Bit the Jackpot (Vegas Vampires #2) by Erin McCarthy
Seamus Fox was a lot of things. Almost four hundred years old.Irish.A vampire.Campaign manager for the residing president of the Vampire Nation.
And baby-sitter.To one paranoid ditzy vampire named Kelsey he'd been stupid enough to give his blood to.
He wasn't exactly sure how his life had come to this? hand-holding the equivalent of a vampiric preschooler and being the spokesperson for some kind of Undead Unsolved Mysteries.
"I've never been to a strip club," Kelsey said. "What are you looking at? You have your serious face on. Likeyou're thinking."
That made one of them.
Seamus put his glass to his mouth and pretended to take a small sip of the watered-down whiskey. He counted to ten in Gaelic, ripping his eyes off the exotic dancer he'd been watching gyrate with quite a bit of pleasure until Kelsey had reminded him of her presence.Her constant, chattering, needy presence. "I'm just looking for someone."
"Who?"Kelsey shifted her seat closer to his, her long black hair brushing against his arm. "What kind of person do you look for in a strip club?"
Let's see, a stripper, maybe? Seamus fought the urge to roll his eyes. Kelsey was like a cross between aLabrador , a three-year-old child, and a porn star. She rubbed up against him constantly, asked nine hundred questions an hour, and dressed likeFrederick 's of the Damned Hollywood.
And he was stuck with her because he had been the one to give her blood after another vampire had drained her and left her body in President Carrick's hotel suite. Seamus hadn't even been sure that it was possible to revive a vampire like Kelsey after a total blood draining, but it had been the only humane thing to do, to try and save her, and it had worked. She was restored to her previous vampirism, but now it seemed like she belonged to him.His pet vampire.
Normally she was an inconvenience, but during work hours he at least enlisted her secretarial skills to keep her busy and out of trouble. And off his lap, where she liked to sit whenever she could catch him off guard and slip her skinny rear end onto his legs. Unfortunately, he'd found he was a bit of a bleeding heart, pardon the expression, and couldn't bring himself to be cruel to Kelsey. He usually let her perch on his knee for a minute or two until he felt like Santa Claus with fangs and found an excuse to stand up.Annoying?yes.A potentially growing problem?no doubt.But not the end of the world.
But having her with him, now, when he was watching the most sensual woman he'd seen in two hundred years wrap her naked body around a pole, was downright irritating.
"I'm looking for a stripper, Kelsey."
That went around her brain for a second or two. She pulled up the bodice of her clinging red dress. "Why do you want a stripper?"
Because he was still a man with sexual needs, even though he'd spent over two hundred years trying to pretend he wasn't. But that was no one's business but his.
In reality he was there to find jodiMadsen, Brittany Baldizzi's aunt, who worked at this strip club behind the scenes choreographing for the girls now that she had retired from dancing herself. It was a longshot, that Brittany 's Aunt Jodi would have a clue as to who her father was, but it was worth asking. Seamus knew the man was a vampire, but he wanted a name.
His original plan had been to leave Kelsey at a table and go off to find Jodi.Straightforward. Get the job done efficiently in a businesslike manner. That was him.Normally. But then he'd seen this woman moving on stage.The shadow dancer. And he'd experienced something he had thought was gone.
Interest.Desire.The need to taste a woman's flesh, her thick, pumping blood rushing past his teeth, his tongue.The pure thrill of making a woman laugh.Watching her eyes dilate in pleasure.
It all exploded over him again as he turned back and watched the dancer move up and down. A screen hid her, teasing him with only the shadow of her body, the outline of her impressive curves.
He was too old, with too many responsibilities, for this kind of adolescent crap. But damn. She could really work that pole.
Her hips thrust forward, caressing and rocking, her back arching, full breasts straining forward. Her hair fell freely down over her naked shoulders, and her ankles swiveled in her high heels.
Seamus wrestled with his conscience. He wasn't here to pick up a woman. He had no time for any sort of relationship, purely sexual or otherwise. Live feeding was never desirable, especially for a man in his position.
