The lady is a vamp, p.15
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       The Lady is a Vamp, p.15

         Part #17 of Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands
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Chapter Fifteen


  Jeanne Louise murmured sleepily and arched against the body at her back, instinctively thrusting her breast into the hand caressing it. But her eyes opened when she felt a kiss pressed to her neck.

  "Paul?" she whispered with confusion.

  "I thought you'd never wake up," he growled by her ear, tweaking her nipple for making him wait.

  A husky chuckle slipped from her lips, and she shifted onto her back in the bed to peer at him. "Is Livy all right?"

  "Mmm hmm," Paul murmured, his attention on the sheet he was tugging down to reveal her breasts. Bending, he pressed a kiss to the nipple of one, mumbling, "She's up and having breakfast with your father and Eshe. "

  "Oh," Jeanne Louise sighed as his mouth closed over her nipple. She closed her eyes as he suckled, but blinked them open when he suddenly stopped and lifted his head.

  "I love you," he said solemnly.

  Jeanne Louise hesitated, the worries that had made her cry herself to sleep earlier rising up inside her, but she pushed them back, and cupped his face in her hands and said, "I love you too, Paul. "

  He smiled crookedly and bent to press a kiss to her lips, then raised his head again and said solemnly, "Thank you for saving Livy. "

  Jeanne Louise swallowed and nodded, unable to speak past the tears suddenly crowding her throat and swimming in her eyes. She didn't regret saving the girl, but she regretted losing the chance to turn Paul.

  "I know it means I can't be turned, and that we only have three or four decades, but I'll do what I can to make those the best years of your life," he promised.

  Jeanne Louise closed her eyes. Three or four decades. So little time.

  "I want you to promise me something. "

  She opened her eyes again. "What?"

  "I want you to promise that you will never ever turn me. "

  "I can't now, Paul," Jeanne Louise whispered, her voice cracking as she made the admission.

  "I know. But when Livy fell down those stairs, you didn't even think. You turned her on the spot to save her. I don't want you ever to do that with me, to unthinkingly turn me. You would be trading your life for mine, and I won't have that. I'd kill myself the minute I regained consciousness to save you anyway. So it wouldn't be worth it. "

  Jeanne Louise stared up at him, tears leaking out of the corners of her eyes and sliding down into her hair as pain welled up inside her. Throwing her arms around him, she hugged him tightly, whispering, "What am I going to do without you?"

  "Jesus woman, I'm not dead yet. Don't bury me already," he said huskily, hugging her back. "We have time together. A couple of decades at least, and hopefully four or more. Let's enjoy them and let the future worry about itself. " He pulled back to peer at her and wipe her tears away, and then asked, "Okay?"

  Jeanne Louise nodded.

  "Good," he sighed, and then kissed her to seal the deal.

  Jeanne Louise kissed back, and moaned as his hands began to move over her body, his kisses and caresses pushing her worries about the future-and losing him-away for a little while as he made love to her.

  "Daddy! Jeanie! Look! I grew new teeth! And look what I can do with them!"

  Jeanne Louise blinked her eyes open and stared blankly at Livy as she burst into the room and rushed up to the bed, her fangs sliding out and gliding back into her jaw repeatedly.

  "Wow. Well, that's great, honey," Paul said weakly beside her.

  "Yeah. Justin and Anders taught me how to do it. Justin says I'm the fastest learner ever!" She beamed at the compliment and then whirled away and rushed toward the door yelling, "He said to show you and tell you it's time to get up. We're going on a plane!"

  "My daughter the vampire," Paul said on a sigh as Livy disappeared up the hall, leaving the door open.

  "She's a cute vampire though," Jeanne Louise said with amusement, and then sat up and slid off the bed as she warned him, "You might not want to use the term vampire around the old-timers though. They get kind of touchy about it. "

  "And who exactly are old-timers?" Paul asked, getting up and following when she headed into the bathroom.

  "Lucian, my father, Eshe, Nicholas, Anders, Aunt Marguerite," she listed off as she turned on the shower for the water to warm up. Jeanne Louise then turned and bent to look in the cupboard under the sink to find a washcloth and towel. Old-timers were anyone over a century or two old, and there were many more of them, but those were the only ones he'd met so far. "Oh, and Bastien. "

  "Right," he said, dryly. "And how am I supposed to tell who the old-timers are? You all look mid twenties to thirty. "

  She smiled wryly and shrugged as she straightened. "Guess it's best just not to use the 'V' word when there are others around. "

  "Hmm," Paul murmured, his eyes sliding over her body. "Speaking of that. How old are you?"

  "I'll be a hundred and three this year," Jeanne Louise admitted and then stepped in the shower and closed the door. The water was lovely warm and she closed her eyes and turned under it.

  "A hundred and three?" Paul squawked, yanking the door open.

