Supernatural Speed Dating Newsletter Excerpt Continued!
Nah, he wasn’t worth the paperwork she would need to fill out, to justify her actions. She would wait to kill him until he left the room, so she could hide the body.
She didn’t bother trying to hide her irritated glance toward the front of the room. The large round clock hanging on the wall showed she had less than a minute left. Thank Goddess!
“And a script if you don’t remember the words to the fairy tale,” his voice raked over her nerves like ragged fingernails on a blackboard. “Most of your lines are short sentences, you know? Like...What big eyes you have?” the man’s voice trailed off as a loud buzzer sounded in the room. He looked at her hopefully.
Rather than killing him in several imaginative ways, she shook her head. Hell, no.
He had told her his name when he sat at her table. Jonathon? Jacob? It didn’t matter.
She had no intention of hooking up with someone who wanted her to play Red Riding Hood to his Big Bad Wolf. Literally.
Even worse—his groveling was punctuated by ‘you know’ every second or third sentence. She didn’t bother to watch him walk away. A werewolf should have more pride. Umm. Lion’s had pride; wolves ran in packs. Damn this sucked. Her mind had turned to mush.
Rubbing her temples in the attempt to fend off a growing headache, she wondered how many men she had already interviewed. At least a hundred.
Glancing down at her watch she groaned. Only forty minutes had passed, which meant the number was closer to four. There would be a break after two more rounds, then another hour of hell before she could call it a night without Andrea tattling to Tasha’s mother.
Andrea her friend and unappreciated social director for this weekend read the Annual Supernatural Summit or ASS agenda and thought this would be fun. Tasha didn’t share her enthusiasm and had no intention of participating. Then her mother started in on how Tasha’s social life was dismal, and that her one hundred and thirty-three-year-old daughter lived like a nun, disgracing the genes she inherited from her Nymph mother.
Tasha rubbed her eyes. Her mother’s discourse on Nymphology could be trying under the best of times. When she assumed Tasha was neglecting the Nymph part of her genetic pool, mom got downright mean. In most languages, Nymph essentially meant bride or manageable woman. Hah! That certainly didn’t describe her mother...or Tasha for that matter. When her mother wanted her to do something she nagged about the importance of social duties until Tasha wanted to scream.
Allowing herself to think about Nymphs was safer than worrying about her next speed date. At this point, Tasha would happily write an essay on the subject if it would get her out of the next couple of rounds. Such a simple thing to do...
A paranormal with a form indistinguishable from humans, the term Nymph is a generic title for a class of female fairy, closely tied to every environment on Earth. Their bewitching beauty and erotic powers are legendary. If their chosen habitat remains healthy, a full-blooded Nymph can live for over nine thousand years.
Her mother was half Cryad or Woodland Nymph. She was over five-thousand years old and didn’t look a day over forty-five. Her mom was a little pissed off that somehow her only child, Tasha, had inherited very little of the gentler Nymph abilities with music and prophecy.
Nope. Tasha liked music well enough, but she couldn’t sing or play any instruments. She would rather fight than dance, like some thousand-to-one times. Her mother continually lamented Tasha’s warrior nature. The were-tiger half of her mother’s inheritance, and all her father’s genetic code—had beat the softer qualities of Natasha’s Nymph genes into gleeful submission a long time ago. Tasha was born to fight.
To add insult to injury, Tasha liked a solitary life and had little inclination to party, a trait that also upset her mother.
This attribute often pushed her mother over the edge. Then mom would forcefully demand that her daughter get a social life. Not for the first-time, Tasha wondered how old she would need to be before her mother let her lead her own life?
Obviously, a hundred and thirty-three years wasn’t old enough.
It didn’t matter to mom that she was happy. She loved her work, most of the time. She had great friends, a fantastic little house in the mountains, a devoted—if a little bossy—body servant. Mom’s real intent was to see Tasha mated, even if her daughter didn’t want a man in her life.
Unless it was temporary, hop in and out of bed and say goodbye type of relationship. That she could use.
So, here she sat. Her mother and friend having extracted a promise she would stay for the whole thing. Her damn white witch friend almost certainly used a compulsion spell, to get Tasha’s agreement to the full two hours. Her one escape clause was if she met a man before the time limit was up and agreed to spend one-on-one time with him.
Given what she had experienced in the last forty minutes—that would not be happening.
Using paranormal profiling to generate matches within the supernatural community, seemed like a valid concept.
The idea of organizing sections within the ballroom based on each person’s level of power, intellectually made sense.
