Read Vanessa Unveiled Online

Authors: Jodi Redford

Vanessa Unveiled (9 page)

He rubbed his chin. “Hmm…” Dropping his hand, he tackled her to the bed.

Laughing, she put up a good pretense of a feigned struggle while he kissed and nibbled her neck.

“Sweet Titania, I can’t leave you two alone for five seconds.”

She and Braeden stopped their horsing around and glanced at Rand. Amusement rode the rugged planes of his face. Seeing him all decked out in a sleekly tailored dark navy suit, his crisp, white button-down shirt opened at the collar, made her pulse kick up a notch.

“You’re just jealous because
was the wise one who decided to come in here first.”

Rand snorted. “Whatever, smarty-pants. Here’s an idea, how about actually putting
some pants?”

Braeden adopted a sourpuss expression. “You really know how to suck the joy out of life.” He snapped his fingers and a leisure suit printed with a garish psychedelic pattern instantly materialized on his big frame.

“Bloody fuck, Brae.”

Chuckling, Braeden snapped his fingers again, replacing the garment with a more subdued pair of jeans topped by a T-shirt and blazer. “I love getting his jockeys in a bunch.” Standing, he offered her his arm. “Shall we, m’ lady?”

She let Braeden and Rand escort her to the elevator. Rather than descend, the conveyance seemed to travel sideways.

? She shot a look up at Rand. “Whoever designed this place is severely whacked.” The elevator slid to a halt and the doors opened to a festive, party atmosphere. Brightly attired Otherworlders jam-packed the cavernous space, some sipping on equally colorful cocktails, others dancing to the raucous music pounding through the sound system.

“Come on, sweetest. Let’s get you a drink.”

Bemused, she followed Rand through the insane throng, sidestepping a centaur that was shaking his groove thang with a troll. With Braeden bringing up the rear of their threesome, they arrived at the crowded bar. She wiggled her way through the clusters of Otherworlders until she came to an opening, and almost smacked into a familiar backside. Eyes narrowing, she stared at the delicate slope of the unicorn’s neck, imagining her hands wringing it.

“Gus, you horny bastard, how’d you get in here?” Sidling around her, Braeden slapped a hand on the unicorn’s rump. “I thought they refused to let you back in after last year’s fiasco with the band.”

A disgusted snort bulleted from Gus. “Those motherfuckers were murdering ‘Margaritaville’. Anyone messing with Buffett like that deserves my horn rammed up their asses.” A bartender approached and topped off Gus’s trough of beer. The unicorn slurped down half of it before glancing over his shoulder. His eyes locked with Vanessa’s and his mouth popped into a big surprised O before he whipped his head around and bleated in warning, “Every man on deck! We’ve been infiltrated by Big Brother!”

Somehow she managed not to roll her eyes. Rand slung his arm around Gus’s neck. “Relax, she’s with us.”

His nostrils quivering in disbelief, Gus stared at Rand. “Have you been smoking pooka crack, Quinlan? That broad is a hunter.”

“I know what she is.”

“Hell, I never took you for the type that possessed shit for brains.” Gus’s focus returned to her and he did a slow sweep up and down her body. “Although, damn, mama is built like a brick house. Why didn’t I notice that before?”

She stacked her arms over her chest, partly because she was pissed, but mostly to block the unicorn’s lecherous ogle. “Probably because you were too busy biting my ankle or knocking me into walls.”

“Can you blame me? A guy’s gonna get ornery when he’s continually cock blocked.” Gus transferred his inquiring gaze between Rand and Braeden. “Feel free to back me up here.”

Tuning out Rand and Braeden’s enthusiastic agreement, she glared at Gus. “How exactly did I cock block you?”

“Back in Houston, I was
close to scoring with a pretty Arabian filly that was in town for the horse show, but you held me up in that alley, making me late.” Gus once again glanced toward Rand. “Never date a racehorse. Trust me, there’s a reason they’re called nags. Shit, if I wanted that, I’d stay home and listen to my mother.”

Vanessa tapped her foot. “Did it occur to you that if you stayed home, you wouldn’t have to deal with the likes of me?”

“How the hell else am I supposed to get laid? My only options back in my dimension are my mother, and Ralph with the gimp leg. Ain’t no way, man.”

“I don’t know…” His lips twitching into a grin, Braeden leaned down close to Gus’s ear to be better heard above the escalating noise in the bar. “Talk around town says Ralph is really hung. Maybe you’re just being too picky.”

