The lady is a vamp, p.19
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       The Lady is a Vamp, p.19

         Part #17 of Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands
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Chapter Nineteen

 

  "I'm back. "

  Jeanne Louise lifted her head at that cheerful announcement and forced a smile for her assistant, Kim, as the petite blonde entered the lab with a grin on her face and a spring in her step.

  "Lunch with Arthur?" Jeanne Louise teased, or at least tried to tease. The words came out a little flat, but then everything about her was flat lately.

  "Lunch and other things. " Kim sighed happily at the thought of the mortal male who had replaced Fred in security. The two had become rather close rather quickly over the last few weeks. Well as close as an immortal and mortal who weren't life mates could get. "He's the cutest little mortal on the planet. And a good kisser. Good at other things too," she added with a laugh. "I hardly have to slip into his thoughts and show him what to do at all. He likes doing them. "

  "Hmm. " Jeanne Louise lowered her head. The mortal she'd been dating when Paul had kidnapped her had been the same way. He probably still was. She wouldn't know. She hadn't seen him since leaving Paul and returning to her old life. She hadn't really seen anyone since then. Jeanne Louise had been avoiding friends and loved ones like the plague since meeting and losing Paul. And she had absolutely no interest in seeing her old mortal lover.

  "Leave that," Kim said moving up beside her. "I'll keep an eye on it while you have lunch. "

  "I'm not hungry," Jeanne Louise muttered, turning the knob on the microscope until the image reflected in it was a complete blur of color.

  "You skipped lunch yesterday too. What's going on? Immortalpause?" Kim teased.

  Jeanne Louise managed a weak smile at the joke. It was a play on menopause, their word for immortals who moved past the desire for food and sex. Kim always teased her about that when she got too busy to bother about lunch and in the past she would have laughed. She didn't feel much like laughing lately, but Kim didn't know that. No one knew about Paul, his being her life mate, or her losing him.

  "Jeanne Louise?"

  She glanced to the girl, and noting the concern suddenly plucking at her lips, pushed her stool back and stood up. "You're right. I should go for lunch. "

  Kim hesitated, but then smiled and nodded. Her smile, though, didn't hide her concern. Jeanne Louise ignored it and moved to her desk to get her purse. She then headed for the door.

  "Jeanne. "

  Pausing, Jeanne Louise glanced back in question.

  "If there's anything I can do to help . . . you know I will, right?" Kim said quietly.

  "Help with what?" Jeanne Louise asked with a frown.

  She hesitated and then said apologetically, "They say new life mates are easily read, but it's more like they broadcast their thoughts. At least that's how it is with you. "

  She met her gaze for a moment, and then looked away. "Thanks," she murmured and slid out of the lab.

  It seemed it didn't matter that she'd not told anyone. It sounded like she was telling everyone anyway. That explained why people were avoiding her eyes and being especially nice to her lately, she supposed, and breathed out a sigh. She was the tragic figure, a living symbol of what every immortal feared, one who'd found and lost her life mate.

  Sighing, she forced her shoulders straight and head up and picked up her step. There was nothing she could do about other immortals being able to read her thoughts, but she didn't have to be the pathetic creature they all thought she was. She had found a life mate and couldn't claim him. It didn't mean she wouldn't find another, hopefully one who was already immortal and not in need of turning.

  Just thinking that depressed Jeanne Louise. She didn't want another. She wanted Paul. But not just for a few decades. She already wanted him like no one and nothing she had ever wanted in her life, even her father's love. And that was after just a couple weeks. She couldn't imagine how much it would hurt to have him for a mortal life and then lose him. Jeanne Louise couldn't even fathom the pain then. Better this horrible soul wrenching pain now than complete obliterating agony later. Or maybe any agony later was worth whatever amount of time she could spend with him now, she thought as she reached the cafeteria.

  That was the problem, she thought as she collected a tray and moved along the counter on automatic, selecting her usual ham sandwich and juice. Her thoughts kept fluctuating. She yearned to see his smile, hear his laughter, look into his eyes. She craved his kisses, to feel his arms around her, his body sliding against hers. But she knew, deep in her heart, that losing him later would kill her. However, that didn't stop her from driving past his house every night on her way to work, in the hopes of just seeing him or even Livy. She was acting like some sort of junky or stalker and it was starting to scare her. Every night after driving past she cursed herself and felt shame and promised she wouldn't do it again. But that next night, she did it again.

  Jeanne Louise blew her breath out on a sigh as she paid for her lunch. She then turned to carry her tray to an empty table, wondering as she went if she could convince her uncle, aunt, and father to do a mind wipe on her. It was dangerous, but if it didn't kill her and succeeded, she'd stop hurting. She wouldn't remember ever having met him, wouldn't have to recall and ache for his kisses, wouldn't know what she'd lost . . .

  "You should really try the bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches if you've lost your taste for ham. "

  Jeanne Louise glanced up with a start at that solemn comment, her eyes widening as she peered up at the man who so obsessed her thoughts. Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, with dark glasses covering his eyes, he looked ready to head for the beach, and obviously wasn't here for work.

  "Paul," she said faintly as her body roared in response to his very presence. "What-?"

  Her words died as he reached up and slid the sunglasses off. She stared blankly at the glowing silver green eyes that flashed at her, and stared and stared, unable to process what she was seeing.

