Lynsay Sands - Argeneau 04 - Tall, Dark & Hungry

By Henry Elliott,2014-10-31 13:30
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Lynsay Sands - Argeneau 04 - Tall, Dark & Hungry

Table of Contents

    Chapter One

    Chapter Two

    Chapter Three

    Chapter Four

    Chapter Five

    Chapter Six

    Chapter Seven

    Chapter Eight

    Chapter Nine

    Chapter Ten

    Chapter Eleven

    Chapter Twelve

    Chapter Thirteen

    Chapter Fourteen

    Chapter Fifteen

    Chapter Sixteen

    Chapter Seventeen

    Chapter Eighteen

    Chapter Nineteen



    Argeneau Book 3 By

    Lynsay Sands

    Other books by Lynsay Sands:







    WISH LIST (anthology)











    Lynsay Sands





    For David




    LOVE SPELL? July 2004 Published by


    Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc. 200 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10016


    Copyright ? 2004 by Lynsay Sands


    ISBN 0-505-52583-6

    The name "Love Spell" and its logo are trademarks of Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc.

    Printed in the United States of America.


     Visit us on the web at www.dorchesterpub.com.

    Chapter One


    The chicken's very good."

    Bastien watched with amusement as Kate C. Leever scraped up a forkful of the Poulet au Citron

    she'd ordered and held it to his brother Lucern's lips. He was even more amused when hisbrother opened his mouth to accept the bite of food, murmured in appreciation, then chewed andswallowed.

    He hadn't seen Lucern do more than pretend to eat in his whole life. By the time Bastien wasborn, his brother-already two hundred plus years old-had tired of even gourmet fare. The tasteof food began to pall after a hundred or so years of feasting on whatever you wanted. Now,having passed his four hundredth birthday, Bastien himself found eating to be nothing more thana nuisance, something he forced himself to do occasionally at board meetings or dinner partiesto prevent discovery of his true nature.

    "It really is good," Lucern announced. "Everything's a little new and different nowadays."

    "No," Bastien disagreed. "It probably tastes much the same as it always did. It's love that's

    reawakened your taste buds and rejuvenated your desire for food." Lucern shrugged. He seemednot at all upset by the teasing emphasis Bastien put on the word, and he had no troubleadmitting his deep and abiding feelings for the woman seated beside him. "Perhaps. Everythingdoes seem more vibrant and interesting now. I find myself seeing things anew, seeing them asKate must see them, rather than with the jaundiced eye I've cast over everything for ages. Itmakes a nice change."

    Bastien said nothing, merely lifted his glass of wine. But as he took a sip, Lucern's wordscaused something of a twinge inside him. Were he to examine it, he might have likened it toenvy. But Bastien wasn't prepared to examine it. There was no time for love or even lonelinessin his life; he had too many responsibilities. Bastien had always been responsible. When hisfather died, it had been Bastien who stepped up to take over the duties of the family business.It was in his nature. Bastien's life was made up of taking care of each individual crisis thatcame along, whether in business or within the family. If there was a problem, Bastien was theman everyone looked to for the solution, and that was how it had been even before his father's

    death. Bastien had often run the business and made decisions in his father's stead over thelast several hundred years since Jean-Claude Argeneau had developed the drinking problem thatsaw him burn to death: one of the very few ways their kind could die.

    "So, Bastien."

    His eyes narrowed at Kate's tone. He had known her long enough to recognize the we're-about-to-

     voice. He'd heard it often enough, buttackle-something-unpleasant, but-it-needs-to-be-done

    always directed at Lucern. It was unusual to hear with his own name in the mix.

    "We invited you out to lunch for a reason."

    Bastien raised his eyebrows. He'd suspected as much when Lucern called and invited him to meethere at La Bonne Soupe for this meal. His brother knew he wasn't much into eating anymore. Thatbeing the case, Bastien had suspected this sudden invitation might have something to do withthe couple's upcoming nuptials, but he wasn't sure what specifically his brother could want.

