The reluctant vampire, p.18
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       The Reluctant Vampire, p.18

         Part #15 of Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands
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Chapter Eighteen


  "I don't think I like helicopters. "

  Drina smiled faintly at Stephanie's words as Harper urged them both out of the elevator and into his apartment. In truth, she hadn't been too thrilled with the helicopter this me either. It was extremely windy tonight, and the ride had been a li le bumpy. But they were here now, safe and sound and much more swiftly than it would have been by car.

  "I guess you may as well call Lucian and let him know we're here, Anders," Harper said as he shrugged out of, and hung up, his coat.

  "No need. "

  Those two words brought everyone to a halt. Frowning, Harper moved to the end of the entry and peered into his living room. Drina could tell by the way his eyebrows rose that he was surprised, and not necessarily pleased, at who he found there. Lucian Argeneau. Drina would recognize her uncle's voice anywhere.

  "How did you get in?" Harper asked, sounding annoyed.

  Drina hung up her coat, kicked off her boots, and moved to join Harper as Lucian answered, "Your doorman is mortal. "

  It wasn't much of an answer, but pretty much said it all. Lucian had controlled the man to let him in, Drina deduced, eyeing him where he sat looking relaxed and comfortable on Harper's sofa. It was a con, of course; Lucian wasn't at all relaxed. He was reading Harper. She'd bet her life on it, Drina thought, and then s ffened when his gaze suddenly shi ed to her, and she felt the telltale ruffling as he now rifled through her thoughts as well.

  Drina glared at him for it but didn't try to block him. When his gaze slid past her and narrowed, she knew before turning that Stephanie had finished removing her own outer gear and moved up to join them. Drina spared the girl a reassuring smile and slid her arm around her, then glanced to Anders as he joined them.

  "Yes, I can," Stephanie said suddenly, and Drina glanced to her sharply, then peered warily at her uncle. One eyebrow was raised on his hard face, but otherwise, he looked as emo onless as ever. Standing, he walked toward them, and Drina s ffened, but he merely moved past to the closet to retrieve a long, leather coat.

  "Anders, you're with me," Lucian announced as he drew it on.

  The man immediately joined him at the closet, and Drina scowled. "That's it? You dragged us all the way to Toronto, and now you're just going to leave?"

  Lucian shrugged. "Between your brainstorming and the arrangements Harper has made, you have everything under control. "

  Drina's eyes widened. She wasn't at all sure she had anything under control, and she didn't have a clue what he was talking about when he said "arrangements Harper has made. "

  "So we return to Port Henry?" Harper asked.

  "After the repairs and renovations you commissioned are done," Lucian said. Drina glanced to Harper with surprise, and he explained, "I made some calls last night a er arranging for the helicopter to pick us up. "

  "Stay here till then," Lucian ordered. "Keep Stephanie inside unless you can find a way to disguise her. "

  Drina nodded solemnly, knowing that Leonius was s ll a worry. While the man was supposedly in the States, that could change, and Toronto was one of the places he'd look for the girl.

  "I'll see what I can find out from the few older edentates, and tell Bas en to help you any way he can with whatever drugs he thinks might be useful," Lucian announced.

  Drina glanced worriedly to Stephanie. That idea had come up a er the girl had fallen asleep. It was Tiny who had suggested that perhaps there was some sort of drug that might help block the thoughts of others for her un l she learned to do it herself. It wasn't a first choice, but a last resort to help her hold on to her sanity until she was able to deal with the thoughts, energy, and electricity herself.

  "I want regular reports," Lucian barked, drawing Drina's a en on again as he pressed the bu on for the elevator. He then glanced back. "And I want the truth. Help her if you can, but if you can't, I need to know about it. "

  Drina nodded reluctantly, and his eyes narrowed on her.

  "This is a temporary gig, Alexandrina. Elvi's already raised and lost a daughter. She and Victor were happy when I asked them to be in charge of Stephanie, and I won't take it away from them now. They make final decisions un l it's safe to put the sisters together again. " He didn't wait to see how she reacted to that, but turned and led Anders onto the elevator. "I'll have blood deliveries set up for you while you're here. "

  Drina let out a slow breath as the elevator doors closed, and then glanced to Stephanie and Harper.

