Valentine Vampire - Argeneau Series - Book 12.5

Chapter One

Tiny had just raised his hand to knock on the door when a shriek rang out from the other side. The sound immediately had him dropping the bags of blood he carried to charge into the room. He’d taken several steps inside, his eyes quickly scanning the situation, before he came to a confused halt. He’d expected to find that one or more of Leonius’s no-fangers had snuck into the church and was attacking someone, or, at the very least, a mouse that had startled someone, but there was neither. The room was filled with women, most of them in white, all peering at him with wide, startled eyes.

“Tiny?” The query was accompanied by a rustle of silk that drew his gaze to Marguerite Argeneau as she disengaged from the small cluster of women to his right. Tiny felt his eyes widen and his mouth drop as he caught sight of the Argeneau matriarch. The woman wore a long gown with a scooped neck, cinched waist, and a full skirt that belled out from her legs thanks to the tulle underneath. It was in every way a gorgeous, traditional wedding gown…except that it was a deep blood red color with black trim that made her look like a queen among her ladies-in-waiting dressed in white and pastel gowns. Tiny simply stared at her as she stood before him, his eyes caught by the full, pale breasts on display in the low-cut gown. It almost looked to him as if the dress was trying to push the round globes out of the neckline, as if their perfect presence somehow offended the rich material.

“Tiny?” Her voice was amused this time, and he forced himself to drag his fascinated gaze away from the escaping flesh to raise apologetic eyes to hers. Tiny offered a wry smile and sent out a silent apology he knew she would read, then cleared his throat and glanced around. “I heard someone scream.”

“And thought the worst,” Marguerite said with an understanding nod. She patted his arm soothingly. “All is well. It was a happy shriek, though with Jeanne Louise, it’s sometimes hard to tell.”

Marguerite’s niece wrinkled her nose at her gentle teasing and excused herself by saying, “I’d just heard Leigh’s good news. It took me completely by surprise.”

As Jeanne Louise turned back to Leigh to give her a congratulatory hug, Tiny glanced questioningly at Marguerite, wondering what the good news was, but her attention was on the doorway behind him. “Is that for us?”

The question drew his gaze back to the open door and the bags that lay scattered on the hall floor. Much to his relief, none of them appeared to have been damaged by the fall.

“Oh, yes. Bastien asked me to bring them to you gals. I dropped them when I heard the scream,” he admitted, turning to head back to the door. Marguerite followed, and when she knelt to help him collect them, he asked quietly, “What’s Leigh’s good news?”

“She’s pregnant again,” Marguerite said with a smile.

Tiny’s eyebrows rose, and he started to smile as well, but the expression died as he recalled how crushed Leigh and Lucian had been when she had miscarried the first time. If she lost this one as well—

“She’s more than three months along. This one should carry to term,” Marguerite said reassuringly, proving she still had the bad habit of reading his mind. “They waited until she was past the dangerous stage to share the news. I think she was afraid that announcing it before then would jinx it.”

Tiny nodded with understanding. From what he’d heard, the first miscarriage had been a terrible blow to the couple. He wasn’t surprised they’d waited to announce this one.

“Tell her congratulations from me,” he said quietly, as they straightened.

“Why don’t you tell her yourself?” Marguerite suggested.

Tiny hesitated and glanced to the women, all gathered now at the far end of the room. Terri, Leigh, and Inez all wore traditional white wedding gowns in various styles. Jackie, Jeanne Louise, Lissianna, and Rachel, who were acting as bridesmaids, wore pastels—pink, aqua, and lavender. They all looked exquisite…which was the problem. They were gorgeous, and they could read his thoughts. Much as he hated to admit it, not all those thoughts were stellar. He was a man after all…and he didn’t want to unintentionally insult any of the women with a stray thought that made its way up from his nether regions.

“Ah,” Marguerite said with understanding, reading his thoughts as always. She patted his