"I know that." She placed a hand on his chest. "I'm...very attracted to you, Jean-Luc, but I'm trying not to make any mistakes I'll regret."
"I understand." He planted a hand on either side of the column, pinning her in. "I know I should resist you. But whenever you're close, I can only think about how much I want you."
He kissed her brow. "I keep remembering how good you feel in my arms and how sweet you taste." He kissed her cheek. "Remember our first kiss, chérie? The one in the park?"
The corner of her mouth quirked. "What kiss? Did we kiss?"
"You melted in my arms. You moaned into my mouth. You tasted me with your tongue."
"Oh. That kiss."
"And you did it again this morning."
"Well, some things you just have to keep doing till you get it right."
He smiled. "Chérie, you have it right." He skimmed his fingers up her neck. "All I can think about is kissing you. I can hardly work. My mind has become utterly useless."
"Poor baby." She tilted her head when he rubbed his nose against her neck. "We can't have you being useless."
"I'm sure we'll find something I can do." He touched his tongue against the pulsing artery in her neck. The scent of her blood sizzled through him.
"Like trying to seduce me?" She sounded breathless.
He kissed a trail to her ear. "There's no trying. I am seducing you."
He drew her earlobe into his mouth and groaned when she responded with a shudder. He suckled as he enveloped her in his arms.
Her hands slipped around his neck. "Yes," she whispered.
He brushed his lips across her cheek. "I want you so."
"I know," she breathed the words against his mouth. "Why does this feel so right?"
"Because we...fit." He molded his mouth against hers and pulled her tight against him. They did fit. Her lips were perfect against his. Her br**sts moved against his chest in just the right way.
He smoothed his hands down her back. The small of her back arched perfectly against his lower belly, her hips nestled sweetly against his groin, and her belly cushioned his hard erection. She was perfect in every way.
How could he let her go? Maybe she could learn to accept him as a vampire. Maybe he could have the sort of love Roman and Angus had found. Maybe he could even have a family.
A flash of light hit them as a car zoomed up the driveway. He immediately pulled her around the column into the shadow.
"Do you think it's Louie?" she whispered.
"No. He wouldn't be this obvious." Jean-Luc watched the car as it passed Heather's truck and his BMW. It screeched to a halt just past the front door. "It's probably one of your admirers from town."
"I have no admirers," she muttered.
"Then who was that noisy little man I had to dunk in the water?"
"Coach Gunter. He's more of a pest than an admirer." Heather twisted to peek around the column, but Jean-Luc pulled her back into the shadow.
"Careful." He narrowed his eyes as a man exited the car. "Yes. This one is definitely in love with you."
"What?" She scoffed.
"Heather!" the man yelled from the driveway. "I know you're there!"
"Cody?" she whispered with a grimace. "My ex doesn't love me. He hates me."
"He hates that you rejected him," Jean-Luc whispered. "But he still loves you. Believe me, I know the signs."
"You do?" She gave him a dubious look.
"Come on out, Heather!" Cody shouted. "I saw you on the porch, kissing that man."
"Jealousy," Jean-Luc whispered.
"The news is all over town," Cody bellowed. "Everyone knows you're living here. They know you're shacking up with that rich foreigner."
"Shall I skewer him?" Robby asked quietly as he shut the front door.
"No." Jean-Luc stepped from the shadows into the light by the front door. "You are trespassing on private property. I suggest you leave."
"I have a right to be here! You've got my daughter in there. What are you doing to her?"
"Bethany is perfectly fine." Heather moved into the light. "You can pick her up at the appointed time next Friday. Now go home, Cody."
"Why? So you can screw your new boyfriend? I didn't know you were a damned slut, Heather."
"Enough!" Jean-Luc zeroed all his psychic power onto Cody's forehead. The bastard stumbled back a few feet. Every time you curse Heather, you will become a cockroach.
Cody crumpled onto the brick pavement.
Heather stepped forward. "What - "
"Leave him be." Jean-Luc touched her arm.
Cody wriggled on the driveway, then rose into a squat. "I am a cockroach," he squeaked.
Heather gasped. "Not again."
Cody crawled toward the BMW, then leaped on top and scrambled across the hood.
Jean-Luc winced at the abuse his car was taking. You cannot pick up your daughter this weekend.
Cody lumbered toward his car. "I cannot pick up my daughter this weekend." He dove through the open window of his car and thrashed about.
"Is he drunk?" Heather grimaced when the engine roared to life. "He shouldn't drive like that."
The car shot forward and bounced over a curb where the driveway curved back to the state highway.
You will drive well, Jean-Luc delivered the psychic message, though he wasn't sure Cody could drive at all in his current condition.
The car stopped weaving and zoomed down the driveway in a straight line.
Heather exhaled a long breath. "He's gone crazy. Thank God he doesn't want Bethany this weekend."
"That was different," Robby spoke behind them.
Jean-Luc glanced back to find the Scotsman giving him an amused look. "Are you ready to go?"
"Aye." Robby strode down the steps to the driveway, carrying two swords. "Let me check the car first."
"This is it." Heather studied the Queen Anne house lit by the headlights of Jean-Luc's car as he parked. Between the scraggly azalea bushes in the front flower bed, she spotted a stone cellar.
The two-story wooden frame house was out in the middle of nowhere, but fifty years ago it had drawn customers from all over the state. A large sign by the front steps read Chicken Ranch, est. 1863. Heather noted an old Chevy Impala in the parking lot, probably Mrs. Bolton's car.
Heather gathered her purse, containing Fidelia's Glock and a flashlight, and met Jean-Luc on the sidewalk. Robby handed him his foil, and Jean-Luc slid it into a sheath hidden beneath his long black coat. Robby didn't bother to conceal the claymore strapped on his back.
Heather shook her head as they climbed the front steps to the porch. "The curator's not going to let you in with those swords."
"That is the least of my worries." Jean-Luc knocked on the door.
As they waited, Heather admired the elaborate gingerbread work around the covered porch and the wicker furniture. "They've maintained the place well."
Jean-Luc knocked again.
Heather frowned. "She said she would keep it open."
Jean-Luc turned the doorknob, and the door swung open slowly. "She has kept it open." He entered the dimly lit foyer, followed by Robby.
"Hello?" Heather called out as she stepped into the house. No answer. She gazed about, taking in the flocked wallpaper and Oriental rug on the wooden floor. "Maybe she's in the bathroom."
Robby obviously didn't believe in such convenient reasoning, for he drew his claymore. He entered the dark parlor on the right, his sword clenched tight in his fist.
He halted abruptly. "Lord Almighty," he whispered.
"What is it?" Jean-Luc rushed in, then stopped.
Heather couldn't see what they were looking at, so she fumbled along the wall and flipped the light switch. "Good Lord."
The light was aimed at the far wall, where a giant oil painting spread five feet across. Heather swallowed. No wonder Fidelia recognized this painting. Who could forget it? A curvaceous blonde reclined on a velvet chaise, completely nude while she pleasured herself, one hand on a plump breast and the other between her spread legs. Judging from the look on her face, her hands could work miracles.
"Sheesh. That doesn't leave much to the imagination." Heather turned away to look at the rest of the room. Red velvet chaises like the one in the painting lined the walls. She wondered if the prostitutes had reenacted the scene for paying customers.