Red Dragon's Desire - Anastasia Wilde

Chapter 1

“Are you sure we’re going in the right direction?”

Lucinda Cross twisted in her seat, looking at the boarded-up building they’d just passed. She and her roommate Sophie were supposed to be heading to one of the hottest new clubs in Seattle, but they were getting deeper and deeper into a part of the city that screamed ‘mug me, stab me and leave me for dead.’

“It’s the address on the tokens Alan gave me, to get us in,” Sophie said, glancing at the car’s GPS. “He said the neighborhood is being gentrified.”

Lucinda looked out the window again. “He may have exaggerated that just a tad. But if any microbreweries or organic bakeries appear, I’ll let you know.”

Sophie drove on, unfazed by the derelict buildings all around them. But then, Sophie was unfazed by pretty much anything.

“Come on, Lucinda. Get excited! We’re on our way to an exclusive club that literally nobody can get into, about to see a wild band that everybody’s talking about, and all because I just happened to meet Alan at The Dog’s House last weekend.”

“If everybody’s talking about this band, then obviously somebody is getting inside to see them.”

Sophie rolled her eyes. “Well, yes—but only people with connections. I mean, what are the chances that the guy coming on to me at The Dog’s House would happen to have a friend who could get us into Dragon’s Lair? That’s a whole different level of clubbing, with a whole different league of guys. It’s like fate stepped into our lives and suddenly made us some of the coolest chicks in the city. This is going to be amazing.”

Lucinda doubted that. She was no Sophie—exciting and flamboyant and good at everything she did, from snowboarding to acting to fashion design. Lucinda was just—normal. When she and Sophie met in high school, Lucinda had been an ordinary, middle-of-the-road, not-beautiful-not-hideous teenager, and she’d grown up into an equally ordinary, un-star-studded adult with an ordinary administrative job in an ordinary middle-of-the-road company.

Not that she wasn’t perfectly fine with herself and her life. But her social circles did not include trendy clubs that got written up in society columns. She’d never particularly wanted them to.

“Did Alan say anything more about what this guy Lorne is like?” she asked. Alan’s friend’s generosity had been not-so-subtly contingent on Lucinda being set up with him. Which made her feel like a bargaining chip in too-high heels. And what if he was a total creep?

“Just that he’s some kind of finance guy who makes piles of money. And he also just broke up with someone because she cheated on him, so he needs to be cheered up.”

“Awesome,” Lucinda muttered. More like, he needed a rebound chick who was probably not going to be stolen away by someone richer and better-looking.

Stop that, Lucinda told herself. When did you get so cynical?

Sophie—who knew her almost better than she knew herself—gave her a sympathetic glance. “Oh, hon. Just because he’s rich doesn’t mean he’s a dick. And you’re amazing—any guy would be lucky to have you.”

Lucinda patted her arm. “Don’t worry—I’m not that down on myself. There are plenty of perfectly nice guys in my league. I just know when I’m out of my league, is all. And guys who make piles of money and pride themselves on being able to get people into trendy clubs are out of my league. Which is fine, because you know I don’t even really like clubs.”

“You’ll love this one.” Sophie’s ebullient spirits had returned. “Dark Desire—the band—is supposed to be absolutely uh-mazing. One day you’ll be able to tell your kids you saw them live.”

“Well, if I couldn’t be cool as a teenager, at least I can be a cool mom. That’s something to look forward to.”

Sophie giggled. “Hey, maybe Lorne will turn out to be the love of your life, and you can tell your kids the story of tonight, and how you met.”

“Slow down, cowgirl! I started out as your wing person, and now Lorne and I are having kids? Let’s just try to survive getting to the club before you marry me off.”

They found the club, parked, and joined the line outside without getting mugged. The line was full of ‘beautiful people,’ men and women alike, all sleek and shiny and showing themselves off. Right in front of Lucinda and Sophie was a group of women in trendy, skimpy clothes that Lucinda would never be able to carry off.

She had on tight jeans and boots, and one of her sexiest