The lady is a vamp, p.7
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       The Lady is a Vamp, p.7

         Part #17 of Argeneau series by Lynsay Sands
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Chapter Seven

 

  "I'm thirsty, Jeanie. "

  "I bought some snacks when I checked us in, sweetie. I'll give you a drink as soon as I get you and Boomer into our motel room. Okay?"

  Paul blinked his eyes open as a click followed that soft voice. The click had been the car door closing, he saw, as he raised his head and glanced around in time to see Jeanne Louise leading Livy and Boomer to an open door in a long, low white building in front of the car.

  Giving his head a shake to clear it, Paul sat up and rubbed his hands wearily over his face. He was exhausted, and not sure why at first, and then he remembered being at the park, offering his neck to Jeanie and her leading him back to the car. He distinctly recalled her climbing onto his lap and . . .

  "Jesus," Paul muttered under his breath as what had followed ran through his head. They'd kissed twice now, and both times had been like nothing he'd ever experienced. It was as if his body exploded with desire when his lips met hers. He just went up in flames . . . and all his common sense apparently went out the window, because he'd been ready to strip her clothes off and take her right there in the backseat with Livy asleep in the front. The only thing that had stopped him was . . .

  Well, Paul acknowledged, he didn't actually recall what had stopped him. He remembered their bodies grinding together, he remembered letting her nipple slip from his mouth so that he could claim her lips, and then . . . she hadn't let him kiss her. She'd turned her head and-

  Paul raised a hand to his neck with a frown. He thought she might have bitten him, but he didn't remember feeling pain; just an overwhelming pleasure that had rushed through him in seemingly endless waves. And then he'd woken up to the sound of his daughter and Jeanne Louise speaking softly.

  The door opening beside him drew his attention, and Paul glanced that way as Jeanne Louise bent to peer in at him.

  "Are you okay?" she asked, eyeing him solemnly.

  "You bit me?" It came out as a question, because he wasn't really sure. Her grimace told him he was right though.

  "I got a little carried away and took more blood than I intended," Jeanne Louise said apologetically. "How do you feel?"

  Paul considered the question. How did he feel? A little weak, a little tired, and horny as hell as he recalled the passion they'd shared. He was ready to go another round with her. If she was hungry, he was more than happy to feed her. In fact, his mind was drawing up their conversation about biting spots and how the genitals were a good spot because it left no marks. He'd volunteer to try out that one in a heartbeat, he thought dryly. But he could hardly tell her that, and could only think it was a good, Goddamned thing that she couldn't read his mind.

  "Fine," Paul said finally, realizing she was still waiting for an answer.

  Jeanne Louise hesitated, then leaned in to pick up the Walmart bag from where it now lay by his feet. She then backed out and gave him the room to get out.

  Paul did at once, unbuckling his seat belt and unfolding himself from the backseat to straighten beside her. He held on to the door though, when the world did a slow spin around him. She'd definitely taken too much blood, he acknowledged. Perhaps he should hold off on offering himself up for another meal. At least until he'd eaten something.

  "Do you need a hand?" Jeanne Louise asked worriedly.

  "No," Paul murmured and cautiously released the door, then pushed it closed and glanced around. "Where are we?"

  "Ipperwash. It's too late to look into cottages that might be for rent, and I saw this motel so I stopped. " She glanced around too. "It will do for tonight. We can look into cottages tomorrow. "

  He nodded, and turned to walk slowly toward the open door Jeanne Louise had entered earlier with his daughter. The memory made him ask, "How is Livy?"

  "Headache free at the moment, thank goodness," Jeanne Louise murmured following him to the door. "She's also hungry and thirsty. I gave her some juice and a chocolate bar to tide her over until morning. "

  "A chocolate bar?" Paul asked with a wince.

  "It's all that they sell in the office," Jeanne Louise said apologetically, and then assured him, "I'll put her back to sleep once she's finished. "

  Paul relaxed and nodded.

  "I got you some juice and a chocolate bar too," Jeanne Louise said as he reached the door to their room and peered around. It was your standard motel room done in neutral shades of brown on beige. There were two queen-sized beds and Livy was seated on the nearer one with Boomer curled up beside her. The girl was getting chocolate all over herself as she ate an Oh Henry! bar.

  "There's dog food in with your clothes," Paul said, turning with the intention of taking the bag and feeding the poor mutt. It was well past Boomer's dinner hour.

