Halfway to the Grave

Page 63

"You're leaving? Are you-are you breaking up with me?"

Bones turned around. "No, Kitten. I'm just giving you a chance to think about things without me to distract you."

"But what about Hennessey?" Now I was using him as an excuse.

"Francesca still doesn't have anything concrete, and we've struck out searching for him on our own. Won't hurt to give it a small rest. If anything does come up, I'll ring you. Promise." He gave me a last, long look before opening the door. "Goodbye."

I heard it shut, but it didn't register. I sat there for twenty more minutes staring at it, and then magically, there was a knock.

I leapt up in relief. "Bones!"

It was a young man in a uniform. "Pizza delivery," he said with mechanical cheerfulness. "That'll be seventeen-fifty."

In a daze, I gave him a twenty, told him to keep the change, and then shut the door behind him and started to cry.

Chapter Twenty

TIMMIE LOOKED AT ME WITH THE MORBID fascination you'd give an unpredictable virus under a microscope.

"You're having another pint?"

I paused with my spoon over the chocolate ice cream, raising a challenging brow.


He glanced at the two empty containers near my feet. Or he could have been staring at the bottle of gin balanced next to me on the couch. Whatever.

"No reason!"

It had been four days since I'd seen or spoken to Bones. Doesn't sound that long, does it? Well, it felt like weeks. Timmie knew something was up. Out of courtesy or fear, he hadn't asked why a certain motorcycle hadn't been parked in our community driveway lately.

I went through the motions. Attended classes. Studied feverishly. Ate sugar and junk food until my insulin levels spiked dangerously. But I couldn't sleep. I couldn't even stand to lie in bed, because I kept reaching out for someone who wasn't there. I'd picked up the phone a hundred times a day only to drop it before dialing, because I didn't know what to say.

Timmie kept me from climbing the walls. He'd come over, watch movies until all hours, talk or not talk depending on my mood, and just be there. I couldn't have been more grateful, but I still felt alone. It wasn't his fault that I had to pretend, monitor my speech, and otherwise mask half of myself as usual. No, that wasn't his fault. It was mine for pushing away the one person who'd accepted me unconditionally, even with all the flaws and oddities of both my halves combined.

"It's so true, you know," he said, nodding at the TV. "They exist."


I hadn't really been watching, too wrapped up in my inner turmoil.

"Men in black. Secret government agents whose job is to control and police extraterrestrial or paranormal phenomenon. They exist."

"Um," I said disinterestedly. So do vampires, buddy. In fact, you're sitting next to one. Sort of.

"You know, I heard this movie was based on actual events?"

I gave a cursory glance at the TV and saw Will Smith battling it out with an alien monster. Oh, Men in Black.

"Could be." Giant alien cockroaches that preyed on humans? Who was I to scream impossible?

"You ever going to tell me why you two broke up?

That got my attention. "We're not broken up," I denied immediately, more to myself than to him. "We're, ah, taking a break to evaluate things, and, um, reexamine our relationship, so...I stuffed him in a closet!" I burst out in shame.

Timmie's eyes goggled. "Is he still there?"

His expression was classic, but my sense of humor didn't rise to the occasion. "My mother stopped by unexpectedly on Sunday, and I freaked out and shoved him in the closet until she left. After that came the whole 'evaluate' thing. I think he's getting sick of my issues, and what's worse, I don't blame him."

Timmie had recovered from his earlier misassumption. "Why does your mom hate foreigners so much?"

How to explain?

"Well...you know how I said we had something in common because neither of us knew our fathers? Mine's a little more complicated than yours is. My father was...English. He date-raped my mother, so...she's hated Englishmen ever since. You know my boyfriend's English, and I'm, uh, I'm half English, which she's never been real happy about. If she finds out I'm dating someone English, she'll, ah, think I'm turning my back on her and becoming...a foreigner."

Timmie turned the sound down on the TV. His face twisted with indecision, and then he squared his shoulders.

"Cathy...that's the stupidest reason I've ever heard."

I sighed. "You don't understand."

"Look, your boyfriend scares me," Timmie went on earnestly. "But if he treats you well and all your mom's got against him is that he's English, then I stick to my first response that it's stupid. Your mom can't hate a whole country because of one person! Everyone's got something in them that somebody's going to have a problem with, but your mom should be more concerned about whether he makes you happy than where he's from."

What he said sounded so simple! So elementary, he could have ended his sentence with, Duh. My bad example of her prejudice had broken the situation down to its most basic elements, and suddenly I realized it was that simple. Either I went through the rest of my life punishing myself for my bloodline-atoning, as Bones had noted-or I didn't. Simple. So incredibly simple, I hadn't been able to wrap my mind around it before.

"Timmie," I said with absolute conviction, "you're a genius."

His baffled countenance returned. "Huh?"

I got up, kissed him full on the mouth, and then dashed to the phone.

"I'm calling him," I announced. "Got any advice for apologizing? 'Cause I'm not good at that, either."

Timmie still sat where he was, stunned. "What? Oh. Say you're sorry."

I grinned at him. "Genius," I repeated, dialing Bones's number.

He answered on the first ring. "Francesca?"

I froze, suddenly speechless. Okay, not what I'd anticipated! His voice came again a second later.

"Kitten, it's you. I'm already on my way over. Something's wrong."

"What is it?" I asked, forgetting my concern over how he'd answered the phone.

"Get dressed if you need to. I'm hanging up; I have to keep this line clear. I'll be there in five minutes."

He did hang up before I could ask him anything further. Timmie watched me expectantly.


I started throwing on a sweater over my T-shirt. It was cold out. The sweatpants should be fine, but Timmie had to leave so I could get my knives. "He's coming over, but we have to go right away. Something...something came up."

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