All evening she’d noticed (and felt) Godric keeping an eye on her. Even when he would move to another room, her respite was short-lived because he never stayed away for very long. No matter how many vampires or Weres were milling about, she could always sense when Godric was in the room. He was never obvious about it, nor did he in any way make her feel uncomfortable. It was like he was so hyper-aware of her that it fed her own awareness of him. She didn’t think it had anything to do with how well his camel pants fit his high, firm ass or how well his soft camel sweater hugged his entire muscular upper body.
When he’d first appeared for the evening, her ingrained (and sometimes even good) manners dictated that she thank him nicely for the gorgeous flowers. His resulting smile had made her feel happier, like she was somehow lighter inside. She wondered what he had been thinking that made his blue eyes sparkle so roguishly. The soft smile playing on his lips didn’t help either.
When he’d asked her if she was familiar with the meanings of flowers, she’d blushed and looked away as she responded that she was vaguely familiar with the subject. As a former romantic, of course she had a somewhat limited recollection of the meanings of some flowers, but she made a mental note to research the whole thing if he was into such subtle, old-fashioned methods of communication. Thankfully she had to check on the pork chops. Marinating them could take a surprising amount of concentration…
She paused as she turned away toward the counter and looked at him over her shoulder. “I’d also like to thank the coffee fairies for that magnificent beast that magically appeared on the counter over there. It’s absolutely perfect.” His low, pleased chuckle frissoned down her spine in the nicest way ever.
Not too long afterward DesChamps arrived with Sarah. Godric lead them to his study, then about ten minutes later, they entered the kitchen. Godric introduced Sarah and suggested that they get to know each other for a bit while he and DesChamps continued their conversation.
Cara and Sarah had a short giggle over their rhyming names, and along with Elise proceeded to get along marvelously. Cara was very glad to hear that Sarah would be working the entire daily shift with her. Anderson kind of creeped her out a bit, so she was glad to have permanent company while “alone” in the house. It helped that Sarah actually knew what she was doing in a kitchen. Elise was a great help, but she was a guard and therefore subject to rotation.
A little while later, Godric called Cara into his study.
“Please, have a seat,” he invited. She and her coffee cup sat on the long sofa near DesChamps.
“Are you comfortable with your guards?” Godric resumed his position behind his huge desk.
“Oh, I think they’re great, but…why do I have to have two guards? Isn’t one shadow enough?” Cara had been wondering about that one all day.
“If you were attacked, one guard would extract you from the situation while the other guard would deal with the threat. Two guards are best. If this situation remains unresolved much longer, I may increase it to three when you are not here.” Godric’s level stare bespoke his intractability on that subject.
Cara drew a breath to speak, then blew it out in a very nice pout. “I really can’t see the escaped Weres coming to find me.” Godric raised that brow. It wasn’t nearly as adorable when his face was that serious. “Well, I did kill two of their own. They wouldn’t have appreciated that so much, would they…”
“No.” Ugh. Serious Godric was serious, all right. How someone who appeared so young could exude so much power, she’d never know.
She sighed. “Ok, I do see your point.” She sipped her coffee in retreat.
DesChamps asked during the opportune pause, “So you do get along with them?” She wondered why he asked basically the same thing Godric had.
“Oh, yeah, they’re really nice. I couldn’t stand it if they stood around all boots and rally/Men in Black all day, ya know? That would have been just too uncomfortable. While Mark and Elise do seem like they know their stuff, they’re also really easy-going and helpful, too. Can’t beat that!” Even though she understood the reasoning behind the action, Cara was a bit miffed at Godric’s suddenly intractable attitude, so she added, “Mark’s a real sweetheart, and Elise is just as nice as she could be. I can definitely see myself getting close to them, especially since we’re going to be spending so much time together. Although I certainly wish I didn’t need them, I don’t think you could have chosen two better guards for me, DesChamps.”
DesChamps studiously ignored the strong displeasure coming in waves from behind the desk.
“Oh, and I love Sarah!” Cara then finally switched her smile back over to Godric. “Thank you for bringing her on board, Godric. I’m really glad she’s here.”
Slightly mollified, Godric nodded his head. “You are most welcome. Do you have everything you need?” He wasn’t exactly happy yet, but he was definitely trying to count her eyelashes.
“Well, I’ve got an amazing coffee machine, all the coffee I could want for the foreseeable future, great cookware, perfect cast iron frying pans, and, yeah, I’ll need to go shopping again pretty soon,” she trailed off laughing. “A new kitchen takes a while to stock right because a lot of times you don’t know that you need something till you actually need it. I’ll have to expand the spice collection, too. Are there any other herbs or spices that vampires can’t stand?”
Maintaining his minute scrutiny, Godric simply shook his head.
To try to diffuse whatever his situation was, Cara switched topics. “Considering that my health, safety and well-being are directly involved, I have to ask if y’all have heard anything else about the disappearing Weres?”
DesChamps glanced at Godric for permission to speak, and Godric nodded his head.
“We’ve caught their scent, but we haven’t located them yet.”
