In Garmisch, Germany, there was a nightlife hidden beneath the city. When the sun set, and most people went to bed, a different group of people came alive—the ones that thrived off the beat of the music and that got a rush from meeting people from all walks of life.
Most of these clubs were off the beaten path. But there was a nightclub that only the select were allowed to step into. You went to this club looking your best, knowing that when you walked through the front doors, you’d have the experience of a lifetime. It opened up at ten, but most people started to filter in at eleven.
That’s when everything came alive. Right now, that’s all I wanted. To be alive.
I only had a few hours left of freedom, and I intended to make the most of them. Tomorrow I was meeting my new piano instructor. All I knew was that ‘it’ was a he. Opa offered no name and I didn’t ask. Male or female I knew that my instructor was going to be tough. There were hours of practice ahead of me. Every moment of my life would revolve around the piano and perfecting my skills. So tonight I was going out with my roommate, Simone.
Even though she didn’t live in Garmisch, she could smell a man and a party a mile away.
We met in Munich over the past year where the both of us were studying at the University of Music and Performing Arts. She was a violinist. Because of her love for music I liked her on principle. She was this small person, with so much fire in her eyes—the complete opposite of me. That should’ve made us incompatible friends, but if anything, we balanced each other out. She would be staying with me the whole summer and would go back to school.
I wouldn’t. My interest began and ended with the piano. I lived and breathed it, and every day sitting in class, every night studying into the late hours just felt like a waste; I’d already found my passion.
That’s why I had a new instructor. He, whoever he was, would take me further. Sharpen my performance. Make me known across the world. At least, that’s what Opa said. I wasn’t as convinced. I just wanted to play.
We waited in line, outside the club for twenty minutes. And when we made it to the front, the bouncer looked us up and down, gave us a blunt nod, stamped our hands, and we were allowed through. We stepped through the glass doors, and immediately we were swallowed into the darkness. Only a small glow of lights coming from the main room guided us forward. The music was so loud that the walls rattled. The sound of my heels clicking against the floor was swallowed up.
We finally entered the club.
“Soak it in, Katja,” Simone said into my ear.
“Oh, I am,” I shouted above the music.
The hazy glow of ceiling lights and the ones built into the wall caressed everyone’s body in deep shades of purple and blue. Their bodies writhed to the beat. They looked unearthly. It was an entrancing sight that gave me a rush. It sent my heart into overdrive and made me want to step forward and blend into the crowd.
“I’m going to dance,” I shouted to Simone. She grabbed my wrist before I could walk away and shook her head.
“Be patient, okay?” she replied. “We need to get a few drinks first.”
We turned our backs on the dance floor and made our way through the throng of bodies. There was a bar to the left. It was packed. Some people were sitting and the others were squeezing in between the chairs. People shouted their drink orders over one another and I was willing to bet that by the end of the night there would be a fight or two broken up. Simone fit her small frame between all the people as if it was nothing and found us two open bar stools. I quickly hopped onto my seat, scanning the people around us, while Simone shouted at the bartender.
“Hier drüben!” Over here!
For such a small person, she had such a powerful voice. The bartender looked our way and she quickly rattled off what we wanted. When she was done, she brushed back a few strands of her short brown hair away from her face. Her hair was nothing but wild, flyaway curls. The style matched her headstrong personality perfectly.
I scanned the bodies that surrounded me. They were mostly guys. Brunettes, blondes. Tall, skinny, or buff. Take your pick. The options were endless. I was just trying to find one that I could dance with tonight. Someone that I could have fun with.
The bartender handed us two shots and moved on to the next person. I grabbed one shot and smiled, knowing that it wouldn’t be my last tonight. Not if I had a choice. Simone raised her glass in the air, and I did the same.
“To your new teacher!” she announced dramatically. “May they at least be under fifty!”
I grinned widely and tapped my glass against hers. “I’ll drink to that.”
The shot burned going down. I squeezed my eyes shut and pursed my lips together. Simone took it down like a champ.
“What do you know about ‘The Instructor’?” Simone asked.
“Well, I know it’s a he.”
“I already know that, but keep going.”
I checked off the facts with my fingers.
“I know he’s German.”
“And last, but not least: I know he’s a talented pianist, if Opa hired him.”
Simone frowned. “That’s it?”
I waved three fingers in the air. “That’s it.”
“Doesn’t sound very promising.”
Three things weren’t much to go off of, but Opa was picky. Not many people got his stamp of approval, and if this one person met his qualifications, then I knew this mystery instructor had more talent than I’d ever have.
Resting her elbows on the bar, Simone pointed at my outfit. “How does it feel to be wearing a dress that doesn’t go past your knees?”
