Authors: Jeaniene Frost,Lynsay Sands
Tags: #Anthologies, #Romance, #Fantasy, #Adult, #Vampires
“For a minute I forgot,” he admitted wryly, sitting up beside her.
“Forgot what?” Katricia asked uncertainly as he leaned to press a kiss to her shoulder.
“That I was dead,” he murmured, following his kiss up with a nip before moving his lips to her ear.
“Dead?” she asked, pulling back with surprise.
“Mmm,” he murmured, simply following to continue.
“But Teddy, you're not dead,” Katricia said on a half-breathless laugh.
“Yes I am. And this is heaven,” he assured her, turning his head to claim her lips now.
For a minute, Katricia simply couldn't speak. It was hard to speak with two tongues in your mouth, but when his hands began to roam over her body, she forced herself to break their kiss and pull back. Her voice firm, she said, “Teddy, you're not dead. This isn't heaven. Iâ Why would you think this was heaven?” she interrupted herself to ask suddenly.
“You, me, and a bed? It's heaven,” he argued, nibbling on her ear again.
“You, me, and a bed, and not you and Elvi?” she asked with surprise.
Teddy pulled back to peer at her with amusement. “Do you see Elvi here? We didn't have that kind of relationship. She was .Â .Â .” He paused for a moment, as if searching for the words, and then frowned, his gaze sliding to her as he said, “Hey, this is my version of heaven. How come you get to ruin it with talk?”
“Because it isn't heaven,” Katricia said firmly. “Now finish what you were saying. What was Elvi to you?”
He scowled at the question, his silver-gray eyes flashing with irritation, and then sighed and dropped back in the bed. “Fine. Elvi was .Â .Â . well she was kind of the ideal woman. The good girl, the good wife, the good mother. She was .Â .Â . good,” Teddy finished helplessly, and then grimaced and added dryly, “Probably still is I guess. I'm the one who's dead.”
“You're not dead,” Katricia repeated, but her words were distracted, her thoughts on what he'd just said. “So, she was good. Kind of like a Madonna figure to you? Notâ”
“Not a real woman like you,” he interrupted, sitting up impatiently. “Now can we get back to my heaven?”
“No, wait,” she said, pulling back when he reached for her again. “What's a real woman to you?”
Teddy sighed with resignation. “Someone who fires your blood, challenges your mind, keeps you on your toes, and has your back. A partner in every sense of the word.”
“And you think I'm that? Already?” Katricia asked with surprise.
“I know you are,” he said simply and when she just stared at him, he shook his head and said, “Who scared the bear off when I was battling him?”
“Me,” she said with a frown.
“Another woman would have run inside and watched through the window while I took care of business. But you had my back and you used your brain to do it,” Teddy pointed out with a nod, and then asked, “Who brained me with a snowball, and then smacked me with a dish towel and splashed me with water while we were doing dishes and just basically took every opportunity to have at me in a playful manner?”
“Ah,” Katricia murmured, biting her lip guiltily.
“You keep me on my toes,” Teddy said with a grin for her discomfort. “You have a sharp mind and are quick with comebacks. I don't know how many times today you won debates let alone card games.”
“And I fire your blood,” she whispered.
He nodded solemnly. “Yes, ma'am, you surely do. Little Teddy's been doing calisthenics all day since meeting you and he hasn't been this active in a very long time. Now, can we stop all this touchy-feely talking stuff and give him the workout he's begging for?”
“Begging for?” Katricia asked with husky amusement.
“Yes, begging, and if you don't mind my saying so I don't think I should have to beg in heaven.”
“Teddy,” she said with exasperation, clasping his face in both hands. “You are not dead. I turned you.”
He stared at her for a full moment, expression blank, and then blinked and asked, “Turned me?”
She nodded apologetically and rushed out, “I know I should have asked you first, but you were dying. I couldn't let that happen. And your only protest when I brought it up was blood, so I turned you.”
