The lady is a vamp, p.5
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       The Lady is a Vamp, p.5

         Part #17 of Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands
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Chapter Five

 

  "I liked that horse," Livy announced as her father stood and moved to the DVD player to eject the disc and put it away. "But I think I'd rather have a dragon like the black one, 'cause he was nice, wasn't he, Jeanie?"

  "Yes, he was, Livy," Jeanne Louise agreed, smiling faintly. She had come out of the bathroom earlier to find Paul entering the bedroom with Livy in his arms. He'd settled the girl on the love seat, started the "dragon training" movie for her and then had asked Jeanne Louise if she'd mind sitting with Livy while he slipped away to fetch them some snacks.

  She hadn't minded at all. She'd settled on the love seat next to the girl, and found herself getting wrapped up in the movie herself. It wasn't until Paul had returned with the drinks and popcorn that she'd pulled herself out of the movie at all, and then it was just enough to help Livy eat and drink and enjoy it.

  They'd watched this second cartoon movie about Rapunzel afterward. That one had featured a rather intelligent and funny horse and they'd all laughed a great deal over the movie.

  "I don't know," Paul said putting the DVD away. "I kind of liked the little salamander myself. "

  "Ewww," Livy said instinctively, then wrinkled her nose and said judiciously. "He was nice, but you can't pet a salamander, Daddy. "

  "Hmmm. " Paul straightened and then turned and raised an eyebrow at his daughter. "Another movie or are you ready for dinner?"

  "I think I'm hungry," Livy announced, sounding surprised, and then her eyes widened and her mouth formed an O.

  "What?" Paul asked, smiling.

  "Can we go to Chuck E. Cheese's, Daddy?" she asked, slipping off the love seat where she'd been cuddled between Jeanne Louise and Paul for more than five hours. She nearly stepped on Boomer as she went, but the dog was quick about getting out of her way and yipped excitedly in response to her own obvious excitement. "I like Chuck E. Cheese's. You'd like it too, Jeanne Louise. They have games and rides and-Oh it's so fun!" She whirled back to her dad excitedly, Boomer dancing around her feet. "Please! We haven't been there for a long time. Can we go?"

  Paul stared at her, wide-eyed and obviously torn. Jeanne Louise could tell he wanted to say yes, but worry was making him hesitate. Whether it was worry for Livy or worry that Jeanne Louise might use it as an opportunity to leave, she didn't know.

  "How long has she been cooped up in the house?" she asked quietly.

  His gaze slid to her, silent and solemn.

  "And you've probably spent most of your time here with her," Jeanne Louise commented. "I don't think an outing to Chuck E. Cheese's would be a bad thing. We could go, have pizza and then come back. "

  Paul relaxed, getting the silent message she was trying to give him. She would return afterward with them. He nodded, murmuring, "Thank you," and then glanced to Livy. "Chuck E. Cheese's it is then. "

  "Yay!" Livy did a little dance and then turned to grab Jeanne Louise's hand to try to pull her off the love seat. "Come on. Let's go before he changes his mind. You're going to love Chuck E. Cheese's. It's so fun. And the pizza's good too. "

  Chuckling, Jeanne Louise stood and allowed the still chattering child to tug her from the room and toward the stairs, aware that Paul was following with Boomer on his heels. They headed right out to the car, pausing just long enough to let Boomer loose in the backyard before going.

  "I haven't seen her like this for quite a while," Paul said quietly, his eyes following his daughter as she played with several other children in the play section. He smiled wryly. "I guess it's only been weeks, but it feels like forever. "

  "It's good for her," Jeanne Louise said quietly, her concentration on the girl. A headache had begun to descend on Livy shortly after they'd arrived and she'd been working to mask it ever since.

  "Yeah. " She sensed his glancing her way and tried to appear normal, but knew she'd failed when he asked with concern, "Are you all right?"

  Jeanne Louise gave a nod, not looking his way.

  "You're pale and pinched. You're masking her pain again, aren't you?" he asked and she could hear the frown in his voice.

  Sighing, she nodded reluctantly.

  "How long?" Paul asked.

  Jeanne Louise hesitated, but then admitted, "A headache started to develop shortly after we got here. "

  Paul cursed. "You mean you've been masking her pain for the last hour and a half?"

