Bitten by Cupid (Argeneau #13)

Chapter 11

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"Would you like a drink?" Victor asked, as the women disappeared upstairs.

Tiny nodded. The chili dog had been delicious but a bit salty, and he'd been parched for the last half hour of the drive. "Thank you, that would be nice."

"Alcohol or coffee?" Victor asked, moving around the counter toward the kitchen half of the room. When Tiny hesitated, he added, "You're off duty now. Alcohol is all right."

"Alcohol it is then," Tiny murmured, thinking a beer would hit the spot.

"I'll get us a couple beers," DJ offered, reading his mind.

As the other man got to his feet, Victor nodded. "Grab me one too, please. I'll get glasses."

DJ opened a door off the kitchen and headed downstairs to where the beer was apparently kept, and Victor busied himself in the kitchen, leaving Tiny alone with the man they'd introduced as Harper.

"You're Mirabeau's life mate," the other man said quietly.

Tiny nodded slowly. "It would seem so."

"Congratulations," Harper said quietly. Then he asked, "How's your health?"

"Good," Tiny answered, a little bewildered by the question.

"Your heart?" he asked.

Tiny felt his eyebrows rise, but said, "Strong as a bull according to my doctor after my stress test last month."

Harper's lips twisted into a bittersweet smile. "Then don't let your fears of the future hold you back. Being a life mate is a rare and wondrous thing. Grab on to it, and don't let go. You won't regret it."

He then stood and left the room with a nod, leaving Tiny staring after him with bewilderment.

"Harper lost his life mate and is having a rough time of it," Victor murmured, coming back into the dining area. "He's right though. Don't let fear prevent you from accepting the happiness you and Mirabeau could have."

"I won't," Tiny murmured, and knew it was true. While he did have concerns about what it would mean in regard to his family, he just couldn't resist the pull of his attraction for Mirabeau. Accepting the empty glass Victor held out, he murmured a polite, "Thanks," and thought that, while he preferred beer straight from the bottle, he'd drink from the glass to be polite.

"Actually, I prefer the bottle too," Victor said wryly, obviously having read his mind again.

Tiny smiled faintly, but once again thought it might be nice to be immortal and be able to guard his thoughts from others.

"I was trying to be a good host, but"-Victor took back the glass he'd just given Tiny, and said wryly-"this way there are no glasses to clean up." He swung away to return the glasses, adding, "The phone's there on the counter. The handset is cordless, so if you want privacy, take it out on the deck."

"Thanks," Tiny said again, and moved to collect the phone.

"It looks like you have two Marguerites," Mirabeau murmured, as Mabel and Elvi moved away to examine the various shampoos and conditioners they had between them, trying to decide which one would be best for Mirabeau's "stressed" hair now that the extensions were out. They were a delightful pair-amusing, caring, and loving, and had both been fussing over Stephanie as they'd worked, asking her questions and drawing her into the conversation.

The girl rolled her eyes at Mirabeau's words, but she suspected it was for show. She sensed that the girl was secretly pleased.

"Here we are. We've decided this one is the best bet," Elvi announced, holding out a matching set of bottles, one holding shampoo, the other conditioner. "Do you want to wash it in the shower or just at the sink?"

"The sink is fine," Mirabeau murmured, and immediately found herself with a woman on each side, determined to help her do it at the bathroom sink. Unused to the fussing herself, she was relieved when the chore was done and she could dry her hair and use some gel to return it to its usual spiky state.

"My," Mabel murmured, as Mirabeau finished and presented herself for inspection. "That style is really quite attractive on you, dear. The fuchsia tips are really quite striking. I like it."

"Yes, it's quite nice," Elvi agreed. And then her eyes shifted past Mirabeau, and she smiled, and asked, "What do you think, Tiny?"

Mirabeau glanced over her shoulder with surprise. Her own eyes widened as she saw Tiny standing in the doorway.

"I think Mirabeau always looks beautiful," Tiny said solemnly. "But I like this style best. It suits her."

Elvi beamed at the man, and said, "I knew you were an intelligent man the moment I met you in New York, Tiny McGraw."

Much to Mirabeau's amazement, he actually blushed at the compliment, which just seemed to please Elvi more. Chuckling softly, the woman caught Mabel and Stephanie each by an arm and began to usher them out of the bathroom. "Well, our work here is done, girls. Why don't we leave these two alone for a bit and go have tea? Stephanie, do you like white chocolate strawberry cookies?"

"I don't think I've ever had them," Stephanie murmured, as Tiny stepped out of the way to allow them to exit the bathroom.

"Oh, well then, you're in for a real treat. They're divine," she said, as they headed through the bedroom. "We stopped and picked up a bunch on our way home from the airport."

"She got cheesecake too," Mabel announced dryly, then told Stephanie in conspiratorial tones, "You'll find that Elvi has something of a sweet tooth."

"So do I," Stephanie said with a grin.

"Oh, brilliant," Elvi crooned happily. "We shall get on like gangbusters!"

Mirabeau glanced to Tiny and shook her head wryly as the door closed behind the trio. "They are going to spoil her rotten before Dani can get here to collect her."

"She's been through a lot and deserves a little spoiling," Tiny said mildly, then added, "And so do you."

Mirabeau found her breath hitching in surprise and her heart melting a little at the words. It had been the exactly right thing to say. Mirabeau started across the room with every intention of kissing him for saying it, when he suddenly held up a phone.

"Lucian wants to talk to you."

"Lucian?" She stared at the phone with amazement. "You've been on the phone with him all this time?"

He grimaced and shook his head. "I tried calling, got a busy signal, had a beer with the boys, and tried again."

