Table of Contents
-Chapter Three-Chapter Four
-Chapter Seven-Chapter Eight-Chapter Nine
-Chapter Eleven-Chapter Twelve-Chapter Thirteen-Chapter Fourteen-Chapter Fifteen-Chapter Sixteen-Chapter Seventeen-Chapter Eighteen-Chapter Nineteen-Epilogue
"We are lifemates."
Marguerite choked, spitting wine out as she coughed and sputtered.
"Are you all right?" Julius asked.
"Not the most delicate approach, was it?"
They stared at each other, his expression assessing, hers wary.
"What are we going to do about it?"
She swallowed. "Do we have to do anything about it for now? I mean, there is no need to really
do anything at all. We are immortals and appear to be lifemates."
"We are lifemates, Marguerite. There is no appear about it," he growled.
His eyes were blazing, the silver consuming the black of his eyes.
She licked her lips nervously and paused when his gaze followed the action. The air in the room
was suddenly electric. Her heart rate sped up, blood moving swiftly through her veins as her
breathing became shallow…
By Lynsay Sands
Vampire, Interrupted Vampires Are Forever The Accidental Vampire Bite Me If You Can A Bite to Remember A Quick Bite
? This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the
author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any
resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely
coincidental. AVON BOOKS An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 10 East 53rd Street New York, New York 10022-5299 Copyright ? 2008 by Lynsay Sands ISBN: 978-0-06-122977-0 www.avonbooks.com First Avon Books paperback printing: March 2008 Avon Trademark Reg. U.S. Pat. Off. and in Other Countries, Marca Registrada, Hecho en U.S.A. HarperCollins? is a registered trademark of HarperCollins Publishers. Printed in the U.S.A. ? For Dave, thanks for all the help, Mr. Spice. And special thanks to Daniela Brodner for help with naming Lissianna's baby.
Marguerite wasn't sure what woke her, a sound perhaps, or the crack of light from the bathroombeing momentarily blocked, or maybe it was simply an instinct for survival that dragged herfrom sleep. Whatever caused it, she was alert and tense when she blinked her eyes open andspotted the dark shape above her. Someone stood at the side of the bed, looming like death.That thought had barely formed in her mind when the dark shape used both hands to raisesomething overhead. Recognizing the action from her youth when broadswords and weapons of itsilk were more common, Marguerite reacted instinctively, rolling abruptly to the side as theassailant's arms started their downward swing.
She heard the weapon slam into the bed just before tumbling off the bed. Marguerite landed onthe floor with a thump and a shout that became a frustrated curse as she found herself tangledin the sheets. Glancing up, she saw her attacker jump onto the bed to follow. When he swung thesword again, she promptly gave up on the sheets, snatched the lamp off the bedside table, andswung it around to block the blow.
Pain vibrated up her arm on impact, eliciting another shout. Marguerite turned her eyes awayfrom the flying sparks as metal met metal, and spared a bare moment to be grateful that theDorchester was a five-star hotel with quality—and fortunately—metal-based lamps that didn'tsnap under a sword's blow.
"Marguerite?" The call was followed by a knock at the connecting door to the rest of the suitethat made both she and her attacker pause and glance toward it. In the next moment, herattacker apparently decided he didn't wish to take on two of them and leapt off the bed to racefor the balcony doors.
"Oh, no you don't," Marguerite muttered, dropping the lamp and lunging to her feet. She wasn'tthe sort to allow someone to sneak up and attack her in her sleep, then run off to do so againanother day. Unfortunately, she'd forgotten about the sheets tangled around her legs, andcrashed to the floor with her first step.
Gritting her teeth against the pain vibrating through her, Marguerite peered toward the balconydoors as the curtains were tugged open. Sunlight immediately poured in, and she saw that herattacker was encased from head to toe in black: black boots, black pants, long-sleeved blackshirt, and all of that covered by a black cape. He also wore black gloves, and even a blackbalaclava covering his face, which she saw as he turned to look back at her. Then he slid outonto the balcony, allowing the curtain to drop back into place as her bedroom door slammedopen.
