The bite before christma.., p.6
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       The Bite Before Christmas, p.6

         Part #15.50 of Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands
THE GIFT Chapter Six


  Teddy woke up warm in a bed with just a sheet covering him to the waist and a mess of blankets gathered below his feet where he'd kicked them off. This was how he was used to waking up. However, he didn't recognize the room he was in. The light was on, revealing soothing pale blue walls similar to his bedroom at home, but the furnishings were all wrong. The two dressers and bedside tables were all a light wood, the windows were covered by ice-blue blinds instead of his own, darker blue drapes, and the bed he was in was king-size and damned comfortable.

  He also wasn't alone in the bed, Teddy noted, peering at the woman lying beside him in bed. Katricia in the overlarge T-shirt she'd been wearing in their shared dream. Even as he peered at her, she murmured sleepily and rolled toward him, flinging her arm over his chest, a chest that didn't have gray hair sprouting out of it, he realized and lifted his head to look himself over. His chest was wide, his pecs defined, his stomach flat and missing the bit of a pot belly he'd gained over the last couple of years as age crept up on him. Now his skin stretched tight over muscle and bone, and a light mat of dark hair had replaced the gray hair on his chest, as well as on his arms . . . and his legs, he saw, shifting one out from under the sheet. His arms and legs were also as taut and sculpted, as they'd been when he was younger.

  And he wasn't feeling a single ache or pain. Normally, he woke up to a stiffness that settled in while he slept, and it took a bit of time and some moving around for that to pass. He wasn't suffering it now though. In fact, he felt damned good. Full of energy and . . . hell, he had a morning stiffy, too. Hadn't had one of those in a while, he thought with a grin.

  That was when Teddy realized he was dreaming again. Must have passed out, he thought. He was probably still slouched in the kitchen chair with Katricia working over him, trying to save his life. It couldn't be a shared dream, because while Katricia was wearing the same T-shirt, he'd still been his sixty-four-year-old self, not the strong, healthy specimen he'd been as a soldier. So he had to be having his own dream now.

  Either that or he was dead and this was heaven, Teddy supposed. He wouldn't have thought he could have Katricia with him in heaven, since she was probably still alive, but he guessed maybe you got what you wanted in heaven, and if so, this would be it. Katricia and a bed. Teddy was pretty sure that was definitely heaven for him.

  The thought made him smile faintly. Just a day ago, he would have said that heaven to him would have been a nice walk through the woods with Elvi, like they used to do as teenagers. What a difference a day could make, he thought wryly and then glanced down to Katricia as she murmured sleepily and shifted her leg along his under the sheet. Her bare leg against his bare leg, he noted with interest. He wasn't the only one interested in this fact. Little Teddy showed his own fascination by perking up as if trying to look around under the sheet.

  Teddy lowered the hand that had been resting up by his head and ran it lightly over Katricia's back on top of the T-shirt. The light touch made her sigh and start to roll into it, and he quickly lifted his arm away to keep it from being trapped against the bed as she rolled onto her back. When she then lay still, he eased onto his side and peered at her. She looked sweet and innocent in her sleep, with none of the wicked humor that often peeked out of her expression when she was teasing him. He actually kind of missed that. Teddy liked that streak of naughtiness in her, the sexy smiles, the teasing glint in the eyes as her gaze raked his body, the unapologetic glee in her expression as she hit him with a snowball or trounced him in cards. The uninhibited pleasure she had expressed over the simple fare they'd had to eat, and the pleasure they'd briefly experienced in their shared dream.

  Katricia brought the young Teddy out in him, the man who enjoyed life and wasn't so burdened down with responsibilities. He'd grown cynical after years of being a cop, but she made him feel like the world could be a good place. She made him feel alive again . . . which was pretty ironic, since he was probably dead, he supposed. But it was hard to care much about that when he was here with her. Whether it was a dream or heaven, he didn't care. He was ready to enjoy it.

