Tall dark & Hungry - Argeneau Series - Book 4

Chapter One

"The chicken's very good."

Bastien watched with amusement as Kate C. Leever scraped up a forkful of the Poulet au Citron she'd ordered and held it to his brother Lucern's lips. He was even more amused when his brother opened his mouth to accept the bite of food, murmured in appreciation, then chewed and swallowed.

He hadn't seen Lucern do more than pretend to eat in his whole life. By the time Bastien was born, his brother—already two hundred plus years old—had tired of even gourmet fare. The taste of food began to pall after a hundred or so years of feasting on whatever you wanted. Now, having passed his four hundredth birthday, Bastien himself found eating to be nothing more than a nuisance, something he forced himself to do occasionally at board meetings or dinner parties to prevent discovery of his true nature.

"It really is good," Lucern announced. "Everything's a little new and different nowadays."

"No," Bastien disagreed. "It probably tastes much the same as it always did. It's love that's reawakened your taste buds and rejuvenated your desire for food." Lucern shrugged. He seemed not at all upset by the teasing emphasis Bastien put on the word, and he had no trouble admitting his deep and abiding feelings for the woman seated beside him. "Perhaps. Everything does seem more vibrant and interesting now. I find myself seeing things anew, seeing them as Kate must see them, rather than with the jaundiced eye I've cast over everything for ages. It makes a nice change."

Bastien said nothing, merely lifted his glass of wine. But as he took a sip, Lucern's words caused something of a twinge inside him. Were he to examine it, he might have likened it to envy. But Bastien wasn't prepared to examine it. There was no time for love or even loneliness in his life; he had too many responsibilities. Bastien had always been responsible. When his father died, it had been Bastien who stepped up to take over the duties of the family business. It was in his nature. Bastien's life was made up of taking care of each individual crisis that came along, whether in business or within the family. If there was a problem, Bastien was the man everyone looked to for the solution, and that was how it had been even before his father's death. Bastien had often run the business and made decisions in his father's stead over the last several hundred years since Jean-Claude Argeneau had developed the drinking problem that saw him burn to death: one of the very few ways their kind could die.

"So, Bastien."

His eyes narrowed at Kate's tone. He had known her long enough to recognize the we're-about-to-tackle-something-unpleasant, but-it-needs-to-be-done voice. He'd heard it often enough, but always directed at Lucern. It was unusual to hear with his own name in the mix.

"We invited you out to lunch for a reason."

Bastien raised his eyebrows. He'd suspected as much when Lucern called and invited him to meet here at La Bonne Soupe for this meal. His brother knew he wasn't much into eating anymore. That being the case, Bastien had suspected this sudden invitation might have something to do with the couple's upcoming nuptials, but he wasn't sure what specifically his brother could want.

The wedding was in exactly two weeks. It was here in New York, which had seemed the most likely choice for the ceremony as Kate, and now Lucern too, lived and worked here. The oldest Argeneau son had made the move to Manhattan six months earlier to be closer to his fiancée, who also happened to be his editor. It had seemed a good idea for him to be near while she made the necessary adjustments to her turning. Aside from the physical changes, becoming one of their kind meant learning a whole new range of habits and skills, so Lucern had made the move to New York to help her with those, as well as to help with the wedding arrangements. Fortunately, being a successful author allowed him the freedom to make such a move with little difficulty.

Bastien had to admit that New York was the best place to hold the ceremony and celebration. While neither family lived here—the Argeneaus were based in Toronto, and the Leevers, Kate's family, lived in Michigan—all her friends and coworkers were in New York. And, as this was where Kate—as well as Lucern now—lived and worked, it made it easier for them to make the necessary arrangements for the wedding.

Luc had