I looked down at the skin-tight black dress Simone loaned me. It hugged my body like a second skin. It was different from what I usually wore. The hemline rode up my thighs, a plunging V-neck that made me feel like my breasts were spilling out. But it was liberating. This dress made me feel feminine and sexy, and those two feelings together brought out a confidence that only came out of me when I was on stage with a piano in front of me.
“I like it,” I admitted.
“You should. You look great, but I think your Opa is going to kill me.”
She gave me a look that said everything. I grew up with grandparents that weren’t exactly strict, but definitely not lenient. I had freedom, but there were limits. Even at the age of nineteen, those limits were still in place. But tonight I was pushing them.
“Opa will never know, will he?”
Simone smiled. “I’ll drink to that.”
One after another we toasted to each other. And soon, I could hardly feel the burn. I felt a happy buzz overtaking my body. I drummed my fingernails on the counter and looked around. “Help me find a guy,” I said.
“For dancing and having fun.”
Like any dedicated friend, she started to scan the crowd. “I don’t even know what your type is,” she said. She had a point. I was married to music, and it left little time for a social life.
“I don’t know,” I discreetly looked around along with her. “A male. A good-looking male.”
“You know what I mean. Blonde? Dark features? Tattoos? Piercings? Tell me your type.”
I thought it over for a few seconds. “Blonde. But not too blonde. Find a happy medium … dark blonde.”
Simone nodded. “Dark blonde it is.”
The two of us looked around for a few minutes. But the place was packed and it seemed to get busier the longer we sat there. It was impossible to look at someone longer than three seconds before they either walked away or became swallowed within the crowd. I was starting to give up hope and was getting ready to say just that, but then I saw the look on Simone’s face. She kept glancing over to her left and when I followed her eyes, I realized why.
There. Right there. I found my guy for tonight.
He sat on the opposite side of the bar, sitting by himself. There was enough light for me to see his dark blonde hair. It had obviously been styled earlier but now looked mussed, with a few strands touching his forehead. Straight nose, sharp cheekbones, and a strong jaw. The only thing stopping him from being almost too good looking was the expression on his face. He all but snarled at the people around him. It caused people to back away from him. He seemed to like it that way.
When he wasn’t nursing his beer, he would lean over and talk to the guy next to him. I squinted, watching his lips move and trying to figure out what he was saying.
I wished I were closer. Then maybe I could see what color his eyes were. But at this point, it didn’t really matter if they were blue, green, or even black; I was already lured in.
Right then, he looked away from the guy next to him, across the bar, and caught me staring. I became paralyzed. His eyes drifted over my body so slowly, it felt like a physical touch. I could feel my skin heating up. I could hear my heart drumming wildly in my chest. He looked me straight in the eye, and my mouth became dry. He had the kind of eyes that dared someone to look away, and maybe most people would, in fear, but his gaze sent a thrill through me.
I smiled slowly, knowing with every fiber of my being that I was going to talk to this one. I think my determination showed because his eyes widened slightly and his lips curved up into a smirk.
Simone grabbed my arm, pulling me out of my little sexual haze with Hot Guy. Until I found out his name I was going to dub him ‘Hot Guy’.
“Nuh-uh!” Simone shook her head frantically. “Anyone else but him.”
I frowned. “Do you know him?”
“Then why not?”
“B-because,” she sputtered. She was staring at me with wide eyes. “He’s not … he’s not safe!”
I couldn’t help it. My eyes went directly back to him. He continued to stare, but he was smirking, like he knew what Simone was saying to me. The guy next to him was looking our way, but I didn’t care about him. I. Wanted. Hot. Guy.
“He looks safe to me,” I said faintly.
“You know what I mean. If a guy looks that good and he’s alone … there’s a reason.”
“I don’t think he’s alone.” I tipped my head where he sat.
Simone frowned. “Okay. So he has a friend. That doesn’t make him good. There are plenty of guys around here. AND,” she shouted, “you’re drunk!”
I gave her a look. “I’m buzzed. Not drunk. They’re two different things, my friend.”
Simone looked over her shoulder at Hot Guy. My eyes had a mind of their own and quickly drew back to him. He didn’t look away when our gazes met. A thoughtful expression was on his face. He took a drink of his beer, tipping his head back. The muscles in his throat jumped against his skin. Just watching him made a shot of lust slam into me.
“Don’t go over there,” Simone continued. “He looks complicated.”
I smiled deviously at her. “I’m not here to know his life story. I just want to dance with him.”
Simone didn’t look convinced.
“Okay…” I dragged out. “And wrap myself around him like a second skin, but that’s neither here nor there.”
“What’s gotten into you?”
