Halfway to the Grave

Page 3

"Lead the way."

"No, no." He grinned chillingly. "Ladies first."

With several glances over my shoulder, I preceded him into the parking lot. Once outside, he looked expectantly at me.

"Well, get your ride and let's be off."

"My ride? I-I don't have a ride. Where's your car?" I fought to remain cool, but I was inwardly rattled. This was all off my normal routine and I didn't like it.

"I drove a bike here. Fancy a ride on it?"

"A motorcycle?" No, that wouldn't do. No trunk to carry his body in, and I wasn't about to balance it on the handlebars. Plus, I didn't know how to ride one. "Umm, we'll take my vehicle instead. It's over there."

As I walked to the truck, I reminded myself to stagger. I hoped he'd think I had been pounding the booze.

"Thought you didn't have a ride," he called after me.

I stopped short, turning back at him. Crap, I had said that.

"I forgot it was here, is all," I lied breezily. "Think I drank too much. You want to drive?"

"No, thanks," was his immediate response. For some reason, his strong English accent grated on me.

I tried again with a lopsided smile. He had to drive. My weapon was in my right pants leg, since I was always in the passenger seat before.

"Really, I think you should drive. I'm feeling woozy. I'd hate to wrap us around a tree."

It didn't work.

"If you just want to beg off until another night..."

"No!" There was desperation in my voice, which raised his eyebrow a notch. "I mean, you're so good-looking and..." What the hell did one say? "I really, really want to get it on."

He stifled a laugh, dark eyes glittering. A denim jacket was casually thrown over his collared shirt. Under the streetlights, his cheekbones looked even more pronounced. I had never seen such perfectly chiseled features before.

He looked me up and down, his tongue tracing the inside of his bottom lip.

"Right, then, let's be off. You're driving."

Without another word, he climbed into the passenger seat of the pickup.

Left with no other option, I got in the driver's side and pulled away, heading for the highway. Minutes ticked by, but I didn't know what to say. The silence was unnerving. He didn't speak, but I felt his eyes as they moved over me. Finally I couldn't stand it anymore and blurted the first question that came to mind.

"What's your name?"

"Does it matter?"

I glanced to my right and met his eyes. They were so dark brown they could have been black. There was that cool note of challenge in them again, almost a silent dare. It was disconcerting, to say the least. All the other ones had been perfectly willing to chat.

"I just wanted to know. Mine's Cat." I exited the freeway and turned onto a nearby gravel road leading to the lake.

"Cat, hmmm? From where I sit you look more like a Kitten."

My head jerked around and I shot him an annoyed look. Oh, I was going to enjoy this, all right.

"It's Cat," I repeated firmly. "Cat Raven."

"Whatever you say, Kitten Tweedy."

Abruptly I slammed on the brakes. "You got a problem, mister?"

Dark eyebrows rose. "No problem, pet. Have we stopped here for good? Is this where you want to shag?"

There went that pesky flush again at his bluntness.

"Um, no. A little farther up. It's prettier there." I steered us deeper into the woods.

He gave a low chuckle. "I just bet it is, luv."

When the truck stopped at my favorite rendezvous spot, I glanced over at him. He sat exactly as he had been, immobile. There was no way I could go for the surprise in my pants yet. Clearing my throat, I gestured toward the trees.

"Don't you want to go outside and...shag?" It was a strange word, but much better than f**k.

A quick grin lit his face before he responded. "Oh no. Right here. Love to do it in a truck."

"Well..." Damn, what now? This wouldn't work. "There's not much room." Triumphantly I began to open my door.

He didn't budge. "Plenty of room, Kitten. I'll stay here."

"Don't call me Kitten." My voice was sharper than romance dictated, but I was seriously aggravated. The sooner he was truly dead, the better.

He ignored me. "Take off your clothes. Let's see what you've got."

"Excuse me?" This was too much.

"You weren't going to shag me with all your clothes on, were you, Kitten?" he taunted. "Guess all you'll need off is your knickers, then. Come on. Don't take all bloody night."

Oh, I was going to make him sorry. I hoped this hurt like hell. With a superior smile, I looked back at him.

"You first."

He grinned again with a flash of normal teeth. "Shy bird, are you? Didn't peg you for the type, what with walking up to me and practically begging for it and all. How about this? We'll do it at the same time."

Bastard. It was the filthiest word I could think of, and I chanted it in my mind as I warily stared at him while unbuttoning my jeans. He nonchalantly loosened his belt, unbuckled his pants, and pulled out his shirt. The action revealed a taut pale belly that was hairless until it met his groin.

This was way further than I'd ever let things progress before. I was so embarrassed, my fingers shook as I peeled off my jeans while reaching inside them.

"Look here, luv, see what I have for you."

I glanced down and saw his hand close around himself before quickly looking away. The stake was almost in my hand, all I needed was another second...

It was my modesty that did me in. When I turned to avoid seeing his groin, I missed his hand clenching. His fist moved unbelievably fast to connect with my head. There was a flash of light followed by shooting pain, and then silence.

Chapter Two

S OMETHING SEEMED TO BE DIGGING AT MY brain. With agonizing slowness I opened my eyes, squinting at the unshaded lamp nearby. It made the sun seem pale in comparison. My hands were above me, my wrists ached, and the pain in my head made me immediately lean forward and throw up.

"I thawt I thaw a putty tat."

The mocking voice caused my pain to dissipate in a rush of terror. When I saw the vampire close by, I shuddered.

"I did, I did thee a putty tat!"

Finished with his Tweety Bird imitation, he grinned unpleasantly at me. I tried to scoot back and realized my hands were chained to a wall. Both my feet were also cuffed together. My top and pants were gone, leaving me in only my bra and underwear. Even my trademark gloves were missing. Oh God.

"Now, then, luv, let's get down to business." The bantering left his tone and his eyes hardened into pools of dark granite. "Who do you work for?"

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