Immortal ever after, p.18
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       Immortal Ever After, p.18

         Part #18 of Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands
Page 18

  The dog settled back down and Valerie led Anders into the bathroom. Once there, she watched him set down the gauze, tape, and ointment.

  “Right,” he said, glancing her way.

  Valerie turned her back to him and let her towel drop. She’d worn it sarong style since entering the house and being introduced to the sketch artist, Bryan. She’d wanted to go get dressed, but Lucian had said she was fine and didn’t want her to take the time.

  “Fast or slow?” Anders asked and when Valerie glanced over her shoulder he explained, “It seemed pretty painful for you when I did it slowly this morning. One quick yank might be better. ”

  Valerie bit her lip, but nodded and then turned to face away from him again.

  “Deep breath,” he said.

  Valerie started to suck in a slow deep breath, but halfway through, it became a sharp inhale as he ripped the bandage from her back.

  “Okay?” Anders asked with concern.

  Valerie nodded, letting her breath out slowly. It really had been better than the slow way. It had hurt, but had been one quick jolt of pain rather than the long drawn-out constant pulling pain from that morning.

  “How does it look?” she asked, raising her arm and craning her head around to try to see her wound.

  “Less red than it was this morning,” he added. “I’m going to put the salve on. ”

  Valerie gave up trying to look at it and nodded as she turned forward again. She felt him brush the ointment on. It was cool, but not cold, and didn’t sting quite as much as it had that morning, which made her wonder if the chlorine from the pool had dried out the wound a bit. The swim may even have done it some good, she thought as he pressed the gauze over it.

  She waited patiently as he taped the gauze in place, barely restraining a shiver as his warm fingers moved over her skin. His touch, as methodical as it was, sent shafts of pleasure through her that were hard to ignore. It was actually a relief when he said, “Finished. ” Until his hands settled on her shoulder and he pulled her back against his chest.

  Valerie closed her eyes, stealing herself against the warmth that seeped through her. It radiated from where his chest pressed against her back, but seemed to then gather and slide to pool low in her belly.

  “Your skin is so soft,” Anders whispered by her ear, his breath stirring her hair, his fingers sliding down and then up her arms.

  When she felt his lips brush her ear, Valerie tilted her head slightly to the side and then moaned as he pressed a kiss to her neck and then her earlobe. They were soft caresses, light as a butterfly’s wings, and the brush of his fingers over her arms was just as light, but it all made her body tremble in his hold.

  Hungry for his kiss, Valerie turned her head back and up toward Anders and was rewarded with his mouth closing over hers. It was an awkward angle, but she didn’t care as his tongue thrust between her lips. She cared even less about the angle when his hands shifted from her arms to close over her breasts through her swimsuit.

  Moaning into his mouth, Valerie turned in his arms, momentarily dislodging his hands. As she’d hoped, though, they were quickly back. Even as she slid her arms around his shoulders and pressed close to him, his hands found and covered her breasts. Squeezing her eager flesh through the thin cloth, he was able to kiss her properly.

  Valerie moaned and sucked on his tongue, her fingers following the muscles and lines of his back, kneading and urging him closer against her. She was vaguely aware of one of his hands drifting away from one breast, but didn’t realize why until the front of her bathing suit top came loose and fell to catch between their bodies, barely cresting her nipples. He released her other breast then and caught her by the waist to lift her onto the sink counter. Valerie instinctively spread her legs and drew him between them as he quickly undid the lower fastening of her bathing suit top and removed it entirely.

  Anders broke the kiss and pulled back to peer down then.

  “God,” he breathed and lowered his head to claim one nipple.

  Valerie cried out, feet pressing against the cupboard door and her butt lifting off the counter as she arched into the caress. He immediately slid one hand beneath her, holding her up and urging her tight against him as he suckled at first one breast and then the other.

  “Semmy,” she moaned and pressed her open mouth to the top of his head as their lower bodies ground together.

  Anders immediately stilled and lifted his head. Meeting her gaze, he raised his eyebrows. “Semmy?”

  Valerie felt the blush that claimed her. “Well, calling you by your last name at a time like this seems . . . er . . . wrong,” she said awkwardly, and then admitted, “But I just can’t call you Semen. ” She shrugged helplessly. “But Semmy sounds like a good nickname. If you don’t mind it,” she added and then bit her lip and waited.

  Anders stared at her for several minutes and then suddenly grinned. “I like it. ”

  “Do you?” she asked with relief.

  “Oh, yeah,” he said, and raised a hand to brush his fingers lightly over her cheek. Valerie turned her head to kiss his fingers and he smiled, and then let his fingers drop to brush lightly over one nipple and added, “I like everything about you. ”

  Valerie gasped at the shafts of excitement the light caress sent through her, and raised her own hand to clasp his neck to draw his mouth back to hers. Their lips had barely touched when a knock sounded at her bedroom door. They both froze. When a second knock sounded, Valerie urged Anders away and slid off the counter to grab her towel and quickly wrap it around herself as she headed for the door.

  She wasn’t terribly surprised to open it and find Leigh there. Lucian had been talking about taking the sketch artist to the airport and heading to the Enforcer house when she’d left. If he’d done that, Leigh was probably looking for company.

  “I thought I’d better see how your back is,” Leigh admitted with a grimace. “I just remembered that you weren’t suppose to get it wet. Yet big dummy me, I suggested a swim. ”

  “It’s all right,” Anders said behind her and Valerie glanced around to see that he’d followed her out of the bathroom. “I changed her dressing. It actually looks better than it did this morning. I don’t think any harm was done. ”

  “Oh good. ” Leigh looked relieved. “But I’ll still feel better once Dani has a look. ”

  “She’s coming by after work tonight, isn’t she?” Anders asked.

