nearest bartender. She waved, her pretty blond curls bouncing as she approached.
“What can I get ya?”
“A bucket. Corona Light. Also a lemon drop shot while I’m here.”
The bartender nodded and moved off to get the orders. Anya swiveled on her stool, watching the crowd of dancers bounce, thump, and hump their way into drunken bliss. The hair on her skin raised and she instantly knew a demon was near. She exhaled and turned her barstool back to the bar, ignoring the signs. The bartender dropped the bucket and shot in front of her. She licked the edge of the shot glass, swallowed the liquor and bit into the lemon to soothe the bitter taste. A little shiver ran over her neck and shoulders as the liquor worked its way through her. She smiled at the bartender, leaving a large bill, and began her search for her women-hunting guy friends. To her surprise, she found Jackson at a table talking to a pretty young woman with long, straight, black hair and bangs. Her bright blue eyes glanced up at her as she approached. The woman whispered something into Jackson’s ear, never taking her eyes off Anya.
As Anya neared, the same hair raising sensation shimmied over her skin. She eyed the woman with interest. What demon was she? Stunningly attractive. Check. Seductive eyes. Check. Whispering sweet nothings into Jackson’s ear. Check. Jealous possessive expression. Check. Succubus. Check.
Anya set the bucket on the table with an added thump. Jackson’s attention whipped toward her.
“Who’s your friend?” Anya smiled.
The woman’s own smile spread wickedly across her face.
“I’m Serena. I work here. I was just offering your friend here a tour of the place. You should join us.”
Anya’s brow raised. She had no interest in getting a tour, but now she had to. Jackson was in the crosshairs of a sex-hungry succubus surely looking for her next victim.
“I’d love to.”
“Wonderful. Grab a beer. Bring it with you,” she suggested all too sweetly.
She and Jackson followed Serena to a door off to the side of the dance floor. It opened into a dimly lit hallway that turned into another and then another. Had she known the tour would be through a maze, she would’ve starting tracking their steps and turns. Another two turns and they entered a red and black room with equally tacky red and black furniture and far too many doors along the walls. Apparently the room was supposed to have sex appeal, but between its stench and porn-like atmosphere she wasn’t impressed.
“Wait here. I’ll have some drinks brought out for you as well as some sweet delicacies.” The last word escaped her lips with a little too much sexual orientation for Anya’s comfort. Not to mention her fiery eyes glued securely to Jackson’s body.
As soon as she turned the corner, Anya slapped Jackson’s shoulder to snap him out of the apparent daze he was in.
“Jackson. She’s a succubus demon. Stay away from her!”
“What? Her, no. What’s a succubus again?”
“She gains strength and energy by feeding off your arousal.” Anya glanced downward.
“Oh.” Jackson nodded. “That doesn’t sound so bad.”
Anya rolled her eyes. “It doesn’t at first until you become addicted to her seduction and she starts draining you physically as well as your wallet. Succubi are greedy and dangerous demons, Jackson. Stay away from her!” Anya stood. “We should get back to the club before she returns.”
If only they’d moved sooner. Serena rounded the corner with a tray of drinks and chocolate-covered fruits along with a young, attractive guy plucked from a modeling ad. She set the tray down on the coffee table in front of them.
“Please help yourself to whatever you’d like. Your friend Joe paid for you to enjoy the VIP treatment.” She waved her hand over the options of drinks and forbidden fruits. Jackson reached for a glass of what appeared to be whiskey and then plucked a chocolate-covered strawberry from the tray.
Anya let out a breath as her demon alarm system rattled her brain and body.
“Have a seat, Awn. Might as well enjoy yourself. Joe paid for it.”
Anya sat back down and pinched the bridge of her nose in an attempt to ease the growing headache.
“After you’ve enjoyed your refreshments we’ll continue the tour and take each of you to an area that will be more befitting to your tastes.”
Anya’s gut wrenched. “Tastes?” she asked, eyeing the newcomer with curiosity. Evidently the pretty young man had been brought out to entertain her. By the sensation crawling across her skin there was no doubt he was an incubus. Two in one club. Go figure.
Anya glanced over at Serena, who’d managed to slip into Jackson’s lap and was massaging her fingers through his hair as his eyes glazed over with pleasure. Anya stood back up, irritated. The longer they remained, the more uncomfortable the feeling in the pit of her stomach became.
“Thanks for the VIP treatment, but I think it’s time we get back and find our friends.”
The attractive, blond young man stepped closer. “Your friends are enjoying their own VIP treatment. Why don’t you come with me? There’s more to show you.” The perfect male specimen put his hand out for her to take.
