Or perhaps the Deans hosted such events in order to keep an eye on their people. Dante had spoken of tonight's invitation as a summons. Maybe the Deans liked to dress up their public audiences in the form of parties. It made sense. People were less inclined to start trouble at a festive event and more likely to attend, even if they understood there was an ulterior motive.
Sort of like a business conference. You went for the food and freebies and tried not to mind the sales pitches that happened along the way. Very clever indeed of the vampires to use that old stratagem. Then again, they might've been the ones to come up with it in the first place.
"Shall we dance?" Sir Heathclif's cultured tones shook her out of her internal musings.
He offered his hand to Megan and it was nearly impossible to say no to the command in his powerful voice. Still, something made her look over at Dante. She wasn't seeking his permission exactly. It was more like a quick check on whether he thought it would be safe for her to go off with this strange man. After all, Dante knew more about these people than she did. The very idea that she would instinctively trust her safety to Dante's judgment was something to ponder at another time.
"I've never waltzed before tonight, Mr. Dean," she said, hoping to find some reason to decline. The hard expression on Dante's face and his narrowed eyes made her want to say no, though the independent lone wolf inside her balked at any restriction.
"Please, call me Heath. I saw you dancing beautifully with d'Angleterre. All that native agility and grace makes you a natural for dancing, my dear. Please, allow me the honor of partnering you."
Once again he held out his hand, and she had no choice but to accept. Heathclif Dean hadn't become one of the most powerful vampires in the country overnight. He'd had centuries to hone his commanding ways and at a mere thirty years old, were or not, Megan was no match for the power of his will.
She put her hand in his and was quickly whisked off to the dance floor. The revelers parted almost magically, making way for the important man in their midst and staring at Megan with assessing eyes that made her uncomfortable. She never liked being the center of attention.
All that was forgotten as Heath led her into the whirl of an energetic yet genteel waltz. He was a master not only of men, but of the dance, leading her with subtle movements that positioned her exactly where he wanted her to go. All she had to do was follow and allow herself to be caught up in the swirl of skirts, the swish of silk and the loveliness of the music reverberating gently over the walls of the large hall.
She lost track of time and space, mesmerized by the dance and the compelling man. He looked deeply into her eyes, and she felt the pressure of his magic against her natural were resistance. He couldn't influence her, but the dance was dreamy enough, the fact that he was trying to use his power on her didn't alarm her as it should.
The waltz music drew to a crescendo, and Heath dipped her low over his bent knee. He moved closer. She was in no position to move, much less evade him. Her body was positioned in such a way that she had absolutely no leverage and no hope of escaping the kiss she thought he meant to deliver.
Such a public display would be embarrassing, but she would live through it. She braced herself, and when he dipped even lower she realized he was aiming not for her lips, but for her jugular.
She could see the gleam of his fangs as they descended. He struck fast, the fear only momentary before his bite seduced her senses. Vampire mojo was not to be discounted at close range, she learned, even for a werewolf. The bite propelled her into a hazy state of mind where she didn't fight, only succumbed to the Master vampire.
Shocked whispers erupted all around them on the dance floor as Heath abruptly let her go with a final lick and raised her to her feet. She was dizzy. His big hand steadied her as he guided her from the dance floor, toward their small group.
Megan was in a daze. A kind of shocking sexual hunger had been aroused in her body but left unfulfilled. She'd never been bitten by a vampire before and was unprepared for the way it made her feel. Being unsteady on her feet was not something she was used to. Weres in general had excellent balance. Her balance, of course, was shot to hell by Heath's disturbing influence.
He brought her directly to a seething Dante. The man was so angry he practically bristled. She saw the fury in his eyes even before he opened his mouth to speak.
Heath preempted him. "Come with me, d'Angleterre. We have much to discuss."
Heath turned away abruptly, his hand still firmly grasping hers as he led them toward the door. He stopped only once, to tell his daughter he was leaving and that she should continue to enjoy herself at the party.
Thwarted in his fury, Dante followed. Megan caught a glimpse of his heavy stride as he came down the steps behind her and their host. She was ushered into a long black limousine and guided to the seat behind the driver, facing Heath and Dante. Both men looked angry, but Dante won the award for sheer ferocity.
The car began to move and Dante turned on the man who was, for all intents and purposes, Master of this region, though his daughter carried the actual title.
"You should not have done that." Each word was bitten out between Dante's clenched teeth.
Heath sank back against the plush cushions. "Oddly enough, I agree with you. She is poisoned."