  Smiling, Teddy plucked at the sheet covering them both from the waist down and drew it slowly away until her bare legs were revealed. He then kicked it off himself as well as he gazed over her. Teddy had noted before that she had an athlete's body, and now found himself unable to resist sliding his hand over the top of her near leg, starting just above the knee and running it up to the hem of her T-shirt where it ended at the top of her thighs.

  Katricia breathed out a little sigh and shifted onto her side again, facing him as his fingers drifted over the taut, muscled leg.

  She could have been a runner, he thought, moving his hand from the leg that was now closest to the bed and shifting it to rest on her upper leg. He slid it upward to her hip, pushing the T-shirt ahead of it, and his gaze skated over every inch of skin revealed as he continued to push the light cloth upward. It was large and loose, and he'd pushed the cloth up to the underside of her breast before she moaned and rolled onto her back.

  Teddy followed, bending over her to claim the far nipple as his fingers pushed the cotton over the mound. He drew it between his lips and suckled at it, his eyes widening incredulously as the action sent pleasure tingling through his own body. It made him suckle harder, and then graze it with his teeth, which just intensified the sensations running through him, and he moaned, vaguely aware of Katricia releasing a sleepy moan of her own.

  Releasing her nipple, he lifted his head to peer at her, but she was still asleep. Her mouth was parted now though, and her breathing was shallow. Watching her face, he slid his hand to her breast, covered it, and gently squeezed, then squeezed again before catching the nipple between thumb and forefinger and tweaking it lightly.

  Katricia moaned again, her head turning on the pillow, and Teddy had to bite his lip to keep from moaning with her. Damn, he was experiencing her pleasure, he realized. Like a life mate was supposed to be able to do. This had to be heaven, he decided and lowered his head to her other breast and began to minister to it with his mouth as his hand released her first breast and slid down across her stomach to dip between her legs. She was warm and already wet. He wasn't surprised; little Teddy was certainly excited by the sensations coursing through them. The little trooper was already standing at attention, but straightened even more as Teddy slid his fingers over Katricia's damp skin, sending shaft after shaft of pleasure through them both, exciting them further.

  Teddy had been with a lot of women in his day and had always considered himself a generous lover, but damn, he hadn't realized just how good he was. It was no damned wonder he'd never wanted for female companionship.

  The arrogant thought ran through his head as he let his mouth explore her body, laving and nipping his way from one breast to the other, but he stopped thinking altogether and simply allowed himself to feel and experience as his mouth followed the path his hand had taken and began to lick its way down her stomach.

  Katricia woke up gasping for air and making little panting squeaks of sound. Her body was burning up from a fire centered between her legs. For one moment, she simply lay there, staring at the ceiling of the bedroom in her cousin's cottage as wave after wave of passion poured over her, but then she recalled how she'd got there and why and concern pushed enough of the passion aside to allow her to look for Teddy.

  She supposed she shouldn't have been surprised to find his head buried between her legs, causing the fire eating her alive; nothing and no one else had made her burn like he did. But Katricia was surprised. She'd sat up with him for more than twenty-four hours as he'd gone through the turn, feeding him bag after bag of blood to get him through it, terrified through most of it that between his age, the injury he'd sustained, and the amount of blood he'd lost he wouldn't survive. When the worst of it was over and he still lived, Katricia had finally allowed herself to sleep, but she'd climbed into bed next to him to be sure he di
dn't wake up alone and confused. The last thing she'd expected was to find him-

  "Oh God," she gasped, her thoughts scattering as Teddy pushed a finger up into her even as he continued with what he was doing. The pleasure that rolled through her then was so overwhelming it was almost terrifying. It was too much. She couldn't-

  "Teddy!" Katricia cried, grabbing his hair and tugging almost viciously in her desperation to make him stop. She couldn't catch her breath and felt like she was drowning in the pleasure he was causing. It was slamming through her body and crashing into her brain in repeated, pitiless waves, and then he responded to her tugging, stopped what he was doing, and rose up, moving up her body. But her respite was short-lived, because then he was sliding into her even as his lips claimed hers.

