The girl standing at the bar appeared simple. Her brown hair had natural red highlights and it hung in comfortable curls down her back and over her shoulders. The black silk dress she wore was gorgeous, probably the most gorgeous thing about her. The strange thing was that I wanted nothing more than to rip it off her and leave it on the floor in my room. But she was so plain. For a vampire, at least. She had very little that was distinctive, except that her eyes were a warm brown. I'd never met a vampire who could have natural looking eyes without contacts and those were not contacts. I could smell her from across the nightclub, every inch of her skin seemed to be calling out to me.
So as you can imagine, when the dirty blond guy beside her stopped checking her out for the first time all night and excused himself to the bathroom, I was walking over there without really thinking about it. I vaguely heard a friend of mine calling out to me.
"Ethan, man, where are you going? Dude, get back here."
I had reached the girl by the time I even thought to turn around and by then it was too late. Who really would have wanted to, anyway, with this girl standing before him smelling like lavender and freesias? I reached out and gently tapped on her shoulder, watching in fascination the way the silk moved against her backside as she turned around to face me. And then she was this close and I couldn't breathe and I almost felt lightheaded. Her large doe eyes met mine and I felt so inferior, as if there was something inexplicably powerful pacing in the depths of her eyes, waiting to get out. Her gaze stirred something deep in my chest and if I didn't know any better, I'd swear my heart was going to start beating in my chest.
I smiled down at her and watched the corner of her mouth turn up into a smirk. She reached into her little black clutch and pulled out a long, black cigarette. Was that a clove? I do believe it was. She lit it as I watched, holding the lighter a mere four inches from my chest. Perhaps I shouldn't have stood so close to her, she didn't seem very responsible with that flame. That wasn't safe. Instead of acting on that thought, I reached out my right hand and pressed it against the edge of the bar, consequently leaning my torso closer to her. Her small hand reached up and took the cigarette from between her lips as she exhaled a soft cloud of smoke. Her clutch and lighter had vanished. I studied the black smoke in her hand, positively enthralled by the faint glistening of her lip gloss against the paper.
I met her eyes again, those melted chocolate pools tugging at my chest.
"Hi," I croaked out. What the hell was this? I didn't think I was nervous, why was my voice breaking?
Yeah? What kind of greeting was that? And did I really just sort of swoon at the sound of her voice? Let's try that again.
"I'm Ethan." At least my voice didn't break.
"That's nice." Her tone was flat, uninterested. She wasn't teasing, she wasn't complimenting me. And yet her voice sent hot pin-pricks all over my body. I felt like I'd never spoken to a girl in my life before, suddenly my stomach was churning and exploding with nervous flutters. Fu*king butterflies. Great.
"What's your name?"
"Her name's Bella. You can go now." I fought to tear my eyes from hers as she exhaled another puff of smoke in my direction. When I finally ripped my eyes from her, I met the fierce glow of a pair of green eyes. Another vampire without contacts? What the hell? I pulled my sight back so I could focus on more than just blondie's eyes. He stood with his arms crossed over his chest, his back straight, clearly unhappy with my relative position to his lady.
"I'm rather comfortable, thanks." If looks could kill...
"James, why don't we go dance?" Her voice again. Those same pin-pricks on every inch of my skin. And I do mean every inch. I straightened myself up, grabbing her hand and smirking at her friend.
"I'll dance with you, baby." With that I tugged her onto the dance floor, placing us in the center of the room, before I pulled her against me as much as she would allow. My hands cupped her waist, so small it easily fit in my grip, as my eyes stayed on hers. She danced slowly, not nearly the way she had with James. This knowledge pissed me off. Why wouldn't she dance with me that way? I pulled her closer forcibly, leaning my face down right against the side of hers. I told her she smelled fantastic. She stiffened momentarily but relaxed slightly. Slightly. She had one hand on my chest, keeping me from moving any closer, and she continued smoking with her other hand. Why was this woman so fu*king sexy to me? I pressed my nose against the dip in her neck where her pulse would have been if she were human, inhaling the heavy scent of her skin.
