The Immortal Who Loved Me by Lynsay Sands

Posted on March 2, 2015 by Nadene @ Totally Addicted to Reading in Reviews / 0 Comments



The
Immortal Who Loved Me
An
Argeneau Novel
Book 21
By Lynsay Sands
On-sale: 2/24  
 ISBN: 9780062316004

A few hours ago, Sherry Carne
would have sworn that vampir
es didn’t exist. That’s before rogue immortals
rampage through her store, leaving bloody chaos (literally) in their wake. The
kicker comes when Sherry learns that one of the vamps on the bad guys’ trail
may be her life mate. Her head says it’s impossible. The rest of her takes one
look at Basileios Argeneau, and has much more interesting ideas.

Whatever Basil expected in a life
mate, funny, outspoken Sherry isn’t it. But mind-blowing chemistry and instinct
don’t
lie. They tell him something else too-that Sherry’s connection to the
immortal world goes deeper than she knows. And that she’s in the kind of danger
only Basil can save her from-if she’ll just trust him, now and forever…

 
Sherry was muttering to herself
as she worked. She hated doing taxes. She hated paying them even more.
Snorting with disgust as she
calculated the amount of money she’d have to pay this quarter, she saved the
program and was about to shut off the computer when her office door burst open.
Grumpy after her task, Sherry raised her head, ready to rip into the employee
who had barged in without knocking. But, instead, the words caught in her
throat and her eyes widened with surprise as she stared at the petite blond
teenager who rushed in and slammed the door closed.
The kid didn’t give her more than
a passing glance as her gaze slid around the room to find the window
overlooking the store. The office was eight steps up from the main floor, so it
allowed for an eagle’s view of everything. On spotting the window, the kid
immediately dropped into a crouch, and then moved to it to poke her head up and
peer anxiously out over the store floor.
Sherry’s eyebrows rose at the
action, and she announced, “It’s a one-way mirror. No one in the store can
see you.”
The girl glanced around and
frowned at her. “Shhh.”
“Excuse me?” Sherry
said with a half laugh of disbelief at the sheer gall of the girl. Expression
turning serious, she said grimly, “This is my office, kiddo. I suggest you
explain your reason for being here, or get out.”
Rather than put the kid in her
place, the words merely drew a full-on scowl from her as she turned and then
concentrated a pair of the most amazing eyes on Sherry. They were a strange
silver-green and seemed almost to glow with intensity.
Caught by those beautiful and
unusual eyes, Sherry allowed her to stare briefly, mostly because she was
staring back, but then she arched her eyebrows. “Well? Are you just going
to crouch there and gawk at me or explain yourself?”
Instead of answering, the girl
frowned and asked, “Why can’t I read you?”
A short disbelieving laugh
slipped from Sherry, but when the girl simply stared at her with bewilderment,
she said reasonably, “Maybe because I’m not a book.”
That got no reaction from the
girl. She still continued to stare at her, looking almost vexed. Tired of
thinking of her as “the girl,” Sherry asked abruptly, “What’s
your name?”
“Stephanie,” the girl
replied almost absently, eyeing her now as if she were a bug under a
microscope. That examination ended abruptly when a chime sounded from the
speaker in the corner of Sherry’s office. It announced that the front door of
the store had been opened. Seeming to realize that, Stephanie whirled to peer
out at the store again, and quickly dropped back to her haunches so that only
the top of her head poked up over the bottom of the window ledge.
“I told you it’s
one-way,” Sherry said with exasperation. “They can’t see—
Shhh,” Stephanie
hissed without glancing around, simply raising a hand in her direction, palm
up, demanding silence.
Despite herself, Sherry obeyed
the silent order. There was just something about the girl, a sudden stillness
and tension that had been present before, but now intensified. It made Sherry
frown and glance past her to the store beyond the one-way mirror as four men
walked into the shop.
Using the word “walked”
was somewhat misleading. It was too normal, and had they just walked in she
would have simply taken note of their entrance and then turned her attention
back to the teenager in her office. But there was nothing normal about these
men.
All four of the newcomers looked to
be in their mid-twenties. They also all had longish, dirty blond hair. One wore
it in a ponytail, another actually had it up in a bun, and a third man had
gelled it into long pointy spokes that poked out of his head like a hedgehog.
But the leader, or at least the man in the lead, had a full, matted mane that
made her think of a lion.