  Katricia groaned into his mouth. It had been a long time since anyone had been inside her body and he felt so damned good there. Her arms and legs wrapped around his shoulders and hips, and she held on for dear life as he thrust into her. If she was going to drown, at least she wouldn't go alone, Katricia thought, clinging to him with everything she had, even her lips. Her mouth was almost suctioned to his until he broke their kiss and moved his lips to her ear, muttering, "You smell so damned good. "

  Katricia merely groaned and nuzzled his ear back, nipping at it as his body pounded into hers. When she felt his teeth sink into her neck, her eyes blinked open with surprise, and then she screamed as a final, redoubled wave of pleasure crashed through her, a tsunami that rolled through her mind, dragging it under to the murky depths.

  Katricia woke up some time later and opened her eyes to find herself peering over a blood bag at Justin Bricker's smiling face. Frowning around the bag in her mouth, she half sat up, and then paused to catch the sheet that started to slip off of her naked body. Glancing around, she saw Teddy lying on his back next to her, with Anders holding a bag to his mouth as well. He was still unconscious.

  "You let him bite you. "

  Katricia turned to peer at Bricker at that comment. He actually tsked as he said it, and she scowled at him around the bag. She hadn't let Teddy bite her, he'd caught her by surprise. Not that she'd minded. It had been . . . well. . .

  "Well, indeed," Bricker said dryly, obviously reading her mind. "But he's new to this and doesn't know when to stop biting. You'll have to explain that it's not good to bite until his turn is done. And then when he does bite, it should be more of a love bite than an actual bite-and-suck. Cripes, he must have taken a quart from you before he lost consciousness. You were both dead to the world when we checked on you and this is the third bag of blood I've given you. "

  Katricia frowned at this news, and then, realizing the bag was empty, tore it from her mouth and glanced to Teddy again, asking, "Is he all right?"

  "He'll be fine. He just needs a couple more bags and he should be good," Bricker said soothingly, handing her another bag. "He's still turning, and taking in your nanos when he bit you . . . Well, you know that's not good. "

  Katricia nodded and slapped the bag of blood to her fangs. Every immortal had a certain number of nanos in their body, the perfect amount to keep them at their peak condition. It was the first things the nanos did on entering a new host: they assessed the situation and began to use up blood to reproduce, while at the same time repairing any life-threatening injury the host might have, and then they started right into the major changes. It was a painful process, and she'd had to watch Teddy writhe and scream for nearly a full night and day as he went through the worst of it.

  But Teddy wasn't fully through the turn yet. There were still changes to be made in his body and it would continue for several days or even weeks. During that time, he would need extra blood to sustain the changes . . . and adding to that burden wasn't good. That was what Teddy had done by biting her. He'd taken her nanos into his body. Suddenly infusing himself with more of them had forced his own nanos to work extra hard to process them, using extra blood. In the meantime, until eradicated, the extra nanos had been using up blood as well. This wasn't a good thing for any immortal, really, but it was very bad for a new turn still in the process.

  As for her, he'd definitely taken an unhealthy amount of blood from her if she'd needed three bags to even regain consciousness. She would have to explain these things to him so he didn't do it again while they were alone. It wouldn't have killed them, but it would have left them incapacitated until someone came along and found them. Fortunately, Bricker and Anders were still here to assist them this time, but-

  "He's coming around. "

  Katricia glanced to Anders at that announcement to see him removing the latest bag from Teddy's mouth. Her gaze slid over Teddy's face, noting that his eyelids were twitching as if his eyes were moving under them.

  "It's late. Nearly dawn. Is there anything you want before we retire?" Bricker asked, taking her empty bag from her when she removed it from her teeth.

