First in the Underground Encounters series
Nike loves visiting the goth club Vamps—she can exchange her firefighter uniform for a slinky fantasy outfit. There she runs into the man she’d been admiring from afar at a rock-climbing gym. He’s been the star of all her sexual fantasies, so is it any wonder they end up in his private room upstairs? Just when things begin to heat up, Michel’s enemies appear.
Michel isn’t an ordinary mortal. And someone from his past is on the hunt for vengeance. Michel and Nike are forced to run and hide out in a coastal cottage in Maine. They can’t resist their attraction and spend the nights exploring each other’s bodies while trying to sort out how they feel. Can they overcome their differences while evading the predators chasing them?
Their strict dress code at Vamps warned curious passersby away: “No jeans, no sneakers, no baseball caps. Leather, vinyl and fetish wear highly encouraged. If in doubt, wear black.”
I looked at the stone gargoyles that flanked the entrance as if they were old friends. Perhaps they were hung there to appear creepy and warn visitors away from this underground club. I preferred to think they signaled protection for whoever entered.
Maya pulled the aged-bronze door handle.
“Ladies, you look ravishing as always,” Byron, the bouncer/ID screener, said. “Like you’re ready to break some hearts.”
“That’s the plan,” I said.
“Except yours,” Maya said, and she gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“You’re such a flirt,” Byron said. “Go on in.”
“This is going to be a great night,” Maya said, grabbing my arm and pulling me along. “I can feel it.”
“The only thing I feel right now is your death grip.”
“Sorry,” she said, letting go. “Maybe we’ll meet someone special.”
“Ha! In a fetish club?” I answered. “Come on. I’m only here to dance, not date. You wouldn’t seriously date some guy you met while wearing a tiny schoolgirl outfit, would you?”
I followed her down the dark tunnel lit by candelabra attached to the stone walls. The flames were powered by electricity so as not to violate any fire codes, yet they still emanated a fiery glow.
“No. Ugh. Do I ever?” she asked, giving me her incredulous look. “Doesn’t mean we can’t meet interesting people,” she said. “Remember those guys from England we met a few months ago?”
“They were a blast.”
I shrugged. “They were okay,” I said. “I don’t know how they found out about this club. All I know is I’m hoping for a good night. It was such a shitty week at the firehouse and I’m more than ready to let off some steam.”
“And it’s not often we get a Saturday night off. Definitely the best night of the week here.”
The general public would consider Vamps freaky Thursday and Friday as well, the other two nights it was open. For some reason, Saturday was extra special. Maybe it was DJ Mistress Mona putting on faster, more exciting music that worked the crowd up to a dancing frenzy on the three platform stages and dance floor. Maybe the bartenders put an extra kick in their smoky concoctions. Or maybe it was the Saturday night regulars, decked out in their most outrageous and scanty outfits, who made Vamps their own.
When we made it to the main dance area, the floor was packed. People appeared free to be themselves, wearing whatever suited them—from fishnets and corsets to kinky cowgirl, from steampunk to punk rock—in an environment where they could be uninhibited and unjudged. And they wore black—lots of it.
I often asked where the regulars came from. Vamps seemed like it would fit better in downtown Boston or at least eclectic Salem rather than this little artists’ village tucked in the North Shore. Most of the regulars came from Gloucester, Salem, Portsmouth, and some even drove up from Boston. They attributed it to a more authentic local flavor than the city clubs often frequented by gawking tourists looking for a freak show.
Maya and I slinked our way through the dance floor. The crowd pulsated around us in an orgy of black, leather and skintight vinyl while gargoyle statues looked down
upon them from their protective perches on the walls. Maya and I maneuvered into an empty space and quickly were entranced by the crowd’s energy, dancing to the beat.
A remix of Rob Zombie’s Living Dead Girl came on. Even though I didn’t have a drink, I lost myself in the music, trying to shake off work-mode Nike. When a couple guys started to dance with us, I barely noticed and I didn’t mind.
Maya and I would dance with them, maybe have a drink, but we’d never give out our numbers. Besides, how do you interact over coffee with some guy you met who had been wearing leather pants, chains and boots that gave a new definition to the word stomp?
After a few more songs, I said, “Come on, Maya, let’s get a drink.”
“Hey, where are you ladies going?”
“Maybe we’ll see you later,” Maya said, and she grabbed my hand to try to move our way off the dance floor.
