Home > Immortal Unchained (Argeneau #25)

Immortal Unchained (Argeneau #25)
Author: Lynsay Sands

Prologue

“I begin to think they are going to be late,” Domitian murmured, hefting his duffle bag higher on his shoulder so that the microphone hidden in his sleeve would catch his words.

“Perhaps it is a sign.” Lucian Argeneau’s voice was surprisingly clear. The earpiece they’d given Domitian was so small that it was unseen once inserted, but the sound came through loud and crystal clear. “We should scrap this now and—”

“Still trying to talk me out of going, Uncle?” Domitian asked with amusement, and then suddenly impatient, added, “I do not know why you are so resistant to my doing this. Especially with Uncle Victor, Lucern, Decker, Nicholas, Aunt Eshe, Mirabeau La Roche, and Santo Notte now among the missing. I would think with all of them having been taken—”

“That is precisely why,” Lucian growled. “This is dangerous. We have already lost several hunters, people armed and trained to handle situations like this. You, Domitian, are going in there unarmed, and you are not a hunter.”

“True, but I was a warrior once. I can handle myself,” Domitian argued. “Besides, none of your hunters were invited, I was.”

“Yes, but was it because you are a chef and Dressler wants you to work for him? Or because you are an immortal he wants to add to his collection?”

“I told you. He does not know I am an immortal,” Domitian said slowly and firmly, stressing each word. They’d had this conversation several times already, but it seemed they would have it again. “If Dressler knew, he could have taken me at any time. He has been a regular in my restaurant for five years. He obviously does not know.”

“Or perhaps he did not wish to kidnap an immortal so close to home,” Lucian countered. “It might have led us straight here to Venezuela.”

Domitian shifted impatiently at the suggestion. “One immortal missing in Caracas would hardly have brought you here when so many have gone missing in the United States.”

“Perhaps. Or perhaps we would have—”

“Is that helicopter headed this way?” Domitian interrupted, raising a hand to shield his eyes from the sun as he watched the vehicle approach. It was flying low and seemed to be headed straight for where he stood at the base of the large dock . . . which was where he’d been directed to wait for his ride. He’d expected a boat, but—

“Are those pontoons?” Lucian asked sharply in his ear.

Domitian knew that Lucian and the others wouldn’t have as good a view from the small boat where they waited farther along the docks. On top of that, they were staying out of sight in the small cabin in the bow, which had only tiny windows that were glazed and screened. Their view would be highly obscured compared to his.

“Yes. The helicopter has pontoons,” he confirmed, his gaze on the skids with the floatation devices affixed to them. It was fitted out to be an amphibious helicopter so that it could set down on water or land, which made Domitian suspect that this was his ride. Apparently he wasn’t the only one to think that, he realized, wincing as a loud curse sounded in his ear.

“You are not to get on that helicopter!” Lucian ordered firmly. “Make an excuse. Tell them you have changed your mind. We did not plan for this. The boats out in the bay might lose the helicopter. Do you hear me?”

His thoughts racing, Domitian watched the helicopter slow and begin to drop by the end of the dock. To get on board or not was the question. If he said he had a fear of flying, Dressler might send a boat for him and then Lucian’s men could follow from a safe distance to find the island. Then again, he might not. Dressler might suspect something was afoot and simply cancel the job offer altogether . . . and Domitian couldn’t risk that. He had to get on that island. His life mate was there and could be in danger.

“Domitian? Can you hear me?” Lucian barked sharply, and then his voice faded as he asked someone else, “Is this thing working? Why is he not answering?”

“Perhaps the noise from the helicopter is drowning you out,” another voice responded. Domitian was pretty sure that voice belonged to the young hunter Justin Bricker and was grateful for the suggestion. He would pretend it was true and he couldn’t hear his uncle. He was getting on that helicopter. He might be risking his life doing it, but not getting on risked his chance of any kind of a happy future.

“Dammit! Domitian! Do not get on that helicopter! Domitian?”

Ignoring the voice in his ear, Domitian watched the helicopter set down, not on the water, but on the end of the dock. He then started forward.

“Domitian Argeneau!” Lucian’s voice roared in his ear.

“It’s Argenis, Uncle. Not Argeneau,” Domitian reminded him gently before unobtrusively plucking the earpiece from his ear and tucking it into the front pocket of his tight jeans. It didn’t matter what anyone said. He was going, Domitian thought as he watched the passenger door of the helicopter open.

Instinctively ducking, he rushed quickly under the rotors to the entrance. A man in a suit was waiting with his hand out to take his duffle bag. Domitian handed it over with a nod of thanks and then grasped the door frame and climbed in. The window seat was the only one available, so he settled into it and pulled the door closed without having to be told.

Domitian then started to turn to get a better look at the other men in the helicopter but stiffened in surprise as he felt a sudden sharp pain in the side of his neck. He lost consciousness almost at once.

One

Sarita closed the book she’d been trying to read and tossed it impatiently aside. It was a horrible book. Or perhaps she just wasn’t in the mood to read, she acknowledged with irritation, getting restlessly to her feet. As a police officer, her life at home in Canada was usually a busy one, full of activity and even urgency. But here . . . all this sitting around waiting to be able to visit her grandmother was beginning to fray on her nerves. Sarita was anxious to see for herself how her grandmother was doing after her accident. It was why she was here, after all. Instead, she’d spent her time since arriving in Venezuela, stuck on this island, alternating between pacing and trying to read books that simply couldn’t hold her interest. It was driving her crazy, sitting here, waiting for Dr. Dressler to return to the island and instruct his men to transport her to the mainland. Unfortunately, he hadn’t been here when she’d arrived, and they wouldn’t take her there without his orders.

Clucking impatiently under her tongue, she left the library, her mouth tightening as her gaze slid to the two men standing guard inside the front double doors of the house. They stood one on either side, eyes straight ahead, faces expressionless, hands loosely at their sides within easy reach of the sidearms she knew each wore.

And that was the only thing they were doing right as far as she could tell. She’d been told the ridiculous level of security on the island was because kidnappings had become so rampant in Venezuela and “el Doctor” wanted to ensure his safety as well as that of his family, his employees, and visitors like her. But if that was the case, then he should have all of his security on the outside, watching for the approach of would-be kidnappers, not inside, watching the goings-on in the house. Although he had that too, she acknowledged. There were two men standing guard outside the double doors as well, and a dozen more walking the grounds as far as she could tell. “El Doctor” was obviously paranoid about kidnappings. But since her own mother had been kidnapped and killed when she was young, Sarita supposed she should probably appreciate his efforts to ensure their safety. Instead, she just found the men posted everywhere something else to be annoyed about today.

Knowing she was in a foul mood from a combination of boredom and frustration, Sarita turned on her heel and headed up the hall toward the kitchen. She’d get a drink and maybe one of Aleta’s yummy cookies, and see if the cook had something for her to do to help pass the time. At that point, even something as mundane as washing dishes would be welcome . . . which told Sarita just how bored she was.

Grimacing at the depths to which she’d sunk after three short days of inactivity, Sarita pushed the kitchen door open and stepped inside. The rich aroma of something delicious rolled over her as she entered, and her nose twitched as she inhaled the scent. Spotting Aleta stirring a pot simmering on the range in the center of the island, she moved closer to peer at the contents with interest. There were chunks of vegetables and meat in a thick juice. It smelled like heaven.

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