Single White Vampire
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Marguerite was the only one at the table when Lucern returned and reclaimed his seat. A quick scan of the dance floor showed Kate and Greg were dancing. They looked awfully cozy. Kate was relaxed and smiling in Gregory Hewitt's armssomething she hadn't been in Lucern'sand they were moving in perfect sync, as if they'd been dancing together for years.
Gregory even looked pretty damned suave out there on the dance floor. Lucern had never thought of his brother-in-law as a ladies' man, but he certainly seemed to be doing a pretty good imitation right now. Logically, Lucern knew Greg loved Lissianna deeply and was no threat when it came to Kate. Besides which, Lucern reminded himself quickly, he himself wasn't even interested in a relationship with the woman. But his body didn't appear to be responding to his logic. Some primal part of him didn't give a hoot for logic. And as he watched Greg whirl Kate around the dance floor, Lucern could feel his muscles tensing and twitching. A low growl rumbled to life in his chest as he watched the pair dip and then recover.
"You should go cut in."
Lucern stiffened at his mother's words. He glanced her way and saw she was casting a pitying look upon him. He turned sharply, struggled briefly with himself, then jerked to his feet and strode onto the dance floor. If there was anything Lucern hated it was being pitied. Now he was mad.
Greg noticed his approach, took one look at his expression, nodded solemnly and quit the dance floor.
Kate turned in confusion when Greg suddenly released her and stepped away. She supposed she wasn't surprised to see Lucern there. However, she was surprised at his expression. His usually cold, grumpy exterior had been replaced by the intensity of a stalking animal. He looked hard and angry, but not cold. Anything but cold. His eyes were all silver with no blue. She now understood a description he had given of Claude in his first book: "Flinty eyes that spoke of the fires of hell and left his enemies quailing." She hadn't imagined that silver-blue eyes could look so ferocious, but there were vermilion fires burning there, almost seeming to snap out of his irises like the arc from a welder's flame.
Yet Kate wasn't afraid. For some reason a smile curved her lips, and she couldn't have stopped the words that popped out had she tried. "Smoking debbies didn't relax you, I take it?"
Lucern reacted as if he crashed into an invisible wall. His determined stride broke at once, and he stared at her with a blank expression that utterly erased the feral fever of moments before. Then he did the most amazing thing: Lucern Argeneau, that stubborn, stupid, ignorant man, actually let loose a gale of laughter. In truth, Kate hadn't thought such a thing possible. The man was such a
Her thoughts died as he swept her into his arms and they began to dance. He was still chuckling softly, the action making his chest reverberate against hers. He urged her closer. When Kate lifted her head to peer shyly into his face, he smiled and said, "You're an evil woman, Kate C. Leever."
She found herself smiling in return. She had thought the man handsome from the first, but now, with laughter sparkling in his eyes and tilting the corners of his mouth, he was so much more than simply handsome. He was breathtaking. Literally. Kate honestly had some difficulty breathing as she met his gaze. Heat was radiating from every point their bodies met. She wanted to lay her head on his shoulder and melt into him. She wanted to feel his hands move over her flesh. She wanted
To go home. Kate definitely wanted to go home. Or, really, she wanted to go anywhere that would take her far away from him. She didn't want to feel this way, she didn't want to want him. Hell, she didn't even like the man.
Well, all right, she admitted with painful honesty; she'd had fun playing Blood Lust Two with him, and he could be nice when he tried. She was sure. It wasn't as if he had tried yet. But surely everyone could be nice with a little effort? Yes, she assured herself. In fact, he was being nice to her right now. Sort of.
Kate sighed to herself. Dancing certainly felt nice. And when Lucern held her like this, she forgot how rude and pigheaded he could be. Butand it was a big butshe had absolutely no intention of getting involved with one of her writers. She was a businesswoman. A professional. And she would act professionally even if that's all it was, an act, and she really wanted to rip his designer suit off and plaster herself to his naked body.
Ohhhh. This wasn't good.
