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Authors: Michele Hauf

Tags: #Horror, #Time Travel, #Ghost, #Paranormal Romance, #vampire, #paris, #michele hauf

Dark Rapture (3 page)

BOOK: Dark Rapture
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“Good, then I’ll tell him to ask you out.”

“Wait a minute.” She held up her hands in protest. “Let him ask me out when he wants to. I will not date someone because my brother told him to. I’ve done that before, if you remember.”

“Yes, don’t remind me.” Gary winced, remembering their high school escapades. “But don’t be surprised if you have a long wait. Vince is very shy.”

Shyness suited her fine when it was packaged like Vince. But she would do what she could in the meantime to encourage him.

“Shall we continue with the tour?” She crooked her arm, and Gary linked his around it.

They headed through the first door on the upper level. A lone candle cast an eerie glow over the bedroom. Clumps of dusty sheets lay freshly strewn about the hardwood floor. Large ancient wooden chests, some still covered in cloth, decorated the room. A glass chandelier hung above the canopied bed, sending rays of prismatic colors dancing across the walls.

In the center of the spectacle lay Vince, sprawled across the thick covers of the antique canopy bed. Tattered cream lace fell over the top and down the four posters of the bed. It had most likely once been a prized piece of furniture.

Vince seemed caught up in the richness that this room had once possessed. He didn’t even notice Gary and Scarlet standing over him.

“He’s like this a lot,” Gary said. “Very intense, gets lost in his thoughts. Sure is great when he’s working on a song, the words and images just fly out of that brain.” He jumped on the bed, sending Vince’s slim frame flying toward the edge.

Jarred from his thoughts, Vince got up and, much to Scarlet’s delight, immediately started describing his plans for the mansion. His attitude had changed and he’d seen the potential the place held. Keep the old stuff, get new carpets and drapes, clean the chandeliers.

“This room is so cool. It’s like an escape from reality.” His newfound passion was evident in the way he stretched his arms wide as he talked. “When I’m finished with it, it’s going to be like rock n’ roll meets the Three Musketeers.”

Scarlet settled onto a high-backed chair, the dust rising from the thick maroon velvet cushions, and watched as Vince surveyed and pointed out various aspects of the room to her and Gary. She found herself wondering if his mouth kissed as softly as it looked. And how she longed to run her fingers through his hair. He reeked of sensuality as he paced back and forth, oblivious to the fact that she had stopped listening and was caught up in a fantasy of romance and roses starring Vince Lyons as her lover.

“This place is going to rock come party time,” Gary said. “The room downstairs is big enough for an entire circus.”

“Speaking of parties, we’re going to have to cancel ours,” Vince added, while they both looked to Scarlet.

Party? She blinked away her fantasy and tuned in to what was being said. “Did you guys already plan a party?”

“Well, yeah, we wanted to get together with our friends and show them our new place. But we had no idea it would be in such a mess. I guess we’ll have to move it.” Gary sat on the arm of her chair and put his arm around her shoulders. “And I know this chick with an incredible pad. It’s got a hot tub and it’s on the beach. It’s just going to be a few friends that we’ve met on the road. Don’t worry, it won’t be too big or wild. I promise.”

Scarlet sighed. She didn’t want to sound too thrilled, but she was in the mood for a party. “Fine.” She got up and headed toward the rickety stairway.

“Fine?” Vince bounded behind her. “This girl’s easy.”

“Not your kind of easy, buddy,” said Gary. “Just remember that.”

***

Once back in the grand room, Vince noticed a large iron door on the far wall under the steps. Sure that Scarlet had wandered into the kitchen, he whispered to Gary. “That must be the family vault my aunt told me about. She said great-grandfather Lyons kept centuries of family treasures in there.”

Gary eyed the foreboding iron door. “You’re really going to go in there?”

“Aren’t you curious?”

Gary thought about it. “Yeah, I guess so. But let’s wait until we get hold of some flashlights.”

