Immortal ever after, p.38
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       Immortal Ever After, p.38

         Part #18 of Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands
 
Page 38

 

  Another groan sounded, and Valerie bit her lip, but ran the tape around a dozen more times before deciding it was good. Leaving the tape hanging down the back of the seat, she then braced herself on both the driver’s seat and the backseat for leverage as she staggered half upright.

  Much to her surprise, Valerie’s legs nearly gave out beneath her. Gritting her teeth, she forced them straight and began to move around the bench seat in a crouch.

  Leigh was lying on the floor clutching her stomach, but it looked like she hadn’t been banged around too terribly badly. At least Valerie didn’t see any lacerations or bumps or bruises.

  “The rogue?” Leigh gasped with concern as Valerie knelt beside her.

  “I duct taped him to his seat,” she assured her. “How are you doing?”

  Leigh’s eyes went wide with alarm. “That won’t hold him. He’s immortal. ”

  Valerie frowned and glanced toward the front of the van, but couldn’t see him past the bench seat from that angle. Biting her lip, she rose up on her knees to get a better view, relieved to see that he wasn’t moving. Turning back, she said, “I knocked him out first. ”

  “He won’t stay unconscious long and the tape won’t hold him when he wakes up,” Leigh said. “Go check that he isn’t awake already. ”

  “He doesn’t look to be,” Valerie assured her turning away for another look anyway.

  “He could be faking it. If he wakes up, he’ll kill us all,” the last was said in almost a scream as she clutched at her stomach.

  Another contraction, Valerie realized with concern.

  Grinding her teeth a moment later as the contraction apparently began to ease, Leigh growled, “There’s something wrong with the baby. I need you here, but not if he isn’t out of commission. Go cut his head off or something. ”

  “What?” Valerie asked with disbelief. “Who do you think I am? The Queen of Hearts?”

  “No, if you were you’d already have cut his head off,” Leigh snapped and then groaned in agony.

  Valerie hesitated, her gaze shooting from Leigh to the driver, and then she sighed and shifted to her feet, muttering, “Hang on. ”

  Mallet in hand, she moved quickly back around the bench seat to peer worriedly at the rogue. He appeared to be just as she’d left him, but then Valerie thought she saw one eyelid twitch. Afraid he was faking still being unconscious as Leigh had said, she slammed the mallet into his head again. She was satisfied that she’d been right when a little sigh slipped from his lips and his head sagged further forward. He had been faking it. Crap. What was she supposed to do here? She couldn’t cut off his head. That was just—

  “Damn,” Valerie muttered, and then glanced sharply toward the back of the van when Leigh cried out again. This was ridiculous. She couldn’t watch the rogue and Leigh too with the seat in the way. And she couldn’t cut off an unconscious man’s head, rogue or not.

  Cursing, she peered at the bench seat, noting the latching legs. Valerie then peered to the sliding side door. They’d crashed head-on into the tree, hitting it with the front driver’s side. There was nothing blocking the door. Moving to it, she grabbed the handle and opened it, sliding it back until it locked into place, then she moved back in front of the bench seat.

  Valerie started to kneel, but then turned to the rogue and smashed the mallet into his skull again just to be safe. Satisfied that she had a couple minutes at least, she then knelt and quickly pulled up the handles to free the seat.

  “What are you doing?” Leigh gasped out as the contractions ended.

  “The best I can,” Valerie said simply as she began to maneuver the seat toward the door. She managed to get it to the mouth of the door with some effort, and then just shoved it out to somersault across the grass.

  Leaving the door open, Valerie then turned back to hammer the rogue in the head again. She didn’t feel bad for doing it. He was immortal. They healed. Besides, it was better than trying to cut his head off with a hacksaw. The very thought made her shudder as she turned to head back to Leigh in a crouch.

  “Okay, I’m going to pull you up behind the seats,” she announced, bending to grab the corners of the blanket Leigh lay on. As she dragged her up the van, she added, “That way I can keep hitting him while trying to help you. ”

  For some reason, her words made Leigh laugh. Mind you, the sound was a bit hysterical, Valerie noted.

  Once she had Leigh directly behind the front seats, Valerie released the blanket, and then turned, and smacked the rogue over the head again, which just made Leigh laugh harder. Shaking her head, Valerie quickly leaned over the front passenger seat to look for the phone Leigh had dropped earlier.

  “What are you doing now?” Leigh asked through her laughter.

  “Looking for Justin’s phone to call for help. It should be here somewhere. You— Ah ha!” she exclaimed as she spotted it.

  “Christ!” Anders cursed into the phone as he spotted the crashed van in the trees beside the curve. Mortimer had driven like the wind to catch up to the other vehicle. Anders had been on the phone with Lucian when he’d seen the van’s blinker come on, and had immediately told him the exit number for the off-ramp they were taking. He’d then hung up to call Justin on Etienne’s phone and give him the same information.

  “What is it?” Justin asked with concern on the other end of the line.

  Anders didn’t explain. “Get Rachel here as quickly as you can,” he barked, and ended the call.

  “Is that the bench seat?” Mortimer asked, a frown in his voice. “Why the hell is he throwing it out?”

  “Who cares? Hurry up, dammit. They need us. ” Anders snapped, dumping the computer on the floor and climbing out of his seat. He grunted and dropped to his knees on the backseat when Mortimer steered the SUV off the road and began to bump quickly across the uneven grass. Leaning over the seat then, he reached down to open the weapons locker. Anders had just retrieved two guns when his phone began to ring. Shifting the guns to one hand, he pulled his phone out and frowned when he saw Justin’s name on the caller I. D.

  “What?” he barked impatiently.

  “Semmy?”

