Harper lost his lifemate, Jenny, during her turn and
has blamed himself for her death ever since, so he's
rather happy for the distraction when Tiny and Mirabeau
arrive with a young immortal in tow. Stephanie McGill
is a young newly turned, immortal who is being hunted
by a mad no-fanger named Leonius. When Anders and Drina
Argenis (Argeneau) arrive to help, Harper finds himself
working with the beautiful young Spanish woman. But
things get interesting when Stephanie decides to take
on the role of cupid and bring Drina and a reluctant
Harper together. How much trouble could a newly turned
teenage vamp be?
Drina hardly noticed the rhythmic tap of her heels
as she descended the stairs from the plane. Her attention
was shifting from the winter-dead trees surrounding
the private airstrip to the man leaning against the
back of a small golf cart on the edge of the tarmac.
With dark hair and skin and a black leather coat,
he could have been mistaken for a shadow if it weren’t
for his glowing gold-black eyes. They peered at her,
steady and cold from between his black wool hat and
scarf, and he remained utterly motionless until she
stepped down onto the paved runway. Only then did
he move, straightening and walking forward to meet
Despite the cold, Drina forced a smile. A greeting
was trembling on her lips, but died there when he
took the small bag she carried and turned wordlessly
away. The abrupt action brought her up short, and
she watched blankly as the man walked away with her
luggage. When he slid behind the wheel of the small,
open cart and dropped her bag on the front passenger
seat, she managed to shake herself out of her surprise
and move forward, but couldn’t resist muttering,
“Hello, you must be Drina Argenis. Such a pleasure
to meet you. Please, allow me to take your luggage
for you. And here, please take a seat so I can get
you to the enforcer house and out of this cold.”
With their hearing, she knew the man must have heard
her sarcastic mimicry of what she would have liked
him to say, but he didn’t react by deed or word.
He merely started the engine on the cart and waited.
Drina grimaced. It seemed obvious from where he’d
set her suitcase that she was expected to sit on the
back bench seat. Not welcome in the front, apparently,
she thought with disgust as she settled on the cold,
stiff seat. She then grabbed the supporting bar to
keep from sliding off as the cart immediately jerked
into motion. The icy metal under her fingers made
her think, not for the first time, that she should
have researched North American winters more fully
before making this journey. It was a bit late for
that, however. But she would definitely need to take
a shopping trip or two as soon as she could if she
didn’t wish to end up a Popsicle while here.
With nothing else to look at, Drina watched the small
plane that had brought her here turn on the landing
strip and start away. The moment its wheels lifted
off, the lights on the field suddenly blinked out
and darkness crowded in. For one moment, she couldn’t
see a thing, but then her eyes adjusted and she took
in the knee-deep snow and skeletal trees lining the
path and wondered how long she would be on this contraption
and out in the cold.
The woods weren’t as deep as they’d seemed
from the plane. It only took a matter of moments before
they left the woods behind to follow a small path
along the side of an open snow-covered yard holding
what looked like a long garage and a house. It was
the garage her driver steered them toward. The tires
crunched on the hard-packed snow as they came to a
halt beside a small door. The man who hadn’t
greeted her, then grabbed her bag and slid out from
behind the steering wheel. He moved toward the door
to the garage without a word.
Eyebrows rising, along with her temper, Drina followed
him inside and up a short hall. She spotted an office
and a hallway leading to cells on her left, but he
led her to a door on the right and straight into a
garage, where several vehicles sat waiting.
Drina cast a quick glance over the few vehicles inside.
They were all the same, SUVs, she thought they were
called. She followed Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Mute to the
back passenger door of the first vehicle. When he
opened it, and then simply waited, she eyed him narrowly.
It seemed obvious he was going to be her escort to
Port Henry, but she’d be damned if he was going
to stick her in the backseat like some unwanted guest
for the duration of what her uncle had said would
be a two-hour journey.
Smiling sweetly, she ducked under his arm and moved
past him to the front door instead. Drina pulled it
open and quickly slid inside, then turned to eye him
His response was to heave a long-suffering sigh,
toss her bag on the floor at her feet, and slam the
“Great,” Drina muttered, as he walked
around the vehicle to the driver’s side. But
she supposed she shouldn’t be surprised at the
man’s attitude. He worked for her uncle, after
all, the most taciturn man she'd ever met. On this
side of the ocean at least. She added that last thought
as Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Miserable slid behind the steering
wheel and started the engine.
