Home > Vampires Like It Hot (Argeneau #28)(4)

Vampires Like It Hot (Argeneau #28)(4)
Author: Lynsay Sands

“Lass?”

Jess glanced toward Vasco at his call. He had stopped walking and was peering back at her with raised eyebrows.

“Are you coming?” he asked, seeming completely oblivious to the way Allison hung off his arm and stared up at his chiseled face with adoring eyes. “There’s a nice breeze at the helm once we’re moving.”

It was the promise of a breeze that decided it for her. Jess really couldn’t bear this stifling heat and humidity. Nodding, she joined them and allowed Vasco to take her elbow to usher her up the steps to the upper deck, which she thought might be called the quarterdeck, although she wasn’t sure. Jess was no sailor.

“Now, you two lovelies just stand here by me and look pretty. It’ll keep you out of the way while we men work,” Vasco said cheerfully as he led them to the helm.

Jess’s mouth tightened at the comment. Good Lord, could he sound any more sexist? Just barely managing to refrain from rolling her eyes, she ignored his suggestion and moved to the side of the ship to peer down at the dock below as members of the crew pulled in the gangplank. Her gaze slid to the beach then and she noted that it was nearly empty of people now. The only ones remaining were the stall workers who were closing up shop. It seemed theirs had been the last tour of the day to the Seaquarium, which made her glance instinctively at her wrist. Jess grimaced as her naked wrist reminded her that she wasn’t wearing her watch. It wasn’t waterproof, and she hadn’t wanted to risk taking it off and possibly losing it, or having it stolen at the Seaquarium.

She shifted her gaze to the sky to find the sun’s position, and her eyes widened slightly as she noted how low it was. The sun had nearly reached the horizon. They’d been out at the Seaquarium for much longer than she’d realized and the daylight would soon be gone. The sun had seemed to set about ten or fifteen minutes before seven the two nights they’d been here so far, so she guessed it was probably around or just after 6 p.m. now. That explained the grumbling in her stomach, she supposed, and thought that the members of their group that hadn’t come on the shark feed would be impatient to get back and have their dinner.

Jess glanced toward the beach again, but this time noticed that she could see the road from the ship . . . and their bus was leaving. On the one hand, she was relieved everyone wouldn’t be left sitting there waiting for them, but now she had to worry about how they were going to get back to the resort. Would the bus return for those who had been lured on this trip to feed the sharks? If not, she supposed they’d just have to hire a taxi.

Jess’s next thought was to wonder if there would be snacks offered on the boat ride out. There had been both snacks and drinks on the trip out to the Seaquarium, but that had been hours ago now. It had been included in the fee for the tour.

That thought made her wonder about the fee for this little jaunt. Surely it wasn’t free? Glancing around, she caught Allison’s eye and waved her over. Her cousin hesitated, peering toward Vasco before reluctantly moving over to join her.

“What?” Allison asked irritably.

“What is the fare for this tour?” Jess asked, ignoring her surliness. It wasn’t like it was new.

Allison shrugged with disinterest. “Vasco didn’t mention a fare. He just asked if I wanted to go with them to feed the sharks.”

“Well, maybe you should ask,” Jess suggested with exasperation. “Nothing in life is free, Allison, and if it’s too damned expensive, I’ll want off.”

“Fine,” she snapped, and stomped back to Vasco. Jess noted that her attitude changed the moment she got close to the man, though, and watched with disgust as Allison simpered and mewled at him. Honestly, she’d never thought much of her cousin, but this trip was making her positively loathe the woman. Not only would Jess not be traveling with her again, but she was starting to think she might want to avoid any future family gatherings the woman attended. Jess didn’t know how Krista had put up with her for so long without killing her, or at least cutting out her nasty tongue. She didn’t think she would have managed to avoid doing one or the other if Allison was her sister.

A warm breeze and the crackle and snap of the sails distracted Jess then and she glanced around to see that they’d moved away from the dock and were heading out to deeper water. It was too late to get off now. She’d have to pay the fare whether she liked it or not. Jess just hoped the price wasn’t too steep.

“Rogue immortals?” Santo echoed the words as if he’d never heard them before. “Here?”

Raffaele nodded solemnly. It was after 6 p.m., and the sun had finally got so low in the sky that returning to the hotel had been more feasible. They’d returned to find Santo up and dressed and preparing to come find them. After explaining where they’d been, Raffaele had quickly told him about their discovery on the beach.

“What immortal would be stupid enough to live here in this hellish heat?” Santo asked.

