The Lion's Pride(2)

By: Terra Wolf & Olivia Arran


For a lynx shifter, she had the attitude of one of the larger cats, but I let her get away with it. I’d always had a soft spot for her, ever since she’d shown up at the foster home, a bedraggled waif of a child, stick thin with matted hair and huge blue eyes. Bruises, too, though she’d never spoken about them. And we’d only asked once. We all had a story, some similar, others worse. Survival was the one thing that linked us together. So, yeah. I let her get away with a lot that not many lions would.

Her words stuck with me, though, refusing to be unheard or forgotten. Was my true mate out there, right now, looking for love? A growl slipped from my lips, my hands clenching into fists. I scanned the floor again, willing someone to stand out from the crowd, to attract my attention.

A minute passed, then another. Nothing.

She wasn’t here.

And I was an idiot for even looking.





2





Lara



“We’re here!” Kate spun on one of her four-inch heels to look at me. “So, are you up for it?” Her eager grin tripped alarm bells inside my head, making me take a closer look at the building in question.

From the outside, it look like any other building you might find in the city, brick built, and it had that oppressive and slightly abandoned look about it. Nothing new there—pretty much all nightclubs looked like that. The low sound of bass ebbed through the walls, filling the badly lit street with a low hum. Above the large, solid looking door hung a discrete sign in a dark gunmetal gray that screamed exclusivity. “The Pride,” I read out loud. From the way Kate was eying me, there had to be a catch. “What kind of place is it?” I asked, imagining a sleazy strip club.

Tina twirled a dark ringlet around her finger, a coy look on her face. “It’s a nightclub,” she said, her brown eyes dancing with amusement.

“I know that,” I muttered, not for the first time wishing I hadn’t let them talk me into this. Whatever this was. “What I mean is, why is it hidden in a back street? Is it a—”

Tina grabbed my arm, tugging me toward the door. “Come on, Lara. Live a little. Didn’t we promise to show you a good time? This place is amazing!”

The heavy wooden door swung open at our approach. I glanced around, searching for the camera. Spying it tucked into the stonework, I let go of a breath I didn’t even know I was holding. What the hell did I think was going to happen? It wasn’t as if—

Stepping over the threshold, I ground to a halt. What the hell was this place? The narrow corridor we were standing in opened up into a large, cavernous room filled with people not dancing, more like standing around. Waiting for something. That wasn’t what had me nearly tripping over my own tongue, though. No, it was like we had walked into someone’s living room. Someone who had a huge house and thousands of friends. This wasn’t a typical dance club with a dance floor and sticky bars. This was a masterpiece of elegant sophistication with low leather couches scattered around the room, polished wooden floors, and chandeliers glittering with crystal dangling from the high ceiling and scattering the room with subdued light.

“Isn’t it amazing?” Kate shouted in my ear, passing her coat to the door girl.

It really was! “How many times have you been here?” I shouted back, removing my coat. For the first time that evening, I was glad I had let my friends talk me into dressing up a little, even though it had been the last thing I wanted to do. I’d have much preferred to mark the date by curling up on my couch with a good book and a tub of something wickedly cold and creamy. Preferably laced with chocolate, but hey, I wasn’t too fussy when it came to ice cream.

Tina took my coat and passed it over with hers. “This is our second time, but our first for what’s happening tonight.”

The alarm bells started up inside my head again. “What’s happening tonight?”

Tina pretended not to hear me. I knew she was pretending because she was a terrible liar, her neck flushing at the first sign of deception. The poor girl hadn’t even been able to lie to her mom about her first kiss, her cheeks immediately giving her away.

Following my friends down the corridor, I finally got my answer in the form of a sign that stood taller than me, which wasn’t hard given that I was a measly five-foot-one. In heels. “True Date?” I looked over at Kate and Tina, narrowing my eyes. “Speed dating? Really?”

“It’ll be good for you! Get you back in the game.”

I folded my arms across my chest, staring them down. “I’m absolutely fine with being out of the game,” I stated, daring them to comment.