  Jeanne Louise wrinkled her nose. Was that all it had been? It felt like three hours. First they'd played video games and such, then they'd eaten, then Livy had rushed off to play with the other children. An hour and a half? God.

  "You should have said something," Paul said, sounding cross.

  "She was having fun," Jeanne Louise said helplessly. "I suspect she hasn't done that for a while. "

  "No, she hasn't," he agreed solemnly. "Still . . . "

  She heard him sigh, and then sensed him standing and moving away. A moment later she saw him approach Livy and speak to her, then urge her back toward the table.

  "I know you were having fun, sweetheart. But we can come back another day. We have to go home now. It's getting late," Paul was saying as he led his daughter back to Jeanne Louise. Once at the table, he quickly pulled out his wallet to pay the bill, then lifted Livy up with one arm under her bottom and glanced to Jeanne Louise. "She can sleep on the way home. "

  She nodded with relief and made the child sleep. Livy sagged against her father, her head dropping to rest on his shoulder. Jeanne Louise stayed in her thoughts long enough to allow the girl's endorphins to do their work, and then slipped out. The immediate absence of pain was like a vacuum after suffering it for so long, and Jeanne Louise swayed in her seat. Paul immediately stepped closer and grasped her upper arm to steady her with his free hand.

  "Are you all right?" he asked with concern.

  Jeanne Louise took a deep breath and nodded, wincing when it made the dull ache that remained in her head increase a bit. She now had a headache of her own, probably from her constant tension while fighting Livy's pain, she supposed. The nanos would take care of it quickly enough, she told herself as she stood up. "I'm fine. Shall we?"

  Paul walked her out, his hand on her arm the entire way. Jeanne Louise didn't think it was because he feared her fleeing at this point, so supposed she must look as drained and pained as she felt. The fact that he was eyeing her with concern, as if expecting her to suddenly keel over at any moment, seemed to back that up.

  Once at the car, Jeanne Louise opened the back door for him and slipped into Livy's mind to keep her from waking up as he settled her in the backseat and did up her seat belt. She was glad to slip back out a moment later as he straightened and closed the door.

  Jeanne Louise started to open her own door then, but Paul stopped her by placing his hands on her shoulders and beginning to massage the tense muscles there. It brought a groan from her and she let her eyes close and her head loll as the tension slowly eased from her muscles.

  "Thank you," she murmured after a moment, and then blinked her eyes open and peered at him with surprise when he released her neck to cup her face.

  "No. Thank you," he said firmly, meeting her gaze. "I know it causes you pain to help her. And I do appreciate it. She would too if she knew. " Paul closed his own eyes briefly, then let out a slow breath and opened them again to say, "Livy hasn't been this happy in a while. Thank you for that. "

  Jeanne Louise smiled weakly and raised her hands to cover and squeeze his, saying simply, "You're welcome. "

  He nodded, and then bent to press a kiss to her forehead before releasing her and opening the front passenger door for her. Jeanne Louise slid in and did up her seat belt as he walked around to the driver's side.

  They were both silent on the ride back to the house. Jeanne Louise had no idea what Paul was thinking, but her own mind was taken up with thoughts of him. She'd earned his gratitude. It was a start, but she wasn't sure if it was a good start or not. Sh
e didn't want his gratitude. They couldn't be equal partners if he felt he owed her something. Jeanne Louise wanted him to want her, to want to be with her, to enjoy her company. Not to think of her as someone he owed a debt to. Unfortunately, the situation wasn't lending itself to that.

  She was frowning over that when they turned onto his street. Jeanne Louise glanced along the row of houses and then sucked in a breath as she spotted two dark SUVs parked in front of Paul's house.

  "Pull in here," she barked at once and Paul glanced at her with surprise.

  "What?"

  "Do it," Jeanne Louise hissed and wished for the first time that she could just slip into his thoughts and take control of him to make him do it. Fortunately, something of her urgency made him obey and he pulled into the driveway she'd indicated.

  "What is it?" Paul asked, his gaze sliding to his neighbor's house as he braked the car in their driveway.

