Alice in zombieland, p.23

Alice in Zombieland, page 23

 part  #1 of  White Rabbit Chronicles Series

 

Alice in Zombieland
 



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Page 23

 

  On the drive, I spied what could have been a rabbit-shaped cloud. I told Reeve to slow down, convinced for a moment that we were going to wreck. But wonder of wonders, I must have been mistaken. We reached the club safely, no wreck, no deaths.

  Kat gave her name to two ginormous bouncers I would have run screaming from in any other situation, and they allowed us to bypass the hundreds waiting to get in. We sailed inside, loud, raucous music instantly assailing my ears.

  “Isn’t this wonderful?” Kat had to shout to be heard.

  Wonderful wasn’t the right word. I’d seen things like this on TV, of course. Read about them in books. Listened to lectures from my mom. But this was exciting mixed with scary and sprinkled with a whole lot of this really can’t be happening right in front of me.

  On the dance floor, men and women were writhing with Cirque du Soleil flexibility. At the bar, guys were doing body shots off girls. In the corners, a whole lot of making out was going on. I smelled sweat and perfume and a few things I couldn’t identify.

  Building-wise, there were two floors. The bottom was where the dancing and socializing were done, and the top was for VIPs, maybe. An iron railing circled the second tier, allowing a clear view for those at the edge of a separate sectioned-off area. There I could make out black leather couches and chairs, iron tables and—

  Cole.

  Oh, glory, there he was. He sat on one of the couches, facing me, with Frosty beside him. He was talking to someone across from him and laughing. That amusement softened his face, making him look less scary and more Hollywood. He wasn’t wearing a hat tonight. Dressed in a black T-shirt that looked as if it had been painted on he was total smex appeal, and I wished I could see his lower half.

  I nudged Kat in the stomach and pointed. She followed the line of my finger and clapped.

  “Goody!” Rising on her tiptoes so that she was poised at my ear, she said, “Time to enact Operation Boys Will Cry. Stage one—make them notice us. ”

  “What?” Wren yelped. “I thought we were here to dance. ”

  “And so we will,” Kat said.

  “What about spying?” I demanded. My ticket to Cole.

  “We can’t really spy on them if they’re not spying on us, now can we?”

  Warped logic, but okay. I wanted to talk to Cole, would talk to him, and yet suddenly all I could think was, oh crap, this won’t end well.

  9

  A Fiendishly Mad Tea Party

  Okay. So. OBWC. Stage one, part A: Kat pilfered a beer from the tray of a passing waitress, took a swig, then handed it to Reeve, who took a swig and handed it to me.

  This will relax you, she mouthed.

  Without taking a swig of my own, I handed the beer to Poppy, who grimaced and handed it to Wren, who grimaced and set it on a table. The thing smelled like battery acid and moldy bread, and besides that, I too easily recalled all the problems alcohol had caused my dad. No way was I going there.

  Stage one, part B: doing a bump and grind on the dance floor. We formed a train as we maneuvered our way to the center. There, Kat somehow forced everyone else to take a few steps back, leaving us in our own private circle. Anyone watching from the top floor would be unable to miss us.

  Unlike Emma, I had no idea how to dance gracefully. Or attractively. But I watched the way the other girls moved their arms and hips and mimicked them. I must have succeeded, because all four offered me smiles of encouragement.

  After what seemed an eternity of this I motioned Kat over, and when she reached me, I said, “I don’t actually want Cole to spy on me. I want him to talk to me. ”

  “Oh, he will. But listen, whatever you do,” she said, moving behind me and placing her hands on my hips, “don’t look up. I’m about to enact stage two. Stage three will commence soon after that, with no more action required on our part, so be ready. ”

  With a force of will I hadn’t known I possessed, I glanced at her over my shoulder rather than at the boys. “I want this to happen, but I have a bad feeling about how we’re going about it. ”

  “Good. I know I’m on the right track. So, here we go!” Like the sex kitten I was beginning to think she was, Kat spun around me and crooked her finger at a group of ultracute random guys.

  Stage two: fanning the flames of jealousy.

  The guys eagerly joined our little circle. Within minutes, masculine hands were roaming, and soft bodies were bumping into hard bodies. I was uncomfortable and embarrassed, and actually had to slap a boy’s fingers away from my butt, but I kept dancing, determined to see Kat’s plan through to the end. Not once did I look in Cole’s direction.

  When I noticed that Reeve’s expression was as pinched as mine probably was, I twirled my way to her side—yes, I’m lame—allowing us to concentrate on each other.

  Even though one of the boys maintained a station behind her, she offered me a relieved smile.