Her friend was tapping my shoulder. I was ignoring him. That is, until he grabbed my arm and yanked me backwards by a few feet, forcing me to release her. Instantly, my body ached to fill the few spots she'd been. With my nose burning from her smell, my mind barely registered that I was speaking.
"Sorry buddy, but I think our lady friend is having a good time right here. Don't be an ass, man, let the woman dance." My voice was sure, confident, but mostly stupid. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew this guy could be trouble. It was clear. It was hard to miss, actually, even just with a glance at him. The way he held himself, the way his jaw set, the way his clothes hung casually from him. He didn't wear anything that would restrict his movements, which was smart. But only if you were used to trouble. The way his hands were buried in his pockets, as if to keep him from swinging. Even standing there, his legs were set apart slightly as if he were bracing for impact.
Yeah, this guy was trouble, all right. Not someone you'd want to mess with. So why was I antagonizing him, then?
The low growl that rumbled from his chest nearly shook me, and if I'd had any sense I would have bowed out and left. Not just left them alone, either, but left the bar entirely. Yet, I didn't. I took a long breath, inhaling nothing but her scent, and felt a cocky sneer lift my lips up. What the fu*k was wrong with me? Did I really want to fight this guy? Unwillingly, my eyes darted to the topic of our disagreement, smoking casually a few feet away from the both of us. I hadn't noticed that the rest of the patrons on the dance floor were avoiding the three of us entirely. Even drunk these humans had more sense than I did.
"You want me to get you outta here, baby? He seems a bit controlling, I'm sure you'd like the chance to get away. Maybe have some fun for once." There it was, my voice again. Speaking without permission. Stupid, stupid idea. I watched his eyes spark with a new level of angry. Perhaps he was right up at rage now? Yeah. Stupid fu*king idea, that talking thing. His furor shone in his eyes like a fire blazing in the distance and I knew I was done for.
"I think you should leave."
"I think she wants me to stay. Someone has to get her out of here." I reached out and went to graze the skin of her arm with my fingertips, planning to grab her hand to prove my point.
"I would think twice about touching her, if I were you. Just a suggestion, but I won't repeat myself." This was a bad idea. A very, very bad idea.
"James, why don't we just go home?" Her voice shook, despite her clear attempts to make it even. Baby was scared. What was she scared of? A fight here? Or of him when they got home? Did he fu*king abuse her? Oh fu*k no. I didn't even bother to disguise myself as I turned to look at her, studying her creamy skin and large doe eyes. She was a vampire, there would be no bruises, but I couldn't help scanning her body anyway. Is that what she was afraid of, him abusing her?
I felt a surge of protectiveness rush through me, mentally watching all my restraint and common sense leap from the window. This was stupid. So very stupid. But she clearly needed someone to step in on her behalf. No one would abuse this girl. I inhaled deeply before I let out a low, menacing growl from my throat. The smell of freesias filled my head, making my vision blurry.
"You don't have to go home to this asshole, baby."
"Really, Ethan, it's all right. I think we should go, James." Her voice was panicked now.
"I would really suggest that you stop calling her that, Ethan." He spat my name at me like it was a filthy word. I felt my own anger building in my chest. This was going to end badly. But I was fast, faster than any vamp I'd ever met, and I intended on putting that to good use.
"Why don't we take this outside?" Before either of them could really expect anything, I swept her up into my arms and bolted out the back door of the nightclub. She had just started to struggle as I set her down outside, her lovely face forming a malicious glare directed right at me. Had I done something wrong? I was trying to help.
"Bella! Did he hurt you?" For the first time since I'd spoken to this James, his voice was gentle, a soft caress between them without the use of hands. I wanted to believe it was fake, it was all a show, but I struggled with it. It didn't stop me from my next stupid idea, however.
I swung my right fist directly into James's jaw. I watched him fly backwards and hit the brick wall of the building we'd just exited.