Feeling like something of a fifth wheel, Carly Benedict curled up in one corner of the plush, slate-blue velvet loveseat in the sitting room of Xiomarís homeóthe home that he had opened to a street kid heíd fallen in love with, along with that young manís entire extended Ďfamilyí. Unfortunately, that left Carly at something of a loose end since she didnít have to turn tricks anymore to survive, and most of the others had found lovers, real lovers, amongst the vampires. And wasnít that a kick? she mused. Real vampires and she was living with half a dozen of them, including some of her best friends whoíd been newly turned... and her identical twin sister.
Sighing, she let the book sheíd been trying to read fall to her lap and leaned her head against the sofa, curly, red hair falling over the side almost to the floor as her green eyes closed. She hated to admit it, but she was lonely.
His heightened hearing catching the sound of a number of voices within the sprawling mansion, JT arched his eyebrows and chuckled to himself. "Must be haviní a party and forgot to tell me."
Knowing Xio as he did, that was definitely a possibility, and he decided to put on his manners and ring the bell rather than simply walking in. It had been a long flight from Houston to Boston, and he was ready to relaxóand have a sip of something warm.
When Carly heard the front doorbell, she eagerly abandoned the book that she hadnít been reading anyhow and went to see whoíd arrived. Though technically the house was Xioísóand Kelís as the Italian vampire kept insistingóshe lived there too. Besides, as far as she could tell, everyone else was busy with someone.
Opening the door with a smile on her lips, she just stared at the man on the doorstep. "Oh my," she breathed appreciatively, eyes running from the black, wavy hair on the top of his head down the long, incredibly sexy body to the feet shod in cowboy boots.
Lookingóand feelingósuitably impressed at Xioís new doormanówell, doorwoman, JT smiled, his drawl spilling honey-thick from his lips as he leaned against the doorjamb. "Evening, maíam. I was thinking that this was Xiomarís house, but I do believe itís heaven because you surely must be an angel."
Auburn eyebrows rose as Carly eyed him skeptically. "Okay, smooth talker, pretty to look at, let me guess. Youíre a very old friend of Xioís, right?"
JT chuckled. "Not nearly as old as some, maíam," he said, reaching out with preternatural quickness and catching her hand, bowing over it and kissing her fingers. "Jonah Trevor McGee at your service, but call me JT, please."
"Only if you promise never, ever to call me maíam again. The nameís Carly," she retorted with a grin. "And please come in. If Xio and Kel ever surface, Iím sure heíll be happy to see you. We actually have a houseful, mostly of vamps, but thereís always room for another one."
"Why thank you, maí... Carly." Keeping hold of the beautiful redheadís arm, JT walked into the house and down the hall to the living room. "No need to worry about crowding yíall out though, Iím just visiting. Had some business in town and wanted to look the old goat up." He shook his head, his sensitive hearing catching the sound of what exactly his host was up to.
"So, Iím guessing this ĎKelí is more then a fling?"
Carly snorted. "I keep expecting them to start reciting sonnets to one another. A two-thousand-year-old vampire and a rent boy whoís spent most of his life on the streets and theyíre absolutely sappy. Iím not sure if itís more entertaining or nauseating," she chuckled.
"As long as theyíre happy, thatís what matters, isnít it?" he asked curiously.
"Oh sure, donít get me wrong. Itís just... weird. Iíve never seen Kel like this, and I wouldnít have believed it if I hadnít seen it with my own eyes. But Iím glad theyíre happy. I... Sorry, itís just that pretty much everyone around here has paired off and you arrived while I was feeling sorry for myself," she admitted with a wry grin.
Leaning back slightly, JT gave the young woman a once-over that definitely wasnít gentlemanly. "Nowís the time I should be asking if my kinís all gone blind or just senile," he murmured.
"Mmm, I like you already. But no, theyíve just fallen in love. Xio and Kel, Derek and Nick, Marc and Angel, Bryce and Ethan, even Tariq, Bast and Vandy. Heck, even my own twin sister found someone. Kittenís about the only single person left around here aside from me. If Marc wasnít teaching me to fence, I think I might go nuts."
Hazel eyes widening slightly, JT shook his head in admiration. "How the mighty have fallen. Not that Iím complaining, mind you, matter of fact, Iím right glad that theyíre all busy as it leaves me to keep you from going nuts as you say."
"You think youíre up to the task?" Carly purred, stepping closer and tracing a finger along the neckline of his shirt.
"Well, now, Miss Carly, Iíd be willing to give it a try. Would you?"
"Oh, Iím willing to try just about anything, JT," she purred, now so close that barely a breath of air could fit between them.
The intoxicating scent of her light perfume caused his body to react at the same time the fragrance of her blood made his fangs elongate, and JT forced himself to hold back. This was going to be done properly or not at all. "Then perhaps youíd like to accompany me out for a meal this evening?"
"Depends. Am I the main course or dessert? A girl has to have some standards, you know." She leaned up, licking lightly over his chin. "Mmmm, you taste good."
Meeting the young womanís green eyes squarely, JT shook his head. "Iím sure you do too, but tonight, Iím not puttiní you on the menu. My momma raised her boys as gentlemen, and thatís what Iím going to be. I was thinking of a meal that you can enjoy too."
"Iím fairly certain Iíd enjoy your meal too," Carly pointed out though she smiled, pleased by his response. "But slow can be fun too sometimes." A thought struck her, and she frowned, then blurted out, "If youíre doing this Ďcause you think Iím some kind of lady or something, you donít have to. I used to work with Kel. On the streets," she added in case he didnít understand.
"And that matters how?" JT asked. He looked her up and down again, his eyes caressing her bodyís curves. "Far as I can tell, youíre all lady, maíam, unless youíre got some righteous padding going on under those clothes."
"Well, you gained points for the reaction, but youíre back in the doghouse for the Ďmaíamí," Carly chided. "Youíre going to have to do better than that if you expect to find out whether Iím all natural."
He shrugged helplessly, grinning. "Not much I can do to break a century of training. Youíre welcome to help me try if youíd like though."
"Iím a firm believer in positive and negative reinforcement. Every time you call me maíam, you donít get to touch, and every time you call me Carly..." She trailed off with a sultry smile before kissing him lightly.
"With lessons like that, youíll have me forgettiní my manners and my momma spinning in her grave in no time Ďtall," he chuckled.
"Well, Iíd hate to disturb your mama, so maybe Iíd better keep my distance."
"Miss Carly, I do believe youíre a tease," he grinned, showing the dimple in his left cheek.
"Would I do that?" She batted her lashes at him, her grin growing as she brushed her lips over his cheek.
He tilted his head and smiled, showing a hint of fang. "Well, I donít rightly know you well enough to say for certain, but Iím inclined to believe that itís so. I suppose I could check with Xio to see if it was the truth or not."
"Well, you could, but he gets cranky if you interrupt him when heís locked away with Kel. Youíll just have to take me at face value for now... if youíre brave enough."
"Miss Carly, I stood with Stonewall and stared down a horde of Yanks; I do believe Iím up to the challengeóeven of letting you choose where youíd like us to dine."
"Actually, you probably have a better idea than I do," she admitted. "Till Xio took us in, I never had an opportunity to visit restaurants. But I should probably change," she added, gesturing at her oversized sweatshirt with the sleeves ripped off and the shorts she wore beneath it.