    The wedding was in exactly two weeks. It was here in New York, which had seemed the most likelychoice for the ceremony as Kate, and now Lucern too, lived and worked here. The oldest Argeneauson had made the move to Manhattan six months earlier to be closer to his fiancée, who alsohappened to be his editor. It had seemed a good idea for him to be near while she made thenecessary adjustments to her turning. Aside from the physical changes, becoming one of their

    kind meant learning a whole new range of habits and skills, so Lucern had made the move to NewYork to help her with those, as well as to help with the wedding arrangements. Fortunately,being a successful author allowed him the freedom to make such a move with little difficulty.

    Bastien had to admit that New York was the best place to hold the ceremony and celebration.While neither family lived here-the Argeneaus were based in Toronto, and the Leevers, Kate'sfamily, lived in Michigan-all her friends and coworkers were in New York. And, as this waswhere Kate-as well as Lucern now-lived and worked, it made it easier for them to make thenecessary arrangements for the wedding.

    Luc had originally intended on occupying the penthouse suite above the New York offices ofArgeneau Enterprises until the wedding, but after moving his things into the apartment thatfirst night, he had gone to visit Kate and simply stayed. By the time Bastien fled Toronto-andhis mother's matchmaking efforts there-to work out of the Manhattan offices, Lucern had alreadymoved most of his things into Kate's tiny apartment, and Bastien had the penthouse to himself.As usual. He rather preferred it that way, and wasn't looking forward to the temporary invasionof guests and family that the wedding would bring. However, he consoled himself that it wouldonly be for a weekend; then he would have his blessed peace again, and no interference from hismother.

    He shook his head at the thought of Marguerite's latest antics. She had always been involved inher children's lives, eager to see them happy, but her latest stunt had shocked even him.Bastien was the last of her children to remain single, and the woman was determined to see himsettled in a loving relationship like his brothers and sister. That was understandable, hesupposed, but her way of getting it done was madness. His sister Lissianna and her psychologisthusband, Greg, had worked out so well, Marguerite had decided to round up a female psychologistfor Bastien in the hope that he would fall in love with her. The silly woman had madeappointments with every female psychologist in Toronto, ferreted out the single ones, chosenthose she liked best and thought he might like, then had announced she was a vampire and putthe thought into their heads that they should request to speak to a family member about her"delusions." Bastien had spent weeks running around Toronto, going from psychologist topsychologist, clearing memories and ensuring that no damage resulted from her stunt. Then he'descaped to New York to avoid getting caught in any more of her madcap schemes.

    Yes, his mother was going off her rocker with nothing to occupy herself. He hoped Lissianna'srecently announced pregnancy would prove a distraction. Bastien didn't mind the idea ofsettling down and having someone to share his life with, like his siblings had, but he wasn'tholding his breath waiting for it to happen. He'd been alone so long, he began to wonder if itwould ever be otherwise. Perhaps Josephine had been his one hope at happiness.

    Unwilling to contemplate the memory of the human woman he had loved and lost, Bastien glancedbetween Lucern and Kate. "So, what is this favor you want?"

    The couple exchanged a glance, then Lucern said, "You should have ordered something to eat,brother. It's on me."

    Bastien was vaguely amused at the stalling tactic. Much like himself, his brother hated to askfor anything. "It must be a big favor if you're willing to spring for lunch," he teased.

    "You make me sound cheap," Lucern said with a scowl.

    "You are. Or were," he allowed. "Though you appear to have improved since Kate's arrival inyour life. She's managed to make you loosen the purse strings somewhat. There was a time youwouldn't even consider living in a city as expensive as New York."

    Luc shrugged. "She's here," he said simply.

    "Actually, I'm the one who needs the favor," Kate announced.

