If there’s one thing an Argeneau knows, it’s
when they’ve found their life mate. So when Katricia
Argeneau is stranded with gentle, gray-eyed cop Teddy
Brunswick during a snowstorm, she’s more than
up for the challenge of convincing this chief of police
that not only is he not too old for her but he's sexy
as well. They belong together, so what could possibly
Teddy woke up to find himself burrowed under the
covers like a mole dug into the ground…and cold,
which was unusual. He normally kicked off his blankets
rather than burrowed, and he never woke up cold.
The heat must have gone off in the night, he realized.
Tossing the blankets aside, he sat up and peered around
the room. Stark sunlight was pouring through the window.
It made it easy to see the cloud of mist that formed
in front of his mouth with each exhalation.
Oh yeah, the heat was definitely off, he thought
with a grimace and quickly slid out of bed. The carpet
was cold underfoot as Teddy hurried up the hall. It
opened into the main room at the end, a combination
living room and kitchen/dining room. The left side
was the carpeted living room area with a sofa, two
chairs, a fireplace, and entertainment unit. The right
side was a tiled kitchen and dining space.
Teddy’s eyes automatically sought out the digital
clock on the stove as he moved to the wall thermostat,
but he paused when he saw its blank face. His eyes
then shot to the DVD player on the television, but
it, too, was blank. Teddy was pretty sure what was
wrong, by this point, but couldn’t resist flicking
on the light switch at the end of the hall, just to
be sure. He wasn’t surprised when nothing happened.
It wasn’t just the heat that was off, but the
power itself. There was no juice at all.
“Great,” he muttered with disgust and
hurried back to the bedroom. It was cold in the cottage
and likely to get colder, at least until the problem
with the power was fixed, which meant he was wasting
precious body heat standing around barefoot in his
flannels. He needed to dress quickly, pull on his
outerwear, and head somewhere warm to call Marguerite
and find out whom he should contact about the power.
His suitcase sat on a chair in a corner of the bedroom
he’d chosen. Teddy lifted the lid and grabbed
the thickest pair of socks he’d packed, and
then grabbed a second pair for good measure. He started
to turn away, intending to sit on the bed to don the
socks, but paused as his gaze slid out the window.
It had been dark when he’d arrived last night,
and Teddy had marveled at how beautiful it all was
as his headlights slid over the ice-encased branches
of the trees and the deep snow on either side of the
cleared driveway. It had all sparkled under his pick-up’s
headlights like precious jewels. It wasn’t such
a grand sight now, he decided, as he peered at what
had to be at least two feet of fresh snow on the driveway
and yard. His pick-up was now a small snow hill beside
“Damn,” he breathed and then returned
to the matter at hand as his brain revised what had
to be done. Dress warm, find a shovel, dig his truck
out of the driveway and then head to town to find
someplace warm with coffee and food, where he could
call Marguerite in comfort.
Or maybe he should try to call Marguerite first,
Teddy thought as he finished with his socks and dragged
on jeans and a sweater over his flannel pajamas. It
was going to take a hell of a long time to dig his
way out of the driveway. By that time, whoever was
supposed to fix the power might be here if he called
Deciding that was the better plan, Teddy finished
dressing and headed out into the kitchen to find his
phone. He’d plugged it in to charge before going
to bed last night. Unfortunately, the power must have
gone out shortly after that, because the battery was
even lower now than when he’d plugged it in.
The warning that the battery needed recharging was
all he could get before it shut itself off.
Muttering under his breath, Teddy shoved it in his
pocket, dragged on his coat, scarf, and boots, then
grabbed his gloves and opened the kitchen door. If
he thought the cottage was cold, the mud room was
positively frigid, and Teddy grimaced as he stepped
into it. He didn’t slow, however, but tugged
on his gloves, grabbed the shovel leaning against
the wall, and headed outside.