  Jeanne Louise peered out the window past him to the SUVs. They looked empty. She bit her lip and then leaned in front of Paul to let her gaze inspect his yard and house. She watched silently for a moment and then straightened abruptly when she saw movement inside through the front window.

  "Go back the way we came," she said firmly, settling back in her seat, her brain racing.

  Paul hesitated, but then shifted into reverse and backed out of the driveway to head back up the road the way they'd come. When he reached the corner, he simply asked, "Which way?"

  Jeanne Louise pulled herself from trying to figure out how they'd found her so quickly to consider the question. Finally, she sighed, "I don't know. Just take a right for now. "

  He turned right, and started up this new street, but glanced at her in question. "The SUVs?" Paul asked and when she hesitated over answering, he said, "I didn't notice them at first, but there were two of them. Black with black windows. I've seen them at Argeneau Enterprises. "

  "They're what the Enforcers drive, the equivalent of our police force," she explained quietly. "They must have figured out you have me and came looking for us. "

  Paul hesitated, but then said, "I was very careful. "

  Jeanne Louise considered that claim briefly and then queried, "You were in my car when I got in?"

  He nodded.

  "When did you get in?" she asked.

  "About two minutes before you got in. I rode to Argeneau's in the trunk of Lester's car. A coworker," Paul explained. "He didn't know. I waited in the trunk all night, then slid out and got in your car just before you got to it. "

  "They would have seen that on the parking garage cameras," Jeanne Louise pointed out.

  "Yeah, but all that would do is lead them to Lester, and he had no idea I was in his trunk. He couldn't point them my way. "

  "Maybe they recognized you," she suggested.

  "I was wearing all black and a balaclava. There was nothing to recognize," he assured her, and she recalled the dark shape rising in the rearview mirror. A mere silhouette of a person.

  Jeanne Louise was silent for a minute and then asked, "What did you do with my car?"

  "I'd parked my car at the back of a grocery store parking lot near Lester's apartment building. I drove your car back there, moved you to my car and left your car there, then brought you home. "

  "Did you check to see if there were security cameras in the parking lot?"

  He hesitated. "I didn't see any. But even if there was one that I didn't see, I doubt they've found your car yet. It's a big busy grocery store and it hasn't even been twenty-four hours yet. "

  Jeanne Louise blew her breath out on a sigh. "If security saw you get in my car and me drive away with you, someone would have been sent to check on me. When I didn't show up at my place they would have started looking for me. There's a tracker in my car. Uncle Lucian made all of us put trackers in our cars. "

  "So they would have found your car pretty quick," Paul said with a grimace, and then shook his head. "Still, I did look to be sure there weren't any cameras in the parking lot. And I was wearing gloves when I drove your car, so no fingerprints. How could they have traced it back to me?"

  She shook her head, and then asked, "Was I in the front seat or back of your vehicle? I mean, was I visible?"

  "Front seat," he answered. "I strapped you into the front passenger seat. After spending the night in the trunk of a car I didn't want to put you there, and in the front seat it just looked like you were asleep. I figured a woman sleeping in the front seat would be less noteworthy than a woman passed out in the backseat. "

  Jeanne Louise nodded wearily. "That's probably how then. All they had to do was check any nearby traffic cameras for the time period when you would have reached and left the grocery store parking lot from Argeneaus. If there was even one that caught you driving by with me in the passenger seat they'd have gotten your license plate number from it. " She shrugged. It was the only thing that made sense. His car had been caught on camera with her unconscious in the front seat. They'd checked the license plate and traced it back to Paul.

  She supposed they had just been lucky that it had taken this long for them to be tracked down. Had the immortal Enforcers arrived at the house before they'd left for Chuck E. Cheese's, or even after they'd returned . . . Jeanne Louise grimaced at the thought. Had that happened, Paul would probably be locked up in a cell at the Enforcer house right now while her uncle decided what to do with him. She'd like to think Uncle Lucian would try to help her claim her life mate, but he was a bit of a stickler about certain things . . . like kidnapping an immortal with the intention of forcing them to turn a mortal. Yeah, that so wasn't going to go over well.

  "I'm guessing we can't go home," Paul said quietly.

  "Not unless you want to be taken into custody and locked up," she said on a sigh.