"Youíll not find me complaining," JT murmured, though he stepped back to allow her to do as she wished. "And as for restaurants, I suppose weíll have to look together. My meals while in the city tend to be to go."
"Sounds like fun. I never really had a chance to explore much of the city despite living here. I didnít have time. Give me a few minutes to change and Iíll be right back." She brushed another kiss over his cheek and turned to leave, calling back, "Donít disappear on me, now."
"Now would I do such a thing?" he asked charmingly, sitting down on the loveseat and picking up the book that lay alongside it, glancing through the work while waiting.
Upstairs Carly changed quickly, hoping sheíd see Casey so she could tell her about JT, but her twin hadnít appeared by the time she was ready, so she shrugged and headed back downstairs. Hopefully sheíd have much to tell Casey by the next day.
"Ready," she announced brightly, the sheer overskirt of her green dress swirling over her bare legs as she stopped just inside the room, taking in JT.
Automatically coming to his feet when he heard Carlyís footsteps, JT smiled in pleasure, his eyes widening as he took in the sight of the beautiful young mortal. "Miss Carly, you are a sight," he murmured, reaching up to smooth his dark hair and unconsciously trying to straighten a jacket he wasnít wearing.
"In a good way, I hope. And itís just Carly, JT. Or should I start calling you sir?" She pushed her long hair behind her ears, exposing the long, dangly earrings that brushed against the sides of her neck, drawing attention to the long lines of it.
"In a very good way, and no, no sir. Just JT." He walked over to her side and held out an arm, swallowing heavily as his eyes tracked the pale flesh of her throat, drawn to the pulse beating there. "Iíll try to stop the ĎMissí, but it might be harder than the maíam even."
"Iím sure we can find something that weíd both be comfortable with you calling me. Any suggestions?" she purred, tilting her head to one side as she watched him mesmerized by her neck, teasing him a little.
"I suppose Ďfair maidení is out of the question?"
"Unless you want me to bite you!"
A truly roguish grin lit JTís face, and he winked. "Not on the first date, maíam." He drawled the last word, letting her know he was using it on purpose.
Carly gently kicked him in the shin. "Stop that, you, you snake-oil salesman!
"Oh my God, I sound like something out of a late night western! This is all your fault, you and that honeyed drawl."
His expression was totally unrepentant. "Now, now. I think youíd look mighty pretty in hoops and crinolines, relaxing on the verandah."
"Yuck!" Carlyís nose wrinkled as she imagined it. "Corsets so tight a woman couldnít breath, hoops making her hips look like an elephantís, acres of fabric in humid Southern heat, no thanks! Or are you implying that I need the help of such things?" she demanded, posing, knowing that the clingy, forest green tube dress under the filmy, paler green overdress showed her off to advantage.
"Never, maíam," he bowed, grinning up at her as he did so. "I happen to like todayís fashions right well, though there was something to be said for peeling layers off a woman to find her underneath. Something like unwrapping a Christmas present, I always thought."
"You have an answer for everything, donít you?" Carly laughed. "I have a feeling you could still make a woman moan removing even only one layer."
"Never underestimate the charm of a Southern gentlemanóor the skill of a cowboy," he murmured, straightening up and tucking her arm into the crook of his elbow.
"Mmm, an antebellum gentleman and a Wild West cowboy all in one. Every womanís dream." Carly let him keep her arm, not showing by so much as a blink that the last man whoíd tried that had ended up on his knees, gasping for air after she forcibly let him know how little she appreciated the manhandling. "Lead on, sir."
"Good thing I rented a car then, isnít it," he answered as they walked to the front door and out of the mansion. "Hopefully Xio will be done when we get back." He said this as he held the door to the sleek silver BMW open for her, closing it and walking around to the other side once she was seated.
"Iím sure he will. They usually surface earlier than this, but Kel was teasing Xio this morning." She shot him a wicked grin. "I have a feeling theyíll be a bit late today. Hopefully they wonít break another bed. Kitten had way too much fun teasing them after Kel pulled the headboard apart." She chuckled. "He hasnít been a vampire for very long, and heís still getting used to his strength."
JT nodded, settling himself in the seat next to Carly and starting the engine. "It can be a shock, thatís for certain. Anything you donít eat?"
"Insects." Carly made a face. "Iíve come too close in the past to consider them delicacies. Otherwise, Iím pretty open. I like trying new things... and people."
Deciding that sympathy wouldnít win him any points in this case, JT kept silent as he pulled out of the long driveway and on to the road. "Then I suppose weíll drive until we find somethiní worth stopping for."
"Iím telling you right now that if I find myself having breakfast in Texas, youíre gonna be in big trouble, mister!"
JT burst into laughter. "I suppose that means you donít want to be crossing the Mason-Dixon to get some grits either?"
Carly eyed him. "Donít even think about it. I need to know a man more than an hour before I elope with him. Dinner will be a good start."
"Yes, maíam," JT doffed an imaginary hat at her, laughing when she hit him on the arm. "What about seafood? Donít get much of that out by me."
"Mmm, I love it. Fish, shellfish, you name it. You know someplace around here?"
"Nope," he drawled, grinning. "Just figured there should be somewhere that sells fish around here is all."
"Yeah, thatís probably a pretty safe bet in Boston. Nut!" she laughed. "And for the record, McDonaldís filet-o-fish doesnít count."
"Thatís not fish, as far as I know," he laughed. "Fast food is definitely one of the drawbacks to this century. Give me a full course meal any day."
Carly nodded vigorously. "Though fast food has saved me from starvation often enough. But Iím not sad to have other choices now."
"Very true." JT tipped an imaginary hat to her. "And it certainly beats hard tack, beans or mealy bread when it comes down to it." He turned onto the expressway, heading for the coastline.
"Yuck!" Carly made a face. "With meals like that, Iíll bet you were grateful to become a vampire. At least blood is blood. And speaking of which, we will revisit that topic when itís time for dessert." She smiled sweetly at him, the long, polished nails of her left hand lightly scraping over his thigh, only the thin material of his pants between them.
"I donít know..." JT shifted his gaze, looking down at Carlyís hand and following the line of her arm to her shoulder and throat, "at the time I was dang glad to have them." He paused before taking her hand and threading his fingers through hers. "As for dessert, why do I get the feeling youíre going to get your way about that?"
"Because a woman always gets her way if she really wants to," Carly chuckled, her palm flattening on his thigh, her fingertips lightly brushing his crotch. Knowing he was watching, she tilted her head away, arching her throat and baring it to him.
"Now, Miss Carly..." Seeing the look that phrasing got him, JT back-tracked. "Now, Carly. I promised you a meal, and thatís what I aim to get you.." He wrenched his eyes back to the road, aware of the fact that she could feel his body reacting to her as it had from the moment he first laid eyes on her.
"Did I say anything about skipping dinner? I was talking about dessert. And in case they do things differently down in Texas, we usually have that after the meal. But appetizers are fun too," she purred, drawing one of his hands over to her so she could suck a finger into her mouth.
JT gave a grunt of agreement, only the fact that traffic was getting heavier keeping his attention on the road. "Itís a good thing that that kind of food doesnít matter to me any more, because damned if Iím going to be paying a bit of attention to our meal."
"My, such flattery will turn my head," Carly simpered, playing the delicate Southern belle. "But anticipation will make the end even better." She leaned back in her seat, crossing her legs and allowing her skirt to ride up momentarily, giving JT a glimpse of red curls.
