Home > Meant to Be Immortal (Argeneau #32)(4)

Meant to Be Immortal (Argeneau #32)(4)
Author: Lynsay Sands

CJ quickly wrote down Macon (Mac) Argeneau. “No middle name?”

“No.”

CJ nodded. “Birth date?”

“June 21,” he answered.

“Year?” CJ asked as she wrote down what he’d said, and then glanced up when he hesitated. Raising her eyebrows, she repeated, “Year?”

“You tell me yours, and I shall tell you mine,” he said lightly, but when CJ stared back at him, unimpressed, he sighed and said in a questioning tone, “1985?”

It was almost as if he were testing to see whether she would believe him, CJ thought, and since he looked about twenty-five and being born in 1985 would place him around her own age of thirty-six, she didn’t believe it. She didn’t say as much, though, but merely raised one eyebrow and asked, “Is that a question or the year?”

“The year,” he decided.

CJ nodded and wrote it down, but put a question mark beside it. She suspected he was lying about his age, which raised red flags in her mind. Someone had set his home on fire and he was lying about his age. Was he even giving his real name? She’d ask for ID, but since he was standing there in pajama bottoms and a T-shirt and his house had just burned down with everything in it, she doubted he’d have any to provide. She’d check his info when she got back to the police station, CJ decided as she asked her next question. “And where do you work?”

“From home,” he said at once.

CJ lifted her gaze to his, her pen poised over the notepad, but not writing. “You said you were a doctor.”

“Yes.” He nodded.

“And you work from home?” she queried doubtfully.

“I started out a physician, but then went back to school to study hematology and now I work with, and study, blood in the lab.”

“From home?” she repeated dubiously. That seemed even more unlikely than running a doctor’s office from home.

Mac shrugged. “I prefer to work from home, and fortunately the company I work for allows it.”

“And who is that?” CJ asked at once, and then clarified her question. “The company you work for?”

“Argentis Inc.”

CJ wrote it down with a question mark beside it. She’d never heard of it and would be looking up the company later too. If she got lucky, they’d have an employee listing online. Some companies did, and sometimes even had photos of the individuals. Although usually it was people in leadership roles, and she doubted Argeneau was a manager or other leader if he was working from home.

Lifting her head, she eyed him solemnly for a moment, and then said, “You mentioned that you were working in the basement when you smelled smoke. So, you were working with blood?”

“No. I was unpacking boxes and setting up my lab,” he corrected, and then added, “I only just moved in yesterday.”

CJ had lowered her head to write down his answer, but jerked it back up at that. She blinked briefly as she absorbed the fact that his home had been burned down directly after he’d moved in. She cleared her throat and said, “It’s 2 a.m. on Saturday morning now. Are you thinking it’s still Friday night and you moved in Thursday, or do you mean you moved in Friday?”

“I arrived at about eleven on Thursday night. The movers got here about ten minutes after that and worked through the night to move everything in, finishing about nine thirty or ten Friday morning,” he explained, getting more specific.

CJ turned to peer at the house. It wasn’t overly large. She would have guessed it was a three-bedroom, which she estimated would normally take five to seven hours to move, not the nearly eleven he was claiming it had taken. But if he had a lot of lab equipment, maybe it would take longer.

“They were a full-service mover,” Mac said, obviously sensing where her mind had gone. “They had a crew of six, but set everything up in the living areas, placing the furniture where I wanted it, putting the beds together, and even making them. They also placed the books on the bookshelves, etc.” He shrugged. “They would have set up the lab if I’d wished it too, but I wanted to do that myself. Which is what I was doing tonight when the fire broke out.”

CJ nodded, but asked for the name of the movers. She intended on checking out everything this man told her.

“The movers were hired through Argentis Inc.,” he said with a slight frown, and then shrugged apologetically. “You shall have to check with them to get that information.”

CJ hid her expression as she wrote that down. If he wanted her to call the company, he was probably telling the truth, after all. Which was surprising to her. She would have sworn he wasn’t, and her instincts were usually pretty good about these things. It was why she’d been such a good detective. Her old partner used to say that she had an incredibly sensitive bullshit meter that always went off when something wasn’t quite right, or someone was lying to her. It usually worked great. But for some reason this guy was throwing her off.

