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A Paranormal Romance Collection

Night With a Vampire


by Megan Hussey

Night With a Vampire by Megan Hussey

Song of the Vamp
Sylvan is a vampire whose 'night job' facilitates his lifestyle. When he falls for Antonia, his no-nonsense manager, will he surrender the 'night life?'

Keeper of the Night
Hayden's keeper, Silvana Hopkins, struggles to reign in her client's wild ways. When he turns on his seductive charm, can she reign in her desires?

Satin Nocturne: He Needs a Keeper
So many times, Amanda Hopkins had come to the rescue of the gorgeous, mysterious vampire Cedric. But after seeing him fall prey to one skinny seductress too many, she’d had enough. Although poised to resign her long-held role as Cedric’s mortal keeper, Amanda nonetheless stood by his side to fight an enemy to their city—and to enjoy his sizzling seduction, custom designed to ‘keep the keeper.’



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Release Date: December 8, 2020
Genre: Paranormal - Short Story Collection

~ A Red Satin Romance ~


 

Excerpt

Song of the Vamp 

 

“He’s so hot.”

“He’s a pain in the butt.”

“He’s a hot pain in the butt.”

“A pain in the butt he remains.”

“It’s a hot butt, nonetheless.”

Antonia Sinn threw up her arms in a gesture of sheer resignation. “Okay, Lianna, you win.” She rolled her eyes dourly in the direction of Lianna Rodgers, her longtime friend and verbal sparring partner. “Sylvan is hot. He’s also a great singer and compelling performer. From a fan’s point of view, he’s perfect. From a manager’s point of view...”

“Let me guess!” Lianna interrupted, shooting Antonia what she considered an annoyingly sardonic grin. “He’s a pain in ye olde watoosie.”

“Watoosie?” Antonia squinted confusedly then shook her head. “I tell you, Lianna, he’s impossible. I’ve been his manager for two years and never can reach him during the daytime. I’m always forced to arrange my schedule around our dinner meetings. When we meet for dinner, I’m constantly warding off his female fans. These curious beings have been known to push me, trip me, and order my meal for me—usually a raw spinach salad with sharp vinegar oil and extra anchovies.”

“And speaking of dinner,” Antonia was on a roll. “Whenever we dine together, he always orders these icky steaks.”

“Icky steaks,” Lianna repeated, head cocked curiously.

“Icky,” Antonia confirmed with a nod. “Extremely rare and blood red.”

In a seeming gesture of sympathy, Lianna patted her friend’s shoulder. Then she turned Antonia in the direction of a broad, brightly illuminated stage that stood directly before them.

“Just look at him, Toni,” her voice lowered to a whisper. “Can you blame those women? Can you blame me?”

Antonia shrugged as she directed her gaze to the target of Lianna’s abject adoration. Bathed in the ethereal light of a vast theatrical platform, the man on stage resembled a radiant angel fresh from a heavenly chorus. His golden hair flowed like spun silk around his broad, muscular shoulders, and his eyes shone like fine emeralds from a bronzed, carved face.

His visage appeared angelic, Antonia noted, but his body seemed custom made for sin. For while his black velvet dinner suit fit the image of a perfect gentleman, his suggestive hip gyrations and sleek, sensual dance moves screamed of his sexual nature.

Furthermore, his musical repertoire amplified the sublime eroticism of his performance. With original songs like Midnight Passion and For Your Pleasure, performed in a smooth, soulful style, Sylvan seemed to gear every song toward the female libido.

Judging from the crowd response, he hit his mark every time. Antonia grinned in spite of herself as she saw several elderly ladies toss their support hose onstage then squeal like hormonal teenagers when he repaid their kindness with a wink and a kiss.

Often he went further, inviting a random woman onstage for a ‘serenade’, or as Antonia fondly deemed that portion of the show, the ‘glorified lap dance’.

She had to admit, though, that his ‘shtick’ was a success. Every weekend, his exotic cabaret show packed the house at the Crescent Moon Theater in Clearview, Florida.

She could see that, as much as his elusiveness annoyed her, it also seemed to fuel his success. Local columnists wrote entire articles about his shows, sexy performances geared for women only, and about the fact that he never granted daytime interviews; the ones he gave sometimes after his shows proved brief and unrevealing.

These columnists even came up with a PR-friendly nickname for the sexy, mysterious crooner; they called him The Vamp. And he quite enjoyed living up to this sensual moniker, posing for revealing centerfold layouts in Playgirl magazine and culminating his shows with daring striptease routines.