Lucern suddenly stopped dancing and announced, "I'm tired." When she didn't respond, he added, "Are you ready to leave?"
"Yes." She fired off the response like a bullet. She was more than happy to escape the possibility of suffering any more of this closeness.
Lucern apparently agreed. He immediately took her arm, led her off the floor and across the hall. He stopped only once, pausing briefly at the head table to tell his brother and new sister-in-law that they were leaving.
Kate spied Marguerite Argeneau frowning at them from her seat at the table they had shared, and she knew Lucern's mother wasn't pleased that they were leaving so early. She felt bad, but really it wasn't her problem. Marguerite was Lucern's problem. Kate's problem was maintaining a businesslike relationship while getting Lucern to do a publicity event. And she only had one more day to do it.
Lucern was silent on the way home, his thoughts a bit muddled. He wasn't certain what his intentions had been when he'd suggested leaving early, but
Oh, who was he kidding? He'd been thinking about getting Kate home alone and possibly naked. The woman had gotten under his skin, and his family had made him admit it. Bastien had given him a nudge with the comment about her behind, and with the knowing smile on his face when he'd asked if his noticing was a problem; then Lissianna had made it worse with her "poor Luc." Just the sight of Kate in Greg's arms had roused the beast inside. But the look of pity on his mother's face had been the worst. Lucern realized that he could try to fool himself, but he was fooling no one else. And hell, he wasn't even fooling himself.
He liked her. Despite the fact that she was a modern woman, pushy and aggressive when necessary, who simply did not know her place, he liked her. Despite the fact that she seemed to have no dragons to slay, except perhaps him and his lack of cooperation, he liked her. And, dear God, he wanted her.
Lucern was a healthy male of 612 years. The number of women he'd been with in that time Well, he couldn't even guess at the number. However, every single one had faded from his mind when he held Kate in his arms.
But she wasn't in his arms now; she was seated in the passenger seat, arms crossed defensively over her chest and staring blindly into the night as they drove. She was deliberately ignoring him, distancing herself. It helped to clear Luc's mind somewhat. Kate was his editor. He had to work with her. Sleeping with her would be a giant no-no. He felt inexpressibly weary as he pulled into his driveway.
Both he and Kate were silent as they got out of the car. She was the first to speak. She gazed up at the star-studded sky as they walked up the drive and murmured, "It's a beautiful night."
Lucern's steps faltered at her wistful tone. She sounded reluctant to see the night end, and he didn't want it to, either. Lucern knew he couldn't give in to his desire for her, but he was still loath to part from her.
"It is nice," he agreed. "Would you like to sit on the porch and have a glass of wine?"
He held his breath as she hesitated.
"Can we have coffee instead?" she asked. "I've had more than my usual quota of alcohol tonight."
Lucern let his breath out in a whoosh. "Certainly. Sit down and I'll"
"I'll help." She smiled for the first time since they'd left the reception. "No offense, but I don't think you've made a lot of coffee."
Lucern wasn't offended. He was just happy that the evening wasn't going to end and that Kate C. Leever was smiling.
They worked in a companionable silence in the kitchen, Kate making coffee while he found bowls and scooped out some ice cream. Then they took their treasure out to the porch.
Kate stared up at the stars in the sky. It was such a peaceful night, so beautiful, and she was actually enjoying Lucern's company. Yes, she was actually enjoying it. His usual grumpy, terse persona was missing. She didn't know if it was the alcohol or the debbies he had smoked at the wedding that had done it, but for the first time, he seemed very mellow in her presence. Oh, he had been pleasant the night before when they'd played the game together, but this was different. He'd been tense and ready to shoot the video-game bad guys then. Now he was incredibly relaxed and a pleasure to be with. They sat there for quite a while, drinking, eating their ice cream and chatting mildly about the wedding while avoiding looking at each other. At least Kate was avoiding looking at him. She had toevery time she gazed on the smile flirting on his lips, she wanted to kiss it.
