One Lucky Vampire Page 18

Nicole was so caught up in the struggle that she didn’t at first realize that Jake was being pulled away from her and that other voices had joined hers in shouting. But while she was just screaming in terror, these were calmer voices, barking Jake’s name as if they thought they could get through the madness presently clouding his mind and snap him back to his senses. Jake was fully off of her now, but he was still holding her and she was being pulled upward, but then someone reached around and pulled his fingers and thumb apart, freeing her, and Nicole fell back. She immediately scrambled backward several feet on her butt on the carpet, stopping when she bumped into something. Tipping her head back, she peered up at the woman behind her.


“It’s all right, Nicole. My name is Nina and we’re here to help.” The words poured over her as warm and soothing as heated honey down a sore throat and Nicole felt herself immediately relax.

“Oh,” she murmured and then was suddenly caught under the arms by the woman and lifted to her feet.

“Why don’t we go make some tea?” Nina suggested, slipping an arm around her waist to steer her across the room.

“Oh, but Jake . . .” Nicole’s voice trailed off as she glanced around to see two men now kneeling on either side of Jake, holding him down on the cream carpet while a third man set up an IV of blood beside him.

“He’ll be fine,” Nina assured her, ushering her toward the stairs. “I’m more concerned with you. Is any of this blood yours?”

Nicole glanced down at herself and frowned as she noted the blood smeared on her shirt, but shook her head. She must have got it on herself when she’d fallen on Jake. “No. I don’t think so.”

“Then he didn’t hurt you?” Nina asked.

“No. I don’t think so,” Nicole repeated and then stopped on the stairs. “He was trying to bite me . . . and he had fangs. At least I think he did. I’m sure I saw fangs,” she muttered vaguely as Nina urged her to move again. It was the oddest thing, her upset and even her recollections were becoming a bit fuzzy.

“Everything is going to be fine,” Nina said quietly. “Marguerite is on the way and she’s bringing Danielle with her. Do you know Danielle?”

“Danielle?” Nicole frowned. The name sounded vaguely familiar. She was sure she’d heard it mentioned before, but couldn’t recall in what context.

“She’s married to Marguerite’s nephew Decker. I think she goes by Dani, and she’s a doctor. Marguerite’s bringing the two of them, her husband and some others. They’ll be here in forty-five minutes or so. Everything is going to be fine.”

Nicole nodded and allowed herself to be led to the kitchen, her worry fading. Once in the room, she automatically put water on to boil, and then turned to the coffeepot.

“Can you tell me what happened before Jake started to get sick?” Nina asked as Nicole took the old filter out of the coffeepot and replaced it with a new one.

Nicole frowned at the question as she began to scoop coffee into the pot, but answered, “He seemed quiet and a bit pale at dinner, and then he complained of a headache,” she said slowly. “I suggested he take a dip in the hot tub to get rid of the headache, and he did, but then he started to vomit up blood.”

“And how are you feeling?” Nina asked.

“Me?” she asked with surprise. “I’m fine.”

Nina nodded. “Did he eat something different than you?”

Nicole shook her head. “No. We had the same thing for dinner, although he didn’t eat all of his. It’s probably in the fridge.”

Nina immediately moved to the refrigerator. A moment later she had Jake’s half-eaten plate in hand. Removing the cellophane covering it, she lifted it close to her face and inhaled slowly. Nicole had no idea what she was sniffing for, but apparently she didn’t find it. Nina was frowning as she returned the cover to the plate and set it on the counter.

Her gaze slid to Nicole then, and seeing that she’d stopped working on the coffee, the other woman joined her at the pot and took the coffee carafe. Carrying it to the sink, she turned on the tap and began to fill the carafe as she asked, “So he didn’t eat anything different than you before dinner?”

Nicole shook her head and turned back to the coffee pot to continue scooping coffee grounds into the filter. “I don’t think so. We had omelets with Marguerite for breakfast.”

“Did he drink anything different at dinner?”

“No. We all had water and then Joey and I had wine but he didn’t,” Nicole recollected, dropping the scoop into the coffee can and closing it.

“So you and your brother had something he didn’t, but Jake didn’t have anything you didn’t,” Nina murmured as she turned off the water.

“How did you know Joey was my brother?” Nicole asked, eyebrows drawing together.

“You mentioned it,” Nina answered calmly as she carried the carafe of water back to her.

“No, I don’t think I did,” Nicole countered with a frown.

“Yes, you did,” Nina assured her and Nicole nodded. Yes, she had.

“I’m going to just go down and check on the boys while you pour the water in, set the carafe on the base, and turn on the coffeepot. I’d like you to sit at the table and wait for me after that. All right?”

Nicole nodded. She would pour the water in the machine, set the carafe on the base, and sit at the table and wait.


Nicole glanced around with surprise at the sound of her name. She felt like she was waking from a dream, but she knew she hadn’t been sleeping. She’d simply been sitting at the table waiting . . . for a very long time. She wasn’t sure what she’d been waiting for though.

“Marguerite,” Nicole said uncertainly as she spotted the woman crossing the kitchen toward her, and then she frowned. “How did you get here so fast?”

“It wasn’t that fast, dear,” Marguerite said grimly, moving toward her. “It’s been two and a half hours since you called, but it took some time to arrange for one of the company planes to bring us here.”

“Us?” Nicole peered past Marguerite to the people following her. A woman and four men, none of them the people who had dragged Jake off of her.

“You remember my husband, Julius,” Marguerite said, pausing beside her seat and turning back to gesture toward the tall, swarthy man she’d married.

