I could taste him in the back of my throat, blood more than human like candy on my tongue. His otherness rode the air before him, spilling through the doorway as he paused, taking in the shadowed commons. His eyes were hidden in mirrored shades, but the very stillness of his body said he was searching the crowd, seeking.

I sat back a bit farther from the light, that simple movement drawing his attention. My breath quickened. I felt the weight of his gaze as something soft yet heady, a brush of fire across my cheek. I shivered a little, something low in my belly curling with the promise of hot dark things.

I slid my eyes away from him, afterimage burning while I sipped Irish cream. Their wasn't anything particular about his appearance, a handsome man of normal coloring, but the crawl of power when he walked in the door was a tide of energy to prickle the skin of the wary. He likely gave psychics a fit.

Something like a butterfly kiss hovered over my mouth, drawing my attention back to him. He had taken off the shades, revealing eyes like glittering sapphires, marking me with a rather neutral stare. That got a frown and lifted brow. I just didn't get empty glances. Lust, envy, fear, hate, but never polite nothing. Who was he? Or better question, what was he?

Whatever he'd been looking for, he started winding his way through tables, not beelining for me, but close. I glanced at Sil beside me, my shadow watching the stranger with ready suspicion, and nudged his knee with mine. He growled a slight acknowledgment, folding strong arms over an equally impressive chest, looking very much the bodyguard.

I let faint interest fill my eyes as the otherly male stopped before our table, looking down at me with no hint at all of his thoughts. I arched a pale brow at him, before offering a practiced smile. He might pass for human to the untrained eye, but I never would, not with catic features and punk coloring. If I had been the only beast in the room, I would assume that's what had drawn him. Most of females that frequented Barry's weren't full human, and tonight being Friday was certainly no exception. There were over a dozen of us in evidence, all regulars, some already entertaining.

Sil shifted beside me, his bulk drawing a squeal of protest from the overburdened chair. His expression was bordering rude. As the man before us simply stood there, staring down at me, I didn't say anything to correct Sil's manners. I let a little impatience narrow my eyes to golden slits and folded my arms, giving the stranger a slight frown. "Can I help you, Sirrah?"

He actually shuddered, his neutrality cracking a bit as something hot widened his eyes. I let myself grin, just a touch of smugness. He was being awfully careful for some reason, but simply lacked the training to shield the baser responses. That would explain all the power rolling off of him. An older soul knew how to hide it better.

He cleared his throat, discomfiture recalling his manners, and inclined his head politely. "May I join you?"

Sil muttered something low and grumpy and I laughed, drawing another shiver from the youth. This was going to be too easy. I was almost tempted to send him on his way. Almost.

I nudged Sil under the table again before gesturing at the chair across from us. "Please." I let the word smolder in my eyes, curling my smile with just a little invitation. I didn't want to scare him, not if he really was that jumpy. How could be shine this much power and not shield better? Why hadn't someone claimed him?

He pulled the chair out, his eyes still on mine, and lowered himself almost languidly, as though he were posing. I didn't think so, as his eyes held no challenge, but something was moving him. I took another cooling sip, noting his gaze dropped from mine to my lips. Heat stirred sapphire depths, as he admired the stark contrast of rubies to frothy cream. I rolled my lips with my tongue, not licking, but savoring, and watched him draw a quick breath. I couldn't help the grin at that, and dropped my head a bit, running a finger around the rim of my glass.

"You wanted something," Sil growled, not so much a question as prompt.

The man finally glanced at Sil, and sat a bit straighter now, less relaxed. His mask of neutrality was flawless again, cool and impassive. He measured Sil appraisingly, then slid a glance at me. "I am to negotiate then?"

My breath caught, eyes flaring wide, and I had to school my features not to drop my jaw and stare. Is that what he thought? I couldn't keep all the delight from my eyes, but managed not to laugh. His intent was clear then, and it drew something tight in my belly, flushing my skin. This was simply too rich.

Sil didn't find it amusing, but knew better than to say anything. He seemed to grow in the chair, fair bleeding menace into our corner of the bar, and glared at the impertinent young man. "Aye," he growled, "You negotiate with me, or get ye gone."

