Halfway to the Grave

Page 60

I stared at him in silence. There were so many things I wanted to say. Like, How could you think what I feel for you is only physical? or, Don't you know you're my best friend? and finally, Bones, I love-

"I think we should get out of here," was what I settled on, cowardly. "Before you have to green-eye anyone else out of reporting us to the police."

He smiled, and it could have been my guilt, but I thought it was a trifle sad. "It's all right, Kitten. I'm not demanding anything. You don't have to fret."

I took his hand, not caring about the difference in temperature and scared as hell that I didn't care about it anymore.

"Are you really mine?" I couldn't stop from asking.

Those cool fingers squeezed gently. "Of course I am."

I squeezed back, but with more strength.

"I'm glad."

Chapter Nineteen

THE CLOCK STRUCK ELEVEN AND CAT THE vampire huntress was on the loose, except my battle armor was a push-up bra, curled hair, and a short dress. Yeah, it was a dirty job, but I was going to do it. Come one, come all, bloodsuckers! Bar's open!

Hennessey was still on the lookout to restock his supplies. After ten days of spying, Francesca had confirmed that. It was the same thing we'd heard from Lola and Charlie, so no real shocker there, but what she did relay in her most recent surreptitious phone call was noteworthy. She'd overheard one of Hennessey's men refer to a mysterious human partner as "Your Honor." It could be a sarcastic title, but considering the tampered police records and Hennessey's new method of preventing disappearances from being reported, Bones thought differently. He figured it was a judge, maybe from Columbus, where most of the evidence-tampering had taken place. We were working that angle, but there was the other one as well. When you were looking to catch someone who didn't want to be caught, you needed bait. Bait placed out temptingly for the still-unknown Switch or Hennessey to try and snatch. That's where I came in. During the day I went to college, but at night I made my rounds at all of the easy-sleazy bars and clubs we could hit. Did I mention it was a dirty job?

"Catherine? My God, Catherine, is that you?"

Huh? No one called me that name except for my family, and certainly none of them were here. Yet there was something familiar about that voice.

I pivoted around in my chair, and the glass I'd been protecting from any added chemicals crashed to the floor. Six years later and still I knew him at a glance.

Danny Milton stood in front of me, openmouthed at my appearance in my tight silver dress and knee-high boots. The black leather gloves that were my standard matched my heart when I saw his gaze drop from my face to my cle**age and back again.

"Wow, Catherine, you look...wow!"

Either he was truly speechless at my appearance or college literary classes had not been kind. My eyes narrowed as I considered my options. One: Put a stake through his heart. Appealing, but morally incorrect. Two: Ignore him and hope he went away. Possible, but too kind. Three: Order another drink and throw it in his face while thanking him for the memories. Deserved, but too flashy. I wasn't looking to draw unwanted attention or get thrown out of the place. That only left Option Two. Damn, that was the least satisfying of them all.

I raked him with a withering stare and then turned my back. I hoped he'd get the message.

He didn't. "Hey, you've got to remember me. We met on the road and you helped me change my tire. And you can't forget I was the first person you ever-"

"Shut up, you idiot!"

After so long, he had the unimaginable nerve to start blurting out loud enough for the deaf to hear that he'd been the first guy I slept with? Maybe Option One was the better plan after all.

"See, you do remember me," he went on, apparently not catching the 'idiot' part. "Gee, it's been...what, six years? More? I almost didn't recognize you. I know you didn't look like this before. Not that you weren't cute and all, but you kind of looked like a baby then. You're all grown up now."

He certainly didn't appear much different. His hair was about the same length, the same sandy brown, and his eyes were the blue of my memory. Danny was a touch softer around the midsection, or perhaps bitterness colored my vision. To me, he looked like all the rest now. Just another guy trying to take advantage. Too bad I couldn't kill him for that reason alone.

"Danny, for your own good, turn around and walk away." Bones was here somewhere, though I didn't see him, but if he was watching me and found out who this was, I knew he'd have no conflict of conscience about pulling Danny's plug.

"But why? We should catch up. After all, it's been a long time." Without invitation, he plunked down at the recently vacated seat next to me.

"There's nothing to catch up on. You came, you saw, you scored, you left. End of story."

I turned my back again, surprised at the stab of hurt that still remained. Some wounds never quite healed, even with time and knowledge.

"Oh, come on, Catherine, it wasn't all like that-"

"Well, hallo there, mate. What have we here?"

Bones materialized from behind Danny, a truly vicious smile on his face. Oh shit.

"This person was just leaving," I stiffly said, praying Danny would have half a brain cell and bolt before Bones realized who he was. If he hadn't already. The look on Bones's face was pure predator.

"Not yet, Kitten, we haven't been introduced." Uh-oh, not a good idea, not a good idea. "My name is Bones, and you are...?"

"Danny Milton. I'm an old friend of Catherine's."

Unsuspecting, Danny reached out to shake the hand that was offered to him. Bones grasped it and didn't let go, even when Danny attempted to tug it free.

"Hey, man, I don't want any trouble, I was just saying hello to Catherine and...uunnngghhhh."

"Don't say a word." Bones spoke in a voice so low he was barely audible. Underneath his lashes, his eyes blazed with green fire and power leaked off him. His grip tightened, and I literally heard the bones shatter in Danny's hand.

"Stop it," I breathed, standing up to touch him.

He was immobile under my fingers, only his hand kept contracting. Tears streamed down Danny's face although he stayed silent, helpless under that green gaze.

"It isn't worth it. You're not changing anything that happened."

"He hurt you, Kitten," Bones replied, pitilessly watching the tears roll from Danny's eyes. "I'll kill him for it."

"Don't." I knew he wasn't using a figure of speech. "It's over. If it wasn't for him using me, I'd have never gone for that first vampire. That means I wouldn't have met you. Things happen for a reason, don't you believe that?"

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