    "Oh?" Bastien turned to her with interest. He liked his soon-to-be sister-in-law. She wasperfect for Luc. His brother was lucky to have found her.

    "Yes. My best friend, Terri-well, she's my cousin, really. Well, she's both, cousin and bestfriend, but-"

    "This would be your maid of honor?" Bastien interrupted patiently.

    "Yes!" She beamed at him, apparently pleased that he recognized the name. But it shouldn't havesurprised her; Bastien was good with details. Besides, the woman was the maid of honor and hewas best man. As such, they would be paired off and stuck together for the whole of theupcoming wedding. Of course he recalled!

    "What about her?" he asked as Kate continued to smile in silence. When she hesitated, heprodded, "Is she arriving at the same time as everyone else, or a day or two early?"

    "Actually, she's coming two weeks early," Kate admitted. "She had vacation time coming to herand took it all in one large lump to fly over here and help with the wedding."

    "It's a good thing, too," Lucern muttered, then admitted, "We can use all the help we can get.You wouldn't believe how complicated weddings are, Bastien. First the date has to be picked,the hall reserved, and the invitations chosen and sent. Then there is the caterer to be chosen,the meals decided on, what wine to serve, the flowers to use and in what arrangements, themusic in the church, whether you'll have a band or a d.j. at the reception, and what music toplay there. The colors have to be picked and coordinated so that the decorations, flowers,tuxedos, and dresses can be chosen and so on." He shook his head. "It's a wonder couplessurvive all of that and make it to the wedding still together. Take my advice: If you ever finda mate, skip the wedding nonsense and fly to Vegas."

    "Skip the wedding nonsense and fly to Vegas?" Kate echoed in disbelief.

    "Oh, now, Kate, honey, you know I didn't mean-," Luc began backpedaling in earnest.

    "I gather weddings are a pain to arrange, but surely the worst of it is out of the way?"Bastien queried, trying to save his brother from the wrath filling his fiancée's face.

    A relieved Lucern eagerly grasped at the change of subject. "Well, yes. Most of thearrangements are made and set, but there always seems to be something cropping up that needsdoing. Last week, it was making toilet paper flowers. Who knows what it will be next week?"

    "Toilet-paper flowers?" Bastien asked in surprise.

    "Kleenex flowers," Kate corrected, sounding irritable. "We made them out of Kleenex facialtissues."

    "Yes," Lucern said agreeably, then turned to explain to Bastien: "She had me folding and tyingall these bloody toilet tissues, then fanning them into flowers to put on the cars for thewedding party. I told her we should have someone else do them, or just buy them, but sheinsisted that making them was tradition in her family. Bought flowers wouldn't do, so I spenthours and hours last week just folding and tying and fanning out toilet paper."

"Kleenex," Kate snapped.

    "Some of them are toilet tissues," Lucern informed her.

    "What?" She looked at him with horror.

    "Well, I ran out of Kleenex, and you insisted on so many for the cars, I started using toilettissue. I don't think it will make much difference. Tissue is tissue, right? Besides, youweren't there to ask. You were working late as usual." He turned to Bastien and explained,"She's been working late a lot lately, trying to do Chris's work as well as her own."

    Bastien raised an eyebrow, but Kate just made a face. "I'm not doing C.K.'s work. Chris isediting his own writers, and I'm editing mine. It's just that he's going away to the Californiawriters conference today, and I'll be fielding any emergencies that arise while he's gone. I'vebeen trying to get ahead on my editing so that I don't fall behind if anything crops up, if yousee what I mean."

    Bastien nodded in understanding, then returned the conversation to the subject it had startedon. "So your maid of honor is coming two weeks early. She should be arriving soon, then. Whereis she staying?"