If it had been possible for a vampire to blanch, JT would have done just that at the realization that Carly wasnít wearing anything under her dress but her God-given skin. "I need a drink," he croaked.
"Well, I have offered," Carly retorted, smiling. She knew she wasnít being fair, but seeing how she affected him... It felt wonderful knowing that he wanted her.
He had to laugh at that, the sound low and rough within the confines of the sedan. "Miss Carly, while I have the feeling that tasting you would be intoxication itself, I mean to have a bourbon."
"Mmm, sounds good," she agreed, finally taking her hand back. "And I promise to stop teasing you... at least till the car is parked."
"Thatís right kind of you, maíam," he murmured. "Seeing as I donít want to be the cause of any harm coming to you if I run this car into a pole because of being distracted."
"The only pole I noticed was inside the car," Carly replied, smirking at him. "And I must say itís doing wonderful things for my ego."
"Just like being here with you is doing wonderful things for my libido," JT chuckled.
"You do say the nicest things." Carly smiled at him, enjoying simply looking at the handsome man at her side. After meeting JT, she had a feeling it wouldnít be long before she and Casey were the same again, though she wasnít going to spook him by telling him that yet.
JT flashed a toothy smile. "My momma always taught me to be polite and truthful. Just doing my best to live up to her teachings."
"Iím sure sheíd be very proud of you. I know I like the results." Wanting to touch him, she reached over again, this time placing her hand on his shoulder as she tried to stick to her promise not to tease.
"Thank you, maíam," he smiled, taking a waterfront exit and maneuvering the car onto one of the crowded streets. "Up to hoofing it for a bit until we find a place that looks good?"
"Youíre asking me if I can walk the streets?" Carly laughed. "I think I can manage it, yes."
"Hey," JT said placatingly, "I doubt I could walk half a block in those torture devices you ladies call shoes." He glanced down at Carlyís heels, admiring the long length of her legs as he did so.
"You are too cute to be real." She obligingly stretched out a leg, arching the foot and throwing the length of it into sharp delineation. "And these are actually comfortable. Besides, I like the way they look."
"So do I," he murmured, wrenching his eyes back to the traffic when horns blared behind them. Finding a lot with open spaces, he pulled in, handing over the keys to the valet and going around to the passenger side of the car to open the door for his companion. "Ready when you are, Miss Carly."
Carly tsked at him as she slid out of the car without taking his hand. "I told you, itís just plain Carly or you donít get to touch." She smoothed her skirt back down over her thighs, eyebrows rising as she eyed him.
"Damn." JT sighed and took a step back, though there was a hint of a grin playing at the corners of his mouth. "Ready when you are, Carly."
"Much better." She stepped closer, rubbing along the front of his body as she looped her arms around his neck and kissed him lingeringly. "Iíll make you remember that yet."
"Do that again, and I doubt Iíll remember my own name."
"As much fun as that could be, you promised me dinner, JT. Feed me, and then Iíll feed you," she promised huskily.
JT stepped back but slid an arm around Carlyís waist. "One isnít dependant on the otheróor, more accurately, your eating isnít dependant on mine. Iím enjoying just being with you, Carly."
"Me too. But to be blunt about it, I want you to. I know how good it can feel when Iím just somewhat attracted to someone, and Iím dying to find out how it with someone I really want." Her own arm slipped around JTís waist, and she was pleased to find that they matched strides easily, walking comfortably together.
Mulling that line of reasoning over for a moment, JT finally nodded. "I canít lie and say Iím not attracted to you too, Carly, so I canít argue with that logic. The question is, do you want to go back to Xioís place or get a room of our own after dinner?"
She frowned as she thought about it. "Iíd kind of like to show you off to my family," she admitted. "If you donít mind, that is. Besides, I know the sun doesnít really hurt you and all, but Iíd feel happier if I knew you were somewhere safe during the day." She knew it was ridiculous, but she didnít want to take a chance of losing him when sheíd only just found him, and she had no idea how old or strong he was.
He smiled and tightened his arm around her waist in silent thanks for her concern. "I certainly donít mind that at all. Of course showing me off depends on if the others can get out of bed long enough to say howdy."
She laughed. "Good point. But theyíll surface eventually... and maybe by then weíll be the ones not getting out of bed for days at a time."
"You know, I just canít bring myself to be upset about that being the situation," he laughed. They stopped at a restaurant, and JT looked over the menu. "Think itís worth a shot?" he asked.
"Mmmm, marinated calamari. Xio had the chef make that for us one night, and I loved it. Yes, letís try this place." Carly was aware of the admiring and envious looks that followed them, and for once no one was looking down their noses at her. She smiled up JT gratefully.
"Thatís squid, right?" At her nod, JT shuddered. "Whatever you want, Carly, but thatís one thing that Iím not trying." He grinned down at her and stepped up to the hostess to see about the wait for a table.
She laughed. "So much for the big, scary... man." She grinned at him mischievously. "Iíll protect you from the nasty sea creatures. And you donít know what youíre missing. Itís good! Not like that deep-fried stuff."
"No thank you." He shuddered again but was plainly enjoying her reaction to his dislike for the dish. "Trout or flounder, lobster or shrimp are all fine with me. Nothing with tentacles."
"What a big baby," she chuckled. "Fine, no tentacles. After all, shelled, big, beetle-like creatures are ever so much more appetizing," she teased.
"They are when all you see is the tail or no shell at all," JT answered. "The waitís about half an hour. Care for a glass of wine or something stronger in the lounge?"
"You mean while you have that bourbon? And much as Iíd like one, they wonít serve me, JT. Iím not twenty-one." Carly shrugged. "A ginger ale would be nice, though."
"Do you want one?" he asked again.
She tilted her head to one side, eyeing him quizzically. "Okay, yes, Iíd like a glass of white wine."
"Then youíll have one." He flashed her a smile as they walked into the dimly lit lounge, holding out a chair for her near the waterside windows before sitting down himself.
When the waiter appeared, JT took charge. "Iíll have a bourbon, neat, and the lady will have a glass of Chardonnay."
The freckle-faced waiter frowned. "Iím afraid Iím going to have to ask to see some ID, maíam."
Leaning in slightly, JT caught the young manís attention. "No, you donít," he said quietly. "You saw her driverís license and sheís over twenty-one. Now go get our drinks."
Blinking a few times, the waiter nodded. "Yes, sir. A bourbon and a Chardonnay."
Waiting till the waiter left, Carly smiled at him. "You are useful to have around, arenít you? How convenient. And here I thought you were just a pretty face."
"The old Jedi mind trick." At her look of surprise, JT laughed. "I watch movies, little lady."
"Does that mean I have to call you Ďmaster?í" Carly uncrossed and re-crossed her legs, knowing he was watching her.
He arched an eyebrow. "That depends if youíre comparing me to Yoda or someone else."
"Ick! I donít do little green troll guys who talk backwards. I was thinking more of Qui-Gon. Or Obi-wan in Attack of the Clones. Yum! Want to show me your light saber?"
The waiter gave Carly a strange look as he delivered their drinks, but JT stared at him silently until he left.
"Sorry to disappoint you, Miss Carly, but a glowing light saber isnít one of my talents."
"I have some nice glow-in-the-dark condoms if you really want it to, but Iím more concerned with how you use it than what color it is." She sipped her wine, smiling over it at him.
"I suppose thatís something that will have to wait until after we eat and Iím vetted by your kin," he answered, raising his glass and tapping it against hers in a toast.
