Disclaimer: Shocking, but none of the characters are mine. I know y'all were confused there for a second. None. Nada. Zip. Zero. No copyright infringement intended. No profit is gained. Supernatural belongs to Eric Kripke. Anita Blake and her buddies belong to Laurell K. Hamilton.
“Happy New Year!”
His champagne flute clinked against mine. I looked up at him in what I hoped seemed like adoration before taking a sip of the bubbly fluid and placing the glass back on the table. The restaurant was crowded with friends and family. His friends. His family. Louis drank, emptying his glass before nodding to a waiter for a refill. The hotel’s ballroom had been rented out by his father for a private party to welcome in the New Year, and the wait-staff paid special attention to the immediate family.
The sound of laughter and murmuring voices filled the background as Louis’ fingers slid up the bare skin of my back, rubbing back and forth over the indentation of my spine. I shivered, leaning into his warm side before reaching for my glass and taking another demure sip. The conversation flowed around me, and I watched as he cracked jokes with cousins before introducing me.
“Anna, meet Mike and Brent.”
I reached out, grasping each of their hands in turn. Smile brightly, nod, that was my role tonight. I laughed at their jokes, tried not to notice Mike’s too long stare at my chest before letting Louis guide me to the next group of people to glad-hand. There was no way I’d ever remember all their names. I never did, and it wasn’t as if it really mattered. I was a prop. The pretty redhead at the soon to be senator’s side. Vacuous, vapid and vain, those were the only things required of me here. It was safe, cold and empty. But, mostly, it was safe.
I liked safe.
This life hid me, protected me from the constant war my family made against the preternatural evil that haunted this town. I’d jerked free of my past, and the price was this: empty headed bimbo-dom.
“Anna, you remember Joyce and Hank Verao?”
Trying for a warm smile, I grabbed Joyce’s hand. “Joyce, how is your daughter?”
“Michelle is doing fine, thank you.”
I nodded, trying not to smirk. After graduating college, Michelle and I had a little competition for Louis’s attention.
“Is she here? I’d like to say hi.”
“She’s here somewhere.” Joyce’s smile was a bit cold as she made a sweeping gesture. “I’ll tell her you’re looking for her.”
“I bet you will,” I mumbled under my breath as the couple moved away.
“You can put the claws away, darling. You already won.”
Quirking an eyebrow, I glanced up at my fiancé feigning innocence. “I didn’t know it was a competition.”
Leaning forward, he pressed a soft kiss to my mouth. When he pulled away, he gave me the patented Louis Germaine full toothy grin. It had a 99.9% success rate with the women. Lucky for me, I was immune.
“Of course it’s a competition, and I’m the prize.”
I glanced over him critically. Sure, he had his good points. Full head of blond hair carefully styled to look like he’d just climbed out of bed. He was tall. Really tall, which made my neck hurt when I had to kiss him. Too tall, that was a minus in my book. Built like the college basketball player he’d been, he had a decent body. A plus. All in all, he was very attractive. Another plus. But, still, the neck thing was annoying.
“I’m not sure you’re a prize, exactly.”
He wrapped his arms around me, pulling me flush to his hard body. “That’s what I like about you, babe, you know how to pump up my ego.”
With a subtle roll of my hips, I answered, “You seem to be pumped up all on your own.”
He stared down at me, blue eyes dark with desire. “You don’t know what you do to me.”
Slowly, he leaned closer. Breath warm and sweet from the champagne, he kissed me again. Hard. “Let’s get out of here.”
I glanced at the crowd over my shoulder as he dragged me out the side door and into the hall. The door clicked shut, muting the sound of the party as he pressed me against the wall. Shivering, I looked up at his face, a small rush of pleasure moving through me at the clenching in his jaw and the heat in his eyes. His hands slid down my shoulders, moving across the bare skin of my back.
“Did I tell you how much I loved this dress?”
“Only about ten times in the last hour.”