  "Well, that went better than I expected. "

  "Yes," Harper said dryly.

  Drina chuckled at his expression and glanced to Stephanie. "How are you doing?"

  Stephanie forced a smile. "Good. Tired though. I didn't sleep much last night. "

  "Well, there are three guest rooms in this apartment," Harper said at once. "All of them have their own a ached bath. Go take a look, pick which one you prefer, and have a nap, then we'll figure out how to disguise you so we can see some plays and stuff while we're in the city. "

  "Plays?" Stephanie peered at him with interest.

  "Yeah, I hear there are a couple good ones in Toronto right now," he said easily. "And you'll need a break from all the work Drina and I are going to make you do to try to learn to block thoughts. "

  She nodded and started to turn away, then quickly whirled back and hugged Drina, mumbling, "Thank you for wanting to help me, and for my room at Elvi's," she added as she then hugged Harper. Before either of them could respond or even hug her back, she was off rushing across the living room and away up the hall toward the bedrooms.

  "Her room at Elvi's?" Drina asked with confusion.

  Harper smiled faintly and turned to slip his arms around her. "When I called about repairing the fire and smoke damage to Elvi's house, I also arranged to have insula on, a wall of brick, and several different kinds of soundproofing and whatnot put in Stephanie's room. I'm hoping that will help block thoughts and give her a quiet place to get away when it gets too much for her. "

  "Oh. " Drina sighed and leaned against him. "You're a clever man. "

  "I like to think so," he said lightly, rubbing his hands up and down her back. "I'm thinking I might do it to whatever room she chooses here too. "

  Drina pulled back to peer at him with surprise. "But we're only going to be here un l the house is repaired. "

  Harper shrugged. "I can afford it. Besides, that way she'll be comfortable if we can bring her back to Toronto for visits. Elvi and Victor may be in charge when they return, but we can be the do ng aun e and uncle figures who drag her off to the city for plays and shopping on occasion and give them a break. "

  Drina nodded solemnly. "You're going to be a good father. "

  "I sincerely hope so," Harper murmured, bending to kiss the p of her nose. He then straightened, and asked, "I presume that means you do want children?"

  "Yes," she admitted. "Do you?"

  "Definitely," he assured her. Le ng his hands slide to her waist, Harper li ed her up. When Drina ins nc vely wrapped her legs around his waist, he began to carry her through the living room toward the hall Stephanie had disappeared down. "And where would you like to raise those children?"

  "With you," she said simply.

  He smiled and paused at the start of the hall to kiss her, but then con nued on, asking, "And where would that be? Where do you want to live, Drina? Your home and family are in Spain. "

  "And your home and family are here in Canada," she pointed out.

  "Actually, my birth family are in Germany," he said wryly, "but you're right, Elvi and Victor and the others have become my family, and they're here. As is Stephanie. "

  "You consider me family?"

  Harper paused, and Drina glanced around to see that they were halfway up the hall and in front of an open bedroom door. Stephanie stood in the middle of the room, her wide eyes on them.

  "We'd like to consider you family if that's all right
with you?" Drina said solemnly.

  "Oh, yeah!" She grinned. "Everyone needs family, and you two are pre y cool. Kind of annoying with your new-life-mate horndoginess, but still cool. "

  The words startled a laugh from Drina, and she said, "So you wouldn't mind if we se led in Port Henry or somewhere nearby and stayed a part of your life?"

  "I'd like that," she assured them quietly.

