Immortal ever after, p.11
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       Immortal Ever After, p.11

         Part #18 of Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands
 
Page 11

 

  “Nothing for me,” Leigh said, picking up the second bag of food containing the two meals she hadn’t set out, and heading for the French doors. “I’m going to put this in the fridge, take a nap, and heat it up to eat with Lucian when he returns. But there’s a good selection of drinks inside, Valerie. You should take a look and see what you want. Anders can show you. ”

  Anders stared after the woman with vexation. She was the one who’d wanted to stop to eat. Now she was going to wait for Lucian? She was up to something, and he didn’t have to work hard to figure it out. What had started out as a simple dinner for three was quickly turning into a romantic dinner for two on the verandah in the setting sun.

  “Oh, don’t hesitate to use the candles,” Leigh announced suddenly, popping her head back out the door. “The sun will be gone soon and you’ll want to be able to see what you’re eating. ”

  “Thanks,” Valerie said with a smile as the woman disappeared back inside. She obviously had no clue this was a setup, but then she didn’t know the people she was dealing with here.

  Shaking his head, Anders headed for the French doors. “Come. We’d best get our drinks and eat before the food cools. ”

  Nodding, Valerie cast one last glance at Roxy before trailing him into the house.

  “Will she be all right out there?” Anders asked as he led her to the refrigerator.

  “Yes. She won’t run off or anything. Roxy stays close. In fact, if she notices I’ve left the verandah, she’ll probably come looking for me,” Valerie assured him.

  Nodding, he opened the fridge door and eyed the contents. There were juices, milk, and several varieties of pop . . . and he didn’t have a clue what was good. He waited until she’d selected something called Dr. Pepper and then took one for himself as well.

  “A glass and ice cubes?” Anders asked as he closed the door.

  “Yes please. Just tell me where to find the glasses and I’ll get them,” she added.

  Anders opened a cupboard door by the sink and they each took a glass. They then stopped at the refrigerator ice machine to get ice before heading back to the verandah. Roxy was just approaching the doors as they came out. She’d obviously noticed her mistress’s absence and had been about to search for her as Valerie had said she would.

  “Good girl,” Valerie praised, holding both her glass and can precariously in one hand so she could pet the dog with the other in passing. Anders wasn’t sure what she was praising the dog for, but the dog liked it and wagged her tail wildly, her butt moving with the action. Valerie chuckled, but said, “Go eat now. ”

  Roxy immediately walked over to sniff the food he’d set out for her, and then settled down to eating with serious intent.

  Shaking his head, Anders followed Valerie to the table and sat down across from her. As he opened his pop and poured it over the ice, he commented, “She listens well. ”

  “Yeah. She’s a good dog,” Valerie said, glancing to Roxy as she poured her own pop.

  “Well trained,” he countered, turning his attention to opening the lid of his meal and surveying the contents. It smelled amazing.

  “I’m lucky,” Valerie said with a shrug, opening her own meal. “I was able to take Roxy into the clinic and keep an eye on her full-time. And the other animals there helped socialize her as well. ”

  Anders glanced to the dog and admitted, “That’s one of the reasons I haven’t got a dog yet. I want one, but my hours aren’t exactly regular and I don’t want to stick the poor thing in a cage for hours on end. And what would I do with it if I had to be away for days?” he added with a frown.

  “You’re thinking of the dog first. That’s the sign of a good pet owner,” Valerie said approvingly. “A lot of people don’t consider things like that when they get a dog. They want one, so they get it. Then they’re upset and think there’s something wrong with the dog when it isn’t easily trained or pees in the house. ” Opening the plastic bag her fork, knife, and napkin were in, she asked, “Have you considered a training nanny for the first six months to a year?”

  Anders raised his eyebrows in question. “A training nanny?”

  “You might not have anything like that here,” she said with a frown and then explained, “We have a gal in Winnipeg who gets referrals from us. She takes puppies while the owners are working and helps train them. A dog sitter slash trainer . . . puppy nanny. ” She pursed her lips and then admitted, “It can be a bit pricey, but it’s worth it. ”

  “I’ll have to see if there’s anyone like that here,” he said thoughtfully and then they both fell silent as their attention turned to their food.

  Anders’s first bite of the chicken was a revelation. He’d thought the ice cream was the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted, but the chicken was easily its equal and he had to wonder if it was the food or this life mate business. Perhaps everything would be the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted now. He supposed he’d find out the answer to that as he sampled more and different foods.

  As he ate, Anders thought perhaps he should stop being so hard on Bricker for his constant desire to stop for food here and there. He suddenly understood that desire. Although Bricker’s hunger was only because he was young enough to still eat.

  A satisfied sigh from Valerie drew his attention from his nearly empty container. His eyebrows rose when she pushed her half-finished meal away and sat back in her seat.

  “All done?” he asked, eyeing the chicken and fries remaining in the container.

  “I’m afraid so. My stomach really must have shrunk. I’m stuffed,” she said, and then offered, “Do you want to finish it?”

  When Anders nodded eagerly, she laughed and pushed the container across the table to him.

  “Thank you,” he said and quickly moved her left-over chicken and fries to his own container. He really shouldn’t have room for the food either. His stomach had to be the size of a pea after centuries without solid food in it, and truth to tell, he was already past full himself, but he just couldn’t seem to get enough of the tasty fare.

  Valerie smiled indulgently as she watched him eat her food, but she began to yawn as he was finishing.

  “You’re tired,” Anders commented as he returned both empty containers to the bag they’d come in.

  “Yes. ” She grimaced. “I didn’t use to be such a lightweight, but I’ve been falling asleep all over the place today. ”

  “It’s your body recovering. It’ll pass,” he assured her.