Drina watched him press a button that set the garage
door in front of them rolling up, but waited until
he’d shifted into gear before asking, “Are
we heading straight to--”
She paused as he suddenly slid a letter from an inside
pocket of his fur-lined coat and handed it to her.
"Oh here, I was to give you this," Drina
mimicked dryly as she accepted the envelope.
Tall-Dark-and-Rude raised an eyebrow but otherwise
Drina shook her head and opened the letter. It was
from Uncle Lucian, explaining that her escort was
Anders and he would be delivering her directly to
Port Henry. She guessed that meant Lucian hadn’t
trusted Anders to pass on this information himself.
Perhaps he really was mute, she thought, and glanced
curiously to the man as she slipped the letter into
her pocket. The nanos should have prevented it ...
unless, of course, it wasn’t a physical problem
but a genetic one. Still, she’d never heard
of a mute immortal.
“Do you speak at all?” she asked finally.
He turned an arched eyebrow in her direction as he
steered the vehicle up the driveway beside the house,
and shrugged. “Why bother? You were doing well
enough on your own.”
So … rude, not mute, Drina thought, and scowled.
“Obviously, all those tales Aunt Marguerite
told me about charming Canadian men were something
of an exaggeration.”
That had him hitting the brakes and jerking around
to peer at her with wide eyes. They were really quite
beautiful eyes, she noted absently as he barked, “Marguerite?”
“Dear God, it speaks again,” she muttered
dryly. “Be still my beating heart. I don’t
know if I’ll survive the excitement.”
Scowling at her sarcasm, he eased his foot off the
brakes to cruise forward along the driveway until
they reached a manned gate. Two men came out of a
small building beside the gates and waved in greeting.
They then immediately set about manually opening the
inner gate. Once Anders had steered the SUV through
and paused at a second gate, the men closed the first
one. They then disappeared inside the small building
again. A bare moment later, the second gate swung
open on its own, and he urged their vehicle out onto
a dark, country road.
“Did Marguerite specify any particular male
in Canada?” Anders asked abruptly, as Drina
turned from watching the gate close behind them.
She raised an eyebrow, noting the tension now apparent
in the man. “Now you want to speak, do you?”
she asked with amusement, and taunted, “Afraid
it was you?”
He glanced at her sharply, his own eyes narrowed.
Drina snorted and tugged on her seat belt. Doing
it up, she muttered, “Like I'd tell you if it
She glanced over to see that he was now frowning.
“Hell no,” she assured him. “What
self-respecting girl would want to be stuck with a
doorstop for a mate for the rest of her life?”
“A doorstop?” he squawked.
“Yes, doorstop. As in big, silent, and good
only for holding wood.” She smiled sweetly,
and added, “At least I’m pretty sure about
the wood part. Nanos do make sure immortal males function
in all areas.”
Drina watched with satisfaction as Anders’s
mouth dropped open. She then shifted in her seat to
a more comfortable position and closed her eyes. “I
think I'll take a nap. I never sleep well on planes.
Enjoy the drive.”
Despite her closed eyes, she was aware that he kept
glancing her way. Drina ignored it and managed not
to grin. The man needed some shaking up, and she had
no doubt this would do it. Over the centuries, she’d
become good at judging the age of other immortals,
and was pretty sure she was centuries older than Anders.
He wouldn't be able to read her, which would leave
him wondering ... and drive him nuts, she was sure.
But it served him right. It didn’t take much
effort to be courteous, and courtesy was necessary
in a civilized society. It was a lesson the man should
learn before he got too old to learn anything anymore.
Harper considered his cards briefly, then pulled
out a six of spades and laid it on the discard pile.
He glanced toward Tiny, not terribly surprised to
find the man not looking at his own cards but peering
distractedly toward the stairs.
“Tiny,” he prompted. “Your turn.”
“Oh.” The mortal turned back to his cards,
started to pull one out of his hand as if to discard
it, and Harper shot his own hand out to stop him.
When Tiny glanced at him with surprise, he pointed
out dryly, “You have to pick up first.”