    "Ah." Kate looked uncomfortable, then blew out a breath on a sigh. "Actually, that's the favorI wanted to ask," she admitted. "You see, I considered having her stay with me, but myapartment is really small. A tiny little one-bedroom is the best I can afford in Manhattan onmy salary, and with Lucern there it's already quite crowded. I considered putting Terri up in ahotel. Luc even offered to pay for it, but I know she would refuse and insist on paying forherself. And what with all the expense she's already going to as my maid of honor, I didn'twant to burden her any more than necessary. She really can't afford this, but she wouldn't sayso."

    "Proud?" Bastien guessed.

    "Yes. Very. Her mother was a single parent, and Terri has been taking care of herself sinceAunt Maggie died when she was nineteen. She's stubborn and has trouble asking for, oraccepting, help."

    Bastien nodded. He understood pride. He had a good deal of it himself. Too much, perhaps, attimes. "You want me to put her up in the penthouse," he guessed.

    "Yes. If you wouldn't mind," Kate admitted, looking hopeful.

    Bastien smiled indulgently. His brother's fiancée made the request as if it were a hugeimposition. Which it wasn't. The penthouse had five bedrooms and was huge. He also wasn't therevery much, and would probably never even see the girl. He'd leave Terri in the housekeeper'scapable hands; she wouldn't be any bother to him at all.

    "That isn't a problem, Kate. She's welcome to one of the rooms in the penthouse. When is shearriving? Sometime this weekend, I should imagine, if she's coming two weeks early."

    "Yes." Kate exchanged another glance with Lucern before admitting, "She arrives today,actually."

    "Today?" Bastien didn't bother hiding his surprise.

    "I know. It's very short notice, and I'm sorry. I would have asked sooner if I'd known.Originally, she was supposed to come the day before the wedding like everyone else. But Terridecided to surprise me and took the time off. I only found out an hour ago, because itapparently occurred to her that she'd better be sure I was home and she wouldn't be leftsitting on my doorstep for a couple of days or something, so she called me from the plane."

    "Well, it's a good thing she did," Bastien commented, then noticed another exchange of glancesbetween the pair, and narrowed his eyes. It was obvious there was more to this favor thanKate's maid of honor staying with him. It suddenly struck him: "I suppose she needs a lift fromthe airport?"

    "Well, she was going to take a taxi, but you know how expensive that is, and she really-"

    "Can't afford it, but is too proud to say so, and you know she wouldn't take the money from youif you offered it, so you insisted you'd have someone pick her up," Bastien finished for her.

    Katie narrowed her eyes. "Are you reading my mind?"

    "No," he assured her. "Just a lucky guess."

    "Oh." She relaxed. "You guessed right. Would it be too much bother?"

    Bastien's gaze slid to his brother, and Kate added, "Lucern can go with you, of course. Heoffered to do it himself, but he doesn't know the highways as well as you do, or the airportsor where to go. I would have gone myself, but I'm so swamped at work right now, I-"

    "Luc and I will collect her," Bastien assured her, smiling at Kate's diplomatic excuse. Lucerndidn't need to know the roads; he could have taken one of the family's company cars, with adriver. The truth was, Lucern was still somewhat antisocial. He wasn't as bad as he used to be,but he was still a touch awkward in social situations, and Bastien suspected Kate was afraidthat he would greet her cousin and best friend with a grunt of "Follow me," then remain silentall the way into town. Bastien, on the other hand, dealt with humans all the time and was alittle more social. He also-luckily enough for Kate, and for the as yet unseen Terri-happenedto have a light afternoon at the office. It wouldn't be a problem taking time off.

    "Great," Lucern said dryly. "Has it occurred to you, Katie my love, that you are sending twomen, who haven't a clue what your cousin and best friend in the whole world looks like, tocollect her? How will we spot her?"

    "You can make up a sign with her name on it," Kate suggested brightly. "And between the two ofyou, I know you'll find and deliver her safely."

    Bastien took in his brother's doubtful expression with amusement. There had been a definitewarning to Kate's words: Bring her back safe, or else.

