About a Vampire (Argeneau #22)(17)


by Lynsay Sands

He still did, Holly thought, glancing to the sleeping man in the bed as she stopped at the closet. She could smell him from there, a distance of at least eight feet. That was new. Allergies had plagued her from childhood on and left her sniffling most of the time. She’d always been the last to smell anything, including skunk. Now she could smell her husband from across the room.

“Weird,” she muttered, and firmly turned her back on him to consider what she should wear. In the end, it wasn’t a hard choice. Holly didn’t have an extensive wardrobe. She had a pair of black pants, a pair of navy blue pants, two pairs of jeans, half a dozen T-­shirts in various colors and four blouses, one white, two cream, and one red that she had received from her mom for Christmas and hadn’t yet had the courage to wear. Holly snatched up the red one now and her black pants, then walked over to the dresser beside the bed.

Laying the clothes on the foot of the bed, she opened the drawer and pulled out some standard white cotton panties. She tugged them on under the towel, noting that they fit a little loosely. Thinking she must have grabbed an older stretched-­out pair, she shrugged and next grabbed a bra. It was also standard white, and Holly finally dropped the towel, surprised when she had to grab the panties to keep them from sliding right off with the towel. Jeez, they were really loose.

She’d probably lost some water weight while unconscious the last two days, she decided, but then glanced down at herself. As a rule, Holly avoided actually looking at herself. She didn’t like seeing the lumps and bumps and the muffin top. It was depressing as hell and made her feel unattractive.

She didn’t see any of those lumps and bumps now though, and her usual muffin top was missing. Her stomach had the slightest roundness to it and she definitely had hips and a waist. She would never make it on the runway where stick figures walked in high heels, but . . .

“Damn, I look good,” Holly breathed as she actually braved appraising herself in the dresser mirror. She had the figure of a movie starlet of old, Marilyn Monroe and women of her ilk, who looked like women and not like flat-­chested boys as seemed to be the rage now that thin was in.

This was not the loss of some water weight while unconscious for two days. This was a full body remodel. There wasn’t a spot of cellulite or even a pimple. Her skin was like porcelain, and her figure perfection.

“Damn,” she breathed again, hands rising to slide over her stomach and then down over her hips. This was . . . awesome! Grinning, Holly quickly tugged on the bra she’d retrieved, noting that it still mostly fit, though she had to do it up at the tightest fastenings rather than the loosest now.

Still smiling widely, Holly turned to the bed to collect the blouse and pants and then paused as James chose that moment to murmur in his sleep. He followed that up with turning onto his back, and tossing the sheets and blankets aside so that he lay sprawled on the bed in only a pair of boxers. It wasn’t the sight of him in his drawers that made her halt, but the wave of James-­smell that rolled over her. Not that he stunk: he had taken that shower just before lying down. That wasn’t the smell that crashed over her like a wave. It was something else, a cocktail of strange scents she’d never smelled before yet seemed somehow familiar. Her senses were obviously a bit keener than before, and Holly suspected what she was smelling was pheromones, hormones, skin and that coppery something that had smelled so yummy earlier. Tinny and . . .

“Crap,” she muttered. It was blood. She could smell James’s blood. How the hell could she scent it through his skin? And why was the aroma so damned delicious all of a sudden? She’d never even noticed the odor of blood before or that it was especially attractive. She certainly had never enjoyed the taste on the rare occasion when she’d stuck a cut finger in her mouth. Now . . . damn, but her mouth was watering at the scent of it and she was fighting the urge to crawl up the length of her husband on the bed. She could actually see herself sinking her teeth into several hot spots on his body along the way—­behind his knee, his thigh, his groin, his wrists, inner elbow, his neck. They were all spots she was pretty sure housed major veins or arteries . . . and Holly had no idea how she knew that.

She’d like to think it was knowledge from some long forgotten anatomy class she’d taken, but the truth was that, like heat seeping through a part of the wall where the insulation was thinnest, those spots were where she could sense the smell was strongest and where most of his body heat seemed concentrated. It was where the veins were closest to the surface and easily accessible.

Realizing she was licking her lips, Holly forced her gaze away from James and picked up her blouse to quickly tug it on. It was as she buttoned the blouse that she became aware of a soft thudding sound coming from somewhere in the room. Pausing, she glanced around, trying to find the source, her perplexed gaze finally shifting to the bed. Tilting her head, she stared at it, listening. Yes, it was definitely coming from there.

What the devil was it? She wondered and knelt to peer under the bed, but there was nothing there that would make that slow, steady sound. Still on her knees, she raised her head and peered the length of the mattress and her husband’s body on it. The sound seemed to be coming from somewhere by him. Without thinking, Holly found herself crawling onto the bed from the floor, and then moving up over her husband on her hands and knees, ears straining and nose working as the tinny smell cried out to her. The sound was loudest when her head was over his chest and she paused there, listening for a moment before she realized it was his heart. She could hear his heart beating . . . pumping all that lovely blood through his body, she thought. Vaguely aware of a shifting in her jaws, she lowered her head. That lovely slightly tinny smelling, rich red—­

Holly squawked when she was suddenly grabbed around the waist and lifted off the bed. James murmured sleepily at the sound, but didn’t wake up, she saw, before she was carried from the room. The moment the door closed behind them, she was unceremoniously dumped on the hall floor and cloth fell over her head.

“Dress,” Justin Bricker ordered grimly.

Holly pulled the cloth off her head, recognizing the black pants she’d laid on the foot of the bed and never got around to donning. Raising her head, she scowled at Justin. “You could have just said something instead of acting like some barbarian and snatching me up. I wasn’t doing anything.”

“Your fangs were out. You were about to bite him,” Bricker said grimly. “Now dress, or I just might let you bite him. Then you can explain why you did it to his corpse.”