A tense ten seconds later, Vance and I walked out of the office back into the red hallway. We had to dodge a woman who was down on her knees in the middle of the floor. She was too busy giving some guy a very enthusiastic blow job to notice us trying to pass. Jesus, if this was going on in the hall, what the hell was out in the main room?
I looked away, shocked at the display in front of me. Vance put his arm around me and whispered in my ear, “It’s okay, Karli. I’m not going to let anything happen to you. Look, I know I was a dick in there and I’m sorry. Leo just really has a way of getting to me.”
“Why?” I asked.
He nodded towards the couple we had just passed. “This really isn’t the place to talk about it. Can we please just look around real quick so we can get out of here?”
I sighed. “Yeah, I guess. But I need to hit the bar first.”
He nodded and led me to a large open room with a long, black polished bar off to the left. The bartender who was wearing pasties, a black lace thong with matching garter belt, and fishnets, came to greet us. Geez, and I thought my uniform was slutty! “Hi there,” she purred. “My name is Sonia. What can I get for you fine specimens?” Sonia was openly appreciating Vance’s bare chest. Stupid bitch.
“I’ll have a Guinness,” Vance replied. “Karli?”
I considered the series of loud grunts and slapping noises behind me. “I’ll have a shot of Gray Goose. Make that a double.”
“Coming right up,” the bartender said with a wink.
Vance raised his eyebrows at me. “Two shots, huh? You’re obviously not looking to pace yourself, are you?” I wasn’t going to dignify that with a response so I just glared at him instead.
When Sonia brought my drink, I downed it in one gulp and motioned for another. She refilled it right away and I guzzled that one down too. I turned around to survey the area. Okay, maybe just one more drink would do the job. I asked for a third and knocked it back faster than the first two. I slammed the empty glass down on the bar and took a deep breath. I really needed to get myself together here or I was going to blow our cover. Think, Karli! What would Sydney Bristow do?
I looked over at Vance and he was doing that annoying raised eyebrow thing again. “You ready to do this?” he asked. I nodded as he led me towards the main floor. We found an open table and sat down.
Holy hell, there was no way I could have prepared myself for this. Well, maybe, if I had watched a shit load of hard core porn beforehand. Directly in front of us were three raised platforms with a strobe light flashing overhead as Rihanna’s song “S & M” was appropriately blaring through the speakers. The stage to the right had a woman bent over at the waist with her wrists bound to her ankles and a red ball gag in her mouth. A man was fucking her from behind while he was pulling on her long auburn hair like he was holding a set of reins. He grabbed a paddle from a table and started smacking her on the ass really hard. That did not look comfortable or pleasant by any means, but she was definitely enjoying herself.
A loud cry drew my attention to the stage in the middle. This one had a raven-haired beauty in a sex swing facing the crowd. Her legs were spread wide while a man was pounding her from the front. From the noises she was making, I’m guessing he was doing a bang-up job. I looked closer and saw a vampire behind her cupping her breasts while blood was dripping from two puncture wounds on her neck. He let the scarlet substance reach her nipple before he licked a path back up to the curve of her neck. I watched his fangs glide into her flesh, causing her to instantly orgasm. Either she was breaking the world record for the longest climax ever, or the rumor about vampire bites wasn’t really a rumor after all. Oh, wow that’s…um, interesting. Fuck, did the heater just kick on?
Vance put his hand on my arm and leaned closer. “You doing all right? Are you going to be okay after drinking all those shots?”
“Uh huh,” I said. “I’ll be fine. It’s just a lot to take in all at once.” It was like a massive train wreck. I couldn’t look away no matter how hard I tried.
I looked to the stage on my left which had what seemed to be an erotic, oral chain gang. One woman was bent backwards over a large wedge while another one was face down between her thighs. There was a man under the second woman doing the same, while a third woman was giving him some oral satisfaction of his own.
“Don’t forget to keep an eye out for Chad,” he reminded me, clearly aware of my fascination.
I glanced around to see if anyone looked familiar until I got back to the middle stage. I suddenly had a very graphic vision of replacing that woman in the swing…with Vance and Leo on each end. Damn these immortal hormones! I shook it off and flew out of my seat before I started panting like a dog.
Vance looked at me quizzically and asked, “Karli, you okay?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “I just need to walk the liquor off. I don’t see Chad in here anyway. Do you want to check out the rest of the club?”
He agreed so we went off to the left of the main arena. There was a wide hall filled with people in various states of undress, observing the activities in front of them. Each room had three walls, with red leather couches on each side, and a black rubber mattress in the middle.
