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Vampires Are Forever
An Argeneau Novel
"This is as close as I can get, love," the taxi driver announced apologetically. "That'll be fourteen pounds."
Inez Urso frowned as she noted they were at least three sets of doors from the gate she wanted. Unfortunately, there was a long line of cars waiting to collect arrivals and the driver couldn't get any closer. Knowing she had a jog ahead of her, Inez handed him the money, managing not to grimace at the expense.
It isn't coming out of your pocket anyway, she reminded herself. It's a business expense. That was the only reason she was here. Only a direct order from Bastien Argeneau would make her suffer through forty-five minutes of London traffic in an airless taxi during one of the hottest Septembers in history. If she'd had more warning, Inez would have had one of the company cars take her to the airport to meet Thomas Argeneau. She also would have gone to bed earlier last night. But she hadn't had more warning. Bastien Argeneau, head of Argeneau Enterprises and her boss, had called at five o'clock in the morning, waking her from a dead sleep to ask her to pick up his cousin at the airport. Worse yet, he'd called a very short forty-five minutes before the plane was supposed to land.
Knowing it would take that long to get to the airport from her flat, Inez hadn't even taken the time for a shower or cup of tea, but had dragged on her clothes from the night before with one hand as she'd rung for a taxi with the other. Still doing up buttons, she'd grabbed her purse and run downstairs, rushing outside just as the taxi had stopped in front of her apartmentbuilding.
Inez wasn't at her best. No makeup, hair a mess, unshowered, and wearing her day-old clothes, she wasn't likely to impress anyone. Fortunately, Thomas Argeneau wasn't someone she felt she had to impress. She'd only met the man once. After being promoted to vice president of UK operations several months ago, she'd gone to New York to tour the company's head offices. That was when she'd met Thomas, or at least seen him. They hadn't been introduced. She and several other top executives had been in a meeting in Bastien's office when Thomas had sauntered in—unannounced and without knocking—to spout a lot of gobbledy gook that Inez hadn't quite been able to catch except to note that it seemed to be sprinkled liberally with "yos, dudes, and dudettes."
Inez had seen enough movies to know he was talking like a stereotypical 90's California surfer. She somehow doubted the old terms were still used, but it didn't matter since he wasn't from California and—as far as she knew—there wasn't much surfing done in Southern Ontario. She'd decided it was all an affectation. He was just a lazy layabout youth, taking on this surfer lingo in a misguided attempt to impress someone.
It had turned out that Bastien had called for him to deliver something to one of his brothers. Thomas was nothing more than an errand boy, she'd realized, and that had simply confirmed her assessment of him. He was an Argeneau, but rather than get a degree and take a position in the company, he delivered things and talked like a stoned idiot.
Which meant, Inez thought now, that she'd been dragged out of her bed at five in the morning to pick up a man who had no importance, and probably didn't have a good reason to be in the country other than to loaf on new shores. It made him nothing more than an annoying pain in the arse in her mind.
Unfortunately, the request had been made by Bastien, and he was someone she did want to impress. So Inez snatched the receipt the taxi driver handed her, said thanks, and then flung the door open and hurled herself out of the cab to charge toward the Arrivals entrance.
A glance at her watch as she raced through the pneumatic doors and into the milling people said she'd made it to the airport five minutes after Bastien had said the plane would have landed. Inez felt a moment's panic, but then assured herself that he couldn't have got through customs yet.
Reaching the busy arrivals section, she took a moment to orient herself, and then made her way quickly along the row of glass windows toward the gate where Bastien had said she should meet Thomas.
Inez was perhaps twenty feet from where she needed to be when she saw the doors slide open and the man she was there to meet walk out. Forcing a pleasant smile to her face, Inez picked up speed and called out breathlessly, waving a hand to catch his attention.
Her call had been faint enough, Inez didn't think he'd hear, but Thomas did glance her way as he proceeded forward. He even seemed to notice her waving at him, yet he simply continued forward and out of the airport through the pneumatic doors in front of his gate.
Shocked at the apparent snub, Inez stared after him with shock, and then cursed and burst into a run as she saw him walking toward the row of cabs waiting out front. Tossing apologies left and right, she jostled her way through the crowd to the doors and rushed out onto the concrete just in time to see the cab he got into pull away.
Inez stared after the black cab, disbelief giving way to anger. She'd been dragged from her bed and rushed out here only to have the ignorant idiot hop in a taxi and ride off on her.
"Do you need a taxi, love?"
Inez glanced around at the question, and then sighed at the sight of the same smiling cabby who'd brought her to the airport. The man had burbled happily on about this and that and nothing at all the entire ride out from the core of London where she lived. Now she would no doubt get to enjoy the same happy burble all the way to the Dorchester hotel where Thomas was staying. Vampires Are Forever
An Argeneau Novel
. Copyright © by Lynsay Sands. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.