  Leigh nodded. “She should be here at about four thirty, and Lucian said he’d be back about then as well. ” She smiled wryly. “I guess I should start thinking about making dinner in case we need to do some shopping or it’s a meal that needs a lot of prep time. I wonder if Dani and Decker would like to stay to eat?”

  “Decker?” Valerie asked.

  “Dani’s husband,” Anders answered behind her. “He’s Lucian’s nephew. ”

  Valerie’s eyebrows rose and she glanced back at Anders. “Lucian has a nephew old enough to be married?”

  “He has several nephews old enough to be married. And a couple nieces,” he said simply.

  Valerie nodded slowly. Her best friend in school had been the niece of one of their classmates. It was unusual, but certainly not unheard of. She supposed Lucian had been the youngest of his parents’ brood.

  “I’ll help with supper,” she offered. “I just need to change out of my swimsuit first. ”

  “Oh, thank you,” Leigh said with a smile and then glanced at Anders. “And are you going to change too? Or do you plan to just hang around half naked and looking studly to make Lucian and Decker jealous?”

  Anders snorted at the suggestion. “Those two wouldn’t even understand the word jealous. They know they have you and Dani locked down,” he said, stepping around Valerie. He gave her arm a squeeze in passing and murmured, “I’ll see you downstairs?”

  “Yes,” she said softly, then flushed when Leigh grinned from one to the other. Grimac
ing at the matchmaking gleam in the woman’s eye, she added, “Oh go on, I’ll be down in a minute. ”

  “Okay,” Leigh said cheerfully and slid her arm through Anders’s, saying, “I’ll walk you to your door. ”

  “You will, will you?” he asked dryly.

  “Of course. I wouldn’t want you to get lost,” she said lightly.

  Shaking her head, Valerie closed her door and turned to cross the room. Leigh obviously realized something more had been going on than his changing her dressing. Her lack of a bathing suit top might have helped with that, Valerie supposed, glancing down at herself as she removed the towel she’d wrapped around her chest.

  “Oh well, c’est la vie. Right Roxy?” she said, glancing to the dog lying beside the bed. At the sound of her name, Roxy stood and moved to her side, tail wagging.

  “Good girl,” Valerie murmured, giving her a pet. “Want to help me decide what to wear?”

  Roxy barked, tail wagging more furiously, and Valerie grinned. She didn’t for a moment think the dog understood what she’d asked her. She just understood her name and the tone of voice was a question, so she responded. Still, it was nice to have someone to talk to. It made a gal feel less crazy than talking to herself.

  Valerie debated what she should wear briefly and settled on a pale peach halter dress that left most of her back and her sides bare. It would make it easier for Dr. Dani Pimms to look at her wound without her having to disrobe.

  She changed quickly, switching the swimsuit bottoms for a pair of peach panties and slipping the dress on. Valerie then ran a brush through her hair, applied some lipstick and headed downstairs with Roxy on her heels.

  “Oh, hello. That was quick. ” Leigh smiled at her from her seat at the island. Anders was there as well, retrieving a large pot from the cupboard under the range. He straightened at Leigh’s words and nodded in greeting, his gaze appreciative as it slid over her.

  “Hello. Did you decide on what we’re making?” Valerie asked as she led Roxy to the French doors and let her out.

  “How does chili sound?” Leigh asked. “If we start now it can simmer till everyone gets here. Then we just have to throw some fries in the oven and have Anders throw some hot dogs on the barbecue before we can eat. We can have Coney Island hot dogs and chili fries. ”

  “Cravings?” Valerie guessed, closing the French doors and turning to peer at her.

  “Serious cravings,” Leigh admitted on a sigh. “And they keep changing. First it was sweets: ice cream and chocolate. Now it’s chili dogs and fries. ”

  “Then I think it sounds yummy,” she assured her, moving around the island into the kitchen. “How can I help?”

  Valerie sat back in her seat and sipped at her wine, doing her best to ignore the way Anders’s leg was pressing against her own under the table. He had been touching, brushing up against, or sneaking caresses all night. First under cover of their working together in the kitchen and then under cover of the table as they’d eaten. He was driving her wild.

  “Thank you, Leigh. That was good,” Dani said, sitting back in her own seat with a satisfied little sigh. “I haven’t had chili dogs since I was a teenager. ”

  Valerie smiled at Dani. She liked the good doctor. They’d finished making the chili and it was bubbling away on the stove when the woman had arrived with her husband, Decker. While Anders had offered Decker a beer, the three women had all gone upstairs to Valerie’s room so that the doctor could check her wound. Dani had examined it, announced that it was healing nicely, and then redressed it.

  One would expect that it would have been a quick trip. It hadn’t. The women had begun chatting about this and that as they mounted the stairs, and continued that chat throughout the examination. Afterward, they had simply stood there in her room, talking for several minutes more before heading down to rejoin the men.

  Dani and Decker had kissed and hugged as if she’d been gone for days instead of the hour the women had dallied upstairs. They’d then cuddled up on the couch, his arm around her and her hand on his leg as the group had chatted. The two had seemed as connected mentally as they had been physically; finishing each other’s sentences and exchanging loving smiles and the occasional affectionate caress of the cheek or hair. It was enough to make Valerie envious.

  By the time Lucian had returned home and they’d sat down to dinner, Valerie had come to the conclusion that Dani and Decker were great. They were also perfect for each other.

  “Hmm,” Decker said now as he finished and sat back as well. Reaching for his wife’s hand, he drew it onto the arm of his chair and caressed it absently with thumb and fingers. “I’ve actually never had them before at all. But they were good. My compliments to the chef. ”
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