  He nodded, his expression solemn. "So a hotel?"

  Jeanne Louise sank back in her seat and rubbed her forehead wearily. The renewed tension had brought the fading headache back. It shouldn't. The nanos weren't eradicating it for her as they normally would. It didn't take a great deal of thinking to figure out why. She'd only had the one pint of blood in almost twenty-four hours, but the nanos had been working hard, first to remove the effects of the tranquilizer he'd given her, and then to ease her own pain as she'd suffered with Livy. She was probably in need of another good three pints of blood at that point. Low on the life-giving substance, the nanos were picking and choosing what to deal with and apparently a little tension headache wasn't on the top of their priority list.

  "You're pale still. You need blood, don't you?" Paul asked quietly.

  Jeanne Louise waved that away. There was no blood available at the moment. It would have to wait. Breathing out through her nose, she thought briefly, and then said, "I suggest heading out of town. They'll have hunters looking for your vehicle when we don't return to the house. "

  "Hunters?" he asked with a frown.

  "Enforcers," she corrected herself, not wanting to explain about Rogue Hunters. That might lead to just how much trouble he was in. She didn't want to get into all that right now.

  Paul was silent for a minute and then said solemnly, "We get volunteers to test the tranquilizers on. A couple of them have mentioned being hunters. Rogue Hunters, I think they said. " She sensed him glancing her way. "Those are the Enforcers? The immortal version of cops you mentioned?"

  Jeanne Louise nodded reluctantly.

  "And they'll be looking for us because I kidnapped you?"

  She sighed and explained, "Their main job is to take care of any immortals that go rogue and hurt mortals or do anything that might draw attention to our existence. But they also deal with mortals who find out about us and use that knowledge . . . inappropriately," she finished uncomfortably.

  "Like by kidnapping one of you," Paul said quietly and then took a deep breath and asked, "I don't suppose the fact that you are actually staying willingly now would help my case much?"

  "I'm
afraid not. It won't negate the fact that I was originally taken against my will in the council's opinion. At least I don't think it would and we shouldn't take that chance. The repercussions for such a thing would probably be pretty steep," Jeanne Louise said quietly.

  "How steep?" Paul asked, worry knitting his brow now.

  Jeanne Louise hesitated. She wasn't sure just how the council would punish a mortal in this instance. It wouldn't be lightly though. It would have to be something that would make a statement and discourage all the other mortals who knew about them from getting such ideas. That being the case, death was a possibility, but it was more likely that they would do a three on one and wipe his mind, then dump him in a psychiatric facility somewhere to live out his days in a drugged, mindless haze. When she admitted as much to Paul, his jaw dropped with horror, but his first question was, "What about Livy? What would they do to her?"

  "She wouldn't be punished for your actions," she assured him quickly.

  "But what would they do with her?" he asked insistently.

  Jeanne Louise shrugged helplessly. "They would probably place her with the family of a mortal who works for Argeneau Enterprises. "

  "Not for long," Paul said grimly.

  Knowing he was thinking of her cancer and that he was probably right, Jeanne Louise didn't comment at first. However, when she realized he'd taken the on-ramp to the highway, she asked, "Have you thought of somewhere to go?"

  "I have a cottage up north. It's a four or five hour drive, but-"

  "That's no good. By now they probably know every piece of property you own and have people watching them," she interrupted and was aware of the sharp startled glance he sent her way.

  "Seriously? They can get that kind of information this quickly?" he asked with disbelief.

  "Paul, they can find out anything a mortal enforcement agency can find out, and probably quicker," Jeanne Louise said solemnly.

  "How? Surely they don't have access to police databases and such," he protested.

  "They can get access to anything they want," she said quietly.

  "How?" Paul repeated.

  Jeanne Louise just shook her head. "I'll explain later. Right now we need to think of somewhere to go that you don't own. We can't just keep driving around. "

  "Right," he muttered, his gaze on the highway ahead. After a moment, he suggested, "Well, we could take a hotel room somewhere and-"

  "They can track your credit cards. "

  "Jesus," Paul muttered. "I only have twenty or thirty bucks on me. "

  "Did you leave my purse in my car?" she asked. She hadn't seen it since awaking in his basement.