  "Your uncle Lucian paid me a visit yesterday afternoon," he said quietly and then smiled wryly and added. "Well, your uncle Lucian, your aunt Marguerite, your father, stepmother, two brothers, their wives, and the hunter named Bricker all paid me a visit. You have an interesting family," he added wryly. "I think I like them. They-"

  His words ended on an oomph as Jeanne Louise suddenly launched herself from her seat and at him. His arms closed around her at once, holding her tightly as he kissed her, but she pulled back mid-kiss to ask, "Who turned you? How? Why?"

  Paul smiled at her frantic questions, but didn't answer right away. Instead, he scooped her up in his arms and turned to stride for the exit before saying, "Your uncle did the honors. He apparently ripped his wrist open, though I didn't see it, then slapped it against my mouth. Most unpleasant," he added with a remembered shudder as he pushed through the doors and started up the hall toward security.

  Frowning, he said, "I'm glad you don't have to taste the blood normally. Bagged is definitely better than having to drink and taste it. " Scowling at her, he said, "You should have told me that when I offered you my jarred blood. I could have found some straws or something. "

  "You get used to it," she mumbled, staring up into his beautiful green and silver eyes. He was turned. Immortal. She wasn't going to lose him. Her mind kept singing that song to her over and over, and still she wasn't quite grasping it.

  "Anyway," he continued, nodding to Arthur as the mortal security guard rushed to open the door to the parking garage for them. "The next thing I knew I was being strapped to my kitchen table and your entire family was there. Well, except Lucian and his wife. They took Livy to Wonderland and then to their place so she wouldn't have to 'hear her father scream. ' " He grimaced as he carried her along the row of parked cars. "Your uncle's a bit . . . " He hesitated, but then shook his head and said, "They still have Livy. He said they were keeping her for a while so that we could get reacquainted. " Worry crossed his face as he said that.

  "She'll be fine. I know he seems gruff and kind of scary, but Uncle Lucian has a good heart. Chi
ldren and dogs love him," Jeanne Louise said quietly. "That's always a good sign. "

  "Hmmm. " He paused next to his car and then peered down at her. "It nearly killed me when you left. "

  "It nearly killed me to do it," she said solemnly. "But it was a matter of self-preservation, Paul. I loved you after just days. I couldn't imagine how strong my feelings would be after decades. And to watch you age and die and know I would carry on for centuries, even millennia alone without you?" She shook her head. "I couldn't do it. "

  "You still might have to, Jeanne Louise," he said solemnly.

  "No, you're immortal now," she said with a smile.

  "And even immortals can die," he quietly pointed out. "I could be beheaded in a car accident tomorrow. "

  She stared at him silently, fear gripping her heart and he set her on her feet and then cupped her face in his hands. "I didn't expect to lose Jerri like I did or as soon as I did. I did love her, Jeanne Louise, as much as one mortal can love another. And when I lost her I thought my life was pretty much over, that all there was left to do was to see Livy raised and happy. But I was wrong. There was you. "

  He bent to press a kiss to her lips and then straightened to say, "I love you. I want to live forever with you, but you have to promise me that if I should die in an accident or something, that you won't give up like I did. Like you did when you realized you'd used up your turn and couldn't turn me. There may be a second love waiting for you, and even a third. As long as there is life there is hope. Don't be the living dead like I was until you woke me up. "

  Jeanne Louise frowned and glanced away, finding it hard to make any promise like that. Instead, she asked, "Why did Uncle Lucian turn you?"

  Paul stared at her for a moment, but then sighed and let her change the subject. "Livy gave up her turn to turn me. He did the honors, but it was counted as her turn. "

  "Oh no," Jeanne Louise breathed, true horror sliding through her to know that her happiness came at the expense of the child's.

  "But once he turned me, I gave up my turn to Livy. It's hers now. So it's all good," he assured her.

  Jeanne Louise sighed and melted against him. "Thank God. "

  "Or your uncle," Paul said wryly.

  Jeanne Louise lifted her head and grinned at him. "Admit it, you like him. "

  "He has his good points," Paul admitted reluctantly and then grimaced and added, "The guy really needs to work on his people skills though. "

  Jeanne Louise chuckled softly and then leaned up to kiss him. It started as a soft brushing of lips, but as always happened soon became more heated and passionate.

  Growling, Paul turned to press her back against his car, his body pinning her to it as his hands began to roam. When Jeanne Louise slid one hand down to cup him through his jeans though, he broke their kiss and glanced to the car to open the door.

  Jeanne Louise sighed with disappointment, but slid inside when he opened the door and urged her in. It wasn't until she was sitting and realized he was following her in that she noticed that he'd ushered her into the backseat.

  "What are we doing?" she asked with confusion, sliding sideways to make room for him to enter.

  "What do you think?" he asked on a growl, slamming the door closed and pulling her back into his arms.

  His mouth was on hers at once, and Jeanne Louise didn't hesitate to kiss back, but when his mouth began to travel to her ear, she mumbled, "There are cameras in the garage. "

  "The backseat windows are black. They can't see anything. "

  She glanced to the windows to see that the side windows were indeed black, but laughed on a groan as his hands found her breasts, and gasped, "But they'll know what we're doing. "

  Paul broke off to pull back and look at her solemnly. "Honey, anyone who knows we are new life mates knows exactly what we'll be doing for the next year. But if it bothers you, we can go back to my place. Or yours if it's closer. "

  Jeanne Louise considered the question, but then shook her head and climbed to straddle his lap. "Screw 'em. Let them know. I don't care. They've all been running around pitying me the last couple weeks. Now they can envy me," she added with a grin and kissed him.
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