Amara stayed outside the crowd, near the walls. She watched everyone enjoying themselves. They were all so happy, so carefree. She knew better though. Monsters lurked inside people and she couldn’t be so trusting. Drinking, dancing, flirting with strangers. She would never be so blissfully ignorant.
As she was caught up in her thoughts, her stomach churned suddenly. Something was wrong with Avery. Then a voice straight from her nightmares whispered into her ear, “Dance with me.” She turned and plowed Tucian into the wall. She held her arm across his neck. He was wearing a red leather mask with etchings on it. His grey eyes were unafraid.
“How did you find me?” Amara asked. She put on a hard face and didn’t let the terror in her heart show. Tonight would not be the escape she had wished for. She could only hope Tucian hadn’t been watching her all night.
“Well, it wasn’t easy. I think I’ve earned a dance.” He smiled suavely.
“What you’ve earned is a slow and painful death.” Amara pushed harder on his throat.
Tucian grabbed her arm, spun her around, and put his arm around her throat. He watched her chest rise and fall as her breathing sped up. His grip tightened. He hadn’t been this close to Amara in far too long. He needed to focus. “Dance with me,” he said forcefully, “or everyone in here will be dead by morning.”
Amara broke free of his grip and shoved him. Her black eyes glared at him but she didn’t say anything else as Tucian took her hand and led her to dance. She knew well enough that he had no problem with murder if it served his needs. But it was still difficult to make her feet follow him. Her body fought her, hesitating, itching to run. Her hand gripped his tightly, keeping herself from leaving.
A new song started and Tucian twirled Amara around the floor as her eyes faded back to their usual green. He looked like the picture of sophistication. Every girl in the room watched him, wishing to be Amara. He wore a black shirt, black tie, and black and red brocade vest and suit coat. His stark white hair was in soft, short waves going up and over to one side. If Amara didn’t know what he was capable of, she would be swooning too. Instead, she was resisting her fight or flight instincts. She kept as much distance between them as possible. It made them look like a couple of high school kids who didn’t want to touch.
“Why here? You could try to kill me anywhere. Why bother with these people?” Amara asked. Her plum gown swept the floor in elegant circles.
“Because, Amara.” Tucian pulled her into him, holding her tight, “I didn’t want to miss this dance. I would have missed you in this dress.” He spun her in a circle away from him, looking her over, and yanked her back. She slammed into his solid chest with a soft groan. “You look positively enchanting. Silver suits you.” He stroked her cheek, referring to her mask and his silver powers.
Amara pulled her face away from his hand. His touch had sent chills of fright through her. Her insides twisted and wrenched. “Enough, Tucian. What are you doing here? Is Jett with you?”
“What I’m doing here, is dancing. Yes, Jett is here. If he’s been successful he’s with your sister right now.”
Amara turned to run. Jett would kill Avery. She had to find her. Tucian grabbed her hand and pulled her back.
“Not quite yet, sweetest.” He pressed his hand down her back, pulling her hips against him.
Amara cringed at his body pressed so tightly against her own. “I’ll make this simple for you. Let me go or I’ll kill you,” she threatened.
“In front of all these people? I don’t think so. Besides, if you kill me, they all die. But don’t worry. Jett won’t kill Avery. He’s keeping her busy to give us a few minutes alone.” He bit her ear lobe, making Amara’s face scrunch in disgust. He lowered his voice, and whispered in her ear, “So if you want everyone here to live, you’ll stay and finish dancing with me.”
“What did you do?” Amara asked. She pushed him back a little and reluctantly resumed allowing him to guide her. But the darkness of her again black eyes conveyed the anger boiling within her.
“Jett and I may have poured a little something into the champagne. A potion. On its own, harmless. When combined with its other half, deadly. I know you don’t drink but everyone else here does. If things don’t go our way tonight, in any way, we have a friend ready to pour the other half of the potion into the drinks. As soon as they take a sip they’ll all drop dead.”
“Only you would do something so horrible. And for what? To torment me?” Her heart raced. The blackness drained from her eyes and her body started shaking.
“Why, Amara. Is that fear I detect?” Tucian dipped her low and kissed her neck.
Amara turned away and squeezed her eyes shut. His lips against her skin was unbearable. But lives were at risk. She wouldn’t chance running again knowing that.
Tucian glanced across the dance floor. Jett nodded to him. He pulled Amara up and spun her for a minute longer. “I would love to explain why but I can’t. Not right now. I had hoped to have longer. But it seems our time has run out.” He released her from his grip. “Goodbye, lovely.” He kissed her hand, bowed, and disappeared. Jett followed.