Another round of drinks was served. In unison, we turned to look at the man who was being so generous. Or so obviously trying to get lucky by getting a woman drunk. He was walking toward us with a casual purpose. Every woman he passed tried to touch him or get his attention. The man oozed sex appeal in his snug black jeans and blue silk shirt. His dark hair fell over his forehead on one side, looking almost like a model.
He could be the devil, I thought as I watched him approach. He had the look and presence for it. And there was something about him that oozed danger.
His presence proceeded him as he slid between me and Cassie. His gaze raked me from head to foot and back again before turning fully to my friend.
“Hi. I’m Luke.” He held his hand out to shake Cassie’s. Her blush engulfed her entire face, making it seem as if a red light was shining on her. The woman was a bit shy, but I’d never seen her blush that fiercely.
She glanced at me before meeting Luke’s gaze. “I’m Cassie,” she offered as she shook his hand. For some unknown reason she gestured toward me, “This is Ella.”
“Ella,” he drawled slowly. “What an elegant name.” His eyes burned into mine, pools of hot coffee splashed with honey. My inner party girl cried take me home while my inner child screamed in terror. Something about this man wasn’t right.
Cassie had tucked inside herself when he turned his attention to me, so his next words caught her off guard. “But I like Cassie. It sounds fun. Carefree.” He played with a loose strand of her hair. “Are you fun and carefree, Cassie?”
Warning bells pealed. I shook my head at her, my eyes pleading with her to end this. Now.
She didn’t even look at me.
“To an extent,” she replied. Cassie would normally shun a man approaching this way, but the alcohol was bolstering her nerve. I had to get her away from this guy.
“Let’s dance,” he said, pulling her from her seat before I could run interference. She waggled her fingers at me, grinning from ear to ear as he led her to the dance floor.
The waitress came back then. “Likes your friend, huh?”
“Yeah, I’d be jealous if a man like that chose my friend over me. That is one fine piece of meat.”
I looked at her then. “Do you know him?”
A frown touched her lips as she shook her head. “Nope. Never seen him before. I’d definitely remember him.”
I turned away to watch Cassie and Luke dancing. Their bodies were molded together, his lips to her ear as he ground himself in the curve of her hip. While Cassie seemed to be enjoying his attentions, it made me sick. He didn’t even know her, and he was essentially dry humping her leg like a dog.
After a while they came back to the table flushed from their exertions. Cassie was glowing. Luke was devouring her with his eyes.
Plopping down on the stool, Cassie took a deep swallow of her drink. “Luke’s new in town,” she huffed.
“Oh, yeah?” I said in his direction, hoping I came off as friendly. “What brings you to Summerville?”
He flashed me a devilish smile. “Business.”
My eyebrows rose, waiting for an elaboration. When none was forthcoming I asked, “What sort of business?”
Cassie caught my tone and gave me a what-are-you-doing? look. Luke didn’t seem to miss my meaning, either. His face softened, the dangerous edge diminishing somewhat.
“Well, Ella. I’m not at liberty to disclose the specifics of my position, but suffice it to say that I am a private investigator of sorts.”
If I hadn’t seen the razor edge earlier, I would’ve left it at that. Well, I did leave it at that, but only as far as questioning him. Luke frightened me. There was just something about him that told me to run.
I searched his features, then locked eyes with him. “Cassie, I think it’s time to go.”
Her movement behind Luke showed her aggravation, but I wasn’t going to let her stay while I escaped this man’s presence. Breaking the stare-down, I looked at her. “I just want to go,” I said, pleading with her through my eyes.
Luke looked from me to Cassie, and back again. “Did I do something wrong?” he asked.
“No. I’m just getting tired. Too much to drink. I’m not as young as I used to be.” Hoping I was believable, I turned puppy eyes to the handsome man next to me.
“Well then,” he pulled a card from his pocket and handed it to Cassie. “Give me a call sometime.” The smile he gave her with the card eased the fact that I was ripping her away from him. He turned the smile on me, then. “I’ll take care of your tab.”
“That’s not necessary.”
“I insist.” He leaned closer so only I could hear his words. “I’m obviously the reason for ending your evening earlier than planned. It’s the least I can do.”
I looked into those deep eyes again. I could see why Cassie was so enthralled. Maybe I was being stupid, but I didn’t care then. This guy was what every author and director typed their deadliest vampires after. He was sin wrapped in flesh. Maybe it was Dominic getting to me in more ways than I realized. Normally I’d play the game with this man, but not tonight. Ghosts seemed to haunt me with him there.
“Well, okay. Thanks,” I said, taking Cassie’s hand and pulling her toward the door.