Below is an excerpt from Kiersten Fay’s award winning paranormal romance novel KEEPING HIS SIREN, the first book in her sizzling hot Ever Nights Chronicles, an electrifying spin off from the Creatures of Darkness series.
by Kiersten Fay
Copyright Kiersten Fay 2017
All rights reserved.
What the hell am I doing here? Naia DeVoe asked herself. She wasn’t a friggin’ spy. And yet here she was, crossing the nearly deserted parking lot toward the building on the corner of Chester and Fifth. Ever Nights: the most popular nightclub in town. It didn’t look like much now, but every evening, this place was hopping.
There were a few cars peppered throughout the lot. Most belonging to the staff, she assumed, or to those cut-and-paste individuals who practically lived at every bar, whose friends consisted mainly of servers, bartenders, and the women on stage with their faux smiles, gyrating hips, and eyes on their wallets. She knew those types all too well. Not because she shook her ass on stage, but because she worked as a part-time singer and waitress at Dante’s Pit, otherwise known as The Pit, or more crudely referred to as The Pussy Pit.
Naia never liked to call it that.
She opened the door to Ever Nights and stepped into the darkened foyer where a bouncer was usually stationed during the bustling late-night hours. Right now there was no need. It was too early for rabble rousers.
In the lobby Naia marveled at the high-end decor. This place was like the Sistine Chapel of nightclubs, a touch of elegance lingering in every feature, from polished wood floors to the coffered ceilings and sparkling chandeliers throughout. There were several rooms allocated to the different shows that went on each night, a flavor for every taste.
She’d visited this establishment only a handful of times before, always looking for work, always rejected. The excuse? They either weren’t hiring, or were only seeking experienced top-tier acts. Ever Nights was known for providing over-the-top performances, incorporating burlesque with other genres of entertainment such as acrobatics, theatrics, music and dance, which is why she so badly wanted to work here. A position at Ever Nights could slingshot her toward bigger and better things.
Of course, all she needed at this point was some quick cash. This time she had to get hired, if only for a couple of days. So much was riding on it.
She peeked into one of the main ballrooms, spotting several tables scattered throughout, some occupied, others set with white tablecloths and clean glasses awaiting purpose. A woman on stage was getting intimately acquainted with a pole. The only other employee whom she could see resided behind the bar, his back turned to her as he dried and put away glasses for the evening to come.
Before entering, Naia checked her reflection in a full-length mirror that hung in the lobby. The employees at Ever Nights were all attractive. She’d taken extra care with her appearance today. Her makeup was perfect, her curls just right. Her ombre-dyed hair merged from her natural chestnut to a brilliant jewel toned purple. The ends were tipped by a sultry sapphire; a homage to her stage name.
Her outfit was designed to entice. The tight purple and black crop top covered her chest while revealing her stomach and slim waist. Her black mini skirt hugged her hips. But the piece de resistance was the sleek, knee-high fuck-me boots that she had borrowed from her friend, Goldie, and was seriously considering confiscating for life—if she didn’t think Goldie would straight up tackle her to the ground to retrieve them.
Completing the ensemble was her most prized possession: the vintage, floral-etched locket given to her by her mother. Pure silver. The only thing she owned of value. She rarely took it off.
After adding a last touch of lip gloss, she was ready to nail this interview. Well, if she even got an interview. I have to.
As she approached the bar, her heels clacked on the hard floor. The bartender faced her.
Attractive was an understatement. This man was one step down from godlike. A full head of tousled brown hair framed a set of whiskey-iced eyes, so unbelievably iridescent they nearly glowed like a mocha-colored sun. She didn’t normally like facial hair on a man, but his five o’clock shadow made him look rugged and dashing while the sport coat over a black T-shirt gave him an urban sophistication.
In short, everything about his appearance was lick-worthy.
She smiled, hoping to charm him from the start. First impressions were everything, and he was an obstacle on her way to Cortez, the club’s owner and her best chance at getting hired.
The bartender’s quick perusal of her body was like a whip to her spine, forcing her to straighten to her full height and crank her chin higher.
“Hi,” she said, realizing instantly how lame and unprofessional that sounded. She cleared her throat. “Hello. I’d like to speak with Cortez, if I may.” She’d been instructed to ask directly for Cortez and deal with no one else. He’d see it as a ballzy move and a sign of initiative, according to Dante.
