The lady is a vamp, p.4
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       The Lady is a Vamp, p.4

         Part #17 of Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands
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Chapter Four

 

  Jeanne Louise sat up slowly, her expression unperturbed, but her nerves suddenly jangling. He was worried, and his worry was coming out as anger. And he was worried because he didn't understand what she'd done.

  "The nanos give us the ability to block a person's pain receptors or make them sleep. I presume it was considered necessary to aid in the hunt for blood," she said calmly before he could ask anything. "While biting them, they won't feel pain, and if we make them sleep, they don't feel the bite either. I did that for Livy to ease her pain. "

  "You blocked the pain, and then put her to sleep?" Paul asked slowly as if wanting to be sure he had it right.

  Jeanne Louise nodded.

  "How?" he asked quietly.

  She hesitated. While Jeanne Louise knew she had to go into the person's mind to do it, she didn't know much more than that, really. It was sort of instinctual. It didn't matter though, she didn't think it would probably be good to admit that she could go into minds as she did. Finally she gave him a half truth. "I don't know exactly how it's done. It's sort of instinctual. But I have to be able to at least see her to do it. With some you have to actually be in physical contact to manage it. "

  Paul was silent for a minute, processing that, and then asked, "And her eating the whole sandwich?"

  Jeanne Louise hesitated. She knew he was asking her if she'd had anything to do with that, but admitting she had would mean admitting to being able to control minds and she wasn't willing to do that. So, she simply said, "She's obviously ill. Perhaps her illness is affecting her taste buds somehow, like when you get a cold or flu. Nothing tastes the same as it normally does when you're sick. I'd try different foods with her. "

  Paul relaxed slowly, and nodded, apparently finding that a sensible explanation. Smiling wryly, he said, "I'll feed her ham and cheese sandwiches for every meal if it means she'll eat. She's lost so much weight so fast. "

  Jeanne Louise remained silent, but wished she could ease some of his concerns. The man had worry lines making grooves in his face and she suspected they probably hadn't been there before Livy got sick. She could ease that worry by suggesting she turn him, and he turn Livy, but then she'd risk spending the rest of her long life alone if he wasn't willing to be her life mate. It might seem selfish to a mortal for her to put her need for a life mate ahead of a child's life, but they were taught from birth to keep a certain emotional distance between themselves and mortals. Each of them would encounter hundreds of mortals they may like, care about, or even love to a degree, but they simply couldn't save them all. They could turn only one and the idea of having to spend centuries or even millennia alone . . . well, it was untenable.

  Despite that, Jeanne Louise was tempted to make the offer anyway, but she forced it down and instead asked, "Is there nothing they can give her for the pain?"

  Paul shook his head and ran one hand wearily around his neck. "They've given her the strongest dose they dare for her age and size, but it doesn't seem to do anything anymore. The next step is to keep her sedated in the hospital, but . . . "

  But he didn't want her warehoused while she died. He wanted to save her, Jeanne Louise finished in her head when he fell silent.

  "I guess I should take you back in. I don't want to leave her alone in case she wakes up," Paul said abruptly.

  Jeanne Louise nodded and began to pack away the remains of their picnic, her gaze skittering to him when he knelt to help. Once everything was back in the basket and the blanket they'd sat on, as well as the one that had covered her legs, was folded, she stood and waited silently as he quickly unlocked her shackles from the gazebo post. She carried the blankets and he the basket and the end of her chains as they started to walk, and Jeanne Louise couldn't help feeling like a trained dog as they headed for the house. It stirred a slow anger in her, but she forced herself to take several deep breaths, and pushed the anger back down.

  This situation was a difficult one, but getting angry wouldn't help at this point. It was another kind of passion she needed now.

  "Don't you think you should keep me a little closer to Livy?" Jeanne Louise asked when they entered the house and he turned toward the door to the basement. When he paused to glance at her with a frown, she added, "If she wakes up in pain, I can help her. "

  Paul hesitated, uncertainty plucking at his brow and Jeanne Louise sighed with irritation. He was worrying about her escaping, of course. And until he learned to trust that she wouldn't, he would continue to think of her as a captive. She needed him to think of her as an ally if she was to woo him.