You're a fool, Kate told herself. Her attraction to Lucern Argeneau was dangerous, and she shouldn't be encouraging it by suffering him being nice and even likeable. He was one of her writers. She was like a den mother to her authors. But her feelings for Lucern at the moment were far from maternal. And the longer this nice interlude went on, the harder it got for her to resist moving closer, touching him as she talked, leaning into him, kissing
Cutting off her thoughts right there, she straightened and sought something to distract herself, something to end this interlude. The easiest solution was the reason for her being there. Kate took a deep breath, then blurted, "Luc, I know you don't want to talk about this, but I really wish you would consider a book-signing tour."
The writer tensed at once, the softness in his features disappearing. "No. I quite simply don't do book-signing tours."
"I know you don't, Luc. But your books are so popular and"
"Then I hardly need to do a tour, do I?"
"But the readers want to meet you, they"
"No," he repeated firmly.
"Luc, please," Kate entreated, her voice husky.
Lucern stared at Kate silently, wishing with all his heart that what she was pleading for was something entirely different. Luc, please kiss me. Luc, please take me to your bed. Luc, please But that wasn't what she was asking for. This was business. A desire for him to promote his books and make more money for her company. She wanted him to disrupt his life, risk the day with its damaging sunlight, and do a book-signing tour. Lucern wished he'd never written those damn popular books.
Standing, he abruptly tossed the rest of his coffee on the lawn and headed for the door. "I have work to do. Good night."
"No, wait. Lucern!" She was on her feet and after him at once. "We have to discuss this. I've been here three days and I haven't gotten a thing done."
Lucern ignored her. He merely stepped inside and started upstairs.
"Luc, please! None of the writers like book-signings, but they are so good for publicity, and readers want the contact. They want to meet the writer behind the stories they enjoy so much. Just a short tour would do," she wheedled when he made no response. "Half a dozen stops, maybe. I could go with you to be sure everything was just the way you wanted. If you would only"
Lucern reached his office door. He stepped inside and closed it behind him with a bang that was only slightly louder than the click of the lock.
Kate stared at the door. Slammed doors seemed to be a recurring theme in their relationship. She was beginning to hate doors.
Shoulders slumping, she leaned against the door and closed her eyes. She was a very positive person as a rule, and had always thought that a person could do anything they set their mind to if they worked at it hard enough, but that was before she'd met the immovable object: Lucern. The man was as stubborn as well, as she was. Maybe more.
Kate considered giving up, packing her bags and heading back to New York with her tail between her legs, but it wasn't in her nature. She hated to be such a pest and wished she could just leave him to his peaceful existence, but in the company's opinion it wasn't unreasonable for them to expect Lucern Argeneau to do some promotion. They put out big bucks to advertise his books; the least he could do was put in a little effort himself. And she mostly agreed with that. She just had to convince him. Hell, at this point she'd consider it a grand victory just to get him to agree to a couple of interviews over the phone.
Kate straightened slowly. It might work. She'd been concentrating on the book-signing tour, but perhaps she would have more luck with interviews.
"Luc?" she called out. Silence was her answer, but Kate wasn't deterred. "Look, I know you don't want to do the book-signing tour, and that's fine. But, please, at least consider doing a couple of interviews?"
She waited in the silence, then added, "Just think about it. Okay?"
Deciding to leave it for the night, Kate turned to the guest room door. She had to think of an argument, some plan to persuade him. Then she'd tackle him again in the morning.
Lucern knew when Kate gave up and walked away. He felt her absence as well as heard the opening and closing of the guest room door. He sat for a long time at his desk listening to her moving around getting ready for bed, then to the sounds of the night when she stopped.
He considered playing Blood Lust II, but it wasn't the same without her. He considered writing but wasn't in the mood. So he sat there in the silent darkness, listening to the night. The cry of night birds, the song of crickets, the whisper of the wind, the sighs of Kate, he realized. That sleepy breathy sound had been Kate. Lucern could just hear it if he strained. He could smell her, too. The scent seemed to hang about him. Recalling her leaning against him as they danced, he ducked his head and sniffed his jacket. The scent was strong there. Disturbing.
