The Accidental Vampire
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Elvi heard the muttered question from Victor. She even felt his breath brush against her lobe as he asked, but she didn't stop clutching him and lean back to answer. She stayed where she was, plastered against his chest, head burrowed near his neck, face turned toward the driver's side of the front seat as she stared with a horrified fascination at the car's speedometer.
Glancing sideways, Alessandro caught her eye and beamed. "I drive fast, no?"
Elvi heard what might have been a whimper issue from her lips and returned her eyes to the control panel. The man didn't drive fast, he drove at light speed. She could see the speedometer from where she sat hunched on Victor's lap in the front passenger seat. It was in miles per hour, not the kilometers she was used to. The speedometer went as high as 155 mph and could actually go that fast. She knew this because this was what Alessandro was doing. She'd never before seen telephone poles go by so fast they became a blur.
Elvi turned her face into Victor's shoulder, her hands clutching a little more frantically as they hit a curve in the road and Alessandro took it without slowing. With her mouth pressed into Victor's shoulder, she could now see the two men crammed into the backseat. The car had a backseat of sorts, obviously not intended and certainly not by two such large men. Edward and Harper didn't look very comfortable back there, but Harper did manage a weak smile as he grabbed for anything he could get his hands on to keep from being thrown into Edward's lap by the centrifugal force.
As for Edward, he sat, expression grim, furious eyes burning holes into the back of Alessandro's head.
A flashing light drew her attention to the back window, and Elvi's eyes widened in alarm. "Police!"
She glanced toward Alessandro to see him glancing with unconcern in the rearview mirror. He eased up on the gas, allowing the car to slow and the police car to catch up, then smiled her way.
"No worry. I handle him quick," he assured her, then turned his attention back to the rearview mirror, his gaze becoming concentrated.
Confusion clouding her mind, Elvi glanced back to the road in time to see the police lights suddenly go out and the car turn and head back the way it had come. Alessandro immediately sped up again.
"What did you do?" she asked, turning on him with amazement.
"I just put suggestion in his head, he maybe wanna go find doughnuts," Alessandro said with a shrug. "Police, they like doughnuts here, no?"
"You-!" Elvi began with dismay, but the berating she would have given him for controlling a member of the police department died in her throat, replaced by a whimper as they hit another curve and she was thrown backward. She would have slammed into the passenger door if Victor hadn't caught her and pulled her swiftly back to his chest.
"Just hang on," he murmured by her ear. "The ride will be over soon."
Elvi swallowed the reprimand she'd wanted to give Alessandro and held on. She inhaled a shaky breath and closed her eyes, then opened them and inhaled again, eyes widening slightly at Victor's tantalizing scent. She didn't know what it was, but it was spicy and really delightful and she found herself pressing closer and inhaling again. It was Harper's raised eyebrows right behind her that made her realize what she was doing and that it had been witnessed.
Flushing, Elvi forced herself to sit up a little, only to be thrown against Victor's chest, then slide down his lap to land tangled in his legs as Alessandro suddenly swerved off the road and slammed on the breaks.
"We are here, no?" the Italian asked, peering down at her cheerfully.
Elvi stared up at him with disbelief, then grasped the dashboard with one hand and Victor's knee with the other and managed to drag herself back up to peer around, relieved to see the big yellow furniture store sign.
"Yes," she breathed, grateful the ride from hell was over.
Victor opened the door, grasped her by the waist, and lifted her out, handing her to Harper who had hopped out of the back and was waiting to help.
The second vampire set her on her feet beside the car and then held her long enough to be sure she had her feet beneath her before letting go and stepping away as Victor unfolded himself from the car to join them. Elvi muttered a "thank you" to both men, then turned and scurried for the store, doing her best to forget that she had to get back into that vehicle later.
Thanks to Alessandro's speeding, they slid through the doors just as the manager approached, no doubt intending to close shop. Elvi offered him an apologetic glance.
"We'll be quick," she promised, making a beeline for the beds. The men followed in her wake.
"Is there something I can help you with?" the manager asked, hustling to catch up to her.
Elvi was about to answer when she felt a hand on her arm and glanced to Victor with surprise at the proprietary move.
