The bartender made a face that plainly said he hadn't heard me. I could have a super megaphone and I'd be damn sure he still wouldn't be able to hear me despite being thirty centimetres away. I lean further over the bar and try again, employing hand gestures to help communication.

He leaned back nodding, dropping his gaze to check out my cleavage as he did so. Any other night something like that would have repercussions, say dragging him across the bar and smashing a glass over his head, but tonight was different. I was feeling a different kind of reckless.

I turned slightly and saw the dance floor had accumulated even more bodies, a lot more hot bodies with pretty faces to go with them.

The strobe lights were in sync with the beat of the music, making the air buzz with palpable electricity that was coaxing me to start moving my body. It was definitely the place to be if you didn't want to think or be responsible and I was adamantly not going to do either. Just the thought was thrilling as my job required I be both constantly but tonight was my first night off in five months.

Not that guarding my best friend against our immortal enemies was something I considered a job, more of a duty really, but a girl needs a break once in a while. Especially as that said girl ran around fucking Siberia to kill the undead love of her life only to fail, then succeed in finding a way to bring him back from the undead, only to be rejected by him and told he wanted to pretend she didn't exist. Then that said girl would have to work alongside him as he vowed to protect her best friend also.

That said girl also may or may not have broken up with her boyfriend a few hours ago when she found him passed out drunk when they had plans for her night off…

That said girl was going to now get drunk herself and at least grind against someone who appreciated her.

The bartender comes back and sets down two shot glasses and a glass of something dark I suspected was coke that was disguising liquor. It wasn't what I'd ordered.

Fuck it.

I hand over a ten-dollar bill and took the shots he'd poured. The first burned the whole way down my throat and into my stomach and I quickly took the second which was milder by comparison and tasted chocolaty. My eyes were watering and I looked up to see the bartender smiling amusedly as he passed over my change, all two dollars of it. He cocked his head to the side and then lifted up a bottle and poured another shot.

"You look like you need it!" I think that's what he shouted.

It had been drilled into me for over a year to start being more cautious, to think first instead of act, so I hesitated, looking down at the temptation compacted into a shot glass.

It was only one night… and Lissa was safe with Eddie and Alberta… I was pretty sure there were no Moroi or anyone from her college in this club that could cause my actions to reflect badly on her. The only person I was in danger of embarrassing is me…and it took a lot to embarrass Rose Hathaway.

"Bottoms up!" I mutter.

The words were quickly eaten up by the music. I threw the shot back, pleased it was the sweeter chocolate one and even more pleased when I felt the warm trickle of alcohol start to spread through my limbs.

I grinned over the bar at the guy and he winked.

After the third shot drinking what turned out to be vodka and coke was surprisingly easy, like drinking water. Although drinking vodka in America was always going to be easy after experiencing what they drink in Russia, that shit was insane.

Alcohol was alight in my veins and was begging to flirt with the music. I tossed my dark waves over one shoulder and walked towards the dance floor, feeling sultry and mysterious. Not a single person here knew me or had expectations of me. I could be anybody I wanted. I found a spot on the dance floor, a gap big enough between all the bodies to sway my hips and roll my shoulders back as a new song started and the lights blazed as the bass dropped.

It was easy to get lost and it wasn't long until someone wanted to get lost with me.

A body pressed up against my back, a cheek grazing mine as someone got their body into my rhythm. I turned and was pleased to find my new dancing partner was a cute blonde, tall and tan as far as I could tell.

Definitely human.

I grinned up at him as the thought of being normal and an enigma for tonight burned bright in my mind. His eyes were full of admiration and behind that there were burning embers of lust, it made me feel amazing and not even the slightest bit guilty about Adrian. I was still pissed with him and I was not going to waste tonight feeling angry or doing the mature thing by going to find him to talk.

The guy grinned down at me, his hand sliding over my hips. We started moving.

I'm not sure for how long we danced but when blondie made a gesture for another drink I nodded and let him lead me out of the crowd by my hand. It turned out he unlike me (and everybody else) hadn't come to party on his lonesome. He had a crowd of about eight other people, five guys and three girls who had a table in the next connected room of the club. This room's music was half as loud as the last so it allowed for conversation to actually happen.

