Halfway to the Grave

Page 61

Although he didn't relax his hand, he looked over at me.

I brushed his face. "Please. Let him go."

Bones released him. Danny fell to his knees and promptly threw up. Blood oozed out from his hand where his bones had broken through his skin. Looking down at him, I felt only the barest hint of sympathy. A lot had happened in the years since I'd seen him.

"Bartender, he looks like he might need a cab," Bones said tersely to the man behind the counter, who hadn't noticed a thing. "Poor bugger can't hold his drink."

He bent down as if to help Danny to his feet, and I heard him speak in quiet terrifying tones.

"You say one more blasted word and the next thing I'll be crushing is your stones. Tonight's your lucky night, mate. You'd better thank your bleedin' stars she stopped me, or you and I would be having a party you wouldn't live long enough to forget."

While Danny gulped, sobbing and clutching his hand to his chest, Bones propelled me out toward the door after throwing a fifty at the bartender, way over the tab for my drinks.

"Best be leaving, pet. We'll have to try it another night. This has attracted a bit too much attention."

"I told you to leave it alone." I followed him to the truck, speeding off as soon as we got in. "Dammit, Bones, that could have been avoided."

"I saw your face when he spoke to you. You went white as a ghost. Knew who it had to be, and I know how hurt you were by it."

His soft tone was somehow more pointed than screaming.

"But what did smashing his hand accomplish? We won't know if Hennessey or Switch comes tonight. What if one of them do, and they nab someone? Danny isn't worth a woman's life because he slept with me and then dumped me!"

"I love you. You have no idea what you're worth to me."

Again, his voice was low, but this time it vibrated with emotion. Too distracted to drive and talk at the same time, I pulled off the highway and faced him.

"Bones, I-I can't say the same, but you mean more to me than anyone else has. Ever. Isn't that worth something?"

He leaned over and took my face in his hands. The same fingers that had just crushed and maimed delicately traced my jaw as though it were fine crystal.

"It's worth something, but I'm still holding out to hear the other. Do you realize that tonight is the first time I've heard someone call you by your real name?"

"That's not my real name anymore." Honestly I felt that way. How vampire of me.

"What's your full name? I already know it, of course, but I want to hear you say it."

"Catherine Kathleen Crawfield. But you can call me Cat." This last part was said with a smile because he had never addressed me in any way but one.

"I think I'll stay with Kitten." He smiled back, the tension easing. "It's what you reminded me of when we met. An angry, defiant, brave little kitten. And every once in a while you're cuddly like one."

"Bones, I know you didn't want to walk away before at the bar, and if I know you, you're numbering Danny's days. But I don't want his death on my conscience. Promise me you'll never do it."

He gave me a look of amazement. "You don't still have feelings for that wanker, do you?"

Apparently we still had some issues to discuss over good killing versus bad. "Oh, I have feelings for him, all right. I'd like to put him in the ground myself, believe me. Still, it would be wrong. Promise me."

"Fine. I promise I won't kill him."

He said it too easily. My eyes narrowed.

"Promise me right here and now that you will also never cripple, maim, dismember, blind, torture, bleed, or otherwise inflict any injury on Danny Milton. Or otherwise stand by while someone else does as you watch."

"Blimey, that's not fair!" he protested.

Guess it was good I hadn't just accepted his first agreement. "Promise!"

He made an exasperated noise. "Fine. Bloody hell. Didn't I teach you too well to cover all of your bases?"

"Yes, you did. We can't go back to the bar now. What do you want to do?"

He traced a finger across my lips.

"You decide."

A twinge of mischief shot through me. With all of our meticulous research, going through missing persons reports, autopsies, and the general grim task of trying to find a bunch of mass murderers, we hadn't had much time for lightheartedness. Putting the truck back into gear, I got onto the highway and headed south. After an hour, I pulled onto a gravel road.

Bones gave me a sideways smile. "Taking a trip down memory lane, are we?"

"So you do remember this place."

"Hard to forget," he snorted. "This is where you tried to kill me. You were so nervous, you kept blushing. Never had someone try to stake me who blushed so much."

I parked within view of the water and unfastened my seat belt.

"You knocked the living daylights out of me that night. Want to try it again?"

A breath of laughter escaped him. "You want me to hit you? Blimey, but you do like it rough."

"No. Let's try the other. Maybe you'll have better results. Want to shag?"

I managed to keep a straight face, but my lips twitched. A light appeared in his eyes, that beginning of green flame.

"Still wearing your stakes? Going to make me rest in pieces?" Bones took off his jacket as he spoke, clearly not alarmed in the least.

"Kiss me and find out."

He moved in that lightning-fast way of his, the one I'd seen hundreds of times before but that still managed to surprise me with its suddenness. Bones pulled me to him, tilting my head back and covering my mouth before I blinked.

"Not much room in here," he whispered after a long minute. "Want to go outside so you can stretch out?"

"Oh no. Right here. Love to do it in a truck."

His former words rolled off my tongue and he laughed. His eyes glowed pure emerald and when he smiled, fangs protruded from his lips.

"Let's find out."

After another two weeks of fruitless trolling, we still hadn't found any trace of Hennessey or Switch. I'd been to every sordid club within a fifty-mile range of Columbus, but with no luck. Bones reminded me that he'd been after Hennessey for the better part of eleven years. Age had taught him patience. Youth had taught me to get frustrated at the lack of progress.

We were at my apartment, waiting for the pizza I'd ordered. It was a Sunday evening, so we weren't going out tonight. I had every intention of doing nothing but kicking back now and studying later. Even going to the grocery store had been too much for me, hence the delivery. Whatever I'd inherited from my mother, it hadn't been her inclination to cook.

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