"We need a bed," he announced.
"Yes, of course," the manager said. She supposed that was obvious, since they had hurried through the whole store to the beds at the back. "We have some lovely beds. What size are you interested in?"
"King," Elvi answered promptly. She could hardly wait to sprawl on one of those huge surfaces again, unrestrained by side panels or a lid, surrounded only by a big soft comforter and luxurious pillows... God, her toes tingled at the very idea.
"This is a popular model," the manager said, pointing at the first of the beds.
Elvi stared, taking in the sheer size. To her it was like an ocean of bed after five years in her cramped coffin.
"Try it," Alessandro suggested. "You must to try before you buy."
"He's right," the manager offered when Elvi hesitated.
Nodding, she handed her purse to Victor, paused to take a breath, and threw herself on the bed. If the men hadn't been standing their watching, she would have rolled and flopped about in her excitement. She could throw out her coffin. She could sleep in an ocean of sheets... ohhhhh. Silk, she thought, imagining sliding around in a silk sea... or satin.
Blinking her eyes open, she found herself staring at five men all watching her expectantly.
"It's all right," Elvi murmured, forcing herself to get up and straighten her clothes. "I'll take it."
"Don't you think you should try the others as well?" Victor suggested mildly, killing the glee on the manager's face before it had fully formed.
"Yes, definitely you must try them all," Harper said.
"Yes," the manager said on a regretful sigh. "It's better to try at least a couple before picking one."
Elvi turned to peer over the number of beds, her eyes wide.
"We will help," Victor assured her.
"How is that bed?" Harper asked several moments later. "This one seems comfortable."
Elvi sat up on the bed she was presently trying out and which seemed ridiculously hard to her, and glanced over to where Harper sat, bouncing lightly on another model.
"Perhaps I can save you some trouble," the manager said, wincing as Alessandro dove onto yet another bed.
"Do you and your wife prefer a hard or soft bed, sir?"
Elvi glanced over with surprise when he addressed Victor with the question. She had no idea why he would assume they were a couple. Unless it was because she and Victor seemed to keep gravitating toward the same beds, each laying down on opposite sides, Elvi taking the right and Victor the left.
Sitting up beside her on the bed, Victor didn't correct the man's misconception; he merely turned a raised eyebrow her way.
"Soft," she said decisively and stood to move to the bed Harper was now lying on. Elvi sat on the side opposite him, swung her feet up and lay down.
"This is better than the last one," she announced, then added, "I'm not sure though. I might want something softer."
"Let me see." Victor patted her leg to urge her over.
Elvi shifted closer to the center of the bed, making room for him. She watched him lie down, and then turned to peer up at the ceiling overhead; contemplating if this was as comfortable as the bed she'd given up five years ago. In her memories, it had been like lying on a cloud.
"It might be too firm," Victor said.
"We do have softer beds," the manager announced. "The ones you've been trying are at the firmer end of the scale."
"Show us." Elvi skated to the end of the bed on her bottom to get up. She was extremely grateful that she'd thrown on jeans this morning. One of her ridiculous gowns would have been impossible to maneuver in.
"Here we are," the manager announced, leading them to a bed set off by itself. "This is the best bed we sell. There's no turning necessary and it has a twenty-year warranty."
Elvi climbed on and settled on her back almost in the middle of the bed.
"Oh," she sighed as the bed embraced her. "This is lovely."
Victor and Harper immediately moved up on either side to try it as well, but this time Alessandro also got in, crawling up the middle to squeeze himself between her and Harper.
"'Oh yes," Harper murmured.
"Si," Alessandro sighed. "This is nice. I will get one too. Do you ship to Toronto?"
"Yes, we do," the manager said cheerfully, then cautioned. "However, you should really try it in whatever position you normally sleep in. If you prefer to sleep on your side, for instance, it's good to try it that way. How do you normally sleep?"
Elvi grimaced. "I used to sleep on my right side in a bed, but for the last five years I've been stuck in the coff-"
"Everyone roll to your right," Victor barked, cutting her off before she could mention her casket, and she recalled that they weren't in Port Henry where everyone knew what she was. The man would think she was nuts if she started yipping about coffins and vampires.
