Immortal ever after, p.29
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       Immortal Ever After, p.29

         Part #18 of Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands
 
Page 29

 

  “Which was at least five times. I swear if we’d had to go back to the dairy aisle one more time . . . ” He didn’t finish the thought, and Valerie grinned. They’d had to visit the dairy aisle for milk, butter, cheese, liquid creamer, and eggs, and each item had been separated by meat, baked goods, canned goods, and veggies stuck between them. Leigh had listed the groceries by meals as she’d come up with them. The list went eggs, bread, bacon, potatoes, butter, steak, tomatoes, and so on. Most inconvenient, especially since only five items showed on the small screen at a time and they had to go down the list item by item to be sure they didn’t miss anything.

  “Well, at least it’s done,” Valerie pointed out with a smile. “And we got to contribute so I don’t have to feel bad about Leigh and Lucian putting us up. ” They’d split the bill, each paying half. Valerie had wanted to pay for them herself, but Anders had been equally intent on paying, so in the end they’d compromised and split the bill. She liked that he had compromised rather than be bullheaded and macho about footing the bill.

  “You know, now that you know about us, there’s really no reason that we have to stay at Leigh and Lucian’s,” Anders said quietly as he set the last bags in the truck. Turning to her, he added, “Lucian originally suggested that so that you could get to know me. My being your bodyguard and your not being able to go home were just his attempt to allow you that chance. But now that you know about us, we could stay at my place. You’d get to know me better there without others around to distract us. ”

  Valerie didn’t respond at first. She was kind of feeling a bit alarmed. He was suggesting she move in with him. Cripes, they hadn’t even been on a date yet. Oh wait, maybe brunch would be considered a date. Still, it was only one.

  On the other hand, staying at his place would have some benefits. For instance, they wouldn’t have to be worried about being overwhelmed by that shared pleasure business and doing something as stupid as having sex and passing out on the living room couch where anyone might have come across them. Not that they’d made love that time, she acknowledged. Though, they may as well have, and no doubt would in the future, which could lead to embarrassing situations.

  “You don’t have to decide right now,” Anders said, closing the SUV’s door. “Just think about it. ”

  Nodding, Valerie took the grocery cart in hand and started to steer it away.

  “I’ll take that back inside,” Anders said moving up beside her. “You go ahead and get in the car. ”

  “It doesn’t go inside,” Valerie said. “It just goes over here. You go ahead and get the engine started and the air conditioner going. I’ll be right back. ”

  He glanced to the cart corral she’d gestured to and frowned. She knew he wanted to protest, but hurried off without giving him the chance. Valerie could feel him watching her though and suspected he wouldn’t get in the SUV until she returned. Smiling faintly at his courtly behavior, she reached the corral just as a tall platinum blond did with his own cart. Valerie slowed to allow him to put his cart away first. However, he stopped too and waved her toward the lined-up carts.

  “Go ahead,” he said with a wide smile.

  “Thanks. ” Valerie smiled back as she pushed forward again and nosed her cart into the end one. Turning back, she nodded at the man, offering another smile as she passed. She suspected they’d passed him about a dozen times in the grocery store during their back and forth. He looked vaguely familiar, and his smile was almost flirty, which was something Anders had apparently noticed, if she were to judge by the scowl presently on his face. Goodness, Anders looked almost jealous, Valerie thought, her smile unintentionally widening as she passed the man, which made his smile widen appreciatively.

  The whole thing made her feel pretty darned good and she walked straight back to Anders, grinned, and went up on her toes to kiss him on the cheek.

  “Smile. Life is good,” she said lightly before moving to the passenger door.

  “Cheeky,” Anders muttered, opening it for her before she could.

  Grinning, Valerie stepped up into her seat. She reached for her seat belt, and then gave a start when Anders leaned in, his face suddenly in front of hers.

  “That wasn’t a kiss,” he informed her when she stared at him wide-eyed. “This is. ”

  His mouth covered hers, his tongue moving out aggressively to urge her lips open. Valerie moaned as he stirred the passion that seemed to rest just below the surface in her now. All this man had to do was look at her and her body seemed to awaken and unfurl like a flower opening under the sun. Touching or kissing her, however, brought a tidal wave of heat and need and she instinctively reached for him, one hand raising to caress the back of his neck, the other moving to cup him between the legs.

  Anders growled into her mouth, his excitement and need shooting through her body to mingle with her own. But then he tore his mouth from hers and stepped abruptly back, breaking all contact.

  “Home,” he said, his voice a husky rasp.

  Valerie stared at him uncomprehending for a second, then glanced around and recalled that they were in a busy parking lot. Letting her breath out on a sigh, she sagged in her seat as he closed the door and then just sat there taking deep breaths and trying to regain some semblance of calm as he walked around and got in the driver’s side.

  Neither of them spoke on the ride home. Valerie was too busy trying to get control of herself. Her entire body was screaming with need, every nerve ending sensitized, and her mind clamoring, all for one thing . . . Anders.

  Dear God, she really was like a drug addict when it came to him, Valerie acknowledged with concern. She just couldn’t get enough and it didn’t matter where they were. While they’d been in the brightly lit and thoroughly unromantic grocery store she’d watched him, wishing he’d kiss or touch her. His every glance, every brush of his hand or body against hers, even if unintentional, had stirred hunger in her. It was like a beast inside of her, barely asleep and rousing at the least provocation, but it had become fully awake and ravenous the moment he kissed her. She’d wanted to pull him on top of her and ride the pleasure that had awoken until they were both blissfully unconscious again. And she hadn’t cared in the least that they were in a public parking lot.

  Actually, perhaps it was more correct to say that she’d forgotten where they were. The moment his mouth had covered hers, all that had existed was the two of them in her mind. There hadn’t been room for anything else in her brain with all that passion filling it.