His entire show holds an element of tease, Antonia reasoned, watching as Sylvan ventured into the audience to writhe suggestively across the lap of a middle-aged fan.

At evening’s end, he fed their hunger—and ignited their collective imagination. Antonia quite enjoyed this part of the show; she was his manager, but...

“I’m still a woman,” she sighed, relaxing in her plush auditorium seat and nudging an awestruck Lianna. “And I still have a pulse.”

She watched intently as Sylvan now retrieved a dozen ruby red roses from the side of the stage. He planted a light, tender kiss across each one; a simple action that elicited oohs and ahs from the women assembled.

Their delighted moans intensified as Sylvan tossed each of his floral gems to a woman in the audience. Antonia delighted that one of the recipients was a giggling, blushing Lianna and that another was a uniformed soldier who had introduced herself earlier that evening.

Antonia and Lianna listened attentively as the soldier, a sturdy, unadorned woman named Helena, spoke of her current tour of duty in Iraq.

In the midst of a rare, brief reprieve from her duties, Helena enjoyed an evening’s escape at the Crescent Moon Theater. Now the uniformed officer giggled like a schoolgirl, nestling her cheek within the radiant petals of her delicate floral gift.

Antonia nudged a grinning Lianna, and the two performed a subtle ‘low-five’ beneath their seats. The sound of Sylvan’s deep, melodic voice captured her attention and returned it to the stage on which he stood.

“Ladies, I’m sad to say that our evening together is drawing to an end.” With this, he raised an agile, masculine finger for defined emphasis. “Yet, I have a strict policy regarding all my dates.”

He arched his feathered eyebrows and pursed his perfect lips, a seductive expression that drew additional cheers from the crowd.

“I never leave my woman unsatisfied,” he proclaimed, tone lowering to a sultry, raspy growl. “I always ensure that she receives a red rose at evening’s end...”

Pausing, he moved his hands to his sleek ebony jacket and unbuttoned it slowly and methodically. “And then I top off our evening by pleasuring her thoroughly. I realize her every fantasy and fulfill her every desire.” He slowly peeled his jacket from his muscular shoulders.

Although this move revealed only an ivory silk shirt and a remarkably trim waist, it nonetheless elicited a number of hoots and catcalls from the audience; sounds that intensified as he unbuttoned his shirt and slid it off, one shoulder at a time.

“Work it, baby,” Antonia muttered.

As if reading her thoughts, Sylvan winked slyly in her direction. Then he moved his hands with expert slowness to his sleek black slacks, where he slowly but purposefully undid the clasp.

The crowd hushed, and a few women blushed visibly as the bold, openly leering performer unzipped his pants. He swiveled his hips suggestively as he did so and locked glances with several ardent females in the front row.

With torturous slowness, Sylvan peeled those tight-fitting slacks from a pair of bronzed, toned legs, revealing as he did a red silk Speedo that contained and defined his impressive manhood.

He chuckled modestly as the stage lights dimmed further than extinguished outright. After a brief pause, a single spotlight shone center stage. The light’s soft, luminous rays served to bathe its sole subject in a nearly ethereal glow.

Sylvan likened to an angel in this light.

“Except angels aren’t known for wearing stripper undies.” Antonia rolled her eyes.

As if on cue, Sylvan began to writhe slowly and seductively in time to the recorded music broadcast through the stereo sound system.

Even Antonia admired the way his lean, muscular form glowed in the golden light and the way the defined planes of his perfect body commanded the attention of every audience member.

Including herself, she had to admit as a trickle of telltale sweat danced thrillingly down her spine. Even now, her gaze seemed glued to Sylvan’s angelic face, his massive chest, his sculpted abs, his trim waist; yet, his eyes captured hers the most.

“Yeah, right,” she snorted.

Ah, but they did. Wide, intent and startlingly azure, his eyes held the true key to his mysterious, ever-elusive identity. And they looked dead sexy as they seared her now with a blatantly seductive gaze.

He held her gaze and smiled wickedly as he grabbed a nearby prop, a vial of lavender-hued massage oil.

He poured a small sample of the substance into the palms of his manly hands then rubbed them together. As the music around him surged and amplified, he used broad, slow strokes to canvas his chest with the thick, fragrant oil.

One audience member moaned outright at the effect; others exhaled sharply.

“Good grief,” Antonia gritted her teeth. “Are we going to have another fainting spell? Sylvan is going to have to get a little less sexy. Otherwise we’ll be forced to invest in hazard insurance.”