Sensing trouble, Sherry watched
the men. They each wore jeans that could have used a run through a washing
machine. Their T-shirts weren’t much better, and they didn’t walk in so much as
stalk in. There was just something predatory about them, an air that made her
feel like a gazelle on the planes of the Serengeti and grateful they were on
the other side of the mirror.
Unaware that she had stood and
was slowly moving to the girl’s side, Sherry watched with trepidation as the
lead man raised his head and took a long, deep sniff of the air, scenting it
like the predator he made her think of. He then nodded, lowered his head and
glanced around to ask, “Where is the girl?”
Not surprisingly, the half a
dozen customers in the store continued perusing the kitchenware they’d come in
for, probably not even aware that he was addressing them or to what girl he was
referring. Sherry doubted anyone but her employees had even noted the girl’s
entrance, and busy with customers as they were, even they may not have.
When nobody paid him any
attention, the lead man scowled and cast a glance back toward his men. The last
man, the one that resembled a hedgehog, still stood in the open store door. Now
he entered fully and slammed it, sending the bells ringing madly. When the
chimes fell silent, so was the shop. Every eye in the place was now on the
foursome, and the air seemed charged with a sudden wariness that Sherry was not
only aware of, but was experiencing herself.
“Thank you for your
attention,” the leader said pleasantly, moving forward again. After half a
dozen steps, he paused again, this time in front of one of her employees who
had been helping a young woman who had a little girl clutching at her skirt.
Sherry sucked in a breath when
the man’s hand suddenly shot out to the side and snatched the mother by the
front of her sweater. He wasn’t even looking at her as he grabbed and jerked
her forward. Only then did he turn his head toward her, his nose almost
brushing hers as he demanded, “Where is the—
Sherry found herself tensing
further when he paused suddenly mid-question. She bit her lip, the hairs on the
back of her neck standing on end as he inhaled again, more deeply this time.
Sherry didn’t know why, but the action made her anxious for the woman,
especially when he gave a pleasant little shiver as he released his breath at
the end.
“You’re pregnant,” he
announced, a smile growing on his lips. Dipping his head, he ran his nose along
the woman’s throat, inhaling deeply again. He then released a happy sounding
little sigh and announced, “I love pregnant women almost as much as
untreated diabetics. All those hormones pumping through the blood” He
pulled back to look her in the face as he said, “It’s a powerful
cocktail.”
“Damn.”
Sherry blinked and tore her gaze
from the tableau below to glance to Stephanie, surprised to find she‘d briefly
forgotten about the girl.
“What?” Sherry asked,
instinctively whispering this time. She didn’t know who these people were, or
what was going on, but all her inner alarm bells were ringing in warning now.
Something very bad was happening and she knew instinctively that it was only
going t
o get worse.
Stephanie bit her lip and then
glanced around. “Is there a back exit in this place?”
“That door leads to the
alley behind the shops,” Sherry admitted quietly, gesturing to a door down
another eight steps at the back of her office.
Sherry didn’t blame the kid for
wanting to run. She wanted to herself, but couldn’t, not with her employees and
c
ustomers out there at the mercy of the men presently filling her small shop.
It was like four lions set among a pen full of lambs. Although she supposed
that was the wrong analogy. Everyone knew the lioness did the hunting, not the
lion. Wolves were probably a better descriptor for these men.
“You don’t happen to have a
car par
ked out in the alley, do you?” Stephanie asked hopefully.
Sherry merely stared for a
moment. She had heard the question but hadn’t seen the girl’s lips move. What—
?
“Do you?”
the teenager
hissed, her lips moving this time.
“No. I take the
subway,” Sherry admitted quietly. Most people did in the city, rather than
pay exorbitant parking fees.
The girl sighed unhappily and
then peered back to the drama taking place on the other side of the mirror.
Sherry followed her gaze. The
leader now had the young mother pressed up against the checkout counter, her
body bent back over it, but all he was doing at the moment was sniffing her
neck like a dog. It was weird, and might even have been funny if Sherry hadn’t
noted the knife he now retrieved from his pocket and flicked open at his side.
“Oh crap,” she
breathed.
“Yeah,” Stephanie
muttered. “A car would have made this so much easier.”
“Made what easier?”
Sherry asked in a distracted voice as she watched the man run the side of the
blade lightly up the apparently pregnant woman’s stomach toward her throat. The
woman wasn’t reacting at all. Her expression was blank, as were the expressions
on the faces of the others in the store. Even her child simply stood there,
blank-faced and unconcerned. The only people in the store with any expression
at all were the leader and his men. The leader was smiling a soft almost sweet
smile, while the three men who could have been his brothers were all grinning
widely with what she would have said was anticipation.
