Read Forever As One Online

Authors: Jackie Ivie

Tags: #vampire, #assassin, #anthology, #vampire romance, #chess

Forever As One

Forever As One

by Jackie Ivie

A Vampire Assassin
League Novella

“We Kill for
Profit”

7th in series

Copyright 2012, Jackie Ivie

Smashwords Edition

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment
only. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this
book, or portion thereof, in any form. This book may not be resold
or uploaded for distribution to others.

This is a work of fiction. Any references to
historical events, real people, or real locales are used
fictitiously. Other names, characters, places and incidents are the
product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual
events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely
coincidental.

 

CHAPTER ONE

They found another body.

Dane turned the page of the well-used daily
paper, glanced at the grainy photo of crime tape and a couple of
Key West detectives, trying to look efficient. He grimaced. This
kind of attention and interest was dangerous. Especially for
him.

“Three tequila sunrises. Extra grenadine.
Extra fruit. Extra orange juice. Lots of crushed ice. You know,
like snow cones.”

“They want any alcohol?” Dane asked.

“I think they just want to watch you move,
Sweetie.”

He rolled his eyes. Spring break was always
the same. Different faces, same gorgeous, nearly naked bodies. None
of which stirred the slightest interest from this particular
bartender.

He looked over at the table where three
gorgeous, barely covered coeds stood, and got three kisses blown to
him.

“Did you tell them I was gay?” he asked,
putting the paper away.

“Nope.”

“Why not?”

“Because the big stud in the cowboy hat over
in the corner told me he is…and he really thinks you’re cute. Wants
your number. And what time you get off.”

Dane flicked a glance there. It wasn’t just a
big cowboy in the corner watching him - it was a big-ass one.
Capable of taking down a steer or two.

“Easier to handle three little city girls
than one cowboy. Know what I mean? Oh. And he wants house tap.”

“It’s a lager. Does he know?”

“Doesn’t care. As long as you pull it, it’s
all good.”

Dane blew out the sigh and moved to the
icemaker. The cowboy looked easier to deal with. Dane could start a
fight, get in a few hits, and drain some blood while he was at it.
Scratch that. Cowboy was definitely harder. With the looks and size
of this particular guy, it wouldn’t go unnoticed. Notice was just
one thing Dane avoided.

He groaned, shoveled ice into the mixer and
set it atop the base.

“You know…you could try growing a scruffy
beard, staying away from the gym, wearing that little sailor hat
with the floppy brim again…maybe cut that mane of hair or darken
it. You know, try for something other than the hard-body surfer
dude look. Oh! And maybe…just maybe, you could form a few lines in
your skin. You know, like normal people.”

“Moisturizer,” he replied, and hit the ice
crusher switch.

Dangerous. If Shae noticed, others might.
He’d have to move to one of his other establishments a little
sooner this decade. Then, just as he hit the stop button, a tremor
went right through the board floor and into him, making the blender
jolt. Dane cocked his head as nonchalantly as possible toward the
source.

Saw her.

And instantly recognized her. Perfectly.
Completely. Relentlessly.

The woman standing there resembled a pink
flamingo in a bunch of penguins. Maybe they were called a clutch.
Or gaggle. Or grouping. Flock. Whatever.
Doesn’t frickin’
matter, Dane.
She was his mate, as sure as they were both
standing there. She’d arrived in his sphere! Emotion pumped through
him, forcing him to stifle it, tamp the grin and tighten every
muscle. Who cared that she wore a classic tailored dark blue
business suit with little spectator pumps and actual hose on her
legs in a tropical bar in Florida? She existed! After a millennia
of time!

He didn’t just recognize her. Every cell on
his body flamed into a lifelike state at occupying the same chunk
of real estate with her. His hand shook wildly, shifting ice right
out of the blender. Dane grabbed three tall tumblers and sent the
ice there, as if he’d planned it.

