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Love Bites : Argeneau Vampire Novel : Book 2 - Lynsay Sands

Love Bites

Argeneau Vampire Novel : Book 2

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Published: 29th June 2010
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Published: 8th June 2010
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True love: good from the first bite . . .

Etienne Argeneau's three hundred years of bach- elorhood were at an end. Either that, or he'd be forever alone. He could turn only one human in his lifetime, and most of his kind created a life mate. If he turned this stranger . . . But what choice did he have? He had to help Rachel Garrett. The beautiful coroner had saved his life. To save hers, he would make her immortal.

. . . to the last

Rachel Garrett awoke surprised. All she'd wanted was to get off the night shift in the morgue; now here she was staggering to her feet naked and in a strange place. But everything would be all right. She'd just make like a bat out of— Then she saw the man of her dreams emerging from his . . . coffin? And the look in his bright silver eyes said they'd be spending a lot of time together. She just hoped he tasted as good as he looked.

About the Author

Born in Southern Ontario, Lynsay Sands is the New York Times bestselling author of the Argeneau Vampire series. She has written more than 34 books and anthologies since her first novel was published in 1997. Her romantic comedies span three genres historical, contemporary, and paranormal and have made the Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, USA Today, and New York Times bestseller lists.

Lynsay's books are read in more than twelve countries and have been translated into at least six languages. She's been a nominee for both the Romantic Times Best Historical Romance Award and the Romantic Times Best Paranormal Romance Award, was nominated and placed three times in the RIO (Reviewers International Organization) Awards of Excellence, and has several books on All About Romance's Favorite Funnies list.

Chapter One

"Yo, Rach. I'm going to grab a java. You want anything?" Rachel Garrett straightened at Tony's question and wiped the back of her gloved hand across her forehead. She had been bouncing between the chills and fever since arriving at work two hours ago. At the moment, she was in a hot phase. Sweat was gathering across her back and along her scalp as if she'd been running a marathon. She was obviously coming down with something nasty.

Her gaze slid to the clock on the wall. It was almost one. Two hours down, six to go. Rachel almost groaned. Six more hours. The way this flu bug was coming on, it was doubtful she'd last half of that.

"Hey! You feeling all right, Rach? You look like hell." Rachel grimaced at her assistant's choice of words as he moved to her side and felt her forehead. Men could be so tactful. "Cold. Clammy." He frowned and asked, "Fever and chills?" "I'm fine." Rachel pushed his hand away with embarrassed irritation, then reached into her pocket for some change as she answered his first question, "Maybe you could get me some juice or something, please."

"Oh, yeah. You're fine."

Rachel stilled at his dry words, suddenly realizing that she had pushed her smock aside and shoved her hand into her pants pocket. She'd done so without removing her bloody rubber glove first. Great.

"Maybe you should-"

"I'm fine," she interrupted his concerned words. "I'll be fine. Just go on."

Tony hesitated, then shrugged. "Okay. But you might want to maybe sit down or something till I get back."

Rachel ignored the suggestion and turned back to her cadaver as he left the room. Tony was a nice guy. A little weird maybe. For instance, he insisted on talking like a Goodfellow from the Bronx when he had been born, raised, and never left Toronto. He also wasn't Italian. Tony wasn't even really his name. The name he'd been given at birth was Teodozjusz Schweinberger. Rachel had complete sympathy with the name change to Tony, but didn't understand how the bad Italian Bronx accent came with it.

"Incoming!"

Straightening again, Rachel glanced toward the open door to the main room of the morgue, then set down her scalpel and stripped the rubber glove from her right hand as she walked out to meet the men propelling a gurney into the main room. Dale and Fred. Nice guys. A couple of EMTs whom she rarely saw. They generally delivered their clientele to the hospital alive. Of course some died after arriving, but it was usually after these two had already been and gone, which left the chore of bringing down the patient to someone else. This one must have died in transit for them to be delivering him. "Hey, Rachel! You're looking ... good."

She crossed the room to join them, politely ignoring Dale's hesitation before the word good. Tony had made it more than plain that she was starting to look as unwell as she felt. "What have we here?"