"Guys this is Rose!" He said sitting down. I couldn't remember his name… I think it was Matt.

The guys at the table were all pretty friendly, the girls…not so much. Some frosty smiles greeted me but I didn't care, I smiled back and sat down on Matt's lap, as it was obviously the only place for me to go, and took a sip of the drink I'd been bought.

I hoped we weren't staying here long. I just wanted to dance and there was zero dancing going on in this room, it was more of a chilled-out bar area. Also one of the blonde girls was glaring at the hand Matt had placed just above my knee.

"You're vibrating." Matt said into my ear.

"Odd compliment but alright."

He laughed and nodded toward my purse in my lap. On cue, it started shivering next to his hand. I handed him my drink and pulled out the little silver cell phone.

Guardian perk.

Lissa's name flashed on the screen and I hesitated before pressing the answer button.



"This is she."

"Where are you? Are you okay?"

"Not completely sure about the first one and yes I'm spectacular thank you. How was the birthday dinner?" I managed to keep my voice from descending into ice toward the end. One point to Rose!

"The dinner was fine, lovely actually, until Adrian called me asking me where you were. I thought you two were spending tonight together? That's why you couldn't come."

Folding socks would come before attending that dinner.

"What? I can't really hear you, where are you?"

Oh crap, I'd said it out loud.

"Me and Adrian are having a competition of who can ignore the other one the longest for being a dick. So far I'm winning." I took my drink from Matt with my free hand and he curled his arm around my waist as he talked about soccer or Socrates with his friend.

"I had a feeling you two had fought…" Lissa said sounding worried, the bond had been numbed due to the alcohol in my system so there was no way of telling for sure what she was thinking or feeling, another normal factor of tonight. "What happened?"

"He got so drunk he passed out which left me sitting in the most uncomfortable silence with his parents for half an hour whilst we waited for him."

"Oh dear…"

"Oh, it gets better. Tatiana decided to swing by and tell me how awful I was for her nephew but she did say she was impressed by the way I handled the Strigoi that got close to campus, but that didn't excuse the fact that I'm just a phase in Adrian's life until his sexual appetite is satisfied."

I took a steadying breath as anger flared in my stomach and threatened to ignite my entire body. I took another sip hoping it would douse the flames.

"I'm sure she didn't say it like that…"

"Oh she said it as queenly as possible Lissa but the subtitles read in plain English 'YOU ARE A WHORE'."

Lissa was quiet on the other end in reaction to my outburst. Matt was giving me a strange look and behind him his friends were exchanging glances.


I gave him what I hoped was a sweet smile and kissed his cheek. He smirked obviously pleased and the arm around my waist tightened.

"Rose are you listening?" Lissa demanded in my ear.


"Where are you?"

"I told you, I'm not sure."

"What does that mean?" She sounded distressed. She needed to chill out and have some of that camomile tea she loved…

"I just didn't really pay attention to the name of the place, two secs." I asked Matt where we were and relayed it to Lissa.

"You're at a club by yourself?"

"Don't worry, there's nobody here who recognises me Liss. I'm not gonna embarrass you or do anything that endangers my guardianship." I lowered my voice as much as I could and turned my head away from Matt as I gave up being an enigma for a second.

"That's not what I'm worried about! You shouldn't be by yourself at a club… how did you even get in?"

"My brilliant charm and good looks obviously."

"You should come home." She said firmly. She'd always been the level-headed and sensible one out of this duo and the tone of her voice sounded rather motherly or as motherly as I could imagine seeing I didn't know firsthand. Warm, concerned and caring.

"Noooo" I whined, "It's my night off and it isn't late, it can't even be eleven yet and that's so early for us."

"Rose you sound drunk and you're alone. What if something happens? Please come home."

I didn't even bother arguing with the first point. "I'm not alone. I'm with Matt."

"Who's Matt?" Lissa demanded.

"It's Max." Matt said taking a break from nuzzling my shoulder. It tickled.

"What is?" I asked him.

He blinked, "I am!"

"Oh" and I started laughing. "I'm with Max, not Matt, although Matt sounds cuter. Don't you think so, Liss?"

"What about Adrian?" Lissa said and it was like cold water over my head. I could hear someone in the background of her end that I suspected was Christian.

