To get another chapter of Reluctant Vamp

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To get another chapter of Reluctant Vamp

Postby Lynsay on April 21st, 2011, 10:57 pm

Okie Dokie, here goes, figure out who X, Y and Z are and get the first two chapters, shouldn't be too hard at all, easy even. (grin) Actually, I maybe should check and see where the Avon sample ends you might get three chapters. Hmm. Anyway, here goes.

“What do you think, X?”

Blinking, he shifted his attention to Y and raised an eyebrow uncertainly. “What do I think of what?”

“Of these,” Y said with a laugh, and held a pair of panties in front of Z's groin. They were red silk with black lace trimming. “Do you think men would find her attractive in these? There’s a matching bra too.” She held that up in front of Z's breasts next and peered at the effect with a tilted head. “I think they’re gorgeous, but Z says the material of the bra is too flimsy and her nipples would show through when it’s cold. Do men mind nipple bumps?”

“I--” X stared, his mind suddenly on hiatus as he imagined Z in the outfit, her nipples erect and pressing the material outward. “Don’t--”

“See, he said “I don’t.” I told you men don’t mind nipple bumps,” Y said with a laugh, and tossed the bra and panties into the cart.

X stared helplessly at the scraps of material and shook his head. He hadn’t meant he didn’t mind nipple bumps. Hell, he wasn’t sure what he’d meant. Please don’t do this to me, maybe. The girl was…well, he didn’t know what to think of Y. She had been quiet and sad-looking when she’d first arrived in Port Henry, but had blossomed a bit under Elvi’s and Mabel’s attention before they’d left. However, she appeared to have really come out of her shell with Z’s arrival and was being rather precocious. He didn’t think she had a clue how her suggestions and words were affecting him, though. No doubt she was young enough that she really thought a man could just look at this stuff without it affecting him, but—

His gaze shot to Z, and he wondered what she was making of all this. He’d been too busy looking at the material in front of her and imagining it on her body, to even take in her expression this time. Though he had a vague sense that she’d seemed embarrassed by the girl’s behavior. She appeared unconcerned now, though, completely oblivious of his presence, her expression serene as Y held up a black and red bustier in front of her. A bustier, for Christ’s sake!

“You’re so lucky to have the body to wear this stuff” Y was sighing as he tuned in to what she was saying. “You have lovely breasts. I noticed when you were changing your clothes last night. I hope I have breasts like yours when I finish growing. They’re full and round, just like those girls in the screamer movies.”

“Dear God,” X muttered, forcing his eyes and ears away from the pair as his mind again filled with the image of Z’s full, round breasts in the white lace.

Was this how females talked when alone together? Commenting on breasts and stuff as they stripped in front of each other? And if it was…well, that was one thing. But he wasn’t a girl, and yet neither seemed troubled about having the discussion in front of him. What the hell did that say?
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Re: To get another chapter of Reluctant Vamp

Postby susan60625 on April 21st, 2011, 11:32 pm

I think I got it Lynsay! They are as follows:
X = Harper
Y = Stephanie
Z = Drina

Am I right?????
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Re: To get another chapter of Reluctant Vamp

Postby Lynsay on April 21st, 2011, 11:46 pm

Yeppers! LOL Well done hon. Told you it was easy. LOL

Here you are. Three chapters. Have fun

The Reluctant Vampire

Chapter One

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 her.
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 darn 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 challengingly.
His response was to heave a long-suffering sigh, toss her bag on the floor at her feet, and slam the door closed.
“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 didn’t react.
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. “Was it?”
Drina snorted and tugged on her seat belt. Doing it up, she muttered, “Like I'd tell you if it was.”
“Wouldn’t you?”
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 blessing.
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 the SUV.
Harper glanced back to the woman. She was smiling tentatively at him and holding out one ungloved hand in greeting.
“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 area.
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 the way.
Harper turned away but found himself grinning and couldn’t resist saying, “Chatty as ever, I see.”
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, he decided.
“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 larger kitchen.
“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 duty.”
“They’re concerned about the lack of security here,” Harper explained, sliding the cards into their box and moving to set them on the counter.
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 here, though.”
“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 them out.
“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 hair.
“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, then glanced to Anders as Harper finished, “And her partner is Anders.”
“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 other.
“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 his boots.
“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, boys.”
“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.

