Scanguards Vampires #13
Scanguards Hybrids #1
When vampire hybrid Ryder Giles is assigned to protect introvert trust fund baby and PhD candidate Scarlet King, whom other bodyguards call difficult and manipulative, he believes he’ll be able to calm the waters. After all, he’s the cool-headed bodyguard Scanguards assigns when all others throw in the towel.
Little does he know that Scarlet is the hot-blooded seductress who gave him a false name the night before during their wild sexual encounter at a nightclub, an encounter that turns out to be life-altering for Ryder.
When secrets and intrigue collide, Scarlet and Ryder have to find the courage to trust each other to avert the coming tragedy, or lose each other before their love has a chance to blossom.
(Copyright 2022 Tina Folsom)
Ryder stepped out of the shower and dried off. He’d slept well and had woken two hours before sunset. His parents, Gabriel and Maya Giles, were still sleeping. As vampires they had to avoid daylight, but Ryder and his younger siblings, twenty-nine-year-old Ethan and twenty-seven-year-old Vanessa, were hybrids and had a crucial advantage: the rays of the sun couldn’t hurt them.
In most other things they were like their parents. Silver could burn them; drinking human blood made them strong, though they also ate human food; they stayed young forever; and only a few things could kill them: silver bullets, and a wooden stake through the heart.
Ryder stood in front of the full-length mirror in his room. While a full-blooded vampire didn’t have a reflection, a hybrid did. Ryder averted his eyes. He knew what he would see. Yes, he had a muscular body and a handsome face—his mother kept telling him so, and he knew many a woman turned her head to give him a second look—but there was a part of his body he didn’t like to show to anybody.
He’d grown up with it, as had Ethan. Their father had told them early in their childhood not to be ashamed of the trait they had inherited from him. Ryder knew that the mass of flesh and skin that sat a little over an inch above his cock would change one day. It would become a fully functioning second cock. When he and Ethan had asked how long it would take until it happened, their father had cast a loving smile at their mother.
“When you meet your mate, your body will change, and the satyr in you will surface and make you whole.”
“You always said that there aren’t a lot of satyrs in this world. What if my mate doesn’t even live here? What if she lives in Europe or Australia or Africa, and I never cross her path?” Ryder had wondered.
“Your mate doesn’t have to be satyr. She can be human, or a witch, or even a vampire. It doesn’t matter.”
“And how and when will I get my second cock?” Ethan had blurted.
“Shortly after you make love to her for the first time.”
Ryder had immediately realized what this meant. His future mate would have to see the deformity and agree to sleep with him despite the ugliness of it. It reminded him of the Grimm fairy tale The Frog Prince, where the princess had to kiss an ugly frog who would then transform into a handsome young prince.
While Ryder was still thinking about the fairy tale, wondering what would make a girl kiss a frog, his father had added reassuringly, “Your mother accepted me, and I’m only half as good looking as the two of you. You’re both handsome, and you can thank your mother for that. You’ll never have to jump over the hurdles I had to.”
His father had turned the left side of his face to them, emphasizing his point. An angry-looking scar ran from the corner of his left eye down to his chin. His first wife had cut him on their wedding night believing him to be the devil incarnate. The scar had formed long before he was turned into a vampire, and thus was permanent. Gabriel Giles had thought himself ugly and unlovable for over a hundred-and-fifty years. Until he’d met Maya and won her love.
Ryder shook his head. His father was an attractive man despite the scar, or maybe because of it. And there was no doubt that Ryder’s mother loved him deeply and unconditionally. But his mother was an extraordinary woman who’d overcome insurmountable obstacles herself. What if Ryder’s future mate wasn’t as strong and as tolerant as his mother? What if she took one look at him and ran? What then?
Ryder shook off the thought and zipped up his low-riding pants. Feeling a pang of hunger, he went to the tiny fridge next to the comfortable couch in his over-sized bedroom, which was more like a suite than just a bedroom. Inside the refrigerator were several small bottles of fresh blood, all marked with AB+, his favorite blood type. He took one bottle, unscrewed the lid, and gulped down the viscous liquid. It coated his throat. As a response, his fangs descended, and his fingernails turned into sharp barbs. He enjoyed this moment where his vampire side gained the upper hand and reminded him that he wasn’t human. Ryder felt his cells infuse with strength, his senses sharpen, and his mind become more focused.