“Oh, right.” He shook his head and set
back the card he’d been about to discard, and
reached for one from the deck.
Harper sat back with a little shake of the head,
thinking, Lord save me from new life mates. The thought
made him grimace since that’s all he seemed
to be surrounded with lately: Victor and Elvi, DJ
and Mabel, Allesandro and Leonora, Edward and Dawn
and now Tiny and Mirabeau. The first four couples
had been together for a year and a half now, and were
just starting to regather some of their wits about
them. They were still new enough to be trying at times,
but at least they could actually hold on to a thought
or two longer than a second.
Tiny and Mirabeau were brand-spanking-new, however,
and couldn’t think of much else but each other
… and how to find a moment alone to get naked.
And they couldn’t control their thoughts either,
so that it was like constantly having a radio playing
in his ear, life-mate porn, twenty-four/seven.
Harper supposed the fact that he hadn’t packed
up his bags and moved on a year and a half ago when
his own life mate had died, was probably a sign that
he was a masochist. Because really, there was no worse
torture for someone who had just lost their long-awaited
and prayed-for life mate than to have to stand by
and witness the joy and just plain horniness of other
new life mates. But he had nowhere to go. Oh, he had
an apartment in the city and businesses he could pretend
to be interested in, but why bother when he’d
set them up years ago to ensure he needn’t be
there to oversee them, and could travel, merely checking
in once in a while. He also had family in Germany
he could visit, but they weren’t close, each
of them having created their own lives centuries ago
and barely keeping up with each other.
Actually, Harper thought, Elvi, Victor, Mabel, and
DJ were the closest thing to family he now had. When
Jenny had died, the two couples had surrounded and
embraced him and pulled him into their little family.
They had cushioned and coddled him during the first
shock of her loss, and slowly nursed him back to the
land of the living, and he was grateful for it. So
much so, in fact, that he was glad for this opportunity
to repay some of their kindness by looking after things
while they went on their honeymoons. He just wished
that looking after things didn’t include a pair
of new life mates to torture him with.
Tiny finally discarded, and Harper picked up another
card, but then paused and glanced toward the window
as the crunch of tires on new snow caught his ear.
“What is it?” Tiny asked, his voice tense.
“A vehicle just pulled into the driveway,”
Harper murmured, then glanced to Tiny and raised an
eyebrow. “Your replacements, I’m guessing.”
Tiny was immediately out of his seat and moving into
the kitchen to peer out the back window. When he then
moved to the pantry to collect his coat from the closet
there, Harper stood and followed. The arrival of the
replacement hunters was something he’d looked
forward to. He suspected Tiny and Mirabeau would now
retreat to their bedroom and not be seen much. It
meant he could avoid the worst of their obsessive
thoughts about each other … which would be a
Tiny apparently saw him coming and grabbed Harper’s
coat as well. The man handed it to him as he came
back into the kitchen, and both pulled them on as
they headed for the door to the deck. Tiny had pulled
his boots on while in the pantry and headed straight
out the door, but Harper had to pause to kick off
his slippers and tug on the boots by the back door.
It only took a moment, but by the time he did and
stepped outside, Tiny was already out of sight.
Harper grimaced as the bitter wind slapped his face.
He followed the big mortal’s footprints in the
snow, trailing them across the deck and down the steps
to the short sidewalk that ran along the side of the
garage to the driveway. With his eyes on the ground,
he didn’t see the person approaching until he
was nearly on top of them. Pausing abruptly when a
pair of running shoes came into view in front of his
boots, he jerked his head up with surprise and found
himself blinking at a petite woman in a coat far too
light for Canadian winters.
His gaze slid from her hatless head, to the suitcase
she carried, and then beyond her to the two men by
Harper glanced back to the woman. She was smiling
tentatively at him and holding out one ungloved hand
“Alexandrina Argenis,” she announced
when he merely stared at her hand. “But everyone
calls me Drina.”
Removing one hand from his pocket, he shook hers,
noting that it was warm and soft despite the cold,
then he cleared his throat and said, “Harpernus
Stoyan.” He retrieved his hand and shoved it
back into the safety of his pocket as he stepped to
the side for her to get by. “Go on inside. It’s
warm in there. There’s blood in the fridge.”
