About a Vampire (Argeneau #22)(7)


by Lynsay Sands

He hesitated and then turned and walked to the door, opened it, crossed the hall and leaned into the opposite room. She heard him ask, “Was there a metal disk on the papers on the floor in the crematorium?”

Holly didn’t hear the answer, but he closed the door and came back, nodding. “Yes, there was.”

“Then they were papers needed to cremate someone. If I found them and they should have gone down during the day but somehow didn’t, then yes, I might have taken them down despite the hour,” she said on a sigh.

“You were in your pajamas,” he said and she raised an eyebrow at his tone of voice. He sounded bewildered. Or maybe disapproving. Or both. Before she could respond, Justin asked, “Has any of this sparked a memory? Do you remember heading for the crematorium to deliver the papers?”

Holly bit her lip and searched her memory again, but it was pretty spotty and nothing was coming.

“It was after midnight on a foggy night,” he prompted. “You probably couldn’t see two feet in front of you, but you traipsed down past the graves to the crematorium anyway . . . in pink flannel pajamas with white bunnies on them and fluffy slippers under a trench coat.”

He described what she’d worn as if her fashion choice that night had alarmed him, and Holly supposed it had been somewhat unorthodox, but she hadn’t expected to run into anyone. Apparently, she had. She didn’t recall it though, so she shook her head again, but then cleared her throat and asked, “Where exactly are they? My pajamas?”

Justin hesitated, and then rather than answer, asked, “Do you remember the crematorium? Or leaving? Or falling?”

Holly’s head came up slightly at that. She’d fallen? Thinking it might explain a lot, she asked, “Did I hit my head or something?”

“Yes.” Justin seemed relieved and she only understood why when he said, “So you do remember that?”

“No,” she admitted almost apologetically. “I just figure that must be why my head hurts and why my memory is missing pieces.”

“Ah. Yes, I see,” he said on a sigh, and then grimaced and asked, “So none of this is ringing bells for you?”

Holly shook her head again, and admitted, “I don’t even remember who you are. Your name doesn’t sound familiar, or anything.” She shrugged helplessly.

His lips twisted wryly, and he said gently, “There’s no reason it should. We’ve never actually met.”

“Oh,” she murmured, and supposed that explained that. So . . . he must have been the one to find her after her fall, Holly reasoned. She’d made it back to the office, found some papers she’d felt she should deliver to the crematorium, and had fallen and hit her head on the return journey. She must have taken quite a knock to lose not only consciousness, but some memory. Holly hadn’t noticed a head wound earlier. She hadn’t been looking for one, though.

“So you found me after I fell?” she asked, and when he hesitated, guessed, “Or saw me fall?”

“Yes,” Justin said on a relieved hiss of air. “I saw you fall.”

“And I didn’t have my purse or any ID on me,” she recalled ruefully and then narrowed her eyes and added, “But my purse was in my car and I did have my car keys.”

“You didn’t have your car keys when I got to you,” Justin explained. “You must have dropped them when you fell.” He paused briefly, and then added, “When I carried you inside and we realized you were wearing pajamas and had no purse, keys or anything else, we thought you must have been sleepwalking.”

“Sleepwalking?” she asked with surprise, and then gave a slight laugh. “With a coat on? Do sleepwalkers usually put on coats?”

“I don’t know,” he said with a shrug. “I’ve never known anyone who sleepwalks.”

“Oh.” Holly nodded slowly and then tried to work it out, speaking her thoughts aloud. “So you brought me here because I didn’t have my purse or ID.” Before he could respond, she asked, “But why didn’t you just take me to the hospital?” When he was silent again, she said thoughtfully, “Without a purse I wouldn’t have my HMO card and I suppose a hospital would be reluctant to treat me without proof that I could pay.”

Justin seemed to hesitate, and then he sighed and dropped to sit on the end of the bed. Peering at her solemnly, he said, “This situation is a little more complicated than you realize.”

Holly tilted her head curiously, but simply asked, “Oh?”

“Yes, you see . . .” Justin paused, several expressions flickering across his face before he finally said cautiously, “I have to tell you some things that might sound . . . well, a bit crazy.”

Holly merely raised her eyebrows.

“You see, it wasn’t just your head you hit. I mean the head injury wasn’t the only one. You were carrying scissors and—­”

“Scissors?” she interrupted with surprise. “Why would I be carrying scissors down to the crematorium?”

“As I said, it was dark and foggy . . . a graveyard. Spooky.” He shrugged. “Perhaps you were nervous.”

Holly nodded slowly, supposing that would be enough to make her want a weapon of some sort. She wasn’t usually a nervous Nelly, but then she’d never before even considered walking through a graveyard alone on a dark and foggy night.

“Anyway,” Justin said when she remained silent. “You were running and fell and not only hit your head, but—­”

“Why was I running?” Holly interrupted.

The question made him grimace. He also took a good deal of time to think before answering. “You saw something that you misunderstood.”

“What did I see?”

“I’ll get to that,” he assured her. “But first I want you to understand that I would never harm you. In fact, when you fell on your scissors and stabbed yourself in the chest, I—­”

“What?” Holly interrupted sharply. She hadn’t noticed anything when she dressed. Holly tugged the T-­shirt collar away from her skin to peer at herself, but there was nothing there. Scowling at him for scaring her like that, she said, “I’m not wounded.”

“No. Well, I healed you,” he explained.

Holly blinked several times at this claim and then asked slowly, “You healed me?”