Excerpt: Strike

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Forget the stereotypes. Strike introduces you to the unknown side of Vampires. This is a one way trip into the core of their world, and why they make us feel so alive. It’s time you were marked, like Phoebe. This is a supernatural romance written by Gemma Rice.

~ Chapter 1 ~
Like a snow cloud, I storm out into the street. Stomping through puddles caused by rain, and salt spray from the heaving waves on my right.

robot-vampireI’ve had it. Enough is bloody enough. Good for nothing jerk. All I know, is something snapped when for the gazillionth time, I had to take something used and empty, and place it into the bin. What makes men so inherently lazy like that?

Do I look like a maid?

I have a brain. I’ve got a shit-hot body, turn heads, and still end up being some lazy jerk’s maid.

I’m just walking. I do this. I get so irate that I thunder off into the dead of night. With no clear vision of where I’m going, or that I might be endangering myself.

There comes a time when you know if you don’t put some space between yourself and him urgently, someone’s going to end up damaged and broken.

Simmering, I find myself stomping down the moonlit, partially tree dappled road, away from our apartment on Beach road, walking briskly uphill toward inner Seapoint, away from the pounding ocean.

I cast a cursory glance behind me. Bet half the council people responsible for replacing those blown globes are men too. Because it’s dark isn’t it?
I’m hearing music. Defiantly I follow the sound to stairs going down. A club? Here? Why not? The neighbourhood is changing so fast, anything is possible. I’ve walked farther than I realised. Sea Point has always owned a dark array of choices for entertainment.

A drink?

Yes. Let me get totally, mindlessly, trashed out of my skull!

An opportunity to just let go and forget men that are too goddamn lazy to get their asses off sofas to throw their own trash away.
I’m blind to danger when broiling angry. With too much confidence, I tilt my chin up to a contemptuous angle and glare with a silent challenge at the black-clad men flitting around the stairs.

Looks like they’re scoring drugs if you ask me for my opinion. Not that anyone ever does.
Women were born to be told what to do, weren’t they? Good for two things, shagging and cleaning. Stuff you all.

Buy the book

I descend down dingy stairs past tall people in figure clenching garb. One thing they all have in common is the black they’re wearing.
So? I’ve got nothing against the Goth scene. So why are they all staring at me like I’m lost?
Joining the short queue at the door, I plunge a livid hand pumping with adrenalin into my jean’s pocket to find the cover fee. Okay, so I’m wearing blue jeans.

Sue me.
I’m thinking this, as the bouncer looks me over like a reject.
Staring back into his black eyes; I dig the new contact lenses, they’re so über cool. He has shoulder muscles bigger than my head and is built like Thor sculpted him, himself.

You don’t scare me. So glare your black eyes at someone else. Don’t mess with me. I’m not in the mood.
“It’s okay, she’s with me.”
I give the dude in front of me a glacial scowl.
I don’t need you to rescue me.
“No, I’m not,” I say.
The tall man who is the bouncer, in a tighter-than-tight stretch black shirt, steps in to block my way.
Show off. Just because you’re hot, you think you’re intimidating parading that six-pack at my eye level.
Swivelling my gaze to narrow my eyes at his face; okay he’s a huge mofo. I admit it. But nothing on earth is getting between me and a mind-numbing drink.
“What?” I challenge through clenched teeth.
Go on, give me a reason to castrate you.
A hand reaches past him and hooks my wrist, yanking me into the muscular wall. I smile insolently at the bouncer, as the Billy Idol wannabe drags me into strobed darkness. I don’t get it when hearing the bouncer laughing in a deep baritone, as I stumble over my own feet, being dragged along behind Mr *how long are my legs striding*.
I jump involuntarily as the strobe highlights two black shapes right next to me, wrapped in each other’s arms. The male is taller by about three inches, and his eyes are reflective red.
Wow. What a cool place to hide.
With the modern aesthetic enhancers, you could be anyone in here. I bump into Mr Rescue. Taking a step back, I look up at him.
What the heck?

He hasn’t let go of my wrist, but now his hair is brown. How the hell did he do that?
He leans down to talk to me. Swiftly, I avert my face. He smells so damn yummy. I hate biological reactions. Just when you want to hate them all and rip out every male heartbeat inside a five-mile radius, you have to get one that sets your pulse racing, don’t you? Fate is such a twerp. Twisted sense of humour.
“Why are you here?”

