Halfway to the Grave

Page 19

"Wow. I just thought we were going after people who had pissed you off."

"And that was enough for you to kill for, someone who might have looked at me cross-eyed? Blimey, but you're not particular. What if I were chasing some nice sweet thing that'd never hurt a fly? Still be all right with it then?"

I snapped the screen shut and found my mother's words coming out of my mouth.

"None of you are nice sweet things. You're all murderers. That's why it didn't matter. Point me at a vampire and I'll try to kill it, because at one time they've done something to deserve it."

It was so silent outside the screen, I wondered if he'd left. When I peeked, he was still standing where he'd been before. A flicker of emotion passed over his face before it became blank again. Suddenly uncomfortable, I retreated back inside to don my revealing costume.

"Not every vampire is like the ones who killed those girls Winston told you about. It's just your bad luck to be living in Ohio at this particular time. There are things going on you don't know about."

"Winston was wrong, by the way," I said smugly. "I looked up those girls' names the next day, and none of them were dead. They weren't even missing. One of them, Suzy Klinger, lived in the town next to mine, but her parents said she moved away to study acting. What I don't know is why Winston would make that up, but far be it for me to understand the mental workings of a ghost."

"Bloody hell!" Bones almost shouted. "Who did you talk to, aside from Suzy Klinger's parents? The police? Other families?"

I didn't know why he was so worked up. It's not like there had been multiple homicides, after all. "No one. I entered their names online at the library's computer and when nothing came up, I looked in a few local papers and then called Suzy's parents saying I was a telemarketer. That was it."

Some of the tension drained out of him. At least he wasn't clenching his fists anymore.

"Don't go against what I tell you to do again," he said in a very calm tone.

"What did you expect? For me to forget about over a dozen girls being murdered by vampires because you told me to? See, this is just what I'm talking about! A human wouldn't act like that. Only a vampire could be that cold."

Bones folded his arms. "Vampires have existed for millennia, and though we have our villains among us, the majority of us just have a sip here and there, but everybody walks away. Besides, it's not like your kind hasn't made its mark for ill on the world. Hitler wasn't a vampire, was he? Too bloody right. Humans can be just as nasty as we are, and don't you forget it."

"Oh, come on, Bones!" Dressed now, I pulled back the screen and started fixing hot rollers into my hair. "Don't give me that crap. Are you telling me you've never murdered someone innocent? Never drank the life out of someone when you were hungry? Never forced a woman who said no? Hell, the only reason you didn't kill me the night we met was because you saw my eyes glow, so sell that smack to someone who's buying!"

His hand flashed out. I braced myself, but all he did was catch a falling curler. Without blinking, he rolled it back into my hair.

"Think I'd strike you? You really don't know as much as you claim to. Aside from teaching you how to fight, I'd never lay a harsh hand on you. As for the night we met, you did your level best to kill me. I thought you were sent by someone, so I smacked you and threatened you, but I wasn't going to kill you. No, I would have sipped from your neck and green-eyed you until you told me who they were. Then I would have sent you back to the shit with your limbs broken as a warning, but I promise you this-at no point would I have forced myself on you. Sorry, Kitten. Every woman I've been with has wanted me to be there. Have I killed any innocents in my time? Yeah, I have. When you've lived as long as I have, you make mistakes. You try to learn from them. And you shouldn't be so quick to judge me on that. No doubt you've killed innocents as well."

"The only people I've killed were vampires who tried to kill me first," I said, rattled by his nearness.

"Oh?" Softly. "Don't be so sure. Those blokes you killed, did you wait for them to try to bite you first? Or did you just assume because they were vampires and they'd gotten you alone, they intended to murder you? Ignoring the very real likelihood that they were there because they'd thought a beautiful girl was hot to shag them. Tell me-how many of them did you kill before they'd even shown you their fangs?"

My mouth dropped even as immediate denial echoed in my brain. No. No. They'd all been trying to kill me. They had. Hadn't they...?

"Whether they showed their fangs or not doesn't change the fact that vampires are evil, and that's enough for me."

"Bloody mule-headed woman," he muttered. "Then if all vampires are the filth you claim them to be, why wouldn't I just pry your legs open now and take out some of my evil on you?"

He was too strong for me to stop him, if he decided on that course of action. I glanced at my stakes, but they were too far away on the floor.

Bones saw me looking and a sardonic snort escaped him.

"You never have to fret about it. Told you, I don't come in unless invited. Now hurry up. You have another murderous fiend to kill."

He was gone in a whoosh of air that left me trembling. Great, I'd offended my backup. Smart. Real smart.

We drove separately to avoid being seen together. In fact, I didn't see him at all after our little spat at the dressing table. He'd left me a note telling me he'd be watching and to proceed with the plan. On my way to the club, I was inexplicably upset by what had happened. After all, what I'd said was right, wasn't it? Okay, maybe every vampire I'd killed hadn't been going for my throat, true. Some of them had been pretty focused on my cle**age, in fact. But they would have tried to kill me, wouldn't they? Bones might act different, but all vampires were bad.

Weren't they?

The music greeted me with its loud pumping beat. Same vibrations, different songs. According to Bones, Sergio would probably put in an appearance in about an hour. I seated myself at the bar, making sure I had a clear view of the doorway, and ordered a gin and tonic. Aside from that half gallon of moonshine, alcohol seemed to make me calmer instead of inebriated. Bones said it was due to my bloodline. He should know-he could knock back bottles of whiskey without even a twitch. On the plus side, it added to the helpless female image to look drunk.

It had been a while since my last gin and tonic, so I promptly had it refilled by the attentive bartender when I was done. His eyes had been undressing what little clothing I was wearing since I'd walked in. Good to know Bones knew what he was about when it came to picking bait apparel. We'd see if it worked as well with the monsters.

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