The bartender’s brow arched and his lips quirked on one side as though he found her request rather amusing. She tried not to be insulted by that…or drawn in by the way it made his features all that more handsome.
Her chin went up another notch. “Is he available?”
“What is this regarding?” His voice. My god, his voice! How could a simple, rumbled sound tap directly into her knees? The weakness quickly traveled north, invading the rest of her body. If vocal cords could cause spontaneous orgasm she’d be ripe to put on a better show than the woman on stage.
She mentally shook away the ridiculous thought. What was wrong with her? She never reacted this strongly to anyone from the opposite sex.
Psyching herself out here, she decided. Dante had to be mad to have asked her to apply for a job at Ever Nights in order to spy on Cortez and his crew. She should have declined, but the money was too good to pass up, especially now.
“I was told to speak with Cortez,” she said. “I believe my talents can benefit his establishment greatly.” A true enough statement.
The hottie’s eyes darted to the stage, where the woman had taken to spinning around the pole upside down at jet speeds while dressed in skimpy lingerie, then came back to her for another inquisitive body-scan…as if he found her lacking?
Turning his back to put away the glass he’d been drying, he told her. “We’re not hiring new talent at the moment.”
“Not that kind of talent,” she said, giving his back a derisive glare.
“Oh?” Over his shoulder, his gaze shot to her cleavage, indicating something more salacious had entered his thoughts. “We’ve got plenty of T and A too.”
What an ass! She balked, instantly cured of her attraction to him. “Not that either! If you don’t mind, I’d prefer to take it up with your boss.” And because she wanted to belittle him the way he was belittling her, she added, “Not some unimpressive bar monkey.”
He chuckled at that, and her traitorous knees responded, growing gelatinous once more. She locked them down tight. His laugh was not bedroom-sexy. It was grating!
He grabbed another glass out of a soapy sink, rinsed it off, and began drying.
She recognized his type: good looks, charm, the guy who never got rejected by anyone he wanted, whose off-the-chart arrogance only made him more attractive to those of the opposite sex. His type took advantage of that natural power…
She had the scars to prove it.
“I don’t think anyone has ever dubbed me unimpressive.” He cocked his head at her. “In fact, quite often the opposite.”
She opened her mouth for a snappy retort, then reminded herself, if hired, she could be working next to this guy for the foreseeable future. Best to keep their interaction civil and her opinions to herself. Plus, he could roadblock her if she wasn’t careful.
Softening her features, she worked a smile over her lips and shrugged. “Hey, some of my best friends are bar monkeys. A noble profession. Look, I know Cortez is going to want to hire me.” I hope Cortez is going to want to hire me. “He wants the best this town has to offer working for him, right?” She gestured to herself.
At first, he looked unconvinced. Then he went still and tilted his head, as though he was listening to something in the distance. All trace of humor gone, he examined her closely for a second, a crease forming between those intense amber eyes. Almost incredulously he glanced at the stage, then in turn at each patron before landing a narrowed gaze on her once more.
What in the world? She almost felt exposed. Like he somehow knew what she was. A spark of adrenaline shot through her and she had the very strong urge to bolt.
But no. He couldn’t know. That was impossible. Psyching myself out.
Finally his expression relaxed, and once more his half grin took her aback. Rag still in hand, he laid his arm atop the bar, studying her like one might a textbook. “Boss man is a busy guy.”
She saw it then. Fangs! Peeking from behind his grinning lips.
Very likely he was part of Cortez’s inner circle. And she’d practically insulted him. So bad at this.
Think cute and flirty thoughts, Naia.
She flashed him a smile dipped in honey. “Would it be possible to set up an appointment to meet with him?”
He returned to drying glasses, his expression now shuttered. “He’ll be available later tonight. Why don’t you come back after-hours?”
She snorted. “This place doesn’t have any after-hours. It’s open twenty-four-seven.”
“Except on holidays,” he quipped.
She rolled her eyes.
“I’ll schedule a meeting around one. How does that sound?”
One in the morning was like afternoon to vampires. “Sounds perfect.” She pivoted around to leave before she said or did anything to screw this up.
“Wear something sexy,” he called after her.