"You mean drooled on. There wonít be any vetting happening by anyone but me." Carly leaned over the table and brushed a kiss over his lips. "I have a feeling that you may be a perfect ten."
"Why thank you, maíam," he murmured, running a fingertip down her cheek and over her lower lip. "Where I come from, finding you would be likened to drilling a gusher."
Her lips quirked. "Iím going to assume you didnít mean that the way it sounds. Though we can do that later too." She reached over and picked up his glass, turning it so she could take a drink from the same spot his lips had touched.
JT chuckled and, after taking his glass back, licked at the rim where theyíd both touched. "You are a most persuasive woman, Carly."
"I do try. And you intrigue me, JT. Up till now itís all been to survive or just proximity. With as many vamps as there are in the house, the rest of us sort of pitch in to keep Ďem fed whenever possible. Not that thatís any great hardship," she chuckled. "But I donít think Iíve ever been with someone just because I wanted him. Iím looking forward to it."
"I do hope the one youíre looking forward to being with is me," he teased gently.
"And you called me a tease?" She eyed him over the rim of her wineglass. "Fortunately, I donít mind at all."
"This is very good to hear." JT leaned over the table, cupped his hand under Carlyís chin, and kissed her lingeringly.
"Remind me why we went out to eat instead of staying home with all the nice beds?" she moaned as she sank back into her seat when he sat back.
"Because this was supposed to be a proper date."
"Ah. Right. Behaving. I can do that." Carly took another swallow of her wine and recrossed her legs. "So shall we discuss the weather? Or what Iíd like to do to you and have you do to me?" She smiled angelically.
JT eyed the waiter who was staring at Carlyís legs with something akin to awe. "If you do that, we might get our next round of drinks in our laps and not on the tableóor I might have to tearó" he paused to read the boyís nametag, "Trevorís head off."
Trevorís eyes widened and he backed away quickly. "Your table is ready," he got out, watching JT warily.
"Oh good. Iím starved." Carly rose from the barstool and smoothed her dress down, knowing both men were watching her.
Standing as well, JT gave the waiter a cool look before placing a hand on Carlyís waist in a subtle gesture of claiming as they followed the man to the table.
"I think I like possessive Southern men," Carly said, amusement clear in her voice. "I also think you get a reward for that, but itíll have to wait till weíre alone."
"Why, thank you ma- Carly." JT grinned at the last as he held her chair out for her.
"Youíre learning. Good boy." Carly waited till JT sat as well then reached over to take his hand. "If I havenít told you yet, Iím really glad you showed up tonight. And Iím glad that Casey already has someone of her own so I donít have to share you, at least not full time."
"With your sister?" JT asked curiously.
Carly shrugged. "Youíd be amazed how much money a pair of redheaded identical twins can make. And we never minded sharing. It was fun though we were never as into it as Angel and Kitten. We only did it with customers."
"If you want the truth, darliní, Iím not much for sharing, myself."
"Glad to hear. Which isnít to say I donít have fun when I do. Ethan and Bryce made my head spin," she said with a chuckle, naming a pair of vampires who visited often. "But thatís not what I want all the time." She picked up the menu and glanced through it, still leaning toward the calamari.
"Hmm, canít recall meeting them myself. Am I going to have to fight a duel in your honor to keep them away from you?" JT asked, giving a slightly dangerous smile.
"I doubt it since theyíre pretty fixated on each other," Carly laughed. "And Iím sure you can find better things to do than fight. And if you canít, Iíd be happy to suggest some to you."
"Make love, not war?" he asked, grinning.
"I knew I liked you," she laughed. "Though we should probably hold that thought till we get home, at least if we ever want to come back to this restaurant."
The waiter returned, and they placed their orders before JT answered. "I think we can be patient a little longer, at least until weíve eaten and gone back to Xioís place."
"And then you can eat," she replied, placing a hand over one of his.
He closed his fingers around hers and raised them to his lips, kissing them. "Iím looking forward to it, darliní."
"Me too," she admitted. "Youíre a very unusual and interesting man."
"Even when I slip up and call you Miss Carly?"
She growled at him. "I will break you of that habit if it kills you."
"Already dead, darliní, too late for that." JT kissed Carlyís fingers again and released her hand to take a sip of his bourbon.
"Which just means I could torture you longer without worrying about doing anything permanent."
JT looked wounded. "Youíd hurt me? And here I thought all you would break is my heart."
"Mmm, thatís the one part I think I want to keep intact. Well, maybe more than just that," she added musingly, a tiny smile curving her lips.
"Care to tell me which part that would be?" he asked playfully.
"Not with the waiter about to come back," she retorted. "But I think you might be able to figure it out." Under the table, she slid a foot out of her shoe and rubbed it against the bulge between his legs.
JT closed his eyes and when he opened them, they were dark with hunger and desire. ""Ahím gonna make sure you get your meal, Miss Carly, even if it kills me," he rasped.
"Mm, a man who can focus on his goals, I like that." She wriggled her toes.
JT groaned and tried to shift away. "Youíre an evil woman, do yíall know that?"
"Look at who I associate with." She grinned wickedly as she slipped her foot back into her shoe. "I have to work hard to keep up."
"Mmm, trying to out-dress Xio could be a challenge."
She burst into laughter. "I wouldnít dream of it. But I have my own niche, mainly keeping Casey out of trouble," she admitted with another chuckle.
"And what do you do for yourself?"
"I havenít quite decided yet," she admitted. "I think I want to travel, see more of the world. For right now, Iím just enjoying having a real home and not worrying about where our next meal is coming from. And I like the tutors Xio hired; I missed school."
"What subjects do you like?" JT asked, nodding to the waiter as he brought their food and indicating they needed refills on their drinks.
"Well, history interests me, but I donít want to end up in the same field as Derek or Nick so people think they gave me a break or anything. Iíve been thinking of studying architecture. I think Iíd like that."
"Hmmm, you do that and you can design me a whole new main building for the ranch."
"Oh, a commission already. Damn, Iím good." Carly grinned at him.
JT smiled sensually. "That remains to be seen, darliní."
"You doubt me?" She shook her head. "Iíll just have to prove it to you, then."
Waiting until after their food was placed before them, JT smiled again. "Ah canít wait."
"Then eat up." Carly took a bite, eyeing him as she sensually drew the shrimp into her mouth. "And donít bother ordering dessert; weíll have that at home."
Seeing the lights on in most of the mansionís rooms, JT sighed as they pulled up in front of it. "Suppose itís time to be vetted now; at least Xio and Marc can speak on my behalf." He grinned as he said the last.
"Am I too old to run away from home?" Carly groaned, knowing it might be hours before she got JT alone if everyone was home.
"Yes," JT answered firmly. "But weíll set a time limit for this."
"Thirty seconds?" she asked hopefully before sighing. "I love my family, really, but their timing sucks and theyíre nosy as hell."
He chuckled. "Thatís because they love you as well, Iím gathering."
"Well, yes." She smiled. "Oh, for the record, ignore any offers. I refuse to share you with anyone tonight, and I guarantee Kitten and probably Casey will suggest it. Hell, the guys might too."
"I thought you said Casey had a man?"
"Yeah, but I donít think itís gonna last. I think she picked someone who was safe, not someone sheíll want to spend eternity with. Besides, we usually share," Carly shrugged.
"Not any longer," JT answered, his voice lowering dangerously.
