Single White Vampire - Argeneau Series - Book 3

Chapter One

Thursday, September 11th

"Rachel swears she never wants to see another coffin as long as she lives."

Lucern grunted at his mother's comment as he and his younger brother Bastien set the coffin down on the basement floor. He knew all about his soon-to-be sister-in-law's new aversion; Etienne had explained everything. That was why he was storing the thing. Etienne was willing to move it out of the mansion to keep his fiancée happy, but for sentimental reasons he couldn't bring himself to permanently part with it. The man swore he came up with his best ideas lying inside its silent darkness. He was a bit eccentric. He was the only person Lucern could think of who would bring a coffin to his own wedding rehearsal. The minister had been horrified when he'd caught the three brothers transferring it from Etienne's pickup to Bastien's van.

"Thank you for driving it over here, Bastien," Lucern said as he straightened.

Bastien shrugged. "You could hardly fit it in your BMW. Besides," he added as they started back up the stairs, "I would rather transport it than store it. My housekeeper would have fits."

Lucern merely smiled. He no longer had a housekeeper to worry about, and the cleaning company he'd hired to drop in once a week only worked on the main floor. Their seeing the coffin wasn't a concern.

"Is everything in place for the wedding?" he asked as he followed his mother and Bastien into the kitchen. He turned out the basement lights and closed the door behind him, but didn't bother turning any other lights on. The weak illumination from the nightlight plugged into the stove was enough to navigate to the front door.

"Yes. Finally." Marguerite Argeneau sounded relieved. "And despite Mrs. Garrett's worries that the wedding was too rushed and that Rachel's family wouldn't have time to arrange to be there, they're all coming."

"How large is the family?" Lucern was sincerely hoping there weren't as many Garretts as there had been Hewitts at Lissianna's wedding. The wedding of his sister to Gregory Hewitt had been a nightmare. The man had a huge family, the majority of which seemed to be female --Single females who eyed Lucern, Etienne and Bastien as if they were the main course of a one-course meal. Lucern disliked aggressive women. He'd been born and raised in a time when men were the aggressors and women smiled and simpered and knew their place. He hadn't quite adjusted with the times and wasn't looking forward to another debacle like Lissianna's wedding where he'd spent most of his time avoiding the female guests.

Fortunately, Marguerite soothed some of his fears by announcing, "Rather small compared to Greg's family and mostly male, from the guest list I saw."

"Thank God," Bastien murmured, exchanging a look with his brother.

Lucern nodded in agreement. "Is Etienne nervous?"

"Surprisingly enough, no." Bastien smiled crookedly. "He's having a great time helping to arrange all this. He swears he can't wait for the wedding day. Rachel seems to make him happy." His expression changed to one of perplexity.

Lucern shared his brother's confusion. He couldn't imagine giving up his freedom to a wife, either. Pausing by the front door, he turned back to find his mother poking through the mail on his hall table.

"Luc, you have unopened mail here from weeks ago! Don't you read it?"

"Why so surprised, mother? He never answers the phone, either. Heck, we're lucky when he bothers to answer the door."

Bastien said the words in a laughing voice, but Lucern didn't miss the exchange of glances between his mother and brother. They were worried about him. He had always been a loner, but lately he had taken that to an extreme and everything seemed a bother. They knew he was growing dangerously bored with life.

"What is this box?"

"I don't know," Lucern admitted as his mother lifted a huge box off the table and shook it as if it were feather-light.

"Well, don't you think it might be a good idea to find out?" she asked impatiently.

Lucern rolled his eyes. No matter how old he got, his mother was likely to interfere and hen-peck. It was something he'd resigned himself to long ago. "I'll get around to it eventually," he muttered. "It's mostly nuisance mail or people wanting something from me."

"What about this letter from your publisher? It's probably important. They wouldn't send it express if it weren't."

Lucern's scowl deepened as his mother picked up the FedEx envelope and turned it curiously in her hands. "It is not important. My editor is