Home > The Vampire's Mail Order Bride (Nocturne Falls #1)(4)

The Vampire's Mail Order Bride (Nocturne Falls #1)(4)
Author: Kristen Painter

“Of you being alone. Of you mourning Juliette and breaking hearts.” She raised her brows. “It’s been over three hundred years. Plenty of time for you to move on and give me some grandbabies.”

His jaw fell open, but he was powerless to close it.

“Shut your mouth, Hugh. I can see your fangs.” She frowned at him. “It’s not like it’s impossible for vampires to procreate. As long as both parties have been turned, they have as much chance of producing a child as a mortal couple. You know the rest, I assume, or would you like me to have that talk with you as well?”

“Have you gone mad, woman? No, I don’t need to hear the birds and the bees from you.” He pressed his fingers to his brow in an attempt to stave off the headache that would be hitting him at any moment due to the influx of questions barraging his brain. He wasn’t sure where to start, so he chose the topic of least resistance. “Why am I suddenly the one responsible for carrying on the Ellingham line?”

“Well, your brothers aren’t going to do it, are they?”

“Sebastian…no, never mind.” His eldest brother had also been married when they’d been turned, but unlike Juliette, Sebastian’s wife had survived the transition. Their marriage had not. She’d decided she enjoyed the vampire life so much she’d rather try it unencumbered by a husband. The whole ordeal had soured Sebastian on women and wedded bliss.

Hugh understood. To an extent. Sebastian had taken it hard, where as if Juliette had simply left Hugh as opposed to dying, he could very well imagine he would have been remarried by now. “Sebastian may never get over Evangeline.”

“I’ve come to accept that.” She nodded. “Sebastian is broken. I don’t believe there’s a woman alive who could mend that man’s heart.”

“There’s still Julian—”

“Oh, please.” She waved her handkerchief at him. “Julian is a complete and utter charmer, but he’s also a man whore. He’s made a mockery of monogamy. It will take a woman of a very particular kind to set him on a loyal path, if such a creature exists, and I don’t have the time or patience to wait.”

He squinted at her. “You don’t have the time? Grandmamma, we’ve been vampires for almost three hundred and fifty years, and there’s no reason to think we won’t be vampires for another three hundred and fifty. Time is not something we lack.”

“You’re an insolent child.” She huffed. “It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been alive or will be alive, I want grandbabies. I want to see my boys settled down and happy. Or at least one of them. You.”

“I am happy.” He wasn’t jumping up and down with joy, but he was fine.

She gave him the stare that destroyed lesser men. “You rattle around all alone in that house of yours, working on your formulas, wallowing in your grief—”

“I do not wallow and I am not alone. I have Stanhill.” His man-in-service was a faithful companion, his rook in vampire terms—a half-turned human who served a vampire’s needs in exchange for immortality—but their association was a purposeful one and didn’t disrupt Hugh’s routine. He liked his life the way it was. All that uninterrupted time to spend in his lab.

And maybe a little wallowing. But it grew less with each passing year. At least, he liked to tell himself that.

Her brows shot up. “Stanhill is your rook, not a wife.”

“No, he’s not. Thankfully.” Because that was something Hugh was never going to have again. He stood and tried to change the subject. “How about lunch tomorrow? We could go to—”

“Sit down.”

Blasted woman. He sat. “No lunch tomorrow?”

“I’ve taken the liberty”—that didn’t bode well—“of arranging for a suitable young woman to come visit you.”

A frisson of anger worked up his spine. He loved his grandmother with all his heart, such as it was. She’d saved him and his brothers from certain death by turning them into vampires, so on some level he owed her his life. But this was a step too far. “What the hell does that mean?”

“Hugh! Language.” She clucked her tongue at him. “Just that next week, there will be a woman arriving at your home, and you’re to entertain her as a possible mate.”

“Are you bloody kidding me? No. I won’t. This is the twenty-first century. There is no duchy to protect, no titles to pass on, no need to produce an heir. You realize you are the dowager duchess in name only.” Although in public, he and his brothers often called her Didi as a bit of a tease for that very reason. That, and she wasn’t keen on them calling her Grandmamma in public.

“Just because we lost our land and titles doesn’t mean we have to behave as though we’ve lost our manners and sense of civility.”

This was an old argument and not one he wanted to unpack yet again. He let a moment of silence pass to clear the air. “People don’t have arranged marriages anymore.”

“Some do. The werewolves do.”

“Only for their alphas and only to secure pack treaties. And I am not a werewolf.” He stared right back at her. “I am never marrying again. I don’t know why you can’t understand that.” Any woman who was going to be with him would have to become a vampire, and he was never going to risk the life of another woman that way again.

“If the transformation hadn’t killed Juliette, the plague would have.” His grandmother sighed. “Stop punishing yourself for her death.”

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