" Oooh, you have the hots for her, don't you?" Kelsey said. "I know that look on your face. That's a 'let me do you, baby' look." Seamus curled his lip at her word choice. He hadn't done anyone in two hundred years. He had devoted his vampire life to penance for his mistakes. That was his burden, his destiny, and it shouldn't change now because he was sexually attracted to a stripper.
"Though I don't see why you want to date a shadow," Kelsey said.On the other hand Didn't he deserve some kind of release?A little fun in his task-driven life? Having a woman wouldn't compromise his job as Ethan Carrick's presidential campaign manager. The only one preventing Seamus from having a good time was himself.
And the yoke of responsibility, the burden of guilt, was slowly crushing him. And he was only three hundred and seventy. By the time he reached a millennium, he'd be a shriveled-up recluse with false fangs living off sheep back inIreland , just to get away from it all.
"Where does the light come from that makes the shadow?" Kelsey asked. "Is she even real or is that like a movie?"
God help him, if there was a God, and he didn't object to assisting a vampire. Seamus couldn't do this.Any.More.Just one night of pleasure. That's all he wanted.Needed.
"I don't know where the light comes from. But she's real." His leg bounced along to the thump of the funky bass music as he considered.
If he focused, his vampire eyes could pick up the rounded tip of the dancer's nipples, the outline of her plump lips behind the screen.
"I'm bored, Seamus. I want to go home."Speaking of lips. Kelsey's red- lipstickedlip jutted out in a pout.
For a finale, the shadow went down deep into some kind of bent-leg, spread-thigh maneuver that had Seamus standing straight up. Holy crap, that was hot. "So go home."
Even uptight campaign managers were entitled to some kind of social life and he hadn't taken blood from a live donor in forty years. Hadn't had sex in two hundred.
He was going to do both tonight.And to hell with the consequences.
"Where are you going?" Kelsey grabbed his hand and rushed to follow him. "Don't leave me! They'll come and get me if I'm not with you."
Kelsey harbored some deep fear that her attacker was going to return and kidnap her. Because Seamus sympathized with her fears, he usually didn't make an issue out of her clinging plastic wrap behavior. But this was different. His first attempt at seduction in a couple hundred years would be better done without Kelsey following him like a bloodsucking dachshund.
"Sit down, Kelsey. I'm going to be two.minutes ." He tried to gently put her back in her chair and was successful. His vampire strength was greater than hers. "You're fine, I promise. You're a big girl vampire, and I'll be right back."
He made a break for it, running across the room faster than mortals could see, feeling like a bastard and guilty as hell, but desperate for some breathing room. Blowing past the bouncers and to the backstage area, Seamus had an ugly thought.
Maybe the shadow danced behind a screen because she was unattractive.
Moves that could tempt a saint, but a face that only a mother couid love.
Then even worse, he wondered did it really matter? She could do some serious hip thrusting.
Which made him a very, very sick vampire.
Clearly, two hundred years without sex was too long if he was hard for a shadow.
Hesitation overcame him, right as he realized the dancer was standing in front of him. He could smell her blood, vanilla lotion, and a light sweat from her dancing exertions. Seamus saw the swish of her dark hair on her shoulders right in front of him as she belted a red Chinese robe around her waist and quickly turned around.
Maybe a strip club wasn't the place to meet a woman. If he really wanted to have an affair, to get the desire out of his system, maybe he could take out an Internet ad. Dull, workaholic, dead Irishman with a fondness for blood seeks hot female for wild nights of mind-melting sex.Must be willing to be bitten.
But that wasn't going to benecessary, Seamus realized when the shadow dancer turned around. She was beautiful, absolutely stunning. She had milky white skin framed by ebony black hair, long cheekbones, a petite bow-shaped mouth with cherry red lips, and a perfectly formed nose. Her eyes were deep brown, almost black, and almond shaped, black eyeliner flaring out from her lids in sexy, sexy cat eyes. She might have reminded him of a porcelain doll if it wasn't for the fact that she had dewy sweat on her forehead and impressive cleavage, her chest heaving from dancing. Seamus could smell her blood pumping quickly through her veins, hear her heart fluttering wildly.
