I never thought I'd ever let myself go as far as I did. Let me tell you how it happened.

I'm basically a nice person, pretty average to look at, pretty average to hang around with, generic tastes in music and clothes. The "All-American Girl." However, I do have some pretty odd friends.

Take Moondancer, for example. First off, look at the name. I don't think I need to say anything about that. Next, her favorite color is black, and that's all she ever wears. She has near white skin, and I doubt if she'd ever come out in daylight with exposed skin. She listens to odd music that always gives me goosebumps. And she goes to this club, called Carpe Noctum, which, as you might have guessed, translates into "Seize the Night." It was on the outskirts of town, in the foothills.

Anyway, I never thought I'd let her convince me to go with her, any night. Apparently this one was going to be special because some celebrity or other was going to be there. She go me into a tight velvet dress with the hemline "up to there", with thigh-length, high-heeled boots. She painted my face up with almost black lipstick, dark eyeliner, and Goddess knows what else. She gave me a black choker to wear, as well as some silver jewelry she'd dug up. The crowning touch was the pair of vampire fangs she affixed to my canine teeth with denture cream.

When we got there, the only colors I saw were black, white, with a smattering of green, red, and blue. Everyone was as pale as Moon, looking like ghosts. The music that poured out the doors made my flesh crawl. It sounded like voodoo techno. I almost chickened out there, but Moon laid a reassuring hand on the small of my back and gently, but firmly, ushered me inside.

The inside carried on the theme of "forbidding." There were fake stone columns draped with gauzy white material and fake spider webs. Strobe seemed to be the lighting of choice, with puddles of blue here and red there.

I sighted, and blew a curl of temporarily black hair out of my eyes. I felt out of place here, ungainly. Everyone seemed to be reed thin, and I the only one with any flesh on my bones. Moon excused herself and headed off for some errand. I saw a man circulating with a tray full of drinks and I snagged one.

I tossed it back without even thinking about it. Suddenly it struck me that there was something very odd about what I had just drunk. For one, it was warm. I dabbled my finger in the bottom of the glass and came up with some thick liquid. I smelled it. Tasted it again in my mouth. The color. The thickness. The coppery scent. Surely not! I looked carefully at my glass, then at my finger. Oh. Goddess. It was blood!

I shook my head violently, feeling a more than a little ill. I had to get away. I stumbled blindly through the crowd, automatically saying "Excuse me," and "Pardon me," whenever I stepped somewhere I shouldn't. I finally made it to the door I thought was the exit. I groaned when I realized that I had merely landed myself on a patio balcony. I shivered. Oh well. At least I was away and alone, with only the plants around.

I ran my tongue over my teeth, starting for a moment at the fangs, thinking that surely I was mistaken about the blood. It must have been some kind of wine. Some new drink mix. Something. Anything but blood. I nodded decisively. Yes. Just my overactive imagination. Still, I decided to stay out for a while.

I went to the railing and leaned against it. I shook my head again. I felt a little dizzy, but everything seemed so crisp, so...real. The lights of the city below, the stars above, they seemed brighter, clearer. The scent of the night-blooming jasmine was thick and rich,. The very cloth my dress was made of seemed to be heated of itself.

"It is a beautiful view, is it not?" said a voice behind me, a masculine voice.

I stifled a yelp and whirled around. Before me stood a figure out of storybooks. He was wearing a black suit that had white ruffles of lace spilling out of cuff and collar. He carried a silver-tipped black cane. His hair was pulled back from his face into a ponytail, which curled down his back.

He was looking expectantly at me, and I belatedly answered, "Yes, yes it is." He pointed out over the city and said, "Look, the moon is rising." Above the hills on the other side of the city, a faint sliver of red peeked. I looked back at the man and found he was staring at me intently.

"What?" I said, disconcerted by the burning, emerald-green gaze. He was compelling, somehow. So handsome. I found myself leaning towards him, then shook my head to clear it. I turned back towards the moon, but a small noise made me turn back to the man. He was looking at me with a surprised expression on his face.