“Nothing,” I said. But that wasn’t entirely true. I had a case of liquid courage, but I also had a guy that was staring at me so intensely I was starting to shift in my seat.
“Oh, come on!” I said and leaned in. “Are you telling me that you’ve never looked at a guy and thought: ‘Him! I need to talk to him right now.’ Not once?”
“One: That’s not a guy. He’s a grown man! Two: Of course I have. But I have enough brain cells to recognize if I’m biting off more than I can chew.”
There was a chance Simone was right, but I had no desire for a comfortable guy. I’d lived comfortably my whole life. And maybe I wanted someone that had more edge to them than I’d ever have. Maybe I wanted to walk to the very edge of the cliff. Maybe I wanted danger.
“I’m going over,” I announced.
Simone grabbed my hand, and I gave her a bright smile and gently extracted myself out of her hold. “I just want to dance with him.”
“We’re here to get a drink and have a night of fun, not for you to hook up with someone.”
“Just a few minutes ago you were helping me find a guy.”
“Ja. Well, I changed my mind. Man hunt off.”
“This is my night of fun. Starting tomorrow, there will be no more of this.”
I was set in my decision, and nothing she said would stop me. My determination must have reflected in my eyes; Simone sighed, her shoulders drooping in defeat.
“Okay, but if you go over there you might as well jump in front of a moving bus. That man is going to run you right over.”
“I’ll take my chances. Just look at him. He looks so solemn and composed, but I bet there’s a wild side to him that he’s hiding.”
“Get real, Katja. You live your life like you’re in some giant romantic bubble.”
Was that really a bad thing? The world was filled with enough lies and tragedy. What was the harm in wanting happiness? I hopped off the barstool. My drink was in my hand as I made my way across the room. The whole time, my eyes never left Hot Guy’s. He stared back at me. Even from across the room I picked up on his feral energy. Maybe I was walking into the lion’s den. But the closer I got, the more of a rush I felt. I thought he waited for me to chicken out and turn around in the direction of all the available guys. I could, if I wanted to. But I didn’t. I moved throughout the crowd in record time. I was a woman on a mission.
His head turned, and he watched me move closer to him. When the crowd gave way, I slid next to him. I ignored the guy next to him, who was staring at me with a grin. Hot Guy looked me up and down, and I stood there letting him look, loving the adrenaline coursing through me. Only one thing could ever make me feel so alive and that was the piano.
“Hello,” I said in English.
Where he was from was still up in the air for me. He looked German, but he had a different vibe about him that made me second-guess myself.
“Hi,” he said … in perfect English. His voice was deep, almost mesmerizing and could make any woman go into a complete frenzy. “I’m Mathias.” He held his hand out to shake.
I took it, reveling in the way it swallowed mine whole.
He lifted both eyebrows as if to say, “And you are?”
“I’m Olivia.” The lie slipped from my tongue before I could think twice. I felt reckless. I wasn’t myself, so I figured I might as well round off this new side of me by giving myself a different name. I loved how Olivia sounded. So beautiful. Like I was a sophisticated female that had the world at her fingertips. Not a girl that had no life outside of music. Besides, the chances of me and Hot Guy—now promoted to Mathias—ever seeing each other outside of this club were extremely low. I had nothing to lose.
Mathias plucked a cigarette from his carton. And I watched every action. I watched the way he placed it between his lips, gently holding it as he flipped his lighter. A flame appeared. He held the cigarette in the flame until it lit. Mathias sucked in his cheeks, watching me the whole time he took a drag. It was a bad, terrible habit. But he made it look incredibly sexy.
“You’re not German,” I stated confidently. Mathias merely smirked and I took that as a yes. “You’re here traveling?”
The guy next to us snorted loud enough for me to hear. I ignored him and leaned my hip against Mathias’ barstool. My thigh touched his. Desire swept through me, making me want to jump back.
“You’re nosy,” Mathias said.
“You’re not answering,” I shot back.
He grinned a wicked smile, one that made my heart drum so loud and fast I could hear it above the pounding music pouring out the speakers.
“I’m here for business,” he replied.
“I see.” I took another sip of my drink; my gaze was fixed on his. Those eyes of his looked me up and down again, landing on my cleavage for a heartbeat. My nipples tightened. I sucked in a sharp breath, trying to control the way my body responded around him. When his eyes drifted across my face, they narrowed a fraction. And then he shifted in his seat. I saw more of his body. I saw just how big he was. Big shoulders, strong forearms. Long, long legs. If he stood up I knew without a doubt that he would tower over me. And then the guy sitting next to Mathias spoke up.
“Oh, kleines Mädchen , die Sie nicht möchten, dass diese ein.” Oh, little girl, you don’t want this one.
