Part one of promised Born To Bite excerpt (who said game)

Talk about the stories that got the Argeneaus where they are today.

Part one of promised Born To Bite excerpt (who said game)

Postby Lynsay on March 25th, 2010, 3:51 pm

Born To Bite

Chapter One

“You’re late.” Lucian’s growled greeting made Armand Argeneau grimace as he slid onto the seat opposite his brother in the diner’s only occupied booth. A “Hello, how are you?” would have been nice, but it wasn’t something he’d expect from the older immortal. Lucian wasn’t known for being warm and fuzzy.

“I had some things to do at the farm before I could leave,” Armand said calmly, glancing over the man’s roast beef dinner with disinterest before gazing around the quiet diner. It was after nine, almost closing time and they were the only customers. He didn’t even see a waitress and supposed she was in the back helping with clean up.

“Yes, of course,” Lucian murmured, setting down his fork to pick up a crusty dinner roll dripping with butter. “We can’t expect that wheat of yours to grow all by itself, can we?”

Armand scowled irritably as he watched Lucian bite into the roll with relish. “A little respect for a farmer who grows the food you’re eating wouldn’t go amiss. . . especially since you appear to be enjoying it so much.”

“I am,” Lucian acknowledged with a grin, and then arched an eyebrow. “Jealous?”

Armand merely shook his head and turned his gaze out the window, but he was jealous. Lucian’s eating was a result of finding his life mate. It had reawakened old appetites both of them had lost long ago. There wasn’t an unmated immortal alive who wouldn’t envy that, including himself.

“So?” He glanced back to Lucian to see he’d set aside the roll and was now chasing peas around his plate, stabbing at the little green vegetables with his fork. “What was so important that you had to drive down here to see me? And why the hell did you insist on my coming out to the diner? The farm is only another five minute drive. You could have come there.”

Lucian gave up stabbing the peas and instead scraped them across the plate into the mashed potatoes. He then scooped up a forkful of the combination before saying, “I had a favor to ask you and didn’t want anyone at the house to overhear.”

“There’s no one at the house,” Armand murmured, watching with fascination as Lucian popped the forkful of food into his mouth and began to chew. Judging by his expression and murmur of pleasure, he really seemed to be enjoying the food, which was kind of depressing since the smell wasn’t even tempting Armand. It really looked like slop to him, brown meat, white potatoes with a brown sauce and ugly green peas. Not very appetizing at all. Grimacing to himself, Armand asked, “So what’s this favor?”

Lucian raised his eyebrows. “Not going to ask me how Thomas and his new life mate are doing?”

Armand felt his mouth tighten at the mention of his son and his new wife, but couldn’t resist asking, “How are they?”

“Very well. They’re in Toronto at the moment, visiting,” Lucian answered. “You haven’t met his Inez yet, have you?”

“No,” Armand muttered.

“Did you ever get to meet Nicholas’s Annie?” Lucian asked with what sounded like mild curiosity.

“No.” Armand’s voice was a husky growl. Clearing his throat, he asked, “Now what’s this favor?”

Lucian peered at him for a moment, but then turned his attention to cutting into his beef and announced, “I need a safe house for one of my enforcers for a couple of weeks.”

“And you were thinking I could supply that?” Armand asked with surprise.

Lucian shrugged. “I don’t know why you’re surprised. You live way the hell out here in the backwoods. No one but myself and Thomas know where the farm is, and this is a rinky dink little town where no one’s likely to see her.”

“Her?” Armand asked curiously.

“Eshe d’Aureus,” he said, cutting off another piece of beef. “Castor’s daughter.”

“Castor d’Aureus,” Armand murmured with respect. He’d never got the chance to meet the man, but he certainly knew the name. Castor was a hero to their people. Back in the early days when immortals had joined the rest of the world, one of their number, a no-fanger named Leonius Livius had caused trouble for both the mortals and immortals alike. So much trouble, in fact, it had forced the other immortals to form a council and hunt down him and his progeny. It was Lucian and Castor who had slain the monster that Leonius Livius had become. In the middle of the battle field, while rogue no-fangers and the council’s fanged army had fought all around them, Lucian had pinned the man to the ground with his spear and Castor had severed his head from his body. Both of them had been considered heroes.

“He wasn’t a hero,” Lucian said quietly. “He was just a good man and a fine soldier. He was also my friend and before he died, he asked me to look out for Eshe and his family should anything happen to him. Well, I’m trying to keep my promise. I need Eshe out of harm’s way until we get this matter resolved. I’m thinking that will take about two weeks.”

“What is this matter you have to resolve?” Armand asked.

