One Lucky Vampire Page 33

In lust, maybe. He would accept that. The woman was hot. She smiled and he got a semi erection. She touched him, even just a brush of her fingers on his arm, and that semi turned into a full-on nuclear erection. But when she kissed him? Forget about it. His blood immediately went south leaving his brain a bloodless blob incapable of functioning.

“Isn’t the combination of all of that what makes up love?” Neil asked quietly, obviously reading his mind.

“Maybe,” Jake allowed, and then argued, “But we’ve only known each other a matter of days. It can’t be love already.”

“Man,” Neil said with disbelief. “You’ve spent most of your life around immortals, have even been one yourself for seven years now, and yet still think like a mortal.”

“I’m not sure—” Jake began.

“Time means little to immortals and absolutely nothing when it comes to life mates,” Neil said, interrupting him.

“Ah.” Jake smiled crookedly. “So Dante and Tomasso told you about that too?”

“About Nicole being your life mate? Yes.” He peered at her and then said quietly, “I’m happy for you . . . envious too,” he added with a small smile. “But mostly happy for you. Especially since her arrival appears to have helped you deal with things.”

“Do I need to apologize again?” Jake asked wryly. “I probably should. I haven’t been fair with you and Mother, or Roberto and the others.”

“We understood you were struggling with it,” Neil said quietly. “We wished we could help more, and were sorry you felt you needed to be alone to handle it, but we understood.”

“Thank you,” Jake said quietly.

“Mind you, you’ll pay for it where Mom is concerned,” Neil added dryly.

“How?” Jake asked warily.

“Well, after seven years of your absence, she’s going to want to spend time with you . . . a lot of it. I suspect she’ll show up and plant herself for a while until she’s reassured everything is okay and her oldest baby boy is her baby again.”

Jake managed not to wince. He loved his mother, always had, even while being afraid of her. But he knew her well enough to know Neil was right. The woman would no doubt head out here from whichever home base—

“Are they coming from Italy?” he asked.

Neil shook his head. “California.”

That made Jake’s eyebrows rise. “Then I’m surprised she didn’t fly out with you.”

“I was in Toronto. Business,” Neil added. “I would have been here sooner, but I was in the middle of a business meeting when Dante called and didn’t call back to find out what was happening until it ended. Then I had to arrange for a flight.”

Jake nodded. It was now two o’clock in the morning. The accident had taken place around five. It was only an hour and a half from Toronto to Ottawa by flight so it must have been an important meeting. That or it had taken quite a while to arrange a plane to bring him here. Either way, Jake had no doubt his brother had got here as quickly as he could.

“I called Mom after I got off the phone with Dante, that was about three hours ago,” Neil said, hesitated, and then added, “She and Dad are on a plane right now, headed this way.”

Jake stiffened at that news, his eyes shooting to his brother. “No.”

Neil nodded, looking almost apologetic.

“Damn,” Jake muttered, glancing to Nicole and worrying about what that might mean. He wasn’t sure she was ready to meet his parents. Good Lord, they’d only met themselves days ago.

“Look on the bright side, you’ll have extra help keeping her safe,” Neil pointed out.

Jake nodded. That would be good, he supposed. Once their flight landed, he’d have his parents and Neil there as well as Dante and Tomasso to help keep Nicole safe and they obviously needed the help. Her soon to be ex would be desperate when he knew this latest attempt had failed.

Thoughts halting, Jake glanced at Neil. “Dante told you about Nicole’s ex?”

“Marguerite did. I’ve been in Toronto for almost a week. I was there when the hot tub incident happened. I was going to drop everything and come out here then, but she cautioned against it. She thought it would be better if Dante and Tomasso came alone.”

Jake smiled crookedly. “She was probably right. I wasn’t really ready to be pulled back into the fold yet, but those two are . . .” He shook his head helplessly. The twins were not generally the talkative sorts to start with, so hadn’t bombarded him with arguments for why he was being an ass. They’d just stood by, strong, silent support while he’d figured it out for himself. Neil would have tried to talk him around and Jake hadn’t been ready for that.

Marguerite was apparently a brilliant strategist, Jake thought, and then glanced to the door as Dante and Tomasso entered.

“We brought you a coffee,” Dante announced, crossing the room and moving around the bed to offer Jake a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee, even as he glanced over to take note of Neil’s presence.

“Sorry, Neil. We didn’t bring you one,” Tomasso said. “Didn’t know you were here.”

“That’s all right. I don’t drink coffee,” Neil said.

“Caffeine makes him bounce off the walls,” Jake told them. Some immortals simply couldn’t handle coffee. Neil was one of those and that was why Jake had avoided coffee since being turned. He’d been afraid he might react the same way. They were half brothers after all. However, it seemed that sensitivity to caffeine came from Neil’s father, because Jake had been drinking coffee since meeting Nicole and hadn’t noticed it affecting him much at all.

Dante nodded and then glanced to Nicole. “How’s she doing? Any change?”

Jake opened the tab of his coffee lid and shook his head. “She hasn’t stirred at all.”

“It’s probably for the best. She’s going to have one hell of a headache when she wakes up. Better to sleep through it,” Dante said.

Jake grunted as he sipped at his coffee. He didn’t mind her sleeping through the headache . . . so long as she woke up. He was very aware that Nicole was a fragile mortal, and mortals had been known to die from head wounds. That thought had him peering at her worriedly. “Maybe I should turn her.”

“She’s fine,” Neil said quietly.