The Reluctant Vampire

Chapter Two

Drina paused before the bedroom door Tiny had directed her to and eased the door open. The moment she did, someone sat up in the near bed. Mirabeau, she guessed, and backed up as the woman got up and moved to join her in the hall.
“Our replacement?” Mirabeau whispered as she slid the door silently closed. She wore joggers and a sleeveless T-shirt: comfortable enough to sleep in but ready for action if necessary.
“Drina Argenis,” Drina said with a nod, offering her hand.
“Mirabeau La Roche.” They shook hands, and then Mirabeau asked, “Lucian said Anders was coming with you?”
“Yes, he’s downstairs with the others,” Drina said. “I came up to relieve you. I’ll sleep in Stephanie’s room from now on.”
“I can’t say I’m sorry to give up that job. I haven’t slept a wink,” Mirabeau admitted dryly.
“I don’t think I will either. At least not tonight,” Drina admitted on a sigh. She hadn’t slept at night since…well, actually she didn’t recall ever sleeping at night. Shrugging, she added, “Although tomorrow night may be a different story. By then I may be exhausted enough that I do actually sleep.”
“Let’s hope,” Mirabeau said, glancing toward the stairs.
“Go on,” Drina said with amusement as she picked up her suitcase. “Tiny is no doubt getting antsy waiting for you.”
Mirabeau nodded and turned away. “Good night.”
“Good night,” Drina murmured and eased the bedroom door open to slip inside. The room wasn’t completely dark, the curtains were heavy, but a faint glow from the streetlights outside was still slipping around the edges. Between that and her eyesight, Drina could see almost as well as if it were daylight. She set down her suitcase beside the bed, briefly considered changing her clothes, but then decided the sweater and jeans she wore would do. She didn’t want to wake Stephanie, and wasn’t likely to sleep anyway, she thought as she eased to sit on the side of the bed.
“Aren’t you going to change your clothes?”
Drina turned sharply and glanced over her shoulder as the young girl in the next bed shifted onto her side facing her and raised her arm to rest her head on her hand.
“You can turn on the light if you like. I’m not asleep anymore.”
Drina hesitated, but then supposed if they were going to be roommates, she should at least introduce herself to the girl. Standing, she moved around the bed to sit on the side facing Stephanie as the girl reached over to turn on the lamp on the bedside table. Habit, Drina supposed. As an immortal, Stephanie should have been able to see as well as Drina did.
The sudden light was briefly blinding, but after blinking several times, Drina found herself peering at a petite blonde. She’d been told the girl was fifteen, but Stephanie looked younger. She had a lovely face, but a child’s body, still somewhat gangly and flat-chested.
“Hi.” Stephanie shifted to sit cross-legged on her own bed. “You’re Alexandrina Argenis, but prefer to be called Drina.”
“And you’re Stephanie McGill,” she said calmly, supposing that Lucian must have told Mirabeau and Tiny who was coming, and they’d passed it on to the girl.
“They didn’t tell me,” Stephanie said with a smile.
Drina blinked. “Excuse me?”
“You just thought that Tiny and Beau told me who was coming, but they didn’t. I read your mind.”
Drina sat back slightly, her eyes narrowing. The girl certainly sounded as if she’d just read her mind, but it wasn’t possible. Drina was old, older than her uncle Victor, and Stephanie was a new turn. The teenager couldn’t possibly read her.
“Maybe it’s because you’ve met your life mate,” Stephanie suggested with a shrug. “That usually makes you guys readable, doesn’t it?”
“Er…” Drina instinctively shook her head in denial.
“Marguerite suggested you to Lucian because she thinks Harper is your life mate.”
“Crap.” Drina sagged where she sat. The kid really was reading her. That was the only explanation since Marguerite had said Lucian hadn’t wanted to know who it was so long as it wasn’t Anders. She and Marguerite were the only two in the world who knew.
“Plus me,” Stephanie said with amusement.
“Plus you,” Drina agreed on a sigh. Apparently just meeting the man had been enough to start affecting her. Great.
“It was smart you’ve played it cool and didn’t just blurt out that he might be your life mate. Harper’s going to be a hard nut to crack,” Stephanie said suddenly. “He’ll fight this life-mate business.”
“Why do you say that?” Drina asked warily.
“Because it isn’t grief that’s making him so miserable over Jenny. It’s guilt. He thinks if he’d never met and tried to turn her, she’d still be alive. It’s eating him up. He doesn’t think he deserves to be happy, that he needs to suffer for her dying. He’ll fight it and avoid you for the next couple of centuries until he feels he’s suffered enough if he finds out you’re life mates… unless you creep up on him.”
Drina stared at her blankly, amazed to hear such wisdom from someone so young.
Stephanie suddenly grinned and admitted, “I’m not Yoda or something. I’m just repeating what Marguerite said to you.”
“She did say that, but I wasn’t thinking it,” Drina said with a frown.
“Yeah, you are. It’s nagging at the back of your mind and probably has been since she said it. That and the thought that it just figured you’d finally encounter your life mate, and instead of it being easy like you’d expect finding an immortal life mate should be, it’s going to be even more delicate than it would be were he mortal.” She grimaced. “I know the feeling.”
“Do you?” Drina asked quietly.
“Oh, yeah. Nothing lives up to your expectations,” she muttered, then grimaced and said, “Like, before…when I was human, I used to fantasize what it would be like to be, you know, different. Special. I even once or twice fantasized about what it would be like to be a vampire. I thought it would be so cool. Strong, smart…no one would pick on you, no one could make you do anything you didn’t want and all that bull.” She sighed and shook her head. “It isn’t like that at all. Sure, I’m stronger, and the kids at school couldn’t pick on me, but I’m not in school, am I? And there seem to be even more problems than when I was human.”
“You’re still human, Steffie,” Drina said quietly, feeling for the kid. Marguerite had told her all about the girl as part of her effort to convince her to accept the assignment. She knew that last summer Stephanie had been a happy, healthy mortal with her whole life ahead of her…until she and her older sister, Dani, had been taken from a grocery-store parking lot in cottage country by a group of no-fangers. The girl had been terrorized and turned against her will, and now her whole life had changed. While Lucian and his men had rescued her, she was now Edentate, immortal but without fangs, and she could not return to her previous life. Like Dorothy caught up in a tornado and dropped in Oz, Stephanie had lost her family and friends and been dropped in the middle of an entirely different life not of her choosing. She’d had a rough shake and didn’t deserve what had happened to her. And Drina wasn’t at all surprised this wasn’t what the girl had envisioned when she’d imagined the impossible fantasy of being a vampire.
Realizing that the girl was staring at her oddly, she asked uncertainly, “What?”
“My brothers and sisters always call me Steffie.”
“Oh, sorry,” Drina muttered. Her brother’s name was Stephano and she always called him Steff. She supposed she’d just automatically turned it feminine.
“Your brother’s name is Stephano?” the girl asked with interest. Stifling a yawn, she lay back in the bed. “You’ll have to tell me about him, but tomorrow. I’m really tired now. Sometimes, this reading-thoughts business is exhausting. Good night.”
“Good night,” Drina murmured, as the girl rolled onto her side away from her and settled into her bed. She then hesitated a moment, considering whether she should take the time to change now or just turn off the light so the girl could get to sleep.
“Go ahead. The light doesn’t bother me,” Stephanie mumbled. “Besides, while I know you don’t think you’ll sleep, you’ll stand a better chance of doing so if you’re more comfortable.”
Drina shook her head and stood to grab her suitcase and toss it on the bed. She wasn’t used to having someone reading her mind. She was old enough most people couldn’t. And she definitely didn’t like it. She would have to guard her thoughts more carefully, she supposed, and then stopped thinking altogether and just concentrated on quickly changing into a pair of white joggers and an equally white tank top.
“Good night,” Stephanie mumbled, as Drina closed her suitcase and set it back on the floor.