Dale handed her a clipboard with various sheets of paper on it. "Gunshot wound. Thought we got a beat before transporting from the scene, but might have been wrong. For the record, he died in transit. Doc Westin pronounced him when we got here and asked us to bring him down. They'll want an autopsy, bullet retrieval, and so on."

"Hmm." Rachel let the pages fall back into place, then moved to the end of the room to grab one of the special stainless steel gurneys they used for autopsies. She rolled it back to rest next to the EMTs padded gurney. "Can you switch him over onto this while I sign for him?"

"Sure."

"Thanks." Leaving them to it, she moved to the desk in the corner of the examining room in search of a pen. Rachel signed the necessary papers, then walked back as the men finished shifting the body to the table. The sheet that had covered him for his trip through the hospital was now missing. She paused and stared at the latest addition to the morgue.

He was a handsome man, no more than thirty, with dirty blond hair. She stared at his pale chiselled features, wishing she'd seen him while alive and knew what he looked like with his eyes open. Rachel rarely thought of her clients as having at one time been living, breathing beings. It would make her job impossible to do if she considered that the bodies she worked with were mothers, brothers, sisters, grandfathers, etc. But this one she couldn't seem not to see as a person. She could imagine him smiling and laughing and in her mind he had silver eyes the likes of which she'd never seen.

"Rachel?"

She blinked in confusion and stared up at Dale. The fact that she was now sitting was a bit startling and made her glance around. The men had obviously rolled the wheeled desk chair over and urged her into it. Both EMTs were now hovering over her, worry on their faces.

"You nearly fainted, I think," Dale told her. "You were swaying and all white-faced. How are you feeling?" "Oh." She gave an embarrassed laugh and a wave of her hand. "I'm fine. Really. I think I'm coming down with something though. Chills, then fever." She shrugged.

Dale placed the back of a hand to her forehead and frowned. "You're burning up. Maybe you should go home."

Rachel felt her face and was alarmed to note that she was indeed burning up. It crossed her mind to hope that the speed and strength with which this bug had hit her wasn't an omen of how bad it was going to be. And if it was bad, she hoped that it would burn out as quickly as it had hit. Rachel hated being sick.

"Rachel?"

"Huh?" She glanced at the concerned faces of the EMTs and forced herself to sit up. "Oh, yeah. Sorry. Yes, I might go home early when Tony gets back. In the meantime, I signed for the body and everything." Rachel retrieved the paperwork that would stay with her and handed back the clipboard with the rest of the paperwork. Dale accepted the clipboard, then exchanged an uncertain glance with Fred. Both of them appeared reluctant to leave her alone.

"I'm fine, really," she assured them. "And Tony just went out to grab us some drinks. He'll be back shortly. You two go on." "Okay." Dale still sounded reluctant. "Just do us a favor and keep your butt in that chair till Tony gets back, huh? If you faint and hit your head ..."

Rachel nodded. "Sure. You two go on. I'll just rest till Tony gets back."

Dale didn't look like he believed she would do as she said, but he had little choice but to follow Fred to the door. "Okay. Well, we're out of here then."

"See you later," Fred added.

Rachel watched them leave, then sat still for a moment as she had promised. It wasn't long before she became impatient with just sitting there, though. She wasn't used to being inactive. Her gaze slid to the body on the gurney. A shooting vic. Those were rare enough. It meant there was a shooter out there running around. It also meant that this man had become her most important customer. The police would want the bullet for forensics testing to help them track the gun, and hopefully, the killer if they didn't already have him. If they did have him, they'd want it to prove they had the right guy. Which meant she wasn't going home after Tony came back. At least, not until she had removed the bullet from this guy for forensics. The actual autopsy wouldn't be done until morning, but retrieving the bullet was her job. She was the head coroner at night; it was her responsibility.

Straightening her shoulders, she stood and moved to the table to peer down at her newest customer. "You picked a heck of a night to get shot, my friend."

Rachel's gaze slid over his face. He really had been a looker. It seemed a shame that he was dead. But then it always seemed to be a shame when people died. Shrugging such thoughts aside, Rachel grabbed the rolling tray of equipment she would need and pushed it next to the steel table where her newest client lay. She looked him over once more before setting to work. The EMTs had ripped his shirt open, then laid it back across his chest. He was still fully clothed and in a rather sharp-not to mention expensive-designer suit.