“You can’t turn her,” Tomasso rumbled. “She needs to give permission.”

“What if she doesn’t wake up to give that permission?” Jake asked grimly.

The twins exchanged a glance and it was Neil who said, “Why don’t we just wait and see what happens? You remember how you reacted to being turned without giving permission. You don’t want that with Nicole.”

Jake grimaced as he realized he was thinking of doing exactly what Vincent had done and which he’d resented so much. He was just so worried that she wasn’t waking up . . . that she might never wake up.

“We’ll wait and see what the doctors say. If it doesn’t look like she’s going to come around, then we’ll consider turning her,” Neil said patiently.

“Do I smell coffee?”

Jake stilled at that weak question, and then turned his head sharply to Nicole. This time her eyes were open. Her nose was also working, sniffing the air with interest, but then she frowned and asked, “Why does my head hurt so much?”

Chapter Fifteen

Nicole yawned sleepily and opened her eyes to stare at the ceiling. It took one glance to recall that she was in the hospital. The slightly antiseptic smell helped.

“How is your head, dear?”

Nicole turned to peer blankly at the woman at her bedside. She was young, with short blond hair, and a nice smile. From the way she’d addressed her, Nicole had expected an older woman, but they were about the same age.

“Er . . .” she murmured, uncertainly, wondering where Jake was. He’d been sitting where the woman presently was when Nicole had finally fallen asleep. That was after the doctor had been informed she was awake and had come to see her. He’d quickly examined her and then announced she seemed fine, but he wanted to keep her overnight for observation. Since it was three in the morning by the time he announced that, it hadn’t seemed worth arguing over.

Nicole had managed to stay awake for a bit, long enough to learn what had happened after she’d passed out, and that she had Dante’s using mind control to thank for the private hospital room she’d woken up in. Those mind-control skills of theirs were really very impressive, she thought. But then there was a lot to be impressed by with these immortals, or at least with Jake. Well, she supposed Dante and Tomasso were impressive too, but Jake was special. The man was smart, which she wasn’t sure could be attributed to the nanos, but they probably didn’t hurt. Aside from that, though, he was strong and funny and the most amazing lover ever. All the man had to do was kiss her and her toes curled. As for the sex itself, that was mind-blowing . . . and he had a cute ass too. Jake had thought her tendency to slow down and lag behind at the end of their shopping trip was because she was tiring, but the truth was Nicole had just enjoyed looking at his butt in his tight jeans as they walked.

A choked chuckle came from the blond. The unexpected and unwarranted sound made Nicole peer at her warily, suddenly worried that she was a patient who had wandered down from the psychiatric department. Was that possible? They wouldn’t just let psychiatric patients wander the hospital, would they?

A startled laugh slipped from the woman now, and she shook her head, “Oh dear, I’m sorry. I should have introduced myself.”

When the woman then held out her hand, Nicole eyed it with trepidation.

“My name is Elaine Colton Notte. I’m Stephano’s mother.”

“You’re Jake’s mother?” Nicole gasped, sitting up and gaping at her. She also finally took note of the woman’s silver-teal eyes. Oh yeah, this was Jake’s mom. It was like his eyes were looking back at her out of the woman’s face. Good Lord, Jake’s mom, she thought. It wasn’t the fact that Elaine Notte looked so young that stunned Nicole. It was her being there at all that had her staring at her, tongue-tied and amazed.

“Yes, dear.” Elaine reached out and patted her hand reassuringly. She might not look older, but she definitely acted like a mother who could be a grandmother if only her children would cooperate. “We headed out as soon as we heard about the car accident. We would have come after the hot-tub incident had anyone bothered to tell us,” she added grimly.

“I’m sorry,” Nicole said at once. “I called Marguerite because Jake made me, but I didn’t know your number, or I would have—”

“Oh, my dear, please, I wasn’t blaming you,” Mrs. Notte interrupted quickly, patting her hand again. “I meant my son Neil. He knew and should have called, but didn’t.”

“And I shall be in the dog house for at least a century for that,” a voice said from the door and Nicole glanced over to see two men entering. Both had short jet-black hair, and very Italian features. Both also looked to be in their mid- to late twenties, wore what she guessed were designer suits, and had amazing silver-black eyes. She was guessing the one who had spoken was Neil, but hadn’t a clue who the other man was. Jake’s stepfather maybe?

“Yes, this is my husband, Roberto Conti Notte,” Elaine said proudly, reminding Nicole that these people could read her mind. Turning to Neil, she added in a grim voice, “And yes you will be in the doghouse for a very long time. I should have known if your brother was in trouble.”

“Oh, come on, Mom,” Neil chided, walking up behind her chair and squeezing her shoulder. “I didn’t want to worry you. Besides, you’re really just annoyed that you didn’t know about Nicole until after everyone else did.”

Elaine scowled at him. “I should have known about that right away too.”

Bending, he kissed her cheek. “How about I promise you’ll be the first one I call when I meet my life mate?”

“I should be anyway,” she muttered, glowering over her shoulder at him.

“Don’t worry, son,” the man who was apparently Jake’s stepfather said with amusement. “It won’t take your mama a century to get over this. You know how soft a heart she has. A decade at most and she’ll stop bringing it up and glaring at you.”

“I won’t,” Elaine assured them. “This upset me very much.”

Nicole watched this all wide-eyed, wondering where on earth Jake was. It seemed like his whole family was here, but him . . . and why was his whole family here? In her hospital room? When he wasn’t?

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