Tonight, proved the experiment to be a dismal failure.
Ignoring the classy black and white décor in the ballroom, instead, she focused on the rows of small tables, each one with a female waiting expectantly as the men shifted down the line after the buzzer sounded. Soon the timer would be reset, allowing the newly introduced pair eight minutes to decide if the preternatural person sitting across from them was the love of their life. At the very least, they might be interested enough to share body fluids for a few hours.
In the realm of paranormal relationships, the phrase safe sex took on a whole new meaning. She was a prime example of needs-based dating. Natasha hadn’t had sex in over a year, mainly because it was difficult to find someone she liked who might actually live through the experience. And her inner tigress wanted to get laid in a bad way. Which meant the next time Natasha had sex, she would probably bite. And claw.
Any partner Tasha chose would need to be powerful enough in his own right, to handle everything she could throw at him.
Which was why she was located at the front of the room, in the high-power-high-risk area. The problem with this concept was that the beat me, hurt me, dress me in a red cape kind of guys—seemed focused on Tasha’s area of the room.
If the men she interviewed were any indication of what was available, speed dating was not going to change her sexual dry spell. The men were boring at best. A few, like the last one, made her homicidal. The thought of having sex with any of them was hysterical.
Andrea sat closer to the back of the room...in what the two friends jokingly labeled the low-wattage section. Tasha couldn’t wait to compare notes. She developed a theory that most of the alpha males were looking for someone they could dominate.
She mentally snorted at the thought. If so, Andrea would have them wrapped around her little finger before the men had any idea what happened to them. Her friend’s abilities might seem trivial, but somehow Andrea always managed to get her way. Subtle persuasion, her friend called it.
Whatever the reason, the speed dating thing wasn’t working for Tasha. She had no intention of becoming a preternatural dominatrix in the near future.
She glanced up to see a woman making a beeline for her table. She was dressed in a red cape and carrying a basket of goodies. Tasha sighed. At least this one wanted her to play the wolf. It was an improvement.
When the tall blonde sat in front of her table just before the buzzer went off, Tasha bit the inside of her lip to keep from reacting.
I will not laugh uncontrollably in this woman’s face, she repeated the mantra as she introduced herself, “Hi, I’m Natasha.”
Stealing a look at the clock on the wall, she started counting down the seconds.
Eight minutes later, Little Red gave up trying to broaden Tasha’s horizons and moved to the next table.
Dominic St. Ives wanted to reach his hands across the table and choke the woman in front of him. Good, God! What idiot had turned this bimbo into a vampire? Stem and all, she popped a maraschino cherry into her mouth after trying to generate his interest by licking it suggestively. He stared at her in horrified disbelief, watching her face contort as she attempted to tie the stem in a knot.
He wasn’t sure...but he didn’t think she was supposed to do that with the cherry still attached.
“See, I can do amazing things with my tongue,” she said and pulled the knotted stem from between her lips. She left barely-chewed cherry bits stuck in her teeth. He glanced at the small jar of the offending fruit sitting on the table. The woman brought props with her.
Did she seriously think her antics would turn a man on? She was a vampire, which meant she couldn’t swallow the bits of fruit in her mouth. If she was several hundred years old she could take small sips of any liquid, but there was no way this idiot was a centuries-old vamp.
Dominic almost gagged when she picked up the trashcan beside her chair and spit the masticated pieces into the receptacle.
It was difficult to keep from gouging out his eyes in an overzealous attempt to get the visual out of his head.
I’m going to kill you, he mentally pushed the thought to Raul. The man had been his best friend for almost five hundred years. That friendship ended tonight since he forced Dom into this disaster.
He glared across the room when the dark-haired daemon laughed in his head. No more. Raul was his ex-best friend from this moment on.
Dom bolted from his chair when the buzzer sounded. One more. He foolishly promised to accompany Raul to this nightmarish social event in exchange for the private cabin the demonic-spawn of Satan had pre-booked.
Next year he swore to plan at least six months in advance of the summit. Hell, he might even book a cabin before he left this one. He forgot this year until the last minute, and with several thousand attendees the only thing available was a small room at the resort—a situation that was not acceptable to his inner beasts.
This meant Raul had a bargaining chip he could use to force Dom’s participation in the speed dating fiasco. Shuddering, he mentally promised his ex-friend dire—to-be-determined later—retribution for the excruciating experience.
