Seth put his arms around me and nuzzled my neck. "You never fail to surprise me. I always think I know what to expect with you. Then I actually see you, and..."

He couldn't finish, but his eyes did it for him. They slid up and down my body, making my insides melt. Throw me on the bed and take me, I begged silently. Out loud I said, "We should get going."

At the concert, Nocturnal Admission performed as spectacularly as last time. Their following had increased, and people packed every square inch of the place. I had trouble seeing the stage but could hear every golden note.

Fortunately, I got to see plenty of Doug later. The venue had let him use the place for another wild, post-concert party. Adoring women - and several men - clung flirtatiously to him and the other band members. Doug hugged me when he saw me, arranged for someone to make me a decent drink, and acted as though nothing had happened between us. I guessed I was glad to set aside the hard feelings, but now that I knew what to blame his behavior on, his bright and wild demeanor unnerved me.

Casey showed up at one point, still looking a bit gaunt, but obviously on the mend. From across the room, I watched her tentatively approach Alec. He'd been talking to Wyatt the guitar player and turned to give her an obviously forced and fake smile. I couldn't hear the conversation, but the message came through loud and clear. She wanted to talk to him, to get his attention in some way, and he was blatantly snubbing her. I could see him shaking his head as she spoke, an almost desperate look on her face. Finally, he simply walked away, leaving her staring and upset.

"I want to go over there and punch him," I told Seth.

"No, you don't. It's their business, not yours."

I turned on him. "Damn it, Seth! How can you always be so placid and nonconfrontational? Don't you stand up for anything?"

He regarded me coolly. If he was surprised or offended by my outburst, he didn't show it. "I stand up for plenty of things. I just know when to pick my battles, that's all. So should you."

"You realize he slept with her and then turned around and dropped her cold. He may have even used sinister ways to do it."

"Believe me, I'm not condoning that, but Casey's got to be the one to say something. Otherwise, it's just you making accusations and starting a scene."

I scowled, half agreeing with him but still wishing I could help. Looking around, I couldn't see her anymore, which was probably just as well. With any luck, she'd gone home and would swear off the company of men for a while. Seth left for the bathroom, and almost the moment he was gone, Alec sidled up.

"Hey, Georgina. You look hot."

"Thanks," I said. I angled my body away, hoping he'd get the signal I wasn't interested. He was lucky I didn't just turn around and deck him.

"You're, like, the best-looking woman in here tonight."

Whether that was actually true or not, I knew the life-force surplus made me the most attractive. There was a difference. Eyeing Alec, I suddenly toyed with the idea of returning his flirtation and sleeping with him. I rather liked the idea of seeing him sprawled out unconscious and sick somewhere. Nah. On second thought, considering he was such a sleazebag, I probably wouldn't steal enough energy to do much more than wind him.

"You drinking those vodka gambits again?" he asked, still pushing the act.

"Gimlets," I corrected.

"Well, the bar can make anything if you want something different. And there's weed everywhere. I think I saw Corey with acid too."

This guy just couldn't stop trying to f**k women over. He didn't care how he did it. Seth showed up just then, and I turned to him with a dazzling smile.

"Nice talking to you Alec," I said breezily, taking Seth's arm. "See you around."

"What was that about?" asked Seth, once we were out of earshot.

"That ass**le was trying to pick me up again. Right after turning away Casey. God, I hate him. He was trying the usual stuff too. Trying to push more drinks on me. Telling me how hot I was."

Seth leaned his face toward mine. "You are hot."

"Stop that. You're giving me funny ideas."

He continued holding me close. I really needed to wait two days before seeing him after a fix. "Ever wonder how far I could kiss you on the lips?" he asked.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I can somewhat substantially kiss your cheek and neck, right? Your lips though...well, those have to be quick, brushing kind of kisses. Too much intensity and tongue with your mouth is right out. So, I figure there must be a middle ground."

"Have you been drinking?"

"Just thinking, that's all."

The rapture from my glow was reflected in his face. Forgetting about anyone we knew seeing us, I let him lean his mouth toward my own. Ever so gently, his lips touched mine. Not a family-type slip of a kiss, nor a saliva-exchanging deep kiss either. It was like a caress. His lips slowly stroked my lips, his tongue just barely tracing the contours of my mouth. Electricity ran from my head to my toes and tried to run back up again, but it got delayed between my legs. Seth stepped away.

"Anything bad happen?"

"No," I breathed. "But I think we need to conduct several repeat experiments, just to make sure."

Suddenly, from across the room, we heard whoops and cheers, followed by a terrific crashing sound and gasps of alarm. Without conscious communication, Seth and I moved as one to see what had happened.

Doug lay in a heap on the floor in front of the stage, laughing hysterically. "What's going on?" I asked Corey.

His eyes were heavily dilated, and I remembered Alec saying the bass player had acid. "It's a new Olympic sport. Stage-table High Jumps."

Following his gaze, I saw a table set up on the stage. About fifteen feet away, on the floor by Doug, was an overturned table. I looked back and forth. "Did he try to jump from that table to that one?"

Corey cackled. "Sure did. Shit. He almost made it. Caught the edge on his way down."

"He could have broken his leg," muttered Seth in disgust. "Or worse."

Doug seemed to be okay. Some solicitous women in tight shirts were helping him stand. He caught my eye and laughed harder.

"Don't look so panicked, Kincaid. I'm fine...but if you want to make sure, you can come kiss me too and make it all better."

He winked at Seth, and others laughed with him, without knowing why. I was soon forgotten as more adoring people swarmed in. Seth and I retreated.

"What was he thinking?" I fretted. "I mean, he's always doing crazy acrobatic stuff on stage, but he had to have known he couldn't make that."

"If he's not thinking straight, there's no telling what he believes. Drugs,ll do that. Give you a sense of invincibility."

I reminded myself to look up those drug names Cody had suggested. I didn't know if it'd do any good, but it'd at least make me think I was doing something.

"Hey," I exclaimed, pulling Seth to an abrupt stop. "It's him again."


"That guy talking to Alec. The weird gothic, male-model-type guy."

Seth followed my gesture. Way on the other side of the place, near the bar, Alec and the man I'd seen at the earlier concert were having a heated argument. The GQ-poet guy looked stern and cold tonight, dampening his otherwise suave and polished looks. Alec had a pleading look. The drummer gesticulated frantically, his face desperate and frightened. The other man shook his head sternly, face unyielding. He waved a hand toward the crowd and then said something to Alec. Alec's face paled, and he once more turned into a pitiful supplicant. The other man shook his head yet again, then strode off.

He didn't approach us exactly, but he had to move in our direction to reach the exit. He was still a good fifty feet away and separated by walls of people when an odd, prickly feeling touched my skin. It was strange and discordant, yet sleek at the same time. It was almost like what I'd felt around Doug and the band, except that had been unidentifiable. This was clearly a person's signature. It was linked to that man, pulsing with sentience. I choked out a strangled sound and quickly stepped back out of range. Pulling Seth with me, I threw my arms around him and kissed his neck.

As I did, I watched out of the corner of my eye as the strange man froze and jerked his head around, looking out over the crowd. He had felt me too. His eyes passed over us several times, but we drew no especial focus. We were just another couple getting hot and heavy. I tensed, waiting for him to come closer and try to sense me again. Without knowing why, I didn't want him to find me. He scanned a bit longer before giving up and continuing his retreat.

Tags: Richelle Mead Georgina Kincaid Fantasy
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