About a Vampire (Argeneau #22)(16)


by Lynsay Sands

“I can’t,” he said with surprise.

“Then how did you know I was wondering about that?”

“Because you said it aloud,” he explained, his words gentle.

Holly was silent for a moment, concentrating on paying attention to her body. After a moment, she became aware of the frantic thudding coming from her chest, as well as a pulsing in her head. Her heart was pumping, thundering up a storm as he’d said. She was alive. The news was such a relief that Holly nearly fell over. At least her knees went weak and she would have fallen had he not reached out to steady her. Once she was solid again though, he released her as if she were a hot potato. Holly found it oddly insulting.

Clearing his throat, he moved several steps away and then turned to say, “I’ll need to train you.”

“Train me for what?” she asked, wary now herself.

“For survival,” he said grimly. “We have laws, rules, a certain conduct that is expected from us. Breaking the laws can see you punished and then beheaded.”

“Beheaded? Are you kidding me?” she asked with amazement. When he shook his head, she protested, “But that’s positively feudal.”

“We’re an old race,” he said with a shrug and then shifted impatiently and moved toward the door. “You’ll need to dress so we can go.”

Holly blinked and glanced down at herself, becoming aware for the first time that she was still wrapped only in a towel. She supposed she’d been so shocked to see those fangs protruding from her mouth in the bathroom mirror that she’d forgotten everything else. She found it surprising, though, that she hadn’t lost the towel when he’d grabbed her and dragged her down here. She was also rather surprised that James hadn’t noticed and chased after them.

“My husband—­”

“Is in bed sleeping,” Justin assured her. “In his mind, he thanked you for the nice back massage and then crawled into bed.”

“How do you know that?” Holly asked.

“Because that’s the suggestion I put in his thoughts as I grabbed you when you were going to bite him.”

“You controlled James?” she asked, outrage seeping out in her voice.

“He can’t know about any of this,” Justin said with a shrug.

“But . . . he’s my husband. I shouldn’t keep something like this from him.”

“You’ll have to,” he said simply.

“But—­”

“He’ll just think you’ve had a nervous breakdown and are crazy. That’s what you thought when I told you about us, isn’t it?” he pointed out.

Holly felt herself flush guiltily. It was exactly what she’d thought. That he was a madman. It seemed he wasn’t so mad after all. He had turned her. Did that mean she really had hit her head and fallen on scissors? She peered down, her hand moving slowly across the skin exposed above her towel as she wondered where the scissors had gone in.

“Is the turn why I can’t remember anything that happened?” she asked finally.

“I don’t know,” Justin admitted. “It shouldn’t be from the head wound since that’s healed.” His eyes narrowed thoughtfully, and then he added, “Or at least the visible part of it is healed. Marguerite did once say that the turn can continue long after the turnee is up and walking again. That it takes care of the big things first and then continues on to the smaller, more time-­consuming repairs over time afterward.” He shrugged as if that wasn’t important. “If the nanos are still working on the inner repairs, you could yet regain those memories.”

“What are nanos and who is Marguerite?” Holly asked at once.

Justin opened his mouth, closed it again, and then said, “Look I’ll explain those two things and anything else you want to know, but not here, not now, and not with you standing there in nothing but a towel. Now let’s go in and get you dressed. Then we can go somewhere and talk about anything and everything you want.”

“Why can’t we do it here?” she asked at once.

“Because your husband can’t know about this, and,” he added firmly when she started to speak, “Because I don’t have any blood here for you. And unless you want to do your first practice biting session on your husband, I suggest we go somewhere where I do have blood for you.”

“Why would I practice biting at all?” she asked, alarm creeping into her voice. “Back at the hotel you said we don’t feed on mortals anymore.”

“I said it was against the law except in emergencies,” he corrected. “The time may come when you’re miles or hours away from bagged blood and may be in desperate need. Maybe you had an accident, or your supply was destroyed. If anything like that happens, you’ll need to know how to feed off the hoof without killing the donor.”

“Off the . . .” Holly peered at him with horror as she grasped what she thought he meant. “Seriously? You call it that?”

Justin sighed impatiently. “Off the hoof, takeout, two-­footed fast food—­call it whatever you want so long as you learn how to do it properly and without causing harm to the mortal you feed on.”

“I would never—­”

“Never say never,” he interrupted solemnly. “Now, can you please get dressed?”

Holly would have liked more questions answered, but now that she was aware of her scantily clad state, she was self-­conscious. Getting dressed seemed a good idea. Nodding, she moved past him and slid inside, aware that he was on her heels as she crossed the kitchen. That didn’t surprise her, but she was a little surprised when he trailed her upstairs as well. When he then tried to follow her into the bedroom, she stopped dead and turned to hiss, “I can manage on my own from here.”

“What if he wakes up?”

“So?” she asked with irritation. “He’s my husband, he’s seen me dress before.” Well, not really, she acknowledged. Mostly she took her clothes with her into the bathroom and dressed there, or used the closet door as a shield. She wasn’t comfortable being completely naked, even with her husband. He might notice the cellulite, or a stretch mark, or her muffin top. That was also why she insisted on the lights being out when they had sex.

Much to her relief, Justin backed off and let her enter the room alone. Tiptoeing now, Holly crossed to the closet and pulled out work clothes. She had agreed to talk to Justin mostly because of the promise of blood. She wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of having to consume blood, but she didn’t want to risk not having it and running around biting ­people willy-­nilly. Sadly, Holly wasn’t sure whether she would have bitten James or not, but certainly she’d had some strange thoughts going through her head as she’d eyed the pulsing vein in his neck. Kissing it had been her first thought, but that had been followed by the idea of licking it like it was a lollipop. Holly had never had the urge to lick his throat before or any other pulsing vein on the man. She couldn’t say that she might not have licked and then bitten into the vein. All she’d been aware of was that she was terribly hungry and he’d smelled soooo good.