The lady is a vamp, p.6
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       The Lady is a Vamp, p.6

         Part #17 of Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands
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Chapter Six

 

  "Jeanie?"

  Jeanne Louise stirred slowly and opened her eyes to find Paul leaning over her. Blinking sleepily, she peered around, her hand automatically tightening on the bundle of fur in her lap as Boomer too began to stir. The car was stopped. They were parked in a big, busy Walmart parking lot. Obviously she'd dozed off and they'd reached the Kitchener/Waterloo area. Or maybe Cambridge. She wasn't sure which.

  "I was going to let you sleep while I ran in to get you some clothes, but I don't know what size you wear," Paul explained, sitting back in his seat so that she could sit up.

  "Oh. " She smiled around a yawn and then shook her head. "I'll get them. "

  "Uh, well, it's maybe better if you don't. You might draw some attention like that," he pointed out gently.

  Jeanne Louise glanced down at herself and frowned as she noted the mud-streaked front of her clothes. She was dry now, at least, but the mud hadn't evaporated with the damp. She would definitely draw attention. Sighing with resignation, she nodded. "Size six most of the time, but sometimes an eight. " When confusion entered his face, she chuckled. "Different manufacturers fit differently. Just go with six. "

  Nodding, Paul glanced in the backseat.

  "I'll be here," she reassured him. "And I'm awake now. "

  "Thanks," he murmured, and then reached for the door handle and slid out, saying, "I'll be as quick as I can. "

  "Okay," Jeanne Louise said just before he closed the door. She watched him walk away from the car, and then glanced at the cars around them. He'd parked at the back of the lot, but still among the other cars rather than off alone. The parking lot was surprisingly busy for this hour. By her guess it must be nearly nine o'clock. Most Walmarts stayed open until eleven though.

  A sleepy murmur from Livy drew her attention and Jeanne Louise shifted to glance in the back. The girl was still asleep, however. Her color was good, her cheeks actually a little rosy. Two meals and some time to be a child at Chuck E. Cheese's had done her good. She needed a couple more days of eating and having fun to rebuild her strength though before it would be safe to turn her.

  Jeanne Louise settled back in her seat, her hand automatically holding Boomer in place as she did. When he gave her hand a wet swipe with his tongue, she smiled at the animal, and ruffled his ears. He was a good dog and had apparently slept the whole time she had, Jeanne Louise thought and then glanced after Paul, wishing she'd thought to tell him to get some dog food for the poor animal. They hadn't fed him before going out for supper. She supposed Paul had intended to when they got back, but instead they were driving around looking for somewhere to hide. And the dog still hadn't eaten.

  Her attention was distracted from that thought by the sight of a family walking up the row of cars, bags in hand. Two young children were chattering away to a weary-looking mother and father as they were herded toward a small minivan across the aisle and a couple cars up. Jeanne Louise watched the parents stow the bags and kids in the van and then get in themselves, and grimaced as her fangs tried to slide out.

  She was hungry, and not for food. Her belly was still happily full of pizza. It was blood her body wanted and the need was beginning to gnaw at her. She had to feed soon. That thought in mind, Jeanne Louise let her gaze slide over the people moving back and forth in the parking lot, some returning to cars, some leaving them to head into the store. Most seemed to be in groups or at least pairs. In fact, several minutes passed before she spotted a man on his own. Her eyes narrowed on him, considering. He was young, perhaps in his early twenties with short preppy blond hair and an athletic build. Healthy-looking.

  Jeanne Louise automatically reached for the door handle and then recalled Boomer in her lap. Pausing, she bit her lip and peered down at the dog. He was awake and lying nicely in her lap, but she couldn't guarantee that he wouldn't hop into the backseat and disturb Livy if she left him in the car.

  Her gaze slid back to the young man. He was slowing as he approached the car across from Paul's, a small, sporty red coupe. Feeling her fangs slide down and out again, she forced them back once more, but then reached for the door and this time opened it.

