“You look real sad, suga.”
Tristan lifted his eyes from the beer in his hand. It wasn’t doing anything for him. The woman standing in front of him had soft brown eyes, a straight nose, and beautiful lips. Her skin was golden. Other than that, she wore a large coat that hid her body.
“I’m not sad.”
“Oh, you’re going to have to do better than that around here. I can practically see the sadness rolling off you in waves along with all that intense longing.”
He looked at her again. The smile on her face made him feel tight in his own skin, and the pity in her eyes made him want to lash out. Instead, he nursed his beer before sitting it down on the bar.
“You like the entertainment?”
There were three poles on the stage. The two on the outside had girls swinging around them. They were nice and curvy, but way too slender for his taste. He wanted a female who wouldn’t break. He had been out in the world long enough to know that some men thought of the females on the stage as larger. He stared hard and still couldn’t see it.
“It’s not bad.”
“You want to talk about it?”
No. He wanted to down this brown swill before he got on with his plans. This was the only place he could get away from the others. He looked behind him against his will. Sitting at the back table were six males who were all watching him, not that anyone looking would ever know. But he knew. They believed he was going to make the ultimate move.
It didn’t matter how many times he told them that this was what fate had in store for him.
“Too late suga, it’s time for me to go on.” She winked at him. “You can tell me what you think later.”
She walked over to the side of the stage and went up the stairs. No one was watching her as she disappeared into the darkness in the back. He stared at her being able to see in the dark. She stood behind the middle pole and slowly began to unbutton the coat like she was doing it just for him.
His throat worked wondering if the beauty of her body would match her face. When the last button was undone, she shrugged her shoulders sending the coat cascading down around her feet.
Damn. He almost swallowed his tongue. She was a masterpiece. She wiggled her ass and then a full body wiggle before the music came on. Her legs were incredible in the heels she was wearing. He wanted to touch her breasts, they looked soft and inviting. She was thick with a strength that made his body sit up and notice. That was a female who wouldn’t break.
When she reached the pole, she swung around it. He made sure he was pulled up to the bar. He couldn’t remember the last time he felt a physical response to a female. That’s what happened when you lived on a planet that wasn’t yours. Until recently, he had been living in a compound away from humans.
“You want another?” The bartender was standing in front of him.
He snapped his teeth to keep his growl from escaping. The nails on his hands threatened to turn into claws.
“Whiskey straight. Give me the black label that bites.”
The bartender looked at him before he sniffed the air. “Coming, straight up.”
The club catered to humans, but unless he missed his bet, not everyone here was a hundred percent human.
He slid him a double. Tristan paid and went back to watching the female on stage. She winked at him. Get up and leave he told himself. He was too old for a human female. By too old he meant ancient. Fate that fickle female never meant for him to find a mate.
Once again, he allowed his eyes to meet hers while the thought of a mate teased him. Several members of his pack found their mates. That’s why he was out in the human world. He wanted to make it easy for them to say goodbye to him.
The female on the stage went to the floor on her hands and knees. She crawled over to him allowing him a close look at her luscious breasts. He picked up his wallet. He would shove every bill he had at her for a chance to even graze a finger against her skin.
She stopped just short of being close enough for him to touch. Her body rolled dragging a moan from him before she stood. When she turned back to her pole. Her legs were spread. Her head went down, and her body followed. All he could see was her ass and that tiny string that disappeared between her cheeks. It was his hand gripping the edge of the bar that kept him in his seat. Her brown hair swung over her shoulders. She rolled her hips as she went back to her pole.
“She’s hot as hell. You have to admit that.” A male sat on the bar stool next to Tristan, his eyes eating up the female on stage. The female whom he was already planning to lay claim to.
He shook his head. There was no female for him. As soon as he gave the males watching him the slip, he would disappear.
“All I can think about is taking her home with me, tying her to the bed and, well, you understand.”
“Is she your female?” The words came out in a low growl. He was afraid he would kill the male if he said yes.
“No.” The male turned to look at him. “It wouldn’t be any fun if she agreed to it.” The male’s eyes flashed black. “Don’t look so serious you’ll be dead soon.”
He got off the barstool and walked out throwing challenging looks over his shoulder.
Don’t follow the male, Tristan. This is not your female. It didn’t matter if the female wasn’t his mate, he had grown up on a planet where they were rare. It was even rarer for one to willingly talk to him, and this female had. He wouldn’t allow anyone to hurt her. He stood; the bartender was watching him.
