Home > Meant to Be Immortal (Argeneau #32)(13)

Meant to Be Immortal (Argeneau #32)(13)
Author: Lynsay Sands

“It’s fine,” CJ assured her. She didn’t care what color they were.

“Well, then, I’ll leave you and go find my bed. I have to get up early to make breakfast for everyone tomorrow.” She followed the admission with a slight sigh, but then straightened her shoulders, gave them a smile and a cheery “Sleep tight,” and sidled out of the room.

CJ immediately set the sheets on the couch, and then moved to the door to lock it. Once that was done, she opened the cot and quickly riffled through the sheets until she found the bottom one.

“Let me help,” Mac offered, grabbing one end of the bottom sheet.

“Thanks,” CJ said easily. Working together, the bed was made in no time. They both turned to look at the pillowcase still on the couch.

“I’ll check the closet in the bedroom,” CJ said, and hurried out of the room to do so. Not that she had to go far; it was perhaps twelve steps from the end of the cot to the closet in the bedroom. Much to her relief, there were two spare pillows and even a couple of blankets on the shelf above the clothing rod. CJ grabbed all four items and carried them back out to the sitting room.

“There were two blankets,” she announced as she set her burden on the bed. “I took both, but if you get cold in the night and want one of them, just let me know.”

“I’m sure I’ll be fine,” Mac said, but didn’t head into the bedroom. Instead, when CJ moved back to the table, he followed and settled across from her.

CJ hesitated, and then raised her head and arched an eyebrow. “Not tired?”

Mac shook his head. “I suppose I should be after the fire and all, but I work nights as a rule and only got up at nine o’clock last evening. It’s still early for me.” He hesitated and then offered, “But I’ll go sit in the bedroom if I’m bothering you.”

“You’re not bothering me,” CJ lied, and proceeded to ignore him as she opened her emails on her computer. After a moment, though, she growled, “Stop staring at my cookies, Argeneau.”

“Sorry,” he chuckled. “They just look so good. I wonder if Mrs. Vesper left the other cookies out.”

CJ hesitated, and then sighed and stood up. “Fine, I’ll get you some cookies.”

“Don’t be silly, you’re busy,” Mac said, getting up as well. “I can go get my own cookie.”

“You aren’t going anywhere,” CJ announced abruptly. “I’m supposed to be guarding you. I can’t guard you if you’re wandering around the house on your own.”

Mac scowled, but then said, “Fine, then we’ll both go, because you’re not waiting on me.”

CJ didn’t comment; she simply led the way to the door, only to pause at the foot of the cot. They’d have to close the cot to get out. CJ bent to start to do so, but Mac said, “Hang on.”

Moving away, he quickly shifted the couch and end tables to the left several more inches, then stepped back to the cot to shift it as well. When he finished, he’d managed to make a good foot of space between the cot and the door. It couldn’t open all the way, but it was enough to let them out without having to suck in their guts.

“Thanks,” CJ said, but raised a hand for him to stay where he was as she cracked open the door to peer briefly out into the hall. Finding it empty, she gestured for him to follow and stepped out. CJ normally wouldn’t have locked the door for such a short trip, but there was a possible threat to Mac’s life, so she took the time to lock the door before escorting him downstairs to the kitchen.

Five

Mrs. Vesper hadn’t only left the cookies out, the pot of tea remained on the table as well and was still warm. CJ fetched a fresh teacup while Mac emptied his now cool drink from earlier and then they poured themselves tea, doctored them, and put the cream in the fridge before grabbing several cookies each and heading out of the kitchen. They’d nearly made it to the stairs when they heard a car pull into the driveway.

CJ set her tea and cookies on a small table by the stairs, gestured for Mac to stay where he was, and then moved to the back entrance that overlooked the small parking area. Tugging the curtain aside a bit, she peered out at the vehicle parking in the only empty space next to her own, and then relaxed. It was a police car. Her replacement was here, or her backup, she supposed, since they’d have to share her room for tonight at least. It was just too late to bother to find somewhere else for Mac to stay. But tomorrow she would pester Captain Dupree into making alternate arrangements, CJ thought as she unlocked the back door, opened it, and watched the officer who got out and started toward the house.

He was an older man, tall with a slight stoop to his broad shoulders, and a bit of a gut. Not a huge one, but one that suggested he liked his beer after work. His walk was confident, his hands loose at his sides, relaxed but ready to retrieve his gun if necessary.

“Ms. Cummings?” he asked as he mounted the steps.

