No physical evidence of Roman appeared - no signature, no physical appearance - but his voice answered me back just as softly. "Go see your friends. Aren't they going to that bar tonight? You need to tell Cody he's going on a double date."

"It's not a double date," I growled back.

But Roman had a point. I probably should let the young vampire know what was in store tomorrow. I was also kind of curious how Roman even knew about the bar outing. I'd received a voice mail message earlier today that one would think would have been out of Roman's hearing range. He'd either been standing really close, or nephilim just had superhuman hearing. And, well, seeing as they were superhuman, I supposed that wasn't too far off.

Another idea suddenly came to mind about tonight's social gathering, one that would most definitely provide a distraction - and possibly take care of a nuisance.

"The bar it is," I declared.

I drove down to Pioneer Square, Seattle's historic district, and sought out the Cellar, a dive of a bar located in a basement akin to its name. It was a favorite place for immortals - well, hellish immortals. Since most angels didn't drink - Carter being the exception - you didn't usually find them hanging out in bars. They were more likely to be found at upscale coffee shops. For inexplicable reasons, a number of them also liked to hang out at the restaurant on top of the Space Needle. Maybe they thought it was bringing them closer to Heaven.

And, indeed, as I walked down the stairs into the Cellar, I felt Carter's signature, along with those of my usual clique. Best of all, there was an additional signature I'd been hoping to find.

"Hot damn," I said, striding toward the table where Simone sat with my friends. She burned with the glow of energy that succubi stole from their victims. I hated to admit it, but hers was brighter than the one I still sported. I assured myself that it was just because she'd probably bagged someone today, rather than last night.

Hugh scooted to make room for me, and I pulled up a chair from a neighboring table. "Didn't think you'd show tonight."

I waved a waiter over and ordered a vodka gimlet. "You know I can't stay away from you guys."

"You're just in time," said Carter. His face was neutral, but I caught a mischievous glint in his eyes as he sipped his bourbon. "Simone was just regaling us with tales of the Underground Tour. Did you hear that Seattle burned to the ground and was rebuilt a century ago?"

"Only every time I take the tour," I replied. Which had been about a dozen times. It was a tourist hotbed, and I'd taken friends and out-of-town victims on it often. I gave Simone a curious look. "Did you do that today?"

She nodded. "Figured I should take in the city while I'm here." She was still using that librarian voice, but I had to admit she looked more like a succubus than the last time I'd seen her. Her neckline was cut so low, it was a wonder her ni**les didn't show. Her lips were f**k-me red, and unless I was mistaken, her hair was longer and more voluminous than before. I couldn't decide if she looked like an angel or a beach bunny.

And speaking of angels...Simone had her chair pushed right next to Carter's, so close that she couldn't help but brush her arm against his each time she reached for her drink. I suspected her leg was pressed up to his as well.

He glanced over, giving her a look that wasn't exactly romantic but filled with deep interest I felt certain was feigned.

"I find Seattle's history fascinating. I haven't been here that long, so it's great to keep learning new things."

Simone beamed. Across the table, Hugh choked a little on his drink. Carter had been in Seattle for a couple hundred years. True - not that long for an immortal like him, but he'd most certainly been here for the Seattle fire. Hell, considering how he'd once accidentally burned down my Christmas tree, he might have been the one who set the city ablaze, for all I knew.

My gimlet appeared, and I took a long drink of liquid courage. "From what I hear, you've been checking out some of our local celebrities too," I said sweetly.

Simone dragged her adoring gaze from Carter and fixed me with a frown. "I don't think I've run into many celebrities."

"Well," I said, still smiling like a fool. "I guess it depends on how you define 'celebrity.' I certainly consider best-selling authors celebrities. You've been chatting up one quite a bit."

Immediately, Cody, Hugh, and Peter eagerly snapped to attention. They could sniff female conflict a mile away and were undoubtedly bracing themselves for a cat fight.

"Oh, that," she said dismissively. "I thought you meant like an actor or something. Yeah, he's just someone on my radar. One of many. Pretty cute. Nice enough."

"And a friend of mine," I said. My voice was still cheerful, but I could see in her eyes that she was well aware of the escalating tension.

"Still, fair game," she replied with a shrug. "And what do you care? His soul's already tainted. He's not that good a catch. Not like I can do much more damage."

That wasn't true. Seth might currently be Hell-bound, but he wasn't beyond redemption - even though the odds of that were allegedly slim. If by some crazy chance Simone got him to cheat on Maddie again, his soul would grow darker and kill any lingering chances to save him. Plus, sin aside, Simone would shorten his life - which was something I was definitely against.

"So, he's just a random guy you scoped out?" I asked. The politeness was fading from me. It was disappearing from her too. So. Bland Simone wasn't quite as oblivious as she played. "The fact that he's a friend of mine and someone I used to date makes no difference?"

"You make it sound like I'm trying to get you back for something. I don't even know you. I'm just here on vacation. Getting guys is part of our life - and you don't have any territorial control like them." She nodded toward the vampires, who had very well-defined hunting grounds. "Unless," she added smugly, "you've got some kind of arrangement with Jerome."

I certainly didn't. In fact, my boss had made it extremely clear that he didn't care about what happened to Seth.

"No, but I'd think you'd do it as a courtesy when you're visiting someone else's city. It's the nice thing to do." My smile returned, filled with ice this time. "And it ensures that your visit stays nice too." Maybe using her favorite adjective would drive home my message.

Simone stiffened, attention totally on me now. "What is this, some kind of warning that you'll come after me if I don't back off?"

I shrugged and finished my drink. "Just friendly advice."

She stood up and slung her purse over her shoulder with such force that it nearly hit Carter in the head. Apparently, he wasn't on the radar anymore. Well, at least for now. "I'm not going to stay and listen to thinly veiled threats. Especially ones over inconsequential men. If I want him, I'll get him."

"You'll be missed," I muttered as she stalked away.

"Oh," said Hugh brightly. "There is nothing I like better than when succubi fight. Puts Dynasty to shame. You could have cleaned the floor with Tawny, but Simone might give you a match."

"Hardly," I said. "And she'll have about as much luck with Seth as Carter."

Carter raised an eyebrow, apparently not agreeing with my statement.

"She's really hitting on Seth?" asked Cody.

"Yup. In a shy, starry-eyed fan girl kind of way."

"Isn't that how you won him over way back when?" asked Peter.

I shot him a glare. "It's irrelevant. It won't work."

"Then why worry?" asked Hugh slyly.

"Because an ounce of prevention - oh, never mind," I groaned. "I need another drink."

Hugh and the vampires were clearly amused by all this and weren't particularly concerned. I think they too believed Seth would prove immovable; they just liked the idea of me making another succubus irate. The sad part was that I'd probably just encouraged Simone to try even harder.

Two drinks later, I decided to head home. I was sufficiently angry that I didn't fear the siren song's comfort. Before leaving, I informed Cody about his impending date. Unsurprisingly, he freaked out.

"What? I...I can't. What will I say? What will I do?"

"Frankly, my dear..." began Hugh in an undertone.

"You'll be fine," I said. "Just stop stressing and be yourself."

"Sounds like a double date," said Peter. "I can get more black hair dye."

Tags: Richelle Mead Georgina Kincaid Fantasy
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