Aya jerked her chin up, brushed her short black hair back from her face, and strolled into the club with just enough sway in her hips to have a few of the hungrier males in the expansive room looking her way. Colourful lights flashed in time with the pounding tempo of the rock music, a visible beat that spoke to her animal side and had her prowling through the half-filled club, heading towards the bar at the far end. The hazy glass panel at the front of it changed colours, fading through green, yellow, red and blue. Purple lights above the bar washed over the white metal top and the people lining it, telling her that Amanda was in charge tonight. The colour changed depending on who was the boss behind the bar. Her luck was in. Amanda made the best cocktails. Things were already looking up.
She skirted the edge of the dance floor, her eyes raking over every male on it, assessing them in turn, seeking out her first partner. Some of them glanced her way, taking their eyes off their females and giving her their attention instead. She smiled at them all, a range of shifters and fae, and some mortals mixed in. Any one of them would do.
She turned back towards the bar and a group of mortal males broke apart to allow her passage, creating a clear run between her and the bar.
A male there caught her eye.
It wasn’t often she saw their kind around, but he was unmistakable as he lounged casually on a stool, his right arm propped up on the bar behind him. His deep crimson gaze locked on her, sending a thrill coursing through her blood, and she added a little extra sway to her hips and slowed her pace, capturing and holding his focus on her.
He was perfect.
It was little wonder many of the single females in the club were watching him closely.
With neatly styled dark hair, shorn close around the sides but left wild on top, and wicked full lips set in a classically handsome face, with a strong jaw, straight nose and sculpted cheekbones, he was the image of perfection.
The embodiment of masculinity.
The black shirt he wore was slightly open at the collar, revealing defined muscles that hinted at a body to match the perfection of his face.
His sensual lips tilted in a ghost of a smile.
He thought he had found a victim, a walking blood bag who would feed him, and she wasnít about to tell him how wrong he was about that. Biting was off the agenda. She never allowed fangs near her flesh. The way his gaze dipped, roaming down the line of her throat, and his lips curved further told her he had noticed that, and the way his eyes brightened, burning faintly in the low light, warned he liked it.
She was playing with fire, but she didn’t care. Not tonight.
Tonight was about forgetting, and he was the perfect male to erase the past from her mind.
Aya halted at the bar and flagged the only female member of staff. Amanda. The brunette smiled, nodded and went to work on her drink, mixing her the same potent cocktail she always requested.
The vampire leaned closer, inhaled slowly and growled low in his throat. A shiver bolted through Aya, a flash fire following in its wake, and she slowly slid her gaze towards him. His eyes met and locked with hers, and her breathing came quicker. Vampires were alluring, but this male was something else.
Crimson eyes held hers and the sensation of danger she had felt when approaching him increased, but rather than triggering a need to escape his presence, it drew her to him instead. Tonight, she was in the mood for danger and seduction, and this male would give that to her.
“It’s on me,” the male said as the bartender dropped her drink off.
Amanda nodded and moved away to the till.
The vampire pressed two fingers against the base of the martini glass and pushed it across the white bar top to Aya, his charming smile holding.
“You look like you need this,” he murmured and her sensitive hearing picked up his words over the loud thumping music.
Aya held his gaze as she took the drink, swallowed it down in one go and set the glass back down on the bar.
“I need more than this,” she whispered and inched closer to him, so her hip brushed his thigh.
His gaze lowered to where they touched, narrowed and then darted back up to hers. He growled, flashing short fangs, grabbed her right wrist and spun her towards him. Hunger filled his eyes, need that she felt echoing inside her. She had been alone too long too. She needed to lose herself in someone, had to purge the bad memories and fill her head with something to keep them at bay.
That something was him.
The male moved in a blur and she gasped when she was suddenly on the busy dance floor, his hands on her hips and his body swaying against hers in an intoxicating rhythm. It took her a moment to catch up, but the second she did, she threw her arms around his neck and ground against him, rubbing up his thigh as he pressed it between her legs.
