A Very Vampy Christmas (Love at Stake 2.5) - Page 12

"For God's sake!" Patrick shouted. "He has amnesia!"

"No, I do know about Lucy," Pierce confessed. "But I only found out last night. And I thought she was with her mother."

Dorotea grimaced. "That terrible woman. She doesn't deserve Lucy. She dropped off la pobrecita like an unwanted gato. Just because the man she was with didn't want a child."

Maggie gasped. "That's horrible!"

"I know." Dorotea cocked her head when steps sounded on the stairs. She held a finger to her lips. "We never talk about it in front of Lucy."

"Of course not." Pierce moved toward the foyer, anxious to meet his daughter for the first time. His heart leaped up his throat when he saw her on the stairs. Her curly black hair was disheveled, her big brown eyes drooped with sleepiness, her mouth was plugged with two fingers, and her Sesame Street pajamas were twisted askew. He'd never seen a more beautiful child in his life. His heart filled till it was heavy with love, then settled back into his chest with a sense of contentment.

Maggie and Lucy. He loved the most precious girls in the world.

Aunt Betty helped the sleepy little girl down the stairs. "We all adore her." Even Betty's pinched, narrow face had softened. "She's brought joy back into this house."

"I can believe that." Pierce knelt down to greet his daughter.

Lucy stopped in front of him and removed her fingers from her mouth. "You're not Santa Claus."

"No. I'm your father." And she was the only child he and Maggie could ever have. Their undead status precluded any more. "I think you're a miracle."

"No, I'm Lucy."

With a grin, he hugged her.

"Did you come with Santa Claus?"

"No." He straightened. "I came with an angel." He pointed at Maggie on the couch who was watching with tears in her eyes.

Lucy wandered into the living room and stopped in front of Maggie. "You're pretty."

A tear ran down Maggie's face. "I think you're beautiful."

"I'm sleepy." Lucy climbed onto the couch and rested her head in Maggie's lap.

Maggie gently stroked the girl's hair. Pierce felt his heart expand. For the first time in his memory, everything was right. He was blessed.

"What a lovely picture you two make." Dorotea headed for the bookcase. "I should get the camera."

"No!" Pierce rushed toward the couch. Shit! If his mother had a 35 mm camera, he and Maggie wouldn't show up in it.

Maggie gave him a frantic look.

"The—uh, the flash might wake up Lucy," he grappled for an excuse.

"Yes." Maggie nodded. "Perhaps we can look at your old photos? Maybe it'll jog Pierce's memory."

"Good idea!" Dorotea grabbed a photo album from the bookcase.

Pierce exhaled with relief and sat next to Maggie.

Dorotea perched on the sofa arm and thumbed through the photo album. "Ah, here's one of my favorites." She lifted the album so Pierce and Maggie could see. "Halloween. Rosalinda was a princess. Patrick was Robin, and Pierce was Batman."

Maggie slanted an amused glance at Pierce. "A black cape?"

"Yes." Dorotea smiled. "Pierce was always fond of capes."

Maggie grinned. "How interesting."

Pierce wondered if somehow his subconscious had held on to certain things. Like capes. And a natural preference for short women with dark hair. Like his mother and Maggie.

Patrick wandered over to look at the picture. "I remember those costumes. We used to wear them when we played in the cave. Pierce would say, 'To the bat cave, Robin.' "

Dorotea scoffed. "And the two of you would come home stinking of bat guano. You ruined those costumes." She flipped pages in the album till she located another picture. "Here they are the next year. Patrick was Spiderman, and Pierce was Zorro."

Maggie laughed. "Another black cape?"

Dorotea continued through the album. "Most of these are Pierce with his horses. He was winning medals by the age of ten. Then in high school, he discovered another passion."

Maggie's grin faded. "You mean girls?"

"Oh, no," Dorotea chuckled. "He was shy around the girls. It was the marching band he loved. And music."

Pierce blinked with surprise. "I know how to play an instrument?"

"Of course." Dorotea tipped the album toward them. "Here he is in his band uniform. Doesn't he look handsome?"

"Very handsome." Maggie leaned closer. "Sweet Mary, you're holding a trumpet."

A trumpet? Pierce exchanged a surprised look with Maggie. No wonder Don Orlando had played the trumpet in a mariachi band.

Dorotea continued to show them photos while Lucy slept soundly, cuddled up to Maggie.

"It's getting late," Maggie whispered, then projected her thoughts into his head. We could teleport to Dallas, but that would be hard to explain to your family.

You're right. He glanced at the clock. Five-fifteen. "Maggie and I are tired from our journey. Is there a place we can sleep? A dark place with no windows?"

"No windows?" Dorotea closed the photo album on her lap.

"There's a bed in the basement," Aunt Betty offered. "But only one." She pursed her lips in disapproval.

"There are a few windows in the basement." Dorotea returned the albums to the bookcase. "But they're very small. I'm sure they won't bother you."

"I—I have a skin condition," Maggie explained. "Any exposure to sunlight would be very painful."

Betty snorted. "I thought you looked too pale. In fact, both of you look too pale. A little sun would do you good."

Pierce winced. "This may sound strange, but we both have an illness that requires a lot of rest and complete darkness."

Betty scoffed. "Sounds like hanky-panky to me." Patrick chuckled. "There's always the cave."

"Don't be silly," Dorotea fussed. "There are a million bats in that cave. And mounds of stinky bat guano." Patrick nodded. "With our luck, one of those bats would bite them."

Dorotea's face lit up. "The storm cellar! It's very dark."

"That sounds good." Pierce stood. "Where is it?"

"Close to the garage. It's where we go if there's a tornado warning." Dorotea wrinkled her nose. "But it's not a fit place to sleep. There's no electricity or heat."

"It'll be fine," Maggie insisted. "Thank you." Pierce gently lifted Lucy's head so that Maggie could get up. He slid a pillow under Lucy's head and kissed her brow. "See you tomorrow night, little one."

Dorotea shook her head. "This is terrible. How can we let you sleep in that cold hole in the ground when we have perfectly good beds in the house?"

Aunt Betty harrumphed. "I doubt they'll be cold."

"We'll be fine, Mother," Pierce assured her. "We really do need total darkness. And we need to sleep all day tomorrow undisturbed."

"All day?" Dorotea asked. "But tomorrow's Christmas. You should watch Lucy open her presents. And dinner will be at three in the afternoon."

Pierce gave Maggie a worried look. "We're… very tired."

Aunt Betty snorted.

"I'm serious," Pierce insisted. "I want your word that none of you will enter the storm cellar until after sunset."

Dorotea ran a hand through her graying black hair. "Very well. We'll have Christmas dinner at seven in the evening."

"Thank you." Pierce kissed his mother's cheek. "Now, take us to the storm cellar."

Chapter 6

Maggie stopped by the SUV while Pierce and his mom went to the storm cellar. She stuffed two bottles from the ice chest into her tote bag. She knew Ian and the Dallas coven would be worried, so she called Ian on her cell phone.

"Don't worry about locating Lucy. She's here." Maggie spotted Patrick watching her from the bay window. "There's something weird going on here."

"Like what?" Ian's voice sharpened.

"I don't know. Can you check the local papers for anything like a strange creature on the loose?" She turned toward the SUV just in time to see a furry animal jump out from behind a rear wheel. "Sweet Mary!" Maggie retreated with a gasp.

"What is it?" Ian demanded. "Is it the bloody creature?"

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