Seduce, by Felicity Heaton
Sera paced in front of the black stage in the empty theatre. She had arrived a full thirty minutes early for her appointment. An appointment she hadn’t realised she’d had. Callum hadn’t specified a time for her interview. He had just said to come by whenever as the theatre was closed. So she had.
The woman who had shown her into the theatre had been very kind. One of the staff based on her short black dress that revealed far too much leg and bosom. Sera reminded herself that she couldn’t really judge the woman by the clothes she wore. After all, it was her uniform and Sera herself was trying out for a position as some sort of on-stage whore. What on Earth must the woman have thought of her? Perhaps Sera should have asked to interview for a position as one of the staff. Cleaning seemed infinitely more appealing, and possible for her, than being a performer in the shows. Antoine still would have met with her so they could sign her employment contracts. Was it too late to change her mind?
She continued her pacing, her eyes roaming over the deep red velvet curtain that closed off most of the stage, leaving only a strip of painted black boards around three metres deep exposed, and twirled her long blonde hair around her fingers. It was so quiet in the theatre that even her breathing sounded loud in her ears. How much longer did she have to wait?
And why were they interviewing her in the theatre itself?
Elizabeth had said they would take her to one of the meeting rooms or the offices to interview her. That was what she had gone through to get her position at the theatre decades ago. Sera shook her hands at her sides and blew out a sigh, trying to expel her nerves. Maybe the offices weren’t vacant tonight or they wanted to give her a tour before the interview began. That seemed plausible.
One of the sets of double doors at the back opened and a bright beam of light cut down the length of the dimly lit theatre to her. She shielded her sensitive eyes with her hand and squinted so she could make out if someone was there.
Antoine strode down the aisle, long legs carrying him easily at a brisk pace, as handsome as ever in his silver-grey tailored shirt that emphasised his build and clung just right to his muscles, hinting at how delicious his body would look if he were naked and stirring her imagination into a frenzy. His black tie, crisp black trousers and polished leather shoes perfected his image of a businessman but made him look decadent and alluring at the same time.
Behind him walked the immense male vampire that she knew from the performances. Victor. His normally thick dark hair was gone, shaved to his scalp to reveal thin scar lines in places, giving him a menacing air as he followed Antoine, dressed in a tight black t-shirt and jeans.
Were they just passing through?
Her heart started again at a pace.
Please, God, say they were just passing through.
Antoine shoved his fingers through his deep brown hair, the action screaming of irritation as much as his scent on her senses. He was annoyed about something. Was he angry with Victor for some reason?
Sera moved aside, keeping her back to the stage so they could easily pass her and go about their business. She tried to keep her eyes downcast but they refused to do as she ordered and snuck to Antoine, meeting his icy gaze. The warm lights from the stage lit his face, chasing the shadows away, and she had her first real glimpse of him. He was so handsome regardless of the darkness he emanated and the coldness in his eyes. He looked like an aristocrat, princely with his straight nose, defined jaw and perfect bone structure. Did he resemble his brother, Snow? She couldn’t imagine the devastating effect the two together would have on the female aristocrats at social gatherings.
Her heart did a flip in her chest.
Antoine alone had a devastating effect on her. She could be strong, had taken to life as a vampire with surprising ease according to her sire, and had a flair for luring male prey that she still couldn’t quite believe. She wanted to be that confident, sexy, attractive woman around this man, but whenever she set eyes on him, her heart trembled like a timid thing in her throat, her palms turned clammy, and she wanted to bolt. It was only the deep pounding need he stirred in her, the intense inferno of arousal that flooded her veins like liquid fire whenever she was near him, that kept her feet in place. She wanted this man.
It went beyond natural desire, or at least what she had experienced in the past. No man had ever had such a startling effect on her. It was soul-deep, more than just a carnal longing. It was as though her very happiness depended on her being in this man’s strong arms.
He stopped right in front of her.
“Sera, I presume?” he said and her bones melted at the sound of his deep voice pronouncing her name.
