CHOOSE ME

Chapter One

“This place is off the chain!” Edie squirmed in her seat. “The Red Veil. My panties are getting wet just looking at all the man candy! Gimme a hardcore underground club draped in crimson and jet and the promise of hot sex and I’m in.” “Jeez, Edie.” Rose Landry fidgeted with the damp paper napkin under her martini glass, curling wet strips between her fingers.  “What’s the matter? Good looking men make you nervous, Ro?” “Not at all. I’m around men of all varieties every day.” “Yeah, but none as mouthwatering as these.” Edie drummed on the table. “The rumors about this place have done wonders for its publicity. The bar is packed! I heard the club is some kind of vampire mecca. They have secret backrooms and according to the Soho Chronicles, wild sex and fetish play is what draws the vampires and the fang-bangers.” Rose rolled her eyes. “Vampires? Fangbangers? Gimme a break. More like downtown freaks who fancy themselves undead, but that’s nothing a little reverse cosmetic dentistry and a stay on a psychiatrist’s couch won’t cure.” 


 

“Sounds fun even if it is bullshit. You’re not even the slightest bit curious, Ro?” Her sister Cassandra asked. “Backrooms and fetish play? I get that. But nocturnal predators roaming the streets of New York?” Rose shook her head. “We’ve got enough humans who fit that description to keep us busy. They file through my courtroom every day in orange jumpsuits and steel bracelets. We don’t need to invent the supernatural variety, thank you.” Edie flicked a few drops of her martini at Rose. “You know, for someone who should be tons of fun, you’re no fun at all.” “Edie…” Cassandra warned. “Fat jokes this early in the night. Hmmm. You’re consistent if not predictable, Edie, I gotta give you that.” Edie eyed her across the small table. “No offense Rosie, but you need to get out more. All work and no play makes for a dull girl, and honey your dreary is coasting toward epic.” Rose glanced at the stem of her martini glass. “Some of us crave something deeper than the thump, thump of heavy bass and a heartless bump and grind.” Ignoring her, Edie signaled the waitress for another round. “OMG!” She jerked around grabbing Cassandra’s arm under the table. “Don’t 


 

look, but the hottest guy at the bar is checking us out.”  “Who? Almost every guy in here is underwear-model gorgeous.” Edie slid her eyes back from the bar. “The sexy Spanish looking one with the wide shoulders and long dark hair.”  Rose casually lifted her hand to the side of her face to sneak a peek through her fingers. As though on cue, he met her eyes in the mirror behind the bar and lifted his beer to his lips with a soft smirk.  “Nice, Captain Obvious. I said not to look, and now he knows we caught him checking out the goodies. He’ll never talk to us.” “Goodies?” Rose made a face. “Do you even hear yourself?” She shook her head and got up from the small round table, her chair scraping back against the loud music. “I’m going to the ladies’ room.” Edie rolled her eyes watching her go. “More like escaping to the ladies’ room.” She looked at Cassie and shook her head.  “Seriously Cass, why did you bring her tonight? She’s a buzz kill. Plus she’s old.” Cassandra watched her sister walk through the crowd toward the restrooms. “She’s thirtyfive, Edie. Not exactly ready for social security.” “Still.” 


 

“No. No still. Rosie’s here because we’re supposed to be celebrating my engagement. She’s my sister and my maid of honor.” “Old maid is more like it.” “Stop it. She is more successful than you and I will ever be. She made Law Review her first year of law school and then went on to graduate in the top one percent of her class.” “So you keep saying.” Cassandra blinked at her friend. “If I didn’t know better Edie, I’d swear you were jealous.” “Me? Jealous of her?” She glanced toward the crowd. “Please. Rosie’s bush league and I’m pro.” “Sweetie, while I agree your bush is in a league of its own, I wouldn’t throw the word pro around if I were you. People might get the wrong idea.” “Not funny, Cass.” “I thought it was,” she smiled sipping her beer. Edie glanced in the direction of the restrooms again. “What’s wrong with your sister, anyway? She’s not bad looking, that is if you can get past her rolls and the size of her ass. Plus, that oldschool sense of style. Ugh.” She made a face. “I bet she hasn’t had a date in years, or at least none willing to vent that furnace between her legs.” “Hey! Be nice.” “I am being nice. Generous, even.” 