I let my fingers trail from the glass, across the table, to lightly touch Sil's arm. He was tense, the indignance vibrating in him with the want of violence, but he knew his place. The call was mine, and it was not Sil's job to protect me from insults, just from danger.

I bent my head a bit, letting a sweep of teal fall over my eyes, and looked up through the silken strands, playing the coquette for my perspective buyer. "What would you will of me?" I put nothing extra in my voice, and watched him quiver anyway.

His pulse leaped in his neck, his lips parting faintly, as though he'd pant. I could speak like fur across skin, could call to air a tingle of the flesh that many found their undoing, but I wasn't even trying. He was either that sensitive, or that hard up.

He got himself under control, relaxing the tension that sang in his body, and stared at me again. There was heat in his eyes, and something else, beyond curiosity, something harder that I didn't recognize. He wanted me, easily seen, but something more or less than mere lust. Interesting.

He moved his hands from his lap and leaned a bit forward, splaying his fingers on the table top, drawing my gaze. His hands were large, well formed, neither soft nor roughened. The fingers were long, yet thick, and I nearly blushed. Imagination provided too real an image of those hands sliding under my skirt, and I shifted in my chair, my skin growing hot.

"Your terms for a night?"

I blinked, frowning, but he wasn't looking at me. Sil almost snarled but swallowed it, shooting me a look that promised violence. I dipped my head playfully and kicked him under the table. Sil managed not to glare at either of us, but it was an effort. I reached for his near empty glass with a mewing sound and rose, giving my hair a little flip to slide down my back, and moved for the bar. I felt their eyes following me, a soft touch down my spine, and had to still a shiver.

I nodded to Barry, handing over the glass and waiting for the refill. I really didn't want to hear whatever price was set, as I didn't trust myself not to start laughing. I did wonder where he'd gotten the idea from. If Barry was letting the flesh trade go on under his nose, I certainly hadn't heard about it. I'd let Sil keep the money, as I had no interest in it, though it would look as though I was rentable. I'd correct the next that thought so, but just this once it was too tempting not to play along.

Barry handed me a full dark mug and the key to my usual room. He didn't wink or comment, he knew me too well for that. I smiled at him and turned to thread my way back to our corner. Eyes traced my skin, some heated, some hostile. It was just another night for all of us.

Both males looked satisfied as I approached, having made their bargain. I set Sil's brew before him, remaining standing at his side as though he were master here. I gave him an expectant look, as any good bit of baggage would, and awaited my fate. Sil held out his hand for the keys. Triumph flared in my eyes and I had to look away, meekly giving over, watching the stranger through a fall of teal tresses.

His eyes were smoldering, as though he'd burn me into him, and I had to stifle a gasp. More than lust now, laying there, heat near to hunger. It washed over me, like his power, but far more invasive, hands I couldn't see that waited just above my body. His eyes were fired with promise, glittering with confidence that was entirely male.

He stood up, slowly, and I couldn't look away. I took him in, the heavy wave of his auburn hair, the smooth lines of his face, the firm breadth of his body, and nearly licked my lips. It was in his expression, that he would have me, and the thought fired my blood.

Sil downed his mug, slammed it to the table, and pushed to his feet. He towered over me, over everyone, and scowled at anyone that dared to stare. Most knew better, but there were always a few tourists. Sil tucked me under his arm, taking the liberty perhaps in spirit of the game, but likely more because he knew it would anger me. I snuggled up to him for appearance sake, poking him hard in the side, but evincing pleasure. Why was he so upset?

I pondered the motives of men as I was steered from the commons and up the stairs. Sil's rage was almost choking, though deflected by the heat that rode my back, borne on the stare of the man behind us. We trooped to the third floor, moving down the hallway in silence. Sil opened my room, stuck his head far enough inside to check, his hand hard on my arm. He then pushed me inside and stepped back, allowing the stranger to follow me. I moved a little inside, my hands smoothing the sides of my skirt, and turned slowly to look at the male behind me, closing and locking the door.

The cool mask extended to his eyes again, and I smiled. What was there to hide now? We were alone, though Sil was standing just outside the door, his keen senses aware of all that would take place.

