This snippet is a flashback of Tyler's first meeting with Darian. You read a bit of her recollection in SHAEDES OF GRAY, but here's a taste of Ty's perspective. Hope you like it!
A familiar sensation tugged from the center of my chest as if drawing me toward something. How long had it been since I’d felt it? Three hundred years? Four? Hell, it could’ve been a thousand. The urge to protect was second nature to me, but I hadn’t felt compelled to bind myself to anyone—thereby creating a Charge whose protection I’d be responsible for—for a very long time. I looked around the bar at the many creatures: both human and as far from human as you could get. One of them had triggered it and, Jesus fucking Christ, either I’d completely forgotten how it felt, or my new Charge was in a shit load of trouble.
The timing couldn’t be worse. I was meeting a potential employee in a few minutes and didn’t need the distraction of the life force that called out to me like a million voices begging for help. How in the hell was I supposed to ignore something so powerful?
Over the din of music and voices, I heard my name like a whisper on the wind. Supernatural hearing definitely had its benefits. Turning toward the sound, I noticed a woman leaning over the bar, her mouth close to Levi’s ear. He pointed in my direction and gave her his you’d-look-great-stretched-out-naked-on-my-bed smile. And for some reason, when she walked away without so much as a grin in return, I felt a strange surge of satisfaction.
Oh, man. Was I in for a world of hurt with this one. Her head-to-toe black outfit made a definite statement. And the duster… Someone was a fan of the Underworld franchise. It suited her, though. On anyone else, it would have looked satirical, but she pulled it off. As she sauntered toward me, she brushed a curtain of loosely curled, reddish-blond hair away from her face.
Jesus. She was beautiful. And not by any stretch of the imagination was she human. In fact, she appeared more like a mirage than anything real. Her green eyes glowed faintly against the backdrop of the dark club, almost indiscernible to anyone with a less than keen eye. Shaede. Not common to Seattle, for sure. But it did pique my curiosity. A perfect assassin. I could use someone who could become an invisible shadow on the payroll.
With each step she made toward my table at the back of the bar, the more my unease mounted. No. No fucking way. I kept my ass glued to my seat even when my body wanted to bolt out of the chair and go to her. My Charge was making a bee-line for my table, and apparently, she was also my newest employee.
Well, if this didn’t just complicate the hell out of things. Exactly how was I supposed to protect her while simultaneously throwing her into dangerous situations? And why would someone who could obviously hold her own need my protection? Her name had been given to me by an associate who’d hired her for a freelance job a few months back. All I’d been told about her was that her name was Darian, and she was worth every penny. And as for what I didn’t know about her…I guessed I was about to find out.
“You Tyler?” she asked when she got to the table. Her voice was a little deeper than I’d expected. Almost husky. Like she’d just been made love to for hours. Lazy and sated. The sound shot through my system in an exciting rush, settling deep in my stomach. I shifted in my seat, sitting a little straighter. My palms flattened out on the table, itching to reach out and touch her, to make that essential connection…
She quirked a brow and tilted her head as she waited for me to answer. Great. Way to make a first impression. The damn bonding urge had me completely wrapped up in my own thoughts. Speak, you dipshit! “Yeah, I’m Tyler.” Jesus, even my voice sounded uptight. “Have a seat.”
“I’d prefer the bar.” Her eyes darted from side to side, and she shook out her hair so that it partially hid her face. Feelings of unease pulsed around me. Darian’s unease. In fact, her fear was palpable, at least to me. What could someone as powerful as her possibly have to fear?
Palm out in invitation, I motioned for her to head toward the far end of the bar. She didn’t budge; too wary to turn away and have me at her back. The protective urge spiked inside me again as I calmly pushed my chair out and led the way to the quietest end of the bar. The focus it took just to put one foot in front of the other damned near exhausted me. But I wasn’t ready to commit myself to her, no matter what my instinct dictated.
Not until I touched her first.