I stood frozen, staring at him. Hunter had uncurled his hand from my wrist. He was running the tips of his fingers up and down the back of my arm and hand, leaving a flutter of energy everywhere he touched. It was gentle enough I could at least breath and think clearly, finally.
“You absorb emotions?” I asked.
“I feed off envy.” He emphasized the word feed, correcting my description.
His eyebrows twitched, as if it was a strange question. “Primarily, yes.”
“Is that why you’re so damn moody?” I asked.
“Maybe.” He chuckled and bowed his head, then gave me a mischievous smile. “Or maybe that’s just me being frustrated and jealous because you keep dodging me.”
Ouch. I winced. “Touché.”
Still smiling he reached up and tucked my hair behind one of my ears, brushing it back from my shoulder.
“Nephilim,” I repeated.
“I don’t understand. Nephilim. Like in the Bible, Nephilim?”
“That’s one mythology, but close enough. Is this the first time you’ve heard that?” he asked.
I nodded. “I always thought what I did was closer to an incubus. I don’t remember Nephilim being described as anything but tall, and I’m certainly not that.”
“Nephilim, incubi…” He ran a finger down my cheek and laughed softly. “Succubus, if you want to go that route… We have older names, but whatever you want to call us. Same myth, different period.”
“But you use Nephilim?”
“Most of us do.”
My head snapped up. Eyes wide, I yelped, “There’s more of us?”
He laughed and shushed me, putting a finger to his mouth. We both looked behind me to see if anyone had noticed my outburst. We were far enough away, and Vincent was entertaining a large enough group, no one was paying us any attention at all.
Turning back to Hunter, I asked quietly, “Why didn’t you say something sooner?”
“I thought you knew.” He went back to stroking my cheek and jaw pensively. “I knew what you were the minute I saw you at the coffee shop. I thought you were being coy on purpose. It wasn’t until you were in my kitchen that I understood you weren’t.” He looked down at where he was touching my face, then back up at my eyes. “Then, I got the great idea that I’d kiss you and you’d realize it, but you took off.”
“Sorry about that,” I said. Hopefully the lack of light was hiding the flush rising to my cheeks.
His lips twitched in a smile. “You already apologized.”
“Think you can hang around long enough this time?” he asked.
I stared up at him. Now that he wasn’t intentionally passing power between us, his hand running along my face was a pleasant humming. The butterflies in my stomach were both leaping from excitement and trying to run the other way.
“Maybe,” I whispered. A few minutes ago, I was convinced I was avoiding him for his safety. Now that fear had been replaced with a different dread. What was I so terrified of? He gave me a brilliant smile, his eyes glittering even in the dark. Pulling me closer in his arms, he slid his hand along my back. The shirt was loose enough he ended up grazing the skin along my spine, just under the fabric.
“Did I mention I like this shirt?” he asked.
“Mhmm.” I nodded, trying to not squirm from the sensation.
He started to lean down to kiss me. My heart was attempting to pound its way through my ribs, and I closed my eyes to focus on my breathing. Hyperventilating was high on my list of most embarrassing outcomes of this moment.
“Okay if I kiss you?” Just forming the words made his mouth brush gently against me as he asked. The feeling made me suck in a breath and I leaned into him, wrapping a hand around his neck. He made a quiet sound, then pressed his lips to mine. The kiss was delicate, sweet, and completely at odds with the tension and energy radiating from him.
As I debated just how much restraint I wanted to exercise as I kissed him back, I heard Vincent call out for me. “Sen!”
Startled, I turned my head to see Vincent. He had broken away from his fan base and was striding toward us quickly.
Hunter growled. “You’re kidding me,” he said, as he buried his face in my hair.
“Sorry to interrupt.” Vincent was grinning from ear to ear as he approached us.
“Sure,” Hunter muttered.
I gave Hunter’s cheek a pat and pulled away. He let me draw out of his arms and straightened up but kept his hand at the small of my back.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“I’ve got everything I need here. Plus, just got invited to another party. I thought I would drop you off on the way.” Vincent was barely containing his composure as he looked back and forth between us.
Hunter turned to me. “You could stay. I can take you home.”
Vincent cleared his throat, his face suddenly serious as he reached for my arm. “Maybe next time, stud. You’ve been drinking.”
I felt heat spike up my back where Hunter’s hand was still pressed against me. It caused my breath to catch in my throat.
“I had one drink,” Hunter responded through clenched teeth.