 

“No, you’re not. You’re being a bitch. Rose is shy. She’s always been more at home in a classroom or with her nose in a book. But that’s just her way. She’s more of an introvert.” “Tell me something I don’t know. Did you dress her tonight? Because I haven’t seen her look that put together in forever.”  Cassandra gaped. “Of course not. You’re making my sister out to be a cross between a train wreck and a nun, and that’s not fair. She’s a crackerjack attorney and her conservative wardrobe reflects that. She’d be the first person you’d call if you were ever arrested and you know it.” Edie snorted. “You’ve never seen her in action. She can work a jury, like you work a stiff cock, but when it comes to men outside of the courtroom, she doesn’t have a lot of confidence.” “Sounds to me like she’s hiding behind her career. Or at least using it to keep her life at arms distance.” Cassie looked at her. “Wow! That’s very profound coming from the winner of this year’s Jersey Shore Wet Tee-shirt contest.” Edie stirred her dirty martini. “Hey, here’s an idea. Let’s get her drunk and then get her laid.” “Edie!” “What? She’ll thank us in the morning.” 


 

“No, she won’t. She’d be mortified. Rosie does fine on her own, in her own way. She’s not a barfly like you, and she’s not interested in getting married like me. Or at least she’s never said. There’s nothing wrong with being quiet. If I had a profession as challenging and rewarding as hers, I wouldn’t be trolling the bars and neither would you. I’m proud of her.” “Trolling the bars? Please. We don’t troll.” “Well, I don’t. Not anymore…but come on, Edie. Look at the way you’re dressed. All that’s missing is a neon arrow pointed at your pussy.” Edie pursed her lips in an unhappy pout. “Well, this is turning out to be a waste of a Friday night.” She turned back to the bar and raised her martini glass to her pink lips, catching the Spanish hottie’s eye in the bar’s mirror. She took a sip and then lifted the thin toothpick from the glass, tonguing the salty, green olives at the end before dragging them into her mouth. “Wow! Talk about taste central, Edie. Seriously.” Rose shook her head taking her seat again. “If they ever make sucking nails out of a board an Olympic sport, you’re our girl.” Cassie laughed. “Edie’s got her own brand of elegance.” “Hmmm.” Yeah, well. Just because you two aren’t interested in the wall-to-wall eye-fucking going 


 

on in here, doesn’t mean I’m not up for a little fun and games.” “I have Michael, thank you very much, and he provides all the entertainment I need.” “Gimme a break. Just because there’s no money in your pocket doesn’t mean you can’t window shop.” Edie turned. “I guess that leaves you, counselor. Are you up for a game of chase that might lead to hide and seek the salami?” “Ugh. I just felt my IQ points drop. There’s more to life than hooking up, Edie. If you put as much effort into promoting your brain as you do your pussy, you might surprise yourself.” Cassie burst out laughing. “Promoting her pussy? What happened to my correct lawyer sister? Two martinis in and you develop a truck driver’s mouth.” Edie frowned picking up her glass. “Two more and it might kill the bug that crawled up her ass.”  Cassie pinched her friend under the table.  “Ouch, quit it! I’m sorry, but it’s got to be said. No one wants her here, Cassie. Not even you!” “I beg your pardon?” Edie glared at the two. “It’s true. Not that Cassie will ever admit it. You don’t fit in, Rose. You never did and you never will. You were fat and invisible then, and you still are, regardless of how many degrees you have. It’s no wonder you 


 

buried yourself in books. They were the only sheets you could climb between with your sad book boyfriends.” “Edie! That’s enough!” Rosie stood, her eyes wet and flashing. “Turn around, Edie. There’s a nameless cock waiting at the bar to stuff your mouth so none of us have to hear your sad, jealous bullshit.” She turned on her heel and headed toward the coat check. “Damn it, Edie! You took it way too far. You may not like Rosie and vice versa, but she has never disrespected you the way you did her.” “Cass…I’m sorry.” She shook her head. “No. I’m not the one you need to apologize to.” She lifted her finger and pointed toward the exit. “Go. If Rose leaves without a sincere apology from you, we’re done. A decade of friendship down the toilet, and I mean it.” 