  "Yes," he admitted with a frown.

  Jeanne Louise considered that briefly, and then asked, "How much gas do we have?"

  Paul smiled faintly at the question. She suspected it was because she'd used the word we, making them a team. His gaze slid to the gas gauge and he said, "Half a tank. "

  "Then I suggest you hit a gas station somewhere between Chuck E. Cheese's and the house, and then hit an ATM in the area too. It won't tell them which way we might be headed in when we don't show up at the house. "

  "Good thinking," he murmured and shifted into the right lane to take the next off-ramp.

  The next half hour was tense. Jeanne Louise spent the entire drive and then the time at the gas station expecting a dark SUV to pull in front of them and force them to a stop. She waited in the car while Paul rushed to use the ATM next, her eyes constantly searching the surrounding area for any sign of a dark SUV or vehicles belonging to her father and brothers. It was a relief when the passenger door opened and Paul slid back in. At least she was relieved until he said, "I just thought . . . Boomer's still at the house. "

  "They'll take care of him," Jeanne Louise said reassuringly. "They'll take him back to the Enforcer house and look after him until we're found or this is resolved.

  He nodded, but looked worried still, and then glanced to Livy, asleep in the back. "She won't be happy he isn't with us. That dog hasn't been out of her sight for more than a few hours since we got him. The only time they're apart is when she's at school. Or it was when she still went to school," he added wearily.

  Jeanne Louise frowned now too. She didn't know what brought on the headaches with Livy, but getting upset might bring them on harder or more often. If that was the case, she didn't want the child upset. She was willingly taking on the girl's pain to spare her, and had every intention to continue to do so, but it wasn't pleasant and if some of that pain could be spared by getting the dog . . .

  Shaking her head, she asked, "What's behind your house?"

  "Other houses from the next street over. Why?" Paul asked curiously.

  "We'll have to get Boomer. We'll have to park on the road behind yours. You can wait here with Livy while I fetch Boomer. "

  He frowned. "That's kind of risky, isn't it?"

  "They'll be watching for your car. They won't bother about the dog in the backyard. " I hope, Jeanne Louise added silently.

  Paul hesitated, but then nodded. "Thanks," he murmured, starting the engine.

  Jeanne Louise just nodded, trying to figure out in her mind how best to get the dog. She was trying to remember the setup of the backyard and figure out where it was best to hop the fence. Hopefully the animal was still in the backyard and they hadn't taken it into the house. And hopefully he'd come to her call. And hopefully no one would happen to spot her. Geez, Jeanne Louise couldn't believe she was taking this risk. But really, she'd do anything to minimize the pain Livy, and therefore she, suffered. Frankly, she was a big wuss when it came to pain.

  "Keep the engine running," she said quietly, reaching for the door as Paul pulled to the side of the residential street behind his own.

  "Maybe I should go," Paul said, putting his hand on her arm to stop her as she started to get out. "I don't know the people who live here and they might-"

  "I'll handle the neighbors," Jeanne Louise assured him calmly, pulling her arm free. Getting out, she repeated, "I'll just be a minute. Be ready to leave the minute I get back in case I'm spotted and chased by one of the hunters. "

  She saw the worry increase on his face, but just closed the door and turned to start up the driveway of the house he'd stopped in front of. A high wooden fence ran around this house, starting at the garage and going around the backyard before coming back around and stopping at the side of the house. It was only six feet tall though compared to Paul's taller wall and she could see the wall beyond it. She was approaching the gate rather than the house itself, but heard the front door open. Turning, she smiled at the man who stepped out to eye her suspiciously.

  "Everything's fine, go back inside and watch the television," Jeanne Louise said, slipping into the man's mind to ensure he followed the order.

  He nodded, smiled, then turned and walked back inside. Jeanne Louise didn't hesitate then, but continued to the fence. She tried the gate, not surprised to find it locked from the inside. Nothing was ever simple, she thought and glanced around to be sure no one was looking except for Paul, then leapt over the fence in one smooth move.