Nodding, she moved past him, and Harper watched her
go, waiting until she disappeared around the corner
before continuing on to the SUV now parked in the
driveway. Tiny and another man, this one dressed more
befitting a Canadian winter, with hat and gloves and
even a scarf, were still at the back of the truck.
As he approached, the new man pulled a cooler from
inside and handed it to Tiny.
Rather than turn away and head back to the house
though, Tiny said, “Throw your suitcase on top
and I’ll take it in as well.”
Harper smiled faintly to himself. Tiny was a big
guy, a small mountain really, and very strong …
for a mortal. He was also used to being the muscle
among his own people and forgot that he was now dealing
with immortals who outclassed him horribly in that
But the new arrival merely set a suitcase on top
of the cooler and turned back to the SUV without comment.
Tiny immediately slid past Harper to head for the
house, leaving him to step up beside the newcomer
and peer curiously into the back of the SUV. There
were two more coolers left inside. The fellow was
unplugging them and winding up the cords.
He glanced to the man with surprise at the terse
greeting, eyebrows rising as he recognized the eyes
that turned to him. “Nice to see you, Anders,”
Harper greeted in return as he reached in to retrieve
one of the coolers. “It’s been a while.”
Anders’s answer was a grunt as he claimed the
second cooler and straightened from the vehicle. He
paused to close the back of the SUV, hit the button
to lock the doors, and then nodded for Harper to lead
Harper turned away but found himself grinning and
couldn’t resist saying, “Chatty as ever,
When the man basically told him to bugger off in
Russian, Harper burst out laughing. The sound of his
own laughter was somewhat startling, but it felt good,
he decided, as he led the way across the deck. Maybe
it was a sign that he was finally coming out of the
depression that had struck him when Jenny had died.
The thought made him sigh to himself as he shifted
the cooler to open the door to the house. He’d
been sunk pretty deep in self-pity and gloom for the
last year and a half, and while he supposed it was
only to be expected when one lost a life mate, it
would be a relief to feel more himself again. He was
not a naturally gloomy guy but had found little to
laugh or even smile about since Jenny’s death.
“Here.” Tiny was in front of him, reaching
for Harper’s cooler the minute he stepped into
the house. He gave it up and watched the man carry
it into the dining room, where he unraveled the cord
and plugged it in. The one Tiny himself had carried
in was already plugged into a socket in the corner
of the kitchen, Harper noted, and supposed the man
was spreading them throughout the house to be sure
they didn’t overload a breaker. The coolers
were basically portable refrigerators and probably
used a lot of juice.
Feeling the cold at his back, Harper realized he
was blocking Anders from entering and quickly stepped
aside for him to pass. He then pulled the screen door
closed and shut and locked the inner door. By the
time he turned back, Tiny had returned and was taking
the last cooler from Anders. Harper’s gaze slid
over the dining-room in search of Alexandrina-Argenis-everyone-calls-me-Drina
and found her standing beside the dining-room table,
shrugging out of her coat.
“If this is all blood, you brought a lot of
it,” Tiny commented with a frown as he turned
to carry the last cooler away, this time heading for
the living room.
“Lucian sent it for your turn,” Anders
responded, bending to undo and remove his boots.
“My God, he speaks again,” Drina muttered
with feigned shock. “And a whole sentence too.”
“Sometimes you’ll even get a paragraph
out of him,” Harper responded, but his gaze
was now on Tiny. The man had paused in the doorway
of the living room and turned back, a startled expression
on his face. Apparently it hadn’t occurred to
him that now that he and Mirabeau had acknowledged
they were life mates, the next step was the turn.
“A whole paragraph?” Drina asked with
dry amusement, drawing Harper’s attention again.
“A short one, but a paragraph just the same,”
he murmured, glancing her way. He then paused to take
her in. She was petite, as he’d noticed outside,
which was a polite way of saying short. But she was
curvy too, rounded in all the right places. She was
also most definitely Spanish, with olive skin, deep-set
eyes, the large brow bone, and straight, almost prominent
nose. But it all worked to make an attractive face,
“Right, of course, the turn,” Tiny muttered,
drawing his attention once more, and Harper shifted
his attention back to find the other man looking resolute.
As he watched, Tiny straightened his shoulders and
continued into the living room.