Cara started to speak, then bit her lip as she changed her mind. “Well, if you guys hear something, let me know, ok? I need to get back to the chops. Are you staying to dinner, DesChamps?” Her question surprised him, but he nodded, and she excused herself.
Dinner progressed without incident, and there were just enough leftovers to prove that no one went hungry, but not enough to bother keeping, so Cara was happy with the quantity prepared. She knew that Sarah hadn’t planned on actually working that evening, so she sent her on home with her promises to see her at 11:00 am the next day.
According to her contract, Cara was supposed to be off on weekends, but since she didn’t have anything planned, she decided to just work instead. It wasn’t like they had anyone else lined up to take over yet, and it would give her something to do. That it was in Godric’s house surely had nothing to do with it.
During the dinner hour, Godric and Isabel met for a low discussion in the den. Godric seemed to be keeping a low-keyed watch over the Weres while Isabel seemed to be watching him. He intently ignored the very slight smirk on his child’s face. Cara ignored them both and instead kept an eye on the gravy. Apparently Weres loved gravy.
“You sent Sarah home?” came the unexpected query from an unexpected Godric.
Cara jumped, then automatically held her hand over her heart. “Geez, Godric, you’re gonna give someone a heart attack doing that!” She laughed to take the sting out of her words. He smirked, happy with startling her. He took great pride in his natural stealth. “Yeah, she would have been glad to stay, but she was getting tired. She hadn’t planned on actually starting work this evening and was really busy earlier today. She’ll be back tomorrow, though.”
Godric nodded. “It would be in her best interest to do so. Do you need any help?” His gaze indicated the mass of dirty dishes.
“Nah, I’ve got this.” She pulled her iPod out of her pocket. “See? I’m ready for anything! Oh, and I know I’m supposed to be off tomorrow and Sunday, but I haven’t heard that y’all have anyone else scheduled to take over on the weekends yet, I thought I’d just come in anyway.”
He smiled and nodded as he allowed his blue gaze to travel slowly over her charming face. His grin deepened with his obvious effect on her. Her blushes were so enticing. Although he could not expect to have earned back her trust yet, he was heartened that the situation between them was so much more relaxed now.
“I am pleased to hear it. You are most welcome here anytime you wish. Unfortunately we have an engagement tomorrow night in Charlotte, but I will see you before we leave.” An unidentifiable expression flashed over Cara’s face, but was gone in an instant. Godric raised his brow, but Cara only met his gaze steadily. “Earlier it seemed you wanted to say something, but hesitated. What was it, ma petite?”
She blushed a bit (again) at the endearment as she thought for a second, then responded, “I was wondering why those guys attacked Isabel in the first place. From what y’all have said, that kind of attack is extremely rare. Weres just don’t go around trying to eat vampires, especially four Weres all at once. The number of them alone is suspicious to me. Now, if it was a random thing, then they’re probably gone in the wind. But if it was some sort of assassination attempt, which to me seems much more likely, then are they going to try again? If so, when, where, and how? And why would anyone want to hurt Isabel in the first place? Who could possibly benefit from hurting her? I wish there was a way you could just ask them, ya know?”
Ah, his Cara was indeed a bright one he thought as he gazed into her eyes. His hand lifted seemingly of its own volition to stroke one finger slowly down her cheek. Her deepening blush pleased him, as did the quickening of her heartbeat. His fingertip detoured to slide gently over her lower lip as he replied, “You ask exactly the right questions, ma chere. As much as we would like to consider this a random act, we cannot make that mistake.” He reluctantly removed his finger. “I hope we can, ah, ask the Weres some questions, but unfortunately I do not yet know if that will be feasible.”
Cara attempted to unscramble her brain. “You said you guys have a meeting in Charlotte tomorrow. Will you be safe? Is there a chance that this attack on Isabel was to prevent your going in the first place?”
Godric suddenly stilled as only a vampire can. For several long moments his blank gaze lingered on her face. He, the brilliant strategist, had not even considered that possibility. Trust his Cara to think of such things! What was that expression…thinking outside of some box? Judging from previous conversations, she certainly did have a unique thought pattern.
In a blur, his hands rose to capture and tilt her face as his firm lips quickly covered hers. Startled, Cara reeled under the sweetly searing kiss loaded with awe and gratitude and no small amount of lust. Then after several leisurely sweeps of his cool tongue against her lower lip, he slowly pulled away. The length of his fangs was evident, but not at all intrusive. How such a sweet, gentle kiss packed an eternity into a mere few seconds, she’d never know. Maybe next time she’d have enough sense to open up for him? She might even try breathing, too.
He laughed, a joyous, relaxed sound reminiscent of their time spent together in her apartment that completely belied the seriousness of the current subject. “Ma belle, you have an amazing mind. It is as beautiful as you are.” He quickly kissed her nose, then blurred to his study to consider all angles of this new theory. The enticing memory of the taste of her lips burned low and deep, but it was the enchanting image of her wide, startled gaze and her lips pink and swollen from his kiss that would warm him for eons.
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