“I’ll be back.” The bartender nodded. Tristan knew his shadows were paying attention, but he ignored them as he walked towards the door. He had been back-up in several fights before he left the compound, but that was not the same as fighting for a cause of his own. His fingers flexed before he pushed the door to the bar open.
He walked around to the back of the bar. That’s where he would find the male.
“I knew you would follow me.” The male wasn’t human if the black eyes weren’t enough the fangs he was now sporting would have given it away.
He rushed Tristan making him jump out the way. Tristan turned on the heel of his foot his hand now nothing but deadly claws. They ripped down the males back while he laughed.
“It takes more than a few claw marks to defeat me Kur’ik.”
“I have to admit you have me at a disadvantage. I don’t know who or what you are.”
“That’s what happens when your people stay confined.” He ran at him jumping at the last second. His claws ripped into Tristan’s chest before he landed behind him. His laugh sounding boarder line maniacal.
Tristan wanted to rip off his clothes to allow his other form, his true form to take over. At twelve feet tall there was no way he would go undetected. He stood up throwing himself at the male. His claws digging deep on contact. He shook him like an errant doll. The male fell to the ground and collapsed when he tried to stand.
“You haven’t won. This was just the beginning.” He disappeared before Tristan could slit his throat.
“What do you think he was?” Ven stepped out of the shadows followed by five males who were his height.
“Thanks for the help, I appreciate it.”
“You didn’t need help. You needed to fight to remember that you’re alive.” Cade, the leader of Enigma One, told him.
“And if I turned into a werewolf?” Tristan asked.
“Then I would have beat you down myself for not being able to control your changes at your age.”
He turned away looking for a source of water to clean the blood from his hands. Cade was right if he didn’t have the self-control to deal with the urge to change, then they were all in trouble.
Ven pulled out two bottles of water and preceded to pour them over his hands. He didn’t ask the male why he had water because he was different. He knew things he shouldn’t.
“Do you know who he was?”
Cade shook his head. “I’ve been in the ground too long.”
“I’m heading back to my room.” Tristan told them.
“Don’t you want to stay and watch the female dance?” Ven asked him.
Yes, but he wouldn’t stay. What good would it do for him to stare at someone that beautiful and know that he would never be allowed to touch her? Ven and Enigma One could act as if he had a chance for redemption, but he knew better. Fate was a fickle bitch, and she was coming after him. As it should be.
With one last glance toward the bar, he left. Tonight would be his last.
“I love it when you strut your stuff,” Troy the bartender said with a suggestive smile.
“Of course, you do. I do believe you’re a glutton for punishment. Look at the boner you're sporting,” Mira told him with a grin. She had been friends with Troy before she started dancing here.
“You could always help me out.”
“And ruin a perfectly good friendship? No thank you.”
“You’re the perfect little temptress.”
“Have you seen me? Nothing little about this body.”
“So, you keep telling me.”
“Looks like I lost a customer. He switched to whiskey I see.”
“As if you weren’t checking him out while you danced.”
“Lot of good it did me. He left.”
“That creep came back. I believe he went to teach him some manners.”
“I can take care of myself.”
“I guess you forgot that several girls have gone missing.”
“Rumor says they moved on.”
“Mira, you know better than to listen to rumors.”
“I know. I’m going to call it a night.”
“Be safe and keep your gift tucked away tight.”
“We both know it doesn’t work like that.” She put on the coat that was hanging off her finger before she walked to the side of the bar. There was a door that said employees only.
The hotter air hit her immediately. There was no air conditioner running back here. She passed the door for the manager who also happened to be the owner and most nights the bartender. He liked to get his hands dirty. A little further along was a door that simply said, girls. That’s where she, and the other dancers came to change their clothes.
She opened the door to find Eve and Anna talking.
“Mira.” They both greeted her. Anna turned away even as she said her name.
“How are two of my favorite girls?”
They both laughed. “Why do you keep calling us girls?”
“I wonder if I thought I was grown at twenty-four and five.”
“I’m graduating from college this year that makes me grown,” Eve told her with a hard nod to her head.
“You keep thinking that short stuff. There’s a nice crowd out there, and I got them worked up for you. The tips should be nice.”
“That’s why I love this job. The tips,” Anna said still not looking at them.
“How are you feeling Anna?”
“Fine, thanks, Mira.”
“Is that so?” She walked over not making a sound to stand beside Anna. “Allow me to be the judge of that.”
Gently she turned her around in her chair. There was a large bruise on her cheek. The pale white skin was discolored and quickly going from a range of blues to purple and black.
“I fell.” She said putting her hand on her face to hide the bruise.
“How’d that happen?”
“You know how clumsy I am. I was walking around the house, and my feet got tangled in the throw rug, and I went down on the hardwood.”