  "So would I," Harper said, and glanced to Drina. "You're sure? Your family is in Spain. "

  "You're my life mate, Harper. And I love you. You are my family," she said solemnly. "And so is Stephanie. My home is here now. "

  His eyes widened, and he seemed to hold his breath for a moment as if savoring what she'd said. That breath came out as if he'd been punched when Stephanie said, "Well? Aren't you going to tell her you love her too, Harper? I know that you do. "

  He smiled wryly, and then turned to the girl to say, "I'll tell her. Now go get some sleep. We're going to nap too. "

  "Oh yeah. " Stephanie rolled her eyes as she moved to the door. "I bet you'll get so much sleep. "

  Drina wrinkled her nose. "Maybe we should cut your hair. That might help disguise you. "

  "No way!" Stephanie said at once. "Actually, I'm thinking a goth look might be a cool change. Black hair, black lips ck, maybe some purple or pink streaks like Mirabeau. Oh, and some chains and nose rings. I could really rock the goth look," she assured them with a wicked grin as she closed the door. Drina groaned as Harper started moving again. "She's going to be trouble, that one. "

  "No doubt," he said with amusement. "But you can handle her. "

  "I can, can I?" she asked wryly, as he carried her into his room and kicked the door closed.

  "Dree, darling, you've handled pirates and pros tutes. You can handle one li le teenager. And together we can handle Stephanie and ten more," he assured her, moving to the bed and kneeling on the edge to lower her to it.

  "We . . . I like that," she murmured, as her back hit the bed, and he came down on top of her. And then her eyes widened, and she squawked, "Ten?"

  "One at a me," Harper assured her, pulling her upright with him so that he could remove her T-shirt.

  "Every hundred years or so as law insists. "

  He had removed her T-shirt and bra as he spoke and now pushed her back on the bed and shi ed down between her ankles to tug her joggers and panties off.

  "So you're going to have me barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen every hundred years, are you?" Drina asked with amusement, as he tossed the last of her clothes aside and turned back to survey what he'd revealed.

  "Oh no," Harper assured her. "Barefoot and pregnant in every room but the kitchen. I am the cook in this household. "

  "Hmmm. " She raised one foot and caught the hem of his T-shirt with her toes and began to li it up his chest. "I don't know. I enjoyed what we did in the kitchen the last time we were here. "

  "Well, I am willing to make excep ons," Harper assured her, helping her to remove his T-shirt, and then pausing as she lowered her foot to his lap and hooked her toes in the waist of his joggers to begin tugging at them. She couldn't remove them with him si ng, but enjoyed the way he grew under her foot as she rubbed against him with the effort.

  "Did I mention you have talented feet?" he asked, his voice a growl.

  Drina grinned. "I have many talents. "

  "I don't doubt that for a minute," he assured her, catching her foot and li ing it to his lips to press a kiss to her toes. Harper set her foot down to one side so that he was between her ankles, and then shi ed to his hands and knees to climb forward.

  "Not going to take your pants off?" she asked, arching an eyebrow when he settled on top of her. Harper kissed her un l they were both breathless. He then broke the kiss and shi ed lower to nuzzle her breasts, murmuring, "If I take them off, I'll want to plunge myself into you, and I'm determined to make slow love to you this time. "

  "Good luck with that," Drina teased, and then gasped as his mouth closed over a nipple. Harper swirled his tongue across the nub as he suckled, and then let it slip from his mouth and raised his head to ask, "Do you really love me?"

  Drina nodded solemnly. "With all my heart," she assured him.

  He smiled, and finally said it. "I love you too. "

  Drina slid her arms around him as he pressed up to kiss her again. When his tongue plunged into her mouth, she moaned and wrapped her legs around him again, pressing her heels into his behind to press him against her. She shi ed her pelvis at the same me so that they ground together, his hardness against her soft moist center. Harper groaned and broke their kiss.

  "Next me we'll go slow," he mu ered, pushing his joggers down just enough for his erec on to break free.

  "Next me," Drina agreed, and then gasped and clawed at his back as he filled her. They had a long life of next times ahead and she planned to enjoy every one.

  The End

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  Katricia took her me closing bedroom doors, peering curiously into each room as she went. It was par ally out of curiosity and par ally to give Teddy some breathing room. She didn't need to read his mind to know that he wasn't comfortable with her. She supposed she'd come on too strong too fast, but hadn't been able to help herself. The very fact that he might be her life mate made her want to test it. She wasn't hungry yet, but then the only food around was in cans and boxes. There was nothing really to tempt her palate. Which meant the easiest way to know for sure was to kiss Teddy and see if she experienced the shared pleasure she'd heard so much about.