Coming to a stop before the next table, he looked down at the woman sitting there. Her head was bent forward, waves of gleaming red hair partially hiding the face she covered with her hands. She seemed to be sobbing uncontrollably.
Dom looked around the room, wondering if he should just leave. No. Raul would call a forfeit to their bargain if he didn’t do the entire two-hour stint. He rolled his eyes and sat in the chair. If he kept silent she might not notice him.
No such luck. Her body stiffened, and she shifted in her seat.
When the redhead lowered her hands and looked up, Dominic realized two things. Her brilliant turquoise eyes were laughing—not crying—and he wanted a taste of the fire he saw burning in their depths.
“Hi, I’m Natasha. And if I need to say that one more time tonight, I’m likely to kill someone. I’ll make you a deal. You promise you won’t ask me to wear a red cape or use a whip on you,” she paused, titled her head to one side and considered him for a moment before she continued, “Hell. Maybe for you, I’d consider either option. But for now, I need a drink. Several drinks. Then I never want to see this room or hear that buzzer again. For the remainder of this summit, I’m offering you freedom from this insanity. In return—you must swear to my friend that you can’t live without me for the next couple of days. If you don’t say yes...she’ll make me do this again tomorrow night. Please, have mercy upon my immortal soul!”
Dom laughed at the mock terror in her voice. Her husky tone seemed to stroke his flesh, making the small hairs on his body sit up and take notice—along with things that weren’t so small.
Without hesitation, he stood up and reached for her hand. When their palms met, the sensual jolt he felt down to his toes forced him to take a deep breath. But it didn’t stop him from pulling her out of her seat and around the table in one quick move.
When she stood, all long legs and curves, he grinned. At well over six feet in height, he rarely met a female whose head came to the top of his shoulder. Natasha’s did. With his hand in the small of her back, he guided her toward the door.
He liked that she wasn’t dressed in a ball gown, as some of the women tonight. The tight, well-worn jeans were a testament to a woman who felt comfortable in her skin. Whatever type of skin that might be.
The thigh-high boots hinted that she was a woman with a sense of adventure, of daring. They left him wondering what she might look like if she were dressed in nothing but the boots and corset.
Leaning over, he whispered conspiratorially in her ear, “My name’s Dominic, Dom to my friends. I agree with your bargain. But no matter what happens or doesn’t happen between the two of us, you have to swear to my friend that all the time we spend together is horizontal and naked.”
Raul was very specific in his bargain. Dom could only have the cabin if he went to the Speed Dating sessions every night...or until he met a woman and had sex.
“Did you get talked into this, too?” her voice still low, secretive.
“Oh, yeah. I made a bargain with the devil you might say.” Dom laughed. “I thought it might actually be a good idea, arranging the room by power thing. But holy hell what a nightmare.”
Tasha nodded as they stepped into the long hallway leading to freedom. “Can we go outside for a minute before we head to the bar? I need a breath of fresh air more than I need alcohol, and I need alcohol pretty bad.”
Dom nodded. With Natasha beside him, he could relax for the first time tonight and forget about his ridiculous promise to Raul. His demonic friend never understood how Dom could go for decades without a physical relationship. That there were other things besides women to hold his interest. With most women, Dominic had to be so careful of his size, strength, and innate powers. The effort was rarely worth it.
In the back of his mind, he entertained the idea that this speed dating thing might be the answer. Raul certainly thought it was. That small hope was shattered at the sound of the first buzzer.
His daemon friend couldn’t go a week without sex. Raul was convinced Dom’s growing temper had something to do with his non-existent sex life. He operated under the theory that Dom’s lack of sex fed his frustration and anger, which caused his powers to go a little haywire.
His friend didn’t know the half of it. Dom wasn’t so much frustrated, as dead bored. He told Raul that there were more things to hold his interest other than women and sex. And in the beginning, it was true. It was also true that in the last several centuries, living had become mundane. He had seen everything, done everything—and most of it hundreds of times.
That didn’t mean that a woman would relieve his boredom. As far as Dom was concerned, women weren’t a mystery anymore. They didn’t make his blood heat or his heart rate speed up.
Life had become a rut of sameness, and even his artwork suffered.
He needed a distraction, or his ennui would overwhelm him to the point where it would be too difficult to get out of bed in the morning. His magic screwed up simply because Dominic couldn’t be bothered to focus. Until Raul made an issue of it, he certainly hadn’t planned to attend tonight’s ASS function.
The Annual Supernatural Summit was a great way to keep nonhumans informed of paranormal initiatives—initiatives that could mean the difference between life and death. But he signed up for the event with no intention of participating in the social activities.