  "I'll get it," Jeanne Louise said, closing the door behind them. "Go drink your juice and eat your chocolate. "

  Paul hesitated, but then left her to it and headed across the room to the bedside table where three or four chocolate bars and two bottles of juice sat. He grabbed a bottle of orange juice, opened it and drank it while watching Jeanne Louise dig out the dog food and the two small dog dishes he'd also thought to purchase.

  Boomer was off the bed and at her side, tail wagging, the moment she opened the dog food. Jeanne Louise poured some into one of the dishes, then set the bag of food aside and carried the other dish into the attached bathroom to fill it with water. By the time she'd finished and placed the water beside the food dish for Boomer, Paul was done with his juice and reaching for a chocolate bar.

  "Jeanie, can we go to the beach?" Livy asked as Jeanne Louise straightened.

  "In the morning, pumpkin," Jeanne Louise said, her gaze skating over Paul before she took in Livy's chocolate-covered state. His daughter had finished her chocolate bar, but appeared to have more chocolate on her hands and face than she'd managed to eat. He smiled faintly and glanced back to Jeanne Louise in time to see the grin that claimed her face before she turned away to go back into the bathroom.

  "Jeanie says we're in upper watch," Livy announced, smiling at him.

  "Ipperwash," Paul corrected gently as he opened his chocolate bar.

  "Yeah," Livy agreed. "And she says we're going to swim and collect shells, roast weenies over the fire and stuff too. "

  "Hmm," Paul murmured around his chocolate bar and nodded, but then frowned as he suddenly wondered how Jeanne Louise had rented the motel room. She didn't have her purse and his money was in his wallet in his back pocket. He could feel it.

  "Here we go," Jeanne Louise said stepping out of the bathroom with a damp cloth and heading for Livy.

  "Jeanie?" Paul asked after swallowing his bite of chocolate bar. "How did you rent the room?"

  She stilled briefly in cleaning up Livy and then glanced to him. "The motel owner was willing to take cash. I told him you'd pay in the morning. "

  He arched an eyebrow at the guilty expression on her face. "And he agreed to that?"

  "Of course," Jeanne Louise mumbled, avoiding looking at him by running the washcloth over Livy's now clean face again.

  She'd controlled the motel owner to make him agree. Paul would bet money on that, but he let it go. He would pay the man in the morning. Everything was fine. Still, it was rather troublesome that her kind could make mere mortals do things they didn't necessarily want to do. He doubted there was a motel owner on the planet who would rent rooms on the promise of payment in the morning, not to mention a credit card in case of damage . . . unless made to do so by a passing vampire.

  "There we go. Time for bed," Jeanne Louise murmured, tugging back the blankets and sheet on one side of the bed and patting it for Livy to move to it.

  "But I just woke up," Livy protested.

  "I know, hon. But it's bedtime and you want to be all rested and feeling good for the beach tomorrow, don't you?" she coaxed.

  Livy considered that and then nodded, but rather than move, she said, "But I can't sleep in my clothe
s. "

  "There are pj's in the Walmart bag," Paul said, standing to go collect the bag from where Jeanne Louise had set it at the foot of the bed.

  "I'll get it," Jeanne Louise said at once, hurrying to try to get to it first.

  "I'm not an invalid, Jeanie. I can do it," Paul said with irritation as he snatched up the bag. He then grimaced and offered an apologetic expression before adding more gently, "I'll do it. "

  Jeanne Louise nodded and backed off, leaving him to dump the contents on the bed and sort through the clothes that spilled out. He'd bought the promised clothes for Jeanne Louise, as well as pajamas and a T-shirt and shorts for Livy, and another pair of jeans and a T-shirt for himself. He hadn't thought to buy either himself or Jeanne Louise pajamas though. He didn't normally wear them and he just hadn't thought of it with Jeanne Louise. He'd only bought them for Livy because they'd seemed to jump out at him as he'd passed the rack where they'd hung. They were pink with white Dalmatians on them and he'd thought she'd look adorable in them.

  Sighing, Paul set his own clothes aside, along with Livy's, put the clothes he'd got for Jeanne Louise back inside, and then offered her the bag. "Sorry. I didn't think to get you pajamas. "

  "That's okay," she murmured, accepting the bag. "I can sleep in the T-shirt and my panties. "

  Paul blinked at the announcement. Not that Jeanne Louise noticed, she'd turned away to set the bag on the end of the bed Livy was in. Forcing away the image she'd just put into his head, Paul collected the pajamas and moved to the head of the bed.

  "On your feet, muffin," he ordered lightly.