  "I don't think-" he began regretfully.

  "What if I promise not to try to leave the house?" she interrupted.

  Paul looked torn. He obviously wanted to believe her, but in the end, just couldn't, and started to shake his head, his mouth opening to speak. However, he never spoke the refusal she expected. Jeanne Louise didn't let him. The moment his mouth opened, she dropped the blankets, caught the chain and tugged it from his hold with one hand. In the same moment, she snatched the tranquilizer gun from his back pocket with the other. She didn't even think about what she was doing then, but dropped the chain she'd pulled from him and used both hands to snap the barrel off the end of the tranquilizer gun with a satisfying snap.

  Jeanne Louise let the two pieces drop to the floor and then stepped back from Paul, giving him space. She had no desire to scare him or make him feel threatened.

  "Jesus, I knew you guys were faster, but . . . damn, you moved so fast you were a blur," Paul said with amazement.

  Her voice calm, Jeanne Louise said, "I could have done that at any point over the last couple of hours. The only reason I'm still here now is because I choose to be. "

  "Jesus," Paul repeated, and then eyed her warily as he took a deep breath. Letting it out, he asked, "Then why are you still here?"

  Jeanne Louise hesitated unsure how to answer that. The truth wouldn't do at all. He wasn't ready to hear that he might be her life mate, and she wasn't ready to tell him. First, she needed to be sure he was. And then she needed to see if he was willing to be that life mate, if he could see her as more than a possible way to save his daughter. Jeanne Louise, like every other immortal, had only one turn to use, and while her heart ached for Livy and she sympathized with Paul, she couldn't save every mortal who was terminally ill. She wouldn't give up her turn to just anyone, but had to use it wisely.

  Aware that he was waiting for an answer, she finally shrugged and offered an evasive, "Consider it a test. "

  "A test," he muttered with a frown.

  Jeanne Louise nodded.

  "What kind of test?" he asked warily.

  She bit her lip, but simply said, "You have your secrets and I have mine. Neither of us is ready to reveal them yet. In the meantime, I'm willing to help alleviate Livy's pain so that she can eat and rest and rebuild her strength. I presume you'd like that?"

  Paul's eyes widened, but he nodded. "Yes, of course. "

  "Good. Then can you please remove the shackles from my ankle? They're beginning to chafe. "

  "Oh. " Paul glanced around and then shook his head and reached in his pocket for the key as he knelt by her leg. He shifted her pant legs up and Jeanne Louise bent to hold them out of the way for him as he quickly undid both shackles and removed them.

  "Thank you," she murmured, releasing her pant legs and letting them fall back into place as she straightened.

  "My pleasure," he said wryly, gathering the chain and shackles and moving to set them on the kitchen table. He hesitated and then glanced toward the refrigerator. "Would you like some blood now?"

  "Yes, please," Jeanne Louise responded, her lips twitching at how polite and stiff they both sounded. Good Lord. Nothing was ever easy, was it?

  Nodding, Paul moved to the refrigerator and retrieved a jar of the dark crimson liquid.

  Jeanne Louise's eyebrows rose when he undid the lid and handed it to her.
"What-?"

  "It's my blood," he explained quietly. "I used sterilized jars. I didn't have access to a blood bank or anything. I've been bleeding myself for nearly two months to get enough together for you. " He glanced back to the refrigerator with a frown and then added, "I hope I have enough. I wasn't sure how much you'd need. They don't give us info like that. Only what we need to know. "

  "I'm sure you have enough," Jeanne Louise murmured and accepted the jar, then hesitated. She wasn't used to drinking out of a jar. Or a glass for that matter. She tended to just pop a bag to her fangs to avoid tasting it. Not that it was unpleasant to her, but she felt a bit self-conscious about drinking it in front of him.