“Good night,” she whispered back and crawled into bed, then turned out the light and lay down. Even as she did, Drina knew she was about to spend a very long night fretting over what to do about Harpernus Stoyan. She’d heard of reluctant mortal life mates, but this was really one for the record books. Only she could wind up with a reluctant vampire life mate.
Harper didn’t think he’d been asleep long when he was suddenly awake again. Frowning, he peered toward the window, noting the sliver of bright sunlight trying to creep around the edges of the blackout blinds. He listened for what might have disturbed him, but silence curled around him like a blanket. He was actually dozing off again when a muffled peel of laughter brought his eyes open once more.
Frowning, he sat up and listened more intently, but the house was silent, without even the sounds of creaking stairs or floorboards reaching his ears. No one was moving around inside the house, he decided, but then another laugh reached his ears, and he turned toward the window, where he was sure the sound had come from. Harper peered at the blinds for a moment and then slid out of bed and padded across the floor to the window which looked out over the garage and driveway at the back of the house.
Sunlight streamed in the moment he tugged one of the slats down, and Harper blinked against it, squinting until his eyes adjusted. He then scanned what he could see of the driveway and backyard. It was a moment before he found the source of the sounds he’d heard, and then Drina came into view on the sidewalk beside the garage. She was slip-sliding her way toward the driveway, her running shoes giving her no traction on the icy concrete. Her clumsy efforts elicited another peel of amusement from somewhere out of sight.
Stephanie, Harper decided, sure it was the girl even though he couldn’t yet see her. Turning his gaze back to Drina, he frowned as he took in her winter wear. She wore jeans, which were fine, but the running shoes were completely unsuitable, and her coat was far too lightweight for this weather. She also had no gloves or hat on, which suggested to him that she hadn’t been prepared for a Canadian winter when she’d set out on her journey from Spain.
She’d probably thought she would just attend the weddings in New York, spending most of her time in the hotel, the church, or cars and wouldn’t need heavier gear, he thought, and then winced as a snowball suddenly shot from somewhere off to the side and slammed into the back of Drina’s head. The hit took her completely by surprise and made her jerk. In the next moment, her feet went out from beneath her and she was on her behind on the icy concrete. She was also cursing a blue streak in Spanish that he could hear even over Stephanie’s uproarious laughter.
Concern rushing through him, Harper let the blind slat slip back into place and hurried out of the room, pausing just long enough to pull on a pair of jeans as he went. Once downstairs, he almost rushed outside bare-chested and in just the jeans, but the chill that hit him when he opened the kitchen door, and the sight of the snow-laced screen door, made him rethink that and hurry to the closet in the pantry. Still, he was quick about pulling on boots and a coat, and didn’t bother doing up either before rushing back through the kitchen and out onto the deck.
The walkway was empty, and there was no sign of either female as he crossed the deck. For one moment, Harper could almost have believed he’d imagined the whole thing he’d seen from his window, but then he spotted where the snow had been disturbed by Drina’s fall, as well as the footprints leading around to the driveway. He followed them quickly to the garage, and stopped abruptly. Stephanie was in the front passenger seat of the SUV, bent over and peering at something under the driver’s side, but it was Drina’s derriere waving around in the open driver’s door as she fiddled with something under the dashboard that brought him to a halt.
The woman’s butt was snow-covered and bobbing about like an apple on a river’s surface as she worked at whatever she was doing. It was an interesting sight, he decided, and then gave his head a shake and continued forward, becoming aware of their conversation as he approached.
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Stephanie was asking, half-amused and half-worried. “I could always just creep in and find the keys.”
“I have done this before,” Drina assured her from under the dashboard, her voice sounding annoyed. “I can do this. It is just that your cars seem to be wired differently than ours in Europe.”
Stephanie snorted at the claim. “I hardly think they wire them differently. How long ago did you last do this?”
“Twenty years or so,” Drina admitted in a mutter, and then cursed in Spanish, and added determinedly, “I can do this. We will go shopping.”
“Is there something I can help you ladies with?” Harper asked, pausing behind Drina’s bobbing derriere and just resisting the urge to brush the snow from it. Really, her butt must be cold, encased in snow like that.
Stephanie glanced to him wide-eyed, but Drina stiffened, her bobbing stopping altogether. She stayed frozen for a moment, then jerked her head upward, cursed as it slammed into the steering wheel, and muttered under her breath as she backed out of the vehicle. Of course, he was right behind her and didn’t move out of the way quickly enough. Her rear end rammed into his groin, and she trod on his feet.
Gasping an apology, Drina immediately stumbled forward again to get off him, lost her footing, and started to go down. In his effort to save her from the fall, Harper managed to get his own feet tangled up with hers and found himself crashing to the icy pavement with her.
“Are you all right?”
Harper opened his eyes at that concerned query and turned his head to see that Drina had pushed herself to her hands and knees beside him and was eyeing him worriedly. Her coat was open despite the cold, revealing a low-cut silk shirt that gaped slightly thanks to her position. It left him an extraordinary view of full, round breasts encased in a lacy white bra that looked rather fetching against her olive skin.
Blinking, he tore his gaze from the delectable sight and glanced past her to Stephanie, who was nearly killing herself laughing in the SUV, and then he sighed and said dryly, “I’ll live.”
“Hmm.” Drina’s eyes drifted down to his bare chest, where his coat had fallen open and he saw one of her eyebrows rise, but then she scrambled to her feet and offered him a hand.
“Sorry,” she muttered as she helped him up. “You startled me.”
“My fault,” he assured her, taking a moment to brush himself down. He then straightened and glanced to the open door of the SUV. “What were you doing?”
“Er…” Drina flushed guiltily and turned back to the vehicle. “I need boots and a heavier coat, and Stephanie needs a few things too, so we were just going to head out shopping.”
“Hmm.” His lips twitched, and then he said, “So you were going to hot-wire the SUV?”
Drina clucked with irritation at being caught, and then said with exasperation, “Anders has the keys, and I didn’t want to disturb him to get them.”
“Ah.” Harper glanced from her embarrassed and defiant face to the vehicle and back, and then he asked, “Do you have a license to drive here? Or even a Spanish driver’s license?”
“Bah!” Drina waved the question away. “We don’t need them. If a police officer tries to pull us over, we just control them.”
“Ah, yes,” Harper nodded. He’d expected as much and explained apologetically, “But you can’t do that in Port Henry. You can anywhere else, even London, but not here.”
“What?” She glanced to him with surprise.
“Lucian promised Teddy that his people would follow the laws while in Port Henry, and none of us would use mind control on Teddy or his deputy,” Harper explained.
Drina narrowed her eyes, and pointed out dryly, “Which isn’t promising he won’t himself.”
“No,” Harper admitted with a grin. “But Teddy didn’t catch that at the time.”
“Hmm,” she said with irritation, and then glanced to Stephanie’s worried face and grimaced. “Don’t worry. We’ll still go. We’ll just call a taxi.”
Stephanie looked dubious. “Do you think they even have taxis here? I mean, it’s a pretty small town.”
Drina turned to him in question. “Do they?”
“Actually, I don’t think they do. Or at least if they do, I haven’t heard of one,” Harper admitted, and when Drina’s shoulders began to sag with what appeared to be defeat, he found himself saying, “I can take you in my car.”
She appeared as surprised as he was by his offer. Truly, Harper had no idea where that had come from. He’d just blurted it without really even thinking first.
“Don’t you sleep during the day?” Drina asked with a frown. “Speaking of which, what are you even doing up?”
Harper just shook his head and turned away to start back up the drive, saying, “I’ll just throw on a shirt and grab my keys and wallet and be right back.”

