The Immortal Who Loved Me(Argeneau, book 21)(10) by Lynsay Sands
Her eyes shot back to Stephanie and she asked in a hiss, “Does he know you think I’m his life mate?”
“Crap,” Sherry muttered as the girl glanced past her and smiled in greeting at someone obviously approaching the table.
Sherry forced herself not to look back like some spotty, eager teenager and simply sat there fighting the panic trying to overwhelm her. It was pretty strong, and for a minute she was torn between jumping up and making a run for it and ducking under the table to hide like a child . . . which was just madness. But really, the whole day had been mad so far. However, while she’d managed to remain relatively calm through the invasion of her store and the chase that had followed, Sherry feared she might actually hyperventilate over being examined as a prospective life mate. Seriously, the timing was just ridiculous, and—
Cutting off her thoughts, Sherry lowered her head, closed her eyes, and forced herself to take deep breaths. She was just starting to feel a little calmer when she sensed a presence standing at her side.
Raising her head, she automatically slid along the booth seat to make way even as Stephanie slid along the opposite booth seat. Sherry’s gaze slid from the girl to the dark-haired young man now settling next to the teenager, wondering if he was this Basil person. If so, he wasn’t her type. Dressed in black jeans and T-shirt with a leather jacket on, the guy looked like the stereotypical bad boy. Not her scene at all, she thought with something like relief. Stephanie was wrong, she was not a life mate to this man. But even as she began to relax, Stephanie gestured and said, “Sherry, this is Justin Bricker.”
Sherry swallowed and nodded in greeting, her entire focus shifting to the heat emanating from the man now settling into the seat beside her. “And that’s Basil Argeneau,” Stephanie added.
Taking a deep breath, Sherry forced a smile and turned to peer at the man who was supposedly her life mate. She stared at him silently for a long moment, drinking him in.
Basil had blond hair, but golden blond, not the dirty blond of Leo and his boys. It was also cut short. The man had full lips, chiseled cheeks and chin, and the most incredible silver blue eyes she’d ever seen.
Her gaze dropped to what she could see of his body where he sat beside her, and she noted the wide shoulders under the dark, designer business suit, and that his stomach appeared super flat. But that was all she could tell with him sitting so close. It was enough. The guy was . . . well . . . jeez, he was a hotty.
“Definitely the pepperoni,” she murmured.
“Excuse me?” Basil Argeneau said uncertainly.
Realizing what she’d said, Sherry flushed and shook her head. She had no intention of explaining that he was hot and spicy like Stephanie’s pizza pepperoni. And he was. Certainly he was hotter than any guy she’d ever dated. This guy, though, looked younger than her thirty-two. Maybe twenty-five, she thought with concern, and then recalled Stephanie’s claim that these vampires or immortals stopped aging at about twenty-five. Before she considered how rude the question might be, she blurted, “How old are you?”
His eyes widened slightly and then he simply said, “Old.”
Sherry frowned at the vague answer and pressed, “Older than thirty-two?”
For some reason that made Justin Bricker snort with amusement.
When she glanced his way, he slid a cell phone out of his pocket, set it on the table and grinned at her as he suggested, “Try adding a couple of zeroes behind the thirty-two and you’ll still be three hundred and forty-some years off.”
Sherry frowned at the suggestion, not sure she believed him, but before she could question him on the matter, the brush of fingers along her arm made her glance quickly to Basil. His touch had sent a shiver of sensation down her arm, leaving goose bumps in its trail. Sherry unconsciously rubbed her arm in reaction and stared at him wide-eyed.
“Are you thirty-two, then?” Basil asked.
“And you own your own store?” he asked. “A kitchenware store, I understand.”
“Yes.” Sherry sat a little straighter, reminding herself that she wasn’t a breathless teenager, but a grown-up, successful businesswoman who had worked hard and was now reaping the rewards . . . which she got to pay half of to the government. The thought made her scowl again, which made Basil sit back slightly. Noting that, she smiled wryly and said, “Sorry. I was just thinking about my taxes.”
If she had thought that would reassure him, she’d thought wrong. If anything it made him frown, and that was when Sherry realized it probably wasn’t flattering to be talking to him and thinking of her taxes.
“Are you single?” she asked, to distract him from her momentary faux pas.
“Yes. You?” he asked politely.
“Mostly,” she answered at once.
“Mostly?” he echoed, frowning even harder.
“Well, it’s . . . I’ve been dating a guy, but it’s just casual; dinner, a movie, the occasional business function. We aren’t exclusive or anything,” she assured him.
Basil nodded solemnly. “I am.”
“You are what?” she asked uncertainly.
It was a simple word, but somehow carried the finality of a judge’s gavel. Sherry was trying to sort out what it meant exactly, and how she should respond, when a chime sounded from the phone Justin had set on the table. She glanced his way as he picked it up.
He thumbed the screen, and then stood, saying, “Well, kids. You’ll have to finish this ‘get to know you’ thing in the SUV. Nicholas says the street is clear at the moment and we have to get you out of here before Leo and his boys come back around.”
Sherry glanced to Stephanie and then to Basil as he stood, noting the hand he was holding out to help her up. So gentlemanly, Sherry thought. She took the offered hand, startled by the tingle it sent through her fingers and up her arm. The man seemed to be full of static electricity. Probably didn’t use Bounce in the dryer, she thought absently as he released her hand to take her elbow and usher her toward the front door of the pizza joint.
Sherry glanced over her shoulder as they went, relieved to see that Stephanie was right behind them with Justin on her heels. Sherry had started out trying to keep the girl safe, but suddenly felt like she was in over her head and Stephanie was the only lifeline she had. Weird.
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