"Marguerite?" Tiny rushed toward her, concern on his face.
She waved him toward the balcony doors. "He's getting away!"
Tiny didn't ask questions, but immediately changed direction, rushing for the doors leadingonto the terrace. Marguerite stared after him with amazement. The man wore nothing but a pairof gold silk boxers with a big red heart on the backside. The sight made her mouth drop open insurprise, but the moment he disappeared through the billowing curtains her surprise turned toconcern. She'd sent an unarmed, nearly naked man after her attacker—who had a sword.
Cursing, Marguerite concentrated on the sheets wrapped around her legs. Of course, they fellaway easily now that she was no longer under threat. Muttering with exasperation, she scrambledaround the bed and hurried to the balcony doors, charging right into Tiny's bare chest as hestepped back into the room.
"Careful. It's daylight," he rumbled, catching her upper arms and moving her back away from thecurtains. He turned to close and lock the doors.
"Did you see him? Where did he go?" Marguerite asked, trying to peer around his large frame ashe pulled one of the heavy curtain panels into place. The action blocked out the worst of thesunlight and most of her view of the terrace.
"I didn't see anyone. Are you sure you weren't dream—?" Tiny paused mid-sentence as he glancedback and caught a glimpse of her in the bit of sunlight slipping between the gap in thecurtains.
Marguerite raised an eyebrow at the sudden widening of his eyes as they traveled over her inthe short pink silk nightie she wore. His stunned gaze moved slowly down all the way to herpedicured and red-painted toes and then just as slowly back up, skimming her shapely, barelegs, her rounded hips, and then skipping up her stomach to her breasts, which she knew weremore revealed than not by the low neckline. His eyes stopped there, the dazed look turning to aconcerned frown.
"You're hurt." Tiny caught her by the chin and tipped her face up and to the side so he couldget a better look at her neck. After a second, he released her with a soft curse.
"What is it?" she asked as he took her by the arm to hurry her across the room.
Marguerite glanced down at herself. There was a line of blood dripping down her upper chest andsoaking into the lace neckline of her nightie. Frowning, she felt around on her throat untilshe found the nick in her neck. Apparently the sword had caught her as she rolled away.
"Tell me what happened," Tiny ordered as he ushered her into the en suite bathroom and flippedon the light.
"I woke up to find a man standing over the bed. He had a sword. I rolled off the bed as heswung it," Marguerite said simply, her gaze shifting out toward the bedroom and the balcony
doors as he snatched up a clean washcloth and turned on the taps to wet it.
Her adrenaline was still pumping and she now found she had itchy feet. She wanted to pursue theman who'd attacked her.
"Roll faster next time," Tiny muttered, reclaiming her attention as he began to wash the bloodaway from her skin. He scowled as he worked, and then relaxed a little and said, "It isn't toobad. Not deep, I don't think. Just a nick."
"It will heal quickly," Marguerite said with unconcern as she moved away from him and back intothe bedroom. She wasn't used to being taken care of and wasn't comfortable with it.
Her feet took her to the balcony doors, where she shifted the curtain to peer out on the brightterrace. There was no one there, and no rope or anything else to suggest how they'd got ontoher balcony either.
She scowled out at the skyline. They were on the seventh and top floor. Her attacker must haveclimbed down from the roof.
"He was aiming to cut off your head."
Marguerite released the curtain and glanced around at that comment. Tiny was at the side of thebed, examining the slice across the mattress right where her neck had been.
She shifted on her feet, her thoughts starting to take order in her head. Her attacker had useda sword. That told her he was definitely an immortal. Mortals usually killed each other, withguns or knives. If they were trying to kill an immortal they went for the classic stake.Beheading with a sword was usually the sign of another immortal.