Grimacing, Elvi rolled to her right even as the men did, and settled down on the bed with her arm under her head in place of a pillow, her eyes on the back of Alessandro's head.
"You know, this reminds me of a movie I once saw."
Edward murmured, peering down at them thoughtfully. He stood on one side of the bed, the manager on the other.
"What movie is that?" Elvi asked curiously.
"I can't recall the title, but it was x-rated."
Elvi blinked, and then flushed as she realized that she was rolling around in a bed with three men. Brilliant. Flushing, she sat up and scooted off the bed.
"She'll take this one," Victor said as he too got to his feet. He cast a scowl Edward's way once upright.
"Yes, I will." Elvi began to dig in her purse for her wallet.
"Wonderful!" The manager turned to lead the way toward the service counter where a lone woman sat waiting impatiently for them to either buy something or leave.
"Will you be taking it with you or do you need it delivered?" He asked, grabbing an invoice off the counter and beginning to write on it.
"Delivered," Elvi said at once and handed over her credit card. There was no way they were transporting it with Alessandro's little car. Unfortunately, she'd have to sleep in the coffin one more night.
"I'll need your address."
Elvi rattled off her address, her gaze slipping over her shoulder and back toward the bed. It was a beautiful bed and so comfortable... She couldn't wait to sleep in it.
"Port Henry?" the manager murmured as he handed back her credit card. "Let's see. We deliver there on Wednesdays. How's this Wednesday?"
Elvi's head whipped back with horror.
"Wednesday?" she squawked. It was a ridiculously expensive bed and for the price she was paying, Elvi had hoped to at least be able to get it the next day. She feared her voice was desperately whiney as she asked, "Can't they deliver it tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow is Sunday," he pointed out, and then added with a frown, "we don't deliver on Sunday. And we only deliver to Port Henry on Wednesdays."
Elvi stared at him nonplussed. She couldn't believe she was going to have to wait until Wednesday to sleep in a bed. She couldn't wait until Wednesday. She'd spent five years in a coffin when she needn't have. One more night, she might be able to handle. But four was asking too much.
"You'll deliver the bed tomorrow," Victor said calmly.
Elvi glanced at him in surprise, but her gaze shot back to the manager as he said, "We'll deliver the bed tomorrow."
"No," she said sharply as she realized that Victor had to be somehow controlling the man just as Alessandro had controlled the police officer and made him stop pursuing them. There was no way the sales manager had changed his tune so quickly without some incentive unless Victor had somehow made him. The fact that the woman behind the counter was gaping at the man as if he'd suddenly sprouted another head, also seemed to suggest this wasn't normal. And as badly as she wanted the bed delivered tomorrow, Elvi wasn't willing to get it this way.
Catching at Victor's arm, she hissed, "No, Victor."
"You need a bed," he said simply.
"Here you are, all set."
Elvi glanced around to see the manager holding out her copy of the invoice. "It will be there tomorrow afternoon if I have to deliver it myself. Thank you for shopping here."
"Thank you." Victor took the receipt Elvi refused to accept.
"Victor," she said grimly, but he simply turned her toward the exit.
"You can't do this," Elvi protested as he urged her out of the building.
"Relax," he murmured, steering her toward the car. "You paid for the bed and delivery."
"That's not the point," Elvi snapped, coming to a halt on the parking lot pavement and turning on him. Spotting the other men watching with fascination, she paused, and then glanced around before grabbing Victor's arm and urging him away and around the building out of sight.
Elvi made it a practice never to argue with, or berate, someone in front of others. To her mind it was embarrassing and no matter how angry she got, there was no reason to humiliate someone that way.
Pausing on the grass between the building on one side and the trees on the other, Elvi turned to face him, took a breath for patience and sought her mind for an argument to make him see what he was doing was wrong.
"It's wrong," she blurted finally.
Heaving a deep sigh, Victor shifted his stance and crossed his arms as if his patience was being tested here rather than hers.
"What's wrong about it exactly?" he asked. "You bought a bed, you paid for it, you paid for delivery and are getting delivery when you want. It's not like you got the bed for free or anything."