"How do you resist me? How?" he said, disbelief plainly marked on his face. I rolled my eyes. Men. They were all the same. I turned away, or would have, if had not caught my chin in his hand. He forced me to meet his gaze. "Do you feel me?" he said, "Do you?"

I felt nothing but annoyance, and I told him so. He let me go, and I turned away from him. The moon was now over halfway above the hills. It was huge, and a deep blood red color. Ugh. I didn't want to think about blood right now. There must be a fire somewhere, I thought, typical California. I heard the man behind me whisper, "Remarkable," but whether I or the moon, I did not care to know.

A rose was inserted into my peripheral vision. I turned towards it, and to the man.

"My name is Keir. Keir Gavin. Perhaps you would like to join me for a walk in the garden?" He motioned to a trellis and arch I hadn't noticed before. Large white moon flowers covered it, each blossom seeming to glow from within. I took the rose from his hand, and breathed deeply of its scent.

"All right," I heard myself say.

He offered his arm to me and we passed under the trellis. There was an immediate sharp turn to the left as the path took advantage of the hillside. The path itself was marked with white flagstone, and everywhere there were shades of white and grey. A starlight garden. I'd heard of them, but never actually had been in one. The plants were selected either for their light colored foliage and/or flowers, such as lamb's ears, or their heady scent, such as the large jasmine we were currently walking by. I stopped and pressed my face into a cluster of the tiny white blossoms, and breathed deep. Such a delicious, erotic scent.

His hand trailed its way down my bare back. Damn Moon for convincing me to wear an open-backed dress anyway. My eyes closed as the feather-light touch made its way back up to my neck. I drew a shaky breath, and we walked on.

"Don't do that again," I said softly as we reached another trellis, this one covered in white roses.

"What," he said. "This?" With that he ran his hand down my back again. I couldn't move. Trapped! Get away! My mind struggled sluggishly, as if I had been dumped in a tub of molasses. What was he doing to me?

"Look at me," he said, commanding, and I found myself doing so against my will. Our eyes met, and my mind struggled harder, frantic. My body wouldn't move, though. I was beginning to panic, running frantic circles inside my head. With a tremendous effort, and an almost audible 'snap!' I tore myself away from him. I nearly collapsed when the strange hold he had on me broke.

I was furious now, all the power of a fixed fire Leo and an irate fire Dragon born in the hour of the Tiger seething through my veins.

"Don't. Ever. Try. That. Again." I punctuated each word with a stiff index finger to the middle of his chest. As I met his eyes again, Leo roared dominance inside me, and I felt as if I had an extra arm that had taken a hold of him.

His eyes widened as he realized he was ensnared. His body began to shake and his eyes rolled wildly as he tried to free himself from my grasp. Dragon wouldn't have it though, and tightened the grip.

"Don't like it when the tables are turned, do you?" I said mockingly. "Not used to it, hmm?" Here I grabbed his chin and forced him to meet my gaze.

"Fall," I said. "Fall hard, fall fast. Fall so far you can't think of anyone but me." I don't know why I said it, but the effect was almost instantaneous. His eyes closed, and he moaned in the back of his throat, as if he were gagged. I let go of his chin, and he sat suddenly, on the bench under the trellis. He clung to the trellis like a drowning man. I sat next to him.

"How did you do that? How?" He looked up at me groggily. Some of his hair had come loose and fluttered around his face. On impulse I brushed it out of his face and kissed him. His lips were soft beneath mine, and parted readily enough before my questing tongue. A few very long seconds later I broke the kiss, and he collapsed against me, his head in my lap. He looked up at me. He looked so lost! So confused! He really had no idea what I had done to him, and to be honest, neither did I. We sat quietly, my head bowed, his in my lap, with my hand brushing small tendrils of hair away from his face.