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A Bite to Remember
By Lynsay Sands
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Lynsay Sands
All right reserved.
"Vincent? Are you there? If you're there, pick upthe phone."
Vincent Argeneau forced one eyelid upward and peered around the dark room. His home office, he saw, managing to make out the shape of his desk by the sliver of light coming through the door cracked open to the hallway. He'd fallen asleep on the couch in his office.
"Yeah?" He sat up and glanced around for the owner of that voice, then realized it was coming through his answering machine on the desk. Giving his head a shake, Vincent got to his feet and stumbled across the room. He snatched up the cordless phone, dropped into his desk chair, and growled, "Bastien?"
"Vincent? Sorry to wake you, cousin. I waited as late as I could before calling."
Vincent grunted and leaned back in the chair, running his free hand over his face. "What time is it?"
"Five P.M. here in New York. I guess that makes it about two there in L.A.," Bastien said apologetically.
"Two," Vincent muttered. No wonder he was exhausted. He'd been up until 9 A.M. dealing with phone calls, then had drawn the blackout curtains in the room and lain down on the couch here rather than go to his bed. He hadn't wanted to miss Bastien's call.
"Are you awake?"
"Yeah." Vincent scrubbed his hand over his face again, then reached out to turn on his desk lamp. Blinking in the increased light, he said, "I'm up. Were you able to get a hold of that private detective company you said was so good?"
"That's why I couldn't call any later than this. They're on their way. In fact, their plane was scheduled to land at LAX fifteen minutes ago."
"Jesus!" Vincent sat up abruptly in his seat. "That was fast."
"Jackie doesn't waste time. I explained the situation to her and she booked a flight right away. Fortunately for you, she'd just finished a big job for me and was able to put off and delegate whatever else she had on the roster."
"Wow," Vincent murmured, then frowned as he realized what Bastien had said. "She? The detective's a woman?"
"Yes, and she's good. Really good. She'll track down your saboteur and have this whole thing cleaned up in no time."
"If you say so," Vincent said quietly. "Thanks, Bastien. I appreciate it."
"Not a problem. Happy to help."
Vincent opened his mouth to speak, then paused as he heard a woman's muffled voice in the background. He began to grin. "Is that Terri?"
"Yes. She says hello, and says to warn you -- " He paused to clear his throat. "Er . . . Vincent, mother is on her way out there too."
"What?" Vincent stood abruptly. The news was rather shocking. Aunt Marguerite hadn't visited his home in decades. Usually, he visited her in Canada. She'd chosen the worst possible time to decide to visit sunny California. "Why?"
"Er . . . well, that's a funny thing really." Bastien gave a nervous laugh. "It seems she's come to the conclusion that you may be lonely and depressed."
"What!" Vincent gaped at the phone.
"Yeah. She thinks your being here in New York and witnessing Terri and I getting together -- as well as seeing my siblings with their life mates -- may have upset you, your still being single and all. She seems to think you may need cheering up or maybe some help seeing to the situation."
"Dear God," Vincent muttered, raking one hand through his hair.
"Yeah, I thought you might feel that way," Bastien said sympathetically. "I did try to dissuade her from going, but . . . You know how my mother is once she gets an idea into her head."
"Dear God," Vincent repeated.
"She's on a later flight," Bastien informed him. "She won't arrive until six o'clock your time and she's arranged for a car rental so you won't have to pick her up."
"Does she know about what's going on here?"
"No," Bastien said. "And unless you want her interfering, I suggest you not tell her."
Vincent gave a bark of laughter. Interfere was an understatement. If Marguerite Argeneau knew someone was sabotaging her nephew's business, she'd be determined to track them down and sort it out. She was very protective of those she loved and he was fortunate enough to count himself in that category.
"Dear God," he said unhappily.
"Just stick her in a guest room, give her a bunch of tourist pamphlets, and let her entertain herself," Bastien suggested. "She'll get bored and move on eventually."
Vincent grimaced, thinking nothing was ever that easy. "I'm guessing I wasn't expected to pick up this Jackie and . . ." He paused, trying to recall the second name Bastien had mentioned.
"Tiny," he supplied. "No, they'll have a rental too. Otherwise I'd have called sooner."
"Right." Vincent sighed.
"I'm guessing you probably have about half an hour before they get there. I figured that was enough time to get ready."
"Yeah," Vincent agreed.
"Okay. I guess I'll let you go wake yourself up before they arrive."
"Yeah, okay. Hey, tell Terri -- " Vincent paused and glanced toward the hallway as a knock sounded at his front door. Frowning, he stood and headed out of the office, taking the cordless phone with him. "Hang on. There's someone at the door."
"That's probably the package I sent out for Mom," Bastien said. "If so, you'll have to get it in the refrigerator right away."
"Must be nice having your meals prepared and delivered," Vincent said dryly as he walked up the hall.
"We'll eventually sort that out too, cousin," Bastien said quietly, and Vincent felt guilty for bellyaching. Bastien had set his scientists to work on finding a cure for his problem years ago. If there wasn't one yet, it wasn't for lack of trying.
"Is it the blood?" Bastien asked as Vincent pulled the front door open.
"Umm . . . no," he answered, his gaze running over the duo on the marble step before him. He'd never set eyes on such an unlikely pair. . . .
Excerpted from A Bite to Remember by Lynsay Sands Copyright © 2006 by Lynsay Sands. Excerpted by permission.
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