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The old man had proved useful, so she'd kept him alive. His reputation as a recluse kept the neighbors away, which worked to her benefit. That same antisocial trait had made him proficient in the ways of conducting business from the false security of his home. She'd told him what she'd needed in the way of school registration and in his cowering fear for his life, he had found the documents she needed on his computer, printed them out and put his signature to them. She'd rewarded him for it by not tearing his throat out and allowing him to live for the time being, locked in a room at the back of the house in the event she might need to produce him to concrete the validity of her presence here.
She had discovered the mesmerizing miracle of television, and between that and her foray into the school to stalk the wolf, she came to the conclusion that her stolen wardrobe was sorely lacking. Zlata was a creature that had enjoyed very few luxuries in her former life, but had lusted after them fervently. So she took the card taken from the Man's sister and she discovered the decadent joy of shopping. Of purchasing without limit whatever bauble caught her eye. Clothing that women wore in the very streets, which in her day, might only have been donned within the privacy of a house of ill repute. She reveled in it.
She had been among prey all the day that had groveled for her when they realized the gold she carried in the form of the card, and no matter the human flesh she wore, she could not shake the instincts of the beast that crouched at her core. She had imagined no few times, the terror in the eyes of her prey, the tearing of flesh, the breaking of bones, the taste of hot blood and fresh, raw meat between her teeth. And they had never guessed, those eager, soft skinned creatures, how hard she fought not to rend them to pieces.
Just as in the school they'd never guessed, so eager to welcome her, to invite her into their midst. Except perhaps for the wolf's pack. The wolves were wary, she could scent it on them, but neither of them entirely certain why. Hers, she had spooked and his confusion amused her. The other one had been sullen and suspicious, but if he'd had any idea she was anything but a girl, he might have done more than cast her uncertain looks. The girls, the bitch with the arrows and the one with the hair like flame had been predictably territorial when it came to another female invading their domain. But the boy, the prey who had the most to fear from her, had been oblivious. Helpful even in chiding the wolf into ignoring his own instincts. Prodding him until he relented and veered in the direction she wanted him to go.
And dutifully he showed up at the old man's house after dark on Saturday night, a polite greeting on the tip of his tongue, before he got a decent look at her and it stalled on his half open mouth. The heels were high, the skirt short and flowing and the corset, black and velvet, did everything in its power to enhance the swell of her breasts. He tore his eyes away, snapped his mouth shut and swallowed.
"Wow. You look really nice."
She smiled, looking him up and down, inhaling the scent of him, of soap, of young male, of the subtle hint of wolf under it all. "As do you."
He shifted on the porch looking ill at ease. Wary of her, but not for the reasons he should have been. His naivety made her want to pull him inside the house and do decadent things to him. She ran the tip of her tongue across her teeth instead, raking him with her gaze until he drew in a breath and shifted uncomfortably, nervously gesturing back towards the street and a car considerably less shiny and new than the one she had taken from the Man's sister.
"So, I've got my mom's car tonight . . ."
Stiles had spent half the day Saturday shooting down Scott's proffered excuses on why he ought to bail on Troy Fischer's party. And Stiles was annoyingly good at talking his way around what Scott considered to be sound logic.
For instance, he didn't feel up to dealing with a party, when sometimes even the crowded hall at school sort of had him on edge ever since since Dupont. His pulse would start pounding, and the claws did sort of want to pop out occasionally when he'd get jostled unexpectedly by some kid in the hall, but he'd been dealing with it.
"Well, you've got to get over that. And maybe a little aversion therapy is just what you need. You know, confront it head on in the company of a gorgeous girl."
"Well, maybe I'm not looking to start dating again."
"Jesus, nobody's asking you to propose. It's not even a date. It's a party."
"I thought you hated Troy Fischer. Why are you so hot on me going to this thing?"
"I do. So, so much. But I'm not going. We're talking you. And you need a distraction. And Zlata's a distraction, even if its just you trying to come up with reasons why the super hot transfer student isn't your type."
It was guilt that finally sealed the deal. She doesn't know anybody. She's all alone in a foreign country. Man up and go to the party with her, because if she goes by herself, those douchebags are gonna be all over her and you don't want that on your conscience, do you?
Which was how he ended up on Mr. Klutsky's doorstep, trying not to gape at his niece. Because wow.
"Those are really nice - - shoes. They look like weapons." Was the brilliant thing that came out of his mouth as they were walking towards his mom's car. He rolled his eyes at himself for the descent into idiocy, but she smiled and pointed a toe adorned with a strappy, really high-heeled torture device and shrugged.
"I think maybe, yes. Like learning to walk again, the first time I put them on. But they make legs look good, no?"