His eyebrows rose, and then he pulled his face free of her hands and glanced around. “But this room. It's notâ”
“This is the master bedroom of Decker's cottage. The cottage next door to yours,” she added in explanation. “It's my cousin, Decker's. Bricker and Anders helped me bring you here after the turn.”
“Bricker and Anders?” Teddy asked with a frown. “I know Anders. He's an enforcer. But who's Bricker?”
“Bricker's an enforcer, too,” she explained and then added, “When you passed out I called Aunt Marguerite. I was in a panic. You were dying and I needed to turn you, but the blood hadn't arrived yet. Fortunately, the blood courier arrived on snowmobile with the blood, gas, and food while I was talking to her. I turned you and he helped me strap you to the kitchen table to keep you from hurting yourself and then stayed to help watch over you until Bricker and Anders arrived. Lucian sent them up. Marguerite called him as soon as I hung up, and he arranged for them to bring more blood, men to clear the trees away, and a snow mover to clear the road so that the men could work on the power lines.”
“The power's on,” Teddy said with realization, lifting his gaze to the light on overhead.
Katricia nodded. “It was on by the time the worst of your turn was over. In both cottages.”
“Then why bring me?” he asked with a frown.
“Because this one has the generator and there's gas now. Another storm is supposed to hit tonight. If the power goes out again, we'll still be good here.”
“Smart,” he murmured, smiling at her.
Katricia smiled back. “I thought so.”
Teddy reached up to caress her cheek, but paused when he saw his hand. He released her and turned it over in front of his face, inspecting it. “No wrinkles, no liver spots.”
“You're at your peak,” Katricia said gently. “Your body is that of a twenty-five-year-old.”
He nodded absently, his gaze dropping to his chest and legs, and then he glanced around the room until his gaze landed on the dresser mirror. He stared at their reflection silently and she turned to look, too, seeing the two of them reflected side by side on the bed, a young-looking blond woman and an equally young-looking dark-haired male. She was startled though when he suddenly lunged off the bed and walked over to stand in front of the mirror, then leaned in to look more closely at his face.
Katricia hesitated, then followed, shifting off the bed to walk up behind him.
“Christ, I haven't seen this guy looking back at me from the mirror in decades,” Teddy muttered, running one hand over the dark stubble on his cheeks and leaning in closer to examine his eyes. “My eyes are silver.”
“They were gray before the turn, they're silver-gray now,” Katricia murmured, sliding her arms around his waist from behind as he straightened.
“My hair's fuller again, too,” Teddy murmured, covering her hands with his, then pulling them apart to use one to tug her around in front of him. She thought he meant to pull her into his arms, but he turned her so her back was to him, and then slid his own arms around her waist to hold her in place in front of him so they could peer at their reflections. She was peering at his face, but could see his eyes moving down on the mirror traveling over her body in the reflection.
“I like your body,” he said suddenly.
Katricia actually felt herself blush, saw it, too, and found it rather surprising. She'd thought herself well beyond blushing by now. She'd also thought she didn't have any body issues, but suddenly blurted, “My breasts are small.”
His hands left her waist to travel up and close over the small globes and he growled, “They're perfect.”
Katricia arched slightly at his touch, her body grinding against the growing hardness pressing against her bottom as he squeezed and kneaded her breasts, and then he concentrated on the nipples, running his fingers over the stiffening tips before catching and squeezing them gently.
“I love the sounds you make,” Teddy muttered, lowering his head to kiss her neck.
Katricia blinked open eyes she hadn't realized she'd closed and gasped, “What sounds?”
In response, Teddy let one hand drop away from her breast to slide down between her legs and Katricia gasped, then groaned and pressed harder back against him as he began to caress her there.
“Those sounds,” he whispered, licking her neck.
Feeling his fangs scrape her skin, she moaned, “No biting.”
“Hmm?” he asked, slipping one finger inside her.