I let myself smile, a look of anticipation, and cocked my hip, placing all my weight on one foot, letting my hands play along the edge of my shirt, drawing his attention to my thighs. "How shall I please you?" I rolled desire in the words, narrowing my eyes with it, and he gasped, rocking a bit on his feet. I laughed lightly, playfully, and his chest worked, trying to draw air that seemed suddenly too heavy for him.

He licked his lips, his eyes gone wide, and stared hard at my hands. I took a step towards him, drawing my fingers upwards over my skirt, my bare midriff, to play over the buttons I had left mostly undone. He followed me, his gaze locked on my chest, the swells framed in black lace, and seemed to be having difficulty swallowing.

I grinned, unable to help it, and moved another step, close enough to touch. His body sang with tension, his skin flushed, his chest jerking and tight. I dipped my head to catch his gaze and he blinked at me, looking a little dizzy. I laughed again, beyond amused, puzzled at how strongly he was reacting when I hadn't really started anything. I was aware of my own attraction, that my body was made for pleasure, but it was never this easy. He wasn't a virgin, I would bet on it, so I had no explanation.

"Do you ... have a name?"

I smiled, less sex and more sweetness, and cocked my head at him. "You may call me anything that pleases you."

He actually frowned, gaining some measure of himself, and shook his head. "Everyone has a name." His voice was less shaky as his breathing steadied, and showed displeasure.

I arched a brow, grinning again. He didn't want to think of me as an object or a pet, though he had paid for my time. Odd. He kept making less and less sense to me, and that in itself was unusual. I stepped back from him, turned with a toss of my hair, and stalked to the bed. I glanced over my shoulder at him, bending to slide my hands over the coverlet, pushing it lightly as I set a knee to the edge, posing a moment before crawling, making my body catlike.

He held himself better this time, though heat filled his eyes, pouring over my skin and curling low in my belly, drawing me tight with response. I turned myself, sinuous and sleek, peering up at him through a curtain of my hair, arching my back as I posed. He licked his lips again and I laughed, rolling a bit like a kitten in laundry, waiting for his direction.

He drank me in again, as though burning me in his mind, and shuddered. The quality of his power changed, moved over my skin with a purpose, those unseen hands beginning a light tug at my hair, seeming to move my clothes. I sighed, sliding to the edge of the bed. He might be to shy to say it, but his intent was clear enough. Had I been feeling generous, I would comply, but something still bothered me about him. He was still trying to hide from me, and that drew my catty nature. I assumed a bored pose and raised a brow, banished anything but inquiry from my face.

He frowned, taken aback, and looked that second unsure before he was impassive again. He moved away from the door to the room's single chair and settled himself, as though lounging, but the tension in his body gave lie to the charade. "I asked you for your name."

I smirked at the mild rebuke and tossed my hair before folding my arms to cradle my chest. "And I asked what would please you."

He stared at me and I stared back. If it was a contest of wills he wanted, I would win it, but now was not the time to play this game. He wanted from me as I wanted from him, he just didn't want to admit it. I had no patience for holding his hand, yet no want to fetch another now that my body thrummed for the taste of him. I didn't care why he needed to best me, as it was already his pot to win, though it was a bit confusing. He didn't give me much to work with. And that might be my clue.

I laughed, making it a touch abusive, and turned my back on him. I moved for the bathroom and made use of the brush there, standing far enough from the mirror that he could see me. I stroked my hair to a gleaming curtain, knowing how well the neon spill caught the light. I felt his gaze burning again, and ignored it, determined not to shiver.

"I want to see you," he finally said, a thread of need heating his soft voice.

I turned slowly, still brushing my hair, and raised an uncaring brow. "I stand before you." He didn't squirm under my stare, but something in his eyes winced. I almost felt bad. Almost.

He took a breath, held it, and then cleared his throat. "It would please me ... to see all of you."

I let a smile curl my lips, let it fire my eyes, and set the brush back on the counter. I was tempted to say something flippant, but let it go. I had what I wanted and that was penance enough. He really was too young to be playing like this. I moved slowly towards him, rolling my step as only one catic can, making a dance of mere walking. I laughed as his breath caught, and licked my lips slowly. He stared at my mouth, following quick pink tongue, and his eyes widened enough to drown in.

