Authors: Delilah Devlin
Pia had never seen the vamp anything but cool. Interesting.
“Well, I know her, but I don’t
her, love,” he said in his drool-worthy Irish accent, his hand curving around the woman’s fleshy hip.
“Good, then I don’t have to tear out her hair.” She turned back to Pia and gave her a blinding smile. “I’m Emmy O’Hara. Seems you two are already acquainted.” She stared at Pia expectantly.
Pia straightened and offered her hand. The last thing she should expect was a polite introduction from Dylan. “I’m Pia D’Amato. From Seattle.”
“How was the weather when you left?”
Pia shrugged. “Wet.”
Emmy wrinkled her nose. “I don’t miss that one bit. So, you’re one of us? I can’t tell just by looking. Dylan can, but he’s older than Methuselah.”
Dylan’s gaze narrowed, but a hint of a smile curved the corners of his lips. “You’re Navarro’s solution to our little problem?”
“Some solution…” Pia muttered and then blushed when she realized she’d said it out loud. “He sent me.”
“She’s here to help with the werewolves?” Emmy asked, her eyes widening. “That was really quick.”
“No, love,” he said. “Another little problem. One not worth mentioning.”
Pia took the hint. The subject of Max’s “conversion” was not for Emmy’s ears.
“I can’t wait until Quentin arrives,” Dylan said.
Pia’s face flamed brighter. “Actually, I just stopped in to tell you I’m heading back home tonight.”
“So soon?” Emmy looked genuinely dismayed. “But you just got here. I know Lily would love to meet you. She hasn’t had any female vamps other than myself to interview.”
“Yeah, Joe’s wife. She’s been with us for several months now. She’s working on a book.
The Definitive Guide to Vampirism.
Dylan cleared his throat. “She’ll likely be too ill to see our friend, seeing as Pia’s leaving so soon.”
Emmy bit her lip. “Oh right. I forgot.”
“Anyway,” Pia said, hoping to take control of the situation, give her debrief, and hit the road before Quentin burst through the door. “I’m packed and on my way to the airport.”
“Like I said before, leaving so soon?” Dylan asked. “Did you already take care of that little bit of business for us?”
Pia stared at her ragged fringe. “Um…actually, no.”
“But you’ve met him?”
Pia nodded, but still couldn’t meet his gaze.
“Met who?” A dark-haired man strode into the room. By his Latin features, Pia assumed he was the newest vamp, Joe Garcia.
“Max,” Dylan said.
the solution?” Joe’s dubious glance swept her from head to foot.
“We have a problem other than the werewolves that requires a solution?” Emmy asked, her glance swinging between the two men.
“Navarro’s diabolical,” Joe said, a smile stretching his sexy mouth.
If Pia hadn’t already met Max, she might have melted into a puddle, this man was so handsome.
“I think I need a drink,” Dylan said. “You’re still in a hydrated state, Pia—so I assume your meeting wasn’t a total disaster.”
Joe glanced at his watch. “You work fast. It’s only an hour past dusk.”
Pia looked from one curious male face to the other. How could she admit she’d been a dismal failure? “Well, I…I met him last night.”
Joe’s eyebrows rose. “Oh, I see.” His gaze turned speculative. “I take it, he didn’t know you were a vampire.”
Pia wished they’d change the subject. “Not at first,” she said, her teeth grinding with annoyance.
“But he does now, and you’re still standing.” Joe glanced at Dylan. “I’m impressed.”
Dylan shrugged. “Seems our girl here has found a chink in the tough guy’s armor. Tell me why you’re so eager to leave? Looks like your work’s just begun.”
Pia blew out an agitated breath. “He made it quite clear he didn’t want to see me again.”
Pia jumped at the familiar voice and her stomach sank.
Quentin Albermarle—the bane of her professional existence—filled the door, a look as black as thunder on his face. “What the devil are you doing here?” The large, blond vampire advanced menacingly.
Pia refused to back up a step. “Hello, Quentin. Don’t worry about me. I—I was just leaving.”
“Do I detect a bit of animosity?” Emmy asked, her eyes too wide and guileless to be believed.