She nodded and held out her hand. He raised a dark eyebrow in her direction and didn’t take it. She lowered it again, feeling like a fool for thinking he would touch her, a turned human, and for the first time since she could remember, her gaze didn’t want anything to do with him. She stared at the red carpet beneath her feet. What in God’s name was she doing here? This was all going to go horribly wrong. She was going to end up getting her heart smashed by this man.
Elizabeth had pounded that one word into her head more than any other. Sera was beautiful, alluring, sexy, smart and funny, and more than that, she was warm and caring. She was a confident woman. She was. Sera clung to her sire’s words about her, trying to believe in them. They ran around her mind and she felt their effect, felt the confidence begin to flow through her.
Sera managed to convince her eyes to shift up. They didn’t make it to his face. They stuck on his tie. Shiny black paisley contrasted against the matt black of the rest of the tie. It was fascinating. Truly. That was the only reason she was looking at it and not resolutely into his eyes as she had planned.
“Well, let’s get on with this. I have other matters that require my attention and the night is not growing any younger.” He sat down in one of the front row seats.
Sera glanced at Victor, and then at Antoine. This change required a whole rethink of her plan. She had expected Callum to be the one interviewing her, not Antoine, and she still wasn’t sure why Victor was present. Was he here because, in the absence of Callum, the elite vampire she had met last night and who Elizabeth had told her dealt with sourcing performers, Antoine needed someone more intimate with performers to help him?
Victor peeled off his tight black t-shirt to reveal the ropes of hard muscle that lined his stomach and the twin slabs of granite that formed his chest.
Oh. Lord have mercy. Victor wasn’t here to help with the interview.
This wasn’t an interview at all.
Her heart thundered. Her limbs shook.
Panic prickled down her spine.
“Is there a problem?” Antoine frowned, his annoyance turning his scent bitter. She knew he could sense all of her feelings and smell her fear, and she tried to get a grip on her emotions, but they bombarded her.
Was there a problem? Was there ever. She hadn’t expected she would have to perform with someone and she definitely hadn’t anticipated that such a performance would take place in front of the man who was her reason for doing this whole crazy thing in the first place.
“I thought it was going to be an interview. My sire said she had an interview with Callum.” Her voice trembled. Good God, could she sound any more weak and feeble? Suck it up or this whole ridiculous affair was going to be over before it even started. Such a powerful man would want nothing to do with a weak female. She pulled in a deep breath and held it but it did nothing to calm her growing panic.
Antoine huffed again. “We might have done things that way eighty years ago, but we do things this way now. So, begin.”
He waved towards the stage. Victor obediently leapt up onto it. Sera remained firmly rooted to the spot on the red carpet between the stage and Antoine where he sat in the middle of the front row, her gaze fixed on his. The coldness in his pale blue eyes was fathomless but mixed in with it and his scent was increasing irritation. If she didn’t do something soon, he was going to toss her out on her backside for wasting his time.
She could do this. She would take it slow and pretend that Victor was Antoine, and come up with a new plan while she was at it. If luck was with her, she could conceive something before things went too far. Just how far was he expecting things to go?
Before she could ask, Victor’s hands were under her arms and she was on the stage. Her knees almost gave out when he released her and she wobbled.
Antoine sighed again and raised the stakes with a pinch of the bridge of his elegant straight nose.
“Not wise to keep the boss waiting,” Victor whispered into her ear, his cool breath tickling her neck, and she shivered.
He pressed the full length of his body against her back and her eyes widened as the hard bulge in the front of his black jeans pushed against her bottom. Heavens. She swallowed. Trembled. This was not happening. Antoine couldn’t possibly expect her to perform with this man. She had seen him on stage, witnessed the sort of debauchery he did with women, and the size of his thing. He would break her.
What alternative was there? Either she performed or she ran like a chicken and lost her chance. Antoine would never look at her again. Hell, she would never be able to look at him again. She had said that she would do whatever it took to make him belong to her and she couldn’t back down now that another challenge had presented itself.
She had come here to seduce Antoine.