Feeling myself drawn, as if intoxicated. My head is like a piece of iron being sucked to a magnet called Mr Six-foot-three’s chest. Is this the literal meaning of swooning?
I shrug grumpily, “Just needed to get away. I need something strong and alcoholic.” Staring up past the square chin speckled with stubble, I jump again. His eyes are silver. “What do you care?”

He stares at me, now with blue eyes. Am I losing my mind? How can I be hallucinating? I know the expression called disapproval. Men come with it loaded standard in their artillery, and he’s giving it to me now.
Oh, go get knotted Mr. Yummy.
Yanking my wrist to pull it free from his grasp, I stalk toward the bar. The bar is a crescent, deserted space, overlooking a dance floor, sporadically highlighted with the strobe. Figures pop in and out of my vision with the stark highlight, against no light.
Oh, very funny. My simmering eyes glower around at the lyrics drowning out logic. The music is so loud, yet I recall this song. Typically the lyrics are yelling, ‘You disappoint me.’
Yeah, so freaking what.
The dude behind the bar refuses to acknowledge me, and it’s pissing me off.
“HEY!”

He glances at me and smirks. He’s way too pretty. Must be gay. Oooh, he’s psychic. That got a scowl of attention thrown my way.
“Why did you come to Pravus?”
I’m feeling annoyed and wish this guy would just leave me alone now. Do I look like I want company?
“What?”
“You’re in Pravus. Why did you come here?”
“For a drink!”
He has mirror eyes again. That’s such a cool effect. His hair is back to being blond. Totally freaky, but whatever turns him on right? Who am I to judge someone else’s weird taste, as I have irrefutably shown that mine is appalling. Just look at the loser I walked out on earlier. Where the hell are the women in this place?
Snapping fingers from Mr-Tall-and-Yummy, and a goblet is handed to him without payment. He passes it to me, standing with half of his body shielding my back, “You don’t belong here. Drink up and leave.”
Staring at the purple liquid in the pewter goblet, I ask curiously, “What is it?”
He smiles, revealing amazing teeth with long incisors, “Glühwein.”
I shrug, it’s better than nothing, right? Sip.
Oh stuff me.
It’s so freaky. It manages to feel effervescent on my tongue. Exploding flavours around my mouth, almost causing my nose to itch, like I’m going to sneeze with a hay-fever tickle, which dissipates. Sipping it slowly, inhaling the potent aroma, staring with interest into the darkness.
What? Dammit.
Everyone stares at me as they wander past, like I’m the freak at the circus. I am normal. With long black hair, blue eyes, and a petite five-foot-two figure. Why does this make me a curiosity? I glare back at each one wandering past, with a smirk plastered on yet another smooth face. So where did they hide the hairy men? Actually, I’m getting rather fed up. I didn’t come here to have strangers press more of my emotional buttons. I down my drink and slam the goblet onto the counter. Oh look, Mr Pretty is smiling at me now. He looks luminescent he’s so cadaver pale.
Turning to Mr Rescue to thank him, my breath catches, as I notice he now has brown hair and brown eyes. What a trip this guy must be. You could never get bored, he’s a different guy every thirty-two seconds.
The music is screaming into my ears, the strobe making me feel dizzy. I feel arms locking around me as my legs buckle.
Glühwein my ass. They drugged me.
Hot lips close in on mine as my legs lift off the floor. Draped in She’s-with-me’s arms, I struggle with nausea and consciousness. Red eyes pop to look down at me, laughter, music, strobing, scared.
What have I done?
Blackness. Darkness closes in and eradicates the lucidity from me.

~ Chapter 2 ~
Ouch!

