The house lights dim.

With a shake of my head I dismiss tall and pouty as she nears me, flashing a set of whitened teeth behind blood-red lips. She's nice, but not my style.

I don't know why I'm here. Boredom, I suppose.

I'm just so bored.

The crowd continues to make noise, but now it's hushed –like someone has turned the volume down. The air is hazy, the cigar and artificial smoke mingling to create something new but just as distasteful. The lights are low enough to create secret corners, and to keep hidden the secrets that they contain.

A moment later, red light floods the stage, bathing the room and its occupants in crimson light. The condensation from my drink drips lazily down the side of my glass, dribbling over my fingers.

And then she appears.

She steps on stage, her skin lit red from above, and the air snaps and shifts around me. Suddenly the whole club is at attention, like all the air has been sucked out of the place with one breath. The hair on the back of my neck stands on end as she swings her hips to one side as the first drum beat of the song thumps through the speakers. There's a collective exhale—a sigh—as she begins to move, rolling her body with the beat. Feedback-heavy guitar follows a second later and it's like the temperature in the room rises. I can feel the sweat begin to seep into the palms of my hands.

Something about her is different.

I know it. She knows it. The whole goddamn place knows it.

She is mesmerizing, accompanied by nothing but a simple guitar riff and the kind of voice that's part punk rock, part rock goddess. With her skin covered in nothing but black lace and colored light, something about her makes me unable to move, blink, breathe.

She is raw.

She is powerful.

She's sin in six-inch heels.

She's dangerous.

The drum beat thumps so hard that the club trembles. The ice in my glass clinks against the tumbler, and the blood in my veins vibrates violently until I feel like I'm shaking inside.

I shouldn't be here—God knows I have other places I should be—yet, here I am, unable to move even if I wanted to.

Her blonde hair brushes her lower back and hangs in curtains over each of her breasts while her delicate hands flutter over ivory-colored skin. Her movements are graceful and seductive, and I can't tell if it's the music thumping in my chest or my heart.

Maybe it's both.

She rolls her hips and dips low on impossibly long legs. The fuzzy guitar screams over the speakers and the collar of my shirt is too tight, the cuffs, the buttons down my chest—I'm burning up in my own skin. Her presence has squeezed all of the air from my lungs, and all I want is never to breathe again. Even with a room full of people it feels like every move she makes is for me—like we're the only ones here.

Strong thighs and arms work together and it's more than a stripper on a pole—it's fucking acrobatics and agility, the power of her confidence sexier than the barely there outfit she has on. She turns, her lips curved into a smile over her shoulder, and the heart-shaped face and dark eyes hit me like a freight train to the chest.

Not her.

Anyone but her.

She's too good to be here of all places.

With deft hands, she slips the sheer black bra from her shoulders and I have to look away. It's not that I don't want to look—God, I do—but I know that if I do I won't be able to think of anything else for the rest of the night. Maybe for the rest of my life.

The man to my left leans forward, his eyes on her even as the pretty girl in his lap tries her best to keep his attention. His eyes on her make my muscles twitch. I flex my hand against my thigh until I feel my knuckles pop, and it takes every ounce of restraint I have not to rip him from his chair by his shirt and slam my knee into his face.

My jaw clenches and the toothpick in my mouth almost snaps as I do everything I can to stay seated. Instead, I turn my eyes back to the stage.

I'm not the guy that fights over a girl.

But I want to be.

For her I think I would.

I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket.

When I look up again, she has her back to me, baring a long expanse of perfect skin to the room.

I swallow the last mouthful of my drink, still unable to look right at her. Even so, those eyes and that face stain the back of my eyelids like a bright spot from the sun.

The last few notes of her song are still lingering in the air when I stand.

Turning, I leave a tip for the waitress.

I pick up my jacket from the coat check.

Walking down the brightly lit hallway and into the night air, I slip my gloves on, pushing the leather deep between my fingers.

My phone rings again, and I pull it out of my pocket.


Gravel crunches under my feet as I walk to my car, and I can hear the music from the club still thumping through the walls.

The phone line is silent for a moment. And then, "Half an hour. The bowling alley on Lohen."

I glance down at my watch and disconnect the call, tucking it back into my pocket.

The rumble of the engine pierces the midnight silence, and the neon lights of the club reflect brightly off of the hood of my car.

Sighing, I rest my head against the seat and close my eyes.

I have the feeling life is about to get a whole lot more complicated.