"Yes, but they don't deliver on Sundays."
"'Apparently now they do," Victor said mildly.
"No they don't," Elvi said shortly. "You-you influenced him."
He cocked one eyebrow. "Influenced him?"
Elvi made an impatient gesture. "I don't know what it is exactly you people do, but you did something, because they don't deliver on Sundays and only deliver to Port Henry on Wednesdays."
"Elvi, do you really want to wait until Wednesday for the bed?"
She scowled. "Of course not, but that's not the point."
"What is the point, then?" he asked growing impatient.
"You made him do something he didn't want to do," she said.
"How do you know? Maybe he really wanted to deliver it for you tomorrow. Besides, what does it matter? No one is hurt by this."
"How do you know?" Elvi shot back. "Maybe whoever he forces to deliver it tomorrow had something else he had to do and can't do now. Maybe it's his daughter's birthday and now he's going to miss it, and his wife will be upset, and it will all end in divorce. Or maybe someone he loves is in hospital and he would have visited them, but won't be able to and the person dies and he missed out on seeing that person one last time."
"Dear God," Victor muttered and shook his head with disbelief. "You think way too much."
Elvi ground her teeth together and said, "So where does it end?"
Confusion crossed over his face. "Where does what end?"
"Are you controlling me too?" she asked.
"Of course not," he waved the idea away as ridiculous.
"No? How do I know?"
"I wouldn't do that," Victor assured her firmly.
"Really? Why not? You controlled him."
"He is mortal."
Elvi stiffened. "Until five years ago I too was mortal," she pointed out coldly, and then glared. "You know what you are? You're a .. a... mortalist."
"A mortalist?" Victor echoed. "What the hell is that?"
"It's like a racist only-" Elvi's explanation died in her throat as something suddenly pierced the air in front of her face. Blinking, she stared at the feathered shaft trembling between them, and then followed it to the tip that was buried in the sign on the side of the building beside them.
"What-argh!" Elvi ended with surprise as Victor suddenly pushed her to the ground, coming down on top of her.
Covering her with his own body, he raised his head and peered around, eyes narrowed as he tried to spot the source of the arrow that had just missed them.
"Er... Victor?" Elvi pushed at his shoulder ineffectually. Finally, she gasped, "I can't breathe!"
Victor lifted himself slightly and peered down at her with concern. "Are you all right?"
"Of course. A little bruised from being thrown to the ground and jumped on maybe, but otherwise fine," Elvi said dryly. "Can we get up now?"
"No." He glanced around again.
"Why not?" she asked with real bewilderment and he turned his face to stare at her with disbelief.
"Why not? Has it escaped your attention that someone just shot an arrow at you?"
"Me?" Elvi snorted with disbelief and rolled to the side, knocking his arm out from under him and leaving him collapsing to the ground as she stood and brushed herself down. "If they were shooting at anyone, it would be you. You're the one not from around here. I've lived in this area my whole life without a problem," she pointed out, and then added, "but no one's shooting at us. Why should they? We're immortal and can't die."
Giving up on her clothes, she straightened and eyed him where he was just sitting up on the ground. Hands propped on her hips, Elvi asked, "Didn't you see the business sign next door as we drove past? It's the archery club. Obviously, someone isn't a very good aim."
Shaking her head, she turned and started back around the building.
Victor watched her go, then stood and moved to the trees lining this side of the furniture store. Peering cautiously through the branches, he eyed the lot next door. Sure enough it was an archery club, there were huge targets lined up along the back of the property. His gaze slid over the area, but there was no one there now. He presumed whoever had shot the arrow had gone back in the building.
His gaze returned to the targets, and then he turned to peer at the arrow still sticking out of the bottom corner of the large sign on the side of the furniture store. Victor shook his head. Elvi was wrong. This hadn't been an accident. The bull's-eyes were at the back of the archery property, not along the side behind the trees. Someone had shot an arrow at them.
As for Elvi's argument that they were immortal and couldn't die, it reminded him that he still had some things to explain to her, including their laws and the fact that they weren't completely immortal.
His gaze slid over the lot next door once more, just to be sure no one was there and he wouldn't get an arrow in the back as he left, then he turned to follow the path Elvi had taken, his mind taken up with two questions. Who had shot at them? And which of them was being shot at?
