Home > Runaway Vampire (Argeneau #23)(17)

Runaway Vampire (Argeneau #23)(17)
Author: Lynsay Sands


Mary pressed the phone to her ear and listened to it ring, then stilled when a ring was prematurely silenced and a male voice snapped, “Speak Dante.”

Biting her lip, she glanced toward the open window and then cleared her throat and asked, “Who am I speaking to?”

When silence came to her through the phone, she recalled what Dante had said earlier and asked, “Is this Lucian?”

“Yes,” he said finally, his voice wary but edged with concern. He asked sharply, “Did Dante’s kidnappers recapture him?”

Mary’s eyes widened slightly. When she’d realized it was a Toronto area code, she’d thought for sure everything Dante had said was lies or delusions, but it seemed that part, at least, was true.

“Hello?” the man snapped after a moment.

Realizing she hadn’t answered him, Mary cleared her throat and said, “No.”

“He’s hurt then?” the man asked next, his voice sharp.

Mary hesitated, and then sighed and said, “I think so.”

“You think so? What the hell do you mean you think—?”

“I ran over him with my RV,” Mary rushed out, interrupting his caustic words. “And I think he may have taken some damage to his head.”

Silence came down the line at her in response and Mary frowned and continued, “Look, he told me he’s working for a task force looking into a case where several young people have been disappearing from bars in the San Antonio area.”

“Yes,” came the calm response this time when she paused and Mary frowned uncertainly.

“That’s true?”

“Yes,” Lucian said again.

Mary sat back in her seat. So that hadn’t been some sort of delusion of Dante’s. He really had been kidnapped while trying to find out who was kidnapping these unknown people in San Antonio, she thought, then frowned with confusion and said, “But you’re in Canada. Why would a task force looking into kidnappings in Texas be based in Canada?”

There was a pause and then he said simply, “It’s an international case.”

Mary waited for further explanations. For him to tell her that both the Feds and the Canadians were working the case together, that perhaps Canadians were amongst those who had gone missing, but he didn’t say anything.

Sighing her frustration, she shook her head, and then said, “Okay, so he really is helping out this task force, and he really was kidnapped and escaped his kidnappers. But the kid thinks he can control minds.”

“He told you that?” Lucian snapped, his voice so sharp and hard, Mary actually pulled the phone away from her face a bit.

She peered at the broken glass of the phone face, her eyebrows rising slightly. That had certainly got a reaction. Putting the phone back to her ear, she said, “Yes, he told me that. Crazy huh?”

There was another silence and then the man cursed on the other end of the phone and muttered, “He shouldn’t have told you that . . . and he wouldn’t have told you that unless . . .” Despite the fact that he’d spoken aloud, Mary suspected he’d been talking to himself. She doubted he even realized she’d heard what he said, but then his voice grew louder and he suddenly asked, “What else did he tell you?”

Mary tilted her head, her gaze on the second half of the sandwich the fingers of her free hand were picking at.

“Nothing. What else should he have told me?” she asked quietly.

The question was met with silence again.

Sitting up a little straighter, Mary tightened her grip on the phone and said, “Surely you aren’t suggesting that Dante really can read and control people’s minds?”

Rather than answer the man asked, “Why are you helping him?”

Mary paused, nonplussed by the question, but after a moment, said, “Because I ran him over.”

“So, out of guilt,” he suggested.

“No,” she said quickly and then grimaced. “Well, maybe a little because of guilt. But also because he just needs help. I mean he’s being chased by kidnappers and he was bare arsed, and I could hardly leave him at the truck stop naked like that. Not that I actually wanted to help him to begin with,” she admitted honestly, aware that she was babbling, “but it was that or let him steal my RV, and no one is stealing my RV.”


“What?” she asked with bewilderment.

“Dante would not have stolen your RV. He would have commandeered it for the purposes of aiding in the investigation. We would have seen to it that it was returned with compensation for its use.”

“Right,” she said dryly. Taking it was taking it no matter whether you called it stealing or commandeering. It still would have left her high and dry in the middle of Texas with no way home.

“So,” Lucian said slowly, “You haven’t felt any sort of . . . er . . . compulsion to help? It was just out of the goodness of your heart?”

“Compulsion?” Mary asked, eyes narrowing. “You mean like mind control?

Silence was again her answer.

“Surely you aren’t suggesting he really can control minds?” she asked with a nervous laugh.

“Apparently not yours or we would not be having this conversation,” he said dryly.

“What?” she squawked.

A sigh slid through the phone and he said, “He should not have revealed his special skills. This is all highly top secret and not for public knowledge. Where is he? Not there I presume or he would not have let you make this call.”

“Let me?” she growled. “Mister, this is my phone. And I’m an adult. Nobody gets to tell me what I can or can’t do anymore.”

“Sadly, I have to tell you that is not true and inform you that should you repeat anything Dante has revealed to you to anyone, anyone at all, the ramifications for you would be rather unpleasant.”

Mary stilled and pulled the phone back to peer at it again. Was that a threat? Putting the phone back to her face, she snapped, “Did you just threaten me?”

“I do not threaten,” he assured her. “I am merely making you aware of your precarious position. The knowledge you have is dangerous and I will do whatever is necessary to ensure it spreads no further.”

His voice was so cold and matter of fact it was hard not to believe every word he said, and Mary began to worry what that “whatever is necessary” might extend to. Arrest? Her disappearing? Death?

“Judging from the change in your breathing, I gather you understand me. Good. Have Dante call when he returns from whatever task he is performing.”

It took Mary a moment to realize that the silence that followed this time was because he’d ended the call without bothering to say good-bye or otherwise indicate he was done with the conversation. Lowering the phone, she stared at it briefly, noting that her hand was shaking, and then tossed it onto the table as if it were a snake she’d suddenly found in her hand.

Mary watched it slide across the table’s smooth surface, but did nothing to stop it when it slid off the opposite edge onto the bench seat across from her. In fact, she felt a little better once it was out of sight.

Shifting her gaze to her sandwich, she stared at it briefly, then stood and carried the plate over to dump the uneaten half of her supper into the garbage under the sink. Mary then set the plate in the sink and turned to survey the RV. Her gaze slid around, but then settled on the couch. It was a long couch, presently with an arm across the first of the three sections of the couch. Mary moved to it, grabbed the arm and pulled it toward her. A lower section of couch immediately slid out to turn the couch into an L shape. Mary then shifted in front of this new section and caught the canvas handle sticking out of the top. She tugged it up and back, lifting the seat out of the base and up into position. She then slid the front of the remaining two panels out and set the pillows in place, turning it into a bed that was actually a little bigger than the one in the bedroom.

Mary wasn’t sure it would be long enough for Dante to sleep in without curling up a bit, but it was the best she could do for him, and it was bigger than the actual bed she slept in, so she turned and went into the bedroom to fetch sheets, pillows and a blanket. They were stored in the base of the built-in bed. Mary bent, caught the wooden top of the bed base and lifted it. It rose like the lid of a chest, mattress and all. A handy feature she’d always appreciated.

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