The Immortal Who Loved Me(Argeneau, book 21)(31) by Lynsay Sands
“Mary and I grew up together. We were more buddies than anything else. We can read each other, and as the older one I imagine I can control her, although I have never tried. So, when she admitted she was growing tired of living, I understood completely. And then when she said she thought having a child might ease that, that it would give her someone to think about and care about besides herself, I thought . . .” His mouth tightened and then he said, “Well, I thought it was worth a damned try. It was certainly better than suicide by Rogue Hunter, so I agreed.
“We did not think,” he admitted quietly. “We did not plan anything, we simply did it. And it worked. Gabriel was our first child, a beautiful baby boy. He gave us both a reason to get up in the evenings. He reinvigorated us. We are both alive and relatively healthy all these centuries later because of Gabriel, Katricia, Crispinus, Marius, Flavia, and all the others. And I did not regret it. I do not regret it. I love my children, every one of them, and I am also grateful to them because they saved my sanity and my life . . . and Mary is too.”
Sherry was silent for a minute, and then asked, “You didn’t live with Mary? Even when the children were little?”
“No,” he assured her. “We are not life mates, Sherry. You do not understand what that means. We can read each other’s thoughts. It is difficult to live with someone who can read your thoughts. You have to guard every little thing that goes through your mind, even one stray thought could unintentionally wound them. You can start the day with everything fine, one stray thought hits, and boom, it is a world war in the middle of your home.”
She smiled faintly and said, “It can’t be that bad.”
“Trust me, it is. Think about some of your thoughts through the day. Is every one of them complimentary?”
Sherry frowned, considering her thoughts. As far as she knew, she didn’t run around having insulting thoughts.
“You are shaking your head. You cannot think of anything insulting you might have thought?” he asked, and when she shook her head again, he nodded. “We are often not even aware of it.” He hesitated for a moment and then said, “Okay, you walk into the office, or in your case, your store, one of the girls comes in looking a little peaked, gray-faced, bags under their eyes, etcetera . . . Have you really never thought, ‘Wow, she looks like hell’?”
Sherry bit her lip. She actually had thought that. She never would have said it, of course, but she had thought it.
“Or you have never looked at someone and thought they have put on a couple pounds, or those pants make their behind look huge?”
Sherry grimaced. Yes, she’d thought that.
“Or, you are training a new employee and she seems slow to learn, you briefly lose your patience and think, ‘Good Lord, she is so dense sometimes,’ before you take a breath and try again?”
“Ah,” Sherry breathed on a sigh.
“Or you think someone’s laugh sounds like nails on chalkboard. Or someone is humming off-key and you think they are tone deaf. Or—”
“I get it,” Sherry interrupted, and grimaced as she admitted, “Yes, I guess I probably have thoughts that could be considered insulting, and more often than I realized.”
“You do not mean them as insulting. They are your thoughts, after all, no one can hear them,” Basil said quietly.
“But immortals can,” Sherry said on a sigh. “I guess that would make it hard to live with one.”
“It is a little more complicated than that,” Basil said quietly. “Younger immortals usually cannot read older immortals if we are guarding our thoughts, but it is impossible to constantly guard your thoughts. Well, not impossible, but it is stressful and that guard can slip. And of course, mortals cannot read immortals, but they also do not guard their own thoughts at all, and being constantly bombarded with stray thoughts, insults, and fantasies can be exhausting.”
“I can imagine,” Sherry said quietly, bit her lip anxiously and then asked, “But you cannot read my thoughts, right? Or can you now? Stephanie can now.”
“No, I cannot read you,” Basil assured her. “Which makes you the most restful person in Casey Cottage.”
“Restful?” Sherry asked with a wince. That sounded about as sexy as snot.
Basil chuckled at her expression. “Believe me, it makes you the most attractive woman in the world. I can relax with you, Sherry. Usually the only time I can relax is when I am alone, but being alone is . . . well, lonely,” he said dryly. “It is nice to be able to enjoy company without having to be on my guard. I have not enjoyed that since Acantha.”
“Acantha?” Sherry asked. “Where is that?”
“Acantha is not a place, she was my first life mate,” he said quietly.
“Your first life mate?” she asked with surprise. “So I’m not the first?”
“No,” he said solemnly. “I was fortunate enough to meet a life mate while I was quite young. Sadly, I did not have her long.”
“What happened to her?” Sherry asked.
“Atlantis fell six months after we were mated. She did not survive.” He was silent for a moment and then added, “Acantha was a teacher. The school where she taught exploded during the first quake that hit. She was caught in the flames and . . .” He swallowed and then explained, “For some reason the nanos make us very flammable. She did not have a chance.”
“I’m sorry,” Sherry said quietly.
“As am I,” he said solemnly, and admitted, “At the time, it felt like the end of the world, and I am ashamed to admit it, but I basically sat down and . . .” He shrugged. “I was not exactly motivated to struggle to survive. I would have died there with everyone else, but for Lucian. He basically dragged me out of Atlantis, me and our brother Jean Claude both, though I do not know where Lucian found the will or desire to live himself. He lost not only his life mate in the fall, but his children as well.”
“That’s awful,” Sherry murmured.
“Yes.” Basil sighed the word and then glanced her way with a wry smile. “And this is some terribly depressing conversation. Besides, it all happened a very long time ago. We have all had more than three thousand years to grieve the loss of Atlantis and all those who died with it, family and friends, home, a life that can never be replicated.”
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