By Shana Nolan
"I told you for the last time, I don't do parties anymore!† Just send me a nice card, some chocolate covered coffee beans and maybe a walker, and I'll be happy."
"But Traaaacy!† It'll be great!† Cake!† Gifts!† Fun!† You used to have fun..."
Tracy Vetter bit her tongue, stifling the comment.† Claire was a great person, a fellow sorority sister and all around success at her annoyingly happy life, but did she really have to try and spread it around?† "No, I'm okay without a party, Claire, you don't have to do it."
"But I want to, and I hear that the old party house can be rented out.† Come on, tell me you don't have to work on your birthday!"
The urge to run screaming from the usually save haven of the Raven was nipping at her heels, but the blond detective resisted.† Maybe if she gave in to a -little- party with a -few- friends and some music, she could escape the humiliation of last year's fiasco.
But considering her old friend was literally bouncing in her chair, sipping her third Long Island Iced Tea and still totally coherent, that didn't seem likely.
"Tell you what, Claire, I'll make you this deal. You rent out the hall, get the music and people together and tell me when to arrive, and I'll do it.† But if you invite Clarence Shtemper again, I'll never ever ever -ever- talk to you again."
Claire made a face.† "It wasn't my fault that he heard about it."
"Oh," Tracy said sarcastically, "and the ad on the radio for our graduating class had -nothing- to do with it."
"No Clarence Shtemper, I promise."
"And no Betty Weiss."
"No Betty Weiss."
"And for god's sake, if you see that reporter Fuller anywhere near the hall, jump him, tie him up and ship him to the Artic Circle."
Looking at her watch, noting the time, Tracy sighed, ignoring the small part of her that jumped with glee because she could finally leave.† "I gotta go, dinner break's over and the blonde wonderboy left me a stack of forms.† Call me with the details, 'kay?"
Nodding, topping off her drink, Claire stood up and crossed the club, watching the reluctant birthday girl leave.† Leaning against the bar, sidling up next to another woman, she poked her fellow conspirator in the shoulder.† "Call the stripper."
Michelle quirked an eyebrow.† "I thought she wanted it small."
There was a laugh.† "Of course she does.† Howeveró"
From behind them a masculine figure clad in silky black and red came up, drying a glass with a rag.† "You need a stripper?"
Michelle paused, momentarily forgetting herself over the exotic accent.† "Yeah, a male one, someone with nice pecs."
Miklos, suave bartender extraordinaire, smiled, his dark eyes glittering.† " I have just the man for you, the previous owner was very fond of him..."
*††††††††† *†††††††††† *
A few days later...
"This is so great!"
"She'll be floored!"
"She'll never see this coming!"
"It's only a model."
"It's a -diorama,- okay?"
"Where's the stripper?"
"Where's the cake?"
"Is he in the cake?"
The pack of sorority sisters turned their heads, falling silent.
"She's here, kill the lights, cover the glow in the dark glitter and hide!"
Tracy, eyeing the building suspiciously, climbed the few stairs to the main doors.† It was dark inside, yet there were cars parked all around, both in the lot and on the grass next to it; and, to top it off, the aroma of coffee was heavy in the air.
"I smell a surprise party."
Pulling the handle slowly, bracing herself for the impending scream, the homicide cop prepared her best gee-I'm-so-surprised look and took a step inside.
"I'm just... floored, gee, guys, thanks!"
Claire cut through the crowd and patted her friend on the shoulder.† "Try a little harder, dear, the sarcasm isn't quite dripping off your tongue yet."
Tracy coughed and accepted the drink being shoved in her hand.† "Oh, okay."
Stumbling forward, having dipped into the spiked punch a tad sooner than the rest, one of the former cheerleaders hugged the blonde hard and then backed away, elbowing Claire.† "Show her her present."
Tracy raised an eyebrow.
Claire giggled and pointed at the stage where a set of red and pink spotlights were being brought up.† "That present."
Raising her eyes, moving cautiously towards the space cleared for "Her-Royal-Birthdayness," she lost the snide comment forming on her lips as she saw that it was a huge catwalk... with a pole... and a gold tinsel curtain in the back.† "A stripper?"
Claire nodded as she plunked the blonde in her chair.† "Now sit and enjoy.† Kill the lights!"
As the two dozen guests gathered quickly around the stage, the main lights went down and they were blanketed in a wash of red and pink.† A few moments later, with the pounding of a drum and the howl of an electric guitar, the speakers started blasting out a sensual beat.
The woman grinned and pointed at the stage again.
"But Ió"† Her voice falling away, Tracy blinked.† As the lyrics started, a man dressed in a pair of baggy jeans and a forest green pirate shirt came out and struck a pose, earning cat calls and whistles from the audience.
"Claire," poking the woman's arm, she tried to figure out how to gracefully say that the gorgeous creature on the stage was one of the fanged undead.† "Do you know who that is?"
All she got was a giggle.† "Oooh, yah, and he's twice as good as the bartender promised."
Tracy blinked.† "Bartender?"
"Raven's bartender, now hush."
"Ookay, butóoh, never mind it can waió"
Taking three steps, the pale skinned man with burning dark eyes locked his gaze on hers.† She gasped.† There were other people in the room?