“You better start
running,” Stephanie said grimly, moving to lock the door leading into the
store.
“I’m not running
anywhere,” Sherry said, her words sharp despite her effort to keep her
tone soft. “I’m calling the police.”
“The police can’t help
them,” the girl said grimly, striding over to pick up the heavy filing
cabinet in the corner and carry it down the stairs to set in front of the door
that opened to the store floor.
Sherry was so startled by the
action that she just stared. The filing cabinet was a tall, four-drawer legal
cabinet stuffed full of paperwork and receipts. It weighed a ton. She doubted
she could have pushed or dragged it across the floor, let alone lift it like it
was an empty laundry basket as the girl had just done. She was trying to work
out in her head how Stephanie had done that when movement below drew her
attention back to the store floor. The leader had suddenly released the
pregnant woman and stepped back.
Maybe he was going to leave. The
vague hope had barely formed in her mind when he grabbed one of the mixing
bowls off a nearby display and handed that and the knife to the pregnant woman
and said pleasantly, “It’s such a messy business and this is my favorite
T-shirt. Why don’t you do it? Bend forward over the counter, put the bowl on
that stool there so it’s under your throat, and slice your neck open so the
blood flows into it.”
“The crazy son of a—”
Sherry began and then nearly bit her tongue off when the young mother, still
with no expression on her face, did exactly as he’d suggested. She turned to
bend over the counter, set the bowl on the clerk’s stool behind it, positioned
herself so her neck was over the bowl and slit her own throat.
“Damn,” Sherry breathed
with dismay, hardly able to believe the woman had just done that. “I’m
calling the police.”
“There’s no time,”
Stephanie growled, catching her arm. “He’s controlling those people. Can’t
you see that? Do you think that woman really wanted to slit her own
throat?”
“But the police—
“Even if they got here
before Leonius is done, they’d just become part of the slaughter. The only way
to save these people is to lead Leo and his boys away from here and to do
that I need to get their attention and then run like hell.”
“Then we’ll get their
attention and we’ll run like hell,” Sherry said firmly as she hurried down
the steps to unlock and open the back door. There was no way in hell she was
letting the teenager handle the matter alone. She was just a kid, for heaven’s
sake. Sherry had just spotted the door stopper to keep the door open when a
loud crash made her turn sharply around. She was just in time to see her desk
chair sail through the one-way mirror and out of sight. Stephanie had pitched it
through.
Sherry hurried back to the top of
the steps to look out onto the store floor. The chair hadn’t hit anyone, but
the noise had definitely caught the attention of the men in the other room. No
one else even glanced around, but all four men were now staring through the
opening toward them.
Stephanie promptly flipped them
the bird, then raced toward Sherry, shrieking, “Run!”
The shout had barely hit her ears
when Stephanie was streaking past her, catching her arm in passing and nearly
jerking her off her feet as she swung her around. In the next moment, she’d
been dragged down the stairs and out the door. Stephanie must have kicked the
stopper out of the way as they passed, because the door slammed closed behind
them.
The girl was fast. Inhumanly
fast. Sherry was moving like she’d never moved before in her life. Adrenaline
gave her a boost and her feet barely seemed to touch the ground, but the
teenager was still nearly dragging her off her feet with her own speed. It was
a short alley, yet they’d barely traveled up half of it when a loud crash drew
her gaze over her shoulder to see the men charging out after them.
Sherry’s heart leapt at the
sight. Like the girl, they were also fast. Too fast. She would never outrun
them. And she was just holding Stephanie back.
“Go!” she shouted,
shaking her arm in an effort to break the girl’s hold. “I’m just slowing
you down. Leave me and run!”
Stephanie glanced toward the men
gaining on them, looked forward again, and then did just that. She released her
hold on Sherry and charged for the mouth of the alley.
Sherry was glad she had. It was
what she’d told her to do, and at the same time being suddenly on her own with
those hyenas nipping at her heels was heart-stoppingly terrifying. Despite her
fear, or more likely because of it, Sherry managed to put on a little more
speed herself, but it was like trying to outrun a sports car. Impossible.
Sherry’s only hope was that they’d bypass her to chase after the girl.
The moment she had the thought,
Sherry began to worry that they would do just that. She couldn’t leave the girl
to their less than tender mercies without at least trying to slow them down or
stop them. That thought in mind, she glanced around for something to help with
the effort. The only thing ahead of her in the narrow alley was a pair of
garbage Dumpsters.
