Hungry For You - Argeneau Series - Book 14 Page 0,1

Cale wasn’t holding out much hope that Marguerite was right. As old as he was, he’d pretty much given up hope on ever finding a life mate. He’d pretty much resigned himself to being eternally single. But he also hadn’t wanted to offend the woman, so had agreed to come meet this Alex.

Curious now to see the couple who were speaking, Cale shifted slightly on his stool, leaning to the side, but it was no good. They must have stopped at the door they’d just entered. They also obviously thought they were having a private conversation, and he glanced to Bricker, expecting him to make some noise to alert them to the fact they weren’t alone, but the younger immortal almost seemed to be holding his breath as he waited for what they might say next.

Cale found himself frowning around the bag in his mouth and was about to scrape his stool back to warn the couple, but the woman’s next words made him pause.

“It wasn’t because of Jo and Alex.”

Cale stilled curiously, hoping to hear more about this Alex.

“That was just an excuse, Mortimer. One I even had myself half convinced of,” the woman admitted on an apologetic sigh. “But Jo said something to me after she met Nicholas that made me realize it wasn’t the real reason.”

“What was that?” Mortimer asked quietly.

“She pointed out that, after you turn me, I would still have ten years to try to find them life mates. She said I was just afraid, and I think—no, I know now she was right.”

“Afraid of what, Sam?” Mortimer asked with quiet concern. “The pain of turning?”

“No … Although that’s scary on its own,” she admitted on a wry laugh. Her voice was more serious when she added, “But really I was afraid that you would wake up one day and realize … well, that I’m just me,” she finished helplessly.

“I don’t understand. I know who you are, Sam. What—?”

“I know, but—This is silly, but, while I’m smart, and hardworking, and basically nice, I’m not …” Sam’s voice was slightly embarrassed as she said, “Well, I’m just not some sexy, gorgeous vamp type of gal who can hold the attention of a guy like you for eternity.”

“Honey, you’re beautiful. I—”

“I look like Olive Oyl, Mortimer.” The words burst into the air on a breath of exasperation, as if she thought that should be obvious.

Cale tore the now-empty bag from his mouth and glanced to Bricker with confusion, his voice a bare whisper as he asked, “Olive Oyl?”

Bricker removed his own bag and explained in a hushed tone, “Popeye’s girlfriend.” When Cale continued to stare at him blankly, he rolled his eyes. “She’s a cartoon character; dark hair, huge eyes, and spindly as a stick figure. Sam is—”

“Honey, I have eyes. I know you look like Olive Oyl.”

Bricker stopped his explanation on a low curse and squeezed his eyes closed briefly. He then turned his head back toward the door, muttering with disgust, “You old guys are so bloody smooth. Honestly.”

Cale would have liked to argue the point, but really, even he—who hadn’t bothered with women in what seemed like forever—knew Mortimer’s words had been the wrong thing to say. Obviously, Mortimer realized it too because he began to babble, “I mean, you’re beautiful to me. I love your smile and the way your eyes twinkle when you’re amused or teasing and—”

“But I still look like Olive Oyl,” Sam said in tones that made it obvious she wasn’t impressed with the man’s efforts to save the situation.

“Not really.” There was a distinct lack of conviction in Mortimer’s voice, but it was stronger when he added, “Look, honey, the point is, I don’t see you through rose-colored glasses. My love isn’t based on some shallow fantasy image of you, and I’m not going to suddenly wake up one day and notice you have knobby knees.”

“Knobby knees?” she cried.

“I—No,” he assured her quickly, sounding a bit panicked now. “No, of course they aren’t knobby. I just mean I know exactly how you look. I do see you, and you’re what I want, not some silly fantasy like Jessica Rabbit was.”

“Jessica Rabbit?” Sam echoed with disbelief. “You had fantasies about Jessica Rabbit? A cartoon rabbit?”

Cale’s eyebrows rose at that. He’d been alive a long time and had fantasized about a lot of things, but never a cartoon rabbit.

“Well not as a rabbit,” Mortimer muttered, sounding a bit chagrined. “And not as a cartoon character. I wasn’t really—I mean, I didn’t