One Lucky Vampire Page 19

Marguerite frowned and shook her head. “No. I’ve never heard of an immortal vomiting up blood.”

“I have,” Julius said quietly, and when everyone turned to him curiously, he explained, “During the Renaissance one of my sisters received a dress as a gift from a mortal whom she thought was a friend. It was coated inside with a type of poison that can be absorbed through the skin. Had she been mortal, my sister would have died. Instead, she began vomiting up blood.”

“That makes sense,” Dani said slowly. “The nanos must try to surround or somehow bond with the poison and then purge it from the system. Blood is their vehicle, so the more poison absorbed, the more blood is purged.”

“And nanos with it,” Decker said.

Nicole found the whole conversation confusing. Nanos? A poison dress? The Renaissance? That word stuck in her foggy mind and she turned to Marguerite and asked in a whisper, “Did Julius say during the Renaissance?”

Marguerite smiled reassuringly and patted her hand. “Yes, dear. I’ll explain in a bit, I promise. But for now, everything is fine.”

“Right. Everything is fine,” Nicole murmured, relaxing.

“Did your sister suffer a headache first too?” Dani asked.

“No.” Julius shook his head. “But I believe I’m developing one.”

“So am I,” Tomasso announced.

“And me,” Dante acknowledged.

“Me too,” Dani said, and glanced to her husband, who nodded solemnly.

“Just the beginnings of one,” Marguerite said when the group then turned her way in question.

Realizing their attention had turned to her, Nicole shook her head quickly. She was finding a lot of this confusing, but every time she started to feel panic growing in her at something that was said, Marguerite would murmur, “Everything’s fine,” and her panic would recede. That being the case, the best thing to do seemed to be to simply sit and wait for the explanations Marguerite promised her. She was sure everything would be fine until then.

“And there’s a buzzing in my ear,” Julius said suddenly. “Very faint, but there, like an annoying insect, constantly buzz buzz buzzing.”

Nicole peered at the man curiously. He sounded extremely annoyed about the buzzing.

“I don’t hear anything,” the twins said together.

“I do . . . now that you mention it,” Decker announced, head tilted and frowning. “I didn’t notice it until now, but it is rather annoying, isn’t it?”

Marguerite stood and moved around the kitchen slowly, her head tilted as if listening for something. “Yes. I hear it now. It—”

Nicole watched curiously when the woman paused suddenly and moved toward the wall socket beside the water cooler. Her eyebrows rose though when Marguerite bent and unplugged the little white unit Nicole had plugged in there earlier that night.

“It’s gone,” Julius announced.

Decker nodded. “That was it.”

“That can’t be it,” Nicole protested with a frown. “It’s an ultrasonic rodent repellent. It’s for mice. They’re the only ones who can hear it.”

“Mice and other rodents . . . like bats,” Dani said dryly.

“Dani, love, I’ve told you, we are in no way connected to bats. That’s all just myth,” Decker said in pained tones.

“Yes,” Dani agreed. “But apparently when it comes to sounds you’re on the same wavelength.”

“We are on the same wavelength, dear,” Marguerite corrected, moving back to the table again and tossing the repellent on its surface as she reclaimed her seat next to Nicole. “You’re one of us too now.”

“Sort of,” Dani said quietly. “Besides, I couldn’t hear it.”

“Yes, you could. You were getting a headache,” Julius pointed out. “But you’re young like the twins, so while it was affecting you, you couldn’t register the sound.”

“Hmm.” Dani grimaced, but didn’t argue the point and simply said, “Well the headache is easing now.”

“Yes,” Marguerite murmured. “Mine’s receding quickly too.”

Everyone but Nicole nodded or murmured in agreement.

“Then that’s probably what caused the headache,” Dani concluded.

Everyone nodded again but Nicole. She just thought they were all a bit crazy . . . but everything was all right. The words drifted through her head and she relaxed.

“What did you do about your sister’s poisoning?” Dani asked Julius.

“We didn’t realize it was poisoning until afterward, and we only realized it then because she had a natural aversion to the dress after that. She gave it to one of her servants . . . who was mortal. The poor girl died in terrible agony and distress,” Julius said quietly, and then sighed and added, “Before that we had no idea what was wrong with Adriana. We just kept giving her blood until it passed.”

“Right. Then I guess that’s what we’ll do here,” Dani said solemnly. “Nina brought a cooler of it, and we brought two. Hopefully that will be enough.” She glanced to Julius. “I don’t suppose you remember how much blood your sister went through?”

Julius shook his head apologetically. “We did not have blood banks back then. It was donors, and we needed a lot of them. We had to take her from village to village in a wagon until it ended and she began to recover.”

“I’ll call Bastien and tell him to have more delivered here,” Decker said, standing and withdrawing a phone from his pocket as he moved out of the room.

“Nicole,” Dani said, drawing her gaze. “How are you feeling? Did you eat the same things Jake did? Or did he—?”

“She isn’t poisoned,” Julius interrupted. “Something that affects Jake like this would have killed her in a heartbeat. Besides, this isn’t from ingested poison. That usually doesn’t cause vomiting in an immortal, and if it does, it would just be a one-round deal. But not anything like this. This is full-body exposure, the poison has to be all through Jake’s system for the nanos to react like this.”

“The robe he’s wearing?” Decker suggested.

“It started in the hot tub,” Marguerite reminded them quietly.

“True, but he probably wore the robe to go down and get in the tub,” Decker pointed out.

“But Nicole wouldn’t wear Jake’s robe and no one wants him dead,” Marguerite countered.