    "Darn, I have to go. We have a production meeting this afternoon. That's why I couldn't get outof work to pick her up myself," Kate explained, getting to her feet. She bent to kiss Lucern,started to straighten, then bent to press another kiss to his lips. It ended with a sighed "Ilove you, Luc."

    "And I love you, Kate," Lucern replied. His tongue slid out to lick quickly across her lowerlip, and in the next moment, the two lovers were kissing again.

    Bastien sighed and directed his gaze to the diners around them. He knew from experience thatthere would now be several more moments of soft sighs and kisses before Kate would tear herselfaway. The pair was pathetic. He only hoped this honeymoon phase they were enjoying passed soon.He feared not, however. It had been nearly a year since his brother Etienne had married Rachel,and two years since Lissianna and Greg's marriage; yet neither couple appeared to be passingout of this same lusty, loving phase. His whole damned family seemed to be rather slow atmoving out of it. They were all equally pathetic. He was the only member of the family, asidefrom his mother, who didn't spend ridiculous amounts of time making out in public, private, oranywhere they found themselves. But, then, neither he nor his mother had anyone to make outwith.

    Bastien ignored the twinge of envy that ate at him as he heard another soft sigh from Kate,followed by a faint moan. In the next moment, his head whipped around in surprise when Katespoke in suddenly businesslike tones.

    "This might help." Kate had straightened and was digging a photo out of her purse. "It's arelatively new picture. Terri e-mailed it to me last month. Now, I have to go. Be nice to her

    ." She set the photo onto the table between them, then turned and began easing her way throughthe tables toward the exit of the tiny, crowded restaurant.

    "God, she's wonderful," Lucern sighed as he watched Kate pause and step to the side to makeroom for someone entering the small eatery.

    Bastien rolled his eyes, not missing the fact that his brother's gaze was fixed firmly on hisfiancée's derriere. Suddenly aware that his own gaze had followed Lucern's, he gave his head a

    shake and turned his attention to the photo on the table. It was a picture of a woman in herlate twenties. She had full lips curved in an impish smile; and large, soft eyes.

    "A beauty," he commented, noting that Kate's cousin appeared to be Kate's opposite. She wasbrunette to Kate's blonde, and buxom and curvy in a way that made him think of ripe fruit, asopposed to Kate's slender figure. But she was stunning in her own way.

    "Is she?" Lucern asked with disinterest, his gaze still following his soon-to-be wife.

    "If you'd stop ogling Kate and take a look, you could see for yourself," Bastien pointed out.

    Lucern turned an amused glance his way, then looked at the picture and shrugged withdisinterest. "She's all right. Not as beautiful as Katie, though."

    Bastien snorted. "No one is as beautiful as Katie, in your eyes."

    "You're right," Lucern agreed, lifting his glass to take a swallow of whiskey before adding,"Kate's perfect in my eyes. No one comes close to her in anything."

    "Forgive me, brother. But I believe the modern expression is ‘You got it bad.' " Bastien gavean amused shake of his head. He liked Kate well enough, but she wasn't perfect. Damned near,perhaps, but not quite. "So? What time does this Terri person's plane get in?"

    Lucern glanced at his wristwatch, shrugging. "In about an hour."

    "What?" Bastien squawked.

    "What, what?" Lucern asked.

    "You're joking! She doesn't get in in an hour."

    "Yes, she does."

    Bastien stared at him blankly, then asked, "Which airport?"


    "Dear God."

    "What?" Lucern asked. He looked concerned as Bastien began scanning the tiny restaurant insearch of their waitress. Of course she'd disappeared right when they wanted her, probably intothe kitchen.

    "You could have mentioned this before, damn it," Bastien growled. "Hell, why didn't Katemention it? She knows it takes an hour to get to JFK. Where the hell is that waitress?"

    "She probably didn't realize how late it was," Lucern excused Kate. "Besides, she's a littledistracted right now."

    "Yeah? Well, it will be her fault if we're late."