The moment he stepped off the deck he was knee-deep
in snow. Teddy trudged through the flaky snow to the
driver’s side of the pick-up, leaned his shovel
against the truck, and then brushed away the snow
until he could find the door handle. He had some thought
of starting the pick up, plugging his phone in the
car charger, and turning on the heat and defrost so
that the windows could thaw out while he shoveled
the driveway. But he’d locked the truck’s
doors last night and the lock was now frozen…and
the de-icer was in the glove compartment, where he’d
tossed it while packing the vehicle for the trip.
Not terribly bright of him to forget to bring it in
last night, he acknowledged with a sigh.
“This just isn’t your day,” Teddy
muttered to himself as he turned to glance toward
the road. The driveway was narrow and wound through
the trees, which was great for privacy, but it was
also long, which was terribly inconvenient now. It
would take hours to shovel the way clear himself.
Fortunately, he was hoping he wouldn’t have
to do more than clear off the pick-up and a bit around
it. Marguerite had said the county cleared the roads
and there was a handyman who cleared the driveway
and took care of other matters for the Willan sisters,
who owned the cottage he was renting.
Hopefully, by the time the road was clear and this
handy feller could get in to clear the driveway, the
door lock would be thawed enough that he could get
the door open. Teddy supposed the best thing he could
do was fetch some firewood from the shed, start a
fire in the cottage’s fireplace, and warm up
while he waited.
But some coffee would sure go nice with that fire,
he thought and glanced toward the road again, wondering
what the problem was with the power. Never one to
sit around and wait on being rescued, Teddy started
up the driveway. He’d just take a look and see
what the situation was. If the road was clear, he’d
go back, build a fire, and wait for the handyman to
show up. If it wasn’t…well, he hoped it
It seemed to take forever to make his way to the
road. By the time he reached the end of the drive,
Teddy was sweaty and panting. His knees were also
acting up and complaining over the walk, something
they wouldn’t have done forty or even twenty
years ago. Getting old kind of sucked, he thought
grimly as he surveyed the road, noting that it hadn’t
been cleared yet. At least it hadn’t been cleared
all the way to the cottage. The road twisted out of
sight just ten feet from where he stood.
Sighing, he considered what to do. His stomach was
gnawing with hunger, his legs aching from trudging
through the snow, his mouth was dry, and while he
was hot and sweaty under his clothes, his face was
beginning to burn with the cold. Teddy readjusted
his scarf to give his face more protection against
the low temperatures and then forced himself to continue
on. Another ten feet, he told himself. He’d
just walk to the bend, take a look up the road, and
then head back to the cottage and build a fire.
Once he reached the bend, Teddy almost wished he
hadn’t made the effort. The sight of the white-coated
road stretched out before him was a truly depressing
thing. Not only wasn’t it shoveled, but one
look was enough to tell him that it wasn’t likely
to be for a while. Either there had been a fierce
wind with the snow the night before, or the heavy
snowfall had been too much for a couple of the older
trees. Two had fallen that he could see, one just
ten feet past the bend where he stood, and another
farther up the road. They would have to be shifted
before the snow-removal vehicles could clear the road
to his driveway.
They were also the reason the power was out, Teddy
noted as he saw the downed lines the first tree had
taken out. That wasn’t going to be a fast fix.
It was looking like he’d be without power for
a bit…if he stayed, he thought with a sigh.
Maybe once the trees were removed and the road was
cleared, he should just turn around and start the
six-hour trip back to Port Henry.
The thought was a depressing one. It was two days
before Christmas, a time of year when Teddy tried
to avoid Port Henry. It was why he was up here at
the cottage in the first place. Back home, everyone
knew he had no family to spend Christmas with and
everyone invited him to theirs. If he was in town,
he’d have to accept one of these invitations
and then attend as the charity case, not really belonging
but there out of the goodness of their hearts. The
thought was a depressing one.
Shaking his head, he turned to start back only to
pause as he spotted a figure in the trees on the other
side of the driveway to his own cottage. The individual
wore a bright red ski suit and stood as still as a
stone, staring from the shadows of the trees. Bundled
up as the person was, it was hard to tell for sure
if it was a woman or a slender man or youth, but that
didn’t trouble him as much as the absolute stillness.