“Kiss my big white ass, Whyndham.” Gus made a face. “On second thought, scratch that. Fucking pervert, you’d probably enjoy it.”

Braeden made a kissing sound that earned another grimace from the unicorn. Shaking off his shudder, Gus winked at Vanessa. “Now you, on the other hand, can kiss my ass anytime you want. Amongst other parts.”

“Yeah, in your dreams. I don’t date anything with more than two legs. Besides, you bit my ankle. That kind of makes me not like you.”

?” Gus looked flabbergasted. “Everybody likes me. I’m a unicorn. I can fart rainbows from my ass. Okay, not really. But I’m still pretty fucking adorable. You know what, we should settle this with a random poll.” He slammed his hoof down on the bar and made another trumpeting noise that quieted the room. “Everybody who likes me, raise their glasses.”

No one moved. Vanessa started to open her mouth but Gus rattled the bar top again. “Anyone here who doesn’t want my horn rammed up their ass, raise ’em high.”

Nearly every hand and hoof in the joint went up, and Gus gave her a cocky grin. “There you go.”

“Please. You just—”

Rand rubbed her shoulder. “Sweetest, arguing with Gus only leads to severe migraines. Why don’t you spend your time more productively, such as sharing a dance with me while Braeden waits for your drink?” Before she could agree or balk, he twined their fingers together and led her toward the farthest corner of the room—where she ran into her second familiar sight of the day.

She slammed to a halt, her mouth falling open. “
My car

Sure enough, the vehicle was parked near one of the grunge-painted walls. A tiny disco ball hung from the rearview mirror and half-a-dozen sprites and pixies were boogying down on the miniature dance floor that’d been erected on the hood. She jerked her gaze to Rand, who was valiantly trying to keep a straight face. “I should be threatening you with immense bodily harm right now.”

He took her into his arms. “And why aren’t you, Nessie?”

She snuggled her cheek against the warmth of his shoulder. “Because you smell good and I’m still all mellow from the hot sex. But just you wait till later.”

His hands trailed down her spine and curved around her butt. “Mm, later I plan on even more hot sex.”

“Then I might have to give you a rain check on the ass kicking.”


They continued swaying to the music until Braeden arrived with Gus in tow. His smile sympathetic, Braeden handed her a martini glass filled with a pink concoction that had a trio of raspberries floating on top. “Gus started picking a fight with the fairies, so I brought him with me to keep him from being lynched.”

Gus’s expression turned innocent. “What? All I did was point out how that one dude had exceptionally small wings. Who knew they’re so fucking touchy about size.” He offered Vanessa a smile that made her feel kind of dirty. “Besides, this gives me and Red a chance to get to know each other better. What do you say? Fancy a trot around the dance floor with the Mr. Ed of disco?” Sticking his teeth out in an exaggerated overbite, Gus waggled his rear end in a shockingly good impression of The Hustle.

She found herself laughing despite herself. “Oh brother. I’m probably going to regret this, but okay.”

Giving a triumphant bleat, Gus led her deeper into the sea of dancers. He seemed to take a particular thrill in bumping folks out of the way with his horn. For one tense moment, it looked like he and the centaur were going to get into a kickboxing match, but Vanessa managed to nudge Gus along, diffusing the standoff. The music picked up and she began really getting into it. Dancing had always been one of her favorite pastimes. Not that she was particularly good at it. Then again, she was doing the Electric Slide with a unicorn. Did grace really matter?

“That’s it, Red. Shake what your mama gave ya.” Gus shuffled closer and nuzzled her head before chewing on a lock of her hair.

She batted him away. “
. What are you doing?”

Spitting out her curls, Gus gave her a sheepish look. “I can’t help myself, Red. I—I think I love you and want you to bear my children.”

“That’s creepy and disturbing. Not to mention physically impossible.”

“True. Can I at least lick your hair some more?”


Gus heaved a sigh. “Guess I didn’t stand much chance with Quinlan and Whyndham warming your bed. A fucking Tijuanan donkey has less lasting power than those two.”

Oh man, there were so many levels of
in Gus’s pronouncement she wasn’t quite sure where to start. “Uh, do I even want to ask how you know about Rand and Braeden’s stamina?” She wasn’t going to touch the Tijuanan donkey reference with a ten-foot pole.