"I am ignoring him." I sang back.

She was quiet for a beat and I took another sip of my drink. It was nearly empty and I frowned.

"You aren't going to cheat on him are you?" Her voice was hushed like she was breathing into the phone.

"Of course not! I'm just not being nice to him right now is all. Besides, can't cheat on someone if you're no longer dating."

"Could you at least let him know where you are?"

"Nope but you can if you feel that bad for him…I'd rather you didn't but you're the nice one so…"

Matt and his friend roared with laughter at something and I was jostled on his lap.

"I don't like this Rose. I don't like this at all." Lissa's voice was flat and made my tummy feel bad.

"Please don't be mad."

"I'm not mad. I'm worried."

"Please don't be worried. I promise I'll be home before twelve."


"Please Lissa, one hour and I'll be home."

The line was quiet as she thought it over. I really wanted to go back into the other room and dance now. This conversation was ruining the whole mysterious thing I had going on.

"Alright…" she said reluctantly and I beamed into my glass, "One hour. And nothing happens with Max!"

I frowned, "Who's Max?"

"I am!"

"Oh yeah." I patted the arm around my waist and he shook his head, "No funny business. I am Cinderella!"

"I'll get a car to be outside in an hour."

"Okay. Love you liss!"

"I love you too…be safe."

"Oh purlease, you forget who you are talking to Princess."

"… Get a glass of water Rose."

As soon as I put my phone away I asked Max to go back to the dance floor with me.

"Nah, let's stay here and chill out." He whispers. His hand slid higher up my thigh.

I'd been out of the game so long and dated older (and in one case) more mature men, I'd forgotten how boys expected things in return for something so little as a drink. A brief war kind of flashback played in front of my eyes... being half naked with Jesse Zeklos and Dimitri bursting through the door looking like violence was a promise…

Men were nothing but trouble.

I stood up off Matts, Max, whatever's lap and looked down at his startled face. "Nah, I'm going to go dance. Thanks for the drink."

As soon as I stepped out of the tunnel that connected the separate rooms the music assaulted me, like a blast of air that forced me to take a step back. It was time to be the sexy and mysterious girl again, one without a care in the damn world… but first I needed another drink.

Thankfully I got the same bartender from before who yelled "Same Again?" at me. I nodded and then wondered if I shouldn't have when two shots and another drink were lined up for me. I wasn't exactly a lightweight but it had been a while…

I'd get water before I left. I handed over my last ten dollars and threw back the shots. I winked at the bartender as he gave me my change. Picking up my drink I walked back into the maze of moving bodies and started to move my own.

It wasn't long before Max was back and he'd brought some of his friends. The blonde's glare turned up to volcanic proportions and I wondered if her head would burst open. Just to be bad I closed the gap between mine and Max's bodies and put an arm around his neck. His thigh was close to being between my knees.

"What's her problem?" I said into his ear.

He barely glanced at her. "She's not you."

I knew what that felt like.

Tasha and Dimitri laughing burned before my eyes. He probably laughed with her through the dinner, Lissa and Christian joining in and it would be a perfect little group. Dimitri probably bought her birthday gift and he'd probably be giving her another later on tonight. My body slowed in its sway and Max closed his arms around me.

I pushed away from him. "I need another drink!"

He looked confused and he didn't let go of my arm until I moved out of reach. I pushed my way out of the dance floor. The excitement that was fizzing around my body was going flat like a drink left out too long. I reached the bar and cussed when I saw my bartender was at the other end, I waved to him and he signalled he'd be two minutes. There just didn't seem to be any point in trying to translate to someone else what I wanted.


It should have been impossible for me to have heard my name being said so clearly considering I could barely hear myself think. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I turned to face him.

"What the hell are you doing here?"

Either Dimitri hadn't heard me or he thought the answer was obvious. He stared down at me levelly, his face unreadable as it was cast in shadow or masked by the strobe lights. He wasn't wearing his duster but a black, long-sleeved t-shirt and jeans which was about as dressy as he ever got. Tasha was a lucky lady…even in the distorted light, it was obvious the material clung to his torso in all the right ways. His dark hair was loose of its ponytail and framing his face perfectly, his cheekbones, his jaw…

Someone poked my shoulder and I turned to see the bartender with two shots and a drink ready. Holy hell he was trying to kill me. I waved over the shots and shook my head, pointing to the drink and trying to process Dimitri's presence. Never in my life did I picture him in a nightclub.

