Home > Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)(13)

Don't Rush Me (Nora Jacobs #1)(13)
Author: Jackie May

Giggling, she throws her arm over Shandra’s shoulder and holds up her drink. “I’ve brought your future mate to meet you—clan’s orders—so get your scrawny butt over here!”

Shandra glares at Nell, but Nell doesn’t notice. She’s too busy giggling at the look of shock on Terrance’s face. He’s gaping at Shandra with his jaw on the floor. “I guess the clan elders forgot to mention this whole mating idea to him,” Nell whispers.

Terrance finishes pouring the drink for the hot guy customer who is also staring at the two trolls with a hint of surprise, and slowly makes his way over to his waiting guests. Terrance warily lets his sister introduce him to Shandra, but I don’t pay attention to them. My eyes stay locked on Mr. Muscles across the bar. He hasn’t stopped looking at the girls since the moment they got Terrance’s attention. There’s something about the way he’s watching them that doesn’t sit quite right with me. His gaze is calculating and hungry. He’s clearly not a troll. He’s much too small for that, despite the body builder appearance. So why is he so fascinated by a couple of unattractive troll girls?

I pull myself from the vision, taking a moment to orient myself. I don’t answer all the questions being thrown at me as I head toward the stool Mr. Muscles was sitting on. I don’t want to lose my concentration. Quickly, with Mr. Muscles’ face at the front of my mind, I slide onto his stool and run my hands over the counter he’d been leaning against. The vision comes much quicker this time. It’s a stronger imprint. Whoever the stranger was, he was pretty excited last night.

His hand clenches into a fist on the bar as he watches Terrance talk to Shandra and Nell. It’s clearly an awkward conversation. Poor Terrance looks so frazzled. I feel badly for Shandra, too. Whatever this mate business the girls were talking about was, it had obviously been something she was looking forward to, and Terrance didn’t seem to share her excitement.

Shandra says something to them both and abruptly jumps up. Her eyes are glossy with unshed tears as she heads toward the restrooms. Terrance and Nell automatically begin arguing with one another. I find it fascinating and am dying to know how marriage and family works among troll clans, but I force myself to pay attention to Mr. Muscles. He knocks back the rest of his drink in one gulp and follows after Shandra.

When the vision ends, my head starts to throb—an unfortunate side effect of getting sucked into visions. I’m going to have a killer headache after this, because I’ve got to try and dive into a few more before I can call it a night.

I lean over the bar with a groan, resting my head on the cool counter until the throbbing subsides. Parker and Henry reach my sides first, both calling my name in concern.

“Just give me a second.”

“What’s going on?” Terrance asks as I concentrate on not vomiting.

“Nora, love, what’s wrong?” Henry places his hand softly on my back. “Are you ill?”

His chilly fingers on my back give me the creeps. Squirming out from beneath his touch, I scramble off my stool and glare at the man. “Getting sucked into memories isn’t exactly a picnic, but I’m fine. Stop touching me.”

Ignoring his annoyed frown, I turn to Terrance. “When your sister and Shandra showed up, you were serving a drink to a guy—early twenties, decent looking, blond hair, brown eyes, big arms, thick neck. That’s your guy. That’s who took her. He followed her to the restroom when she left you and Nell to argue. Do you remember him? Did you know him?”

Terrance gasps and his face pales. “How do you know that?”

“Sometimes I can see things. Imprints of the past. Whoever the man you served last night was, he was awfully interested in your sister and her friend.”

“What kind of underworlder was he? What race?” Parker asks while Henry has his own set of questions. “Who was he? What did he want? Why did he take her?”

Ugh. I knew this was going to happen. “How the hell am I supposed to know?”

“You had a vision,” Henry snaps, displeased with my bad attitude.

“Yeah, a vision,” I snark back. “A picture. Imprints are like movies. I can see what’s going on, but I don’t hear what’s going on in their heads.”

“But what was he?” Parker asks again. “Knowing his race will give us a place to start looking.”

“I don’t know.”

Parker doesn’t set off my bitch meter as much as Henry, but I’m still losing my patience. I’m not in the mood to go into all the details of my gift’s limitations, so I ignore the lot of them and head toward the back of the club. They follow silently and, wisely, don’t bother me as I begin running my hands slowly along the walls of the dim hallway where the restrooms are.

I really don’t have much of a chance of picking up anything useful, but I have to try. Shandra seemed so young and nice, and Terrance is so worried about her. The first imprint that sucks me in is a flash of a woman holding herself steady against the wall while she throws up. I guess even underworlders can’t always hold their liquor.

Next, I’m pulled into a couple who I first assume are making out against the wall, but on closer inspection I realize the woman has her fangs sunk deeply into the man’s neck. The imprint is so strong I can’t pull out of it, and I’m forced to wait out the feeding. Like my vision of Henry this morning, this couple seems to really be enjoying themselves. The fact that the experience seems orgasmic for both of them doesn’t lessen my repulsion. All I see is a monster drinking blood.

When I’m finally free of that imprint, I’m quickly sucked into another one. This time, a man with all black eyes stands in the darkest corner of the hall, and a scantily clad woman kneels in front of him. I roll my eyes and vow never to wander into the dark recesses of a nightclub. I’m just about give up the search when I find what I’m looking for.

Mr. Muscles leans against the wall outside the women’s room. One hand is tucked into his jeans pockets, and the other holds a lit cigarette. Though, it’s a hand-rolled cigarette, so it might not be a cigarette at all. He’s got a bored look on his face, as if he’s waiting for his girlfriend to come out of the restroom.

When Shandra finally exits the bathroom, Mr. Muscles takes a long drag from his cigarette and pulls away from the wall. He steps into her path, accidentally colliding with her.

Shandra shoots him a nasty look and growls at him in a way only an angry troll could manage. “Watch it!”

“Sorry,” he grumbles, blowing the smoke from his lungs into her face.

“Gross!” Shandra waves the smoke away from her face with a cough. “Thanks, asshole.”

She pushes him out of the way, slamming him against the wall hard enough that the guy’s eyes widen in shock. He presses his hand to his chest where she’d shoved him. She probably left a bruise.

Shandra takes two steps before she sways on her feet. Mr. Muscles quickly grabs her from behind to help steady her. As he walks a confused, drowsy, and dizzy Shandra toward an emergency exit at the end of the hall, he looks to anyone watching like nothing but a concerned boyfriend helping his drunken date outside.

Pain flairs behind my eyes and in my temples when the vision fades. I’ve never had so many visions in a row, and my body is protesting. But I can’t stop now. This is working. I wait a moment for a bout of nausea and dizziness to pass, but as soon as I can walk without falling over, I head to the emergency exit.

“Oh, my head is going to hate me forever,” I groan when I push the door open and am sucked into the most intense vision yet.

As soon as Mr. Muscles pushes the stumbling Shandra through the door, she collapses. Mr. Muscles is strong, but he can’t hold her dead weight and struggles to get her unconscious body to the ground without dropping her.

“Damn,” a new voice says. “How much does that bitch weigh?”

Another guy, who looks like he comes from the same gym as Mr. Muscles, jumps out of a car that is backed into the dark alley behind the club just feet from the exit. It’s a ghetto mustard-yellow, low-riding Chevy Nova with ridiculous spinning rims and a chrome exhaust pipe. There’s a decal on the back window that seems out of place on the tricked-out classic car. It looks like a fraternity logo of some sort, but I don’t recognize the symbols. I snort. Yeah, these guys are definitely fraternity types. Stereotypical to the point of painful.

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