“Seriously, man. You’ve had that scowl etched into your face all day,” Doug laughed.
In a strange turn of events, one that Dominic was not particularly happy about, his partner merged onto the exit ramp as he tried for the millionth time to start a conversation. While his chubby hand flipped the turn signal on, Dominic impatiently rolled his eyes at Doug who cautiously glanced out all of the windows before turning off of 394.
“So, are you gonna tell me what’s up, or are you going to make me drag it out of you?” Doug asked before glancing in the center rear view mirror.
With his large frame folded into the passenger side of the SUV, Dominic sat drumming his fingers on top of his knee. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he grumped. As he checked his phone again for a response text from Hailee, his mood, if possible, soured even more. The woman had just been attacked a few days ago by a vampire and Big Dragon was still at large. Didn’t she know to keep her phone on her at all times? Where the hell could she possibly be? Did she even know how much he worried about her?
“Alright,” Doug suddenly broke into his thoughts. “If that’s how you want to play it-- tell me Dom, who’s the girl?”
Dominic’s eyes narrowed as he turned to glare at Doug. How the hell could he possibly know?
“Don’t give me that look,” Doug scolded. “I’ve been around long enough to know all the signs when I see ’um.”
“Signs?” Dominic challenged. “Now I definitely don’t know what you’re talking about,” he grumbled again. As his massive arms settled over his chest, the large man turned to gaze out at the dilapidated buildings along Route 30.
“Oh, come on man,” Doug snorted. With a slight shake of his head, he turned briefly to give Dominic the ‘you’ve got to be shittin’ me look. “The hickeys on your chest, the urge to check your phone every five seconds, and not to mention that far away look you get in your eyes--” Doug paused as he adjusted his voice to have a more girlish tone to it. “I swear Nicki-my-boy you’re just positively glowing!”
Batting his eyelashes, Doug teasingly clasped and placed both hands under his chin.
“Hey, what the fuck!” Dominic growled, his body roughly jerking to the side. As the vehicle started to run off towards the curb, Doug quickly re-gripped the steering wheel, over compensating a little as he tugged the car back to the middle of the lane.
“Keep both hands on the wheel. Ten and two,” Dominic jeered as he jabbed his pointer finger at the man. “God, I should have never let you drive,” he snapped.
Out of the corner of his eye, Dominic watched the stocky officer deflate. He almost felt bad for the way he reacted, but he had never been one to hide his emotions well. Especially his anger.
“Look. There’s no girl,” Dominic lied. “I just didn’t get a whole lot of sleep this morning.” At least that part was true, he thought. “I know I’ve been on edge the past few days.” Dominic sighed. “And-- I’m sorry.”
“On edge?” Doug scoffed. “A turkey the day before Thanksgiving is on edge. What you’ve been is like a fire-breathing Dragon, pulling a hamstring while having kittens and blowing a gasket.”
“Well, I guess that’s one way to put it.” Dominic’s eyebrows drew upward as he tried to contain a chuckle. With a shake of his head he apologized again. “I’ll just feel a whole lot better once we get this Bojing case behind us, ya know?”
Doug nodded his big, balding head. Surely even he could understand that. As they drove the rest of the way in silence, Dominic could feel his adrenaline peek the moment they pulled into the parking lot. Flipping the tiny phone over, Dominic silently cursed himself for checking it again. A blank screen lit up the inside of the dark SUV and he angrily tossed the cellular into the cup holder before storming out. The large vehicle actually shook side to side from the force with which he slammed the door shut.
With a quick glance of his surroundings, Dominic observed that aside from the trucking company across the road, there was nothing else around the Atlantis Gentlemen’s Club for miles. It was a good thing too, he thought as he walked up to the building. He could only imagine the complaints from the bright, city searchlights and the music that was thumping loudly even before he stepped foot in the door.
“Why don’t you stay out here and let me go scope the place out,” Dominic suggested. After yesterday’s botched attempt to apprehend Big Dragon and then the nightmare that followed, Dominic was feeling slightly apprehensive. If ever he had been more sure of something in his life, he was sure Bojing was in here. He could feel it.
As he pulled out his badge and handed it over to one of the two bouncers checking id’s at the door, Dominic smirked as he looked down at the men. He could see their looks of reverence and awe as they admired every square inch of his gloriously muscular self. It was nice to get some recognition, even if it was for only a moment. He was sure the only way he’d ever get some from Doug was if he poured sugar all over himself.
Finally with an all clear nod from the two burly men, Dominic found that his foot hovered just over the club’s threshold. A slight pang of guilt that had suddenly pierced into his conscience was what had him hesitating.
“I want you to stay away from him, Dom. Please.” He remembered the haunting look in Hailee’s eyes as she pleaded with him. “I want to grow old with you.”