“She’s a menace!” Quentin said, pointing a damning finger in Pia’s direction. “A walking disaster!”
Annoyed he could still hold a grudge when she’d obviously done him no lasting harm, Pia straightened to her full height. “How was I supposed to know you weren’t killing that woman? She sounded hysterical.”
“I was tickling her—she was laughing
!” he said, his face turning purple. “Besides, if you thought I was killing her, why didn’t you aim higher?”
Pia glanced at the others to see whether a rescue was imminent, but Dylan merely coughed, and Joe’s lips twitched.
She scowled at them both. “Who said I missed?” No way would she tell these arrogant assholes she’d been aiming for his heart. She couldn’t help it her palms had been moist, and the crossbow slipped.
to shoot me in the ass?” A tic pulsed next to his eye.
Pia decided discretion might be the better course. After all, she didn’t ever have to see this odious vamp again. She crossed her arms over her chest and glared. “I apologized. It was a natural mistake.”
“Natural?” He leaned down, so close his nose nearly touched hers. Then his face grew still. “Bugger me. Tell me Navarro didn’t send this chit here.”
“’Fraid so,” Joe said, his tone mild.
“What the hell was he thinking?”
“She spent the night with Max.”
Quentin drew back and stared. “Fuck me. And she’s still standing?”
“Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?” Dylan said dryly.
Quentin looked her up and down, and then walked around her. When he’d finished his circuit, he frowned. “I need a drink.”
“Drinks all around, it is!” Emmy said gaily.
“Make a note, Dylan,” Quentin said, his voice still hard. “She’s never to hold a weapon within a hundred yards of me.”
“Looks like you’re staying,” Emmy whispered in her ear as she handed her a tumbler of amber liquid.
Pia didn’t even sniff to see what she’d been given. She tossed it back, and then coughed. The whiskey warmed her all the way to her belly. “Who says I’m staying? He knows what I am. If he sees me again, I’m potting soil.”
Emmy pressed her down into a chair. Then her gaze turned mean as she surveyed the men. “So, is someone going to tell me what this is all about? What problem is Pia supposed to solve with Max?”
“Now, love,” Dylan said, reaching for her.
Emmy held a hand out to block the move. “Don’t you dare ‘Now, love’ me and pat me on the head. I’m not a puppy.”
“No, love,” Dylan purred. “You’re my pussy kitty.”
“You are not going to distract me.” Emmy’s nostrils flared. “What are you guys up to?”
“Ballocks!” Quentin said. “That wife of yours never keeps a secret. Darcy will have my ass.”
Dylan sighed and reached for Emmy’s hand. “Haven’t you noticed Max’s intense dislike for us?”
“Max just needs time to get to know us,” Emmy said. “Darcy says he’s a great guy when he’s not being an asshole. Look at Joe,” she said with a nod toward the Cuban. “He hated our guts.”
Joe raised an eyebrow. “Who says I still don’t?”
“Lily says so,” Emmy said with a nod. “Did you tell her a lie?”
Joe muttered under his breath and slumped into a chair.
Emmy turned to Pia. “What exactly were you supposed to do with Max?”
“Not what she did, obviously,” Quentin muttered.
Pia squirmed in her chair. She knew Emmy wouldn’t be pleased to hear the details of her mission, or that Navarro’s first inclination was to kill Max outright.
“I take it you slept with him?” Joe asked, his expression closed.
“Yeah, that was kind of the problem.”
“Why?” Emmy asked. “What were you supposed to do?”
Pia glanced around the room.
Dylan sighed and shrugged.
Pia took a deep breath. She may as well get this over with. “Um…I was supposed to seduce him or turn him.”
“Turn him?” Joe’s brows drew together in a frightening scowl. “Over my dead body.”
“Too late,” Quentin murmured.
Dylan frowned at both the male vamps. “Well, you almost got the first part right, Pia. So what happened?”
“I fell asleep.”
“And when did you wake up?” Dylan asked.
“A couple of hours ago.”
Dylan stood still for a long moment, and then a grin teased the corners of his mouth. He turned to Joe. “He’s going to be surly as a grizzly bear.”
Joe’s expression didn’t betray his thoughts. “Yup.”