“What?” Nicole asked with surprise.

“Everything’s fine, dear,” Marguerite murmured, and then glanced to Dani to ask, “Do you think the hot tub being poisoned with a drug that can be absorbed through the skin would have the same affect as a poisoned dress?”

“Yes, I imagine it would,” Dani said slowly, her expression thoughtful. She was silent for a minute and then said, “I’ll have to take a sample and have it analyzed to be sure, but I don’t suggest anyone even stick a finger in the hot tub until we find out.”

“So? What’s the verdict?”

Nicole glanced to the door at that question to find the woman who had introduced herself as Nina standing there, a grim expression on her face.

“What happened to him?” Nina added. “And can it happen to us? Because all four of us have headaches right now.”

Dani glanced to Nicole. “You put the mouse repellents in every room?”

Nicole nodded. “Not in Jake’s room, though. I didn’t want to intrude. But I put it in the plug socket directly across from his door in the hall, so if the door is open . . .”

“We had it closed until you arrived, but you left it open after you stopped to talk to us on your arrival and none of us bothered to close it,” Nina said. “But what’s this about mouse repellents? Why would it cause headaches in us?”

“Our hearing is apparently sensitive enough to pick up the sound they emit and it’s causing headaches,” Marguerite explained.

Nina nodded. “What do the little buggers look like? I’ll take out every one of them. I haven’t ever had headaches before this and I’m not enjoying this one.”

“Dante, Tomasso,” Julius said, turning to the twins. “Go around the house and remove all the ultrasonic mouse repellents.”

Nodding, the two men moved out of the room.

“So that’s the headache,” Nina said. “But what’s causing Jake’s vomiting?”

“We think it’s poisoning,” Dani answered.

“Poisoning?” Nina asked with surprise and then narrowed her eyes. “In food?”

“Right now the hot tub is the most likely culprit, but we don’t know for sure, so just be careful of what you touch or consume.”

“I don’t consume anything but blood anymore,” Nina assured her. “I’ll warn the others, though. I don’t think Mark and Gill eat food anymore either, but Tybo does.”

Dani nodded. “Is Jake still throwing up?”

“No. He’s stopped finally, but he’s in a lot of pain. With him throwing up, we had to give him the blood intravenously. It was the only way to ensure he didn’t just toss it back up right away. But the intravenous is slow and he was losing blood faster than he was getting it. He’s suffering. The nanos are definitely attacking his organs in search of blood.”

“Well let’s try giving it to him orally now. It might stay down,” Dani suggested, ushering her out of the kitchen.

Nicole watched them leave and then leaned to Marguerite and asked, “How did they get in?” When Marguerite turned to her in question, she explained, “The front door was locked and I didn’t let them in.”

“Ah.” She nodded solemnly. “Yes, I asked the same thing when Nina came down to unlock the front door and let us in. Apparently, the door was locked when they got here too, but they could hear you screaming and hurried around the house checking doors and windows. I guess the sliding doors to the living room were unlocked and they came in that way.”

“Oh, yes,” Nicole murmured. The sliding doors to her studio and the living room made an inverted L around the hot tub. Jake must have used the living-room sliding doors to get to the hot tub, because they had been unlocked when she’d helped him inside . . . and she hadn’t locked them behind them. Heck, she’d been so upset at the time, she wasn’t even sure she’d closed them. But she knew she’d left her studio door unlocked too and said so now. “I’m pretty sure the sliding doors to my studio are unlocked too. They might even be open.”

Decker had just started back into the room, done with his call. But hearing this, he turned around at once, saying, “I’ll take care of it.”

Nicole turned to Marguerite then, a lot of questions bubbling in her mind. Before she could ask even one, Marguerite smiled at her apologetically and said, “I’m sorry, dear. I know you have a lot of questions, but the answers aren’t really mine to give. Jake will have to answer them when he’s recovered. I think the best thing for you to do is to go back to work while we do what we can to help Jake. So, I want you to relax, empty your mind of all worries, and simply go to your studio and work.”

Chapter Nine

Jake opened his eyes to find sunlight creeping around the edges of his blinds. He stared at the light and shadow it caused in the room, and then pushed his blankets aside and sat up, surprised to find he was buck naked. He normally slept naked at home, but he’d brought pajama bottoms to wear here. It was always good to be prepared and if an emergency struck in the middle of the night . . . Well, having the family jewels hanging out was never good at times like that.

Standing up, he opened the top drawer of the dresser and pulled out a T-shirt and a pair of loose, cotton pajama bottoms in a black, white, and gray plaid. He’d dress properly after he made coffee . . . and brushed his teeth. God, his mouth tasted like a sewer. What was up with that?

And what time was it? He glanced around to the alarm clock, frowning when he saw that it was two in the afternoon. What—?

Jake stilled as memory washed over him like a ten-gallon barrel of water. It left him just as stunned as a sudden dunking would have done. In the next moment, he was hopping around, pulling his pajama bottoms onto first one leg and then the other. Once he had them on, Jake headed out the door, tugging his T-shirt on as he went.

Nicole’s bedroom door was open, he saw as he passed. The bed was made, which meant she was up. He checked the kitchen for her first, and came to an abrupt halt when he spotted the stranger seated at the table, an iPad on the table before her. The woman had fair hair like Nicole, but did not have her generous curves. She was dressed casually in faded jeans and a cobalt sweater, and she was an immortal. Jake didn’t know how he knew that, he just did. Since being turned, he always recognized one of their kind when in their presence. It was like a low-key awareness that went through him, as if all his nanos were sensing and saluting hers.

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