Elvi turned her gaze away from the fire the men had built on returning home from buying her bed and scowled at Victor. Not that he seemed to notice. He'd been distracted since leaving the furniture store, and hadn't seemed to take note of even one of the dirty looks she'd sent his way. That just irritated her more. He should notice she was annoyed with him and care about it, dammit!
The sound of a car engine drew her attention to the driveway in time to see Mabel park behind Alessandro's sports car. As she watched, her friend threw the car door open, leapt out, and slammed the door closed with more force than was absolutely necessary.
Elvi pursed her lips. Judging by the way Mabel stomped up the sidewalk to the deck and then into the house without even a glance in their direction, she may not be the only one annoyed with a member of the male sex tonight.
The slamming of a second car door drew her attention back to the car as DJ rushed up the sidewalk. However, when he went to follow Mabel inside, it appeared the door was locked.
He jerked at it twice, cursed, then stomped down to throw himself into one of the two empty seats by the fire with a muttered, "Women!"
"What did you do to her?" Harper asked with amusement.
"I was nice," DJ said with disgust.
Elvi bit her lip at this explanation, for some reason believing it. After a moment, she cleared her throat, and asked, "She locked the door?"
DJ didn't even glance her way as he nodded.
"I'll go unlock it," she murmured. Getting to her feet, Elvi headed for the deck. It seemed to her that the men could use a few moments alone to jolly DJ out of his morose mood.
They continued to speak in quiet tones as she crossed to the stairs leading to the sunroom. Elvi entered the house there, passing through her bedroom and out into the hall just in time to see Mabel headed for her own room.
"Mabel?" she asked, moving up the hall toward her. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," the gray-haired woman said with forced cheer. "Why would you ask?"
Elvi raised her eyebrows, and then said carefully, "It's just that you seemed a bit upset when you got home."
"Oh. No." Mabel gave a forced laugh as she moved into her room, leaving the door open for Elvi to follow if she wished. "What would give you that idea?"
"Oh, I don't know," she said dryly, trailing her into the room. "Maybe the way you stomped into the house without even a hello to the rest of us by the fire, then locked the door behind you so DJ couldn't enter." When Mabel's only answer was to mutter something unintelligible under her breath, Elvi said, "I thought maybe DJ had done something to upset you?"
Mabel turned with a huff. "Don't even mention the name to me. That man is the most annoying, irritating, exasperating... man." She said the word as if it were synonymous with poop, and then went on, "He shouldn't even be here! He wasn't invited."
"No," Elvi agreed carefully. "But-"
"Do you know he followed me around all day? I couldn't move for tripping over him."
"I think he likes you," Elvi blurted.
"Oh, please! Elvi, look at me." Mabel held her hands out to the side. "I'm an old woman. He's a strapping young man. He is not interested me."
"He isn't as young as you think," Elvi assured her, but Mabel wasn't listening, she was moving into the connecting bathroom.
Elvi followed, watching her bend to close the stopper on the tub, then pour bubble bath in and turn on the water.
Straightening then, Mabel wheeled and continued her rant, "That boy's forever reaching up to grab this for me or hurrying to lift that for me like I'm some useless old woman," she said with disgust, then cried unhappily, "And why does he wear such tight jeans?"
Elvi blinked at the question, wondering if the problem wasn't DJ being attracted to her, but that Mabel was attracted back and distressed by it.
"I told you, I think he likes you," Elvi repeated.
"Stop saying that!" Mabel snapped, spinning on her angrily. "I'm-"
"A beautiful woman," Elvi interrupted before she could insult herself again.
"You're a vampire, Elvi," she said grimly. "You have better eyesight than the rest of us. Now look at me. Look at this wrinkled old face."
"Oh, Mabel, for heaven sakes," she said impatiently. "Yes, you have laugh lines-"
"I have wrinkles," Mabel repeated harshly, then added, "everywhere."
Elvi waved that away as unimportant. "So? None of us look the same as we did twenty years ago."
"You do," Mabel pointed out. "Hell, you look better than you did twenty years ago; you look like you did forty years ago."