The object of her concern—and, she begrudgingly admitted, her admiration—flexed his entire body to glorious effect. Indeed, every plane and muscle gleamed with the sheen of his softening, fortifying oil.

“How’s that, ladies?” He posed and pouted for full effect. “Have I well-satisfied you tonight?”

He nodded approvingly as his question elicited the cries and cheers of the women assembled.

“Then I shall bid you goodnight.” He blew a kiss across the audience and winked flirtatiously. “And sweetest dreams.”

Antonia grinned in spite of herself as the women cheered, whistled and called his name.

The proud manager also nodded approvingly as she acknowledged the winning performance of her star. Even so, she knew that—for Sylvan, at least—the night had just begun.

She snorted as she saw him step off the stage into a sea of adoring fans, women of all ages, races and physical types united by their unabashed ardor for one man…a man who now talked and laughed freely with them while he signed autographs.

“Let’s go talk to him,” Lianna urged, nudging her friend sharply.

“Only if you agree to show some mercy to my ribcage,” Antonia gritted her teeth and stepped toward the stage.

Both friends rolled their eyes in what Antonia deemed ‘perfect synch’ when another audience member beat them to the punch, namely, a petite twenty-something girl with long blonde hair and flawless features.

“Sylvan.” She narrowed her ebony eyes in a blatantly seductive gaze. “Why don’t we ditch these losers and take a walk backstage?”

She paused, her gaze hardening as she regarded the uniformed soldier who stood off to the side, wearing a radiant smile, but no jewelry or cosmetics.

“Lose these losers, Sylvan,” she encouraged. “Let me show you a good time.”

Antonia balled her fists and quickened her steps, intending to make a beeline for the stage. “I won’t see that fine woman insulted,” she nodded toward the silent, stoic Helena.

She stopped abruptly as she saw the kind, bashful beam restored in full to the woman’s face, this probably owing to the fact that Sylvan had wrapped a leisurely, muscled arm around her sturdy shoulders and pulled her closely to him.

Antonia smiled as Sylvan faced the snobbish socialite who tried desperately to claim his attentions.

“I’ll be pleased to give you an autograph, young lady.” With this, he gave Helena a reassuring squeeze. “But I fear I already have a date for the evening.”

Both Helena and the self-styled groupie gaped in apparent shock. Then the latter turned on her heel and sniffed loudly.

“I’ll be going,” she issued this smug, sharply spoken declaration over her slender shoulder.

“Can we have that in writing?” Antonia muttered as she performed a second low-five with the smirking Lianna.

She also winked slyly at Helena, who in turn gifted Sylvan with a warm, impulsive hug.

“Thank you, Sylvan,” Helena gestured broadly, “for everything. As I told your manager, I’m currently on leave from a tour of duty in Iraq.”

The soldier paused, and her voice softened noticeably. “For a few hours this evening, you took me away from everything.”

Sylvan only shrugged and pulled the visibly blushing woman closer to his side.

“Who said the night has ended?” he whispered, penetrating Helena with a narrow-eyed, blatantly sultry gaze.

“Oh, geesh, here we go.” Antonia knew that look all too well.

“Yes, indeed-y.” And so did Lianna.

Both watched as Sylvan excused himself from the crowd, offering a chivalrous arm to Helena, whose eyes widened in what appeared to be complete and utter shock.

“I suspect she’ll don that particular expression several more times before evening’s end.” Antonia’s own eyes rolled directly heavenward.

Chuckling, Lianna gave her friend a reassuring hug before turning for the exit door.

“Helena deserves some ‘quality time’ with Sylvan,” she allowed with a grin. “In the meantime, I think I’ll call it an evening.”

Antonia gave Lianna a friendly squeeze then turned her gently toward the door. “The next time you come to a Sylvan show, I guarantee that you’ll get properly teased and unmercifully flirted with.” She crossed her heart symbolically for good measure. “I promise.”

Following Lianna’s departure, Antonia turned her attentions to Sylvan’s lingering fans. She patiently answered their many and varied questions about their favorite performer.

“Is he married?”

“No.”

“Is he gay?”

“Did it seem that way this evening, ma’am? Unless, of course, he and that chicksta are currently shooting dice or watching a soap opera recap in his dressing room.”

“Will we ever see Sylvan t-shirts? Bumper stickers? Pencil caddies? Inflatable sex dolls in his uncanny likeness?”

“Yes, maybe, maybe, and...huh?”

