Home > Meant to Be Immortal (Argeneau #32)(14)

Meant to Be Immortal (Argeneau #32)(14)
Author: Lynsay Sands

“That sounds like a fine idea to me,” Dandridge said, turning to the door with obvious relief. “I’ll be in my car if you need me.”

The man was obviously eager to escape the discussion. He was out of the room almost before he finished speaking.

“There,” Mac said with satisfaction. “Now we can have our tea and cookies.”

CJ turned to stare at him with disbelief, but what could she say? Besides, now that he’d reminded her of the cookies, she was hungry. Shaking her head, she locked the door again, pushed the cot up against it, and then walked to the table where Mac was already pulling her chair out for her.

CJ wasn’t at all comfortable with the courtesy. Mostly because she didn’t know how it was supposed to go. Was she supposed to sit on it and make him push her and the chair in? Or was she supposed to lift her bottom and balance in a semi-squatting position, pulling the chair even as he pushed? In the end she went with the second option, a very awkward maneuver. But if she did it wrong, Mac didn’t comment and simply walked around to settle in the chair diagonal to her own; they enjoyed a brief silence as they started to eat the cookies and drink the tea.

After a moment, Mac asked, “So . . . CSIS, huh?”

CJ glanced at him sideways, one eyebrow rising as she guessed, “Mrs. Dupree?”

Mac nodded. “Apparently, Captain Dupree has a friend on the force in Toronto who filled him in on your history, he talked about you at home, and she decided to share with me.”

CJ grunted at this news. She’d suspected it was something like that when Captain Dupree had proven that he’d looked into her. Now she wondered just how much of her history the man had learned.

“So?” Mac said. “First a police detective, then a detective with CSIS, and now a detective with the SIU. An interesting career trajectory.”

“Not really. It’s all investigative work,” she pointed out, and then sat back in her seat and eyed him solemnly. “Speaking of investigative work, have you come up with anyone you pissed off enough that they’d follow you here to Canada to kill you?”

He frowned at the question, and actually looked thoughtful for a moment as if considering the possibility, but then shook his head. “No. I cannot imagine anyone wanting to kill me. I’m really a very agreeable fellow.”

CJ felt her lips twitch with amusement at the claim, but pressed, “No jealous husbands or jilted ex-lovers?”

“I would never take on a married lover,” he assured her stiffly, a scowl claiming his mouth at the suggestion.

CJ merely shrugged and asked, “What about ex-lovers or even present lovers, then?”

“No,” he responded at once.

“No what?” she asked.

“There are no present or past lovers,” he said quietly, and when her expression turned doubtful, he added, “I have been concentrating on work and avoiding entanglements of such a nature for quite some time.”

CJ relaxed and nodded, but wondered how long “quite some time” was to this man. A year? A month? A week? Telling herself it wasn’t really her business, she wasn’t with the police anymore, and this wasn’t her problem to solve, she withdrew a notepad and pen from the computer case she’d left leaning against a leg of the table and handed them to him, suggesting, “Well, perhaps it would be a good idea to make a list of past girlfriends you’ve had over the last couple years, with how long ago you broke up, and whether it was amicable or not.”

The moment Mac accepted the notepad and pen, she turned her attention back to her computer. Or tried to. While she was staring blindly at the screen, she was aware that he had merely set the pad and pen on the table and wasn’t writing anything, but was staring at her instead. She did her best to ignore it and tried to actually read the email she had opened, but the man was very distracting and she was almost relieved when he asked, “What does your family think of your choosing such a dangerous career?”

CJ kept her gaze on her computer and shrugged mildly. “I don’t have a family.”

“What?” he asked with disbelief. “Everyone has family.”

“Not everyone,” she assured him with a faint smile. “I don’t . . . and neither do most of my oldest and dearest friends.”

Mac was silent for a moment and she could feel his eyes on her as he considered what she’d said and then he guessed, “Orphanage?”

“Good guess, but not quite. Foster care,” she told him, and then glanced his way and added, “I don’t even think they have orphanages anymore, do they?”

“Perhaps not,” he allowed solemnly.

Noting his expression, she clucked her tongue with exasperation and turned back to her computer again as she said, “Don’t give me that look.”

“What look?” he asked at once.

“The sad-eyed, pitying thing,” she explained. “You’re feeling sorry for me now, but there’s no need. I had a great childhood.”

