She should have known that slipping in through the back entrance with Sage in three-inch heels and sporting a fake ID would result in trouble. But maybe Isarna wanted trouble. Josh, her dad, was so restrictive – and it was unfair, because Reece was only three years older than her and he could do whatever the hell she wanted. Yet when Isarna had pleaded with him to go to one of the senior boys' parties, he had flatly refused.
Sage was a bad influence. Josh had been saying it for years. Even Reece said it – well, behind her back, when he wasn't too busy hitting on her. But as Isarna looked around the club, full of bright neon lights, sparkly disco balls and music that thumped in time to her heart, she thought maybe it was alright to be bad for once.
After all, when was the last time she did something she wasn't supposed to? Sage was a social smoker and always managed to get drunk at parties. At the few parties Isarna had been to, she hadn't ever touched a cigarette and she'd only ever had a couple of sips from other people's bottles. Now, giggling and whispering with Sage, she felt alive. It was kind of cool, doing something rebellious. It wasn't like Reece had never snuck out to see his mates.
"This place is so cool," Isarna laughed, secretly glad that she hadn't mentioned this to Alicia. Okay, so the girl was her best friend, but sometimes she was just a bit…well, she made it clear that she disapproved of parties and clubs. She was way more content to settle down and study to earn her straight-As. That was why sometimes Isarna felt the need to blow off some steam with Sage.
"I know right." A smug smile was plastered across Sage's glossy lips and Isarna couldn't help but envy her. She was so slender, with hair the colour of honey that flowed down her back like it was liquid. "Good thing I know people, huh?"
Isarna nodded, a little dazed by all of it. She had been worried that her little black dress was too short – even now, she tugged at it self-consciously – but the people in the Three Wise Monkeys were all wearing way worse stuff than her. Sage said something Isarna couldn't hear above the music and sauntered over to the bar.
Isarna felt a bit lost by herself, but slid into a booth and set her handbag on the table, tugging out her phone and flicking through texts. She felt bad about lying to Alicia and saying she had a major headache to avoid a late-night study session and sleepover – but sometimes Alicia's workaholic attitude could drive Isarna to breaking point.
"You look lonely."
Isarna looked up to see a boy leaning across the booth with a knowing smirk across her lips. Glancing around the club for Sage, she saw her friend locking lips with a boy that Isarna didn't know. Wow, okay. She'd heard that sort of thing happened in clubs, but she hadn't really expected it from Sage.
"Uh, can I help you?" Isarna asked, sliding her phone back into her bag. She was always paranoid someone was going to try and steal her stuff. Why would they, though? There was only $50 in her wallet, and her phone wasn't exactly state-of-the-art. She watched the boy, pushing away the temptation to fold her arms. His smile was way too cocky.
"Did you wanna dance?"
"No, thank you. I'm going to get a drink." Isarna knew she was probably coming off as cold, but she didn't really care at this point in time. She picked up her bag and walked over to the bar, leaning against it. Okay, so she wasn't getting an alcoholic drink, but when the barman asked her she just said water. This place was sleazy enough for her liking without her losing her morality.
"Not a big alcohol drinker?"
Isarna glanced at the guy speaking. He was gorgeous, with dark green eyes and a mop of shaggy black hair. He was older than her, maybe the same age as Reece. She couldn't help but reciprocate his smile, especially as she noticed that he seemed to be drinking water as well. Okay, so maybe she wasn't a complete loser.
"Not really." Isarna pulled a face. "I've seen too many of my friends drunk to want to end up like that."
He laughed. "You didn't seem like you wanted to dance with that jerk either. So what are you doing in a club?"
It wasn't accusatory. In fact, his words were honeyed, seeming to invite Isarna into answering him. She knew that she couldn't lie to him – for some weird reason, whenever she tried to lie to people, the words would choke up in her throat, like she was physically incapable of spitting them out. Was it a guilt thing? She didn't really know.
"I'm here because I wanted to get out, just hang loose for a night, I guess."
He smiled. "Same here. Although, I'm not here with friends. They're all hooking up with girls. Not really my sort of thing."
"Oh." Isarna was slightly disappointed. "So why are you here?"
"To make friends." The dark-haired guy grinned. "I'm pretty social."
Two hours passed and Isarna hadn't seen any sign of Sage since they'd entered the club. Not that she was complaining – her friend's absence meant that she was getting to talk to the guy, who'd introduced himself as Orion. To his credit, he hadn't laughed when she told him her name. They'd migrated from the bar to a little booth just near the dancefloor, where Isarna paid no attention to the couples practically dry-humping only feet away from them.
"I could use some air." Orion finished his water and fanned himself down. "It's so hot in here. Probably all the body heat."
"We could go outside for a bit," Isarna suggested. Usually she wouldn't go anywhere with some guy she barely knew, but it was just out the back and besides, she had pepper spray in her bag just in case anyone tried to be creepy. She glanced around the club for Sage. Her friend was still nowhere in sight.
"Good idea." Orion smiled and got to his feet, wandering out towards the back. Isarna followed, a funny feeling somewhere between nervousness and excitement – wait, what? It wasn't as though the guy was going to kiss her or anything. She walked outside and was immediately grateful for the cool night air on her skin. She smiled, but then noticed Orion watching her intently.
"There's something about you." He reached out to tuck a strand of hair behind Isarna's ear. She stiffened slightly, totally not expecting the gesture. Orion smiled and slid an arm around her waist, leaning in to kiss her, so close she could see his eyelashes – but his head moved like lightning. Isarna realised, with numb horror, that something sharp was pressed against her neck. His teeth.
Orion sunk his teeth into Isarna's neck, and she screamed.