“Work with what you
have,” she breathed, and changed direction, angling toward the large blue
metal bins. Would she have time to grab one to push toward the men? Would she
be strong enough? Did garbage Dumpsters have locks on their wheels, and if they
did, were the wheels locked on these Dumpsters?
Sherry never got the answer to
those questions because that’s when the gunshot rang out. She was sure she felt
the bullet whiz past her ear, it was so close. At first she thought her
pursuers were shooting either at her or the girl. It made her squint at the
mouth of the alley some twenty feet ahead as she sought out the girl to see if
she was all right. Her eyes widened incredulously when she spotted Stephanie in
a shooter’s stance, gun pointed her way while a police officer stood beside her
seeming oblivious to what was happening.
Even as she saw that, several
more gunshots sounded. This time, though, Sherry heard a grunt from close
behind her. She glanced over her shoulder, shocked to see the leader only three
or four steps away, his arm extended, hand reaching for her. His fingers
actually brushed the cloth of her blouse even as he began to tumble toward the
ground.
There were three holes in his
chest, Sherry saw as he fell, and his followers were skidding to a halt to help
him. With the hope that she might get out of this after all, Sherry turned and
ran like crazy. All she was thinking was that if she got to Stephanie and the
officer before one of the men gave chase again, she would be all right.
When Sherry reached Stephanie,
the girl had lowered the weapon and was putting it back in the officer’s
holster, saying, “This never happened. You never saw us and you really
should patrol farther up the road and stay away from here until the alley is
empty.”
Stephanie snapped the officer’s
holster closed on the gun as she finished speaking, and then the officer
immediately turned and started up the road.
“What—?” Sherry began
with amazement and then snapped her mouth closed as Stephanie grabbed her hand
and began to run again, dragging her away from the alley mouth. Since Sherry
was more than happy to get away from their pursuers, she went willingly, doing
her best to keep up. But as soon as they reached the end of the street and had
rounded the corner, she tugged at Stephanie’s hand and gasped, “Wait
Stop I can’t run any more.”
“We can’t stop,”
Stephanie said firmly, dragging her up the road, though slowing to a jog at
least. “Leo will be after us as soon as he recovers.”
“That guy you shot?”
she gasped with amazement, still tugging on Stephanie’s hand. Even a jog was
too much for her labored lungs at the moment, and her words were breathless and
choppy as she said, “He isn’t recovering anytime soon. He has three
bullets in his chest. His next stop is the hospital.”
“He won’t need a
hospital,” Stephanie assured her, not the least winded. She glanced around
grimly as they reached the end of the short street, and then suddenly pulled
Sherry across the road toward a small pizza place on the opposite corner.
“Kid he’ll need a
hospital,” Sherry assured her wearily, but allowed Stephanie to usher her
into the restaurant. She even followed docilely as the girl dragged her to the
tables along the side between the counter and the windowless wall until they
reached the last table, one not likely to be seen from the street.
“Can I use your
iPhone?” Stephanie asked as Sherry dropped to sit in a booth with her back
to the front of the shop.
Sherry grimaced and wheezed,
“I don’t have it. Or my purse either,” she added with a frown.
“Just catch your breath.
I’ll get you a drink,” Stephanie said, and as quickly as that was gone.
Sherry pushed her hair back from
her sweaty face, then closed her eyes on a sigh. The last few moments played
through her head like cut scenes from a film; that poor woman slitting her own
throat, the chair crashing through the window, the leader of the small gang of
hoodlums reaching for her even as he fell from his wounds his eyes, glowing and
alien.
Sherry shook her head and covered
her own eyes briefly, pressing on them in an effort to blot out the images. She
wondered where her nice boring safe life had gone and why she was sitting in
a pizzer
ia like a well-behaved child when she should be calling the police,
going back to check on her people and customers, and—
“Here.”
Sherry raised her head and sat
back abruptly as Stephanie set a soda and a slice of pizza on the table in
front of her. Sherry’s gaze slid from the two items to the identical items in
front of Stephanie as the girl slid into the booth across from her.
“I didn’t know what you like
so I got you a deluxe slice and Coke,” Stephanie explained, picking up her
slice of pizza to chomp into the end of it.
Sherry gaped as she watched the
girl chew and swallow with relish, and then asked with amazement, “How can
you eat?”
“I’m hungry,” the girl
said simply. “You should eat too.”
“I don’t eat carbs or
drink them. Coke is nothing but syrupy water,” Sherry said automatically,
and then realizing how stupid those words were under the circumstances, she
shook her head. “I don’t understand how you can act like this is all
just—
“Sugar is energy,”
Stephanie interrupted. “And you need to keep up your energy in case we
have to run again. So eat,” she ordered, sounding remarkably like the
adult here.
