Home > The Trouble With Vampires (Argeneau #29)(4)

The Trouble With Vampires (Argeneau #29)(4)
Author: Lynsay Sands

A sigh from Marguerite drew his attention, and he raised his eyebrows in question.

“You should try to read her the next time you meet,” was all his aunt said.

“Was there something she knows that I should learn?”

Marguerite hesitated and then simply said, “I did not see anything of use to the case, but you might learn something I missed. I think you should try to read her.”

Santo nodded and determined to remember to read Petronella the next time they met. If there even was a next time.

Parker was in the kitchen with his head in the refrigerator when Pet finally made her way there.

“What are you doing?” she asked as she checked the back door to be sure it was locked. At least it wasn’t wide open, she thought with a shake of the head. She couldn’t believe Oksana would leave the front door wide open, but from what Parker had said, it was a common occurrence. She’d have to keep an eye on that when the woman was here.

“I’m looking for something to eat.” Parker pulled his head out to glance around. “What are you doing?”

“Just making sure everything’s locked up,” she muttered, checking the window over the sink.

“Again?” Parker asked with disbelief. “You did that after Oksana and the neighbors left.”

Pet ignored the comment and instead asked, “Why are you looking for something to eat? You can’t be hungry again. You scarfed down half a pizza at supper.”

“That was hours ago,” he said on a moan.

“It was only . . .” Pet cut herself off as she glanced at the clock over the window and realized it was nearly nine o’clock. She’d picked him up from the piano lessons he had after school at five o’clock and then had taken him out for dinner. She’d given him the choice of restaurant, and he of course had gone for pizza. They’d been done and on the way home by five thirty.

“We finished dinner three and a half hours ago,” Parker pointed out. “I’m starved.”

Recalled to the matter at hand, Pet suggested, “Then grab a banana or something and eat it while you get ready for bed.”

“Bed?” he asked with dismay.

“In five minutes it will be nine o’clock, Parker,” she said firmly. “Your mother said—”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m going,” he grumbled, grabbing a banana from the bowl on the counter and pretty much stomping out of the room.

Pet smiled faintly at his attitude as she checked the window by the kitchen table, but paused as she glanced out and noticed movement in the Caprellis’ backyard. It was Marguerite’s nephew, the big one, walking toward the back fence.

Santo. She tested the name in her head. The man was huge, and gorgeous, with a voice so deep it actually gave her shivers, but Pet was distracted from her thoughts when Santo paused at the large oak tree at the very back of the yard and started to climb up the ladder to the old tree house. Her sister, Quinn, had once mentioned that the Caprellis had built it for their daughter decades ago, and Pet frowned slightly, wondering if it was safe for a big guy like him to climb up into, and why he’d want to. She watched him disappear into the wooden structure, and waited for him to come back out. Several minutes had passed when Parker yelled from upstairs.

Pet turned away from the window and moved out into the hall, flicking off the kitchen light on the way. Her nephew was on the landing upstairs, hanging over the railing, looking for her. She turned off the hall light as she reached the bottom of the stairs and then started up, asking, “What?”

“Can I get a glass of milk before I brush my teeth?” he requested, meeting her at the top of the stairs.

“Yeah. Drink it in the kitchen and put the glass in the dishwasher after, though,” she said as she moved past him to start checking the upstairs windows. The kid nodded and was gone like a shot, rushing down the stairs and up the hall to the kitchen.

Pet considered telling him no running in the house, but then didn’t bother. He was young, full of energy, and it couldn’t hurt to use up some of that energy before he went to bed. She was checking the windows in his parents’ bedroom when he found her several moments later.

“I came for my kiss good-night,” he announced, hurrying to her side.

Pet eyed his blue pin-striped pajamas with amusement. He looked like a little adult, but his face was pink from scrubbing, and there was a smudge of toothpaste at the corner of his mouth. Bending to hug and kiss him, she asked, “Don’t you want me to tuck you in?”

“I’m too old for that,” Parker informed her firmly as he gave her a squeeze and peck on the cheek. Pulling away then, he rushed for the door, calling, “Good night.”

“Night.” Pet watched him go, thinking he was growing up so fast. But then time seemed to pass quickly. It seemed like the older she got, the faster time sped by. Shaking her head at that, Pet moved back to the window. It was locked. Every door and window in the house was. Now she peered out toward the tree house next door. It was still light out. The sun was hiding behind clouds as it made its way toward the horizon. Even so she had no trouble seeing the tree and the tree house in it. Unfortunately, she couldn’t tell if Santo was still inside or not, or what he was doing if he was still up there.

