Halfway to the Grave

Page 41

He bent his head to my ni**les once more, sucking them and worrying them with his teeth. The way his fangs rubbed the areolas was frighteningly erotic.

"One day I'm going to find that old bloke of yours and kill him," he muttered, so low I could barely hear him.

"What?" Did he just say that?

A strong tug from his mouth distracted me, and then another and another, until my concerns melted away under the sensual assault on my ni**les. After a while he looked at them and smiled in satisfaction.

"Dark red, both of them. Just like I promised you they'd get. See? I am a man of my word."

Confusion clouded my mind for a second. Then I remembered that afternoon with him trying to burn the embarrassment out of me with hours of dirty talk, and color suddenly flamed in my face.

"You didn't actually mean all of those things, did you?" My mind rebelled at the thought, but there was a rapidly beating pulse in my body that treacherously hoped for the opposite.

He laughed again, low and throaty. His brow arched in sinful promise, his eyes bled back to pure green, and his mouth slid farther down my stomach.

"Oh, Kitten, I meant every word."

I awoke to something tickling my back. It felt like butterflies. Opening my eyes, the first thing I saw was an arm wrapped around me, its pale color nearly identical to my own. Bones was curled lengthwise along my back, hips touching mine. The butterflies were him pressing kisses onto my skin.

My first thought was, He picked the wrong profession. Should have stayed a prostitute. He'd make millions. The second one was far less pleasant, and I stiffened. If my mother could see me now, she'd kill me!

"Morning-after regrets?" He ceased kissing me with a noise of disappointment. "I feared you might wake up and flog yourself over this."

While he spoke, I shot out of bed like I'd been fired from a cannon. I had to think about what to do, and I couldn't do that in the same room with him. Not even pausing to find my underwear or bra, I just threw on a shirt and yanked up my jeans. God, my keys, where had I put my keys?

Bones sat up. "You can't just storm out and pretend this never happened."

"Not now," I said desperately, trying not to look at him. Aha, keys! Grabbing them with clenched fingers, I ran out of the bedroom.


I didn't stop.

Chapter Thirteen

I DROVE STRAIGHT HOME, MY EMOTIONS IN A tug-of-war the whole way. Making love to Bones had been beyond incredible, and he was right. There was no way I could pretend this didn't happen. But there was more to consider than just my feelings. Left to myself, I would only be moderately wigged about having slept with him. The main reason for my panic, however, was knowing how my mother would react. I couldn't tell her, ever. And that meant I had to stop this before it went any further.

My grandparents were on the porch, drinking iced tea when I pulled up two hours later. They looked like a postcard of Americana with their white hair and plain clothes, faces weathered from time.

"Hello," I greeted them distractedly.

There was a hiss from my grandmother. Immediately afterward came a bellow of outrage from my grandfather. I just blinked at them.

"What's the matter with you two?"

Curious, I watched as my grandfather turned three shades of red. After all, it wasn't like I hadn't strolled in the next day several times before, and they'd never commented about it. They'd adopted a "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it came to my late nights.

"Justina, get on out here, girl!" He ignored my question and rose to his feet. A moment later my mother came out, her face as bewildered as mine.

"What? Is something wrong?"

He answered her while still shaking with wrath.

"Just look at her. Look at her! You can't tell me she wasn't doing anything wrong last night! No, she was consorting with the devil, that's what she was doing!"

I blanched, wracking my brain to figure out how he found out I'd slept with a vampire. Had I grown fangs? Reaching out, I fingered my teeth, but they were as square and flat as normal.

The gesture enraged him further. "Don't flick your finger off your teeth at me, missy! Who do you think you are?"

To her credit, my mother at once began to defend me. "Oh, Pa, you don't understand. She's-"

Her voice abruptly choked as she stared at me with a lesser look of shock.

"What?" I demanded, frightened.

"Your neck..." she whispered, disbelief in her eyes.

Terrified, I pushed past her and ran to the nearest bathroom. Were there fang marks? God, had he bitten me without my realizing it?

Once I stared at my reflection however, the reason for their reaction became clear. Erratically spaced and in different shades of blue were four-no, make that five-hickeys. No telltale puncture wounds from a vampire's teeth, but plain, unmistakable hickeys. Opening Bones's shirt, I saw that my br**sts bore similar marks. Good thing this top didn't have cle**age or they'd all have fainted dead away.

"I know what those are!" Grandpa Joe roared at me from the porch. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself, running around, not married, staying out all night. Ashamed!"

"Ashamed!" my grandmother echoed. Good to know they still agreed on things after forty-three years of marriage.

I went upstairs to my room without answering them. It was definitely time for me to seek alternate accommodations. Perhaps that apartment would be vacant immediately.

To my utter lack of surprise, my mother followed me.

"Who is he, Catherine?" she asked me as soon as she shut the door behind her.

I had to tell her something. "He's someone I met while I was out looking for vampires. We, ah, have something in common. He kills them, too."

No need to go into further details. Like a very important one regarding him being one.

"Is...is it very serious between the two of you?"

"No!" My denial was so vehement she frowned. Great, didn't that sound nice? No, we can't have a relationship because he's technically dead, but my God is he gorgeous and f**ks like a Trojan.

"Then why...?" She looked genuinely puzzled.

Sighing, I lay down on the bed. How to detail mindless lust to your mother?

"Well, it just happened. It wasn't planned."

A look of horror crossed her face. "Did you use any protection?"

"It wasn't necessary," I answered truthfully without thinking.

She clapped a hand to her mouth. "What do you mean, it wasn't necessary? You could get pregnant! Or a disease!"

It took a lot of effort to keep me from rolling my eyes. I could just imagine my reply. Good news, Ma. He's a vampire and an old one, so no pregnancy or diseases. It's impossible.

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