Halfway to the Grave

Page 54

"Not so fast, Lola."

The woman straightened and her chin came up. "How dare you touch me!"

"Dare?" Bones let out a laugh. It wasn't his charming one. "There's a fine word. It implies courage. Are you brave, Lola? We'll soon find out."

He drew out the last sentence with meaning. She looked around once before glaring at him.

"You're making a big mistake."

"Wouldn't be my first." He yanked her next to him. "Right, then, sweetness. You know what I want."

"Hennessey and the others are going to kill you, it's only a matter of time," she spat.

Bones grasped her jaw and brought her face closer.

"Now, I don't like abusing women, but I think you've earned the right to be an exception. It isn't very private here, so I'm operating under a bit of a time crunch. You're going to tell me who else is involved with Hennessey, and where to find them all right now, or I promise you you'll endure every torment and humiliation you've helped to inflict on others. Fancy that? I've met some depraved, beastly blokes in my travels who would just love to give you a taste of your own poison. Tell you what-I'll even sell you to them. Turnabout's fair game, isn't it? I'd say that was fair all the way 'round."

Lola's eyes widened. I could see that even from my vantage point. "I don't know where Hennessey is, he hasn't told me!"

Bones started dragging her back toward the parking lot. "You've just made Christmas come early for some happy deviants," he stated crisply.

"Wait!" It was a plea. "I know where Switch is!"

He stopped, giving her a rough shake. "Who's Switch?"

"Hennessey's enforcer," Lola said with a curl to her mouth. "You know how he hates to get his hands dirty. Switch handles the messy things, like silencing witnesses and hiding the bodies. He's also recruiting for more help, since we don't have Stephanie, Charlie, and Dean anymore. With Hennessey's new protection, we don't even have to worry about any pesky human interference."

Something on the building's roof caught my eye just as Bones asked, "What's Switch's real name, and who's Hennessey's new protection?"

Two forms dropped from the ten-story roof. Bones and Lola were directly below them. I jumped out from the bushes.

"Heads up!"

Two things happened at once. Lola pulled a blade from her purse as Bones looked up, and I, out of a mindless reaction, let fly the three silver knives in my hand.

Tony chose that moment to pounce. I'd let go of him to make that toss, and he came at me with fangs bared, knocking me to the ground. I held off his snapping jaws and twisted, ramming my knees into his chest to throw him back, and then plunged my other blade into his heart. He made an odd noise, almost like a pained giggle, and fell over on his side.

I leapt up in time to see Bones kneeling over Lola. She was on the cement, and silver protruded from her chest in a tight circle of three. Behind them were two bodies with two unattached heads. So much for the aerial attackers.

Bones rose from his kneeling position and swung his gaze to me.

"Lucifer's bouncing balls, Kitten, not again!"

Uh-oh. I squirmed, instinctively also trying to block Tony's body from his view. As if that made him any less dead.

"She was going to stab you," I said in my defense. "Look in her hand!"

He was looking at the ground near my feet instead. "Him, too?"

I nodded, sheepish. "He jumped me."

Bones just stared. "You're not a woman," he said finally. "You're the Grim Reaper with red hair!"

"That's not fair-" I protested, but a shrill scream cut me off.

A woman dressed in a business suit dropped her purse and ran shrieking back into the building. Guess a bunch of dead bodies in the parking lot had spooked her. Not the usual thing you'd expect to find while you were leaving to go to work.

Bones sighed and yanked the blades out of Lola. "Come on, Kitten, let's go. Before you murder someone else."

"I don't find that funny-"

"At least I got some information out of Lola first," he went on conversationally, tugging me back toward the car. "Hennessey's enforcer, Switch. We'll start by trying to find out who he is."

"She was going to kill you-"

"Did it ever occur to you to aim for something other than the heart?" We were walking at a good clip. More people came out of the building behind us. I could tell from the additional screams.

We had reached the car, and he suddenly gave me a quick, sound kiss.

"I love that you did it to protect me, but next time, try aiming to wound, hmm? You know, maybe throw the knives at someone's head instead? Then they're incapacitated momentarily, but not reduced to a pile of rotting remains. Just food for thought."

Chapter Seventeen

EVEN WITH BONES'S SPEEDING, I WOULDN'T have time to shower before I went to class. I'd be lucky to make it if I only dashed in my apartment and changed clothes.

"I have to drop this off at Ted's," he was saying as I got out of the car. "Should be back in a few hours."

"I'll be asleep," I muttered. "Do we have to-"

"Hi, Cathy!"

Timmie opened his door with a wide smile. He must have seen me through his window.

Bones gave Timmie a look that froze the smile on the younger man's face.

"I'm sorry, I didn't know you had company," Timmie apologized, almost tripping to hurry back into his apartment.

I shot Bones an equally hostile glare for rattling my already skittish neighbor. "It's okay," I said, smiling at Timmie. "He's not really 'company' anyway."

"Oh." Timmie gave Bones a shy peek. "Are you Cathy's brother?"

"Whatever would give you the idea that I'm her damn brother?" Bones snapped.

Timmie backed up so fast, he hit the back of his head against his doorframe. "Sorry!" he gasped, and banged into the door again before managing to scramble back inside.

I marched over to Bones and stuck my finger in his chest. He regarded me with what I would have called sullenness-if he hadn't been over two hundred.

"You have a choice," I said, biting off each word. "Either you make a very sincere apology to Timmie now, or you leave and slither back to your cave like the festering ball sack you just acted like. I don't know what's gotten into you, but he's a nice guy, and you probably just made him pee his pants. Your decision, Bones. One or the other."

A dark brow arched at me. I tapped my foot. "One...two..."

He muttered something foul and then climbed the stairs, rapping twice on Timmie's door.

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