It had obviously been a long beer, Mirabeau thought, and wondered if "the boys" had been gently prodding him about her just like the women had been prodding her about him. Shaking her head, she sighed and took the phone. "Hello?"

"So Tiny's your life mate," were the first words growled in her ear.

Mirabeau stiffened, then scowled at the phone before saying pleasantly, "Would this be a business call, or pleasure, Lucian?"

"Business," he barked. "Is he or isn't he your life mate?"

Mirabeau grimaced, but snapped, "Yes."

There was a hiss as if he was sucking in air, then Lucian cursed. "Goddamn that Marguerite. She's going to make my life miserable. I was already shorthanded when it came to enforcers, and now I'll be one shorter."

"Well, you're the one who let her convince you to put us together," she pointed out with exasperation. "You could have said no."

"And stop you from meeting a possible life mate?" he asked with outrage. "Not likely, little girl."

Mirabeau found her lips reluctantly curling into a smile. He hadn't called her little girl since the death of her family.

"I'm walking you down the aisle," he announced firmly. "Your father would have wanted it."

"There's no walking yet," she gasped, glancing worriedly at Tiny. Dear God, they hardly knew each other, and Lucian had them marrying. "And you haven't lost another hunter. I'll stay the night and tomorrow, then head back as soon as the sun sets, ready for work."

"The hell you will," Lucian snapped.

"I will," she insisted.

"Don't bother. You'd be useless to me anyway. Stay in Port Henry for a while and work Tiny out of your system. That's an order," he added firmly. "And tell Tiny it's an order for him too. Jackie has already agreed and-" He paused abruptly, and Mirabeau heard the murmur of a woman's voice in the background. She only realized it must be Tiny's boss, Jackie, when Lucian's muffled voice said, "All right, all right," before growing louder again as he told her, "Jackie says to tell Tiny she's very happy for him and to take as much time as he needs."

Mirabeau hesitated, her eyes sliding to Tiny and back to the phone, then she asked uncertainly, "What if he doesn't want to?"

"Oh, he wants to, little girl. I already asked him. Enjoy." The last word was followed by a click as he hung up.

"Good-bye to you too," Mirabeau muttered, hitting the button to kill her end of the call. Sighing, she peered at Tiny, cleared her throat, and murmured, "He said we should stay here for a while."

"I heard," he admitted, then asked quietly, "is that all right with you?"

She smiled crookedly. "It doesn't seem like I have much choice. He's my boss, and it's an order."

"That's a cop-out," Tiny said quietly. "Do you want to or not?"

Mirabeau swallowed and avoided his eyes. "I…I can't read you…and I want you."

"I already knew that, Mirabeau," he pointed out gently. "The question is, are you ready to have a life mate?"

For one minute, she struggled with the question, reluctant to admit that she was, but that was young Mirabeau briefly raising her head and all her fears with it. She wasn't that poor, broken girl anymore. She was an immortal woman, and he was her life mate, and it didn't matter what she knew or didn't know about him, or anything else. The fact was the nanos knew they would be good together, and as all immortals knew, the nanos were never wrong. He was her future. Mirabeau realized suddenly that all the fears she'd been experiencing were just leftover gifts from her uncle's actions. He'd definitely taken enough already. She wasn't letting him take Tiny from her too.

"Yes," she said finally, her voice firm and her chin rising defiantly. "I'm ready."

Tiny started to reach for her, but she stopped him with a hand on his chest. "What about you? Are you ready to be my life mate Tiny McGraw?"

"I shouldn't be," he said solemnly. Sliding his arms around her waist, he drew her closer, managing to press their hips together despite the hand she had between them, as he whispered, "We hardly know each other."

"That's true," Mirabeau murmured, as he bent and pressed a kiss to her forehead.

"I don't know what you like and don't like, what your beliefs are, religiously or politically, or even if you want children." He punctuated each point with another kiss, one to the side of her eye, one to her cheek, and one to her ear.

Mirabeau murmured something of an agreement, although it sounded more like a moan to her as her body began to respond to his nearness and touch.

"We should really talk," he murmured, running his lips across her cheek to press a kiss to the side of her mouth. "Get to know each other."

"Yes," she breathed, forgetting to hold him away and slipping her arms around his shoulders instead. The moment she did, Tiny cupped the back of her head and met her gaze solemnly.

"We'll talk later," he promised.

"Later," Mirabeau agreed, just before his mouth covered hers. His kiss was hot and demanding, and Mirabeau moaned as her body came to roaring life. She then gasped as he caught her by the behind and lifted her up before shifting his hold to her thighs so that her legs shifted around his waist. Mirabeau instinctively hooked her ankles around his back, then gasped and bit his lip as he began to walk across the bedroom, and their bodies rubbed together, bringing on an almost painful need.

When he reached the bed, Tiny set her down on her feet, then quickly and methodically stripped off the tank top she wore. Just as she was reaching to remove his own top, he gave her a push that sent her dropping back onto the bed. He then immediately bent and caught the waistband of her joggers to tug them off quickly. Once he had her naked, Tiny paused to look her over, one hand sliding gently along her heated skin, making her eyes droop to half-mast and her body shiver with pleasure. Mirabeau reached for him then, wanting to feel him on top of her, but he withdrew with a chuckle and straightened, leaving her to watch as he stripped off his own clothes.

As she watched first his T-shirt, then his own joggers hit the floor, Mirabeau traced the outline of his body with hungry eyes and knew it would be a long time before they had that talk…a very long time. Perhaps after their first child…or the second, she thought, as he came down on top of her, his body firm and hard. And then his mouth covered hers and his hands began to move over her and she stopped thinking altogether and put her trust in the nanos.

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