“Really?” His tone didn’t suggest he believed her.

“Really,” she assured him, and then noted his still doubtful expression and sighed. “I know there are bad foster parents out there. People just interested in the money they get for it, or predators looking for easy victims, but I was one of the lucky ones. A wonderful pair of foster parents took care of me like I was their own from the time I was about six weeks old, until my teens. After that I lived with a lovely lady named Sue Miller until I finished high school and went off to university at seventeen.”

“Seventeen?” He didn’t hide his surprise. “Isn’t that young for university in Canada?”

“Maybe,” CJ allowed, and then gave up staring at her screen and raised her gaze to him. “Yes, all right, it was young. I took summer courses and even a couple of web courses to graduate early so I could move to campus and start university.”

“Why? To get away from this Mrs. Miller?”

“No. I told you she was lovely and she was. Besides, technically, I was still under Mrs. Miller’s care until I was eighteen.”

“But you no longer lived with her,” he said slowly.

“I visited on weekends about once a month, though,” CJ told him.

“Only once a month?” he asked. “Did you not get along with the other kids?”

CJ wrinkled her nose with irritation at the question. The man was nosy and annoying, but after a couple of moments of his expectant silence, she gave in and said, “I got along fine with the other kids. In fact, I’m still friends with three of them all these years later. I just . . .” She hesitated briefly, and then admitted, “I wanted my independence. I already planned to be a police officer, had researched and found out what I had to do education-wise to become one, and just wanted to get it done with and start my career.”

“Ah.” Mac nodded with an understanding smile. “Once I knew what I wanted to do I was eager to get the education part done and move on to the actual doing as quickly as possible too.”

“You started as a physician and switched to hematology,” she remembered, and then raised her eyebrows. “That’s a jump in profession.”

“Not really,” he assured her. “As a physician I tried to work out what was wrong with patients to heal them. As a hematologist I do the same, but just work more specifically with blood to try to heal people.” He pursed his lips briefly in thought, and then said, “When you think about it, both professions involve a certain amount of detective work too.”

CJ didn’t agree, instead asking, “But why would you switch out to hematology of all things? I mean, blood is . . .” She paused and shuddered as she made a face to show that she found it gross herself.

Mac chuckled at her antics and argued, “Blood is fascinating: the viscosity, shear rate, tissue perfusion. It’s all . . .”

He paused, searching for the right word to describe something when she hadn’t understood much of what he’d already mentioned, and CJ interrupted with, “All right, Dexter, I get the idea. You’re into blood.”

“Dexter?” he asked blankly.

CJ tilted her head and eyed him with disbelief. “Surely you know who Dexter is? The forensic guy who specialized in blood splatter?” When he continued to stare at her blankly, she added, “He was a serial killer on TV?” When that got no response, she tsked with exasperation. “I thought everyone in the world either watched or at least had heard of that show. Although it ended back in 2013 or something, and you were probably ten back then and not allowed to watch it,” she added dryly, her gaze sliding over his facial features. The man had skin as pure as a four-year-old girl’s. The pores were nonexistent. She’d originally thought he was probably around twenty-five, but she was now reassessing that.

“I am much older than I look,” Mac said, sounding a touch irritated. “I have two doctorates, for heaven’s sake. That takes a lot of schooling. Speaking of which,” he added before she could respond. “I need to call Bastien.”

CJ had no idea who Bastien was or what Mac’s doctorates had to do with the man, but waited with interest to see what would follow.

“My phone’s back at the house,” he pointed out when she just stared at him.

“It’s probably ruined, then,” she said mildly.

“Yes,” he agreed unhappily, and then glanced around the room, presumably in search of a landline. But there wasn’t one. She wasn’t at all surprised when he asked, “May I borrow your cell phone?”

The words had barely left his mouth before his eyes dropped to the phone she was already holding out.

“Oh. Thanks.” He accepted it with a smile and then stood and started toward the open double doors to the bedroom of the suite. At the threshold, he paused to explain, “I’m just going to make the call in here. I’ll be quick.”

“Take your time,” CJ said easily, her focus already on her computer as she closed her emails and opened Google instead. She had a pretty good memory and remembered pretty much everything Mac had told her back at the fire. She might as well check out what she could while stuck guarding the man, she thought, and typed in “Argentis Inc.”

   
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