Past the living room was a large space with a conference table in the centre, and following on from that was the kitchen. Even from here, the beginning of the living area, I could tell that the large square kitchen was extremely modern; rich woods, chrome appliances, and marble counters.
I suddenly became conscious that Jared was stood at the outer edge of the kitchen staring at me as he tackled an NST. He raised an eyebrow. “Like it?”
Oh so this was usually all it took to have women on their backs with their legs spread. I casually shrugged one shoulder. “It’s alright.”
He laughed. The gruff sound of it was alluring. God, he was alluring. Even more so when he wore those black Armani jeans and that very complimentary white Armani t-shirt, the best feature of course being that knee-length leather jacket. I was starting to suspect that he hadn’t removed it because he knew how much I liked it on him.
Raising both brows now, he used his thumb to gesture behind them. “The bedroom’s that way, if that’s what you’re looking for.”
I gestured to behind me. “And the front door’s that way, and unless you want me to walk right on out of it you can behave yourself.”
He smiled. “I’ll try to behave.”
“On a more serious note, doesn’t it get weird having all this space to yourself?”
The humour in his eyes dimmed a little for a split second. Then he shot me a roguish smile. “I need all the space for my big swollen ego.”
“I never thought of that.”
He nodded toward the kitchen. “Want anything? I take it you haven’t eaten.” His mouth twitched. Clearly he was delighted about the situation he had created.
“Got any alcohol flavoured NSTs?”
“I might have Budweiser flavoured ones.”
“You like Budweiser?”
I gave him an impatient look. “Let me guess, you find that so surprising because I’m a girl and we girls generally drink spirits and cocktails.”
He held his hands up in an apologetic gesture. “I’ll take my sexist ass to the refrigerator and bring you back some Bud flavoured NSTs.”
“Yeah, you do that.”
He laughed again and nodded toward the conference table before then disappearing into the kitchen. On the surface of the long, glass table was a thick file. So he was telling the truth about there being information for me to look at, he wasn’t just trying to get me away from Max. A small part of me was stupidly disappointed that he hadn’t simply acted on a need to end my night with Max.
Placing my small white handbag on the table, I called out, “What is this gathering anyway? And who’s Connelly?”
Jared swiftly appeared beside me with a handful of NSTs that he plonked on the table, making them noisily clink against the glass surface. “Connelly is a High Master vampire. He’s about three centuries old and he’s got a rod stuck up his ass, but he’s devoted to Antonio.”
“So then why invite you to the gathering and not Antonio?”
“Antonio never leaves The Hollow. Ever. By going to the gathering, I’m kind of his representative.”
“And this gathering is an annual thing?” I took the opened NST he was offering and took a swig. Not bad.
“It’s the anniversary of the day that Connelly became a vampire. He has this huge party every year, but really it’s just an excuse for everyone to get together and get smashed. But, the reason people go is because Connelly’s very select about who he invites. He never exceeds a certain number either. So to get invited is thought of as an honour; a statement that you’re considered important in the vampire world.”
“So basically it’s an opportunity for all of you ‘select’ people to get together and shine your swollen egos.”
He jiggled his head. “More or less. Unless a vampire is a master vampire, they don’t get invited. The only ones who aren’t masters are the High Masters.” He patted the file. “Antonio wants you to have an idea of who they are before you go. We know that Bennington will be invited, and Antonio’s concerned that if Bennington attends he will use the opportunity to approach the other High Masters with his plans to attack The Hollow. It’s doubtful that he’ll just come straight out with it, but he might hint at it to test the water. So Antonio wants us both to be on the alert.”
I cast him a suspicious look. “I could have just gone through this at dusk before we left.”
He smiled. “So you could’ve.”
So he was eager to get me away from Max. Hmm. And now he was doing his glaring thing again, taking in my white satin strapless dress and my white stilettos. Slowly his eyes skated over every inch of my body, boring into me to the point that his glare was almost a caress. I could literally feel his need for me and had to repress a shudder. Twisting his lips and raising a brow suggestively, he met my gaze.
I warned him with my eyes before I spoke. “Oi, you can stop that right now.”
“You know bloody well what, so don’t muck about.”
“I like looking at you.” He shrugged, all innocence.
“Well I don’t like you looking at me.”
He edged a little closer. “You wanted me last night.”
“And you said no.”
“It wasn’t a rejection, I told you why.” His hungry gaze travelled over me again. “I won’t say no now.” He ran the rim of his bottle down the length of my bare arm. I held back a quiver. “Sam.”
“No? Why?” He was amused.
My God he had to know that even if I was up for shagging someone who suffered from Obsessive Consort Disorder – which I definitely wasn’t, honest – I would never have given in to him so easy anyway after the way he had snubbed my offer last night. Feminine pride was a big thing. “A girl can change her mind.”
“Then change it back again.” He edged closer again but still didn’t touch me. Thank God. It was hard enough just having him that close and feeling his breath at my ear.
“Can we go through this file please?” I said impatiently.
He looked about to object but then his grin became crooked and he narrowed his eyes. “If that’s what you want, then that’s what we’ll do.”
I picked up the file and sat on one of the leather-cushioned table chairs. At the forefront of the contents was an A4 photograph of a middle-aged bloke – although he could be centuries old in vampire years – with quite a friendly face. His shoulder-length sleek hair was almost white and his deep-set amber eyes were framed by sparse black lashes. He had a child-like button nose which was probably the main factor in giving him such a friendly appearance.