Benjamin was drunk enough to be uncertain he hadn’t begun to hallucinate, but sober enough to remember the weapon secreted in his boot. He’d already downed his third Scotch when the creature walked into Whiskey Tango. The thing’s aura was like nothing he’d seen since developing his second sight. A majestic purple, it pulsed and vibrated with a heat that sang from across the room.
He focused on the glow. The creature moved toward the bar, and the color flickered then faded, leaving a current-like trail before winking to nothing. Benjamin’s hand lost its grip on the empty Scotch glass, and the tumbler met the table with a rocking thud that preceded the sound of shattering glass.
Marc hustled over. “Let me get that for you.”
“Sorry.” Benjamin never tore his gaze from where the thing had stood. Had he imagined the strange aura? Perhaps nobody was there at all?
“The creat—the man who just came in? I mean did a man just come in?”
The server answered with a bewildered, “Yeah . . .” The how the hell did you know that note in Marc’s response told Benjamin he’d nearly given away too much. Having special magic abilities was one thing. Letting normal people know about them, however, tended to win you a one-way trip to Mass General, or a spot on the latest so-called reality freak show. Neither of which appealed.
“Windy night,” Benjamin offered without being asked. “I felt the breeze and smelled his cologne when he came in.”
“Oh.” Marc, curiosity dampened, stood. “I guess you have super hearing and the ability to smell stuff better because you’re blind.”
Benjamin breathed deep and dug for patience. It wasn’t the honest term blind that pissed him off. It was the things people came up with to explain how he functioned that made his blood boil. Blind people sometimes did have a better handle on their other senses, but only because they paid more attention to them than sighted people did. Even he wasn’t unusual among his ancestors. He had a sixth sense for magic, but it wasn’t something his kin hadn’t developed as well. Sighted or not.
Somehow, Benjamin managed not to snarl. “Just tell me what he looks like.”
“Uh . . .” The table shifted as Marc ostensibly grabbed its edge to steady himself and peer over his shoulder. “Yeah. Jeez. Wow.”
Benjamin crossed his right foot over his left knee, bringing the knife in his boot within easy reach. “What does that mean?”
“Depends on whether you want to be able to walk the next day.” Marc’s laugh was throaty. “With a body like that, and an attitude to match, he’d probably fuck you into next week and not stick around to see if there was anything left.”
Benjamin snorted. Just like Marc to assume he was after sex.
“When have I ever left here with anyone?” Benjamin asked, momentarily diverted.
“Maybe you should.” Marc laid a hand on his shoulder.
Benjamin shrugged off his touch. “What makes you think I’m gay?”
He’d spent most of his life trying to defy expectations people had of him—the blind man, the orphan, the wealthy eccentric. He wasn’t afraid of claiming his sexuality. That a mere acquaintance, however, had stumbled upon such intimate knowledge of him was neither welcome nor comforting.
“You talk when you’re drunk. Just like everyone else.” Marc leaned low and intoned, “Don’t worry. Your secrets are safe with me.”
Recoiling, Benjamin stopped himself from asking Marc what else he had revealed while washing the vampire stink from his sinuses. He imagined he might have said quite a lot, and he didn’t even have all that good of an imagination.
“Want me to get his number for you?” Marc’s voice retreated as he put a little distance between them. “Or I could get him a drink from you?”
“W-what?” Benjamin sputtered. “No.”
“He’s looking at you.” Marc nearly purred the observation. “And he’s wearing leather pants . . .”
“Leave him alone,” Benjamin growled, fingers flexing automatically in search of a drink. Gods save him from people’s matchmaking impulses. “And stop feeling sorry for me. I don’t need your charity . . . or his.”
And that’s what it would be. Charity. If the man were staring at him, he was likely trying to figure out if Benjamin were an easy lay or just a target for scar fetishists. Nobody who approached Benjamin for sex wanted to stick around, and he preferred it that way. Marc’s description of this man, however, made the idea of being pity fucked—even into the mind-blowing oblivion the server had described—something to be avoided at all costs.
Marc paused, and Benjamin could feel his considering gaze. “Do you really not know how good looking you are?”
In absence of a glass, Benjamin snatched up the damp shreds of his wadded-up cocktail napkin and began tearing it to tiny bits. He could feel the scars around his eyes with his fingers. He knew what he must look like.
“Oh, sure.” He hurled several chunks of sodden napkin onto the floor. “Because a guy with disfiguring scars who wears sunglasses all the time is so mysterious and sexy.”
“Actually, the sunglasses are rather intriguing.” Benjamin’s chin whipped up. That had definitely not been Marc’s voice.