Under a vampire moon, p.1

Under a Vampire Moon, page 1

 part  #16 of  Argeneau Series

 

Under a Vampire Moon


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Under a Vampire Moon
Prologue

 

  "I don't see any tables," Carolyn said, glancing over the busy open-air restaurant.

  "We can sit at the bar," her friend, Bethany, said with a shrug. When Carolyn frowned, she rolled her eyes, and caught her arm to drag her toward the bar, adding, "We'll move to a table as soon as one opens up. Besides, we're only going to be here until Genie arrives and our table is ready next door anyway. "

  "Right," Carolyn breathed and slid onto the stool Bethany directed her to. She then glanced over her shoulder self-consciously, her gaze skittering over the young, laughing crowd surrounding them. Despite the setting sun, it was still hot and most of the patrons were dressed casually in shorts and summer dresses. This was the more casual restaurant at the resort with bare wooden tables crowded onto the railed deck, and Caribbean music barely covering the sound of talk and laughter. In comparison, the indoor restaurant next door, where she, Bethany and Genie were to eat was a four star affair with proper tables, table cloths, silverware, candle light and four star prices.

  They'd dressed accordingly which left Carolyn feeling a little like they stuck out like sore thumbs amongst this more relaxed crowd.

  That wasn't the only thing making her uncomfortable, however. It was the clientele here, as well. Most of the people seemed to be half their age, though there were some older people.

  But no matter their age, they all seemed to be paired off. She and Bethany were the only single females, or single anything as far as she could tell.

  Everyone else was part of a couple.

  Probably on their honeymoons, Carolyn thought unhappily as she noted all the intimate smiles and gentle kisses being exchanged around them. The sight made her sigh and turn her eyes forward to stare at the bottles of liquor lining the back of the bar as she wondered if this hadn't been a huge mistake.

  "What can I get for you two pretty ladies tonight?"

  Carolyn blinked as her view was suddenly blocked by a smiling bartender. The man wore a white shirt and dark slacks. His eyes were dancing and his teeth looked incredibly white against his dark skin as he beamed happily at them. Everyone here seemed to be happy and beaming, she noted.

  Must be something in the water, Carolyn thought and forced a smile. "A glass of white wine, please. "

  "The same for me," Bethany announced. "And two shots of tequila as well. "

  "Tequila?" Carolyn asked as the bartender moved away.

  "Yes, tequila. And we are downing them the minute they arrive and then ordering more," Bethany said firmly.

  Carolyn hesitated. She wasn't really interested in tequila shots, but simply asked, "Are you sure your stomach can handle it?"

  Bethany had been complaining about her stomach since they'd eaten their dinner on the plane here. Carolyn had taken the rubber chicken, but Bethany had opted for the salmon and had been swearing ever since that it had been bad.

  "I'm hoping the tequila kills whatever nasty little parasites the salmon had growing in it," Bethany said.

  "Failing that it will make me puke it back up and get it out of my system. Either way, I'll recover quicker than without it. "

  Carolyn gave a disbelieving laugh. "Yeah, well, I don't think I-"

  "Good, you shouldn't be thinking," Bethany interrupted firmly. "I brought you here so you wouldn't think, remember? And to make you relax and enjoy yourself for the first time in God knows how long. And you are going to relax, Carolyn Connor, if I have to personally pour every last drop of alcohol there is in St. Lucia down your throat. "

  "I am relaxed," she protested at once.

  Bethany snorted. "Sweetie, you're as wound up as a clock and have been for years. And, as your friend, I am going to see you unwind if it kills us both. "

  Carolyn stared at her blankly, and then felt the tension in her shoulders ease. A small, real smile claiming her lips she said, "What would I do without you?"

  "Lock yourself in your house, leave it only to go to work, and die lonely, old and bitter," Bethany said promptly.

