About a Vampire (Argeneau #22)(4)


by Lynsay Sands

“Well, then I’d get after her if I were you,” Anders suggested and when Bricker just stared at him in blank confusion, he gestured to where the woman had been just a moment before and pointed out, “She’s running.”

The closing of the door to the hall told him Anders was right before he could turn to see that she was no longer in the room. Cursing, Justin burst into a run. He’d be damned if he was going to let her get away . . . and not because of what she’d seen. He couldn’t read her, and that might mean she could be a life mate for him. Finding a life mate this early in life was pretty damned rare. If he lost her, he wouldn’t be likely to find another for centuries . . . maybe millennia, and Justin had no desire to wait millennia to experience what it was like to have a life mate.

She was quick, he noted with admiration on reaching the hall to see her disappearing through the door at the other end. But then panic could be one hell of a motivation and he had no doubt what she’d seen had raised panic in her.

The thought made Bricker frown as he went after her. He would have a lot of explaining to do once he caught up. He’d have to calm her, and then somehow explain that he wasn’t some murderous bastard destroying evidence of his dastardly work . . . and all without the aid of mind control. That ought to be interesting, he thought unhappily, and his worrying over that made him move more slowly than he could have. He wanted to work out how to explain things before he caught up. He wanted to do it right the first time, calm her quickly, and gain her trust. He couldn’t convince her to be his life mate if she was terrified or suspicious of him. The right words were needed here.

The problem was, Justin didn’t have a clue what those right words were and he was running out of time. It did seem a good idea to stop her before she actually left the building, though, and at that moment she was racing through the last hall, flying past the chapels and columbaries, headed for the exit. Letting go of the worry about what to say, Justin picked up speed and caught her arm just as she reached the door. When he whirled her around, she immediately swung her free arm at him. Expecting paltry girly blows, Justin didn’t react at first and only spotted the scissors she held a heartbeat before they sliced across his throat.

Justin sucked in his breath and released her as pain radiated through him. He saw the fine mist of blood that sprayed out and splashed across her tan coat and immediately covered his throat. The small amount of blood that had showered her told him it wasn’t a deep wound. He was more surprised by the attack than anything else. Still, by the time he turned his attention back to the woman, she’d tugged the door open and was slipping away. Cursing, he ignored his stinging throat and quickly followed.

The woman—­his woman—­glanced over her shoulder at the sound of the door opening and Justin’s mouth tightened at the sight of her wide terrified eyes. So much for winning her trust, he thought, and then cried out as she stumbled. She had been looking back rather than where she was going and that was her undoing. It left her unprepared for the sudden step down in the sidewalk and she lost her footing. She fell flat on her face. It wasn’t much of a fall though and he fully expected her to pop back up fighting and with feet moving, but instead she lay prone until he reached her side.

Concerned by how still she was, Justin squatted and turned her over. He spotted the bloody gash on her forehead first. She’d obviously hit her head on the sidewalk as she fell. It was a good bump, but not that bad, he noted with a relief that turned to horror as he then spotted the scissors protruding from her chest in the small space where the loosely done up coat didn’t meet. Even as Bricker saw that, her eyes opened and then widened with pain and fear of a different kind now. She no longer feared him, at least not as much as she feared for her life. The hell of it was, he was afraid for her life too. It looked bad.

“Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to run with scissors?” he said shortly, ripping her coat open to reveal a pink pajama top with white bunnies. The sight startled him enough that he paused briefly, until he noted that those bunnies around the scissors were quickly growing red with the blood bubbling up from her wound. He was sure the presence of the shears in her body was the only thing keeping that blood from spraying out in a fountain. It looked like a mortal wound to him. He was going to lose his life mate before even learning her name.

“Screw that,” Bricker muttered, and jerked his sleeve up to tear into his wrist with the fangs that slid forward in his mouth. He wasn’t losing her.

Two

Holly smacked her lips together and ran her tongue around the inside of her mouth. She then grimaced at the serious case of morning breath she had. A truly serious case, she thought with disgust, and opened her eyes, expecting to see the canopy of her bed. Instead, she found herself staring at a somewhat clean white ceiling in a beige room. Her bedroom wasn’t beige.

Pushing herself up on her elbows, Holly glanced around with confusion. There was a desk and chair, a wardrobe with a television in the upper inset, black-­out curtains, two chairs set on either side of a small coffee table to the left of the bed she lay in, and a perfectly dreadful print on the wall. It all spoke of one thing . . .

“A hotel?” Holly breathed with surprise. “What the devil am I doing in a hotel?”

Sitting up, she started to swing her feet out of bed, but then froze and snatched up the sheet and blanket as they fell away to reveal that she was naked. Holly never slept naked. She held the bedclothes briefly to her chest, her gaze shifting around the room in search of her clothes, but didn’t see them. That was distressing. Even more distressing though was the fact that she had no recollection of how she’d come to be in this state.

Her gaze slid to the clock on the bedside table, and Holly sucked in a startled gasp of dismay. Seven o’clock. Dear God, she’d been out all night. James would get home soon and wonder where the hell she was. He’d worry and want to know what had happened. Only she didn’t have a clue what to tell him, because she didn’t know herself.

Getting home before him seemed like a good idea, but getting dressed and getting out of this bed was an even better one, she decided, and got up, dragging the sheet with her. The blanket tried to come too, but eventually gave up the game and slid free to lie in a heap on the floor. Leaving it there, Holly moved to the closet and opened it to peer inside. Black filled the small space; black jeans, black leather pants, a black leather jacket and even black T-­shirts hung neatly in the closet.