  Valerie nodded and then glanced to Roxy as the dog returned from a trip to relieve herself and settled at her side. Petting the German shepherd, she asked, “How long do you think I’ll be here?”

  Anders hesitated. They had told her she was here because her captor had escaped, and that was partially true. There was a slim chance the man might come after her . . . if she’d seen anything and was able to identify him. But they weren’t holding out much hope of that. None of the other women had been able to tell them much of use. If the rogue had half a brain, Anders thought he had probably moved far away to start over and was even now terrorizing others. The real reason Valerie was here and hadn’t been moved to the Enforcer house was because Anders had been foolish enough to admit to Lucian that he hadn’t been able to read or control her at the house. Lucian now suspected she was Anders’s life mate and wanted to find out for sure if she was, and if she would agree to be a willing life mate to him, before deciding how to handle her.

  If she couldn’t accept what he was, and was unwilling to be his life mate, her memories of her captivity and her stay here would be wiped from her mind and she’d be returned to her life. But if she was willing . . .

  Anders didn’t allow himself to think about that. It would be too easy to imagine a whole life around this woman as his life mate. He could see it now, eating ice cream and other foods that didn’t taste like sawdust, having a companion without having to constantly gua
rd his thoughts . . . And then there was the supposedly hot life mate sex. He was very curious about that.

  “Anders?”

  Realizing he’d not answered her question, he finally said, “Probably not long. ”

  “You think you’ll capture him quickly, then?” Valerie asked, tilting her head. “Have you got a lead on him or something?”

  “No,” he answered honestly, and then gathered the remains of their meal together and stood. “Don’t worry about that now. You need to relax and sleep to regain your strength. Let us worry about the rest. Come on, I’ll carry your bags upstairs for you so you can go to bed. ”

  Valerie hesitated, obviously wanting to ask more questions, but another yawn caught her. Covering her mouth, she stood and nodded. “Tomorrow is soon enough to worry about things like that I suppose. ”

  “Tomorrow,” Anders agreed and led her and Roxy into the house. He detoured to the kitchen to throw out the garbage, and then led her back to the bags waiting at the front door.

  “I can help,” Valerie said as he began to collect the bags. When he didn’t respond, she moved to his side and picked up the computer case before he could, saying, “I’m not completely helpless, Anders. ”

  It was the first time she’d actually spoken his name and Anders found himself stilling briefly at the sound of it on her lips.

  “Is something wrong?” she asked.

  “No. ” He straightened with the other bags and gestured for her to lead the way up the stairs.

  Shrugging, Valerie turned and started up the stairs. This time Roxy didn’t follow, but sat at the foot of the stairs. Anders paused to look at her, but the German shepherd seemed confused and looked from him to Valerie and back without moving.

  “She’s waiting for you,” Valerie announced, pausing halfway up the stairs to glance back when she realized he wasn’t following. “She’s been trained not to go up the stairs until the people have. It prevents her getting under your feet and tripping you up. ”

  “Oh. ” He started up the stairs, marveling once again at how well trained the dog was. Once he reached the top, the jingle of Roxy’s name tag and license clinking together told him she was following. Shaking his head, he trailed Valerie up the hall. It wasn’t until she stopped to open her door that he realized he’d been staring at her derriere the whole way. The realization was rather startling. He’d never been an ass man, but the shift and sway of her behind had held his fascination all the way up the hall.

  “You aren’t expected to stand guard outside my room all night, are you?” Valerie asked curiously as she led him into her room.

  “No. I’m in the room next door. ” Anders set her bags on the table by the window. “Close enough to hear you shout if you need me. But there shouldn’t be any problems. The alarm system here is state of the art. ”

  “Good,” Valerie said with relief. “I would have felt horrible thinking you were stuck standing in the hall all night. I wouldn’t have been able to sleep,” she added with a smile.

  Anders turned to peer at her and hesitated. He wanted to kiss her. More out of curiosity than any great desire. The more he got to know this woman, the more he liked her. He admired her courage and strength, and was impressed by how well she’d trained her dog. The loyalty the animal showed her mistress spoke well. And so far, he liked everything about her. But he wasn’t lusting after her, and wanted to know if kissing her would bring on the life mate passion he’d heard so much about. Unfortunately, it had been a while since he’d wooed a woman and he wasn’t sure how to go about it. Did he just grab and kiss her? Or was he expected to wait for some sign from her?

  “Well, I should get ready and go to bed,” Valerie said finally and Anders smiled wryly. That was definitely a sign, he supposed, but not one suggesting she would welcome his kissing her.

  Nodding, he turned and headed for the door. “Yell if you need anything. ”

  “Thank you,” Valerie said softly as he opened the door.

  Pausing, Anders glanced back, his gaze shifting to the dog. “Does Roxy sleep with you, or should I take her downstairs?”

  “Oh, no. She sleeps with me,” Valerie said, glancing to Roxy herself.

  “Lucky dog,” he murmured and caught her surprised glance before he stepped out and pulled the door closed.

  Anders paused there briefly, silently kicking himself in the ass for not kissing her, but then shrugged and headed for the door to the room he’d been given for the duration of his stay here.

  He’d kiss her tomorrow, he thought, and he wouldn’t wait for a signal to do so. In the meantime, he was rather tired himself. He usually slept during the day, but Valerie’s waking around noon had cut into his sleep. He’d been up all night and then all day. He suspected his hours were going to be all screwed up for the next little while. Valerie probably kept normal hours and he’d have to do so too to spend time with, and keep an eye on, her.
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