Running his hands across his chest, swiveling his hips slowly to the beat, he paraded incredibly close to the edge, the smile curling up his smooth cheek as he leaned down.
"I think she's going to faint."
"Or jump him."
The chorus starting, he reared up, flinging his hair through the air, backing up just a little to drop to his knees and hands, angling down closer to Tracy's level, his ass up in the air as the well formed muscles swayed to the music.
Tracy stopped breathing.
Then, with a deep chested chuckle, he leapt to his feet and sauntered back to the centre of the stage, pulling the edges of the deep green shirt from the jeans.
A collective inhalation circulated the room.
And then he ripped it off, exposing his well muscled, oiled chest, tossing the fabric perfectly, the discarded shirt landing in Tracy's lap.
The hall erupted in catcalls and whoops.
Gyrating his hips expertly, making his washboard stomach ripple with the flex of muscles, he pushed his hands through his hair and lolled his head back, parting his mouth slightly as he went.† The tip of his tongue darting out to lick his lips, he bent down, settling into a near crouch, the strong thighs visible through the jeans, working from back to front in an intentional manner.
"He's a vampire, he's a bad guy, he's a vampire, he's a bad guy, he's a vampire, he's a bad guy... Who the hell are you kidding, Trace," the cop muttered to herself, noting that it was not just her transfixed on the sight before her.
Strutting, his hands caressing over his body, he froze, catching Tracy talk to herself.† Raising an eyebrow, one of his hands slinked down his chest and flat stomach to play at the fly button, the singular girlie shriek from the back making his mouth curl in a wicked grin.
"Take it off, stud!"
"Claire, what would your husband say?!"
Her eyes never leaving the stage, the friend grinned.† "'Why don't you whistle at me like that?'"
And then the sound of a zipper being lowered ended the conversation.
His hand had crept low enough that his fingers were no longer visible, his eyes closed and his mouth partially parted again.† Shifting sensuously, slowly rocking forward onto his knees, his other hand fell across his neck.
And then he dropped to the floor, his knees up in the air, his back arched, a very full view of his lower half aimed towards the enraptured crowd of women.
The hand slipped free of the pants and hooked on the waistband, fingers beginning to slide the fabric down.† Reaching the curve of his buttocks, he angled his hips up, and with a quick and skilled snap of the wrists, yanked the jeans to his knees, only the rather tight and rather defining deep green thong hiding his worldly jewels.
Somewhere in the crowd a <thud> was heard.
Bending up slowly, arching his back to raise his head up, he swayed back and forth, grinding his hips against an invisible force, his back flexing smoothly.† Rocking forward suddenly, he dropped to hands and knees and crawled across the stage, stopping right in front of Tracy's seat.† Leaning down, he met his eyes with hers before closing the rather miniscule distance between them, brushing his lips against hers, the tip of his tongue touching her upper lip.
Tracy shuddered, fighting the urges. †If nothing else, she was no voyeur.
Catching her reaction, he chuckled again and raised a hand across her face, stroking her cheek, all the while still moving his prone and nearly nude form to the beat.
Resisting his own urges, smelling her skin and wanting to actually taste it, he drew back and dropped to the stage, writhing against the surface in a lewd manner, then rolling onto his back and running his hands all over his body, sliding his fingers over the curves, pausing to dance them over the still covered body parts.
There was a "meep" from the audience as the ones near the stage leaned in.
And then he cupped himself, fondling delicately as his hips moved very slightly.† His back arching up off the ground, he thrust his hips against air, his bare leg muscles tensing.
Remembering to blink, noticing that her mouth had gone dry, Tracy shook her head.† This was the guy from the Raven... the bartender himself... Miklos... in the flesh... pale flesh... well muscled pale flesh...
Stretching and rolling to his side, he paused to play his fingers under the waist of the thong, snapping the elastic and only briefly exposing uninterrupted lines of flesh.† Doing it a few more times, he rolled onto his front and curled backwards, moving with feline grace to set on his haunches, his movements now a clear imitation of something far more intimate.
And then, with a final strike of beat, the lights went down, plunging everyone into darkness.
About to protest, Tracy noted that when someone hit the far too bright overheads back on, the delicious creature had disappeared.
Claire, fanning herself, grinned.† "Happy birthday, Tracy."
Her voice off somewhere with her usual sense of decorum, the blonde nodded.† "Uh, thanks, thanks -a lot.-"
Michelle sidled up, a flush in her cheeks.† "Oooh, wow."
"Did you see hió"
Tracy paused, and following the widening eyes of her friends.† Dressed in a black silk robe, his dark hair now slicked back, dark eyes met hers.† Striding across the stage, stepping off of it slowly, a V of his bare chest exposed, one of his large hands moved to slip around Tracy's neck.† Pulling her close, Miklos pressed a hard kiss to her lips, his cool mouth a balance to her heated lips.
Practically falling forward, Tracy fell against him, noting with interest that the silk robe wasn't hiding much, curve wise.† She could feel her will power slipping away with every moment, and it went without saying that she wasn't going to grouse about this party.
"Happy birthday, Beauty."