  Jeanne Louise took Boomer with her as she slid out of the front seat. Holding the dog to her chest with one hand, she eased the door carefully closed to keep from waking Livy and then turned to peer at the young man again.

  He had opened the driver's door of his car and was about to slide behind the wheel. Jeanne Louise didn't speak, simply slipped into his thoughts and took control of him. It was as easy as poking a finger in soft butter. Unlike Paul, the man was as malleable as mud.

  Smiling to herself, Jeanne Louise made him close his door and cross the aisle to her. His expression was blank when she brought him to a halt in front of her. She took a moment to search his thoughts and be sure he hadn't been drinking or taken any drugs, and when she found he was clean, and in fact a health nut, she relaxed and made him bend toward her as if about to kiss her. But at the last minute she made him turn his head.

  To anyone watching it would look like they were merely embracing and she was nuzzling his neck, Jeanne Louise thought, as she braced her hand on his chest. She raised up on her toes, let her teeth slip out and-

  "Jeanne Louise?"

  She turned instinctively at that questioning voice, not thinking to retract her fangs until she saw the way Paul's entire expression froze. Cursing herself for not thinking to check the parking lot before making her move, Jeanne Louise quickly let her teeth slide back into place and removed her hand from the man she'd been about to bite. She stayed inside his head, though, sensible enough not to release him yet.

  "Paul, I-"

  "You were going to bite him," he hissed accusingly as he moved up to join them between his car and the sedan next to it.

  Jeanne Louise didn't bother trying to deny it. She raised her head, straightened her shoulders, and said with simple dignity, "I need to feed, Paul. "

  His mouth thinned, and then he glanced sharply to her intended dinner. His eyebrows immediately drew together as he took in the blank expression on his face. "What have you done to him?"

  Jeanne Louise grimaced. Now she'd have to explain things she hadn't wanted to explain. Buying herself some time, she said, "Hang on," then turned her full attention to the man again and sent him walking back to his car. She had him get in, and then took a moment to make sure he didn't recall his brief detour to her side, before releasing him.

  They both watched silently as he started his engine, but the moment he drove away, Paul turned on her again, eyebrows raised. "Well?"

  Jeanne Louise glanced around at the busy parking lot and suggested, "Maybe we should discuss this in the car. "

  "Oh, right. Now you're worried about the busy parking lot?" he asked dryly. "A minute ago you were playing Vampirella out here without a single worry about who saw, but now you want to talk in the car?"

  "I wasn't playing Vampirella," she said with a sigh. "I didn't even get to bite him. You interrupted before I could. "

  "Well, good," Paul snapped. "Because you aren't going to be biting anyone while you're with me. "

  "I have to feed, Paul," Jeanne Louise said, trying to remain patient. "I need blood to survive. "

  "I thought you guys weren't allowed to feed off the hoof anymore?" he growled. "I thought you were restricted to bagged blood. "

  "We are," she said at once. "Except in cases of emergency and this is one. I can hardly stop by the Argeneau blood bank, or call in a delivery order, can I? You'd be taken into custody, and I can't-" She snapped her mouth closed and glanced over her shoulder at the sound of a door opening.

  A small sigh slid from Jeanne Louise's lips when she saw the older gentleman getting into the van parked behind Paul's car. The way he was eyeing them told her he'd heard what they were talking about. While he looked a little confused, even having heard what he had without understanding it was bad enough so she slipped into t
he man's thoughts and rearranged them a bit, then turned to Paul. "We need to leave. "

  This time he didn't protest, but opened the car door with a jerk. He waited until she had folded herself inside with Boomer, and then dropped the huge bag of purchases he'd been holding by her feet and slammed the door. The sound, of course, stirred Livy from sleep and this time the headache wasn't gone. The child woke with a cry of pain and immediately started weeping miserably. It made Jeanne Louise glare at Paul when he opened the driver's door and slid in. Shoving the dog at him, she opened her door again and got out.