There were five people in the first room. A Polynesian-looking woman was spread out on the mattress, bound at the wrists and ankles with bondage tape on her breasts. A heavily tattooed man was going down on her while she was deep throating another guy who had too many piercings to count. Two women were on the couch kissing and fondling each other’s large, augmented breasts. A very good looking African American man stepped further into the room and joined the two blondes on the couch. One of them welcomed him in by trapping his face between her thighs while she continued making out with the other one. Wow, so it was that easy, huh?
“I’ve seen enough of this room,” I said to Vance, motioning for him to follow me to the next one.
The second room was occupied with only one man and one woman. They looked like they were just getting started, arranging themselves for a very adventurous position with some scary looking gadgets. Oh God, I hope they stretched beforehand! Chad wasn’t there either so we started walking away, but we were blocked by a couple standing in front of us. The man gave me a hungry look and grabbed me by the hand, pulling me into the room with him.
“C’mon, sexy, that looks fun. Let’s give it a try.” I stumbled forward but Vance quickly pulled me back into him. Damn, the shots were really hitting me now. “Hey man, what the fuck?” the stranger griped.
“She’s not interested,” Vance firmly replied.
“Why don’t you let her speak for herself?” the man said and glared.
“I’m not interested,” I said, returning his glare with all my might but the prick still seemed unconvinced. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Leo. He gave us a warning look before walking away. I tucked my body behind Vance and added, “I’m with him, and I’m not looking for another partner at the moment.”
The loser still wasn’t getting the hint so Vance barked, “Get a clue, asshole.”
He whirled around, grabbed a fistful of my hair, and started kissing me. The guy finally backed off and grabbed the other woman who was standing next to him. I thought Vance would break from our lip lock as soon as he’d made his point but that didn’t happen. With a low growl, he pushed me into the room against the arm of a couch. He continued shoving his tongue down my throat while he was grinding against me.
Okay, I am definitely not a PDA type of girl, but Heaven help me, I was getting really turned on. It must have been a combination of the alcohol, the surroundings, and the fact that Vance was a really good kisser. I peeled off his jacket and started clawing his back in need, moaning under his lips. He moved his hands down to my ass and lifted me up onto the arm of the couch. I wrapped my legs around his waist as my torso slid back onto the cushions.
He leaned forward and started kissing my neck while he was kneading my breasts. His mutual desire was evident based on the thick bulge pressing against my core. At that point, I wouldn’t have cared if we were in the middle of the Superbowl half-time show. I wanted him bad and I wanted him now. I started unbuttoning his pants as his hand slid up my skirt. He looped a finger under my thong and went straight for my pleasure zone. I arched my back as his nimble fingers wreaked havoc on my lower body. He pinned both of my wrists above my head with one of his big hands and started plunging his tongue into my mouth again. My climax was so close I could practically taste it.
“Oh God! Yes, Vance! Yes! Don’t stop!” I begged in between kisses. “Please don’t ever stop!”
“Karli?” a familiar voice called. “Karli…is that really you?”
Shit, I knew who that voice belonged to. With a big sigh, I cursed his name. “Chad.”
Vance froze, undoubtedly jolted out of the moment. He extended his arm to help me off the couch. We both took a few seconds to rearrange our clothing before walking out of the room to face him.
“Well, look at what we have here,” Chad teased, with a giant grin plastered on his face. “I’d have to say, Karli, you’re probably the last person I’d ever expect to find in a place like this. I am very happy to see that you are…expanding your horizons. Hey, I didn’t mean to break up your little party there. Please, don’t stop on my behalf. Quite frankly, I was enjoying the show. It brought back some old memories.”
“Chad,” I repeated through gritted teeth. “What brings you here?”
He replied, “Well, it looks like the same reason as you. Who’s your friend?”
Just then, a naked, leggy blonde sauntered up to him and trailed her finger down his bare chest. “Hey baby, you come here to play with me tonight?” she asked him.
“Um, no. Maybe later, I’m kinda busy here. I’ll find you if I’m interested.” He removed her hand from his chest and motioned for her to go away. What a slimeball! Returning his attention to me he asked, “So tell me, Karli, who’s your friend?”
“This is Vance. Vance, meet Chad.”
The two men sized each other up, not saying a word. Vance moved behind me and wrapped his right arm around my waist. I could feel him digging in his pocket for the crystal with the other arm. I could also still feel his erection on my back. Something to save for later, I supposed.
He kissed me right below my ear and whispered, “It’s okay, Karli. Keep him talking.”
I shivered. “Chad, I wouldn’t expect to see you here so soon after what happened to Leslie. You two looked pretty cozy last night.”
