A Very Vampy Christmas (Love at Stake 2.5) - Page 5

"That would be nice, but since I can't remember them, I don't miss them." He took her hand in his.

"Then what do you hope for?"

He lifted her hand to his lips. "I hope that when we find out who I am, I'll be worthy of you."

Chapter 3

Two nights later, Don Orlando arrived at Horny Devils with his duffel bag. By the time his eyes adjusted to the flashing lights of the nightclub, he was surrounded by a crowd of scantily clad lady Vamps who screeched to be heard over the loud music.

"Oh, Don Orlando! I just adore your show! And your cape!"

"Why are you wearing a shirt?"

"Can I have your autograph?"

A dozen cocktail napkins were thrust at his face. He reached into his inner coat pocket for a pen while he scanned the renovated warehouse for Maggie.

"Me first!" A napkin grazed his nose. A blond Vamp dressed like a cheerleader stepped in front of him, blocking his way.

He blinked. There was something disconcerting about a cheerleader with fangs.

She curled a hand around his arm, her long fingernails digging in like grappling hooks. "Do you need a girlfriend?"

"No, thank you." He wished he could publicly claim Maggie as his girlfriend, but she'd probably throw another shoe at his head. Still, she had to care about him, right? She'd arranged this trip to find out who he was. Where was she?

"Enough, ladies!" A striking woman with purple hair shouted over the loud music. "You don't want to miss our new dancer."

With a triumphant yell, the cheerleader released him and skipped toward the stage. The other women joined her, bouncing to the rhythm of a pounding drum. The stage curtains were whisked back to reveal a man wearing an Indian headdress, war paint, and little else. The women screamed.

Don Orlando breathed deeply. Thank God he was no longer the center of attention. He smiled at the purple-haired woman. "Are you one of Maggie's friends? I'm supposed to meet her here."

"She's in the office, waiting for you." The woman assessed him with narrowed eyes. "So, you're the famous Don Orlando."

"How do you do?" He extended a hand.

She took it and yanked him toward her so suddenly, the strap of the duffel bag slid off his shoulder. "My name is Vanda, and if you hurt Maggie, I'm coming after you."

"I would never hurt her." Not intentionally, though he was worried that she could find the truth about him disappointing. He shoved his duffel bag back onto his shoulder.

"Let me in!" A young voice bellowed at the front door.

"Get lost," the bouncer yelled. "You're underage."

"I'm 479 years old, ye moron."

"Hugo!" Vanda shouted. "He's okay. Let him in."

The huge guard stepped back, grumbling. "Well, he looks like he's twelve."

"Do not," the youthful-looking vampire hissed as he strode into the club.

No, he didn't. Don Orlando figured he looked more like fifteen. Black curly hair framed his smooth face, and a red plaid kilt swished about his knees as he walked toward them. "You must be Ian MacPhie."

"Aye, and ye must be Don Orlando." He shook hands, then turned to Vanda. "Ye're looking as lovely as ever." He took her hand and attempted to kiss it.

With a laugh, she pulled her hand away and ruffled his hair. "Come on. Maggie's waiting." She strode to the office.

"Thanks for helping with the investigation." Don Orlando noted the Scotsman's eyes were riveted on Vanda's swaying hips.

"I like to stay busy. It keeps my mind off… things." Ian glanced at the wiggling women in front of the stage.

Don Orlando suspected those "things" were women. It had to be hard to be stuck for all eternity with the raging hormones of a fifteen-year-old boy.

"I talked to the New Orleans coven master last night. He should be calling shortly. And I have the phone numbers of every coven master in America." Ian patted the leather pouch that hung from his waist. "We'll be able to teleport to any major city."

"That's good." Especially since Don Orlando had no idea where he was originally from.

Vanda stopped at a door with the words office painted on front. "Good luck finding out who you are." She turned to Ian. "You behave yourself in New Orleans, sweetie."

He gave her an exasperated look. "I'm older than you."

She laughed. "I know, but you look so sweet." She patted his cheek, then walked away.

Ian groaned, then pushed open the door.

"Don Orlando, Ian!" Maggie grinned as they entered the room. She was standing by the desk, holding the phone. "Colbert GrandPied just called. They're awake in New Orleans."

"Good. I'll go first." Ian stepped close to Maggie and leaned toward the phone. "Colbert, keep talking. I'm on my way."

Ian's form wavered, then vanished. Don Orlando understood the maneuver in theory. A Vamp could teleport long distances by using someone's voice as a beacon. Still, he had never executed the feat on his own before. He'd been half-starved and confused when Corky had teleported him to New York years earlier.

"Are you ready?" Maggie asked.

He hovered near the phone, listening to Colbert's French-accented voice. A wave of dread washed over him. What was he doing, going back to New Orleans? It was the home of his worst nightmare, where he'd lost his memory and mortality.

"Maggie," he whispered, "this is difficult."

Her pretty blue eyes widened with concern. "Don't worry." She lay the receiver down and punched on the speaker phone. Colbert's deep voice filled the room. Having run out of things to say, he was now singing "Au Claire de la Lune."

Maggie slipped a tote bag onto her shoulder, then took hold of Don Orlando's hands. "I'll go with you. Every step of the way." She smiled. "You'll be sick of me before this is over."

"No, never." He tightened his grip on her hands and focused on Colbert's melodic voice. "I don't deserve you, Maggie."

"You deserve happiness." Her body slowly disappeared.

Happiness is being with you was his last thought before everything went black. He could still feel her presence and hear Colbert's voice becoming closer and louder. The thud of his feet on solid ground signaled his arrival. Ian was there, standing next to Colbert. Maggie's image shimmered, then sharpened into her real body, her hands still clasped in his own.

"Bonsoir, mon ami," Colbert nodded at him, then studied Maggie. "Enchante, ma petite. And you are?"

Mine. A rush of Possessiveness swept over Don Orlando. He knew Colbert was famous for seducing beautiful women, so he sidled close to Maggie and draped an arm around her shoulder.

Smiling, she glanced at him, then turned to Colbert. "I'm Maggie O'Brian. Thank you for letting us stay with your coven."

"My pleasure, cherie." Colbert bowed gracefully. "Ian tells me you have come to discover Don Orlando's true identity."

"Yes." Don Orlando dropped his duffel bag on the floor as he glanced around. They appeared to be in an abandoned warehouse. Empty, broken crates littered the floor. The smell of coffee competed with the odors of mold and dust. This was far from the elegant wine cellar he remembered. "You moved?"

"Oui." Colbert sighed. "Our beloved wine cellar was flooded with the last hurricane. So much was ruined—many of our valuable antiques and all our lovely coffins."

"I'm so sorry," Maggie murmured.

"I was fortunate to find this old coffee warehouse." Colbert pointed at the far walls. "You can still see the watermark where the ground floor flooded, but we discovered the second floor was safe and dry. More importantly, it has no windows and no other exits. The government gave us a few cots and blankets, but it is not the same as the old days."

"Wait a minute," Don Orlando interrupted. "You received government aid?"

Colbert shrugged. "I filled out the proper paperwork." He gestured toward the second floor. A small balcony surrounded the closed door. "That is where we hide during the day."

Ian pointed at the heap of broken wood beneath the balcony. "Was that the staircase? Ye tore it down?"

"Oui. So no mortal can disturb us during our death-sleep."

Ian nodded. "A good plan. Now, if you doona mind, I'd like to get started with the investigation."

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