I knew I looked good. Well, I had looked good when I came out, there'd been lots of dancing since then and for all I knew my face had melted off. Okay, my face might be a caution zone but my body would be okay. I was wearing an off-shoulder burgundy dress that was amazing for my cleavage. The material emphasized my waist and hips, with the length reaching mid-thigh. The black stilettos made my ass look fantastic.

All this effort, and two months' salary, was mostly for me but it was also to impress Adrian's parents as the attire could pass for formal… it was also to impress Adrian. What a waste. I was snapped out of my thought as the bartender waved away my money. I frowned and he winked, walking off to serve someone else.

Huh…maybe I had impressed someone tonight.

Dimitri loomed over me.

"That's not a good idea." He said.

How the fuck could I hear him? He wasn't even shouting. I schooled my features to look confused feigning being deaf. A warm hand slid over my lower back and for a second I thought it might have been his. My heart stopped. Then I realised Max was on my other side. He was looking over my head at Dimitri in that testosterone-sizing-up thing guys do. Either Max was drunk or an idiot because he didn't measure up, in more ways than one.

"Here!" I slid a shot toward him and kept the chocolate one for myself. With a defiant glance at Dimitri I brought it to my lips and threw it back. His expression didn't change, as far as I could tell, but I knew he was getting annoyed.


"Who's this?" Max shouted at me nodding at Dimitri.

"My stalker" I shouted into his ear.

"Rose we're leaving." Dimitri said.

I turned back to him and crossed my arms, "I'm not going anywhere with you."

Dimitri's gaze was uncompromising. "You promised Vasilisa."

Ah. Lissa had sent him. Duh. For one deluded drunken moment I thought he'd sought me out because he wanted to. I turned to Max, turning my back on Dimitri and hopefully giving him an excellent view of my backside.

"What time is it?"

Max took out his phone and held the lit screen up to me. He looked over my shoulder looking annoyed at our third wheel. I spun back around. "I have thirty minutes left!"

Dimitri leaned down slightly, putting him at eye level and causing my heart and lungs to do stupid things, like, not work. "You said you'd be back before twelve. The drive is twenty minutes long."

I took a deep breath and brushed my hair over my shoulder. His eyes followed the movement or at least I think they did. "Well then I have ten more minutes." I held my drink aloft. "Cheers."

This time Dimitri's expression was readable. As I took a gulp of the drink his face darkened and his jaw clenched. Ah emotion, he still had it.

One of Max's friends ambled up to the bar, pushing his way in between me and Max, thus shoving me towards Dimitri. His hand shot out and took my arm to steady, his fingers on my bare skin were warm, sending the heat running all over my body and awakening nerves that had been asleep. Once we'd stepped out of the growing queue he let go. It was maddening how isolated the loss of that touch made me feel.

"Who is that boy?" He asked. The way he said 'boy' made me both irritated and insulted. So I ignored him and took another sip. "Rose I know you can hear me."

"Max." I said simply.

"And how would Adrian feel about you spending time with him?"

"I don't know. You should go ask him." I was not going to let him guilt-trip me. I hadn't done anything to feel bad about.

"Do you think this is fair to him?"

I was startled by the tone of his voice. Despite the blaring music I could hear the anger and challenge it contained. Since when did he care so much about Adrian's feelings?

"Adrian and I broke up." I defended.

"No one moves on that fast. You're only going to hurt someone or yourself."

Oh great, his zen crap thing.

I met his eyes and smiled sweetly. "Feelings fade, mine have."

Echoing his words back to him caused wounds inside my own chest to start stinging as if salt had been poured. Well, he was right about one thing, I did hurt myself. His face pinched slightly and I turned away from him. I shouldn't even be talking to him. He'd ignored me for months.

Max broke away from the crowd at the bar and I walked over to meet him, half expecting Dimitri to pull me back.

I read "Dance floor" off his lips. Reluctantly I shook my head. My ten minutes were bound to be up and I had promised Lissa.

