The hairs on Lana’s neck stood on end and she grinned. Despite the cacophonic chaos of the hundreds of slot machines in Caesars’ main casino, she’d found her target. His skin had a slightly orange tinge from too much sunless tanner, and his smile remained tight as he flirted with the half-drunk cougar sitting next to him.
The woman laughed a bit too loudly and playfully smacked his arm, flattered that this gorgeous man who appeared to be half her age was paying attention to her. “Why don’t we continue this conversation upstairs?” she asked and gathered her chips into her oversized rhinestone-studded handbag.
Lana stood when they did, hoping not to draw his attention as the three of them weaved through the crowd. He must be newly born if he’s preying on her. Either that, or he was too hungry to be particular. Bloodsuckers tended to enjoy those whose youth and beauty matched their own, not withered prunes visiting from Sheboygan. But Las Vegas was a buffet for them, and they usually found something to soothe their appetites.
She remained focused on the couple in front of her, ducking between machines when the cougar paused to show off her conquest to some friends camped out in front of the penny slots. He fidgeted and stared at the faint pulsation under the saggy skin of her neck, his lips growing thinner as she pinched his ass.
Subtle, lady. Real subtle. She’d be lucky if he didn’t rip her throat out the second he got her alone.
That is, if Lana let that happen. She wrapped her fingers around the stake in the bottom of her purse and licked her lips. Who needs mace in this town when a nice shaven piece of oak takes care of most predators? She’d been hunting vampires for years. She was good—probably one of the best in the Kavanaugh Foundation—and she’d be damned if some sex-starved Mrs. Robinson wannabe marred her reputation.
When they moved again, she darted out from between the slot machines and collided with a solid mass of muscle. The stake slipped from her grasp as a pair of hands grabbed her and kept her from landing flat on her ass.
“Sorry about that. I…” The male voice trailed off when she lifted her face.
Dear God, he was gorgeous. Not the ethereal perfection that vampires had, but real, down-to-earth, rugged-male yumminess. The tanned hue of his skin and blond highlights in his hair came from hours in the sun, not a bottle, and a faded scar divided his left eyebrow in half. Warmth gathered in the pit of her stomach, dampening her panties. How long had it been since a man aroused her this much just from a glance?
He sucked in a deep breath and his eyes widened. “I—I didn’t mean to knock you over.” He made no effort to release her, though. Instead, he looked like he wanted to take her upstairs and do all kinds of naughty things to her body.
The tingling at the back of her neck faded, tearing her away from her little lust-filled vacation. Work called. She pushed against his chest. “Excuse me, but I’m running late.”
His arms loosened and he took a step back. “Of course.”
She searched the floor for her stake, cursing that she’d only packed one this evening. Each second she wasted brought Gladys the Cougar that much closer to becoming a vampire’s dinner.
He swooped down and retrieved the stake from under one of the nearby machines. “Looking for this?”
“Thanks.” She snatched it back and shoved it back into her purse. For the first time in twelve years, she cursed her job. She’d rather stay here and get to know this stranger than rescue some stupid old lady who practically invited trouble up to her room.
He quirked the brow with the scar. “No problem. Odd accessory for a night at Caesars, I must say.”
Her cheeks burned. The Kavanaugh Foundation’s mission was to protect innocent humans from the things that go bump in the night, not bring them to their attention. She turned on her heels and ran in the direction she’d seen the bloodsucker heading, hoping she hadn’t lost her target.
She reached the main lobby and closed her eyes, shutting her other senses off so her so-called sixth sense could take over. The tingling grew stronger when she turned toward the Tower elevators. She opened her eyes and sprinted after them.
“Hold the doors.” She stuck her hand in front of the sliding metal and grinned when she saw the couple she’d been trailing.
A frown deepened the wrinkles in the cougar’s face. She looked like she wanted to begin the nibbling before she got to her room. Too bad. “What floor?”
Lana scanned the numbers, looking for the lit one. Adrenaline rushed through her body the way it always did right before a kill. “Twenty-two.”
An uncomfortable silence filled the car as they rode up. The woman practically draped herself over the vampire, her hand groping his crotch.
Lana’s stomach lurched from the display. Geez, lady. Get a room. “Times must be tough if your kind are resorting to playing gigolos to little old ladies.”
The woman gasped at the insult, but it had the desired effect. He pulled his teeth back in a snarl, revealing his razor-sharp fangs. The elevator dinged as he lunged for her.
Lana squeezed through the opening doors out into the hallway and reached for her stake. “What? The truth hurts?” she taunted, luring him away from his intended victim.
He grabbed Lana’s hair and yanked her head back, exposing her throat. “I’m going to enjoy drinking you dry.” His ice blue eyes glowed with an unholy fire that she’d seen hundreds of times before. The feeding frenzy.
“Not if I have anything to say about it.” With the cool confidence gained from years of experience, she plunged the stake straight into his undead heart. Death spasms racked his body and she shoved him off her. He disintegrated before he hit the floor.
A scream echoed down the hallway. The cougar stood frozen by the elevator with her mouth agape and her hand clutching her heart. “What—what—what—” she stammered over and over as she pointed a bony finger at the pile of dust where her potential lover once stood.
Lana picked up her stake and cleaned it off before she stowed it in her purse. The truth always hurt, but at least the lady was alive to realize it. “You’re welcome, ma’am. Have a good evening.”
She punched the down button and disappeared into the elevator as soon as it arrived.