“Are you kidding? They’re legendary. Wish I could keep the ladies satisfied like that. Still, it’s got to be a bitch walking around with a killer case of blue balls all the time.”

“What do you mean?”

“The curse, Red.” Gus’s nostrils flared. “Wait, are you telling me you don’t know about it? Damn, I thought just about everyone—” He shook his head. “Anyway, back shortly after those two hooked up, they made the mistake of seducing the wrong fairy. Fiona McCairin didn’t ken to the idea of a brief affair with our boys, so when they decided to take their cocks elsewhere, she whammied them with an anorgasmia spell.”

She blinked. “A what?”

“There’s no cream filling for their Twinkies.” Gus rolled his eyes when she continued to frown at him. “They can’t climax. Ever.”

That certainly wasn’t true. She opened her mouth to set Gus straight, but he cut her short by pawing at the ground.

“Wait, I take that back. They might be able to regain the ability one day. Assuming that rumor about a human lover being able to break the curse pans out.”

Human lover? A hollow pinging sounded inside her head and her skin turned cold and clammy.

Gus snickered. “Shit, I’d like to see those two smooth talkers try to weasel their way around
conversation. Hey, mind if we boink your brains out so we can finally…” He broke off, a glint of concern swirling in his brown irises. “Red, what’s the matter? You look kinda—” His eyes widened, marking the exact moment he came to the same epiphany as her. “Oh shit.”

Blood pounding in her eardrums, she turned and looked for Rand and Braeden. They were both leaning against the SUV, chatting with a group of sprites. Nausea crawled inside her belly. They’d played her like a total and utter fool. The worst part was she’d known better, and she’d willingly allowed them to trick her into falling for the one illusion she swore never to believe in.


Chapter Nine

“Tempted as we are by your offer, ladies, I’m afraid Brae and I are officially off the market.”

A chorus of boos sounded from the sprites and Rand swiveled to check once more on Vanessa. He spotted her heading toward them. “Speaking of our lady love, here she comes now.” His smile faltered as he took in the fierce anger darkening her face. Gus trotted close behind her, his expression nervous.

Rand growled beneath his breath. If that damn unicorn did something to upset Vanessa, he was going to personally geld him. He stepped forward, but Vanessa rushed right past him and stormed to the vehicle. She yanked open the door, eliciting a tide of complaints from the revelers inside. Braeden sidled up behind her and squeezed her around the waist. “We missed you, dar—” A surprised yelp replaced the remainder of Brae’s sentence and he went flying backwards onto his ass.

Vanessa pivoted, her stun gun crackling in her grip. Shrieks twittered from the sprites and they all darted off.

“What the hell was that for?” Braeden shook his head, his eyes dazed.

“For being two sacks of shit.” She slashed a hand toward Gus. “He told me everything. About how you needed me to break the curse.”

Rand divided his attention between Vanessa and Gus. Finally he shrugged. “Okay.”

If anything, her face tightened more. “
? That’s all you have to say, you callous son of a bitch? Were the two of you laughing the entire time at how idiotic I was to fall for your bullshit?”

“Of course not.” He stepped toward her, but she brandished the stun gun in warning, halting his advance. “Nessie…”

“Don’t. Call. Me. That.” Her loud bellow on the last word drew every eye in the place.

“Sweetest, none of it was bullshit. You’re our bond mate.”

“Who just so happened to conveniently break the curse for you,” she snapped.

“Yes, but only when you gave us your heart.” He grimaced when her entire body went rigid. Damn, obviously that hadn’t been the right thing to say, regardless if it was true or not. “Vanessa, we would have chosen you even if you couldn’t have broken the curse. Brae and I have lived with it for three hundred years. We would have lived with it for a thousand if it meant bringing you into our lives.”

“Easy for you to say now.” The fire in her gaze didn’t bank. “If you weren’t trying to dupe me, why didn’t you come clean about the curse?”

“Brae and I decided long before we jumped the veil that we wouldn’t mention it in order not to put any undue pressure on you.”

The squinty-eyed look that’d been absent all day returned. “No pressure? What do you call all the mind sex and man-love nookie you’ve been throwing at me for the past twenty-four hours?”

Weariness riding like an anchor around his neck, Rand pinched the bridge of his nose. No matter what he said, odds were good his words would sound damning. “I admit all that was done to tempt you. But only into accepting our bond mate. Not as a means to break the curse.”

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