Her eyes went wide in surprise at seeing him, and he knew that she was naked under that flimsy nothing of a robe that showed leg and a flash of her navel when she turned.
Oh, yeah. This had definitely been a good idea. What had he been worried about? No one was going to fault him for a little down time, a little physical release. Especially not when faced with a gorgeous dancer with strong thighs.
He fought the urge to let his fangs down.
It was time to exert a little vampire influence on her. With his considerable mind-reading experience, he should have her in bed in ten minutes.
Cara Kim sucked in her breath when she realized a man was standing behind her. God, how long had he been there? Given the sort of lusty, heated look on his face, it was possible he'd seen her putting on her robe. Seen her naked.
Which might not seem like a big deal, since she danced nude for a living, but it had the potential to ruin her night.No man had ever seen her nakedwithout the screen in front of her. Not one man ever, because she was arguably the oddest attraction in all of Vegas?the virgin stripper.
Kind of an oxymoron, but Cara nonetheless, and she didn't have any plans to change anytime soon. Sex led women to make mistakes, to lose control of their lives and their emotions, and Cara didn't plan to lose either, ever. She knew enough about herself to understand she had a compulsive personality and a real need to nurture. Bad combo altogether when it came to men and sex, so she chose to abstain from both. She danced because the money was fantastic and she could work nights to pay for her grandmother's nursing home. She did get a certain sensual pleasure from dancing behind the screen, but she didn't want a man to see her naked in the actual flesh.Ever.
This guy looked to have just screwed that conviction up.
Which would only be a minor annoyance if he weren't drop-dead, drop-her-dress gorgeous.Dark hair.Blue eyes.Lots of muscle in all the right places.Capped off with a charming smile.A perfect visual example of why women lost all ability to be rational in the presence of a fine-looking man.
While Cara's brain assessed him coolly, her body reacted warmly by sending out the nipples as a welcoming crew and turning up the thermostat down south, which annoyed her no end.
"Hi. Could you tell me where I might find Jodi Madsen?" he asked, with just enough of an Irish accent to kick her irritation up a notch.
Every time she thought she was getting ahead in life, she had a roadblock thrown up in front of her.A big, male roadblock. The last time she'd allowed a man to bring her dreams to a halt, she'd wound up betrayed and out ten grand. She didnot need temptation in the form of a dark-haired Irishman distracting her from her goals.
"No," she said, tightening her robe tie. Maybe if she cut off circulation from the waist down, she wouldn't be so aware of her own nudity.
"Do you know Jodi?" he asked. "Does she work here?"
Cara nodded. "Yes." She was so done with this conversation. He was way too cute and she had the very real feeling he had seen her butt. She wanted her panties on pronto, before she had time to reflect on the fact that she was suddenly aroused after two minutes of meaningless dialogue with a total stranger.
"Alright, then."He tilted his head a little, his smile charming, charming, charming. "So she works here, you know her, you just don't know where I can find her."
Wondering what the hell he wanted with Jodi, she nodded. Maybe he was the club owner. That would explain how he'd gotten past the solid row of bouncers the club employed. Men never managed to get backstage, which was why Cara loved working at this club. Jodi was stage manager and choreographer for all the dancers, so maybe this was her boss.The owner.
Shit. The boss had seen her butt.
"I'm Seamus Fox," he said, holding out his hand.
"Hi," she said, ignoring the hand. She wasn't touching that thing if her life depended on it. The hand was connected to the arm, which was connected to the shoulder, which was broad and muscular, which eventually led across a firm, powerful chest, right down to the bone. Er .Boner.Which she wasn't going anywhere near.
"This is the part where you tell me your name," he said with a wink.
Only if she were stupid.She knew how important it was to protect herself as a dancer from freaks who obsessed over women. Seamus didn't look like a freak, but he did look dangerous.Strong.Well-dressed.Sexy, damn it.
