Halfway to the Grave

Page 33

"You need more blood." It was a statement, and through the fog I waved him off.

"No. No. I'll be fine. I just need to sleep."

The landscape tipped, and when I opened my eyes I was lying on the ground with a familiar jean jacket under my head. Bones was about a dozen yards away, digging a hole.

The moonlight illuminated his skin, and there was a lot to illuminate. He'd taken his shirt off, and it reflected on the diamonds-and-cream flesh it seemed to caress. Without his shirt he looked even more chiseled. Long lines connected his collarbone, his shoulders appeared broader without clothing, and the hard line of his stomach was interrupted only by pants. Hollows and muscles rippled with his effort, and it was the loveliest sight I'd ever seen.

"Where is your shirt?" Apparently I'd spoken aloud instead of just wondered it in my mind, because he turned and answered me.

"You're wearing it, luv."

Leaning over, he picked up the dead vampire with one hand and plunked him in the hole, piling dirt on top of him.

"You're absolutely stunning without it, you know that...?" My internal monologue was all off, since evidently I'd been audible again.

He paused to grin at me, teeth flashing in the night.

"It hasn't escaped my notice that you only compliment me when you're intoxicated. Makes you right more agreeable, it does."

He finished with a last slap of the shovel against the dirt and walked over to me. My vision still fluttered in and out.

"You're always gorgeous," I whispered, reaching out a finger and trailing it down his cheek as he knelt over me. "Kiss me again..."

Nothing felt real. Not the ground underneath me, or his mouth once again moving over mine. A noise of disappointment escaped me when he lifted his head, disentangling himself from my arms.

"Why did you stop? Is it because I taste bad?" Some part of me remembered I'd thrown up recently.

He smiled, brushing his lips across mine once more. "No. You taste like my blood, and I want you unbearably. But not like this. Let's get you safely tucked in. Up you go."

He lifted me in his arms. "Bones," I sighed. "Know something? I'm not afraid of you, but you scare me..." His outline blurred again.

"You scare me, too, Kitten," he might have replied, but I couldn't be sure. It was all black again.

My mother lay behind me with her arms wrapped around me, and I snuggled into her embrace. She never held me, and it felt good. She mumbled something and her voice was low and deep. Her arms were firmly muscled, and her chest pressed alongside my back...was rock-hard.

My eyes flew open, and for the second time in my life I woke up in bed with a vampire. This time was infinitely worse, because all I wore was a shirt and panties and he...

A scream tore out of my throat. Bones leapt up, head swiveling around to spot the danger. Immediately I looked away, because I'd spotted the danger, all right. Color rose in my face and I squeezed my eyes shut.

"What's wrong? Someone here?" His voice was insistent and deadly.

Mutely I shook my head, wracking my brain as to how I'd ended up here. The last thing I remembered was lying on the ground and kissing him...

"Bones." My teeth ground, but I had to know. "Did you and I...did anything happen between us? I don't remember. You have to tell me the truth."

He made an exasperated noise and I felt the bed give under his weight as he climbed back in. I scooted off at once and peeked at him through my lashes until I was sure the sheet covered him below the waist.

He gave me a look of thinly veiled annoyance. "You think I'd shag you while you were passed out cold? Think I'm no better than those two buggers who doctored your drink? Your dress was half ripped off and covered in vomit, no less, so I put a shirt on you and brought you here. Then I went back to the club."

"Oh." Now I felt foolish and wanted to defend my misassumption. "But then why are you naked?"

"Because after I was finished with your little boys and looked around futilely for Hennessey, it was dawn. I was knackered and had blood on my clothes, so I stripped them off and fell into bed. You certainly weren't doing anything but snoring and taking all the bloomin' covers again. Didn't really pause to think about it, sorry." The sarcasm dripped off every word, but his earlier sentence chilled me.

"How did you finish with the boys? What happened to Ralphie and Martin?"

"Fretting about them, are you? So typically American, more concerned about the criminals than the victims. Didn't ask if they found a new friend to play with, did you? Didn't ask about what happened to her. No, you're too anxious over their welfare."

"They drugged someone else? Is she all right?" If he meant to shame me, he'd succeeded.

His eyes drilled into mine.

"No, pet. She is not all right. Since you didn't go down after two doses of their juice, they tripled the quantity. While you were off getting your neck munched on, they were merrily picking out another lass. It was their stupidity to drive her only a mile away from the club. When I went back, I came upon them in a van in the trees and smelled the filthy sods inside. One was shagging the poor girl while the other waited his turn. Course, they didn't realize she was already dead from too much drugs. I tore the doors off and snapped the spine of the lad doing the rooting. This scared the other one right good, as you can guess. I spoke to him a bit first to make sure he'd nothing to do with Hennessey. He sang, said he and his pal made sport of slipping girls drugs and then shagging them before dumping them wherever. Liked to pick vampire clubs and such, because girls who frequented those places tended not to report any crimes. He got real upset when I told him the girl was dead. Cried and said they weren't supposed to die, only lie there. Then I ripped his throat out and drank what was left. After that, I went to the club and reported them to the owner. They don't take to activities like that around their place, it draws unwanted attention. Did those snits a favor by killing them quickly. The owner would have drawn it out for weeks as a warning to any other human stupid enough to try that trick."

Feeling ill, I sat on the edge of the bed and lowered my head. That poor girl, what a tragedy. Hearing how Bones had killed Ralphie and Martin still put a chill through me. Did they deserve it? Yes. Should Bones have done it? I didn't have the answer.

"What did you do with her?"

"Drove the van away after dumping the lads' bodies at the club and parked it off the highway. Someone will find it, see who it's registered to, and make the assumption that after they'd raped her and she overdosed, they split. Well, one of them, as it were. There was blood inside the interior. Coppers will reckon the same bloke who killed them both ran off. It won't be the first time something like this has happened."

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