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Authors: Kallysten

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Dare I?

BOOK: Dare I?
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Dare I?
By Kallysten

Smashwords Edition

Copyright © 2007 Kallysten

All rights reserved. No part of this
publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted, in any form or by any means mechanical, electronic,
photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written
consent of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form
of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and
without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent
purchaser.

The right of Kallysten to be identified as
the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with
the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

First Published 2007

All characters in this publication are purely
fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is
purely coincidental.

Edited by Mary S.

This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this book with another
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of this author.

Dare I?

Anna is just about to thread the gold hoop of
her earring through her earlobe when her doorbell chimes its three
tones. Her heartbeat picks up instantly, and at once her hands
start shaking too much for her to put the earrings on. She lays
them down on the dresser, gives the mirror a final glance to make
sure she looks good, and hurries to the door. She doesn’t even try
to calm her thoughts. It never works.

The door swings open to reveal Chase. His
smile widens when he sees Anna, and the butterflies in her stomach
fly a little more erratically. His hair is windswept, and the light
in his eyes tells of the joy of hunting. It was this same light
that attracted her the first time she saw him. In the following
weeks she was sometimes scared of it, just a little, but she has
gotten used to it and to what it means. It has only been eight
months, but sometimes she feels like she’s always known him.

“Ready, lovely?” he asks, offering her his
hand, palm up.

With him, the question is far from innocuous.
Once, in the middle of winter, he took her to the beach, and built
such a roaring fire in the sand that she never felt the cold, even
when their clothes fell away. Another time, he taught her to ride a
horse after she had casually mentioned a few days before that she
had always wanted to try horseback riding but had never had the
chance. He told her he had a surprise in mind for her this night.
She has been wondering what it was for almost two days.

She slides her hand into his. “Ready.”

He uses his hold on her hand to gently pull
her over the threshold and into his arms. Immediately, his mouth
descends on hers for a quick but fiery kiss that makes Anna melt. A
little lightheaded, she rests her cheek on his shoulder for an
instant and closes her eyes. She can’t imagine what her life would
be like today if she had never dared to take that first step toward
him.

* * * *

A bit of lettuce and a crouton dangled
precariously from her forgotten fork as Anna stared in turn at the
two women in front of her, who continued to eat their lunch as
though one of them had not just said anything remarkable.

“What do you mean, I don’t know how to have
fun?” she asked Jessie. “Of course I do! I’m having lunch with two
of my friends in the best restaurant in town!”

Jessie’s mouth was full, and Carol took the
opportunity to answer in her stead. “And when at the best
restaurant in town, you order a Caesar salad and a glass of
water.”

Anna looked down at her plate before glancing
at her friends’. One had ordered some fancy fish in a red sauce
that looked delicious, and the other was finishing a plate of
shrimp prepared in five different ways. Compared to that, her salad
did seem a little bland but that didn’t mean anything.

“You always order a salad,” Jessie pointed
out before Anna could protest that she hadn’t been very hungry. “It
doesn’t matter where we go, that’s what you order. I love you girl,
but you can be really predictable sometimes. You need to learn to
shake things up!”

“You’re not getting any younger,” Carol
added, and on Anna’s dark look she grinned. “OK, none of us are.
But getting older doesn’t mean we can’t do anything fun anymore or
have to eat like rabbits!”

Anna let out a quiet snort at that, drawing a
reproving glance from the passing maitre d’. She felt herself
blushing as she dropped her eyes back to her plate and speared a
piece of lettuce with a little too much strength. She winced at the
sound of her fork hitting the porcelain plate.

“And what is it that you do to have fun, Miss
Soon-To-Be-Happily-Married? Other than deciding twice a week on a
new color for our dresses?”

Her tone was snippy, and Anna regretted her
words as soon as they passed her lips. Bitterness at soon being the
last of her group of friends not to have a significant other had
surged out of nowhere. She was usually good at hiding how much she
hated being single again, but to be put on a defensive stance had
made that tightly controlled jealousy come to the front. She
glanced up at Carol, ready to apologize, but her friend merely
smiled at her with a slight shake of her head that said more than
words could have. Then her eyes widened and took a devilish glint
as she leaned forward over the table, looking in turns at Anna and
Jessie.

“You want to know what Johnny and I did last
Friday?” she whispered. “You’ll never guess!”

Jessie and Anna shared puzzled glances.

“We went to The Edge!” Carol continued after
merely a second, her excitement piercing through her quiet
words.

Anna’s eyes widened. There were a few dancing
clubs in the city, but On The Edge was the most famous—or
infamous—of all. Elsewhere, vampires were tolerated as long as they
didn’t show their fangs; at The Edge, though, as the club was
nicknamed, they were openly welcomed by an owner who reportedly
lived with not one but two vampire lovers. Many humans who went
there returned with bite marks on their throats and stories of
intensely erotic if not always sexual encounters. But as much as
Anna looked, she could see no scar on Carol’s neck, and it was hard
to believe that the glowing bride-to-be would have slept with a
vampire.