  Blinking her eyes open, Jeanne Louise peered at him with surprise. "Yes. "

  "Jesus," Paul muttered, leaning weakly against the shower door.

  Jeanne Louise hesitated and then asked, "Is that a . . . er . . . problem?"

  "What?" He glanced at her, and then frowned. "Well, no-I mean, I-I guess I just thought you were younger," he finished finally.

  Biting her lip, she turned away from him to hide her concerned expression and reached for the shampoo to pour some into her hand. Trying to ignore the sudden awkward silence, she massaged the shampoo through her hair, building a lather.

  "You just caught me by surprise," Paul said after a moment, his tone apologetic. "I mean I knew immortals were long lived, I just-"

  "I'm considered a youngster by immortal standards," Jeanne Louise said quietly, before ducking under the spray to rinse the soap away. She stepped back out, blinking her eyes cautiously open and murmuring a thank you when Paul handed her the towel to dry her eyes.

  "Just how long has the oldest one lived?" he asked curiously. "I mean, I suppose technically the nanos could keep someone going forever but-"

  "Some who survived Atlantis are still around," Jeanne Louise interrupted. "Uncle Lucian for instance. Others, like his twin brother and parents, have died in beheadings or volcanic eruptions and such, but there are several around still from the early days. "

  "Your uncle Lucian is from Atlantis?" Paul asked carefully.

  Jeanne Louise paused and peered at him solemnly. "Do not ever joke about him being The Man From Atlantis," she warned. "Thomas did once and he really didn't take it well. "

  "Right," he breathed, and then smiled wryly. "I somehow don't think you have to worry about that. I don't see your uncle and I sitting around shooting the shit anytime soon. "

  "Stranger things have happened," Jeanne Louise said with amusement, setting the soap back on the rack and stepping under the water again to let the spray rinse the lather away.

  "So," Paul said as she sloshed the water in the places the spray couldn't reach on its own. "You're a hundred and three. "

  "Almost," she said and then grinned. "I'm an older woman, Paul. " Tilting her head, she arched an eyebrow and asked, "Is that a problem?"

  Paul let his gaze slide over her body under the spray as he considered her question and then grinned and shook his head and stepped under the spray with her.

  "Not at all," he assured her, his arms sliding around her waist. He kissed the tip of her nose and then pointed out, "It means you can't get mad at me if I call you my old lady. "

  "Ha ha," Jeanne Louise said dryly and pulled from his arms to step out of the shower, twisting the hot water tap off as she went. "Enjoy your shower. "

  "I-Ahhh!" Paul squawked and quickly began twisting taps as the water turned cold.

  "So this
is Marguerite's house. "

  Jeanne Louise smiled faintly at Paul's wide-eyed expression as they started up the driveway. "Uncle Jean Claude had it built. He liked to make a statement. "

  "Hmm," Paul said wryly, and then glanced at her. "Who is Uncle Jean Claude?"

  "Lucian's brother and Aunt Marguerite's first husband. He turned her. Julius Notte is her second husband and her first life mate. "

  "Her first life mate? Your uncle wasn't a life mate too?"

  Jeanne Louise shook her head. "No. He turned her and claimed her as one because she looked like his life mate, who died in Atlantis. "

  "Hmm. " Paul glanced out the window again. "When did your uncle die?"

  "1995," she answered.

  "Jesus," Paul breathed, and then asked, "How old is Marguerite?"

  Jeanne Louise paused to do the calculations. "Seven hundred and forty something. "

  "Right," he sighed and then glanced to Livy, who was clutching Boomer to her chest and peering excitedly out the window.

  No doubt he was thinking his daughter had a long life ahead of her, Jeanne Louise supposed, and then glanced out the window as Anders pulled the SUV to a halt in front of the wide double doors of the house.

  "Take them in," Anders said to Bricker. "I'll park and join you in a minute. "

  Jeanne Louise didn't wait to hear Bricker's answer, but opened her door and slid out. Paul followed, with Livy hard on his heels, and then Jeanne Louise turned toward the house as the front doors opened and Marguerite appeared.

  "Jeanne Louise, sweetie," her aunt greeted, managing to look apologetic and happy to see her all at once.

  "Aunt Marguerite," she murmured, stepping into the woman's arms and hugging her.

  "I'm sorry, sweetheart," Marguerite whispered as she hugged her tightly. "I thought everything would work out. And it may still," she added, squeezing a littler tighter. "Don't lose hope. "

  "I won't," Jeanne Louise said quietly, but knew it was a promise that would be hard to keep. Releasing her, she then turned to say, "You know Paul, of course, and this is his daughter, Livy. And that's Boomer," she added pointing to the small shih tzu the girl carried.

  "Olivia Jean Jones," Livy announced solemnly, shifting Boomer to one arm so that she could hold out her hand to Marguerite.

