I know I’m a day late and I’m sorry. I’m working on a scene from Dean’s point of view for next week…I promise! To tide you over, here’s a snippet for you from Golden Anidae – out now from Soul Mate Publishing.

From Chapter 1

The bar was stifling, crammed with people as a purple strobe light flickered through the club. My pulse thundered in my ears and a pain burned behind my eyes as the smoke machine’s output stung my retinas. Pressed up against the bar, the railing dug into my ribs, the throng of people a constant pressure at my back. I was trapped and still didn’t have a drink to show for it.

It was almost comforting. No one knew who I was. No one was looking to kill me and no one was evaluating my every move trying to figure out what it meant. I felt almost normal. Almost.

The bass thumped and the guy behind me got a bit too happy about being pushed up against me. I tried to shift but there was nowhere for me to go as he continued to dig his embarrassingly large erection into my ass. The crowd at the bar was five deep and I wasn’t wasting all this effort and discomfort without that drink. Suffering silently, as long as that erection stayed where it was and didn’t start to wander, I would get my drink.

“What’ll ya have?” the thin brunette behind the bar asked with a smile that was a definite tip earner. She was short with too much breast for her petite frame. Her eyes were deep russet in the purple light and she had a smile that lit up her face as she gave me a once-over.

“Vodka, straight up,” I said with an answering grin. That was all she was getting as the asshole behind me shoved his hard-on into the flesh of my ass, my skirt the only barrier.

Would anyone notice if I elbowed him in the face? He’d probably scream like a little girl, I thought to myself, smiling and transforming my face from forced pleasantry into a smirk of delight. The bartender appreciated that grin more than I’d meant her to.

“It’s on the house,” she said with a coy smile, sliding the drink across the bar to me. Her fingers grazed mine and hesitated a moment longer than was appropriate for a casual touch.

“Thank you,” I said, turning to get out of the crowd surrounding the bar. As I passed the dickweed with the erection, I jammed my finger in-between his third and fourth rib. He jerked and grabbed his side with a pained expression in his eyes that pleased me more than it should have. “So sorry,” I mocked my apology with eyes that were too large to be sincere.

“Bitch,” he grumbled low enough that someone with normal hearing wouldn’t have heard. I, however, could hear a heartbeat at 100 yards due to my involvement with the preternatural community back home in Columbus. I heard him just fine.

As the all-too-familiar euphemism graced my ears, it brought a smile to my face, a real malicious smile that warmed me to my toes. Yep, I was a bitch all right. Couldn’t men think of anything else besides Bitch? I strutted back to where I’d left Enza in the corner, surrounded by local guys she knew. She was like a dude magnet and since she was a few years under thirty, she was still in that flirty I’m-not-looking-for-anything-serious kind of mindset. I was in the stay-the-fuck-away-from-me mode which most of the guys she introduced me to picked up on right away. She waved at me over the crowd of heads surrounding her with a smile that could light up the night.

“What took you so long?” she asked, hopping from the stool she’d been perched on. She sashayed toward me to the dismay of the five fairly attractive guys she left behind.

“Long line,” I answered.

We bumped and ground our way to a more secluded corner, away from the huddle of men. They seemed to follow her around like an entourage. It was annoying as hell.

We found some seats beneath one of the bird’s nests where scantily clad girls danced in knee-high go-go boots and low-rise hip-hugger boy shorts. Silver and gold satin left nothing to the imagination.

Soraida, Cadenza’s best friend, sauntered over to us with a sultry sway of her hips that drew the attention of every man she passed. Her soft Hispanic features, bright green eyes under café au lait skin and dark ebony hair that trailed down her back, lightly swinging several inches above her tight round ass, made me envious. She was art in motion.

“Hey, Chicas,” Soraida said with a warm smile directed to both of us.

I liked her. She was a good friend to Cadenza and they were more like sisters than any two people I’d seen since Am and I. A small tug at my gut at the thought of Am made the hole in me ache. I thought about Am often. I thought about her afraid and in pain, about how she’d still be alive if not for me.

Was she angry with me? Was she happy where she was? Did she forgive me for all the lies? Would she ever forgive me for letting her down?

Shaking off the questions I couldn’t answer, I glanced at Enza and Soraida. This wasn’t the place, and I didn’t want to have to explain tears to either of them. I sipped my drink and focused on their conversation.

“No, girl, he was just an ass. Not to mention the tiny asset,” Soraida said with a flare of her hand and a mocking smile.

Cadenza erupted in laughter.

Even I smiled as the rest of the world and all my emotional bullshit was stripped away by two women and their conversation about men and sex.

“Shut up,” Enza laughed, trying to catch her breath. “He walks around like God’s gift.”

“Well, if that was God’s gift, it was definitely a re-gift and cheap, too,” Soraida said with a knowing grin.

We all laughed at that.

After an hour and a drink or two, or three, I was laughing and talking like the world outside wasn’t full of things that could kill me. I was laughing like before I knew there were monsters and that I was one of them. It was wonderful to forget. I felt lighter in my own skin, easy in a way that I’d never been.

