Authors: Trina M. Lee
Alexa O’Brien Huntress Book 7
By Trina M. Lee
Copyright © 2013 by Trina M. Lee
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, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Manufactured in the United States of America
B. Leigh Hogan
Dark Mountain Books
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
The loud clink of glasses was one of many sounds in the busy, fast-paced atmosphere. It was pushing three in the morning, yet the patrons of the Galleria Bar in Caesars Palace were nowhere near finished. I sat at a small round table with Shaz and Jez, trying to decide where I wanted to start. There was so much going on.
Jez held her cocktail up and with a bright smile, crashed it against my martini glass. “Cheers, wolf girl. Here’s to making Sin City our bitch.”
“I think you might have that backwards, Jezzy,” I laughed as the high-strung, erratic energy of the hotel’s occupants crawled over me. It was intense, intriguing and a little chaotic. “This city is going to chew us up and spit us out.”
I sat back in the comfy chair, running a hand over the soft material. The scent of cigarettes and perfume quickly became irritating, and I wrinkled my nose in distaste. Coming to Las Vegas had been Jez’s idea of a getaway, but it was more than that for Arys and me. This trip could prove to be downright deadly.
“I just hope I can keep up with the two of you.” Shaz sipped a beer, his jade-green eyes scanning the vicinity with the wolf’s calm curiosity.
I was happy he had come along on this trip. The time he’d recently spent in the mountains had been hard on both of us. Gone for about five weeks, his absence had been a gaping void in my life. I’d missed him desperately. Our relationship was complicated. Straightening it out was going to take time.
We arrived at the hotel well past a normal check in time, not that there was a whole lot of normal going on in Las Vegas. Arys had gone to the front desk to see about our rooms, while Jez had promptly led the way to the bar, bubbling over with excitement. She was an endless well of exuberance.
I watched her bounce in her chair as she tossed back the fruity drink. Though her enthusiasm was genuine, I couldn’t help but wonder if she was trying extra hard to leave her emotions back at home. Suffering the loss of a lover can really screw up a person. Of course, she needed to cut loose and leave the real world behind for a while.
“We should go hit the slot machines,” Jez said, abandoning her empty glass. She peered over the partition to the casino beyond. “It’s still early.”
I glanced down at the bags near our feet, glad I had packed relatively light. “Slow down there, wildcat. Lots of time for that. Let’s get settled into our rooms first. I could use a few hours of sleep before Harley’s crew knows we’re here.”
“Do you think they’ll be a problem?” Shaz picked at the label on his beer bottle, but his eyes were on me. “It’s not like you came here to make trouble for them. Did you?”
I squirmed a little under the weight of his gaze. There was so much going unsaid between us these days. Since he got back, neither of us had wanted to ruin the glow of his return by touching on past events.
“You’re asking the wrong person.” I shook my head and looked at a young couple falling all over each other in the corner. Anything to break eye contact. “Arys wasn’t willing to let me come here without him. That should speak for itself.”
“It does.” Shaz followed my gaze, spying the smitten lovers. He looked back to me and raised a brow, flashing me a flirty grin.
A blush warmed my cheeks. In so many ways, it felt like we were starting over. The anticipation of every look and touch was strong. Things had changed, but we’d been so close once. The love we had for one another still existed, beneath the remnants of the mess we’d made. Perhaps we’d find our way back to each other. Eventually.
“If I have to watch you two slip shy glances back and forth all week, I may have to poke my eyes out.” Jez groaned and pretended to vomit. “Just go bang your brains out already and get it out of your system.”
“Jez,” I admonished with a glare, flushing with the heat of embarrassment. A peek at Shaz revealed he was trying to suppress a laugh.
“Sorry,” she said but clearly didn’t mean it. “I’m just jealous and bitter. Seriously, though, somebody should be fucking like bunnies. Might as well be you guys.”
It was a touchy subject for sure. Shaz and I hadn’t been intimate in months. It wasn’t something I wanted to rush. It had to happen in its own time.