  "Where are you going?" Paul growled.

  Jeanne Louise ignored him and slammed the door closed, then opened the back door, and undid Livy's seat belt.

  "It's okay, sweetie," she cooed, lifting her out into her arms. She hugged her close, kissed her forehead, and then forced herself to slip into the girl's mind to help her with the pain. Excruciating agony immediately exploded inside her head and Jeanne Louise leaned heavily against the side of the car, clutching instinctively at the child to keep from dropping her as she tried to cope with it. It was so overwhelming this time that she didn't even notice Paul getting out of the car and coming around to join them.

  "Put her to sleep," he ordered, taking the girl from her, but it took a moment for his words to make it through to her beleaguered brain. "Jeanie?"

  She forced her eyes open, squinted at Livy and put her to sleep. It was an effort this time. The pain was really bad. She'd thought the first two headaches had been horrible, but this was unbearable. Jeanne Louise couldn't even think with her head hammering as it was and it took a moment for her to remember how to make the child sleep. She also had to wait longer this time before she was sure Livy's mind was flooding with endorphins to stop the pain receptors from receiving the pain, then she finally slipped free of the child's mind with relief.

  Groaning, Jeanne Louise then pressed her hands to her forehead and turned to lean her cheek wearily on the roof of the car. She heard the front door open, and raised her head to peer around, then quickly slipped into the girl's thoughts to keep her from waking as Paul settled her in the front seat and buckled her in. It was a good thing she had because Boomer immediately decided that he should sit on Livy. His climbing on the girl would have woken her if Jeanne Louise hadn't slipped back into her thoughts.

  Paul scooped up the dog, and then grabbed the bag of clothes as well. The moment he straightened and closed the door, she freed herself from Livy's mind and leaned on the roof of the car again.

  "Come," Paul said quietly. He urged her out of the way, opened the back door and ushered her in. Jeanne Louise slipped into the backseat. She took the dog when he handed him to her, then the bag of clothes as well, and simply leaned her head back on the seat and closed her eyes. It was Paul who did up her seat belt for her. She didn't even have the energy to thank him.

  Jeanne Louise was vaguely aware of his closing the door, quietly, she noted. Apparently he'd learned his lesson from the first door slamming. Then she heard the front driver's door open and the engine start. She merely clutched the dog and bag to her stomach and stayed where she was as he shifted into gear and steered them out of their parking spot.

  Jeanne Louise didn't think she'd ever felt so exhausted and spent in her life. Her head was still throbbing, the earlier dull ache a fond memory, and without blood, she knew it wouldn't improve. She simply leaned back in the seat, trying to keep from vomiting from the pain as he drove.

  Consumed by that effort as she was, Jeanne Louise couldn't have said how long he drove before the car stopped again. She didn't care either, and stayed where she was as Paul got out of the car. When the door beside her opened again, she didn't react until she felt Paul digging through the bag on her lap. Forcing her eyes open, she lifted her head a bit, just in time to see him retrieve a leash from the bag. He then shifted the bag off her lap to the car seat, before snapping the leash to Boomer's collar.

  "Can you walk?" he asked in a hushed whisper.

  Jeanne Louise grimaced, but nodded.

  Paul lifted Boomer off her lap. Holding him under one arm, he unsnapped her seat belt, and then offered Jeanne Louise his hand to get out.

  She scowled at him, still angry that he'd woken Livy and put both his daughter and herself through that agony. But then she accepted his offered hand and slid her feet out of the car.

  Paul eased the door closed as soundlessly as possible once she stood beside him, then turned to usher her away from the vehicle.

  Jeanne Louise reluctantly peered around, surprised to see he'd brought them to a park. He led her to a picnic table, saw her seated, then tied the end of the long leash to the picnic table leg and moved back to sit beside her.

  "Bite me," he said grimly.

  "Same to you," she muttered irritably.