Anya looked at Jackson, whose head had rolled back with an enamored smile spread over his face. Serena continued whispering in his ear, surely enchanting him with her abilities.
“Jackson!” Anya snapped.
He tilted his head and looked at her, irritation filling his eyes. “What?”
“It’s time to go.”
He shook his head. “Go on and go if you want to. I’m staying here.” His dazed eyes flashed over Serena as he grinned and bit his lip.
Anya stepped forward. The blond incubus grabbed her arm. She whipped her head toward him, her eyes piercing him. He instantly dropped his hand.
“Your friend wants to enjoy the VIP room. Serena will escort him out later,” he told her politely.
“I’m not leaving without him.” Her eyes narrowed.
Jackson stood up as Serena slid off his lap and tugged his hand toward a door. “Jeez, Awn, you’re being a buzzkill. Go back out. I’ll see you later.”
Before she could protest further, Serena slipped him through one of the doors, eyeing her with a victorious and wicked smile as she closed the door behind them.
“He’ll be fine. Serena takes very good care of VIPs. Now, why don’t I show you around the rest of the place? Bring a drink if you’d like.”
Anya’s stomach knotted. This was her opportunity to follow through on her declaration. Kill the demon in front of her and then kill Serena and cause who knows what kind of problems with management and possibly the police, or let them live. She eyed the tall, spiky-haired, smooth-skinned, toned model in front of her.
“Lead the way.”
Against her better judgment she grabbed a drink off the tray and swiped a strawberry, popping it into her mouth.
The pretty incubus smiled a mouth full of perfect, white teeth and motioned toward a door.
She swallowed the juicy, delicious strawberry. “I’m not interested in a show,” she announced.
The incubus let out a humored laugh. “I didn’t think you were. My name’s Ryan. I thought maybe I’d give you a massage, show you around and then take you back out to the main floor. Figured I will have at least satisfied my duty of entertaining you with those activities.”
Anya contemplated the idea. A massage from a ridiculously pretty male wouldn’t be so bad, even if he was an incubus demon.
“All right, but if you get too handsy, I’ll knock you on your ass.”
Ryan smiled. “Deal.”
Ryan guided them to a separate door and opened it for her to enter. She walked into a room that smelled divine, as though she’d entered a very expensive spa. She pulled the scents into her with each deep breath. Her muscles relaxed instantly. Surprisingly, she didn’t twitch when Ryan rubbed along her arm before gently taking her hand and guiding her to the petite bed in the middle of the room.
“Have a seat. I’ll warm the oils.”
Anya sat on the edge of the silky, red, sheet-covered bed and glanced around the room. It was set up just like a spa with a massage bed, a cabinet for oils, a hot stone and towel warmer. Pretty paintings on the walls, quiet soft music and dim lighting. She couldn’t help wondering what each door led to and what kind of room Jackson was in or the fact that this place kept surprising her with its selection of rooms and activities.
“This club offers a lot more than what it advertises.”
Ryan returned with a bottle and a hot towel. He gently brushed her hair to the side and placed the warm towel around her neck. The heat warming against her skin soothed the dull ache in her head.
“It does. I enjoy working here. Every day is different. The club and bar bring in enough business, but the VIP clients have grown. We’ve recently added a few new luxuries to accommodate different tastes.”
Anya caught a glimmer of Ryan’s eyes brightening to their natural demon green before it faded and disappeared as if it didn’t happen at all. The slight transition reminded her of what she’d already forgotten. She was locked in a room, alone, with an incubus. A sex driven, powerful demon who won over their victims with seduction. Her body tensed.
“You and Serena keep mentioning client tastes. Makes me wonder what kind of activities go on with VIPs other than strip shows and massages. Sounds like you might be offering happy endings for your clients. Was that the owner’s idea?”
Ryan moved to the side of her and set down the oil. His eyes glimmered brightly. “Time to undress. I’ll step out, so you can slip comfortably under the sheets.”
If that wasn’t a complete aversion to a question, she didn’t know what was. She eyed his back as he stepped out the door. Was she really going to get a massage from an incubus? She hadn’t only turned her back on her duty, she was staring danger in its face and saying, F-off. The stiff, gray-haired board members of the Arcane Society would be turning in their seats if they knew what she was doing. The thought brought a smile to her lips. Yes, she was going to do it and enjoy every minute of it. She didn’t have anything to worry about anyway. As an Arcane Hunter she had the good fortune of being immune to an incubus’s seduction or any other demon’s tricks.
She slipped out of her shirt, jeans and shoes and tossed them on the nearby chair. She slid under the red, silky sheet just before Ryan tapped on the door.