He replied, “Oh yeah, I heard about that. Roxy called me. I heard you’re the one who found her, huh? Pretty freaky.”
“Wow, you seem really torn up. She must have meant a lot to you,” I said sarcastically.
“Nah, she was just an easy lay when I wanted one. I needed to get off after seeing you looking so fine last night and she was more than happy to oblige. Truthfully, she wasn’t even any good. I need a gal who has a little more fire in the sack.”
He stalked towards me with a determined look in his eye. Vance’s body tensed and he tightened his grip on me. Chad was suddenly standing right in front of me, grabbing a stray hair, and tucking it behind my ear. “You remember how hot we were together, don’t you baby?” he asked. “You have no idea how much you haunt me, do you? Even after all this time, I’ve never found anyone who can come close to competing with you.”
“Well, not for lack of trying, that’s for sure,” I blurted. “Even while we were still together, remember?”
“Ah, yes, that is something I have come to regret. I wish I would have known you were open to exploring like this.” He nodded towards the room. “Things could have been very different for us, lover. We could be in the middle of one of our infamous all-nighters right now.”
Vance’s fist clenched as he said, “Look, buddy, I think you need to back off.”
“Is that so?” Chad replied. “And I suppose you’re going to be the one to make me?”
“If I have to.” He moved in front of me, clenching both fists.
“I’d like to see you try,” Chad taunted. “C’mon, pussy, give me your best shot.”
In a move so fast that I could barely track it, Vance threw a punch. Unfortunately, his clenched fist landed in Leo’s hand instead of on Chad’s face. Leo held Vance in a punishing grip until he backed down. Where the hell did he come from anyway?
“Gentlemen,” he said, looking at both men sternly. “I’d like to think that I run a nice establishment here. I would hate to see that soiled with such childish behavior.” He spared a glance in my direction. “I can certainly appreciate the source of your anger; this beautiful woman is unquestionably a prize to be treasured, but I will not tolerate fighting in my club. Agreed?” Okay, I may have blushed a little with the beautiful comment.
Neither men said a word, but they both nodded. Leo seemed satisfied so he turned to me and said, “My dearest Karli, I do have some business to discuss with you. Would you please accompany me back to my office?”
“Right now?” I asked. He nodded. “Um, sure.” What could he possibly have to discuss with me?
Vance stepped forward in protest, but Leo held his hand up. “Mr. Alexander, if you would please go to the bar, I will have Sonia prepare a drink for you, on the house. I should only need a few minutes of Karli’s time, then you two can be on your way.” He looked at Chad and said, “As for you, I would like you to leave right now. I do not want to worry about you two while I’m gone.”
“But---” Chad argued.
“It is not open for negotiations, Mr. O’Brien. I know you’re a regular here, and I appreciate your business. I am willing to overlook tonight’s indiscretion based on your history with us, but I will not give you a second chance. If you wish to visit this establishment again, I suggest you leave now with no further comment.”
Chad turned around and walked away, muttering something under his breath.
I glanced up at Leo as he reached for my hand. “Shall we?” he asked.
Vance seemed like he was going to follow us but I shook my head at him and mouthed I’ll be fine. He pressed his lips into a fine line as Leo and I walked down the hall.
Leo motioned for me to take a seat when we arrived at his office. “Would you care for a drink?” he asked.
“Oh, no, thank you. I think I’ve had plenty to drink tonight.”
“Ah, yes. You did seem like you were…having a good time out there.”
Oh crap! He saw that? I looked up at the security monitors and got a clear view of the room that I had just vacated. Oh God, I think I just broke the record for most embarrassing moment with your boss. Blushing profusely, I said, “Uh, yeah, sorry about that. I’m not normally like this. I’ve just had a lot going on lately, and I had like five or six shots, and well, there’s people having sex everywhere you look around here! Things just kinda happened.”
“Please, do not apologize for indulging your body’s desires,” he said with a grin. “That’s what this place is for. It is Mr. O’Brien who should be apologizing for interrupting you right before you were about to really enjoy yourself.” Okay, scratch what I said before. This was the most embarrassing moment.
“Um, I’m assuming you didn’t call me back here to talk about that, did you?” I asked, completely mortified.
“No, of course not,” he replied. “I just wanted to let you know that I will be spending my evenings at Pixie Dust once it reopens. I want to keep an eye on things in case this demon is targeting my employees. I’ve already reserved a room at the hotel so I can be there during the day if need be.”
“Well, I appreciate the offer, but that’s really not necessary,” I said. The last thing I needed right then was to spend more time with a vampire. Especially not this vampire.
