Toni shook her head as she blindly followed Jade into the conference room. The entire hotel was rented out by their family for this once a year, no holds barred, balls-out party. Every Supernatural who wanted to attend was welcome, so long as they passed the background check provided by their security team. Halloween was taken very seriously among Supernaturals. It didn’t quite mean the same thing as it did to humans. It was the one day each year when the veil between worlds was thin. Thin enough to have a discussion with your Aunt Mabel who passed away last summer and, sometimes, even thin enough for Aunt Mabel to come back for one night. It would seem impossible to those who weren’t part of that world, but to Toni it was just another day.
Toni had grown up in this life. Her father, a vampire and a member of one of the most popular rock bands of all time, had seen to it that she never wanted or needed for anything. Her mother, the only other living dragon on earth, had seen to it that Toni was raised with a level head. They were all considered part of the Knight family, which also happened to have the King of Vampires as one of their own. But Toni had never felt like she was any better or different from anyone else on the planet, except for the part where she could turn into a huge dragon, of course. On that subject she was special. She and her mother, Leigh, were the last of their kind.
“I still think you should have come as the dragon,” Jade told her as she adjusted the feather-light wings on her cousin’s back.
“The dragon would never fit in here,” Toni reminded her. “Besides, I’m less likely to catch anything on fire if I stay human.”
“Whatever you say,” Jade said, with one final tug on Toni’s costume. “Tonight is going to change your life.”
Toni spun around to face her cousin. Long red curls framed the half-vampire’s face, and amethyst eyes stared back at her knowingly. Jade knew things. Just knew them. If she told you that you should walk to work rather than drive, it would be wise to do what she said. If you didn’t, you were likely to get killed in an accident. If Jade was telling you that your life was about to change, listen up.
“How, exactly, is tonight going to change my life?” Toni demanded.
Jade shrugged. “Not sure, exactly. I just know that today is the day for you. Or, tonight, rather.”
Toni’s heart picked up the pace. What in the actual hell was she getting ready to walk into? Maybe she should just turn around and leave. Maybe she should go back home and go to bed so that whatever was getting ready to happen couldn’t happen if she wasn’t there.
Jade laughed. “I can hear you panicking,” she said. “Don’t. It’s nothing bad. Just promise me if an opportunity presents itself, you’ll take it.” She accentuated her words with a shove to Toni’s breasts, pushing them further up and out of her costume.
“Stop that,” Toni said, adjusting the bodice of her fairy costume. “I don’t need the girls popping out in the middle of a summoning or anything.” Toni was no stranger to showing cleavage, but she wasn’t all about having a wardrobe malfunction either. She thought it best to leave that to the professionals.
The corner of Jade’s mouth twitched as if she were trying to hold back a smile. “I just think that if you have certain assets that you should make the best of them. And you’ve got assets.” She waggled her brows at Toni.
Toni couldn’t stop her eyes from rolling. She did have great boobs. She knew it. That didn’t mean she wanted her family to know it, though. She tried to shove her breasts further down into her costume, but it was no use. Jade had fixed them good, and now Toni was going to have to show all that cleavage to the world. “So if it isn’t bad, what is it?”
Jade smiled. “You’ll see,” she said as she turned to walk into the party.
Toni jogged to keep up with her. It was a task, really, in the heels she was wearing. How had she let Jade talk her into wearing this outfit? “You better not leave me,” she demanded.
Jade slowed her pace as they mingled through the throng of people gathered for the big event. She approached her husband, Michael, and he lifted her smaller body effortlessly to place a gentle kiss on her lips before setting her back on her feet. Toni smiled, her mind taking her back to the time when Jade and Michael hadn’t mated yet. Jade’s father had asked Toni to do a little recon…it had ended with Jade kicking Toni’s ass good and proper on the front lawn.
But that was what family did, wasn’t it?
Toni wasn’t able to stroll down memory lane for long because it was time for the announcements.