“Apparently, one who knows you can feed indiscriminately and not be taken to task for it,” Raffaele said, and when Santo raised his eyebrows, he explained, “Zani called Lucian first thing this morning about it. He said he’d contact the local Enforcers and have them contact us, but we haven’t heard anything yet. It’s looking like they can’t be bothered about it.”

“Maybe I should call Lucian again,” Zanipolo suggested. “See what news he has.”

“That or we could just leave it up to the locals to deal with,” Raffaele said, nodding slightly toward Santo. They were supposed to be ensuring their cousin relaxed, after all, not getting him involved in another hunt.

“It could be Dressler,” Santo said suddenly, his face tight. “He likes warm-weather places.”

“There were too many people bitten for it to be one man,” Raffaele said, his voice soothing.

“Yeah,” Zanipolo agreed. “We saw dozens of mortals with bite marks out there on the beach today.”

Santo’s eyebrows rose. “And none of them are wondering about it? About where they’re all getting the bite marks?”

“They all have it in their heads that it’s a couple of insect bites close together,” Raffaele said in a dry voice. He’d started reading the minds of the passing sunbathers with bites to find out why they weren’t all freaking out. “But it is definitely more than one immortal feeding on the guests.”

“Dressler could have turned minions,” Santo argued at once. “He’s had a year to do it. In that time, he could have turned dozens of them, and I wouldn’t put it past the bastard to create his own army.”

Raffaele frowned. That was a possibility he hadn’t considered. Good Lord, Dressler creating an army of immortals. It was a scary thought, and one he suspected the man would enjoy. Dressler was just the sort of megalomaniac who would love to have an army of flunkies at his beck and call.

“I’ll call Lucian and see what he’s heard,” Zanipolo decided, and headed for the bedroom, pulling his phone out of the beach bag he’d dragged down to the shore with them.

Raffaele watched him go and then glanced worriedly toward Santo. They were supposed to see that he relaxed this trip. Finding themselves in the midst of a nest of rogue immortals was not relaxing.

“He must be here at the resort,” Santo said suddenly. “He’s living here and turned the staff.”

Raffaele raised his eyebrows with surprise. “The resort staff?”

Santo nodded and pointed out, “They’d have access to the rooms. They could creep in while the guests were sleeping, or hell, while they were awake, and simply take control of them.”

Raffaele shook his head at once. “I haven’t encountered any immortals on staff.”

“We only got here at 5 a.m.,” Santo pointed out. “Other than the man who checked us in, there was no one around, and then you two headed straight down to the beach for a swim. The only staff you’ve encountered are day workers. The immortals wouldn’t work the day shift. They’d work nights.”

Unfortunately, Raffaele couldn’t argue with that logic.

“Lucian isn’t picking up. I got his voice mail,” Zanipolo announced, returning from the bedroom. “I left a message.”

Raffaele nodded and then caught Santo’s arm as he headed for the door. “Where are you going?”

“To see if there are immortals on staff,” Santo said grimly, trying to tug his arm free, but Raffaele held fast.

“Just wait a damned minute for us to get changed and we’ll go with you,” he said, his voice short. “We can have a quick look around and then hit one of the restaurants so Zani can have dinner, and we’ll check out the staff there too. But a look is all we’re doing,” he added firmly. “We’re on vacation, remember? You’re supposed to be relaxing. So, we’ll see if we spot any immortals on staff and pass that info on to the immortal Enforcers when they show up, but that’s all. Got it?”

When Santo scowled at him without responding, Raffaele added, “I really don’t want you to have to go through a 3-on-1, cugino, and you know Julius and Lucian will insist on one if we don’t help you get past what happened to you on the island. We need to concentrate on that, not on yet more rogues.”

Santo closed his eyes, his body slumping slightly as he nodded in acquiescence.

Relieved, Raffaele released his arm and patted his shoulder as he moved past him. “We’ll be quick about changing.”

Two

Jess slid out of the tiny ship’s bathroom, and then hesitated in the narrow hall, not eager to return above deck. Apparently “feed the sharks” was Punta Cana–speak for party. At least, that was the only thing she could think. They’d been sailing for a good hour now without stopping, and the sun had set. It didn’t seem likely to her that they’d “feed the sharks” in the dark. After all, why bother if they couldn’t see them eating?

Aside from that, the moment the sun had disappeared there had been a distinct change in the crew. Music had been turned on, and was now pounding from speakers all over the ship. Then clothes had started to disappear. Every single male crewmember had stripped off their shirts, vests, and jackets and were now running around in just their pantaloons. The female members of the crew weren’t even wearing that. They’d stripped down to bikinis that were sexy enough to heat up the ship without the glare of the sun to aid it.

   
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