Finally, Antonia bade the fans a friendly goodnight and excused herself backstage. She meant to collect some paperwork and head for home. This plan abruptly changed, however, when she passed Sylvan’s dressing room. After all, the sounds that emanated from within were enough to give any woman pause.

“Oh, Sylvan.”

Helena’s voice sounded soft and relaxed and held a contented lilt that expressed her sustained satisfaction with his ‘performance’.

Yet, the show, apparently, had just begun.

Helena’s breath, Toni noticed, grew noticeably labored as she released a sharp, heated moan that reflected her increased arousal. Then, with a girlish squeal, that arousal flared to a state of full-blown passion.

Lordy, what is he doing to her? Antonia shivered in spite of herself. What is he doing to me?

A wave of heat coursed unbidden through Antonia’s limbs, accelerating her heartbeat and sending exquisite tingles across her delicate skin.

At the very moment that telltale wetness invaded her cotton panties, she took note of an unsettling fact.

His dressing room door stood open.

Just a crack, of course—such a narrow opening that she had failed to notice it previously.

Still, she figured, it would be enough to allow her a brief, narrow view of the apparently exciting and invigorating events that took place inside.

Surely one little peek wouldn’t hurt, she reasoned, wiping some telltale sweat from her brow.

After all, this wouldn’t be her first intimate glimpse into the private life of her client.

The first had come a year earlier, in this very place, just before Sylvan’s first anniversary show at the Crescent Moon Theater.

* * *

Minutes before show time, Antonia had been informed that her client was a star, that his show would continue for another year, and under the terms of a renegotiated contract.

Bursting with the news, Antonia flung open Sylvan’s dressing room door and raced inside, just in time to see her client step out of the shower.

She had stood transfixed as she bore witness to a vision of masculine beauty; a vision defined by a heaving golden chest, two firm, muscled legs and a long, hard, most impressive...

Oh criminy—I can’t believe I looked there. He’ll never let me live that down.

Even worse, his already overwhelming attributes looked even better wet, as did his long, wavy hair, which now resembled finely spun wet gold. It fell in glorious waves around his sculpted face, which now wore a wicked smile.

“Do you like what you see, Toni?” His smooth, silky tones further stroked her freshly inflamed desires.

“Um, I’m gonna say yes.” Antonia nodded, quickly averting her eyes. “That’s not specifically why I’m here, though I must say it makes my visit decidedly more pleasant…”

She shook her head, painfully aware of the utter lameness of her sentiments. And still she proceeded.

“I’ll come back in five minutes,” she exhaled sharply. “That will give you a chance to prepare for the show and get dressed. You might want to give top priority to the ‘dressing’ part...”

“Dear Antonia.” Stepping forward, Sylvan pinned his befuddled manager with a searing, blatantly sensual stare. “Of course I’ll dress, if it would make you comfortable. It is my fondest wish, however, that the more Toni looks...” he paused and gave her a wicked grin, “...the more she’ll be tempted to touch,” he finished in a sultry whisper.

Antonia snorted, planting her hands firmly on her hips. “Oh please, Sylvan,” she rolled her eyes. “A man like you could have a centerfold, straight out of a men’s magazine. All I can boast is a fuzzy mug shot in December’s issue of PR Pros Monthly.”

Sylvan chuckled. “That’s exactly why I want you, darling. You’re bright, you help me succeed and you make me laugh. I can talk to you for hours.”

Suddenly and impulsively, he surged forward, cupping Antonia’s face in two hands. In a brief, but thrilling instant, his lips brushed hers in a fleeting, whisper soft kiss.

“I could talk to you all night.” His agile fingers soothed and massaged her cheeks. “Though if I had my preference, I’d far rather spend the night making mad, passionate love to you.”

Antonia bit her lip, feeling a wave of embarrassed heat flood her delicate cheeks.

“As tempting as your, um, proposal is, I’m afraid I must say no. I have a strict policy against dating my clients.”

Of course, I established that policy a long time ago. When my major client was an octogenarian harmonica player and shuffleboard champ.

She exhaled sharply as Sylvan grabbed a nearby robe, draping his bronzed form in the depths of sea blue terrycloth.

Am I relieved? Or disappointed?

Antonia wrinkled her forehead as she fought to concentrate on Sylvan’s words—and not on his newly concealed washboard abs.

“I don’t want to pressure you, Antonia, or make you uncomfortable.” His warmth and sincerity only aroused her more. Drat it to blazes. “Just know that my desire for you grows each day. Say the word, and I’ll surrender myself to your every need and desire.”

