A/N: As soon as I closed Dreamfever, especially knowing that I'd have to wait more than ten months to read the concluding novel in this series, I was aware of a desire to write fan fiction for the characters of MacKayla Lane and Jericho Barrons; I just wasn't sure where that desire would lead me or when I would start. Well, it's been a mere handful of days, and here is my first offering. I know it won't be the last, but I'm not sure if pieces to come will be longer, or if I'll continue with one shots, brief glimpses into KMM's world through my eyes and interpretation. As always when I endeavor to write for a new fandoms, I'm anxious and nervous as to see/hear/read your responses. If nothing else, though, I had fun with the story. Hopefully, you will, too!

~Charlynn~

Undressed
A Fever Series One Shot

He wasn't coming back.

Stupid fucking Fae.

I knew better than to trust V'lane. Not only was he a Fae, but he was also a death by sex Seelie Prince. He'd sooner screw me into submission than answer any of my questions, a not uncommon tactic I'm learning most males – I can't really say men now, can I? – use when in a position of power. It's either sex, or they buy our cooperation with expensive gifts and presents, but, either way you slice it, that still means one thing: we're treated like cheap whores, nothing more than possessions.

Rocky O'Bannion and his followers did that to their women. They weren't even allowed to order for themselves. The LM controlled my sister with his affections, changing Alina and blinding her to his true nature until the point where, as I look back now, I can hardly recognize the woman she had become, running around Dublin and lying to everyone she loved. Barrons obviously had treated Fiona that way... before she tried to kill me and he banished her, and, now, if I allowed him to, he'd probably give me the same turn as well. Not that I think Barrons particularly likes me, but he loves control, and what better way could there be for him to keep me quiet and distracted than to sleep with me and turn me into just his latest in a no doubt long line of mistresses. And then there's V'lane, too. Since the first time I saw him, he's made it perfectly clear that he wants to sex me up.

There's no way in hell, though, that I'm going to allow that to happen... at least, not consciously.

Still, at the same time, I don't understand why he would leave me here without him. If V'lane wants me to find the Sinsar Dubh for his queen, then I have to be in Ireland, Dublin to be more precise. While, personally, I'd give just about anything for an afternoon of nothing but sun and surf, I knew that tanning myself to my heart's content, though pleasing to the Seelie Prince's eyes, would do nothing to further his agenda. And V'lane was all about helping himself.

With that in mind, I decided to check out my surroundings, hoping to find some clue as to how I could get back to BB&B. Glancing around the busy, picturesque beach, I quickly determine three things. One, V'lane was definitely gone. Even dampened, he stands out in a crowd, so, even if he had sifted several yards away from me, I'd still be able to spot him. Unfortunately, he hadn't. Two, I really hated gold lamé. It's just so tacky, even if it is bright and shiny. And, three, despite the fact that my regrettably gold lamé bikini left absolutely no room for V'lane to tuck in some cash or a conveniently placed plane ticket back to dreary Dublin, I was still overdressed.

Way overdressed!

How had I been walking along a nude beach for a good half an hour but never realized that everyone else around me was naked?

At first, I blushed, shying away and ducking my head to avoid the two men walking my way. Even though I realized such behavior was ridiculous – after all, I certainly was not a pure, innocent virgin, I also knew that such blatant sexual invitation was far out of my league of experience and preferences when it came to modesty. My Mom had taught my sister and I better than this. If she were to see me now... Well, I really didn't want to think about what she'd have to say. Let's just conclude that it wouldn't be pretty.

My embarrassment, though, was about more than just an awareness that my mom would be disappointed in me. Call me provincial, but I'm still of the mindset that, when a girl sees a man naked, they better be alone, and they better be someplace private. The only times in the past when I had been around guys without their clothes on was when I was having sex with them, and usually we had been under the covers and the lights were, at least, dimmed if not all the way off. While I wouldn't exactly call myself demure, I am a Southern lady... or, at one point, I had been, and, let me tell you, Southern ladies did not spend time on nude beaches.

It might have been a pleasant experience if I could have been the beach's gatekeeper, standing on the edge of it either allowing people entrance or turning them back and around and insisting they return on a day when I wasn't there to see them without their clothes on. That way, I would have been surrounded by young, attractive, and did I say young yet? guys instead of middle aged men who could have been the very same men my dad played golf with at his precious and sacred country club. Although I knew that my parents and their friends still had sex – duh!, that did not mean that I wanted to see proof of their capability myself on their dozens of peers walking past me.

Minutes crept by – and when I say crept, I mean it, because, although V'lane had abandoned me on a tropical beach somewhere, I certainly was not enjoying myself, and I soon realized that I had to get over my sudden case of bashfulness. Now was definitely not the time to become a prude. So what if there were women of various ages sunbathing up and down the beach without a stitch of clothing and, for some of them, even hair covering their slicked with oil, tanned bodies? So what if guys twice my age, three times my age were strutting around completely bare like the day they were born? At least, I was still dressed... if a barely there, incredibly tacky bikini counted as clothes. If I wanted to find my way off of nudity island and back to Dublin, I had to do something besides look at my feet.

Speaking of which, I really needed to paint my toenails again. Being a sidhe-seer certainly didn't help when it came to my beloved manis and pedis.

However, there was nothing I could do about the distressing state of my polish until I figured out a way to get back to Barrons Books and Baubles, and, unfortunately, when he disappeared, V'lane had not left me with a convenient pair of ruby slippers. There'd be no clicking of the heels three times for this damsel in distress. On the bright side, though, I did have my spear once again. V'lane had, at least, returned that to me before evaporating into the ether, so, if nothing else, if any overly confident and overly wrinkled creeps tied to put the moves on me while I was stuck on the beach with them, I could protect myself from their lecherous advances.