  Turning her back to him, she walked to the window as an excuse to keep her back to him as she quickly downed the beverage. She drank it as quickly as she could, very aware that he stood behind her, probably watching her drink his own blood. Dear Lord.

  "More?" Paul asked when she finished and turned back.

  Jeanne Louise shook her head and walked to the sink to quickly rinse the jar as if removing the last of the thick liquid would remove the memory of her drinking it from his mind. Watching her drink his blood would hardly paint her as an attractive female, she figured, and grimaced as she then set the jar in the sink. She then turned to peer at him.

  "Right. " Paul swung toward the door to the hall. "Upstairs. "

  She followed silently, not terribly surprised when he glanced over his shoulder to be sure she was following behind him.

  "We can watch a movie or something if you like while she sleeps," he offered. "What kind of movies do you like?"

  "Action adventure, comedies, and horror," Jeanne Louise answered easily and caught the smile on his face as he again turned forward.

  "Me too," Paul admitted as he started up the stairs. "I have quite a collection of movies. We should be able to find something we both like in there. "

  "Sounds good," she murmured as they stepped onto the landing and headed up the hall. He led her past two doors, slowing at the second to glance in on a sleeping Livy, then continued on to an open door at the end of the hall. Jeanne Louise followed him inside and nearly stepped on his heels when he suddenly paused.

  "Oh," he muttered, looking suddenly uncomfortable.

  Jeanne Louise glanced around the room he'd led her to. It was twice the size of a normal bedroom, with a leather love seat, a wide stool, two end tables, and a 47-inch TV taking up one half of the room, while a king-sized sleigh bed and two end tables filled the other. It was the bed Paul was now staring at with something like dismay.

  "I'm sorry," he muttered turning back to her. "I wasn't thinking. I suppose we'll have to watch a movie downstairs and-"

  "This is closer to Livy," she said with a shrug and moved nonchalantly to the love seat as if she'd hardly noticed the bed. But it was impossible not to notice the bed. Dear God, it was huge, she thought, and glanced to him expectantly.

  "Right," Paul muttered, his gaze sliding to the bed and then skittering away. Straightening his shoulders, he hurried to the cupboard holding the TV and knelt to open the double doors below it, revealing row after row of DVDs. Curious, Jeanne Louise got up again and moved to stand behind him and peer over the titles on display.

  "Well, let's see, I have . . . pretty much everything," he said wryly, and then glanced over his shoulder and up at her to explain, "I buy the new releases pretty regularly. "

  "I suppose you don't get out much, what with Livy being sick," Jeanne Louise said with sympathy.

  "No," Paul admitted, turning back to the DVDs. "But I didn't get out much before that either. Not since my wife . . . "

  "Is that Red?" Jeanne Louise asked to change the subject when he fell silent.

  "Yeah. " He reached for the DVD.

  "I heard it was pretty good," she said.

  "It is. I really liked it," Paul said handing it to her to read the back. "Malkovich was amazing in it. "

  Jeanne Louise nodded and handed it back. "Would you mind seeing it again?"

  "No, of course not. I've seen pretty much everything I have," he said closing the doors and straightening.

  Leaving him to get the DVD started, Jeanne Louise moved back to the love seat and settled on it, her gaze skittering to the other half of the seat. It wasn't especially small, but it was a love seat, made to encourage closeness and cuddling. Well, she wanted to know about that final indicator, life-mate passion, Jeanne Louise reminded herself. The situation couldn't be better for it. She suspected though that she'd be the one making the first move. Paul didn't have a clue what they might be to each other, or what was in store. She did.

  This was definitely a reversal of roles for her. Jeanne Louise wasn't usually the aggressor in these situations. She usually let the men make the moves and do the chasing. Mind you, she did occasionally give a mental push of encouragement to mortal men if she read they were interested and she was attracted to them herself. It saved time. One of the benefits of being immortal, Jeanne Louise supposed. Sadly, she couldn't use that on Paul. She couldn't even read him to see if he was interested. She was as ignorant and uncertain in this situation as a mortal woman would be . . . and she didn't think she particularly cared for it.

