Retract your fangs, girl. Belle DeLuc sipped her merlot as she checked out the yummy man sitting at a table directly in her line of vision.
The darkness of the club couldn't hide the pulse beating under his firm, smooth skin. The loud music couldn't drown out the strong thrum of his heart. The stench of cigarettes and cheap perfume couldn't mask the scent of his blood.
Hmm. How lovely it would be to puncture his neck, imbibe the warm fluid. Her gaze flicked to his face. He had green eyes, blond hair expensively cut, slight crook in his nose, kissable lips. He was dressed in a nice suit ... well, a nice suit for an accountant.
His gaze pierced hers.
The heat in those dark-as-sin eyes nearly melted her. As he got up from the table, his stare never wavering, she dipped into his mind to assess his carnal thoughts. She hoped they involved sweaty bodies, twisted sheets, and her. But she found...
Belle pushed harder against the unexpected mental block and gasped when he pushed back. Stop trying. You don't want to see what's in my head.
She gaped at him, unable to answer his mind contact or to utter a word when he stood in front of her and grasped her shoulder. Never had she found a human with such strong psychic abilities.
"Hello, my beautiful vampire," he whispered. She tried to move out of his grip, to discard the wisps of lust clinging to her, but he laughed off her attempts. "I won't let you escape this time."
This time? She looked closely at him, but didn't recognize his face. "Who are you?"
"My name is Damon Phillips. And you are Belle DeLuc." He grabbed her hand, twirled her away from the bar, and led her to the dance floor. With one yank, she could rip his arm from his shoulder, but curiosity outweighed her desire to do so. A slow song played; Damon placed his arms around her waist and smoothly navigated her through the crowd.
They swayed together. The warmth of his hands filtered through her thin dress and he exerted just enough pressure to suggest possession. His gaze held hers and burned with emotions that seemed oddly both arousal and fury.
Damon moved her closer and closer to the edge of the dance floor. The back door was only a few feet away. Curious about his motives, she allowed him to whisk her out of the building. A warm breeze teased her upswept hair; already the barely tamed curls were loosing from their pinned prison. In the night sky, the pearlescent moon hung round and full, surrounded by diamond stars.
"Never figured I'd find the undead partying in Key West." He grasped her upper arm and led her toward the stone path that meandered to the beach. "Aren't you supposed to be in New Orleans?"
Belle laughed. "I don't go near New Orleans."
"Bullshit. It's June. All vampires go there to pay homage to your bitch queen."
Belle didn't. Paying homage, as the human so eloquently put it, meant bringing a victim to Queen Isolde for her torturing pleasure. The vampire court was a relic of a world that no longer existed. Those fools reveled in the barbaric--and the bloodier, the better. Many vampires like Belle had eschewed the old ways, but that didn't mean they outright disrespected Queen Isolde, either. Her memory was long and her wrath often involved dismemberment.
He walked faster and Belle let him drag her along. Where did he think he was taking her? And what did he think he was going to do once they arrived? Her body trilled in excitement. She might not hunt anymore, but she still felt the urges. Two hundred years was a long time to forego the death dance.
The path ended abruptly. Belle's heels sank into the sand, popping free as Damon yanked her forward.
She pulled out of his grip. "Where are we going?"
"Somewhere dark and quiet ... so I can be alone with you."
"If you weren't gritting your teeth so hard that would almost sound sexy." She sighed, crossing her arms. "You're a vampire hunter."