Sylvan’s eyes continued to probe hers as he raised her delicate hand to his full, succulent lips. “Say the word, and I’m yours, Antonia,” he growled.

Antonia withdrew her hand and cleared her throat loudly. “Yes, well, will do,” she nodded.

Will do? She cringed slightly. Okay, it’s official. I’ve been a manager and PR rep for too damned long.

“In the meantime, Sylvan, I have great news for you,” she grinned broadly, quickly changing the subject. “Your Crescent Moon contract has been renewed—and enhanced. You’ve been booked to perform here another year, and at twice your original fee.”

Sylvan’s answering smile was both dazzling and sincere. “That’s fantastic, Antonia.” With this, his jaded gaze warmed noticeably. “Thank you so much for everything.”

“Thank you for giving me such a great act to sell.” Antonia performed a spirited high-five with her favorite client.

At this point, a high-five seems oddly anticlimactic. She pursed her lips coyly.

Aloud she directed Sylvan, “The manager has asked us to meet him in his office at ten tomorrow morning, to go over some details...”

“No.”

Antonia jumped as she sensed the abrupt shift in Sylvan’s mood.

His voice was strained, and his hands were tightly clenched balls at his sides. “I can’t make a morning meeting.”

Antonia sighed, her own fists clenching in sheer frustration. “I know you’re not a morning person, Sylvan, but this is an important meeting.”

Sylvan shook his head. “I can sign the contracts before my show tomorrow,” he insisted. “I can’t come out during the day.”

Antonia shrugged, squinting confusedly. “Why, Sylvan?”

“I can’t discuss it.” His reply was clipped and succinct.

* * *

In the year that had passed since that night, Sylvan’s air of sublime mystery remained unchanged, as had his seductive manner.

“Surely he wouldn’t mind if I just took a peek...”

Emboldened, Antonia now stepped forward and glanced tentatively through the small opening in his door.

There was nothing ‘tentative’ about the image that met her eyes. Helena reclined in a rose-embroidered silk chair at the center of the room, her eyes shut, and head thrown back in an apparent state of ecstasy.

Her lover kneeled between her sturdy legs, now bare and spread wide to accept his ministrations.

Sylvan’s thick mane of long, sleek golden hair swayed almost rhythmically from side to side as his warm, delicious mouth suckled and stroked her exposed feminine area. Meanwhile, his hands stroked and massaged her firm, athletic thighs.

Quickly recalling her own few, fruitless attempts at sex, Antonia couldn’t help but admire the way Sylvan tended to his lover; his touch seemed tender and caressing, his intimate kiss lingered long and leisurely on the focus of his affections.

His efforts intensified as his thick, wet tongue slipped subtly between her velvety lips and lapped the surface of Helena’s femininity.

The woman moaned sharply as Sylvan leaned forward and braced his agile fingers on her hips. Drawing her forward, his talented tongue seemed to ply her clitoris with lightning shards of ecstasy. Soon a visibly transfixed Helena leaned forward in her seat and clutched Sylvan’s muscular shoulders, her firmly jawed face now contorted in an expression of pure, unmitigated pleasure.

Her fingernails dug sharply into his shoulders as she cried out in unbridled bliss. This action drew an immediate response from Sylvan, who caught her up in his arms and cradled her protectively against his massive, sweat-glistened chest.

Gallantly, he pressed those talented lips against hers in an intense, sensual kiss.

He seems determined to provide her with a luxurious escape from the life of a soldierto make her feel like an adored, sensual woman. Antonia’s own body and being relaxed totally.

Antonia cocked her head curiously, as she regarded his eyes, for while he had yet to take his own pleasure, the unique, almost ethereal glow in his gaze reflected a state of ecstatic satiation.

He seems to take extreme pleasure in pleasing his partner.

Her musings were disrupted a moment later when Sylvan abruptly raised his golden head and looked toward his dressing room door. Their gazes collided and locked. Sylvan pinned his flustered manager with a tender, if slightly mischievous smile.

Their gazes held for a timeless moment before Antonia stepped sharply away from the door. The woman shook her head briskly as her breath grew hard and labored. She closed her eyes for a moment in a strained effort to regain her composure.

This was not necessarily the best solution. The closing of her eyes launched a mental slide show of erotic images; a show that featured detailed remembrances of the pleasurable act Sylvan had performed on Helena and seemingly wistful fantasies of what the remarkably gifted, oh-so-sexy man might do to her.

“I think I need some air.” Antonia escaped quickly out the backstage door, finally exhaling as she leaned against the wall of the Crescent Moon Theater.