Standing, Lucern shrugged off the jacket and slung it over the back of his chair, but the smell still seemed to cling to him. Or perhaps it was simply in the air, perhaps permeating his home just as she had. Giving up on trying to rid himself of her scent, he moved to unlock the door of his office and open it; then he stood there and closed his eyes. If he concentrated hard, the other night sounds faded and he was able to focus on the sound of herthe rustle of bedclothes as she shifted, soft little sighs as she dreamt, an occasional murmur, but mostly her breathing, soft and soothing, in, out, over and over again.
He could almost feel her breath against his skin, a warm, moist exhalation. Then he realized he was feeling it, soft and warm against his hand. He was standing next to the bed, his legs having carried him where his body longed to beand all without his brain's awareness.
Lucern stared down at her through the moonlit gloom, smiling at the childlike way she slept. Kate was curled into a fetal position on her side, her hand tucked under her chin. Then his gaze drifted away from her face and down over her body. It was a warm night, and the air-conditioning didn't seem to reach the upstairs rooms as well as the lower ones. Kate had kicked off the sheets and lay in a thin white cotton nightie that had twisted up around her thighs. His gaze skimmed her slender limbs in their bent position. Kate had lovely legs, long and shapely. Luc managed to resist the temptation to run his fingers lightly over the pearly white skin revealed, but imagined what it must be like and knew it would be warm and soft to the touch.
A feathery sigh slipped from Kate's lips and she rolled onto her back in her sleep, one hand sliding slowly across her breasts before dropping to lie on the bed. Lucern followed the movement of the hand, then returned his eyes along the trail her hand had taken to settle at the neckline of her gown. The gown had buttons leading down to her waist. The top two were undone, and the third appeared ready to slip its hole, leaving a large expanse bare to view. Luc's gaze fastened on the milky tops of her breasts, and he watched them rise and fall with each breath. Rise and fall. He imagined freeing that third button to reveal more skin, then another and another, at last baring her breasts fully.
Lucern imagined how round and full they would appear in the moonlight. How luscious. He knew he wouldn't be able to resist touching them, caressing them, taking one hardening nipple into his mouth and suckling at its sweetness.
Kate arched in the bed and moaned low in her throat. Lucern almost moaned with her. Her perfume was stronger in here; it mixed with the smells of her shampoo and soap and essence. The combination was heady. He could taste it on his lips. Except for the lack of touch, he could imagine he really was: suckling, licking, nibbling a path across her skin from one breast to the other.
Lucern closed his eyes to imagine it better and could almost feel her warm skin beneath his lips. In his mind, he let his hands skim down her gown, slip beneath, then feather up the outsides of her thighs. He could feel her shudder under his touch, shift her legs restlessly as another moan sighed from her lips. Kate arched in invitation, wanting him, toobegging him to fill her and make her whole, to quench the fire he'd started.
Lucern was happy to oblige. He allowed his imaginary hands to drift over the tops of her legs, to push the flimsy cloth of her gown upward, then spread her soft thighs so that he could lick the vein there. He imagined touching her, caressing her, licking her glistening skin, then driving himself into her hot, welcoming body. He could almost feel her close around him, gasping and whimpering in his ear, her breath soft on his skin, her nails scoring his shoulders and back.
Kate would moan with pleasure as he drove into her over and over until she began to shake and shudder beneath him, her inner muscles clenching and unclenching.
His name on her lips drew his eyes open, and he peered down to find Kate's sleeping face a portrait of ecstasy. She was panting, sweating and writhing on the sheets, her hands on either side of her head and tearing at the pillow as she convulsed with ecstasy. It was only then Lucern realized that while her mind was closed to him when she was awake, it was as wide open as anyone else's in rest. She'd just experienced everything he'd imagined, received it from his mind as if it were happening.
