Jay pulled Violet close to him as they listened to the familiar, playful bantering. He slid his arm around her waist from behind, and let his lips gently tease her earlobe while no one was paying attention to the two of them. Violet wanted to turn around right there, in his arms, and forget this whole dance thing altogether.
“Hey!” Chelsea’s voice interrupted them, and Violet jumped a little, realizing that everyone was staring at them. “Did you hear me?”
Violet leaned forward on her crutches and away from Jay, still feeling bemused by the close and intimate contact. “What?” she asked, trying to focus on what had been said.
“I said, ‘I gotta pee.’ Let’s go to the bathroom,” Chelsea repeated as if Violet were some sort of imbecile, incapable of understanding normal human speech.
“Keep it up, Chels, and none of us is gonna want to hook up with you tonight,” Violet promised jokingly.
Chelsea grinned at Violet. “I like the way you think, Violet Ambrose. Maybe you’ll be the lucky girl I choose.” And then she turned to Jay. “Don’t worry, I’ve got her from here,” Chelsea announced. Jules and Claire followed.
Violet laughed and glanced back at him. “I’ll only be a few.”
Jay gave her a skeptical look that no one else would have even noticed, as he assessed the three girls who would be escorting Violet. And then he finally nodded. “Okay, I’m gonna show these guys my car.” He was beaming again. “I’ll be right outside, but I won’t be long.”
Violet did her best to keep up with the trio ahead of her, but it was hard on one high heel and two crutches. Finally she yelled at them exasperatedly, “If you guys don’t wait, I’m not going!”
They all three stopped and turned around.
Chelsea tapped her lovely silver shoe impatiently. “Hurry up, Violet, or I swear I’ll take you off my list.”
IN PLAIN SIGHT
SHE WAS EASY TO SPOT, THE GIRL, CHIEF AMBROSE’S niece. She was the only girl at the dance on crutches.
She was pretty. Beautiful even, he thought longingly as he studied her. She had the air of a girl who had no idea how seductively appealing she was to the men of this world. He liked that…her innocence.
He’d been watching her since she’d arrived, keeping his distance in case she somehow managed to recognize him from that day in the woods, when he’d chased her. He still couldn’t figure out how she’d known he was there. He’d been so careful, creeping stealthily behind her, and then somehow, some way, she’d known, and she’d run. But even then, he almost had her.
At least until her boyfriend showed up.
He knew, of course, that she hadn’t seen his face out there. He knew that there was no way she could identify him. If she could have, she would have done it already. But there was no point in taking chances…not when he was so close.
It had been hard to wait, frustrating. He’d been forced to bide his time until those watching her slipped, letting down their guard just enough to give him a chance to move in quietly.
And here he was. At last.
The dance was turning out to be more fun than he’d anticipated. He felt like a kid in a candy store, as lovely young ladies floated past him in colorful shades of chiffon and taffeta. They looked like mouth-watering little confections. Only, he couldn’t have any of them.
He could only have one of them. He just needed to be patient…to wait until he could get her alone.
None of them even seemed to notice him there, at their dance, barely affording him a first glance, let alone a second. He blended into the background, an everyday fixture that hardly deserved notice.
It was the perfect disguise. All dressed up as himself.
He kept a close eye on her, on Violet, on his Violet, trying not to have his attention sidetracked by the other blossoming girls all dressed up in women’s bodies. He could smell their youthful essence, and it was distracting.
He observed his girl interacting with her friends, playful and carefree. He watched her boyfriend pulling her close, kissing her on the neck.
And then he saw her leaving. Not all alone, but not with her hovering date either.
He felt a blistering flash of energy course through him, and he lifted himself away from the wall.
He followed in their general direction but was careful to keep a good length of space between them.
Mentally he prepared for what he was about to do.
THE GIRLS’ BATHROOM, THE ONE CLOSEST TO THE interior gymnasium doors, was a central hub of activity, and as soon as they went inside, Chelsea changed her mind about being there.
“Come on. I know it’s farther, but let’s go to the one past the locker rooms. There’s probably no one there.” She looked meaningfully at a couple of senior girls wearing their fake-jewel-encrusted princess crowns and lowered her voice. “Where the workers are, the queen can’t be far behind.” And Violet couldn’t help laughing at Chelsea’s stupid bee analogy, as she pictured Lissie Adams buzzing around with a stinger sticking out of her ass.
They all agreed, even though they knew it would take forever to get there since they would have to wait for Violet. But this time no one complained.
Chelsea was right. The bathroom was deserted. But even way out here, they could still feel the floor vibrating from the deep bass coming from the gym. It was nice to be able to talk, just the four of them, especially since what they really wanted to talk about was the other girls at the dance. This way they didn’t have to worry about whose feet were under the stalls or who might be eavesdropping on their conversation.