Gods, she needed this.
Her heart pounded, the frantic beat drowning out the music as she lost herself in the sway of his body against hers and the rich depths of his eyes. Her instincts whispered again, warning she was playing with fire, and this time she might get burned.
She had already been burned.
No one could burn her worse than he had.
Not even a vampire.
She threw herself into dancing with him, working up a sweat and burning off some energy as they writhed against each other to the beat of the music. She lost track of time as the songs faded from one to another and then another. He turned with her and she frowned briefly as a scar around his neck caught the sudden flash of white light that cascaded over him. It was thin, would be unnoticeable at a distance, but this close to him she could see it and she couldnít help wondering how he had come to have it.
And how he had survived the wound.
The silvery line stretched from below his left ear, around the front of his throat, over his Adam’s apple where it was thicker and more pronounced, to below his right ear.
It looked as if someone had attempted to cut his head clean off and should have succeeded, but somehow he had escaped with his life.
She wanted to know how, but the way he was staring down at her when she finally drew her gaze away from the scar warned her to hold her tongue.
A couple of males bumped against them on the busy dance floor and the vampire turned crimson eyes on them and curled his lip, flashing a hint of fang that had them backing into the crowd.
He drew her closer, his scent surrounding her and stealing her focus away from the world, narrowing it down to him. She let it overwhelm her, let her guard down and gave herself over to the moment.
“What’s your name?” she hollered over the music.
The man smiled, charming to the last, his eyes glittering dangerously with it. “Night.”
“Aya,” she said without missing a beat, sensing that he was waiting for her to comment on his name. If it was his real one, his parents had a bad sense of humour, but she couldn’t deny that it suited him.
He was as seductive, beautiful and dangerous as the night.
A shiver prickled down her spine, setting her on edge and shattering the hold the vampire had over her.
Her silver-gold gaze drifted beyond him, towards the entrance, and her breath lodged in her throat.
The snow leopard male.
Aya fixed her eyes back on Night, trying to give him all of her attention again as they moved with each other, their bodies locked tight together. Her focus slipped, her eyes wanting to roam back to the other male, drawn to him even when she didn’t want them to be.
She watched him in the corner of her vision as she looked up at the vampire.
The silver-haired male limped as he walked, favouring his right leg, but it didn’t detract from the lethal edge to his gait as he prowled into the club. He was dangerous. Every instinct she possessed fired that warning across her mind, making it impossible to ignore.
He was more dangerous than the vampire grinding against her, pulling her closer to him, dipping his head to course his lips over her exposed shoulder.
The snow leopard’s silver eyes narrowed and she shut hers, blocking him out as she twined her fingers in Nightís dark hair.
Her breath left her in a rush as she felt the snow leopard’s eyes fix on her, the intensity of his gaze burning through her, drawing her into opening hers to look at him again. She resisted, tried to focus on the male dancing with her, using all of her will to pretend she couldnít feel the snow leopardís gaze drifting down her body as he passed. It lingered on her hips, on the point where the vampire clutched her, his fingers possessively digging into her black jeans as he lifted his head from her shoulder and growled.
A threat if ever she had heard one.
She held her breath, part of her expecting the snow leopard to respond.
He moved on, silent and stealthy, the epitome of a predator. He wouldn’t rise to the threat of a lesser male. He would bide his time, study his opponent, and only make his move once he had discovered a weakness he could exploit and only if he decided he wanted her.
It had been so long since she had been around her own kind that she had forgotten how mature males behaved.
The air left her lungs in a whoosh again, her heart thundering against her breast as the vampire spun her in his arms and pulled her back against his front, grinding against her bottom and leaving her face-to-face with the snow leopard male.
It hit her hard as she stared across the open expanse of room between her and him where he casually took a seat at the bar directly in front of her.
She had chosen the vampire because he was the opposite of this male.