  Jeanne Louise grunted as she landed on a concrete sidewalk inside the walled yard. The landing sent a jolt through her, but she ignored it and immediately jogged to the back fence. On the way here she'd debated different approaches. Hopping the fence, grabbing the dog and hopping back again would have been the easiest route. But while it was almost eight o'clock, it was summer, still bright daylight out. There was too much risk of being spotted by one of the hunters inside the house and pursued. There was also the risk of any one of the neighbors happening to see her hopping the fence. A slender woman in business clothes hopping a ten-foot wall as if it were knee high would draw attention. She'd had to come up with an alternate plan.

  Grimacing, Jeanne Louise knelt in the rose garden that ran along the back fence and began digging at the muddy earth. Apparently the garden had been
watered not long before her arrival; the dirt she was digging was mud. Great, she thought, but continued to dig.

  Much to her relief it didn't take long. While the wooden fence ran up the sides of the yard, they hadn't bothered with it across the back. Paul's wall offered all the privacy needed there and its retaining wall was only buried a few feet in the ground. With her increased speed and strength, she had a three-foot-wide and three-foot-deep hole dug pretty fast, even with just her hands to work with.

  Once Jeanne Louise had dug what she considered to be far enough down, she lay down in the garden to work her arm inside the hole and started digging under the wall itself, scooping out the dirt quickly and impatiently. She had broken the surface on the other side before it occurred to her that she should have called for Boomer to be sure he was still in the backyard. With the next swipe of her hand, though, she heard an excited yip from the other side of the wall and felt one paw swipe at the back of her hand trying to catch it in passing. Boomer was in the backyard.

  Jeanne Louise picked up speed then, afraid that Boomer's interest might draw the attention of someone in the house. It only took another moment before she'd dug out a space big enough for the animal to climb down through, which he did at once, wiggling eagerly under the wall and waddling up in the garden to leap at her face, tail wagging and tongue swiping at her cheeks.

  "Good dog," Jeanne Louise breathed and stood quickly to hurry back across the yard, her ears straining for any sound from Paul's yard to warn her that someone had noticed something was amiss. When she hadn't heard anything by the time she reached the gate again, Jeanne Louise was sure her actions had gone unnoticed. Clasping the wiggling dog to her chest, she hopped the fence as she had on the approach, then jogged to the car and slid in.

  Paul pulled away at once, his attention between the road, her, and the fence she'd just hopped, as if he half expected to see someone come running after them.

  "I think we're good," she said, patting Boomer to try to get him to settle in her lap. The dog was desperately torn between trying to lick her face and trying to crawl into Paul's lap, but she held onto the cute little creature and just kept stroking him. "I don't think anyone noticed or followed. "

  Paul relaxed a little, his attention now only shifting from the road to her and occasionally the rearview mirror. He then cleared his throat, and asked, "Umm . . . Just how exactly did you get him?"

  "I tunneled under your wall. I thought it was safer than hopping it and possibly being seen," she admitted.

  "Ah," Paul murmured, and she glanced at him sharply, noting that his lips were twitching.

  "Ah?" Jeanne Louise asked suspiciously. The man was trying not to laugh. "Ah what?"

  He glanced to her, then away and cleared his throat, "That explains why you and Boomer look like you've been mud-wrestling. "

  Jeanne Louise glanced down at herself and the dog and sighed. Boomer's fur was matted with mud from wiggling under the wall. She was also mud-covered. Her hands and arms were the worst; they were coated with quickly drying mud, and the rest of her wasn't much better. Her white silk blouse was wet and muddy, probably ruined, and her dress pants were caked as well. She'd been first kneeling and then lying in the muddy garden after all.

  "You can't be comfortable like that," Paul said quietly. "We'll have to stop and get you a change of clothes. Maybe we could rent a hotel room long enough for you to shower. "

  "A change of clothes will do," Jeanne Louise said quietly. "We shouldn't risk a motel until we're farther away from Toronto. In fact, I don't think you should stop for clothes here either. I can stand it for an hour or so. "

  "An hour away north or south?" he asked with a frown.

  "Do you have any property in the south?" she asked. When he shook his head, she shrugged. "Then south. "

  "An hour southwest on the Highway 427 will take us to the Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge area," Paul announced.

  "That's good enough," Jeanne Louise decided. There were a few immortals who she knew lived in the area, but then there were few places where there weren't at least one or two immortals anymore. They would just have to be careful.

