Into the Spotlight

Into the Spotlight by Heather Long

Book: Into the Spotlight by Heather Long Read Free Book Online
Authors: Heather Long
She’d been guided down the strip.
    Even in the 1950s, numerous casinos and hotels lined the main street of Las Vegas’s oasis. Other casinos where she would have been welcomed and safer. Located near the center, she would have passed four or five from either direction before entering the Royale.
    She’d been pushed. Nudged. Guided. The Sphinx in the lobby was the goal. The test. If she could break free of his secret keeping, her bloodline would be proven. But to what end?
    “How long after you were engaged in the lounge did you take the lead?”
    “I earned it in my first year. I drew the eye of the crowd. I stood out. Heidi told me that I was who they were coming to see.”
    “What happened to the other lead?” No, Jeannie hadn’t been given the lead. She’d taken it. A nymph’s sexuality was a living, breathing extension of her essence. No eye that found her would have been satisfied with the pale imitations around her.
    “They said Fairuk paid her debt. That she was free to go.” Jeannie hugged herself around her middle. The statuesque beauty quieted under the slumped shoulders. Denial ripened the air between them.
    “Are you sure it was paid?”
    “I don’t—I think so. It’s what they told me.”
    Malcolm took a step forward, sliding his hands over her shoulders. The cold of her bare arms burned his fingers, but he tugged her closer. Without her heels, her slight frame stood nearly a head below his. He ducked his head, finding her gaze and holding it. He wanted her to see the truth in his eyes.
    “Fairuk may have paid her debt. But you were the lead from the moment you took that stage. No one would have been able to dispute it.”
    “There were auditions, Malcolm. Heidi closed the show for a week while we were all tested.”
    “And all the other girls?”
    “They tried out too.”
    “Didn’t they resent you, the new girl? Taking their spotlight?” Malcolm pushed. The denial in her expression wavered, assaulted by both his nearness and his conviction. He held compulsion in check by his fingertips. He could drive her to the destination, but she’d been lured, baited and entrapped to the point of servitude. She needed to wade out of the deeper water on her own.
    “If they did…” Her voice quivered, her gaze searching his for the right answer. It killed him, but Malcolm kept his expression neutral. “…I never saw it. Heidi said I was one of the top three. We were all given the same routine to perform when the show opened again. We all performed it. The audience chose the lead.”
    “Through applause.”
    “Applause.” Malcolm sighed. The poor sweetheart had no idea.
    “What?” Jeannie canted her head. Her refusal to accept the obvious was almost adorable. “What aren’t you saying?”
    “Sweetheart—” He considered his next words carefully. She deserved the truth. But could she handle it? He discarded that thought the moment it sparked to life in his brain. Of course she could handle it. Hadn’t she just spent the last fifty years handling it? “The Arcana Royale is warded. You are a nymph, not completely human. You need to understand that. You may not be a full-blooded nymph, in fact, I know you’re not.”
    “Why are you so sure?”
    “Because I tasted your blood.”
    Was drunk on it. Stupid from the pleasure of it. Desperate to taste you again. Malcolm shoved the trio of lecherous thoughts away. His fingers stroked her arms, teased at the ends of her hair where it spilled down over the length of her neck. The choker she wore disguised the marks he’d left when he bit her, but he knew they were there.
    He loved that he’d marked her. Passion thickened within, but he had to nudge those thoughts aside. She needed his mind, his comfort, not his lust.
    “I tasted your blood. It’s powerful and intoxicating, definitely more than human, but you’re not a full-blooded nymph.”
    “So you’ve tasted one before?” Jealousy turtled out of her tone, snapping at

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