Part 1 of my new paranormal romance novel, KEEPING HIS SIREN, a sexy fun spin-off from the Coraline Conwell novels, featuring Cortez and his clan. Enjoy!
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Before entering the club, Naia DeVoe 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.
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