“Thank you all for coming,” Angel Knight, the California Vampire Clan Leader announced. He was also Jade’s father and Toni’s uncle. “Tonight, let us have fun. Drink, dance, and visit with old friends…” Toni was half listening and half wondering what it was that Jade had been talking about. Life changing. Life. Changing. What could it be?
“We can hear your brain working,” Jade whispered.
“I’m sorry,” Toni whispered back. “You can’t just drop a bomb like that and expect me to just go along happily without wondering–” The most wonderful smell she had ever encountered filled her nose. Toni stopped mid-sentence, breathed deep, and turned her head in the direction she thought the scent came from. It wasn’t a cologne or perfume spray, but something natural. It smelled like the ocean on a clear night. Salt water and musk. It belonged to a man. It made all of her senses go on full alert, but not in a bad way. Her nipples instantly pebbled under the restraint of her corset and she resisted the urge to press her thighs together. Everything else ceased to matter. The sounds of the party grew quiet in her ears as she concentrated. Toni searched the crowd with her eyes trying to decide who owned that delicious scent. Her dragon chuffed within her, the beast agreeing to find the man too. She scanned the guests, but no one stood out to her. Had she imagined it?
“Hello?” Jade said, waving a hand in front of Toni’s face. “Are you even listening to me?”
Toni shook her head and tried to clear it. “I’m sorry, what did you say?” she asked her cousin.
“I was saying that your dad is at it again,” Jade reminded her. The announcements had stopped and Toni’s father, Rebel, was making silly jokes with some of the new folks in town. “What got your attention so fast?”
Toni didn’t know what to tell her. Hell, it was Jade. Most of the time she knew everything anyway. That was her vampire gift. Call it knowledge, foresight, psychic…any of those terms would do. She just knew things without any specific reason. “I’m not sure,” she finally answered honestly. “I thought I smelled something.”
“Oh, you must have smelled hot and beautiful over there,” Jade said with a smile. She jerked her head in the direction of the man she was talking about. “I smelled him too. Nice. I bet he’s got a rocking body under that cloak.”
Toni followed the direction Jade was looking. There was a man wearing a grim reaper costume to her left. He was getting himself a drink at the bar. “Who is it?” she asked.
“Dunno,” Jade answered. “I can’t get a read on him, which is what got my attention in the first place.”
“I’m gonna go talk to him,” Toni told her.
“You do that.” Jade smiled, flashing her fangs. She ran her hands down the sides of her own breasts, wagging her eyes at Toni in a silent attempt to tell her to put her best assets forward.
Toni rolled her eyes and walked over to the bar. She sidled up next to the man, careful not to get too close. She didn’t want to tangle her wings in his scythe. It was real. The blade was not a plastic prop, but an actual blade. The glittering lights of the party flashed off of it in a spectrum of colors. Who would bring such a large weapon into a party? And how did he get it past security? She motioned for the bartender to get her usual, and he nodded and got to it. When he slid the rum and Coke in front of her, the reaper turned to face her.
“I expected you to drink something redder,” he commented. His hood was pulled low over his head so that his eyes were not visible. All Toni could see was that he had a square chin and full lips. Those lips curled up slightly at the corners, making her wonder what the rest of his face looked like and if it was as gorgeous and as soft as those lips looked.
“I’m not a vampire,” she answered his statement. Was this what Jade had been talking about? Was it this man? Surely not.
“Most folks here are,” he said. “Not all, though.”
Toni ran her finger around the rim of her glass, contemplating the mysterious man. “You can’t tell who is or isn’t?”
The man shook his head. “Not within my power,” he said. “Unless they show fang or fur, I am oblivious.”
Toni smiled. “I have neither.” He shifted on his stool and his scent wafted up to her nose. She breathed it in, savoring the wonderful smell. Toni couldn’t tell what species most people were either, unless they did something like shift. This guy, he was something, alright, but it wasn’t human. “What is within your power?” she asked, turning to look at him straight on.
“A little of this and a little of that,” he rumbled from beneath the hood.
