Halfway to the Grave

Page 36

I didn't need to check her pulse-I'd heard her heart stop. For a few moments that seemed to stretch into forever, I stared at her. In the apartments around us, no one noticed a thing. She was right. The gun had a silencer. Its muffling abilities had worked as described.

In a daze, I went over to her lovely wicker nightstand and picked up the phone, dialing the only number I could think of. When I heard his voice, my composure cracked, and I started to shake.

"Bones, I-I just killed someone!"

He didn't ask any of the questions that would have been first on my list. Like, What's wrong with you? or Did you call the police? Bones only asked where I was and then told me not to move. I was still holding the phone when he arrived ten minutes later. I hadn't moved, all right. I was barely even breathing.

The sight of him coming into the bedroom filled me with profound relief. If Stephanie had been a vampire, I would have been just fine. I'd wrap up her body, drive her out into the woods, and bury her in a deserted spot without missing a beat. This, however, was different. I'd taken a life, and I had no idea what to do about it.

"What have you touched?" was his first question as he knelt in front of me.

I tried to think. That was asking a lot at the moment.

"Um...the phone...maybe the edge of the dresser or her nightstand...that's it. I'd just gotten here when she started acting nuts and saying these awful things..."

Bones took the phone from me. "It's not safe here. One of them could return at any moment."

"One of whom? She doesn't have any roommates," I protested, watching as he unhooked the phone from the wall and put it in a large garbage bag.

"This place stinks like vampires," he said shortly. "We have to tidy up and leave."

That got me to my feet. "Vampires! But she didn't...she wasn't-"

"What did she say about Hennessey?" he cut me off.

Now I felt completely lost. "Hennessey? Hennessey? He has nothing to do with this!"

"Like hell he doesn't," Bones growled, stripping Stephanie's comforter off the bed and wrapping her in it, cocoon-style. "He's one of the people I smell. Him, or someone who's had contact with him. His scent's here."

My head started to pound. This was like a bad dream. Bones finished rolling up Stephanie and then began filling that garbage bag with her stuff. Schoolbooks. Folders, papers. He rifled quickly through her drawers and added other various items. I wasn't much help. I just stood there, making sure my hands didn't stray to leave any incriminating fingerprints.

He left me to check the living room and returned with the bag even bulkier.

"Take this, luv."

The garbage bag was handed off to me. I had to hug it to hold it, fearing the plastic would rip from its weight. Bones then took one of her shirts and began briskly rubbing down the dressers, doorframes, end tables, and doorknobs. After he was satisfied, he hefted the lump of blankets that was Stephanie and threw her over his shoulder.

"Nice and quick to your truck, Kitten. Don't look around, just march right to it and get in the passenger seat. I'll be right behind you."

Chapter Twelve

WE STOPPED ONCE ON OUR WAY TO THE CAVE. Bones made a call on his cell, and then he pulled over off by the side of the road near the darkest, most wooded part. It wasn't five minutes before a car pulled up behind us.

"Hiya, buddy!" Ted called out.

"Prompt as ever, mate," Bones greeted him, getting out of my truck. He went around to the trailer bed and I heard his motorcycle being moved. He'd laid it over Stephanie's body. She wasn't going to blow off with that thing holding her down.

I stayed in the truck, not in the mood for chitchatting.

"Whatcha got there?" Ted asked, giving me a friendly wave over Bones's shoulder.

"Dinner for whichever ghoul you feel like rewarding, but make sure they clean their plate. I don't want any part of her resurfacing," Bones replied.

My stomach heaved. God, talk about disposing of a body! I'd assumed we would bury her. Serving her up to a ghoul had never occurred to me.

Ted didn't share any of my qualms. "You betcha, bud. Anything I should warn them about?"

"Yeah." Bones handed the bundle over and Ted plopped her in his trunk. "Tell them not to chip a tooth on the bullet."

That was it for me. I opened the truck door just in time, the evening's events slamming into me and heaving out of my stomach in a rush.

"She all right?" I heard Ted ask as I coughed and drew in deep breaths.

Bones made a sound similar to a sigh. "She will be. Have to be off, mate. Thanks."

"Sure thing, bud. Anytime."

I closed my door just as Bones climbed back in. Ted's headlights flashed as he backed up, and then he was gone.

Bones reached inside his jacket and handed me a flask. "Whiskey. Not your favorite, but it's all I've got."

I took the bottle gratefully and gulped until there was no more. The liquor's artificial warmth began to thaw the ice in my limbs.



My voice was scratchy from the lingering burn of the alcohol, but it had helped in more ways than one. That numbing shock was fading, replaced instead with a slew of questions.

"No more cryptic shit, Bones. Who is Hennessey, and what's he got to do with a gun-toting psychotic from my physics class?"

Bones cast me a sideways glance as he began driving. "Physics? You met her at college?"

"I think you should answer my question first, since I'm the one who was nearly shot," I snapped.

"Kitten, I will answer you, but please. Tell me how you met and what happened tonight."

My jaw tightened. "She took physics with me, as I said. From the first day, she'd wait for me after class. She started off by asking me lecture questions when she'd miss class, etc., and then she talked about herself. Inconsequential, funny things, like guys she'd dated or other stories...she seemed so friendly and nice. Then she asked about me, and I told her the truth. That I'd just transferred from a community college, didn't know anybody here, came from a small town-the bitch was casing me!" I suddenly burst. "She told me tonight she was looking for someone disposable, and I practically slapped a big red bow on my ass!"

"What about tonight?" he prodded.

"Oh, she did one better than dig into my background." I outlined the invitation and the whole clothes charade briefly, finishing with, "And then she pulled a gun on me."

"Did she mention anyone's name at all?"

I retraced our conversation in my mind. "No. She said something about paying her rent and me being what her landlord liked, then she said college girls were all stupid and she should tape-record herself...but no names."

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