He was a powerful preternatural creature. But with this power came responsibility. He’d sworn an oath to his father, and to everybody at Scanguards, the security company his entire family worked for, that he would never use this power to harm an innocent. All of the vampires and other preternatural creatures who worked for Samson Woodford, the powerful vampire at the helm of Scanguards, had sworn the same oath. And they were all determined to keep it.
It happened more often lately that Ryder thirsted for blood shortly after rising the same way a full-blooded vampire did. Not all hybrids like him and his siblings, or the sons and daughters of Samson and the other vampires in his employ, experienced the same kind of thirst for blood at the same times in their lives. The thirst was as individual as their personalities. Ryder had always thought himself above such a base need, but it appeared that at his core he was just as much a vampire as he was a satyr. Two strong needs, one for blood, the other for sex, would one day collide. When they did, he had to exercise all his restraint in order not to hurt anybody around him, because once he met his mate, he had to hold back the urgent need to mate with her, until she was ready to accept him. But he had no way of knowing when this would happen, whether it was tomorrow or in a hundred years.
Ryder went back to his closet and pulled a casual shirt from it. He put it on, when the door opened.
“Hey Ryder, can I borrow your brown leather jacket?”
His younger brother waltzed into the room without as much as a knock or a perfunctory apology for barging in. Ethan had no boundaries, no sense of personal space. Still, they were brothers and would kill for each other if it came to it. It didn’t mean that Ryder didn’t occasionally get annoyed with him.
“Given that you’ll take it anyway the moment I leave the house, why even ask?”
“You’re the best,” Ethan said and opened the closet. He reached for the jacket in question. “Wanna come out with me tonight? It’s your night off, right?”
“Yep. And no, I don’t wanna go out.”
“You don’t even know where I’m going.” Ethan put on the leather jacket and admired himself in the mirror.
“Let me guess: a nightclub.”
“Not just any nightclub. It’s ladies’ night at the Mezzanine. It’s gonna be a crush!” Ethan grinned from one ear to the other.
Not only was he handsome in a boy-next-door kind of way, he had the charm to go with it. People who didn’t know him would never guess that he was a predator, a hybrid vampire with an insatiable appetite for sex and blood. When Ethan had hit puberty, he’d become restless and made one conquest after the other, sleeping with any girl who’d have him. Ryder, on the other hand, had never gone through that rebellious teenage stage, nor was his appetite for sex as pronounced as his brother’s. He was in control of himself at all times.
Ryder rolled his eyes and calmly buttoned his shirt. “I’m planning on getting a bite to eat at Carlito’s in North Beach and then read. Baldacci’s latest thriller just released—”
“Oh my God,” Ethan said with disgust in his voice. “Could you sound any more like an old college professor? Nobody would ever guess that you’re one of the best bodyguards at Scanguards.” He shook his head. “You want to read on your night off? Are you for real? You sound like you’re decades older than me, not just a year.”
“It has nothing to do with age,” Ryder said.
“Come on, don’t be so boring. Don’t you wanna get laid?”
“I’m not like you.”
It was true. Where Ethan was impulsive and carefree, Ryder was thoughtful and responsible, just like an older brother should be.
“You can’t tell me that your sex drive isn’t just as high as mine. You’re thirty, look decent enough”—Ryder scoffed at that—“and are free to fuck whomever you want. So why aren’t you bedding a different girl every night?”
Ryder snatched his brother by the lapels of his jacket and pushed him against the wall. “Because I…” He sucked in a breath and tamped down the anger that was churning up inside him. “… because I don’t want to subject every girl in San Francisco to… to… you know what I mean.”
He let go of his brother and took a step back, regretting his sudden outburst already. It wasn’t like him to get physically violent.
“So you’d rather pay for the pleasure?” Ethan spat.
Ryder’s eyes widened.