“No biting,” Katricia gasped out, covering his hand with hers and managing, “It'sâ It's just bad for you. I'll explain why later.”
“No biting,” Teddy agreed, and then suddenly retrieved his hand from between her legs to scoop her up and carry her to the bed. He set her down on it, but didn't immediately follow her down. Instead, he caught one foot and raised it to press a kiss to her instep. He then nipped at it, his other hand sliding up her calf to rest behind her knee. “I like your legs too. They're strong and shapely.”
“Oh,” Katricia said breathlessly as his lips followed the path his hand had, sliding up the side of her calf. She gasped and writhed a little when he then dipped his head to lick at the back of her knee.
“You like that,” Teddy growled and licked at the crease again, making her writhe some more. Smiling, he slowly let her leg lower, only to raise the other. “This shared-pleasure business is the bomb, as the kids back home would say.”
Katricia gave a breathless laugh, but bit her lip as he licked behind that knee as well, sending up a whole new flutter of pleasure through her.
“What else do you like?” he asked, arching his eyebrow in question and letting the fingers of one hand skate along her thigh.
“Come here and I'll tell you,” she whispered, holding up her hands.
Teddy hesitated, but then set her leg back down and climbed on the bed, crawling up between her legs. He slowed as his face drew level with the apex of her thighs, but she caught his arms and urged him to continue up until he knelt on all fours over her, with his knees between her legs and his hands bracing him on either side of her shoulders.
“Tell me what you like,” he whispered, bending his head and ducking slightly to lick teasingly at the nipple of one breast.
“I like you,” Katricia said simply, and then swept her leg against his knees, and raised her hand to push on his one shoulder, knocking him off balance. He fell to the bed beside her with a startled “oomph” and she immediately rolled and then rose up to straddle him. Katricia came to rest with his manhood pressed flat to his stomach beneath her and grinned wickedly at his surprised expression as she challenged, “What do you like?”
Teddy smiled, then caught her at the hips and slid her forward along his length and back, caressing them both with the move. “I like whipped cream.”
Katricia blinked in confusion, her hands reaching to clasp his arms to steady herself as he slid her along his body again. Gasping at the pleasure shooting through her, she asked uncertainly, “Whipped cream?”
“Mmm.” He raised one hand to caress a breast, adding, “I'd like to spread it all over your body and lick it off.” Teddy then grinned and added, “Don't need to worry about my high cholesterol now.”
Katricia laughed breathlessly, and arched into his touch, sliding herself over the hardness she rested on. But her amusement faded quickly, and she groaned when his other hand slid between them for a more targeted caress. She closed her eyes briefly as he touched her, but then lifted herself slightly and reached down to guide him into her before settling back down with a long groan that he echoed.
“Christ, Katricia, you feel so damned good,” Teddy growled as he was buried inside her to the hilt.
“So do you,” she breathed, raising and lowering herself again, and then he released her breasts and gave up caressing her to catch her by the arms and drag her down to claim her mouth. Katricia kissed him back, her hips still moving on him, her nipples tightening even further as they brushed across the coarse hairs of his chest, and then he rolled them both, coming out on top. Teddy broke their kiss then and rose up slightly, his hand reaching for her one leg. Catching her behind the calf, he lifted it and brought it in front of him so that her ankle was by his face, then held on to her thigh and kissed her instep as he continued to thrust into her, pounding into her with a need that was almost violent.
Katricia immediately wrapped her other leg around his hips to help, and then grabbed the bedsheets and tore at them as he drove them both the few short steps needed before satisfaction and unconsciousness claimed them.
eddy woke up to find Katricia curled up against him, her head nestled on his chest and eyes open as she drew invisible little figures on his stomach with the tip of her finger. He didn't know how she knew he was awake, but a heartbeat after he opened his eyes she stopped skin-sketching and tilted her head to peer up at him.
“Hello,” she whispered, smiling.
