Home > Meant to Be Immortal (Argeneau #32)(7)

Meant to Be Immortal (Argeneau #32)(7)
Author: Lynsay Sands

Mac had only expected to be at the bed-and-breakfast one night this time. He’d flown straight up the evening that they’d finished packing up his things, but the truck wasn’t going to leave until the next morning. He’d expected it the next night, Wednesday, but it had been held up at customs for more than twenty-four hours, and hadn’t arrived until nearly midnight on Thursday . . . and now, here he was with everything he owned burned up along with his new rental, and nowhere to go except to the bed-and-breakfast where CJ must be staying. But Mac could only think that might be helpful for him. He needed to spend time with the woman to woo her, and he needed to woo her to convince her to be his life mate.

Mac savored the words in his mind. Life mate. The one thing every immortal yearned for. The one person who could beat back the loneliness every immortal invariably suffered thanks to their need to protect their thoughts from older immortals, and block out the thoughts of younger immortals as well as mortals. But that wasn’t necessary with a life mate, which was a gift. Having to constantly guard your thoughts could be exhausting, and often led to his kind avoiding others to avoid the need to do it . . . and that could lead to madness and going rogue.

Mac didn’t think he’d been in danger of that quite yet, but he had waited a long time to finally meet his life mate. So long that he’d begun to think it might never happen . . . and now here she was. She’d just walked up to the ambulance in his darkest hour, changing what had seemed like one of the worst days of his life into the best damned day ever.

Mac smiled faintly at the memory. Her arrival in his life had been so normal that, at first, he hadn’t recognized that his very existence was about to change, or that she was about to become the most important person in his life. CJ had just been a tall, slender stranger walking toward the ambulance in a white blouse and dark business jacket that contrasted wildly with the jeans and cowboy boots that finished off the outfit. Everything about her had been surprising, but he thought she should have had a spotlight on her, and been accompanied by a symphony, or a choir singing “Hallelujah!”

Mac smiled at the thought, and then turned his mind to more pragmatic matters . . . like that he had to contact the local Enforcers and bring them in on the case. If someone was trying to kill him, they needed to know. Not only so that they could try to sort out who it was, but because they’d have to do damage control when it came to the mortals in the area and any official reports the case generated. He would have preferred to let it play out as a simple fire caused by electrical issues as he’d originally intended. Being an old farmhouse, no one would have questioned that, and it would have got little attention at all that way. But not being able to control CJ had put paid to that plan and now they’d have to try to manage the situation.

Mac also needed to arrange for more blood to be delivered to him wherever he ended up. A safe house would make that difficult if CJ was the one guarding him. Hell, even in the bed-and-breakfast it would be difficult, but he needed more blood, and soon. While the blisters were gone and he looked mostly healed on the outside, his body was still repairing the internal damage and was quickly using up the blood he’d managed to acquire from the various firemen and paramedics at the scene. Mac was already feeling the gnawing ache that came when his body was in need of more blood. Not really a surprise. He’d pretty much been parboiled in that tub by the time the firemen had managed to beat back the flames enough to make a path in to get him out. The water had been bubbling around him, scalding him alive, and it had taken every ounce of self-control he possessed to keep from leaping out of the water. The only thing that had kept him from doing so was the sure knowledge that he would be dead in seconds if he got out. His body could repair almost any damage done to it, but nothing could bring an immortal back from ash and that’s what he would have been had he got out of that tub, because the one weakness immortals had was being incredibly flammable.

Pushing away the unpleasant memories of his time in the tub, Mac turned his thoughts to how he was going to make the calls he needed to. His phone, along with everything else he owned, had been destroyed in the fire, and the calls he had to make could not be done in front of others. He needed a phone and privacy for at least a few minutes, and was considering how to manage that when the loud music that had been playing since they left the house suddenly died.

Glancing around, Mac saw that they’d arrived at the police station. He turned back to CJ, his mouth opening and then snapping shut with alarm when he saw that she was already getting out of the car. Quite sure that if he let her out of his sight she’d never give him the chance to see her again, Mac quickly unsnapped his seat belt and scrambled out to follow.

Three

“So, what does ‘CJ’ stand for?”

CJ’s jaw tightened as that question told her that her attempt to escape Mac Argeneau hadn’t worked. She hadn’t moved quickly enough to leave him behind. Although she had managed to lose Simpson, she saw with a quick glance back. The officer was still scrambling out of the car with his evidence kit. Turning to face forward again, CJ didn’t respond to Mac’s question, but suggested, “You should really wait for Simpson, Mr. Argeneau. If someone is out to kill you, you’ll need him to keep you safe.”