"Oh, right." Elvi bit her lip. While she hadn't had a mirror since returning from Mexico, she'd caught a quick glimpse of herself there. She knew she looked young.
"Forget I said that," Mabel said wearily when Elvi just stared at her with helpless guilt, then asked, "How was your night?"
Relieved at the change of topic, Elvi quickly told her about buying a bed and her annoyance with Victor for influencing the manager into delivering it the next day.
"I did call the store when I got home," she announced. "But of course it was closed. I left a message, telling them not to deliver it tomorrow."
"I don't know why you bothered," Mabel said with a shake of the head. "It's not that big a deal. Besides, do you think it will work? I mean, their control must reach beyond simple influence. They must be able to cause some sort of a compulsion in the person. Otherwise, the moment Victor left, the manager would have snapped out of it and cancelled the delivery himself. Don't you think?"
"I hadn't thought of that," Elvi admitted. "I need to find out more about this stuff, I guess."
Silence fell in the room, and then Elvi glanced at the robe and book Mabel had collected and now held loosely in her hands. She turned toward the door. "I guess I should leave you to your bath... maybe I'll take one myself."
"Good night," Mabel murmured.
"'Night." Elvi slid back out into the hall, pulling the bedroom door closed behind her, then wandered toward her own room. She'd had a shower that morning, but a nice relaxing bubble bath really did sound lovely.
Nodding to herself, Elvi picked up her pace. She had a lovely new bath set she wanted to try. A vanilla bubble bath with a crme brûlee body lotion to put on after. She gave a little shiver at the very thought. Elvi loved bubble baths. In the past, the tub was often the only place she'd got a moment of peace and privacy. As a mother and wife, there was always some great tragedy like having nothing to wear to the party the next weekend, or being unable to find the cheddar cheese that brought her daughter or husband to knock on the door.
Elvi smiled sadly at the memories of just such interruptions as she ran her bath. If she'd realized then how little time she would have with them, she would have savored those moments at the time.
Shrugging these thoughts away, Elvi closed the bathroom door, retrieved a bath towel and washcloth, then stripped out of her clothes. By then, the water was only a couple of inches from the top of the tub. Elvi bent to turn off the taps, then stepped carefully into the tub and eased herself into the hot bubbly water with a little sigh.
Oh yes, this was nice.
"I thought Elvi said she was going to unlock the door?"
Victor glanced toward Alessandro as the man returned to the group around the fire. He'd been pretending to listen to Harper regale DJ with their latest adventure in shopping with Elvi, but had really been preoccupied with the best way to make Elvi explain this business of being an "accidental vampire." It was obvious from her reaction last night that she didn't really wish to discuss the subject further than to say that, but it was the reason he was here. He didn't wish to upset her or make her recall what were obviously unpleasant memories, but he had to sort this matter out.
Victor knew he should have sat her down and addressed the issue today rather than allow this latest shopping expedition, but found himself too easily distracted by the woman. She was constantly taking him by surprise, flitting this way or that like a hummingbird in a garden. He found himself running to keep up with her, and eagerly doing what he could to aid her in getting what she needed rather than pinning her wings down to attend to his job as enforcer. This wasn't like him at all. It had been a very long time since a woman had fascinated him so, and he had never once been distracted from his duty as enforcer, not since the day he'd taken on the position more than three hundred years ago.
"Hasn't she?" DJ asked, drawing Victor's attention back to the conversation taking place around him.
When Alessandro shook his head, Victor frowned and glanced toward the upper windows of the house. The lights at Elvi's end of the house had come on a good hour ago. From the brief few moments he and the others had been in her room earlier that night, he thought it was the window in her bathroom. It was still on, he saw now.
He opened his mouth to suggest the man try knocking on Elvi's sunroom door, then closed it again and stood. If anyone was going to bother her in her bedroom, it was going to be him, besides, now was as good a time as any for him to get to the bottom of her turning.
"I'll see to it," he murmured, moving away from the fire.
Elvi had left the sunroom door open when she'd entered earlier, only the screen door was closed and it wasn't locked. Victor peered through the screen to the open door between it and the bedroom, frowning when he saw that the room was in darkness.