“This is Vegas.” Shaz spoke up. “I doubt it will take you long to find a sexy lady to rock your world, Jez. And if you’re not ready, that’s ok too. We’ll happily drink ourselves stupid with you. Right, Lex?”
I opened my mouth to reply, but nothing came out. The vampire that had just walked into the bar transfixed me. Shit. Where was Arys?
Bracing for the moment the vampire would look our way, I held my breath. His dark gaze fell upon me immediately, and I froze. He was tall and burly. Bearded with long, shaggy hair, his dark eyes were piercing. Our gazes met, and he stared into me with a fierceness that made me defensive. In a show of blatant disrespect, he felt me out, reaching out metaphysically to get a taste of my power. It was invasive and beyond rude. Instead of resisting his appraisal, I took the brief opportunity to do the same.
I barely tasted his power when a blur of images hit me, flashes of the memories that lived deep within my subconscious. Arys’s memories.
The vampire’s strong pull of energy oozed eroticism and violent pleasure. It promised to draw me in, to make me lust’s slave, to keep me begging no matter how bad it hurt. I knew that power very well; I possessed it. Whoever he was, he belonged to Harley’s bloodline, just as Arys and I did.
I hadn’t always been able to identify the vampires that shared Arys’s sire. Now I could feel the strange metaphysical flavor that we all shared. It was both pleasing and startling to see how my power had grown.
Outwardly disaffected and nonchalant, I sat back in my seat and exuded a relaxed appearance. Inside I was coiling my power tight in my core, knowing I couldn’t use it in a human place like this but ready just the same.
“Lex?” Jez spoke softly, her words for my ears only. “Is this gonna get ugly?”
“No.” I didn’t dare take my eyes off the vampire taking calculated steps toward our table. “It doesn’t have to. We’re not doing a damn thing. Just having a drink.”
Shaz didn’t move a muscle, yet his wolf was ready. I could feel it.
This city buzzed with supernatural energy from the monsters who called it home. I shouldn’t have been surprised that we’d already encountered a vamp. I suppose it had been wishful thinking that we’d make it until tomorrow night without our arrival being discovered.
“May I?” The vampire pulled out the empty chair at our table, inclining his head in inquiry. The light flashed off something metallic in his mouth, and I realized one of his fangs was gold. I couldn’t tell if his entire fang was gold, a replacement for the original tooth, or if it was merely gold plated. Either way, it gave his already rugged face an additional element of menace.
“Go right ahead.” I gestured to the chair, studying our guest. It would be nice if Arys would reappear. I had hoped he would be the one to handle the locals.
The vampire glanced around the table, taking us all in one at a time. He ended with me. Propping his elbows on the table, he clasped his hands and grinned. “So it’s true; Arys and his wolf are in town. I had to see for myself. Is this a personal visit?”
“News travels fast here, huh?” I refused to be intimidated. Obviously, the Vegas vamps had eyes and ears all over the place. “Just here to lose some money and drink a lot of booze. Like everyone else.”
“Arys doesn’t set foot in this city without a reason. Not anymore. We can’t help but think he’s here to make a play for Harley’s old turf. Where is Arys anyway?” The vampire let his gaze travel over me, lingering on my cleavage and then on the pulse in my throat.
As much as I dreaded the day I would join the vampire ranks, I looked forward to having them look at me without seeing a super-charged snack. Ignoring his hungry stare, I reached out to Arys, opening the mental link between us.
‘We have a visitor. Friend of yours I think.’ I let him see through my eyes, showing him the undead man seated at the table next to me.
‘Do not leave that bar. I’m coming.’ His alarm sang through me, hitting notes of worry and apprehension.
“Arys is right around the corner, checking in,” I said, my smile so tight it hurt. “He’ll be here any moment.”
“He left your side in this city? You must be stronger than you look. Or else he’s grown careless.”
“Come on now, Roscoe.” The vampire’s name fell from my lips, surfacing from my subconscious. “You know Arys better than that.”