He walked back in, smiling with satisfaction. He’d probably expected her to still be clothed and ready to leave. He folded the sheet away from her right leg and lathered his hands with oil. As soon as his warm hands touched her foot her brain melted. She gurgled with drool and mumbled ooohs and ahs. His warm hands moved up her leg to her calf, kneading his thumbs into her sore muscles. When his hands reached her thigh she squirmed slightly at the uncontrolled arousal that tickled her. She’d been in one of the long periods of celibacy and apparently her body thought now was the best time to remind her of it.
She saw the slight glimmer of green fill his eyes and leave as he eyed her with apparent interest.
“You’re enjoying this more than I expected you to.”
His hands moved to her behind, kneading the tender muscle just below her right cheek. Her nipples hardened and her arousal spread further than she was comfortable with. She wiggled out of his warm, delightful hands, holding the sheet to her chest.
“I think you’ve more than fulfilled your duty of entertaining me. It’s time I get back and find my friends.”
Ryan slid the sheet up, placing his hand on her thigh. He leaned in closer, putting his pouty lips uncomfortably close to hers. “Are you sure that’s what you really want?”
Anya’s stomach tightened. She glanced down at his hand, then back to him, raising a brow. “Remember the deal? I will put you on your ass.” She nodded her head to the door. “Step out.”
Ryan’s face grew serious, confusion filling his eyes. Surely he couldn’t determine why she’d slithered out of his seductive grasp so easily. He moped to the door and stepped outside it. She quickly dressed, ready to find Jackson and the others and leave as soon as possible.
She walked out into the red and black waiting room and nearly lost her legs beneath her when the man talking to Ryan looked at her. He was undeniably the most beautiful man she’d ever laid eyes on. A mixture of Asian, Brazilian and American wrapped into a tall, messy dark-haired, black-eyed, perfectly toned package with a smooth face of an angel. His eyes locked on hers and the arousal she had so carefully tucked away came back with a vengeance, taunting her between her thighs. She swallowed as the same arousal seemed to cross his face. Her nipples hardened at the desirous look glossed over his eyes. She lost all train of thought. Her brain turned to instant mush and all she wanted to do was pounce and give in to that burning desire that so cruelly plagued her.
With some sort of apparent hesitation, his eyes broke away from her. He glared at Ryan and then leaned in, sharing a private word with him. Ryan shook his head no and the man seemed pleased with his response. The ridiculously sexy mystery man returned his attention to her and as soon as his eyes locked on hers again the fire in her belly rumbled, pushing its way to the surface. She felt flush and surely her cheeks revealed it.
He smiled at her and his perfect plump lips gave way to shiny white teeth and a darker more seductive look in his eyes. He walked toward her and her legs didn’t budge. She was frozen in ice. He approached her, standing quite close, and she could smell his delightful musky scent. She wanted to touch, caress and fondle every part of him. His dark-gray t-shirt lay against a solid chest and revealed toned biceps beneath the sleeves. The front of the t-shirt was tucked into his jeans. Jeans that covered long legs and a round bulge, sizeable and enticing. A necklace hung from his neck with a wooden sparrow dangling from it and a leather bracelet covered his right wrist. His eyes narrowed in on her, studying her—studying him—and then it hit her. The sensation crawled across her skin, leaving misery in its wake. The stunningly handsome man in front of her was a demon.
“I’m Dex.” He pointed to a camera in the corner of the room. “I work security.”
She glanced at the camera and then back at his beautiful face as the words caught in her throat. She knew English, she really did, but he’d just made her forget her entire vocabulary.
“…nya,” she managed to mumble. Her head started to clear as her cheeks warmed. She shook her head. “Sorry, I’m Anya. Nice to meet you.”
Dex’s head tilted and he gave what appeared to be an expression of affection. “No worries. You’ve had alcohol and a massage. I’m sure your mind is pretty relaxed about now.”
Relaxed! Ha! Nope, not relaxed. Firing on all cylinders and a bit stunned is more like it.
“I’ve had two drinks and my leg massaged. That’s not quite a brain-melting experience in my book.”
Dex’s eyes studied her closely, seemingly interested in something about her. “Only a leg massage?” He glanced at Ryan, whose back she saw disappearing down the hall. “You didn’t like the massage Ryan gave?”
“Nope. It wasn’t my choice to come back here. I came to Donatello’s with a few friends. One of them paid for me and my friend to enjoy the VIP treatment. What goes on back here”—she waved her finger, motioning toward the doors—“isn’t for me.”
A grin spread over his face. He seemed pleased with her response. His eyes glimmered and with a slight shift of his head the demon green appeared and faded just as quickly.
“What do you like and how do you like it?”