 

Chapter Two 

“Leaving so soon, linda?” Rose turned and had to stop her jaw from dropping. It was the hot guy from the bar. “Uhm…I think you have me confused with someone else. My name isn’t Linda.” He laughed. “Forgive me. My mother tongue slips into my English from time to time. Linda is the Spanish word for pretty. Which you certainly are.” Rosie blinked, ignoring the heat crawling up her face. “Do I know you?”  Stupid much, Rose? She just spent the better part of the evening ogling him from behind her drink, so yeah she knew him.  She blushed even harder, resisting the urge to drop her gaze to her feet. He shook his head answering her question. “No, we’ve never met, but that is something I would very much like to change. I noticed you earlier while at the bar.” He reached out his hand. “I’m Miguel León.” Without warning he slipped the coat check receipt from her fingers. “…and I’m not letting you leave until you have a drink with me.” “Hey!” “Rosie?” 


 

Both sets of eyes turned. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to interrupt.” Rose made a face. “Sure you do. What do you want, Edie?” “I…” She licked her lips glancing from Rose’s waiting gaze to the sexy Spaniard. “I wanted to apologize. Seriously. I was out of line and I’m sorry Rosie.” Miguel shifted his eyes to Rose standing speechless. “Were you named for the flower or the beautiful way you blush? Either way, it suits you.” Okay, what just happened? Did he really ignore Edie and compliment me?  “Thank you, but the answer is neither, actually. Rose is short for Generosa.”  He smiled and her mouth went dry at how utterly delicious he looked.  “It’s uncommon, I know.” She shrugged, not knowing what else to say. “I’ve always been attracted to the exceptional and the rare.” Taking her hand, he lifted her fingers to his lips. The scent of her filled him and his fangs tingled in his gums, itching to pierce the soft blue veins on the underside of her wrist. It was more than the smell of her blood. It was her. The fullness of her body and its untapped lust made his mouth water.  


 

He wanted to taste her, tease her. Blood that sweet, that potent, would rush through her veins with arousal so powerful his cock hardened at the thought alone. “Come, let me buy you a drink so we can talk more.” Edie’s eyes widened even more than Rose’s. “I’d love to have a drink with you, handsome. Point the way and I’ll follow you anywhere.” Miguel looked at the obvious woman, his eyes trailing Edie’s cliché man-eater clothing. “Thank you, but no. I have a small table reserved in the VIP section.” Edie opened her mouth to reply, but snapped it shut when he turned back to Rose, ignoring her completely.  “Shall we?” Rose hesitated. “Miguel, I appreciate the offer but I’m here with my sister. We’re celebrating her engagement.” She pointed toward the bar. “We still have our table near the back if you would like to join us, instead.” “My apologies. I assumed your celebration was at an end since you were about to leave.” Her lips parted and she spared a glance at Edie, ready to explain her reasons for leaving, but changed her mind. Embarrassing the little twit was petty. Miguel handed Rose her coat check receipt. “Generosa.” He smiled. “Your parents named 


 

you well. A generous spirit inside a beautiful woman.” Was this guy for real? Who cares? He’s hot! Then why is he talking to me?  Her brain went back and forth with every cynical thought she could conjure. Old habits begged her to walk away or go bitch squad on Miguel and call bullshit, but she wouldn’t give Edie the satisfaction.  She slipped the little green coat check into her purse. “Why not.” She smiled up into his face. “One drink more won’t hurt.” 

 

 Pop! The waitress wiggled the top from their second bottle of Cristal before handing the cork to Miguel. The four had talked for over an hour and it was nearing midnight. “Deseo que usted y su novio mucha felicidad,” Miguel said, handing Cassandra her refill. “One more toast to wish you and your future husband a lifetime of happiness.” “Fill’er up, honey. I love champagne,” Edie added lifting her glass for the waitress to top off. “It’s my go to drink. That or a good martini.” She took a large sip and sneezed, dribbling and coughing at the same time. “Now that’s class.” Cassie laughed, handing her a wad of napkins. “Proving once again, it’s 

possible to look sexy and stupid at the same time.” Cassie clinked glasses with Rose. “Hey!” Miguel laughed. “It’s okay, Edie” he said taking the glass from her hand, so she could wipe her face and neck. “The bubbles tickle my nose, too.” “Is that why you’re not drinking?” Rose asked, her own head a little fuzzy from the wine. He put Edie’s champagne flute on the table. “There are many ways to intoxicate, and for me, most of them start and end with you tonight.” Miguel’s eyes locked with hers and Rose didn’t dare look away. “It sounds as though you have a challenging career. It must be rewarding to know you are responsible, in part, for taking predators from the street. Innocents are not always held as sacred, and they should be, regardless of circumstance. No one should ever walk in fear of what lurks in the shadows.” She stared at his mouth and the way emotion played in his eyes and his expression.  “You sound as though you’ve had experience with this. Are you a prosecutor as well?” He laughed shaking his head. “No, unfortunately my nature is not as noble as yours, or at least not inherently, though I’m working on it. Perhaps you will be a good influence.” 


