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She turned around to look toward the entrance, wondering if maybe he was following his companion, but she did not see him. She had just the time to tell herself that she might as well go home if he wasn't going to be there when her eyes fell on him, standing by the coat check counter. Unable to hold his gaze, she turned back and took a larger gulp from her glass. The wine slid down her throat, cool but strangely warming. Before she had placed it back down on the counter, the vampire was sitting on her right and ordering the same thing she was having.
His first words to her held the same surprise she had read on his face across the room. "I didn't think you'd be back."
Claire snorted as she brought her glass back to her lips, but she could admit to herself that it was nervousness more than thirst she tried to appease with one more sip of the smooth wine.
"That seems to be the general impression. And still, here I am."
"So I see. I have a feeling you're not one to back away from a challenge."
Just the previous night, Claire wouldn't have dreamed of talking to the vampire as she did now. But with her annoyance at having fled when he had approached her, and with the help of that delicious wine, she found that her nervousness receded, replaced by a boldness that was more unusual for her.
"Is that what you are? A challenge?" She shook her head. "From what I saw, it's rather easy to catch you. Half the girls in here did, at one time or another."
He laughed and inclined his head, as though granting her that round.
"I'm not a challenge," he agreed. "How about a mystery?"
She let out a laugh at the affected tone his voice had taken on the word'mystery'. The sparkle in his eyes made it clear however that he wasn't taking himself seriously. That realization made her a little more comfortable, enough to tease him back.
"The mystery would be whether that line ever worked before."
He flashed her a disarming smile. "You'll tell me at the end of the night, seeing how it's the first time I've ever tried it."
"At the end of the night, huh? You're awfully sure of yourself."
Taking another sip of wine, Claire tried to see on the vampire's face if he was mocking himself again or if he truly meant his words. She couldn't help hoping that he was truly interested enough in her to be trying to seduce her. After all, he was here, now, talking to her when he could have had a dozen girls fawning over him. At the same time, she wondered what he could possibly see in her, and refused to believe he was doing anything more than play.
He returned her look levelly, and if she hadn't known any better she could have sworn he could read her thoughts as clearly as an open book. When he spoke next, his words did nothing to appease her.
"You seem to be in denial, sweetheart. Why do you even try to resist the charm of the one vamp you came to see?"
Her forced laughter rang false, and she buried it into yet one more mouthful of wine. She was coming to the end of that glass rather quickly. How would she hide when it was empty?
"You think I came to see you?" she asked, trying to sound as though the idea amused her.
The vampire didn't seem to fall for it, and answered with barely the hint of a smile touching his lips. "I know you came to see me."
She offered him a pointed roll of her eyes. Even if he had been right, and she wasn't admitting he was, his overconfidence needed to be brought down a notch.
"Did anyone ever tell you that you're arrogant?"
It was his turn to laugh as he pivoted on his stool to face her more directly.
"I must have heard it said, once or twice," he said in a tone that suggested he had heard it far more often than that. "Do you mind?"
"That you're arrogant?"
"That I'm here and flirting with you."
With a small gesture, he caught Leo's attention, and their glasses were soon filled again. Claire watched her own, her fingers playing on the rim. She had known he was flirting with her, of course, but to hear him admit it cast a different light on their conversation.
"I ... I guess if I minded I would have left," she said at last.
"Like you did last night, you mean."
Claire didn't answer to that, and hid her embarrassment by taking a mouthful of wine. Her cheeks were feeling hotter with each sip, and she told herself maybe she ought not to finish that drink. She wasn't used to drinking so much alcohol so fast. Most nights, she would take an hour to sip on a cocktail. It couldn't possibly be a good idea to get drunk when she was with a vampire.
"So why didn't you leave this time?"
As she placed her mostly full glass down on the coaster and pushed it away from her, Claire wondered what to answer. Telling him that she had wanted to prove something to herself probably wasn't what he wanted to hear.
"I suppose ... I suppose because you seem like a nice man ... I mean, a nice vampire."
She wanted to kick herself. Without the wine fogging up her mind, she wanted to believe she wouldn't have slipped like this. But when she dared a sideways glance at him, her companion seemed more concerned than anything else. He blinked as he met her eyes, and broke away from her gaze to look at his own glass of wine. His voice, after he had taken a sip, held a hard edge that had not been there before.
"There's no such thing as nice vampires, sweetheart, don't fool yourself."