Vampire, Interrupted

An Argeneau Novel
By Lynsay Sands

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2008 Lynsay Sands
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061229770

Chapter One

Marguerite wasn't sure what woke her; a sound perhaps, or the crack of light from the bathroom being momentarily blocked, or maybe it was simply an instinct for survival that dragged her from sleep. Whatever caused it, she was alert and tense when she blinked her eyes open and spotted the dark shape above her. Someone stood at the side of the bed, looming like death. That thought had barely formed in her mind when the dark shape used both hands to raise something overhead. Recognizing the action from her youth when broadswords and weapons of its ilk were more common, Marguerite reacted instinctively, rolling abruptly to the side as the assailant's arms started their downward swing.

She heard the weapon slam into the bed just before tumbling off the bed. Marguerite landed on the floor with a thump and a shout that became a frustrated curse as she found herself tangled in the sheets. Glancing up, she saw her attacker jump onto the bed to follow. When he swung the sword again, she promptly gave up on the sheets, snatched the lamp off the bedside table, and swung it around to block the blow.

Pain vibrated up her arm on impact, eliciting another shout. Marguerite turned her eyes away from the flying sparks as metal met metal, and spared a bare moment to be grateful that the Dorchester was a five-star hotel with quality—and fortunately-metal-based lamps that didn't snap under a sword's blow.

"Marguerite?" The call was followed by a knock at the connecting door to the rest of the suite that made both she and her attacker pause and glance toward it. In the next moment, her attacker apparently decided he didn't wish to take on two of them and leapt off the bed to race for the balcony doors.

"Oh, no you don't," Marguerite muttered, dropping the lamp and lunging to her feet. She wasn't the sort to allow someone to sneak up and attack her in her sleep, then run off to do so again another day. Unfortunately, she'd forgotten about the sheets tangled around her legs, and crashed to the floor with her first step.

Gritting her teeth against the pain vibrating through her, Marguerite peered toward the balcony doors as the curtains were tugged open. Sunlight immediately poured in, and she saw that her attacker was encased from head to toe in black: black boots, black pants, long-sleeved black shirt, and all of that covered by a black cape. He also wore black gloves, and even a black balaclava covering his face, which she saw as he turned to look back at her. Then he slid out onto the balcony, allowing the curtain to drop back into place as her bedroom door slammed open.

"Marguerite?" Tiny rushed toward her, concern on his face.

She waved him toward the balcony doors. "He's getting away!"

Tiny didn't ask questions, but immediately changed direction, rushing for the doors leading onto the terrace. Marguerite stared after him with amazement. The man wore nothing but a pair of gold silk boxers with a big red heart on the backside. The sight made her mouth drop open in surprise, but the moment he disappeared through the billowing curtains her surprise turned to concern. She'd sent an unarmed, nearly naked man after her attacker—who had a sword.

Cursing, Marguerite concentrated on the sheets wrapped around her legs. Of course, they fell away easily now that she was no longer under threat. Muttering with exasperation, she scrambled around the bed and hurried to the balcony doors, charging right into Tiny's bare chest as he stepped back into the room.

"Careful. It's daylight," he rumbled, catching her upper arms and moving her back away from the curtains. He turned to close and lock the doors.

"Did you see him? Where did he go?" Marguerite asked, trying to peer around his large frame as he pulled one of the heavy curtain panels into place. The action blocked out the worst of the sunlight and most of her view of the terrace.

"I didn't see anyone. Are you sure you weren't dream—?" Tiny paused mid-sentence as he glanced back and caught a glimpse of her in the bit of sunlight slipping between the gap in the curtains.

Marguerite raised an eyebrow at the sudden widening of his eyes as they traveled over her in the short pink silk nightie she wore. His stunned gaze moved slowly down all the way to her pedicured and red-painted toes and then just as slowly back up, skimming her shapely, bare legs, her rounded hips, and then skipping up her stomach to her breasts, which she knew were more revealed than not by the low neckline. His eyes stopped there, the dazed look turning to a concerned frown.

"You're hurt." Tiny caught her by the chin and tipped her face up and to the side so he could get a better look at her neck. After a second, he released her with a soft curse.

"What is it?" she asked as he took her by the arm to hurry her across the room.

Marguerite glanced down at herself. There was a line of blood dripping down her upper chest and soaking into the lace neckline of her nightie. Frowning, she felt around on her throat until she found the nick in her neck. Apparently the sword had caught her as she rolled away.

"Tell me what happened," Tiny ordered as he ushered her into the en suite bathroom and flipped on the light.

"I woke up to find a man standing over the bed. He had a sword. I rolled off the bed as he swung it," Marguerite said simply, her gaze shifting out toward the bedroom and the balcony doors as he snatched up a clean washcloth and turned on the taps to wet it. Her adrenaline was still pumping and she now found she had itchy feet. She wanted to pursue the man who'd attacked her.



Continues...

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