Harper frowned and had to bite back the urge to tell
Tiny that perhaps he should wait on turning, but he
knew it was just a knee-jerk reaction to his own experience.
It was rare for a mortal to die during the turn, and
in all likelihood, Tiny would probably be fine. However,
Jenny had died, and so that was the first thing he
thought of and the worry that now plagued him.
Sighing, he bent to remove his boots. He set them
beside the radiator, and straightened to remove his
coat. Laying it over his arm, he then took Anders’s
as he finished removing it and crossed the room to
collect Drina’s as well before ducking into
the small pantry in the back corner of the kitchen.
It held the entry to the garage but was also where
the closet was.
Harper glanced around to see that Drina stood in
the doorway to the kitchen, eyes sliding around the
small room. Her gaze slid back to him as he reached
for hangers, and she moved to join him as he hung
up her coat.
“Let me help. You don’t have to wait
on us.” She took the second hanger he’d
just retrieved and Anders’s coat, leaving him
to deal with only his own.
Harper murmured a “thanks,” but had to
fight the urge to assure her it was fine and send
her from the room. The tiny space suddenly seemed
smaller with her in it, a good portion of the air
seeming to have slipped out with her entrance, leaving
an unbearably hot vacuum behind that had him feeling
flushed and oxygen starved. Which was just odd, he
decided. He had never been claustrophobic before this.
Still, Harper was relieved when they were done with
the task, and he could usher her back into the much
“So where is this Stephanie we’re supposed
to guard?” Drina asked, sliding onto one of
the stools that ran along the L-shaped counter separating
the kitchen from the dining area.
“Sleeping,” Harper answered, moving past
her to the dining-room table to gather the cards from
his game with Tiny.
“Stephanie’s still used to mortal hours,”
Tiny explained, returning to the kitchen then. “So
we thought it’d be better if one of us was up
with her during the day and the other up at night
to keep an eye on things while she slept. I got night
“They’re concerned about the lack of
security here,” Harper explained, sliding the
cards into their box and moving to set them on the
Drina frowned and glanced to Tiny. “But isn’t
that backward? You’re mortal, aren’t you?
Shouldn’t you be up during the day and this
Mirabeau up at night?”
Tiny smiled wryly. “That would have been easier
all around, but it’s only been this one day.
Besides, while I can hang out with her during the
day or night and keep an eye on her, someone has to
sleep in her room, which had to be Mirabeau.”
When Drina raised an eyebrow, he explained, “We
didn’t think it was a good idea to leave her
alone in her room all night. There’s no fence
here, no alarm … It could be hours before we
realized she was gone if she was taken or--”
“Or what?” Drina asked when Tiny hesitated.
It was pure politeness on her part, Harper knew. The
woman could have read him easily enough to find out
what he was reluctant to say but was asking instead
out of respect.
Tiny was silent as he removed his own coat, but finally
admitted, “There’s some concern that Stephanie
might try to run away and get to her family.”
“Really?” Drina asked, her eyes narrowing.
Tiny nodded. “Apparently, Lucian caught the
thought in her head a time or two. He thinks she only
wants to see them, not necessarily approach them,
but--” He shrugged. “Anyway, as far as
she’s concerned, none of us know that, and someone
has to be with her twenty-four/seven because of Leonius.”
“So we are not only watching for attack from
outside, but a prison break as well,” Drina
murmured. “And because of this, Mirabeau has
been sleeping in Stephanie’s room with her?”
Tiny shrugged. “This was the first night. We
only got here the day before yesterday, and Elvi,
Victor, DJ, and Mabel were here then to help keep
an eye on things. But they left at four this morning,
so …” He grimaced. “When Stephanie
went to bed, Mirabeau did as well.”
Drina heaved a sigh, smiled wryly and said, “Well,
I guess that will be my gig from now on. I’ll
have a bag of blood, and then go up and relieve Mirabeau.”
Harper had to smile at Tiny’s expression. The
man looked torn between shouting hallelujah, and protesting
it wasn’t necessary tonight and she could take
over that duty tomorrow. Duty versus desire, he supposed.