His hands went lower, until they were skimming across my tailbone where the edge of the satin started. The dress was revealing, expensive and worth every dime based on his reaction. His hand slid lower, moving to cup my ass through the silky material.
“I going to fuck you against the wall,” he muttered in my ear before pushing the skirt of my dress up. His fingers slid up the inside of my thigh in a slow, drawn-out movement. I let my head bump against the wall when the heel of his hand ground against my clit in a circling movement. There was a thud, loud and echoing against the door down the hall. I froze, glancing at the red exit sign glowing in the dimly lit hall. Louis paused, stepping away from me as he glanced at the door.
I pulled down my skirt before fingering my necklace and shooting a worried look Louis’ way. “Maybe we should go inside…”
There was a loud crack, and the door splintered open. A ‘man’ tumbled in, rolling down the hall before flipping into a standing position. Bloody and beaten, he hissed through his teeth as he grabbed Louis in one swift movement. Wrenching his head to the side, Louis tried to struggle away.
Vampire –I’d seen plenty since the night Whitney had died. Leaning forward, I grabbed my purse from the floor and jerked out a stake. Despite my estrangement from my family, I still didn’t walk around Freeport without packing one. Twirling it in my fingers, I jerked my necklace over my head. The rush of power was immediate. It welled around me, wind pouring in from the broken door, whipping my skirt. I wasn’t thinking. I was reacting. Some random vampire had my man in his grip, and that seriously pissed me off.
“Let him go.” My voice took on the eerie wavering quality it always did when the necklace was off, and the vampire shivered, real fear moving through its eyes.
“Back off, or the human dies.”
Rage blazing through me, I stepped forward. “Harm a hair on his head and you’re dust, asshole.”
“Oh, I’m touching him.” His hand slid down Louis’ neck, fingers trailing across his jugular for a second. “If you don’t back off, I’ll do a lot more than touch him.”
Louis’ eyes locked on mine, mouth was open in surprise and fear. Time stilled. Pain flashed across his features when the vampire’s teeth nicked the side of his neck and sank in. That was the last straw. The first time I met a vampire on my own I was sixteen. I was a girl.
Moving faster than the vamp could see, I darted behind him. I wasn’t a girl anymore.
I pulled, yanking the vamp away from Louis. Eyes gleaming, the thing lunged for me, tearing at my throat. Either stupid, or desperate for blood, it seemed intent on getting a bite to eat. Annoyed, I punched it in the face twice, satisfied at the sound of his breaking nose. With one deft jab, I lodged the stake in the vamp’s chest, watching as it dissolved into ash. Gritty gray rained down on Louis as he wobbly dropped to his knees.
Eyes wide, he stared up at me. Usually, pink cheeks were wan as blood ran down his neck in a thick, crimson line. Unsteady, he flinched away. I wasn’t sure what concerned me more, the look of terror on his face or the steady blood loss.
He whimpered, “What are you?”
I stepped forward, primal energy thundering through me as I got closer to him. Once, I’d hunted rogue vamps under my mother’s watchful eye. Standing here on my own made me feel alive. As I leaned closer to Louis, I wondered if he could accept what I was.
“Part of me is human – a small part.” I paused before closing the space between us.
“Don’t be afraid, sweetie.” Softly, I pressed my mouth to his wound. He let out a small, frightened noise. Salty, there was the faint taste of iron as I poured everything I had into healing him. The vamp had nicked his jugular, and the options were let him bleed to death or this. My tongue slid across the healing flesh, the puncture wound disappearing. Shakily, I stood. My lips felt wet, and I wiped the back of my hand across my mouth. Staring down at the red smear left behind, I heard Louis ask, “What's the rest of you?”
Looking dizzily up, I continued, “The rest of me is all vampire.”
“Put the necklace back on.” Anita Blake's voice rang out through the hall. She pushed past the broken door, striding down the hall in all her hunter glory. Should have known the vamp was running from my mother.