Tension stiffened her shoulders. She glared over her shoulder. “I told you, I’m not that kind of talent.”
He only shrugged and then faced away from her. Before leaving, she stole an extra couple of seconds to appreciate his physique. There was a hint of titillating muscle under that sport coat, and a glimmer of powerful legs under his perfectly fitted slacks.
He glanced back at her as well. Then his lips formed a smile that was both arrogant and knowing. “Still unimpressed?”
Whirling around, she hurried out to the parking lot.
The contrasting light of day seemed to crush her as she stepped out of the slightly darkened foyer, and for some reason, her heart was racing, her cheeks flushed. Had he been flirting with her?
She felt a ridiculously girly giggle threatening to rise.
Inner shake. She knew better than to allow a frivolous attraction mess with her judgment. Especially at a time like this. Too much was at stake.
She checked her watch. Eight in the morning. It was going to be a long day.
The trek to her apartment on the edge of town was brutal in her high-heeled boots. Eventually she took them off, walking the last stretch barefoot. She had a few hours till her mid-day shift at Dante’s and could get in a quick nap beforehand.
Dropping her boots by the door, she passed the couch that doubled as her half-brother, Cole’s, bed. He must still be at work. After they paid off their debt and saved up a little money, maybe they could finally get a place with two bedrooms.
That dream was a long way off.
In her room, she relaxed on her bed and closed her eyes. Visions of whiskey-colored irises invaded her mind. Her lids popped open. Why the hell would she be thinking of him right now? She mentally shook herself and once more closed her eyes.
A cocky smirk flashed. She groaned and sat up, rubbing her eyes till she saw stars. Then her mind called up the memory of his roughened voice. Wear something sexy, he’d practically ordered.
So why was her body warming at the idea?
Irritated, she flopped back down, covered her face with a pillow, and bopped herself in the head. She wasn’t going to nap any time soon.
She went to her closet and riffled through her clothes, most of which were second-hand bargain buys. Functional, faded, and stretched out. Which meant not sexy.
She was going to have to borrow another outfit from Goldie. She cringed at the thought. Already everything she wore was a Goldie exclusive. Everything but her undergarments, of course, because ew.
She hated asking for more favors, but if doing so would add to her chances of landing a position at Ever Nights she would kick her pride to the gutter and step on it three times over.
The walk to Dante’s was even longer than her hike home from Ever Nights, but this time she had on a sensible pair of tennies while she carried her boots in a plastic tote looped around her shoulder.
She wasn’t waitressing tonight. And though she only had one ten-minute time slot on stage, it was a much needed performance. She could feel her skin itching for it. Her vocal cords were throbbing to get to work; it had been too long since her last gig. She shivered, recalling another time she’d gone too long.
The parking lot of Dante’s was barren. One unfamiliar car was parked in the stumble spot, the spot so close to the entrance no one, no matter how inebriated, could get lost on the way to their car. She glanced up at the three-story building. Paint was chipping off nearly every surface. The neon sign was so old, several portions were snuffed out so that it looked like it read: DAN E’S IT. A couple of the windows showed cracks, but the security bars kept B&Es to a minimum.
Compared to Ever Nights Dante’s was a shithole. The dichotomy so much more stark now that she’d just come from the other establishment.
The cloying scent of ashtrays and booze billowed around her as she entered dust mite central. Sunrays sliced through shuttered windows, sparkling fragments of dust in the air. The sight alone made her feel like she needed to sneeze.
Her sneakers stuck to the surface of the floor as she passed the stage where Jayney was busy contorting herself for the amusement of their single patron. One surprisingly toned leg went over her head as she pivoted on the poll, her other foot sweeping the floor. She was practicing her new routine.
Naia waved at Cole behind the bar as she sidled around toward the dressing room. He grinned and jerked his chin in greeting. He had no idea where she’d been today, or where she would be going tonight. She hated keeping things from him, but Dante had been explicit in his instructions not to tell anyone—anyone!—what she was up to. And Dante was scary enough…that order was only lacking an or else. If she had any question about her task not being on the up and up, that clenched it.
In any case, she didn’t want Cole involved. He was already in enough trouble. The Boyle twins were breathing down his neck.
And when the Boyle twins breathed, they breathed fire.