Immortal ever after, p.37
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       Immortal Ever After, p.37

         Part #18 of Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands
 
Page 37

 

  “Don’t worry, Lucian and the boys will come for us,” Leigh reassured her as Valerie then knelt beside her.

  “What if they don’t come in time?” Valerie asked.

  “They will,” she said firmly.

  “Well, just in case they don’t, I think we should come up with a plan of our own,” Valerie suggested, crouching next to her and glancing around for a possible weapon.

  “Yeah,” Leigh agreed through gritted teeth. “Just don’t think about it much in case he reads your mind. ”

  “Right,” Valerie muttered and began to recite song lyrics in her head. The first song to come to mind was “Ridin’. ” Only instead of Ridin’ dirty, the chorus kept turning into White and nerdy in her head. It was kind of annoying.

  “I wish Dani or Rachel were here,” Leigh said on a sigh as her contraction ended.

  “Sorry,” Valerie murmured, and then to distract her, she asked, “Who is Rachel?”

  “She’s Etienne’s life mate. He’s Lucian’s nephew. She works in the morgue, but she’s a doctor too,” Leigh explained.

  Valerie nodded, but commented, “Lucian seems to have loads of nieces and nephews. ”

  “Yes, he—ahhhhh!” Leigh shrieked and grabbed Valerie’s shoulder, fingers digging in so hard, it made her cry out in pain too and fear they would punch right through her skin. Dear God, she was strong.

  “Breathe,” Valerie said in a strained voice once the worst of the contraction ended and the fingers in her shoulder eased.

  “I am breathing,” Leigh gasped.

  “Of course you are,” Valerie said soothingly, her eyes shifting around the van again. She didn’t see anything they could use as a weapon, but she had an idea she was trying hard not to think about. If she could just find an excuse to go back to the front of the van—

  “We should . . . time the . . . contractions,” Leigh panted.

  “Good idea,” Valerie agreed absently. If nothing else it would keep Leigh busy. And then glancing to her sharply, she asked, “Do you have a watch?”

  “No. ”

  “Neither do I. ” She tried not to sound too happy about that as she peered over her shoulder to the front of the van. Their kidnapper probably had one.

  “Valerie?”

  “Hmm?” She turned back and leaned closer when Leigh tugged on her hand.

  “Scream,” she whispered, staring her in the eye. Leigh then let out a long, agonized shriek again. She didn’t, however, grab for Valerie’s shoulder or hand again, but simply met her gaze calmly and began to beetle her eyebrows up and down until Valerie caught on and began to shriek along with her.

  “Shut up back there,” their hijacker growled.

  Leigh let her shriek die off slowly, and when Valerie too fell silent, snapped out a suggestion to their hijacker that was really physically impossible.

  “I’m in labor,” she barked. “It hurts. I’m going to scream my head off. If you don’t like it, let us go. ”

  She then let out another howl of pain. This one was real though. Valerie could tell by the fact that Leigh had latched on to and was crushing her wrist. Damn, she was going to be lucky to get out of this without broken bones, and not from their kidnapper, Valerie thought, shrieking along with the woman.

  The van immediately filled with loud music. Classical, and cranked all the way up, to try to drown out the racket they were making, Valerie supposed. And that had been exactly what Leigh had been hoping for, she realized when Leigh’s shriek ended a moment later on a grunt of satisfaction and she pulled Valerie closer to hiss, “We need to get out of here. ”

  Valerie nodded. She was pretty sure the rogue hadn’t kidnapped them to return her to her cage and feed off her slowly again. He was probably worried about her having seen the portrait. So worried that he’d risked taking Leigh. He couldn’t let either of them go now.

  “He must plan on killing both of us,” Leigh added. “I’ve seen him. ”

  “I know,” Valerie agreed, not at all sure Leigh could hear her over the music. She was hardly able to hear Leigh and was mostly reading her lips.

