Home > Runaway Vampire (Argeneau #23)(10)

Runaway Vampire (Argeneau #23)(10)
Author: Lynsay Sands


Dante glanced down at the phone in his hands with surprise at that abrupt word. It wasn’t the usual way Lucian answered his calls to him. Usually he answered with “Speak, Dante.” But then, Dante usually called from his own phone. This was Mary’s phone and Lucian wouldn’t recognize this number, he realized and cleared his throat.

“It’s Dante.”

“Thank Christ,” Lucian growled. “Where the hell have you been? And where is Tomasso? When the two of you went missing—”

“We were taken from the bar you sent us to,” Dante interrupted. “Both Tomasso and I were kidnapped. They used drugged darts. I was apparently out for two days and nights,” he added grimly, and wasn’t surprised by the silence that followed his announcement. No doubt, Lucian was as taken aback at this news, as Dante had been when he’d realized what had happened. Mortal drugs did not work on their kind. They were flushed from the system too quickly to do more than make them woozy or a little faint. They’d had to develop their own drugs to use on rogue immortals and even those only worked temporarily and had to be re-administered too quickly to be viable as more than a temporary stop-gap measure to get the rogue bound up. Yet he’d apparently been unconscious for two days. It suggested that an immortal was behind the kidnappings, or a mortal with information about them that they should not have . . . as well as access to their specialized drugs.

“You got away, obviously,” Lucian said finally. “Are you both all right?”

“They still have Tomasso,” Dante said quietly, and quickly related how he’d got free and why Tomasso hadn’t, finishing with, “We have to get him back.”

“Where is he?” Lucian asked at once.

“Do you have a pen?” Dante asked, glancing down at the piece of paper in his hand. Mary had lovely handwriting, he noted. When Lucian said he was ready, Dante read off the instructions Mary had written down. Once Lucian read it back to him, he added, “That is where I came out of the woods onto the road. The house was perhaps a five minute run east from there through the trees.”

Lucian grunted and then asked, “Where are you now?”

“In an RV, heading northwest on Interstate 10. The kidnappers are following us. I am hoping that means Tomasso is safe for now. But you need to get someone to him as quickly as possible. I can’t guarantee the kidnappers will continue to just follow us, and with the drugged darts they have—”

“Who is this us?” Lucian interrupted. “You took control of a family traveling in an RV to help with your escape?”

“No.” Dante glanced toward Mary, and then cleared his throat and said, “I had a little accident with an RV when I was escaping. The woman who was driving it is now helping me.”

“A lone woman in an RV?” Lucian asked sounding suspicious.

“She has a dog with her,” Dante said with amusement, peering down at Bailey as he petted her again. The shepherd immediately twisted her head to give his hand a swipe with her tongue.

“Still, women do not generally travel in RVs by themselves, even with dogs,” Lucian said thoughtfully. “Are you sure she is not one of them and letting you think you are escaping while she delivers you back into the hands of your captors?”

“I’m sure,” Dante said at once, his voice firm, but his gaze was now on the back of Mary’s head as he tried to slip into her thoughts once more.

“No, of course she’s not one of them,” Lucian muttered. “You would have read that from her mind were it the case.”

Dante grimaced and gave up on trying to read Mary. It was impossible for him to do so. He didn’t, however, tell Lucian that, but simply allowed him to think what he would.

“If they have drugged darts that are that effective on us, it would be dangerous for you to try to take on your kidnappers on your own,” Lucian muttered.

“Yes,” Dante agreed wryly. He’d said, or started to say that just moments ago. It was why he’d done as Tomasso had insisted and fled when they’d heard their captors clattering down the hall outside the room where their cages were. His first instinct had been to stand and fight, but that would have done them little good when their adversaries had the drugged darts. He would have ended up unconscious and back in a cage, probably one that had no loose bars too, and then they simply would have been two more immortals who had gone missing from the bar scene in San Antonio. Escaping to get help had been more sensible. Still, it had been a terrible wrench to leave his brother behind.

“Can you keep ahead of your hunters for a while? Long enough for me to send men to find Tomasso and arrange a trap to catch your kidnappers?”

“I can try,” Dante said determinedly.

“Good. Stay on your present course. I’ll call you back,” Lucian announced and then the phone went silent.

Dante lowered it to peer at its face. Through the cracked glass he saw that the call had been ended. Breathing out a little sigh, he stood and caught at the edges of his afghan as it tried to slip away to the floor. His gaze then moved over the mess he’d traipsed through to get to the bed. Plastic dishes, utensils, and foodstuffs littered the floor, obviously escapees from the open doors and drawers throughout the RV.

He considered the mess, and then his gaze settled on a bag of chips and his stomach rumbled with interest, reminding him that it had been four days since he’d fed it. Glancing to the back of Mary’s head, he asked, “Do you want something to eat or drink?”

Shifting her gaze from the rear camera view to the road ahead, Mary frowned at that question from Dante. She hadn’t gotten her supper at the truck stop and was hungry, but that wasn’t why she was frowning. His question made her realize that, if he’d been unconscious since Friday, Dante couldn’t have eaten since some time that day. The poor man must be starved, she realized and quickly reviewed what she had available to feed him. She’d shopped yesterday to stock up for the trip home. She’d picked up hamburgers and sausages to grill, but she’d also bought fresh bread, wraps, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and lunchmeats for sandwiches, as well as chips and pop.

“There is stuff in the fridge to make sandwiches if you like,” she said now. “And bread in a Rubbermaid container in the cupboard over the television. Chips, too, should be up there. Go ahead and make yourself some sandwiches if you like.”

Her attention divided between the slowly thinning traffic on the highway and the rear camera view of the van following them, Mary listened idly to the activity behind her as Dante presumably made himself a sandwich. Doors and drawers opened and closed, accompanied by a lot of crinkling and rustling sounds.

“The coffee machine does not work,” Dante announced after several moments had passed. “What do you want instead of coffee?”

Mary’s brows knit briefly at the news about the coffee machine, but then she realized what the problem was and said, “Flick the switch on the side of the lower cupboard it’s sitting on. The switch is for an inverter.”

“Inverter?” he echoed with interest.

“The coffee machine works on one hundred twenty volts, and the RV battery only gives twelve volts or something.” She explained, then frowned. “I don’t know if I’m getting this right. Joe explained it to me at the time, but . . .” She shrugged. “Basically to use the coffee machine either the generator has to be on when we’re stopped, or you turn on the inverter while we’re driving. Just remember to turn it off after you’re done.”

“Okay,” he muttered and then she heard the click of the switch being thrown.

Sighing, she concentrated on her breathing and the road ahead, refusing to allow the image of him to rise up in her mind again. Also refusing to glance around for another peek at him. You’re much older than him, she reminded herself firmly. It is inappropriate to be drooling over such a young man. Behave.

“How do you take your coffee?”

Mary almost glanced around at the question, but caught herself and said, “Black, please.”

The words had barely left her lips when he appeared at her side to set a travel mug in the cup holder next to her empty phone holder.

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