Emma rolled her head against the headrest of the huge white Escalade and grimaced in pain. She mentally catalogued her injuries from the floor up: Ankle? Check. Hip? Sore, but fine. Bleeding scrapes on wrist and arm? Check. Alive and not in BeauChamp’s clutches? Check and double check. For once, though, she couldn’t wait to arrive at the purposefully plain building concealing the Queen’s unexpectedly ornate palace.
“We’re almost there,” consoled Rasul. He had to inhale to speak, and regretted it instantly. The scent of her blood sharpened the bloodlust left over from the skirmish outside her apartment. It was only his extreme respect for Andre’s specific skills that stopped him from giving into his most basic instincts. The towel wrapped around her bleeding arm did little to staunch the luscious scent of her warm blood. It also didn’t help that he considered her very attractive for a human.
Rasul expertly rushed through the traffic and hoped that no one was in the way when he finally arrived at the palace. He trusted Sigebert, who had remained on site, to contact the Queen regarding the ambush. She would most certainly inform Andre, who would make appropriate arrangements. There were four dead weres to dispose of, and one were left living to question.
They arrived at the palace much faster than posted speed limits recommended, and the entrance guards promptly let them through. Rasul hurriedly parked in front of the doors to one of the private entrances, and lifted her from the vehicle. With the assistance of one of the palace guards, in what seemed like seconds they were outside Sophie-Anne’s quarters.
Since Wybert wasn’t standing guard outside the Queen’s doors, Rasul figured the old blond mountain was en route to help his brother with the dead and living were problem.
Immediately the door was almost wrested from its hinges as a growling Andre burst through and smoothly grabbed Emma from Rasul’s arms. The instant Andre scented her blood, he snarled a command for Rasul to wait outside the Queen’s rooms.
Slightly stunned and somewhat exasperated, Emma was awfully glad no one was currently expecting her to actually hold a meaningful conversation. Mr. Snarly Pissy-Pants wasn’t making a whole lot of sense, she thought. If Rasul were going to flip over her blood, he’d have done so before giving her the towel to cover her bleeding arm, and it wasn’t like he’d succumbed to temptation on the drive over, either.
Whatever, she thought. Even though he was still making those low growling noises, at least he was holding her carefully, and she was glad. As she snuggled her head into his shoulder, she dreaded to think about how sore she’d be from such painful and unexpected contact with the pavement.
As he deftly carried her from the doorway over to the large sofa, Andre refused to think about why the sight of Emma in Rasul’s arms raised his hackles so badly. Although his entire being demanded retribution for her injuries – another thing he chose not to think about, his immediate concern was to stop her bleeding and ease her injuries.
His face hardened in rage, his eyes blazing and his fangs fully extended, Andre nonetheless very gently eased Emma onto the sofa.
Somewhat dizzy from the plethora of current events, Emma leaned her head back to try to still the whooshing in her ears.
“I smell blood – where all are you damaged,” he demanded as he knelt before her, already running his hands lightly down her sides and over her hips. Emma had the errant thought that she was glad she was sitting down or her butt would have been felt up in front of the Queen.
“My arm’s bleeding from a lovely case of road rash, but my ankle’s just sprained, I think. Even though I’m kind of sore and hurting all over, still, I’m doing pretty damn good, all things considered.”
Finally satisfied for himself that those were, indeed, the only two main injuries, Andre reached for her towel-wrapped arm. When she instinctively jerked her wounded arm back, he growled, “Don’t be daft, woman. I can heal you.”
Imperceptibly his face softened when he met her confused, pained eyes. Although seeing the pain in her eyes caused something to lurch in his chest, he had to keep control of this situation. Her blood smelled just too damn enticing for her own good, and while he was willing and perfectly capable of defending her from any vampire who might scent her and attack, the one vampire he couldn’t fight was less than twenty feet away…his Maker.
The fragrance of her blood was also getting harder for Andre to ignore, and he knew there was a small delay before his own anger could mutate into full-blown bloodlust, so he had to act fast for several reasons.
He extended his hand while maintaining her gaze and, while he knew it wouldn’t actually work, he willed her as hard as he could to comply with his urgent request.
