Halfway to the Grave

Page 48

"But you've only known me two months!" Now I tried arguing the point, because denial didn't seem to work.

A slight smile curled his lips. "I began to fall in love with you when you challenged me to that stupid fight in the cave. There you were, chained up and bleeding, questioning my courage and almost daring me to kill you. Why do you think I struck that bargain with you? Truth is, luv, I did it so you'd be forced to spend time with me. I knew you'd never agree any other way. After all, you had such hang-ups about vampires. Still do, it appears."

"Bones..." My eyes were wide at his revelation and with the growing knowledge that he was serious. "We'd never work out together. We have to stop this now, before it goes any further!"

"I know what makes you say that. Fear. You're terrified because of how that other wanker treated you, and you're even more afraid of what your dear mum would say."

"Oh, she'd have plenty to say, you can bet on that," I muttered.

"I've faced death more times than I can count, Kitten, and this instance with Hennessey is no different-do you really think the wrath of your mum is going to scare me away?"

"It would if you were smart." Also muttered.

"Then consider me the stupidest man in the world."

He leaned over and kissed me. A long, deep kiss filled with promise and passion. I loved the way he kissed me. Like he was drinking in the taste of me and still coming back thirsty.

I pushed him back, my breathing uneven. "You'd better not be messing with me. I like you, but if you're feeding me a load of shit just to get some action, I'm going to plug a big silver stake right through your heart."

He chuckled and his mouth slid down to nuzzle my neck. "I'll consider myself warned."

The erotic teasing of my pulse made me shiver. "And no biting," I added.

His laughter tickled me. "On my honor. Anything else?"

"Yeah..." It was getting harder to think. "No one else if you're with me."

He drew his head up and his lips twitched. "That's a relief. After you told Tara she could have me as well, I didn't know if you fancied monogamy."

I flushed. "I'm serious!"

"Kitten"-he held my face-"I said I loved you. That means I don't want anyone else."

This would only bring disaster, I knew it. Knew it as sure as I knew I was a half-blooded freak, but looking into his eyes, it didn't matter.

"Last but absolutely not least, I insist on going after Hennessey with you. If I trust you enough to be your...your girlfriend, you'll have to trust me enough to let me do that."

Something like a sigh escaped him.

"I beg you to stay out of this. Hennessey's well connected and ruthless. That's a dangerous combination."

I smiled. "Half dead and totally dead. We're a dangerous combination as well."

He let out a dry laugh. "I reckon you're right about that."

"Bones." I made my gaze unflinching so he could see how serious I was. "I can't walk away when I know what's happening. I'd hate myself for not doing everything I could to stop it. One way or another, I'm in this. Your only choice is whether I'm in this with you, or without you."

He gave me that penetrating stare of his. The one that felt like it could drill holes into the back of my head, but I didn't look away. He finally did.

"All right, luv. You win. We'll get him together. I promise."

The first rays of dawn pierced the sky. I looked at them with regret. "Sun's coming up."

"So it is."

He pulled me to him again and kissed me with such fervor that I gasped. There was no mistaking the demand of his mouth or the feel of his body.

"But it's dawn!" I said in astonishment.

Bones let out a low laugh. "Really, luv, how dead do you think I am...?"

We ordered breakfast later from room service, an invention that had to come straight from heaven, in my opinion. Well, by the time we ordered it, it was actually more like lunch, although I still chose the pancakes and eggs. Bones watched in amusement as I scarfed the food down, scraping my plate when it was empty.

"You can always send for more. You don't have to chew the dishes."

"It wouldn't matter if I did. I think you already lost your deposit," I replied, casting a meaningful look at the shattered lamp, broken table, bloodstained carpet, overturned couch, and various other items that were in a condition other than how we'd found them. It looked like a brawl had taken place. One sort of had. A sensual one, anyway.

He grinned and stretched his arms over his head. "Worth every farthing."

The inking on his left arm caught my eye. I'd noticed it the other night, of course, but somehow hadn't been in the conversation mood. Now I traced it with a finger.

"Crossbones. How appropriate." The tattoo wasn't filled in; the bones were just an outline. His pale flesh seemed to emphasize the black ink. "When did you get it?"

"A mate gave that to me over sixty years ago. He was a Marine who died in World War Two."

God, talk about a generation gap. That tattoo was over three times my age. Slightly uncomfortable, I changed the subject.

"Did you find out anything more about Charlie?"

He'd gotten on the computer while I called in my breakfast order. I didn't want to know how he was going about the process of discovering if there was any money wanted for Charlie. Listing Charlie on eBay, perhaps? One corpse, extra crispy! Do I hear a thousand dollars?

"I'll check, should have a nibble by now," he responded, climbing gracefully out of bed. He was still naked, and I couldn't help but stare at his ass. Two-plus centuries or not, it was something.

"Ah, e-mail, and good news. Bank wire transfer completed, one hundred thousand dollars. Charlie pissed off the wrong bloke, whoever this is. I'll give him the location of where to find his body for confirmation, and Hennessey will be hearing about it soon. That'll also be twenty K for you, Kitten, and you didn't even have to kiss him."

"I don't want the money."

My reply was immediate. I didn't even have to think about it. No matter that the shallow, greedy part of my brain screeched in protest.

He regarded me curiously. "Whyever not? You earned it. I told you that was always part of the plan, even though I didn't let you in on it right off. What's the problem?"

Sighing, I tried to articulate the whirling of emotions and thoughts that consisted of my conscience.

"Because it isn't right. It was one thing to take it when we weren't sleeping together, but I don't want to feel like a kept woman. I won't be your girlfriend and your employee at the same time. Really, the choice is yours. Pay me, and I stop sleeping with you. Keep the money, and we continue on in bed."

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