About a Vampire (Argeneau #22)(12)

by Lynsay Sands

Holly glanced toward the house and back. Forcing herself to remain calm, she said, “My husband, not my friend. And he isn’t likely to come out. He isn’t watching for me.” She glanced toward the house again and added, “This is my house. You know the address. Doing a runner, as you call it, would hardly do me any good with you knowing the address.”

He eyed her thoughtfully in the rearview mirror, and then said, “So show me some ID with this address on it and I’ll unlock the doors.”

Holly sighed unhappily. “I haven’t got any ID, or even my purse. That’s why I had to take a taxi.”

“Uh-­huh,” he muttered dubiously. “And you have the house, but were staying at the hotel because . . . ?”

“I wasn’t staying at the hotel, I was—­” Holly cut herself off, unsure how to describe what she’d been doing at the hotel. Of course, the driver took it completely the wrong way.

“Right,” he said, looking her over in her borrowed clothes. There was a touch of disgust in his expression. “So maybe your husband won’t want to be paying for your return journey from your little tryst.”

“It wasn’t a tryst,” she said wearily. “I—­”

“Okay. Go on in and bring me back the money.”

Holly blinked at the driver’s about-­face. He was smiling at her now, all signs of the disgust of just moments ago gone. It was as if someone had taken control of him and . . . She glanced to the door as the locks were released with a click, and then quickly opened her door and slid out, eager to escape before he changed his mind. She was almost to the front door before Holly recalled that she didn’t have her keys with her. It would mean knocking at her own door.

She started to raise her hand to do so and then suddenly checked the door instead, both relieved and annoyed when it opened easily under her touch. James was forever leaving the door unlocked. Pushing down the irritation that tried to claim her, Holly turned to smile and wave at the taxi driver, then slid inside. She left the door open so he wouldn’t get nervous that she was pulling a “runner.”

“James?” she called, heading for the kitchen. She kept small bills and change in a jar there for emergencies, and automatically moved that way as she called his name again. Holly didn’t wait for a response, but fetched the money she needed and then hurried back outside to pay the driver. He accepted the bills with a smile, wished her a good day and drove happily away.

Holly stared after him briefly, completely bewildered by his sudden change in attitude, but then hurried back inside, nearly running into James as he came off the stairs.

“Holly,” he said with a smile, catching her arms to steady her. “I didn’t think you’d get in before I left.”

Holly blinked at his words, confusion rising within her. “What?”

“I already ate. Spaghetti,” he said. “But I made enough for you too. It’s in the fridge. Just nuke and enjoy.” Leaning forward he kissed her forehead, then set her aside and started up the hall, headed for the kitchen.

Holly stared after him for a minute and then followed. “Wait. James?”

“Hmm?” he asked over his shoulder as he stopped in the kitchen to retrieve his lunch pail.

“I wasn’t here this morning when you got home from work,” she pointed out.

“Or yesterday morning or night either,” he agreed easily and shrugged as he turned to cross to the door to the garage. “I wasn’t surprised. You did say the mortuary’s taxes were a mess. I figure you’ll be working a lot of overtime and starting early.” He paused with one hand on the door to the garage and glanced to her with concern. “You won’t have to work on the weekend though, will you? We have that dinner with Bill and Elaine Saturday night.”

“I . . . no,” she said with a frown.

“Oh, good.” He smiled. “I’ll see you in the morning then . . . well, if you haven’t left early again,” he added with a chuckle, and then slid out into the garage and pulled the door closed.

Holly just stood there staring at the connecting door to the garage as she listened to the whir of the outer door rolling up and the engine of James’s pickup starting.

He’d said she hadn’t been home that morning or the one before. That meant she’d been unconscious in that hotel room with Justin for two nights and days . . . and her husband hadn’t even noticed she’d been missing other than to assume she was working late and starting early. She’d been concerned that he was sitting here worrying about her, and that was when she’d thought she’d only been unconscious for one night and day. She could have been dead from the fall and he wouldn’t have known. Had he even texted her?

If he had, he’d apparently just assumed she was too busy to answer. James hadn’t even noticed that she was wearing someone else’s clothes, or that her hair was wrapped up in a T-­shirt.

The whir of the garage door closing sounded and she heaved a sigh and leaned against the kitchen counter, wondering when she and James had grown so far apart. He worked nights—­twelve-­hour shifts, 7:30 P.M. to 7:30 A.M.—­Monday through Thursday. He left after dinner and arrived home between 8:00 and 8:30 in the morning, usually coming in just as she was leaving either for classes or for work herself. The weekends were the only time they had together, usually going out with friends Friday nights. He slept all day Saturdays and then played hockey with buddies Saturday night. Sundays they spent with their parents, his or hers on alternating weekends, visiting in the afternoons after he got up and then having Sunday dinner with them. Sunday night was the night they usually had sex.

Holly grimaced as she realized how regimented they were. Sex once a week, family once a week, friends once a week, work and school the rest of the time and precious little time alone together without friends or family around. Why was she surprised that he hadn’t noticed she was missing?

She should be glad, Holly supposed. At least she didn’t have to deal with the police and endless questions. The sound of a car pulling into the driveway drew her from her thoughts and she moved to peer out the window, eyes widening when she saw her own car parked there. No one was inside.

Pushing away from the counter, she hurried out of the kitchen and to the front door. There was no one in the driveway or on the sidewalk nearby when she rushed outside. Holly noted that as she rushed to the car; then her attention was taken up with the fact that the driver’s-­side window was missing, with just sharp bits of glass sticking out of the door frame. Groaning at how much it would cost to repair that, she opened the door and peered in, gasping when she saw her purse sitting on the passenger’s seat with a folded piece of notepaper on top of it. Reaching in, she grabbed both items and quickly rifled through her purse until she found her wallet. Much to her relief all her credit and debit cards were still there.