"No. I mean, yes. Really good. Um - -" he shut his mouth, feeling the fool, and opened the passenger side door for her. She slid her hand across his arm, a casual touch as she got in. It shot tingles from hand to groin. A weird sort of shiver that was part awareness of the utter sex she was exuding, part a curling little sliver of wariness that he couldn't quite put a finger on the root of.
The party was on the east side of town, where the filthy rich residents of Beacon Hills flocked together to lord it over the rest of them. There were a lot of cars parked on the street down the long drive, and a lot more up the hill where the house was. He parked on the street, under a big oak and they walked up the drive to the house.
"This is a very nice house," Zlata remarked, staring at the sprawling arms of the grey stone estate.
"Yeah, Troy's dad is some sort of software guru or something."
"You know, computer stuff."
"Ah," she nodded, following him up onto the broad stoop. The sound of music reverberated from inside the house. He didn't even get the chance to knock on the door before it opened and a pair of giggling teenagers stumbled out, a very obviously drunken girl, pulling a grinning guy by the hand. He glanced back at Zlata and shrugged, holding out a hand and inviting her inside ahead of him.
Inside there were a lot of bodies, a lot of overheated kids mingling, leaning against walls, sprawling on furniture. The scents were overwhelming, alcohol, sweat, perfumes, deodorants, pheromones mixed with so much more. Almost sensory overload and he had to focus on blocking it out. A year ago, it would have had him reeling, but he'd gotten good at pushing the wolf to the shadows, at dampening the utter clarity of hearing and scent.
Stiles had been right, the sound system was absolutely killer, but it was too loud, and it seemed to reverberate up through the floor. Zlata caught his hand and moved into the house, sliding past bodies with envious ease. People were aware of her, eyes following her, male and female.
"Zlata. God, you look hot as hell." Troy Fischer appeared out of the mix, grinning, eyes fixed on her, ignoring Scott completely. He caught her arm, disengaging her from Scott, and led her deeper into the house. "This is the spill over. The real fun's downstairs. Bar's down there and the game room and dancing."
"Dancing I like."
"Yeah, me too. C'mon. I'll show you."
She glanced back at Scott, holding out the hand that Troy hadn't latched onto. "Come. We see this dancing."
"Umm, I'm not really much for dancing,"
She just smiled, and Troy glanced around at him, frowning a little at her refusal to abandon Scott for him. "What the matter, McCall, afraid you'll embarrass yourself?"
He ground his teeth a little, not rising to that bait, and let Zlata catch hold of his fingers and pull him along in her wake. Down to a basement that maybe could have held his entire house. Both floors. It was like the ultimate man cave, with a huge open bar, and one portion of the vast open space dedicated to a pool table and six or eight arcade games, another nook dedicated to a massive flat screen TV and a circle of plush sofas, and then a lot of open floor space where it looked like half the school was gathered. But he only recognized a few of the faces here and a lot of the people looked more college age than high school.
Zlata looked delighted. Troy was saying something to her about getting something from the bar. Scott felt like the room was closing in on him the moment he stepped into the crowd. Too many people, too much sound and he had no desire whatsoever to wade towards the crowd of kids undulating out there.
He thought he saw Danny through the crowd, and maybe the back of Ethan's head, but the crowd shifted and he wasn't sure. Someone staggered into him, and put hands on him, trying to catch their balance and he started, pulse surging unexpectedly, panic rising for an instant, before he clamped it down.
Someone stuck a cup in his hand and he realized it was Zlata. She held one of her own, filled with clear liquid. She tossed it back and grinned at him, amber eyes sparkling.
"What is it?" It didn't have much of an odor.
"Vodka," she said, urging the hand holding the cup up. "Best to take it, one big swallow."
He looked at it dubiously. His experience with booze was limited to beer and the occasional bottle of Jack that Stiles liberated from his dad's liquor cabinet. He'd used to be able to get a decent buzz, but not much anymore. At least not without guzzling alcohol like Kool-aid.
Honestly a little buzz wouldn't be a bad thing to help get through the night, so he bit the bullet and threw it back. It tasted faintly of rubbing alcohol and he wrinkled his nose, until the burn started at the back of his throat and seared its way outwards.
"That's - - not that good," he admitted and she laughed.
"It keeps you warm when it is cold outside. But maybe you don't like it straight, huh?"
"It just caught me off guard."
She relieved him of the cup, then leaned in and said close to his ear. "We make it sweet for you, then it'll go down like honey on the tongue."
"I'm good, really," he started, but she was already heading for the bar with both their empty cups in hand. He shut his eyes, wondering how pissed she'd be if he just slipped out and left her to the music and the crowd and the head clogging array of scents. He was okay with crowds normally, but tonight, there were too many people with no sense of personal space and he was afraid that maybe, just maybe he might lose that hold on control he was trying to maintain. He wished Stiles was here. Stiles was good at keeping him grounded. At being a shield for him when he needed one, and he sort of felt like he needed one right now. And Stiles owed him.
