Dark Hunger


CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE



"That was so sucky, I don't even have the vocab to recount how awful it was. And I've been here-what? An hour? A day? Of all the days not to wear a watch." I cursed the impulse to take off my watch and rings to stuff the turkey no one ate. Why had I ditched the watch? Did I really think I was going in up to the shoulder to stuff the bird? Thanksgiving is horrible.

"Your watch wouldn't work here, anyway," the Ant said. She probably thought I would find that comforting.

"I'm like a dog in this hellfog." At her muffled giggle, I scowled. "No idea how much time is passing, and I kind of want a chew toy to play with." I was thirsty, but I almost always was. This was my usual steady thirst, but at least it wasn't getting worse. "Of all the people to run into!"

"Yeah, but of course you were going to run into them."

"Nightmare. Utter nightmare. The Watsons and-" I closed my mouth. The Ant had actually been kind of cool during the Watson nightmare. This wasn't a movie. We weren't gonna team up to fight crime. We weren't going to learn valuable lessons or gain crucial insight into each other's personalities. I was pretty sure that was fine by both of us. "The Watsons," I said again, pretending that had been the original end of my sentence.

The Ant shrugged. "Well. You know how those people are."

Oh, wonderful. Back to this shit. I rounded on her, if you can round on someone in hellfog. "Is this why you're such a bigoted asshat? Because you're worried there's an African American-"

"They're African Africans," Hands-across-America sniffed.

"-in your family tree-"

"There isn't. We've been over this."

"-and you deal with it by distancing yourself every way you can-including racism? Because, if no one's thought to mention this to you: lame beyond belief. Staggering lameness. Lame to the nth power."

"You shut up," she said, annoyed. Why did most of the people in my life love me without reservation or hate me? Nobody took the middle ground on that one. It might say something about me. Possibly something bad. So I decided to stop pondering. "You've got no idea who I am or what I've gone through. You've never had any idea and you've never cared."

"Yes! Correct! I never and I never." I was in no mood for the "but I'm so misunderstood" wangstfest. "Listen, why don't you track down your grandmother or whoever-I'm sure most of your relatives also went to Hell-and ask them."

"They're not here," was the quiet reply, and I was so startled by her tone I couldn't think of anything to say for a minute. "The ones who could answer that question-none of them are here to ask."

I wasn't an idiot. Well, that was a lie, but I knew I was mostly interested in the Ant's family drama because it was a problem that a) I hadn't caused, b) I wasn't expected to fix, and c) had nothing to do with i) vampirism, ii) Hell, or iii) Satan.

"Did you tell my dad any of that stuff? Because he wouldn't have cared," I added when I saw her open her mouth. "Look, fair's fair. I was quick enough to bitch about him when he did stuff I didn't like, it's only fair to give him props. And I'm telling you, he wouldn't have cared. Dad would never have judged someone based on their race when he could judge them based on how much they made after taxes and who they voted for."

She was already shaking her head. "I don't think you've got any idea what it was like for someone like me to land someone like your dad."

"I assumed you lost a bet."

Nope. She wasn't having it. Clearly not a joking matter. "It was-everything. Being his wife was everything. I wouldn't have done one thing to screw that up. I'd never have dared-how could I tell your father what I wouldn't even admit to myself? No." She shook her head. "I never told him."

"Well, he knows now, right?" I looked around the hellfog as if expecting him to come strolling toward us.

"He's not here, either," she replied, and that shut me up.

Not for long, though. I could tell the Ant didn't want to discuss it anymore. But there wasn't much else for us to discuss. Our fears for the ozone layer? Whether peep-toe pumps were gonna be huge in the spring? (They weren't.)

"Okay, well, this can be the last note on the wrongness of bigotry and then we can change the subject."

"Goody," she replied sourly.

"Because I kind of want to circle away from your family shame and back to what you said about 'those people.' Jessica's parents don't give African Americans a bad name. They give incestuous enabling asshats a bad name. I mean, they're horrible even for incestuous enabling asshats."

"They are." And she actually smiled at me, a real one. She was really pretty when she didn't try so hard. I was so weirded out by my atypically generous thought, I smiled back.

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