“My laughing woke him up, but he didn’t want to make us feel bad by saying so,” Stephanie announced.
Drina turned to glance at the young girl in the SUV. Seeing that Stephanie’s attention was on Harper as he hurried across the deck toward the kitchen door, Drina quickly swiped up a handful of snow off the SUVs roof and worked it into a ball as she asked, “Which laughing woke him? Your laughing when I was slip-sliding around on the sidewalk? Or your laughing when you hit me with the snowball, and I went down like a ton of bricks?”
Stephanie turned an unrepentant grin her way. “It was funny,” she began, and then her eyes suddenly narrowed and dropped to search for Drina’s hands.
Realizing the girl had read her mind and knew what she was up to, Drina quickly shot the snowball at her, but Stephanie was faster, whirling and ducking at the same time so that the ball missed her and hit the passenger window instead.
“Too slow,” Stephanie taunted.
Drina shrugged. “That’s all right. I’ll get you when you least expect it.”
Stephanie chuckled, unconcerned by the threat, and slid out of the SUV to walk around and join her. “He has a nice chest, doesn’t he?”
He certainly did have a nice chest, Drina thought, and she’d been hard-pressed not to simply throw herself on top of it and drool all the way down to the top of his jeans when she’d seen it. But she’d restrained herself, and now merely shrugged, asking, “You noticed his chest, did you?”
“Not really. Mostly I noticed that you noticed,” Stephanie responded with amusement.
Drina rolled her eyes with disgust. This being easily read business was going to become a serious pain in the arse at this rate, she decided.
“You played it cool though,” Stephanie praised her. “He didn’t even have an inkling you were drooling inside.”
“I wasn’t drooling,” Drina assured her dryly.
“Oh, yeah. You were,” Stephanie said on a laugh.
Drina sighed. “All right, maybe a little inside.” She shrugged. “What can I say? It’s been half a millenium since I’ve even noticed a man’s chest.”
Actually, it had been longer than that, she realized and hoped to God her hymen hadn’t grown back in the intervening years.
“Oh my God! That doesn’t happen, right?”
Drina blinked at that horrified exclamation and glanced at Stephanie with confusion. “What?”
“The nanos don’t…like…fix your hymen after it’s been broken so that every time you have sex its like the first time?” she asked with a bone-deep horror that left Drina gaping.
“Good Lord, no!” she assured her. “Where on earth would you get an idea like that?”
Stephanie sagged with relief, and then explained, “You were just thinking you hoped yours hadn’t grown back.”
“Oh, I—That was-- I was just having a sarcastic, self-deprecating minute in my head. Gees.” She closed her eyes briefly, opened them again and said solemnly, “Girl, you have to stay out of my head.”
“I’m not in your head,” Stephanie said wearily. “You’re talking into mine.”
Drina frowned, pretty sure she wasn’t trying to talk into her head.
“So why don’t they?” Stephanie asked suddenly, a frown tugging at her lips.
“Why don’t who what?” Drina asked, confused again.
“Why don’t nanos repair the hymen when it’s broken?” she explained. “I thought their job was to keep us perfect and all.”
“Not perfect. No one is perfect,” Drina assured her. “They’re programmed to keep us at our peak, the best we each can be as individuals.”
Stephanie waved that away impatiently. “Right, but if you break a bone, they fix it. Why wouldn’t they fix the hymen if it was broke?”
“Well—” Drina paused, her brain blank, and then shook her head helplessly. “I don’t know. Maybe the nanos don’t think the hymen is something that needs fixing. Or maybe the scientists didn’t think to include the hymen as part of the anatomy when they programmed them,” she suggested and then grimaced and added dryly, “I’m just glad as heck that they don’t repair it.”
“I know,” Stephanie groaned. “That would be vile.”
“Hmm.” Drina nodded and gave a little shudder at the thought, but then glanced at her sharply. “Have you had sex?”
“No, of course, not.” Stephanie flushed with embarrassment.
“Then why so horrified at the thought of the nanos replacing the hymen?” she asked, eyeing her narrowly.
Stephanie snorted. “I read. It’s not supposed to be fun to lose your virginity.”
Drina relaxed and shrugged. “It’s different for different people. For some it’s painful, for others not so much, for some there’s blood and others not. It may be all right for you,” she said reassuringly, and then frowned and added, “But…you know… you shouldn’t rush out there to find out which it will be in your case. You have plenty of time to try stuff like that. Plenty of time,” she stressed.
“Now you sound like my mother,” Stephanie said with amusement.
Drina grimaced. She kind of felt like her parent in that moment. Certainly, she suddenly had a lot more sympathy for parents having to give the sex talk. Dear God, she couldn’t even imagine that conversation.
“Fortunately for you, my mother already gave me that talk,” Stephanie said with a grin.
“You’re reading me again,” Drina complained.
“I told you, I’m not reading you. You’re kind of pushing your thoughts at me.”
Drina frowned and turned to ask her to explain what she meant, but paused to glance toward the garage as one of the doors began to whir upward.
“Harper must be ready to go,” Stephanie commented. “You should let me take the front seat.”
“I should, should I?” Drina asked with amusement.
“Definitely,” Stephanie assured her. “We don’t want him to think you like him or start worrying about life mates and stuff. Wave me that way as we approach the car. That way Harper will think you didn’t care to sit in the front with him.”
Drina smiled faintly but just nodded. It couldn’t hurt, and she didn’t care if she was in the front or not anyway.
“And you should sit right behind him, not behind the passenger seat,” Stephanie whispered as the garage door finished opening and they saw Harper waving to them from the driver’s seat of a silver BMW.
“Why?” Drina whispered back, using the excuse of closing the still-open door of the SUV to delay approaching the car.
“That way, every time he looks in the rearview mirror, he’ll see you,” she pointed out.
Drina peered at her with surprise. The kid was smart, she thought, and knew by the way that Stephanie smiled widely that she’d heard the compliment. Chuckling, she slid her arm around the girl and used it to steer her toward the car.
“You can sit in the front if you like,” she said with amusement, steering her that way, and then breaking off to move up the driver’s side of the car herself.
“You’re sure you don’t mind?” Stephanie asked with feigned concern, pausing beside the passenger door.
“Not at all,” Drina said dryly and had to bite her lip to keep from laughing when the girl grinned at her over the roof of the car, out of Harper’s view. Shaking her head, Drina opened the back door and slid in behind him.
“Thank you, Harper. This is really sweet of you,” Stephanie said as she slid into the front seat. “Isn’t it sweet, Drina?”
“Very,” she agreed mildly.
“It’s no problem,” Harper assured them, smiling at Stephanie, and then meeting Drina’s gaze in the rearview mirror and smiling at her as well. “Just tell me where you want to go, and we’re there.”
“Well, Drina insisted we had to stay in town because she doesn’t know her way around, so we were just going to go to Wal-Mart. But with you driving, maybe we could go into London,” Stephanie said in a rush.
“I don’t think so, Stephanie,” Drina said firmly when Harper hesitated. “It wasn’t just that I don’t know the area. I think it’s better that we stay in town until we’re sure no one trailed you guys from New York. Here we at least have the house relatively close and can call Teddy Brunswick if we need help.”
“But there are so many cool stores in London,” Stephanie protested. “We could go to Garage or the Gap or—”
“I’ll tell you what,” Harper interrupted. “How about we try Wal-Mart today for the necessities, and then maybe later in the week we can venture out to London if you don’t find everything you need here in town?”
Stephanie heaved out a sigh. “Oh, all right.”
“Good. So, do up your seat belts and we’ll be on our way.”
Drina smiled wryly at Harper’s relieved tones and did up her seat belt, then sat silently in the backseat as he maneuvered the car out of the garage and past the SUV.
“If you’re the daughter of Lucian and Victor’s brother, how come your name is Argenis and not Argeneau?”
Drina blinked at the sudden question from Stephanie, caught a bit by surprise, but it was Harper who answered.
“Argenis is just basically the Spanish version of Argeneau. They’re derivatives of the same root name,” Harper said, sounding like a schoolteacher. “As each branch of the family spread out to different areas of the world, the name changed to fit the language of that area. Argenis in Spain, Argeneau in France, Argent in England, and so on.”
Stephanie peered at Harper curiously. “So what’s the root name?”
“I believe it was Argentum, which means silver in Latin,” Harper said solemnly. “It was because their eyes are silver-blue.”
“They named people for their eye color?” Stephanie asked with disbelief.
Harper chuckled at her expression. “Back then they didn’t really have last names. They were mostly first names and then descriptors, like John the barber, or Jack the butcher, or Harold the brave and so on.”
“So it was Lucian the silver?” she asked dubiously.
“Something like that,” Harper said with a shrug.
“Hmm.” Stephanie swung around to peer at Drina. “And you’re a rogue hunter in Spain?”
Drina nodded.
“Is it different than being a rogue hunter here?”
Drina raised her eyebrows. “I don’t know. It doesn’t appear to be so far.”
“They have different laws in Europe,” Harper put in quietly.
“Like what?” Stephanie asked, turning back to him.
“Biting mortals is not outlawed there,” Drina answered stiffly when Harper hesitated. She knew that was the reason for the hesitation. It was a bit of an issue between the North American council and the European one.
“You can bite people over there?” Stephanie frowned. “So Leonius wouldn’t be rogue in Europe?”
“I said bite, not kill or turn. Trust me, Leonius would be rogue anywhere,” she said dryly, and then sighed. “So long as they are discreet and don’t unduly harm the mortal, immortals can bite mortals in Europe. Although,” she added firmly, “while they haven’t yet outlawed it, it is somewhat frowned upon by most, and the majority of immortals stick mainly to bagged blood.”
“Have you bitten mortals?” Stephanie asked curiously.
“Of course,” she said stiffly. “I was born long before there were blood banks.”
“But since blood banks, have you bitten them?” Stephanie persisted.
Drina grimaced, but reluctantly admitted, “Only consenting adults.”
Stephanie’s eyes widened, and she squealed, “She means during sex.”
Drina blinked. That hadn’t been what she’d meant at all. She’d been thinking of the occasional formal dinners at the homes of council higher-ups, which sometimes included willing bitees for the guests to feed on. It was something she wasn’t very comfortable with anymore but was expected to participate in when forced to attend…and Stephanie should know that. She could read her mind. And she’d read it earlier, so knew it had been eons since she’d bothered with sex. Drina eyed Stephanie quizzically, wondering what the girl was up to.
“I don’t know why everyone thinks it’s so hot to get naked and sweaty and sink their teeth into each other,” Stephanie was saying with disgust, and then she glanced at Harper, and said, “I mean, imagine you were alone with Drina getting busy. You’re both naked and hot and she crawls onto your lap, her naked boobs jiggling in your face…Would you really want to plunge your fangs into them?”
Drina swung her gaze to the rearview mirror to see that Harper looked quite overset. His face was flushed, his eyes glazed, and then he suddenly swung the steering wheel and brought the car to a halt with a jerk.
“We’re here,” Harper choked out, practically throwing himself out of the vehicle and slamming the door with a resounding thud.
“You little devil,” Drina muttered watching Harper stagger toward the store.
“Yeah, I’m good,” Stephanie said with a grin. “Now he’s thinking of having sex with you.”
Drina turned her gaze to the girl, eyeing her thoughtfully. “You’re kind of evil.”
Stephanie took it as a compliment and grinned as she got out of the car.

