Jace Milton liked to test her empathic abilities in crowded areas. She would visit a bar popular with straight-up norms and pick out the creatures who made it their own personal hunting grounds. The plain vanilla humans thought they were safe but because of the gifts that marked her out as different, Jace knew the truth. They weren’t anywhere close to safe and they hadn’t been for a long time.
Every species appeared differently on the metaphysical plane. Bright sparks of light next to the murky backdrop of human emotions. She glanced over the rim of her whiskey glass and reached out with invisible fingers. The effort reminded her of an elastic band stretched to breaking point. Two men stood near the pool table. Both of them were smartly dressed in suits, one in gray, and the other in navy. They registered as silver spots on Jace’s radar, a color so cold it could be ice. The woman sandwiched between them had a look of awe on her face. Most vampires preferred not to leave a dead body after they fed. Which meant that if they wanted something other than blood Jace would be surprised if the woman lived to see the morning.
There were worse ways to go.
Laughter pulled Jace’s attention away from the threesome to a table by the wall. A rich green pulse surrounded the group of men. Shifters. They were a world apart from the vamps and not only in appearance. They were like a warm caress against her senses. They were stupidly good-looking and drew interested glances from the women in the bar.
As Jace took another drink, a very different energy swept through the bar. It brushed against her senses. This one was odd. The smell of freshly baked cookies filled her nose and conjured up memories of her grandmother. The old witch had loved to bake. There had always been a fresh batch of cookies whenever Jace visited her. She scanned the room but came up empty. It had to be a fey and they only physically appeared on the mortal realm when they wanted to. Being around the ethereal creatures caused old memories to resurface. Seelie fey feed off the feelings conjured by good memories. The dark UnSeelie preferred the rush of the bad. They drifted toward battlefields to feed.
Jace made it a point not to linger on any one group. If someone noticed her doing a mental reading, it was the quickest way to piss someone off. Jace was not a fighter. Since she hadn’t been born from the elemental branch of her world, calling on the elements wouldn’t help her. Unless she wanted to look like an idiot. The closest she came to a fight was over a pair of shoes.
Her ability worked one on one but trying to control the emotions of any creature was tricky. If she lost control, everyone in the bar could end up affected.
She sipped the golden liquid in her glass. It no longer burned on the way down. A warm glow filled her. Jace went back to studying the crowd. There were a few bankers in. Men dressed in black suits with drinks that were mostly untouched. They registered as human on her radar and so did not warrant her curiosity. Everyone else registered as human. Students from the local college by the games machine. People on a night out. They were all having fun and a pang of jealousy went through her. Jace could count her friends on one hand. Most people found it hard to trust her kind. Why trust someone who can read your emotions as easily as they read the morning paper?
Her self-pity vanished when a new energy bumped against hers. Something hot, bright, and new.
He walked in alone. Tall and built like a man who exercised. Black ink with swirls of color highlighted muscular arms. Something about the design tickled at her memory, but it was impossible to focus on anything but him. He looked like he had barely made an effort but damn, Jace could eat him up with a spoon. She raised her glass back to her lips and covertly studied him over the rim. Black hair brushed against the collar of his shirt and strands of it rested against his forehead. A pair of worn jeans covered long legs and a black T-shirt strained against a broad chest. The whole look coupled with a strong jaw and full lips perfect for nibbling on. Every woman in the bar turned and ogled him.
Raw, unbridled lust rolled through Jace.
He ran his hand through his hair and, for the first time, she caught a glimpse of his eyes. They appeared nearly black in the darkened bar, but the soft glow of light above him showed they were dark red; Jace nearly dropped her glass in surprise…………………………………….