  “And the baby,” Leigh added, glancing down and rubbing her stomach. “We can’t let him kill the baby. ”

  “No, of course not,” she said soothingly.

  Valerie was just thinking how amazing it was that mothers bonded with their child even before birth, when Leigh added grimly, “Not after I’ve gone through all this crap to carry it to term. ”

  “Ah,” Valerie murmured and wondered if it was the hormones talking right now, or Leigh was possessed. Honestly, this was not the woman who had been her host since she’d woken up from her fever. But whether it was hormones or possession, Valerie couldn’t say. She didn’t have a lot of experience with pregnant mothers, at least not of the two-legged variety. Dogs, cats, horses, and cows just didn’t act like this.

  “The SUVs all have weapons and blood cases,” Leigh hissed. “Maybe the van does too. ”

  “I don’t see anything,” Valerie muttered, glancing around again.

  “Check the floor and side panels. They hide them in case the vehicles are stolen by mortals. ”

  “Smart,” Valerie commented and began to crawl around the floor, tapping here and there and then feeling along the wall. She was about to give up, when she noted a seam in the side panel on the side of the van where she was feeling around. Valerie peered at it briefly, and then pressed along the edges. When that had no effect, she instinctively pressed her fingers in and dragged them to the left. A little puff of relief slid through her when the panel moved, opening a couple of inches.

  Valerie glanced nervously toward the front of the van, but the bench seat was offering her cover, so she slid the panel further open and bit her lip as she stared at what she’d revealed. Under the thin panel was a toolboard, a panel with rows of small holes in it where tools were clipped into place: screwdrivers, wrenches, hacksaws, hammers, mallets, tape . . .

  “Take the saw,” Leigh advised, crawling up beside her. “You can hack off his head. ”

  Valerie cast her a look of disbelief, and then took down a mallet and the duct tape instead. Setting them both on the floor, she slid the panel shut and turned back to Leigh. “We need to find a way to brace you in case we swerve or something. ”

  Both of them considered the space, and then Valerie suggested, “Turn sideways and brace yourself between the wheel wells. ”

  Leigh shifted to do as suggested, bracing her feet against one wheel well, but it wasn’t wide enough for her to lie flat. It was only about four feet and four or five inches by Valerie’s guess. The other wheel well came up an inch or two below the base of Leigh’s neck.

  Valerie leaned over her and suggested, “Bend your legs and lay your back and head flat. ”

  She hadn’t been sure Leigh would hear her over the music, but apparently she could. That or she was reading lips too, because Leigh did as instructed.

  “Do you think you can brace yourself like that?” Valerie asked uncertainly.

  Leigh hesitated, and then raised her hands, placing them against the van wall on either side of her head. She followed that up by pressing her feet against the metal above the wheel wells on the opposite wall. She tensed briefly, pushing into both surfaces and then relaxed and nodded at Valerie.

  “Right. ” Valerie managed an encouraging smile and then glanced toward the front of the van, but turned back when Leigh suddenly grabbed her arm just below the elbow. She understood why when Leigh began to shriek and squeeze.

  Valerie groaned and waited for the latest contraction to end, then quickly stuffed the duct tape and mallet down the front of her jeans and said, “We really need to time these. I’ll see if Count Rip-Your-Throat-Out has a watch. ”

  Not wanting to sound like she was up to something, she said it in a normal speaking voice, hoping their hijacker’s immortal hearing would pick it up despite the
loud music. Then she exchanged a glance with Leigh and shifted to a crouch, bending forward to hide the lumps in the front of her pants as she started back up toward the front of the van again. The whole way she just kept thinking, “I need a watch, I need a watch, we have to time these contractions, I need a watch,” over and over in the hopes that there wouldn’t be any vestiges of her plan in her surface thoughts.

  Valerie didn’t know if he caught a glimpse of her in the rearview mirror, or just sensed her approach, but she was just moving around the bench seat when the rogue shouted something at her.

