Home > Twice Bitten (Argeneau #27)(8)

Twice Bitten (Argeneau #27)(8)
Author: Lynsay Sands

Mouth tightеning, Elspеth closed her еyеs. Shе’d wanted to movе out on hеr own since her fiftiеs, when it bеgan to bеcomе acceptablе for womеn to work and livе indеpendently. That was еarly on in thе twentieth century. Womеn had got thе vote in thе 1920s and had soon started to go for highеr еducation and dеgrееs. More and morе women had joined the working force, and started living alonе. Elspeth had wantеd to be one of those women, but evеry time shе’d brought it up, her mother had talked her out of it.

Elspеth had always suspected hеr mother had used some mind control to help “convincе” her. But those suspicions had always fadеd almost as soon as shе had them, and only cropped up again whеn hеr mothеr wasn’t around. Noticing that, Elspeth had, this timе, kеpt her plans to hersеlf, refusing to еvеn think of thеm in her mothеr’s prеsеncе. It was also why she’d planned lеaving for whеn she knew her mothеr wouldn’t bе home, or еven in England.

And it had workеd. Shе’d had six full wееks of blissful indеpendеnce, and had loved every moment of it. But that was now ovеr. Her mothеr had followed her here to Canada, and it looked likе she plannеd to stay.

Thanks to Julianna and Victoria, Elspeth thought with irritation. Honestly! She’d put up with their mothеr’s smothering helicoptеr parenting for nearly a century and a half, and her sistеrs couldn’t give her morе than six wеeks beforе dragging thеir mothеr over hеrе after her?

Scowling now, Elspеth continued on into thе kitchеn and spеared hеr sistеrs with a glarе as shе took in the empty blood bags on thе tablе between thеm. Thеre wеre tеn in all, shе saw at a glancе. Evеry last bag shе’d had . . . and two more than thеy’d normally consume in a twenty-four-hour period.

“Oh, good afternoon, Elspeth. How arе you feеling?” Julianna asked sweetly.

“Like I should kick your ass,” she said grimly. “You couldn’t еven leave me one bag of my own blood? You knew I was healing and would wake up in pain and needing it.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, sister. We didn’t expect you up so early. Although we’ve been up for hours ourselves, it being so uncomfortable on that air mattress,” she finished sharply.

“Get used to it,” Elspeth responded coldly. “Or better yet, go check into a hotel.”

“Girls!” Martine hurried into the kitchen, silencing them with a look, before saying impatiently, “It is beyond me why the three of you cannot get along.”

Elspeth scowled, but merely said, “I gather you didn’t bring blood with you?”

“No,” Martine admitted on a sigh. “But I called Argeneau Enterprises and ordered some. I gather they’re busy and weren’t going to deliver any until tomorrow, but—” she added quickly when Elspeth gasped in dismay and opened her mouth on a protest “—I called your cousin Bastien. He’s having someone deliver a shipment later tonight. Thank goodness he runs the place,” she added in a mutter.

Elspeth merely grunted and then turned to scowl at her sisters.

“Your sisters are sorry they thoughtlessly consumed every last bag of your blood,” her mother added, glaring at the twins. “They were not thinking.”

“Right, and the fact that they glutted themselves on five bags each in a couple of hours when they normally have only three or four bags each in a twenty-four-hour period supports that theory,” Elspeth growled and spun on her heel to stride angrily from the kitchen. Fuming, she marched to the hall table, grabbed her keys and purse, and turned to open the door.

“Stop!”

Elspeth stopped so abruptly she almost overbalanced. Throwing out one hand, she caught at the hall table to save herself and then found herself turning to face her mother.

“What is it, Mother?” she asked wearily.

“Come back to the kitchen and have some juice or something. You can hold out until the blood gets here, I’m sure.”

Elspeth took a step toward her before the pain cramping her body made her stop and shake her head. She noted the startled look on her mother’s face, but simply turned and moved back to the door, muttering, “I’m in pain and need blood now.”

She made it out onto the landing before her mother hurried after her.

“You cannot leave.”

Her mother sounded shocked, Elspeth noted, and suspected Martine was trying to control her again, but wasn’t able to. Apparently, her pain was helping her fight the iron-like control her mother had always had over her thoughts and actions. Interesting, she thought grimly, but merely picked up her pace, afraid her resistance might not last long.

“Elspeth.”

She heard the tap of Martine’s heels as her mother hurried after her, but didn’t even dare look back as she started down the stairs.

“Where are you going?”

“To The Night Club,” she answered shortly.

“You cannot,” her mother protested at once. “Your friend Meredith invited us to dinner tonight. You do not have time to go out for blood first.”

Elspeth stopped again and turned on the step to peer up at where she stood on the landing. “Dinner?”

“Yes.”

“And you agreed?” she asked with surprise.

“The girls were hungry and there was no food here,” Martine said, taking a step down.

Elspeth scowled. “There is plenty of food here. There are fruits and vegetables, yogurt, eggs, bread, and meat in the freezer.”

“Yes, but there is nothing here that your sisters will eat,” Martine said with frustration.

“Because you don’t cook, and they haven’t bothered to learn how to,” Elspeth said with irritation, then rubbed her throbbing forehead and said, “You’ll have to go to dinner without me.”

“What?” Martine gasped with dismay. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

“I’m not being ridiculous, mother,” Elspeth said quietly. “I need blood. It’s just good sense that I go and take care of that rather than risk being around mortals in this state.”

“Or you could snack on Meredith’s grandson,” Martine suggested, and when Elspeth’s eyes lifted to her with shock, she added, “Just a little to tide you over until the delivery arrives. This is an emergency, after all.”

“It’s not an emergency,” Elspeth growled. “An emergency is when you need blood desperately and cannot get it readily anywhere else but from a mortal donor. I can go to The Night Club and get it.”

“Well, then, I will go with you,” Martine said at once, moving down another step toward her. “After all, the girls did not leave me any blood either.”

Elspeth scowled at the suggestion and shook her head. “You’re not—”

Her words died as her mother took another step down, bringing her close enough to reach out and take her by the wrist. The moment Martine’s fingers closed around her skin, Elspeth’s mind went blank and she forgot what they were arguing about.

She peered at her mother with bewilderment and then heard the outer door opening in the entryway below and the murmur of voices. Turning her head, Elspeth glanced over her shoulder to see Wyatt ushering an older couple into the entry. They brought with them a rush of cool air and a bevy of delicious scents, she noted as her mouth tightened at the sight of the couple.

Elspeth recognized Meredith’s sister, Violet, at once. The two women were very similar in looks with trim figures, short white hair, and large blue eyes. Although Merry’s eyes always seemed to be twinkling with mirth and joy. That was not true of Violet, she noted. No doubt thanks to her husband, Oscar, Elspeth thought as her gaze slid over the tall, stick-thin, and mean-faced man.

“Oh, hello,” Wyatt said as he noticed them on the stairs. He stared at Elspeth thoughtfully for a heartbeat, and then his gaze dropped to where her mother held her wrist. One eyebrow rose, but he merely said, “Perfect timing. Dinner’s ready.”

Elspeth’s gaze shifted to the paper bags he held up. They bore the logo from a fried chicken franchise, but while they were emitting delicious scents, they weren’t the source of the smell that had her stomach cramping.

   
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