  No one had ever called him that but Valerie. If he hadn’t recognized her voice, that would have told him who it was, but he did recognize her voice, as well as the stress in it. He heard a muffled, “Who’s Semmy?” in a voice he suspected was Leigh’s.

  “Valerie, honey?” he said, before she could answer. “Are you okay?”

  Turning on the seat, he peered toward the van as Mortimer came to a halt behind it.

  “Yes,” Valerie said, and then blurted, “We were carjacked by the rogue. ”

  “I know, honey,” Anders said, wishing he could somehow pull her through the phone to safety. No doubt the rogue had spotted their approach and made her call to tell them to back off. Mortimer must suspect as much as well. He’d put the SUV in park, but then had turned in the seat to listen to his side of the conversation, waiting to hear what the situation was.

  “You do?” she sounded surprised. “Well—”

  “Valerie!” Leigh cried in the background.

  “Damn,” Valerie cursed, and then there was a clatter as the phone was dropped and sounds in the background, including a loud thwack that made Anders peer desperately at the van, trying to see what was happening through the small, blackened back windows.

  “Sorry,” Valerie muttered a moment later.

  “I swear I saw his eyelid twitch,” Leigh’s voice came faintly, and Anders frowned. He didn’t understand what she was talking about, but it was more the sound of her voice that bothered him. It was like she was talking through gritted teeth, and then either she or Valerie began to shriek and there was another clatter as the phone was dropped again.

  “Valerie?” Anders shouted.

  “Who’s screaming?” Mortimer asked, able to hear it from where he sat.

 
Cursing, Anders handed Mortimer one of the guns, shoved the other into the top of his jeans and then turned and pulled the door beside him open. He still had the phone pressed to his ear and was shouting Valerie’s name as he climbed out of the SUV. Anders pulled his gun as he ran toward the van, vaguely aware that Mortimer had jumped out of the SUV and was following.

  Anders saw that the sliding side door was still open as he neared it and ran right up to it; phone still to his ear, terror in his heart, and gun in his hand . . . and then he just stood there, staring. Inside, Leigh was hunched on the van floor, clutching Valerie’s hand and shrieking. Valerie was on her knees, howling along with the woman, but even as he looked in, she turned and thumped the driver’s seat with what appeared to be a mallet.

  Not the driver’s seat, he realized as she lowered the mallet and sank to sit on her heels. It was the rogue she’d thumped.

  “Well, hell,” Mortimer muttered beside him. “Looks like the girls saved themselves. ”

  Chapter Nineteen

  “I need my phone. ”

  Anders barely heard the words over the screams coming from the van, but turned blankly to glance at Mortimer, who was holding out his hand.

  “It’s stuck to your ear,” Mortimer said helpfully. “I want to call Lucian and let him know we’ve caught up to the women and they’re alive. ”

  “Right. ” Anders lowered the phone and handed it over. He then watched Mortimer walk around the van toward the driver’s side, punching in numbers.

  Sighing with relief as the shrieks from the women began to slow and grow less vociferous, Anders shoved the gun down the back of his pants and stepped up to the open side door of the van. But he waited for it to end altogether before asking, “Are you both all right?”

  Valerie’s head jerked his way, her eyes wide and mouth open. Obviously she hadn’t realized they were right behind the van when she’d called him. But then the back windows of the van were high and she wouldn’t have been able to see through them, kneeling as she was.

  “How did you get here so fast?” she asked, retrieving her hand from Leigh’s now loose grip and wincing as she rubbed it. Spotting the impressions in her hand from Leigh’s squeezing, Anders began to understand why she’d been shrieking. He had wondered. Leigh’s screaming he’d understood, but he hadn’t been sure if Valerie was just screaming in sympathy with her or what.

  “We were right behind you when you called,” Anders explained, his gaze shooting to the driver’s side window when Mortimer appeared there. Apparently, he’d finished his call. Now, the man reached through the window to grab the rogue’s head and turn it his way so he could examine him. In the next moment, he jerked his arm back out the window with a shouted, “Whoa!” as Valerie suddenly grabbed up the mallet and turned to whack the rogue again, nearly pulverizing Mortimer’s hand in the process.

  “Oh,” Valerie said, sounding surprised. “Sorry, I heard movement and thought he was stirring again. ”

  Anders bit his lip and leaned into the van. “Maybe you should give me that. ”

  Valerie handed over the mallet with apparent relief, and then said, “We have to get Leigh to either Rachel or Dani. She’s in labor and it’s not going well. ”

  “Etienne and Justin are bringing Rachel right now. They should be here soon,” he assured her, his gaze finally moving to Leigh. The woman lay shaking on the van floor, her face pale and sweaty. He’d smelled blood since moving up to the open door and had at first assumed it was from the rogue’s head wound, but he was beginning to think perhaps it was coming from Leigh as well. The smell was strong when he leaned in to peer at her.

  “Leigh? Are you all right?” he asked.

  Leigh moaned and shook her head weakly where she lay. “I think something’s wrong. It hurts too much. ”

  Anders frowned, but kept his concern out of his voice as he said, “Hang on. Rachel will be here soon. ”

  When she didn’t respond, he shifted where he stood, feeling useless. It was Valerie who bent over the woman and asked, “Is there any way we can make you more comfortable until she gets here?”

  “You can get that bastard out of the front seat and cut his head off,” Leigh said weakly.

  Valerie grimaced and glanced to Anders, saying, “She’s delirious. She keeps thinking I’m Jeffrey Dahmer or something. ”

  “No. It’s the Queen of Hearts, remember?” Leigh said on a weak laugh, and then added wearily, “Just get him out of here and make sure he doesn’t escape or rise up and kill us all while you three are distracted watching me try to squeeze out Lucian’s humongous progeny. ”

  “On it,” Mortimer announced, opening the driver’s side door when Anders glanced his way.
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