The Immortal Who Loved Me(Argeneau, book 21)(49) by Lynsay Sands
“It has to be,” Stephanie protested, scowling at Sherry as if she were deliberately remembering it all wrong and confusing her on purpose.
“I am afraid Lucian is right,” Drina said, sounding weary. “I have seen this before. What you are seeing is the result of someone trying to make her see something that wasn’t there.”
“What?” Stephanie asked, turning to peer at Drina.
“Whoever knocked on that dressing room door wanted Sherry to think it was Leo,” Drina explained. “But she’s built up that resistance to mind control. It didn’t work properly.” Drina grimaced and glanced to Sherry again, adding, “I suspect he realized that and tried to erase it altogether. Only that didn’t work fully either, which is why we can read it from your memory despite it being veiled from you. The attempt to bury it is probably why you fainted, though.” She glanced to Lucian and admitted, “I would have realized that the first time I picked up on the memory, but I didn’t look hard enough. I saw Leo, and it was what I expected, so I didn’t trouble myself over the fact that the image was garbled. I am sorry, Uncle. I let you down and did exactly what they wanted.”
“What who wanted?” Sherry asked with a frown.
“Whoever wanted us to think Leo was at the mall,” Drina explained grimly.
“Why would someone want that?” she asked with confusion, and then before anyone could answer, she added, “And this might be a good thing. It could help us narrow down who it might be. There can’t be that many people who know about Leo and what he looks like, right?”
Stephanie snorted at the question. “Everyone knows that he’s being hunted and what he looks like. He’s been the Blood Bag Boy for months now.”
“The Blood Bag Boy?” Sherry asked with confusion.
“Yeah,” the girl said dryly. “You know how they used to put missing kids’ pictures on milk cartons?”
“Well, it’s kind of like that,” Stephanie announced. “Only it’s Leo’s face glued on blood bags from the blood bank. Every immortal orders blood, and so every immortal has seen his picture, knows he’s Immortal Enemy Number One, and knows they are to call if they see him in their vicinity.”
“Oh,” Sherry murmured with disappointment.
“The problem is, Leo has now become a handy go-to-guy whenever there’s trouble,” Lucian explained. “He’s a bad guy we know, so the first suspect.”
Harper nodded. “He’s become the bloody bogeyman. Something happens, it must be Leonius.”
“We need to take care of the bastard,” Bricker said with a shake of his head.
Lucian merely grunted and then shrugged. “That is not the problem here, though.”
“What problem?” Stephanie asked with a frown. “This is good news. It means Leo didn’t find us. We can go back to Port Henry.”
“You can,” Lucian said quietly.
Stephanie frowned. “And Sherry and Basil too, right?”
Lucian merely shook his head.
“Wait,” Sherry said with a frown. “I don’t understand. Why would anyone want me to think Leo was in London?”
“My guess would be they knew it would put everyone in a panic and make us bring you back here,” Harper said. “Which is exactly what we did.”
“So someone wanted me out of Port Henry?” she asked with confusion. “Why? I don’t even know anyone there.”
“It doesn’t have to be that someone wanted you out of Port Henry. It could be that whoever it was wanted you back in Toronto.”
“Isn’t it the same thing?” she asked.
There was silence, and then Lucian asked, “Who is the immortal in your life?”
“Basil,” Sherry answered promptly, and then added, “And the rest of you, I guess.”
Lucian shook his head. “Your resistance to being read and controlled suggests long-term exposure to an immortal, or perhaps more than one.”
“How long would it take for a mortal to build up that kind of resistance?” Bricker asked curiously.
“At least twenty years,” Drina murmured, eyeing Sherry curiously.
She immediately shook her head. “There is no way I have had an immortal in my life for twenty years without my knowing. You guys don’t age. I’d notice that.”
“Hair dye, older clothes, maybe some padding and a little makeup could make it appear like they were aging,” Drina said quietly.
“Seriously?” Sherry asked with surprise.
Drina nodded. “It will be someone you spend a lot of time with. Almost daily for twenty years, I should think. They . . .” Her voice trailed off when Sherry began to shake her head again.
“You can stop there. I haven’t had anyone in my life for that long.”
“No one?” Basil asked with a frown.
“Well, my mother was around for my first twenty-nine years, but she died three years ago of a heart attack. Your people wouldn’t die of a heart attack.”
“It’s not your mother. If your mother was immortal, you would be too. It’s passed on through the mother’s blood.”
“Unless her mother was turned after Sherry was born,” Drina pointed out.
Sherry shifted impatiently. “Hello. Heart attack. Dead. You people only die by decapitation and fire, from what I understand.”
“Did your mother have a partner?” Drina asked.
“Just my father. She never dated after they split up.”
Sherry started to shake her head, but then hesitated.
“Who is Uncle Al?” Lucian asked sharply, apparently picking up on the thought that had crossed her mind unspoken. “Your father’s brother?”
Sherry shook her head. “No. He wasn’t really an uncle. He was a family friend. He used to spend a lot of time with us, and he was very supportive of Mom when she and Dad split.” She shrugged. “For a while I thought they might start dating or something, but nothing came of it.”
“You’re sure about that?” Basil asked, and pointed out, “They might not have told you they were dating.”
“No. They didn’t date,” Sherry assured them. “I would have known. Besides, he wasn’t in my life that long. He came around after my brother Danny died, when I was seven. As I said, he wasn’t really an uncle. By the time I started university he was little more than a fond memory.”
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