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"Finally," I muttered to myself, catching sight of Alec's blue-streaked hair across the crowd. He saw me, and I waved, making him grin smugly at my acknowledgment.

"Hey," he said, looking me over. "Wow."

"About time you showed," berated Min, handing over a beer. They greeted each other with some kind of weird, shoulder-punching guy thing. Then Min held up a bottle of Tropical Soiree Key Lime Schnapps. "Hey, look what I found. Will this work?"

"Sure. Whatever," I said. I wanted to start working Alec, putting him at ease. If it involved some unholy drink concoction, then I'd have to take that risk.

Min handed me a plastic cup filled with bright green liquid, and Alec and I wandered off to mingle.

"You're letting Min experiment on you?" he asked, pointing at the cup.

Inspiration hit. "He's been experimenting on me all night." I laughed, a bit too loudly and held on to his arm. Alec didn't need to know this was my first drink. "But none of the other stuff he made looked this bad."

He smiled and casually placed his arm around my waist. "Have I told you how great you look?"

"Yeah, I kind of got the message," I told him. Sniffing the cup, I detected nothing but sugar. Tentatively, I brought the cup to my lips and tasted. Bleh. It was like Kool-Aid and mouthwash. Fortunately, I don't have much of a gag reflex, so I managed to swallow without choking.

Alec flattered me a little more, and then I steered him toward the one topic guaranteed to captivate him: himself. It worked. Within a few minutes, I discovered that subject area was even more limited than I'd suspected. He only wanted to talk about the band.

"So yeah, we figure we should start expanding out of Seattle and hit some of the other big cities in the area. You know, like Portland and Vancouver. If we can start getting a following in the Northwest, we can hit the rest of the west coast, you know? And Corey's dad knows this guy who knows someone at a record company, and he's going to send him the review that was in the SeattleTimes... "

I let him go on, nodding my head and saying "uh-huh" a lot. I should point out that I really was interested in Nocturnal Admission's success. I believed in them and their talent. Just not tonight. Other things demanded my attention.

"You know," he suddenly said out of nowhere, "I didn't think you really liked me."

Yeah. Good observation.

I smiled. "Sorry about that. There are so many jerks out there that I come off a little bitchy at first, until I know a guy. But the rest of the band swears by you, and I trust them. Besides" - I leaned closer, lowering my voice to a sultry purr -  "I know you now, and I definitely like you now."

To my astonishment, Alec broke away from me. How unexpected was that? Weirder still was that I saw interest in his eyes but only his eyes. The rest of him was plainly distressed about something. My surprise must have been reflected in my expression, because a moment later, he laughed like nothing had happened and returned the hand to my waist.

"I wouldn't really trust the guys on much, but hey, if they've convinced you, whatever."

I turned the smile back on, pretending I hadn't noticed the weird reaction. We started talking again, and I continued to let him dictate the parameters of our conversation. When he brought up skateboarding and the benefits of one board brand over another, I decided Doug didn't appreciate the extent of my love for him.

Slightly bored, I leaned into Alec and drank from the cup without thinking about it. "Son of a bitch!" I swore, tasting that mess again.


"This." I set the cup down on a rickety coffee table, sloshing the green liquid. "It's terrible." I realized this was my opening. "God, I've had such a f**ked-up week." I turned so that I stood even closer, resting a hand on his back, sliding it down to his waist. "I'm glad you had this party. You guys must need to get a little crazy too to handle all the stuff you've been doing."

He seemed happy about my proximity but didn't move his hand from my waist. "We know when to work, and we know when to play." He spoke with a ridiculous swagger, again attempting to project a wisdom he was too young to have.

I grinned at him. "I like to play too."

Like before, the look in his eyes said he did want to play -  especially if we played doctor. But his body language didn't match it. He was holding himself back for some reason, which didn't fit with my image of him as a womanizing drug lord.

But he kept smiling, even if the rest of him was stiff. "How do you like to play?"

"Not with that." I pointed at the jettisoned cup and looked back up at him with doe eyes, both innocent and provocative. I tried to recall the stupid expression he'd used at the first party. "You maybe got anything...harder?"

A pleased and - unless I was mistaken - relieved smile danced on his face. "Maybe I do."

I punched him lightly, then snaked my arm around his neck. "I know you do. I saw you give it to Doug. You guys are in on something good, and you won't share. Whereas me...well, I always share..."

He still didn't take the physical bait or go for my over-the-top vixen lines, but the rest had piqued his interest. "I've got something," he said, glancing around carefully. "Let's go talk in the bedroom. "

Ah. Now we were getting somewhere. I followed him back to Wyatt's small messy bedroom which miraculously wasn't occupied yet. I sat on the unmade bed, crossing my legs, keeping my body language as open and relaxed as possible.

"Are we going to play now?"

He answered with a question of his own: "You sure you can handle the hard stuff?"

I arched an eyebrow. "Baby, I can take it as hard as you can give it. "

Reaching into his coat pocket, he sat down on the bed beside me and held up a tiny plastic bag, much smaller than the bag Reese kept his pot in. In the poor lighting, I could discern tiny glittering crystals. Almost like red sugar.

"This," he said in a low voice, "is what you've been waiting for your whole life. This is the stuff that's going to change your world. Make you who you were born to be."

I was rendered speechless, but not from his melodramatic prologue. It was the crystals. This close to them, I...well, felt them. They had an aura, almost the same way an immortal has a signature. Only this wasn't exactly a pleasant aura. The crystals felt strange to me. They sent little Shockwaves into the air. They made my skin crawl.

And weirdest of all, I'd felt them before. Once with Doug, once with the band.

I hoped Alec would interpret my frown as cute confusion. "What is that?"

A sly smile spread over his face. "A magic potion, Georgina."

I smiled back, not having to feign puzzlement. "I don't believe in magic."

"Oh, you will after this." He pressed the bag into my palm, and I squelched a sharp cry. I didn't like touching the crystals. "Go grab something to drink and put them in it. Mix it all up and then drink - preferably as fast as you can. You'll get the effects sooner."

"What'll they do?"

"Something good. Something you'll like." He ran his hand through the strands of my hair. "Man, I can't wait to see how you react to them."

How I reacted? I didn't like the sound of that. Maybe I wasn't getting the same thing as Doug after all. Maybe I was getting the date-rape drug. Of course, with as inviting as I was trying to be, he had to realize those kinds of extremes weren't necessary. I pushed the unease out of my head. "What do I owe you for these?"

The smoke in my voice clearly told him how I'd like him to extract payment.

"Nothing. It's a gift."

"Nothing?" I trailed my hand across his leg. Believe me, I really didn't want to sleep with this guy, but I wanted to stay in his good graces to figure out what the hell this stuff was. And yeah, okay, I sort of wanted to see him suffer from the energy loss. "Are you sure?"

I slid my body closer to his, gently pushing him back on the bed. His eyes widened as I lay down next to him, brushing my lips over his neck. Turning his face toward mine, I moved my lips closer to his, lightly kissing the area just by his mouth.

"Are you really sure?" I asked, voice lower.

His breathing grew heavy, and he stroked my side, tracing the shape of my hip and moving down to my bare leg. Looking half-terrified, he moistened his lips in anticipation. My tongue snaked up to them, dancing around their edges before gently probing inside. He stifled a moan and then pushed me aside.

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