There was something about it that made the hair on
the back of his neck prickle nervously, and then the
person pushed back the hood to reveal a fresh-faced
young blonde with a bright smile.
“Hello. You must be my neighbor,” she
greeted cheerfully, moving forward.
“Looks like,” Teddy agreed and felt a
grin claim his own lips. As he moved to meet her halfway
in the deep snow, he nodded toward the driveway they
stood in front of. “I rented the Willan cottage
here for the holidays.”
“And I’m in the one next door.”
She jerked a gloved thumb back the way she’d
come. “My cousin, Decker’s.”
Teddy looked curiously the way she’d gestured,
able to make out a large cottage through the leafless
trees. Glancing back to her, he smiled wryly. “Looks
like we picked a bad time to be up here.”
She chuckled at the suggestion and shook her head.
“A little snow never hurt anyone. They’ll
clear it away quick enough.”
“I’m not so sure,” Teddy said with
a sigh. “There are a couple of trees down. One
took out the power line. It’ll be a while before
they get that cleared up.”
“Damn,” the blonde breathed, her smile
fading to be replaced with concern. “Someone
was supposed to be bringing me…provisions,”
she ended quietly.
“Then we’re in the same boat,”
Teddy said wryly. “I intended to stop at a grocery
store on the way in myself, but I mucked about at
the Bass Pro in Vaughan and then a couple of those
antiques places on the way up and got here so late
I decided to leave it until this morning. Not a bright
idea as it turns out,” he admitted with a grimace
and then shook his head and said, “Ah well,
I’ll get by. At least there’s a fireplace
and plenty of chopped wood. I won’t freeze.”
The blonde’s gaze shifted from his face to
the road behind him and then she managed a smile,
though he could still see the worry under the expression.
“Well I have food stuff. You’re welcome
Teddy raised his eyebrows. “I thought you had
provisions coming in today?”
She glanced away, briefly, but when she turned back,
the cheerful smile had returned. “Yes, of course.
I have loads of dry and canned goods, but someone
was to deliver fruits and vegetables and stuff today.
As well as gas for the generator.”
“You have a generator?” Teddy asked with
She nodded and then grimaced. “It’s dead
at the moment though. They warned me there wasn’t
much gas in it at the moment, but assured me more
would be delivered today. I guess the generator must
have kicked on when the power went off last night,
but it died a few minutes ago. It’s why I came
out here. To watch for the delivery.” She glanced
along the road. “But I’m guessing the
delivery guy isn’t getting through anytime soon.”
“No,” Teddy agreed with a frown of his
own, wondering how long her cottage would stay warm
without the generator running. Probably not long,
he decided and was about to offer to share his fire
when she turned back to him and smiled wryly.
“So I have food and no heat and you have heat
and no food. Care to share?”
Teddy sensed the worry under her smile and wondered
about it, but then realized the poor girl was pretty
much stranded alone in the woods in the middle of
nowhere with a complete stranger. She didn’t
know him from Adam. Any woman would be worried. He
could be an axe murderer, for all she knew.
“That sounds a sensible idea, young lady. But
I guess I’d best introduce myself properly then.”
He held out one gloved hand. “My name is Theodore
Brunswick. I’m police chief of a small town
called Port Henry down south.”
She stared blankly for a moment and then her lips
widened. “That’s so sweet.”
Teddy blinked in confusion, not sure what the hell
was sweet about his being police chief of Port Henry.
It was a small town, but—
“You’re trying to reassure me I’m
safe with you,” she explained. “That’s
really very sweet. Thank you.”
“Oh.” Teddy felt his face burning and
knew it wasn’t the cold air. He was blushing
like a schoolboy, he realized with disgust and hoped
to hell she put down any redness in his face to the
cold. Retrieving his hand, he muttered, “Well,
young women can’t be too careful when they’re
on their own nowadays and I didn’t want you
worrying that I might be dangerous.”
