Home > Vampires Like It Hot (Argeneau #28)

Vampires Like It Hot (Argeneau #28)
Author: Lynsay Sands

Prologue

“It’s hot, huh?”

Raffaele grimaced at his cousin Zanipolo’s comment and glanced down the length of his reclining body again to ensure he was still fully in the shade of the umbrella. He was, but it didn’t seem to make much difference when it came to the early-morning heat. Damn, it was hot. Humid too, and that was worse. He’d lived more than two thousand years and yet had never traveled to a place where the humidity was 88 percent as it was here in Punta Cana. That was a choice. Raffaele disliked feeling sticky for no reason. Sweating due to hard labor was one thing, but being coated with dampness when just standing still was not pleasant to his mind.

Sighing, he leaned back on the lounge chair and squinted unhappily around the sun-drenched beach. They’d flown in that morning, landing at 5 a.m. After settling into their room at the resort, Zani had insisted on coming out for a swim before the sun rose and they retired to sleep the day away. Raffaele had agreed to accompany him, but had got out of the ocean first and, feeling zapped by the heat and humidity already in evidence at that early hour, had lain down on a lounge chair on the beach for a nap. He’d told Zanipolo to wake him when he was ready to return to their room.

Zani hadn’t woken him. Instead, Raffaele had woken up on his own three hours later . . . by which time the beach was filling with people and the sun was high in the sky. Now he was stuck here until nightfall unless he wanted to expose himself to the damaging rays of the sun and have to dig deep into their stash of blood to repair that damage, which he didn’t want to do. Getting more blood wasn’t like ordering a margarita here on the beach, especially in the Dominican Republic. It got complicated in countries like this, so why cause all that trouble when he was perfectly safe and could avoid the necessity simply by staying where he was?

Mind you, it meant their cousin Santo was left alone up in their room. The thought made Raffaele glance back toward the resort’s buildings. Santo was the reason they were on this trip. Not that he’d wanted to come. They were here at the insistence of Lucian Argeneau, the head of the North American Council. While they were Europeans and shouldn’t really fall under his purview, the man had pull pretty much everywhere. He was also a relative by marriage now. Sort of.

Raffaele frowned briefly over the complexity of Lucian Argeneau’s relationship to his family, and then shrugged it away in favor of worrying about his cousin Santo . . . and he was worried about him. Santo Notte was quiet and grim by nature, but had been even grimmer than usual the last fourteen months since their “adventures” in Venezuela. The poor bastard had been one of the hunters kidnapped near the end of the ordeal, and he’d basically been tortured by the madman Dr. Dressler. Physically, Santo had recovered quickly once they’d rescued him and the other Enforcers who had been taken, but psychologically . . .

Raffaele’s mouth tightened grimly. Everyone had been upset when Dr. Dressler had avoided capture and fled Venezuela, but Santo had taken it worse than most. His determination to find the scientist who had put him through such torture verged on obsession. It was all he thought about anymore.

The way Raffaele saw it, Dressler wouldn’t make it to the Council for judgment if Santo was the one to find him. He would have the man’s head. Which was fine, really. There was a Kill-on-Sight order on Dressler. The man was just too dangerous to both mortal and immortal alike to risk losing him again . . . if they ever found him.

Unfortunately, after more than a year of fruitless searching, there had been no sign of Dressler, and Santo wasn’t taking it well. He was angry, frustrated, and even more withdrawn than he had been before the torture. His nightmares weren’t helping, Raffaele was sure. While Santo had always had them, they were more frequent now and, if the screams that woke him—and everyone else—from sleep were anything to judge by, more violent. Worse than all of that, though, while Santo insisted on helping the hunters search for Dressler, he had begun to ignore the orders Mortimer gave and started rushing into rogue nests without caution or care. He was taking risks that put not only his own life in danger, but the lives of the hunters who worked with him.

That wasn’t acceptable behavior, and Raffaele hadn’t been surprised when Lucian Argeneau and their uncle Julius had got together and decided Santo needed some counseling. They basically forced him to talk to Gregory Hewitt, an immortal psychologist who was also married to Lucian’s niece, Lissianna Argeneau. Raffaele hadn’t been terribly surprised when the man didn’t get far with him. Santo had never been much of a talker. After three sessions, Greg had suggested Santo be forced to take a break and see if that helped.