That fact made Sherry scowl.
“We should be calling the police.”
“Yeah, ’cause that cop at
the mouth of the alley was so useful,” Stephanie said with dry disinterest
before taking another bite of her pizza.
Unable to argue with that, Sherry
frowned and then asked, “Speaking of that, what happened there?”
Stephanie arched an eyebrow, but
was silent for a moment as she finished chewing and swallowing. Then she sighed
and said, “You obviously couldn’t outrun them, and I couldn’t leave you
behind for them to catch, torture, and kill, so when I spotted the cop at the
mouth of the alley, I ran ahead to grab his gun and shoot Leo to buy us some
time. Fortunately, it worked.”
Sherry didn’t point out that she
had been there and seen all that, instead she simply asked, “And the
co—police officer, just let you take his gun?”
Stephanie shrugged. “I
controlled him. He won’t remember any of it.”
“Which will really confuse
him when he realizes his gun has been fired,” Sherry muttered, but her
mind was on the girl’s claim that she’d controlled the cop. She wanted to laugh
off the suggestion, but the man had looked as blank-faced as the woman who’d
slit her own throat in the store. Stephanie had claimed Leo was controlling
that woman too. So Leonius had controlled the woman, Stephanie had controlled
the cop How? That particular skill set was just not something Sherry knew
humans to have.
“There they are.”
Sherry glanced around sharply and
spotted the four men moving swiftly past the restaurant’s front window. She
shrank down in her seat when one of them glanced through the window, but they
didn’t slow or stop, so she guessed she hadn’t been seen. That wasn’t a
surprise to her, considering they were in the dark back corner. What was
surprising was the fact that the leader, Leo, as Stephanie called him, was up
and walking around as if nothing had happened.
“Damn,” she breathed,
staring at the man until the group moved out of sight.
“I told you being shot
wouldn’t stop him,” Stephanie said solemnly.
“I know but how?” she
asked with bewilderment.
Stephanie was silent for a moment
as she continued to eat her pizza, but after a couple of bites she set it down
with resignation and reached for her pop. She took a pull on the drink, and
then set that down too, to eye Sherry thoughtfully. After a moment she sighed.
“I suppose I’m going to have to explain.”
“That would be nice,”
Sherry said dryly.
Stephanie nodded. “Vampires
exist. Although Leonius and his men are no-fangers, but they still survive on
blood so I suppose they’re still vampires. As am I, though I’m an
Edentate.”
Sherry blinked as the words raced
through her mind. No-fangers? Edentate? She had no idea what either of those
wer
e, so focused on the word she did recognize.
“Vampires?” she asked,
not bothering to hide her disbelief. “Sweetie, I hate to tell you this,
but vampires do not exist. Besides, vampires bite people, they don’t have them
slit their own throats open and bleed into a bowl.”
“Uh-huh,” Stephanie
didn’t look upset by her words. “So how do you explain his controlling
that woman to make her slit her own throat? Or my controlling the cop?”
Sherry considered the question
briefly and then suggested, “Hypnosis?”
Stephanie rolled her eyes.
“Come on, you don’t seem like a stupid woman. Leo didn’t have time to
hypnotize her, and I certainly didn’t have time to hypnotize the cop.” She
scowled and then asked, “What’s your name?”
“Sherry Carne,” she
answered. “And fine, maybe this Leo didn‘t hypnotize the woman in my store,
but he did something and it wasn’t because he’s a vampire. Vampires have fangs
and bite people.”
“A minute ago you said there
were no such things as vampires, now you’re saying there are, but they have to
have fangs?” Stephanie asked with amusement.
“Well” Sherry
frowned. “If you’re going with the whole vampire thing to cover the real
story, then at least be consistent. Vampires are dead, soulless creatures who
crawl out of their coffins and bite people.”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought
too,” Stephanie said, sounding weary and much older than her years.
Shrugging, she straightened her shoulders and added, “Turns out we’re both
wrong. Vampires aren’t dead and soulless, and while most do have fangs, Leo and
his little Leos are an aberrant strain. Like I said, they’re called nofangers.
They don’t age and they do need blood to survive, but they don’t have the fangs
to get it, so they cut their victims. They’re also usually crazy. But not
normal crazy, nutso crazy.”
Sherry tilted her head slightly
and eyed the girl. There was something about the way she’d passed on the
information It had been a lecturing tone, but there was something under the
words, some emotion almost like shame, that she didn’t understand.