Jarred into awareness, my body flinches with the attack of scorching heat accosting my spine. Forcing my eyes open, I stare at a gauzy white curtain dancing with flickering flame induced shadows.
My flesh causes my spine to ripple with reaction. I twist, to see what is causing this perpetual singe on my skin.
Oh lordy. I’m rather well secured, face down, to the bed I’m on. Instantly ill with fear, I force a swallow of nausea down.
“Ow!” Yes, bugger this. I am objecting loudly. “What the hell are you doing?”
I can’t see anything other than a strange blur of red in my peripheral vision.
Movement whispers over my skin. Someone is hovering over me, directly above me so that I can’t see them. Music is still blaring.
I won’t lie. I’m overwhelmed and way out of my comfort zone. Shees! Breath on my nape.
Hello? Am I naked?
The breathing causes my skin to ghost with cold shivers. A hot nibble on the side of my neck, followed with a voice, “What turns you on?”
Go get stuffed weirdo. “Screw you.”
“Aren’t you the eager victim?”
I get sarcastic, which is ironic considering how truly screwed I am right now. “What turns you on?” I mimic back. Men are all deranged.
A deep voice drips the answer hotly into my ear, “Adrenalin.”
“Am I pumping enough for you then?”
“A feisty appetiser. Nothing more.”
A song about going deeper is pumping through the room so loudly that it’s deafening. Well then, if this is a subliminal message, I’d say it’s blatant. I flirt briefly with the idea of panic.
But, you know what? I’m so pissed off, I don’t care if this guy is a mass murderer. I don’t care if he cuts me into little pieces. I’ve just had enough of the life merry-go-round. How is what he’s doing, any different to what we live daily? The difference is this dude is openly making me a victim. He’s not pretending to love me, he hasn’t offered any false promises, he’s being open about wanting to make me helpless; powerless.
Scary that. In this moment I have more respect for my abductor, than I do for Mr Dickhead at home.
He laughs. It holds incisive clarity and cuts through the music, scything into my ears with seductive tones.
Oh, I have so lost my mind. Maybe I’m the deranged one? At what point does a victim get Stockholm syndrome? How can I find him the least bit seductive?
“The skin is the largest organ of the body.”
“Thanks for the biology lesson, asshole.”
A strong grip holds my head as my eyes are shuttered with cloth. It’s tight. Too tight to be comfortable.
“When the eyes are blinded, we start to use our other senses with deeper clarity.”
“Is this how you get your kicks?”
Flinching, a gasp is extricated as something frost cold drips between my shoulder blades.
“Sensation is heightened.”
I let out a bored sigh and force myself to relax. I will not give him the satisfaction of a reaction.
Just kill me and get it done. Put me out of my misery.
A slow seeping heat replaces the cold. Despite my resolve, breath hisses out through clenched teeth as it begins to scorch. Freezing cold follows again.
“The skin can become so acutely aware that normal sensations can be painful to withstand.”
Something slippery and cool runs down my spine.
Ugh, it feels like a crushed slug. So gross.
“Enough! You’re demented.”
A low chuckle advances close to my ear, “Your imagination is making you sick, isn’t it?”
My stomach is tight, and I admit that bile is hovering behind my throat. The thought of what could possibly be creating these sensations makes me want to vomit.
“As fear takes hold of the mind, adrenalin increases.” He inhales next to my temple. Something sharp traces my hairline. “For one of them I find you alluring. So brave, and so very stupid.”
I arch my eyebrows, but keep my mouth firmly clamped closed. The last thing I need is to have crushed slug in my mouth. That would just make today perfect.
“Fuck!”
An expletive wrenches from me automatically, as agony explodes with a pierce impaling the skin above the dimple in my lower back.
“That is true pain. The body swiftly induces an adrenalin rush so you can withstand torture, fight me, or run for your life.”
A sensation which I assume is his tongue circles the location of the throbbing pain.
The scorch returns on the back of my thigh, “What is this?”
“Hot.”
“You can do better than that. What is it?”
“Bloody hot. I don’t know.”
A creepy cold runs down my spine. “What is it?”
“Cold.”
“And?”
“Heavy.”
“What is it?”
“I don’t know.”
His warm breath falls over my ear again, as he whispers, “Open your mind and engage me. Tell me what it is.”
I release a pent sigh. I’m tired, and this guy is a weirdo that outshines all others. He’s what I’d label, extra special. He probably won’t kill me, or release me, until I play his little game. Fine. I hazard a guess.
“Mercury?”
The weight disappears as I listen to him laugh, “Very good.”