  Unfortunately, it was looking like that might be a hard objec ve to achieve. Teddy didn't appear to be comfortable with what he thought was their age difference. That seemed obvious to her from the way he'd quickly removed his hat and scarf and then turned, as if presen ng some monstrosity to her. This was going to take some pa ence, which had never been Katricia's strong suit. She was already struggling with the urge to simply walk out into the kitchen and jump the man's bones. The only thing stopping her was the worry that she might give the poor guy a heart a ack or something. That would be just her luck -

  kill her life mate with a heart attack before she could woo and turn him.

  Grimacing at the thought, Katricia con nued checking out the rooms. She found the one with Teddy's suitcase and smiled faintly, thinking it was the room she would have picked too. It was the last on the left with the window overlooking the driveway, where he could easily look out to see who was approaching should anyone come up the driveway.

  It was a good defensive posi on and his cop ins ncts were showing in the choice, she thought with a smile, before pulling the door closed and moving back up the hall. Her eyes widened slightly when she found Teddy kneeling by the fireplace, situating a couple of pots at the edge of the fire.

  "What are you doing?" she asked curiously, moving up behind him to peer over his shoulder, but inching back a bit when she sensed him stiffening.

  "Experimen ng," he said gruffly, straightening and stepping around her to get back into the kitchen.

  "Boiling water to make drip coffee and hea ng chicken soup. It's not the usual breakfast fare, I know, but beggars can't be choosers. "

  "Clever," Katricia murmured, watching from the fireplace as he walked into the kitchen and began to measure coffee into a filter.

  "Hardly clever," Teddy said with amusement, se ng his coffee fixings aside and rifling through the box.

  "More like desperate. I'm useless without my java. "

  "Java?" Katricia asked, warming her hands at the fire.

  "Coffee," he explained, and then said, "Since you're over there, keep an eye on the soup for me, will you?"

  "Sure," Katricia said, watching him cross to the table to
put on his hat and scarf.

  "I'm going to go see if I can get my truck door open and the engine started so I can charge my phone," he explained as he moved to the door. "If I can get the phone hooked up, I can call Marguerite and see if we can't get the power back on. "


  Teddy paused to glance her way in surprise. Probably because she'd barked the word in her surprise, she thought, and grimaced to herself. Clearing her throat, she asked more calmly, "Who's Marguerite?"

  "Marguerite Argeneau, a friend. She arranged for me to rent this co age. I want to call and find out who I should report the power problem to," he said slowly, s ll eyeing her a li le oddly. But then he shook his head and turned to walk out into the ves bule to put on his boots. He pulled the door closed behind him and Katricia stared at it, biting her lip.

  She had a cell phone. It was in her pocket and had been since she awoke, and yet she hadn't once thought of using it . . . not even to check on her blood delivery. That more than anything told her just how upset she'd been since finding she couldn't read Teddy.

  Mu ering under her breath, she pulled out the phone, but then paused and simply stood there listening until Teddy finished donning his boots and stomped out of the cottage.

  Katricia then turned to give the soup a quick s r before moving into the kitchen to peer out the window. Spo ng Teddy by the door of his pickup fiddling with the lock, she quickly pulled up contacts on her phone and found her aunt's lis ng. Marguerite answered on the second ring, her voice cheerful and happy as she said, "Hello Tricia, dear, how is your vacation going?"

  "I can't read Teddy," Katricia blurted, not bothering with niceties.

  "Oh, how lovely!" Marguerite didn't sound at all surprised. "I hoped the two of you would meet. Isn't he a handsome man?"

  "Yes," Katricia breathed. Teddy Brunswick was the most beau ful man she'd ever met. Of course she might be biased since she couldn't read him and suspected he was her life mate. It tended to color things. Still, he was handsome.