Max frowned and I did my best to explain I had to leave. He asked if it was something to do with my stalker and I laughed and said sort of. In the midst of this disastrous conversation, Max's arm had slid around my lower back again, drawing me close. I'd finished trying to explain and looked up at him and it only registered with there about what he was going to do. His eyes were slightly glassy as they stared at my lips. Everything in me started screaming wrong. His arms around me, hands low on my back, his face close to mine, his chest against my chest, wrong.

Thank god for Guardian reflexes.

Max lunged and I swiftly turned my face so his wet lips grazed my cheek. Ick. I was just about to reach around and grab one of his wrists and spin him off me when he suddenly disappeared… like magic. Now you see him and now you don't.

The guy he'd crashed into was less than happy to see him and planted his fist into Max's face.

A fight broke out.

I stood there staring as the fighting grew like a flame becoming an inferno. Max and the guy's friends both jumped in, causing a domino effect at the bar as more people got involved. Girls started screaming.

A hand locked around my arm and my fist clenched instinctively, ready to defend myself.

"We're leaving now." Dimitri's voice was hard and he started steering us toward the exit. The clubs bouncers were descending on the mob. Dressed in black they reminded me of guardians only they moved less gracefully and looked like wrathful mountains.

"You did that!" I shouted when we were clear of the room and its thundering music. We stood in the small entrance for the club where a guy sat behind a counter taking money in exchange for the luminous band that got you in. Two more mountain-sized bouncers stood guard over the doors we'd just emerged out of.

Dimitri ignored me and continued to manoeuvre around people. Rage flared in my chest and I considered removing his hand and then punching him. How dare he march me out of a club after he'd pushed Max so hard that he almost took flight and caused a brawl. Sure I was going to push Max away myself but that was beside the point. He was ruining my night and embarrassing me.

I caught the eye of one of the bouncers who spared a look at Dimitri's grip on me. He wasn't being rough but still… I could work with this.

I wiped the anger off my face.

If Dimitri wanted to treat me like a little girl well I could act like one.

Take one, Rose Hathaway, ACTION.

I reached out and grabbed the bouncer's forearm and Dimitri was jerked back from pulling us forward. The bouncer's impassive face suddenly changed to one of surprise and I made my eyes go wide.

"Please help me. This man's harassing me." I said trying to sound scared.

The surprise suddenly hardened on the guy's face and he directed his gaze over my head at Dimitri. I smirked just imagining the confusion on his stupid Russian face.

"Let go of her." Bouncer Bill ordered. He wasn't as tall as Dimitri but he was twice as broad with ropey muscles bulging on his arms. I'm sure he fancied himself as the alpha around here.

I looked over my shoulder at Dimitri who was staring at him with an unreadable expression but when his gaze flicked down to me and his eyes held steel. A human he couldn't fight with but another Dhampir? Yeah, he was going to kill me.

He dropped his hand and I stepped back to put Bill between him and me.

"Now move on." The bouncer instructed nodding towards the street.

"She's underage," Dimitri replied flatly, still staring straight at me.


Bill glared over his shoulder.

"I am not." I retorted.

"ID." Bill demanded holding out a hand.

"I, uh, left it inside. Look even if I am that makes him harassing me like, ten times worse. I can't leave with him."

"I'm a friend of the family and I promised to get her home before she got herself into even more trouble." Dimitri said sounding like a reliable and earnest gentleman.

"He started that fight in there!" I protested.

Bill placed a heavy hand on my shoulder and shoved. "Both of you get the hell out." He marched me and Dimitri out past the queue on the sidewalk, ignoring my protests about sending me off with a stranger as Dimitri walked ahead with grace.

"If I get sold into the sex trade it'll all be on you!" I yelled after Bill as he marched back toward the club then I rounded on Dimitri.

"I hope you're pleased with yourself."

He looked at me with so much exasperation, it was reminiscent of a look he used to give me when I was being ridiculous during one of our training sessions. It seemed like a million years ago. "You caused that scene Rose and I can't understand why."

"Well, I wouldn't have had to if you hadn't initiated Fight Club."

"I didn't cause that either. Drunk and irresponsible boys did."

"Will you stop saying boys like that!"

"Like what?"

"Like they're twelve."

"The only person acting like they're twelve is standing in front of me."

