Craved (Gwen Sparks #1)(9) by Stephanie Nelson

I shook my head at the near miss of mentioning brew, but luckily Fiona hadn’t caught it.

“How are we supposed to have fun with an uptight Micah acting as a third wheel?” Her voice was on the verge of being whiney.

“We’ll investigate and then you and I will have some drinks and dance. Micah will just have to deal with it.” A thought occurred to me, what were we going to do with Fiona while we were investigating? We couldn’t leave her alone in the club. I gritted my teeth because I knew of one way to keep her safe while Micah and I were questioning Anthony, but I doubted she would like it.

“Um, Fiona, I think Aiden should go with us too.”

She released an irritated sigh and said, “Why don’t all of your love interests come, geez, Gwen.”

“Witches are being murdered, Fiona, I think that’s more important than shaking our asses to Beyonce. Aiden needs to come so that you’re not left alone while Micah and I question the guy,” I spat out; annoyed that she was being so difficult.

“Fine, but you’re buying my drinks all night to make it up to me,” she compromised and then I heard the click of the call ending. I flipped my phone shut with a little more pressure than I meant to. I hoped that Fiona’s date with Liam would go really well tomorrow night, that girl needed a distraction.

“Here it is,” Andy said holding out a white garment bag.

“Thank you,” I said as I grabbed the bag. “’Night Andy.”

I wanted to just throw her dress into the back of my Jeep but that would be immature, so I carefully laid it across the backseat and headed for home.

I flipped my cell phone open and dialed Aiden; he would’ve been awake for an hour now.

“Yes, my Gwen?

I felt slightly embarrassed about what had happened between us the night before but not enough to let it bother me. He was gorgeous and I was single, so we hadn’t done anything wrong.

“Are you busy tonight?”

“Oh, are you planning our first official date?”

“No, I’m going to Hemlock tonight with Fiona and Micah. I wanted to know if you’d do me a favor.”

“Ah yes, how could I forget that you’ll be with Micah tonight. What is this favor, my Gwen?” he asked, his voice only slightly annoyed.

“I need you to come with us so that Fiona won’t be alone while we question someone.”

“So you want me to baby-sit while you go off with your ex?”

I cringed, not because he sounded mad, but because what I was asking sounded really bad. I was one hundred percent sure I was over Micah and interested in Aiden, but I was doing a lousy job of showing it.

“Just for a short time and then we can spend the rest of the night dancing,” I told him, hoping that would be enough to entice him.

“Only if you promise me some really good dancing, maybe a lap dance?” I could hear the amusement in his voice. I cringed at the thought of grinding on top of Aiden in a room full of people.

“Possibly, I wouldn’t risk not coming if I were you!” I could play games just as well as he could.

“Consider me intrigued,” he said, his voice low and sexy. A flashback to our intimacy the previous night invaded my mind and sent chills racing through my entire body. He had that effect over me.

“I’m pulling into the apartment complex right now. We’re leaving within the hour,” I told him and then I flipped my phone shut. Grinning like an adolescent girl. I grabbed Fiona’s dress and headed up the concrete stairs.

She had the stereo blaring, so when I opened the door, I was hit with the thumping bass line to some kind of techno song. I threw my purse and jacket on the kitchen table and made my way back to Fiona’s bedroom. She was in the process of standing in front of her full-length mirror and trying on different outfits. One minute she was wearing a skimpy red dress and then it was instantly replaced with a sparkly white one. Magic was a sure way to save a girl time when it came to choosing an outfit.

“Who’s the best friend in the whole world?” I said as I held out the heavy garment bag. She gave her reflection one last glance and then shifted it to me. “Thanks,” she said, grabbing the bag out of my hands.

“You’re still pissed at me?”

“Why on earth would I be pissed at you? I mean, I planned for tonight to be a girls’ night out and then I learn that not only is it not going to be just the girls, but you invited your ex-boyfriend as well as your new boyfriend.”