I let my hands slide along my body again, playing over the buttons before undoing them, standing just outside his reach. He leaned forward in the chair, his hands moving over his knees, tense with the need to touch. His restraint was daring, and I put everything I had into undressing for him. I let the shirt fall over my arms, relishing the flare of lust in his eyes, before unzipping my skirt and drawing it down my hips. Both fell to the floor at once and I took that last step towards him.

He moved his hands to clutch the arms of the chair and I frowned, shaking my head. His need beat at me with his power, yet he held back. I sighed, stilled a shrug, and turned for the bed. His gaze trailed after me, hot as his panting breath. I sat down and unzipped my boots, tossing them carelessly aside. I unfastened the garters and gently rolled the hose down my leg, peeking through my hair to gauge his response. He had leaned almost completely out of the chair, but still had a deathgrip, as though he didn't trust his own hands.

I pretended to ignore him, though the hunger of his stare curled in my belly as liquid heat. He would be pretty if he'd smile and truly deadly if he relented enough to charm. I stood again and faced him, unclasping the bra and drawing it slowly back, letting it fall down my arms to the carpet. He made a strangled sound in his throat and jerked to his feet, his body shaking, hands convulsing.

I filled my eyes with heat, meeting his drowning gaze before wiggling the last article of clothing down my hips. Something almost a growl tore from him and he moved, almost too fast to see, just a blur suddenly before me, and I almost screamed. He set a finger to my lips, slowly shaking his head, his eyes bled entirely blue, pulsing with the power that crawled over my skin. I gasped, starting to shake, and licked my lips nervously. I should yell for Sil.

The man before me shook his head again, divining my thought or just reading my face. I tried to pull my own mask back but he had surprised me too badly. Nothing remotely human moved that fast. Sil never would have left me alone if he knew.

"Kiss me."

I shuddered, fear chasing lust within me, and laughed a little too giddily. Just a moment before, I would have, and reveled in it. How safe would it be to refuse him now?

His finger moved slowly from my mouth, lightly caressing along my jawline until his hand cupped the back of my neck, pressing me just a bit towards him. I didn't push back, but didn't go any farther either. Stalemate. I really should be yelling right now.

He actually smiled, his power bathing my skin with heat, and I gasped again, my own flesh betraying me. He brought his head down a fraction, his hand again making demand of me. I let myself be drawn just so far, but still didn't comply.

He frowned, his eyes finding whites again and becoming normal, confused. "Your body wants me ... " He sounded uncertain, and gave his head a little shake. He stared at me intently, neutral again.

I drew in a breath and stepped to the side, out of his grasp, wanting to hug myself and hide somehow, but refusing to appear any weaker. He wanted my cooperation and that gave me a measure of control. I dared enough to let a little scorn in my eyes and he actually looked away, turning his head to hide behind his hair. Triumph curled my lips and I laughed, fear fading in a wash of female ego. He could likely snap me in half before I could blink, but that wasn't his plan.

I was still a bit shaken, but didn't believe I was in any real danger, which might have been foolish, but didn't change the situation. I looked to the bed, wrinkled by my wallowing, and let it ground me. I then turned back to him and let heat fill my eyes. My body did still want him, and that was all I needed to think about. I made the mewing sound I had used to calm Sil, and that turned the creature's head back, his eyes wide and puzzled. I stretched myself before him, rolling my body in a display of my own, showing muscles in places humans simply didn't have. Heat flared his eyes inhuman again and that almost growl spilled from his lips. He reached for me, but stopped himself, his hands working empty air, his power filling the room like a furnace. He wouldn't take that step, but his eyes begged me, raw with need, to come to him.

I gave myself a moment, my breathing suddenly unsteady, and examined the wisdom of the situation I had put myself in. That he didn't move stated clearly that I could still leave, that I would come to no harm. Or maybe that was simply what I wanted it to mean. I didn't know what he was, had no idea of what he might be capable. Leaving sounded wise.

He made that strangled sound again, almost a whimper, his body shaking almost uncontrollably. Those sapphire jewels were raw and wanting, filled with lust and pain and something darker I could not name. I knew clearly that it would hurt him if I left him now. As a catic I was perverse enough to do it, but I was also a beast of need. I took a stalking step towards him, purring my own growl, and reached to touch his arm.

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