    "We'll make it," Lucern said soothingly as the waitress walked back out of the kitchen.Gesturing her over, he added, "Terri has to collect her luggage and go through customs anyway."

    Bastien shook his head in disgust. Lucern rarely worried about anything anymore, but a couplehundred years in the business world had made him a details man. "She may have to get throughcustoms, but we still have to get the car and drive there. Let's just hope traffic isn'tparticularly slow today."

    Leaving Lucern to deal with the bill, Bastien took out his cellphone and called his driver.While he drove himself or took taxis at night, when he traveled during daylight Bastien alwayshad a driver. Aside from saving the trouble of finding parking, it prevented his being out insunlight any longer than necessary-he simply had to jog from the car to the entrance ofwherever he needed to go. Not that he couldn't have stood walking a few minutes in sunlight, oreven longer than that really, but it meant he would need to ingest more blood, which could bepretty inconvenient at times.

    Once assured that the car was on its way, Bastien snapped the phone closed and slid it backinto his pocket, then began to consider how best to handle this situation. While he used achauffeured limo when necessary, his usual driver was on vacation and Bastien really didn'twant to spend the hour-long drive out to the airport watching everything he said around the

    replacement driver. They would have to ride back to the office to collect his car. He'd alsopack some blood in a cooler to take with them in case of an emergency, Bastien decided. All ofhis cars had special window treatments to prevent UV rays from getting in to do any damage, butshould the car break down or get a flat tire and they be forced to fix it or walk any distancein sunlight, things could get uncomfortable, or even dangerous.

    All of this would take time, of course, and increase the chances that they weren't going to beon time to collect Terri, but if luck was with them and traffic wasn't slow…


    "Traffic's slow," Lucern said a short time later.

    Bastien gave a short laugh. "Of course it is. Murphy's law, right?"

    Lucern grunted.

    "Reach in the backseat and grab my briefcase. You'll have to make the sign."

    "Won't we recognize Terri from the picture?" Lucern retrieved the case and set it on his lap.

    "Maybe. But I don't want to count on that. If we miss her, Kate will kill us both."

    Luc gave another grunt. He had never been big on talking. Bastien supposed that was why Katehad wanted someone else along to collect her cousin. The only time Luc seemed to talk was whenshe was around. It was also the only time he smiled. She brought something out of him no oneelse could, and which apparently retreated or dropped dead the moment she was out of sight.When Kate wasn't around, it was difficult to get more than a couple of words out of Lucern; agrunt was his response of choice.

    "What do you want on it?"

    Bastien glanced to the side. Not only had Lucern managed to string more than two wordstogether, he'd pulled a large notepad and pen from the briefcase and was ready to write. "Justput her name on it."

    "Right." Lucern scrawled the name Terri across the paper, then paused. "What's her last name?"

    "You're asking me? She's your fiancée's cousin, not mine."

    "Yeah," Luc agreed, pursing his lips thoughtfully. "Didn't Kate mention it at lunch?"

    "No. Not that I recall." Bastien glanced at him. "You really don't know?"

    "I can't remember."

    "Well, Kate must have mentioned it a time or two over the last few months."

    "Yeah." Luc was silent for a moment, then bent his head to write on the page again.

    Relieved that his brother remembered, Bastien turned his attention back to traffic, then spareda glance at his watch. "If her flight isn't early and customs takes twenty minutes or so, wemight just get there before she gives up and hops in a taxi. Where will she go if she doesn'tfind anyone waiting for her?"

    "Probably Kate's office."

    "Yeah. That would thrill Kate. Let's hope the flight isn't early."

    It wasn't.


    "Two hours late," Lucern grunted as they made their way into the arrivals terminal. "All thatrushing to get here on time, and we end up cooling our heels for two hours."