"Do you have enemies here in England that you forgot to mention?" Tiny asked suddenly,straightening from examining the bed to spear her with a frown.
Marguerite shook her head. "It must be connected with this case."
He raised a doubtful eyebrow. "Why? We haven't found out anything yet."
Marguerite grimaced, disgusted by their inability to unearth even a bit of informationregarding their case. They were here to help Christian Notte, a five hundred-year-old immortal,find out the identity of his dead birth mother. It had sounded an easy task in the beginning,but it wasn't turning out that way. A lot of time had passed since his birth, and Christian hadlittle information he could offer them except that he'd been born in England and his father hadreturned home to Italy with him when he was only two days old.
Tiny and Marguerite had started the search in England, spending the last three weeks searchingthrough dusty church archives looking for mention of his birth or even of the name Notte. Theybegan in the southernmost part of the country, working their way north until they'd reachedBerwick-upon-Tweed. It was there that Tiny had finally suggested they question Christian againto see if there wasn't some bit of information he could give them to help narrow the search toone area, or at least one half of the country.
Relieved by the suggestion, Marguerite had promptly agreed. She'd expected private detectivework to be much more interesting than it was turning out to be and was seriously reconsideringher career choice. But she'd promised to help Christian find out the identity of his mother andintended to do her best to accomplish that.
Tiny was the one who called Christian in Italy and arranged to meet in London. Rather than waitand catch a train the next morning and have to travel during daylight, Marguerite rented a carand they drove through the night, arriving at the hotel shortly before dawn. Christian hadalready arrived and checked in.
They'd met briefly with Christian Notte, and his cousins Dante and Tommaso on arriving, butonly long enough to arrange a meeting at sunset to discuss the case. They'd then parted to goto their rooms.
"No, we haven't found out anything," she agreed now, pursing her lips as she peered at Tiny andthen added, "But I can't think of any other reason someone would try to kill me. Perhaps thevery fact that we're here and looking is enough to worry someone."
Tiny didn't look convinced. He did look worried though so she wasn't surprised when hesuggested, "I think we should switch rooms… possibly even hotels."
Marguerite was frowning at the thought of having to dress and pack and move when Tiny suddenly
an immortal, wasn't it?"added, "It was
Her startled eyes shot to his face, though she knew she shouldn't be surprised. She might be anewbie at this detective business, but Tiny was the real thing. She should have realized he'dput it together.
Sighing, Marguerite ran a hand through her hair and nodded. "Yes. I am sure he was. And, yes,we should switch hotels and even use a different name. But not this morning," she added firmly."I am sure he will not try again this day and I'm exhausted."
Tiny nodded and then asked, "Did you leave your balcony door open?"
"Was it locked?"
Marguerite hesitated and then shrugged. "I did not open it when I came in, so I have no idea."
Tiny frowned at her answer, and then announced, "You aren't sleeping in here. You can take mybed."
"Well, you are not sleeping in here either," she said firmly.
"No," he agreed. "I want to stick close to you until we move hotels. Jackie and Vincent wouldnever forgive me if I let you get killed under my nose."
Marguerite smiled faintly at the mention of her nephew, Vincent Argeneau and his lifemate,Jackie Morrisey, who also happened to be the owner and president of the Morrisey DetectiveAgency, Tiny's boss… and hers now too, she supposed.
"I'll nap on the window seat in my room while you take the bed," he decided.
"You'll not get any sleep there." Marguerite moved to the door leading to the rest of thesuite. "You can sleep in the bed with me."
Tiny snorted at the suggestion as he followed her through the sitting area to his door. "LikeI'd get any sleep there."