“I want you to stick close,” Dylan said. “See if he says anything about our girl here.”
Pia bristled at the
. “And what am I supposed to do in the meantime?”
“Stay here,” Quentin said. “Out of trouble.”
Pia had the urge to click her heels and salute, but Quentin’s fierce expression didn’t reassure her she was out of the woods yet.
“Let’s head to the station,” Dylan said.
“Try not to make it too obvious we’re sussing him out,” Quentin said, looking at Joe. “Do you suppose he’ll put two and two together and figure out we’re responsible for her being here?”
Joe rose from his chair. “Max is so ready to think the worst, he’ll probably jump straight to believing it was a setup.”
“Then we have to make sure he never makes a firm connection,” Dylan said. “Keep him doubting.”
“Pia,” Joe said, turning back to address her. “I want your promise you won’t attempt to turn him.”
Pia lifted her chin. “I can’t do that.”
His face turned menacing. “Then I’ll have to tell him why you’re here.”
“Let’s see if she can win him over first,” Dylan said. “She may not have to resort to draining him.”
“You’re not to move a muscle until we return,” Quentin said. “Got that?”
Pia didn’t try to hide a scowl. Her hot stare should have blistered their backsides as they swept out of the room.
“Whew!” Emmy said, fanning herself. “Was the testosterone stinking up the place or what?”
Pia felt her lips twitching at the outrageous remark. “They are a bit overwhelming.”
“Did you really shoot Quentin in the ass?” she asked, her face alight with laughter. “God, what I wouldn’t have given to see the look on his face.”
“It was a Kodak moment, all right.”
The two women burst into laughter. Pia felt the tension drain away. For the moment anyway, she was safe—and it looked like she might be given a second chance to redeem herself. She’d worry about how to keep her body solid around Max later.
“Did I miss a joke?” a feminine voice said from behind Pia.
“Not a joke. But you’ll be sorry you missed it,” Emmy said. “Meet Pia. Pia, this is Quentin’s wife, Darcy.”
Pia nodded to the woman then her gaze trailed downward. Darcy was reed-thin except for her very round belly. Quentin’s wife was pregnant. Pia gasped. “Are you a breeder?”
“Not the kind you think,” Emmy said quickly. “The baby’s not Quent’s—but that’s a long story.”
Pia looked from one woman to the next. They couldn’t be more different. One blond and voluptuous, with a face that sparkled as bright as Christmas lights. The other brunette, slender, and serene. But there was no mistaking the bond between them as they traded meaningful glances. Pia felt a twinge of envy for their friendship.
“Pia is here to take care of Max, Darcy,” Emmy said in her cheery way.
Pia nearly groaned aloud.
“What’s to take care of?” Darcy asked, stiffening.
“That’s a very good question.” Emmy turned back to Pia, her eyes narrowing. “You’re gonna have to spill, girlfriend.”
“So what was-sh
Max like?” Emmy asked, her reddened eyes alight with curiosity.
Pia wished her glass wasn’t empty, she could use another shot before she answered that one. She glanced over her shoulder to where the bottle sat on the kitchen counter—too far to walk. She sighed. “Intense.”
“I bet.” Emmy burped and then giggled. “He looks like the kind who would walk through walls to get at a woman.”
Pia’s cheeks filled with heat. “He is relentless.” She pursed her lips to keep from giggling, guessing it was probably time to stop drinking. She never giggled.
Darcy’s mouth turned up at the corners. “Well, well. I always knew he had it in him.”
Emmy leaned over the kitchen table and spread a generous daub of liverwurst on a cracker and popped it into her mouth. “Mmmm. Love organ meat. So’s Max…hung?” she asked, her hand covering her mouth.
Darcy tilted back her head and groaned. “She’s obsessed.”
“I’m not the only one,” Emmy snapped. “Lily carries a measuring tape.”
Pia intercepted Darcy’s swift headshake and a glare in Emmy’s direction, and alarm bells rang. That was the second time she’d heard that name. Wasn’t it? She shook her head—
, the room swirled. “Lily? There’s another woman in The Compound?”
“Oops,” Emmy said, eyes rounded with guilt.