Home > Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)(4)

Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)(4)
Author: Jackie May

Parker and the bouncer fall into a whispered conversation. The words humans, suspects, and her idea startle me from my thoughts. I look up to see both Parker and the bouncer watching me with curiosity, suspicion even. I don’t know what I’d be a suspect for, but this whole situation makes me sick to my stomach. What has Xavier dragged me into, and did I make it worse by coming here? It would be just my luck.

I know better than to admit I’m aware of their world or show any fear. Pulling my shoulders back, I meet Parker’s gaze with not just confidence, but attitude. Underworlders respect arrogance. “Is there a problem, Parker? I thought you said you could get us in.”

The bouncer’s pierced brows climb up his huge, shiny forehead, and his mouth quirks up on one side into a crooked smile. “I don’t like trouble in my club, little lady. You’re not looking to start any, are you?”

I match his smirk. “Define trouble.”

The bouncer’s smile grows into a wide grin, and he folds his watermelon biceps in front of his chest. “Feisty little brunettes with not enough sense of self-preservation.”

I grin. I can’t help myself. “We’re good, then,” I assure him, “because I’m all about self-preservation.”

The bouncer shakes his head, chuckling, and nods to Xavier. “And him?”

I shrug. “A harmless frat boy looking for a good time who doesn’t have enough brains to know he needs any self-preservation.”

At that, the bouncer throws his head back and laughs. The sound is so bellowing it shakes the walls of the club. Definitely a troll. “You’ve found yourself a winner, Parker. Just make sure you keep an eye on her. She’s trouble, all right.”

When he pulls the rope back to let me pass, I wink at him and stride through. Xavier enters behind me. I turn around just in time to catch Xavier glare at the bouncer. “She’s not with Parker, she’s mine.”

The troll could snap Xavier in half with his pinky finger, but he can also see that Xavier isn’t worth the time and effort. He raises a questioning brow at me. When I roll my eyes, he laughs again.

Parker is last to pass the bouncer. As he does, the troll clasps his big, meaty hand on Parker’s shoulder. I have to strain to hear their conversation, but I’m fairly certain the troll says, “You sure about that one? I like her.”

Parker’s response is too low to make out, but he smiles and pats the bouncer’s arm reassuringly. I’m not sure if I feel safer or more worried to have Parker’s attention. I need to find out what he is so I can figure out how to ditch him, but when I hang back to wait for him, Xavier slips his arm around my waist and pulls me into the club.

When we walk through the door, I feel the slight tingle of magic, as if we’ve passed through a glamour or a protection ward. Xavier doesn’t notice a thing. Most humans wouldn’t. I think I feel the magic because of my gift, but it could just be that I know it exists, so I’m more tuned in.

I don’t know a lot about magic other than what it feels like. There’s a lot of info online, but I never know what information I can really trust, and aside from SorcererX, I don’t make a habit of befriending people who could give me facts. I think X might be an actual sorcerer, but he’s always been very vague on the details when I ask him about magic. Sorcerers don’t like giving up their secrets.

Inside, the club is very posh. There are several different rooms, with different types of music playing. My guess is they cater to different species of underworlders and their unique tastes for pleasure. I’m curious, but not enough to want to stick around here any longer than necessary, so when Xavier drags me straight into the largest dance hall, I don’t argue.

The walls are black, and the furniture scattered around the edges of the dance floor is plush and bloodred. There’s a stage set up in the front for the DJ, and there are dancing cages on either side. At least, I hope they’re used for dancing. The bar lines the entire back wall, and since it’s early yet, that’s where the majority of the crowd is gathered. The dance floor is still pretty open.

Scanning the dim room, I quickly find what I’m looking for. A woman sits at the bar, staring out at the crowd on the dance floor as a lion would watch a herd of gazelles. Her slinky dress shows off more curves than a Victoria’s Secret model. She has flawless porcelain skin, long, sleek hair that’s dark as night, and eyes just as black. She’s beautiful—too beautiful to be human—and she’s on the prowl.

Xavier’s eyes find the same woman, and he gulps. This is going to be too easy. I don’t feel bad for what I’m about to do. Even if that creature does take interest in him, he’ll probably still survive. The monsters here aren’t stupid. There are rumors, but if there were too many actual human disappearances, the club would garner too much attention. Rule number one in the underworld is: Don’t let the humans know you exist. Underworlders are nothing if not cautious and discreet.

Xavier blinks himself back from his stupor and smiles at me. His fingers dig into my hip. “I didn’t expect this from you, Nora. You’re full of surprises.”

His fantasies have changed since my conversation with the bouncer. They’ve gone in a much more dominatrix direction. He no longer thinks of me as a victim, but is excited at the possibility that I might play rough with him. He’s revolting, but now that I’m in the presence of real danger, my fear of him seems almost silly. I twist out of his grip and give him a coy smile. “Of course I’m surprising. You don’t know anything about me.”

His eyes flash eagerly—he’s excited that I’m playing along. “Dance with me.”

Dancing with him is the last thing I plan to do tonight. Shaking my head, I point to the open space at the bar next to the seductive underworlder. “Drinks first.”

Xavier grins, but when he grabs my hand and starts to lead us to the bar, Parker steps in the way, a slight frown on his face. “You don’t strike me as much of a drinker.”

He’s right. I don’t drink. Ever. Especially not in a place where I could be served faerie drinks. Again, I don’t know facts, but there’s a lot of speculation about the effects of faerie drinks on humans, and none of it’s good. That’s enough to sell me off the stuff forever.

I keep my face impassive, though I’m impressed Parker can read me so easily. I’m curious as to why he’s trying to stop me from having a drink. If he’s the danger I’m supposed to be looking out for, I would think he’d want me impaired. Still, I need to get to the bar. “I told you, I’m self-conscious about my dancing. I need alcohol.”

He starts to argue, but the suspicious look I give him keeps him quiet. He may know I’m up to something, but he is, too, and he doesn’t want me to figure out whatever secret he’s hiding. He steps aside, sweeping a hand out from me to the bar as if to say Go ahead. The look on his face is much closer to It’s your funeral.

I lead the way, heading straight for the woman I noticed before. She’s still there. Her attention is focused on a couple out on the dance floor that could use a lesson in PDA etiquette.

As I reach the bar, I roll my ankle and stumble slightly into the woman. I grab her arm to brace myself. She turns to me with a glare, but I’ve already accomplished my goal. Her thoughts fill me. She’s angry. She was skimming energy from the lusty couple, and I’ve interrupted her feeding. “I’m so sorry,” I say, letting my hand rest on her arm so I can continue to gauge her thoughts.

I know what she is, and she’s more perfect than I expected. I figured her to be one of the fey, but she’s a succubus, a demonic creature that feeds off of lust. She lures her prey to bed and sucks their life force from them while they’re in the throes of passion.

“That was so clumsy of me,” I gush. “I guess I’m a bit nervous to be here—obviously, this isn’t my normal scene—but I couldn’t let my friend down. He insisted we party tonight.” I drop my voice into a whisper and giggle as I add, “He can get pretty wild.”

She thinks I’m a vapid human, but I’ve piqued her interest with the mention of my friend. A human male unspoken for by another underworlder. That’s rare for this club. She hadn’t come here tonight to hunt, but this is too good an opportunity to pass up. Plus, she thinks it would serve me right for being so annoying.

   
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