"No, this is the part where I walk away. If I see Jodi I'll tell her you're looking for her." She started to turn, but only got half through the pivot.
"Wait." His eyes darted down to her robe. "I saw your show. You dance beautifully.Sensual." Those blue eyes darkened, just went right from pale sky blue to cerulean.Which had to be a trick of the disco light from the stage. Eyes didn't just completely change color in two seconds. "Your moves are very classy."
Not sure why exactly she was still standing there, Cara licked her lips nervously. She could have sworn she had ordered her feet to walk away and yet she was just frozen in a half-swizzle. A strange sensation stole over her, like a tugging, tingling feeling, in her shoulders, her neck,her skull. She opened her mouth to speak, but realized she couldn't remember what he had just said. Just that it suddenly seemed really important to tell him her name.Urgent.
Her brain battled with the need to open her mouth. Her common sense was screaming no, no, no, he could find her address and phone number on the Internet with her name.
Yet she said, "Cara," before she could stop herself. It just came out with no warning or consent from her.
What the hell? She seethed at herself silently. What was the matter with her? He wasn'tthat good looking. Okay, yes, he was, but that didn't fully explain why she seemed to have lost her mind. She glared at him, just to let him know the name thing had been a slip, one she wasn't going to repeat.
The glare didn't seem to faze him. He smiled, a beautiful, white teeth grin. "Come have a cup of coffee with me, Cara."
She'd rather die. "No, thank you."
"There's a shop right across the street " He stopped smiling. "What? What do you mean?"
"I mean no."
Now he looked flat-out shocked."No? You can't mean no."
"I do." He'd obviously never heard the wordno before. Maybe he was famous.Probably rich. Used to women dropping at his gorgeous feet. Well, she didn't know if his feet were gorgeous, per se, but given the rest of him she could see, it was highly likely. This would be good for him, to hear no. Take his obviously huge ego down a notch or two.
Seamus stared at her.Hard. His eyebrows rose just a little bit, like he was waiting for something.
Feeling a little weirded out by his intensity, Cara eased to the left, still half-turned. She must be shuffling like a hunchback, but she didn't care. She needed to get away from him, but couldn't seem to force her body to do more than step forward an eighth of an inch at a time. She was either in a dream or she'd suffered some kind of post-dancing paralysis. That had been a really deep cat in the cradle at the end of her routine. She must have sore muscles, or maybe her high heels were too small and she had pinched a nerve.
Hesmiled, a slow, charming, roguish sort of smile. "Let me walk you to your dressing room. Can I buy you a cup of coffee?"
Umm.Didn't she just say no twice? She attempted another shuffle and moved all of half an inch. Damn it. She was getting really freaked out. Her legs didn't work. So if she couldn't get her own legs to leave, she'd have to force him to take a hint. "Well, that depends. Do you like long walks?"
"Sure." The smile relaxed.
"Do you like sex?" Cara asked in a husky voice, hoping her acting skilis were passable.
"Absolutely."His nostrils flared.
"Then take a fucking hike." She'd been dying for months to use that line she'd read in a magazine, and the shocked look on his face was so worth the wait. "I'm not interested, got it?"
For a long second, he stared at her, like he could hypnotize her into having coffee?sex?with him. She half expected a pendulum to start swinging in front of her.
"Hello." She waved her hand in front of his face, starting to get ticked off. "Did you hear me? Not interested. Go away."
He broke eye contact with her, crossed his arms, and shook his head in disgust."Absolutely unbelievable. I just can't win. I finally decide to live a little and I pick the one woman in Vegas who can shut me out and says no."
Okay, cute guy was psycho. And she was naked.
"I, um, have to go they'll wonder where I am." She started to turn again, but he touched her arm. Crap. Where the hell was a bouncer when you needed one?
A hideous shriek startled Cara into jumping back three feet. A blur with black hair collided into Seamus.
He swore. "What the hell is the matter with you, Kelsey?"