  "He's so dignified-looking and such a gentleman. I've seen pictures of him when he was younger and I promise you he'll be even more gorgeous after he's turned. He - "

  "Does he know about us?" Katricia interrupted, zeroing in on what was most important to her. If he knew about them, she could just tell him she couldn't read him, then jump his bones and find out for sure whether he was her life mate or not.

  "Yes, he does, dear. He's the police chief in Port Henry, a nice li le town where your Uncle Victor now lives with his Elvi. Many people know about us there. You can let him know what you are. He won't be horrified. "

  "How much does he know exactly?" Katricia asked. "I mean, does he know about life mates and such?"

  Marguerite hesitated briefly, and Katricia was sure she was about to say no, but instead, her aunt said,

  "Well . . . yes, he does know about that, dear. However, it might be a good idea if you don't blurt out that you can't read him until he's gotten a chance to get to know you a little better. "

  "What?" Katricia asked with alarm and then almost whined, "But why?"

  Marguerite chuckled so ly, "I know it's temp ng to just tell him that he's your life mate and so on right away, but - "

  "Is he?" Katricia interrupted eagerly.

  "Is he what? Your life mate?" Marguerite asked with surprise. "I thought you said you couldn't read him?"

  "Well, I can't, but sometimes mortals can't be read because - "

  "Teddy is very readable," Marguerite interrupted soothingly. "In fact, you're the first immortal I've heard of who can't read him. Even Elvi and Mabel are beginning to be able to read him, and they're s ll quite new to this business. "

  "Oh," Katricia breathed and bit her lip. "But then why shouldn't I tell him - "

  "He's mortal, dear," Marguerite interjected gently. "It might be a li le much for him to handle so soon. Maybe just let him get to know you a li le be er first. You don't want him jumping in his truck and heading back to Port Henry in a panic. "

  "He can't," Katricia assured her, and then quickly told her about the tree blocking the road and the power outage.

  "Oh dear," Marguerite breathed when she finished. "I'll call Lucian and have him send some men to clear the road and - "

  "Oh, no, don't do that," Katricia said at once, and then explained, "If the road's cleared he might leave. Besides, right now I'm staying at his cottage and sharing Decker's food with him. If you clear the road - "

  "There won't be any need for you to both be at his co age," Marguerite finished for her with understanding, and then paused briefly before asking, "So you have heat and food?"

  "Yes. "

  "I suppose there's no real urgency to clear the road and get the power back on then," Marguerite murmured. "But call at once if the situation changes and you need things fixed quickly. "

  "I will. "

  "I'll call Bas en about the blood delivery though," Marguerite went on. "They can bring it in by snowmobile. Perhaps they can even arrange for a snowmobile to be brought for the two of you to use. That way you can s ll share the co age but also leave to get provisions if you need them, or even just get out for a meal so you don't get cabin fever. "

  "That would be nice," Katricia said, a smile curving her lips as she imagined Teddy sitting behind her on a snowmobile, his arms wrapped around her as they roared off into town for groceries or dinner. Or even herself on the back holding onto him as he drove them back. In her experience, men tended to prefer to drive and she was willing to share . . . especially if it meant ge ng to ride with her arms around him and her chest pressed to his back and -

  Dear God, I'm pathe c, Katricia thought with a shake of the head. "Are you sure I can't just tell him? He might be all right with it if he knew. "

  "He might," Marguerite agreed uncertainly. "I just think it's be er to err on the side of cau on. This lifemate business is such a delicate thing. I'm just suggesting you maybe wait a day or two. Right now you're a stranger to him, dear. "

  "Yeah," she agreed on a sigh, her gaze moving to Teddy out by the truck.

  "I'll suggest Bas en have the blood courier bring food too," Marguerite said suddenly. "And more blankets and - It might take a while to get everything together, Katricia. Are you okay for blood if it doesn't show until tomorrow morning or later?"

  "Yeah, I'm good," Katricia said on a sigh. "I can go two or three days without if I have to. Twenty-four hours is nothing. "

  "All right then, leave it to me. I'll take care of everything. "


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