  Paul blinked, and then a surprised laugh slipped from his lips. "No. I wasn't-I mean, really go ahead and bite me, Jeanie. You need to feed. Feed on me. "

  "Oh," Jeanne Louise said on a sigh, and then frowned at him. "First you were upset with me because I was going to bite someone. Now you want me to bite you?"

  He grimaced and glanced away. "Yes, well . . . I shouldn't have reacted as I did. I guess I was a little jealous when I saw you cuddled up to that hunk in the parking lot. I suppose after that kiss earlier today I feel a little possessive. " Paul shrugged uncomfortably, and then rushed on, "Besides, you shouldn't have to feed on others. You're only without blood because I kidnapped you. If you have to bite anyone it should be me. No one else should have to pay. "

  Jeanne Louise stared at him through the growing gloom. The sun had long set, darkness taking its place. She hadn't even noticed that when he'd led her from the car, which said just what kind of shape she was in. And her state of mind was helping her with sorting out what he'd just said. He was a little jealous when he saw her with the man? He felt possessive after their kiss earlier that day? And he was admitting it? Wow. She thought that was kind of important but in her present state wasn't sure if it was in a good way or bad.

  "So, go ahead. " Paul shifted a little closer, and turned his head to offer her his neck.

  Jeanne Louise just stared at him. She couldn't just bite him. She couldn't control his thoughts. She'd hurt him if she couldn't keep him from feeling the pain. She wasn't willing to hurt him. She wanted to bite him though. Not to hurt him, but to feed. The way he'd twisted his neck left his vein exposed and throbbing. She could almost smell the blood pounding through his veins. Groaning, Jeanne Louise turned away. "I can't. "

  Paul was silent for a minute, and then said, "You were controlling that guy in the parking lot. "

  "I told you, we can keep them from feeling pain so that-"

  "You were controlling him, Jeanie," he interrupted grimly. "You weren't just keeping him from feeling pain. He didn't even seem to be there. It was like the lights were on but no one was home. He was walking, but he didn't seem conscious despite the fact that his eyes were open. "

  Jeanne Louise just nodded in defeat. There was no way to keep it from him now. "When we still hunted, it was a handy skill. "

  "So you were controlling him?"

  She grimaced. "Yes, Paul, I was controlling him. I submerged his will and overrode it with my own. He won't even remember crossing the parking lot. "

  "Have you ever done that to me?" he asked quietly.

  "No," she said wearily, watching Boomer chase his tail at the end of his chain.

  Paul let that go and muttered, "I didn't know your kind could do that. "

  Jeanne Louise shrugged. "Knowing we can do that would make mortals nervous, so we generally don't tell. "

  "Hmm," he said, and then glanced at her sharply. "Jesus, you could have taken control of me and made me release you at any time. " When she didn't comment, he asked, "Why didn't you?"

  "Because I can't control you, Paul," she admitted wearily.

  "You can't?" He frowned. "Wh
y?"

  Jeanne Louise shrugged and said vaguely, "It happens sometimes. "

  "But you can control Livy," he said. "That's what you're doing when you take the pain away and when you put her to sleep, right?"

  "Yes," she admitted.

  Paul nodded and then kicked his toe into the grass, before glancing at her and saying. "You're still terribly pale, Jeanie. You need blood. "

  "I can't bite you, Paul," she sighed and then added wryly, "Believe me, I wish I could. I do need blood. "

  "Well, then why can't you? You drank my blood at the house and it didn't seem to affect you adversely. "

  "It's not the blood itself," Jeanne Louise said on a short dry laugh, and then turned to peer at him. "I can't control you, Paul. I wouldn't be able to keep you from feeling the pain. It would hurt, and I won't hurt you. "

  "Ah, I see," he said with a nod of understanding, and then grimaced. "Well, perhaps it's what I deserve for kidnapping you in the first place. " He peered at her solemnly and said, "I really don't want you having to feed off of others because of what I did. Hurt or not, I'd rather you bit me than feed on innocents around us. "

  "Paul," she began unhappily, but he interrupted.