“You don’t believe me,”
Stephanie said with a shrug. “That’s okay, but just let me tell you what’s
going on. You can believe it or not as you like, but just remember it. It might
save your life before we get out of this.”
Sherry was silent for a minute,
considering the girl, but then decided there was no harm in listening. Besides,
it gave her a good excuse to just sit there while she tried to find her second
wind, so she leaned back in her seat with a nod. “Go ahead.”
Stephanie relaxed a little and
even managed a small smile. “Right, just so we’re clear, I am claiming
that vampires exist. There are some with fangs, some without, but both can read
and control mortals. Leo and his little Leos—Two, Three, and Four—are one of
the variety without fangs.”
“Two, Three, and Four?”
Sherry asked.
Stephanie shrugged. “They
probably aren’t Leo Two, Leo Three, and Leo Four, but he names all his sons
after himself so they’re all Leos number something-or-other, so they just go by
their number.”
“His sons?” Sherry
asked with disbelief. “There is no way those men are his children. They
all looked to be the same age.”
“Vampire, remember?”
Stephanie said pointedly. “Vampires stop aging physically at around
twenty-five.”
Sherry let her breath out on an
exasperated sigh, finding it hard to swallow all of this, but she’d agreed to
listen, so waved for her to continue.
“I grew up as normal and
ignorant of what’s out there as you did, but Leo and some of his other sons
kidnapped my sister and me from a grocery store parking lot when I was
fourteen,” Stephanie announced. Her mouth tightened and then she added,
“We were eventually rescued, and Leo’s sons were caught and executed by
the Rogue Hunters but—
“Rogue Hunters?” Sherry
interrupted.
“Cops for immortals, or
vampires, as you would call them. They keep the other immortals in line,”
she explained. “Anyway, I don’t know if it’s because of his sons getting
killed or what, but for some reason, Leo became sort of obsessed with my sister
and me. He wants to add us to his breeding stock.”
Sherry stared at her, silently
processing, and then she cleared her throat and asked, “What do you mean
he wants to add you to his breeding stock? Not?”
Stephanie nodded. “It’s how
he got all the junior Leos. I doubt many of the mothers were willing.”
Sherry shook her head slightly.
“You make it sound like he has a lot of them.”
“One of the sons who helped
him kidnap my sister and I was Leo the 21st. According to him, he was one of
the older sons,” Stephanie said with a shrug. “He claimed there were
fifty or sixty of them, that there have been hundreds over the centuries, but
some killed themselves, some were killed, and Leo killed several others when
they refused to do what he wanted, or when they otherwise pissed him off.”
Sherry didn’t say anything. It
was crazy, like a vampire soap opera or something. It couldn’t be true could
it?
“Anyway,” Stephanie
continued, “like I say, Leo senior took a shine to my sister and me and
said he’d come after us, so Dani—my sister,” she added, “Dani and I
have been hiding out and protected since.”
“Until today,” Sherry
said.
Stephanie grimaced. “I was
protected. I was with Drina and Katricia. They’re Rogue Hunters.”
“Vampire cops,” Sherry
muttered.
“Immortal cops really, or
Enforcers, but vampire cop will do. Just don’t use the term vampire in front of
the other immortals. They can get testy about that,” Stephanie informed
her, and then continued. “Drina and Katricia are both getting married so
we went wedding dress shopping. I” She sighed and grimaced. “I
forgot something in the car and just nipped out quickly to get it, but
Stephanie shook her head. “It was just my luck to pick a moment when Leo
and his boys decided to walk down that street.”
She paused briefly and frowned
before saying, “There haven’t been any reported sightings of Leo and his
boys in Toronto since Dani and I were rescued. They cleared out and have been
hanging south of the border for a long time. They were last spotted somewhere
in the southern states. I never would’ve gone out to the car if I’d known they
were in the area. I just” She heaved out a deep sigh and then said,
“Anyway, I spotted them before they saw me. I nipped into your store
hoping they wouldn’t see me, but I guess they did.”
When Stephanie took another bite
of pizza and began to chew, Sherry was left to wonder if she believed anything
the girl had just said. Oddly enough, while Sherry had started out not
believing, she found she now did. She had no idea why. It was crazy. Vampires,
mind control, reading thoughts, breeding stock
Sherry pushed those thoughts away
for now to switch to a subject that had been worrying her since leaving the
store. “How long does the control last?”
