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She knew someone was watching her. The question was…who was he? And what did he want?
Gabrielle Warlick's preternatural abilities couldn't tell her, but the shiver of alarm running down her spine could only mean one thing. She was in extreme danger. Her hand tightened on the frosty, smooth surface of the glass of beer she'd ordered for the sake of appearance.
She stood, carefully, scanning the smoky nightclub, her eyes scrutinizing one person after another, until her gaze fell upon a man sitting at the bar in the far corner.
The red neon lights from the beer sign behind the counter gave his lean handsome features a more sinister look. Yes, he was the one; there was no doubt in her mind.
He appeared to be in an intense conversation with a voluptuous redhead, although his eyes kept returning to Gabrielle again and again.
Fear gripped her, and her senses screamed, he knows.
He glanced her way yet again, his gaze hardening into the stare of one who stalked.
Frantic, she jerked her gaze away from him, her hand slipped, and the beer mug crashed to the floor. She let out a startled choked cry as the smell of sour beer swept over her, sickening her with its overpowering stench.
Gabrielle had to escape before it was too late.
She wove her way through the slow-dancing couples, making sure to give the long, smooth mahogany bar a wide berth. Stay calm, she told herself, don't let him see your fear–never let any human see your fear. Gabrielle had learned that valuable lesson two hundred years ago from her mentor.
Gabrielle never should have come to the clubtonight, but her self-imposed isolation sometimes got the best of her, as it had tonight. She brushed by a scarred wooden table, and almost bumped into a couple of dancers who'd stumbled into her path. The couple laughed and apologized before they danced off, and for a moment, she felt a brief longing to know again the joys of dancing, the sheer delight of simply being alive. Mortals didn't know how fortunate they really were, she thought wryly.
"Hey pretty woman, let me buy you a drink."
Gabrielle felt a hand on her shoulder and her spine stiffened with fear, a cold lump forming in her throat. She turned to face a man, and a sense of revulsion swept over her as a bluish haze of tobacco smoke engulfed her, stinging her eyes and burning her lungs.
He was short and bald; a sheen of perspiration covered his heavy, jowly face. He took another puff of his cigarette, blew the silver smoke cloud at her, and smiled foolishly. "Come on, little one, let me buy you a drink."
Instinctively, Gabrielle called forth a shimmer of the voice.
"Don't touch me."
The man's bleary eyes widened in alarm. He jerked back his hand as if she'd burnt him. "Sorry…lady…didn't mean no harm." He backed away from her, one chubby hand held out as if in protection.
Gabrielle ignored him, brushed past, intent on reaching the plush, red portal doors before it was too late. As she reached out to push them open, the band struck up another old country tune, the music calling her back inside, but she didn't dare stop to listen. She had to escape before he realized she was gone.
A giddy sense of relief bubbled up inside her as she caught a glimpse of the star-punctured night sky–until she felt the slight pressure on her shoulder. The bubble burst into a thousand shattered pieces, spilling out dread and the darkness that tortured her every night.
Copyright © 2002 by Jewel Dartt