“And you do?”
“I found Jean-Luc’s body, you’ll recall.”
“Tell you what If it comes to that, I’ll call you.”
“You’ve never asked for my number.”
He started writing on one of the cocktail napkins. “Here, my number, just in case you need it” He passed the napkin to her. “Please, it’s just a phone number. Keep it” She let out a breath that purposely displayed great impatience.
But she slipped the cocktail napkin into her purse.
“Why won’t you dance with me?” he asked her.
“I think I’ve been fairly plain. I don’t trust you. I don’t particularly like you.” He extended a hand toward the tightly packed dance floor. “You’re a liar. You’re very suspicious, but I intrigue you, and I think that you like me just fine.”
“Rather sure of yourself, aren’t you?”
“Maybe. But I don’t think I’m wrong.”
“Let’s see, I met you in a crypt at the exact time a man was being murdered.”
“That’s right. You know I didn’t do it.”
“But you do know something about it”
“Enough to know that you’ll put yourself in danger if you can’t learn to trust me.”
“You’ve given me nothing to trust”
“Why don’t you give yourself half a chance? Perhaps it’s just in the back of your artistic mind, and maybe it’s more than that, but I don’t believe you really think I could cause you any harm. But all that aside, just what do you think I could do out there on the dance floor? Come on—we’re appearing extremely antisocial. Be really daring, come dance with me.” He gave her no choice. He had risen, and taken her hand.
There was nothing tight or fierce about his grip at all.
She wasn’t at all certain that she could have broken it
That time between sleep ... and the rush of power upon waking ... could be the most wonderful.
And that was when she heard him.
My love . . .
The words, so soft at first, growing louder. Faint, a dream, imagination, longing, desire. And then ...
I can feel you, speak to me, where are you?
She longed to reply. Longed with every fiber of her being. The fact that he was near ... that he remained, that he was out there. Jubilation swept through her, and her reply came without thought or effort.
But then she held back.
There was something else out there. Someone. Another entity.
And when she replied, she did so carefully, already bitter, feeling a new rise of hate and determination.
But once had been long ago.
She inhaled the sweet smell of ancient earth. She felt the power of the new life, the new blood, filling her veins. Felt the warmth of that life, real, solid, strong.
I will find you . . .
Her name again. Soft, yearning.
And then the realization on his end. Silence.
They could be found.
Yes, we will find one another.
She closed off, purposely, and yet...
It was still out there. That hint of danger. Strong ...
They were many around him. Many who had rallied to him. These thoughts came to her mind, and she was bitter. Because she could sense there was more behind him than even the strength and powers with which she was acquainted.
She rose. It was night now. Darkness had descended.
And it was her time to rule the earth.
Ah, well, start small. She didn’t need to rule the earth.
Ann was having the time of her life.
Once they were on the dance floor, Tara decided wryly that Ann might have been right—perhaps she had really seen a large shepherd dog the night before—but Paris, and the surrounding villages, were full of wolves.
They all seemed to be in the bar.
Once they had begun dancing, she didn’t have to worry long about being too close to Brent Malone.
And she was close. They were bumped into every other second, it seemed, and with each bump, she was thrown hard against him. Then she realized that she had been sadly mistaken if she had thought him slim or wiry. He was lean, but must have been made of pure muscle.
No matter how hard she tried to prevent it, her mind kept going back to her cousin’s words earlier that evening: Hadn’t she ever met someone with whom she fell into instant... lust? Didn’t she ever just wonder
Yes, yes, yes. She almost wanted to scream. Each crush against him, slide of his hand, brush of his chest or thigh, was a sensual experience. She was warm, roasting, blood rushing through her, betraying her thoughts in the rise of color in her cheeks . . .
The crowd on the floor seemed to be in a collective good mood, and having fun, and men were cutting in on one another constantly. She didn’t dance with Brent long—not more than two minutes and sixty bumps— before he was forced to give way to a bearded fellow who in turn, handed her over to a young blond man.