  She couldn’t hear him over the loud music, but suspected he was telling her to get back in the back. Ironic, since just moments ago he’d wanted them to stay in their seats, she thought, but simply yelled, “I can’t hear you. We need a watch. ”

  He shouted again and turned to glare at her as she continued forward, but she shook her head, pointed at her ear, and yelled, “Can’t hear you! We need a watch! I have to time her contractions!”

  Jerking impatiently forward, he snapped off the music and began to yell again, just as Leigh began to shriek.

  Pausing, Valerie turned and leaned over the backseat, resting one knee on it as she peered back at Leigh. Relief coursed through her when she saw her expression and realized she was faking it. A moment later though, that relief died when Leigh’s eyes suddenly widened and the shriek grew louder as a real contraction hit her.

  Damn, I am never having babies, Valerie thought with dismay as Leigh clutched at her stomach and began to almost writhe on the floor in agony.

  “There’s something wrong,” Leigh gasped as soon as she could speak.

  Valerie hesitated, torn between hurrying back to the woman and continuing forward. But forward was the only answer. He’d kill them all while she was busy trying to deliver the baby if she went back now. When Leigh relaxed again with a moan as the contraction ended, and then immediately braced herself again, Valerie felt every muscle in her own body tighten. It was a go.

  “Get in the back!”

  Valerie grabbed the center seat belt with her left hand and weaved it around to wrap the belt twice around her wrist as she slid the mallet out of the top of her pants. She then pushed herself off the bench seat and swung back toward the driver’s seat, keeping the mallet down, and, she hoped, out of his sight.

  “I need to borrow your watch to time the contractions,” she said grimly as her gaze slid over the road ahead. They were on the highway, but he was slowing and steering onto an off-ramp, she saw. Her eyes shifted to the speedometer as it dropped from one hundred kilometers an hour to ninety . . . eighty . . . seventy . . .

  They were in the curve, still going too fast, but the speed was still dropping when he suddenly turned his head toward her. For some reason, that seemed ominous to Valerie. Afraid that he was going to read her, or—even worse—take control of her, she tightened her hold on the seat belt and swung the mallet at his head.

  You’d have thought she’d hit the steering wheel and spun it herself with the mallet rather than slamming it into his temple. His head whipped to the left, but so did the steering wheel. Valerie cried out and dropped the mallet, grabbing for the front passenger seat instead to keep from flying around as the van shot off the road, and toward a line of trees ten feet to the side of it.

  Despite the burning pain in her wrist and along her left arm as the seat belt jerked at her hold, Valerie was glad she’d had the forethought to entangle her wrist in it. Otherwise, she surely would have flown out the front window. As it was, she bounced around between the seats, slamming into one padded surface and then another as they careened over the grassy veldt, and then they slammed into a tree.

  Valerie screamed as she was thrown forward on impact, sure her arm had been dislocated. She then nearly bit off her tongue as she fell backward onto the bench seat. She didn’t stay there long once they came to a halt. She knew she couldn’t afford to and pushed herself forward off the seat, crashing to her knees on the floor as she reached for the dropped mallet.

  She wanted to check on Leigh. Valerie thought she’d heard the other woman scream during the accident, but had been screaming herself so couldn’t be sure. However, there was no time to check on her just then. Count Rip-Your-Throat-Out appeared a little dazed from her blow, but the airbag had prevented his gaining any more injuries, and he was stirring.

  Grabbing the mallet, Valerie straightened and hit him with it again, this time on top of his head. Much to her relief, he moaned and collapsed against the deflated airbag and steering wheel.

  “Leigh?” she shouted, pulling out the duct tape. “Are you all right?”

  A groan sounded from the back and Valerie frowned, but quickly began duct taping the driver to his seat, drawing the tape across his chest, around the back of the seat, and then across his chest over and over again in quick succession as she shouted, “Hang on. I’ll be right there . . . Okay?” she added worriedly.
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