“Karli, I wasn’t asking for your permission. I do own the place, if you recall.” Shit, now I’ve stepped in it! “As one of my Head Bartenders, I thought you should know.” He added, “Besides, it is my responsibility to ensure my employees’ safety. I’ve made many enemies throughout the years. It’s possible this could all be a personal attack on me.”
“You really think so?”
“I have no idea at this point. Hopefully I will know more as your detective does his job.”
“He’s not my detective,” I corrected.
“Duly noted.” He smiled.
“Well, what about sunlight?”
“What about it?”
“Aren’t you worried about it, staying in the hotel? I mean, I know you’re fine with indirect exposure, but is it safe for you to be there?”
“Your concern is touching, but you needn’t worry. The hotel is vampire friendly. One of my companies helped build it, actually. I had UV filters and blackout drapes installed in all of the luxury suites. Vampires are well known for enjoying the finer things in life, you know.”
“Um, yeah I’ve noticed,” I said. “When do you think the bar will reopen?”
“The police said they will let me know. Hopefully, by Sunday at the latest. It is not good for the books to be closed for any length of time, as I’m sure you can imagine.”
Okay, I had to ask while I had the chance. “It seems like you and Vance know each other. When did you two meet?”
“Wow, you’re beautiful and astute. Impressive.” He paused. “Vance and I go back many years. You could say we had some common …interests back in the day. Perhaps he’ll tell you about it sometime. Now, as much as I’m enjoying your company, I’m guessing your detective is getting a little anxious by now. Excuse me, the detective. I’ll walk you back to him if you’d like.”
“Um, okay.” Wow, just call me Miss Articulate!
Leo opened the door and gestured for me to pass. Vance was standing right outside looking really pissed off. Leo grabbed my hand, turned it over, and placed his lips on the inside of my wrist. My eyes rolled back involuntarily when the tips of his fangs touched my skin. “It’s been a pleasure, dear one. Until next time.”
I looked at Vance and saw a muscle twitching under his eye as he squared his jaw; he reminded me of an angry cartoon character with steam coming out of its ears. Leo went back into his office and shut the door. Vance grabbed my arm and starting yanking me towards the back door. “What was that all about?” he growled.
“It was no big deal,” I replied. “Geez! Will you loosen your grip, please? He just wanted to tell me that he’ll be spending time at Pixie Dust. He reserved a room at the hotel, said it was a business thing. He wanted to ensure his employees’ safety. Yada, yada, yada.”
He released my arm as we left the building. Hoping to lighten his mood and desperate for a change in subject, I asked, “Did the truth spell work on Chad?”
Clenching his jaw even tighter he replied, “Yeah, he was being completely honest with every word. I have no idea what you ever saw in that asshole.”
Okay, well so much for my change the subject idea. “Hey, he wasn’t like that when we were together.”
He dangled the crystal in front of me. “Lie.” Fuck, I had forgotten about that damn thing!
I blushed. “Okay, maybe he was a little like that when we were together. But in my defense, he was much better at hiding it.”
“Yeah, I bet,” he said.
When we got to his car, he opened my door and held it out for me. I stumbled a little bit and plowed right into his unyielding chest. He steadied me while I took a moment to catch my bearings. We stood there, barely inches apart, just staring at each other for who knows how long? The anger drained from his face as he started moving in for a kiss. I thought putting on one show for the evening was more than enough so I ducked inside before he had a chance. Besides, this whole hot and cold thing he had going on was really starting to bother me.
We drove in silence almost the entire way. Right before pulling into my parking lot he said, “Look, Karli, I think we should talk about what happened between us earlier.”
Ugh! I was so not in the mood for this. First we start talking about getting it on in public, and then what? Oh yeah, maybe some “Hey, Karli, I know you’re a fairy so let’s talk about that too!” No, thank you!
“Vance, I’m really not in the mood to talk about anything right now,” I said firmly. “I’ve had a long night and a lot to drink. I think it would be best if we just called it a night. I really want to go inside and get some sleep.”
He pulled the car in front of my building and got out to open my door. “Would you like me to walk you to your door?” he asked.
“No, I think it would be best if we said goodbye here.” Trying to avoid yet another awkward moment, I reached up and lightly kissed him on the cheek. “Goodnight, Vance. I’ll see you soon.”
I walked into my building without looking back. My body was fighting me every step of the way, desperately wanting more contact with his. If I risked a glance, I may have asked him to come in and I really couldn’t afford to go there right then. I unlocked my door, threw my keys on the counter, and kicked off my boots. I took a few aspirin to fight off the inevitable hangover and staggered into bed.