Lucian sighed and set his fork and knife aside. His voice was grim when he admitted, “Apparently we didn’t get all the sons when we took out Leonius. At least one survived. He calls himself Leonius Livius the second.”

“You mean there’s been one of his spawn running around all these centuries?” Armand asked with amazement. If he was anything like his father, his atrocities should not have gone unnoticed all this time.

“He’s been alive and flourished,” Lucian assured him dryly. “The man has at least twenty sons that we know of. Or had,” he added with satisfaction. “We’ve weeded some out. Apparently he’s smarter than his father though. That or there’s someone who has managed to keep him on a tight reign. He hasn’t gone in for wholesale slaughter like his father enjoyed, or started any breeding camps. He’s kept his victims to one or two women at a time and the occasional unfortunate family. He only came to our attention earlier this summer. He kidnapped two women from a grocery store parking lot up north. My men got one of the females away and killed three or four of his sons, but then had to hunt down the other female and the man who had taken her. Eshe was in on the search and was apparently spotted and recognized. Now my sources say he’s targeted her for revenge for his father’s death.”

Armand nodded solemnly. “Has he targeted your Leigh too or anyone else in the family?”

“I don’t think he knows about Leigh. In any case that doesn’t matter, I can keep her safe. But Eshe is another matter. She’s one of my enforcers and as stubborn and proud as her father ever was. She was ready to walk down the main street in Toronto nude to get his attention and have her chance at him when she heard he was looking for her.”

“So she’s like a female version of you, huh?” Armand asked with amusement.

“Ha ha,” Lucian said dryly.

Armand chuckled at his sour expression. “If she’s as bad as all that, how do you plan to convince her to hide out on my farm until you catch this guy?”

“Yeah . . . well . . . that was a problem,” Lucian muttered, picking up his knife and fork again. His expression was surly as he admitted, “She delights in flouting my orders. The best way to get her to do anything is to have me tell her to do the opposite. If she weren’t Castor’s daughter . . .” Lucian glowered briefly, but then shook his head. “Fortunately, even she wouldn’t dare disobey a direct order from the council.”

“I see,” Armand drawled slowly, his eyes narrowing suspiciously on his brother. “And she’s agreed to stay on my farm twiddling her thumbs for several weeks?”

“Two weeks,” he pointed out, avoiding his gaze. “And as I said, even she wouldn’t disobey a direct order from the council.”

“So she isn’t going to be happy,” Armand surmised dryly.

Lucian shrugged. “She’s too polite to take it out on you . . . probably,” he added with a grin. “Just keep her busy.
Take her on picnics, and hay rides or whatever you hayseeds do.”

“Hayseeds?” Armand echoed with disgust.

Lucian rolled his eyes. “Just keep her distracted and I’ll call the minute it’s safe for her to return to Toronto.” He started to lift a bite of beef to his lips and then glanced past Armand and froze. His eyes widened, a curse slipped from his lips and then he whispered, “I’m going to kill her.”

“Who?” Armand asked with confusion, and then turned to follow Lucian’s gaze to the dark road outside. He peered at the long stretch of highway for a minute, slow to recognize the fiery vision approaching for what it was, a motorcycle with red, yellow and orange LED lights around the tires and across the body that made it look like the bike was roaring up the road aflame. It was one hell of a magnificent sight.

“Eshe,” Lucian snapped, finally answering his question. “That’s her.”

The motorcycle roared into the diner parking lot, spitting up gravel and then eased to a halt beside Armand’s pickup. He had a moment to get a closer view of the array of lights on the machine before the engine fell silent and the rider disembarked. The woman was tall, at least six feet, and she appeared to be all lean muscle in the black leather she wore. She also moved with the predatory grace of a panther.

“She looks like she was born to ride,” Armand murmured, his eyes devouring her.

“More like born to bite,” Lucian muttered.

Armand glanced curiously to his brother. “Why so annoyed?”

Lucian’s mouth twisted with irritation, but he admitted, “I told her to make herself less conspicuous.”

“Ah,” Armand murmured, biting his lip to keep from grinning. It was the rare person, immortal or otherwise, who went against Lucian’s orders and he couldn’t help being amused that Eshe d’Aureus was apparently one of them. This was far away from being inconspicuous. There were probably eyes peering out the windows of every house she was passing and fingers excitedly punching in numbers on phones as word spread about the super cool motorcycle that just rode past their place. It would be the main topic of conversation tomorrow in the diner as those who had seen it described it to those who hadn’t. Not much went on in this small community.