CJ nodded, but placed one finger to her mouth in the sign for him to lower his voice. She didn’t want to disturb Mrs. Vesper or her guests, so waited until he was in the house and the door was closed again before holding out her hand and saying softly, “Pleasure to meet you, Officer . . . ?”

“Dandridge,” he answered at once.

CJ nodded and then gestured to Mac as he came to join them, “This is Mr. Macon Argeneau.”

“Sorry to hear about your troubles, Mr. Argeneau,” Dandridge said as he shook his hand. “Looks like I’ll be guarding you for the rest of the night.”

“Yeah, I’m not too sure about that,” Mac replied, and when Dandridge showed surprise, he added, “No offense, but you’re a big guy and I just can’t see you and me fitting into a queen-sized bed together.”

“What?” Dandridge asked with amazement.

CJ rolled her eyes with exasperation, locked the back door, and simply said, “Come.” She then led both men back to the stairs, pausing long enough to collect her cookies and tea before leading the way up to her bedroom suite where she had to hand Dandridge her tea so she could unlock her door. She then gestured for both men to wait in the hall briefly while she slid inside to perform a quick search to be sure the rooms were still empty. She wasn’t really expecting trouble, but it was better to be safe than sorry as the saying went. Once assured that no one had entered while they were gone, she returned to the door and waved the men in.

“Your tea,” Dandridge said, offering her the steaming cup when she turned from locking the door behind them.

“Thanks.” CJ took the cup and carried it and her cookies to the table, murmuring, “I was supposed to bring Mr. Argeneau here, wait while he rented a room, and see him safely to it,” she explained as she set her goodies next to her computer. Turning back to the man, she continued, “I then probably would have waited in the hall for whoever Dupree sent to take over watching him. Unfortunately, Mrs. Vesper had no more rooms.”

“Ah, damn,” Dandridge murmured.

“Yeah,” CJ agreed.

“Fortunately, CJ had rented the suite with the sitting room,” Mac put in.

“Salon,” CJ corrected with wry amusement. She had called it a sitting room several times after first arriving, only to have Mrs. Vesper correct her repeatedly. It was the salon.

Mac must have experienced the same thing when he had rented the suite, because he grinned with commiseration and said, “Yes, of course, the salon. But as Mrs. Vesper pointed out, this setup works better for my safety anyway. With the cot in this room with CJ in it, and me in the bedroom, she stands between myself and anyone who might try to enter.”

“Right.” Dandridge nodded, and then glanced to CJ. “Well, I’m here now. I’ll take the cot and you can go.”

CJ stared at him with disbelief. “Go where exactly, Officer Dandridge? This is my suite of rooms, and there isn’t another one available.”

“Shit, right. I mean, shoot. Sorry,” he muttered, and then, obviously flustered, gave his head a shake as if to clear his thoughts. “Well, this is a problem.”

“I would say so,” Mac agreed.

“I wouldn’t,” CJ countered at once. “You two get the bedroom. I get the cot. Seems simple to me.”

“I won’t be sleeping. I’m on shift,” Dandridge pointed out, and then shrugged. “I’ll just hang around out here . . .” His voice trailed off as his eyes landed on the rollaway bed and he apparently recalled what Mac had said. “Oh. You’re sleeping out here?” he asked CJ.

“Well, that was the original plan,” CJ admitted. “But now that you’re here, I guess I can sleep in the bedroom and Mac can sleep on the cot while you sit on the couch . . . watching.”

“I’m not going to be able to sleep with him staring at me,” Mac said.

“I won’t stare,” Dandridge promised him.

Mac snorted and assured CJ, “I will not sleep.”

CJ threw her hands up with exasperation. “Fine, I’ll sleep on the cot and he can stare at me.”

“The hell you will,” Mac snapped, suddenly annoyed. “I wouldn’t be able to sleep knowing that he was here staring at you either. Besides, this is completely unnecessary. I would be perfectly safe here alone with you. There probably won’t be any trouble anyway.”

“Probably not,” CJ agreed, and then pointed out, “But if there is trouble, I don’t have a gun and Dandridge does. You are not safer here alone with me. Hell, I’m not safer here alone with me if there’s trouble. We’d both be safer with Dandridge and his gun here with us.”

Mac frowned at her words, and then suggested, “What if he watched the house from outside and we pushed the cot up against the door, blocking it? That way no one can enter, and he can see and stop anyone who approached the house. It’s doubly safe.”

CJ stared at him blankly for a moment, bewildered by how tangled this was all getting. She had only agreed to watch him until one of Captain Dupree’s officers was free to do so. But now, thanks to a lack of rooms, she was getting roped into watching him with the police officer. This wasn’t her job!

   
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