Vanda laughed. "Come on, Gregori. You have two women all to yourself right now."
He snorted. "I haven't noticed either of you being very friendly. I'm sitting here all alone in my little corner - "
"Pouting." Darcy finished his sentence for him.
He splashed water at her face. "You said I would be well dressed for the show. That means tuxedos, not this - this spandex underwear I'm wearing. It barely covers the goods."
"Stop worrying." Darcy splashed water back. "You look great in a Speedo."
"Yeah." Vanda winked at him. "You look as sexy as those male dancers last night."
"Don't remind me." Gregori scowled at them. "I never should have taken you ladies to that raunchy club."
"But we had fun," Vanda protested. "And we needed to celebrate the successful makeovers."
"You cost me four hundred dollars!"
"We did?" Darcy asked. "But we only ordered one drink apiece and that was just for looks."
"You forget that Vanda stuffed some money into the leopard guy's furry underwear," Gregori grumbled. "Money she got from me."
Darcy shrugged. "It was only a buck."
"It was a twenty," Gregori growled. "And then all the ladies had to try it. Over and over."
Darcy winced. No wonder the male dancers had practically climbed all over the ex-harem ladies. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize they were spending so much money."
"Why didn't you stuff some money?" Vanda asked.
Darcy shrugged. "I wasn't in the mood." And they weren't Austin. Even with male dancers gyrating in front of her face, she'd only wanted to think about Austin. She should have been angrier with him. He'd lied to her. Spied on her and her friends. But he'd also confessed to being in love with her. How could she stay angry when he loved her?
"Not in the mood?" Vanda looked aghast. "But leopard guy was so hot. And I loved that cowboy with the sexy pants."
"Those were chaps," Darcy clarified. And they were indeed sexy when the cowboy forgot to wear his trousers underneath. At some point, while she was getting whiplashed with the flying fringe of Cowboy's chaps, she'd realized how easily she had forgiven Austin. The only explanation she could come up with was that she still loved him very much. Too much to just give up.
"Well, I was definitely in the mood." Vanda fanned herself. "Cowboy was packing quite a six-shooter."
"Yeah." Darcy grimaced. "I was afraid he'd have an accidental discharge."
Vanda laughed. "And that firefighter guy - wow! I've never seen such a long hose."
"Enough!" Gregori growled. "I really don't want these mental images. It's bad enough that..."
"What?" Darcy asked.
"Nothing. I'm glad the ladies enjoyed themselves."
"Me, too." Darcy nodded. After their makeover, the ladies had looked young and beautiful. It had been wonderful at the club, watching them realize how attractive they still were. And how much power they could still wield over men.
Gregori crossed his arms, frowning. "If you ever want to go there again, I'll drop you off and come back later."
"You didn't enjoy it?" Vanda asked.
He snorted. "The cowboy asked me for my phone number."
Darcy choked, trying not to laugh. "Poor Gregori. Too sexy for your own good."
He glowered at her. "And now you want to use me as man bait? This was not part of my job description."
"But it's the only way to test the next qualifier," Darcy insisted. "Qualification number seven states that the Sexiest Man on Earth has to like women."
"That was my idea." Vanda smoothed back her wet purple hair. "That's why I get to do the judging tonight."
"And qualification number eight says he must know how to please a woman," Darcy continued. "Vanda will verify that, too."
"Yes." She sighed. "It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it."
Gregori looked appalled. "You're going to make out with all six guys? In front of the cameras?"
"Don't worry." Vanda adjusted her bikini top so her purple bat tattoo could be seen. "I won't do anything too shocking."
"No nudity," Darcy warned her. Sheesh, Sly was going to love this episode. She only hoped Austin would refuse to get in the hot tub with Vanda. The thought of Vanda making a move on him was too awful to contemplate. But surely, Austin would refuse to cooperate. After all, he was supposed to get eliminated tonight.
Maggie walked across the lit pool area until she reached them. "The men are ready and waiting in the greenhouse."
"They're all wearing swimsuits?" Darcy asked. "And their anklets?"
"Yes. And they drew numbers to see who would go first."
"Who is first?" Vanda asked.
"Otto." Maggie grimaced. "He's wearing an itsy-bitsy bikini. And he's oiled his skin up. He said he wanted his bulges to glisten in the moonlight."
Vanda grinned. "I'm ready."
"I'm not." Gregori sank in the water up to his chin.
"Let's get started." Darcy cued the cameramen.
Maggie walked back to the greenhouse where she'd release the men one at a time. The pool lay between the greenhouse and the hot tub. A patio chair had been positioned on each side of the pool. Maggie opened the glass French doors to the greenhouse. Otto appeared in the opening, his massive body swallowing up the entire space.
"That's our cue." Darcy climbed out of the hot tub. With a groan, Gregori did the same. Darcy sauntered to the patio chair on the south side of the pool. Gregori headed to the chair on the north side. The cameras followed their progress.
It was a bit embarrassing, she had to admit. Here she was in a revealing bikini, dripping water as she walked, just to see if she could catch a man's attention. And all of this would be seen on international vampire television.
Poor Gregori. This could be really embarrassing for him.
Otto strode across the terrace. As soon as he realized the cameras had turned to him, he paused to strike a pose.
"Ya, I am pumped up for tonight." He turned his back to the cameras to show off more bulges. Then he pivoted to the side to show off his biceps.
Darcy grew tired of watching and sat in the patio chair. She waved at Gregori on the other side of the pool. He sat and scowled at her. The purpose of this exercise was to test each man's sexual preference. When the contestant left the greenhouse, he would either look in Darcy's direction or Gregori's. Unfortunately, Otto was too in love with himself to notice either of them.
Finally, Otto ran out of poses and strode around the pool. He stopped in front of Darcy. "You vant de Otto, ya?"
"Oh, yeah." Darcy pointed at Vanda. "But she wants you first."
"Ya, de ladies have to vait deir turn." Otto chuckled as he strolled toward the hot tub. He jumped in, sloshing water over the side. "De Otto has arrived to pump you up."
It wasn't long before Vanda was personally checking out Otto's bulges. Darcy turned her chair to the side to keep from seeing more than she wanted. Gregori drew her attention when he pretended to be choking himself and gagging.
"My bulges are growing, ya?" Otto announced with his booming voice. "It is time to play in de Otto zone."
"Cut!" Darcy jumped to her feet. "That's enough, Otto."
"Bye, Otto." Vanda retreated to the far side of the hot tub.
Otto climbed out and passed by Darcy on his way back to the greenhouse. She gazed at the sky to avoid seeing any bulges that had recently occurred. Then, she lowered herself into the hot tub to warm up.
Vanda grinned. "I believe Otto passed the test."
Darcy nodded. And the other ladies, who were watching this on the television in their parlor, would most likely agree.
Gregori sat on the edge of the hot tub and dangled his feet in the water. "How can you stand that guy? He's so full of himself."
Vanda shrugged. "I've seen worse."
"But I thought you ladies were only interested in vampire sex," Gregori said.
"True." Vanda smoothed back her hair. "But I'm working on the theory that a Vamp would have to be good at sex in order to project good sex in his mind."
Darcy had never engaged in vampire sex, but she wondered if it was possible with Austin. After all, he did have psychic powers.