“I’m going to tan her hide,” Lucian growled as she walked past their window toward the entrance of the diner.
Armand thought he wouldn’t mind volunteering for the job as his gaze automatically dropped to the hide his brother thought needed tanning. The woman had a perfect body with a nice round rump he suspected would be a pleasure to touch for any reason . . . and he was contemplating the various reasons for doing just that--none of which included tanning her hide--when she opened the diner door and stepped inside, ending his view of her behind. It forced him to shift his attention to her front as she paused inside the door to undo her jacket and peer around. It was quite a nice view too, he had to admit. She still wore her helmet, so he couldn’t see her face, but everything else on display was lovely. Black leather pants stretched tight over long, lean legs, but she also wore the black leather jacket now open to reveal some sort of black leather corset that left the upper curves of her breasts on display. The woman had rich, mahogany skin that seemed to gleam under the diner’s fluorescent lights as if she’d powdered herself with some sort of shimmery powder.

“I told you to make yourself inconspicuous.” Lucian glared at the woman as she spotted them and approached.

“You said to make myself less conspicuous,” she corrected in a calm voice that made Armand think of smooth warm carmel poured over ice cream. It was something he used to enjoy when he was with his life mate, he recalled and then his thoughts scattered as she began to remove her helmet and added, “And I did. See?”
Armand didn’t know what Lucian was supposed to see, but he was seeing what he considered to be the finest looking woman he’d seen in a long time. Eshe d’Aureus had huge, beautiful eyes that glowed golden with black flecks, a straight Egyptian nose and the most seductive lips he’d ever seen. He found her heart-stoppingly beautiful . . . and nowhere near inconspicuous.

“Eshe,” Lucian growled with little patience. “Dying your hair hardly makes you less conspicuous when you’re on that carnival bike of yours.”

Armand’s eyes shifted to her hair. She wore it short on the sides and a little longer on top, and was presently running her long fingers through in an effort to repair the flattening influence of the helmet, but it looked a perfectly natural dark brown, almost black to him. Although, there appeared to be a fleck of lighter color at the ends in some places. He couldn’t stop himself from asking, “What does it normally look like?”

“She usually dyes it a combination of red and blonde on the end halves of the top strands so that it looks like her head’s on fire,” Lucian informed him dryly, and then turned to Eshe. “You did a p.i.s.s poor job of dying it. There’s still some color at the ends.”

Eshe rolled her eyes with exasperation and began to slide into Armand’s side of the booth, forcing him to make room for her. “God, Lucian, you’re never happy. Honestly! It’s not like I had time to make a hair appointment and get it done properly. I had to do it myself and I am not a hairdresser. This is the best I could do in the time you gave me.” She set her helmet on the table in front of her and rested her chin on her hands on top of it as she grinned at Lucian. “So it’s all your fault if you aren’t happy with it.”

“Couldn’t you at least have come out in your car instead of that darn motorcycle?” Lucian said irritably.

“Oh, yes, because a red Ferrari would be so much less conspicuous down here in Hicksville,” Eshe said dryly and then glanced to Armand. “No offense.”

“None taken,” he assured her before clearing his throat and forcing himself to turn away when he realized he was grinning at her like an idiot.

“Ferrari?” Lucian asked with surprise. “What happened to the convertible?”

“I sold it,” she said with a shrug. “The Ferrarri was prettier and I only have the one parking space at the apartment for both the bike and car, so the convertible had to go.”

“A Ferrarri?” Lucian looked horrified. “It was bad enough when you had the Mustang convertible, but a Ferrarri with all the power it has under the hood? You’re a speed demon. You’ll kill yourself with it. You had better be following the speed limits.”

Armand stared at his brother with fascination. Lucian had never been much of a talker, mostly grunting and glaring at everyone, but Eshe appeared to exasperate him into speaking. He’d never thought he’d see the day. His thoughts were distracted when Eshe said dryly, “Of course . . . Daddy.”

Armand’s eyes widened, but she wasn’t done. Smile widening as Lucian grew grimmer, she commented, “I hope Leigh pops out some babies for you soon, Lucian. Maybe you’ll stop daddying the rest of us.”

“Daddying?” Armand asked doubtfully. He could think of a lot of words to describe Lucian--bossy and bully among them--but daddy just wasn’t on that list.

“Yes, Daddying,” Eshe said with a friendly smile his way. “He’s forever telling everyone what to do and where to go and so on. He’s like a big old grumpy daddy.”

“Your father--” Lucian began, but she cut him off.

“My dad asked you to look out for me and my brothers and sisters should anything happen to him and you’re just trying to live up to that promise yadda yadda,” she said in a bored voice that suggested she’d heard that argument a thousand times at least. “That argument carried some weight back when I was a kid, Lucian, but it’s been more than a millennia. You’re only a hundred years older than me, for cripes sake. Get over it already. I’m sure my father didn’t mean for you to play guardian forever.”
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