The slimy sensations returns, “And this?”
“A slug.”
He makes a tsk-tsk noise. “Would I slide slug over the skin I intend tasting?”
Ew! He’s such a fucktoid. He’s turning into Mr Creepy – the deluxe version. I shrug awkwardly. My neck is beginning to hurt at this angle.
“Clue?” he suggests.
“What is this? You are so weird.”
A sharp sting lashes over my thighs, “You are trying my patience.”
“How do you think I feel?”
The cold pierces behind my neck. “That is a magnet.”
The heat burns into my skin on my inner thigh. “Melted chocolate, to which I am holding a flame.”
The slug rubs against my cheek. “Cucumber.”
Well, that’s a relief.
A piercing of pain runs up my sole, “Pin.”
Stinging sensation behind my legs again. “Willow rod.”
“Who are you?” I ask.
“Seithe.”
I’m experiencing the wet warmth like a tongue again, followed with a sharp pain.
“Lips, tongue, and I give up on the other part.”
Lips close over mine, scalding breath washing over me.
“Taste your lips.”
Tentatively, I run my tongue over them. Flinching reflexively as it’s caught between teeth. He sucks it into his mouth, and I can taste metal. I have the urge to cry.
His mouth releases mine from captivity and he pulls the blindfold off. I stare back at liquid silver eyes.
“You fucking freak me out, dude.”
“What is your name, girl?”
“Phoebe.”
He smiles and his eyes change to deep brown. A masculine hand pushes errant strands of hair off my face. “You forgot how exciting it is to be alive, didn’t you?”
What kind of question is that?
He snatches at my hands, releasing me in wrenching gusts of movement and carelessly commanding my body into his strength. He turns me around, and I stare at a table covered in bowls. The entire rear of the room is painted red, adorned with red lit candles.
Are we in the voodoo fetish room?
He clasps a bowl and holds it under my nose, “What is it?”
“Cinnamon.”
He repeats the process, “What is this?”
“Lemon.”
“This?”
“Menthol.”
Holding my neck tight, he demands passionately, “You take it all for granted. Your senses speak multiple languages. When was the last time you consciously used them?”
“You are so fucking strange.”
He laughs and leans over me, my skin prickles with the body heat emanating off his chest, his skin an inch from mine, “Oh, we are a long way from fucking, or strange.”
Long fingers continue holding my neck in silent intimidation, “You take breath for granted.”
“Is there a point to this?”
He lets go and folds those sexy arms over his torso. Staring at me with mild curiosity, “You’re no fun. I picked the wrong toy to play with.”
Up yours!
Male arrogance just ignited my latent rage.
I stand and shove my finger into his shoulder. “No fun? No fun! Do you think I find this fun? You drugged me, stripped me of virtually everything I was wearing and play stupid, let’s examine your senses games with me!”
Shove.
“I wasn’t planning on being fun! Men suck. You suck. Fuck you!”
Clenching my jaw so tightly it hurts. Freak.
He catches my hand in a swift movement and forces my fingers back, exposing the wrist, “Pressure points. Have you ever played with them?”
I’m really upset. Tears are wanting to be noticed and they’re pooling. My frustration and disappointment are mingling with powerlessness, again. I’m sick of being some asshole’s victim.
“No!” Tears spill over to saturate my eyelashes. “Just get lost and leave me alone!”
He drops my hand and watches me as I fumble with my jeans, which were perfectly placed next to the rumpled bed.
I’m shy and scared as he silently observes me. When my clothes are back in place, reinstating dignity, I scowl at him with all of the man hatred I can muster, “Which way out?”
A thumb rubs under my eye, “You take pain for granted. You feel such intense joy and such intense sorrow. You weep.”
“Which way out?”
“Through here.” And he pushes a hot palm over my heart. Stepping in, he wraps arms around me, “You can’t escape, Phoebe. You are a prisoner until you find the key.”
I shove at him. Glaring at blue eyes and shocking white hair, “How the hell do you do that?”
He smiles, it holds no emotion. “Phoebe, does fire burn?”
I nod uncomfortably.
“Then explain a fire walker. Explain how cold can burn as much as heat.”
“I can’t.”
“You are a prisoner until you open up your mind and your senses. You are half alive. Half dead. Wake up.”
“I WANT OUT!”
“You hold the key.”
“Thanks for being such a freak!” I start flouncing around trying to find the door.
“There is no door.”
“Then, how did we get here?”
“I willed it.”
“So unwill it.”
“Meet me again and I’ll let you go.”
“Do I have a choice?”
“You always have a choice.”
I stare at him defiantly. “Fine.”
He steps forward and puts a thumb over each of my eyes and whispers, “And the blind shall see.”
Instantly I’m rendered blind.