“Hello,” Teddy murmured and slid his arms around to catch her shoulders and pull her up for a kiss, but paused as he became aware of a bad taste in his mouth. Morning breath .Â .Â . or afternoon or evening breath. He wasn't sure which, since he had no idea what time it was. Whatever kind of breath it was it was bad, he decided with a grimace, and rather than use his hold on her to pull her up for a kiss, he used it to set her aside and quickly sat up and slid out of bed.
“Did you bring my stuff over?” he asked, but spotted his suitcase on the floor beside the dresser even as he asked the question, and moved to it.
“What are you doing?” Katricia asked.
Teddy glanced over to see her sitting up, watching him as he opened the suitcase. He turned back to dig through it, answering, “Looking for my toothbrush and toothpaste so I can clean my teeth and then kiss you.”
Katricia chuckled and he heard the rustle of her standing up, and then her legs appeared beside him. The sight of them made him pause so he could peer at them admiringly.
“You have legs like a young colt,” he murmured, one hand instinctively moving to slide up the smooth skin of one inner thigh. Katricia shifted toward him then, her thighs parting a little, and Teddy leaned forward to press a kiss to the soft, fair hair between her legs. When she sighed, her fingers sliding into his hair, he started to urge her legs farther apart and angled his head to dip between them, but caught himself at the last minute.
“Toothbrush,” he muttered, turning away to continue his search. She might not care if he had bad breath while kissing her there, but eventually he'd want to kiss her lips and she'd mind then. Honestly, it tasted like something had crawled into his mouth while he was sleeping and died there.
“I put it in the side pocket when I fetched it from the bathroom at the other cottage,” Katricia said helpfully, bending to retrieve it for him. The action put her breast right in front of his face and Teddy couldn't resist leaning forward to catch the nipple in his mouth.
Katricia stilled and moaned at the caress, her hand gliding into his hair again, and Teddy turned, catching her arms to take her with him and then urged her to squat before him so that she didn't have to stay bent over. The position left her on her toes with her bent knees on either side of his legs and Teddy couldn't resist reaching to caress what she'd unavoidably opened to him. His caress brought a deep groan from Katricia. When she teetered on her toes, he slid his other hand around to hold her by the behind and help her keep her balance as he caressed her, then let the first breast slip from his mouth to move to the other, muttering, “I can see I'm not going to get much done for a while with you around.”
“How long is your vacation before you have to return to Port Henry?” Katricia asked breathlessly as he claimed and began to lave the other nipple. The question made Teddy freeze.
Frowning now, he pulled back and muttered, “Forever, I guess.”
Katricia blinked in confusion. “What?”
A bit distressed at the realization that had just struck him, Teddy shook his head, took the toothbrush and toothpaste she'd retrieved and still clutched in hand, then got to his feet, urging her up with him.
“I need to brush my teeth,” he said distractedly and moved around her, only to pause uncertainly. He had no idea where the bathroom was. His gaze slid around the room. There were three doors in the room, one was a set of double doors, obviously the closet, but there were two other doors along one wall, one on either end. One, no doubt, led to the rest of the house, but the other might be a bathroom, he thought and tried the door on the right, relieved when it opened up into an en suite bathroom. He found the light switch, flipped it on, and then moved into the room. His gaze landed on the shower as he moved in front of the sink and he decided a shower was probably a good idea, too.
Teddy opened the toothpaste, squirted some onto his toothbrush, and was brushing his teeth when Katricia followed him into the room. She waited patiently as he brushed his teeth and tongue and rinsed. But when he turned off the tap and moved to the shower to turn on the taps, she asked, “Teddy? What do you mean forever?”
“I mean I can hardly go back as I am,” he said quietly, adjusting the taps until he had the temperature where he wanted it. Stepping into the shower then, Teddy caught her hand and tugged her under the spray with him, adding, “It would be a little hard to explain my suddenly youthful appearance.”