“I am sure you can keep me just as safe as he could,” Mac said with unconcern.

“I don’t have a gun, he does. Stick with Simpson,” she said firmly, and reached for the glass door of the police station, only to snatch her hand back to avoid touching his when it got there first.

“Allow me,” he said courteously.

Biting back her irritation, CJ muttered, “Thank you,” and hurried inside, very aware that he was directly on her heels.

The reception area was just as empty now as it had been when she’d arrived earlier. This time, however, no one stuck their head through the back door to greet them.

“Charlotte Jean?” Mac said suddenly.

CJ turned to frown at the man with confusion. “Who’s Charlotte Jean?”

“Not you apparently,” he said with a faint smile, and then tried, “Christine Joan?”

Realizing he was trying to guess what her initials stood for, CJ turned abruptly, moved around the reception counter, and through the door Captain Dupree had poked his head out of earlier. She wasn’t surprised to find herself in a large bullpen office with four desks set up in each corner, leaving a small aisle running up the middle.

“Catrina Jacqueline?” Mac tried again, pausing beside her.

CJ ignored him to glance around the large open office space, noting the filing cabinets and cupboards running the length of all four walls, absent only where doors were. There were seven doors: the one she and Mac had just come through, three in the wall to their left, two on the right, and one in the back. Both doors in the right wall were open. Through one she could see a large table with several chairs around it that she guessed would be a conference room or the morning meeting room where the captain addressed his men. The other open door on that side led into a large, well-appointed office that had to be the captain’s. It was empty now.

“Cherry Juice?” Mac guessed next, and CJ finally turned to look at him.

“Cherry Juice?” she echoed with disbelief.

“It’s possible,” he said defensively. “I met a girl once with that name.”

“I’m going to take a wild guess here and say she was a stripper,” CJ suggested dryly.

“No,” he said at once, and then frowned, and reluctantly admitted, “Actually, I could not say. We merely shared an elevator in a hotel I stayed in once. She was quite chatty, but did not mention what she did for a living and I never asked.”

“With a name like that she was probably a prostitute,” CJ muttered, and turned to glance to the doors in the wall on their left. Two of them were open, the first and last, while the door in the middle was closed. The open doors revealed small rooms with a single table and two chairs in each. She recognized right away that they were interview rooms, which meant that the middle room between them was probably fitted with two-way mirrors and a sound system where interviews could be observed and recorded. They were as empty as the bullpen and the other two rooms, and CJ frowned at the deserted state of the place.

“I really think if you are going to be guarding me that I should at least know your name.”

“Trust me. I will not be guarding you,” CJ assured him grimly. She started toward the door in the back wall when it suddenly opened and a short, middle-aged woman in a loose, rumpled pink velour jogging suit entered. The woman was staring blearily down at the cup of coffee she was stirring as she walked.

CJ stopped abruptly at the sight of her. The lady had bedhead, her salt-and-pepper hair standing up in all directions. Her eyes were bloodshot from lack of sleep and she was wearing absolutely no makeup. She looked like someone who had just been rumbled from her bed in the middle of the night and dressed quickly.

“Oh!” the woman gasped, and paused when she lifted her head and saw she had company. For a moment, she looked as if she wasn’t sure whether they were friend or foe, or what to do, but then Officer Simpson entered behind them, and the woman relaxed with relief. “Michael! Thank goodness!”

Simpson came to a halt next to CJ and Mac, surprise covering his expression as he stared at the little woman. “Mrs. Dupree! What are you doing here?”

“Oh, Charles asked me to come in and cover for a bit,” the woman said wearily.

“Cover?” Simpson glanced around at the empty bullpen with a frown. “Where is everyone?”

“Charles and Steve are at the hospital,” she explained anxiously, her gaze sliding to CJ and then away. “And everyone else is out on calls.”

“Everyone?” Simpson asked with amazement, moving to the nearest desk on the left and setting the evidence kit down before turning to concentrate on Mrs. Dupree.

Mrs. Dupree nodded. “I don’t know what’s going on tonight. Maybe it’s a full moon, but Dandridge is handling a break-and-enter at the pharmacy, Owens is at the scene of a pretty bad car accident, and Brown and Jamieson are at a domestic dispute. Brown went on that call alone originally, but I guess there was trouble and he called in for backup. Jamieson was the only one here so Charles called and asked me to come man the phones so Jamieson could go help Brown.” Her eyes skittered to CJ and away again before she added, “And, of course, you were covering the fire with the lady from the SIU.”

   
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