“He has a point,” Milo said.
“I still expected more from them,” I said.
Jack directed us to turn off Hennepin, leading us away from the glittery lights of the gay club flashing down the street. People were still around, but much less than there were before. Without all the bright lights announcing venues, the yellow streetlamps made it seem much darker. The traffic had even dissipated.
“We’re almost there,” Jack slowed. He held out his hand to me, and I didn’t understand so I looked at him. “Give me your hand. You’re with me and I want everyone to know it.”
“Okay?” I let Jack take my hand, and looked over to Milo to make sure he wasn’t going to growl and attack me for touching Jack.
“He’s got it under control,” Jack said, slowing so we were barely walking, and Milo stayed a few paces ahead of us. When Jack spoke, he lowered his voice to just above a whisper. “Stay by me. And try not to get excited or think about Peter. But if you do, you find me. If somebody’s gonna bite you, it’s gonna be me.”
“Is that a threat or a promise?” I smiled up at him.
“Both,” Jack laughed. “No. Sorry. Neither. I’m being good. But just stay by me.”
“You’re making this sound dangerous.” My stomach filled with butterflies, and I thought of the worried look on Mae’s face. “Why are we going here if it’s hazardous?”
“It’s slightly riskier than hanging out with us in the first place,” Jack said. “But you needed to get out and have fun. And I won’t let anything happen to you. So…” He shrugged. “Milo. Hold up.”
Jack stopped next to a nondescript doorway in the middle of the block. The nearest streetlight had completely gone out, making it eerily dark for downtown. He squeezed my hand briefly, and I felt his temperature warm up just slightly, but it wasn’t out of control.
Milo came back to where we were standing, and Jack nodded at a large black door. Milo raised his eyebrows, and then opened it.
The door opened into a narrow entryway that glowed red from the bulb above. Two giant bouncers stood there, nearly blocking our path inside. They nodded at Jack and Milo, but something about the way they looked at me when I walked past assured me that they were vampires, and I hurried past them.
At the end of the narrow hall, a steep set of cement stairs led down into black nothingness. The only light in the stairway came from the red one by the front door.
We walked into complete darkness, but that wasn’t a problem for most attendees. For my puny human eyes, it was disorienting. I clung onto Jack, and he never let me go.
I could hear the music pulsing, some kind of heavy electronica. Jack whispered that we had reached the main level, but I still couldn’t see anything. We walked a little farther, and Jack opened the door, bathing us in cool, blue light and making the walls echo with the music.
Considering we were in the basement, the ceilings of the room were amazingly high above the dance floor. Five hundred or more people smashed onto the floor, dancing wildly. Slender arms waved in the air, and bodies moved delicately and perfectly in time with the music. Never had I seen movements so graceful.
A long, metallic bar lined the far side of the room, and based on the bottles lining the back wall, I assumed it was an actual bar, full of alcoholic drinks for the humans. Several very attractive men and women stood behind it, manning it for drinks. The stools in front of it were full, and a line of sweaty humans waited to be served.
I turned to look for Milo, but he’d already disappeared onto the dance floor. Jack smiled at me and pulled me into the crowd.
The people moving around us were stunningly beautiful. A girl with pixie white-blonde hair smiled at me, and I noticed the fading bite marks on her neck.
Jack moved gracefully, and I tried to keep up with him. He kept his hands on me the entire time, keeping me close to him, and I loved it. The blue from the light made his eyes glow, and his happiness was infectious. The speed of my dancing and Jack’s proximity made my heart pound.
Other bodies pushed up against me as people danced around us. It almost felt like they were grabbing at me, but I had to be imagining things. Then I felt a sharp prick as someone scratched the back of my neck, and Jack stopped dancing.
They hadn’t scratched hard enough to draw blood, thankfully. Jack kept his arm around me, and when I looked around, I saw the crowd had closed in on us.
Jack started to lead me off the floor, towards a doorway into another room. Someone touched me, letting their fingertips glide lightly down my arm, almost caressing me. I looked back, expecting whoever touched me to slink away into the crowd, but he just stood there. Not dancing, not moving, just staring at me.
He was gorgeous, with thick hair slicked back. His eyes were a mesmerizing black and burned straight through me. He smiled at me in a seductively evil way.
I’d been frozen in a trance, and Jack dragged me away. When I noticed it, I managed to look away, and the way my lungs burned reminded to breathe.
The crowd broke, and the light shifted from blue to dull red. We slipped through a doorway into the next room. The walls dampened sound of music.
This room was smaller than the last and dressed more like a bar or a coffee shop than a club. Lots of doors and darkened hallways led out of it. Soft couches filled the room.
A small bar sat in a dark corner with a bartender behind it. There weren’t any bottles lining the wall, and I figured it had to be an entirely different kind of bar.
On the couch nearest to us, a stunningly beautiful woman laid with her head lulled back. Her clothing was black leather and so tight I couldn’t believe she could move. A pretty young girl was curled up on her lap. Her eyes were closed, and a thin line of blood trailed down her neck. The vampire holding her looked at me and smiled as she licked the blood from her lips.
“Stop it,” Jack murmured in my ear.
“What?” I asked, pulling my attention from the vampire to look about the room.
Scenes similar to the one on the couch played out all over. Some people (or vampires) were simply sitting and talking, and some were just making out. But others were openly feeding on humans.
As soon as we entered the room, everyone seemed to turn and look at us. Vampires with their stunning, entrancing eyes, kept fixing their gaze on me, and I would forget to breathe.
“Stop,” Jack repeated and jerked my hand so I would focus on him.
“What?” I looked up at him, away from everyone in the room.
“Don’t look at anyone,” he said.