Tootsie dabbed at his eyes with his hanky. "We begged you to forgive us, but you left for New York with that horrid woman and wouldn't forgive us. You wouldn't even talk to us."
"Oh, how sad." Maggie patted Tootsie's shoulder. "I'm sure he's forgiven you." She gave Don Orlando a reproachful look. "You have, haven't you?"
"Maggie, they murdered me!"
She shrugged. "So, you were having a bad day."
"I don't mean to sound cold." She squeezed his arm. "But we were all murdered at some point. It's the nature of our existence. If you want to be happy, you need to get over it and forgive them. You could have a wonderful future ahead of you."
Tootsie nodded. "You should listen to her. She's a very wise doctor."
"Just look at how she saved those twins in South America," Scarlett added with a sniff.
Don Orlando sighed. Tootsie and Scarlett kept confusing Maggie with the doctor she played on TV, but they were right. In her own way, Maggie was healing him. And she was right. An eternity of bitterness would make him miserable.
He glanced at Tootsie and Scarlett. They were both sniffling, their bottom lips trembling, and their eyes watery with regret. "All right, I forgive you. In fact, I'm downright delighted to be a vampire."
"Really?" Scarlett wiped a tear from his rouged cheek.
"Yes." Don Orlando turned to Maggie and clasped her hands in his. "If I hadn't become a vampire, I would have never met this beautiful, courageous, and wise woman. Maggie, you were definitely worth dying for."
Her mouth fell open and her eyes widened. When he tugged her forward, she willingly came into his arms. He held her tight and kissed the top of her head. So what if he had no memories? He could build an eternity of memories with Maggie.
"Oh, my!" Scarlett fanned himself. "This is so romantic."
"Oh, yes!" Tootsie pressed a hand to his forehead. "I'm going to swoon."
"No ye're not," Ian ordered. "Ye never told us about the plan."
"Oh, you're so demanding." Tootsie shuddered. "You're like a Scottish terrier with a bone."
"Mmm, a very large bone." Scarlett smiled slyly as he regarded Ian's kilt.
"The plan?" Ian growled.
"Well, there's no need to get all huffy." Tootsie gave him an injured look. "We simply wanted to make Bootsie like us."
"Like a vampire?" Ian asked.
"No." Don Orlando glared at his makers. "They wanted to make me just like them. They took my comatose body back to the wine cellar and put me in a damned dress."
Tootsie scoffed. "You needn't growl at us. You said you've forgiven us."
"And it was a very nice dress," Scarlett added. "An ivory silk gown with extensive beadwork on the bodice."
"It was a freaking dress," Don Orlando growled. "I woke up the next night to find out I was undead and wearing a dress!"
Maggie covered her mouth to hide a smile.
"It wasn't funny," Don Orlando grumbled.
"I'm sure you looked very nice." Maggie wrapped her arms around his middle, and he forgot all about being angry.
"So." Ian gave the two male Vamps a disapproving frown. "Yer plan was to take a mortal with no memory, transform him, and convince him that he was a g*y transvestite?"
Tootsie huffed. "You needn't make us sound so Machiavellian. We gave him our best gown."
"A Vera Wang," Scarlett added. "And the big brute ripped it when he tore it off."
Ian arched an eyebrow at Don Orlando. "I take it their little experiment dinna work?"
"No. Even without a memory, I knew I was straight."
Ian's gaze lifted to the balcony and his mouth fell open. Don Orlando wasn't surprised. Giselle usually had that effect on men. She was standing on the balcony, dressed in a shimmering white gown, her white-blond hair cascading down her back. In her arms was a bundle of clothes.
"Bonsoir." She smiled as she floated down to the ground floor. "I have located Bootsie's old clothes." She sauntered past them to a small seating area.
Two Louis XVI chairs and a gold satin settee surrounded a scarred coffee table. Giselle dumped the clothes on the table, then perched on one of the chairs. Scarlett and Tootsie rushed over and sat together on the settee. Maggie and Ian followed them. Don Orlando gathered his duffel bag and Maggie's tote bag and set them on the floor next to the vacant chair.
"Thank ye for finding the clothes." Ian smiled and extended a hand to Giselle. "I'm Ian MacPhie from New York."
"Enchantee." She removed her hand from his grip before he could kiss it.
With a sigh, Ian turned to examine the clothes on the table.
Scarlett lifted a plaid Western shirt between his thumb and forefinger and shuddered. "How horrid."
Don Orlando picked up the boots. They were worn and scruffy. Had he really been a cowboy?
"This is interesting," Ian removed a belt from the pile and studied the buckle.
"It's huge." Maggie moved closer to Ian to get a better look. "What's that embossed on front? A wild horse?"
"A bronco." Don Orlando blinked when he realized the word had escaped without forethought. He must really be a cowboy.
Ian turned the buckle over. "There's an inscription. FORT WORTH LIVESTOCK SHOW AND RODEO 1999. This could be useful." He turned to Giselle. "Is there a computer here I can use?"
"Yes, on the second floor." She rose. "I'll take you."
"Thank you." Ian followed Giselle to the balcony, then they levitated to the second floor. Scarlett and Tootsie dashed over at vampire speed to get a glimpse under Ian's kilt.
Don Orlando cleared his throat. They gave him sheepish looks.
Ian glanced down from the balcony. "Ye four should keep working. The clues are there, if ye think hard enough." He followed Giselle into the upstairs room and shut the door.
"What clues?" Tootsie's shoes jingled as he and Scarlett trudged back to the settee.
"I've always wondered how I got amnesia." Don Orlando sat in one of the antique chairs.
"His mind was a complete blank when you found him?" Maggie asked Tootsie and Scarlett. They nodded.
"Then the amnesia must have happened that night," Don Orlando concluded.
"Exactly," Maggie agreed. "It must have just happened or you would have had a little memory. And it must have happened very close to where you were found."
"Somewhere in the French Quarter?" Tootsie offered.
Maggie turned to the male Vamps on the settee. "Did Don Orlando have a head injury of any kind?"
"No, he was perfect." Scarlett grimaced. "I always suspected it had something to do with"he lowered his voice to an ominous whisper"the Dark Arts."
Tootsie gasped and pressed a hand to his chest. "Don't make me swoon."
Don Orlando sat back as a feeling of dread seeped into his pores.
"You mean magic?" Maggie asked. "Or witches?"
Scarlett and Tootsie exchanged a worried look and shuddered.
"They mean voodoo," Don Orlando whispered.
"Is that real?" Maggie asked.
"It's real if you believe in it," Tootsie whispered.
Maggie glanced at Don Orlando. "Do you believe in it?"
"I don't know. I can't remember."
"Well." Maggie lifted her chin. "I'm not afraid. And it stands to reason that if the amnesia is the result of some kind of spell, then there must be another spell that can undo it. We should locate the local practitioner and see what he can do."
Scarlett's mouth fell open. "You're not getting me to see a voodoo priestess."
Maggie gave him a stern look. "Not even for Bootsie?"
Tootsie grabbed Scarlett's hand and held tight. "We can take you to the French Quarter where the local shops are, but we don't want to go inside."
"Very well." Maggie stood. "Let's go."
Don Orlando smiled. What a fierce little fighter she was. He couldn't imagine living through eternity or even a single night without her. His smile faded as he realized the full impact of his feelings. He was in love with Maggie O'Brian.
She gave him a worried look. "Are you all right?"
"Never been better." He took her hand. "Let's go."