The Immortal Who Loved Me(Argeneau, book 21)(60) by Lynsay Sands
And who the devil was that? she wondered with frustration.
The others seemed to think it was her Uncle Al during her younger years, and it was true that he had spent a good deal of time in her life. She’d seen him daily after her parents had split. Sherry’s mother had worked for social services, and while she’d dropped her off at school every morning, it was Uncle Al who collected her afterward while her mother was still at work. When she’d started ballet at nine, he was the one to take her to her classes after school. When she’d switched to gymnastics at twelve, again it was Uncle Al who had taken her. He even took her to dinner a couple times a week on nights when her mother worked late.
In fact, now that she thought about it, most of her time with Uncle Al had been spent without her mother there. Although there were occasions when he’d taken both her and her mother on outings, to the science center or the zoo on a Saturday or Sunday. Actually, he’d sort of stepped in and taken her father’s place, at least in her life if not her mother’s.
Funny how she’d forgotten that, Sherry thought now with a small frown.
But Uncle Al had faded from her life during her high school years, seeing her less and less often, until she’d hardly seen him at all the last two years before she went to university, and she hadn’t seen him at all that last summer. Wrapped up in school, prepping for university while enjoying a blossoming social life, she hadn’t really noticed his absence at the time . . . or perhaps she hadn’t because he’d messed with her head, she thought grimly now.
Lucian seemed to think that Uncle Al was the immortal in her life and that he had changed his appearance and then reappeared while she was at the university.
The thought made her sift through the people she’d known there. She’d had a couple of good male friends through university and afterward. She’d also had a couple of professors who mentored her. But the only person she’d seen daily during that period and for several years afterward was Luther.
They’d met during her first year of university, had several classes together and ended up hanging out, and then went in with several other people to rent a five-bedroom house during second year. They’d remained roommates throughout the rest of her time at university. While their other roommates had changed, they both stayed in that house until they got their MBAs, and then continued to be roommates after graduating into the work world. Luther had been her best friend and confidant. She’d cried on his shoulder, listened to his advice, and shared her life with him. He’d been rather like an older brother. Luther had worked a couple years before starting university and was twenty-four when they met, five years older than her.
At least he’d claimed to be twenty-four, she thought now. And then after her mother’s funeral, while Sherry had been busily settling her mother’s accounts and then buying and stocking her dream store, Luther had got the offer of a job in Saudi Arabia that paid so much money it would have been mad for him to refuse it. He hadn’t, of course, and disappeared from her life, just like Uncle Al.
The only males she’d seen daily since then were Allan, Eric, and Zander, who all worked at her store and had done so since she’d opened three years ago.
Sherry paced back to the bathroom, walked inside, checked that her curling iron was cool and bent to tuck it back in her bag where it sat on the floor. It was as she was straightening, everything finally clicked into place.
“Son of a bitch,” she muttered, and stared at her reflection briefly, then whirled and hurried out and across the bedroom to the hall. She was moving quickly, eager to get to the others to tell them that she knew who the immortal must be, but slowed and then stopped as she heard what they were saying in the living room.
“Well . . .” Basil said, glancing over the notes he held. “According to the dates Sherry listed here, her university friend Luther and this Uncle Al are the people who have been in her life the longest, and as far as she can recall, her uncle was only in her life from seven to eighteen, and the roomie was around from eighteen to twenty-nine.”
“So both of them were in her life for eleven years,” Harper said thoughtfully.
“I suspect this Uncle Al is the father, and that he was around probably from the day she was born,” Basha said thoughtfully.
“Yes, but it’s doubtful he was in her life on a daily basis before her brother Danny died and the man she knew as her father left Lynne,” Drina said with a frown. “Richard Carne would have hardly welcomed him.”
“True,” Marcus commented. “No man wants his wife’s old lover hanging around.”
“Even if he’s the girl’s birth father?” Basha asked.
“Especially if he fathered her,” Marcus assured her. “There’s a reason lions eat the offspring of previous mates of the lioness when they take over a den. Mortals may not kill the woman’s offspring, but many resent a child that isn’t theirs. It’s a constant reminder that she had a previous mate.”
“Is there a male she sees daily now?” Lucian asked.
Drina glanced through the list. “Eric, Zander, and Allan. They’re all employees at the store.”
“Seems easy enough,” Bricker said now. “Uncle Al is now Allan.”
“Wasn’t the roommate’s real name Lex?” Stephanie asked suddenly, and Basil glanced to where the girl sat, feet up on the couch and arms wrapped around her knees, eyeing them all with eyebrows raised. She looked pale and her eyebrows were drawn together as if she were in pain. Katricia had told him that Stephanie not only could hear the thoughts of mortals, young immortals, and even older immortals, but she couldn’t shut their voices out, that it seemed to her as if they were shouting their thoughts in her ears. He suspected that having so many of them there, their minds all screaming at her at once, was causing her a great deal of distress.
“Yes, Lex Brown,” Drina answered when no one else spoke. “What about it?”
Stephanie raised her eyebrows, uncrossed her arms and sat up. “Seriously? You don’t see it?”
Basil glanced around. The others were peering at each other, looking as blank-faced as he probably did . . . all except Lucian, who was almost smiling. If Basil were to guess, he’d say Lucian had seen whatever Stephanie was talking about. And probably long ago. The bastard had just been sitting around waiting to see who would sort it out first.
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