  "Hello, dear," Marguerite murmured, bending to accept the hand. "Do you prefer Olivia or Livy?"

  "Livy," she said at once.

  "Then Livy it is," Marguerite said solemnly, and then straightened and glanced over her shoulder as a tall, good-looking man with auburn hair appeared behind her. Stepping to her son Christian's side, Marguerite made the introductions, including the dog.

  "Ah. That explains why Julius was sent to the kennel," Christian said wryly, eyeing Boomer. "He'd have eaten him alive. "

  "Julius is Marguerite's dog," Jeanne Louise explained to Paul as she smiled at her Italian cousin.

  "I thought Julius was Marguerite's life mate?" Paul said with confusion.

  "He is. There are two Juliuses," Christian said with amusement. "One is a dog, and one is my father. "

  "Long story," Jeanne Louise said when Paul glanced her way.

  "Christian, you've met Justin Bricker, haven't you?" Marguerite asked now, gesturing to the Enforcer who stood a little back from the group, looking uncomfortable. Anders approached then and she added, "And Anders. "

  Christian nodded to the men.

  "Now, we should go in. I have sandwiches and snacks waiting, and Caro is eager to meet you all too," Marguerite announced, turning to lead the way inside.

  "Caro?" Paul asked, taking Livy's hand and slipping his arm around Jeanne Louise's waist as they followed mother and son into the house.

  "Christian's life mate," Jeanne Louise explained. "They're new life mates too. They met in St. Lucia on Julius and Marguerite's honeymoon. "

  "Christian went on his parents' honeymoon?" Paul asked with amazement as they walked up the hall a few feet behind the others.

  "Ah . . . well, not originally. But Marguerite was sure Caro was perfect for Christian so they called and had him fly out to meet her. "

  "On their honeymoon?" he asked with a grin.

  "The things we'll do for our children, eh?" Julius asked behind them and Jeanne Louise glanced around to see him coming out of the office door they'd just passed.

  "Oh, hello, Uncle Julius," she murmured and moved back to hug him.

  "Hello Jeanie. " Julius Notte squeezed her tight and gave her back a quick rub, then released her to offer his hand to Paul. "And hello to Jeanne's life mate. Paul, no?"

  "No," he murmured as they shook hands and then said, "I mean, yes. Hello. "

  Julius smiled and put an arm around each of them to usher them up the hall. "We know the troubles that have befallen you. Family is important. We do our best for our children. You are welcome here. "

  "Thank you," Paul said sincerely, and Jeanne Louise noticed that he relaxed quite a bit. It was only then she realized how tense he'd been before and understood that he'd been worried about how her relatives would receive him. It was understandable, of course. After all, her father and brother hadn't been pleased with the whole "kidnapping and using her one turn on Livy" business. But Julius had just said he understood and didn't hold it against Paul and she tightened the arm she had around her uncle in gratitude. She'd liked her Aunt's life mate from the start, but every time they met she liked him a little more.

  "Oh, nobody told me you were here. I would have come to greet you too. "

  Jeanne Louise glanced into the living room they were entering at those startled words and smiled at Christian's life mate, Caro, as she hopped up from where she'd been curled on the sofa, reading.

  Setting the book on the table, the blonde hurried forward to offer Jeanne Louise a hug and be introduced to Paul and Livy and then they all went into the dining room to eat. Jeanne Louise had been worried about their staying here, but Marguerite knew Paul, and Julius, Christian, and Caro were as welcoming as could be. He seemed to fit right into the group. In fact, if anything it was Bricker and Anders who seemed uncomfortable as they had their meal. Jeanne Louise could understand that, they were basically there as babysitters for her and Paul. Not really guests and not really welcome, at least not by her, though Marguerite was as warm and welcoming with them as she was everyone and her husband, son, and daughter-in-law followed suit. Still, Jeanne Louise didn't think they were necessary, and the Enforcers were short staffed as it was lately. Surely they had better things to do.

  She was wondering about that when Anders turned and answered the question for her, saying bluntly, "Yes, we are short staffed, but Lucian wants us to stay until he figures out the way the land lies. "

  "Meaning?" she asked with a frown, not liking that turn of phrase.

  "I believe Lucian is concerned that you might try to turn Paul despite having used your one turn," Julius said quietly. "After all, he has a life mate and knows how valuable they are, and that losing them, even to time, is not something easily accepted. "

  Jeanne Louise stared at him silently and then sat back in her seat. "So what? You guys are going to live with us for the next forty years or so to make sure I don't turn him?"

  "Jeanie won't do that," Paul said solemnly. "I made her promise she wouldn't. "

  Silence reigned around the table briefly, and then Marguerite cleared her throat and stood up. "If everyone is done, I guess I should show you to your rooms. Julius, if you'll show Anders and Bricker to their room, I'll show Jeanie and Paul where they're to stay. "

  "Of course. " Julius stood to lead the two men away.