“Oh please! As if you could fool anybody. I know you’ve been going to Vera’s for years.”
Stunned that his brother knew that he’d been frequenting Vera’s club, an upscale brothel run by a vampire whose girls were kind and looked past the fact that Ryder sported an ugly deformity. He felt comfortable there, because none of the women had ever looked at him with disgust. They’d helped him slake his lust. But if he was honest, he’d never felt a true high with any of them, even though all of Vera’s girls were beautiful and well-versed in all kinds of carnal pleasure. His orgasms had stilled his need temporarily, but he’d never felt the kind of satisfaction after sex that he’d heard his friends talk about.
“It’s none of your business,” Ryder said and turned away.
“Come on, bro, don’t be like that. Honestly, most of the girls I sleep with really don’t care what I look like as long as they get what they want. Hey, some of them even find it cool. And if a girl really rejects me because of it, then I just glamor her so she won’t remember what she’s seen. Besides, most of the girls at the club will be half-drunk anyway.”
Ryder scoffed. “You think sleeping with girls that are too drunk to care makes it any better than sleeping with prostitutes?”
“Trust me, I make sure they have their fun. I’m not a selfish lover,” Ethan claimed. “Plus, the more girls I sleep with, the better my chances of finding my mate, right?”
He had to admire his brother’s optimism despite the questionable methods he employed. His own ethics prohibited him from taking advantage of a girl, whether she was half-drunk or not. “Guess that means you can’t wait until you finally have two cocks. Good for you.”
A chuckle from the door made Ryder snap his head to it. Vanessa stood there, giggling. She was as beautiful as their mother, with long dark hair and expressive eyes. And even though she was the youngest of the siblings, she seemed more mature than her brothers. It was true that girls grew up faster.
“Men! At least you get something out of it once you find your mate, while I’m in heat at least four times a year. Do you hear me bitching constantly?”
She walked into the room and looked at Ryder. Then she shook her head. “That button is loose. And that shirt doesn’t look good on you anyway. Why don’t you wear the linen shirt?”
Ryder let out a breath. “I’m not going anywhere special, so it doesn’t matter.”
“Take it off,” she insisted and pulled out a different shirt from his closet.
Ryder hesitated. “Fine. I’ll get changed. If you both leave my room.”
Ethan and Vanessa exchanged a look.
“Now,” he added.
“You’re a hopeless case,” she said.
Ryder took the shirt from her hands, then ruffled her hair. “Thanks, Nessie. Now get lost, before I lose my patience.”
“Yeah, I wanna see that,” Vanessa joked.
“No, you don’t.”
Vanessa looked at Ethan. “I bet he doesn’t even wrinkle the sheets when he has sex with a girl.”
“Good one, Nessie,” Ethan said, laughing.
“You do know that I’m right here, and there’s nothing wrong with my hearing, right?” Ryder said.
“Then you should take some well-meant advice,” Ethan said. “Let loose once in a while, or that stick that’s up your butt will become permanent.”
Scarlet was in the kitchen, when she heard the chiming of her cell phone. Her father, Brandon King, was calling her on FaceTime. She clicked accept.
His handsome face was pixilated for a moment, before it became sharper. “Hey, honey, what are you up to?” His voice was a deep baritone, and he smiled warmly at her. There was something youthful to him, even though he was fifty-five years old, and he had streaks of gray in his dark hair.
“I was working on my thesis all day. Now I’m beat.”
“And your health? Any episodes?”
“I’m fine, Dad. How’s your ankle?”
“It’s healing, no worries.”
“I can’t believe you slipped in the bathroom. How did that even happen?” After all, her father wasn’t an old man or an invalid. In fact, he played tennis regularly, and was in shape.
“I just slipped on something wet. Some shampoo must have dripped from the bottle to the floor. You know how many shampoos and lotions Claudia has. I’ll be more careful next time. So, how are your studies?”
“I’m making good progress. It’s just really busy.”