The realization was a rather distressing one to him. He'd expected he'd have another year as police chief of Port Henry and then he'd retire to live out the rest of his days in the small town where he'd been born, raised, and lived most of his life.
“But why?” Katricia asked with true bewilderment as he picked up the soap and began to rub it between his hands to create lather. “I mean I thought the people in Port Henry knew about our kind?”
Her words ended on a gasp as he began to run his soapy hands over her body. Teddy smiled faintly at how her nipples immediately pebbled up and her breathing became rapid and shallow at the simple touch. This life-mate business was some pretty powerful mojo. The worst lover in the world would be a star with this backing him, he thought. Fortunately, he was nowhere near a bad lover. At least he didn't think he was. He could be wrong, of course, Teddy acknowledged, finishing with her chest and letting his hands move down over her stomach before one slid around to her behind while the other slipped between her legs. He didn't dally there long. Touching her was exciting both of them and he had no desire to pass out in the shower.
“Teddy,” she said, framing his face with her hands when he withdrew his hands to grab the soap again. “Don't the people in Port Henry know? I thought they did.”
Sighing, he quickly built up more lather and began to wash himself as he admitted, “Some people in Port Henry do know. Some don't. The ones who know would be all right, but as police chief I serve all of them. I couldn't keep this a secret.”
They both fell silent then. He was busy soaping himself up now and Katricia had picked up the shampoo to wash her hair. Teddy had no idea what she was thinking, but he was thinking he didn't have a damned clue what he was supposed to do now. He'd been a cop most of his life and police chief of Port Henry for almost half his life. It had been a nice steady paycheck and he'd socked money away for his retirement, but not enough to carry them through several centuries or even a millennia or two. Besides, he liked working. He liked having a reason to get up in the morning andâ His thoughts died abruptly as he realized he'd have to avoid getting up in the morning from now on. Immortals avoided the sun, as a rule .Â .Â . well, except in the winter, when they were all bundled up against it, he thought as he poured some shampoo into his own hand to wash his hair and watched Katricia rinse hers.
“But you love that job,” Katricia said suddenly as she finished rinsing off and moved out of the spray.
“I do. But I'll find something else I love,” Teddy said quietly as he switched places with her to rinse the soap from his own hair and body. Then he closed his eyes and let the water rinse the soap away. He wished it could as easily rinse away the sudden depression settling over him. He was grateful as hell to be a life mate, to have a chance at all the joy and happiness Katricia and he could have together, but suddenly finding himself unemployed was a bit distressing.
Teddy heard the shower door open and close and knew Katricia had left the glass enclosure. Somehow it felt as cold and depressing as his thoughts, without her in there. Sighing, he turned and shut off the taps.
“You might not have to find something else,” Katricia said quietly, handing him a towel as he stepped out.
Teddy took the towel, but then simply held it and watched her dry herself with her own. “How's that?”
“There's a way you can still be police chief of Port Henry,” she said, running the terry cloth briskly over her body, and then she bit her lip briefly before saying, “But to keep it, Teddy Brunswick might have to have a heart attack and die on his Christmas vacation up north.”
Teddy was so startled he dropped the towel he was holding. Eyes wide, he asked, “What?”
“Teddy Brunswick would have to die and you'd have to return with a different name,” Katricia said, pausing to peer at him solemnly.
He stared back silently, considering the suggestion, but then shook his head. “I couldn't just walk in and take over the job under a new name, Katricia. There are hiring processes and paperwork and I don't have any I.D. except my own, which says I'm sixty-four, andâ”
“Lucian would see to it,” she interrupted quietly, beginning to dry him off now. “We have people who take care of this kind of thing, Teddy. You could be supplied with new I.D. and the appropriate background. Then a little mind-control here and a little finessing there and voilÃ , you could be Teddy Argeneau, the new, young police chief of Port Henry.”
“Teddy Argeneau, huh?” he asked with amusement, tugging the towel from her hand and dropping it on the floor as he pulled her against him.
