Twisted Roses

Page 3

In the ten minutes since we’ve sat down in a booth on the outskirts of the dance floor, he’s grown more brazen. More insistent and touchy.
His hand lands on my thigh under the table. “You said you’re in med school?”
“That’s right. Up in Lunbury.”
“Nice. Very impressive. I’m surprised you’d come out alone. You sure you don’t have some crazy boyfriend with a bad temper?”
I humor him with yet another smile. “Just me.”
“How about another drink?”
Quinn doesn’t wait for my answer. He gets up, making me promise I’ll stay put, and goes off to order us more sour apples. The club is so crowded, other club-goers partially block him from view. I crane my neck and slide to the other side of the booth to keep sight of him.
When he believes no one is looking, he dumps a powdery substance into one of the drinks he’s ordered—my drink.
Nicknamed Cherry on the street, the party drug is known to make people lose all inhibitions, even control of their bodies. For better or for worse.
Give someone a high enough dosage, and you’ve rendered them paralyzed, though their sensory system isn’t. The smallest sensation is magnified times a hundred. Most who choose to take the drug as a party favor love how it makes them feel during sexual encounters. Those who have the drug forced upon them don’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late and they can no longer do something as simple as walk in a straight line.
Quinn McGuire’s modus operandi.
He regularly makes the rounds in Easton’s club circuit, hopping from club to club. Usually on Friday nights. Sometimes Saturdays. Always a new, unsuspecting young woman. Always feeding her drinks and slipping Cherry as a party favor. Always covering his tracks the morning after.
If Quinn has his way, tonight will be no different.
He returns clutching our drinks. I thank him by scooting closer and flirtatiously running a finger along his jaw. He’s more than eager, playing along. His arm slips around my hips and he pulls me toward him in the booth. We’re now so close our bodies touch.
I thread my fingers into his stylized hair and kiss him. He takes it as a cue to pull me into him. Within seconds his tongue sloppily pushes into my mouth. He’s distracted enough that he doesn’t notice what my free hand is doing.
I slide his drink toward me and my drink toward him. By the time we separate, the glint that’s been in his gaze since the moment he spotted me is only shining brighter. He gestures to our sour apples and mentions finishing them.
“We should go somewhere after,” he says. “My place is only a few blocks away.”
“I have to be up early tomorrow. I have a train to catch.”
“An hour or two for a nightcap.” He strokes my cheek. Despite his best efforts to hold it together, the cracks in his facade split him down the middle, like a beast shedding his former skin. His aura darkens, his swimmer’s body pressing me into the cushions of the booth, more than encroaching on my space—my space is now his space.
Because, as far as he’s concerned, I’m his now, too. For the next few hours anyway.
We leave Two-Twelve behind. Me protesting and asking him to slow down. It’s difficult walking so fast in heels when it’s this dark outside and I’ve had two drinks. He merely grins and tugs me along, ignoring my protests, walking even faster.
It’s spring, but the nights are often still miserable. Wet and chilly. Fog rolls through and blurs the streets in its thick haze. I shiver as the mist touches my bare arms and shoulders. We might as well have ventured into another dimension.
When we emerge from the blanket of fog, we’re a couple blocks down. Vale Street is just a memory. Quinn leads us to a building that’s a pharmacy on the first floor and small apartments on the second and third.
We fly up the flights of stairs so fast, it almost feels like falling upward. Quinn couldn’t be more excited to be on his turf—for me to be locked in his apartment with him.
The danger I’m putting myself in is not lost on me. Though I’ve planned meticulously for a night like tonight, I’m not naive enough to believe I’m invincible. There’s no shortage of things that can go wrong.
Quinn McGuire could do what the other men like him couldn’t—he could outplay me.
But if I don’t believe in myself, who will? I’m more tactical. I’m sharper than he is. I’mready.
The door slams shut behind us. He wastes no time. In a flash he’s smashing his lips against mine, his arms wrapped tightly around me. He’s walking me backward, deeper into his modest-sized apartment. We don’t even make it to his bedroom. To him, the couch is good enough.
He pushes me down and reattacks with more sloppy, aggressive kisses. I turn my head to the side, my hands pushing at his chest.