Home > Real Vampires Have Curves (Glory St. Clair #1)(5)

Real Vampires Have Curves (Glory St. Clair #1)(5)
Author: Gerry Bartlett

"You just made my point, Glory." Freddy ignored Valdez's "woof." "The mutt's probably mortal. Westwood wouldn't hesitate to shut up a barking dog."

" Not before I took a chunk outta him, ass—"

"Valdez!" I hugged Freddy again. "Don't worry. I'm staying. At least for a while. Thank you." I looked up at him. "Don't be so hard on Derek. We've been where he is. It takes centuries to develop the kind of self-control it takes to give up hunting. He's obviously not as old as we are."

"No, he's not. But he can be careless, Glory. He could endanger all of us." I couldn't argue with him when he was probably right. Freddy ran a hand through his thick black hair. CiCi couldn't complain about her son's looks. He was pale, with bright blue eyes that could mesmerize you if you let yourself look into them too long. He was handsome, sexy and I'd have invited him into my bed in a heartbeat if I thought he'd be interested. He reached out to stroke my cheek.

"Nice to know, sweetheart."

"Damn it, quit reading my mind." I would have flushed if I wasn't about a quart low. I pulled a can of Bloody Merry out of my bag and popped it open. The older I get, the less often I have to feed. But smelling Derek… I took a swig, then sighed. "It's not the same, you know."

"Don't I just." Freddy grabbed my can and took a deep swallow, then handed it back. "You run out, just ask. Mother's got about fifty cases stockpiled. 'In case of emergency.' She still doesn't trust the Internet."

"Who does?" I sat on the bed and watched Freddy pace. It didn't take a mind reader to know he was still upset with Derek.

"Maybe you should hunt with him. Then you can control the situation." I sipped again. I could feel my strength returning.

"He'd love that, but been there, done that. You know?"

"Yeah, I know." It was so much easier to pretend you were normal when you didn't hunt. Sorry, but the thrill of being vampire can wear off, at least it did for me. Like, oh, two hundred years ago. About the time Blade and I split the first go round actually. Freddy was nodding. Of course he'd been reading my mind. I called him a name in there and he grinned.

"Sorry. Bad habit. Forget hunting. Now about this shop of yours." He quit smiling. "Maybe I shouldn't help you with it. Mother's right. Go back to Blade. He still wants you and can well afford to support you."

"Not up for discussion, Frederick. Go to bed, make up with Derek and leave me to my canned"—I wrinkled my nose—"elixir."

"Stubborn wench." He kissed my cheek then walked to the door. "It is good to see you again. Rest well. I'll see you in the evening. Your bathroom's next door."

"Rest well yourself, Freddy, and thank you for having me here. You're a good friend." I sat on the bed and took another drink. They made a Bloody Merry lite but I'd learned the hard way that no matter what I did to lose weight, I woke up the same old same old. The down side to our healing sleep.

" Friend? That guy's nuts. Turnin' down a fine lookin' woman like you." Valdez bumped my hand with his nose and I buried my fingers in his fur.

"He called you a damned dog."

"Which I am. Scratch my ears. Yeah, just like that."

I sat there with Valdez close to me. He was warm, alive. As morning approached I felt more and more dead despite the rejuvenating effects of the Bloody Merry. I finished the drink and rummaged in my bag for a cotton nightgown. I was into comfort these days and looked about as sexy as a tree stump once I was ready for bed. I found the bathroom and washed my face, studying my arms in the harsh light. CiCi was right, I looked stupid. I'd shower when I got up and use one of the loofas next to the tub/shower combo to start ridding myself of my loathsome tan. I felt pale, I should look pale.

What had happened to my high spirits? My optimism? I staggered into the bedroom and turned off the light. The room was black, just the way I liked it. I don't usually dream when I sleep, but I have to admit that knowing Freddy and his lover were down the hall in each other's arms got me all nostalgic.

Okay, okay, jealous. I needed a new lover, someone who would worship me and do whatever I wanted. Not someone like Blade, who knew just how to make me—God, yes—come apart in bed, but treated me like a lowly woman the rest of the time we were together. The next affair I had, I would be in control. And I was in Texas. It should be a cowboy. That thought was enough to make me smile as I sank into oblivion.

Chapter Three

"Wake up, Glory. It's dark outside."

"Go 'way," I muttered as I blinked and met green eyes that were disgustingly alert. I stretched and nudged Valdez with my foot.

"I thought you were protecting me. Bite her."

" She's cute." Valdez actually rolled over and moaned when my intruder rubbed his tummy. " Harmless."

"You want to bet on that, signor?" Florence da Vinci smiled and showed an impressive set of fangs. I reached over to snap on the lamp next to the bed. "You don't want to mess with Flo, Valdez."

