His breath caught, and it took a moment to force out a reply. "Yes, it is."
Her face paled. "Oh God." She shifted uneasily on the ottoman. "I was right. You're immortal."
"Not exactly. I can be killed."
She nodded. "That's where the swords come in. I saw it on television. I guess Hollywood knows about you?"
He shrugged. "There have been many stories told about us, but not always true."
"The bad guy will try to cut your head off. That's how you die."
He winced. "Decapitation would be effective, but there are a number of ways to kill me." He smiled wryly. "I could make you list if you're keen to know. It might come in handy if I ever forget your birthday."
She smiled briefly, then winced. "So Louie is immortal, too. That's why the names you called him died out centuries ago. I checked it out on the Internet."
"Ah." She'd been suspicious from the start. "You're very clever to figure out so much. I hope you also realize that you can trust me. I'm doing everything in my power to keep you and your daughter safe."
She frowned. "You've done everything but tell me the truth."
"I didn't want to scare you away. You would be too vulnerable on your own, too easy for Lui to kill. I could not allow you to face him alone."
"So you concealed things to protect me."
"Yes. And to protect myself. I could not bear it if something happened to you."
A pained expression crossed her face. "When did the other women die?"
"Yvonne was murdered in 1757 and Claudine in 1832. There's been no one special since then."
"That's a long time."
He shrugged. There'd been numerous short-term affairs and one-night stands, especially before the arrival of synthetic blood. He needed a few pints every night, and a well-pleasured woman tended to be more generous. But this was not something Heather would appreciate. "After Lui murdered Yvonne, I avoided any close relationships. I didn't want another woman to be killed because of me."
"But you...fell in love again. With Claudine?"
"Yes. I thought it would be safe. I'd hunted Lui for years, but he'd disappeared. Just when I thought it was safe, he came back."
"Why does he hate you so much?"
"He tried to assassinate Louis XV, and I stopped him. I was one of the king's personal guards at the time."
Her eyes narrowed with a pained look. "You knew King Louis XV?"
"I have known many kings."
She glanced down at her clasped hands. Her fingers looked tense, her knuckles white. "You've seen a lot of people come and go."
She closed her eyes briefly. When she opened them, they glimmered with tears. "I've heard enough. I need to go." She rose quickly and started toward the door.
"Wait." He stood and blocked her path. "There's more."
"No." She shook her head, and the tears welled in her eyes. "There can't be anything more. Not between us. What would be the point? It doesn't matter if I think you're incredibly sweet and gorgeous and intelligent - "
"It matters to me."
"No, it doesn't. Because to you, I'll be gone in the blink of an eye. I'm one of those little ants that come and go. I'm surprised you even bother to keep me alive."
"How can you say that?" He grabbed her shoulders. "Do you think I'm totally heartless?"
"No. But why would you care if I live to be thirty or seventy? What's forty years to someone who's over five hundred? My life is just a blip on your radar screen."
Mon Dieu, he wanted to shake her. "You are everything to me! You are the woman I love."
"It's true." He stepped closer. "I love you, Heather."
She shook her head. "I'll grow old and gray."
"And I will still love you. Why would I care if your outer appearance mellows with time? It is you who fills my heart, and I have waited five hundred years for you."
She drew in a shaky breath. "You always say the most beautiful things." A tear rolled down her cheek. "You're the most beautiful man, but I'm afraid this could never work."
He brushed the tear away. "You're at war with fear, remember?" He smoothed his hands across her back, drawing her close. "Trust me, chérie."
"I want to." She rested her hands on his chest. "But this is so hard..."
"We have this moment." He kissed her brow. "This perfect moment in time." He kissed the tip of her nose. "Let me love you." He hovered over her mouth.
"Jean-Luc." Her hands slipped up to his neck.
He kissed her gently, still aware that she could flee at any moment. He took a slow, leisurely pace, seducing her with softness. Her body responded, molding to his. His groin tightened. He ignored his own urgent need and slipped his hands beneath her T-shirt. He slowly caressed her back.
She shivered, causing her br**sts to jiggle slightly against his chest. With a moan, he drew her lower lip into his mouth and sucked. Her fingers delved into his hair.
"Heather." He nuzzled her neck. Her carotid artery throbbed against his cheek. His erection grew harder. "Let me love you."
"I can never resist you," she whispered.
That was good, but he wanted more. He wanted a declaration of love. He felt sure she loved him. Maybe she didn't realize it yet. Or maybe she was afraid to admit it. Either way, he'd make it clear to her. He'd make her scream with pleasure, over and over, until she realized the truth.
He grasped the hem of her T-shirt and eased it up.
"Wait!" She crossed her arms, covering up the little yellow bird on her T-shirt.
His heart plummeted. He released her and stepped back. "Forgive me."
"It's not you." She pointed at the camera in the upper corner of his bedroom. "It's them."
"Merde." He'd forgotten about that. And the damned red light was still blinking. Didn't they realize this was private? He made a cutting motion across his throat. The light went off.
"This is embarrassing," Heather muttered. "What if they turn it back on in five minutes, thinking we're done?"
He arched a brow. "Five minutes?"
She huffed. "Okay, so I haven't participated in any marathons." She glared at the camera. "Or any peep shows."
With a smile, he strode to his bedside table and fumbled in his top drawer. He removed a remote control, aimed it at the camera, and pushed the off button. "There. They can't interrupt us."
"Okay." She watched him warily as he approached. "I - I'm still not totally convinced this could work."
"I know, but I can be very persuasive." He took her by the shoulders. "All night long."
She shivered as he nuzzled her neck. "I could use a little persuasion."
"I thought so." He nibbled on her ear. "Where were we?"
"I was about to star in a Girls Gone Wild video."
He had no idea what that was, but it sounded interesting. "You wish to go wild, chérie?" He grabbed the hem of her T-shirt.
She sucked in a deep breath. "What the hell? You only live once."
That was debatable, but this was not the time. He yanked the shirt over her head and dropped it. The little yellow bird fluttered to the floor.
His first inclination was to admire her br**sts for a moment, but he knew that would turn his eyes red, and he didn't want to scare her. Still, he couldn't resist a quick glimpse. Her plump, rosy ni**les were turning pebbly and hard. The tightened tips begged to be suckled. He kept his gaze lowered, grasped her around the waist, and tossed her onto the center of his bed.
"Whoa!" She bounced on her rear.
He landed beside her and shoved her back. "Close your eyes."
He kept his face turned away as he untied the draw-string on her pajama bottoms. "Close your eyes and relax. Just let yourself feel." He leaned over and touched her belly button with his tongue.
He glanced at her face. Her eyes were shut, and her trust in him swelled his heart. "You're so beautiful."
A corner of her mouth tilted up. "Are you looking at my br**sts?"
He grinned. "Actually, I was looking at your face." He kissed her cheek. "But your br**sts are beautiful, too."