"Nice duds. Obviously a man of taste and means," she commented, admiring the cut of his clothes and the body beneath it. "Unfortunately, the suit has to go." Rachel picked up the shears from the equipment table and quickly and efficiently cut away at the suit coat and shirt to remove them. Once the fabric fell away, she paused to take in what was revealed. Normally, Rachel would have simply moved on to remove his pants and underwear if there were any, but the fever was affecting her strength. Her arms felt all rubbery and her fingers were limp and awkward. She decided a change in routine wouldn't hurt at that point and would start recording her findings of his upper body before she moved on to try to remove the clothing from his lower body. With any luck, by then Tony might be back to help.

Setting the shears aside, she reached up to swing both the overhead light and the microphone directly over his chest, then switched the microphone on.

"The subject is- Oh shoot!" Rachel flicked the microphone off and quickly retrieved the paperwork Dale and Fred had left behind. Her gaze scanned the information in search of a name. A frown marred her face when she saw that there wasn't one. He was a John Doe. Well dressed, but without identification. It made her wonder if that had been the reason behind the shooting. Perhaps he'd been shot and robbed of his wallet. Her gaze flickered back to the man. It seemed a real shame to kill a man for nothing more than a couple of bucks. It was a crazy world. Rachel set the paperwork back and returned to flick the microphone back on. "Doctor Garrett examining shooting victim John Doe. John Doe is a Caucasian male, approximately 6'4," she guessed, leaving actual measurements for later. "He is a very healthy specimen."

She turned off the microphone again and took her time looking him over. Very healthy was an understatement, Rachel decided as she searched for identifying features. John Doe was built like an athlete. He had a flat stomach, a wide chest, and muscular arms to go with his handsome face. After checking him out again, then a third time, she moved closer to examine him more minutely. Rachel picked up one arm, then the other and lifted them to examine the underside of each before stepping back with a frown. There wasn't a single identifying mark. No scars or birthmarks. There was nothing that could be considered an identifying feature on the man. Other than the gunshot wound over his heart, the man was completely flaw free. Even his fingers were unmarred.

"Strange," Rachel muttered to herself. Usually there were at least a couple of scars; an appendicitis scar, or small ones on the hands from past wounds. Something. But this man was completely flawless everywhere that she could see. Even his hands and fingers were callous free. Idle rich? She wondered and peered at his face again. Classically handsome. No tan though. Jet setters usually had tans from the sunny spots they had just flown back from. Or from the tanning salon.

Deciding she was wasting time on these suppositions, Rachel gave her head a shake and turned the microphone back on. "Subject has no identifying features or scars on the front upper body except for the fresh gunshot wound. Death, on first glance, appears to be due to exsanguation caused by gunshot wound."

This time she left the microphone on as she reached for the forceps she would need to remove the bullet. The recorder was sound activated so would only record what she said anyway. Later she would use the tape to write up her report, leaving out any muttered comments it caught that were not pertinent to the case.

Rachel measured and described the size of the gunshot wound, as well as it's placement on the body, then set to work cautiously easing the bullet forceps into the wound, moving slowly and carefully to be sure she was following the path of the bullet and not pushing through undamaged tissue. A moment later she had reached and grasped the missile and was drawing it carefully back out of his body.

She murmured a triumphant "Ah ha!" as she straightened with the bullet caught in the spoon of the forceps. Rachel turned toward the tray, then paused with irritation when she realized there was no container for the bullet on her equipment tray. Such things weren't normally needed and she hadn't thought to grab one. Shootings weren't that common an occurrence in Toronto, so bullet holders weren't standard fare on her work tray. Muttering under her breath at her own lack of forethought, Rachel moved away from the table to the row of cupboards and drawers to search for one.

While looking, she pondered where Tony could have gone. His five-minute trip in search of beverages was becoming a rather lengthy absence. Rachel suspected it was a certain little nurse who worked on the fifth floor that was holding him up. Not that Rachel minded. If she did go home when he returned, he would have no one to relieve him for the rest of the night, so supposed it was good he was taking extra time now.