Giving up on the mystery, Pet headed into the bathroom to brush her teeth and clean her face. After changing into her pajamas, she slipped downstairs to get a glass of water. Pet took it back to her room, collected her iPad from her bag, curled up in bed, turned out the light, and opened the iBook app to the novel she’d been reading.

Santo caught movement out of the corner of his eye and tore his gaze away from the Purdy house to see what was moving in the Caprellis’ backyard. Recognizing Zani’s lean shape heading toward the tree, Santo turned back toward the houses next door, his gaze skating first over the house where Parker and Pet were, noting that the lower lights were all out. The lights on the top floor were blinking out now too, one after the other. Petronella must be going to bed, he thought, his mind throwing up pictures of her walking through the house, flicking off switches as she went, and then making her way to the bedroom she was using and slowly peeling off her clothes to reveal the compact body beneath.

“Hey, cugino. I thought you might be needing some refreshments by now.”

Santo turned at that greeting as Zani climbed through the small door and dropped to sit next to him on the tree house floor before offering him two bags of cold blood.

“Grazie,” he grunted. The way his fangs dropped at the very sight of the blood told him he was in some need. Accepting the bags, he let one plop into his lap and popped the other to his fangs as he glanced back out the small tree house window. The Purdy house was dark and had been all night, but there was still one light on in the house where Pet and Parker were. The bedroom light, he guessed, even as it blinked out too.

“Anything happening?” Zani asked, peering out the window with curiosity.

Santo shook his head.

“Yeah. Bricker says he hasn’t seen anything either. No lights, no movement, nothing.”

Pulling the now empty first bag away from his mouth, Santo raised an eyebrow. “He’s watching from the front?”

“Yeah. Marguerite and Julius are going to take over for him in the morning, and I’m going to spot you,” Zani announced.

“You should sleep then,” Santo said before slapping the second bag of blood to his fangs.

“Sì, I should,” Zani agreed solemnly. “But I’m too wired to sleep right now.”

Santo merely nodded, his focus on the two houses in his view.

Pet flipped the lid closed on her iPad and stared around at the dark shadows cast in the room by the night-light. She’d intended to read for perhaps fifteen minutes or so and then go to sleep. Instead, she’d finished the book. It had taken three glasses of water and as many hours to do it, but the book was done. It hadn’t been a great read. That wasn’t why she’d kept going. It was her own nerves that had kept her up. She’d sat there, skimming pages and glancing nervously around at every creak in the house. Which was just ridiculous. She’d never been this nervous in her sister’s home before, or her own, for that matter. Pet wasn’t a nervous person by nature. She knew she could take care of herself. But she kept seeing Santo’s eyes in her mind and—

Pet cut off her thoughts and tossed the duvet and sheets impatiently aside to get out of bed. The three glasses of water were working together so that she had to pee now. Muttering under her breath, she made her way to the door by the dim glow of the night-light. When she opened the door, a line of night-lights greeted her. They seemed to come from the bottom of every plug socket, three little pinhole lights each, every six feet, lighting up the floor of the hall that stretched out to either side of her door.

It was actually pretty handy, Pet decided as she slid from her room and headed for the bathroom. The last time she’d stayed here, she’d had to turn on the hall lights to move around at night. Now the newly installed night-lights made it easy to find the bathroom. There was a brighter night-light in the bathroom, so she didn’t bother to turn on the light in there either, but quickly relieved herself, washed her hands, and then ran her toothbrush briefly over her teeth again for good measure.

Once done, Pet slipped back out into the hall. She was still wound up and knew getting to sleep was going to be hard, but it was after midnight now, and she had classes the next day. She also had to get Parker to school first. It was going to be an early morning, Pet thought grimly as she made her way back up the hall.

Pet was passing Parker’s room when she heard what sounded like a low growl. Pausing abruptly, she stood still, her ears straining. She frowned when it came again. It was definitely a growl, this time ending in a hiss. And it was coming from Parker’s bedroom. The moment she realized that, Pet relaxed. The little bugger must be playing video games rather than sleeping, she thought, and stepped to the door.

It opened silently, and Pet swung the door several inches inward before pausing abruptly. The room wasn’t completely dark. A night-light next to the bed added a little light, but moonlight was also splashing in through the windows, casting a dim glow across the bed to highlight her nephew’s sleeping form.

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