"Ooo, possessive much?" Carly asked, nearly purring. Normally sheíd slap down any guy who thought he could tell her what to do, but she found she liked JTís jealousy.
"Do you mind, darliní?" he asked, rubbing his hand over the small of her back.
"Actually, I think I like it. And if we donít go in soon, theyíll come out here after us."
"Itís your home, Carly, lead on."
"Iíd sneak in another door if I thought itíd do any good, but most of Ďem are vampires and theyíd hear us. Okay, come on. Weíll give Ďem half an hour, max." She slid out of the car, trying not to remember that nearly her whole family would be able to smell her arousal as easily as JT must.
Catching her arm, JT gently pulled Carly into his arms. "Maybe this will make up for it?" he asked, kissing her lingeringly.
"That makes me want to be alone with you."
"Gonna introduce us to your friend?" Casey drawled, leaning against the now open door frame, Kel, Angel and Kitten all peering out curiously.
JT moved back, keeping one arm around Carly, and looked toward the door, smiling. "Well, Iím assuming youíre Miss Carlyís sister; not sure about the others though."
"Yup, thatís Casey. The other twins are Angel and KittenóKittenís the girlóand the other oneís Kel. Thatís my family, except for Curt, who I hope youíll get to meet someday. And their mates, of course."
"A pleasure to meet yíall," JT said, smiling and offering the youngsters a bow.
"Ohh, I love that accent," Kitten exclaimed.
"Kitten, you love everything," Casey sighed.
"See why I wanted to run away?" Carly muttered to JT.
"She can love the accent all she wants, but if she gropes me, Iím taking you to a hotel."
"Jeez, I canít get laid around here for shit," Kitten pouted before grinning. "I like you. Heís a keeper, Carly."
"I know." Carly drew JT toward the door, the others falling back to let them in.
"Any questions I can answer for yíall?" JT asked, smiling. "To prove Iím good enough for Miss Carly here."
Kel laughed. "Youíve spent a few hours with her, and sheís still smilingóand hasnít ripped your balls off. Thatís good enough for me."
JT winced. "Would you do that to me, darliní?" he asked incredulously.
"Only if you deserved it, sweetie," she replied. "Or if you keep calling me maíam!"
"Sheís traininí me," JT sighed, looking at the others, hoping for sympathy.
"Why do you think I picked a guy?" Kel laughed, making Angel nod vigorously.
"Wimps," Casey scorned, laughing.
"Perhaps I should meet with your man, Miss Casey," JT murmured. "To get some pointers."
"Hey, no staging palace revolts!" Casey chuckled. "And Iím not your teacher, handsome, so quit miss-ing me."
JT grinned. "Ahh, but you donít have a hold on me like my darliní does."
"No, I think Carlyíd make sure I drew back a bloody stump if I tried."
"Damn straight. This oneís all mine!"
"Any more questions or can I go pitch some woo?"
"Pitch some woo?" Angel mouthed at Kel, who shrugged in bewilderment.
"I think thatís our cue to take our leave," Carly said hastily, not wanting to give anyone a chance to comment. "Come on, JT, my roomís this way." She nearly dragged him up the stairs.
He snickered as they walked down the upstairs hall. "Thought that would have them wonderiní."
"You had me wondering if I should run for it," Carly admitted.
"Darliní, you havenít seen how I pitch woo yet," JT murmured, nuzzling her neck.
"You just made that up, didnít you? Oh God," she moaned.
JT just smiled.
"My room," Carly said, pushing a door open and gesturing him in.
"Beautiful, just like you," JT said, closing the door behind them and drawing Carly into his arms, nuzzling her neck.
"Quit talking and put your mouth to better use," she demanded, shutting and locking the door without moving away from him. That done, she wrapped her legs around JTís waist, groaning when she felt his hardness against her.
He gave a ragged moan and caught her hips in his hands, pulling her closer and walking toward the bed to tumble them both onto the comforter, working at their clothing.
Feeling his weight pressing her into the mattress, Carly pulled him closer, nipping at his ear as she rocked against him. "You taste good," she purred.
Grinning, JT pushed up off her and eased her dress up over her hips, leaning in to lick the red curls heíd seen bared so tantalizingly earlier in the evening. "Mmm, so do you."
She gasped, her legs spreading and her knees rising, fingers combing through his dark hair as she clutched at him. "Help yourself," she panted.
Supporting her ass with his hands, JT tilted Carlyís hips upward and licked the length of her cleft, keeping his fangs covered for the time being.
"Not bad," she said, keeping her voice steady with an effort. "Can you keep it up?"
In answer, he nipped at her thigh, not drawing bloodóyet.
"Tease!" She tugged on his hair, hips arching upward.
"Are yíall saying you donít enjoy it?"
"I never said that." Carly raised her head to peer down her body at him, meeting his hazel eyes. "But I havenít had my dessert yet either." She licked her lips suggestively.
JT raised his head and licked his lips. "Who am I to deny a lady?" he asked, rising and holding out a hand to her so they could both remove their clothes.
She let him pull her to her feet and ended up plastered against him, kissing hungrily, their clothes forgotten again.
"This would be easier without the layers between us, darliní," he murmured, running his hands over her curves.
"Well, if youíre going to be logical about it..." She grinned as she stepped back reluctantly. Her hands grasped the hem of her dress and raised it over her head, leaving her naked. "Happy now?" She ran her hands down her sides then back up her belly to cup her breasts.
"Miss Carly, you have no idea." Shaking his head in awe, JT moved forward, growling when she ducked away from him.
Carly waved a finger at him. "Uh uh, cowboy. I told you you wouldnít get to touch if you called me miss or maíam."
He growled again and stripped out of his own clothes, stalking her toward the bed.
Laughing she backed away, at the same time sliding her hands back down her body, one sliding between her legs before rising to her mouth. Never looking away from JTís hazel eyes, she slowly licked a finger, then sucked it.
"Darliní, you are pure wickedness," he rasped, covering the distance between them in a second and giving in to his raging desires and laying her out on the bed, claiming her body as he pierced the thin skin of her throat with his fangs.
Carly cried out in ecstasy at the double penetration, her arms and legs going around him as she arched upward. "Oh fuck yeah, fuck me," she panted, nails clawing at JTís back.
JT mumbled against her throat as he continued to move, the sting of her nails driving him onward as he thrust into her tight heat.
"Oh God, so good," she moaned, hands sliding downward, nails scraping lightly over his spine till she reached the base. The finger sheíd been sucking only moments before pressed against his opening till it slid inside, and she slowly pressed forward.
JT tensed momentarily before raising his head, licking his lips and smiling down at Carly, nibbling the curve of her breast as they moved together.
Surprised by his reaction, Carly hesitated before allowing her finger to slide deeper, seeking the gland buried inside him. She moaned softly as he pulled away slightly, driving himself deeper into her wet heat.
"Oh, darliní..." JT gasped, kissing her as he slid a hand between them to cup her breast, rolling the tight nipple between his fingers.
Carly groaned into his mouth, her finger finally finding what it was seeking and rubbing.
JT shuddered, driving deeper into her body, his balls tightening closer to his body.
"Told you I had lots to show you," Carly whispered throatily, her legs inching up higher around his waist, letting him go a little deeper.
He chuckled throatily. "My sireíll be damn proud of you."
"Didnít do it for him," she purred, managing to rub him again before she cried out with her climax.