Marguerite glanced back and grinned when she caught him watching her behind as he followed herinto the second bedroom. It didn't take her ability to read his mind to know he found herattractive. She'd been aware of that from the beginning of their friendship. And she found himattractive as well; tall, handsome, built like a line-backer with one of those lovely, widechests a gal could spend hours exploring… and he could cook too, a skill Marguerite had neveracquired. The man was practically perfect. There was only one flaw to him as far as she couldtell, but it was a big one. Marguerite could read and control him. Having spent the last sevenhundred years trapped in a marriage with a man who could read and control her—and couldn'tresist doing so at every opportunity—she wasn't willing to visit that on someone else.
"You are perfectly safe with me," she assured him solemnly as she crossed the room to his bed.
"Marguerite, honey, no man is safe with a woman who looks like you," Tiny muttered as he closedthe door. He watched her climb into bed and added with a shake of the head, "Especially in thatnightie. What the hell did they make it out of? A hankie and some lace?"
Marguerite peered down at herself. The nightie wasn't really that revealing. Or at least, itwasn't as revealing as some of her other ones. And she liked pretty lingerie, it made her feelsexy. Single gals like herself had to get that feeling somewhere. Besides, she hadn't expectedanyone would see it.
She raised her gaze to Tiny again to find him settling on the window seat. It wasn't longenough for him to stretch out on, so he sat himself on it, back against the wall at one end,arms crossed over his chest, expression grim as he avoided looking at her.
"You are not going to get any sleep like that," Marguerite said with a sigh.
"Yeah, well, I don't need a lot of sleep," he muttered, his gaze sliding to her and thenquickly dancing away.
Marguerite stared at him for a moment and then shook her head and lay down in the king-sizedbed. She closed her eyes and tried to sleep, but after a couple of moments, she opened themagain to stare at the ceiling overhead and then finally turned a scowl in Tiny's direction.This was just stupid. He wouldn't catch a lick of sleep on that window seat, and she was never
couldn't sleep. Besides, it was a huge bed, with plenty of room forgoing to sleep knowing he
both of them.
Narrowing her eyes, Marguerite gave in to temptation and slipped into his thoughts. It tooklittle effort to take control of the man, bring him to his feet, and direct him across the roomto the bed. She made him lie down beside her and then took a moment to ease him into anuntroubled sleep before slipping free of his mind with a little sigh.
Marguerite peered at him for a moment, and then turned out the bedside lamp, scooted under thesheet and blankets, and closed her eyes… only to have them pop open a moment later. She peeredat the dark outline of the man in bed beside her, a frown curving her lips as she realized thatshe'd just done to him, what she'd so resented her husband doing to her throughout theirmarriage. She'd made him do what she'd thought was best rather than what he wished.
Marguerite tried to excuse herself by pointing out that it was late and they were both tiredand he really would sleep better in the bed, but that didn't ease the guilt she was feeling.Tiny wasn't the first mortal she'd controlled during her seven hundred years of life, andnormally she didn't have any guilt over it, but Tiny was a friend and friends didn't controlfriends … just as her husband, Jean Claude, shouldn't have controlled her.
Grimacing, Marguerite sat up in bed again, turned on the light, and nudged Tiny's arm to wakehim. His eyes immediately shot open.
"Wh—What's happened?" He peered around a bit wildly, then spotted her in the bed beside himand appeared confused. "What?"
"I put you in bed so you would sleep comfortably, but then realized that it wasn't right for meto control you. So, if you really want to sleep on the window seat…" She shrugged.
Tiny stared at her blankly, and then slow anger crossed his face. "You controlled me?"
Biting her lip, Marguerite nodded apologetically. "I'm sorry. I realized it was wrong, that'swhy I woke you up."
Tiny's anger slid away, leaving him deflated as his gaze slid to the window seat. He didn'tlook particularly eager to leave the bed, but sighed and started to shuffle out of it, only topause when he realized he was under the comforter, but on top of the sheet.
"I thought if you woke up before me it might make you feel better if you were on top of thesheet and I was under," she explained when he glanced her way.