At one point, she saw that the Lothario with the slick mustache who had just cut in on her latest partner was apparently sending his own date down the line—she had seen him with the short-haired mini-skirted redhead who was now with Brent when they had first come out on the floor.
When the song ended, she saw that he was coming across the floor for her.
But Lucian stopped him and said something to him that made him frown and pause. The two spoke for a few minutes, then he continued on his way to her.
“The others have to leave, I’m afraid.”
“You’re not going with them?”
“I’ll catch up with them later.” He hesitated. They were both slightly damp from exertion. They weren’t more than an inch apart. She realized that she had been having fun ...
And wanting more.
She had been hoping that he was going to come back for her, each time their partners changed. She was as suspicious and wary as it was possible to be, but she knew that she was attracted to him, that, in fact, she had never felt so compelled by anyone at any time before in her life. She wished that she had met him differently. She wished she was elsewhere with him. Like a deserted island. A warm deserted island where clothing was minimal, and she could reach out and touch the nakedness of the chest she had been crushed against so frequently tonight.
Staring up at him, a flood of warmth swept over her. She didn’t know his exact fantasy. It might not have been a beach. Maybe somewhere in front of a roaring fire, but wherever it was, flesh was the main thing, touching flesh, and getting closer than they had been on the dance floor.
She took a step back. Sometimes, she thought that she was a single sane person in a world gone crazy.
She knew friends who met guys at bars, never learned their last names, and slept with them. Intimacy for her had always taken time; in her life, she could count only three relationships that could be considered affairs.
She didn’t want time. Nor did she want the truth. She wanted to know nothing about his background.
She just wanted a single hour to sate the curiosity and sudden hunger that had plagued her from the first time she had seen him.
But she wasn’t accustomed to giving way, and she forced herself to step back, blink, and assess the man in her mind’s eye. She forced her eyes to his, and away from his hands, and her mind from the fantasy about what those hands would feel like if he were to touch her. Really touch.
“You don’t have to stay because of us. We can get home okay. After all, we came out alone tonight, and we’re both armed with mace. We didn’t expect to run into an escort”
“Where’s Ann?” he asked.
She turned and searched the dance floor at the rear of the bar. She could barely see her cousin through the crowd, but she saw the man. He was tall, and sandy haired. He might have been a linebacker from a football team. Her cousin was on her toes with her arms around him as she kissed him on both cheeks.
But then the man pulled her back for a moment in a long hug, his face buried against her neck, her dark hair spilling over his features.
The two pulled apart. Her cousin was flushed and smiling. As Tara stared, Ann left the man and came hurrying to the front door to say goodbye; she had apparently realized that the DeVeaus were leaving.
Ann did the kisses on the cheeks with the couple, encouraging them once again to come and see the chateau.
Tara somehow refrained from throttling her cousin. Lucian and Jade both smiled and waved to her. She forced a smile and wave in return, then turned to Brent.
“You are free to go with them!” she repeated, disturbed that words meant to be casual but firm came out in something of a desperate whisper.
“But I don’t mind following you two home, I honestly don’t mind,” Brent said. He grimaced toward the dance floor. “Wolves.”
“How do I know you’re not the worst wolf of the bunch?”
“You don’t,” he told her softly.
She didn’t have a chance to reply. Ann was suddenly between them.
She came close to speak, her voice rising above the sound of the music and the crowd as she told Brent,
“Your friends are lovely.”
The dark fellow with the mustache came up behind Ann, catching her hand, speaking in rapid French and drawing her back to the dance floor.
Tara stared at Brent, then pushed past him, making her way back to the table. He followed, taking a seat beside her.
“What is it now?”
“Surely, you can read my mind,” she challenged.
“Actually, I believe you are suspicious, wondering what business dragged them out of a bar at night.”
“They had things to do.”
She turned suddenly, wondering why she had come to the table. She couldn’t see Ann from here.
“If you want to watch your cousin, we’ll have to dance again.”
“I don’t need to watch her,” she lied.