An evening breeze served to cool and soothe her sweat-lined brow and the vision of a full, golden Florida moon set against the radiant backdrop of a star-sprinkled sky settled her emotions.

Immediately, she relaxed and collected her thoughts. Yet what, she wondered, would be the duration of this blissful respite? That man wreaked constant havoc on her senses and was her greatest temptation.

Antonia folded her arms almost protectively before her, exhaling sharply. Her respite proved short-lived—her entire body tensed as the theater’s back door opened to reveal an unwelcome guest.

Seymour Lewis worked as a ticket seller at the Crescent Moon Theater. His intent, beady-eyed stare and frequent double entendres often alienated Antonia. She now felt further alienated as the short, greasy-haired man promptly pulled out a cigarette and blew clouds of strangulating smoke directly into her face.

“You know, I just don’t get Sylvan,” he opined between puffs. “His shows draw the most beautiful women in Florida, and who does he take backstage? GI Plain Jane.”

Antonia sighed deeply and curled her lip in sharp, keen disgust. “A man of strength and character realizes that the ability to defend one’s country may slightly outweigh the ability to accessorize successfully.”

Seymour chuckled. “You’re smart, Toni.” She cringed as he drew noticeably closer. “And you look kinda’ pretty in the moonlight.”

“Sir, your kind and articulate words of praise come dangerously close to overwhelming me. I’d best go inside before I swoon outright.” Antonia rolled her eyes.

Those same eyes widened in shock and fear a moment later as the cackling man swooped suddenly down upon her. Seymour’s unseemly scent dogged Antonia’s senses as he backed her against the wall.

Soon his rough, intrusive hands canvassed her modest mahogany blouse, grasping for her breasts as he pressed himself forcefully against her.

“Get away from me, you bastard!” Antonia seethed, pushing and clawing at Seymour’s smarmy, smirking face.

“Shut up and enjoy it, slut.” Roughly, he slapped her. She cringed as he slammed his hips against hers. “Just be glad I’m giving an average Jane like you the friggin’ time of day.”

Quickly, Antonia found her bearings, her hands and legs worked in perfect synch as she delivered a swift punch to his hollow cheek—and a swifter knee to his groin.

Howling in what appeared to be acute agony, Seymour staggered backward and grabbed defensively at his crotch. Her attacker seared her with a hate-filled glare as he turned quickly away from the theater.

Antonia collapsed against the wall and buried her head in her hands. Tears streamed down her cheeks, and she trembled in spite of herself.

As she moved aside her spectacles to dab briefly at her tear-filled eyes, Antonia felt a strange mixture of fear and relief. Though relieved that she had fought off her attacker, she also feared his return and his possible revenge.

She should go inside, she decided, and call the police, then notify the Crescent Moon manager as to the deplorable actions of his employee.

But Antonia felt suspended in a hazy cloud of fear and repulsion. Seymour’s stench still clung to her clothes; his rough, groping touch still seared and soiled every fiber of her being.

Some time passed before she rose to her feet and stepped once again through the back entrance of the Crescent Moon Theater.

She came face to face with Sylvan who now studied what appeared to be a ream of finely detailed sheet music.

“Toni, tell me what you think of this song.” He cast a casual glance in his manager’s direction, gaping openly as she moved closer to him.

“Antonia, you’re crying.” His eyes widened in apparent horror. “And your shirt is torn. What happened?”

Without waiting for a reply, Sylvan went immediately to Antonia’s side and gathered her gently into an all-encompassing embrace. Pressing his lips against her cheek, he cradled her warmly and protectively against him.

“Tell me what happened, baby,” he encouraged softly.

Antonia took a deep breath then began in a trembling tone, “I stepped outside for just a moment, to get some fresh air. Seymour—you know that sleazy guy who works the ticket desk—came out behind me, and he tried to...”

She choked on these last words and buried her head in Sylvan’s neck. He tightened his hold on her.

“Antonia,” his low, dark tone did not mirror his warm and nurturing gestures. “Did he attack you?”

“He tried, Sylvan. I fought him off...” She sighed deeply and shook her head. “I should call the police.”

She raised her eyebrows, however, as Sylvan shook his head.

“Go home and rest, Toni. I’ll take care of this.”

Antonia stepped back and studied him thoughtfully. “Would ‘taking care of this’ in any way involve beating the jerk to a proverbial pulp?” she asked hopefully.

Sylvan pulled Antonia closer to him and hugged her fiercely. “I’ll take care of this,” he repeated.

 

 


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