Halfway to the Grave

Page 32

My head spun, and I could barely keep up with his pleasant conversation as he drove. In the back of my mind I wondered what my problem was, but it seemed too hard to concentrate. My eyes fluttered closed for a moment before I snapped them open. What was wrong with me?

"Too much to drink, Cat?"

For once, I wasn't faking when I answered him with slurred words.

"Y-you don't understand..." Talking became difficult, and the first pangs of warning shot through me. Something was very wrong. "I can hadddle...handle my drink."

Hennessey smiled.

"I disagree. Perhaps we should journey to my place, where you can lie down and rest. You look too indisposed to go to another club."

"No...noooo..." Vaguely I knew that would be bad, but I was having trouble remembering why. Who was this man in the car, anyway? How had I gotten here? My mind drifted away.

"I think so. You'll feel better for it."

Ignoring me, he was ignoring me! He was going to take me to his house, and something bad was going to happen. What was bad? Where was I? Had to get him to stop, to pull over. Then...I'd run away. Yes. Run away. And sleep.

"You have to stop," I slurred, horrified at the dark colors encroaching on the edge of my vision. A dull ringing began to sound in my ears.

"No, Cat. We'll stop at home."

He continued on the same route. We were nearly out of the country roads and would soon be on the freeway. Something inside me knew to prevent him.

"I'm going to throw up," I warned, and it wasn't an empty threat. My stomach heaved dangerously. Gagging, I leaned toward him.

The car screeched to a halt so fast the air bags should have deployed. "Not in the car!" he gasped, leaning over me and opening my door.

At once I spilled out onto the ground, retching as promised. Some of it splattered my dress and I heaved until my stomach felt stripped of its contents. Above me, I could hear Hennessey make a sound of disgust.

"You've gotten it all over yourself! Now I can't let you back in the car. You'd ruin the seats!"

This pleased me, but only a little, since I couldn't remember where I was or why I didn't want to go back into the car.

Suddenly I was moving, and painfully. He grabbed me by the hair and dragged me off the road into the trees as I tried to struggle. This was bad, it was very bad. My legs felt like boulders. Too heavy to move. My arms weren't much better, but I futilely slapped at him with no strength. He finally came to a stop and reached behind my neck to unfasten my halter. The dress dropped to my waist, leaving only the strapless bra covering my chest.

"Beautiful," he sighed, and undid the strap to bare my br**sts.


I tried to scoot away, but my legs wouldn't work. Hennessey knelt over me, careful not to get dirty, and pushed my hair aside. At once his face transformed into glowing eyes and fangs. One hand cupped my breast, squeezing roughly, while the other held my head. Slow tears leaked out of my eyes as I sat trapped, unable to move or think. There was something that could help me, something...if I could only remember what it was.

A sharp pain in my neck made me gasp. Oh God, he bit me! He was drinking me! My legs kicked weakly, and my watch tangled in his hair as I tried to push him away. A dim flicker of memory remained, fading fast with every hurtful pull of his mouth. There was something about my watch...

My vision blackened, but before darkness claimed me, I pushed a button.

Chapter Ten

SOMETHING WAS PRESSED AGAINST MY MOUTH. Liquid spilled into it and rushed down my throat so fast I choked, coughing. From far off I heard someone speaking to me, shaking me, and the fluid pitilessly continued to pour. I swallowed to prevent drowning in it, then the voice became clearer and I could see again.

Bones was behind me, clutching me to his chest. We were sprawled on the ground. One arm held me to him and his other wrist was shoved against my mouth. It was his blood overflowing into me.

"Stop that, you know I hate that." Spitting out the remaining mouthful, I tried to push away, but he tightened his grip, twisting around so he could see me.

"Bloody hell, you're all right. Your heart slowed for a minute. Scared the wits out of me."

As my vision slowly cleared, I could see a dead vampire in front of me. His head was twisted mostly off, and one eye hung out of its socket. The flesh shriveled back against the bones in the traditional way after true death, but the face wasn't Hennessey's. It was someone I'd never seen before.

"Where's Hennessey?" My voice was only a murmur. Although my eyes and ears worked, my mind still rotated.

Bones gave a snort of disgust behind me.

"Blasted sod ran off. I was already on my way to you when I got your page. I pulled Hennessey off you, and we started to go at it when the bloody boot opens and this fellow pops out. He'd been hiding there as Hennessey's bleedin' bodyguard. Bloke jumped me and Hennessey took off. The bugger put up a hell of a fight, too. When I finished with him, I checked on you. That's when I saw that you were barely breathing and opened a vein. You really should have more, you're still pale as death."

"No." My response was soft but firm. Already I was afraid I'd had too much, remembering all the swallowing. Ugh.

"What happened back there? I thought you were just pretending and taking it far to goad me. Worked as well, that's why I was almost on him when your page went off. Did he catch you off guard?"

Although he no longer fed me, he still had his arms around me. A part of me protested, especially since I was naked from the waist up, but I was too exhausted to mention it. Forcing my mind to work, I thought back over the events. It was like cotton had replaced my brain.

"Um, I don't know. We got in his car and I started feeling sick... No, that's wrong. I felt sick before, at the club. It started when we were dancing. Somehow I felt drunk. Everything was blurry and the lights seemed far off... After a while it got under control, but when I left, it came back three times as bad. I couldn't move. My legs wouldn't work and my mind...I couldn't think. I even forgot about the watch until it got caught in his hair. Do you think he drugged me? Could he have known what we were up to?"

Bones pulled me back enough to look into my eyes. What he saw made him curse.

"Your pupils are dilated enough to belong on a corpse. You've been drugged, all right. You say you felt it before he showed up, when we were dancing? That doesn't make sense..."

His voice trailed off and like a brick, the truth hit me. Once again I saw the guileless smiles of Ralphie and Martin while holding out a glass.

"It wasn't him." Come see my Porsche, come on outside... "It was those kids. Ralphie and Martin, the ones you told to scram when we first arrived. They handed me a drink then and later when Hennessey went to find you. Those little pricks, they tried to pull me out to their car, they looked surprised when I wouldn't come..." Suddenly I was dizzy again, and my vision swam for a moment.

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