Finding what she'd been looking for, Rachel packaged the bullet, then carried it to her desk to make out an identifying tag. It wouldn't do for the bullet to get misplaced or to be left lying around without a label. Of course, she couldn't find the labels right away and wasted several minutes looking for them. Then she messed up three of them before getting it right. This was a good sign that she wasn't on the ball tonight and that going home was a good idea. She was a perfectionist and these little mistakes were frustrating, even embarrassing, to her.

Exasperated with herself and her weakened state, Rachel smoothed the label onto the container, then paused as she caught movement out of the corner of her eye.

Turning the chair to fully face the room, she glanced around, expecting Tony to have returned, but the room was empty. There was just herself and her John Doe on the gurney. Deciding her feverish mind was beginning to play tricks on her, Rachel shook her head and stood. Alarm shot through her as she noted that her legs were a touch shaky. Her fever was skyrocketing. It was as if a furnace switch had been flicked on, taking her from cold and clammy to burning up in a heart beat.

A rustle drew her attention back to the gurney. Was his right hand where it had been the last time she'd looked? Rachel could have sworn she'd laid his hand back palm down after examining it for identifying scars, yet now it was palm up, the fingers in a relaxed pose.

Her gaze traveled up his arm to his face and Rachel frowned at his expression. The man had died with a blank expression on his face, an almost stunned look, and that expression had remained frozen in death. But now he had more of a pained grimace on his face. Didn't he? Maybe she was imagining things. She must be imagining things. The man was dead. He hadn't moved his hand or changed his expression.

"You've been working the night shift too long," Rachel muttered to herself and moved slowly back to the gurney to glance over the body. The actual autopsy wouldn't take place until the morning. Her job tonight was just to remove the bullet to be sent to forensics, examine the body for identifying features, be sure there were no other wounds, then tag and refrigerate him. That meant she had to remove the rest of his clothes to examine his lower front body, but she would need help from Tony in turning the man to examine his back. Rachel considered leaving his lower front until Tony returned too, but then decided against it. The sooner she got out of there and went home to bed to nurse her cold, the better. It was smarter to get as much done as possible before her assistant returned. That meant cutting away his pants. To that end, Rachel was about to reach for the shears when she realized that she hadn't checked his head for wounds.

It was doubtful that he'd been shot in the head. At least she hadn't seen any evidence of it and was sure Fred and Dale would have mentioned it had that been the case. And despite their claims of thinking they had a heartbeat, then losing it, the man would have died instantly when the bullet had hit his heart. Still, he might have hit his head when he fell and there might be a wound there or elsewhere that simply hadn't bled.

(Continues...)

ISBN: 9780062019745
ISBN-10: 0062019740
Series: Argeneau Novels
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 373
Published: 29th June 2010
Dimensions (cm): 17.8 x 10.2  x 3.0
Weight (kg): 0.18

Lynsay Sands

I was born in 1142 which is why my first love is historicals. I’ll let you guess why I love stories of immortals…er…well, vampires to you people. When I first started writing the family history, everyone was up in arms, afraid I was revealing too much, but I explained they were being published as fiction and I wouldn’t use real names. Of course, that was before I found I just couldn’t write the stories with other names…

Just kidding! I couldn’t resist. Of course, I’m not a vampire. I wouldn’t mind being one. It would be a heck of a diet and I’m always looking for a successful diet, but despite not being a vampire…well…a gal can dream can’t she? And that’s what books are; waking dreams or stories, tales to amuse, entertain and distract us from everyday life.

I love books. Reading books takes me away to other worlds and on grand adventures I just couldn’t have otherwise. Writing them does the same, but also lets me play God for a bit. I know that sounds weird, but when writing my stories, I decide who lives and dies, who succeeds or fails and so on. I can give the good guys the happy endings they deserve and be sure the bad guys lose and get their comeuppance. Unfortunately, that’s something that doesn’t always happen in real life.

Perhaps that’s why writers write. Maybe we writers are all secret control freaks, wanting to control the world. Or maybe we’re just dreamers lucky enough to be able to make a living at dreaming. Either way I love writing and would do it whether I was paid for it or not. But I’m very very grateful to be able to share these stories with you. I hope they help you escape your troubles and trials if only for a little bit, and I hope they make you smile…You can be certain I’m often chuckling myself silly while writing them. Enjoy!

Visit Lynsay Sands's Booktopia Author Page