“I swear on everything I hold dear, she walked out of that restroom with the entire back of her skirt tucked into her panties. It was like a thong parade through the restaurant,” Soraida said, giggling and spilling her drink down the front of her jeans, more than a little drunk.

I leaned forward to catch her before she fell off her chair. Steadying herself on her own, she set her glass down on the table in front of her. I sat back and relaxed against the hard cushioned surface, easing off.

Sweating in the body heat filled air, I wiped the moisture from my neck and underneath my hair every five or six minutes. My hair had grown down to my shoulders since I’d been away, longer than I’d had it in years. I lifted the heavy weight of it off my skin, exposing the back of my neck to fresh air.

A frost crept up my spine like a lick of winter in the middle of the humid club. The crisp edge of power rippled against me like stale ice on a cold winter’s day in January. Patrick’s was frigid water from the summit of a fresh mountain river, constant and overwhelming. This was sharp like an icicle into my neck, and frightening.

I shivered as the power scraped along my spine.

Sitting up straight in the chair, I tried to force the slight alcohol-induced haze from my awareness. My metabolism ran faster after consuming a bit of Danny’s heart by accident and I just had to wait for my body to take the edge off the alcohol. Three or four minutes tops. Fear, causing my heart to race would surely help, cutting the time to two minutes but no more . . . I hoped.

I had been comfortable.

Stupid. STUPID!!!

An ice-cold finger grazed across the back of my neck and I jumped up off the stool, knocking it to the ground in a quiet thud. The crash was drowned out by the thumping bass of the club and only a few people immediately surrounding us noticed.

I turned. No one was behind me. I had to get my back against a wall, any wall, and defend myself. As I glanced around, hordes of bodies thrashed about on the dance floor but they were all human. I couldn’t find the twinge of frostbitten power in the crowd that’d swept over me only a moment ago. The power seemed to reach out and touch me in places that power shouldn’t touch, hadn’t touched in months.

I took one deep breath and then another, focusing on the human auras surrounding me and the power signatures beyond. Sweat beaded on my upper lip and embedded in my eyebrows as I concentrated, forcing the power from me. I’d taken that ability for granted and now when I needed it, I was screwed.

“Hey, you okay?” Enza asked, taking the drink from my hand and setting it on the table next to her.

“Maybe someone slipped something into her drink. She looks pale,” Soraida shouted over the bass, placing her hand on my sweat-drenched forehead. She gave Enza a concerned sideways glance and dropped her hand.

“Do you feel all right?” Enza asked, sitting on the edge of her chair.

I couldn’t answer her. All I could hear was the blood pounding in my ears in a steady bumbum . . . bumbum . . . bumbum. My own voice was loud in my mind, screaming at me.

I can’t get away. They know who I am. I’ve been so careful. I’m all alone, no weapon and they’ve found me.   

Turning my attention back to the crowd, I searched for the vampire I knew was there. A male. I’d felt him. I felt his testosterone surge through his power as it touched me. He was old. I’d felt that too. He either wasn’t there anymore or he was too powerful and I couldn’t find him. Or, and this was my fear, I wasn’t powerful enough. That scared the shit out of me. I suddenly felt weak, like someone had cut off my arm and now wanted me to swim the English Channel. I’d cut myself off from my power, leaving the connections back in Columbus.

“We’re gonna leave,” Enza said from what seemed like miles away. “You want to come over, Sori?”

Nada, Chica. I’m meeting Everett here after his shift at the Bellagio. Thanks, though,” she said before a brief kiss on the cheek for Enza and a wave of her hand for me. She sauntered away, disappearing into the crowd.

“Later,” Enza called after her, grabbing my arm and guiding me through the crowd. “We’ll go and get some water into you,” she shouted into my ear.

She wrapped her arm around my waist. Supporting me as I stumbled through the crowd, she held on and I searched for that lick of winter.

I was more terrified than sick and as much as I didn’t want to admit it, I needed her help. I couldn’t focus on getting through the crowd and trying to find that whisper of ice in the room. My hands trembled at the thought of being discovered and having nothing to protect myself. I’d left everything behind in the rubble of my burned down house and the remnants of my shattered life.

Enza shoved through the thick crowd in the club and the casino until I felt the open, cool air of the desert night on my face. The scent was crisp and clean like fresh linen. I breathed deep and felt the chilled night air fill my lungs. Enza waved at the valet and handed him our ticket.

“Hey, are you okay?” she asked, examining me, feeling my forehead for what, I didn’t know.

“Yeah, it just got too close in there,” I answered.

She rubbed my back absently as the valet brought the car around.

“Getting too old to party like that, huh?” she said with a devilish grin, trying to goad me.

I perked up at that. I couldn’t help it.

“Excuse me?” I said with attitude. “I’m only five years older than you. Wait until you hit 30 and then we’ll talk about too old,” I said, a snarky bite to my tone.

She laughed at my response. Her levity made my insides cringe. I wanted to join in and forget how terrified I’d been only moments before but that lick of winter up my spine was still too fresh in my mind.

It was out there somewhere, and it knew I was here.

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