  Katricia shook her head and forced her eyes away from Teddy to offer the two men a smile as they moved to the foot of the bed. "No. Thank you, though. "

  Bricker nodded and turned to lead the way to the door, saying, "We'll leave the cooler here for now in case you need it again. We'll check with you before we leave at sunset. "

  Katricia nodded, but her eyes had already returned to Teddy and she heard rather than saw the two men leave the room. The sound of the door closing was what brought Teddy's eyes open. He peered at her blankly for a moment, and then glanced around the room with a moment's confusion before relaxing.

  "For a minute I forgot," he admitted wryly, sitting up beside her.

  "Forgot what?" Katricia asked uncertainly as he leaned to press a kiss to her shoulder.

  "That I was dead," he murmured, following his kiss up with a nip before moving his lips to her ear.

  "Dead?" she asked, pulling back with surprise.

  "Mmm," he murmured, simply following to continue.

  "But Teddy, you're not dead," Katricia said on a half-breathless laugh.

  "Yes I am. And this is heaven," he assured her, turning his head to claim her lips now.

  For a minute, Katricia simply couldn't speak. It was hard to speak with two tongues in your mouth, but when his hands began to roam over her body, she forced herself to break their kiss and pull back. Her voice firm, she said, "Teddy, you're not dead. This isn't heaven. I- Why would you think this was heaven?" she interrupted herself to ask suddenly.

  "You, me, and a bed? It's heaven," he argued, nibbling on her ear again.

  "You, me, and a bed, and not you and Elvi?" she asked with surprise.

  Teddy pulled back to peer at her with amusement. "Do you see Elvi here? We didn't have that kind of relationship. She was . . . " He paused for a moment, as if searching for the words, and then frowned, his gaze sliding to her as he said, "Hey, this is my version of heaven. How come you get to ruin it with talk?"

  "Because it isn't heaven," Katricia said firmly. "Now finish what you were saying. What was Elvi to you?"

  He scowled at the question, his silver-gray eyes flashing with irritation, and then sighed and dropped back in the bed. "Fine. Elvi was . . . well she was kind of the ideal woman. The good girl, the good wife, the good mother. She was . . . good," Teddy finished helplessly, and then grimaced and added dryly, "Probably still is I guess. I'm the one who's dead. "

  "You're not dead," Katricia repeated, but her words were distracted, her thoughts on what he'd just said. "So, she was good. Kind of like a Madonna figure to you? Not-"

  "Not a real woman like you," he interrupted, sitting up impatiently. "Now can we get back to my heaven?"

  "No, wait," she said, pulling back when he reached for her again. "What's a real woman to you?"

  Teddy sighed with resignation. "Someone who fires your blood, challenges your mind, keeps you on your toes, and has your back. A partner in every sense of the word. "

  "And you think I'm that? Already?" Katricia asked with surprise.

nbsp; "I know you are," he said simply and when she just stared at him, he shook his head and said, "Who scared the bear off when I was battling him?"

  "Me," she said with a frown.

  "Another woman would have run inside and watched through the window while I took care of business. But you had my back and you used your brain to do it," Teddy pointed out with a nod, and then asked, "Who brained me with a snowball, and then smacked me with a dish towel and splashed me with water while we were doing dishes and just basically took every opportunity to have at me in a playful manner?"

  "Ah," Katricia murmured, biting her lip guiltily.

  "You keep me on my toes," Teddy said with a grin for her discomfort. "You have a sharp mind and are quick with comebacks. I don't know how many times today you won debates let alone card games. "

  "And I fire your blood," she whispered.

  He nodded solemnly. "Yes, ma'am, you surely do. Little Teddy's been doing calisthenics all day since meeting you and he hasn't been this active in a very long time. Now, can we stop all this touchy-feely talking stuff and give him the workout he's begging for?"

  "Begging for?" Katricia asked with husky amusement.

