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The Undead Next Door (Love at Stake 4) - Page 34


Fidelia moaned again, thrashing her arms and legs. Heather considered waking her, but she really wanted whatever information Fidelia's dream had to offer.

The older woman sat up so suddenly, Heather gasped.

"Fidelia," she whispered. "Are you all right?"

"Eyes, red glowing eyes in the dark. Danger."

That was creepy, but it didn't tell them very much. "Anything else?"

With a sigh, Fidelia rested against the headboard. "I couldn't see much. It was dark. Nighttime. I heard growling. A white flash of long gnashing teeth."

Heather shuddered. The room grew silent except for Bethany's slow and even breathing.

Finally she stood and stretched. She couldn't let a bad dream stop her from living. And since she couldn't sleep, she might as well get to work. The first thing she needed to do was buy some groceries. "Do you want anything from the kitchen?" She snorted. "Some champagne?"

Fidelia chuckled. "I'm fine. I'm going back to sleep. I'll get up when the little one wakes up."

"Okay. Sleep well." Heather stumbled into the bathroom. After a quick shower, she dressed in the new underwear, jeans, and green T-shirt they'd bought the night before. She slipped on her old athletic shoes and exited quietly into the hallway. A window at the end of the hall provided some dim light. The moon was half full, and stars sparkled in a clear sky.

She paused outside Jean-Luc's office. Would he be inside? They'd never discussed the specifics of her job. A red blinking light overhead drew her attention. The surveillance camera was on. Was someone watching her?

She slipped down the backstairs and peeked into the main corridor. Empty. There was a faint sound. Music.

She glanced at the cellar door. After a quick look around, she tiptoed to the door. The sound of music grew louder.

She pressed an ear against the door. Classical music. A piano and something with a tinkling sound. A harpsichord? She curled her fingers around the doorknob and gave it a twist. It turned slightly, then stuck fast. Locked.

"May I help you?" a deep voice spoke behind her.

She whirled to find Robby MacKay standing in the hall. "I...good morning. I was looking for the kitchen."

"Over here." He turned to indicate the door on the other side of the staircase.

"Oh, that's right. I'm still learning my way around." She strode toward the kitchen. "I thought I'd make a list of things we need from the grocery store. The pantry's bare, you know."

"'Tis full now. We bought ye some food."

"Oh." She paused outside the kitchen door. "Well, thank you. That was very efficient of you."

He crossed his arms, giving her a thoughtful look. "I found yer handbag in yer truck last night. 'Tis in the security office. I'll bring it to you."

"Great. I might need to run some errands."

He frowned. "If there's anything ye need, tell one of the guards. For yer own safety, ye must stay here."

"Oh." Was she a prisoner? "I see." She let herself into the kitchen, then leaned against the door, taking deep breaths. She wasn't a prisoner, she reminded herself. They were just trying to keep her, Fidelia, and Bethany safe.

And they were keeping their secrets safe, too. Curiosity killed the cat, the old saying warned her. But she was no cat. She was woman, hear her roar.

She would uncover all their secrets, one by one.

Chapter 15

Jean-Luc had always loved playing duets. The music swelled back and forth from the piano to the harpsichord. At times he took the lead, and the melody flowed beneath his fingertips. Other times he retreated to the background, pounding the keys to set the rhythm for the other player.

It was a bit like swordplay, he mused. With a good partner, the action swept back and forth - lunge, retreat, thrust, parry. Or like a good night of sex. Taking the lead, then easing back. Setting the rhythm, pounding over and over, sometimes gently, sometimes hard. Using his fingers to make Heather sing.

He smiled to himself. He'd win her over somehow, and it would be glorious. As the closing strain faded away, he kept his fingers on the keys to enjoy the last hint of vibration. Mon Dieu, how he wanted her. He'd thought music would help take his mind off her, but it had only made him ache for her.

"Shall we play another, Jean-Luc?" Inga asked from her seat behind the piano.

"Oh yes, please do." Simone had amused herself by dancing a minuet. "Let's call Robby to come dance with me. It'll be a party, just like old times."

Jean-Luc folded his sheet music. "Actually I have something serious to discuss."

Inga slumped on the piano bench. "You're always serious these days."

"With good reason," Jean-Luc countered. "Lui is back, and he's threatening to kill anyone I care about."

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Simone gasped. "That would be us."

Jean-Luc refrained from pointing out that in the two hundred years he'd known Simone and Inga, Lui had never threatened them. He only seemed interested in killing mortals. "You both talked to him Friday night. He was disguised as an old man with white hair and a cane."

"That was Lui?" Inga looked aghast as she pressed a hand to her chest. "He seemed so charming and harmless."

"And rich." Simone flipped her long black hair behind her shoulders. "He offered me twenty thousand dollars for my company."

Inga snorted. "Does he think you're a whore?"

"Actually, I've been considering it." Simone assumed an injured look. "Jean-Luc ignores us terribly."

He'd been hearing that complaint for more than fifty years. "Didn't either of you notice that he wasn't mortal?"

Inga shrugged. "The room was full of smelly mortals."

"And now you've invited some to live under our roof." Simone shuddered. "Quelle horreur."

Jean-Luc pushed back his bench and stood. "They're under my protection. You will treat them with respect. And I have another request. Leave Alberto alone."

Simone waved a hand in dismissal. "He is nothing."

"He's an important employee. You went too far tonight."

Simone scoffed. "It was just a little scratch."

"And I have rules in my household. No biting. If you cannot abide by my rules, you will have to leave."

Simone's eyes flashed. "You would throw us out?"

Inga jumped up from the piano bench. "Come now. We've been friends too long for this silly bickering."

"Indeed." Simone glared at Jean-Luc. "You would not want me for an enemy."

Jean-Luc studied her quietly. "You may leave whenever you wish, Simone."

"Sorry to interrupt," Robby spoke from the open door.

"Robby, you must dance with me," Simone demanded.

"Another time, lass. I need a word with Jean-Luc."

Jean-Luc bowed slightly. "Good night, ladies."

They trudged out the door, pouting.

"Off to bed for yer beauty sleep." Robby stepped aside to let them pass. "Ye're no' getting any younger, ye ken."

Simone gave him a dirty look, but he only chuckled.

Jean-Luc joined him at the door. "You're such a charmer."

"Aye." Robby nodded. "I take pride in it." His smile faded, and his voice lowered. "I found Mrs. Westfield listening to the music at the cellar door."

"Oh." Jean-Luc's heartbeat quickened, just thinking about her. He strode down the hall. "She's up early."

"Aye. And suspicious like we feared. She's in the kitchen now. I returned her handbag to her."

"I see." They had a little time left before sunrise forced them into their daily death-sleep. "I'll try to allay some of her suspicions."

"Good." Robby accompanied him up the stairs. "We made some progress tonight. Six cameras are set up outside."

"Good." But there'd been no progress on finding Lui. Their search of abandoned buildings had yielded nothing. Jean-Luc opened the door to the ground-floor hallway.

"We'll do another check before the changing of the guard." Robby headed to the security office. "See ye tomorrow."

"Good night." Jean-Luc entered the kitchen and stopped in the sitting area. "Heather?"

She peeked out of the utility room. "Jean-Luc! I - I didn't expect to see you." She hurried into the kitchen. "I was just doing some laundry."

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