Halfway to the Grave

Page 72


Bones wrenched my mouth away and I fought him, because I didn't want to stop. Couldn't stop. With a snarl, I tried to snap my teeth back onto his throat, but he twisted my arms behind me and threw himself on top of me. The weight of his body and his strength pinned me down.

"Just relax. Breathe. Ride it out, Kitten, it will pass."

At first I struggled, then gradually the craze that gripped me eased until I no longer looked at Bones and wanted to drink him dry. The word bloodlust had a whole new meaning for me now.

"How do you stand it?" My breath came in shallow pants and he released his iron grip on my arms. He didn't move off me yet, however.

"You don't, not for the first few days. You kill anything near you to fill the need when it hits. After that, you learn to control it. What you had was only a taste. By next week, the effects will be out of your system. You'll be back to yourself."

His complete confidence that I would see next week was unflappable. Who was I to argue?

"I can smell you." Wonder etched my voice. "I smell myself on your skin. I smell everything. My God, there are so many scents in this room..."

Out of all the other senses, which were merely heightened, this one was almost completely new. Bones had often commented that my nose was for decoration only, since it was one of the few parts of me that was almost human. Never before had I any idea what an incredible asset a sense of smell was. I could be blind and deaf and know exactly what was around me by odor alone.

"I didn't realize how different things were for you. How can you ever walk by a public bathroom and not pass out?" Funny what the mind thinks of at the most absurd moments.

Bones smiled and kissed me lightly. "Willpower, pet."

"Is this what it feels like to be a real vampire?" That was the question. It felt...good. Superior. That scared the hell out of me.

"You've just had about two pints of aged nosferatu. Fermented for two hundred and forty years. You're like a hitchhiker on my power, so in a way, yes, it is. Are you telling me you like it?"

Whoa. That was a thought I couldn't even allow myself to dwell on, because I liked it so goddamn much, I feared I would get addicted to it.

He read the emotions in my eyes and knew he wouldn't get a response. Instead, he kissed me again with more substance, and I groaned in surprise. Even the taste of him was keener.

When he ended the kiss, he gave me an unblinking stare.

"When it is time, no matter what we find, I want you to unleash everything you have in you. Hold nothing back. You've got strength and I want you to use all of it. Give in to the rage and let it feed you. Kill anything, vampire or human, that stands in your way from retrieving your mum. Remember, if they're there and they're not in chains, then they're Hennessey's and they're your enemy."

"I'm ready." Mentally I threw my conscience down a dark, deep well I would fish out later. Assuming there was a later.

Bones sprang off the bed with the grace and speed only the undead could manifest. Except for me now. With his blood coursing in my veins, I almost matched him in fluidity. He cracked his knuckles and rolled his head around his shoulders, and the emerald light pinpointing in his dark brown eyes was echoed by mine.

"Then let's go kill them all."

Chapter Twenty-Three

MY STAKES AND KNIVES WERE IN MY BOOTS and lined along my thighs. Inside my belt were jammed other deadly goodies. We drove to meet Hennessey's men at the same place where we'd tried to kill him and where he'd left Francesca. That's what the other part of the little cryptic note meant. From there they would be sure we weren't being followed by any backup and proceed to where they held my mother. Bones hadn't been concerned about the obvious packing of weapons on me. Since Hennessey and his men had no idea I could use them, they would probably only be amused at my artillery of silver. Bones carried nothing on him, knowing it would only be taken away. His plan was terrifying in its simplicity-let them take him inside whatever building held my mother, and when they double-crossed us and didn't release her, I was to come in blazing.

"But what if they stake you on sight?" My gut twisted at the thought. "God, Bones, you can't risk it."

He threw me a jaded look. "Not Hennessey. He'll want to drag it out for weeks. I told you, he doesn't do quick mercy kills. Especially on a chap who's already caused him a world of trouble. No, he'll want to hear me beg. There will be time."

The casual way he described his own potential torture and death stunned me, since I had rather strong feelings about those issues myself. Then again, he was just being practical. Either our plan would work or not, and if it didn't, there was no Plan B.

"Bones." I gripped his hand and my eyes screamed everything there wasn't time to say. He squeezed back and gave me a jaunty smile.

"Hold that thought, Kitten. I intend to collect on it."

We were almost there. He leaned in to whisper to me before we got too close. "Let them smell your fear, it will lull them. Don't be strong until you have to be."

Well, that was certainly one thing I could comply with. Even I could scent it coming from me with my new nose. It smelled sickly sweet, like rotten fruit. Give in to the fear for effect? One stink platter, coming right up.

Four large SUVs waited in the dark along the shoulder of the road, their lights off. Our car came to a halt, and instantly we were surrounded by six vampires. They seemed to materialize from nowhere, but with a sense of relief I realized their movements looked perceptibly slower to me. Viva la Bones blood, I thought wryly. Amen.

"So, you came after all."

One of them stood at the window and Bones lowered the glass and glanced at him.

"Hallo, Vincent. Fancy seeing you here."

There was a bored tone to his voice that made me blink. I could never fake that kind of cool.

Vincent smiled. "Call me Switch."

Son of a bitch! This was Hennessey's enforcer? The one who did all the dirty work Hennessey didn't like to bother with? Switch looked even younger than me, with boyish features and chestnut-colored hair. My God, he even had freckles! Dress him in a Boy Scout uniform and he wouldn't look out of place.

"You surprise me, bringing her with you," Switch continued.

"She insisted on coming. Wanted to see her mum, couldn't sway her from it." Again the blandness in his voice unnerved me.

Switch looked me over, and obligingly I let anxiety leak from my pores. His smiled widened, revealing fangs protruding from behind his lips.

"Nice family you have, Catherine. Sorry about your grandparents. I know it's rude to eat and run, but I was short on time."

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