I knew she was really pissed because she flung her custom made dress from Andy onto her bed. Under normal circumstances, she would have taken it out and admired it before carefully placing it back in the bag and hanging it up.

Fiona and I used to go out all the time when we were younger and liked to party. But since breaking up with Micah and opening my shop I hadn’t gone to a club in almost two years. She wasn’t so upset that guys were going with us; it was the fact that she wouldn’t have my attention all night. We wouldn’t be able to dance together or hit on cute guys together, she’d be the odd man out.

“Look I’m really sorry. I told Micah that I couldn’t go with him to Hemlock because I had plans with you tonight but he planned on going at night anyway, so he invited himself. The interview shouldn’t take that long and then we’ll have the whole night free to have fun, I promise. The only reason Aiden is going is because I want you to be safe. Amy Harper was from Hemlock, so whoever killed her could be from there too and we could be targeted,” I explained, hoping this would be the end of it. Fiona had a hard time seeing the big picture because she lived in the now. She wouldn’t worry about being caught by the murderer, until she was caught.

“Yeah, okay. I’m sorry; I don’t mean to be so bitchy. I guess when my father told me that I was too old to still be single, it got to me. I wanted to have a fun night like we used to, so I still felt young,” she said, her words winding down to only a whisper.

“We’re only twenty-six. If we’re still single when we’re forty, then you can worry. You should know not to let anything your father says bother you.” I threw an arm around her shoulder and pulled her into a hug. I could feel her tightened muscles instantly relax and she leaned her head on my shoulder.

“I’d go with the red dress,” I told her.

Ten minutes later, after scarfing down a turkey sandwich, it was my turn to try on outfits. I couldn’t really go all out club glam because I had to look semi-professional. I didn’t want to show up in a mini and stilettos to our interview, that wouldn’t be a good first impression. Deciding on a pair of black skinny jeans, red halter top, cropped black leather jacket, and a red pair of Manolo Blahniks I borrowed from Fiona. I left my long dark locks down so that they flowed down my back and magicked my makeup. I hated putting it on myself.

Content with my appearance, I headed back to the kitchen. Micah and Aiden had both arrived, looking a little testy to be standing so closely to each other. It’s a myth that vampires and werewolves are mortal enemies. I’ve known a lot of vampires who dated weres. In terms of Micah and Aiden, it was simple; they just didn’t like each other.

Micah was dressed in dark washed jeans that looked brand new. His shirt clung tightly to his broad chest, naturally muscular from being a were with an incredible alpha line.

Aiden was dressed completely opposite. He wore black pinstripe dress pants with a turquoise dress shirt that had the first two buttons undone, showcasing his smooth toned chest. His dark hair framed his face and contrasted beautifully against his blue eyes. “Hey guys, looking good,” I told them as I went to get a bottled water from the fridge. Arms wrapped around my waist and pulled me against the hardness of a chest. Even if it wasn’t obvious, I would have known it was Aiden, even if I was blindfolded. His energy affected me like nothing else. The scent of spices and soap wafted all around my body and I inhaled the pleasure of his essence. Aiden always smelled amazing.

He pulled my hair to one side to reveal my neck. A shiver danced up my spine. He pressed a kiss at the crook of my neck and I leaned against him, forgetting Micah was standing only five feet away.

Fiona cleared her throat in an overly loud tone, her way of telling us to break it up. I turned to face her and blushed when I noticed Micah staring at me.

“You guys are worse than two horny teens,” Fiona said. Aiden chuckled and I wanted to die of embarrassment.

“I find it’s hard to contain myself whenever my Gwen’s in the room.” His hand trailed down to rest on my ass and I nudged him with my elbow. He was purposely trying to piss off Micah and although it wasn’t prominent, Micah’s jaw line had tightened the tiniest bit.

