Home > Meant to Be Immortal (Argeneau #32)(16)

Meant to Be Immortal (Argeneau #32)(16)
Author: Lynsay Sands

Grunting at the realization, he stood and then turned to peer out the window. It faced the front yard and the street beyond, but there wasn’t much to see at this hour. Just the other houses on the block. They were all dark. Everyone was asleep, and the street was empty, with not a car in sight. At least not a moving one. He briefly considered closing the curtain, but left it open in the end and went back out into the sitting area of the suite.

“All done?” CJ asked when Mac came back into the room.

“Yes. Thanks.” He set the phone on the table next to her hand and then settled into his chair again. “It was long distance, so I’ll give you some money when I have access to it again.”

“No worries,” CJ assured him solemnly. “Family is important.”

He appeared a bit confused, but murmured, “Yes. Family is important.”

CJ tilted her head and eyed him briefly. He didn’t seem sure why she’d said that, so she asked, “That’s who you called, right? Bastien is your father and you called him and your sister so they wouldn’t worry if they saw the story about the fire on the news.”

“Oh.” He looked blank-faced now, and then shook his head slowly.

“No?” she asked with surprise.

“No. Bastien is my boss,” he explained. “He’s also my cousin, so I’m sure he will let my father know what is happening here. Or really, I suppose, my uncle Lucian will probably be the one to do that,” he added almost thoughtfully.

CJ stared at him with disbelief. “Don’t you think your family would want to hear about it from you rather than another relative? Just so they can talk to you and find out for themselves that you’re really okay?” She might not have a family now, but she did remember what it had been like with Marge and Johnathan Cummings. They would have wanted to talk to her themselves after hearing she’d been caught in a fire, and wouldn’t have stopped fretting until they had. But then she realized—

“Oh, I suppose you didn’t want to wake them up at this hour, and plan to call them in the morning.” Which wasn’t far off, she thought as she noted it was closing on 4 a.m.

“No, my calling wouldn’t have woken them,” Mac said with a faint smile. “They’re night owls like me. My whole family works nights. I just figure Bastien will give them the necessary information and— Who are you calling?” he interrupted himself to ask with surprise when she picked up her phone with an exasperated tsk and started to punch in one of the phone numbers she’d written on a notepad on the table next to her computer.

“Your sister,” she answered abruptly as she finished entering the numbers for the Port Henry Police Station and heard the first ring. She’d planned to wait until morning to call Mac’s sister and verify he was who he claimed to be, but if the woman worked nights—

CJ’s thoughts died as the phone was answered and a professional-sounding female voice answered. “Port Henry Police Station. How can I help you?”

“May I speak to Katricia Argeneau—” she glanced to the paper and finished “—Brunswick?”

“Speaking,” the woman on the other end of the phone said, sounding curious now.

“Why are you calling my sister?” Mac asked with amazement before she could say anything.

CJ waved him to silence, but the woman had obviously heard Mac speak, and recognized his voice, because she said, “Is that Mac I heard?”

“Yes, it is, Ms. Brunswick,” CJ answered in her best professional voice even as she scowled to keep him from speaking again. “It’s him I’m actually calling about. He is your brother?”

“Yes,” the woman said at once.

“And he lives at—” She read the address of the farmhouse from her notepad. CJ had copied it from the piece of paper Captain Dupree had given her.

“I’m not sure,” the woman admitted slowly. “I know he rented a house in Sandford, but I don’t have the address with me at the moment. That sounds right though.”

“And he worked in New York previous to this, for ten years or so?” CJ asked, noting the way Mac’s eyebrows rose as he realized she was verifying the information he’d given her.

“Yes. At Argentis Inc.,” Katricia Argeneau Brunswick said, sounding more professional now as she too cottoned on to what CJ was doing. “In fact, he still works for the company. He simply moved to Canada and will work for them from here.”

CJ took a moment to think if there was anything else she needed to verify, but while there were loads of things she’d like to ask, none of them were really pertinent to the case of his house being burned down.

“Who am I speaking to?” Katricia asked suddenly, and CJ grimaced as she realized she hadn’t identified herself.

“I’m sorry,” she apologized politely. “My name is CJ Cummings. I’m an investigator with the SIU.” As a police officer, Katricia would know what that was and probably wouldn’t like her any more than any other officer usually did, so CJ rushed on to explain, “I came to Sandford to interview an officer here, but got roped into helping at a fire instead. The fire was at your brother’s home. He is fine,” she added quickly as the woman sucked in a gasp of air. “In fact, I’ll pass the phone to him now so that he can reassure you of that himself.”