  Giggling, Livy stood up on the bed in front of him and bounced around as he caught the hem of her T-shirt and tugged it up and off over her head. She continued to bounce around as he put the pajama top on her, but he brought a halt to her bouncing by catching her ankles and tugging them out from under her when he was ready to trade her shorts for the pajama bottoms. It was only after he'd done it that it occurred to him that perhaps she shouldn't be hopping or dropping about, that perhaps it would cause another headache to flare up.

  Fortunately, it didn't, and Livy laughed uproariously as she bounced onto her behind on the bed. She then kicked her legs as he tugged her shorts off and put the pajama bottoms on. Boomer thought this was a fine game and immediately bounded onto the bed, barking excitedly.

  Paul had to order the dog off the bed, but smiled as he finished tugging Livy's bottoms into place. Her eyes were bright, her cheeks rosy. If he hadn't seen the scans himself in the doctor's office, and been there for the headaches she'd been suffering for the last several weeks, he almost could have believed she was just your normal, healthy little girl. But she wasn't. She was dying. The thought made his smile fade and his voice was gruff as he murmured, "Under the blankets now. "

  "Okay," she said cheerfully, but stood up on the bed again, hugged his neck, and kissed his cheek before moving to the spot where Jeanne Louise had pulled down the covers. She dropped to her bottom, scooted her feet under the blankets, then grabbed them and pulled them up as she lay back. Livy then closed her eyes, and proceeded to make loud snoring sounds.

  "Monkey," Paul said, managing a small smile.

  Livy opened her eyes and grinned at him briefly, but just as quickly her eyes closed and her face slid into sleep. Helped along by Jeanne Louise, Paul knew. He didn't look to the woman, but continued to stare at his precious daughter and renewed his determination to save her life. He would convince Jeanne Louise to turn her. He had to.

  "I'm going to take a shower," the woman in question said softly.

  Paul nodded, but didn't glance around. He heard the rustle of the bag as she collected it from the end of the bed and a moment later there was a soft click as the door between the bedroom and bathroom closed.

  Sighing, Paul bent to brush a wisp of hair away from his daughter's face. "Don't worry, baby," he whispered, running his finger along her cheek. "Daddy's here. He won't let you die. "

  Paul was peering out the window at the parking lot when Jeanne Louise came out of the bathroom. She'd washed her panties in the sink, wrung them out the best she could, then had laid them on the sink to dry a bit while she took a shower. Of course, they hadn't been dry by the time she'd finished and she'd had to don them wet, but they would dry on her body and at least they were clean.

  Jeanne Louise had pulled on the T-shirt Paul had bought her then, a little dismayed to find he'd bought a small. It was tight, hugging her breasts like a second skin and barely reaching the top of her panties. She'd peered at herself in the mirror before leaving the bathroom and shook her head, but then had shrugged fatalistically. There was more of her covered like this than there would be if she were wearing a bathing suit.

  On that thought, Jeanne Louise had dragged the new jeans out of the Walmart bag, stuffed her dirty clothes in and carried the bag and new jeans with her as she left the bathroom. She set the bag and jeans by the foot of Livy's bed and moved up to begin pulling back the blanket and sheets on her side.

  "Jesus. "

  Jeanne Louise paused at that gasp and glanced to Paul. His eyes were wide and warm as they slid over her body. She felt like he was eating her alive from across the room. Forcing herself to keep moving, she finished pulling back the covers and climbed into the bed. By the time she had pulled the sheet and blankets back up he was at the bedside.

  "You don't have to sleep with Livy. I was going to," Paul whispered, his gaze moving over the blankets she'd just pulled up as if he could still see her in his mind's eye. "She kicks in her sleep. "

  "It's fine," Jeanne Louise whispered back, turning onto her side. "It's a big bed. We'll be good. "

  Paul hesitated, but in the end had no choice but to leave her to it. He turned off the lights in the room, leaving just the bathroom light to illuminate his way.

  "Cripes," Paul muttered leaning against the door after he closed it. He'd obviously bought Jeanne Louise the wrong size T-shirt. Or the perfect size depending on how you looked at it, he thought wryly. And he'd definitely been looking. The sight of her had taken his breath away when he'd turned and seen her walking up the side of the bed. And truthfully, he'd been hoping she'd suggest they share the other bed when he'd said Livy kicked in her sleep, and had been disappointed that she hadn't.

  Giving his head a shake, Paul pushed himself away from the door and moved to turn on the shower. It would be a cold shower for him tonight. And then probably little to no sleep. He suspected he'd be lying awake all night, his body electrified by the knowledge that Jeanne Louise Argeneau lay half naked not two feet away in the next bed.

  "Damn," he breathed, and began to strip off his clothes.