“You went to The Edge with Johnny,” Anna
repeated, still incredulous and just a little bit in awe. “Did
you…you know…meet vampires?”

Carol’s eyes were sparkling. “Of course. The
place is filled with them. They even serve blood at the bar! It was
pretty weird to see. And when we were dancing, we kept trying to
guess who was a vamp and who was human. I danced with one while
Johnny was getting a drink but the vamp left when he came
back.”

Unable to find anything to say, Anna just
stared at her friend. Like many people, she was caught somewhere
between fascination and fear where vampires were concerned. She had
never been in contact with one, at least not as far as she knew,
but she had heard about them, rumors tangled with facts, gossip
that made them seem murderous monsters and misunderstood creatures
in turn. To know that her friend had been in such close contact to
several of them…

“See, I went before I started dating Brian,”
Jessie said suddenly, her voice as quiet as Carol’s had been. “So I
could try the full experience.”

Very conspicuously, she extended her left arm
on the table between Carol and her, palm turned upward. She drew
back the bracelets that always hung loosely at her wrist and
revealed two round scar marks, a shade paler than her skin.

“You didn’t!” Carol gasped. She sounded as
shocked as Anna felt herself, both at the bite mark and at the fact
that their friend had kept this a secret so long. “Before you dated
Brian—that’s at least four years ago, and you never told us?”

Jessie shrugged, grinning abashedly as she
pulled back her arm and shook the bracelets free. “I was a bit
afraid of what you’d say,” she confessed. “It was just the one
time, and all she did was feed from me.”

“She?” Anna and Carol exclaimed together.

“Maybe there was some inappropriate groping
too,” Jessie added, and at her friends’ look she burst out
laughing. “Just kidding!” Another devious grin and she ran a thumb
over the inside of her wrist, a gesture that Anna realized she had
noticed before without paying it much mind. “Maybe.”

They were beginning to attract pointed looks
from the tables around them, so they tacitly stopped talking about
vampires and finished their lunch in near silence. Anna couldn’t
help thinking about what her two friends had revealed however, and
she didn’t know whether she was mostly shocked or intrigued. Dozens
of questions were filling her mind, and she wanted to ask what it
had been like to dance with a vampire, or to be bitten by one. She
kept looking at Jessie’s wrist until her friend noticed and caught
her gaze with a tilt of her head and a slight frown; after that,
she tried to keep her eyes on her food.

It wasn’t until the three friends had left
the restaurant to go sit on a bench in a nearby park that the
subject of vampires crept up again. It was a beautiful autumn day,
and it felt a little strange to Anna to be talking of vampires with
sun cascading warmly over her.

“What was it like when she bit you? Did it
hurt?”

It was Carol who had asked, though the words
had been burning Anna’s lips for a little while. Sitting between
them, Jessie smiled as she answered. “It hurt a bit, yeah,
especially at first. But then she started pulling on my blood,
really slow and hard, like she wanted to give me a hickey, and that
was…” She was quiet for a few seconds as though struggling for a
word. “It was incredible. And more arousing than it had any right
to be.”

The three of them laughed at that, startling
a few birds at their feet into flight. Even as she laughed though,
Anna couldn’t help but wonder. How could a bite be almost painless,
or even arousing? There had to be something she was missing.

“I’m almost jealous all I did was dance,”
Carol said good-naturedly after a few seconds. “But seeing how
Johnny was glaring at me just for a dance…” She grinned. “Then
again, there wasn’t an inch between the vamp and me while we were
dancing. And speaking of arousing…I could tell that I wasn’t the
only one enjoying the dance.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “I
swear, that guy was huge. If I hadn’t had a two-carat ring on my
finger…”

More laughs ensued, but Anna’s sounded forced
to her own ears. Her friends’ earlier teasing that she didn’t know
how to have fun was coming back to her with their revelations, and
she wished suddenly that she had had something equally daring and
titillating to share. The feeling redoubled when they looked at her
and Carol said:

“Your turn to share, missy. Any dark secret
you kept from us? You said you knew how to have fun…”

She let the sentence hang in the air, and
Anna felt the need to defend herself. “I do! I have fun all the
time!” Her friends’ eyebrows rose in a similarly intrigued fashion,
and Anna struggled to find something to say. Anything at all. Long
seconds passed and she was unable to come up with anything.

“Maybe you should go to The Edge,” Carol
teased. “You’re a free woman, nothing to hold you back if you catch
a nice specimen.”

The wink she added made all of it so
suggestive that Anna smiled despite herself.

“You should!” Jessie said, clapping her hands
gleefully. “Then you can tell us what we missed!”

Carol giggled. “It’s not truth or dare, it’s
dare and then tell the truth!”

BOOK: Dare I?
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