Of course, Santo hadn’t wanted to take this break. In fact, he’d at first refused, and announced that he intended to continue his hunt for Dressler with, or without, the Enforcers. Only Julius and Lucian threatening to approach the Council about performing a 3-on-1 to erase the unpleasant memories had made him give in. Once they had his reluctant agreement, Raffaele and Zani had been enlisted to accompany him. They were supposed to keep an eye on him, and make sure that he relaxed. If they didn’t see some improvement in him over this enforced holiday, Santo would be in for another round of counseling on their return. If that failed, a 3-on-1 was inevitable.

A 3-on-1 was a procedure where three immortals merged together and wiped away the memories of a fourth individual, and Raffaele was a bit torn on the issue. On one hand, a 3-on-1 might be the best thing for his cousin. The man had a score of bad memories to remove. Dressler was not the first to torture him. On the other hand, it was a risky business, with all sorts of possible drawbacks, including leaving the immortal in question a drooling idiot, which was why it had been outlawed unless condoned by the Council. On the other hand, dead was no better, and if it worked and gave Santo some peace and the ability to sleep without night terrors that left him screaming and thrashing . . . well, maybe it was for the best.

Sighing, Raffaele turned away from the buildings and relaxed on the recliner again. By his estimation, Santo should be asleep by now in their room, and no doubt shrieking his head off as he struggled with the nightmares that plagued him. In truth, the beach, hot as it was, would probably be more restful . . . if he could actually risk falling asleep here now that the sun was up.

“Drink, señor?”

Raffaele glanced at the waiter who now stood at the end of his lounge chair. The man was bent at the waist to peer at him under the thatched umbrella.

“No . . . Thank you.” The last part was almost a sigh. It was only nine thirty in the morning, for God’s sake, far too early for alcohol. Not that he bothered with alcohol, but mortals did and even for them it must surely be too early? But this was the third time he’d had to say “no thank you,” and by his reckoning, he’d have to say it again in about fifteen minutes either to the same eager waiter, or to another one of the men in orange shorts and shirts carrying trays around the beach.

“He’ll have water,” Zanipolo announced. “And a margarita. The same for me.”

When Raffaele scowled at him, Zanipolo shrugged. “You need to stay hydrated.”

“Right, ’cause liquor hydrates so well,” Raffaele said dryly.

“No, but it will look to others like you’re relaxed and fun and ready to party, rather than the grumpy old bastard you are,” Zanipolo said lightly.

Raffaele grunted at that, and then demanded irritably, “Tell me again why you didn’t wake me up when you got out of the water so we could return to our room to sleep?”

“We’ll never find life mates hiding out in the hotel room all day long,” Zanipolo pointed out. “This is where we need to be to catch one.”

“Right. Here on the beach in the Dominican Republic . . . in May, for God’s sake,” he said with disgust, and then muttered, “I can’t believe I let you take charge of making arrangements for this trip. What was wrong with Italy? Or anywhere it wouldn’t be so hot and humid?”

“We’ve spent our entire lives avoiding the sun and places like this,” Zanipolo said with exaggerated patience, probably because it was the tenth time he’d had to say it since they’d landed. “Instead, we search clubs and other nightspots for our life mates. But Christian found his life mate at a resort like this.” He paused and raised his eyebrows, as if that were a significant point, and then continued, “Maybe we’ve been looking in the wrong spots. Maybe one of these sunny spots we’ve always avoided is where we will actually find our life mates.”

Raffaele heaved a sigh, shook his head, and leaned back on the lounge chair. While Zanipolo’s suggestion had made sense back in Canada, where it was cooler, now that they were here, Raffaele didn’t see how they could catch anything in this place . . . other than heatstroke. Unable to risk the sun, they couldn’t swim, couldn’t play volleyball, and couldn’t participate in anything else that might allow them to actually interact with females. All they could do was lie there on the loungers in the relative safety of the umbrella’s shade and wait for night so they could actually move. By that time, he’d no doubt be stiff from the damned hard lounge chair and too exhausted to catch anything but some z’s.

“Take a nap,” Zanipolo suggested.

“I can’t,” Raffaele muttered grumpily.

“Why?”

“The sun moves,” he pointed out with exasperation. “It could move enough that I’m no longer in the shade and I’d get burned. I need to stay awake to guard against that.”

“I’ll tell you if you need to move,” Zanipolo assured him.

“Like you told me you were done swimming?” Raffaele asked grimly.

“You told me to wake you when I was ready to return to our room, not when I was done swimming,” Zanipolo said firmly, and then grinned. “I am not yet ready to go in.”

Raffaele grimaced with irritation and closed his eyes. The little pipsqueak was right. He had said that—a stupid oversight on his part. Next time, he’d have to be more careful in his choice of words.

   
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