  "Yes, begging, and if you don't mind my saying so I don't think I should have to beg in heaven. "

  "Teddy," she said with exasperation, clasping his face in both hands. "You are not dead. I turned you. "

  He stared at her for a full moment, expression blank, and then blinked and asked, "Turned me?"

  She nodded apologetically and rushed out, "I know I should have asked you first, but you were dying. I couldn't let that happen. And your only protest when I brought it up was blood, so I turned you. "

  His eyebrows rose, and then he pulled his face free of her hands and glanced around. "But this room. It's not-"

  "This is the master bedroom of Decker's cottage. The cottage next door to yours," she added in explanation. "It's my cousin, Decker's. Bricker and Anders helped me bring you here after the turn. "

  "Bricker and Anders?" Teddy asked with a frown. "I know Anders. He's an enforcer. But who's Bricker?"

  "Bricker's an enforcer, too," she explained and then added, "When you passed out I called Aunt Marguerite. I was in a panic. You were dying and I needed to turn you, but the blood hadn't arrived yet. Fortunately, the blood courier arrived on snowmobile with the blood, gas, and food while I was talking to her. I turned you and he helped me strap you to the kitchen table to keep you from hurting yourself and then stayed to help watch over you until Bricker and Anders arrived. Lucian sent them up. Marguerite called him as soon as I hung up, and he arranged for them to bring more blood, men to clear the trees away, and a snow mover to clear the road so that the men could work on the power lines. "

  "The power's on," Teddy said with realization, lifting his gaze to the light on overhead.

  Katricia nodded. "It was on by the time the worst of your turn was over. In both cottages. "

  "Then why bring me?" he asked with a frown.

  "Because this one has the generator and there's gas now. Another storm is supposed to hit tonight. If the power goes out again, we'll still be good here. "

  "Smart," he murmured, smiling at her.

  Katricia smiled back. "I thought so. "

  Teddy reached up to caress her cheek, but paused when he saw his hand. He released her and turned it over in front of his face, inspecting it. "No wrinkles, no liver spots. "

  "You're at your peak," Katricia said gently. "Your body is that of a twenty-five-year-old. "

  He nodded absently, his gaze dropping to his chest and legs, and then he glanced around the room until his gaze landed on the dresser mirror. He stared at their reflection silently and she turned to look, too, seeing the two of them reflected side by side on the bed, a young-looking blond woman and an equally young-looking dark-haired male. She was startled though when he suddenly lunged off the bed and walked over to stand in front of the mirror, then leaned in to look more closely at his face.

  Katricia hesitated, then followed, shifting off the bed to walk up behind him.

  "Christ, I haven't seen this guy looking back at me from the mirror in decades," Teddy muttered, running one hand over the dark stubble on his cheeks and leaning in closer to examine his eyes. "My eyes are silver. "

  "They were gray before the turn, they're silver-gray now," Katricia murmured, sliding her arms around his waist from behind as he straightened.

  "My hair's fuller again, too," Teddy murmured, covering her hands with his, then pulling them apart to use one to tug her around in front of him. She thought he meant to pull her into his arms, but he turned her so her back was to him, and then slid his own arms around her waist to hold her in place in front of him so they could peer at their reflections. She was peering at his face, but could see his eyes moving down on the mirror traveling over her body in the reflection.

  "I like your body," he said suddenly.

  Katricia actually felt herself blush, saw it, too, and found it rather surprising. She'd thought herself well beyond blushing by now. She'd also thought she didn't have any body issues, but suddenly blurted, "My breasts are small. "

  His hands left her waist to travel up and close over the small globes and he growled, "They're perfect. "

  Katricia arched slightly at his touch, her body grinding against the growing hardness pressing against her bottom as he squeezed and kneaded her breasts, and then he concentrated on the nipples, running his fingers over the stiffening tips before catching and squeezing them gently.

  "I love the sounds you make," Teddy muttered, lowering his head to kiss her neck.

  Katricia blinked open eyes she hadn't realized she'd closed and gasped, "What sounds?"