"I gathered that," JT groaned, plunging into her again and again before coming as well, nipping at her throat and licking the blood away.
"Oh, God, gonna do it again as soon as we can," she panted, pulling her hand free and clutching his buttocks to hold him inside her.
"And then I can start talking you into coming back to Texas with me."
"Texas?" Carlyís eyes widened. "But... my family."
"Have I mentioned I have a plane?"
Carly bit her lip. "But itís so far away."
He gave a lop-sided smile. "Suppose Iíll have to ask you some time later."
"I like the idea of being with you," Carly said slowly, "but..." She hesitated. "Ask me again later. I need time to think about this."
"Whatever you say, Miss Carly," JT murmured, stroking the red hair out of her face. "But donít think Iíll forget."
She groaned. "Just Carly. Or should I start calling you Mr. JT?" She leaned into his hand.
"Iíll take that over Mr. T."
"That black guy with all the gold from the eighties shows? Trust me, I can tell the difference."
JT chuckled. "Yes, thatís the guy, and Iím glad to hear that, darliní." He kissed her again. "So, how do you feel about cuddliní?"
"Pretty new to me, but I like it so far." Carly smiled up at him, legs sliding down as she relaxed beneath him.
"Glad to hear it." He kissed her again and rolled to the side, bringing her with him.
"Iíll have to keep trying it to be sure," she said, nestling against him.
"Itís lookiní like Iím going to be making lots of trips up here in the near future."
"Iím not going to complain about that. I like having you here. Might even get used to it."
"Afternoon, Miss Carly, get the flowers?" JT asked, pressing the cell to his ear to block out the noise of the oil rig he was perched on.
"JT! Theyíre beautiful. And stop calling me miss." Carly curled up on the couch, a huge smile on her face as she talked to tall vampire she was afraid she was falling for.
"Ahh, but Iím not there to be told I canít touch, am I?" he asked.
"Then you wonít get to touch when you are here either," she threatened.
"Now, darliní, you wouldnít do that, would you?"
"I miss you," she whispered instead of answering, knowing that she wouldnít be able to keep her hands off him the next time she saw him.
He smiled. "Miss you too, baby," he answered. "Any chance you can come visit down here?"
"Umm... yeah, I could do that. Not like I have a schedule or anything. You sure you want me to?"
"Darliní, would I be sendiní you flowers every week if I didnít want to see you?"
"Good point. So when should I plan to go?"
"Have anythiní going on tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow! Iíll never be able to get a flight," Carly exclaimed.
"Iíll be countiní the minutes, darliní," he murmured.
"Iíll have Xioís staff see what they can do and let you know when Iíll be able to get there."
JT nodded though he knew Carly couldnít see it. "The earlier the better, darliní, the earlier the better."
"Youíre good for my ego," Carly murmured. "I canít wait to see you again."
"Same here, my bedís been mighty lonely since I left Boston."
"Glad to hear it," Carly replied, her smile spreading. "Iíll have to make sure to reward you when I see you."
He chuckled. "Even though I called you Miss Carly?"
"Iíll let you get away with it this once. Since I donít want to waste any time once I see you again. I want you inside me again, touching me everywhere, making me moan and beg for you."
"Darliní, thatís a purely cruel thing to say to a man whoís standing out on an oil rig in the middle of nowhere."
She laughed throatily. "So you wouldnít want me to tell you what Iím going to do to you, how Iím going to kiss and lick and bite every inch of you?"
"Carly!" JT groaned, adjusting the fit of his jeans. "You just wait until I get ahold of you."
"Iím looking forward to it." She grinned wickedly, wishing she were there already.
"I may not let you go," he warned.
"Well, I wonít want you to for a while. But Iím not ready to walk away from my whole life and move down there permanently," she warned.
He sighed. "I understand, darliní. Doesnít mean I wonít keep trying."
"Iíd be disappointed if you did. Iím not stringing you along, JT; I do want you and want to be with you; I just donít know how to keep my family and you at the same time."
"I understand, darliní; I just miss you something fierce is all."
"I miss you too," she repeated. "Weíll figure something out, somehow. I just donít know what yet."
A clanking sounded over the phone, and JT cursed. "Gotta go, darliní; let me know when youíll be here, and Iíll meet you at the airport."
"I will, so donít get yourself hurt!"
"Will you kiss it if I do?"
"Iíll kiss all the unhurt parts."
"Guess Iíd better take care." There was another clanking, and JT sighed. "Love ya, darliní, talk to you soon!"
"Love you too," Carly said, but she was talking to a dial tone. Hanging up with a sigh, she went to find Xio to make arrangements for her trip.
Nearly bouncing with excitement in the first class seat, Carly peered out the window the next afternoon. The pilot had just announced that they would be landing in a few minutes, and then she would see JT again.
"Can I take your drink, miss?" the flight attendant asked.
"Carly!" JT yelled the moment he saw her, almost dropping the roses in his arms as he pulled her into a hug.
Carly flung her arms around the dark-haired vampire, kissing him eagerly, indifferent to the people veering around them, some appearing disgruntled, others smiling.
"Missed you, darliní," he murmured, smiling down at her.
"Missed you more," she retorted, grinning.
"And how do you know that?"
"I just know." She moved to one side, an arm remaining around JTís waist, and started walking toward the baggage claim.
"Then I suppose Iíll have to believe you," he smiled, kissing her temple.
"Smart man. I knew there was a reason I liked you." She leaned into him as they walked, not caring that they looked like a pair of teenagers in the throes of their first crush.
"Thatís the only reason?"
"Do you really want me to go into details in the middle of a crowded airport?"
"Mmm, how Ďbout we wait until we get home?"
"Or at least to the car."
"The car?" JT grinned rakishly.
"Mm hmm." She smiled at him, licking her lips. "Iíve been waiting for this for weeks."
He refrained from mentioning that if sheíd come back with him, they wouldnít have had to be apart. "Well then, Iíll just have to get you to like Texas more."
"Or you to visit Boston more," she retorted uneasily.
"Be glad to do that," he said easily.
That gained him a smile. "I wish it wasnít so difficult," Carly said softly as they waited for the luggage. "I wish there was an easy answer, but I know I couldnít be happy away from my family. Theyíve meant too much to me for too long."
"I wonít tear you away from your family, darliní," JT answered, reaching up to tuck a red curl behind her ear. "All I can remind you is that we can be in Boston in three hours in my jet."
She chewed her lip. "I know. Logically I know, but then I think about not being able to walk down the hall and wake Casey up to share a bowl of ice cream at three in the morning or not seeing Kittenís campaign to get someone to turn to her, and my heart clenches. The same way it does when I think about you getting tired of all this and leaving."
"Not going to happen, darliní," he smiled.
She smiled slightly in response, raising one hand to cup his cheek. "Youíre a very special man, JT."
"Iím a Southern gentleman," he said wryly. "Sometimes I wonder if it might be better to be a bit more like my sire."
Carly shrugged. "I like you just the way you are. I just need to break you of calling me miss or maíam and youíll be just about perfect."
"And get me to move to Boston."
"Well, that would be nice, but hardly fair. I know you love whatever it is you do out in the oilfields."
"I like the space out here," he allowed.
"Which doesnít exist in Boston," Carly said, indicating her bag when she spotted it, knowing from past experience that JT wouldnít let her get it herself. "So show me around this place you love. Maybe Iíll fall in love with it too."
