Halfway to the Grave

Page 34

"At least her parents will find out about her and not have to wonder for the rest of their lives."

I grieved for that unknown family who would get that terrible phone call. My head dropped to my hands, pounding with a headache. After all that happened, it was a small price to pay.

"Hennessey. What do you think he'll do? Do you think he'll try something, or keep running?"

Bones gave a humorless laugh.

"Hennessey knows I'm after him now. He's suspected it, but he's finally got his proof. He'll try something, all right. But when and where, I have no idea. He might lie low for a bit, or he might come after me straightaway. I don't know, but it's not over."

"It's my fault Hennessey got away. God, I was so stupid not to notice that something was wrong until it was too late..."

"It's not your fault, Kitten."

Hands settled on my shoulders as he slid nearer, and belatedly, it occurred to me that one of the ways I'd acted oddly was to make out with him. Now here we were in bed, with him naked and me nearly so. Not smart.

I got out of bed and turned my back to him, wanting to put more distance between us. It was the drugs that had made me kiss him, the drugs. Repeating it over and over made me feel better.

"Bones, I-I have to thank you. You saved my life. I passed out right after pushing that button, and he would have bled me dry. But you know the only reason I...was so forward with you was because of the chemicals they slipped me. You know that, right? Of course, I don't blame you for taking me up on it. I'm sure it meant nothing to you. I just wanted you to know it meant nothing to me as well."

My back was still to him, and I desperately wished for more clothes. It was too dangerous to be trapped with him without thirty layers of armor on.

"Turn 'round." His voice was filled with something I was afraid to decipher. Whatever it was, it wasn't happy.

"Um, can you move that stone so I can get out of here and just-"

"Turn around." Now I knew what was in his voice. Threat.

Slowly I faced him.

Without warning he was in front of me, only inches away, still totally nude. My face flamed, but I kept my eyes determinedly upward. That was almost as bad. The expression in his made me tremble.

"I'm really not comfortable with you being naked," I said, struggling for a normal tone and failing.

His brow arched. "Why should it unsettle you, pet? After all, you just said I meant nothing to you beyond mere gratitude. And you've seen a man's body before, so don't pull that blushing act with me. What could be bothering you, then? I know what's bothering me." The smoothly bantering tone changed to a low, furious growl. "What's bothering me is that you dare to stand there and tell me what I do and do not feel about last night. That kissing you and holding you meant nothing to me. Then, to top it all off, that you were only reacting to me because you were impaired! That's rich. You know what those drugs did to you in the first dose, before the second one made you comatose? They killed the bug up your arse!"

With that, he yanked the stone off its setting and opened the passageway. My mouth hung open in outrage, and he pointed an emphatic finger at the exit.

"Out you go, before I lose my temper and we'll see how much you don't like to kiss me."

Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, I left. Quickly.

Chapter Eleven

DID YOU GET THE NOTES FROM THE LECTURE today? I slept in and didn't wake up until half an hour ago! Was it really boring like last time?"

Stephanie was in my physics class. At least, she was when she showed up. She had missed two days out of the past five, but whenever I got out of class, she'd be there waiting for me. She liked to hang around campus, it was my guess. Found socializing much more interesting than the actual courses.

Stephanie was a petite brunette with an outgoing personality, and she'd spent the last five days pulling me out of my antisocial shell. College began on Monday. Today was Friday, and so far, she was the only person I'd spoken to on this huge, overwhelming campus.

With my friendless track record, I'd been hesitant to engage in normal, amicable small talk. If it didn't have to do with dead bodies, school, or the cherry orchard, I generally didn't know what to say. Stephanie didn't let that faze her. She was cheerful and ebullient enough for both of us, and for some reason, she seemed to take a liking to me right off.

"Yeah, I have them. Do you need to make copies?"

She grinned. "Nah. I probably won't read them anyway. Studying is so boring. Besides, I'm never going to use this crap again, so who needs it?"

Stephanie was a freshman, but in many ways, she was far more sophisticated than me. During our second conversation after class, she'd informed me that she had been dating since she was twelve, lost her virginity at fourteen, and considered men as entertaining and convenient as fast food.

"Tell me why you registered for college?" I asked in amusement.

She nodded pointedly at an attractive male who passed by us.

"The boys. This place is crawling with them. It's like an all-you-can-eat buffet!"

She and Bones had something in common. He would find the campus an all-you-can-eat buffet, too, just not in nearly the same way.

I had avoided him since waking up in bed with him Sunday morning. Wednesday, I was supposed to meet him at the cave, but I didn't go. I was too confused. My feelings for him had undergone a drastic metamorphosis. Somewhere along the past seven weeks, I'd gone from hating his guts to being inexplicably drawn to him.

"So, do you want to go out tonight and do something?"

I simply stared at her for a second. Twenty-two years old and I'd never gone out with a girl just to have fun and do normal things. Hell, to be more truthfully pathetic, I'd never even had a girlfriend to go out with.

"Um, sure."

She grinned. "Cool, we'll have a blast. How about you meet me at my place? We'll go from there to this great club where I know the bouncer. He'll let you in."

"Oh, I'm over twenty-one," I said, used to people thinking I was younger. "In fact, I'm twenty-two."

She gave me such a sharp look that I shifted uncomfortably. Okay, I was a little older than the typical college junior, but I'd had to help out at the orchard after my grandfather's heart attack...

Finally she smiled. "Well. Aren't you full of surprises?"

Stephanie lived in an off-campus apartment not far from the place I'd soon be renting. With the money Bones had given me, I could move out sooner. No more having to hide my bloody clothes from my grandparents or dealing with the shunning pettiness of our neighbors. Yeah, I was looking forward to it.

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