  "Good morning, folks. "

  Jeanne Louise glanced briefly to the motel owner and murmured an absent "good morning," but her concentration was mostly on Livy as the girl ate her breakfast. The child had woken up fussy and difficult. She had a headache again. A low-grade one this time, thank goodness, but a headache just the same. Jeanne Louise was having to mask the dull ache and make the girl eat and enjoy her meal. It left her with little caring for what the motel owner wanted.

  Fortunately, Paul was able to pick up the slack and greeted the man warmly. The two had met when Paul had stopped in the office to pay for their room on the way to the attached diner for breakfast.

  "I called Jack, a friend of mine who owns some cottages on the beach. Mentioned you were looking to rent one," the man announced cheerfully. "Turns out Jack had a cancellation this week. Someone who had rented it from today to next Saturday. They only called this morning to cancel too, the dirty buggers, which is good news for you. He's willing to take cash and rent it to you. "

  Jeanne Louise smiled and nodded as Paul rose to shake the man's hand and thank him. The two men spoke about this and that, but she didn't pay much attention. Her concentration was still mostly on Livy until the motel owner left and Paul sat back down, saying, "If we can't go to the co
ttage until noon, we should probably find somewhere to buy more clothes. And maybe some groceries and such. "

  "Yes," she murmured.

  Paul was silent for a moment and she could feel his eyes traveling over her face. He then asked quietly, "Is it bad?"

  Jeanne Louise knew he was asking about the headache she was blocking Livy from feeling. She supposed it meant she was starting to show the wear and tear of doing so. Sighing, she admitted, "It was low grade when she woke up, but it's getting worse. "

  "Charlie says the best place to shop for swimsuits and such is London. It's about an hour away. She can sleep on the way," Paul said quietly.

  Jeanne Louise nodded, knowing Charlie was the motel owner. She'd got his name when she'd dipped into his thoughts to convince him to let her rent the room and not pay until morning.

  "All done, Livy honey?" Paul asked suddenly, drawing her attention to the fact that the girl was done eating.

  "Yes, Daddy. " Livy beamed a smile. "Can we go to the beach now?"

  "Soon, muffin. But first we have to go buy bathing suits," Paul responded, pulling out enough money to pay for their breakfast and then rising to walk around and pick up Livy.

  "I can walk, Daddy," the girl complained when he scooped her up.

  "Yes, I know. But soon you'll be too big for me to carry so I may as well do it as much as I can now," he answered easily, and then glanced to Jeanne Louise and added, "Besides, soon you'll be sleeping. "

  "No, I won't. I'm not tired at all. I-" The sentence ended abruptly as Jeanne Louise ushered the girl off to sleep with a thought.

  Sighing as she broke free of the child's mind, Jeanne Louise rubbed her head and stood up. She felt guilty for making the child sleep yet again, but surely sleep was better than suffering the agony she would be in if she were awake?

  "Don't let me forget to pick up sunscreen," Paul said as they headed for the exit.

  "Sunscreen," Jeanne Louise murmured.

  "And mosquito repellent," Paul added.

  "Mosquito repellent," she echoed dully.

  "And towels, of course," Paul muttered with a frown. "I think maybe we should make a list before we go shopping. "

  "A list. " Jeanne Louise sighed. They hadn't been awake much more than an hour, but she was already exhausted. A shopping trip wasn't in the least appealing, but they had little more than the clothes on their backs. It had to be done, she acknowledged, wincing as they stepped out into bright morning sunlight. She'd need to feed again soon if he kept walking her about in the sun, she thought. And then recalling the dog they'd left in the motel room during breakfast, she asked, "What about Boomer?"

  "We can hardly take him shopping. He'll be fine in the room for a couple hours," he assured her, and then glanced toward the sky with a frown of concern and suggested, "Maybe you should wait here under the awning while I get Livy in the car. I'll drive back and pick you up. You probably shouldn't be out in direct sunlight anymore than necessary. "

  Jeanne Louise stopped at once with relief, but she kept her attention on Livy as he carried her to the car and set her inside, making sure the jostling didn't wake the child.

  Once in the car, Jeanne Louise found a small notepad and a pen in the glove compartment and wrote down everything the two of them came up with as Paul drove.

  "How's Livy's head?" Paul asked as he turned into the parking lot of a huge mall.

  Jeanne Louise ripped off the list she'd made and slid it in her pocket as she turned to peer at the girl. She slid into her thoughts briefly, like dipping her toe in the tub to check the temperature, and relaxed when she felt it pain free.

  "She's good right now," Jeanne Louise said with relief, and urged the child back awake much as she had put her to sleep.

