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The dance floor thundered with hyped-up, sexually charged adrenaline. Cooper danced in the center, surrounded by hundreds of bodies that gave off a variety of scents from soft and powdery, to baby-can-we-do-it-right-now?
The sensory world was new to him, and he couldn't get enough of it. The women in their slithery clothing and dangly jewels tantalized him like sweet treats as they bumped and slid up next to his skin. The mortal skin he wore felt it all; sexy fabric with beads and metal, human heat, sweat, muscle and hard nipples.
Promises of a good time flashed in the women's eyes. Cooper took it in with a confident grin.
All the sensations he'd been denied for millennia were now his to dive into headfirst.
He couldn't remember when he'd unbuttoned the white dress shirt to let it hang on his shoulders and expose his abs.
The kilt was freeing. The combat boots were not so easy to dance inbut he was no twinkle-toes to begin with.
Didn't matter. The women weren't eyeing his dance moves; their blatant focus was from Cooper's head to just about crotch level. Look all you like, ladies. He'd never been admired before. Vanity, thy name is Cooper Truhart.
The DJ had announced the song blasting over the speakers was called "Welcome to The World," and Cooper appreciated the welcome, indeed. He intended to enjoy his stay here on earth. Everything about it was amazing.
Most of all, he intended to make this stay permanent.
This mortal costume he wore served him well. It had muscles in all the right places, and put him inches in height above everyone else. His hair was dark and spiky with some bits hanging over his forehead. The women loved it, and many had run their fingers through it, sparking an erotic sensation down his spine he wanted to feel again and again.
Despite the earthbound costume, he hadn't lost all his supernatural strength. He could toss a car across the street if he found the need to do so. A fist to a mortal's jaw could tear it off, so he held back from fighting for the thrill of it. It was a difficult urge to quell. The fight ran through his blood, but he wanted to changeto gain humanity.
Since falling, he'd not lost all his angelic abilities. He could flash across the world, landing in one city or the next in an instant. He possessed sensory skills that would blow the mortals off their feetliterally, and his vision was only now beginning to take on color after a long confinement parasongs away from this vivid realm.
He never wanted to return to the Ninth Void. It had been a drag.
The beat increased and he danced closer to the blonde whose short red skirt fought to draw his eyes up from the fuck-me pumps. He knew that was the slang term for the shoes because a few weeks ago when he'd arrived on earth, he'd walked the world, taking in knowledge of it all.
That night he'd assimilated the world, the mortal society, their economy, their travails and triumphs. He could speak all languages and understood most of what he'd learnedthough the mathematics and daily-life accounting stuff gave him problems. It was a good thing he didn't need to keep a checkbook.
He had experienced women across the world, in all shapes, sizes, colors and agesand levels of sexual desire. Women wanted him, and he was no man to deny them.
Kissing. Ah, kissing! Was there anything finer? He'd kissed dozens in his fortnight upon earth, and had no intention of slowing down his quest for sensory exploration and fulfillment. There were so many varieties of kisses that he felt sure he'd never tire of trying new ways to make a woman squirm and giggle with delight.
He liked the blonde ones with the big breasts. But he also preferred the smart ones who could hold a conversation about something beyond the color of their nail polish or which celebrity was screwing whom.
This one shaking her red-spangled skirt before him looked a bit vacuous and maybe stoned. He couldn't understand those who chose to dull the sensory experience with drugs or alcohol. Life was meant to be lived fully and with a clear mind.
He turned and dance-walked his way to the center of the dance floor where he paired up with a redhead whose smile touched his innate desire to flirt. With a shake of her head she tossed her loose hair over a shoulder and curved her body against his to give him a hip-bump.
Nice. But not dressed like the others. She wore masculine clothes, jeans and a long-sleeved shirt and boots. Yet her sinuous movements told Cooper she was all woman.
And she smelled, hmm like lunch. He'd noticed the same scent wafting from street vendors parked along the main tourist streets edging the river.
Cooper had eaten little since coming to earth. His interest swayed more toward the sensual delights than the succulent. Though the two experiences combined did have their appeal. This woman's allure and savory scent captivated his desire. Cooper danced as close as he could get to her.