Tiny and Mirabeau had brought Stephanie here from
New York, sneaking her from the church where several
couples were being wed in one large ceremony, including
Victor and Elvi. They had left via a secret exit in
the church, and traveled some distance through a series
of sewer tunnels before reaching the surface. They’d
then driven to Port Henry, where Victor and Elvi had
been waiting to welcome the girl.
While Tiny and Mirabeau were officially off duty
now that Drina and Anders had arrived, Lucian had
insisted they stay to get over the worst of their
new-life-mate symptoms. Harper suspected they would
feel a responsibility to help out while they were
here. They would probably even feel they should, to
pay back for staying here at the bed-and-breakfast
for the next couple of weeks.
“Drina’s right,” Anders announced,
saving Tiny the struggle. “It’s better
someone less distracted than Mirabeau be in Stephanie’s
room with her. Besides, it’s our worry now.
You two are off duty.”
Tiny blew out a small breath and nodded, but then
added, “We’ll help out while we’re
“Hopefully, it won’t be necessary, but
we appreciate that,” Drina said, when Anders
just shrugged. She then slid off her stool and glanced
from Anders to Harper in question. “Which blood
do I use? From the coolers or the fridge?”
“Either one,” Anders said with a shrug.
“More is coming in a couple of days.”
Harper moved to the refrigerator to retrieve a bag
for her, pulled out three more and turned to hand
“Thank you,” Drina murmured, accepting
the bag Harper offered. She popped it to her fangs,
then suddenly stiffened and turned to glance over
her shoulder. Following her gaze, Harper saw that
Teddy was entering the dining room from the foyer.
“I thought I heard voices,” the man said
on a yawn, running one hand through his thick, gray
“Sorry if we woke you Teddy,” Harper
said, and gestured to the newcomers. “The backup
Lucian promised has arrived.” He turned and
explained to Drina and Anders, “Teddy Brunswick
is the police chief here in Port Henry. He’s
also a friend, and he offered to stay and help keep
an eye out until you guys arrived.” He glanced
back to the man, and said, “Teddy, this is Alexandrina
Argenis. She prefers Drina.”
Teddy nodded in greeting to Drina, and then glanced
to Anders as Harper finished, “And her partner
“Hmm.” Teddy raised his eyebrows. “Anders
a first name or last?”
“Neither,” Anders said, and ended any
further possibility to question him by popping his
bag of blood to his mouth.
Teddy scowled but merely moved into the small back
room with its coat closet. He returned a moment later
with a coat in one hand and a pair of boots in the
“Now that the cavalry have arrived, I guess
I’ll go home and crawl into my own bed,”
he announced, settling on a dining-room chair to don
“Thank you for staying, Teddy,” Tiny
murmured. “I made a fresh pot of coffee shortly
before Drina and Anders arrived. Do you want a cup
for the road?”
“That’d be nice,” Teddy said appreciatively,
finishing with one boot and pulling on the other.
Tiny immediately moved to the cupboard and retrieved
a travel mug. By the time Teddy had finished with
his second boot, Tiny had poured the coffee and added
the fixings. He waited as Teddy donned his coat and
did it up, and then handed him the mug.
“Thank you,” Teddy murmured, accepting
it. “I’ll clean the mug and return it
tomorrow when I come to check on things.”
“Sounds good,” Tiny said with a nod,
as he walked the man to the door and saw him out.
“Well,” Drina said, pulling the now-empty
bag from her fangs and moving around the counter to
throw it out. “I guess it’s time for me
to go to bed.”
Harper smiled faintly at her grimace as she said
it. It was only a little after one. Going to bed now
was like a mortal going to bed at four in the afternoon.
It was doubtful she’d be able to sleep for quite
a while. In fact, he suspected she probably wouldn’t
be able to drift off until just before dawn, and then
she’d have to get up with Stephanie in the morning.
She was in for a rough time until she adjusted to
her new hours, he thought with sympathy.
“It’s the room in the front right corner
as you come off the stairs,” Tiny said helpfully.
“I’m not sure which of the double beds
Mirabeau chose, though.”
“I’ll figure it out,” Drina assured
him as she picked up her suitcase. “Good night,
“Good night,” Harper murmured along with
the others. He watched until she’d left the
room, and they could hear her mounting the stairs.
He then frowned slightly and glanced up toward the
lights, wondering why the room seemed a little darker
all of a sudden.