The Reluctant Vampire

Chapter Three

Harper stepped through Wal-Mart’s sliding doors, and then paused as Stephanie sped past him to pull a cart from a small collection of them waiting directly ahead. Shifting uncomfortably, he glanced around, his gaze barely touching on Drina before it slipped away. “I can probably find something to entertain myself with in the video department if you girls would rather shop without me trailing you around.”
“Oh, no,” Stephanie protested. “It won’t be as much fun without you, Harper. Besides, a guy’s opinion is always vital when it comes to fashion.”
“Vital, huh?” he said with a faint smile.
“Very vital. My dad always said no woman can tell another woman what looks best on her, only a man can,” she assured him. “And Drina and I want to look our best in case we run into some hunky guys when she takes me to lunch.”
“Lunch?” he asked with a frown.
“Oh.” Stephanie frowned. “Well, she promised we’d go to lunch after shopping, but that was when we were going by ourselves. I suppose that’s out now,” she added, her head lowering with disappointment.
“I’ll take you both to lunch,” Harper said quickly when her lower lip began to tremble.
“Really?” Stephanie brightened at once. Beaming happily, she gave him a hug. “Thank you, Harper. Here, you can push the cart while Drina and I throw clothes in. It will give you something to do. Come on, Drina. I need scads of clothes.”
“Hmm,” Harper muttered, taking her place at the cart when she danced out in front of it to lead the way. He had the distinct impression he’d been played here, an impression that only solidified when Drina chuckled “sucker” in a soft voice as she followed Stephanie into the aisles.
Harper shook his head and followed the pair, sighing when he realized his eyes had seemed to fasten on Drina’s behind and appeared unwilling to leave it. It was Stephanie’s fault. That business about being naked and sweaty with Drina, getting it on, and her crawling in his lap, her breasts jiggling... Would he want to plunge his fangs into her? The girl’s words had painted a picture in his head of the two of them entwined on the sheets of his bed, Drina straddling his lap facing him and he plunging more than just his fangs into her. It had been a rather invigorating image that had left him hot, flushed, flustered, breathless and darn excited. And hell yes, he’d have wanted to sink his fangs in her, as well as other things. The thought had so startled Harper that he hadn’t been able to get out of the car, and away from the image, fast enough. Unfortunately, the image was following him.
He supposed, it didn’t help that he’d accidentally seen just how round and full those jiggling breasts would be if she were to crawl naked into his lap. The image of her on her hands and knees on the snowy driveway, top gaping and revealing her lovely curves now flashed into his mind again.
Sighing, Harper forced his eyes from Drina’s behind and up to her face with some effort as she paused to examine some item of clothing they’d approached. From the glimpse he’d got of her face in the rearview mirror, Drina hadn’t looked nearly as affected by the image Stephanie had painted of them as he had. If anything, her expression as she’d peered toward Stephanie had been rather confused, though he wasn’t sure why.
“What do you think, Harper?”
Blinking, he shifted his attention to Stephanie and raised an eyebrow uncertainly. “What do I think of what?”
“Of these,” Stephanie said with a laugh, and held a pair of panties in front of Drina’s groin. They were red silk with black lace trimming. “Do you think men would find her attractive in these? There’s a matching bra too.” She held that up in front of Drina’s breasts next and peered at the effect with a tilted head. “I think they’re gorgeous, but Drina says the material of the bra is too flimsy and her nipples would show through when it’s cold. Do men mind nipple bumps?”
“I--” Harper stared, his mind suddenly on hiatus as he imagined Drina in the outfit, her nipples erect and pressing the material outward. “Don’t--”
“See, he said “I don’t.” I told you men don’t mind nipple bumps,” Stephanie said with a laugh, and tossed the bra and panties into the cart.
Harper stared helplessly at the scraps of material and shook his head. He hadn’t meant he didn’t mind nipple bumps. Hell, he wasn’t sure what he’d meant. Please don’t do this to me, maybe. The girl was…well, he didn’t know what to think of Stephanie. She had been quiet and sad-looking when she’d first arrived in Port Henry, but had blossomed a bit under Elvi’s and Mabel’s attention before they’d left. However, she appeared to have really come out of her shell with Drina’s arrival and was being rather precocious. He didn’t think she had a clue how her suggestions and words were affecting him, though. No doubt she was young enough that she really thought a man could just look at this stuff without it affecting him, but—
His gaze shot to Drina, and he wondered what she was making of all this. He’d been too busy looking at the material in front of her and imagining it on her body, to even take in her expression this time. Though he had a vague sense that she’d seemed embarrassed by the girl’s behavior. She appeared unconcerned now, though, completely oblivious of his presence, her expression serene as Stephanie held up a black and red bustier in front of her. A bustier, for Christ’s sake!
“You’re so lucky to have the body to wear this stuff” Stephanie was sighing as he tuned in to what she was saying. “You have lovely breasts. I noticed when you were changing your clothes last night. I hope I have breasts like yours when I finish growing. They’re full and round, just like those girls in the screamer movies.”
“Dear God,” Harper muttered, forcing his eyes and ears away from the pair as his mind again filled with the image of Drina’s full, round breasts in the white lace.
Was this how females talked when alone together? Commenting on breasts and stuff as they stripped in front of each other? And if it was…well, that was one thing. But he wasn’t a girl, and yet neither seemed troubled about having the discussion in front of him. What the hell did that say?
He supposed it said neither of them were thinking of him as a sexual male, and he guessed that was as it should be. Stephanie was too young to think of any male that way…he hoped. And it wasn’t like Drina was his life mate. The woman was old enough she probably didn’t bother much with sex despite Stephanie’s efforts to gussy her up like a tart and send her out on the prowl for “hunky guys.”
Harper was more than relieved when the women finished in the lingerie department and moved on to actual clothing. At least he was until Stephanie insisted Drina try on a slinky little black dress and model it for them in case she got the chance to go out and “kick up her heels” a bit.
The dress was nothing special…until Drina put it on. It looked to him as if Stephanie had given her the wrong size. Drina seemed to be busting out all over the place, her breasts overflowing the cups to the point of almost spilling out, and the slit up the front so high that Harper feared more than thigh would show were she to step up onto anything or sit in it.
“Perfect,” Stephanie pronounced, jolting him out of his stupor.
He peered from Drina to Stephanie with disbelief. “Surely it’s the wrong size?”
“Actually, it’s just my size,” Drina said, peering at herself in the mirror.
“But it’s--” He paused, mouth open when she turned her back to him. Drina’s behind was as generous as her bosom and he couldn’t help noting the way the material clung to her curves…or how short the skirt was. Were she to bend over, he was sure the skirt would climb halfway up her hips.
He’d barely had the thought when Stephanie said, “Maybe you should bend over, Drina. We need to be sure it’s safe to do that in this dress.”
Drina shrugged and bent at the waist as if to pick up something. The skirt didn’t rise halfway up her hips as he’d feared, but high enough that he caught a glimpse of her white lace panties.
“It’s okay,” Stephanie decided. “It only shows a little panty when you do that.”
“Then I won’t bend over,” Drina said dryly as she straightened.
Harper closed his eyes and just managed not to whimper. This was an experience he felt sure he would never forget…and definitely never repeat, he thought grimly. Women were crazy.
“I think we should probably get you some FM shoes to go with it when we go looking for winter boots,” Stephanie announced, and Drina nodded as she slipped back into the dressing room to return to her jeans and blouse.
“FM shoes?” Harper asked blankly.
“It’s what my sister calls high heels,” Stephanie explained.
“Oh.” He frowned and asked, “Is it a brand or--”
“No. It stands for something, but she’ll never tell me what,” Stephanie said with a grimace and then shrugged. “Maybe Drina can tell us. She seemed to know what I was talking about. Oh look! Wouldn’t these look darling on her?”
Harper stared at the package of thigh-high stockings Stephanie was now holding up and shook his head with bewilderment. It was like the girl was dressing a hooker Barbie. She seemed eager to get Drina in the slinkiest, sexiest items available. Not that Drina seemed to be fighting the effort. Although, to be fair, the black dress was the only outer clothing that fit that description. The rest of the clothes she’d chosen had been mostly sensible and comfortable jeans, T-shirts and so on. But every bit of underclothing was downright rated X.
“Girls like to wear pretty things,” Stephanie announced with a smile. “My sister, Dani, says it’s kind of like a secret. Men don’t know what we have on under our clothes. We may look like a librarian or tomboy on the outside, but underneath we can be as secretly sexy and pretty as we please.” She turned back to the hose and smiled. “You should have seen the cute little pink panties and bra Drina was wearing last night. I suffered some serious envy when I saw them. I can’t wait to wear stuff like that. They looked incredible against her olive skin.”
Harper blinked, his mind filling with an image of Drina in pale pink panties and bra, and it did look incredible against her darker skin. darn, he thought on a sigh as Drina stepped out of the changing room.
“I guess I’ll get it. You never know when you’ll need to dress up,” Drina said lightly, setting the short, black cocktail dress in the cart. “What’s left? Coats, boots, a hat, and gloves?”
“Yeah.” Stephanie glanced down at the bomber jacket she wore and winced. “Tiny picked this up for me yesterday, which was really sweet, because if not I wouldn’t have had a coat at all. But it’s kind of big and really, just not my style.”
“Hmm.” Drina eyed the overlarge coat and nodded. “We can get you another one.”
“Thank you!” Stephanie beamed and whirled to lead the way.
Harper began to push the cart after her. When Drina fell into step beside him, he cleared his throat, and commented, “Judging by all you’ve chosen, you don’t appear to have brought much with you on this trip.”
“Oh, well, I was only expecting to be at the wedding, spend a couple of days in New York, and then head back to Spain. I didn’t count on this added bit,” she explained wryly.
Harper nodded; he’d thought as much by the size of her suitcase when he’d seen it last night. “So they roped you in at the last minute?”