“Yeah, yeah, Gwen is a mouth-watering piece of ass; can we get a move on?” Fiona said with humor. If there was ever a person who did not crave the limelight, it was me. I grabbed my purse and gave Aura a head rub before heading for the door.

9

Rush had a long line that wrapped almost around the block. It was only eight o’clock, still early for the club scene to be as busy as it was. We parked a block away and set off toward the red neon sign that seemed to be beckoning us to approach. It sounded strange to get the heebie-jeebies from a sign, but everything about the club set me on high alert.

After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, it was finally our turn for admittance. The bouncer, who I suspected had been a bodybuilder before being turned vampire, inspected me and Fiona’s I.Ds. carefully. Micah and Aiden were ushered inside with a nod of his shaved head. In the few otherworldly communities that existed in the United States, it was law that our species be listed on our driver’s licenses. Mr. big, bald, bouncer guy seemed overly excited that two witches were willingly walking into Rush. I figured there would only be one reason they’d be excited about witches, and it had everything to do with brew.

The meathead stamped both of our hands with an ink I couldn’t see; maybe it showed up under a black light? With a sly grin, Fiona and I were also given the head nod to enter. The fact that the bouncer’s fangs had peeked out ever so slightly, should have been a warning that this night wasn’t going to go as smoothly as I had hoped.

The inside of Rush was dark. Green and blue laser lights pulsated in sync with the loud techno music while the entire floor was alive with gyrating bodies. Only their shadows were visible, lending a sort of eerie feeling. I could tell there was a balcony that surrounded the entire floor, but I couldn’t see who or what was up there.

During the car ride, we agreed that Micah and I would pretend to be a couple, while Aiden and Fiona would do the same. Aiden had not been happy about it, but since they would be left at the club while Micah and I went to interview Anthony, it was the logical thing to do.

Micah wrapped a protective arm around my waist and I felt the tiniest bit safer with it there. Aiden caught the motion and his fangs descended as he stared bullets at Micah. I gave him a look that said he’d better knock it off. It wouldn’t be helpful if our covers were blown within the first couple of minutes. Reluctantly, he pulled his attention away from Micah and wrapped his arm around Fiona.

Pretending to be normal club goers, we went to the bar and ordered drinks. The bartender, a woman in her early twenties, seemed to be experimenting with her look. Her hair was jet black with hot pink streaks throughout and cut so asymmetrical, it looked like a child had taken scissors to it. I noticed she eyed my hand when I grabbed my mojito and cast a glance up toward the balcony. Weird, I thought.

Once everyone had their drinks, we made our way to the dance floor. I could feel bodies pressing up against me while we pushed through the congested crowd. I noticed glowing blue eyes in my peripheral view, so I swiveled my head to get a better look but they were gone. The bar was so dark, I shouldn’t have been able to see anyone’s eyes, let alone eyes that electric blue.

Finally finding a spot big enough for the four of us, we stopped and started to dance. It was really uncomfortable dancing with Micah, but I focused my mind on the task at hand, instead of the way his hands felt on my body. Within five minutes, the blue eyes appeared in the darkness again, six feet in front of me but I still couldn’t make out who it was or why they were watching me so intently.

I leaned into Micah, wrapping an arm around his neck so that I could press my lips close to his ear. The music was loud but weres have terrific hearing.

“Someone is watching me,” I told him in a whisper. I knew he’d be able to hear me but if I spoke above a whisper, any vampires surrounding us would hear also, and I didn’t want that.

Pressing his cheek against mine, his lips hovered right next to my earlobe.

“Who is it? Interested guy or bad guy?” His voice was a little louder because witches don’t have supersonic hearing like vamps and weres. I hoped his words hadn’t triggered any one. I also caught Aiden eyeing us with disgust. His hands were fisted at his sides while he danced, but when he caught my gaze, he slipped an arm around Fiona’s waist and pulled her so close to his body that you couldn’t tell where he began and she ended. Trying to make me jealous?

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