Soul Fire(4)

By: Juliette Cross

One by one, we dropped the shots, dousing the flames, and guzzled the liquor-spiked beer. Sorcha beat us all, slamming down her mug. “That was badass. Do it again, Corbin.”

The guy blushed. I didn’t blame him. Attention from Sorcha could make any manany speciescrumble. I wiped the back of my hand across my mouth, glimpsing two Morgon men at a side door. Dressed all in black, they reminded me of the burly guy checking IDs. Giant, rock-like statues with military awareness in their watchful gazes.

“Hey, Corbin.” I pointed to the stone-like guards, reminding me of the gargoyles squatting on the roof of this place. “What’s up with the extra security in this place? Looks like we’ve got a celebrity coming or something.”

“Huh?” He glanced toward the guards. “Oh. Nah. Typical Nightwing security.”

My fascination with Morgons led me down a specific research path during my adolescence. Much to the consternation of my high school history teacher, I’d read everything I could get my hands on regarding the hybrid race. The Nightwing clan were direct descendants of Prince Larkos and the dragon king, Radomis, himself. Because of their royal ancestry, they continued to be the most powerful clan among their kind.

“What do you mean typical?”

“They protect their family investments. And they take extra precautions when there’s a human band on site, knowing there’ll be more mingling of the species.”

I’d read an article recently about the Nightwing financial holdings in Acropolis and other new nightclubs, attracting more and more patronage from humans. I’d heard my father cursing the fact on a number of occasions.

Nothing irked him more than corporate competition. For his lead rival to be a Morgon clan made his blood boil on a regular basis. I knew, because I witnessed his rants and tirades more than once to my brother, Demetrius, over breakfast. Mornings were such a delight at the Cade household.

“What you really mean,” I said to Corbin, “is they suspect violence is more likely to break out, and are preparing for said violence.”

Corbin’s mouth tilted into a boyish smile, which was odd and adorable coming from someone his height. “You’re a smart young woman. And who said human women were dim-witted?”

“Excuse me? Are you saying Morgon men think we’re stupid?” Heat flooded my face.

He grinned. “No. I just wanted to see you get angry. We like feisty women. The way your eyes get all wild and your cheeks turn pink. It’s hot.”

I punched him in the arm, only making him laugh. “How’s that for feisty?”

The pounding of drums and the screech of a guitar pulled our attention to the stage. There stood Jed in all of his golden-boy glory, smiling at the crowd. In torn-up jeans and a raggedy T-shirt, he still had a line of women—Morgon and human—clinging to the stage at his feet.

“Welcome, everyone,” he said, voice rumbling. “It’s a pleasure to be here. We are Red Dream, and we want to hear you scream!”

He winked and laced the words with so much sexual innuendo, I thought the groupies would faint. The women in the front row erupted in squeals when the first song vibrated to life.

“Come on!” Sorcha grabbed my hand, dragging me into the crowd. Ella held back with Conn. Fear no longer lingered in her eyes. Perhaps it had something to do with the brawny guard, making sure no one bumped or jostled her. Since she was in good hands, I followed Sorcha into the sweaty mix.

Slade sidled up and handed me a blue-bottled longneck—Scale Ale, a microbrew import from Drakos, one of the pricier ones. I took it with a tight smile, not wanting to be rude, not wanting to encourage him either. He watched me take a sip. The dark, rich lager slid down my throat with a kick. “Good stuff,” I said, giving him a genuine smile.

He winked with a lop-sided grin of his own. I sipped the beer and bobbed my head to Jed’s insane lyrics about star-crossed lovers, broken hearts, and death being his love’s true paramour. I swear, the girls panted and swooned at his rock-star antics.

When the first song ended, Sorcha nudged me with her elbow, a frown creasing her lovely face. “Don’t look now, Jess, but Demetrius and his entourage are here.”

“Shit! Where?”

She gestured toward the wall to my right. I glanced over. Demetrius saw me. “Damn it. And Aron is with him.” They stalked straight for us.

“Shit is right.” Sorcha downed the last of her beer. “Party’s over.”

Demetrius yelled over the pounding music. “What the hell are you doing here, Jessen!” He grabbed my arm and twisted me to face him.

“The same thing you are, Demetrius.” I smiled too sweetly. “Here to watch the show.”

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