Halfway to the Grave

Page 69

"There's no answer. I spoke to her this morning, before the detectives came. She said someone was at the door..."

We sped off through the trees on his motorcycle. For once I was glad he had the damned unsafe thing. It was the only type of vehicle that could navigate through this territory at such speeds. If anyone tried to pull us over, I would look guilty as all hell of anything they accused me of. Over my tight black spandex from before, I now had on crisscrossed boots with stakes inside, silver throwing knives lashed to my upper arms and thighs, and two guns tucked in my belt filled with silver bullets. Not that we would have stopped for anyone. Somebody could just try to catch us.

I kept trying my family on the cell, cursing and praying when there was still no answer. If anything happened to them, it would be all my fault. If only I hadn't drunk that spiked gin and been unable to kill Hennessey...if only I'd never met Danny... A thousand different ways to scourge myself seared through my mind. Normally it took an hour and a half to get to the house from the cave. Bones made it there in less than thirty minutes.

We pulled right up to the front and I was the first one off, running up the steps of the porch and through the open door. Once there, my brain refused to translate what my eyes saw. The red liquid smeared on the ground caused me to slide forward and then fall to the floor with the momentum of my panicked strides. Bones stepped inside with more caution but just as swiftly, and he dragged me to my feet.

"Hennessey and his men could still be nearby. You're no use to anyone if you break now!"

His voice was harsh, but it penetrated through the paralyzed part of my mind, which went blank upon the sight of all that blood. The early shades of dusk darkened the sky. Pale amber beams of remaining light illuminated the sightless eyes of my grandfather sprawled on the kitchen floor. His throat had been torn out. It was his blood I'd slipped in.

Shaking Bones off, I unsheathed my knives and gripped them, ready to fling them at any undead thing that moved. There was a trail of blood leading up the steps, and crimson handprints left grisly signs for us to follow. Bones took a deep whiff of the air and pushed me back against the landing.

"Listen to me. I only smell them faintly, so I think Hennessey and whoever was with him aren't close. But you keep those knives ready, and you unleash them at anything that flinches. Stay here."

"No." I spoke through clenched teeth. "I'm going up there."

"Kitten, don't. Let me go instead. You keep watch."

Pity creased his face, but I ignored it. My grief I forced into a tiny hard lump inside me that I would unravel later. Much later, when every vampire or person with them who had done this was dead.

"Get out of my way."

My tone had never been more menacing and he stepped back but followed closely behind me. The door to my bedroom was kicked in. It hung by only a hinge. My grandmother was face down on the floor, her hands frozen into claws as if in death she still tried to escape what had chased her. There were two wounds on her neck, one shallow, one gaping. It looked as though she'd dragged herself while dying, up the steps to get to my room. Bones knelt beside her and did a strange thing. He inhaled near the gouges around her neck, and then picked up a bloody pillow from my bed and held it to his face.

"What are you doing?" God, he wasn't hungry, was he? The thought sent a vile tremor through me.

"I can smell them. There were four of them, including Hennessey. I smell your mum on this pillow. They took her. And there's not enough of her blood here for her to be dead."

Relief and fear caused me to nearly sag on my feet. She was still alive, at least possibly. Bones nosed around the room like a deadly blond canine, following the scent back down the stairs. I heard him back in the kitchen and knew he was giving Grandpa Joe a similar sniffing. It was too awful to contemplate. Gently I turned my grandmother over and her open eyes seemed to stare accusingly at me. This is all your fault! they silently railed. Choking back a sob, I closed them, and sent a prayer upward that she was at peace, because I never would be.

"Get down here, Kitten. Someone's coming."

Abruptly I darted back down the stairs, avoiding the slick blood that lined them. Bones had something crumpled in his hand and he propelled me out the front door as he shoved it inside his belt. A car screeched down the road about a mile away and I grabbed two extra knives until each hand held four.

"Is it them?" I hoped it was. There was nothing more I wanted than to tear into the animals who had done this.

Bones stood next to me with legs apart and narrowed his eyes.

"No, they're human. I can hear their heartbeats. Let's go."

"Wait!" I looked around despairingly, my clothes and hands streaked with my family's blood. "How will we find out where they've taken my mother? We're not leaving until we do find out, I don't care who's coming!"

He jumped onto the bike and spun it around, waving me over with a jerk of his head.

"They left a note. It was in your grandfather's shirt, I have it. Come on, Kitten, they're here."

Indeed they were. The car slammed on its breaks about a hundred feet away and out came Detective Mansfield and Detective Black with their guns drawn.

"Hold it right there! Don't you f**king move!"

Bones leapt off the motorcycle and stood in front of me before I could blink. He was shielding me from the bullets that could only injure him for a short time but would do far worse damage to me.

"Get on the bike, Kitten," he murmured too low for them to hear. "I'll get on behind you. We have to go. They would have called for backup."

"Hands in the air! Drop your weapons!" Mansfield approached with slow steps. Obligingly Bones stretched out his hands in compliance. He was buying time.

Something cold settled in me and spread, overriding the grief and the pain. Bones expected just to take two full clips in the back while we rode off. Or let them try to handcuff him and then slam them. Well, I had other ideas.

Both detectives advanced on him, seeing Bones as the primary threat. They foolishly ignored the old adage to never underestimate the power of a woman.

I stepped out from behind Bones with my hands in the air, palms facing me. When Mansfield took another step forward I flung the first knife. It skewered him straight through the wrist and his gun fell to the ground. Before Black could react I let loose the other knife, and he, too, collapsed screaming to the dirt, clutching his bleeding forearm. It made the next two knives easier to find their marks, and in a blink both of their hands were paralyzed with silver blades protruding from each wrist.

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