The Immortal Who Loved Me(Argeneau, book 21)(33) by Lynsay Sands
“So young,” Basil said sadly, shaking his head. “That must have been hard on you all.”
Sherry nodded. “My parents never got over it. They blamed each other and themselves. If she hadn’t forgotten the buns, if he had gone for them himself . . .” She shook her head. “It wasn’t long before they divorced. Dad moved out West, met and married a woman with two kids and had two more with her, and I haven’t seen him since.”
Basil frowned. “He never contacts you or—?”
“He called a couple times. E-mailed too,” she admitted. “But I wasn’t very receptive. It felt like I lost my brother and then he abandoned us. It also felt like he didn’t care about me, like Danny was all that had mattered to him and I wasn’t enough to keep him there,” Sherry admitted quietly.
“I am sure that is not true,” Basil said quietly.
Sherry shrugged. “He didn’t try very hard to see or speak to me when I stopped taking his calls,” she pointed out, and then sighed and said, “But that’s okay. It was a long time ago.”
“So, you are alone in the world?” Basil asked.
“No. I have three aunts on my mom’s side and their families. They gathered around me and were very supportive when Mom died. They still are. They always include me in holidays and birthdays. And I have friends.”
Basil merely nodded and asked, “So what did you take in university? Business?”
“Yes.” She smiled. “It seemed the sensible degree if I wanted to own my own business one day.”
“Very sensible,” he agreed. “And did you use it before starting your business?”
“Of course. I worked in the offices of a large international building contractor based in Toronto. It was a good job, the pay was excellent, otherwise I never would have been able to save money as I did. And they were willing to pay all the overtime I wanted to work.” She grinned. “I worked a lot of overtime.
“Ah.” He nodded. “You never married, then?”
She glanced at him with confusion. “What has overtime to do with marriage?”
“Spoken like someone who has never been married,” he said with amusement. “A husband would protest at so much overtime.”
“Oh.” She shook her head. “No. I’ve not been very lucky in love. I have terrible taste in men. It’s been all losers and louses for me,” she said wryly, and then added, “I was engaged once, though, for a bit.”
“What happened to end the engagement?” Basil asked, curious.
Sherry shrugged. “It just didn’t work out. These things happen. It’s better this way.”
He nodded and then smiled faintly. “Well, it is certainly better for me.”
“How’s that?” she asked.
Basil hesitated and then said, “Ask me that again a week from now.”
Sherry stared at him curiously, but then turned to peer outside again as movement caught her eye. A woman had just come out of the house next door with gloves and a sun hat on and a basket in hand full of gardening tools. As Sherry watched, the woman moved to the rosebushes lining the front of her house, set down the basket, picked up pruning shears and set to work on her rosebushes.
“It’s a beautiful day,” Basil said quietly.
“Yes, beautiful,” Sherry sighed, and then pointed out, “When I brought up sunlight and your people not seeming to have any problem with it, you explained about the nanos. Does that mean that, unlike Stoker’s vampires, you don’t have problems with sunlight?”
She raised an eyebrow. “But traditional vampires can’t stand sunlight . . . or garlic . . . or religious symbols like the cross.”
“Ah.” Basil smiled faintly as he watched the woman work. “Well, while we won’t burst into flames or anything when struck by sunlight, it does damage our skin, just as it does mortals. Traditionally we did, and still do, avoid sunlight as much as possible. You will not find any sun worshippers among our people. The more damage we take, the more blood we need. The need for more blood at one time meant more risk of getting caught. Now it just means wasting blood, which is a precious commodity. Our blood banks have as much trouble replacing stock as the Red Cross and mortal blood banks do.” He shrugged. “So we avoid it as much as possible. In the past, that meant staying indoors much of the day and living mostly at night. Nowadays, though, we are much freer. We have UV protective glazing put on windows in both our homes and cars, so it’s just a matter of getting from the vehicle to a building or vice versa, which does little enough damage.”
Sherry shifted her attention to the actual glass of the window she was looking out of, supposing they probably had that UV protective glaze.
“As for churches and religious symbols,” Basil continued. “They are not a problem for us.”
Shifting her attention back to him, she asked, “And garlic?” The question was more teasing than serious.
“I personally love garlic,” he assured her. “Well, I would not eat it before a date, but otherwise . . .” He shrugged. “It does us no harm.” He pursed his lips and then added, “My brother Jean Claude loathed garlic, though, which may be where the whole garlic thing came from.”
Sherry glanced doubtfully at him, wondering how one man’s dislike of garlic could turn into the whole myth of garlic being detrimental to the health of vampires. But Basil merely shook his head, and muttered, “Long story.”
“You’ve mentioned your brother Jean Claude a couple of times. Does he live in Canada or the U.S.?”
“He lived in Canada at the end, but passed away some years back,” Basil answered.
“Oh.” She grimaced. “Sorry.”
Basil shrugged. “That is one of life’s drawbacks, death is a constant companion.”
“Less so for your kind than mine,” she pointed out dryly.
“Perhaps I should have said loss is a constant companion to life,” he said solemnly. “For while I have lived a very long time, I have witnessed and grieved the loss of countless family members, friends, and acquaintances.”
“Wow, you’re really trying to sell this immortality business,” Sherry teased with amusement. The man was not making it attractive.
Basil grimaced. “Salesman is one career I never tried. I knew I would not be good at it.”
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