The Immortal Who Loved Me(Argeneau, book 21)(63) by Lynsay Sands
Sherry gave up her apologies and lowered her head.
“Are you okay?” Basil asked, and she could hear the frown in his voice, though she couldn’t see it. She was staring down at the ground, and supposed that was why he was worried. She supposed she looked as lost and scared as she felt.
“Yes.” She forced her head up and managed a smile. “Of course.”
“Okay.” Looking somewhat relieved, but still a little concerned, he slid his arm around her shoulders and then turned toward the building. “So, I take it this is his—It’s your store,” he realized. “Honey, he won’t be at work. The Enforcers sent all of your employees home in case Leo and his boys return.”
“I know. I came here to get his address off my Rolodex,” she explained.
“Oh.” He glanced around warily now, and then abruptly urged her forward. “Let’s get inside, then. If Leo does return, I do not want him to find you out here.”
Nodding, Sherry moved quickly, glancing around as she did. She expected people in black to be in every corner, instead her gaze found and stopped on one of her own employees behind the cash register.
“Joan?” she said, approaching her slowly. “What are you doing here? I thought you and the others had been sent home until it was safe to come back?”
“We were,” Joan Campbell said with a bright smile. “But they called last night and said the gas leak had been repaired and we could come back today.”
“Gas leak?” Sherry echoed with confusion, turning to Basil.
“A cover story they would have used. They probably removed your employees’ memories of what really happened, if they had any, and replaced them with that too,” he assured her.
Sherry nodded, recalling the blank expressions on everyone’s faces that day. She glanced toward Joan again when Basil asked the girl, “Who called you?”
“Zander,” she answered.
“Zander did?” Sherry asked, glancing around now in search of the man.
“Yeah. I gather some inspector guy called Allan last night with the news because he couldn’t get a hold of Zander. But Allan was able to get ahold of him, so Zander called everyone with their shift schedules for today. He said you were out of town, though,” she added.
“I was,” Sherry admitted. “Is Zander here now?”
“In your office,” Joan said. “He was going to call in some orders that got put off while we were shut down.”
Nodding, Sherry turned sharply and headed toward the back of the store, but paused when the front door opened. For one second she feared it would be Leo and his boys stalking into her store as they had the other day. Instead of him and his blue-jean-clad compatriots, there were two men in black jeans and leather jackets.
“Enforcers?” she asked Basil, quite sure she was right. They were dressed like Bricker, Basha, and Marcus.
Basil nodded. “Anders and my nephew Decker. Wait here, I’ll just have a word with them.”
Sherry nodded, her gaze shifting over the two men again as Basil approached them. Both were tall, but one had dark hair and silver-blue eyes, while the other had skin the color of dark mocha, and brown eyes with gold shot through them. Sherry was guessing the first man was Basil’s nephew. Not only did he have the same eye color, but the shape of their faces were similar.
“What’s going on?” Basil asked. “I understood the employees had been sent home and Enforcers were manning the store until we cleared up this Leo business.”
Sherry moved closer to hear the men’s response.
“We’re short-handed and this could drag out for a while,” the darker man said. “So Mortimer thought it would be a good idea to bring the employees back and watch the building front and back with two men instead of having to man it with four or five.”
“So who’s watching the back?” Basil asked pointedly.
“I was,” Decker announced. “But I came around front when Anders said you were here with a woman. I figured it was this life mate Aunt Marguerite mentioned.”
“And you wanted to see her,” Basil guessed.
“Of course,” Decker said with amusement, and then added, “But also because Uncle Lucian called me a few minutes ago and said if you came anywhere near here, we were to call him at once.”
“Then you’d better call him,” Basil said, and turned to move toward Sherry, adding, “Tell him Zander is here and Sherry and I are going to her office to talk to him.”
“Will do,” Decker said, retrieving his phone from a pocket to begin punching buttons.
Pausing in front of Sherry, Basil squeezed her shoulders gently. “Let’s get this over with.”
When Sherry nodded, he took her elbow and urged her toward the back of the store.
Sherry moved forward, but now that she was here, she was reluctant to see the man who might or might not be her father. Once she talked to him, her whole life would be changed. Well, her past would be changed anyway.
They were both silent as they walked, but all too soon they reached the door to her office and Basil was opening it. Sherry hesitated when he paused to peer at her. But there was no going back now. Taking a deep breath, she started up the eight steps leading into her office.
She could see into the room before she’d ascended all the steps, but she didn’t see Zander until the last step. He stood at the window overlooking the floor, his back straight and stiff.
Sherry glanced back at Basil, and then realizing he was still on the stairs because she was blocking the way, she moved farther into the room to make way for him. She then glanced around. It was her own office, and yet it felt alien somehow. It felt like she’d been away for years rather than a few days.
Her gaze slid back to Zander as he finally turned to look at her. He didn’t appear surprised to see her there. In fact, he looked resigned.
For a moment Sherry simply stared at the man. She had known him as Zander for three years, but it felt like she was seeing him for the first time. While he was taller than her, he was shorter than Basil. Shorter than her own fath—than the man she’d thought of as her father all these years. His hair was ginger, but it was the same dark color at the roots as her own, as if his hair had been dyed ginger and was growing out. He also had a Roman nose and oval face like her . . . and he couldn’t seem to meet her gaze. Turning away toward the counter behind her desk, he said, “I shall make you both coffee.”
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