She tipped a smile over her shoulder at him. Wide blue eyes were surrounded by deep ruby hair that glittered under the flashing club lights.
Man, he loved seeing in color now. When he'd served the angelic dominions, earth and all its inhabitants and elements had appeared to him in black and white.
And the woman's mouth. More rubies there, but he didn't detect cosmetics on her pale, flawless skin. Her lips were naturally red, as if they'd been kissed soundly.
Tonight, he'd take this one home with him and learn exactly what style of kissing would have her begging him to do more than simply kiss.
"You're lovely," he said over the raucous music and shouts to "Rock it!"
She merely smiled and dipped a hip against his, while drawing her fingers down his bare chest. Cooper could feel her touch all the way through to his spine. Sparkles of energy radiated through him. Life. Damn, it was so good!
With a flirtatious wink, the woman slipped away. Now she danced between two women, their breasts brushing and fingers teasing across exposed skin. Now there was a fascinating touch. Mmm
Cooper let out a wanting moan, and dipped his head to maintain sight on the redhead until a couple danced before him. He scanned the crowd, but couldn't spy her lustrous hair or those pouting lips.
Lost her. But he'd find her again. Women liked to tease. The night was young and he was in no hurry. The world was his and he wanted to hug it, suck it all in, and keep it forever.
And drink it. Time for a whiskey break.
Easing his way off the dance floor, Cooper strutted up the nightclub's open staircase. Each step flashed red as his boot tripped the motion sensors. Twisting a glance over the dance floor below, he slapped a palm to his sweaty abs and nodded, satisfied.
Oh, yes, he'd find the redhead later.
"Whiskey?" the bartender prompted, recognizing Cooper from the last three nights.
"Three shots," he said. "Line 'em up."
When he found a place he liked he returned. But most important, Cooper didn't feel compelled to be in this particular city. That was a key point. Because the one annoying aspect about the Fallen was that once their feet had touched earth, they were compelled to find their muse.
A muse was a human female, descended from the Merovingian bloodline, whom the Fallen one sought to mate with to then produce a nephilim child, a hideous monster, that once unleashed, would spread chaos across the earth.
Cooper wasn't into chaos or becoming some baby's daddy right now. He just wanted to enjoy this exciting and intriguing realm.
How he'd come to earth from his imprisonment in the Ninth Void he had no clue. Someone had summoned him from his many millennia of seclusion.
He appreciated the summons. But he knew only danger waited for him.
Millennia ago, he had agreed to a pact, along with dozens more angels, to fall to earth and mate with its human females. After unfathomable time serving Puriel, the war master of the Power ranks, Cooper had been so ready to fall. Actually, it had been the angel Kadesch who had opened his eyes to humanity.
Juphiel (his angelic name, which he had no intention of using on earth) had fallen from the heavens, but had never seen Kadesch again. He'd only begun to teach mortals on earth his crafta manner of creating beauty that Cooper still retained, thank the heavensa short time before a great flood had swept him to the Ninth Void, a silent, cold prison where he'd existed in utter darkness awaiting final judgment for betraying Him.
"No more imprisonment or warring," he said with a tilt of the shot glass. The whiskey burned down his throat. "I'll never go back." He slammed the glass on the bar and gripped the next shot glass. "All I have to do is find my halo and I'll be home free."
During an angel's fall to earth, their halo fell away. Cooper knew if he could find the thing, he could cease this ridiculous quest he'd originally agreed toa quest to find a muse.
So not going to happen. Because it had all been a lie.
And if what he'd learned the first time he'd walked earth were true, what usually happened to a Fallen immediately following mating with a muse was death. Death delivered by the one creature forged specifically to track the Fallen and slay themthe Sinistari demon.
He'd encountered a Sinistari since arriving on earth.
The demons were a difficult kill, but not impossible. Now, Cooper kept one eye over his shoulder.
He would not go out without a fight.
"Not on my watch," Cooper said, and tilted back the second round.
He growled with satisfaction at the drink's toffee-malt bite, and eyed the back of the bar where the pool tables queued along the wall. He was familiar with the rules and techniques, but hadn't attempted the game. He'd win. No sense in trying when he knew the outcome.