  Carolyn laughed, but it was a hollow sound, because the sad fact was that Bethany was probably right. If it weren't for Bethany she'd be locked down already, either in her house or at her office, her head buried in business as she struggled to forget the last ten years and pretend she wasn't heartbroken and, yes, bitter.

  "So. . . "Bethany arched an eyebrow. "Let Aunt Beth nurse you back to health and happiness. I promise you are going to have a very good time on this trip. You will laugh and have fun and even get laid. It will be the time of your life. "

  "Right," Carolyn said dryly, some of her tension returning.

  The last thing she wanted at this point was to get involved with another man. Been there, done that, got the divorce lawyer to prove it, she thought grimly, and then glanced to the bartender as he returned with two wineglasses and two shot glasses, both with golden liquid in them.

  "Thank you," Bethany said cheerfully, pushing one of the shot glasses toward Carolyn and then lifting the other as she turned on her bar stool to face her. "So. . . " She paused and waited pointedly.

  Carolyn picked up her shot glass with resignation.

  "To a good time in St. Lucia," Bethany said firmly and tossed back her shot.

  Carolyn raised the small glass to her own lips and took a sip, grimacing as the liquid burned its way across her tongue.

  Bethany set her glass down with a gasp, glanced to Carolyn and frowned when she saw her still full shot glass. "Down it," she said firmly. "Dr. Beth's orders. "

  "But-"

  "Down it," Bethany repeated pushing the glass to her lips.

  Carolyn did as ordered, gasping and coughing as the liquid burned down her throat and slammed into her stomach.

  "That a girl," Bethany said with approval. Slapping her back with one hand, she took the empty glass from her with the other and set it in front of the bartender, saying, "Two more. "

  "Beth," Carolyn got out, her voice raspy, "I haven't drunk in ages. I-"

  "You haven't done a lot of things in ages," Beth interrupted as the bartender refilled their shot glasses. "And you're going to do them all here. So don't even try to fight it. Trust me, I know what's best for you. "

  Carolyn shook her head, but accepted the shot when the bartender pushed it toward her.

  Beth clinked her glass and said, "To freedom. "

  Carolyn downed the shot without prompting this time and waited for the coughing fit to follow, but suspected her throat was still numb from the first shot. This one went down more smoothly, and she only had to clear her throat a little afterward. She set the glass down and pointed out, "I'm not free yet. "

  "Semantics. " Bethany gestured for the bartender to pour them both another. "The worst is over. Now it's just a matter of waiting for the courts to do their thing. "

  "Yeah," Carolyn murmured as another shot appeared before her.

  Raising her glass, Bethany said, "Here's hoping they're quicker about it than they have been with everything else. "

  Carolyn drank, but as she set the empty glass back, she said, "I don't really care. I'm in no rush. "

  Bethany scowled as she gestured to the bartender again. "I swear, every time you say that it sends a shudder down my back. It makes me think you don't want the divorce at all. That you're still hung up on him and want to get back together. "

  "No," Carolyn assured her solemnly. "That isn't the case at all. But I'm also not eager to rush into a new relationship.

  In fact, I've decided marriage just isn't for me. So what do I care if it takes a while to resolve the old one?"

  "Right. " She smiled. "It doesn't matter. You got everything you wanted. "

  Carolyn snorted. "
What I wanted was a happy marriage.

  Failing that, I wanted a fair divorce settlement. "

  "Then that's our next toast," Bethany said cheerfully.

  "To the incredible Larry Templeton, lawyer extraordinaire who is going to get you everything you deserve and more. "

  Carolyn raised her shot glass, but found it hard to smile. Bethany was trying to cheer her up and ensure she enjoyed this vacation, but she simply wasn't in the mood. Carolyn was heartsore, bruised, disillusioned, and, frankly, depressed. And she suspected being at this resort in the Caribbean wasn't going to help. It was obviously a popular place for honeymooners. Everyone was smiling and happy and full of love and hope. It was a depressing counterpoint to her own
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