"How's that? Don't you like knowing when you turn me on?"
"Yes, but if I ever see you look at another woman, and your eyes turn red, you'll be in big trouble."
He winced. "I never thought about it that way. Fortunately, I plan to be faithful."
How could he remain faithful when she was old and gray? Heather sighed. "What other powers do you have?"
"Telepathy. We don't do it that often, because it's not private. Any Vamp could pick up a message being broadcast. That's the problem with vampire sex."
"Vampire sex. Any Vamp can join in and play along."
Heather grimaced. "That's disgusting."
He arched an eyebrow. "You might like it."
"I am not into group sex."
"Good, because I refuse to share you."
Time to change the subject. "What other powers do you have?"
"Mind control. We can manipulate and erase thoughts."
She nodded. "You think Louie might use mind control on someone involved with the show. Even Simone."
"It's possible, but don't worry. I won't leave your side."
She wondered whom Louie would choose. Would his victim act strangely, making it obvious? "Oh my gosh, what if he's messing with Cody?"
Jean-Luc blinked. "Excuse me?"
"Cody's been acting weird ever since Louie arrived on the scene. Maybe Louie's using him to get to me."
Jean-Luc shook his head. "No, he's not."
"How can you be so sure? Cody went berserk again last night."
"He must have cursed you."
"Billy said he was ranting about me, but - how would you know?"
Jean-Luc sighed. "He is being manipulated. By me."
Heather gasped. "Why would you do that?"
"He was cursing you. He deserved it."
"He's been running around like a cockroach."
"Exactly." Jean-Luc nodded. "It suits him perfectly."
"That's not your decision to make."
"I was protecting you."
"No." Anger sizzled inside her. "You were scaring the hell out of me. I've been worried for days. I had to call my lawyer to see about changing visitation rights."
"I'll pay your bill."
"That's not the point! You had no right to interfere in my personal life."
"I thought I was part of your personal life." He crossed his arms, frowning. "The next time I see your ex, I'll erase the command. He'll go back to being his usual repugnant self."
"Thank you. I can't believe I've been worrying over this, and it was just a joke to you."
"I was not laughing, Heather. I wanted to kill the bastard for the way he was treating you. A hundred years ago, I would have."
Her chest constricted, making it hard to breathe. She felt...closed in. Suffocated. She wasn't ready for this.
"Are you all right?" He touched her shoulder. "You're heart is pounding."
She stepped back. "I have fought too hard for my freedom just to throw it away now." She turned and stalked to the kitchen to be with her daughter.
He was losing her, and he didn't know what to do about it. Vampires weren't accustomed to rejection. In the old days, if Jean-Luc wanted a pint, he could always resort to mind control. That way, the lady in question never said no.
But it wasn't blood he wanted from Heather. He wanted her love, and that was proving much harder to obtain. His sense of honor precluded using mind control on something this important. He wanted her love to be true.
His old methods of seduction hadn't quite worked on Heather. She had her own career, her own home, her own family. She valued her independence, and she didn't really need him.
Merde. The more she pulled away, the more he ached for her. In the days that followed, he was tempted several times to whisk her down to his bedroom and make love to her till she couldn't see straight. He also considered using vampire sex to seduce her while she slept, but he rejected that idea, too. She'd not reacted well to his manipulating her ex's mind. She would not appreciate his playing games with her head.
So he was left with a totally lame course of action - being a nice guy. He'd always considered himself somewhat nice, so it was surprising how much he had to work at it. He had to constantly remind himself not to tease her with his usual lewd sense of humor. He had to force himself, over and over, not to touch her.
She immersed herself in work, and every evening, he reviewed her daily accomplishments in a businesslike manner. He made polite suggestions while he mentally pictured her clothes falling off. He gave her sincere encouragement while he imagined her screaming his name in the throes of a massive climax.
As the week wore on, he even pictured her beautiful body growing ripe with his child inside her. Dammit to hell, he wanted to start a life with her. He wanted to be her husband. This being-nice crap was for the birds.
By Friday, Heather was ready to scream, and she didn't know why. Jean-Luc was being very polite. He didn't even try to touch her. Unfortunately, he also stopped teasing her and making jokes. He no longer looked at her like he was ready to devour her. Had his love for her already gone cold? If that was the case, then she was right to withdraw.
She had felt angry about his turning her ex into a cockroach, but when she'd gone to Fidelia to complain about it, they'd both ended up rolling with laughter.
Heather sighed. She missed the old Jean-Luc. In the last few days, all the fun had gone out of him. Even Fidelia noticed the difference.
"Poor Juan-Luc," she moaned. "He has lost his mojo. You must help him get it back."
"How?" Heather was hesitant to ask.
"Go down to his bedroom and take off your clothes while you do the tango."
"I don't know how to tango. Will the Cotton Eye Joe work?" Heather pictured herself stripping while doing a country-western line dance.
"I'm trying to help you, chica. If you don't tell him you love him, you could lose him. Do you want to lose him?"
No. The answer sprang to her mind. No, she couldn't bear to lose him. "I miss him. I miss the fun conversations we used to have. I miss the way he was always trying to steal a kiss or touch me. I miss the way he made me feel." She'd felt loved by him. Oh God, she missed his love.
She kept herself occupied by working long hours. By Friday morning, she finished the last of the three outfits. That afternoon, her three teacher friends came by for their fittings. Everything was set for the show on Saturday. Her two weeks of employment would be over. Jean-Luc had said she could stay until her house was ready. Was he reluctant to see her go? She didn't know how she could leave him and go back to her old life like nothing had happened.
Ian collapsed as usual about six P.M. They always made sure Bethany was in the kitchen when it happened. Heather had told her Ian was a special person who was aging very fast. Bethany seemed to accept that, although she announced she wanted to age fast, too.
A little after seven P.M., Sasha showed up. After fussing at her, Alberto fitted her for the outfit she was supposed to wear.
"Heather, your designs are fabulous!" Sasha hugged her. "I'm so happy for you."
"Thank you." Heather was surprised. "You do know that my designs are for a size twelve?"
"Oh, I know. And I may be wearing them someday." Sasha whirled in a circle, grinning. "Guess what? I'm going to retire! And start eating again!"
"Wow. Congratulations. When did you decide this?"
"When I fell in love." Sasha clasped her hands together over her heart. "I met him in San Antonio. He's so handsome. And rich. And he's crazy about me!"
"Great! When do we get to meet this guy?"
"Soon. Henry is so fabulous. You'll just love him. I do. Can you believe it?" Sasha practically danced to the front door. "I'll see you tomorrow!"
Later that evening, after the Vamps awoke, Simone and Inga put on their gowns and tried out the runway. They pronounced it ugly, but adequate.
Meanwhile, Jean-Luc paced around the showroom, making sure everything was in order. The mannequins and display cases had been moved to storage. The black runway was flanked on each side by two rows of white folding chairs. The lengths of silk hanging from the catwalk glimmered in shades of black, gray, and white. The whole room looked very elegant.
Jean-Luc stopped beside Heather. "Your outfits are ready?"