By Carolyn Rosewood and Angelina Rain
The flashing neon sign reminded Jace of the dress Faina wore when she appeared to him. It was the same color. He pushed open the door and breathed in the scent of stale beer and perfume. Not like Faina’s perfume, though. This was flowery, almost cloying. He slid onto the stool, almost embarrassed at the way his cock hardened as he pictured Faina’s perfect breasts and soaking-wet pussy.
The bartender sauntered over and leaned forward on the bar. Long, honey blonde waves cascaded over her shoulders and framed her triangular face as she smiled at him. A nametag on her red tank top read Petra. “What can I get for you?”
She barely looked old enough to drink or serve drinks, and he couldn’t help but remember how he’d wondered if Faina was barely legal the first time he saw her. “I’ll have a gin and tonic.” He needed hard stuff tonight.
Was Faina real? The dreams were becoming more intense. How could someone dream so vividly, and in so much detail, but still wake up feeling refreshed?
Petra grabbed a glass from the shelf behind her and filled it with ice, gin and tonic. Dropping a coaster in front of him, she put his drink on the black square. The clear concoction splashed over the sides and liquid droplets decorated the countertop. Silver bracelets covered her wrists and they jingled as she pulled her hands away and crossed her arms over one another as she leaned on the bar. “You look like death ran you over. What’s wrong?”
Jace looked into the face of the bartender, wondering if he’d ever be able to tell anyone about the dreams. Who would believe that Faina just appeared to him, and fucked the shit out of him every night?
He took a sip of his drink, enjoying the way the gin burned as it slid down his throat. “I’m fine. Thanks. Just had a long day.”
Her sage green eyes twinkled. “Come on. No man comes to a bar all by himself unless he wants to spill his secrets to a complete stranger. So spill.”
It would be so easy to tell her. Just get it off his chest. Maybe by telling someone he’d figure out what to do. Then again, this lovely bartender might call the men in white coats. Can’t have that. “Really, I’m fine.”
Petra pushed herself off the bar and stood firmly. “It’s women trouble, isn’t it?” She picked up a martini glass from the hanging rack over her head, and examined it against the light. Sparkling rays danced off the glass, glinting in his eyes. The glitter of light looked almost like the gleam in Faina’s eyes.
She hung the glass back and reached for another one. “You’re in love with two women. One is the kind you know you should marry. Respectable, your family loves her, will be a great mother, cleans the house, never steps out of line, and is so boring in bed you feel like you’re fucking a dead fish.” She glanced at him for only a second and then grabbed a bar towel. “The other is your dream woman, a beautiful, mysterious siren who seems to have been made just for you. She’s dynamite in bed, and you know you’ll never get bored with her, but your family hates her and you’re sure she has skeletons in her closet.” Once she finished cleaning off the water spots, she hung the glass and looked at Jace. “Am I right?”
Fucking a dead fish. Jace suppressed a smile. She got that part right. Sticking his cock into Morgan’s dry, unyielding pussy had been about as exciting as dry humping the sheets when he was thirteen. But Faina… Faina was another matter. She was the most seductive, exciting woman he’d ever met.
“I’ll have one more.” He slammed the glass on the table. “I broke up with her.”
“Which one?” Petra grinned before turning around. She grabbed a fresh glass and poured him another gin and tonic.
“The dead fish. And I don’t give a shit, okay? I don’t want to be with her. She hated sex. Tried to lay a guilt trip on me every time I wanted to make love to her.”
“Good riddance. I don’t understand how women that prudish ever find men.”
She placed the glass in front of him and he took a long swallow of his fresh drink as he searched the bartender’s face. Reading people was something he had to do every day in his job, and his instincts were fairly good. This woman had kind eyes. Pretty face, but not as pretty as Faina. No woman was like Faina.
Jace cleared his throat. “Have you ever had a dream so real you’d swear it wasn’t a dream?”
She nodded. “Sure. Who hasn’t?”
“I’ve never actually seen this other woman in person. I’ve only dreamed about her, but it feels so real. So right. That makes no fucking sense, does it?” He downed the second drink. God, he was drunk already.
“Ah, I see.” Petra’s eyes gleamed with untold truths and secrets. “I’ve heard of this urban legend of this one demonic siren who seduces men in their dreams. Then she makes them love her in reality as well. And then, she steals their souls.”
Jace nearly choked as he swallowed the last of his gin and tonic. “Yeah, right. Sorry, but that’s about as crazy as me just telling you I love a woman who only comes to me in dreams. Vivid dreams, but dreams just the same.”
This woman spun a great tale, but he didn’t believe in demonic sirens. Faina wasn’t a siren, and she wasn’t demonic. She was beautiful, and sexy, and real. They were more than dreams. They had to be.
“Oh, but it’s true. Just last week I had a man come in who claims to have fallen in love with a woman who first appeared in his dreams. Yesterday, he died.”
“How did he die?” Probably high on crack.
“He signed away his soul. He told me so himself. He said the demon came to him with a contract and in order to live a little longer, he signed away his soul. He died in a car accident. Tragic really.”
Jace put down the drink and looked around the bar. No one was sitting near enough to hear them. An image of his minister father, red-faced, sweat pooling around his shirt collar, fist hammering on the pulpit as he preached about deals with the devil rose in his mind. It was a familiar sermon theme. Jace didn’t remember any specifics, but he did remember the fear on some of the faces in the congregation. They believed his father. They believed they could actually be persuaded to sign a pact with Satan.
“Faina isn’t a siren from Hell. She’s a dream. A freaking realistic dream, but nothing more.” You don’t believe that. She’s real.
Petra’s face instantly paled. Her sage eyes became evergreen. She turned away from him. “I have other customers to attend to. Do you need another drink?”
“I’m done.” He threw a twenty on the bar and slid off the stool. As he stepped out into the warm night, a faint scent came to him on the breeze. Jasmine. The way Faina smelled in his dreams. Why had the bartender reacted that way to her name? And what was up with that ridiculous story? Sirens who seduce men to sign away their souls.
Jace shook his head as he walked home. Bartenders shouldn’t drink at work.
Petra watched as the man left the bar. Her mouth opened, wanting to call out to him and tell him the truth. To warn him. But he wouldn’t believe her. She closed her eyes and in the back of her mind, she recalled the dead man. He sat at the bar, downing his scotch, as he told her his horrible story. His eyes had glazed over with fear, his skin had paled, and he had glanced around and leaned forward. What he had said still echoed through her mind. His voice still audible in her ears.
“This beautiful demon,” he said, as he had spoken the last words Petra ever heard him say, “Her name is Faina.”
To read more about Jace and Faina, buy Carolyn Rosewood’s “The Last Soul”. This book had me green with envy, it was that good, and I’m sure you all will enjoy it as much as I did.
Petra, the bartender, was borrowed from my upcoming release “Intimate Healing”. I needed a pesky bartended who liked to make people spill their secrets, and Petra’s the perfect character for that.