The Immortal Who Loved Me(Argeneau, book 21)(13) by Lynsay Sands
Sherry bit her lip and peered from Stephanie’s anxious face to the man named Lucian as silence dropped around them. Her gaze then slid to Justin and Basil. Both men stood silent and still, watching Lucian. In fact, no one was moving, herself included. It was as if the man had pinned them all to the spot with some secret super power. Certainly, she didn’t have any desire to move and draw his attention. So they waited what seemed an interminable amount of time and then the front door opened and a petite brunette stepped out of the house and slid her hand through one of Lucian’s crossed arms.
“Aren’t you going to introduce me to Basil’s life mate?” the newcomer asked, and it was the most amazing thing . . . Lucian relaxed so abruptly it was like a marionette’s strings being snipped. His shoulders dropped, his arms uncrossed so that he could slip one around the woman, and he turned his head and bent to press a kiss to her forehead. He seemed almost like a different man when he turned back to the four waiting people.
“Inside,” he said quietly to Stephanie.
The girl nodded, relief oozing off of her in waves as she leapt past the couple with a grateful glance at the brunette and hurried inside.
Sherry watched her go, feeling abandoned . . . and how pathetic was that? Stephanie was a teenager. She was the adult. Sherry had been very conscious of that on first meeting the kid, and had to wonder how the tables had turned and she’d begun to depend on the girl. Well, that would end now. She was a grown-up successful businesswoman. There was nothing she couldn’t handle, she told herself, and then jumped when Lucian barked her name.
“Sherrilyn Harlow Carne?”
Turning sharply to the couple on the steps, Sherry met his gaze as he announced, “This is my wife, Leigh Argeneau.”
She offered her hand to the other woman. “Call me Sherry. I’ve only ever been called Sherrilyn Harlow Carne by my mother and that was when I was in trouble.”
Leigh chuckled and took her hand in a warm grasp. “Sherry it is.”
“Yes. You aren’t the one in trouble,” Lucian announced dryly as the two women shook.
Leigh rolled her eyes at the words and smiled wryly. “Ignore him. We’re new parents, so we aren’t getting a lot of sleep at the moment. It makes him cranky.”
“Yeah, that’s what it is. Lack of sleep due to the babies,” Justin said with a snort as he moved past them. “ ’Cause Lucian was just a big huggie bear before that.”
When Sherry glanced curiously to the man disappearing into the house, Basil said helpfully, “Lucian is always cranky.”
Much to her surprise, when Sherry then glanced worriedly to Lucian to see how he was taking the announcement, he was nodding with agreement and apparent satisfaction. She gathered he was proud of his crankiness.
“Don’t mind Lucian,” Leigh said lightly. “He just acts all growly and mean around the boys to keep them in line. He’s really a marshmallow.”
Now it was Basil who snorted.
Leigh wrinkled her nose at the man, and then took Sherry’s arm to urge her into the house, saying, “Come, I’ll make some tea and we’ll get to know each other. We’re going to be sisters-in-law.”
“Oh, that’s not—I mean, I—We—” Sherry stammered helplessly as Leigh led her inside. She fell silent when Leigh patted her hand sympathetically.
“It’s a lot to take in, I know. But it’s best not to fight it. The nanos are never wrong.”
Sherry had no idea what she was talking about when she said nanos, but merely released a sound that was embarrassingly reminiscent of a whimper and fell silent.
Basil tore his eyes from Sherry’s disappearing derriere to glance at his brother and raised an eyebrow in question. “Well what?”
“Is she or is she not your life mate?” Lucian asked at once.
Basileios grimaced. “How the hell should I know? I just met the woman.”
Lucian scowled. “Did you try to read her?”
“Of course,” he said irritably, moving forward to enter the house.
“And?” Lucian asked, following and pulling the door closed.
“I cannot read her,” Basil admitted, but added quickly, “Neither could Stephanie, though, so that might not mean anything.” He paused in the entry and turned back to Lucian. “Could you read her?”
“Of course,” the man said, as if that should be expected. “She takes some effort, though. I suspect she’s been around an immortal for long periods of time in her past and gained some natural skills at blocking our thoughts.
Basil nodded. That happened to mortals who spent a lot of time around immortals, even if they didn’t know about immortals and that they were in their presence. Their minds unconsciously sensed the probing, and they eventually, instinctively, learned to build up mental walls to block the intrusion. It made him curious, though, as to who the immortal was that Sherry might have been around.
“Try to read her again,” Lucian said, distracting him from the question. The words weren’t a suggestion. Neither were the orders that followed when he said, “And test the other symptoms too; food and so on. I need to know if she is or is not your life mate before I decide what to do about her.”
Basil merely nodded.
“What?” Lucian asked with amusement. “No arguing or telling me to stop bossing you around?”
Basil smiled faintly. He usually did rebel when Lucian tried to boss him around. It was why he was a member of the North American council. People trusted he wouldn’t just bow to his brother’s bullying. It was also why he lived in New York. He was far enough away not to have to deal with his brother’s bossiness too often, but close enough to see the family on special occasions and to fly in for emergency council meetings between the regular council meetings.
“Why bother arguing with you when it is exactly what I want to do anyway?” Basil responded. He then turned to head for the kitchens, eager to see Sherry again.
“This is Sam. She’s Mortimer’s life mate and a lawyer like Basil,” Leigh announced, urging Sherry to one of the stools around the island in the large, bright white kitchen.
“Hi,” Sherry said with a smile as the slender redhead at the stove set the lid back on a simmering pot and turned to greet them.
“Hi back,” Sam said, wiping her hands on a dish towel before offering it with a warm smile of her own. As they shook hands, she said, “I hear you’ve had a bit of an ordeal. I’m sorry about that. Leonius has been a problem for a while now. Hopefully the boys will corner and catch him this time.”
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