“Cool. But don’t tell Scarlet, at least not until we find out if it’s true or not.”

 

Chapter Three

 

Glasses clinked, cans crushed, and loud unnerving music blared from within the beach house. The party had turned out to be a little more than just a quiet evening with friends. It had become a full-blown event. Gary hosted a large crowd of his friends, his friends’ friends, and a few people whose origins were unknown.

Scarlet didn’t mind. It had been a while since she’d hosted a party, or even been to one for that matter.

Gary slipped over to the stereo and slid in a demo of Wild Child’s music. Its hard-driving bass beat reverberated against the walls and out to poolside. He played a little air guitar and then oozed back into the crowd.

Scarlet watched as he went from one group to another, men and women, schmoozing and gossiping, exchanging info about possible gigs. He planted kisses on the women he knew and even on the ones he apparently didn’t know. And all the while, his jaw worked madly at his gum. She wondered; if he stopped chewing, would his motor run down?

Through the evening, Gary had introduced her to a handful of his good friends that the band had met on the road. The men had been more than happy to meet her as their eyes slipped down her body and slowly back up to her eyes, but the women had just smiled and then walked on. Fine, she thought, she wasn’t interested in the women anyway.

The atmosphere was friendly and casual, and Scarlet was enjoying herself, but as the night grew long the piles of cigarette butts and empty glasses pulled her from party mode and she switched into cleaning overhaul, while her cat, Casper, followed her around trying to avoid being caught up by an overzealous partier.

***

She was familiar. But not the same.

Memories of a time spent together. A short time. Until his life had changed forever.

Jarred back to the present by a furious blast of untamed music, the man focused on her once again. His plan was quickly worked out. Before the night became morning, he would go to her. And their future would begin.

***

A lean, dark-haired man sat down next to Vince, stretching his long legs in front of him, and popped open a beer. When he spoke, his voice was soft and sure. “So Vince, you know anything about that gorgeous set of legs who owns this place?”

Vince didn’t have to look, he knew from the hint of an accent in the man’s voice that it was Sebastian DelaCourte. A French accent, he thought sullenly. What more could a single guy who had looks, money, and talent ask for?

Sebastian stood out in the crowd tonight, not remotely showing any signs of drunkenness like everybody else. He was cool and reserved, as always. Having known him for a few months, Vince admired the charm and subtle eloquence Sebastian assumed around friends, and women in particular. The man had only to cast a seductive gaze toward a woman to have her purring at his feet.

“Her name is Scarlet Rose. She’s Gary’s sister.”

Sebastian smoothed a hand through his black hair as he tossed it over his shoulder, a habitual gesture that drove the women wild during his few but well-received concerts. “You got dibs on her?”

“Well, I wouldn’t exactly say ‘dibs,’ but give me time—”

“Oh?” He gave Vince a sly grin, which pushed a parenthesis into the flesh on either side of his mouth. “Well, if she is not yours, then I’d say she is available.”

Vince acquiesced with a sigh. “I guess.”

“Very beautiful.
Beau ideal."

“Yes, she is,” Vince agreed, though he was never sure of the meaning of the French words that Sebastian sprinkled into his conversations.

Out of his peripheral vision, he observed Scarlet roam about the room picking up dirty ashtrays and empty cans. He laughed at how Casper followed her everywhere, more like a puppy than a cat. “Yes, she is,” he said again, finding it impossible to take his eyes off her long, tan legs which ended in wicked black pumps.

But right now, in his slightly inebriated state, he couldn’t come up with a good argument to keep Sebastian from pursuing her. He knew that if he let Sebastian anywhere near her,
his
chances would probably be spoiled. And he did want a chance. Scarlet was the first woman he’d met in a long time who actually interested him. She wasn’t fake or pushy like so many others he’d met. She was natural and genuine, and he found himself wanting her more and more each time he saw her.