  "There we go. " Paul returned to the love seat, remote in hand. Jeanne Louise offered a smile as he settled beside her and pressed the button to start the movie, or at least the FBI warning at the beginning of it.

  They fell into a slightly uncomfortable silence as they waited for the warning to finish rolling over the screen. Paul was staring at it as if the message was one he'd never seen before and needed to read. Jeanne Louise was staring at him, her gaze gliding over his short dark hair, before sliding to his face to take in the slightly weathered boy-next-door good looks.

  By her guess, Paul was in his late thirties or early forties. She supposed he'd waited until his thirties to marry and have Livy. It made her wonder if they'd planned to have more children after Livy and fate had intervened, or if she had been all they'd wanted or could manage. Jeanne Louise briefly considered asking, but then decided against it. Bringing up the deceased wife didn't seem a smart thing to do when she planned to try to seduce him in the next hour or so.

  Jeanne Louise grimaced slightly at the thought. It was something she was going to have to work up to. It wasn't like she could just throw herself on him now and plant one on him or something. Actually, having left the approach up to men all these years, she wasn't exactly sure what she was supposed to do here. Geez.

  "There we go. "

  Jeanne Louise glanced to the screen at that satisfied mutter from Paul to see that the FBI warning was over and he'd fast forwarded through the movie trailers to the feature presentation. A digital clock face took up most of the screen. She took note of the time, and then smiled as the lead character sat up in bed.

  Almost two hours later, Jeanne Louise sat back with a little sigh as the final credits rolled.

  "Good?" Paul asked with a smile.

  "Excellent, like you said," she responded with a grin.

  Paul chuckled and stood to move to the DVD player, saying, "I have to check on Livy, but we could watch something else if you like. "

  When he squatted in front of the DVD player, Jeanne Louise moved to join him, dropping to squat at his side as he opened the double doors again to reveal his collection. She glanced quickly over the row of movies, but her mind was on how she was supposed to make moves on him. She'd got kind of distracted with the movie and had lost the plot of what she was supposed to be doing here. The problem was, she didn't have a clue how to start it. Did she just lunge at the man and plant one on him? Was she supposed to say something smooth and seductive and then plant one on him?

  Cripes, at that moment she couldn't even recall how the mortal she was presently dating had made his move. As she recalled, he'd just whispered something by her ear as they were dancing and when she'd glanced to him, he'd kissed her. I
t had seemed so natural at the time. Had he been standing there, holding her in his arms beforehand agonizing over how to do it as she was now? Jeanne Louise hadn't been in his thoughts at the time, so couldn't be sure.

  "You're frowning. Is something wrong?"

  "No," Jeanne Louise said quickly, and then movement out of the corner of her eye drew her attention. She glanced over to see Boomer entering the room. He padded to her side and pressed against her as she gave him a pet. Continuing to rub his fur, she turned back to the selection available and said, "I'll let you pick this time. I picked the last one. "

  "Hmm. " Paul glanced over his collection as he replaced the Red DVD in its case and then shrugged. "I'll pick when I get back. "

  When he straightened, Jeanne Louise did as well and they both turned toward the door, but Boomer decided he should go as well and apparently he thought the fastest route was between her feet. Jeanne Louise gasped and shifted her step quickly to avoid stepping on the dog, then grabbed wildly for Paul's shoulder to keep from falling as she lost her balance. He paused at once and turned to catch her by both arms, instinctively drawing her against his chest to steady her.

  "All right?" he asked with concern. "You didn't twist an ankle or anything, did you? I swear Boomer's gonna end up breaking my leg someday, he's always tripping me up. "

  "I'm fine," Jeanne Louise assured him with a wry smile as she lifted her head. The smile faded though when she realized just how close they were. His mouth was a bare inch away, close enough she could feel his breath on her lips, close enough to kiss. So she did. She simply leaned a little closer and pressed her lips to his before he could release her or move away.