  "I'm serious, Jeanie. I would rather suffer the pain of your bite than have you bite others. So . . . " He tilted his head away from her, exposing his neck to her again. "Go on. Get it over with. "

  Jeanne Louise frowned at him, then shook her head and peered away, but her eyes quickly slid back. Damn, she was hungry. Her stomach felt like it was boiling with acid. And the muscles all over her body were beginning to cramp and ache as the nanos sucked blood from them to carry to the main organs. And if she didn't feed it would only get worse.

  "Not here. The car," she said abruptly and stood to walk back toward his vehicle. Silence reigned behind her for a moment and then she heard Paul murmuring to Boomer to wait where he was and take care of business, he'd be back for him in a moment.

  Jeanne Louise got into the backseat behind Livy. She left the door open for him, and slid along the seat, her mind racing over what she would have to do as she watched Paul approach. His steps slowed as he neared the car, some reluctance showing, but he straightened his shoulders and continued.

  "The door," she murmured when he slid onto the seat next to her, one foot still outside on the ground.

  Nodding grimly, Paul pulled his foot in and eased the door closed, and then tilted his head, offering his throat. Jeanne Louise rolled her eyes and immediately climbed to straddle his lap.

  Paul jerked in surprise and grasped her arms. "What-?"

  "Relax," she whispered, mindful of Livy asleep in the front seat. "I only know of one way to make it not hurt without controlling your mind. "

  "How's that?" he asked uncertainly.

  By infusing him with pleasure. If he was experiencing the shared pleasure life mates enjoyed, he would be less likely to suffer the pain of her fangs sinking into his flesh. Jeanne Louise didn't tell him that, though. She simply leaned forward and kissed him.

  After an initial stiffening, Paul relaxed under her caressing mouth and began to kiss her back. The moment he did the passion from earlier exploded between them. Jeanne Louise sighed her relief into his mouth and slipped her arms around his shoulders, her body instinctively pressing closer as her mouth opened to him. Paul accepted the invitation at once, his tongue thrusting out to caress hers even as his hands came up. One moved to her back, urging her closer still, while the other caught in her hair and tilted her head to a more comfortable angle.

  Jeanne Louise moaned as his tongue lashed hers, and then gasped as the hand at her back slipped around to find her breast through her muddy blouse. His hand kneaded the tender flesh and then began to tug at her blouse, trying to draw it down to reveal her bra. Jeanne Louise helped, quickly undoing her buttons and then groaning as he jerked the cup of her bra aside so that he could touch the nipple unhindered.

  When he broke their kiss to run his lips and tongue across her cheek to her ear, Jeanne Louise murmured eagerly and turned her head, offering it to him, then she tilted her head back, offering him her own throat as his mouth trailed down that. Paul didn't stop there. He found the hollow of her collarbone and sent shivers shimmying through her by nibbling there, then licked his way down her breast to her nipple.

  Jeanne Louise rose up slightly on his lap as his mouth closed over the hardened nub, her hands clutching at the hair behind each of his ears to urge him on. Hunger was rushing through her, a blend of his passion and need, hers and her need for blood. Jeanne Louise was briefly torn by the conflicting desires, but when she tilted her head back on a moan and felt her fangs slide out to prick her tongue, she raised her head abruptly to peer down at him.

  Paul's heart was beating in time to her own, his own need causing a hardness beneath her legs that was pushing against her with every shift of their bodies. Jeanne Louise ground herself down on the hardness, bringing a groan from his mouth that reverberated around her breast and then he tore his mouth from the nub he'd been lavishing and raised his face.

  The hand in her hair tugged her down as Paul sought her mouth again, but Jeanne Louise turned her head at the last moment and went for his throat. Her fangs sank into the soft flesh even as she again ground her pelvis against his hardness and Paul cried out, a sound muffled by her hand over his mouth. It was a cry of ecstasy not pain, but she couldn't risk Livy waking at this point, and Jeanne Louise kept his mouth covered as she fed, her pleasure in the act following the same connection as the shared pleasure and suffusing him.