She nodded, but smiled. “I don’t mind, though. So far it’s been fun. Stephanie is…” Drina hesitated, then shrugged. “She’s really a sweet kid.” She grimaced, laughed, and then said, “Well, except for the part about being determined that I should find me a nice Canadian farm boy to ‘play with’ while here.”
“So that’s what all this is about,” he said wryly.
Drina nodded. “Ever since she read my mind and saw how my life has been all work and no play, she’s been determined I should ‘have fun.”
“She’s frighteningly good at reading minds,” Harper said solemnly.
“Uncommonly good at it,” Drina agreed, her expression troubled. “New turns can’t usually read anyone yet, but she not only seems to be able to read new life mates, but non-life mates too and even those of us centuries or millennia older than her.” She bit her lip, and admitted, “Actually, she says she’s not reading minds at all, but that we’re all talking into her head.”
“Hmm.” Harper frowned at the words.
“Oh, Drina! These are pretty, and they’re so soft!” Stephanie cried, drawing their attention as she rubbed a pair of red gloves against her cheek. They had reached the outerwear section.
Forcing away the concern on her face, Drina moved to join the girl, leaving Harper to follow. He did so more slowly, his mind consumed with Drina’s words as he watched the two females consider the options in gloves, hats, and scarves.
He now understood Stephanie’s apparent determination to dress Drina up in the hottest gear she could find. The kid probably felt guilty for the woman being roped into helping look out for her and wanted to repay her in some way. Or perhaps in reading Drina’s mind she’d picked up on the soul-deep loneliness that most immortals suffered. Either way, it seemed her response was a desire to find Drina a boyfriend while she was here. The girl still thought like a mortal and didn’t realize that such relationships weren’t really very satisfying to their kind. To her, a female probably wasn’t complete without a boyfriend on her arm. And apparently Drina was humoring the girl.
But the bit about Stephanie claiming not to read minds, but that everyone else was talking into her head was troubling. The truth was that unless an immortal had just found their life mate, their thoughts were usually more private, and they had to be read. While it was rude to do so, immortals did it all the time, which meant they all had to guard their thoughts when around others. But he’d never heard of someone experiencing what Stephanie claimed. Harper pondered what it might mean as the girls picked out hats, scarves, and gloves, and moved on to coats. It wasn’t until Stephanie led them toward the boot section that Harper recalled her words while Drina had been in the changing room.
Moving the cart up beside Drina, he asked, “What are FM shoes?”
“What?” She glanced around with a start.
“FM shoes,” he repeated. “Stephanie says that’s what her sister calls high heels, but she didn’t know why and suggested I should ask you. What does the FM stand for?”
“Ah.” For some reason the question caused a struggle on Drina’s face. It looked as if she was trying not to smile or laugh. Managing to fight off the urge, she turned and picked up a pair of impossibly high-heeled shoes from the row they were walking down and held them up. “These are FM shoes.”
Harper peered at the shoes, black, strappy, and with heels that had to be six inches high. They were sexy as hell and would probably go well with the black dress she’d picked up earlier. “And the FM stands for?”
Drina cleared her throat and tossed the shoe, along with its partner in the cart, then announced, “screw Me,” and turned to walk over to Stephanie.
Harper stared after her, stunned. For one moment he thought she’d actually been making a request of him, and he found he wasn’t averse to the idea. But then his reason kicked in. Pushing the cart quickly forward, he gasped, “Are you serious?”
Drina nodded.
“Why?” he asked with amazement.
Her eyebrows rose, and then she leaned in and picked up one shoe. “Well, look at it. It’s sexy as hell, could turn a guy on at twenty paces.” She shrugged.
“But women actually call them that?” he asked with disbelief.
“It’s what they are,” she said with amusement. Seeing his lack of comprehension, her expression turned pitying, and she said, “You don’t think we wear them because they’re comfortable, do you? Because I can guarantee you they aren’t. We pick them purely to attract the male of the species. The same reason we pick bustiers and anything else terribly uncomfortable but appealing to the male eye.”
“Huh.” Harper gave himself a shake. It had been centuries since he’d bothered reading a mortal woman’s mind. Well, really, it had been centuries since he’d bothered with mortal women at all. He simply hadn’t been interested until Jenny, and he hadn’t been able to read her mind. Still, he supposed he shouldn’t be surprised at these revelations. Even back then, women had done all sorts of things to attract mates: lead makeup, corsets, etc. They hadn’t openly admitted that was what it was about, though. It seemed women nowadays were much more frank on the subject if they actually called high heels screw Me shoes. It occurred to him that the world might be a much more interesting place now than it had been.
“I’m sorry,” Drina said suddenly, and patted his shoulder as if he might need soothing. “I guess we need to try to remember that this is all alien to you. I’m afraid we just keep forgetting you’re a guy and have been thinking of you as one of the girls.”
“One of the girls,” Harper muttered as she moved off to join Stephanie again. The thought was rather dismaying. It wasn’t that he was interested in Drina and wanted her to think of him in that way, but--
“Christ.” He breathed with disgust. Being considered one of the girls was darn lowering.
“That guy over there likes you, Drina.”
Harper raised his gaze from the menu he’d been reviewing and followed Stephanie’s gesture to a table where three men in jeans and T-shirts sat. One of them, a rugged-looking fellow of twentysomething was looking their way, his eyes sliding over Drina with definite interest.
“He doesn’t even know me,” Drina said with amusement, not bothering to glance up from her menu.
“Okay, he thinks you’re hot,” Stephanie amended with exasperation, and then taunted, “You should hear what he’s thinking.”
“Oh?” she asked mildly, turning the page of her menu.
“Yeah. He really likes the boots. I told you they were hot.”
Harper just managed not to bend to peer under the table and get another look at the thigh-high boots. Stephanie had talked Drina into getting them, assuring her they would keep her warm over her jeans and be “hot” too. Drina had replaced her running shoes with them in the car on the way here. She’d lain across the backseat and kicked her legs in the air as she’d pulled them on over her tight-legged jeans in the back while he drove. She’d also switched her light coat for the much warmer long coat she’d bought and tugged on her new red hat and gloves. She was now properly attired for a Canadian winter.
“Oh, man, that’s just gross,” Stephanie said suddenly, and Harper glanced to the girl to see her wrinkling her nose with distaste.
Frowning, he followed her gaze to the “interested” mortal and slipped into the fellow’s mind. His eyes widened incredulously at the guy’s imaginings. He certainly did like the thigh-high boots. In fact, the fellow was imagining Drina in the boots and nothing else and doing things to her that…well, he wouldn’t say they were gross, but they were disturbingly hot images and made him withdraw quickly from the guy’s mind and scowl at him irritably.
“What are you going to order?” Drina asked Stephanie, no doubt to change the subject.
“A club sandwich and fries with gravy on the side,” Stephanie answered promptly.
“Hmm. I guess I’ll get the same,” Drina decided, closing her menu.
“You eat?” Harper asked with surprise.
“On occasion,” Drina said with a shrug. “Besides, we can’t make Stephanie eat alone.”
“No,” he agreed on a murmur, lowering his gaze to his menu again and looking to see what a club sandwich was before announcing, “I’ll have the same.”
“So,” Stephanie said once their waitress had left with their orders, “if you guys are both so old and both from Europe, how come you’ve never met before?”
Drina appeared surprised by the question and chuckled. “Sweetie, Europe is a big place. I’m from Spain. Harper is from Germany.” She shrugged. “It’s like suggesting someone from Oklahoma should know someone from Illinois just because they’re from the United States, or that someone from BC should know someone from Ontario because they’re both in Canada.”
“Yeah, but you guys are immortals and as old as the hills. Don’t immortals hang out together, or have a secret club, or something? You’d think you’d at least have met each other before this,” she said, and then added, “Besides, I thought you guys move around every ten years or something. You haven’t always lived in Spain, have you?”
“No,” Drina admitted wryly, and shrugged. “Egypt, Spain, England and then Spain again. Mostly Spain, though.”
“Why?” Stephanie asked curiously.
“My family is there,” said simply. “And until recently, women didn’t exactly wander the world on their own. They were expected to stay with family for protection.”
“Even immortals?” Stephanie asked with a frown.
“Especially immortals,” Drina assured her dryly. “You have to realize that we have it drilled into our head from birth not to draw attention to ourselves or our people, and an unattached female on her own would definitely have drawn attention through most of history.”
“Oh, right,” Stephanie murmured, and then her gaze shifted to Harper. “What about you? You aren’t a girl.”
The words brought a wry smile to his lips. After a day of being considered “one of the girls,” it seemed that, at least Stephanie, was finally acknowledging he wasn’t…if only for this conversation.
“I traveled more than Drina appears to have. I was born in what is now Germany, but have lived in many European countries, not England and Spain though. I’ve also lived in America and now Canada.”
“So, if it weren’t for Drina’s having to help look out for me, you two might never have met.”
“Perhaps not,” Harper acknowledged, and found himself thinking that would have been a great pity. Drina was an interesting woman.
The food came then, and Harper turned his attention to the sandwich and fries placed before him. The brown sandwich, pale sticks, and brown gelatinous liquid in the small bowl on the side didn’t look particularly appetizing. Harper had been a chef when he was much younger and felt presentation was important, but the food smelled surprisingly delicious.
Curious, he picked up his fork, stabbed one of the fries, and raised it to his lips, but paused when he saw Stephanie dipping hers in the small bowl of thick liquid on the side of her plate. Emulating her, he dipped his own fry in what he supposed was the “gravy on the side,” and then popped it in his mouth. His eyes widened as his taste buds burst to life. It was surprisingly good, he decided and stabbed, dipped and ate another before picking up half his sandwich and taking a bite of that as well.

