Defy the Dawn

Page 2

She wasn’t—interested in him, that is.

And that was a shame, because none of the other men leering at her in the club stirred anything more than shades of boredom in her.

Lamely, she thanked Jamie for the further shot, then breathed a sigh of relief when he was summoned down to the other end of the bar to wait on other patrons. The place was crowded, practically elbow-to-elbow with people jockeying for spots at the bar or at the twenty-odd pub tables in the area at Brynne’s back. Out on the dance floor, bodies bounced and gyrated and swayed to the relentless thump of the music.

With the bartender swamped by customers placing drink orders, Brynne sipped her shot and tried to convince herself she was there to have a good time. She may not have much experience with flirting or seduction—and okay, maybe that was putting it mildly—but she could do this. She wanted to do this.

God knew, she needed some kind of outlet tonight or she was going to lose her mind.

Still nursing her drink, she pivoted around in her seat to watch the crowd. Not long afterward, a waitress carrying a long-stemmed martini glass approached her from the other side of the club. The bright blue cocktail glowed like neon and had some kind of lacy sugar stick of candy resting in it.

Brynne frowned when the server stopped right in front of her.

“This is from the gentleman across the room.”

The waitress gestured to a group of young men—some of them with visible glyphs on their arms. The Breed youths were civilians from the area Darkhavens, no doubt on the prowl for human blood Hosts before the nightly feeding curfew went into effect.

While most of the little pack were chatting up human women, one of them stared directly at Brynne. Dark-haired, serious, the Breed male nodded in acknowledgment as the waitress started to hand her the frou-frou cocktail.

Brynne shook her head. “Please tell the gentleman thanks, but no thanks. I prefer whisky, and I prefer to drink it alone.”

The waitress shrugged. “Whatever.”

Just brilliant, Kirkland. That’s two for two on failed attempts to engage.

No wonder she sucked at sex.

Growing more frustrated with herself by the moment, she swung back around in her seat and slammed the shot—her fourth tonight, but who was counting?—then set the glass down on the bar.

That’s it. No more dragging her feet about this.

She’d come here to self-medicate and forget the empty mess she was making of her life, and that meant she wasn’t leaving this club alone.

Time to check her excuses and her conscience into her panties for the night.

As the Glenmorangie burned a soothing trail of fire down her throat, Brynne made a promise to herself.

She was going to scratch her itch on the first viable man to approach her.

It didn’t take long. No sooner had she made her ridiculous vow than a wave of heat moved in beside her at the bar. Awareness prickled along her nerve endings like electricity, lifting the fine hairs on her arms and at her nape, making her nipples tighten in immediate response.

“This seat taken?”

The low, aggravatingly confident voice was familiar to her.

As was the pair of unearthly cerulean blue eyes that arrested her gaze and didn’t let go as she turned her head to look at the man who’d just arrived.

No, not a man.

An immortal male.

Atlantean.

Golden-haired. Handsome. Arrogant beyond compare.

Easily the last person she wanted to see, especially tonight.

He grinned at her, that broad, sensual mouth of his sending a spike of outrage—and something far more troubling—through her veins.

“Hello, Brynne.”

“Zael,” she all but growled. “What the hell are you doing here?”

CHAPTER 2

Ekizael had walked this earth for thousands of years, every last one of them lived with the full awareness of what his sculpted, ageless face and sun-kissed, chiseled body did to the sensibilities of the fairer sex. His flawless Atlantean looks and preternatural sensuality had always been part of his charm.

Or so he’d thought.

Until he met Brynne Kirkland.

As she had several days ago in D.C. when they’d first laid eyes on each other, the gorgeous, but pitifully uptight, Breed female seemed utterly unimpressed.

She glowered at him as he slid onto the barstool beside her. A seat he’d ensured would be vacated when he mentally sent its previous occupant away a moment ago.

“What are you drinking, beautiful?”

She didn’t answer, and he knew the casual endearment annoyed her as much as his presence. Her forest green eyes narrowed on him pointedly as he picked up her empty glass. He sniffed the smoky, peat-laced fragrance of the top shelf whisky she’d been hammering back one after the other like shots of cheap tequila.

“You know, the real pleasure of a single malt is in its nuances. Like a lot of other pleasurable pursuits, if you rush through it, you miss the best part.” He smiled. “Didn’t anyone ever tell you that?”

Frowning, she took the glass away from him and set it down on the mirrored bar in front of her. “I prefer to do my own thing.”

Zael chuckled. “Yeah, so I’m gathering. Is that why you’re sitting here all by your lonesome tonight, pounding down shots and driving every red-blooded male in the place crazy?”

He should know; he was one of them. It had taken every ounce of his restraint to keep from stalking over to stake his claim until now. Not that he had a claim to stake where she was concerned. Brynne could have her pick of any man she set her sights on, though whether she understood that or not, he wasn’t sure. She’d made a point of letting him know back in D.C. that he would never be in the running.

And damned if that didn’t make Zael even more determined to find out why.

She let out an indignant snort as she swiveled on her stool to face him. “I’m not lonesome. I was trying to have a good time. Until you showed up, that is. How long have you been here?”

“Long enough to see you have a couple of close calls with some poor decision-making.”

She snorted. “Spying on me, you mean?”

Zael grinned. “How is that any different from when you crept out onto the terrace at the Order’s headquarters to lurk in the bushes and check me out while I did my sunrise workout?”

She gave him an outraged look. “I did not creep out there, and I most certainly didn’t lurk.”

“But you do admit you were checking me out?”

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