Scarlet had transferred to San Francisco University the previous fall, and moved into her father’s Victorian in Pacific Heights rather than staying in their mansion in Palo Alto where she’d lived while she’d gotten her degree at Stanford University. Not only did she want to get her PhD at the somewhat smaller private university in San Francisco, she also wanted independence, as well as grant her father and her stepmother, Claudia, some privacy.
Claudia, whom her father had married six years earlier, long after Scarlet’s mother had died of an unexpected heart attack at age forty, was a wonderful woman, even though Scarlet had at first thought that she was far too young for her father. Despite the eighteen-year age gap between them—Claudia was thirty-seven—they seemed to be happy together. Scarlet had expected that they would be overjoyed when she’d announced that she would move to San Francisco. Far from it. Both of them had protested, wanting her to live with them on the Peninsula.
But she’d put her foot down. After all, she was twenty-four and an adult. Still, her father had agreed only grudgingly. And under one condition.
“How’s the new bodyguard working out? Do you like him better than the last?”
Scarlet didn’t even bother to hide her eyeroll. “He’s annoying and clings to me like a bad outfit.”
Her father chuckled softly. “That’s his job. He has to protect you.”
“Really, Dad? Haven’t I proven to you that I can look after myself and don’t need a babysitter? You’re not applying the same rules to Claudia!”
“Because Claudia agreed to have a gun in the house so she can defend herself when I’m away on business,” he countered.
“And I took the self-defense class, just like you asked me to, and I’m even learning karate, so that I can defend myself if I’m attacked. But I don’t want a gun in the house. Statistics say that people are more likely to be killed by their own guns than not.”
“I don’t care about statistics. I care about your safety.”
“I really don’t need a constant shadow. Frankly, it’s humiliating showing up everywhere with a bodyguard in tow. People look at me strangely.”
And it made it hard to really get to know the other students on campus. They all assumed that she was aloof, or something better, and didn’t want to mingle with her peers.
“Honey, you know we had an agreement. Besides, Scanguards is the best security company in the entire country. They have the best people.”
Scarlet huffed. “I’m not saying that the bodyguards Scanguards provides are bad. They’re just not for me. I don’t—”
“Scarlet, please! You’ve already churned through four of their bodyguards. And now the owner’s son has been assigned to you. Trust me, after you alienated each of your previous bodyguards, it’s a wonder they haven’t terminated the contract.”
“I haven’t alienated anyone,” she managed to interject.
Her father grimaced, showing her that he didn’t believe her. “Last month, Samson Woodford called me personally to assure me that you’ll get the very best they have. That’s all I want for you: to be safe. I can’t lose you too. It would break my heart.”
She hated it when her father tugged at her heartstrings by reminding her of their recent loss. She was still grieving too. She’d loved her half-brother, and his death had been a shock for all of them. Scarlet looked at her father, silent for a moment. He wasn’t doing this to control her, he was doing this to protect her, because if he lost her too, it would destroy him. He would never recover from that, not even with Claudia by his side.
“I’m sorry, Dad. I understand.” She forced a smile, despite having lost another argument with him. No wonder her father was a successful businessman. He always got what he wanted. “When are you coming to the city?”
“Not for a few days. I have to fly to Phoenix tomorrow on business. But Claudia might come up tomorrow. She has some things to do in San Francisco.”
“Oh, she’s not flying to Phoenix with you?”
“No, you know she hates the desert heat. But I won’t be gone for long. Promise.”
“I miss you,” she said. It was the truth. She and her father had always been close.
“Miss you too, honey. Chin up! I’m told that Grayson Woodford is a handsome young man.”
Her father wasn’t wrong. “Trust me he has the arrogance to go with his looks.”
“Just don’t make his life hell, okay?”
“Okay, Dad. Have a good flight.”
Scarlet disconnected the call, when she heard a sound from the door. It startled her. She spun around and saw Grayson standing in the door, a frown on his face.
He was handsome, she had to give him that. Tall, dark hair, fit body. He probably had a swarm of women drool over him wherever he went. But Scarlet didn’t like him. After all, he was her jailor, and he was full of himself. Clearly, the heir to the Scanguards empire was spoiled rotten. She’d looked into Scanguards before her father had hired them. Unfortunately, she hadn’t found anything that would disqualify them in her father’s eyes, or in her own. They were a very well-run operation with glowing reviews from previous and current clients.