“Aren’t you going to finish your fries?” Stephanie asked.
Seeing the way the teenager was greedily eyeing her plate, Drina grinned and pushed it toward her, saying, “Go ahead. I’m done.”
Stephanie immediately fell on the remaining fries.
Drina watched enviously as the girl gobbled them, almost sorry she’d given them up. But it had been a long time since she’d eaten, and she simply couldn’t fit another bite in her belly. She’d been pushing it to manage half the sandwich and fries.
Her gaze slid to Harper and she noted that while he’d managed perhaps three quarters of his meal, he was slowing. His stomach wasn’t big enough either.
“You should go out tonight.”
Drina glanced to Stephanie with surprise to see her pointing a fry at her as she spoke.
“Seriously. It’s been decades since you’ve gone out socially. You work and visit your family and that’s it. You really need to get out and have some fun.”
“I have fun,” she assured her defensively.
“No you don’t. I can read your mind, remember? You used to love to dance, but you haven’t been dancing since those Gone-With-the-Wind-gowns were all the rage.”
Drina bit her lip, wondering what the girl was up to now. She actually had been out since then. She had a couple of good female hunter friends back in Spain, and they often went to an immortal club called Noche and danced the night away to relieve some of the stress of the job. She didn’t doubt for a minute that Stephanie had read that from her mind, so she was up to something. Again.
“You should drive into London tonight and hit a bar and just let your hair down. Dance your feet off. It would be good for you.”
“I can’t drive,” Drina reminded her dryly.
“Then Harper should take you,” she shot back with satisfaction. “He needs to get out as much as you do. He hasn’t gone anywhere in more than a year and a half except a couple of times when Elvi and Victor pretty much dragged him out.”
Harper stilled, midchew, his expression becoming alarmed. “Oh, I don’t know--”
“Yeah, I know, you’d rather hide in the house and go back to nursing your wounds,” Stephanie interrupted. “But look how much better getting out today has made you feel.”
Harper blinked.
“I really think it would do you both a lot of good. It’s certainly better than acting like a couple of turtles.”
“Turtles?” Harper asked with a frown.
“Yeah, you immortals all pull into yourselves and hide out at home rather than even consider a social life.” She shook her head. “Seriously, I know you all have this thing about life mates and all, and I know you two aren’t life mates, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, does it?” She glared from one to the other, and then said, “If anything, it should free you up to have more fun. Drina, you’re too old for Harper to read, and you’re also too polite to read him, so you could both relax around each other. On top of that, because you aren’t life mates, you won’t be all worried about impressing each other and can just relax and enjoy each other’s company and have some fun.”
She let that sink in, and then sat back in her seat and announced militantly, “Maybe it’s because I’m new to this, but I plan to date like crazy before I settle down with any life mate. And you two should as well. You’re both lonely and miserable. What can it hurt to go out and let your hair down?”
Drina stared at the girl, amazement sliding through her. Stephanie was frighteningly brilliant. By saying they weren’t life mates, she’d just cleared the way for Harper to agree to an outing. And by saying that age was the reason Harper wouldn’t be able to read her, she’d eliminated the possibility that he might try to read her, find out he couldn’t, and panic. She’d basically just cleared away any protest Harper might come up with for spending time with her and freed him to do so if he wished without feeling guilty that he was enjoying himself when Jenny was dead.
“I do feel better,” Harper said quietly, and sounded surprised by the realization. “I guess this change in routine did do me some good.”
Stephanie nodded solemnly. “And really, you’d be doing me a favor. I’ll feel awful if the only thing Drina sees of Canada is the inside of Casey Cottage and the local Wal-Mart.”
“Hmm. That would be a shame,” Harper murmured, and then pushed his plate away and nodded. “All right. We’ll go dancing tonight at the Night Club in Toronto.”
Drina blinked in surprise. Toronto was two hours away. Shaking her head, she said, “No. I can’t be gone that long. I have to be back by bedtime for Stephanie.”
“Anders is on nights,” Stephanie reminded her. “I’m his problem then.”
“Yes, but we’re roommates so that no one can slip in and take you from your bed.”
“And so I don’t slip out and run away,” Stephanie said dryly.
Drina scowled. So much for Stephanie’s not knowing they knew about the possibility.
“It’s okay though,” Stephanie said quickly. “I’ll just snooze on the couch in front of the television until you guys get back. That way Anders can keep an eye on me, and you can still get out for a bit.”
“It’s set then,” Harper decided, glancing around for their waitress. “I’ll pay this and we can head back to the house. I need to call to have my helicopter come for us and--”
“Helicopter?” Drina interrupted with surprise.
“Harper’s mad rich,” Stephanie told her with amusement. “But then so are you.” She shrugged. “I guess when you guys live as long as you do, you eventually build up a fortune.”
“Not everyone,” Drina assured her.
“Whatever,” Stephanie said, standing up. “I have to pee before we go.”
Nodding, Drina pushed her chair back at once. Smiling at Harper, she murmured, “Thank you for buying lunch. We’ll meet you at the car.”
She waited long enough to see Harper nod before hurrying after Stephanie.
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Re: To get another chapter of Reluctant Vamp