Dominic shook his head as he took a step into the nightclub. He was a cop, and this was his job. Hailee would just have to accept that, just like he was forced to suddenly accept the fact that he was a werewolf now.
Making his way through the fluorescently lit building, Dominic could almost swear he caught a glimpse of Big Dragon. With a swish of silk, a waitress ducked behind the curtain to the VIP area. As Dominic gravitated closer, he could feel his palms slicken with sweat. Bojing was back there. He just knew it.
He knew there was no way he could just waltz into the lounge, but he needed to get closer-- needed to be sure. He was about to head back out by Doug when all of a sudden, the lights dimmed and the bright, white strobes focused on center stage.
“Alright boys, you know what that means!” The DJ called. As she started playing a different kind of tune, the crowds started to go wild. “That’s right!” The feminine voice announced. “It’s time to get your offerings together for our very own-- Queen of the damned!”
With an incredible sinking feeling, his heart dropped into the pit of his stomach. It had never occurred to him before, but now it made sense that Hailee had the same sleep schedule as him. Never in a million years though, would he have guessed this was why.
Walking out on to the stage, Hailee’s hips swayed seductively as she danced with a giant snake draped over her shoulders. Dominic could actually feel himself growing stiff as the deep purple lingerie she wore left little to the imagination. As he stood there watching her routine, his gaze travelled slowly down her body, from the ridiculous crown of feathers on her head to her bare french- manicured toes. Everything that was meant to be his was on showcase for the entire city to see.
His fists clenched angrily by his sides as his temper tipped the scales toward going ballistic. Had Big Dragon seen her? Had he touched her?
As Hailee turned her back to the stage, Dominic struggled to breath. He felt so betrayed-- so angry and jealous-- but at the same time he couldn’t deny that he was incredibly aroused.
The amount of money piling up at her feet was astounding. But then again, Hailee was phenomenal at her job. Dominic himself was nearly hypnotized as his eyes remained glued to her luscious curves, swinging back and forth, back and forth. Dominic pulled his wallet from his back pocket and muscled his way up to the stage.
Nearly head and shoulders above everyone else, it didn’t take long for Hailee to make eye contact with her mate. He saw her falter for a moment as he placed a twenty on the stage. A slight gasp escaped her lips.
It wasn’t until the music had stopped that Dominic realized he had leapt onto the stage. “What the fuck is this?” Dominic snarled.
His chest vibrated with anger, as a constant low growl rolled across the stage like thunder. He was about to tear off his own shirt to cover her from all of the wandering eyes, when Hailee grabbed hold of his hand and dragged him off stage.
“Go get my money,” Hailee snapped at someone as she handed off the six foot bull python. As the handler took the snake and placed it back inside a glass tank, Hailee’s fingers curled around Dominic’s large bicep.
Once it appeared that they were far enough back in house, Dominic exploded.
“What the hell, Hailee? You’re a stripper?”
“I prefer exotic dancer,” she replied cooly.
“And what? You didn’t think this was an important detail about your life that I would want to know?”
“I was going to tell you,” she shot back.
“When?” He demanded.
Dominic angrily scrubbed his face before blowing out a few calming breaths.
“Is everything alright back here?”
“We’re all good, Harv.” Hailee quickly put on a fake smile for the man who had just popped in through the doorway. “It was just a big misunderstanding,” she told him. “Isn’t that right?”
As she turned to pat his big chest, her eyes silently begged him to play along. Nodding harshly, Dominic replied. “It won’t happen again,” he said.
And he meant it.
As soon as this bozo waltzed out of the room, Dominic had every intention of throwing Hailee over his shoulder and leaving.
“All right, all right.” The night manager roughly ran his hands through his hair before hesitantly studying Dominic. “I don’t know what’s going on here, but the boss says to get him out of here. The guests get a little jumpy when the cops come around.”
“I know and I’m sorry.” Hailee tossed her hands up in frustration. “I promise, I’ll take care of this.”
“You better,” the man named Harv warned. As Hailee began leading Dominic out, the manager hollered back over his shoulder. “And make sure you go out the back!”
Picking up a fluffy, olive-green coat by the door, Hailee wrapped it around herself before pushing open the exit.
“I need this job, Dom.” Hailee nervously shifted her weight back and forth as she looked up at him.
He was still debating hauling her off like a caveman.
“What were you even doing here tonight?” She asked. When he didn’t answer, the look of shame that washed over his face was all she needed. “You can’t be serious,” Hailee hissed. “I told you to stay away from him!”
“Stay away from him?” Dominic growled. “Hailee this is my job! And Bojing is a threat! Just tell me, is he here?”
“I-- I can’t do that.”
“And why not?” Dominic raged. “My god I don’t understand! How can you seriously stand right here and cover for him?”
“Don’t do this, Dom. Not today.” With a shake of her head, Dominic watched Hailee turn to head back inside. “Please. Just go home.”