Nevertheless, Scarlet didn’t like the idea of having a bodyguard in general, nor Grayson in particular. He couldn’t be much older than her. How much experience could he really have at this age? He didn’t strike her as somebody who spent his days and nights training to be the best in his field. Clearly, he’d gotten the plum assignment because he was the owner’s son.
“So you think I’m arrogant,” Grayson said while he ran his eyes over her.
His look said that he didn’t like what he saw. It didn’t bother her. She liked wearing her long hair in an efficient ponytail, liked the casual clothes, the worn-out jeans and the oversized sweater that hid her curves. Her clothes made her feel safe, because she could hide behind them, just like she hid behind metal-rimmed glasses that made her look older than she was, even though she didn’t need them. She had perfect vision. Just like her clothes, her glasses were part of her image: the bookworm and PhD candidate who was focused only on her studies and was not interested in men.
Unfortunately, over the last few years, a sexual need had arisen in her that she couldn’t deny anymore. Every so often, she had to leave the façade of the demure bookworm behind, and take what she needed to feel better. She couldn’t deny herself the carnal pleasures that her body demanded from time to time. She could only suppress them for so long, before she lost control over her actions and did what she needed to do to find peace, if only for a little while.
“Was that a question?” Scarlet asked.
He raised an eyebrow. “I don’t have to make conversation.”
“Then don’t.” She looked at the clock on the kitchen wall. “My takeout from Tomaso’s should be ready. Let’s go.” She grabbed her handbag. It was her largest one, large enough to hide the things she needed for tonight.
“You’re eating that late? I thought you had dinner already.”
“Well, working on my thesis burns a lot of calories. I need food. And since I don’t want to cook, I need takeout. And before you ask, no, they don’t deliver. They’re short on drivers. If you don’t want to drive me, then I’ll go by myself.” She knew his answer before he gave it.
Grayson glared at her. “Nice try. Not a chance. I’ll drive you.”
“Thank you,” she said, giving him an overly sweet smile, because she knew it pissed him off. There was something rather satisfying about pushing Grayson’s buttons.
Grayson’s Audi TT was parked in the driveway. They jumped in, and without a word, Grayson drove off. Scarlet settled into the leather seat. She felt hot beneath her bulky sweater and reached for the button to switch on the air conditioning.
Before she could touch it and turn it cooler, Grayson barked, “Don’t touch the controls. I’ll do it.”
“Then turn the heat off already.”
“The heat isn’t on. It’s a comfortable 68 degrees in here.”
“Comfortable for you. But I’m hot, so put the air conditioning on.”
“You can’t be hot.”
She shot him an annoyed look. “Says who?”
“Fine, the air conditioning it is,” Grayson said, a growl in his voice. He turned the temperature dial.
She couldn’t help but add, “Well, was that so hard?”
Grayson had the good sense not to reply. She wasn’t mad at him, not really. Rather, she was mad at the hand she’d been dealt. She was close to exploding. It was like PMS times a hundred. She knew that some of her girlfriends from college had the occasional PMS symptoms, but Scarlet always got a full blast of it. And when it happened, she had to get out of the house or she would climb up the walls. Cabin fever, she called it. Episodes was what her father called it.
When they reached Tomaso’s restaurant in the Mission, there was no parking anywhere close to it. Traffic was heavy in the neighborhood famed for its great restaurants and bars. It was hopping even on a weekday night. Scarlet had counted on it.
Grayson circled twice around the same block, but there was nowhere he could park.
“Come on, Grayson, just double park and let me jump out, or my food will get cold,” she said.
“No way. I’m not that stupid to let you go inside so you can run out the back exit and ditch me.”
Scarlet tossed him a glare. “Then you go in and get the food, and I’ll stay with the car.”
Grayson grimaced, before he finally stopped the car in front of the restaurant’s entrance, double-parking it. “Fine, but I’m taking the car key with me.”
Scarlet rolled her eyes. “Like I want to drive your precious car.”