A tall, thin, gorgeous woman wearing a tiny red dress that boosted up snow-white cleavage was clinging to Seamus. Cara took another step back, damn grateful her legs were finally cooperating, even if she was only able to manage geriatric speed.Time to casually slip away and put some pants on. Leave sexy psycho to his skinny girlfriend.
"They're here, Seamus, I saw them."
"Who?"He sounded impatient, but wrapped his arm around the woman, patting her back. "Kelsey, babe, we've got to get you counseling or something. I can't be with you every possible second of every day."
She sniffled and clung to his chest. "I can't help it I'm sorry. Since they shot me, I just feel scared all the time."
On that note, Cara was out of there. She started increasing her backup shuffle.
"Cara, wait." He glanced at her.
No freaking way. "Look, threesomes aren't my thing. In fact, nothing is my thing, okay? I'm boring and repressed and I have six brothers."
That weird tugging sensation crept over her arms again, across her collarbone and into her face like an invasive, probing, ice-cold finger. Shuddering, Cara whirled around, fast-walked around the corner, and ducked into the dressing room she shared with the other dancers. Slamming the door, she pushed the lock button in, and grabbed her chest.
Geez, she needed to get a new job. Maybe paying for veterinarian school and the nursing home with shadow dancing wasn't worth this. That had started to get a little creepy. "What are you doing?" Dawn asked.
Cara looked at her coworker, sitting in her red thong, touching up her makeup. "This guy followed me." Really strange, sexy guy who had a girlfriend who had been shot and a strange ability to make Cara feel like his fingers were walking up her neck when he wasn't even touching her.
She shivered again just thinking about it, a little scared by the whole encounter. Dawn had no such fear. Adjusting her bra with nipple tassels, she stood up and pushed Cara out of the way. "Where is he? We'll callBryan . He'll kick his ass."
Bryanwas Dawn's bouncer boyfriend. Cara wasn't sure she wantedBryan confronting Seamus, but she would like an escort to her car.After she got dressed. But before she could reach for her gym bag with her clothes, Dawn was making "uh-uh-uh" expressions.
"Is that him? Standing with that chick?" Dawn had opened the door and was gazing down the hall with a rapt expression on her face.
Cara peered from behind Dawn's shoulder. Seamus was brushing the skinny girl's hair back off her shoulders and looked like he was reassuring her.Freak. "That's him."
"Damn, now that's a man," Dawn enthused. "I'm looking at him, and I swear, my thighs are just spreading automatically."
Bryan, Dawn's bouncer boyfriend, was clearly forgotten. As was the fact that Dawn was wearing only a thong and the bra with nipple tassels as she leaned farther into the hall.
Her friend's reaction annoyed her. "He's notthat hot." She stole another look down the hall. Okay, so yes he was.
"'Yes, he is." Dawn turned back to her. "You have to have sex with him and tell me every single detail."
That made her laugh. "No! I'm not interested, Dawn, seriously."
"Okay, then Icall dibs on him."
Cara roiled her eyes. "You have a boyfriend and he obviously has a girlfriend."
"So? We could do a partner swap for a night.Bryan likes that kind of kinky shit and with this guy I just might be willing to try it."
Cara did not want to know those things about Bryan and Dawn. "Yuck.Too much information, Dawn." And she wasn't even going to think about why the thought of Dawn with Seamus made her want to strangle Dawn with her nipple tassels.
"You're the prudest stripper I've ever known." Dawn glanced back down the hall. "Shit. Where'd he go? He was there two seconds ago."
Cara stuck her head out farther. Dawn was right. There was no sign of Seamus or the woman. "That's weird. But I'm glad he's gone."
But when she was sliding her panties on under her robe and felt the sudden desperate sense that Seamus was in danger, she only hesitated for a second. The feeling came hard, a violent splash of red and black emotion, making Cara close her eyes in agony.
"What's the matter?" Dawn asked.
"I have a headache." When the pain subsided, Cara pulled on a pair of jeans and flip-flops without hesitation and headed right for the back alley of the club.