 

Pushing himself from his seat, Miguel trailed his fingers over her arm as he stood. “If you’ll excuse me for a moment.” Three sets of eyes tracked him as he walked down the short set of stairs toward the dancefloor. “If you don’t jump his bones tonight I’m having your lady card revoked. He is so into you it’s not even funny!” Rose sighed, shaking her head. “Forget it Cass. It’s a classic bait and switch.” “A what?” Rose shifted on the couch to face her sister. “He’s only flirting with me to make hot pants here feel rejected and vulnerable. That way she’s easy to pluck.” She jerked a thumb toward Edie. “Easy? You can’t get any easier than Edie. Talk about no effort required.” “Hey! I require effort.” Cassie snorted. “I hate to break it to you, but a bottle of cheap wine and a drive along the beach for a quick toss, does not qualify you as hard won.” She covered her sister’s hand with hers. “I’ve never seen anyone less interested in Edie or anyone else for that matter, or more interested in you. Face it Rosie, he wants you.” I don’t know, Cass. It’s too easy. There’s got to be a catch.” 


 

“Exactly,” Edie interjected, but Cassie ignored her. “What catch? If it turns out to be a one night stand, so what? At least you’ll have a secret smile and something to dream about for the rest of your life.” She squeezed Rose’s hand. “Look at Michael and me. I thought he was a one night stand and now we’re getting married.” “I don’t know, Cassie. What if he turns out to be a creep or a psycho? I prosecute creeps every day, but they’re in custody. I’m not sure I could handle one still on the loose.” Cassie waved her off. “You’re always telling me I’m the one with the witchy genes in the family and my sixth sense is telling me he’s good.” She winked. “In more ways than one!” Rose smirked, shaking her head. “Not buying it, Cass.” “Come on, Ro. I never told you this, but in middle school I would sneak your romance novels from your bedroom when you were in college and read them under my covers. No one else knew you were into them, but I did.” Rose exhaled. “My class load was mindnumbing back then. I needed something to sweep me away from all the dry reading and they were the perfect escape. They still are.” Cassie chuckled, lifting one hand. “Hey, you’re preaching to the choir. I’ve been hooked ever since.” 


 

Rose let out a warm laugh. “You were what? Twelve? Mom would kill me if she knew.” “Classic. New York’s up and coming Assistant District Attorney reads trash romance.” Edie snickered draining her drink. Cassie crumbled her napkin and threw it at her. “It’s a billion dollar industry, smarty pants. Don’t poke fun at it.” Edie clicked the inside of her cheek. “I don’t know about books or industry, but I could certainly go for a guy with a billion dollars.” “Yeah, well. Try the subgenre on taming the billionaire. You might learn something.” Cassie dismissed her, turning her attention back to Rose. “You always spoke to me about life’s what ifs. This is your chance to live your own spontaneous romantic scenario. If you let this opportunity pass, you’ll end up regretting it. If only because you didn’t let it play out.” “Speaking of fun and games, this place is a washout and I think it’s time to leave.” Edie looked at Cassie. “You coming?” She nodded gathering her things. “Yes, but only so Rose has more room to maneuver. Three’s a crowd.” “Three can be fun.” Edie snickered. “Hey, let’s start with one and see where it goes.”  “Wait…I haven’t said I want this.” 


 

Cassie laughed getting up. “Oh, you want this, Rose. It’s written all over you. Just relax and let it happen.” Leaning over she gave her sister’s cheek a peck. “Call me tomorrow. I want details.” 

 

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About the Author 

Marianne Morea was born and raised in New York. Inspired by the dichotomies that define ‘the city that never sleeps’, she began her career after college as a budding journalist. Later, earning a MFA, from The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, she moved on to the graphic arts. But it was her lifelong love affair with words, and the fantasies and ‘what ifs’ they stir, that finally brought her back to writing.