Fuming, Grayson switched off the engine and got out. She watched him as he ran around the car’s front and rushed into the restaurant. She could see from where she was that the hostess was dealing with several customers, and Grayson would have to wait a minute or two. It was enough time for her to do what she needed to do.
The moment Grayson was inside the restaurant, Scarlet jumped out of the car and hurried toward the intersection, where a crowd of partygoers waited for the pedestrian light to give the walk signal. She quickly pushed through them, so that she ended up in the middle surrounded on all sides by people.
When the signal turned, she crossed the street with the other young people around her, and hurried to the entrance of the MUNI station. She ran down the stairs, already pulling out her monthly pass, so she could pass through the turnstiles. She heard a subway train coming, and hoped it was heading in the right direction. Moments later, she reached the platform, and looked at the display.
She was in luck. The train was an inbound train. It was busy, but she managed to get on it. She cast a look over her shoulder, her heart beating frantically, worried that Grayson had seen through her ruse and was on her heels. But she didn’t see him. She’d successfully shaken him off like a bad cold.
Scarlet let out a sigh of relief. She didn’t care if Grayson got in trouble for this, or even if he told her father. By now, her body had such an amount of pent-up energy that she had to do something about it. She could barely wait until the train finally stopped at the station closest to her destination. Once above ground again, she walked two blocks to a bar she’d been to before. There was no hostess or bouncer at the door, making it the ideal place for her to slip in and get changed.
Scarlet headed for the bathroom and went inside. Two girls were washing their hands, but the three stalls were empty. Scarlet chose the largest one, entered and locked the door behind her. Quickly, she rid herself of her sweater. Underneath it she wore a black bustier that hugged her breasts tightly. She took off her long black boots, an essential item for San Francisco’s notoriously cool weather throughout the year, and wriggled out of her jeans. Earlier, she’d stuffed a short skirt into her handbag, and she now pulled it out and slipped it on, then donned her boots again. She folded her jeans and sweater and squeezed them both into a plastic bag she’d brought. By the time she left the stall, the two women were gone. Scarlet stuffed the plastic bag containing her clothes into a cabinet that held extra toilet paper. With some luck, the bag would still be here when she came back later. If not, she didn’t care. She’d never much liked that sweater anyway, and she had plenty of jeans.
Scarlet stopped in front of the mirror and undid her ponytail. She shook out her black curls, then took off her glasses and slipped them into her handbag. She applied only a little bit of make-up, just enough to accentuate her blue eyes and her long black lashes. Her lips were a deep red even without lipstick.
When she looked into the full-length mirror, she didn’t see the unassuming PhD candidate looking back at her. No, the reflection was that of a temptress flaunting her curves, a woman with an unquenchable carnal need visible to anybody who cared to look. Now all she needed was the right man to quench that hunger for physical touch that was becoming more unbearable by the minute.
It was time to hit the nightclubs and let off steam.
Ryder had dinner at Carlito’s restaurant in North Beach. Even though he’d gorged himself on blood earlier, he enjoyed the human food Carlito’s served. Food choices in San Francisco were endless, and over the last few years he’d been to almost every place that offered good cuisine. When it came to blood, however, he had an absolute favorite: AB positive. Every blood type tasted slightly different. He found that AB positive gave him the right mix of sweet and tangy to satisfy his thirst. Most of the time, he drank bottled blood, which Scanguards procured via a medical company, and distributed to their staff for free. Many of the vampires Scanguards employed appreciated this service. But Samson, the founder and CEO of Scanguards, didn’t judge. If a vampire preferred drinking from a human directly, he didn’t stop them. He had only one rule: no human would be harmed in the process.
Ryder, on occasion, drank from the girls in Vera’s employ. Some of them were human, some vampires, but all of them were discreet and loyal to Vera. The human women knew about the vampires in their midst but kept their secret. Just as they kept Ryder’s secret.