  How on earth were they going to manage at Leigh and Lucian’s like this? Valerie wanted to believe that she could control herself with others around, but she wasn’t at all sure that was true.

  “Lucian’s still home. ”

  Valerie glanced around at that comment and saw that they were cruising up the driveway to Leigh and Lucian’s house. Her gaze slid over the van parked in front of the house and then to the door as it opened and the tall, blond Lucian stepped out with Leigh just behind him.

  “They just look like a normal young married couple,” she whispered, watching Leigh waddle around to her husband’s side. Lucian glanced down, apparently surprised that she’d followed, and then scowled and gestured to the house as he said something which Leigh ignored. Ordering her back inside, no doubt, Valerie thought with amusement.

  “There is nothing normal about Lucian Argeneau,” Anders said wryly as he pulled to a halt in front of the couple, and then he added seriously, “But they are the same people who opened their home to us and who you’ve spent the last two days with. ”

  “Right,” Valerie said and knew it was true. They hadn’t crawled out of coffins and donned capes. Lucian wore his usually stern expression, along with jeans and a T-shirt that stretched over his muscular chest, and Leigh was . . . well, Leigh. She wore a pretty black summer dress with big red flowers on it that did little to hide her overlarge pregnancy bump. She also wore a wide welcoming smil
e that was hard to resist. Valerie found herself smiling in return as she got out of the SUV. Her smile turned into a grin of amusement, however, when Leigh called out a cheery “hello” and waddled quickly to the back of the truck.

  “Go inside and rest, Leigh,” Lucian growled, trying to usher her away from the vehicle as Valerie followed them.

  “I’m pregnant, not disabled. I can help,” Leigh protested, shaking off his hold as Anders opened the SUV’s back doors. Eyeing the bags of groceries, she smiled widely and rubbed her hands together like a child faced with a truckload of gifts. Before the men could start unloading, she grabbed the nearest bag, tugged it out and opened the handles to peer eagerly inside. “Ooh, look, Lucian. Lemon coffee cake. That wasn’t on my list. ”

  “No, but Anders thought it looked good,” Valerie said with amusement.

  “It does,” Leigh agreed, closing the handles to hold the bag in one hand.

  “Why don’t you take it inside and start coffee while we get the rest of this,” Lucian suggested hopefully. “We can have a slice of cake and coffee while we decide what to have for supper once we get everything unpacked and put away. ”

  “Okay,” she agreed cheerfully and Lucian started to relax, but then scowled when she grabbed two more bags to take with her.

  “Stubborn woman,” Lucian muttered as he watched his wife walk away.

  Valerie smiled to herself as she stepped up to the truck to grab a couple bags, but glanced around with surprise when Lucian suddenly said, “So you told her about us. ”

  He was speaking to Anders and added, “She appears to have handled it better than I expected. ”

  “How do you know?” she asked, eyes narrowing. When he simply arched one eyebrow, Valerie recalled that Anders had said immortals could read mortals, and muttered, “Oh. ”

  Lucian nodded, and then stepped up to the truck to grab several bags himself, adding, “But you’re not staying at Anders’s, so get the thought out of your head. ”

  “You decided to stay at my place?” Anders asked Valerie with a crooked smile, obviously pleased. That crooked smile faded though, as he turned to Lucian and announced in hard tones, “She’ll stay in my home if she likes, Lucian. There’s no reason she shouldn’t. ”

  “Kathy’s gone missing,” Lucian said calmly as he turned away from the truck loaded up with bags. “I think you’ll agree Valerie shouldn’t go anywhere until we know where her cage mate has got to. ”

  He walked away then, carrying the groceries he’d collected into the house. Valerie stared after him with a frown. Kathy had gone missing? She turned to Anders. He was frowning too.

  “Come on,” he said, taking the rest of the bags out of the back of the truck and elbowing the door closed. “We’d better go find out what’s happened. ”

  Valerie nodded and followed him inside, but didn’t find out what was going on at first. Roxy was waiting for her just inside the door, all excited at her return. By the time Valerie finished greeting her and led the German shepherd into the kitchen, Leigh was happily pulling groceries out of the bags, oohing and aahing over each item as she and Anders put them away. Lucian was nowhere in sight.

  “Lucian’s in the office taking a call,” Anders said when she glanced his way.

  Valerie nodded in understanding and helped put away the rest of the groceries, knowing they’d have to wait for the man’s return before finding out what he’d meant about Kathy going missing. After putting away the last item, she and Anders gathered plates, forks, and coffees for everyone and joined Leigh at the island, where she was already slicing up the coffee cake.

  Lucian returned as Leigh set the last slice of cake on a plate for him and announced abruptly, “Kathy went missing at some point during the night. ”

  “Who was watching her?” Anders asked.

  “Nicholas and Jo. ”

  “Nicholas is Lucian’s nephew and Jo is his life mate,” Leigh said quietly to Valerie as Lucian took a break to eat several bites of cake in a row. “Nicholas was an Enforcer, then was considered rogue for fifty years. Everyone thought he’d killed a mortal woman, but that was all cleared up a little while ago and he’s back in the fold again. ”

  “And this Joe, he’s Nicholas’s life mate?” Valerie asked with interest. Gay vampires. Who would have thought?

  “Jo is a girl,” Leigh said with amusement. “Her name is Josephine. Although there are same-sex life mates,” she added.

  “Hmm,” Valerie murmured and then turned her attention back to the men as Anders asked, “How was she taken if they were watching her?”

  “They were just supposed to keep an eye on her and make sure there were no problems with her returning to her life. They could control and influence anyone with questions, that sort of thing. We weren’t expecting any problems other than that, so there was no need to stay too close when she was home alone,” Lucian said.
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