The guys weren’t usually pushy here so we got away without protest. Unlike some of the other clubs on the North Shore or Boston where you’d be hit on repeatedly by drunk townies or college jocks, here you didn’t have to worry about that.
We squeezed through dancers to make our way to the darkly lit bar guarded by more stone gargoyles on each end. Just as we made it to the other side of the dance floor, I felt someone watching me.
It was him.
Oh my God. He was here.
In all the times I’d come here, dressed in all kinds of tight, miniscule outfits, never had I felt so exposed. I wished I wasn’t wearing a laced-up black leather dress that exposed a lot of cleavage and was tight enough to show a pimple on my ass.
He was sitting on one of the dark-red leather stools, facing the crowd. I looked up at him twice and caught his eye quickly both times before I looked away. Those ice-blue
eyes were so penetrating. Each time I’d caught his eye at the rock climbing gym, I’d have the same reaction—I’d look away quickly.
Why didn’t I have the guts to say hi? He was just another guy. So why did he have that effect upon me? There were tons of hot guys with jacked bodies at the gym. This one—only this one—made me react this way, like a zombie unable to speak.
My palms were beginning to heat up and I was painfully aware of the sound of my heartbeat despite the reverberation of the pounding bass around us.
“I know you from the gym, don’t I?”
Oh God. He was speaking to me. Whenever I heard that sultry voice and the French accent, I trembled slightly inside. Was there anything sexier than a French accent? During my brief semester in the south of France my junior year of college, I was in a constant state of sexual arousal with sounds of the French language all around me. Especially when purred by hot French men.
I opened my mouth to answer, but nothing came out. Maya elbowed me.
“Ye-yes,” I stammered, trying to sound nonchalant. “I go to Rock Hard Climbing.” That’s where he worked. “I’ve, uh, seen you there.”
Maya said, “I’ll catch up with you later.”
He nodded at her before she moved down to an empty spot at the other end of the red-and-black-marbled bar.
Damn it. How could she leave me alone with him? She must have figured out he was the guy I often drooled about, when she saw me clam up like an idiot.
I stared at Maya as she scanned the crowd on the dance floor, shooting invisible daggers at her back. I’m going to kill her later.
In all those months fantasizing about this guy, never did I think it would start as awkward as this. Perhaps he’d smile at me first or nod hello at the gym. Then one day he’d ask if I needed a hand with something. Maybe compliment me somehow. I would
appear a bit aloof. Each time I went to the gym after that, things would progress nice and slow. We’d gradually talk a bit more until he finally asked me out.
He snapped me out of my thoughts when he said, “I thought I recognized you. You look,” he paused, “different.”
Never, NEVER, did I think our first conversation would be in some underground club with my breasts pushed up against a leather laced-up bodice, accentuated by a brooch with a silhouetted skull.
“Um, yeah.” I peered up at him. He was wearing a tight black T-shirt that enhanced rather than hid all those hours he put in rock climbing. His black jeans were tight and I didn’t dare look to see if they enhanced certain areas as well. “You look different too, out of gym clothes.”
He chuckled. Did I say something funny? I didn’t think so.
“I only wear my gym clothes while I’m working. But I guess that’s the only time you’d see me,” he said.
I smiled. If only there were other times.
“I’m Michel,” he said, pronouncing it with French accentuation on the syllables. Damn, that was hot. He put out his hand.
“Mee-shell,” I repeated softly the way he had said it, letting his name roll over my tongue like a smooth whiskey. “I’m Nike,” I answered, shaking his hand.
The touch of his skin arrested me and I hoped he didn’t catch my quick intake of breath.
“Like the goddess of victory,” he said. “Fitting. I’ve seen you conquer many tough climbs.”
He held on to my hand for a few seconds longer than what was customary and lightly ran his thumb across my knuckles. My skin felt electrified where he touched it and I resisted closing my eyes to revel in the sensation. I tried not to let his remark go to my head and set my fantasies in motion again, but that slight caress made it inevitable.
I pushed away a vision of us in bed together, rolling in satin sheets as I whispered his name through hot, passionate kisses. He’s just being polite, I told myself. He’d do the same to any other person he recognized from the gym.
“Yes. Thank you. Most people say, ‘Like the sneaker?’ My mother was into Greek mythology.”
“I see,” he said. “Ni-kee,” he drew out the syllables in a low rasp.
“If you are looking for a short story full of action and passion then pick up Smoldering Nights and get ready to be hooked on the series.” ~ Sizzling Hot Book Reviews.
Also available, the second book in the series, Fiery Nights.