After catching Carlyís bag and shouldering it, JT smiled. "Iím hoping thatís the case."
"Well, I already like you, so thatís a big plus for it."
"Glad to hear that." He led her outside to his car, opening the door for her, then placing her bag in the back. "Iím tryiní to sell the place."
Carly froze, staring at him. "For me?"
"To you," he nodded.
"To... Oh." She relaxed. For a moment sheíd thought he meant he was trying to sell his home. "Then I place myself in your expert hands, Mr. Tour Guide."
He chuckled as he got into the SUV. "Ever ride a horse?" he asked as he pulled out of the parking space. "Or go camping?"
She eyed him askance. "Hello, city girl here. Grew up in an orphanage and on the streets. Not too many riding schools in either place. But it sounds like fun to learn."
"Iíve got a couple of gentle old gals thatíll be good for you to learn on, and I know you have a good seat."
She laughed. "Like the way I ride, do you?"
"Iíd say youíre a natural."
"I just like to establish a good rapport with my mount."
"Just so long as itís me youíre mounting."
"And youíre gorgeous."
"Mm, how far is it to that bed?" she asked, letting her hand fall to his thigh and slowly slide upward.
"An hour out to the ranch, then we can find one."
"An hour! I donít think so." Carly unfastened her seatbelt and twisted around so she was kneeling on the floor, her fingers unfastening JTís belt and jeans.
"Carly!" he exclaimed, cradling a hand around her head. "Darliní, if we have an accident, you can get hurt..."
"So donít have an accident. And if we do, well, youíd just have to do whatís going to happen eventually anyhow." She mouthed him through his briefs.
"Carly..." he groaned, arching up in the seat.
"Mmm, I love how you sound when I get you all hot and bothered."
"Which is constantly around you, darliní."
"Just the way I like it since you do the same to me." Carly freed him of the tight white cotton, tucking the waistband under his balls, and licked the length of him like a favorite lollipop.
JT groaned and held himself still to keep from thrusting up and hitting Carlyís head on the steering wheel. "Iím looking forward to doing it to you once we get somewhere private," he rasped.
"Mmmm," she murmured against him, pulling back enough to say, "Iím looking forward to it too," before taking the head between her lips and dragging the tip of her tongue back and forth across it, dipping into and tugging gently at the tiny slit on each pass.
JT held out as long as he could, but Carlyís skill soon had him coming, growling out a cry of completion as she swallowed his come down.
"My favorite snack," Carly murmured, licking him clean before climbing back onto the seat and refastening her seatbelt.
"I gathered you liked it," he murmured, reaching out to take her hand and lick her fingers.
"Oh yeah." She shivered as he played with her fingers. "Now Iím the one whoís hot and bothered."
Still sucking on her fingertip, he held the wheel with one hand and eased the other over into her lap, sliding his palm over her smooth thigh under her short skirt.
Carly moaned softly and shivered at the touch of his hand, her legs spreading to allow him to touch her. "Oh God, Iíve missed you," she whispered.
"Same here, darliní," JT murmured, rubbing his thumb under her panties and against her clit. "Missiní youís been driving me crazy."
She groaned harshly at both words and touch. "Pull this damn car over. I want you now," she demanded.
JT groaned and slid a finger into her wet body. "Darliní, you should have thought of that before you did me in."
"Oh, I have faith in you. Iím sure you can rise to the occasion," she gasped out, squirming on his finger.
"Oh no, darliní. When I have you, itís going to be in my bed where Iíve been wanting you."
"Tease," she grumbled, sliding a little lower in her seat so JTís finger pushed farther inside her. "Youíre going to kill me before we get there."
"Call it retaliation for you talkiní dirty to me on the phone all those times," he chuckled, rubbing his thumb against her clit as she writhed in the seat.
"I thought you liked me talking dirty to you," Carly panted, hips arching to press harder against his fingers as her arousal built.
"Yes, but itís damn frustratiní when I canít touch you!"
"Some things are frustrating even when you can touch!" she groaned. "Damnit, I need to come!"
Twisting his finger within her, JT rubbed harder at Carlyís clit, growling as her juices slicked the path. "Do it, darliní."
Carly turned her head to the side, watching JT as the tension wound tighter. Her left hand reached over and clutched at his thigh, and she gasped his name as she came. Gentling his touch when she shuddered, JT brought his fingers to his lips and licked them clean. "Welcome to Texas, Miss Carly," he murmured.
Carly growled at him. "Just Carly."
He chuckled. "Youíre on my turf now, darliní; just ask Xio about that old adage, Ďwhen in Romeí."
She groaned. "He made me watch old episodes of Dallas after I complained about you calling me that. I do not want to picture us as Miss Ellie and Jock!"
JT made a face. "Thatís horrible, darliní."
"Exactly my point!" Carly exclaimed.
"But it doesnít mean Iím going to stop calliní you that whenever I can get away with it."
She sighed though she was smiling fondly. "Youíre going to be calling me that a hundred years from now, arenít you?"
JT chuckled. "More like five hundred years from now, darliní."
"I like the sound of that. I like the sound of that a lot." Carly leaned across the seat to kiss his cheek. "I do love you, JT McGee."
"Love you too, darliní," he smiled.
"Well, there she is," he said some time later as they pulled up to the rustic looking ranch he owned.
Carlyís eyes widened as she looked around. Born and raised in the city, the biggest private dwelling sheíd ever seen was Xioís mansion, and that didnít come with what seemed like half the surrounding countryside. "This is all yours?"
"Yup," he drawled, smiling. "All yours too whenever you decide."
"Wow," she breathed, still staring. "Iíve never seen anything like this. I didnít know people really lived like this."
"Well, itís nothing like Xioís on the inside, darliní. This is a working ranch, so everythingís functional." JT stopped outside the front door and managed to get around the car to open Carlyís door before she did it herself. "It could use a womanís touchóor so Iíve been told."
Green eyes narrowed dangerously as she stopped in her tracks and focused on him. "By whom?" she nearly growled.
Keeping a straight face was a challenge, but JT managed it. "By damn near every woman whoís showed up here."
"And just who were these women, why were they here, and when were they here?" Carly growled, stepping closer in her jealous outrage. "And just how many of them were there?"
"Why are you askiní, darliní?" JT queried innocently.
Her eyes narrowed. "You cannot be that naive," she snarled. "Why were women attempting to decorate your home?"
He shrugged easily, moving to slide his arms around her waist. "Because they were tryiní to claim me, but I knew better; I knew there was someone out there waitiní for me. I just didnít know who she was. Now I do."
And that easily she smiled, though there was a distinctly possessive edge to it. "I think we need to have a party while Iím here. And invite all of these would-be Mrs. McGees!"
"To introduce them to the woman I hope will one day be Mrs. McGee?"
"To introduce them to your fiancťe!"
JT went still, looking at Carly intently. "You sayiní youíre willing to stay out here with me, darliní?"
"Iím saying I have some things to sort out, but youíve made me realize that I want you in my life. I want the right to say youíre mine." She stared up at him, her heart in her green eyes.
"You think Iím goiní to argue with that, Miss Carly?"
"I was hoping you wouldnít." She smiled slightly. "I still donít know what Iím going to do about my familyóitíll be weird not to have them, Casey especially, close by, but youíre my family too.
He lowered his head and brushed a kiss against her lips. "You know weíll only be a plane ride away in either direction, and Iím looking forward to seeiní your family out here in the country."
