The Immortal Who Loved Me(Argeneau, book 21)(40) by Lynsay Sands
“Sherry,” Elvi said gently, drawing her from her thoughts. When Sherry met her gaze, Elvi patted her hand and said, “You are scaring the wits out of yourself and there is no need for that. I really don’t think you should even worry about having to become an immortal. You have enough on your plate at the moment. Why not just enjoy getting to know Basil and let the future take care of itself?”
Sherry let her breath out slowly. “You were reading my mind at the table.”
“Yes, I was,” Elvi agreed. “Although, as I said, you’re pretty much shouting your thoughts right now, and what you were shouting at the table was that you were on the verge of a full-fledged panic attack over the possibility of having to become an immortal.”
Sherry nodded, and then blurted, “I don’t think I could drink blood.”
Elvi didn’t appear surprised. Smiling wryly, she shrugged. “It is not exactly something we, as mortals, ever expect to have to do.”
Sherry let her breath out on a little sigh, relieved that the woman was being so understanding.
“Of course I understand,” Elvi said with a crooked smile, obviously still reading her thoughts. “Sherry, I know this is all very scary. But, my dear, you don’t have to do anything you do not want to,” she said firmly. “Right now, you’re our guest and under our care and protection while the Rogue Hunters take care of Leo. Anything beyond that is up to you, so just relax and enjoy your stay with us. Consider it a free vacation.”
“And Basil?” she asked.
Elvi shrugged. “That is up to you too. He can either be a vacation romance, or he can be your future, but you will be the one to decide which.”
“Right,” Sherry breathed. Elvi was right, of course. She’d been reacting as if she didn’t have a choice in any of this, and she did. There was no need to panic. She should just relax and, as Elvi had suggested, enjoy the free vacation. There were people running her store, she was at a lovely bed and breakfast, and was about to enjoy a shopping spree on the council members. She was also enjoying the best sex of her life. What happened after they caught this Leo person was up to her.
“That a girl,” Elvi said with a smile, obviously still listening in on her thoughts. “Now let’s go spend some council money on a pretty new wardrobe for you.”
Managing a shaky laugh, Sherry nodded and followed her out of the ladies’ room.
“Are we ready?” Elvi asked as they reached the table where the men waited.
Victor nodded and picked up the bill as he stood. “Just have to pay this on the way out, my love.”
“Council credit card?” Basil asked with amusement when he spotted the card his brother took out of his wallet.
“Yeah, so I guess you’re really paying,” Victor said with amusement. “Or at least part of it.”
“Then I do not have to offer to pick up the tab myself,” Basil said with a smile.
Sherry stared at him silently, her gaze sliding over his clothes and watch. He looked good. He also looked expensive. She didn’t see any obvious insignias to suggest he wore designer clothes, but she’d stake her life on the fact that he did. Dear God, she was dating a man with fangs, immortality, and who wasn’t just well off, but was thousands-of-years-of-amassing-a-fortune rich. Dear God, he—
“Breathe,” Elvi whispered by her ear, slipping her arm through hers to urge her toward the exit. “He is just a man . . . well, an immortal man,” she added wryly. “But a man just the same.”
“Who is a man?” Basil asked curiously, stepping up next to Sherry when Elvi turned to say something to Victor as they reached the register.
“You heard that, did you?” Sherry asked dryly. That was just her luck. Shrugging to herself, she admitted, “Elvi was just reminding me that you’re just a man.”
“I am,” he assured her solemnly, opening the door for her.
“Right,” Sherry said as she led the way outside. “A man who’s immortal and has more money than God.” She shook her head. “Nothing intimidating about that.”
“Sherry.” Basil caught her hand and brought her to a halt in the parking lot. “First of all, I am quite sure God does not have or care about money, and frankly, neither do I, really. I’ve simply amassed a lot because I’ve been alive a long time and don’t spend a lot of it on unnecessary luxuries. Money is not important.”
“You wouldn’t say that if you didn’t have a lot of it,” she assured him. “I mean, I make a good wage off my store, but I scrimped and saved for a long time to scrape the money together to start it. So it wasn’t that long ago that I was without . . . by choice, true,” she admitted. “But whether by choice or not, when you don’t have it, money carries a lot more importance than—”
“Sherry,” he said solemnly. “I have been alive a long time, and like to think I have learned a little something over that time. What I have learned is that people are what is important . . . family and friends. They are the only thing of any real value in life. They see you into this world and they see you out, and they are your only real support in between. Money buys food, clothing, and a roof over your head. Food lasts minutes in your mouth and then you’re hungry again hours later. Clothing changes with each season, and a roof over your head is just that, a roof. It’s family that makes it a home and family that lasts a lifetime. Whether it’s the family you’re born into, or a family you choose from among friends or loved ones. They are all that really matter.”
Sherry shook her head, pretty sure Basil had been wealthy for so long that he just didn’t recall what it was like to be without it, and how important it really was.
Basil considered her expression and then asked, “Did you not scrimp and save, as you say, and give up all those luxuries you could have had to save the money to start your store?”
“Well, yes,” she admitted with a frown.
“And would you not give up your store and all the money it has made you to have your mother back?” he asked.
“In a heartbeat,” she said without having to think about it.
“You see? Money is not really that important. It is merely our society that makes it seem so. The corporations, magazines, and television commercials with their advertisements and chants to buy this and this and this and you must have that.”
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