  He was definitely her life mate. Jeanne Louise knew that for sure when the gentle brush of her lips across his set off an explosion of sensation that rocketed through her body, shooting from her lips to every corner of her body.

  Judging by the way Paul froze, she wasn't the only one who experienced it. In the next moment, what she should do next was no longer a problem. Paul used his hold on her arms to draw her closer still, and then slid his arms around her as his mouth began to move on hers. Jeanne Louise opened to him at once, her lips parting and her hands clutching at his shirt as his tongue thrust between her lips.

  Jeanne Louise had been kissed by a lot of men in the almost 103 years she'd lived. Some had been incredibly skilled. But none had affected her as this one did. The next few moments were a rush of overwhelming sensation as his lips caressed, sucked, and nibbled at hers while his tongue played, and then his lips and tongue slid across her cheek to her neck to do the same there.

  A long deep groan slid from Jeanne Louise's lips as his tongue found the hollow above her collarbone. Releasing the death grip she had on his shirt, she slid her fingers into his hair, and then tugged on the soft strands when his hands slid beneath the back of her shirt and up her back. When they stopped at the strap of her bra and then slid back down, nails scraping lightly, she thought her skin would pull itself right off her body to follow.

  Dear God, no one in a hundred years had done that, and it felt good. Better than good. His mouth and hands on her, his pelvis pressing against hers . . . her body was reacting like a virgin's: stomach quivering and legs trembling. Even her lower lip was shaking, she realized, as wave after mounting wave of pleasure slid through her, and then she used the hold she had on his hair to drag his head up so she could claim his lips again.

  Paul responded at once, his mouth covering hers, more demanding. His hands were kneading the skin of her back now, pressing her closer as they did, and then one hand slid around to find one of her breasts and Jeanne Louise rose up on her tiptoes with a gasp at the first touch. She then groaned into his mouth and pressed closer as he kneaded the soft flesh there through her blouse, her hips shifting and pressing her more tightly against the hardness growing between his legs. The action sent a sharp jolt of pleasure shimmering through her own body that had her shifting against him again.

  Cursing, Paul gave up kissing her to pull back slightly as his hand released her breast to find the buttons of her shirt. He was impatient and she was sure he would pop a button or two in his efforts, would even have welcomed it if it would speed things along. But he managed to undo the first four or five buttons and then tugged the white blouse aside to reveal the pale pink bra she wore beneath her silk blouse. His head immediately lowered to allow his tongue to slide across the skin above her bra and then his fingers tugged the soft cup aside, freeing her breast. His lips immediately covered and latched on to her rosy nipple.

  Now it was Jeanne Louise who was gasping out a curse and clutching at him as he suckled. The sensations battering her were almost too much to bear, and she groaned, shivered and moaned by turn, worrying that at this rate she'd faint before they got to actually having sex. Her legs were already shaking so badly she was having trouble staying on her feet. When Jeanne Louise sagged against him, Paul helped her out by slipping one leg between both of hers. The pressure of his thigh against the very core of her was nearly her undoing.

  Crying out, Jeanne Louise nipped at the skin of his shoulder, then turned her head and did the same to his neck, having just enough sense to keep her fangs in as she did. Paul nipped at her nipple in response, startling a yelp out of her, and then raised his head to claim her mouth again. His tongue thrust between her lips as his hand replaced his mouth at her breast, his fingers finding the erect nipple and tweaking it as he urged her backward.

  She felt the wall press against her back. His body was pressing tight against her front, pinning her to that wall and Jeanne Louise was grateful for it. Her legs definitely weren't going to keep her upright much longer. Her hands had taken to clutching at his shoulders to help hold herself up, but now she moved them between them, running them over his chest, then finding the hem of the T-shirt he wore and pulling and pushing it up his stomach so her hands could slip beneath and run over the flesh there. She then slid them up to his chest, each finding a pec and kneading briefly before her fingers centered on his nipples and squeezed them.