  Livy blinked her eyes open, almost instantly alert. "Are we there yet?"

  "Yes," Jeanne Louise said on a laugh.

  "It looks busy," Paul muttered, driving along the rows of parked cars.

  "It's Saturday," she pointed out.

  "Hmmm. I'm going to drop you two off here at the doors, find parking, and then catch up to you," he decided, heading toward the nearest mall entrance.

  "I have to pee," Livy announced.

  "Actually, so do I," Jeanne Louise acknowledged.

  "Right," Paul chuckled. "Well, so do I. I'll meet you two at the bathroom closest to this entrance then," he said as he slowed to a stop in front of a set of doors.

  Nodding, Jeanne Louise slid out, wincing at the harsh sunlight that immediately struck her. She closed her door, opened Livy's and quickly leaned in to unbuckle her seat belt and get her out.

  "See you in a few minutes," she said, and then closed the door and hurried Livy to the mall entrance.

  They stepped into air-conditioning that felt almost cold after the heat outside. Jeanne Louise let a little sigh slip from her lips now that the sun was no longer beating down on her. He'd let them off by the food court, a large area with tables in the middle and a variety of restaurant vendors circling it. Fortunately, it was past breakfast time and too early for lunch yet, so the food court was relatively slow, mostly empty tables with a few people chattering over coffee or cold drinks.

  A quick glance around revealed the universal sign for washrooms to their left. Jeanne Louise caught Livy's hand and led her that way, weaving around one or two people who crossed their path. The bathroom wasn't busy and there were several stalls to choose from. Jeanne Louise ushered Livy into one in the middle of the row of stalls.

  "Do you need me in there with you?" she asked uncertainly from the door.

  "No, thank you. I'm a big girl," Livy said easily and slammed the door closed.

  Something about the way she said it made Jeanne Louise grin. Shaking her head, she turned and paced to the sinks to lean against them while she waited. She'd barely rested her hips against the counter when a middle-aged brunette entered the room. Jeanne Louise returned the woman's smile, and inhaled to offer a greeting, but froze at the scent that wafted up her nose. Blood. The aroma was heavy in the air as the woman passed, though it was doubtful a mortal would notice. The scent made Jeanne Louise's fangs ache. She was suddenly aware of how hungry she was, and not for food but for the tinny liquid presently filling the air in front of her. The woman either had an open wound on her somewhere or was having her period.

  Jeanne Louise inhaled the heady scent again, her eyes now tracking the woman as she walked along the row of stalls. When the brunette chose the larger handicapped stall at the end, Jeanne Louise didn't even think, but pushed herself away from the counter. She followed her into the stall, sliding into the woman's mind to control her as she went. By the time she pushed the stall door closed behind them, the woman had paused and tilted her head to the side.

  Jeanne Louise caught a glimpse of the woman's blank eyes staring at the ceramic tiles in front of them as she brushed her long hair out of the way, and then she concentrated on masking the woman's thoughts and pain as she sank her fangs into her throat.

  Livy was standing uncertainly in the open door of her stall when Jeanne Louise slipped out of the end booth moments later.

  "Oh, there you are," the girl said with a smile as she spotted her. "I was afraid you'd left. "

  "Never," Jeanne Louise said lightly, joining her at the sink and lifting her up so she could reach the soap and tap.

  "I think Daddy likes you, Jeanie. "

  The announcement was so unexpected, Jeanne Louise nearly dropped the kid. Keeping her grip as the girl busily washed her hands, she asked, "Oh? What makes you say that?"

  "He smiles more with you around. And he doesn't seem so sad all the time anymore," Livy said simply. "He's been very sad as long as I can remember. I thought it was my fault, but Grandma says its because Mommy died. She says he misses her. But he doesn't seem to miss her so much with you around. "

  Jeanne Louise hesitated, but then asked, "Is that all right with you? If he likes me?"<
br />
  " 'Course," she said with a grin. "I like you too. Besides, he'll need someone to make him smile when I go to heaven. "

  Her own smile freezing in place, Jeanne Louise peered at the child's innocent face and felt her heart squeeze.

  "I'm done. You can put me down now," Livy announced, forcing her from her momentary stillness.

  Jeanne Louise lowered the girl to the floor, quickly washed her own hands, and then snatched a couple of sheets of paper towel from the dispenser for the two of them. Once done, they tossed the paper towels and headed out of the washroom. It wasn't until they'd stepped out into the food court that she realized she'd been so distracted by her unexpected feeding that she'd forgotten to go to the bathroom.
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