Nicole nodded and smiled uncertainly at the man with short raven-black hair.

“And these are my nephews from his side of the family, Tomasso and Dante,” she introduced, waving to two men who were carbon copies of each other. The pair were pretty imposing. It may have been because she was sitting, but Nicole didn’t think so. Really, they were two of the biggest men she’d ever seen. Both were tall and muscular, with long black hair, and both of them were dressed in black leather from head to toe. Nicole stared at them wide-eyed, but then forced a smile and nod of greeting.

“And our nephew from my side, Decker, and his wife, Dani.”

Nicole drew her gaze from the two mountains to the smaller, but still large, man named Decker, and the pretty woman who stood with him. She offered them both a smile of greeting and then her mother’s training made her stand and move toward the coffeepot. “You’re probably all thirsty after your flight. I’ll make fresh coffee.”

“I’ll do that, dear,” Marguerite murmured, reaching past her for the coffee carafe before she could pick it up. “Why don’t you sit down? Dani has some questions for you.”

“Er . . . Marguerite,” Dani murmured as Marguerite carried the coffeepot to the sink. “I actually could do with a coffee, and no offense, but I’ve tasted yours,” she added apologetically. “Why don’t I make the coffee?”

Far from being offended, Marguerite chuckled at the words and handed over the carafe. “Thank you, dear. I know I make lousy coffee and I could do with one myself.”

“You’ll both be wired for hours,” Julius warned.

“Bouncing off the walls,” Decker agreed, and then said, “Make a full pot, honey. I think I’ll have one too.”

“And me,” the twins said in stereo.

“Can I get you something else?” Nicole asked Julius when he just shook his head with amusement and settled at the table. “Tea, perhaps? Or soda?”

He considered the offer and then asked, “You do not happen to have mint tea, do you?”

“I do,” Nicole said and moved to turn on the teakettle. She collected cream from the refrigerator, pausing to consider the contents. Somewhere under her calm demeanor, she knew there was a part of her that was almost frantic with worry, but Nicole couldn’t seem to connect to it. Instead, she felt calm but kind of empty and at a loss. In that state, old training kicked in and she asked, “Is anyone hungry?”

Several minutes later the coffee was ready, tea had been made and the table was laden with everything from coffee cake to sandwich fixings. As everyone settled at the table and began to doctor their drinks or serve themselves food, Marguerite said, “Nicole . . . Nina assured me Jake didn’t bite you. Is that true?”

“Yes,” Nicole answered at once, startled by the question.

“Yes, he bit you?” Marguerite asked with concern.

“No, I mean yes, it’s true that he didn’t bite me,” she explained.

“Good, good,” Marguerite smiled and patted her hand before commenting, “Nina said you were wrestling with Jake when they arrived.”

Nicole nodded. “I know you said not to get near him, but I wasn’t sure he was breathing, and I just wanted to check—”

“Of course, I understand,” Marguerite interrupted, patting her hand again before she was distracted by Julius setting a slice of coffee cake before her.

“How is he?” Nicole asked as concern suddenly rushed upward inside of her on an unexpected wave. It was as if a curtain had been tugged aside, allowing her to connect with her emotions again. “He’s really sick, Marguerite. He really needs to go to the hospital.”

Marguerite immediately turned her attention back to her and the worry inside of Nicole quickly receded.

“Yes, he is sick,” Marguerite agreed, her tone, or perhaps her words having an immediate soothing effect on Nicole. “But it is not as bad as it may seem. He will recover. We simply have to sort out what the problem is . . . and a hospital can’t help with that.”

“Are you sure?” Nicole asked with a frown.

“Quite sure,” Marguerite said firmly. “We will help him. In fact, Nina and the boys have already made a good start. They moved him to his room after Nina brought you up here and have been giving him blood. Apparently, he’s still vomiting it up as fast as they can give it to him, though, so we need to figure out what’s causing it.”

“Of course,” Nicole agreed and then frowned as she recalled the fangs that had slid down from his upper jaw. Troubled, she leaned forward to whisper for only Marguerite to hear, “He had fangs.”

“I know, dear. It’s fine,” Marguerite assured her and Nicole immediately relaxed. It was fine.

“Tell me what happened,” Marguerite suggested quietly. “Nina said he complained of a headache?”


“We don’t get headaches,” Dani said with certainty, a forkful of coffee cake coming to a halt halfway to her lips.

Nicole glanced to the doctor with confusion. Everyone got headaches, some more than others, but everyone could get them.

“Actually, Dani, yes we can,” Marguerite countered quietly and the doctor looked almost shocked at the admission, and then understanding crossed her face.

“When we’re dehydrated and need blo—”

“Yes, then,” Marguerite agreed, cutting Dani off with a glance toward Nicole. “But there are more reasons for headaches than just physical ailments or such.”

“It is rare, but can happen,” Julius agreed. “Emotional stress, frustration, annoying sounds, certain strong smells . . . all of this can cause them.”

Marguerite smiled at her husband and then paused to take a bite of cake. It was Dani who then asked Nicole, “So, it started with a headache?”

Nicole nodded.

“And then he got in the hot tub and started vomiting blood?” she asked. When Nicole nodded again, she considered this news with a frown and then heaved a sigh and said unhappily, “Marguerite, I know you’re counting on me to help Jake, but I’m not sure I can. This isn’t like treating a mortal and—” Pausing, she shifted and then said with frustration, “And I thought immortals couldn’t get sick. Have you ever seen anything like this?”

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