His voice was like dark chocolate drizzled over vanilla truffles. Sweet, sexy, dark, and so not good for you. She got the impression that this man was trouble. She always had a spot for a bad boy, though, and Toni found that the more she talked to him, the sexier he got, and she hadn’t even seen his face. She could see the outline of broad shoulders under his cloak, and she had seen him walking so she knew he was tall, but that and his lips were all she had to go on. There was a part of her conscious that warned her to walk away; that this man was dangerous. If not in the physical sense, than in the emotional sense. Bad boys liked trouble. Trouble always brought heartache. Still, she kept talking.
“I’m Toni,” she said, extending her hand to him.
He reached for her and took her hand. His hands were large and strong, with a light dusting of dark hair on his wrists. She assumed the hair went up his forearm, but she couldn’t see it. He wrapped his hand around her fingers and brought it to his lips, brushing them gently across her knuckles before returning her hand to her. That tiny amount of contact was enough to send all of Toni’s nerve endings into electrical overdrive. She felt the spark from him and yanked her hand back without thinking.
“Dylan,” he said.
“A reaper named Dylan.” Toni smiled. “Doesn’t fit.”
“That’s because I’m not a reaper.” He smiled.
“Dylan is Celtic for sea creature,” Toni said playfully. “Are you some kind of fish?”
Dylan chuckled. “Oh the possibilities,” he said. “Something like that.”
Toni nodded. She could understand not wanting to disclose exactly what one was. She didn’t go around telling people that she was a dragon. It wasn’t private knowledge, of course, not given her family, but it also wasn’t something she offered up freely on the first date. He did smell like the sea, though, and Toni decided that was truth enough for her.
“And you are not a fae,” he told her, pointing toward the gossamer wings on her back.
“No,” she answered with a smile. “I am not.”
Dylan couldn’t take his eyes off the beautiful woman beside him. He hadn’t come to this party to mingle or to find a beautiful woman; he had come because his father had forbid it. His father had been adamant that Dylan stay where he belonged, in the water. What was he? Thirteen? No. Dylan was more than a century old. He didn’t need Daddy Dearest telling him what he could and could not do. So he snuck in without going through security. The secrecy part was more to prove to himself that he could do it. And he did. The woman sitting next to him was a bonus.
She had silky black hair that was tied up in a messy bun, but somehow Dylan suspected that the messy part had been intentional. It shined in the low light of the room and he wondered if it was as soft as it looked. There was a stray curl hanging over her ear and brushing her cheek. He had to restrain himself from reaching out and tucking that stray hair behind her ear. Her eyes were like none he had ever seen before. The iris was a golden yellow, not a color that could be accomplished with contact lenses. The color seemed to shimmer within the iris, giving her stare an ethereal feel. Her skin was pale, like fine porcelain, except for a small patch on her temple. It had an almost imperceptible gold tone that shimmered when she moved. At first, he thought it was makeup, but the more he studied her, the more he was certain it was natural. She didn’t wear any makeup that he could see. Her eyes were rimmed with the blackest lashes he had ever seen, but no Kohl liner. No, this beauty was hers and hers alone. The fairy costume did little to hide her incredible body. It had a corset bodice that exposed so much cleavage he thought her breasts might just jump out for his pleasure. He hoped they did. There was a pink sash around her waist and the skirting stopped mid-thigh, showing off her long, shapely legs.
This woman had secrets, he thought. It surprised him that he wanted to know what those secrets were. His father would never allow him to mingle with humans, but this woman wasn’t human. He didn’t know what she was, but human wasn’t it. His fingertips itched to touch her again. He could still feel the soft skin of her hand on his lips. He wanted to touch her, to taste her, to make her scream his name. The thought surprised him. He didn’t lust after women like this. Yes, he could find a woman attractive, and yes he could sleep with her. But this woman? He wanted to fuck her, and then fuck her again until she didn’t know her own damned name. The only name he wanted on her lips was his.
It was odd for him to feel so possessive over a woman he just met, but he chalked it up to the mystery and the fact that he had been running on an adrenaline rush since he left home to come to this party. Surely that was it, and he convinced himself of it because he knew he could only be out for this one night. One night only. It was right then he decided what he wanted to do with his night.