Unfortunately, Raul had the upper hand. Dom’s inner beasts needed the room the cabin provided, so he was forced to agree to attend the speed dating function.
Gratefully leaving the ballroom, Dominic directed Natasha down the hall to an exit door. Once they were outside they walked away from the lights until they could see the star-studded sky.
He stopped and took a deep breath, one filled with the tantalizingly spicy scent of the woman beside him. Inside his gut, something tightened, snarled in restless expectation. Interesting, he never reacted to a woman’s smell quite like that before.
Gazing down at the beautifully expressive face turned toward the stars, he found himself smiling at the look of pleasure on her face. Her turquoise eyes glowed with inner happiness and deviltry. Natasha appealed to him. And it had been a very long time since a woman intrigued him.
Captivated by her curvaceous strength, he noticed the red and black lace corset displayed her rather bountiful assets to perfection. Her pale skin gleamed, and he longed to reach out and run a finger from her cheek, down that long regal neck, and across her chest. He teased his senses with the imagined softness of her flesh. The visual delight of long legs and a heart-shaped ass highlighted by tight jeans and thigh-high boots, caused his blood to rush out of his head and pool in his groin.
He avidly watched her take a deep breath.
Tasha sighed, “It’s so beautiful up here. I love the summit’s location. It makes coming to these things and the increased workload—bearable.”
The resort was in the northern part of Montana. Throughout the centuries paranormals had gathered in this heavily forested, remote, and deserted location near the Canadian border. When humans started to encroach, the supernatural community quickly bought up the properties on both sides of the border to ensure their privacy. But life evolved. At the speed of current transportation, there were human housing developments just minutes down the road.
Since the Human/Other wars ended in 2103, a little over thirteen years ago, there hadn’t been as much to worry about, but they still wanted their space. Who knew what the future would bring when it came to supernatural and human politics.
Dom looked around. Everything had been washed by a summer thundershower that came and went while they were detained in Speed Dating Hell.
Dominic knew the supernatural community bought most of this mountain and built the resort for not only the annual summit meetings but as a place where paranormals could relax throughout the year. The Council long ago covered the area with a no trespassing spell that kept most humans away.
“Watching the moonlight shine on the lake and hearing all the small sounds of night echo through the clear air, always takes me by surprise. And the stars seem to glitter like diamonds, trapped in a black velvet cloak.” She hesitated as if waiting for him to comment.
When he didn’t, she continued, “Up here the air is crisp and clean, you can smell the evergreens and the dark, musky scent of the forest. The tree-covered mountains seem to completely fill the space around the resort.” Natasha turned away from the view to focus on him.
She studied him for a moment and he let her do so without commenting. In his mind, he wondered if he had ever met another woman that he could be so in tune with. He felt as if he and Natasha could share the night’s silence, without requiring all the clutter of dialogue.
“You know, I’m not looking for the love of my life or even the most scintillating conversationalist, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to go from Hi, I’m Natasha, straight to oh, baby...do me—without the tiniest bit of chitchat. And I reserve the right to say no. Period.” With hands on her hips, one-foot tapped leather-clad toes on the ground in an irritated rhythm. Her body language screamed exasperation, even though her voice was level.
He was obviously an idiot. Dom choked, threw back his head and roared with laughter.
Tasha blinked at the husky sound. The deep, joyful reverberation brushed over her skin, making her shiver in awareness. She tilted her head back and took a closer look at Dominic. In the ballroom she was so intent on escaping the nightmare, she took a quick look at her savior and ran. On closer inspection, what she thought dark and handsome far exceeded the clichéd description.
The man beside her was made for moonlight. The silvery light lovingly caressed his shoulder-length, black as a midnight sky hair—causing it to shine. Brushed back from his face, his hair was luxurious, tempting her to raise her hands and run her fingers through the heavy mane. With high cheekbones and a rugged chin, his face was all hard edges and dangerously interesting angles. Dark eyebrows arched over eyes an unusual shade of silver-blue. Right now, those eyes flashed with humor.
Tasha smiled in response.
If he were human, she would guess he was thirty-something. But in the paranormal community, he could be several hundred, or several thousand years old. Or—he could be thirty-something. Only Tasha didn’t think so. The man moved as if he had lived centuries in this body, there was an arrogant feeling of power emanating from his stance.