  Paul nodded and for the next few minutes they were silent as he concentrated on getting them to and onto Highway 427 headed southwest, and then they both relaxed a little. After a moment, he said, "Thank you for helping Livy. "

  Jeanne Louise noted the solemn gratitude on his face, and glanced away with a shrug. "She has to eat. "

  "Yes, and I appreciate your seeing to it that she does," he murmured. "I know it causes you pain to help her. "

  Jeanne Louise didn't comment, her gaze on Boomer as he finally gave up trying to lick her and curled into a ball on her lap to sleep.

  "I'm sorry it took me so long to realize what was happening. I noticed that your face was pale and pinched while we were at Chuck E. Cheese's. But I wasn't sure what was happening. I thought maybe you just needed more blood," he said quietly. "And then I recalled that it got the same way when she was having her headache in the yard and it stopped. " Paul paused for a minute, and then asked delicately, "To make her not feel it, you have to?"

  Jeanne Louise sighed and shrugged her shoulders. "I have to be in her head and that's where the pain is. To mask it I have to stay there. "

  "You said it's instinctual, that you do the same thing when biting people . . . so when you bite people you feel their pain too?"

  "That pain isn't in their head. Usually it's in the neck," she murmured, and then frowned and said, "Although pain receptors are in the head. " Jeanne Louise puzzled over that briefly and then admitted, "I don't know how it works, Paul. Like I said, it's instinct more than anything else. "

  "Usually it's in the neck?" Paul asked, sounding perplexed. "Are there other places you can bite?"

  "Sure, anywhere the veins are strong and close to the surface. The crook of the elbow, the wrist, the genitals, the ankle . . . " She shrugged. "There are loads of places you can bite a person. "

  "The genitals?" Paul asked with disbelief.

  Jeanne Louise grimaced, aware that she was suddenly blushing, but said, "Some used to swear it was the best place to bite. No one is likely to see the marks. "

  "Right," he muttered, and then fell silent for a while. She suspected he was thinking about her biting someone in the genitals. Men tended to have one-track minds, at least the men she'd read did.

  "Do you want an aspirin or something?" Paul asked suddenly. "I think I have a bottle in the glove compartment. Or if you need something stronger, the bag in the backseat has Livy's meds, including some pretty powerful ones for pain. " He frowned and added in a mutter, "Though they don't help her much. "

  "No, I'm okay," Jeanne Louise assured him. It wasn't completely true. Her head still hurt, but mortal medicines weren't likely to help. The nanos would just see them as foreign substances to be removed from the body, which would use up more blood and no doubt increase her discomfort. She'd have to feed soon though if she wanted to be pain free, and she'd have to do it off the hoof. She would actually have to bite a mortal to feed, a practice that was forbidden except in emergencies where blood banks weren't accessible.

  This counted as an emergency, Jeanne Louise decided and hoped the council would see it that way too. However, they might argue that all she had to do was make Paul take her to the Enforcer house or anywhere else where she could get blood.

  "You know," Paul mused, "When I was a kid, my parents used to rent a cottage on Lake Huron, a little place this side of the Kettle Point Indian reserve. Ipperwash. I've often thought I should take Livy there. "

  "That's what? Two or three hours southwest of here?" Jeanne Louise asked.

  "About that," he agreed.

  Jeanne Louise considered it. The beach would be busy this time of year, crawling with mortals. It would make it difficult for the Enforcers to grab them without drawing attention if they tracked them down. It would also make it easier for her to feed wit
h so many snack options available, and it was looking like she might be feeding off the hoof for a while. At least until she sorted out things with Paul, had got him to agree to be her life mate, had turned him, had him turn Livy, and had returned to town to see what they could do to mitigate the trouble Paul was in.

  She was hoping that if Paul was turned before he was caught that it might make a difference. The fact that he was her life mate and one of them should help. She hoped. It was the only reason she would even consider turning him on her own without drugs and IVs to aid in the endeavor. But she might not have to do without those items. A visit to the nearest hospital and a little mind control would get her anything she needed. Except for the specialized drugs developed in R and D, she acknowledged unhappily, but then decided she would worry about that when the time came.

  "Sounds good," she said finally.
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