Postby grlnxtdr29 on April 22nd, 2011, 12:09 pm

Oh man! Now I gotta buy the Book! Stephanie is gonna kill someone with her match making! Or I may just die from laughing so hard!
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Re: To get another chapter of Reluctant Vamp

Postby susan60625 on April 22nd, 2011, 2:01 pm

Oh WOW! I think I agree with Drina, Stefanie is a little evil! But that's what we will probably love about her! One thing I really want to learn however, is how exactly Drina is related. Who is this brother to Lucian and Victor? Where does he fit into the time line? Between Martine and Armand, or between Armand and Victor? What is his name? Is he currently mated or not? Who is this brother of Drina's? Another Stefano? Are there any other family? I'm really curious now!
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Re: To get another chapter of Reluctant Vamp

Postby ElectricFedora on April 23rd, 2011, 10:51 pm

This is amazing! Stephanie makes men think of myself very very much. I've actually down something like this with my friend and her crush. We were trying to see if he liked her and I was holding up short shorts and tight tees and it was so funny XD. I'm dying for the book. So epic! At least I'll get the reprints of the historicals to hold menover.
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Re: To get another chapter of Reluctant Vamp

Postby TomEC on April 25th, 2011, 7:27 pm

When I saw that Lynsay had made her offer of extra chapters and Susan had so brilliantly stepped up to the plate, I decided, ‘I'm not going to read them. I can wait, thank you very much.’ Then I decided, ‘Okay, maybe I'll just go ahead and read them but not on a computer screen.’ So I grabbed my Kindle, launched the browser and navigated to Lynsay 's post. Then I kicked back in my comfy chair and read them. Now I have to wait a month to finish the book. I have no one to blame but myself. ;)

Just a few observations. The book is about Harper and Drina but Stephanie is stealing the show so far, which is kind of what I was expecting. I took an instant liking to her in the story from Bitten by Cupid. Now I find that not only is she a fascinating character in her own right but, because she's a new turn and full of questions, she provides a great opportunity to answer many of the questions that we've all been thinking about. Well done Lindsay! Image

Oh and I like this one: “a serious pain in the arse.” I'll have to remember that one. :) I don't suppose it's the first time Lynsay has used it but it's the first time I've noticed. I'm not a big fan profanity so I always like a good replacement word.

I am sooooo looking forward to the release of the rest of the book! :D :D :D
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Re: To get another chapter of Reluctant Vamp

Postby susan60625 on April 25th, 2011, 9:01 pm

TomEC wrote:When I saw that Lynsay had made her offer of extra chapters and Susan had so brilliantly stepped up to the plate,

Aw, Shucks! :oops:

Thanks, Thomas! I resemble that remark!
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Re: To get another chapter of Reluctant Vamp

Postby Lynsay on April 25th, 2011, 10:00 pm

Aa embarrassing as this is to admit, I cuss a lot in real life, and occasionally blush when I realize I've done it. But I just HATE writing cuss words. Not sure why. It dunno. Although, I do end up using fertilizing instead of the f word and arse instead of the other, etc. a lot in real life. And rather than say he's a pain in the butt, my sisters and I all say "He's such a PITA!" LOL. But I have put lesser curses in books and had editors say that's kind of lame for a guy to say, and changed it...just recently I think. Can't remember which book though.

Ah well

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Re: To get another chapter of Reluctant Vamp

Postby Lynsay on April 25th, 2011, 10:03 pm

And you'll find out more about Drina later in the book when she and Harper go to dinner. And we'll update the tree too. She was around when the roman's invaded Egypt is all I'll say for now.

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