Emma knew she was in a precarious situation. She was bleeding in a room with two vampires, one of whom was offering to help her. So far, aside from being a sometimes-obnoxious ass, Andre had treated her well. She decided to trust him once again, and extended her wrapped and throbbing arm.
She closed her eyes as he carefully but quickly removed the bloody towel. She refused to open her eyes when he hissed, knowing the wound wasn’t a pretty sight.
“This may hurt a bit, but not for long,” he quietly cautioned just before she felt him start licking her arm. She mewed in discomfort; even as gentle as he was, it still hurt.
Emma pondered the surrealistic aspects of her current situation. She was sitting on the vampire Queen of Louisiana’s sofa, scraped, bloody, and bruised, while Andre was kneeling before her, licking her arm to quickly seal and heal the long, nasty scrapes, while the Queen herself stood watching half-way across the room.
With a wry twist to her lips, Sophie-Anne stood watching as Andre carefully tended to Emma’s wounds. She’d guessed that Andre perhaps had a certain…curiosity…about the human, but she was genuinely astonished with what she saw. To her Andre, humans truly were nothing more than disposable feeds and fucks. She would certainly never have thought to see him actively healing one. Interesting…
Suddenly all the pain ceased, and Emma opened her eyes to see Andre concentrating on rubbing several bloody fingertips all along her arm from her elbow to her wrist. He even tended to the small scrapes on her pinky finger.
He glanced up and caught her gaze. “Very soon this damage will be repaired,” he said a long moment later before he quickly stood. “What is wrong with your leg?”
When Emma started to toe her shoes off, Andre immediately took over. He then lifted her legs to help her place them on the seat as she turned, but inadvertently jarred her ankle. He hissed at her involuntary cry.
Emma squeezed her eyes shut to ride out the sickening wave of pain. A moment later, she opened her eyes to find Andre focused on her with unnerving intensity.
“It’s my ankle, but I think it’s just sprained. When the weres attacked, Sigebert bumped me out of the way a little harder than he may have intended, and I landed weird on it.”
Andre glanced at his Maker, who was already dialing for the doctor.
“Rasul, report.” Although he issued his command at normal speaking volume, a moment later Rasul re-entered the Queen’s salon. He’d been waiting just outside the door for the all-clear.
“Five weres attacked outside her apartment as we were leaving. Sigebert secured the one we left alive for questioning.”
“Exactly how was she injured?” He growled his question as he advanced toward the darker vampire.
Emma silently huffed. Why was he asking Rasul – hadn’t she just told him?
Across the room, Sophie-Anne silently raised a brow as she wondered the same thing.
Rasul stood his ground, and replied, “When we exited the building, we saw no one, and they were against the wind, so we couldn’t detect their scent, either. Just as we reached the SUV with Emma between us, however, all hell broke loose. The five weres attacked at once. She was injured when Sigebert bumped her away from the two that rushed her. Very quickly afterward we ended four of them. Sigebert saved the last one for you.”
Andre stared hard at Rasul as he considered the information he was given. He was certain that neither Sigebert nor Rasul would harm the human on purpose, but he was searching for negligence, and was relieved to find none.
At that moment someone knocked on the door. Andre took an instinctive step back toward Emma and nodded for Rasul to answer the door.
Emma peeped around Andre’s large form and tried not to stare at the short, squat odd-looking woman holding a large bag.
“Your Majesty,” she acknowledged the beautiful red-haired Queen. “This the hurt human?” She nodded toward Emma.
Bemused, Emma watched the woman as she toddled over to her.
“I’m Dr. Ludwig. Where’re you hurt,” she demanded gruffly.
Emma lifted her leg. “Ankle.” She figured brusque was the order of the day according to the doctor.
Dr. Ludwig sniffed, then fixed her eyes on Emma’s arm. “What happened there?”
“Road rash. Andre’s already healed it, though.”
The doctor raised her brows in surprise. She grabbed Emma’s wrist and examined the area quickly, totally ignoring Andre’s growl over her abrupt handling of Emma’s arm.