~ Chapter 3 ~
I wake up with my heart pounding, it’s like a jackhammer trying to shatter my ribcage.

“Whatever you took last night knocked you out cold. Where did you go?”
My wild eyes scan rapidly to encounter Mr Shithead. I narrow scornful eyes at him, “Don’t you wish you knew?”
“So? Are you over your hormones yet?”
I can’t still the drumming of my panic. I need space to assimilate what’s real, and what isn’t. I glare harder at the lazy ass I share my life with.
“Why don’t you go play with yourself?”
He thrusts his crotch in my face as he waltzes past the couch I fell asleep on, “You know you want to.”
I stare at the zip presented to me and am ill with loathing. Pushing myself off the couch, I stalk to the kitchen, “You are such a prick.”
He yells after me, “And you need an attitude adjustment!”
I put the kettle on with renewed rage. The light beyond the window hurts more than a usual hangover. What the hell was in that drink anyway?
I change my mind and dash to the shower instead. Slamming the door closed and locking it. Stripping my clothes off in panic. Abandoning them rapidly to examine my body in the mirror. I stare at the red marks, and my strength deserts me. Instantly weak and trembling, I sink down onto the edge of the bath. My breath catches as I stare at the marks on my inner thigh. I don’t remember coming home. I’ve never suffered from alcohol induced blackouts, and I don’t like having gaps in my recollection.
Angry at the uninvited invasion, I stomp to the shower and blast it. Men. They’re all trouble. Each and every one of them. Swiftly, I scrub myself down, scouring with Imperial Leather. When what I wish, is that Vanish would invent a human soap that could remove every stain off my soul, mind, lips, spirit, memory. I slap a wet palm bitterly against the cool tiles.
Why? Why do they always find me?
I obviously have victim etched into my irises, and any man who stops to look into my eyes sees ‘easy prey’.
Swivelling the tap closed, I clench my jaw in battle rage.
Fine. It’s time for me to engage in war. I’m going to make Joan of Arc look like Cinderella. I’m taking names and cutting those bastards down. Starting with the idiot who’s too freaking lazy to clean up after himself, but magically has energy for friends, hobbies and shagging.
After towelling dry, I stomp out of the bathroom and wince at the instant pain behind my eyes. Shees, it’s bright today. Bloody glare dancing off windows everywhere I look. I stalk into the sitting room, simmering for a confrontation, and am immediately deflated as I spy the post-it-note on the door.

Gone Out. See you later.

Typical.
Dropping the green towel, I wander to the kitchen to make coffee. Absently dialling Ariel’s number as I spoon coffee into the bodum.
“Hey babes. I have a question for you … Your apartment in High Level road, are you still looking for a tenant? … Delightful. I’ll do an EFT today. Can I come over to get the keys? … Half an hour? Great! Love you! … bye.”
Cradling fresh coffee, I switch on my laptop and do the transfer. Smirking indulgently at the surprise about to happen to Mr Shithead. “See you later.” I don’t think so.

