About a Vampire (Argeneau #22)(9)


by Lynsay Sands

Well at least he wasn’t imagining he was hundreds of years old. So his delusions weren’t completely out there, she assured herself and said with determined cheer, “Right. Sorry. Renfield then.”

“You don’t need a Renfield,” he assured her. “Like I said, we don’t bite mortals anymore. It’s not allowed.”

“Oh? Why is that?” Holly asked, with feigned interest, her gaze sliding sideways to the door and back.

“It was too risky,” he explained. “There was too much chance of drawing attention to ourselves that way.”

“Hmmm.” Holly nodded as if she believed him and sidled toward the door an inch or two under the pretext of shifting her feet. “So how do we feed? Do we buy pig’s blood from the slaughterhouse? If so, I guess I need to arrange for that instead. Lots to do. Must get to it.”

“No, we get our blood delivered now.”

That startled her enough to draw her full attention. “Delivered? Like pizza?”

“Pretty much,” Justin admitted on a laugh. “We have our own blood banks and whatnot.”

“ ’We’?” she queried.

“There are a lot of us. Not like millions or anything,” he added quickly. “We try to keep our numbers low. We wouldn’t want to outgrow our food source.”

“ ’Food source’?” she queried carefully. “You mean ­people?”

“Mortals, yes. We even have laws and rules to ensure we don’t turn too many.”

“Laws?” she asked with feigned interest, managing another sliding sideways step. “What kind of laws?”

“Well, we’re only allowed to have one child every hundred years, and we can turn only one mortal in a lifetime.” His expression turned serious and he said, “Most save it to turn their life mate.”

Holly frowned over the having-­one-­child-­every-­hundred-­years bit, which seemed to suggest he believed he would live hundreds of years after all, but then the last bit stuck in her mind and she asked, “Life mate?”

“It’s the one mortal or immortal we cannot read or control, and who cannot read or control us.”

“You can read and control mortals?” she asked dubiously.

Justin nodded. “We all can. Immortals can control every mortal, except for the crazy or their life mates. It’s how we recognize our life mate. That inability to read or control them is why they can be a proper life mate, the one we can live happily with for our very long life.”

Holly shifted another step to the side, alarm beginning to creep up her spine as she absorbed what he was saying. Swallowing, she said, “And you used your turn on me.”

He nodded solemnly. “You’re the one, Holly. You are my life mate.”

“Oh wow,” she said weakly and thought, You poor, crazy, deluded sap. She’d started out thinking he was harmless enough and had helped her when she lay unconscious and helpless. She’d sort of convinced herself, if only subconsciously, that he wasn’t a danger to anyone and not to bring the authorities down on him. But he’d built a whole vampire world in his mind, with blood deliveries and supposed other vampires wandering around. More important, he’d developed an unhealthy fixation on her as his “life mate” . . . and all without exchanging a word or even a smile with her. The guy was cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and this was getting pretty creepy. She was starting to have visions of being locked in a cellar and forced to sleep in a coffin, maybe even raped in that coffin by this man who had decided she was “the one.” He needed help. And she needed to get away from him as quickly as she could.

“I know it’s a lot to take in,” Justin said sympathetically. “But it’s really all a good thing. Being a life mate is like . . .” He struggled briefly, obviously looking for something to compare it to and then finished with, “Well, it’s like winning the lotto or something.”

That made her jerk her head toward him with a start. “The lotto?”

“Yes,” he assured her. “It’s all good. You’ll never age, never get sick, never have to go to a dentist again. You’ll always be young and healthy.” Grinning, he grasped her arms lightly and said, “Basically you have won a lotto of sorts. The Bricker lotto.”

“Riiiight,” she breathed and was about to knee him in the nuts when the hotel room door suddenly opened. Holly turned with surprise to stare at the man framed there. Tall, ice blond hair and even icier silver-­blue eyes, the man was intimidation plus one. Seriously, her eyes went as wide as saucers and her jaw probably dropped at the sight of him. As for him, he barely spared her a glance, but pointed a finger at Justin and then crooked it toward himself saying, “Come here. Now.”

“Umm.” Justin frowned at the man and then turned to offer Holly a crooked smile. “I’ll be right back.” Urging her back into the chair she’d first sat in, he added, “Just sit down and relax. We can continue talking when I get back.”

He then turned and followed the blond out of the room and closed the door. The moment it clicked shut, Holly was on her feet and following. If they actually went into the room across the hall, she was so out of there.

Three

“What now?” Justin asked with irritation, pulling his door closed and following Lucian into the room across the hall. His footsteps slowed as he noted that Anders and Decker were both now seated in the chairs on either side of a coffee table by the window, and both were grinning.

“Close the door,” Lucian said grimly.

Mouth tightening, Justin drew his gaze from his colleagues and closed the door. He then ignored Anders and Decker and focused on Lucian, eyebrows raised in question, silently demanding some explanation for the interruption.

Lucian opened his mouth, presumably to give him that explanation, but before he could say anything, a stifled chuckle slipped from Decker’s lips.

Justin scowled at the man. “What’s so funny?”

Decker shook his head, but when Justin started to turn his gaze back to Lucian, the man blurted, “ ‘You’ve won the Bricker lotto’?”

Justin stiffened, aware and annoyed that the men had obviously read that from his memories.

“Seriously?” Decker asked with disbelief. “All that razzing you gave me, Lucian, and Mortimer about not knowing how to deal with women and you come out with that?”