“Or Teddy Smith or Johnson, or even John Hancock,” she said, leaning against him and wrapping her arms around his shoulders. “Whatever you want. I just like Teddy because it's how I think of you now, and I picked Argeneau because it's my name. We could switch back and forth between Argeneau and Brunswick over the decades, or choose another name altogether. I don't care. But you could keep the job you love.”
“But won't people recognize it's me?” he asked quietly.
“The ones who know about immortals will, and can be told the truth. But the ones who don't know won't recognize you. People see what they expect to see, Teddy,” she said solemnly. “And they won't expect to see Teddy Brunswick, forty years younger.”
“Hmm.” He smiled, his body relaxing, and then bent to nuzzle the side of her neck. “I could have you and the job I love, too, in the town I love. Nice.”
Katricia smiled and pulled from his arms, then caught his hand and led him back into the bedroom and straight to the bed. She let go of him then and started to crawl onto it, but stopped and glanced over her shoulder with a yelp of surprise at a sharp nip on her behind. Her eyes widened incredulously when she saw Teddy straightening from biting her butt cheek.
“I've wanted to do that ever since first seeing you in those damned leotards of yours,” he admitted with a grin, one hand at her waist to hold her in place as he used his other hand to rub the spot soothingly.
“Yoga pants,” Katricia corrected with an arched eyebrow, but his biting her reminded her that he would still need a lot of blood, and she shifted and turned at the same time, escaping his hold to sit on her behind and slide to the edge of the bed. “You probably need more blood about now. We should feed.”
Teddy grimaced at the thought and stepped between her legs to prevent her from getting up. “Later. I have other, more pressing hungers right now,” he assured her, and pressed the proof of those hungers against her.
Katricia wiggled against his hardness, but avoided his mouth when he tried to kiss her. Managing to catch him by surprise, she pushed him away to slip off the bed.
“I forgot to brush my teeth,” she announced, moving to the cooler to retrieve a bag of blood. Tossing it to him, Katricia then turned and skipped quickly into the bathroom.
Her toothbrush was there beside the sink where she'd placed it the day she'd arrived, and she'd squirted toothpaste on it and begun to brush her teeth when Teddy suddenly appeared behind her in the bathroom mirror, the bag of blood still in his hand.
“I don't know how to .Â .Â . er .Â .Â . well, my fangs don't seem to want toâ Do I have fangs?” he finished with a frown.
A strand of dark hair had flopped onto his forehead and he looked so bewildered and heartbreakingly young that Katricia smiled around her toothbrush, but merely nodded and quickly finished brushing and then rinsed. She then turned to face him.
“There are two ways to bring them on until you learn to control your fangs,” she announced.
“How's that?” Teddy asked warily.
“I could bite or cut myself or you. The smell of blood will usually bring them on,” she explained, but he grimaced at the suggestion.
“I'd rather you didn't hurt yourself or me. What's the other way?” he asked.
Katricia hesitated, but then decided it would be more fun to show him than to explain and simply dropped to her knees in front of him.
“Whatâ?” he began with surprise, and then sucked in a hissing breath as she took little Teddy in hand.
“Excitement will bring on your fangs, too,” she said with a grin, and then took no-longer-so-little Teddy into her mouth to show him.
atricia opened her eyes to find Teddy leaning over her, simply staring down at her face. She smiled uncertainly up at him and whispered, “Hi.”
“Hi yourself,” he said with a grin, but when she reached for his head, he caught her hand and asked, “How old are you?”
Katricia stilled and blinked, but answered solemnly, “I was born in 411
She then waited nervously for his reaction, worried about how he'd take that news, but he considered it for a minute, then smiled and said, “Sweet sixteen, this year, huh?”
“Sixteen centuries,” she agreed with amusement.
Teddy grinned and bent to kiss her lightly, then murmured, “Don't worry, you don't look a day over fifteen centuries.”