Stephanie paused to peer at her
briefly, and then understanding crossed her face and she assured her, “Not
long. I mean, it can continue for a little bit after the vampire leaves their
presence if they put a suggestion in their thoughts, but I’m sure Leo and the
boys didn’t get a chance to do that before chasing after us. The moment they
left the building, your employees and customers probably snapped out of it and
helped the woman who cut herself.”
“If they could help
her,” Sherry said unhappily, picking up her slice of pizza and shifting it
in her hands briefly before taking a bite. It was surprisingly good. Surprising
because she wouldn’t have expected anything to taste good at that point. She
guessed the scare she’d just had, and surviving it, had awakened her taste buds
or something. Whatever. It tasted good. Carbs or not.
“They could help her,”
Stephanie assured her. “She didn’t cut deeply enough to hit the jugular.
She’s probably fine.”
Sherry raised her eyebrows.
“How do you know she didn’t hit the jugular?”
“I gave her a mental nudge
to stop her cutting too deep,” Stephanie explained, and then grimaced and
added, “Which Leo would have recognized right away. That’s why we had to
make our move when we did. He would have used the people in the store against
us, tortured them to make me come out. So I had to make sure he saw me leave
and knew I wasn’t there. It was the only way to be certain he’d leave them
alone.”
Sherry wasn’t surprised at the
claim that she’d given the woman a mental nudge not to cut too deep. After all,
the girl had said she’d controlled the cop too. What did surprise her was that
the girl had thought of the people in the store at all. Stephanie was a nice
kid. There was still a possibility that she was crazy as a loon. Sherry was
finding herself almost believing her tale, but it was a lot to swallow. So
either Stephanie was a brave, thoughtful kid who had risked getting caught to
save the pregnant mother, or she was a nutcase. A nutcase who was a damned good
shot, Sherry thought. Stephanie had hit a moving target around her. Nice.
“So where did you learn to
shoot like that?” Sherry asked quietly.
“Victor and D.J. take me to
a shooting range every other day,” she said. The names meant nothing to
Sherry, so she was glad when the girl added, “Victor is well he’s sort
of my adopted dad I guess.” She said it quietly, her voice thickening, and
then she rushed on, saying, “And D.J. is like the young, pain in the butt
uncle who ruffles your hair and embarrasses you in public.”
Sherry smiled faintly at the
description. “And your real dad?”
“Alive, well, and
mortal,” Stephanie said casually, too casually, and she was avoiding her
gaze. Picking at what was left of her pizza, she added, “He and Mom think
I’m dead.” Before Sherry could respond, she added, “But Victor and
Elvi took me in and look after me. Elvi lost her daughter so I‘m a gift, she
says, and they‘re great.”
Great, but not her real parents,
Sherry translated as the girl turned her head away and dashed quickly at her
eyes. Deciding a change of topic might be good, she said, “So, the police
can’t help us here but what about those Rogue Hunters of yours? We should
find a phone and call them so they can hunt down this Leo and his men.”
Sherry just couldn’t call the
man’s followers his sons. It seemed impossible that they were his children.
They all looked around the same age. Brothers would have been more believable.
Realizing that Stephanie wasn’t responding to the suggestion of calling in her
Rogue Hunters, Sherry raised her eyebrows. “Don’t you think?”
“What?” Stephanie
asked. Her blank expression as she turned back to face her made it obvious she
hadn’t been listening.
Knowing the girl’s thoughts had
probably been with her birth parents, Sherry asked patiently, “Don’t you
think that we should call your Rogue Hunters?”
Stephanie shook her head and
stared down at the pizza crust she’d been unconsciously tearing apart. The
slump to her shoulders and defeated air about the girl were a bit alarming.
Sherry had no idea what was going on exactly, but she did know this was no time
for the girl to fall apart. Sitting back, she deliberately took on an
annoyingly knowing air and said, “Oh, I get it.”
Stephanie finally really looked
at her, her attention caught. Eyebrows rising, she asked with interest,
“What do you get?”
“You,” Sherry said with
a shrug. “I was a teenager once too.”
Stephanie snorted. “Please.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that tired old line. Like you crusty old
farts all think just because you were young back in ancient times that you know
what life is like for me. You don’t. You were young in what? The
sixties?”
“I wasn’t even born in the
sixties, thank you,” Sherry said with amusement. “I’m only
thirty-two.”
“Whatever” Stephanie
waved that away. “You haven’t got a clue about me.”
Hmmm. How about I tell you
what I think and then you can tell me I’m wrong? If I am,” Sherry added
tauntingly.
Stephanie shrugged.