CJ glanced over what she’d written and then peered at the house again before turning back to Mac and saying, “So, you moved in Thursday night/Friday morning and were working down in the basement last night/this morning, setting up your lab when you smelled smoke and realized the house was on fire?”

Mac nodded.

“Did you hear anything prior to smelling the smoke?” she asked. “Someone moving around outside or upstairs, maybe?”

“No.” He shook his head firmly. “I didn’t hear a thing from outside, and I know they weren’t inside.”

“How can you be sure?”

“It’s an old house. The main floor is hardwood and creaks like crazy when someone crosses it. I noticed that when I was directing the movers on where to put the boxes in the basement. I heard every step the others took upstairs from down there. I even heard them going up and down the upper stairs to the second floor from down in the basement.” He shook his head again. “Whoever set the fire definitely did it from outside and did not enter the house or I would have heard it and gone to investigate.”

It was exactly what CJ had suspected, but she was glad to have verification and made a note in the pad before looking up to ask, “Can you think of anyone who might want to kill you?”

It was a blunt question meant to catch him by surprise, and hopefully shock an honest response from him. Instead, it made the man smile.

“I’ve hardly been here long enough to make enemies,” he pointed out with amusement. “I haven’t even met my neighbors, let alone annoyed them enough to make them set my house on fire.”

CJ merely nodded. “Where did you live prior to moving here?”

“New York City.”

She stiffened at that and raised her eyebrows. “You’re American?”

“No. But I lived and worked in New York for the ten years preceding my move here,” he answered.

“So, you’re Canadian?” she questioned, and her eyes narrowed when he again hesitated before answering.

“Yes.”

CJ considered him briefly, quite sure he was lying, and then asked, “Why move here?”

“To be closer to my father and sister,” he said at once, which suggested he hadn’t been lying about being Canadian, after all. If his family was from here, then he probably was too.

CJ shook her head as she wrote down his answer. He had again set off her bullshit meter, and then made her think the meter was wrong with his next words. It was more than a little frustrating.

“So,” she began after considering what he’d said, “you grew up here in Sandford and your family still lives here?”

“No.”

CJ glanced at him sharply. “No what?”

“No, I did not grow up here and my family does not live here,” he answered helpfully, but not helpfully at all.

“But you just said you moved here to be closer to your family,” she pointed out a bit irritably.

“Yes. I moved to Canada to be closer to my family. But my father lives in Toronto and my sister lives in Port Henry so I wanted someplace that would make visiting either of them easier. Sandford seemed a nice little town and is about halfway between the two,” he pointed out.

CJ was writing down the info when he added, “My sister is Katricia Argeneau Brunswick. She’s a police officer in Port Henry. Her husband, Teddy, is the chief of police there.”

Her handwriting slowed at this news, but she finished it, and then peered up at the man speculatively. He wasn’t from the town, had only been here a little more than twenty-four hours, and someone had set his house on fire . . . with him in it, which was usually an attempt to kill the individual inside. But as he’d said, he hadn’t lived here long enough to make enemies in Sandford.

“Any enemies back in New York?” she asked abruptly, considering the possibility that the trouble had followed him.

“No-ooo.”

CJ’s eyebrows rose at his response. Initially, the answer had come out quickly as if he didn’t have to think about it, but then had drawn on and ended on an uncertain “o” sound as if something had occurred to him.

“You don’t sound too sure,” she pointed out.

“Well, I cannot think of anyone I have pissed off lately, but someone did set my house on fire . . . with me in it, which suggests I must have someone who wants me dead,” he reasoned, his mouth twisting wryly as he spoke. Glancing from her to the burned-out shell of a building, he continued, “I suppose that means they might try again when they find out the fire did not succeed in killing me.” Turning back to her, he added, “I guess that means you shall have to take me to a safe house and guard my body until this whole thing is resolved.”

CJ blinked once and then again at his words. Guard his body? That was pretty much all that her mind had registered, or at least all that it was focusing on. Guarding his body. It wasn’t really a crazy suggestion if someone had tried to kill him. Hell, come to that, whoever set the fire could be around here somewhere and already know he wasn’t dead, she realized. Arsonists did tend to like to watch their handiwork, she recalled, and turned to Simpson to say, “Take pictures of the area in all directions. The road, the field, the yard, and everyone in it. And try to get pictures of the license plates on the vehicles in the driveway as well.”

   
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