The Immortal Who Loved Me(Argeneau, book 21)(71) by Lynsay Sands
“I was a kid,” she said through her teeth as he turned to start moving again.
“Actually, you were twenty,” he corrected. “News flash, it’s ridiculous to lie to a man who can read your mind, so don’t bother.”
“Fine, I was twenty. That’s still a kid,” she said defensively.
“Only to someone over thirty,” he assured her, and then pointed out, “After all, the army thinks eighteen-year-olds are old enough to take a life. Personally, I started killing much younger. So twenty is definitely old enough to know better.”
“Whatever,” Sherry said wearily, giving up on her tugging. “What does it matter anyway?”
“It doesn’t,” Leo assured her. “It’s just nice to know I’m not the only one who disappointed my parent.” Grinning, he added, “The good news is you can do all the drugs you want now that you’re with me. I like feeding off stoned women. Much less screaming that way, and as much as I enjoy the terror, the screaming tends to give me a headache. Besides, I do like the buzz I get when their drugged blood hits my system. But drugs are so bad, really. Don’t you think?”
Sherry shook her head, finding it too much work to follow his conversation and try to think of a way to get away from him at the same time. “I thought you liked drugs.”
“Well, sure, but it always leads to bigger and not always better things. Like for you, it’ll start with drugs and move on to finding yourself tied up in a dilapidated building with big nasty me slicing you up and slowly draining away your life.” Pausing again, he turned to smile at her and added, “Oh, and don’t bother trying to use that pig sticker you grabbed off your desk. I’ll stop you, and it wouldn’t do much good anyway. I may not have fangs like the others, but I heal just as quickly as any immortal.” Leo winked and then added, “Hold onto it, though. I’ll get a kick out of using your own letter opener on you.”
“You’re a sick puppy,” Sherry said grimly, trying again to free her arm.
“Surprisingly, you aren’t the first woman to say that,” Leo told her, and then turned to glance toward the end of the alley, a frown suddenly pulling at his lips. “Speaking of puppies . . . where the hell are the boys?”
Sherry followed his gaze to the mouth of the alley some ten feet ahead of them. Not only were his boys not there, but no one was there, she noted with a frown. The alley opened onto a busy side street. There should have been people passing and—
Sherry blinked at that startled cry from Leo as Basha suddenly stepped out in front of them. She then gasped with surprise as she was tugged behind Leo as if she were a chocolate chip cookie and he was trying to prevent Basha from seeing he’d nipped her from the cookie jar.
It was a ridiculous reaction, of course. She wasn’t a bloody cookie and Basha could see her, especially when she leaned to the side to look around Leo’s arm.
Basha wasn’t alone, she saw with relief. Marcus, Bricker, and her father—Alexander—had stepped out behind Leo’s mother.
“You killed your own grandsons,” Leo said suddenly with dismay.
“Only two of them,” Basha said calmly.
“Leos Four and Six,” Leo growled. “My oldest and my favorites.”
“Eleven and Twenty are still alive,” she offered.
“Not for long, I’m sure,” he said dryly. “Mortally wounding them and tossing them trussed up into the back of an SUV was very ungrandmotherly of you. Especially when it would have been kinder to just kill then. You know the council will order their deaths. Hell, there’s a standing KOS order on all of us now.”
“What’s a KOS order?” Sherry asked, glancing from Basha to Leo.
“Kill on sight,” Leo said with a scowl.
“You have the right to go before the council,” Basha said grimly. “If you—”
Basha paused as her son spun back the way he and Sherry had come, but then Leo halted abruptly again and Sherry saw that Decker, Lucian, Basil, Anders, and Victor were spread out across the width of the alley behind them, in that order from left to right. Lucian had a hand on Basil’s arm as if he had been holding him back, and Elvi stood a few feet behind them, looking worried.
Cursing, Leo spun back to face Basha, dragging Sherry up beside him. “So what are you waiting for? I’m in your sight. Kill me.”
Basha shifted, her hand tightening on the sword she held and raising it slightly before she lowered it and shook her head. “It doesn’t have to be like this, Leo. You have the right to go before the council too.”
“Over Sherry’s dead body,” he growled, dragging her in front of him.
“Leo,” Basha said, taking a step forward. “Don’t do this.”
“Do what? Snap her neck like a twig?” he asked, catching Sherry’s chin with one hand and turning her head to the right. “Or maybe I’ll just rip her throat out with my less than immortal teeth. With no fangs, it would seriously hurt, huh? Or maybe . . .” he said suddenly, with what Sherry was sure was a smile in his voice, “Maybe I’ll just turn her right here and now with you all watching, helpless to do anything.”
“Crap,” Sherry muttered, thinking, Who was the stupid idiot who had refused to let Basil turn her last night to prevent just this kind of thing from happening?
“You,” Leo said, and Sherry glanced around, wondering who he was talking to and why he’d stopped.
Leo sighed wearily, gave her chin a jerk to get her attention, and said in an undertone, “I was talking to you, Sherry. You are the stupid idiot who refused to let Basil turn you last night.”
“Yes, I am,” she whispered in agreement, and in that moment regretted it with all her heart. And not just because it probably would have saved her life, but because in that moment when she didn’t know if her neck was going to be snapped, her throat ripped out, or she would be turned by a no-fanger, Sherry saw herself and her life with a clarity she had never before experienced.
She’d had a good childhood . . . even after her brother’s death. Her mother and Alexander were always there for her, offering support and love. And yes, Alexander had been controlling and done things she now didn’t appreciate, but hadn’t he done them to ensure that she didn’t make mistakes and fail? Didn’t all good parents do what they could to try to help their children have the best life they could?
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