He was almost seven feet tall, with ripped muscles filling out his black tee shirt. She struggled to resist the urge to run her hands over every inch of roped flesh. His broad chest tapered to slim hips, leading to an impressive erection pushing against faded blue jeans.
Her hormones sat up and did a mad dance of joy.
Raising her eyes back to his face, she took a deep breath, inhaling the wonderful fragrance of spicy musk that seemed to radiate from his flesh. No protest left her lips as he turned and pulled her into his arms—the blue flame burning in his eyes made her shudder in anticipation.
“What are you?” she whispered.
He didn’t answer.
She forgot the question, forgot her own name. Forgot the blue fire glowing in the depths of his eyes.
“Words are overrated,” she murmured as he slowly lowered his head, brushing soft lips across hers. She sighed and leaned into the kiss, opening for the insistent thrust of his tongue.
He tasted of mint and male. Raising her arms, she wrapped them around his shoulders, one hand anchored in the cool satin of his hair. With all his muscled strength molded against her, she met the wild, erotic ferocity of his mouth with an unleashed intensity of her own.
Chitchat was extremely overrated. Dear goddess the man could kiss.
Lightening arousal fired in her veins and sizzled along her skin. Her inner tiger purred in excited approval. Natasha clutched at Dominic’s shoulders, hanging on, demanding more. When his lips left hers, she moaned in denial. She didn’t want him to stop.
In a sensual daze, Tasha blinked her eyes. Tried to come up with a reason he didn’t ravish her where she stood. She certainly wouldn’t stop him.
Before she could open her mouth and make a clear offer, a sparkling red butterfly landed on her nose, fluttering its wings.
Because Dom hadn’t stepped away from her yet, she felt his startled reaction to the annoying insect along the front of her body. Tasha sighed in exasperated acceptance.
She was going to roast Andrea for this little interruption.
The butterfly was Andy’s version of magical voice mail. No doubt her friend wanted to know why Tasha hadn’t come back to the ballroom after the break.
For over a hundred years, long before such things as pagers and cellular phones, Andrea had been sending butterfly notes. The only problem with her friend’s preferred method of communication was that Tasha didn’t have a way of getting rid of the butterfly if she didn’t want the message right away.
It would hover and pester until she held out her hand and accepted the communiqué. As much as she would like to ignore her friend’s harassment, it was impossible to do so.
It was also just one-way communication. Natasha couldn’t send a message back to her friend. She didn’t do magic.
Just wait until she told Andy what her little butterfly interrupted. Maybe she would quit nagging for a few months.
Reluctantly disengaging herself from Dominic’s arms, she stood back. “Excuse me. I have to get this.” Tasha opened her hand to allow the fragile, red sparkling butterfly to settle in her palm. Once the message was released the magic butterfly would dissolve into a puddle of glitter.
Andrea’s clear voice filled the night air, “Sorry, Tash. I seem to be in trouble.”
Tasha straightened, alarmed to find this wasn’t the where have you gone message she expected.
“One of my speed dates didn’t want to take no for an answer. At the break, he followed me out of the ballroom. Now I’m in a small white car, locked in the trunk. Hopefully, the butterfly can squeeze through one of the holes underneath me and make it to you. If I’m not completely turned around, my internal compass tells me we’re headed northeast. Sorry babe. I know you needed a break, and now you need to come and rescue me. The guy reeks of brimstone but doesn’t feel like a demon. Just wait until this moron opens the trunk, he didn’t tie my hands. I wonder how he’ll like being well...something creepy and tiny I can step on. I’ll get back to you on that. Hopefully, by the time you find me, I’ll just be sitting on the side of the road, twiddling my thumbs. Hell, I’ll even be happy to go for a ride on your hog, Tash.”
“She hates my Harley. If she’s volunteering to ride, she’s scared.” Tasha turned to Dominic, intending to give him her number and leave. Maybe they could try this again tomorrow. Provided she found Andy and didn’t have to work. Who was she kidding? With GOTH numbers at an all-time low, she always had to work.
Dominic frowned and asked, “If your friend is a witch, why didn’t she just zap him before he threw her in the car?”
“Andy isn’t a warrior. She’s very non-violent, and if the man took her by surprise she wouldn’t have had time to defend herself.”
He caught her hand and started tugging her back to the resort. “Come on. I saw the Guardians of True Humanity’s communication center, set up at the end of this building. We’ll get some help.”
Tasha sighed. Oh, goody. Men never liked that she was Captain of GOTH, it somehow threatened their masculinity.
There went any chance she had of getting laid.