After his dinner at Carlito’s, Ryder took a stroll through North Beach and made his way up the hill to Nob Hill, where Vera’s exclusive club was located. At the unassuming door of the stately corner building, he rang the bell and announced himself. Somebody buzzed him into the building. Inside, it looked like an elegant hotel lobby. Soft music came from loudspeakers in the ceiling, and the lush carpet under his feet swallowed his footsteps.
Vera, the vampire who ran the establishment, walked toward him with a smile. She was a petite Asian woman with stunning looks, who’d assisted Scanguards in several cases in the past few years. “Ryder, it’s been a while.” She hugged him.
“It’s been busy at work,” he said apologetically, though it wasn’t the reason why he hadn’t visited in almost a month. He’d wanted to see how long he could suppress his sexual needs. Apparently a month was his limit.
Vera released him and sighed. “I’m so sorry, Ryder, but none of the girls are available. There’s a big congress in town, and all the girls are triple-booked tonight. And you know I don’t like to make them take more than three bookings a night.”
“Oh, I understand,” Ryder said quickly, even though he was disappointed. But he knew Vera well enough to know that her first concern were the women who worked for her. They were treated well and paid even better. None of them was forced to do anything she wasn’t comfortable with.
“I should have called ahead. My fault.”
Vera squeezed his hand. “The clients will be gone in two days. Why don’t you come back then? And you can choose whom you want.”
“Perfect,” Ryder said and forced a smile to hide his disappointment. “Enjoy your evening, Vera.”
When he closed the door behind him and stood outside in the cool night, he looked down the hill. The lights sparkled. He loved the view from up here, where he could see all of San Francisco. He wasn’t in the mood to go home and use his own hand to find the satisfaction he needed. Tonight, he had to find a woman who was willing to slake his lust.
“Guess I’m going clubbing after all,” he murmured to himself and hailed a cab to take him to a club that would be teeming with women tonight.
“The Mezzanine in SOMA please,” he told the cab driver and settled in for the short ride.
The Mezzanine was a nightclub that had been around for several decades. Amaury, one of Scanguards’ directors had been a part-owner of the club for a long time. When one of his twin sons, Damian, had shown interest in the club, he’d handed the management over to him and arranged for Samson to buy the other half of the club for his son Patrick. Now, Damian and Patrick, both hybrid vampires, ran the club on the side, while still working as bodyguards for Scanguards.
They had remodeled the club extensively, and it had become a hotspot in San Francisco’s nightlife. The bouncers were vampires and assured that the clientele remained classy. Anybody who exhibited any kind of violence on the premises was promptly removed and barred for life.
Ryder flashed his Scanguards ID at the bouncer, who waved him through, past the waiting line that stretched nearly half a block. Inside, music droned, and lights flashed in the rhythm of the music. The dance floor was packed, and the crowd seemed to move in synch like a flock of birds. Ryder let his eyes roam. He couldn’t see his brother, nor anybody else he knew. He took that as a good sign. He didn’t like the idea of Ethan watching him as he tried to pick up a girl. He was a little rusty in that department.
Ryder strode down the stairs that led to the dance floor and paved his way through the throng of dancing women and men to get to the bar. It wasn’t as easy as it sounded. There was definitely an abundance of women and a shortage of men. Every other woman he passed put her hands on him, trying to pull him toward her, her intentions clear. If he wanted to, he could pick anyone. But for some reason, none appealed to him.
Despite their skimpy outfits, their perfect make-up, and their unmistakable offers, he wasn’t even close to getting hard, when just entering Vera’s club he’d been ready and raring to go. But in a nightclub with a whole army of sex-hungry women, he didn’t see a single woman whom he wanted to touch.
Maybe a drink was in order, though alcohol did very little for a vampire. It would take gallons of hard liquor to get a vampire even slightly inebriated. But perhaps a drink would make him feel more comfortable in this environment. It took a while until he reached the bar, where the three bartenders were inundated with orders. Ryder let his gaze roam while he waited for his turn.
When somebody elbowed him in the side, Ryder spun around, ready to punch the person. Instead, a woman with long black curls, her back to him, bumped into him, and only Ryder’s vampire-speed reaction saved them both from crashing to the floor. He caught the woman beneath her armpits to put her back on her feet, and now saw the reason why she’d lost her balance. A rather drunk guy who looked like a surfer, was trying to grab her and force her to dance with him. Ryder let go of the girl and stepped past her to confront the surfer dude.