“Now, that’s something you don’t see every
day,” Shae remarked.

“No lie,” he muttered.

“You. Being clumsy. And looking kind
of…thunderstruck.”

“Go get her seated. At a good table. And get
her order.”

“Who?”

“The woman.”

“There’s over fifty patrons already tonight,
Dane. Thanks to the view – and I’m not talking the ocean here –
most of our customers are women. You want to be just a little more
specific?”

Dane finished filling the plastic glasses
with ice, sent two tablespoons of grenadine, five ounces of orange
juice, a half-shot of tequila, a splash of blue triple sec, not
only for color but to create a nice marinade float for the three
spears of pineapple, orange slice, and maraschino cherry that
decorated the tops, and then placed them with precision on Shae’s
tray. All without measuring.

“The one by the pole. In the suit.” He
slanted a nod in that direction before pulling up a draught of
lager in a huge frosted mug, and adding it to her tray.

“Someone is wearing a—? Oh. Got her.”

“Just get her order. Here.” Dane lifted the
tray with the slowest, easiest, movement he could manage. It still
slammed onto the bar surface in front of Shae.

“You got a thing for expensive call
girls?”

“She’s not a call girl.”

“And you would know this…how?”

Shae shouldered the tray, ignoring his reply,
or even if he’d formulated one. She was a great waitress, with tips
to validate it. She had long legs, and a swinging walk that was
heightened by the mid-thigh length khaki shorts she wore. Sandals,
white braided rope belt, and a neon purple and red tropical shirt
with sleeves almost to the elbow finished her uniform. It matched
all the waitressed tonight. As well as his other bartenders, Sam
and Lyle, down flirting with girls at the other side of the bar.
His employees called their shorts long and unfashionable. The
shirts got the same disdain. Didn’t change it. It’s the only way
Dane could disguise a thigh-high tan and biceps that belonged on a
body builder. That’s what came of wearing tunics in his former life
and pushing oars for weeks on end. Dane smirked as he watched Shae
delivering drinks before speaking to the woman. His employees
didn’t complain after the first couple of days. The uniform
actually made them look professional, in a Florida beach bar sort
of way. Anybody can show skin. Few can show it effectively.

Shae had pegged the trouble with his hair,
too, but there wasn’t much he could do about it. Nothing changed
it. It was still mid-back length, honey-blond, and thick. He’d been
in perfect fashion in the 1970s. Now, he looked like he grew it out
for the statement it made. That’s why it was in a tail, tucked into
the back of his shirt. He’d even had it cut and spiked and tipped
with bleach one evening during the Y2K celebration. What happened?
Upon his awakening the next night, it was back to exactly the same
length and color.

Shae escorted his mate over to a table not
near enough to him, waiting until she got seated before taking an
order. Wow. He was one lucky surfer-dude looking guy. She was
gorgeous and had great legs. That dark blue pencil skirt just
emphasized it. And he’d had it wrong. She was definitely the
penguin – all class and sass - in an entire bar full of colorful
birds of paradise.

She was probably shy. Her attire screamed
uptight New Englander, with lineage probably harkening to the
Mayflower landing. Conservative. Distinguished. Classy. She looked
older than his twenty-four years, too. The bun she’d forced her
hair into might be emphasizing that, though. But he had nothing
against older women. Should his mate be a grand-mother, he’d
embrace her as perfection. He’d just change her as soon as possible
to prevent further aging. Besides, he hung with these crowds
because that’s where his appearance best fit in, not because he was
young. Dane slit his eyes and watched his mate, doing his best to
give the appearance of nonchalance, and failing miserably. Despite
everything, his entire frame focused on her, sending waves of
hypnotic vibes toward her. He found her heartbeat, distinct and
different even among so many others…the quickening pace calling to
him. Searching for him. Already owning and claiming him…

Both Shae and the woman looked over at him.
Dane moved with a blur to the middle of the bar, where another
waitress was just giving her order. It was better to look busy.