  Paul bucked beneath her, his hands catching her hips to hold her in place as he ground himself against her in frantic need. She ground right back, the passion and pleasure in feeding comingling and overwhelming them both. Jeanne Louise was so caught up in the moment that she might have overfed and harmed him had someone not pounded on the window next to them.

  "For Christ's sake, get a room. This is a family park," someone barked, their voice muffled by the window.

  Jeanne Louise raised her head on a furious snarl and turned to glare at whoever had interrupted her meal, but the person, an elderly man, had already continued on, shaking his head and muttering about perverts and the youth today.

  She scowled after him, then glanced to Paul to see the dazed look on his face. Then Jeanne Louise twisted in his lap to peer over the front seat to Livy. Fortunately, the man's rude interruption hadn't woken the child.

  Sighing, Jeanne Louise turned back to Paul and frowned at how pale he was. She'd taken too much blood. It wasn't a dangerous amount. Still, it was more than she should have and he'd need time to recover. Realizing her fangs were still out, she retracted them, then eased off Paul's lap and glanced out the window. It was dark enough she could barely see Boomer where he remained tethered to the picnic table. She felt better though. Her headache was a dull ache again rather than a hammering, and many of her cramps and aches were gone. Her stomach was also just roiling now rather than taking an acid bath. She would need more blood to be back to full throttle, but Paul couldn't spare it.

  The thought made her glance to him. He was slumped on the backseat, his head back and eyes closed. Jeanne Louise suspected he'd fainted. Leaving him for now, she slid out of the car and started back to the picnic table to collect Boomer. She was just coming around the car when she noticed a man untying Boomer's leash from the table. Jeanne Louise put on immortal speed and rushed forward, making the man jump when she suddenly appeared at his side.

  "Oh. " He blinked with confusion and glanced around. "Is he yours? I was just checking on him. "

  Jeanne Louise's eyes narrowed. He was lying. He'd planned to take Boomer. He was one of those bastards who stole animals from backyards and playgrounds and sold them for animal experimentation. He'd been driving by with a van full of pets he'd stolen, but the sight of Boomer, seemingly unattended, had seemed too good to be true and he'd stopped to collect one more.

/>   Taking control of the man, she made him hand over Boomer's leash, then had him lead the way to his van. It was only ten feet away. He'd just pulled over to the side of the road when he'd seen Boomer, Jeanne Louise read from his mind. She had him open the back doors of the van and found herself peering over two rows of cages inside. There were eight of them altogether, four lining each side of the back of the van, and each holding at least two animals apiece, some cats and some dogs.

  Mouth tightening, Jeanne Louise made him pull out his cell phone and place an anonymous call to the police that a man with a van full of stolen goods was parked by the park. She then had to glance to the sign at the entrance to the park to be able to make him report which park.

  After making him put his phone away, Jeanne Louise caught him by the front of the shirt and jerked him down so she could sink her teeth into his jugular. He groaned as her fangs slid into his skin, but this groan wasn't one of pleasure. She didn't bother masking the pain for him, though he wouldn't remember suffering it. She was still masking his memory.

  This time Jeanne Louise deliberately took enough blood to put the man into a faint. She then turned with him and released his shirt so that he fell into the back of his van between the rows of cages. His feet were hanging out between the open doors, but she didn't bother about that and simply walked back to the car, leading Boomer.

  When Jeanne Louise opened the back door of the car, Boomer hopped in and curled up next to Paul. She then eased the door closed and got in the driver's seat. She was feeling pretty good now. She would drive the rest of the way to Ipperwash and let Paul sleep and recover.

  When Jeanne Louise pulled out of the parking lot a moment later, a police car was pulling up behind the van of stolen pets. The sight made her smile with satisfaction. There would be a lot of happy people getting their beloved pets back tonight. It totally negated any guilt she might have felt for biting the creep.
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