My anger reached its peak and left me incapable of speaking. Wow, who knew that was possible?

Dimitri was watching me intently and I knew he was expecting an apology or for me to agree. It made me more determined not to, even though in the back of my mind I knew I was being bratty.

How dare he? How dare he not speak to me for months after everything I did for him, after everything we'd been through and the most he could ever say to me was in regards to Guardian business. He was the bare bones of civil around me. I could have dealt with it if I hadn't seen him being normal around others: Guardians, Lissa, Tasha….

It hurt seeing him laugh or converse with others. It hurt knowing he didn't acknowledge I existed in the room. It hurt all the time. And it wasn't like it went unnoticed either. Other people asked me about his glacial treatment and were even more perplexed when they learned he had been my mentor. They tried to piece things together. I never offered any glue.

Back at court I'd sworn I'd shut him out of my heart and I tried. I tried to devote what I could to Adrian who was more than understanding (he even followed me and Lissa and enrolled in some of the art classes… which he didn't stick to), but when I saw Dimitri starting to get back to…normal I'd let myself hope that maybe I could at least be his friend.

He made it quite clear that wasn't going to happen.

"Well, then I'll relieve you of such embarrassing company." I snap before turning on my heel and heading down the street.

This side of town had plenty of nightlife and I passed two more bars, the second of which had a lot of people outside smoking, mostly guys. As I walked past one whistled at me.

"Where are you going, sexy?"

I winked at him as I passed. He put a hand over his heart and mimed stumbling back. Dimitri reappeared at my side. I glowered up at him but he was too busy giving a deathly look to my admirer, who held his hands up in a peaceful gesture. He probably thought Dimitri was my boyfriend.

I kept walking and ignored my shadow.

"What are you doing?" He finally asked exasperated.

I am ignoring you, you idiot. I pulled out my cell phone and the screen blazed angrily at me. Ten missed calls from Adrian and countless text messages that I wasn't even going to read. I'd deal with it all tomorrow. Dimitri made an impatient sound, "We both know one way or another I'm taking you home so why don't we just cut to the part where we go get the car."

"Oh I'm sorry were you speaking to me? It's just after you ignored me for months it's a little hard to believe."

Alcohol could be really awesome when it came to things like making your feet numb from the pain inflicted by ridiculous heels although it didn't help with balance. Dimitri stepped in front of me and I nearly collided with his chest.

"We're going home. Now."

"Haven't I made it clear that I'm not going anywhere with you? Jesus Comrade you used to be quicker than this."

"What exactly do you plan to do? Walk around until someone else leers at you? Go to another bar? You promised Vasilisa you'd go home so why aren't you doing that?"

"I plan on getting a cab."

"You're being ridiculous."

"I am known for that."

Dimitri's dark eyes searched my face and I wished they wouldn't. It made me feel naked and not in a fun way.

"This isn't you." He said softly.

"I have a driver's license that says otherwise."

He ignored that. "Going out by yourself and drinking is too reckless. You know the risks. You know more than anyone how dangerous it is to be the slightest bit vulnerable when there could be threats."

"Well maybe for one damn night I wanted to be reckless. Maybe I didn't want to be cautious."

"How selfish of you." His tone didn't change but it was like being slapped in the face anyway.

"Selfish." I repeated, mulling it over my tongue. "I'll add that to the growing list of my inadequacies."

I tried to step around him but he took my arm again, his grip firm.

He leaned down so his lips were by my ear. "Rose I'm taking you home and if that means throwing you over my shoulder then so be it."

I tilted my head to the side so our faces were inches apart. God, he was so beautiful. For a moment it seemed the sentiment was being mirrored in his eyes but I was slightly drunk so…

"I'll scream." I warned him.

For the first time in months, Dimitri smiled at me. A small one, a small etch on the lips but it was the world. "I don't care."

Okay so I haven't written anything in months but I was entertaining this idea for so long that I needed to put it down. It was supposed to be a one-shot but I think it will be at least five chapters set on this night It's primarily going to be about Rose's frustration boiling and Dimitri being forward with his post strigoi state of mind… and then what happens when we mix that all up and it explodes.

Rose isn't known for control.

Dimitri is known to lose his, especially when it comes to Roza.