Focus, Dane.
Yeah. Focus. How the
hell was he supposed to do that?

“Lemon vodka and tonic, pina colada, and a
beer with lime.”

“What kind of colada?” he asked.

“She doesn’t care as long as ‘Dane makes
it’.”

Linda was his oldest waitress. Steady.
Thirty-three. Not prone to falling for her boss. Thank goodness. He
had enough trouble. She had a sarcastic bent to her, though, as
evidenced by her mimicry of a high-pitched girl voice. Dane sighed
heavily, and then looked to the wooden roof joists. Sam snickered
at his elbow, adding to his audience.

“So tell me Sport, how’s it feel being a sex
magnet?”

“I’ll trade.” Dane grabbed the vodka and rum
bottles, poured a good shot of vodka into one glass, added the rum
to another blender full of ice. They were getting a crushed ice
colada, and it was going to be strawberry. Just because that’s the
first thing he grabbed.

“Sorry. Don’t have your build. Or your looks.
And don’t get me started on the hair.” Sam doffed his cap, showing
a receding hairline and then plopped it back on.

“Well, I think you’re gorgeous, Sam.”

Linda blew him a kiss, and Sam grinned. Dane
shook his head and hit the blender switch to drown them both out.
Sex and Sunburn. Served nightly. It wasn’t just the name of the
establishment. It was in the air.

“Yo! Dane!”

Shae was back, leaning over the counter like
she had a secret to impart. Dane’s ears pricked up over the noise
of the blender. He tipped his head to her and sharpened his hearing
to the extent the sighs from his three coed admirers were
audible.

“Appears the attraction you feel is mutual,
Love.”

Dane’s eyes went wide. And before he could
formulate a reply, Sam answered.

“Whoa. News flash. I repeat. News. Flash. Did
you say
mutual?
And attraction? In the same sentence? With
our Dane? I got to see this.”

“Where is she? And who?” Lyle added.

“I’d rather know what,” said Linda.

“No way.” That was Marcy, another waitress,
joining the throng.

Great.
He had an audience. Damn
everything. Dane killed the switch on the blender base; fought the
influx of fluid hitting his nose with a needle-like sensation,
setting off bells and ringing and fire bursts inside him just like
the pinball machines in the corner; tightened everything against
the immediate flash of real, human, physical reaction hitting all
the way through him. Over just a few words. His attraction was
mutual? Wow. How was he to stifle the immediate actual joy?

Focus, Dane
.

What the hell? Nothing worked. Everything was
going crazy inside him and nothing he tried worked to halt it. The
blender handle cracked and then broke off within his fingers. Dane
tossed it in the trash and poured the mixture with a hand around
the container.

“Show off,” Sam remarked.

“She order a drink?”

“Nope. Just…you. At her table. At your
convenience.”

The blender tipped, sending the last of the
mixture in a rush that overran the tumbler. Dane grabbed for a
towel. Blotted the mess. Put the drink on Linda’s tray. Unfastened
his apron.

“Tell her to stand in line,” Marcy
muttered.

“And try not to look too desperate.”

They didn‘t know. Nobody did. His spirit was
soaring. He was actually surprised to still be standing with his
canvas shoes atop the boards.

“You finish this for me, Sam.”

Dane tossed the apron on a stool, and moved,
making the end of the bar in a blur that had their mouths gaping.
Great. Again. He was failing at just about everything.

“Uh…before you rush over there, I’ve got a
quantifier to add.”

Dane stopped, hovering right at the end of
the bar where the pressure of his hand was putting cracks in the
surface. The entire troupe made the journey along the outside of
the bar, adding counter customers to their numbers. Damn it. He was
gaining the one thing he most detested, and the one time he really
didn’t want it. Total attention. Dane gritted his teeth, felt the
prick of a canine as his body already sought what only his mate
could give. Succor. Bliss. And then he had to fight that, too. With
an audience.

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