Raising a hand, he tapped lightly at the door, waited, then tapped a little louder. When there was no answer after a third knock, Victor hesitated, then slid into the sunroom. She obviously wasn't in her room. He'd just slip through her room, go down and unlock the kitchen door, then find her and have the talk he knew he needed to have with her.
Victor was halfway through her room, heading for the door to the hall when a door on his right suddenly opened. His feet froze guiltily and his head whipped toward the sound.
Elvi was coming out of the bathroom, wet hair slicked back from her face and wearing only a towel. A very small towel.
Victor swallowed heavily, all thoughts of talk slipping from his mind as his gaze traveled over every inch of exposed flesh. He started at the top, his eyes dancing over her shoulders, arms, and chest above the towel, before dropping down to slide lovingly over the legs visible beneath. It was short enough to reveal calves, knees, and a good three-quarters of her thighs.
His devoted exploration was interrupted when Elvi apparently spotted him, stopped short, dropped a small bundle she was carrying and let loose a little, startled shriek.
"It's okay," Victor said quickly. "I was just passing through. You forgot to unlock the door downstairs. I knocked, but there was no answer, so I thought I'd just slip through your room to do it."
"Oh," Elvi breathed her shoulders relaxing. "I-You startled me. I didn't expect..." Her voice trailed away and she glanced down at the bundle she'd dropped. Clutching at her towel with one hand, she bent to retrieve the bundle with the other, but something slipped free and wafted back to the floor as she straightened. Victor moved forward at once.
"Here, let me get that." He knelt to pick up the bit of silk, his brain slow to realize they were red silk panties. Recognizing that, he started to raise his face to glance at her apologetically, but his eyes got caught on her naked legs. They were lovely. Pale, but perfect. And there was a drop of water she'd missed while drying. It was at the top inside of her knee and he had the sudden, crazy urge to lean forward and catch it with his tongue.
A small sound from Elvi dragged him back to his senses, and Victor forced himself upright. He held the bit of cloth between them. "Your... er..."
Flushing, Elvi took the panties from him, murmuring, "Thank you. I'm sorry I forgot to unlock the door."
"Yes," Victor mumbled, his eyes locked on her lips. There was another drop of water just there in the center of her lower lip. It seemed to be taunting him, daring him to capture her lower lip between both of his and suck off the drop.
Her expression was confused and uncertain, but he could also hear her heartbeat and knew it was racing in response to his nearness. As was his own, he realized.
"Victor?" His name was barely a breath of sound, but it was enough to send the water droplet tumbling forward. Before it could roll off, Victor swooped forward, closing his mouth over her lower lip and drawing on it gently, capturing the drop and taking it into his mouth.
Elvi drew in a small gasp of surprise and Victor took full advantage. Shifting, he covered both her lips, allowing his tongue to fill the space between. She tasted sweet and smelled of vanilla, the aroma of home-baked cookies. Victor had an urge to eat her up. It was a reaction he hadn't had since his wife had died and was impossible for him to ignore. Giving into it, he used his tongue to urge her mouth further open, slid one hand up to her head to tilt it, then deepened the kiss even as his other hand slid around her waist to flatten against her lower spine and urge her body forward.
Elvi moaned into his mouth, her own hands creeping to his arms and clutching as he let the hand at her back drift down to the edge of the towel and slip beneath to close over one firm cheek of her behind.
It was the stomp of feet on the stairs leading to the deck that made him stop. Breaking the kiss, Victor glanced toward the open door to the sunroom, cursing himself for not closing it. He released Elvi with an apology and stepped away, pausing abruptly and bending to catch at her towel as it began to drift to the floor. When his hand closed over it, he found his face directly in front of one round breast, it's nipple a puckered rose.
Victor closed his eyes briefly against the temptation, then forced himself upward and wrapped the towel around her. He then placed her hand over it, turned her toward the bathroom and gave her a gentle push back into the room as someone knocked at the sunroom door.
"I'll get that," he murmured, pulling the bathroom door closed behind her. Then Victor took a moment to run his fingers through his hair, gave his head a shake to get it working again, and moved into the sunroom.