  Finally, I begin to lose myself in the music. My arms lifted over my head, and my eyes closed. I swayed, spun—and smacked into a hard chest. Boys! I swear. I peered up, ready to tell whichever guy had decided to come after me to back off. I—

  I never should have doubted Kat.

  Violet eyes glared down at me, barely leashed aggression in their depths. Hard hands settled on my waist, jerking me closer…closer…until only a whisper separated us.

  The words back off never formed. And, shockingly enough, neither did a vision.

  “Let’s dance,” he said.

  “You dance?” I squeaked. Gotta get that under control, Bell. Adrenaline fizzed in my veins. This boy exhilarated me in a way I’d never before known.

  From the corner of my eye, I saw that Frosty had taken over Kat’s personal space. They were arguing and kissing, arguing and kissing. A boy I hadn’t met was positioned in front of Reeve, and when he wasn’t scowling at her, he was scowling at Bronx, who was backing the random cuties away from us. He looked ready to murder anyone who protested.

  No one protested.

  Other boys from Cole’s group were attempting to dance with Poppy and Wren, but the girls ignored them, turning away.

  Cole cupped my cheeks and brought my gaze back to him. “Why wouldn’t I dance?”

  Uh, maybe because at first glance he looked like he ate puppies for breakfast and kittens for lunch? As for what he enjoyed having for dinner—that couldn’t be discussed in polite company.

  “Because you think it’s dumb?” The words emerged as a question rather than the statement I’d meant them to be.

  “Something that allows a guy to put his hands all over a girl isn’t dumb. It’s genius. ”

  As he tugged me ever closer, I muttered, “I don’t know about this. ”

  “Then I’ll convince you. Now put your arms around me. ”

  “Orders again. ” But you know what? I obeyed him. I even walked my fingers up his spine and sifted them into his soft, silky hair. I just couldn’t help myself. Touching him was a compulsion.

  His pupils expanded, black overshadowing all that beautiful purple. “Most people are so afraid of me they jump to obey the moment I speak. ”

  Just a guess, but most people hadn’t imagined his tongue inside their mouth. “I’m not most people. ”

  “I know. What I don’t know is why you’re here. ”

  His stinging tone told me far more than his words. I wasn’t welcome. “I wanted to try something new,” I said, lifting my chin. I wouldn’t mention my plans to chat with him. Yet. Just then, I had to convince myself there were three things I would not allow him to do. 1) Embarrass me. 2) Intimidate me. Or 3) Send me running.

  His frown was less dark and more confused. “What’s new for you? Dancing?”

  And so much more, but all I said was, “Yes. ”

  “And you let some strange college boy grind all over you for your first time? That’s stupid, Ali. ”

  Not going to be emb
arrassed, not going to be embarrassed. “First, he wasn’t grinding on me, and second, you’re no better than him. ”

  A solid minute of silence, then “You are terrible for my ego, you know that?”

  I could say the same to him.

  “But I can’t seem to stay away,” he added.

  I could have melted into a puddle on the floor. “I know the feeling,” I admitted.

  His gaze lowered to my mouth, lingered for a moment before snapping back up. But that didn’t stop him from bending down, putting his lips to my ear and saying, “So you’ve imagined kissing me, huh. ” A husky note had entered his voice. Something intimate, just for me, and a blush heated my cheeks.

  That was part of what I’d wanted to talk about tonight, yet he’d been the one to bring it up. Score one for Ali. I pointed out, “The same as you’ve imagined kissing me. ”

  “I know. So how are you making me do that?”

  “Me? You’ve got to be kidding. ”

  “Yes, you. I never kid. ” He tightened his grip on me, as if he assumed I’d bolt. “It has to be you. Nothing like that has ever happened to me before. ”

  “Well, nothing like that has ever happened to me before, either, so I’m blaming you!”

  He lifted his head, studied me, and I wasn’t sure whether to love or hate the reason behind all that intensity. “Let’s tackle this from a less volatile angle. Have you wondered what it will be like for real?”

  I…had no idea how to answer that. We continued to move together, rocking, swaying. His fingers flexed on me, lowered, and stopped at the curve of my butt, yet slapping his hands away was the last thing I wanted to do.

  “Well?” he insisted.

  Only the truth would do, I decided. “Yes, I have. ”

  “Me, too,” he rasped.

  My knees almost buckled. “Are you saying…”

  “That I want to discover if reality compares with imagination? Yes. ”

  Here? Now? My first reaction was panic. My second was more panic.

  “Or not,” he added drily. I could feel his arms loosening on me. “I’m used to terrifying people, but not about something like this. ”
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