“Whatever.”
Sherry tilted her head and eyed
her for a moment, and then said, “So, you were wedding dress shopping with
this Drina and her frien
d?”
“K
atricia,” Stephanie
supplied. “She’s Drina’s cousin, but also a Rogue Hunter. She’s getting
married too, to Teddy, who is the police chief in Port Henry where I live. We
came to Toronto for a girls’ weekend and dress shopping.”
Hmmm.” Sherry
considered that and then said, “And you say they let you go out to get
something?”
Stephanie nodded, her gaze
sliding away toward the front of the store and a frown flickering over her
face.
Sherry suspected the girl was
wondering where the two women were. She was too. Surely they’d noticed
Stephanie was missing by now? And if they were in the area, the gunshots should
have drawn them. She let that go for now, though, and simply said, “Well,
I’m sure the bit about their letting you go out to get something is a
lie.”
Stephanie glanced back to her
sharply. “What makes you think that?”
“Kiddo, if these girls are
Rogue Hunters, or vampire cops, and this Leo is after you, like you say, I’d
guess they keep a short leash on you to keep you safe. They would not have let
you wander off on your own. So, Drina was probably in a dressing room trying on
a wedding dress, and Katricia was in there helping her with all the convoluted
nonsense involved in putting one of those things on, or trying on one herself.
You were probably sitting in the waiting area outside the dressing room feeling
bored and neglected. No doubt you reached for your iPhone to either listen to
music or watch a movie while you waited, and realized you’d left it in the
car.” Tilting her head, she added, “It’s probably hooked up to the
sound system in the car, which is why you forgot to grab it, so you thought
you’d just slip out, get it and be back before they noticed.
“Unfortunately,” she
added, “you didn’t get to the car before you spotted Leonius and his
buddies and had to duck into my store for cover.”
Stephanie didn’t hide her
surprise. “How did you know all of that?”
Sherry shrugged and reminded her,
“You asked to use my iPhone earlier.”
“So?” Stephanie asked.
“So, you don’t have yours on
you, so couldn’t have made it to the car.”
“Maybe I don’t have one and
was getting something else,” Stephanie suggested.
Sherry shook her head firmly.
“There are few teenagers around who don’t have cell phones nowadays.
Besides, you specified iPhone rather than just saying cell phone, which
suggests that’s what you have.”
“Okay, so how did you know I
left my phone in the car, jacked into the USB?” she asked with interest.
“Because I‘m always
forgetting
mine in the car for that reason,” Sherry admitted wryly.
“I plug it into the USB so I can listen to music I like and then forget it
when I get out.”
Hmmm,” Stephanie
murmured, but she was looking at her with interest now. “Or maybe you have
some psychic abilities and that’s why I can’t read or control you.”
Sherry didn’t comment. Her mind
wanted to rebel at the possibility of anyone controlling her actions or
thoughts, but she’d watched the pregnant mother slit her own throat. No one
would do that under their own impetus. She did believe the customer must have
been controlled and if she could be controlled
Pushing these disturbing thoughts
away, Sherry said, “So, all of this being true, you don’t want to call
your Rogue Hunters because you’re going to get hell for slipping away from your
protectors and putting yourself at risk in the first place.”
“Nah-ah,” Stephanie
said with a slow smile.
Sherry raised her eyebrows
doubtfully. “You won’t get in trouble?”
“Oh, yeah,” Stephanie
said dryly. “Once Drina, Katricia, Harper, Elvi, and Victor are done
raking
me over the coals, Lucian himself will probably show up to completely
demoralize me,” she admitted with unhappy resignation. “But that’s
not why I’m not calling.”
“Okay,” Sherry said
slowly. “So why don’t you want to call?”
“It’s not that I don’t want
to call I don’t have to,” she explained. “I already did. They’re
sending Bricker even as we speak.” She tilted her head and then grinned
and added, “And he’s bringing you a surprise.
About
the Author:


LYNSAY SANDS is the nationally
bestselling author of the Argeneau/Rogue Hunter vampire series, as well as
numerous historicals and anthologies. She’s been writing stories since grade
school and considers herself incredibly lucky to be able to make a career out
of it. Her hope is that readers can get away from their everyday stress through
her stories, and if there’s occasional uncontrollable fits of laughter, that’s
just a big bonus.
Visit her official website at www.lynsaysands.net
Nadene @ Totally Addicted to Reading
Follow Me
Latest posts by Nadene @ Totally Addicted to Reading (see all)

Tags:

Divider

Leave a Reply

(Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.