    Bastien smiled faintly at his brother's disgust. They had arrived at the airport only todiscover Kate's cousin's flight had made an unscheduled stop in Detroit for "mechanicaldifficulties," and had stayed there while something was fixed. It was due to arrive two hourslate. Bastien had been concerned by the news until he had approached the airline desk toinquire and learned that the problem was with one of the bathrooms on the plane. Not that theclerk had told him that; Bastien had slipped briefly into her mind to find out. It wasn'tsomething the airline wanted to advertise, and the mysterious "mechanical difficulties" sounded

    better to them than admitting one of their toilets had gone screwy. They didn't want the motto"Fly the crappy skies."

    With two hours to kill until Terri's flight arrived, Bastien and Lucern had retired to a bar,having to make their way into the nearest departure terminal to find one. Now they werereturning to the arrival area to await Terri, hoping as they did so that she wouldn't be heldup too long at customs. Both were rather weary of waiting, and eager to get out of the airport,what with its buzz of stressed-out travelers and anxious friends and family.

    "Here they come," Bastien announced. The first weary travelers began to appear beyond theblocked off area. "Where's the sign you made?"

    "Oh, yes." Lucern pulled the piece of paper from his pocket. The moment it was unfolded enoughfor Bastien to read, he snatched it incredulously out of his brother's hand.

    " ‘Terri, Kate's cousin and best friend?' " he read with disbelief.

    "I couldn't remember her name," Lucern said with a shrug. "She'll know who it's for. Hurry andhold it up, a whole load of them are coming out and she might be one of them."

    Bastien glanced toward the arch where travelers were appearing in clusters of three or four. Itwould seem that customs wasn't holding them up at all. "They must have worked double time toget the luggage out so fast. And customs must have extra people on."

    "Hmm," was all Lucern said. Bastien raised the makeshift sign over his head to be easily seen."They're probably rushing them through to try to make up for the delay."

    The two men were silent as several dozen people arrived, were met by happy relatives or friendsand departed the arrivals area. Bastien would guess that a good fifty people came and wentbefore he spotted a woman making a beeline for them. He might not have recognized her if sheweren't walking toward them with a tired smile of greeting on her face. Without realizing it,his arms relaxed, allowing his sign to lower.

    The woman was just as curvy and ripe-looking as she had been in her photo, but her hairstylehad changed. It had been up in a ponytail in the photo; now, it was down and flowing around hershoulders in soft chestnut waves. She still wore jeans, Bastien noted with interest. Tightwhite jeans, a white University of Leeds T-shirt, and white running shoes made up her outfit.She had obviously dressed for comfort.

    "Lucern!" She beamed at Bastien, pausing before him and, after the briefest hesitation, givinghim a warm welcoming hug. "Kate's told me loads about you. It's a pleasure to meet the manwho's made her so happy."

    Bastien stared down at the top of the woman's head in surprise, his arms dropping automaticallyto embrace her. Lucern watched with amusement. Catching the grin on his brother's face, Bastiencleared his throat as Kate's cousin released him and stepped back. "Terri, I presume?"

    She laughed at his stiff tones. "Yes, of course." Then she paused and tilted her head toexamine him. "Kate was right. You must be the most handsome man in New York. She said that'show I'd recognize you," she confided with a grin.

    Bastien found himself grinning back, ridiculously pleased at the compliment, until Lucern gottired of being ignored and announced, "That would be me, then. I'm Lucern, the most handsomeman in New York. The man you just hugged is my brother Bastien."


    Terri Simpson turned a startled gaze to the man who had just spoken. Perhaps an inch shorterthan the man she'd just hugged, the speaker eyed her with amusement. Terri was surprised shehadn't noticed this fellow, but while he was almost a twin to the man he'd just called Bastien,he wasn't an exact copy. They had the same nose, but his lower lip wasn't quite as full asBastien's, who also had a more defined jawline. There was also something different about theeyes. Both had large silvery blue irises, but Bastien's were deeper and filled with anindefinable emotion that called out to her.

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