“She doesn’t wanna dance with you. So piss off!” Ryder growled and felt his fangs lengthen. His eyes were probably already flashing red, but inside the club, he wasn’t concerned about his vampire side emerging. An abundance of colored lights in the club could easily explain his red eyes away as a reflection.
The surfer dude withdrew with a stunned look on his face. Ryder watched him retreat and turned back to the girl to see if she was all right.
The question was already on his lips, but Ryder froze, unable to say a single word. The girl just stood there, looking straight at him. Long black hair framed her heart-shaped face. Her eyes were of a stunning blue, and her lashes thick and rich. Her cheeks were flushed, and her lips red and plump. She wore a short black skirt and a bustier that revealed more than it concealed, keeping her midriff bare. Her breasts were petite, and her skin creamy and unblemished. Instinctively his gaze swept to her neck where her carotid artery pulsed as if it was sending him a secret message in Morse code.
Ryder’s cock turned hard in a second. He couldn’t tell how old the girl was, but he knew she had to be over twenty-one, or she would have been turned away at the door. That was reassuring, because what he wanted from her was definitely… yeah, most definitely nothing for an underage virgin.
“Hi,” he said, his throat as dry as sandpaper. “I’m Ryder.”
She licked her lips and took a step closer. Only an inch or two separated their bodies now. She lifted her face to him and sucked in a long breath, drawing his eyes to her cleavage as it rose with her breath.
Fuck! He couldn’t look away. Couldn’t step back. Without any conscious thought, he put his arm around her waist and pulled her to him, bringing her body flush with his.
Her lips parted, and a breath rushed from her lungs, but she didn’t free herself from him. Instead, she pressed her pelvis to his. He felt her stomach rub against his hard-on, while she locked eyes with him.
“What’s your name?”
“Sara,” she said. “Dance with me.”
Sara put her arms around him, and slid one hand on his ass, as they started moving to the rhythm of the music. What they did could hardly be called dancing, because they didn’t move from their spot close to the bar, their feet remaining firmly planted on the ground, only their bodies writhing. With every second of feeling Sara rub herself against him, clearly fully aware of his arousal, Ryder’s heart beat faster. He dipped his head to her neck and inhaled the aroma of her skin.
“Let me feel you,” she murmured in his ear.
He slid one hand on her backside and squeezed one cheek, drawing her harder against his rampant cock. “Is that what you want?” he replied. “My cock?”
At the word, she moaned, and Ryder couldn’t help himself and inserted one leg between her thighs.
“That’s it,” she said, clinging to him as she began riding his thigh.
Fuck! What was happening here? He hadn’t given her more than his name, and already they were practically fucking. Yet, he couldn’t stop himself, couldn’t find the decency to pull back. He was instinctively drawn to her. She was probably drunk, or why else would she allow him to touch her like this? His good upbringing and manners dictated that he stop this madness, but apparently he’d left his upbringing and manners at the door.
Ryder felt Sara’s breasts crushed against his chest, loving the feel of them hugging his hard muscles. He lifted his head from her tempting neck and met her gaze. Her eyes were dilated, her breath choppy, and her lips inviting.
He captured her mouth and drank her in. She kissed him back without hesitation, allowing him to explore her with his tongue, while he used his hands to guide her hips and make her ride his thigh with an increased tempo.
All of a sudden, he felt her shudder in his arms and realized that she’d climaxed. He ripped his lips from hers and stared at her, stunned. Her blue eyes were even more beautiful now, and in them he saw raw desire and unbridled lust.
“I need you to take me…” She slid her palm over his erection.
He clenched his jaw so he wouldn’t come right here in public.
“Please,” she begged.
Her plea sent a spear of fire into his balls. If he didn’t take her somewhere else right away, he would have to press her against the bar and fuck her right here. And he couldn’t allow that to happen. Not in public. It would have devastating consequences, for both of them.
“I know a place where we can be alone.”