Home > Runaway Vampire (Argeneau #23)(12)

Runaway Vampire (Argeneau #23)(12)
Author: Lynsay Sands

“Yes,” she murmured, noting his odd expression before glancing back to the road. “Mate for life. I could have said husband, I suppose, or dream man, but dream man sounds stupid, and husband just doesn’t cover all that Joe was to me.” She paused briefly, and then said, “I suppose life partner is the better description. He was my partner in every sense, my best friend, my lover, my husband, my cohort in crime,” she ended with a grin.

“Crime?” Dante sounded shocked and she chuckled at his tone of voice.

“Not criminal type crime,” she assured him. “We weren’t Bonnie and Clyde or anything. I just meant, if there was a prank to be pulled, or a gag joke . . .” She shrugged. “We had the same sense of humor and laughed a lot over the years.”

“It sounds . . . perfect,” Dante said, and she noted that he sounded less than pleased to say so.

“No,” she said solemnly. “Nothing is perfect. Not even my Joe. But after a couple of bumps in the beginning we had a good life.”

“What kind of bumps?” Dante asked at once, sounding almost eager.

Mary hesitated, very old, very painful memories welling up inside her, but then she merely shook her head. “It doesn’t matter now. No one is perfect, Dante.”

They were both silent for a moment. Dante was eating and Mary was shifting her attention between the road and her own sandwich, trying to figure out how the hell she was going to eat it. She hadn’t come up with anything by the time Dante finished his sandwiches and headed back to set the plate in the sink. At least, she hoped he put it in the sink. It would go flying at the first turn or stop if he didn’t, she thought, and risked a glance over her shoulder. Her attention was caught then as she noted the RV had been cleaned up. There were no more items littering the floor. Everything had been stowed away and all the doors and drawers were now closed once more.

“Eyes on the road,” Dante said mildly, catching her looking when he turned to head back toward the front seats.

Mary turned forward again, but said, “Thank you for cleaning up.”

“It was my fault,” Dante said simply as he reached her side. He didn’t immediately take his seat again, however, but scooted Bailey out of the way, and knelt where the dog had been lying.

Mary glanced warily toward him to see that he was eyeing her solemnly.

“You are tired,” he announced. “And no doubt hungry.”

“I’m fine,” Mary said quietly.

“I can either feed you, or I will take over driving. Your choice.”

“I’m fine,” Mary repeated, swallowing nervously as she considered both options.

“You are afraid because you are attracted to me,” Dante announced with amusement and Mary scowled at the road.

“Someone has an ego on them,” she growled. “I am not attracted to you. You’re a child. I’m an older woman. I like big boys.”

“I am a big boy,” Dante said easily, managing not to sound like a braggart as he stated the obvious. And it was obvious. The man stood at least six feet eight, and his shoulder breadth was breathtaking. He was like a wall beside her, even on his knees.

“I meant a grown-up,” she said irritably.

“I am older than I look,” he assured her mildly. “And I know you are attracted to me. Your heart rate and breathing pick up every time I am near you.”

Mary glanced at him sharply at that comment, and froze when she noted that the silver flecks in his black eyes appeared to have at least doubled in number. It almost seemed like they were glowing too, she noted faintly.

“The road,” he reminded her and Mary tore her gaze from him to concentrate on the road again, but she couldn’t get his eyes out of her mind. She’d never seen eyes like his before. So deep and dark and beautiful at first, and now glowing with silver like fine jewels.

“You must eat,” Dante announced and her sandwich suddenly appeared in front of her face.

Mary peered at it reluctantly, but shook her head.

“Come,” he coaxed, pressing it against her lips. “If you will not let me feed you, I will take your place at the wheel. I will lift you up, slip under you and take over driving.”

Mary actually felt the way her heart jumped at the suggestion. It then began to beat away at an accelerated rate that was almost scary. She had an old ticker. It shouldn’t be this active.

“See?” There was no mistaking the satisfaction in Dante’s voice. “Your heartbeat is racing at the thought of my hands on you.”

“My heart is racing with anger at your insolence,” she countered shortly. “Did no one ever teach you to respect your elders?”

“Mary, you must—”

“Your friends are dropping back,” Mary interrupted and Dante immediately lowered the sandwich and turned his gaze to the rear camera view. They both watched silently as the van behind them grew smaller on the screen. It had grown to about half size when a pickup pulled in front of it and between them.

“Do you think they’re giving up on you?” she asked.

“I am not sure. I must call Lucian to see if they got Tomasso out,” he muttered and set her sandwich back on the dashboard before standing to move to the back of the RV.

Mary relaxed a little the moment he wasn’t hovering at her side. Honestly, the man was just overwhelming. His size, his scent, and his sexy deep voice with its charming accent . . . everything about him was distracting and overwhelming. So much so that she was hoping that his followers were giving up and letting him go. If so, it meant she could soon be rid of him. A good thing, she assured herself, ignoring the disappointment that the thought of his leaving brought up in her.

Her gaze slid to the rear camera view and she squinted as she noted that someone seemed to be leaning out of the passenger window of the pickup behind them. The image was all different shades of gray and she couldn’t be sure, but it almost looked like the person was aiming a gun at the RV. Not a gun, she thought in the next moment, more like a crossbow or something maybe.

“Dante,” she said with alarm, afraid they were perhaps with the van and were about to shoot out the tires on the RV or something.

“What is it?” Dante asked, his voice growing nearer.

Mary opened her mouth to answer, but then paused uncertainly. The person had slid back into the pickup and it was now dropping back too. The RV tires were all still intact as far as she could tell, so she gathered they hadn’t been shot out.

“Mary, the road!” Dante cried suddenly and she switched her gaze back to the road to see that in her distraction she’d been steering to the right, toward the shoulder of the road. In fact she was already on the white line. Heart jumping in alarm, she quickly steered back to the left. Once she had it straightened out in the center of the lane, she let her breath out on a slow sigh.

Dante relaxed beside her and then leaned past her to set her phone back in the holder.

“Did they get your brother out?” she asked quietly.

“I do not know. Lucian did not answer,” Dante said unhappily. “I left a message for him to call me.”

“What are you doing?” Mary asked with alarm when he dropped to his knees next to her again.

“I am going to feed you,” he said firmly.

“Dante—” she began in a warning tone.

“You need to eat,” he interrupted sternly, picking up one half of her sandwich and turning toward her.

“I will eat,” she said quickly. “You can take over driving at the next gas station.”

“Mary, we cannot stop,” he said solemnly. “It is too risky.”

“Your friends have dropped back so far I can’t even see their lights anymore,” she countered, and then added, “We have to stop, Dante. We’re almost out of gas.”

“What?” he asked with alarm and glanced to the gas gauge to see that it was nearly on empty.

“Why is it so low?” he asked, sounding shocked that she would let that happen.

“Because I didn’t get gas before leaving the truck stop as I intended,” Mary said dryly. “I didn’t get the chance. I wasn’t driving.”

   
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