I chuckled softly at my optimism. Who knew I was even capable of thinking in terms of the glass being half full still? I thought such ways had dissolved right along with everything else that had made Mac 1.0 the happy, bubbly girl she had once been, but maybe it wasn't idealism but just Mac 2.0's way of calculating the odds and determining her advantages. Either way, though, the brief moment of humor, even if it was at my own expense, gave me the motivation and assurance to finally look up from the powder white sand I had been pushing back and forth with my toes only for my gaze to land, fall, become glued upon a sight I had promised myself I'd never see. Hell, even admitting that such a sight existed (and was, no doubt, so impressive and tempting) was something I kept firmly tucked away in that locked box buried deep inside of me.

Without blinking, without breathing, I stood there, staring at what had to be the biggest, most drool-worthy part of any man ever, and I certainly wasn't taking a gander at a guy's ego... though such a part of this particular male's anatomy could definitely explain why his ego was so inflated. My blush was back tenfold. Even without a mirror handy, I knew that I more closely resembled a lobster at the moment rather than a pretty-enough twenty-something year old woman. Of all the times to look like a complete fool, I just had to go and pick the one and only (and it sure as hell better be the last) time I saw Jericho Barrons naked.

And there was not a single shred of doubt in my mind that the person standing before me was, in fact, my manipulative, domineering benefactor. And the worst part? He knew that I knew whom he was with just a single yet lengthy glance at his....

Yep, I'm not even going to say it. Saying it would give it way too much power over me, over the situation, over my libido.

"Apparently, age does not improve taste. Obviously, it was V'lane who was behind this little unplanned excursion of yours."

I knew he was referring to my bikini, I knew that he was extremely pissed, and I knew that he didn't have to arrive at the beach naked; he had done so by choice. He was such a god-damned jack-petunia! Of course, Barrons couldn't just show up and take me back to the book store. No, he had to use the situation, which already had me at a disadvantage, and turn it into his advantage. I swear, the man could flip anything into an opportunity, and that really charred my grits.

Perhaps it was my anger, or maybe it was some long-lost sense of pride, but I finally lifted my gaze to meet that of Barrons standing directly across from me – I'm not kidding, inches separated us – and glared. If I didn't know better, I would have said there were sparks of irritation shooting off my skin, but the sensation was nothing more than my body betraying its nearly electrical attraction to the naked guy in front of it. I wanted to ask him about how he had gotten there, for not even Barrons had a plane at his disposal fast enough to travel from Ireland to the Dominican Republic in a mere half an hour, I wanted to needle him about the Unseelie mirror located in his office, the one I had seen him walk through with the dead woman mere weeks ago, the one he had, evidently, used to come and retrieve me, and I wanted to question why he had seen the need to chase after me so quickly. After all, I'd only been gone for a little while. But I didn't. Not only would those questions reveal too much on my behalf, but I knew that he'd never give me the answers I sought. Hell, he'd probably just ignore me and ask a few of his own questions instead.

So, rather than entering into yet another exercise in futility with the ever-eluding Jericho Barrons, I simply returned his smart-ass volley with one of my own, making sure to spike my insult as hard as I could. "Barrons," I greeted, trying to infuse every last ounce of disdain that I could into my voice. "You're looking rather... pale this afternoon."

I watched his shuttered eyes as I spoke, but they revealed zip, zilch, nada, and, unfortunately, my dig did nothing to ruffle his always tamed and neat feathers. Instead of frowning, Barrons smirked. "So you noticed, Miss Lane," he said, his words dripping with self-satisfaction and cocky impudence. It really made me want to kick him where it counts, but I somehow refrained. "Give me a couple of hours, and, well," he laughed – the sound devastatingly rich and seductive yet still chilled with his always present twinge of malevolence and brutality. "I'd probably still be rather... pale."

That's because he wouldn't last five minutes on the beach before some bimbo – probably me if my raging hormones had anything to say about it – pulled him off to the nearest bed and jumped him for all he was worth.

Not allowing me to reply, Barons observed, "of all the places for V'lane to take you, he, of course, picked a nude beach. I'm just not sure which of his traits inspired such a destination – his possessiveness or his vanity."

In all likelihoods, knowing V'lane, probably both. However, I sure as hell wasn't going to admit that to Barrons. "He's not the one standing before me naked," I challenged. "At least, he had been wearing clothes while he was still here." But Barrons didn't rise to take the bait; he merely shrugged dismissively in response. "Besides, if you were the one to... sift me somewhere, anywhere, where would you take me?"

For several minutes, he didn't answer me, but I could see his reply burning in the dark, dangerous depths of his eyes. Barrons would take me somewhere private, somewhere where we'd be alone, somewhere sensual, hedonistic, and luxurious, somewhere where there would be a door that would lock from both the outside and inside, keeping me in and everyone else out. In that one glance, despite the fact that I was the only one actually dressed on the beach, I felt bare and vulnerable, completely stripped of each and every single last one of my defenses. My skin flushed, not in mortification but in pleasure, my nipples tightened, and my womb felt awash with such carnal lust I nearly collapsed onto my quivering knees.

Breaking through the gale of desire swirling, dancing, burning around me, Barrons said, "it's time to go, Miss Lane."

Before I could even consider squeaking out a comment or a retort, his warm, calloused hand was around mine, and we were back to the book store, exiting the wavering silvers behind us. Once we arrived, he sauntered off without a word, still completely comfortable in his state of nudity, probably because, despite appearances, I was the one who had been so effortlessly undressed.