  In response, Teddy let one hand drop away from her breast to slide down between her legs and Katricia gasped, then groaned and pressed harder back against him as he began to caress her there.

  "Those sounds," he whispered, licking her neck.

  Feeling his fangs scrape her skin, she moaned, "No biting. "

  "Hmm?" he asked, slipping one finger inside her.

  "No biting," Katricia gasped out, covering his hand with hers and managing, "It's- It's just bad for you. I'll explain why later. "

  "No biting," Teddy agreed, and then suddenly retrieved his hand from between her legs to scoop her up and carry her to the bed. He set her down on it, but didn't immediately follow her down. Instead, he caught one foot and raised it to press a kiss to her instep. He then nipped at it, his other hand sliding up her calf to rest behind her knee. "I like your legs too. They're strong and shapely. "

  "Oh," Katricia said breathlessly as his lips followed the path his hand had, sliding up the side of her calf. She gasped and writhed a little when he then dipped his head to lick at the back of her knee.

  "You like that," Teddy growled and licked at the crease again, making her writhe some more. Smiling, he slowly let her leg lower, only to raise the other. "This shared-pleasure business is the bomb, as the kids back home would say. "

  Katricia gave a breathless laugh, but bit her lip as he licked behind that knee as well, sending up a whole new flutter of pleasure through her.

  "What else do you like?" he asked, arching his eyebrow in question and letting the fingers of one hand skate along her thigh.

  "Come here and I'll tell you," she whispered, holding up her hands.

  Teddy hesitated, but then set her leg back down and climbed on the bed, crawling up between her legs. He slowed as his face drew level with the apex of her thighs, but she caught his arms and urged him to continue up until he knelt on all fours over her, with his knees between her legs and his hands bracing him on either side of her shoulders.

  "Tell me what you like," he whispered, bending his head and ducking slightly to lick teasingly at the nipple of one breast.

  "I like you," Katricia said simply, and then swept her leg against his knees, and raised her hand to push on his on
e shoulder, knocking him off balance. He fell to the bed beside her with a startled "oomph" and she immediately rolled and then rose up to straddle him. Katricia came to rest with his manhood pressed flat to his stomach beneath her and grinned wickedly at his surprised expression as she challenged, "What do you like?"

  Teddy smiled, then caught her at the hips and slid her forward along his length and back, caressing them both with the move. "I like whipped cream. "

  Katricia blinked in confusion, her hands reaching to clasp his arms to steady herself as he slid her along his body again. Gasping at the pleasure shooting through her, she asked uncertainly, "Whipped cream?"

  "Mmm. " He raised one hand to caress a breast, adding, "I'd like to spread it all over your body and lick it off. " Teddy then grinned and added, "Don't need to worry about my high cholesterol now. "

  Katricia laughed breathlessly, and arched into his touch, sliding herself over the hardness she rested on. But her amusement faded quickly, and she groaned when his other hand slid between them for a more targeted caress. She closed her eyes briefly as he touched her, but then lifted herself slightly and reached down to guide him into her before settling back down with a long groan that he echoed.

  "Christ, Katricia, you feel so damned good," Teddy growled as he was buried inside her to the hilt.

  "So do you," she breathed, raising and lowering herself again, and then he released her breasts and gave up caressing her to catch her by the arms and drag her down to claim her mouth. Katricia kissed him back, her hips still moving on him, her nipples tightening even further as they brushed across the coarse hairs of his chest, and then he rolled them both, coming out on top. Teddy broke their kiss then and rose up slightly, his hand reaching for her one leg. Catching her behind the calf, he lifted it and brought it in front of him so that her ankle was by his face, then held on to her thigh and kissed her instep as he continued to thrust into her, pounding into her with a need that was almost violent.

  Katricia immediately wrapped her other leg around his hips to help, and then grabbed the bedsheets and tore at them as he drove them both the few short steps needed before satisfaction and unconsciousness claimed them.
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