Anya swallowed the tennis ball in her throat. Her muscles tightened as intense heat ignited in her belly, traveling to her thighs and remaining there pulsing like a damn sex beacon. Her brain couldn’t grasp the direct sexual connotation of his question. She stood staring, stunned and equally aroused. She may be immune to an incubus’s seduction, but this incubus had extraordinary gifts. Gifts she admittedly wanted to explore.
When she didn’t answer, he stepped closer. Her legs came back to life, moving with her as she instinctively took a step back, putting space between her and this all-too-tempting demon. Her back hit the wall and his lips raised into a seductive smile as his arm lifted above her head, supporting him as he leaned in closer, his face much too close to hers.
His free hand came up and caressed her lip with just enough sensuality to send arousal whipping through her body.
“I can take my time figuring it out, and based on the looks of it, I think you want me to.”
This demon was sure he had her in his crosshairs. Her eyes narrowed. She put her hand on his chest, surprised by the strength of it and her body’s reaction to touching him. She pushed forward, removing him from her very intimate and personal space. His arm dropped and his body tensed.
“I’m interested in the way out. Let’s leave it at that.”
The demon green started to flicker in his eyes. He blinked and it was gone. His expression shifted from surprised to composed. “I’ll escort you out.”
Anya moved away from the wall, motivating them toward the exit of the waiting room. “I appreciate it.”
Dex led them down a dark hall with, of course, more doors. He glanced over at her as they walked side by side, studying her with an expression of fascination. Her desire aggressively fought her thoughts. The tension between them too obvious to ignore. She avoided looking at his handsome face, chiseled jaw, and tasty lips.
“Sorry for coming on strong. You’re a beautiful woman. I admit, I wanted to kiss you back there and I’ve only just met you.”
This demon wasn’t giving up, and unfortunately part of her didn’t want him to. What would it be like kissing an incubus? From the looks of him she imagined his kiss would be intoxicating and addictive. He stopped walking when she didn’t respond. She stopped too and turned to see the cause. His eyes flickered with green and he moved in fast, placing her face in his hands and pushing her body against the wall with his.
His tender lips sent sparks of fire trickling across her skin. The warmth and taste of his kiss was like creamy chocolate poured over a sweet slice of fruit—delicate and delicious. His hand tangled in her hair and rubbed along the nape of her neck as his kiss deepened. With his free hand he gently thumbed her waist as he placed his hand around it, pulling her in closer to him. His body heat emanated off him, cozy like a warm fire. She wanted to wrap herself in his arms and feel the flames against her naked body.
She heard a door click open. He gently pushed her inside the room connected to it. He kicked the door closed with his boot as his hands discovered her body. A gentle graze over her breast and her arousal exploded, a pent-up hunger on the verge of devouring the incredibly sexy man touching her. As their lips parted, needing air, her lips burned from the fire of his kiss. Her head swam with dizziness. The room a blur. She could only feel, touch and smell. All else evaporated like mist.
She pulled at his shirt, lifting it. Her eyes absorbed the chiseled smooth chest and eight pack. Her hands dove for his abs, clawed at his belt and jeans. He pulled her shirt over her head and took in her petite breasts. He grinned as he pawed at the front clasp. Her breasts fell free as the clasp opened, the fabric falling to the sides. His eyes darkened, green flecks filling them, as he worked her out of her jeans.
He lifted her onto a soft surface, what, she didn’t care. His jeans dropped to his knees, leaving black briefs. She pulled at them and his black eyes watched her possessively. When the briefs dropped, his erection sprung forward. She licked her lips, admiring the size and perfectly trimmed patch of hair around it.
His warm hands grasped her legs, pulling her forward. She spread them, ready to take him. He leaned over her, placing his soft lips against hers, soothing the burn with his tender kiss. He took hold of his erection and found her, pushing inside of her, giving her the fire her body ached to have. His strokes were smooth, rhythmic, driving her mind and body ablaze. Her thighs clung to him as he moved in deeper, his rhythm increasing. She broke from his intoxicating kiss and arched her back as the orgasm swept through her, dancing over her body, sending her into a brief paradise.
He continued working her slowly, rhythmically, absorbing her arousal. His eyes flashed their demon green as his muscles tightened, a low moan escaping his lips. He eyed her with dark possessive eyes. The demon green gone as though it never existed. He leaned in and kissed her roughly, passionately, his lips devouring hers. He pulled away and stared at her with what appeared as affection.
“I think I found what you like.”
She couldn’t help smiling at the affectionate and playful comment, especially with his hands holding her gently, giving her body much needed warmth. He pulled away from her and her body instantly ached to have him touching her again. As if he sensed it, he stepped forward, putting his hand to her face and caressing it before he leaned in and kissed her with his sweet, soft lips.
