The Immortal Who Loved Me(Argeneau, book 21)(57) by Lynsay Sands
“There is,” Lucian announced, reaching for his coffee. The words were spoken with unshakable certainty, but then Sherry suspected the man always spoke that way. He was that kind of guy.
Having learned that it was a waste of time to argue with people like that, she turned away, saying mildly, “If you say so.”
“Was that sarcasm?” she heard Lucian growl as she escaped into the kitchen.
“No,” Basil assured him with a smile in his voice. “I believe she is humoring you.”
Sherry didn’t hear Lucian’s response, but he was scowling when she returned to the room with spoons, cream, and sugar.
“You mention Uncle Al here, that friend of your mother’s,” Drina pointed out as Sherry settled on the couch again. “But you didn’t put down his last name.”
“Because I don’t remember it,” Sherry admitted, noting the surprise on the expressions of those around her before she continued, “I always just called him Uncle Al. But, as I said, he wasn’t really an uncle. He was a family friend. He used to spend a lot of time with us, and he was really supportive of Mom when she and Dad split, but then he just stopped visiting and stuff. By the time I started university, he was little more than a fond memory.”
Drina blinked and slowly sat back.
“She has a couple of instances of that,” Basil said quietly.
“Of what?” Sherry asked, turning to him with confusion. “Family friends whose last names I can’t remember?”
Basil shook his head. The notepad with her original list was on the coffee table beside the pen she’d used. He picked up both now, quickly scribbled something down, and then closed the notepad. Setting it on his knee, he turned to Sherry and asked, “You said you don’t date much?”
“No,” Sherry admitted. “I don’t really have time. I can date later. Right now I just want the store to be up and running and doing well.”
Basil nodded. “But you were engaged once. To an artist.”
“What happened there?”
Sherry shrugged. “It just didn’t work out. These things happen. It’s better this way.”
Basil handed the notepad to Drina. “Open it and read what I wrote.”
The woman’s eyebrows rose, but she opened the notepad and her eyes widened as she read what he’d written.
“What is it?” Sherry asked with a frown, and Drina turned the notepad so she could read it. She did so out loud, a frown beginning to pull at her lips: “‘I just want the store to be up and running and doing well . . . It just didn’t work out. These things happen. It’s better this way.’”
Sherry sat back after reading that, then glanced to Basil with confusion. “What . . . ?”
“It’s what you say each time those subjects are broached. I noticed the part about getting the store up and running when we were talking on the porch at Casey Cottage. It wasn’t making sense. You said the store was doing well and even making a profit, but then kept repeating that you needed the store up and running and doing well before you could take the time to date. The exact same phrase each time.” He grimaced. “I thought maybe it was just a one-off, but you said the same thing when the subject came up at lunch with Elvi and Victor. You also had another phrase that you repeated when the subject of your love life came up at lunch. You mentioned your broken engagement, and when she asked why, you explained—”
“It just didn’t work out. These things happen. It’s better this way,” Sherry said, and then covered her mouth with horror as she realized she was saying exactly what he’d written. It had just slipped out, like a knee-jerk reaction.
“Those thoughts were put in your head,” Drina said quietly. “As was your response to questions about your Uncle Al.”
“He wasn’t really an uncle. He was just a family friend. He was really supportive of Mom, but then—”
“He just stopped visiting and stuff. By the time I started university he was just a fond memory,” Drina said with her.
Sherry sat back, sure all the blood had drained out of her head. “Someone’s controlling me?”
“No,” Basil assured her. “At least not directly. Those are explanations that were put into your head. But for you to repeat them so faithfully, they must have been put in your head firmly and often . . . and reinforced over a long period of time.” After a pause, he commented, “The fact that there’s an automatic response to questions about her Uncle Al—”
“He’s not really my uncle. He was very—” Catching herself repeating the phrase, Sherry cut herself off so abruptly she nearly bit her own tongue. Grim now, she muttered, “Sorry. You were saying?”
“I was merely going to suggest that it might point the finger at your—at this Al person,” he finished.
“But he hasn’t been in my life for fifteen or sixteen years,” she pointed out with a frown.
“Are you sure?” Basil asked. “What did he look like?”
Sherry glanced to him with surprise and shrugged. “He was . . .”
“What color was his hair?” Drina asked when Sherry fell silent, a frown claiming her face.
“It was . . .” She frowned and then shook her head. “I don’t . . .”
“How tall was he?”
“Was he fat or thin?”
“How did he dress?”
Sherry stared at them all blankly. The answers to their questions simply weren’t coming. She couldn’t remember. She couldn’t visualize the man at all. She kept trying to draw up moments in her life when she knew for certain that he had been there; her brother’s funeral, her birthdays, her graduation . . . But all she saw was a fuzzy outline of a man, as if someone had erased the image.
“It’s all right,” Basil said quietly, taking her hand gently in his. “Breathe.”
Sherry concentrated on her breathing for a minute, but her head was spinning. Good old Uncle Al.
“This is awful,” she breathed with horror.
“No. This is good,” Basil assured her. “We are a step closer. Uncle Al was the immortal.”
“But he hasn’t been in my life for—”
“He very well may have been, Sherry,” Basil said quietly, and then pointed out, “Why else would he erase your memories of what he looked like?”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online