I piled everything that was legitimately mine into my beat up Polo, and went over to Ari’s in Camps Bay to pick up the keys. Lived through ten full minutes of interrogation, bought her extra futon, and procured her man as my muscle for lugging it upstairs.
I love living so high, it’s light, bright, and perfect to help me feel safe living alone. On the outside it doesn’t look like much, but in here, it already fits me. I’m used to a right-on-the-ocean view, where the fog veils the windows in the early morning, and you fall asleep with waves crashing.
Her place in Camp’s Bay is almost as delightful, but has more of a Mediterranean ambiance. Up here on High Level road on the top floor, I have a view of the waterfront, but it’s not as intimate. However, at least there’s plenty of light to keep me sane.
By four I am finally alone, with tender eyes, a pounding head, and an open bottle of Cape red wine. I’m not anti-social, I just need some space and time to sort my emotions out. I’m angry. I’ve got issues that involve bad judgement and not enough sanity; too much hormone. I’m a hormone addict. I love the rush. Honestly, I’m not much good at mediocrity. I don’t like routine, and I sure as hell don’t like having to cook for someone else when I’m not hungry. Independence is a good place to start sorting myself out.
Glowering at the sun scorched wood that contains the window, a deprecating smirk escapes. I’m not fooling myself either. I haven’t been able to get him out of my head. Fine, so he’s a catalyst for me to sort my shit out and get my life back on track. Twenty-eight and slipping into the downward spiral. But he had a point didn’t he? So much of life we take for granted. I take my tears for granted, but they are an expression of emotional intensity. He made me feel alive. It was half adrenalin rush and part hormonal tease. Those people are just intriguing.
Snatching up a tennis ball, I slam it at the bright white wall. Aching to hit something. I want to feel pain, pleasure, fear, joy, adrenalin, panic, relief. I just want to FEEL. Pulling my baseball cap down further over sunglasses, I wander into the kitchen pantry, close my eyes and breathe.
Yuck, it reeks.
I stalk to the bathroom and step into the shower; close my eyes and inhale. Musty. It smells cold and dirty; and mouldy. I open my eyes to stare at the calcified glass of the shower door and chuckle.
Oh yeah, I’ve got it bad.
Embarrassed, I laugh; feeling like a loser. A loser who needs new clothes if she’s going to Pravus again tonight. I require contact lenses, vampire teeth, and black attire. I’m sure Edgars will have something perfect. Wonder if Woolworths will? Maybe check them both out?
So? What’s life without a few risks? I’m not dying soon. I have the next thirty-five years of work drudgery ahead of me, plenty of time to pay for my small indulgences. I down the vestiges of wine in my glass, snatch up the keys, and feel a spontaneous laugh bubble erupt as I skip down stairs to my neglected ride.

* * * * *

Nervously confident, I choose to walk to Pravus. My eyes are sore from using contact lenses for the first time. It took me an hour of determination to finally get the stupid things in. Then I had to use eye drops, to get rid of the alcoholic on a binge look which proceeded that adventure. That stung like a mofo, enough to get me hitting the vodka and raspberry juice early.
I’m wearing Pure Poison as my perfume tonight, deliberately. I took the time to blow dry my hair and put eyeliner on to highlight the silver contacts. The vamp teeth are in, and it feels weird. Tonight I should blend into the crowd, instead of stand out in it. I’m wearing a simple tight black spaghetti strapped vest and ink black stretch-jeans tucked into Goth boots. But, still I’m self-conscious, and am drawing attention to myself because I’m wearing sunglasses to shield these silver eyes. Putting my head down, my feet follow the isolated route to Pravus, hiding behind a curtain of obsidian black hair which sheaths me all the way to my waist.
