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Kiss of Midnight (Midnight Breed, #1)(4)
Author: Lara Adrian


“That’s messed up,” Megan said, turning back around as the situation escalated.

“Sure is,” Jamie added as he finished off his martini and flagged a server to bring another round. “Evidently that chick’s mama forgot to tell her it’s bad news not to leave with the guy who brought you.”

Gabrielle watched for another moment, long enough to see a second biker move in on the girl and descend on her slackened mouth. She accepted both of them together, her hands coming up to caress the dark head at her neck and the pale one that was sucking her face like he meant to eat her alive. The punker boyfriend shouted a string of obscenities at the girl, then turned around and shoved his way into the spectating crowd.

“This place is creeping me out,” Gabrielle confided, just now noticing some clubbers openly doing lines of cocaine off the far end of the long marble bar.

Her friends didn’t seem to hear her over the driving pound of the music. They also didn’t seem to share Gabrielle’s unease. Something wasn’t quite right here and Gabrielle could not shake the feeling that eventually the night was going to get ugly. Jamie and Megan began talking between themselves about local bands, leaving Gabrielle to sip what was left of her martini and wait on the other side of the small table for an opportunity to break in and make her excuses to leave.

Essentially alone at the moment, her gaze drifted over the sea of bobbing heads and swaying bodies, as she surreptitiously searched for the sunglass-shaded eyes that had been watching her before. Was he with the other thugs—one of that gang of bikers still stirring up trouble? He was dressed like them, certainly carried the same dark air of danger about him.

Whoever he was, Gabrielle saw no trace of him now.

She leaned back in her chair, then nearly jumped out of her skin when a pair of hands came to rest on her shoulders from behind.

“Here you are! I’ve been looking all over for you guys!” Kendra said, sounding breathless and animated at the same time, as she leaned over the table. “Come on. I’ve got a table for us on the other side of the club. Brent and some of his friends want to party with us!”

“Cool!”

Jamie was already on his feet, ready to go. Megan took her fresh martini in one hand, Kendra’s and her pocketbooks in the other. When Gabrielle didn’t rush to join them, Megan paused.

“You coming?”

“No.” Gabrielle stood up and looped the strap of her handbag over her shoulder. “You go on, have fun. I’m beat. I think I’m just going to catch a cab and head back home.”

Kendra gave her a little-girl pout. “Gab, you can’t go!”

“You want some company for the ride home?” Megan offered, even though Gabrielle could tell she wanted to stay with the others.

“I’ll be fine. Enjoy yourselves, but be careful, right?”

“You’re sure you won’t stay? Just one more drink?”

“Nah. I really need to take off and get some air.”

“Suit yourself, then,” Kendra chided with mock venom. She stepped in and planted a quick peck on Gabrielle’s cheek. As she withdrew, Gabrielle caught a whiff of vodka, and, beneath that, something less obvious. Something musky, queerly metallic. “You’re a buzzkill, Gab, but I still love you.”

With a wink, Kendra looped her arms with Jamie’s and Megan’s, then playfully tugged them toward the churning mass of people.

“Call me tomorrow,” Jamie mouthed over his shoulder as the trio were slowly engulfed by the crowd.

Gabrielle immediately started her trek for the door, anxious to be out of the club. The longer she had stayed, the louder the music seemed to get, drumming in her head, making it hard to think. Hard to focus on her surroundings. People pushed at her from all sides as she tried to pass through them, squeezing her into the press of dancing, flailing, gyrating bodies. She was jostled and nudged, pawed at and groped by unseen hands in the dark, until, finally, she stumbled into the vestibule near the club’s entrance, then out the heavy double doors.

The night was cool and dark. She drew in a deep breath, clearing her head of the noise and smoke and the unsettling atmosphere of La Notte. The music still throbbed out here, the strobe lights still flashed like small explosions behind the tall stained-glass windows above, but Gabrielle relaxed a bit now that she was free.

No one paid her any mind as she hurried down to the curb and waited to hail a ride home. Only a few people were outside, some passing by on the sidewalk below, others filing up the concrete steps and into the club. She spotted a yellow cab coming her way, and thrust out her hand to call it over.

“Taxi!”

As the empty cab navigated across the lanes of nighttime traffic and roared up beside her, the doors of the nightclub burst open with the force of a hurricane.

“Hey, man! What the fuck!” Behind Gabrielle on the steps, a male voice rose to an octave just north of fear. “Touch me again, and I’ll fuckin’—”

“You’ll fuckin’ what?” taunted another voice, this one low and deadly, and flanked by several others that were chuckling in amusement.

“Yeah, tell us, you little asswipe punker piece of shit. What’re ya gonna do?”

Her fingers gripping the door handle of the cab, Gabrielle swiveled her head, half in alarm, half in knowing dread of what she would see. It was the gang from the bar, the bikers or whatever they were, in black leather and shades. The six of them circled the punker boyfriend like a pack of wolves, taking turns jabbing at him, toying with him like prey.

The kid threw a swing at one of them—missed—and the situation went from bad to worse in the blink of an eye.

All at once, the scuffle came crashing toward Gabrielle. The gang of thugs threw the punker up against the hood of the cab, slamming their fists into the kid’s face. Blood splattered like raindrops from his nose and mouth, some of it hitting Gabrielle. She took a step back, stunned and horrified. The kid scrabbled to get away but his attackers stayed on him, beating him with a fury Gabrielle could hardly fathom.

“Get off my goddamn car!” the cabbie shouted out his open window. “Jesus Christ! Take it somewhere else, you hear me!”

One of the assailants turned his head toward the cabbie, smiled a terrible smile, then brought his large fist down on the windshield, shattering the glass into a spiderweb of cracks. Gabrielle saw the cabbie cross himself, his mouth working soundlessly within the car. There was a grinding of gears, then a piercing screech of tires as the taxi jerked into reverse, dislodging the burden from its hood.

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