  Once they were gone, Marguerite smiled at Jeanne Louise. "Shall we?"

  Jeanne Louise forced a smile and stood as well. The expression became more natural, though, when Paul stood up beside her and took her hand in his. He glanced to Livy then and held out his hand, and the girl hopped off her chair, scooped up Boomer from wh
ere he'd been sleeping by her feet, caught him under one arm and slipped her free hand into her father's. They followed Marguerite out of the room as a family.

  "Jeanie, Mirabeau is bringing clothes from your apartment, and Paul, Lucian arranged for your and Livy's things to be gathered and brought as well. They should be here sometime this afternoon," Marguerite announced as she led them upstairs. "If there's anything else you need, we can make a trip to your places tomorrow. "

  "So we aren't prisoners?" Jeanne Louise asked dryly.

  "What?" Marguerite glanced around with true surprise. "No, of course not. You're our guests. We're going to help with Livy while the two of you decide what you want to do. You have a lot of things to work out . . . whether you want to live together or marry. Where you'll live if you do marry. Where it's best for Livy to live. If you should move to where she can attend school, or if you want to stay here in Toronto and have her tutored and so on. "

  "There's a place Livy could actually go to school like a normal kid?" Paul asked with surprise.

  "Port Henry," Marguerite said nodding. "It's relatively immortal-friendly and Lucian's been working on making it more so, so that our children can have a more normal childhood. Most immortal children have been raised alone over the years with no brothers or sisters in their age range to socialize with. He's been trying to convince immortals in teaching and other useful fields to move to Port Henry so that our children can attend school with others like themselves and have friends, attend dances, and so on. "

  "That would be nice. Where's Port Henry?" Paul asked with interest.

  "On Lake Erie, a little less than an hour the other side of London from where we were staying," Jeanne Louise answered, wondering if Paul would want to move there for Livy. It would mean giving up her position at Argeneau. Giving up on trying to resolve the problem of her uncle and cousin feeding on bagged blood she'd been working on for so long.

  Or not, she thought suddenly. After all, Uncle Victor, her uncle who had the genetic anomaly, was in Port Henry. It might be useful to have him handy to test things on. Paul might even be able to continue his work there if they set up a lab for both of them.

  "Here we are. " Marguerite stopped halfway up the hall and opened a door, then gestured them in. As she followed them into the pretty blue room with a king-sized bed and sitting area, she said, "And this door leads into the en suite bath. "

  They followed her to peer into the room as she crossed the white and blue bathroom to another door.

  "And this leads to Livy's room," she announced, thrusting the door open and leading them into a pretty rose-colored room with two double beds. Turning as they followed her in, she smiled at Livy and asked, "What do you think?"

  "I got two beds," Livy said with awe as she entered the room, and then she set Boomer on the floor and whirled to run to her father. Grabbing his hands, she squeezed eagerly and begged, "Can I have Shelly sleep over? We can each have our own bed and everything. "

  "Sweetie, I think you're squeezing your daddy's hand too tight," Jeanne Louise said, catching Paul's pained expression.

  "Livy, why don't we go take Boomer outside?" Marguerite suggested. "He would probably like a run around the yard about now, don't you think?"

  Livy glanced toward her and then released Paul's hand and ran over to the woman, stopping to scoop up Boomer again on the way.

  "Thank you," Jeanne Louise murmured as her aunt caught Livy's hand in hers and led her from the room. She then turned to look at Paul's hand, frowning as she saw the way it was swelling. The girl didn't know her own strength yet. "We'd better put some ice on that. "

  "It's fine," Paul said, tugging his hand from hers. "She wants to have a sleepover. "

  "Paul, we should really ice your hand," Jeanne Louise said with a frown.

  "She can't have a sleepover, Jeanie. Shelly is mortal. Livy might get hungry in the night and gnaw on the poor kid. "

  Jeanne Louise left his hand for now and glanced at his face. "Paul, she won't do that. She wasn't herself when she went after Kirsten. She isn't going to run around attacking people. She'll have access to bagged blood when she's hungry. She won't go after other children. "

  "How can you be sure?" he asked with a frown.

  "Because she knows it's wrong," she said quietly.

  Sighing, Paul nodded and ran his uninjured hand through his hair. "Good. Thank you. "

  Jeanne Louise nodded, and then sighed and said, "But you're right. She can't have a mortal over for sleepovers. They might see something they shouldn't. "

  "Right," he said wearily and winced as he unthinkingly ran his injured hand through his hair this time.

  "Come on," Jeanne Louise said firmly. "We'll put ice on your hand. "

  "It's fine. Don't fuss," Paul said, but allowed her to drag him from the room.
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