The Immortal Who Loved Me(Argeneau, book 21)(42) by Lynsay Sands
“Hmmm.” Elvi eyed her thoughtfully. “The skirt is cute, though.”
Sherry glanced down at it. The skirt was cute. Too young for her, but cute. “We should have brought Stephanie. She’d have loved this place.”
Elvi smiled sadly and nodded. “Unfortunately, she can’t take a lot of shopping in crowded places. She won’t even go out for lunches or dinners anymore except to nip in and grab takeout.”
“Really?” Sherry arched her eyebrows. “Why?”
“She can’t block out people’s thoughts yet,” Elvi admitted quietly. “Being out in public for her is like standing in a room with a hundred blaring radios all playing different stations. Even being in the house with all of us is a bit much for her. You’ll find she spends a lot of time in her room to give her head a rest.” She explained, “Harper had all sorts of insulation and soundproofing put in her room when the renovations were done after the fire. It doesn’t block everyone completely, but reduces it to a dull roar and makes it bearable for her.”
“So after you turn, you can’t block out other peoples thoughts?” Sherry asked with a frown. That didn’t sound very attractive.
“Usually it’s the opposite. New turns usually can’t read thoughts even if they try. It takes a while to be able to do it. Stephanie is . . . gifted,” she ended finally, though her expression suggested it wasn’t much of a gift. “She has been able to hear everyone from the start, even older immortals, which is rare, and she picked up on controlling mortals quickly too.”
“Stephanie mentioned something about controlling mortals . . . can you really do that?” Sherry asked, not liking the idea that any one of the people in the house might be able to make her do something against her will.
“I’m just starting to be able to do that,” Elvi admitted. “But Stephanie could very early on, and without training.”
“Then why didn’t she take control of me when we met?” Sherry asked, and then explained, “She kept shushing me and I kept talking, but she didn’t take control of me and make me stop.”
Elvi shrugged. “When she had trouble reading you, she probably just assumed she wouldn’t be able to control you either.”
“Oh,” Sherry murmured. “You say she’s gifted, but—”
“No, it really isn’t much of a gift at all,” Elvi admitted unhappily. “It would be if she could shut it off, but she can’t.”
“And you’re worried about her,” Sherry said quietly.
Elvi nodded. “Stephanie started out attending high school here and trying to lead a normal life, but bit by bit she’s retreated. We home-school her now. She has dropped the friends of her own age because she can’t stand to go out, and she spends a lot of time locked up in her room, alone. That’s why Dree and Tricia insisted on the girls’ weekend with her, to try to get her out.”
“But shopping?” Sherry asked with a frown.
“It was a very exclusive dress shop. By appointment only. They were promised there would only be themselves and a couple of salespeople to help them.”
“Ah,” Sherry nodded.
“Then they were going to stay at Harper and Drina’s apartment in the city. Harper put in a specially insulated room there just like the one Steph has here in Port Henry, so she could spend time there if she wanted to get away,” Elvi explained. “And then Lucian sent another drug for her to try, one they hoped would muffle the voices. But, like the others, it only works until the nanos clear it out.”
“Drugs?” Sherry asked with a frown.
“It’s bad,” Elvi said solemnly. “Bad enough that we’re afraid if we don’t find a way to silence the voices for her, she could go no-fanger.”
“Stephanie?” Sherry asked with dismay.
Elvi nodded. “For all we know, this kind of thing is what actually makes the no-fangers crazy.”
Sherry stared at her with horror, trying to imagine Stephanie acting like Leo had in her store. The idea was not a pleasant one. She liked Stephanie. The girl seemed like a relatively normal kid—well, for being a vampire. She hadn’t even realized there was anything wrong with her.
“It will be fine,” Elvi said with a forced smile. “Drina, Harper, and Victor are trying to train her to block thoughts. Once she’s able to do that, she’ll be fine.”
“I’m sure it will,” Sherry murmured, although it seemed obvious to her that, despite her words, Elvi wasn’t at all sure.
“Anyway, enough of this talk. We need to find you clothes. Try that skirt with a different top and then try these on,” Elvi said, handing her the snakeskin jeans. “I’m going to go find you a couple more tops.”
Sherry nodded and watched her walk away, then turned and moved back into her changing room. The thought of Stephanie going no-fanger continued to bother her, though, as she stripped off the cropped top and switched it for a longer sweater with holes at the shoulders. She eyed the results with surprise. This one covered her muffin top but also looked rather sexy.
A knock at the door announced Elvi’s return, and Sherry turned and pulled it open with a smile. “This one is much better, I . . .” Her voice died as she realized it wasn’t Elvi.
“You need to convince Sherry to let you turn her.”
Eyebrows rising at that announcement, Basil glanced to Victor and then back to the glittery and very skimpy halter top he held in his hands. Trying to imagine Sherry in it, he pointed out, “I have only just met her. Can we not enjoy getting to know each other before we get into—”
“No. With Leonius around, you cannot afford to dally,” Victor said firmly. “Especially since I think you will have some trouble convincing her to turn.”
“What?” Basil dropped the top and rounded on him.
Victor shrugged. “The woman was panicking in the restaurant at the mere thought of becoming immortal. She started trying to convince herself that this was all just a dream or the result of drugs.” Scowling, he asked, “What the devil have you been saying to her to make her so afraid of becoming one of us?”
Basil frowned and then admitted reluctantly, “I may have mentioned that living so long without a life mate was difficult.”
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