The knowledge was almost painful. He could have her if he wished. She would welcome him. Luc was breathing heavily with want, throbbing with desire, aching to drive himself into her. At the same moment, he yearned to fasten his teeth to her neck, consume her blood and body both at once. He knew it would be the most incredible experience of his life. But he couldn't. If he took her now, Kate would welcome it only because he wanted her to want him.
Shaking his head to erase the erotic images there, Lucern stumbled back from the bed, then out of her room. He didn't stop, but staggered drunkenly down the hall to the stairs. His head was full of her. He had to get away. The desire to take her was overwhelming.
He slammed out of the house and to his car. He had no plans when he started the engine, simply needed to get away from Kate and the temptation she presented. He ended up driving around for an hour or so before finally finding himself in Bastien's driveway. His brother's house was dark and silent, and he could sense that it was empty. He was about to back out of the driveway when Bastien's van pulled in beside him.
Lucern got out with relief, met his brother at the front of the vehicles and blurted out his troubles with Kate. It took a long while. He told his younger brother everything.
When he had finished, Bastien merely asked, "What will you do?"
Lucern was silent for a moment. Talking hadn't helped him clear his mind. He was still confused. He disliked confusion. He disliked any sort of disruption in his life. The answer seemed simple: Get rid of the confusion.
"I'm going to do whatever it takes to get her on a plane tomorrow," he decided.
There. Talking to his brother had helped.
Kate yawned and stretched in bed, a smile playing about her lips. She hadn't slept so well in ages. And she hadn't ever woken up feeling so great. She was so relaxed, so sated. Blinking in surprise, she realized it was trueshe felt sated. Her body was a happy body, all warm and ready to do whatever she wanted.
Getting up, she got into the shower. It wasn't until she was humming and washing herself, running soap over her body, that she recalled the dream. Her hands slowed, her eyes dilating as the memories crowded in: Lucern caressing her, suckling her breasts, thrusting his body into hers.
A tingling drew her gaze down to her breasts, and she let her hands drop with embarrassment as she realized she'd unconsciously been caressing them. Her nipples were hard and erect. Even worse, she could feel the wetness building between her legs, and it had nothing to do with the shower at her back. Turning into the spray, she braced her hands on the shower wall beneath the nozzle head and allowed the water to pour across her body. But the dream didn't fade awayit was the most vivid she could ever recall having.
For one minute, Kate was afraid that it hadn't been a dream, that it had really happened and just seemed like a dream because she had been sleepy. But then she shook her head at the silly thought. If it had really happened, she would have wanted kisses, and he hadn't kissed her once. Kate would have grabbed him by a handful of hair and dragged his mouth to hers if necessary, but she would have had kisses. She liked kisses.
No, it hadn't happened, she thought, giggling as relief poured through her. It had just been an amazingly sexy dream. A wet dream.
Laughing at herself, Kate finished her shower and stepped out to dry herself. Dream or not, she felt great. She was also feeling rather benevolent toward her host for the pleasure of the dream. It didn't matter that he'd had nothing to do with it; he'd been the star of the dream, and in that dream he had given her great pleasure. Yep. He was a swell guy.
Smiling widely, Kate dressed, brushed her hair, then left her room and jogged downstairs to the kitchen. She was going to make Lucern some breakfast. A big breakfast. And she was going to sweetly tell him she'd given up on trying to get him to do the book-signing tour. Maybe then he'd be so relieved, he'd agree to do an interview or two.
She made the works: steak so rare it was still bleeding, eggs over easy, hash browns, toast and coffee. Then she was in a quandary. What to do? There was no sign of Lucern yet, but everything was ready. Should she go knock on his bedroom door and risk making him grumpy? That would hardly aid her cause. Should she carry the breakfast up on a tray and give it to him in bed? That didn't seem like a good idea. After the dream she'd had last night, she thought it might be best to stay far away from Lucern and bedsotherwise she might jump the poor man in the hope that the real thing would be as good.
Sighing, Kate considered the table she had set, then glanced at the oven where she'd placed everything to keep it warm. The things would be all right there for a little bit, but not long. She decided she would just clean the mess she'd made in his kitchen, and if he wasn't up by the time she finished, she'd risk his temper to wake him up.