I stroll down the stairs and pause in front of Thor’s slave. His smile is venomous. Menacing long teeth expose as his black eyes flicker with a feral amber glow. “Addicted already?”
I smile in return. It’s weird there is no cover fee. Thorette lets me past, and I hook my sunglasses into cleavage so my eyes can adjust to the flickering strobe.
That’s the thing, isn’t it? How will I even find him in here?
He doesn’t have a fixed identity. Every blond, brunette, silver / blue / brown eyed man, with his build, is a potential Seithe. After staring into the darkness randomly highlighted, I give up. He’ll have to find me. Pushing through throngs of Saturday night addicts, I reach the bar, and face Mr Pretty.
“You’re missing your guard tonight, princess.”
Gracing him with an insincere smile, I retort, “He’s not my guard.”
A man hisses breath through teeth as he leers down at me. Just a freakish stranger leaning against the bar, red eyes glowing, “Alone? You are as stupid as you look.”
Ignoring him, I address Mr Pretty, “Is it possible to get a Smirnoff here?”
He pulls a bottle out from under the counter and hands it to me, nudging his head for me to follow him to the edge of the bar. I push past the asshole and meet Mr Pretty, who’s a lot more intimidating up close, at the edge of the crescent. He leans his black haired head down to me and whispers urgently, “You can’t be here without someone to watch your back. You’ll never leave alive.”
These people just love messing with minds, don’t they?
“This is a public place, anyone can be here. Stop trying to get inside my head and feed my fear.”
He grips my wrist, almost spilling the vodka, “Without a sponsor, you are dead meat baby girl.”
Men totally suck. Bet he has a small one to be on such a screwed up ego trip. I hiss back with despising, “You wish. You wish I needed a man to watch my back. I don’t!”
More like to stick a knife into it.
A total creep wraps his arm around me and drawls to Mr Pretty, “I’ll sponsor her.” His left hand slides inside my shirt and cops a squeeze, then he licks the side of my face, “I promise I’ll take real good care of her.”
SHOVE! Except the asshole isn’t letting go.
What’s with the pricks in this place?
I’m beginning to regret coming back here.
Men suck. When will I learn this? How often do I need them to prove it to me?
I place my Smirnoff-Ice on the counter with deliberate calm. Using the newly freed hand, I trace my finger down the fuckhead’s chest suggestively, down his torso, and slip my hand inside his latex trousers, where I grab and squeeze with all the energy I can muster. I can’t resist a malicious laugh escaping as I stare at the vein in his forehead spontaneously protruding.
“Do that again and I’ll castrate you! Now eff off and leave me alone!”
His eyes flare such an alarming shade of red that icy fear wraps tendrils around me.
That’s not human. That’s really scary.
I am so caught up in those red eyes, mesmerised by them, that when my hand is snatched out of his trousers and I am spun to stare at silver eyes, it takes me a moment to register.
“What the hell are you doing? Stay away from the red eyes.”
A veined hand and forearm push my head aside and fingers wrap around Seithe’s throat, squeezing so hard I am sure he should already be missing his Adam’s apple. “Keep your bitch on a leash, Seithe! If I find her here alone again, she’ll pay the price.”
I catch Seithe’s eyes flaring silver as he rams the heel of his hand into Red Eye’s nose, “Touch her and you’ll pay the price!”
Mr Pretty arcs a flame from a blowtorch right between them in the close space, almost singeing off my immaculate eyebrows in the process; his veins highlighting blue in an adrenalin surge of anger, “TAKE IT OUTSIDE!”
Instead, Seithe hooks my shoulders with his arm and yanks me away, into the darkness. My heart is pounding. This is like stepping into a parallel universe where everyone is different to your idea of normal. I’ve been dumped into an environment so alien to my usual, that I have no idea what normal is here, or why the men are all so bloody medieval.