" No kidding." Valdez sat up and eyed Flo who actually licked her lips. " Yeah, I get your point. Hah. Hah." He jumped off the bed and trotted to the door. " I'm goin'. Someone downstairs will let me out."

"Sure, beat it, you wimp." I sat up and held out my arms. "You look wonderful, Flo. Freddy didn't tell me you were in Austin."

"Not just in Austin. Here, in the attic. It's pretty cool. We're one big happy family now." Flo hugged me, then stepped back to look me over. She shook her head. "CiCi told me you painted yourself orange. What were you thinking?"

"I wasn't, apparently." I threw back the covers and got out of bed.

"You sleep in that?" Flo drew back in horror. "You don't let the handsome Jeremy see you so ugly, do you? Where's your sexy negligee?"

"Jeremy's not here and I don't care if he sees me ugly." Florence is an Italian Angelina Jolie look-alike who certainly knows her way around sexy. If anyone can put the vamp in vampire, it's Flo. No one knows her real name. I first met her when she'd simply shown up in Scotland one day.

"I didn't just 'show up,' cara. Magdalena invited me when we met in Roma. And if I want to take the name of my favorite city and that of my dear Leonardo, that is my business, no?"

"No. I mean yes! Your business, nobody else's." Living with a bunch of vamps who could and would read my mind when they felt like it was going to be a royal pain.

"Sorry, cara. I'll leave you in your sexless sack while I go dancing." Flo flounced to the door. I had to admire that flounce considering she was tottering on four-inch red stilettos that matched her short skirt and halter top. She was any guy's walking wet dream. No wonder Leonardo had painted her over and over again. According to her anyway.

"Wait!" I hurried after her, my gown billowing around me. "Dancing?" She turned and hugged me again. "Hah! Got you. I'll try not to read your mind. It's not nice of me, I know. But you should learn to block us." Her eyes twinkled. "I sure don't let anyone read my mind." When she was right, she was right. Maybe I'd been so busy blending and hanging with mortals, that I'd become lazy when it came to using my vamp powers. And hanging with mortals had a downside. You see them get sick, die even. And while some vamps can turn a mortal without blinking an eye—hey, look what Blade did to me—I just can't. Forever is forever, you know? Mortals don't have a clue what that really means. I was on a headlong slide into depression and realized Flo was giving me a sympathetic look. Of course, she'd gotten all that "Woe is me" crap.

"What's this about dancing?"

"We're making Freddy and Derek take us out, to show you a little of Austin's night life."

"You don't have to ask me twice. Twenty minutes. Okay?"

Flo looked me over. "Take thirty, cara. You do have something sexier in that bag of yours, don't you? Frederick brought in your suitcase. The big black one."

I was mentally unpacking. Jeans, T-shirts. Was there anything in there that didn't make me look fat?

"You are not fat." Before I could do more than squeak, Flo grabbed my gown, whisked it off over my head and dropped it on the floor. "I'll quit reading your mind tomorrow. If I don't forget." She took me by the shoulders and turned me around. "You have curves, Glory. Leonardo would have painted you nude, reclining on a velvet couch." She tapped her chin. "Oh, no, that wasn't Leo, that was my darling Pietro Rubens. I do love artists."

"Hello, I'm standing here na**d while you're strolling down memory lane."

Flo laughed and tossed me my gown. "Be proud of your body, cara. You have the shape of a real woman. I myself have posed many, many times. The Mona Lisa. Pah! How can Leo be famous for that when he did so many lovely pictures of me? I am even sitting next to you know who in his painting of The Last Supper."

"You know anything about a secret code?" I couldn't help it. I read best sellers.

"Forget codes. I should be hanging in the Louvre. That Lisa. A peasant." Flo spit into her palm and shot what must be the Italian bird. "And that secret smile? I happen to know it was because she was really a he!" I just gaped.

"Hurry and get dressed. Look sexy." Flo gave me a finger wave and headed down the hall. I put it in gear, eager to get out and see more of my new hometown. Florence never failed to surprise me. Some vamps swear she's not exactly the brightest bulb in the lamp, but I don't believe it. She's clever enough to get vamps all over the world to take turns providing a home for her. Not just because she's ancient, but because everyone loves her and her stories. Tonight's chapter had been a doozy. She's always sworn that Leonardo da Vinci had been vampire and her lover. Can you believe that? Even though Freddy's heard old Leo swung the other way. Flo also claims a monk assassin staked dear Leonardo because of his blasphemies in painting The Last Supper. Too bad Flo never bothered to learn to read or write. She has a best seller in her for sure.

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