Aversion therapy his ass.
A girl he didn't know leaned into him, smelling of beer and expensive perfume. She looked a few years older than he was. She had on a sheer black top that showed off the lacy black bra under it.
"You wanna dance?"
Zlata came up while he was fumbling for an answer, eyes on the girl, a smile on her lips that showed just a hint of white teeth. It wasn't directed at him. He only caught the edge of it, and he still shuddered. The girl stammered something and backed off.
"You said you did not dance," Zlata shrugged, and put a cup back in his hand. This time it was tainted pink and smelled of cranberries.
"Yeah," he said. "Not so much."
He tossed the drink back. Two gulps and this time it didn't taste half bad. The burn was duller and felt good. She grinned at him, approving, and handed him her mostly full cup, as she glanced at the mass of moving bodies across the floor.
"Maybe I go, though."
"Definitely. Enjoy yourself." She waded into the crowd and immediately had two or three guys vying to grind up against her. She didn't seem to mind, and Stile's whole 'poor little girl out of her depths in a strange place' argument just didn't seem to hold water. She sort of looked like she was in the process of owning the place.
Somebody shrieked in laughter close to his ear and he flinched, blowing out a breath and emptying Zlata's cup. The dulling warmth of the alcohol was a good thing and vodka apparently held a little more kick for him than whiskey or beer. It made the music not so loud, the smells not so overwhelming. Somebody put their arm around his shoulders, and it felt distant enough that he was okay with it. He blinked at Troy, who was smirking at him, jerking his head towards the dancers where Zlata was undulating with the throb of the music.
"You brought her here, right?" Troy weeded through the people mulling around the edges of the dancers, pulling Scott with him.
"You guys dating?"
That was weirdly funny. Scott laughed, shaking his head. "No. She's just - -" he didn't know what she was. Not a friend - - barely an acquaintance. More like a storm that had blown in and disrupted his peace of mind more than it was already disrupted. "Just a girl. She lives down the street from me. She's from Poland."
He wasn't quite sure why he was sharing pertinent details with Troy Fischer. It was like he'd caught Stiles' condition of non-existent filters between head and tongue. Or maybe it was the mellow warmth of the vodka that had spread up from his gut to his head.
"So you and her doing it?"
"No," he shrugged out from under Troy's arm, offended.
Troy held up his hands, smirking. "Just wanted to know if she was fair game, is all."
"She's not game. She's a girl."
"And girls like nice things. I've got nice things." Troy tossed him one more condescending smile, before heading towards the snarl of kids dancing.
"Dick," Scott muttered.
Somebody laughed next to him, and he glanced over at Danny, who was drawing a beer from the keg at the end of the bar. Danny shrugged a what can you do shrug. "Yeah. But he's got good booze."
He grinned, before wondering off, maybe to find Ethan. Good booze was a stellar idea. If he needed to wake Stiles up in the middle of the night to come drive them home, well, he could live with that.
He wondered over to the game room with another of those vodka cranberry mixes she'd made for him. He watched a game of pool, until a space cleared in front of a classic arcade pinball machine, and he tried his hand at that. He sort of sucked at it, his reflexes lagging a beat or two behind his brain. But that was okay, because the game wasn't judging him for it and truth be told, he was starting to feel pretty good, in a numb, wrapped in cellophane sort of way.
A body leaned against his side, hand on his back and he didn't even start, just looked over at Zlata. In her heels she was pretty much eye level with him and her eyes held this low-banked glimmer that was sort of distracting. And pretty. Her eyes were the color of raw honey, and he hadn't really noticed before. She smelled faintly of sweat, and perfume that wasn't hers, and some other subtle scent that part of him found vaguely familiar, but he couldn't quite place.
"Hey," he smiled at her.
She caught him by the hand, drawing him away from the game room, towards the shadows where people lurked around the edges.
"You having a good time?"
"Good time. Yes." She agreed. "But I get tired of dancing with them, when I rather dance with you."
He blinked at her, trying to process that. At this point, he was feeling good enough that he wasn't entirely sure why he'd been reluctant to go out and dance with her in the first place. He was willing to give it a go. It was a party after all.
"Yeah, okay - -"
She pushed him back, and his balance had evaporated enough that he staggered a step, shoulders hitting the wall. She followed him, pressing full body against him, the scent of her sharp and heady and going right to his head.