“One cup. Of hundred proof liquor,” Vincent countered. “Hell, I’ll give you a ride home too, if you want, but you aren’t driving her anywhere.”
My back felt like it might literally burst into flames. I put a hand against Hunter’s chest, pressing calming energy into him. He put a hand over mine and took a deep breath. His anger was receding, but I needed to get Vincent out of here.
“I can walk home from here,” I offered.
Vincent shook his head, completely unaware of Hunter’s near combustive state. “I am not leaving you to wander home, in the dark, with a kidnapper on the loose.”
“I could walk with her,” Hunter replied.
It was my turn to shake my head. “No, then you’d have to walk back here.”
The corner of his mouth tugged up, impishly. “I could just stay the night at your place.”
Heat rushed over my face at the suggestion. Then I had a horrible thought. What would Benny do if I brought a guy home? “That’s not happening,” I shot back.
Vincent chuckled beside me, then caught me glaring and tried to hide it by coughing into his hand.
Hunter shrugged, still smirking. “I need to stay here to keep the kids in line anyway.”
“Well, now that’s decided,” Vincent said, as he went back to tugging on my arm.
Hunter was glowering at Vincent again. “I’ll see you for your birthday?” I asked, hoping to distract his temper.
His expression shifted from annoyance to confusion as he asked, “What?”
“Didn’t Ryder tell you?”
He shook his head.
“We’re all going to the drive-in for your birthday.” Katie would have been really disappointed if I had backed out, but thankfully I didn’t have to after tonight. I was even a little excited about the whole thing now. Fancy that.
Hunter gave me a quizzical smile. “No, he just said don’t make plans for Saturday.”
Oops. “Sorry to ruin the surprise.”
He squeezed my hand as he leaned down, pressing a kiss to my cheek. When he finally let me go, there was a full smile on his face. “Worth it.”
“Alright lovelies, say goodnight,” Vincent said, then pretended to drag me away.
As we passed Jessie on the way out, she blew a kiss at Vincent. “Text me later.”
He made a salute motion back at her.
Looking back over my shoulder at Hunter one last time, I waved goodbye. He made a small wave motion in return, then put his hands in his pockets. He didn’t make any movements to join the rest of the group, just stood back in the dark watching us leave. I couldn’t wait to get back to the car and start drilling Vincent, and apparently the feeling was mutual. Except he didn’t make it to the car. We were barely out of hearing distance from the party when he started in.
“You two were getting cozy. I never took you for a PDA type,” he said.
I scowled at him. “I’m not.”
Vincent gave a low chuckle. “Then I guess it was a good thing I showed up when I did, or you may have some regrets right now.”
Blushing I wrinkled my nose. I would have been mortified if I’d ended up in a full blow make-out session with an audience. A small part of me thought it might have been worth it though. A very small part.
My embarrassment just made Vincent laugh more, and he put his arm around my shoulders to give me a little squeeze. “You’re cute when you’re uncomfortable.”
I shoved him off me gently. “What was that whole thing with Jessie, I thought we established she was underage?”
Vincent side eyed me. “Give me some credit. She had decent input on merchandise, and she wants an opportunity to endorse it on her social media. I help her get more followers and you get free advertising. Win-win.”
I shook my head at him. Only Vincent could turn someone like Jessie into a business negotiation.
“Did Hunter recognize any of the photos?” he asked.
“Oh!” I pulled my phone out of my pocket. “Yeah, he did, but only these two. Emily and Megan.”
I handed the phone to Vincent and showed him both girls. He looked and nodded his head as if it’s what he expected. “That makes sense.”
“It does?” I asked.
“Sometimes there’s two parties going at once. That’s how they keep the groups so small. Hunter takes one, his friend Chris takes the other, so they’re rarely at the same one,” he said.
“So, what does that mean?” I asked.
“Means we could have been hanging out here tonight while someone was being nabbed at the other party,” he said.
We were finally back at the car. Vincent unlocked my door and opened it for me as he explained, “That’s why I had to hurry out of there, I’m going to try to make it to the other event, see what else I can find out.”
I nodded and started to get in the car. Vincent grabbed my shoulder gently. “I am sorry I had to interrupt you and Hunter.”
I smiled, then grimaced at the nagging feeling in my chest. “Is it wrong to be excited about him, with everything happening?” I asked.
Vincent shook his head. “There’s always something bad going on in the world. That doesn’t mean you can’t want something good for yourself.”
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