Spying a radio on the kitchen counter, she turned it on and set to work, boogying around the kitchen to a classic rock station.
It was a screechy death shriek from an animal that woke Lucern. At least, that was what he thought. He sat up abruptly as the sound brought him awake, then paused to listen to the noises in his home.
Someone was banging around in the kitchen, and he could hear the tinny sound of music playing somewhere downstairs. But the shriek that had awakened him hadn't been either of these. Had it been Kate crying out in pain? he wondered, feeling himself tense. Was she being attacked by some madman who was even now destroying his kitchen?
Lucern's eyes dilated in horror as the screechy voice sounded again, dragging along his nerves like nails on a chalkboard. Dear God, it was Kate attempting to sing.
He fell back with a grunt of disgust, exhaustion overwhelming him. He hadn't got to sleep until dawn. He was not ready to wake up yet.
"Roxanne!" the screech persisted.
It seemed Kate was ready for him to wake up, however.
Muttering under his breath, Lucern rose and stumbled into the shower. There he attempted to wake himself up and wash his bad mood away. He kept telling himself that he was getting rid of her today; he could sleep after that. It didn't help much. He was feeling incredibly grumpy as he staggered downstairs.
Kate heard Lucern on the steps and stopped singing. Whirling toward the stove, she grabbed pot holders, whipped the door open and quickly began retrieving breakfast. She was just setting the plate of hash browns on the table when he came into the kitchen.
"Good morning!" she sang cheerfully.
Lucern winced and groaned; then his gaze settled on the table, and some of the grouchiness left his expression, replaced by surprise. "Did you make all this?"
"Yes," Kate breathed. She gave a sigh of relief. He wasn't going to be too terribly difficult about her waking him up. Just a little difficult. "Sit down and eat before it gets cold."
He sat and surveyed the offerings, then finally dug in. Kate poured coffee for them both, then joined him to eat. She allowed Lucern to eat in peace, deciding that she would broach the subject of doing an interview after he was full and happy.
Much to her surprise, however, she didn't end up having to.
When Lucern had finished his meal and pushed his plate away, Kate stood and grabbed the coffee pot to refill both their cups. She was working out what she would say as she set the pot back when Lucern suddenly said: "One event."
Kate turned back to the table in confusion. "One event?"
Lucern nodded. "If it's the only way to get rid of you, Kate C. Leever, I'll agree to one publicity thing."
"Really?" She tried to still the hope that leapt inside her. She waited for the catch.
"Yes. But this is the deal. I do the one event. One only. After that you have to let me alone."
"Okay," she agreed.
Lucern eyed her suspiciously. "You won't call and harass me anymore? No express letters? No camping on my doorstep?"
"No. I promise," Kate said solemnly.
"Very well." He sighed. "One eventpreferably the R.T. thing my mother mentioned."
Kate's eyes nearly popped out of her head. "The R.T. thing?"
"Yes. Would my doing that keep your bosses happy?"
"Oh, yes," Kate breathed, hardly able to believe her luck. She'd mentioned the conference to Marguerite at the wedding, and admitted that she wished she could convince Lucern to attend, but she'd never guessed he would agree. It seemed the woman had taken up the cause. Kate decided she loved Marguerite Argeneau. Marguerite was a wonderful woman.
"Good. Then arrange it. I'll do the R.T. interview. Now, when are you going to leave me in peace?"
Kate glanced at the kitchen clock. It was almost noon. She had called earlier and found out there was a one-o'clock flight, a three-o'clock and a five-o'clock. She had thought she would have to take one of the later flights, and she still could if she wanted to spend more time with him. But then his words clicked. "Good. Then I'll do the R. T. interview." R.T. hadn't asked to do an interview yet. The only R.T. event was the conference. Had Lucern's mother led him astray? Deliberately?
"Er Luc, what exactly did your mother say about the R.T. thing?"