He didn’t have to know Sebastian very well to know what he was thinking as Scarlet bent near Gary’s head and whispered in his ear, her dress riding to the top of her well-toned thighs. He and Sebastian had met when Wild Child was in New York a few months ago and since then they’d talked on the phone a few times. Sebastian was a studio musician gone solo. A year ago he had released his own self-titled album, full of extravagant guitar pieces that bordered on the classical/flamenco style, but which had been touted by the critics as a rock n’ roll masterpiece. He was a guitar hero to his fans, and to his peers, a master, unmatched by anyone.

Major bands had sought him out, offering the lead guitar position with million dollar promises, but Sebastian kept to himself most of the time, satisfied to do his own thing. He once told Vince that money didn’t matter, though he always seemed to have enough for whatever he needed.

And Vince was eager to have him work with Wild Child. He was sure that, mixed with Gary’s shredding guitar licks, Sebastian would add the touch of elegance the band needed in their songs.

“I’m going to talk to her.” Sebastian slapped Vince across the knee and headed toward the kitchen where he’d seen Scarlet disappear with an armful of empty glasses.

***

His long slender legs, sheathed in black suede, stepped carefully through the maze of bodies strewn about the living room floor. Timeworn boots of black leather clicked across the tiles as he entered the kitchen, where he found Scarlet washing glasses in the sink, singing along with Wild Child’s music, oblivious to him as he stood behind her admiring the wiggle in her hips that came with the scrubbing motion in the sink.

A black cat sat next to the faucet, dipping a paw into the bubbles, but his ears perked and he looked up when Sebastian entered. As if he’d been cued, the cat leapt to the floor and scrambled from the room.

Never a fan of cats, Sebastian sneered at the beast's exit as he leaned against the counter. His hair fell down over his shoulders, concealing the large gold hoop earrings he frequently wore. His eyes followed Scarlet’s curves up from her sexy black pumps, over her hips to her waist, all covered tightly by black lace. Creamy-smooth shoulders peeked out from the top of her dress, redirecting her dark curls as they tumbled down her back.

“So, there are two musicians in the family.” His voice was soft but still he startled her. She spun around sending soapy water flying across the counter and onto his black silk shirt.

Scarlet stood holding a glass in midair while the water ran down her arm and dripped to the floor. She recognized his face immediately. Sebastian DelaCorte. She had listened to his CD recently at a friend’s house and liked it. And with that picture of him on the cover, well, needless to say, they had listened to Sebastian’s music over and over, ogling his picture and fastasizing like silly teenagers.

An instant attraction sizzled through her with the first glance at his simmering eyes focused unblinkingly on her. His hair, as dark as midnight and of the finest silk, dripped over his shoulders and fell across his black dress shirt, smooth and rich like an Indian brave’s. She wanted to reach out and touch it, entangling her fingers in its dark softness. And his lips were so inviting. She wondered what it would be like to nibble on them.

“I’m sorry,” she said trying to mask the lustful thoughts running through her mind. “You surprised me. It’s Sebastian, right?”

Still holding the dripping glass, she offered her hand.

“I’m Scarlet, Gary’s sister.” She remembered the comment he’d made about her singing. “But I guess you already know that.”

The heat rose to her face and she was intensely aware that her skin was probably turning red.
Stop it, Scarlet.
She couldn’t believe she was so flustered.

“Yes, Vince told me your name. It is a pleasure to meet you.” Sebastian took the glass she held and set it aside before then taking her hand, still dripping with soap suds, and raised her trembling fingers to his lips, pressing a firm kiss onto them, all while never taking his eyes from hers.

She felt a tingle run up her arm and the heat from her face spread through her chest and out to her toes. The way he moved, and spoke, that quiet confident voice; he was everything the press made him out to be. A gallant, dashing prince of rock n’ roll.

And then he took her by surprise.

In one quick movement, Sebastian stood next to her, so close that she could smell his spicy scent. Taking her in his arms, he captured her breath with a hot kiss that seared their lips together in a passionate bond. His hands roamed down her back and she had no control as her body melted beneath his sensuous touch.

