Noel Tierney thought she’d have enough time before the predicted storm to make it to her holiday retreat, but the snow hit sooner than expected. Caught unprepared on a treacherous pass, poor visibility and icy conditions lead to a crash. She lay immobile in her vehicle, stranded in a ditch in the most remote leg of her journey.
A faceless hero comes to her rescue and Noel has no choice but to wait out the blizzard in her rescuer’s unique cabin nestled in the woods. Everything about Grayson James peaks her curiosity—his valor, air of mystery and most of all, undeniable attractiveness.
For three days and nights, passions are unleashed and unexpected emotions are brought to life. When the storm breaks, Grayson vanishes into thin air, but not before revealing startling news that leaves her questioning her sanity.
Fast forward years later and Noel is in the southernmost part of the United States. She’d come seeking solace after her husband’s tragic death, but what finds her in Key West is more than she ever anticipated.
In the sultry summer, her unbridled winter’s ecstasy resurrects.
And so does the Vampire.
“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”
Dark yet welcoming, the restaurant pulled them in with its ambiance.
The plastered walls were sponged in color blocks of a deep red and black. The ceilings were painted in a high polish black and stone black tile lined the floor. Striking kabuki masks and detailed silk kimono robes lined the walls
The women shared the restaurant with no one except the spiciness of sriracha seasonings and robust scent of the rich soy sauce that filled the air. They sat on their high top stools at the bar, enjoying the food and the reprieve from the heat.
“Air conditioning is nice, huh?” Noel asked.
“Yes, I’ll give you that. I forgot how sticky this weather can be. I think we have to get used to having bad hair and make up days.”
“I think you’re right.”
Suzanne finished sipping the last of the broth. “The soup is amazing. It’s not the kind of cuisine I had in mind for our vacation in Key West, though.”
“I had no clue this was even here. But, I needed this…helped with my hangover.”
“Absolutely. I think I can tackle a Sandhill Hooker shot or two today. After all, we are on the infamous Duval Street.”
“Okay, pickle juice that way…now you’re talking.”
She looked around the place and smiled. “It’s pretty cool in here.”
Suzanne leaned her head back. “And look at how high the ceiling is. I like all that exposed ductwork. I wonder what this place was before?”
“This used to be a club,” said the waitress as she carried in a case of liquor from the kitchen to the bar.
“This was a club?” Suzanne asked.
“Yeah. You two new to Key West?”
“First time here.”
Noel sat quietly listening to the conversation unfold between Suzanne and the waitress.
“You want a little history on this building you won’t hear about on any tour guide?” The waitress asked as she unpacked the box and carefully placed the bottles on the lighted shelves behind the bar.
“This restaurant and the entire vacant spot next door used to be one big club.” The waitress turned around and pointed towards the ceiling. “There was an entire second floor up there. The owners of the restaurant demolished it since the place is small and narrow. The height makes it feel spacious. You can sorta tell how it looked like the second floor with that small area they kept above the kitchen. The red spiral staircase you see leading up to that area…that’s original to the building.”
“Yeah, taking the second floor out does make it feel bigger. So the club must’ve been packed all the time to have two floors, huh?”
The waitress laughed and leaned against the counter. “They didn’t advertise. And you notice it’s off of Duval right?”
The women nodded.
“Not much foot traffic on this street like Duval. This was the hush-hush place. You had to get invited. Secret door knock and password would let you in—extremely private and exclusive.”
“You ever get invited?”
“Oh, God, no. I have no idea who got invited, but I wasn’t one of them. In fact, I never knew the club existed until a friend told me that the owners were going to put the building up for sale a few years ago. I was like, ‘what club?’ And the thing was, I walked past the place many times and always thought it was an abandoned building.”
“So what was the deal? Why was it private? What went on?”
“Rumors claimed it as an adult playground.”
“If the place was still in operation, somehow I know Suzanne would get an invite,” Noel chimed in.
Suzanne flashed a wicked smile.
“Possibly,” the waitress said. “Get’s your thoughts going, right? Like, what exactly happened in there? Who went there? But the one thing I was always curious about was seeing the place. They say it was like being on another planet.”
Noel awaited a break in the conversation to jump back in with her questions. But movement from out of the corner of her eye caught her attention. She snapped her head to look at the loft area and gasped.
“What?” the waitress asked in a concerning tone.
She scanned the area in confusion.
“What’s wrong?” Suzanne asked.
“I-I thought I saw something up there.”
The waitress peered into the kitchen. “Can’t be. No one else is here except Jesse and he’s at sink.”
“What’s that door up there?”
“That’s the access point to the space next door, but its sealed shut from the other side. Trust me. I’ve tried to see if I could get in to sneak a peek.”
“What is it that you think you saw?” Suzanne asked.
She shrugged her shoulders as goose bumps paraded along her skin. The same feeling stirred again—as if she were being watched. “I thought I saw someone looking down on us from that railing.”
Suzanne turned to the waitress. “We partied a bit last night.”
“That tends to happen in Key West.”
“I think we’ll take the check and I’ll get this one out for some much needed fresh air and vitamin D.”
“I’m not crazy, Suzanne,” she whispered as she reached for her purse.
“I didn’t say you were. I just think you need to get outside.”
“Sammy told you right?”
“The boat? Me freaking out that someone was watching me last night?”
“Yes. But, honey, I think you’re just thinking of Dante being in this place and visualizing him. That’s all.”
The waitress slid the check across the counter and Suzanne immediately snatched it up. “My treat. You get drinks tonight.”
Suzanne placed the cash on top of counter. “Keep the change, darling. Thanks for the 411 on this place. Very interesting.”
“No problem. You guys go have fun.”
Maya DeLeina is a multi-published Erotic Vampire Romance Author with Siren , Evernight and Ellora’s Cave Publishing. Her current series includes Ambrose Heights Vampires, My Naughty Vampire and Vampire Architects.
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