Her author shrugged. "She said, 'I suggest you tell her you'll do R.T.' She thought it was probably the best option for both of us."
"And that's all she said?" Kate asked carefully.
Lucern nodded, then added, "Oh, and she said it was a magazine."
Kate had to consider this. Marguerite had led her son astray all right, and the only reason she could imagine the other woman would do that was to try to help her. Kate felt a twinge of guilt.
A moment later, she let it go. Marguerite wouldn't do anything to harm her son. She must think he would go, too. And that it would be good for him. Kate wasn't going to get into the middle of it. He'd said he would do the R.T. "thing"; she would leave it at that.
She would also get the heck out of there before he realized it was a conference, not an interview, and tried to back out.
"Oh! I didn't realize it was so late," she gasped, peering at her wristwatch with feigned surprised. Then she smiled at Lucern sweetly. "You asked when I was going to leave you in peace. Well, there's a one-o'clock flight that I can just make if I hurry!"
And with that, she whirled and rushed out of the kitchen.
Lucern gaped at the swinging kitchen door. He'd wanted her gone, but her eagerness to comply was a bit disconcerting. He tilted his head and scowled at the ceiling as banging and bumping erupted upstairs. She was obviously rushing about like a crazywoman up there. It seemed she couldn't get out of his home fast enough. It also seemed she was mostly packed, because it wasn't long before he heard her rush along the hall overhead.
He stepped into the hall in time to see her rush down the stairs. A car honked out front at the same moment her foot landed on the ground floor.
"Oh!" Kate turned toward the kitchen, then paused. She smiled in relief when she saw him. "There you are! Good! My taxi's here and I didn't want to leave without saying goodbye."
"Taxi?" Lucern echoed with disbelief.
"Yes. I called from my room while packing. Boy, they're fast here, huh?"
When Lucern simply stared at her blankly, Kate hesitated. Finally, hefting her suitcase she said, "Well. Thanks for everything. I know I was an unwanted guest, but you were pretty good about it, all things considered. And I appreciateoh, damn!" she muttered as the cab honked again.
"Wait!" Lucern called as his editor turned and opened the front door. She hesitated, waving at the cab to let the driver know she was coming, then turned back. Lucern didn't really have anything to say; he was just reluctant to see her go. After searching his mind for somethinganythingabout which to speak, he finally came up with, "What about the interview? When will you arrange it? And you should have my phone number so that you can call and let me know when it is. And my e-mail address, too," he added as the thoughts struck him.
"Um" She winced, then admitted, "Your mother gave me both your number and e-mail address."
"She did?" He was startled, though he knew he shouldn't be. Not with his busybody mother.
"Yes." Kate sidled a little further out the door, a fascinating expression on her face. She looked torn, as if she knew she had to tell him something but didn't really want to. Lucern's fascination deepened when she took another crablike step sideways before blurting, "R.T. doesn't want an interview."
"No, they don't. The R.T. thing your mother was talking about is a conference." A look of pain crossed her face; then, while Lucern was trying to absorb that, she added, "But don't worry. You won't regret this. I'll be there with you and will look out for you the whole time." She was still sidling and had almost made it out the door as she added on a babble, "I'll send you all the information and the tickets and pick you up from the airport and everything. So don't worry!"
The taxi chose that moment to give another impatient honk.
"Gotta go!" Kate cried, and pulled the door closed with a slam. The sound echoed through the house, followed by the tap-tap of her rush down the porch steps. Then silence fell.
Lucern was transfixed. It was as if he had been poleaxed. Conference? His mother hadn't said anything about a conference. She'd said Romantic Times was a magazine. A book club. Someone who would want an interview. Kate must be confused. Dear God, she'd better be confused.
He hurried to the door and stared through the shaded glass just as the taxi pulled away. Lucern watched it.
He stood for a moment, Kate's words playing through his head; then he turned and started up the stairs. R. T. She must be confused. He would look up Romantic Times magazine on the Internet just to make sure she was confused.
Barely three minutes later, Lucern's roar echoed through the house.