Carly tried to imagine Casey, Kel, Xio out here, and she burst into laughter. "We have to get that on film," she snickered. "Can you picture their reactions to cattle?"
JT chuckled and pulled Carly closer. "Or their reactions to stepping in what the cattle leave behind?"
"Theyíll run screaming all the way back to Boston!" Carly was laughing so hard now that only JTís arms were keeping her on her feet.
"That could be fun to see."
"Youíre bad," Carly chuckled, but she couldnít deny that it would be. "So," she eyed him, curly red hair falling over her eyes before she brushed it back impatiently, "are you going to show me around this house that Iím going to be decorating?"
JT sighed and kissed her nose. "I suppose so, though we may get distracted once we reach the bedroom."
"You think weíll last till the bedroom?"
"You think we canít?"
"Iím not crazy enough to make it a challenge," Carly snorted. "But I do want to see the house. It may just take several acts and intermissions."
"So itíll take as long as it takes. Weíve got forever, darliní."
"Not quite yet, we donít. But we will. I like the sound of that, JT. Forever together has a nice ring to it." Her arms tightened around his neck, and she brushed a kiss over his cheek. "Of course, Iím going to need to meet your family before the wedding."
He winced and laughed. "How about if you meet Hannibal after the weddiní or there might not be one." As he spoke, he let go of her with one arm and led her up to the house, keeping the other arm securely around her waist.
"Oh, now Iím really curious. Who exactly is Hannibal, and why would meeting him stop the wedding? Come on, give!" Carly laughed, her arm around his waist as well.
"Hannibalís my sireóremember how I told you I was turned on the battlefield? Well, he was tryiní to rob my corpse." JT chuckled at the memory. "I wasnít too pleased with that."
Carly grinned wickedly as she peered up at him. "It sounds like heíll fit in just fine with my family. Hmm, I wonder if heíd give us lessons?"
"In corpse robbiní?" JTís dark eyebrows rose.
"Picking pockets. Though we rolled anyone we found." Carly shrugged. "When you live on the streets, you do what you have to survive, Mr. Plantation Owner." She glanced around curiously as they entered the house, and she stopped in her tracks, her jaw dropping.
She slowly turned in place, taking in the plain white walls, the furniture that looked like it dated back to the Civil War, the dark draperies. "Please tell me you have enough money to redecorate this place?"
"Iím guessing this is your way of saying you donít like it..."
"JT," Carly sighed, "youíre a wonderful man and I adore you, but this place isnít decorated. Itís just sitting here." She shook her head in disbelief. "Itís a beautiful home, but youíve done nothing with it."
He looked at her oddly. "Carly, love, itís a working ranch, not much call for geegaws and frippery around here, not until now."
She rolled her eyes. "I donít think a coat of paint in some color other than white, comfortable, matching furniture, and draperies made within the last century count as Ďgeegaws and fripperyí."
JT kissed her nose again. "You can paint and decorate all you want, Miss Carly, just promise to leave me one room for my own, okay?"
"Call me Miss Carly again and Iíll paint the whole place pink and purple!"
His hazel eyes widened. "You wouldnít!"
Her smile was absolutely evil. "Try me."
His smile was just as evil and full of fangs. "I have, and Iím planning on doing so again in the very near future."
A full body shiver wracked her, and she felt herself grow wet. Swaying toward him, she let her head fall back, red hair cascading in a riot of curls down her back, her throat bared. "What are you waiting for?"
Giving a low growl, JT swept Carly up into his arms, speeding through the house to the master bedroom where he laid her out on the patchwork quilt-covered bed and bit her throat, his hands making short work of her blouse and baring the creamy flesh beneath it.
"God yes," she gasped, writhing against the quilt as he aroused her even more, the sensation of his fangs in her throat nearly making her scream with lust. "In me," she demanded, her legs moving restlessly, wanting him in every way possible.
With one hand, JT shoved Carlyís skirt up around her hips, then tore at his own jeans, his teeth never leaving her throat as he moved. Once they were both bare from the waist down, he moved between her legs and thrust into her wet heat, feeling as if he truly was coming home.
Carly wailed with the pleasure of feeling JT drive into her, her legs winding high around his waist, and her nails scored his back as she pulled him tighter to her. "Take me, fuck me," she groaned, wanting it hard and fast and full of all the hunger they felt for each other.
Finally pulling his head back, JT stared down at Carly, licking her blood from his lips as he watched her features twist in pleasure as they moved together. "Marry me, Miss Carly," he rasped.
"Yes," she moaned, not even caring about the hated ĎMiss Carlyí. "Any time, anywhere. I love you," she managed to get out before crying out as he drove deep.
"Love you too," he managed, bringing a hand to her breast and pinching her nipple as he rubbed against her clit with each stroke.
Carly shrieked as he played her perfectly, hitting every one of her hot spots, and her nails drove even deeper into his back as she arched and came, shuddering around him.
Growling at the feeling of her shuddering around him and the sharp pain of her nails breaking his skin, JT bellowed out a shout and came as well, his cock as deeply embedded in Carlyís body as possible.
Carly could barely catch her breath, crushed into the mattress beneath JTís weight, but she never wanted him to move. "Feel so good," she murmured, her hands now petting his muscular back. She raised heavy eyelids to meet his brown gaze, and she smiled tiredly. "I meant it, you know. I love you, and I want to marry you."
He smiled and leaned in to lick the holes heíd left on the side of her neck. "Good thing, because I was gonna hold you to that, darliní."
"So when are you going to turn me?" she demanded.
"After the weddiní."
He frowned. "Whatís wrong with that?"
"Why wait? I want to share everything with you."
"I want the same thing, darliní, but I want to be able to wake up every day, look at you, and think, this is the way Miss Carly looked on our weddiní day."
Left speechless, Carly could only stare at him for a long moment before drawing his head down to kiss him tenderly. "Youíre incredibly sweet, JT," she whispered against his lips.
He sighed in relief. "Oh good, I thought you might be mad at me over that."
"Only the ĎMiss Carlyí part. Iím thinking pink and purple paisley for our bedroom."
"If you want, the only thing Iíll be lookiní at in here is you."
"Youíre lucky I donít think I could bear to look at that. It would serve you right if I did," Carly chuckled.
"If you want to feel like somethiní out of the 1980s, be my guest, darliní."
Carly shuddered. "No, thatís all right. Iíd prefer to decorate some way that weíll both enjoy."
He chuckled and rolled to his side, bringing her with him. "Iím very glad you decided that, soon-to-be-Mrs. McGee. And am I right in guessiní weíre getting hitched in Boston?"
"If you donít mind? I want Casey and Kitten to help me plan everything. And Kel has to be the one to give me away."
"Of course I donít mind; Meng-Mai is never in the same place for more than a few months, and Hannibal... Lord knows where he is. Weíll have to set a date soon so I can track them down and tell them when to be there."
"Meng-Mai?" Carly asked, frowning slightly.
He chuckled. "Relax, darliní, sheís another of Hannibalís get, my sister if you like. Wants to save the world and sheís doing a pretty good job of it."
"I look forward to meeting her." Carly shifted on top of him, settling herself comfortably. "Howís two months? That ought to give me time to find a dress and make all the arrangements, but itís not too long."
"Two months it is then."
"Mrs. Jonah McGee. Carly McGee. I like the sound of it."
"Mr. and Mrs. McGee. Sounds perfect to me."
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