“You’re right, of course,” she
said solemnly, and then pointed out cheerfully, “Of
course, a rapist or serial killer would hardly introduce
himself as one. In fact, claiming to be a cop would
probably be the one thing most likely to lull a gal
into feeling safe and give the creep an advantage.”
Teddy’s eyes widened and he turned fretfully
to glance toward his cottage, saying, “I have
my badge in the cottage. I can show it to you and
my gun and--” He paused and glanced back as
she began to chuckle.
“It’s all right, I believe you,”
she assured him with a grin. “Why don’t
you go get that fire started while I fetch us some
food from my cottage?”
“Sounds like a plan,” Teddy muttered,
feeling a bit off balance. There was just something
about the girl… He watched her start away, envying
the seeming ease with which she moved through the
He raised his eyes to her face as she glanced back
over her shoulder, noting the twinkle in her eyes
and the naughty tilt to her grin. His voice was gruff
as he said, “Call me Teddy.”
“Teddy,” she murmured as if tasting the
word. Apparently, she liked it, because her smile
widened, the naughtiness he’d noted now seeming
to bloom until it completely took over her expression
as her eyes drifted down over his figure to the groin
of his jeans. She drawled, “I think I’d
really like to see that gun of yours later.”
Teddy felt his jaw drop, and gaped after her when
she turned and continued away. Had she just—
Surely she hadn’t meant what he thought she—
“No,” Teddy muttered, shaking his head.
She hadn’t meant what he thought. He was an
old man, for Christ’s sake, and she was a pretty
young thing: young enough to be his granddaughter.
Of course, she might not realize that yet. He was
all bundled up against the cold, with little but his
eyes and nose showing.
Teddy turned and started up his own driveway, reassuring
himself that she wouldn’t be interested once
she got a look at his old mug. In fact, the poor girl
would probably be embarrassed then, he thought with
a wry chuckle. He was halfway back to the cottage
before he realized she’d never told him her
Katricia whistled happily as she grabbed dried and
canned food and packed it in the two empty boxes she’d
found in a corner of the pantry. She wasn’t
really paying attention to what she was choosing,
but then she had no idea what Teddy Brunswick would
like— or what she herself would like, for that
matter. It had been centuries since she’d bothered
with mortal food.
“Katricia Argeneau Brunswick.” It had
a nice ring to it, she decided with a smile.
“Katricia and Teddy Argeneau Brunswick.”
Even better, she thought and sighed dreamily as she
packed another can in the box.
Damn. She’d met her life mate. Katricia savored
the thought. There was nothing in the world more important
to an immortal than a life mate. It was what every
one of them wanted and waited for, sometimes for centuries,
sometimes even longer. Some never found one at all.
But if they did, it was the most important moment
in their life, finding that one person in the world,
mortal or immortal, whom they couldn’t read
or control and with whom they could share their long
life. It wasn’t what Katricia had expected when
she’d driven up here yesterday from Toronto.
Though she probably should have, she acknowledged.
Marguerite’s matchmaking skills were becoming
renowned. At least they were in the family. It was
said she seemed to have the same ability that Katricia’s
grandmother and the family matriarch, Alexandria Argeneau,
had possessed. That woman had found life mates for
a good number of her children and the others of their
kind before her death more than two thousand years
ago. They said it had been like a sixth sense with
her. Every couple she’d put together had been
life mates. Now Marguerite was doing the same.
Still, this was the last thing Katricia had expected
when Marguerite had invited her to join the family
for Christmas. Especially since she’d said thank
you, but no. It had been an automatic response. If
she’d thought first, Katricia probably would
have said yes, in the hopes that Marguerite had a
life mate for her. However, she hadn’t thought.
Her answer had been automatic and firm. She avoided
family gatherings. Actually, she avoided gatherings
altogether. It was just too wearying to have to guard
your thoughts all the time, so she’d taken to
spending more and more time alone, especially the
holidays, when all the older relatives got together.
It was impossible to guard your thoughts from some
of them, and Katricia didn’t want one of her
uncles reading hers.
