Halfway to the Grave

Page 30

He outlined the plan quickly and I picked a place near the bar where Hennessey just sat, keeping myself within eyeshot. Actually, I still felt a little dizzy, not that I'd told Bones. He'd have pulled the plug on this for sure if he knew. God, had it been so long since I'd been kissed, a few smooches were enough to throw off my equilibrium? Just to be safe, though, I ordered a Coke instead of my usual gin and tonic. Maybe my resistance to alcohol wasn't as strong as I'd thought.

After about five minutes, Hennessey glided over. It amazed me how vampires seemed to be drawn to me. Certainly there were plenty of other pretty human girls milling about with veins just as big and juicy as mine. Bones told me once there was something about my skin that was eye-catching, some glow that still looked human but also a touch vampiric. He said it was like a homing beacon.

"I haven't seen you here before, Red. May I sit down?"

Wow, manners. Usually vamps just plunked down next to me, ready or not. After a faint inclination of my head in the affirmative, he sat next to me, regarding me with hooded blue eyes.

"Can I buy you a drink?"

Hmmm, two for two on politeness. With feigned regret, I smiled at him.

"Sorry, but I'm kind of here with someone. Wouldn't want to be rude."

"Ah, I see." He settled back into his chair but made no effort to vacate it. "Husband, perhaps?"

The thought of being married to Bones made me nearly choke on my next swallow of soda. "No. A first date, actually."

Hennessey smiled and spread out his hands in a harmless manner.

"First dates. They can be quite something, can't they? Either perfume or poison, with usually no in between. Tell me, if I may be so bold-which one is it for you?"

With a slightly embarrassed look to my face, I leaned in an inch. "If I had to answer now, I'd say poison. He's a bit...arrogant. Full of himself. I just hate that, don't you?"

My smile was all innocence as inside I laughed at my chance to disparage the man who was going to kill the vampire opposite me at the earliest opportunity.

Hennessey nodded in agreement.

"That can be bothersome. It is always better to speak less and not more of oneself, don't you agree?"

"I couldn't agree more. What did you say your name was?" This one would have to be handled delicately, no crude potty-mouth with him. Boy, for someone that Bones had described as practically sprouting horns, Hennessey seemed almost...charming.

He smiled. "Call me Hennessey."

"Don't mind if I do, mate. Been a while, hasn't it?"

Bones appeared behind me, leaning down to kiss my cheek. I flinched out of genuine habit and it was perfect. The picture of the bad-first-date syndrome. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Hennessey's mouth tighten.

"Bones. What an unexpected...surprise. This lovely young woman can't be with you. She's far too well mannered."

Well, score one for the bad guy.

Bones gave Hennessey a look laden with threat. "You're in my seat."

"Bones," I chided him as if aghast, "you're being rude. This nice man was just keeping me company while you were away."

"Yes," Hennessey purred, looking at Bones with a gleam. "Can't expect to leave such a pretty thing alone for long, old chap. Some monster might just...snatch her up."

"Funny you should say that." There was an ugly under-current in his voice I hadn't heard before. Whatever had happened between them, Bones really didn't like him. "I hear that's your specialty."

Hennessey's eyes narrowed. The tension between them thickened. "Now, where would you ever hear something like that?"

Bones smiled with coldness. "You'd be amazed at the things people can find if they dig deep enough."

I looked at both of them. It seemed like any second, they'd quit the verbal exchange and go right for each other's throats.

Logan leaned across the bar and tapped the edge of my forgotten glass. He'd apparently picked up on their malevolent vibe as well.

"Not here, gentlemen. You know the rules."

Hennessey looked at Logan and waved an airy hand. "Yes, I know. Pesky ordinance, that, but one must abide by the rules of the house when one visits."

"Cut the fancy talk," Bones said sharply. "It doesn't suit you. That is my chair and she is my date, so back off."

"Excuse me." In a perfect imitation of outrage, I stood up and faced Bones. "I don't know how you're used to talking with other girls, but I will not be referred to in the third person as if I'm not even here! You don't own me, this is our first date. And I wouldn't have even gone out with you if you hadn't kept begging me." I bit back a grin as Bones blanched in indignation at that. "Our date is over. I'll call a cab. In the meantime, you can get lost."

Hennessey laughed. "You heard the lady. You know the rules. Only willing companions here, and she is clearly not willing. As she said, get lost."

Bones took it with thinly concealed wrath.

"Let's be men about this. Why don't we go outside and settle this, you and me? Been a long time coming."

Hennessey's eyes gleamed. "Oh, we'll settle this, mark my words. Not right now, but soon. You've been meddling where you shouldn't for too long."

What did that mean? I wondered. I'd have to ask later.

"Oohhh, I'm shakin' in me boots," Bones mocked. "Another time, another place, then. Looking forward to it."

With those last threatening words, he stalked off.

Pretending to be shaken, I grabbed for my purse and began to throw money on the table.

Hennessey stopped me with a beseeching hand on my arm. "Please, stay and have a drink with me. I feel responsible for what happened, but I must tell you it was for the best. That is a ruthless man."

As if reluctant, I sat back down.

"Okay, a drink. Maybe I owe it to you anyways for getting rid of that creep for me. My name is Cat, by the way. Bones forgot to introduce us." My smile wobbled for effect.

He kissed my hand.

"A true pleasure, Cat."

Hennessey coaxed me back into ordering alcohol, and so I had another gin and tonic. After three more, I pleaded to be excused to the ladies' room and left him at the bar. That residual dizziness still clung to me. Everything around me looked slightly altered, almost fuzzy around the edges. Time to switch back to Coke.

The bathroom was on the other side of the club, and once exiting it I saw Bones on the imitation balcony. His back was against the glass wall that separated us. I wanted to give him an update while I had the chance, so I quickened my pace and crossed through the people until I came to a door on the opposite side of the balcony he was on.

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