"I don't want to dance, anymore," she whispered, warm, wet mouth close to his ear, before it slid down, attaching to the pulse below his jaw. And just - - fuck - - one half of his half of his brain was trying to convince the other half that making out with a girl he only barely knew, against a wall in Troy Fischer's basement was such a bad idea, until she slid her knee between his legs and rubbed her thigh against the beginnings of an erection he hadn't even realized had been brewing. It was hard to try and reason his way out of that, when the completely unreasonable portions of his body were screaming 'hell yes'.
It felt so good it made his head reel and the wall at his back was likely the only thing keeping him on his feet. It occurred to him, in one last desperate reach for reason, that if she'd had half the alcohol he had, she was drunk, and maybe making out drunk was the sort of thing they'd both regret later. Which was around the time she curled her fists in his jacket and pulled him to the side, shoving him down onto the end of one of the couches along the wall. He just went with it, everything spinning a little out of his control. He sprawled and she straddled him, warm weight on his lap, grinding her ass against the hard on straining against the fly of his jeans, catching his head and plunging right into an open mouthed, all tongues on board kiss. And then he figured, with the last vestiges of anything resembling common sense, that maybe out of the two of them, she wasn't the one drunk off her ass and holy hell, vodka carried a mean punch. And God, her hands.
He arched off the couch as her fingers slid up under his shirt, bright points of light flaring behind his eyes as nails raked his skin. It would have been painful - -maybe it was painful - - but it was hard to differentiate when she was grinding in his lap. Heat was everywhere, it poured off her in waves he could smell. She bit his lip, and he could taste blood and it hardly mattered, because one of her hands was working at the button of his jeans and everything else was just a dull buzz of inconsequential background noise compared to that.
Then, bafflingly, she was gone, her hands, her weight, her scent still strong in his nostrils. Which was when things got confusing. Isaac was standing there, glowering, a phone in his hand, ignoring some guy who was trying to snatch it away. And Zlata was half off the couch, next to him, narrow eyed and glaring herself, flushed lips pulled back into something that almost looked like a snarl, but it wasn't directed at him.
Isaac did something to the phone before tossing it at the guy, who scrambled after it.
"Are you out of your mind?" Isaac reached down and grabbed his elbow, hauling him up. He might have taken offense, but he was too busy trying to keep his balance.
"What are you - -?"
"Keeping you from going viral."
Scott was feeling really, really slow on the uptake. "What?"
"C'mon," Isaac was pulling him across the room, through the crowd towards the stairs. He glanced back, looking for Zlata, but she had disappeared.
"How wasted are you?" Isaac was asking.
Pretty thoroughly, though he didn't say it. What he asked, was, "Is Allison here?" Because Isaac wasn't really the seek out the company of tons of people he didn't know for the fun of it sort of guy.
"Oh. How'd you get here?"
Isaac didn't answer that. And then they were outside, where it was dark and cool, and away from the heat of that basement and the noise and the smells, the night offered a miraculous void of sensation.
"What are we doing?"
"Going home," Isaac said. "Where are your keys?"
It took him a second to get that, disjointed as his thinking presently was. He systematically went about checking pockets, until he managed to find them in his jacket. Then another pertinent fact worked it way into his jumbled stream of thought.
"Wait - - Zlata. I was her ride - -"
Isaac snorted. "I could see that."
"I can't just leave her - -"
"Sure you can. There's like twenty guys that'll slit each other's throats for the chance to drive her home. She'll be fine."
Weirdly enough, that scenario didn't particularly bother him. He leaned against the car while Isaac opened the passenger door and said with sort of a hushed amazement. "We were totally doing it."
"You were headed that way," Isaac agreed. "In the middle of about a hundred people."
That sank in in stages, until it finally hit him that - - oh crap - - they had seriously been going at it - - and he felt another surge of amazement at that concept, because how had that even happened? - - in the midst of a crowded basement.
He got in when Isaac urged him, sinking into the passenger seat, warm and lightheaded. He leaned his head back, pressing his palms against his eyes. It didn't alleviate his swimming head or the slow swell of embarrassment creeping up.
"Vodka is either really, really good. Or really, really bad."
Isaac sniffed and started the car.
"There's blood on your shirt."
Sure enough, there were a couple of stains, long streaks of it soaked through the material of his Henley. He blinked in confusion and lifted the shirt. There was a little blood on his stomach, still moist, but there was only whole skin, no sign of the wounds that had shed it. He half recalled the feel of her nails, but he didn't think she'd raked him hard enough to make him bleed. But then pretty much everything he'd been feeling had taken second seat to the feel of her grinding in his lap.
His brain finally caught up with something Isaac had said right around the time he'd maybe pulled Zlata off of him, when he'd had that guy's phone. "Somebody was video taping us?"
"The guy sitting right there next to you while she was giving you the lap dance."
"Oh, God - -"
He groaned and sank deeper into the seat. Maybe if he were lucky, tomorrow when he woke up, he wouldn't remember half of this.
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