“That vamp did a good job. You won’t even scar.”
Emma laughed; she couldn’t help it. She would never have imagined anyone describing Andre as “that vamp”. Dr. Ludwig looked over at her sharply, winked, then pulled her pants leg up to examine her ankle.
Two pushes and a prod later, Emma’s preliminary diagnosis was proven correct. In less time than should have been possible, the doctor had given instructions and pills, and was gone.
Bemused, Emma glanced between Andre, Rasul, and Sophie-Anne, then started laughing. It was all just too much, she thought as she laughed harder.
Unintentionally concerned, Andre glanced from her to his Maker to see what she thought of Emma’s odd behavior. As far as he could see, there was absolutely nothing humorous about any of the previous events.
“I don’t think she’s broken, but I do think our Emma has had enough this evening. Call down to the kitchen and get her something to drink or whatever. That might help.”
Rasul immediately complied with his Queen’s command.
“I’m sorry, Sophie-Anne, Andre. This whole evening has been insane. Something to drink would be wonderful, though, so I can take some of those pain relievers she left.”
A few minutes later, Sigebert and Wybert arrived at the same time as a maid from the kitchen rolled in a coffee service. Emma started laughing again at the look Sigebert gave the cart. Wybert just nodded to his queen, and quickly resumed his guard duties outside the Queen’s door after giving the coffee service a wide berth.
“That’s just my coffee, Sigebert, it won’t attack you. Thank you for bringing that up, Tracy. I appreciate it.”
Andre nodded an obvious dismissal to the maid, then rolled the cart on over to Emma himself.
“Sigebert, tell me what happened.”
As Sigebert related his version of the evening’s events, Emma busied herself making her coffee and let Sigebert’s gruff but surprisingly soothing voice roll over her. The anticipated aches and pains were definitely making themselves known, and she was glad to swallow the prescribed pain relievers as quickly as possible. That the coffee was amazingly good was a very pleasant bonus.
She was impressed with Andre’s precise questioning, and enjoyed following his trains of thought. Errantly she thought about how she’d always found intelligence extremely attractive. Finally, though, she had a question of her own.
“Andre, if BeauChamp didn’t know I’d have two such excellent fighters with me tonight, then why did he bother with the expense and aggravation of sending five weres? Wouldn’t that have been overkill if it were just me by myself?”
Andre hissed, then immediately stilled in the way that only a vampire could as his mind was obviously spinning a thousand miles a minute.
Quickly he glanced between his Queen, Sigebert and Rasul. “Spies.”
While they all nodded, Emma suddenly had another idea. She got Andre’s visual attention, and mimed writing. He cocked his head sideways very briefly, then awareness flooded his face. Emma nodded and shrugged at him even as the other vampires looked at each other in obvious confusion.
Emma sipped her coffee while Andre started searching the room at vamp speed. Within two minutes he had discovered three listening devices.
As Andre angrily crushed the bugs between his fingers, Emma quite clearly pronounced, “He’s an intolerable slug…hope someone salts him soon.”
Sophie-Anne surprised the gathered vampires with a great peal of laughter. The Queen, who very rarely rushed anywhere, slowly sauntered over to Emma where she sat on the sofa.
“I am in complete agreement, my fine human friend. Are you better yet?”
Emma placed her coffee onto the nearby cart, and looked at her arm. “My arm is just about healed, but it’ll be days before my ankle is completely mended. I have to admit, though, I’m loving the pain killers the doctor left for me.”
She blinked slowly as the sedative effects of the pills began to take hold. Soon the quietly intense and rather boring strategic conversation between the vampires lulled Emma to sleep, and she never noticed how Andre paced, deliberately keeping himself between the sofa and the other male vampires in the Queen’s salon.
Sophie-Anne did, and she silently rolled her eyes at how subconsciously aggressive male vampires tended to get when other males were present. She guessed that all supe males were the same way, and knew that was one of the many reasons she preferred her lovers to be more of the feminine flavor.
Apparently, she snorted to herself, Andre wanted his lover to be more of the Emma flavor.
**So…how do you think Andre’s going to take Emma being hurt for the next couple of days? Review!**