Halfway to the Grave

Page 31

There was a woman in front of him. Her arms hung loosely at her sides and Bones gripped her shoulders. His mouth was on her neck, and the glow of vampire green shone from his eyes. I froze, transfixed, and watched as his throat worked, swallowing occasionally. The girl didn't struggle. In fact, she was half sagged against him.

His eyes suddenly lifted to look straight at me. Helpless to glance away, I stared as he continued to feed. After a few moments, he pulled his mouth from her neck. Surprisingly it was only a little red. He must be a dainty eater. With his gaze still locked to mine, he sliced his thumb on a fang and then held it to her neck. The two holes closed at once, and then vanished.

"Off you go," he instructed her.

With a lethargic smile she obeyed, walking right past me without batting an eye.

"Didn't your mum tell you it's rude to stare at someone when they eat?"

The casual tone to his voice shook me from my stupor.

"That girl...she's okay?" She certainly hadn't looked mortally drained, but then again, I was no expert.

"Of course. She's used to it. That's what most of them are here for, I told you that. They're the menu, with legs."

Bones came closer, but I retreated a step. He saw it and frowned.

"What's wrong? Look, the girl's fine. It's not like you didn't know I was a vampire. Did you just think I never fed?"

The thought was so repellent to me I'd never dwelled on it one way or the other. Witnessing the scene just now had been the bucket of icy water I needed.

"I came to tell you we're hitting it off. Probably be leaving in about twenty minutes." Absently, I began to rub my head. It had started to spin again.

"Are you feeling all right?"

The absurdity of the question made a bark of laughter escape me.

"No, I am not all right. Very far from it, actually. Earlier I kissed you, and now I just watched you make a Slurpee out of a girl's neck. Add to that a headache and it makes me not in the least all right."

He moved closer, and again I backed away. "Don't touch me."

Muttering a curse, he clenched his hands but stayed put.

"Fine. We'll talk about this later. Go on back, before he starts to get antsy."

"We won't talk about it later," I coldly stated while walking back toward the door. "In fact, I never want to speak about it again."

I was still rattled when I sat back down next to Hennessey, but I plastered a smile on my face and promptly ordered another gin and tonic. Damn the Coke, full speed ahead!

Hennessey reached out and grasped my hand. "What's wrong, Cat? You look distressed."

I debated lying but then thought better of it. He might have glimpsed me speaking to Bones, although he wouldn't have been able to hear us in this racket, so I didn't want to make him suspicious.

"Oh, nothing, really. I ran into Bones on my way back from the bathroom, and he said a few less-than-gentlemanly things. Guess it just upset me, that's all."

Hennessey withdrew his hand and stood, a smile of perfect politeness on his face. "Would you excuse me? I suddenly feel the need to renew an acquaintance."

"Please don't," I blurted, not wanting to have started a fight. Well, not yet.

"I'll only be a few minutes, my dear. Just to let him know his rudeness wasn't appreciated." He left me there with my mouth still forming protests. Annoyed, I swallowed the rest of my tonic, and was about to order another one when Ralphie and Martin sidled up.

"Hey, there! Remember us?"

Their smiles were so genuinely artless I felt a reluctant answering tug of the lips.

"Hello, boys."

They stood around me, one on either side again.

"Is that your date?" Ralphie asked, goggle-eyed.

"No. Yes. Well, he kind of is now. My other one didn't work out, so this guy is keeping me company." I was as vague as possible on any details that could somehow endanger them later. "He just went off for a little macho showboating, probably be gone about ten minutes. When he comes back, you scatter, okay?"

"Sure thing," they chorused.

Martin held out a drink in his hand with a shy smile.

"It's a gin and tonic, like you ordered before. After you had one, I tried them. They're good!"

The boyish delight on his face was infectious, and my smile broadened.

"Here," he said importantly. "It's a fresh one. I'll wait for the bartender for another."

"Why, thank you."

After raising it in salute, I took a long draught. It was slightly more bitter than the other ones I'd had. Maybe it was made by a bartender not as skilled as Logan.

"Delicious." Hiding my grimace, I took another drink so their feelings wouldn't be hurt.

They glanced anxiously at me and back and forth between themselves.

"Do you want to see my car?" Ralphie asked, eyes wide and intent. "It's a new Porsche, totally loaded. It's so cool."

"Yeah," Martin chimed in. "You gotta see it, it's really trick!"

From out of his pants Ralphie pulled keys, one with the Porsche insignia. "I'll let you drive it."

Their combined glee at the vehicle made me wistful. When had I ever been so excited over a car? Then again, I'd never owned a Porsche. Money must be a neat thing to have.

With a firm shake of my head, I set my glass down. My mind had begun to whirl again. It was definitely time to go back to the soda.

"Sorry, guys. Can't leave my date. Wouldn't be proper."

Complete sentences were something I couldn't seem to wrap my mind around. I was anxious to get on with the plan so that I could go home and sleep. Sleep sounded wonderful to me right now.

Ralphie tugged my hands, and Martin gave my shoulders a push. I blinked at them in confusion and sat up straighter. Or tried to.

"Hey. Don't get pushy. Sorry, but I said no."

"Come on," Ralphie urged, still pulling at my hands. "Just for a second! Hurry, before he comes back!"


Now I was pissed. Everyone was trying to get me to do things I didn't want to do. That I should never be doing, no matter how good they felt...

I pushed Ralphie off with enough force to make him stumble backward.

"You have to leave now."

They exchanged glances again, surprised. Apparently girls really must like the Porsche. They were stunned they'd been refused.

"Go." Putting more threat into my voice, I swiveled in my seat to turn my back to them. "Bartender," I called out wearily, and Logan appeared after a minute. "Do you have any Tylenol?"

Hennessey and I left fifteen minutes later. When he'd finally returned, I felt like complete shit. All I wanted to do was sleep, and I couldn't until we finished him off. Abruptly I suggested we leave and go to a different club, saying that I wanted to avoid another run-in with Bones. He accepted without hesitation and we were soon driving out of the narrow parkway in his loaded Mercedes. Was it a vampire thing, to own a Mercedes?

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