“I’d like to see you again.”
Her mind started to clear. She was in a dark room with only one tall lamp in the corner giving enough light for her to see she was sitting on another massage table. Around her were several more. It appeared he’d slipped her into a storage room of some sort. How convenient. She grabbed her clothes and started dressing, baffled by how easily she’d given in to sex with a guy she didn’t know. Had she really been that desperate for a man’s touch? That she’d resort to sleeping with a demon, an incubus of all demons? She turned her body away from him as she clasped her bra and put on her shirt. She noticed her slower more relaxed movements. He’d surely drained some of her energy. The thought disgusted her.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
He stepped up to her, placing a hand to her waist and turning her toward him. “Are you all right with what just happened?”
She couldn’t look at him. “I need to get back and find my friends.”
He dropped his hand and turned toward the door. He stopped with his hand on the knob, and looked back at her. His dark eyes studied her, softening as they stared at her. “I hope you change your mind. In case you do…” He pulled a business card from his pocket and handed it to her. She took it from his hand and pocketed it without looking at it.
He opened the door for her to step out. She walked with him in uncomfortable silence, down several halls and turns before coming to the door she and Jackson had originally entered. The metal door opened to the thumping of music and the busyness of the club and its dancers. She glanced back at Dex. His dark eyes remained locked on her as he watched her glide into the crowd of sweaty, aroused dancers. The memory of his touch swam across her skin and her stomach knotted as her own arousal tickled her.
She moved left, then right, intentionally hiding herself among the dancers. She glanced back again to see the door closed and Dex gone. She made a direct line for the bar. The pretty blond came over and smiled.
“A shot of peach whiskey if you have it. Make it a double.”
She slid onto the barstool and palmed her face as the bartender whisked off to make her drink. A hand grabbed her shoulder and roughly turned her. She tensed at the masculine touch.
“Where’ve you been? I just tried calling you.”
She turned to see Jackson’s expression a mixture of worry and irritation. Behind him Thomas and Joe stood with equally satisfied expressions. She reached for her phone in her back pocket and her stomach knotted. Her phone was gone. She’d lost it somewhere in one of the rooms she’d been in and she wasn’t about to go back and look for it. Her night quickly went from bad to worse in a matter of seconds.
“I lost my phone somewhere in the club.”
The bartender set the shot on the counter. Anya grabbed it and gulped down the fiery liquid and shivered at the final bite.
Jackson frowned at her. “You only drink whiskey when you’re upset. What happened?”
She stood from the stool and flopped a bill from her wallet onto the bar counter. “I’d rather not talk about it. You ready to go?”
He wrapped his arm around her and nodded.
Dex’s stomach bunched as he watched the dirty-blond, physically fit male put his arm around Anya, the woman he’d just had incredible sex with. A possessive desire stabbed at his insides. He didn’t understand why he’d already become infatuated with her. He’d only been with her once and it usually took several times of having sex with a human before a succubus or incubus developed any kind of possessive desires for them.
Although she didn’t seem completely human. If he had to guess, she was part demon of some sort. What kind he couldn’t put his finger on. She emanated strength and clearly his seduction didn’t affect her as well as it should have. Or maybe he was just that rusty. It’d been a while since he’d had a woman or a woman that excited him like Anya had. Correction, she excited him far more than any woman, even his ex and co-worker, Serena.
The moment he saw her walk out of the massage room he couldn’t peel his eyes away from her. It pleased him when Ryan said they hadn’t had sex; he’d wanted her all to himself. The scent of her sexual desire had been strong. He knew she wanted him too, but he couldn’t understand the look of disgust on her face after they’d been together. She’d wanted to be with him, he was sure of it. Her body willingly took his and she gave him an extraordinary amount of vitality from her orgasm. Thankfully, enough that would last him a lengthy period of time before needing another woman in his bed.
He glanced to his right to make sure Al and Greg were busy watching their screens. He hit a couple buttons on the keyboard. Anya appeared on the screen in the massage room with Ryan. His arousal swelled as he watched her undress and slide under the red sheet. Ryan re-entered and his possessive desire increased, worsening in intensity as he watched Ryan rub along her calf, thigh and then just below her right cheek. Relief filled him when she squirmed away from Ryan’s touch.
Watching her turn him down at his peak of seduction raised his lips into a smile. He watched her dress after Ryan left and saw her phone drop from her jeans pocket. He clicked a button on the keyboard and the screen switched back to a view of dancers. He left the security office, headed for the massage room.
Copyright © 2017 by Betty Shreffler
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real places are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and events are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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