Maria’s thick Brazilian accent echoed the length of the hall. “Dis is for Celia. De master had Chef prepare her dinner. If Celia is too tired to come down, he would like her to remain in his chambers and de food will be brought to her.”
“No, that’s okay, we’ll be down,” I answered quickly. If I stayed in Misha’s bedroom he’d expect more than I could give him.
I passed into the suite when I heard the door shut. Emme perched on the bed next to a beautiful white dress.
The exact same dress from my vision.
“Is something wrong?” Emme asked.
No, just my life going to hell. I gaped at the dress. “Uh, I’m just going to wear what I have on.”
Emme took in my not-so-impressive ensemble. At five foot three, the robe I wore hung to the floor.
Emme lifted the dress and examined it closely. “It looks like it will fit you.”
“I have no doubt,” I mumbled.
Emme blinked back at me. “Um. There’s lingerie, too…in case that’s what’s troubling you.”
“I wish going commando was my only problem.”
“Nothing.” I sighed, defeated, and yanked on the panties and strapless bra with as much enthusiasm as putting on a funeral shroud. I slipped the dress over my head. The spaghetti straps were thin but comfortable and the soft cotton skirt flowed down to my shins.
Emme smiled softly. “You look beautiful, Celia. Misha must know your love of sundresses, but I’ll admit it’s unusual attire for spring in Tahoe. Are you warm enough?”
Emme watched cautiously. “Okay, I guess we should head down, then.”
I nodded. Emme gently clasped my elbow and led me out into the hall when I didn’t move. Misha waited at the bottom of the sprawling slate and wrought-iron staircase. The adoration in his eyes completely unnerved me. He wasn’t Misha then; he resembled more a groom meeting his bride at the altar. My breath hammered out of my lungs in time with my rapid heartbeat.
Oh. God. What’s he doing? Why is he looking at me like that? What’s wrong with him? I’m pregnant with another male’s child, for heaven’s sake! I can’t give him what he wants, I…
The last thing I remembered was Emme screaming my name. I awoke exactly where I didn’t want to be—Misha’s bed.
“How are you, honey?”
I didn’t answer Emme until I was sure I still had clothes on. “What happened?”
“You fainted. I’m pretty sure you have a concussion. I’ve tried healing you, but it doesn’t seem to be working.”
I jerked up and scanned the colossal suite. “Why am I here? Why aren’t we at the guesthouse?”
Emme placed her hand on my shoulder. “Misha is really worried, and so am I. I’m afraid if we don’t wake you every two hours you’ll slip into a coma.”
I leapt out of the bed. “Good idea. Let’s head back to the guesthouse. You can set your cellphone to wake me every two hours.”
“Celia, I don’t think you should—”
Misha’s footsteps approaching the door put me into crazy mode. I shot out to the deck, jumped off…and landed on top of Hank.
Hank provided me with a surprisingly cushy landing. I rolled off him and stood on the cold wet ground. “Sorry, Hank.”
Hank stumbled to his feet. “Where the hell did you come from?”
His head snapped up. “Did you just jump off the goddamn deck?”
“I always knew you were bats, but this is nutty even for you!”
Considering he was trying to get into my little sister’s pants, he had a lot of nerve acting pissy with me. “Bats? Did you just call me bats, Dracula?”
Hank bared his fangs. “You have a lot of goddamn nerve. You land on me and now you’re making racist jokes. I oughta—”
I rammed my finger in his face. “You oughta what? I’ve had a bad day, Hank. If you want a piece of me, just say the word.”
“Hank?” Emme peered over the stacked stone deck. “You’re making a big mistake by taking on Celia.”
Hank flashed her his fangs. “Don’t worry about me, baby. I can take her.”
“Um, she’ll pound you, Hank. But I’m more concerned about Misha.”
A breeze blew in from the lake small enough to chill my bare shoulders…and send Misha’s aroma downwind. We hadn’t noticed him before, but we did then. He emerged from the shadows. Hank and I swallowed hard. Me, because I wasn’t ready to face him, and Hank, well, because Misha might just kill him.
Misha stepped between us, sending Hank scurrying back. “You have sorely tried my patience today.”
Hank bowed his head. “I apologize, Master.”
“Your requests for forgiveness have grown tiresome. Leave.” Misha clutched my arm when I tried to bolt. “Not you, Celia. There are matters we need to discuss.”
My shoulders slumped. “Fine.” I didn’t want to do this now, or ever, but it wasn’t fair to keep him waiting and wondering. “Can we talk back at the guesthouse?”
“As you wish.” He bent to lift me, but I leapt from his grasp.
“What are you doing?”
“My darling, your feet are bare. Although the rain and sleet have subsided, I can hardly allow you to walk as you are.”
No way in hell was I letting him carry me over the damn threshold. I sped ahead of him. “I’m fine, Misha. My inner beast has me covered.”
Misha, of course, kept up with ease, chuckling despite my erratic behavior. The frozen slate chilled my soles, but sure enough, my metabolism made it doable. I crossed through the garden and reached the guesthouse in record speed. Misha opened the thick wooden door before I could reach the handle. I never locked the door. Vampire bodyguards with the ability to tear limbs like dry grass were all the supernatural security I needed.
I reached for a kitchen towel and wiped my feet. The moment I tossed it in the laundry room Misha pulled me to him and tried to kiss me. I whipped my head back. He managed to reach my cheek, but not much more.
Misha laughed against my ear. “My darling, at this rate we shall never conceive our children.”
I broke from his hold and backed away. “Misha, we’re not having children.”