Halfway to the Grave

Page 2

Confusion raged in me. Could I have been wrong? Just to be certain, I reached out and ran a finger lightly over his hand. The power nearly jumped off his skin. Not human, all right.

"I was wondering, um..." Stumbling over my words, I searched for an enticing phase. Frankly, this had never happened before. Usually his kind were easy pickings. I didn't know how to handle this as a true professional would.

"Want to f**k?"

The words burst out, and I was horrified at myself for saying them. I barely managed to avoid clapping a hand over my mouth, never having used that word before.

He glanced back with a curl of amusement on his lips, having turned away after his second refusal. Dark eyes raked me appraisingly.

"Bad timing, luv. Have to wait until later. Be a good bird and fly away, I'll find you."

With a flick of his hand, he dismissed me. Numbly I got up and walked away, shaking my head at the turn of events. Now how was I supposed to kill him?

In a daze I went to the ladies' room to inspect my appearance. My hair looked okay, albeit its usual startling crimson shade, and I wore my lucky top, which had led the last two guys to their doom. Next I bared my teeth at my reflection. Nothing was stuck in them. Lastly, I raised my arm and sniffed near the crease. No, I didn't smell bad. What was it, then? A thought occurred to me. Could he be g*y?

Reflectively I considered it. Anything was possible-I was proof of that. Perhaps I could watch him. Follow him whenever he tried to pick someone up, male or female. Decision made, I headed out with renewed determination.

He was gone. The table he'd been crouched over was empty, and there was no trace of him in the air. With growing urgency I searched the surrounding bars, the dance floor, and the booths again. Nothing. I must have dawdled too long in the bathroom. Cursing myself, I stalked back to the bar and ordered a fresh drink. Although alcohol didn't dull my senses, having a drink was something to do, and I was feeling very unproductive.

"Beautiful ladies should never drink alone," a voice said next to me.

Turning to give a rebuff, I stopped short when I saw my admirer was as dead as Elvis. Blond hair about four shades darker than the other one's, with turquoise-colored eyes. Hell's bells, it was my lucky night.

"I hate to drink alone, in fact."

He smiled, showing lovely squared teeth. All the better to bite you with, my dear.

"Are you here by yourself?"

"Do you want me to be?" Coyly, I fluttered my lashes at him. This one wasn't going to get away, by God.

"I very much want you to be." His voice was lower now, his smile deeper. God, but they had great intonation. Most of them could double as phone-sex operators.

"Well, then I was. Except now I'm with you."

I let my head tilt to the side in a flirtatious manner that also bared my neck. His eyes followed the movement, and he licked his lips. Oh good, a hungry one.

"What's your name, lovely lady?"

"Cat Raven." An abbreviation of Catherine, and the hair color of the first man who tried to kill me. See? Sentimental.

His smile broadened. "Such an unusual name."

His name was Kevin. He was twenty-eight and an architect, or so he claimed. Kevin was recently engaged, but his fiancee had dumped him and now he just wanted to find a nice girl and settle down. Listening to this, I managed not to choke on my drink in amusement. What a load of crap. Next he'd be pulling out pictures of a house with a white picket fence. Of course, he couldn't let me call a cab, and how inconsiderate that my fictitious friends left without me. How kind of him to drive me home, and oh, by the way, he had something to show me. Well, that made two of us.

Experience had taught me it was much easier to dispose of a car that hadn't been the scene of a killing. Therefore, I managed to open the passenger door of his Volkswagen and run screaming out of it with feigned horror when he made his move. He'd picked a deserted area, most of them did, so I didn't worry about a Good Samaritan hearing my cries.

He followed me with measured steps, delighted with my sloppy staggering. Pretending to trip, I whimpered for effect as he loomed over me. His face had transformed to reflect his true nature. A sinister smile revealed upper fangs where none had been before, and his previously blue eyes now glowed with a terrible green light.

I scrabbled around, concealing my hand slipping into my pocket. "Don't hurt me!"

He knelt, grasping the back of my neck.

"It will only hurt for a moment."

Just then, I struck. My hand whipped out in a practiced movement and the weapon it held pierced his heart. I twisted repeatedly until his mouth went slack and the light faded from his eyes. With a last wrenching shove, I pushed him off and wiped my bloody hands on my pants.

"You were right." I was out of breath from my exertions. "It only hurt for a moment."

Much later when I arrived home, I was whistling. The night hadn't been a total waste after all. One had gotten away, but one would be prowling the dark no more. My mother was asleep in the room we shared. I'd tell her about it in the morning. It was the first question she asked on the weekends. Did you get one of those things, Catherine? Well, yes, I did! All without me getting battered or pulled over. Who could ask for more?

I was in such a good mood, in fact, that I decided to try the same club the next night. After all, there was a dangerous bloodsucker in the area and I had to stop him, right? So I went about my usual household chores with impatience. My mother and I lived with my grandparents. They owned a modest two-story home that had actually once been a barn. Turned out the isolated property, with its acres of land, was coming in handy. By nine o'clock, I was out the door.

It was crowded again, this being a Saturday night. The music was just as loud and the faces just as blank. My initial sweep of the place turned up nothing, deflating my mood a little. I headed toward the bar and didn't notice the crackle in the air before I heard his voice.

"I'm ready to f**k now."


I whirled around, prepared to indignantly scald the ears of the unknown creep, when I stopped. It was him. A blush came to my face when I remembered what I'd said last night. Apparently he'd remembered as well.

"Ah yes, well..." Exactly how did one respond to that? "Umm, drink first? Beer or...?"

"Don't bother." He interrupted my hail of the bartender and traced a finger along my jaw. "Let's go."

"Now?" I looked around, thrown off guard.

"Yeah, now. Changed your mind, luv?"

There was a challenge in his eyes and a gleam I couldn't decipher. Not wanting to risk losing him again, I grabbed my purse and gestured to the door.

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