Roscoe was visibly surprised, but he hid it quickly. “So Harley was right after all. You’re the one Arys was dreaming about all those years ago.”
It was my turn to be surprised. I didn’t know Harley’s many vampire progeny knew that much about me. Since I couldn’t willingly access each of Arys’s memories—a blessing in disguise, I was sure, as having them all free flowing in my mind would likely be too much to handle—Arys clearly needed to tell me a few things.
“Whatever Harley said, I’m sure it was fabricated from his delusions.” I scowled and sipped from my drink. Harley was a bitter subject for both Arys and I, each for different reasons. I doubted that would ever change.
Roscoe chuckled, a low throaty sound that struck another hidden chord in my memory. He shifted in his chair, his scent wafting to me. He smelled like expensive cologne, cigarettes and blood, all rolled into one nose-assaulting odor.
“Sounds like you really knew him.” Roscoe leaned across the table, dangerously close. He ignored Shaz, who leaned in as well. “Before you killed him.”
“We’re not playing this game. I came here to escape masculine, pseudo-macho bullshit and head games. Spare me the crap.” I held his gaze, letting the wolf show in my eyes. I kept my power tightly contained so it wouldn’t change my brown eyes to Arys’s vampire blue. This guy didn’t need to see it.
Jez glanced nervously at the door as the cold wind of Arys’s arrival swept over me. He strode into the bar with a cool, composed demeanor, but I could feel the storm building within him.
Arys was a dark dream in black leather. Blue jeans and a white t-shirt along with a leather jacket and his sexy mess of ebony hair gave him a slightly 50s greaser look. No matter how many times I saw him walk into a room, I couldn’t help but swoon.
With the grace of the undead, he moved through the bar. His dark-blue gaze locked on Roscoe, who stood in time for Arys to grab him around the throat. He jerked the other vampire close and shook him.
“What the hell do you want, Roscoe?” Arys snarled. “You know what happens if any of you touch her.”
Roscoe raised both hands and shook his head. “Hey, brother, take it easy. There’s been no touching. Just scoping out the tip that you were in town.”
“I have as much a right to be here as you do. We won’t be around long, so just stay out of our way.” Arys released his hold on Roscoe so they stood nose to nose.
“You know Jenner will want more than that. Why are you here?” Roscoe took a step back, an action that spoke volumes. The same vampire may have sired them, but Arys had dominance here.
Jenner…that name rang a bell though I couldn’t put a face to it. When I killed Harley, I hadn’t entertained the idea that I might have to face the vampires tied to him. It had been hard enough to face Arys. Nervous, I wished for a moment that we’d vacationed somewhere else, where nobody knew who I was.
“Tell Jenner he should be on his knees praying every night that I don’t show my face in his club while I’m here. If he wants trouble, I’ll bring him trouble.” The atmosphere hummed with the intensity of Arys’s growing ire.
Nobody in the bar paid him any attention. They were all too caught up in their own evasion of reality to notice or care that two men glared at one another like dogs about to fight.
Roscoe slid a glance my way. “You shouldn’t have brought her here.”
“Why? Are you afraid of her? You probably should be.”
“Look, Arys, I have no issue with you, but I’m Jenner’s right hand. I’m just here to deliver a message: Get out of town or be driven out.” Roscoe shrugged, and his long brown hair fell over one eye. “Sorry. Gotta keep tabs on the city. Security, you know.”
Arys caught my eye, and a mischievous grin lit up his face. “Be sure to remind Jenner that Alexa is the one who killed Harley. He should have considered that very carefully before he sent the welcome wagon with a threat.”
Oh geez. My stomach flip-flopped, and I almost choked on my next sip of booze. Shaz regarded both vampires with curious interest. He didn’t need to have Arys’s memories to tell there was some serious history between them. Jez ran a finger around the edge of her glass, watching with trepidation as her hopes for a carefree party week shattered with the inevitable vampire pissing contest.