“So clumsy. I’ve watched you in five-inch heels walk that stage then run and jump on that pole swinging around, and you never miss a beat. The next time I find a bruise on you my little porcelain doll, I’m going to come to your house and start breaking whatever hurt you. Even if it’s that woman, you call girlfriend. Don’t worry you don’t have to say a word. I’ll make sure she gets my message. Do you need someplace to crash tonight?”
“Eve said I could crash at her place.”
“Good. Both of you be safe going home tonight. I don’t like the fact that so many young girls are missing.”
“We will.” They both got up and grabbed a coat before they raced out the door.
Mira slumped in one of the chairs they left empty. She was too old for this. There were only ten years between them, but she felt older than mother Teresa when she was around these young girls. Anna’s face and the pain that came from her in waves rolled over her. That small contact with her was enough to test the restraints she built up over the years.
Standing she stripped naked and reached for a pair of hipster underwear. Yeah, she knew all about sexy thongs since she took one off but honestly that string between her butt cheeks irritated her more than she liked.
After sliding on her panties, she grabbed a pair of jeans and shimmied into them. Her phone did the vibration dance over the long counter they used to do their makeup.
"Hello." She took a deep breath getting ready for the caller.
“The kitten has claws, and she’s trying to use them in fear. I need mama cat to come comfort her before she escapes the trap.”
She gave a sigh. Tonight wasn’t getting any easier. The momentary lapse in judgment she had earlier when she wanted to spend the evening with the man she talked to was over. She wasn’t that girl, who could just be carefree.
“Do not declaw the kitten. Let her use you as a scratching post. She cannot escape the trap I set for her.”
She took off the jeans that were so tight they clung to every indecent curve of her body and replaced them with mom jeans. A small chuckle came out. She paired it with a prim and proper shirt and a pair of Nikes. A quick look in the mirror told her she almost looked like the girl next door.
She grabbed her purse and checked for her car keys before she walked out. There was an exit next to their room, so they didn’t have to walk back through the bar. She took it. Her car was parked close to the door. She owned a small Jeep, nothing that would draw attention to her.
She turned the music on and began to sing slightly off-key as she pulled out of the lot. How different her life would have been if she could carry a tune. Nope, she’d be doing the same thing just on a bigger playing field. She couldn’t stop trapping kittens, male or female they were both fair game. Now to make her kitten disappear.
She parked behind a warehouse that sat close to the river. No one used this area at night, and the buildings that belonged to her were separate from the more trafficked area.
“Mira!” Diane half screamed half cried her name. Her wild eyes looked around trying to find an avenue of escape.
“What’s wrong sweetie?” The teen ran to her collapsing in her arms. She cried on her shirt, tears, and snot making it wet. Mira stroked her hair until the girl stopped crying.
“I changed my mind and he,” she stopped to point at Jax, “Wouldn’t let me leave.”
“What made you change your mind?”
She looked up and then down at her feet.
“Diane?” She placed her hand under her chin and tilted her head back to look at her.
“He loves me,” she whispered. “He told me last night if he lost me, he couldn’t go on.”
Mira ran her hand over the girls back and stopped when she gave a cry of pain. She lifted her shirt to find bruises consistent with a fist.
“Diane, if you stay with him, he will kill you. He can’t control his temper, and he won’t get help. I can’t help him, but I can help you, if you let me.”
“How will I live, make money? I only know how to sell my body.”
“I have a place away from the city where you will live. They will get you clean, make sure you get an education. Most importantly no one will hurt you. I swear; I would kill them if they touched you.”
“I’m a sucker for hurt kittens with big eyes. You have to agree because detox will be a bitch.”
“Even my mom doesn’t care.”
“I’m not your mom.”
Her face brightened. “No, you’re my friend. I want to do this. I’m just scared that I’ll stop in the middle and run away.”
“Don’t worry kitten you’ll be protected until you're ready to stand on your own.”
Jax and Lea walked out of the shadows. Lea was a mother who lost a child to the streets. That’s when she made the decision, she would save every little kitten she could.
“Go with Jax and Lea, they will take care of you.”
“He really is sorry.”
Lea tucked her arm around Diana’s shoulders, and she laid her head against Lea’s chest. Lea was a mother from the top of her perfectly coifed hair to the tips of her polished nails.
She lost her only child to the streets and decided never again. She’d been helping Mira ever since. Jax, on the other hand, was scarier. He stood at six three ex-military with the face of an angel. Sometimes life wasn’t fair.
Mira gave an exaggerated groan when his toned ass went through the door.