  The action brought a groan from Paul that reverberated between her lips, and then she groaned too as another wave of pleasure rolled through her. They were growing with each pass, building to the point where she felt sure they couldn't get stronger, and yet each wave was bigger still until she was sure she would drown under the foaming surf. It scared her, but it was also irresistible.

  Jeanne Louise had never understood why the French called it the petite mort, or "small death. " But she thought she might now, and wanted to experience it so badly in that moment that she thought she'd die without it. That goal her only thought, she raised her own leg now trapped between both of his and rubbed her upper thigh against his hardness. She was rewarded with another groan and another wave of passion rolling through her that just egged her on.

  "Daddy?"

  Jeanne Louise heard that soft call and froze. The fact that Paul didn't stop told her that he hadn't heard with his mortal hearing. She slid her hands back out from under his shirt with regret and caught his head between her hands to force him away. He peered at her blankly, blind with passion, and Jeanne Louise opened her mouth to explain, but Livy's call came again, a little louder.

  "Daddy?"

  Paul stiffened, the passion clearing at once and then he pulled away and hurried from the room.

  Jeanne Louise sank back against the wall with a weak sigh. Damn. He'd snapped out of that in a hurry while she was still trembling and shaking like a cat who'd just had a brief dunking in a washing machine. The power of parenthood, she told herself, struggling not to be offended. The child was seriously ill, after all. Of course Paul would rush to her side rather than continue what he was doing. But damn, his head had cleared a hell of a lot quicker than hers.

  Sighing, Jeanne Louise slipped her bra back into place, tugged her blouse shut, closed her eyes and took a couple of deep breaths. The good news was she now knew for sure that Pa
ul was her life mate. She'd not only never experienced passion as heavy and hot as that in her life, but they'd also definitely been experiencing the "shared passion" everyone spoke about. The passion merging and running back and forth between them, growing stronger with each pass until she'd thought she'd die if it wasn't consummated.

  And that was more good news, Jeanne Louise supposed, they'd been interrupted before she could experience the petite mort immortal style. Now she just had to see if Paul would be willing to be her life mate . . . and not just to save his daughter's life.

  Grimacing, she took another steadying breath and then straightened, grateful when she was able to stand on her own. Her legs were still a little shaky, but some water on her face and wrists would help with that, she was sure. They would also hopefully bring an end to the tremble in her hands so she could manage doing up her buttons. With that thought in mind, Jeanne Louise glanced around and then spotted the door at the end of the room beside the bed. Moving to it, she opened it, half expecting to find herself in a walk-in closet. Instead the door opened into a large bathroom in cream and Indian brown.

  Eyebrows rising, Jeanne Louise entered, her gaze sliding over another open door to her right, this one to an attached walk-in closet. She peaked inside briefly, then turned to survey the bathroom, taking in the marble counter with his and hers sinks, the toilet, the large tub, a shower big enough for two and then the door to what appeared to be a sauna. Walking to it, she opened the door and glanced curiously inside.

  Yep, a sauna.

  Jeanne Louise eased the door closed and moved to the sinks to turn on the cold water. She'd splash some water on her face and arms and then go see how Livy was doing. She hadn't sensed any pain in the girl's voice when Livy had called out, and suspected the headache was gone, but it had been a couple hours since lunch and if they could get her to eat again it would only be a good thing. She would control her and have her eat as often as possible to help her rebuild her strength for the turn.

  Not that Jeanne Louise was entirely sure things were going to work out. Yes, Paul was her life mate, and yes, she was pretty sure that he'd been seconds from tearing her clothes off, throwing her on the bed, and taking her to the petite mort, but that didn't guarantee anything. The situation was a complicated one. It might all still crumble like a house of cards.

  Sighing, Jeanne Louise turned off the taps and reached for the towel on the rack beside her to dry her face and hands. She then set it back and quickly did up her blouse before heading out in search of Paul and Livy.
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