The only family function she’d attended in
the last decade was the multiple wedding in New York
last February. Not showing up would have raised questions,
since she lived and worked in New York, but as she’d
expected, it had been hell. Concentrating on trying
to guard her thoughts while trying to hold conversations
with people had been like juggling knives while doing
backflips. Impossible. She was sure more than one
relative had caught a glimpse of her thoughts. She’d
seen a flash of concern in the eyes of a couple of
her uncles and even in Marguerite herself as she’d
talked with her. Katricia was positive they all had
caught how dark and depressing her thoughts were growing.
The thought made her smile. Both the darkness and
depression had blown away like smoke in a stiff breeze
the minute she’d reached the end of the driveway,
spotted Teddy Brunswick, automatically tried to read
his thoughts to see who he was and what he was doing
there on the road, and found she couldn’t. That
had been a shocker. And suddenly her last minute problems
with her holiday plans had taken on a different light.
Katricia had been annoyed as hell when her flight
from New York to Colorado for some holiday skiing
had been diverted to Toronto. The pilot hadn’t
known what the problem was and Katricia had disembarked
from the Argeneau plane ready to rip someone a new
one, only to find her uncle, Lucian Argeneau, waiting
on the tarmac.
“Bad weather,” he’d announced by
way of explanation as he’d bundled her into
Katricia had been beside herself with frustration,
her concentration divided between reciting nursery
rhymes, to keep her uncle from reading her thoughts,
and the intrusive worry that she’d be stuck
with the family for the holidays and reciting those
nursery rhymes for days. So, when he’d taken
her to Marguerite’s and that dear woman had
mentioned that Decker had a cottage up north if she
didn’t wish to spend Christmas with the family,
Katricia had jumped at the suggestion like a drowning
woman leaping for a life raft. The next thing she’d
known she and her luggage had been bundled in an SUV
with the directions already on the GPS and she’d
been on her way.
Now, here she was, up in the wilds of Central Ontario,
snowed in with Teddy Brunswick, whom she couldn’t
read. Not being able to read a mortal was the first
sign of a life mate. As an immortal, she could read
mortals as easily as cracking open a book. Not being
able to read Teddy had come as a hell of a shock.
But a good one. A life mate. Damn, the idea made her
Of course, not being able to read him was only one
of the signs, she tried to caution herself. After
all, there was the occasional mortal that couldn’t
be read by anyone. They were usually crazies or people
suffering from some affliction or other, like a brain
tumor. Then no one could read them. However, Teddy
Brunswick didn’t seem mentally ill. He could
still have a tumor or something, though, she acknowledged
She would know soon enough, however. If Teddy really
was her life mate, other symptoms would be showing
up soon. The reawakening of her appetite for food
was one of them, and she glanced curiously at the
next box she lifted out and read the label.
She shrugged and stuck it in the box, but some of
her good cheer was fading as she considered the one
problem she could see with this scenario.
Katricia was pretty sure that bad weather hadn’t
been the reason for her diverted flight to ski country.
She was absolutely certain that this had all been
some grand plan to put her together with a possible
life mate, which was all well and fine. But the snowstorm
last night obviously hadn’t been part of the
plan and could be a problem, she thought with a frown.
Both boxes were now full of food. Katricia set one
on top of the other, picked both up, and moved out
of the pantry.
While she suspected Marguerite had arranged this
meeting, she had no idea if Teddy knew about immortals.
Most would probably call them vampires, but it was
a term her people didn’t care for. They were
not cursed, soulless monsters, chomping on the neck
of every passing mortal. While they lived long lives
and didn’t age beyond twenty-five or thirty,
their physiology and need for blood was scientific
in basis…and they avoided feeding on mortals
now that blood banks were around. But just because
she suspected Marguerite had sent her up here to find
Teddy, it didn’t mean he knew about their kind.
Which meant she couldn’t risk telling him the
truth…that the provisions she’d been expecting
weren’t gas and food but gas and bagged blood.
She didn’t think he’d take well to learning
he was snowed in with a vampire who was lacking in
blood supplies right now.