CJ held out the phone to Mac, and then got up and moved to stand by the window and look out at the road as he began to talk to his sister. She was trying to give him privacy, but it was hard not to hear him reassure Katricia that he was fine and explain what had happened.

“Yes, Katricia, she called to verify my information,” he said after a moment when his sister apparently spoke. “No, I couldn’t,” he said, sounding cheerful. Curious, she turned to see that he was grinning and staring right at her while he did.

CJ turned back to the window abruptly, fighting the urge to blush for some reason.

“Yes, she is,” Mac said now. “Yes . . . No, I do not need help. No. Really, Kat, I do not want help. Dammit! Sisters,” he muttered suddenly with exasperation, and she heard a clatter that made her glance around. He’d tossed her phone back on the table, and was now scowling at it with displeasure. The phone call was apparently over and had not ended the way he would have wanted.

“Problem?” CJ asked mildly, moving back to her seat.

“She has decided she should come here to help,” he said with disgust.

CJ’s eyebrows rose at this news. “I somehow don’t think Captain Dupree will appreciate help with his investigation.”

“Not with the investigation, with y—” He stopped abruptly, and then asked, “Why would he not appreciate help? He requested your help.”

“Only because he lost his detective last month,” she responded. “Besides, I suspect that was as much to make it look like he was trying to be cooperative while not really being cooperative at all.”

“You told my sister you were here to interview an officer,” he recalled.

CJ nodded.

“What about?”

CJ opened her mouth, and then closed it again, and simply shook her head. She couldn’t talk about it with him. It was official business.

“Time for bed,” she announced abruptly, and grabbed the handle of her rolling suitcase as she stood. “I’ll use the bathroom first.”

She left him at the table and walked through the bedroom and into the suite’s small bathroom, pulling her case behind. The other guests in the house didn’t have their own bathroom, but shared a larger one upstairs and another downstairs. Mrs. Vesper called this the honeymoon suite. She had told CJ that it used to be the master bedroom and bath when Mr. Vesper had still been alive, with the bedroom taking up the space that was now both the bedroom and salon. But Mrs. Vesper had given it up for a smaller bedroom when her husband died and then had hired contractors to divide the huge master bedroom into the two still-large rooms. She said it was the best thing she’d ever done and that she had regulars who rented the suite for their anniversaries and special occasions through the year.

CJ was grateful for the setup right now, especially with the bathroom being inside the room since the cot was now up against the door to the rest of the house again. Otherwise, it would have been a bit of a pain if Mac needed to use the facilities while she was sleeping. He would have had to wake her so they could move the cot and so on, but its position was an added safety measure to block the door. It would help keep anyone out and away from Mac, and that’s why they were supposed to be there.

Although, in reality, CJ wasn’t expecting trouble. If she was, she wouldn’t have brought Mac here. She would never willingly put Mrs. Vesper or anyone else in danger. But between the disguise worn out of the police station, and her circling the block a couple times to be sure they weren’t followed, CJ was pretty sure no one knew he was here. Tonight. The next night might be a problem, though. She suspected the town’s grapevine would spread the news of his survival and whereabouts by then. But she would leave that problem in Captain Dupree’s hands. In fact, she planned to drop it in his lap the minute they reached the police station the next day. And then she would make sure the captain kept to his promise to arrange the meeting with Jefferson. She’d definitely gone above and beyond the call of duty tonight in helping him out, and she expected a little payback for it. If he didn’t arrange the meeting with Jefferson as he’d promised, she would be calling her boss and letting him bring the hammer down.

Knowing she wouldn’t be able to sleep if she started fretting about that, CJ pushed those thoughts from her mind as she prepared for bed. She normally slept in an oversized T-shirt and panties, but tonight she added a pair of joggers to the ensemble. If something did happen, she didn’t want to be running around in panties.

It was while she was brushing her teeth that it occurred to her that Mac didn’t have a toothbrush . . . or anything else here with him. She briefly considered making a run to a local drugstore, but then shook the thought away. First, she didn’t know if there was a twenty-four-hour drugstore in the small town, and second, it was just too damned late to be bothered. She’d offer him the use of her mouthwash and hairbrush, and they’d get whatever he needed in the morning, she decided, and finished her nightly ritual of cleaning her face and brushing her teeth. CJ then closed her suitcase and headed back out, her footsteps faltering when she saw that Mac had moved into the bedroom and was now lounging on the bed with his ankles crossed and his hands under his head.

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