The man didn’t reply for a moment, causing Amy’s anxiety to spike. Then he spoke, his deep voice filled with amusement. “You could say that.”

“Great.” Jay beamed at him. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Amy felt a wave of admiration for her friend. She’d always known Jay was great in social situations, but this was far from a typical party setting. For all his reluctance to be here, Jay had clearly brought his A-game.

“Both of you?” the man asked, still sounding amused.

“Yes.” Amy forced a bright smile to her lips. If Jay could do this, so could she. “We’re very . . . curious.”

“Ah.” The man laughed, a low, sensuous sound that sent a shiver down her spine. “Curious, indeed. Well, follow me then.”

He turned and began walking toward the far side of the room. Amy’s heart skipped a beat. Like the Ks she’d seen on TV, the man didn’t just walk—he flowed, his every movement filled with inhuman power and grace.

There was no longer any doubt.

She had just met her first Krinar.

Jay touched her arm, and her gaze flew up to his. On his face, she could see the same awe and excitement she was feeling. “Oh my God,” she mouthed at him, and he nodded, his eyes wide with shock.

“Come on,” Amy mouthed again, jerking her chin in the direction of the K, and they both hurried after him, nearly running to keep up.

The K stopped in front of a wall at the far end of the room and waved his hand in a brief motion. To Amy’s shock, the wall dissolved, creating an oval, man-sized opening. She barely suppressed a gasp. She’d known that the Ks had more advanced technology, of course, but she’d never seen it in action.

This was definitely going into her article.

As she was mentally composing the first paragraph of her story, the K stepped through the opening and disappeared inside. Not wanting to lose him, Amy stepped through the opening too, with Jay following after her.

They ended up in a darkened hallway. After walking a dozen feet, they found themselves in front of another wall. The K waited for them to catch up, and then he created a second opening through which Amy could see multi-colored lights and hear pulsing music.

“Here we are,” the K said, his English as perfect as any American’s. Amy had always wondered about that—how the aliens knew Earth languages so well. It was speculated that they had some kind of neural language implants, but no one knew for sure.

It might be another thing for Amy to investigate tonight.

“Wow, how cool,” Jay exclaimed, playing his role of a ditzy party-goer to perfection. “I love the way you do that, man.”

The K lifted his eyebrows, but didn’t dignify that statement with a response. Instead, he went in, walking with that startling, animal-like grace. Jay, who seemed to have gotten over his cautious spell, followed him without hesitation. After a momentary pause, Amy went after them, her heart pounding with a mixture of trepidation and excitement.

They were officially inside an x-club.

* * *

The first thing Amy noticed was the music. Outside the opening, she’d caught just the pulsing beat, but as soon as she stepped inside, she could hear the weeping undertones of some unknown instrument mixed in with the sharper vibrations. The music wasn’t particularly loud, yet it enveloped her, made her feel cocooned within the melody.

Over the music, she could hear laughter and a hum of conversations. The spacious room was filled with people—although she wasn’t sure “people” was the right term, given that many of the individuals present were Krinar. The aliens were easy to spot: all of them were tall, dark-haired, and had the kind of stunning beauty one usually observed in supermodels. For a while, there had been rumors that the Ks weren’t biological beings at all, and Amy could see how those rumors had originated. Not only were the Ks incredibly strong and fast, they were also almost too perfect to be real.

Or at least too perfect to be human.

The room itself was sparsely furnished, with circular tables standing in each corner. They appeared to be the K version of bars. She could see both humans and Ks milling around those tables, holding glasses with various drinks.

The lighting in the room was soft, several hues of warm colors blended together. It flattered the light-colored clothing worn by the Ks. The clothes themselves weren’t particularly exotic—pale, floaty dresses for women and shorts with sleeveless shirts for men—but they suited the aliens, emphasizing their golden skin tone and fit, graceful bodies.

Before Amy could absorb any more details, the K who brought them in turned to look at her. There was a mocking half-smile on his full, perfectly shaped lips.

“Curiosity satisfied?” he purred, staring at Amy, and her breath caught in her throat as she got a good look at him for the first time.

The Krinar standing in front of her had a dark, satyr-like beauty that was both alluring and disturbing. His black hair was glossy and straight, long enough to cover his ears and fall carelessly across his forehead. With his masculine nose and strong jaw, he could’ve posed for an army-recruitment ad—except no soldier had a mouth so wickedly sensuous or eyes that spoke of such carnal pleasures.

Beautiful, thickly lashed brown eyes that were even now traveling over Amy’s curves with unabashed male interest.

Tags: Anna Zaires The Krinar Chronicles Science Fiction