Halfway to the Grave

Page 22

An evil glare accompanied my retort. "No, but is he really gone? I'd always cut off their heads to be sure."

"Critiquing my work? Yeah, he's really gone. Right now we need to get out of here before some nosy driver pops alongside and asks if we need help." Releasing my wrist, he examined the wound. The flesh was already closed together as if by invisible stitches. His hand no longer even bore a mark. "That'll hold you. We need to move this vehicle."

I stood up and again looked at the mangled car. Not only was the door hanging by a mere few scraps of metal, but there was a fair amount of blood in the front area from my wrist and Sergio's neck.

"How I am supposed to drive in this wreck? Any cop that sees this car is going to pull me over!"

He grinned that cocky smile of his. "Don't fret. Have it all worked out." From out of his jacket he pulled a cell phone.

"It's me, we're finished. Looks like I'm going to need that lift after all, mate. You'll like the ride, it's a Benz. Needs a little body work on the door, though. We're on Planter's Road, just south of the club. Step on it, right?" Without saying goodbye, he hung up and turned his attention back to me.

"Sit tight, Kitten. Our ride will be here in a minute. Don't worry, he's nearby. Told him I might have a use for him tonight. Course, he was probably figuring on it being a little later in the evening." He paused, giving me a knowing look. "You left with him right quick, didn't you? He must have been quite pleased with you."

"Yeah, real happy. Color me flattered. Seriously, Bones, even if you tow this car there's still too much blood in it. And you didn't listen to me about bringing cleaning materials. This thing could have been at least mopped up."

He moved closer to pull my arm out for another inspection. There was only a thin red line of healed skin now, but after satisfying himself with its condition, he still didn't let me go. Avoiding his gaze didn't prevent me from feeling its weight.

"Trust me, luv. I know you don't, but you should. You did a smashing job tonight, by the way. That stake in his back was just a thought away from his heart. It slowed him, as did the one in his neck. You would have had him even if I wasn't here. You're strong, Kitten. Be glad of it."

"Glad? That's not quite the word I'd use. Relieved? You could say that. Relieved I'm alive and there's one less murderer prowling around for na?ve girls. But glad? Glad would be if I never had this lineage. Glad would be if I had two normal parents and a bunch of friends, and the only thing I'd ever killed was time. Or if even once I had been to a club just to go dancing and have fun instead of ending up staking something that tried to kill me. That's glad. This is just...existing. Until the next time."

I pulled my hand away and moved off a few feet to put some distance between us. A wave of melancholy coursed through me at the things I had just mentioned that would never be mine. Sometimes it was frightening to feel old at twenty-two.

"Rot." The single word broke the silence.

"Excuse me?" How like a vampire, to have no sympathy.

"Rot, I said. You play the hand you're dealt just like everyone else in this bloody world. You have gifts people would kill for, no matter that you scorn them. You have a mum who loves you and a nice house to go home to. Sod your backwoods neighbors who look down their ignorant noses at you for your lack of a father. This world is a big place and you've got an important role to play in it. Think everyone goes around whistling about the life they lead? Think everyone is given the power to choose the way their fate goes? Sorry, luv, it doesn't work that way. You hold the ones you love close and fight the battles you can win, and that, Kitten, is how it is."

"What would you know about it?" Bitterness made me brave, and the words flung out of my mouth.

Surprisingly, he threw back his head and laughed before he seized my shoulders, moving closer until his mouth almost touched mine.

"You...haven't...the...slightest...inkling of what I've been through, so don't...tell...me...what I know."

There was thinly veiled menace in the way he deliberately spoke each syllable. My heart started to pound, and I knew he could hear it. His grip loosened until his fingers no longer dug into my skin, but his hands remained. God, he was close...so close. Unconsciously I licked my lips, and a jolt went through me as I saw his eyes follow the movement. The air fairly crackled between us, either from his natural vampire energy...or something else. Slowly his tongue snaked out and caressed his bottom lip. It was mesmerizing to watch.

A horn blaring made me jump nearly out of my skin. My heart caught in my throat as an eighteen-wheeler slowed down and parked just ahead of us. The noise of the axles releasing and brakes locking sounded deafening in the suddenly quiet night.

"Bones...!" Frightened of discovery, I was about to say more when he walked up to the vehicle and called out a greeting.

"Ted, you buggering bastard, good of you to arrive so quickly!"

It might have been me, but I thought I detected a note of insincerity in his voice. Me, I wanted to throw my arms around this Ted and thank him for interrupting what could have been a very dangerous moment.

A tall skinny man climbed down from the trailer and gave a grinning reply. "I'm missin' my shows because of you, buddy. Hope I didn't interrupt nothin' between you and that gal. Two of you looked awful cozy."

"No!" It escaped me with all the denial of a condemned soul. "Nothing going on here!"

Ted laughed and walked around to the damaged side of the car, poking his head inside and wrinkling his nose at the sight of the blood.

"Sure...I can see that."

Bones arched a brow at me in silent challenge, causing me to look away. Then he clapped his friend on the shoulders.

"Ted, old chap, the car is yours. Just need to get a piece out of the boot and then we're golden. Drive us to the place, we'll be done by then."

"Sure thing, bud. You'll like the back. It's air-conditioned. Some boxes to sit on, or you could ride in the car. Come on, now. Let's put this baby to bed."

Ted opened the back of the trailer. It was equipped with stabilizing clamps to fasten a car onto. I shook my head in admiration. Bones really had thought of everything.

When Ted lowered the steel ramp on the back, Bones jumped into the Mercedes and drove it straight onto the clamps. After a few adjustments were made, the car was secure. Then Bones left to get his motorcycle, returning in a few minutes to put it in the trailer on its side. When he was finished, he grinned down at me.

"Come on, Kitten. Your taxi's waiting."

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