I looked over my shoulder at him. My eyes narrowed. He smirked at me. I turned back around and focused my attention on Mathias.
“How old are you, Olivia?” Mathias asked.
I knew what I looked like to him. Small and delicate. I barely looked my age of nineteen. So I lied.
“I’m twenty-four,” I said. But I lied so smoothly, without showing a crack in my story.
Mathias’ gaze was intense, as if he was trying to call my bluff. He gave my body another sweep. After a few seconds, he smirked and stubbed his cigarette in the ashtray.
To take the heat off of me, I leaned close and said into his ear: “How old are you?”
His body turned and his arm brushed against my breast. His eyes flared with desire as he stared at my lips. For a second I thought he was going to kiss me. The insane part was that I wouldn’t have stopped him. He looked me in the eye and grinned, like he knew what I was thinking. There was an edge to his smirk that said nothing and no one could get him to lose control.
Maybe I was losing my mind because I wanted to test that theory. I wanted to try and make him lose it all.
“I’m twenty-six, little Olivia.”
He stood up from the stool. I came up to his shoulders. I perused his body slowly. He wore blue jeans, with a white dress shirt that was tucked in, and had the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, exposing his strong forearms. His energy was more powerful than everyone in the room combined, including mine. I found myself shifting closer, leaning in to him just so I could have some of his energy rub off on me. My smile was purely female as I tilted my head back until it couldn’t go any further, and when my eyes met his, he smirked wickedly.
This guy was the epitome of sin. There was this feral look in his eyes, like he could make me feel all sorts of things if I could keep up with him.
Mathias leaned down. His large hand wrapped around my arm, holding me in place. “I’m too old for you,” he said deeply.
For Katja he was. But for twenty-four Olivia he was completely available. I slid closer to him. “No, you’re not.”
Mathias seemed almost amused by my words. And before he could say anything else, I wrapped my fingers around his solid forearm. His skin was hot to the touch. I started walking, knowing that he would follow.
I looked over my shoulder at him and found him staring at my ass. “Come dance with me, Mathias-that-is-too-old-for-me,” I called.
I found a small opening in the moving bodies and turned, making sure my hands wrapped around his bicep. Smiling up at him, I moved my body to the beat coming through the speakers. And he watched me, ignoring everyone in the room. I felt like his private little dancer. He looked hypnotized as he watched me. He made me feel so potent and wicked that I couldn’t help but keep moving, keep feeling.
The beat was loud, hitting my skin and ears, making my body feel like it was pulsating. I closed my eyes and turned around. My shoulders touched the hard wall of his chest. I felt his cock against my lower back.
I moaned. And suddenly his hands were firmly on my hips. I was flush against him. There was no space between us. I felt the energy radiating off of him.
Back away from him! My mind screamed at me. This is not safe.
But playing it safe my whole life had gotten me nowhere. Tonight I wanted to straddle the line between good and bad.
So I kept moving. When his hands glided down my stomach and possessively held my hips, I let him. My blood was roaring through my body, going straight to my fingertips, and down to the tips of my toes. The marigold of colors above me started to blend.
Song after song I danced with Mathias. Bodies pushed me this way and that, but he kept a firm hold on me.
Who knows how long we stayed that way. Time didn’t really seem to matter right now. I was always so self-contained, and it felt so good just to feel reckless.
The music faded. A new song started. Mathias turned me around. I was flush against him, feeling every part of him that had just touched my back seconds ago.
“How old are you really?” he asked. His lips grazed against my ear.
I smiled up at him. “Twenty-four.”
Panting, he stared at me. He had his doubts. I could see them in his eyes. But I gave him a seductive smile and toyed with the buttons of his shirt. Playing with fire? Absolutely. But this was such a rush. He was panting. He wanted me. I laid my palms on his chest, loving the feel of muscle underneath my hands. I dragged them upward.
His hands wrapped around my neck, and his thumbs brushed against my jaw line. He moved me closer and growled into my ear, “I want to fuck you.”
My body froze. I glanced up at him, pleasure and shock written across my features.
“Come back to my place,” he said. Eyes blazing.
I said nothing. Mathias waited, his gaze never leaving my face. It all came down to one simple question: Did I really want this? Yes. I didn’t need to think it over for a second. I brought his face down to mine. Our lips met. The kiss went from zero to sixty. Everything that had been swirling around us tonight latched onto our skin, making me act out in a way I’d never done before. I bit down on his lower lip and gently tugged. He dragged his lips down my throat. His stubble scraped against my skin. He lifted his head and watched me, waiting for my answer.
“Yes,” I said. “I want that.”
Mathias gave me a long, hard look before he linked his hands with mine.
“Follow me,” he said.