A snow leopard with an unruly shock of silver hair and pure silver eyes set in a ruggedly handsome face that sported numerous pale scars that immediately had her wondering what sort of life he had led.
What sort of Hell had he survived?
It couldn’t be any worse than what she had been through.
He stared straight at her, stealing all of her focus away from the vampire, and this time she couldn’t convince herself to look away. The coldness in his eyes entranced her. A snowy abyss that reminded her of her pride’s village high in the mountains, far away from the mortal world. Stark. Dangerous. Liable to kill you if you set a foot wrong.
Whatever had happened to this male, it had turned him feral, had made him into a killer rather than a male from a species known for their calmness and desire to avoid conflict.
He looked as if he courted danger, sought out conflict, and enjoyed bathing his hands in blood.
His black t-shirt stretched over a firm body, his arms sporting more scars than she could count, and tight black jeans hugged his long lean legs. The fingers of his right hand flexed constantly, a restless movement she had seen many males do when they were on edge. Did he want to fight?
He was injured, but that didn’t make him weak. He looked like the sort of male that would only be more dangerous when wounded.
His eyes remained icy as he shifted in his seat and she would have missed the twist of his lips that betrayed him if she hadnít been studying him so closely.
More than his leg was injured.
The way he held his left arm in his lap told her that it was wounded too. Her eyes dropped to his feet and narrowed as she spotted the black thick material encasing his left foot, at odds with the leather army boot he wore on his right. A cast. Had he broken his leg?
The vampire skimmed his hands forwards, brushing the apex of her thighs and providing a startling reminder that she wasn’t alone. She gasped and tried to evade his wandering hands, but only ended up pressing harder against his front, rubbing his groin with her backside. He groaned against her shoulder and bit lightly with blunt teeth.
The snow leopard’s eyes burned brighter, a flare of silver shining around his narrowing pupils, as if the sight of the vampire touching her had infuriated him.
Aya didn’t belong to him.
She could do as she damn well pleased.
She turned in Night’s arms, giving him the whole of her attention again as she resumed dancing. He pulled her closer, grinning at her as she rubbed against him.
She was pushing her luck.
It wasn’t the vampire she feared either.
Her primal instincts warned that the snow leopard male was losing his temper and she was heading into dangerous territory.
Aya didn’t want to get the vampire killed and she refused to drag innocents into what would amount to a bloodbath if the snow leopard lost his temper in the busy club. She glanced at the huge digital clock mounted on the black wall above the corridor to the exit. It was time she made her excuses and left.
“I need a drink,” she hollered above the music as it began to fade and broke free of Night’s clutches. “I’ll be right back.”
She heard a faint rumble of disapproval but he didn’t try to stop her as she made a beeline for the bar, heading towards the end furthest from the snow leopard male. She could slip out the back through the door in the corner there, using her normal escape route she took whenever things got a little too hot and heavy for her liking.
The snow leopard tracked her as she made her way through the crowd, his gaze never leaving her.
It was going to be difficult to get away without him noticing.
What if he came after her?
Her pulse accelerated, cold sweat prickling down her spine at the thought of him catching her alone outside. Maybe it was better she slipped out the main exit. Rocky would take care of her, ensuring the male kept his distance. A snow leopard was no match for a bear shifter.
Aya turned her back to the bar, her eyes swinging past the male towards the main exit at the opposite end of the club.
She pushed away from the bar.
Panicked shouts filled the air, a rush of people coming at her confusing her senses as they sharpened and her instincts screamed at her to take the back exit and run. Several males bumped her as they raced in that direction and her eyes widened as she caught sight of the other end of the club.
People dressed in black combat gear surged into the busy room, driving the patrons in a wave towards her.
“Police,” someone shouted.
“Raid,” another yelled as they shoved their way through the throng, heading towards her in an attempt to flee.
Aya shook her head as she stared at the large group of males splitting apart and grabbing any shifter or fae they came across.
They weren’t the police.
They were Archangel hunters.