~ Chapter 4 ~
I’m relieved. I’m not sure what just happened, but it scared the shit out of me. The testosterone in here is worse than football hooligans after their team just lost.

My breath is forced out of me in an ungraceful oof, as Seithe body slams me into the red wall. My heartbeat starts racing as his hands cup glute cheeks and lift me off the floor; pinning my body hard against the wall as his now blond head hides mine, savagely invading my mouth.
His hot tongue is sliding over mine, licking my lips, sucking me into him. What a turn on. Shoving a knee between my legs, he uses the leg to prop me up and hold me at his height, freeing a hand which assertively grips my jaw, forcing my mouth open wider.
He bites down hard on my lip, drawing an involuntary wince from deep inside my throat. My mouth floods with blood, it’s sticky and tastes too rich, nauseating. He’s sucking the breath out of me.
Lips hotly nibbling on mine; corner, centre, tongue lashing inside my mouth before catching mine and sucking it into his own with such force, I feel a carnal surge pumping through me. Spreading a quickening heat. I can’t breathe.
He bites me again, sucking tightly on my lip, the hand slides down my neck with its racing pulse to hover over my heart which is pounding ferociously in the surge of pain and aggression. It slides off centre and my nipple hardens under the heat of his palm. I succumb to sensation, relishing the cloaking darkness, closing my eyes to indulge in the supple lips trailing my neck. His tongue slipping over my pale skin; my mind leaps to the association of the hand on my breast with the tongue on my neck, and I’m enslaved with longing. He’s exciting, unpredictable, and fucking delectable.
I wrap legs around his black clad hips, pulling him tightly against me, encircling arms onto shoulders, cupping his head, feeling the silkiness of his hair. My turn to play! His breath flirts with my nerve endings; teeth nibble my earlobe.
My fingers curl into the skin of his strong neck. Kneading, caressing, I tighten the grip on his hips with slender legs.
“Pain makes you feel alive.”
He bites my neck just under the earlobe. Heat wraps itself seductively over the point of pain and his tongue flicks over the pulsating burning. The sensation is effectively wiping my mind blank.
I want you.
I squeeze my arms tightly around his neck, resting my head heavily on his shoulder while he sucks on my throat. I’m going to have such a dark hickey tomorrow, and I don’t care. It’s cold when he pulls his head away.
I want to surrender and know him in all ways. He’s such a turn on. He’s tall, lithe, strong, sexy. Rebound love is just what I need.
“Let’s get out of here,” he says.
He drops me and my legs lock just in time to support my weight. Threading fingers through mine he hauls me after him, disoriented and weak. I stumble with him to the black crescent bar.
He lifts a goblet and downs the purple liquid. Mr Pretty leans over and snatches a handful of my hair, yanking my head to my shoulder, exposing my neck.
“Ow.” A feeble objection.
His dark brown eyes flicker with red highlights as he glares at Seithe. ”
Savage,” he accuses in a challenging growl.
Seithe laughs and offers me a goblet. I want to know what it is before I drink it. “Tell me what it is.”
He grins sensuously, pouting his full lower lip, “The three H’s.”
“Which are?”
“One at a time. Hormones being one. Drink it, it’ll heighten your senses.”
Mr Pretty warns me as I drink the spicy liquid down in eager compliance. “Be careful princess. You’re flirting with fire. It burns.”
“She has free will,” Seithe challenges back.
“And she chose you?”
“Yes.”
“Does she know what she chose? Did you explain it to her?”
“Fuck off, Darise.”
Mr Pretty, whose name I’ve just learned is Darise, leans over the bar, and leers into Seithe’s face, “If you hurt her without her permission, you’ll answer to me.”
My senses are reeling from the intoxicating fluid from the goblet. It has a unique taste; thick, potently laced with spices, and probably half of it is pure alcohol. My eyes refuse to focus. Leaning heavily against the bar for support, I peruse the throngs of beautiful people.
It strikes me as odd that no one is vaguely average here. Is that why we don’t pay to get in? If you have the look, you get free passage?
It’s creepy when all you can see are black shadows flitting abstractly in strobed light; every so often one will glance at me, and all I see are red, or red/brown eyes, glowing at me from the darkness. Some are silver, like a waxing moon, glowing brightly with shades of violet.
I love it here. These people are different, and I like their difference. There is something primal about their behaviour, and it’s primordially exciting. They cause my soul to sing, my nerve endings on high alert, my awareness to sharpen. Enticing me to join their shadowed lifestyle.
The strobe has the effect of making people seem like they jump as fast as fleas from location to location. Moving at the speed of a blink.
“Take those godawful contacts out.”
Flicking my eyes up to stare back at Seithe. “Why? You wear them.”
My heart rate increases when he covers my body with his own to speak softly into my ear, “No, I don’t.”
Nimbly he pushes a thumb under an eye and painfully pops off a contact. He flicks it next to his foot before forcing the twin out of my other eye. With a smirk he crushes them under a heel. Tilting my chin up he stares into lapis lazuli eyes with his own gentle brown ones.
“That’s better.”
His velvet voice seduces me with its pleasure. Willingly I wrap my arms around his neck as he kisses me softly, tenderly. He’s so full of contradictions. Mmmmmm! Slurpilicious. I can taste the hint of allspice in his mouth. My head lolls back in a wave of dizziness as I gasp against his lips, pleased with my sensory analysis, “Allspice.”
He wraps an arm around my waist, letting me lean against him for strength, and strolls away, flicking a hand signal to Darise in farewell. I soak in his heat, anticipating the feel of this body touching mine, naked hopefully, the hand in my waist running rivers of sensation over me later. I’m happy to leave. And I don’t care where we’re going, as long as I get to engage in Operation Seithe.
Up in the crisp pre-dawn air, he pauses to stare down into my face.
“You are beautiful with pink flushed cheeks.”
I smile back lazily, still sedated from the purple H, “You bring out the heat in me.”
“Close your eyes.” I close them obediently.
Lips flit over each eyelid softly, his heated breath bathing me; I curse my trusting compliance as a tight band forces my eyes to remain closed.
He holds me close, I can feel muscles under his clothes, smell his scent wafting in waves of warmth to accost my nostrils, when his low voice whispers intimately into my ear, “Trust me.”
In reply, I nod. Blinded again. The fear of being forced to trust him implicitly gives me sobering awareness. My relaxed stupor evaporates like my cloud of breath in the chilling air.
I experience an odd lurching sensation, the kind you get when you’re on a roller coaster and have just started free-falling down after a crest.
He seats me on something hard, holding me close to his side, keeping me warm and managing to make me feel partially safe because I can indulge in his presence…

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