Just as he reached for the third shot a feminine hand grabbed the glass and tipped it back in a quick swallow. "Another!" she called, and the bartender appeared with the whiskey bottle. "Man, that stuff is good."
It was the redhead who wore men's clothing. She slapped the bar in thanks as the bartender topped off her shot, then tilted it back with more gusto than Cooper had performed.
She winked at him, then sauntered off into the crowd.
Crossing his arms and leaning against the bar, Cooper followed the sexy siren's journey through the crush of dancing bodies. She stood as tall as him so it was easy to spot her in the crowd. She carried her head high and segued into a group that matched the music's rhythm.
She caught him staring and blew him a kiss, her red lips puckering sexily.
Man, did he love the women.
The guy with the mousse-slicked white hair and silver hoop earrings was definitely not human. Vampire, Pyx decided, and in confirmation, he flashed fang when he leaned in to whisper into a mortal woman's ear.
While mortals did not believe in those creatures they labeled paranormal, Pyx wasn't so stupid. If angels and demons trod the earth then so did all the rest of the monsters and freaks.
Her job was to ensure a nephilim did not join the freak ranks.
"Let the games begin."
It was dark in the bar, save for the frenetic lights flashing violet and red and bouncing off the corrugated steel walls. The atmosphere was disturbing. Frantic, alive and vital. After so much time spent Beneath she craved the activity. Adrenaline coursed through her system. Yet she needed to focus. And wonder upon wonders, the first nightclub she'd chosen had turned up the Fallen she was after. Go, Sinistari!
The Fallen had not said anything to her when she'd stolen his drink. She wasn't sure how to take that. Not defending his property? A wimp? Or a gentleman who would allow a woman to do as she desired?
Either way, for some reason, said task had suddenly taken on new weight as she watched the pale-haired vampire eye another vamp across the room. That dude wasn't here for kicks; he was following someone. She knew it because she was doing the same thing.
"Vampires," she muttered. "I so don't need this trouble."
Pyx slapped a palm across the leather sheath she wore strapped under her left arm. The Sinistari had the ability to allow mortals to only see what they wanted them to see; the sheathed dagger was only for her eyes.
And yet her eyes didn't stray from her two new marks. The bloodsuckers sent some kind of silent signal back and forth through the nightclub. The one farthest away in the balcony had his eye on a man at the rear of the roomthe Fallen one. There were so many supernatural vibrations
vampire to vamp, angel to demonPyx had a hard time keeping them straight.
So she turned her focus to the prize. The Fallen wore a green-and-blue plaid kilt, of all things, and was currently advertising virility and sex appeal to the woman who slobbered over him. His dark hair was razored short and finger-combed. A white shirt fell open to reveal muscled abs and chest with a tease of dark hair. His legs were striking only because Pyx had never seen a man in a skirt wearing combat boots, and working the look so freaking well.
Seriously? She loved the diverse range of clothing in this day and age, but even she knew the man had daring.
Pyx could understand the attraction the other women were feeling. It was a new feeling, but a good one that centered in her belly and stirred even lower.
Hmm, all that just from observing the Fallen? A bit unsettling, but she marked it off as part of the job.
Even though she hadn't had the opportunity to dabble in it yet, lust was one of her favorite sins. Sin fed her kind.
She wasn't about to starve herself.
Pyx kept one eye on the vampires and another on the angel.
"Lucky bastard got himself a nice mortal costume," she said. Her cowboy boots clomped along the narrow aisle between tables and bar. "Let's see how much he likes mine."
Cooper turned toward the redhead, startled he hadn't noticed her approach. It was the chick from the dance floor. The same chick who'd boldly tossed back his shots and had sauntered away without so much as a thank-you.
But she had blown that kiss, which meant she was interested. His charms would prove irresistible to her once
he kissed her for real. And she was walking toward him all intent and licking her lips
Cooper's Adam's apple compressed against his spine. His shoulders slammed against the wall.
The redhead's fingers squeezed about his throat. Cooper gagged. His feet left the floor. She was so strong!
"How's tricks?" she asked. Her eyelashes were so long they tangled in stray strands of her hair. She smiled, not nicely, and in fact, rather wickedly.