Her heart skipped a beat. She couldn’t believe it; she’d just met this guy!

Caught totally by surprise, she let him explore her mouth while the warm softness of his lips controlled hers. Her silent questions were being answered and she now knew what it was like to have his lips pressed to hers. Taking directions from her heart instead of her mind, her fingers slid up the silk over his chest and touched the feathery tips of his hair.

Then, as if he’d mastered her lips, Sebastian moved his mouth down to her neck, his hair sweeping across her lips as he did.

“Wait a minute,” she said breathlessly. She did not entirely want him to stop, but for a split second she realized that she was kissing a stranger. Gently, she pushed Sebastian back with trembling hands and watched as the ends of his hair slipped from her fingers.

His eyes pleaded silently with hers. He was a vision, a dark angel fallen to earth. This was the wild child she’d been dreaming of. Untamed, carnal, and so beautiful.

“I don’t even know you,” she halfheartedly protested.

“Sure you do,” he said. “You know my name, occupation, and,” he sighed, “if you read any fan magazines you probably know my favorite colors and pet peeves.”

“You know what I mean.”

She took a nervous step back and crossed her arms.
Kiss me again
. Here stood her dream man and she was pushing him away. Was she crazy?

“Generally I date a guy before he kisses me.” As an afterthought, she added, “Not that you’re not a
great
kisser, but…”

“I am sorry, I have a tendency to be abrupt. Just looking at you, and smelling your perfume…” Sebastian moved close again and Scarlet could feel his breath on her exposed shoulders as he leaned in to catch a whiff of her rose perfume. “Mmm,
enchante.
Made me lose control.”

His eyes drifted from hers and then to her mouth. His scrutiny was welcome as she anticipated the possibility of another kiss.

“I guess that means we’ll have to go out on a date, if that is what you require for me to kiss you again?”

She couldn’t believe her ears. This was too easy. But who was she to question this incredible moment?

“I’d love to go out with you. But you don’t even know—”

“Great. Let’s see, tonight is Friday…” He looked to the side, searching a mental calendar. “How about tomorrow night? I have some free time this weekend before I’m scheduled back into the studio. Is it a date?”

He was a fast worker, but she could see no reason to turn him down. It was as though he had put her under a spell with his kiss. She had no desire to refuse him anything.

“Sure, sounds great. Tomorrow.”

He raised her hand to his mouth for another sweet kiss. His eyes, like precious black pearls, punctuated his hunger for her. “If I have to wait any longer than a day to see those lovely emerald eyes again, I’ll go mad.”

Scarlet sighed. He certainly did have a way with words. Her heart fluttered, a dove trapped in a gilded cage. She wanted him to take her in his arms again, but before she could voice her wants, he turned to the doorway. Was he leaving already? She’d only just met him.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, around seven.
Au revoir."
Without giving her a chance to respond, Sebastian headed for the door, leaving her perplexed and dazed.

“What happened? Did he bite you?” Gary teased, walking in as Sebastian took a hasty leave. “Or did the wild rake ravish you with his charm?”

“Huh?” Scarlet stared past her brother. She could still feel the gentle pressure of Sebastian’s lips moving slowly down her neck, melting her inhibitions. “I guess you could say he ravished me with his charm.” She didn’t notice the soap suds rolling down her arm into a puddle beneath her elbow.

“So, what did he want?”

“He asked me out,” she said, still in a daze. “Tomorrow night.”

“Oh yeah?” Gary sounded surprised. “Where’s Vince?” He looked out toward the living room.

“Vince?” Scarlet stared at the pile of sticky glasses surrounding the sink. “Who cares about Vince?” She stood on tiptoes and looked through the window for Sebastian but the yard was silent and still. He had disappeared as quickly as he’d appeared. “Do you know Sebastian well? What’s he like?”

BOOK: Dark Rapture
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