About a Vampire (Argeneau #22)(10)

by Lynsay Sands

“I was being charming,” he said irritably.

“Oh, yeah, that was charming all right,” Decker said on a laugh.

Justin scowled. “Well, she liked it. And my explanations were going great . . . until Lucian interrupted,” he added resentfully. “We’d be in the middle of life mate sex by now if he hadn’t.”

“What?” Decker asked with patent disbelief.

“We would,” Justin assured him. “I was about to plant a wet one on Holly’s lips to prove to her that we are life mates. Wham! The life mate passion would have hit right away and—­”

“And you’d have been writhing on the ground in agony,” Lucian interrupted his bragging with the dry words. When Justin glanced sharply to him, he added, “My interruption saved you a physical assault.”

“What?” Justin asked with disbelief.

“You heard me,” Lucian said and then glanced to Decker. The other man was immediately on his feet and moving to the door. Once he’d cracked it open so that he could watch the hall, Lucian turned his attention back to Justin and continued, “You may have thought just being honest and telling her what was what would work far better than the ‘sad, pathetic attempts’ the rest of us made to explain matters to our life mates, but—­”

“I did and still do. Certainly it’s better than beating around the bush and—­”

Lucian nodded solemnly. “It worked so well, she thinks you’re ‘cuckoo for Cocoa puffs’ which I presume means crazy.” He paused briefly, but when Justin just stared at him in disbelief, he assured him, “That comes directly from her mind. She thinks you need psychological help and was about to ‘knee you in the nuts’—­also her thought—­when I opened the door,”

“You did not read her through the wall,” Justin protested.

He shook his head. “I read it from her thoughts when I opened the door. It isn’t the reason I intervened. You just got lucky I did.”

“Right,” Justin sighed wearily. “So why did you intervene?”

“Because there are some things you need to know that you didn’t let me tell you before you rushed off the last time,” Lucian said quietly and then added with a shrug, “Besides, you can’t read or control her. It seemed smart to do a quick read and see how she was taking things.”

Justin scowled and then asked reluctantly, “You’re sure she . . .”

“Thought you are crazy?” Lucian finished when he hesitated. “Yes. I am sure.”

Justin shook his head unhappily. “She seemed to be taking it so well.”

“No doubt she thought it was best to humor you,” Decker said from the door and Justin glanced to him with alarm.

“Relax. She can’t hear us,” Decker assured him, easing the door closed and leaning against the wall beside it, his pose relaxed.

Justin scowled. “Are you controlling her?”

“No need,” he assured him, and then added, “She’s gone.”

“What?” Justin squawked and hurried to the door.

“No!” Lucian said, and this time his sharp tone brought Justin to an abrupt halt.

Turning reluctantly, he raised an eyebrow in question.

“There are some things you need to know before you go after her.”

Justin waited impatiently.

“You have more obstacles than you think,” he said quietly.

“You mean aside from the fact that she thinks I’m crazy?” Justin asked dryly. To his mind, it couldn’t get much worse than that.

Lucian nodded. “I know you think you know modern women better than the rest of us.”

“I do. I’ve been dating, wooing, and winning them since I was sixteen, while the rest of you hadn’t even spoken to a mortal woman in centuries before meeting your life mate,” he pointed out.

“Yes,” Lucian agreed. “But you’ve been dating a certain kind of woman.”

“What the hell does that mean?” Justin asked with affront. “I’ve dated all sorts of different women over the decades; blondes, brunettes, redheads, short, tall, skinny, not skinny . . . I’ve dated them all.”

“Yes,” Lucian agreed. “But they all have had one thing in common.”

“And what’s that?” Justin asked with a frown.

“They were all, every last one,” he emphasized before finishing with, “single.”

“Well, yeah, of course they were,” Justin said with amusement. “I would hardly . . .” He paused abruptly as Lucian’s meaning got through to him and then breathed, “Ah shit, no.”

“Ah shit, yes,” Lucian said. “Holly is married.”

Justin suddenly found himself sitting down. He didn’t plan it, wasn’t sure how it happened, but his legs were no longer beneath him and he was sitting on the floor, his back against the closed door, and having trouble catching his breath.

“Head between your knees and breathe,” Decker said sympathetically, pushing on his head even as he said it.

Justin didn’t fight him, but let his head fall between his upraised knees, rested his wrists on his legs and took several deep breaths, then glanced up sharply and asked, “Are you sure?”

“It was in her thoughts, Bricker,” Lucian said quietly. “Not on the surface, but under thoughts of how to handle you was the worry about what her husband must think with her not being home when he got in from work, that he must be worried and so on.”

Justin merely dropped his head and took several more deep breaths. His life mate was married. He couldn’t ignore that, couldn’t interfere with it. He’d turned her and yet, even if she had been willing or proved willing now, he couldn’t claim her. They had laws against that kind of thing. For a ­people to whom life mates were so important, it was almost sacrilegious to interfere in a marriage. It was also against one of their lesser laws, not a life losing offense, but an offense that could get you dragged in front of the council for sentencing and then punishment of an almost worse kind, one that threatened a man’s genitalia.

Feeling hollow, he raised his head and peered at Lucian with confusion. “What do I do?”

“You turned her, you’re responsible for her. You have to teach her to be one of us,” Lucian said grimly.