Tiny relaxed and nodded. "It does. I guess it's okay if we sleep like this. But next time don'tcontrol me. We're partners, Marguerite… equals. I need to be able to trust you, but I can't dothat if you're going to control me any time we disagree on what to do."
"I won't," she promised.
Nodding, Tiny lay back in bed and Marguerite turned off the lamp and followed suit. They laythere in silence for several moments, and then Tiny sighed.
"I can't get back to sleep. Do you think you could do that control thing and make me?"
Marguerite turned her head to peer at him with surprise. "You want me to control you?"
"Just to put me to sleep," he muttered.
The last of her guilt slipping away, Marguerite slid into his thoughts and put him back tosleep, and then lay back with a small smile. She liked Tiny. He was a good man. It was really ashame she could read and control him. He would make a good lifemate for some lucky gal.
Perhaps she should see if she couldn't find him a lifemate, Marguerite thought. It would be
nice for her nephew's wife, Jackie, to have her friend with her in the future. She knew thewoman would be shattered when he died whether it was next week or some time in the far distantfuture when he'd reached his dotage.
Marguerite closed her eyes, her mind filling with immortal after immortal she knew that maysuit Tiny. He was a big, sweet man, a gentle giant. He deserved a sweet, kind wife who wouldappreciate him as he deserved to be appreciated. She drifted off to sleep while stillconsidering the matter.
Julius Notte looked down at the empty bed and frowned. It wasn't even five o'clock yet, morethan an hour from sunset. Marguerite Argeneau should be snug in her bed, but wasn't. He knew hehad the right room. The scent of a woman's perfume—sweet and musky like fruit at harvesttime—assured him that this was her room. And she'd obviously been sleeping here earlier, butnow the room was empty.
Scowling, he glanced over the mess around him, taking in the rumpled bed with its sheet andcomforter trailing onto the floor, the broken lamp next to it, and the shattered glass that hadbeen knocked from the bedside table.
Concern replacing his annoyance, he retraced his steps, instinct sending him to the door of theother bedroom in the suite. It should be where the private detective, Tiny McGraw, was staying,but when he inhaled he caught a faint whiff of that sweet and musky perfume. Marguerite was inthere, or had been at some point.
Julius opened the door and moved silently inside.
Marguerite's eyes snapped open, muffled sounds jerking her from sleep. She was immediatelyalert. Even so, she had to blink several times before her mind accepted the sight before her.Tiny dangled in the air, caught by the throat and held above the floor by… Christian Notte?Eyes locked on the two men, she reached back blindly to feel around until her hand knockedagainst the bedside lamp. Finding the switch, she turned it on and squinted against the lightthat exploded into the room.
"Good evening, Marguerite."
Stiffening in the bed, she stared at the man presently dangling Tiny in the air. It wasn'tChristian Notte. This man was several inches over six feet in height, with wide shoulders,handsome features, and deep silver-black eyes. All of which described Christian, but this manhad short black hair and wore a business suit. Christian's hair was long and auburn and she'dnever seen him in anything but black leather or black jeans. "Who are you?" she asked, glancingworriedly at Tiny's face. Much to her concern the mortal was turning blue, his strugglesbecoming less frantic. She scowled at the man holding him and said, "Stop being so bloody rudeand release my co-worker. We're friends of Christian's and he won't be pleased if you killTiny."
"Co-worker?" He dropped Tiny and perched his hands on his hips to scowl at her. "Is that whatthey call it now?"
Marguerite didn't respond, her concerned gaze was on Tiny. The detective was gasping andcoughing and struggling to get to his knees. But he was alive. That was something, shesupposed, finally turning her attention back to the angry man looming over the bed. It seemedobvious he was somehow related to Christian, who was technically their employer, but… reallythis situation was somewhat beyond her. This was her first job. How did one deal with thesethings? She wanted to snap at the man to get the hell out of her room—well, Tiny's room, shesupposed. However, she wasn't sure if that was the most professional approach. Perhaps she wassupposed to be polite.