Halfway to the Grave

Page 73

With extraordinary difficulty I bit back my rage. Couldn't let them see my eyes glow and give away the surprise. Thank God I'd gotten to be an expert at controlling my gaze. That son of a bitch thought he was going to get away with taunting me about killing my grandparents? Right then and there I made up my mind that if I died, I was taking him with me.

"Where's my mother?" There was no nonchalant banter for me, only pure hatred. That much he would have expected.

"We have her." Another one approached Switch and informed him they hadn't observed anyone following us, and Switch turned back to Bones.

"Well, let's be on our way. I trust you won't lag behind?"

"Don't fret over me," Bones replied evenly.

Switch grunted and sauntered off to his vehicle.

"I'm afraid," I said as we pulled away, speaking the words we'd rehearsed earlier. Even five car lengths away they could hear us.

"Just stay in the car and don't come out. When your mum gets in, you leave straightaway, remember?"

"Yes. I'll do it." When hell snowed. My hands itched to tear them apart. On cue I began to cry, making little whimpering sounds while mentally counting down the moments. Soon, very soon, they would find out what one of their kind had sired. Paybacks were a bitch, and that also happened to be my specialty.

The drive lasted forty minutes until we pulled up to a ramshackle house ten miles off the interstate. It was nice and secluded, with a long driveway. The perfect place for a massacre. Bones came to a stop and put the car in park, the engine still running. His eyes met mine for only an instant before his door was yanked open.

"End of the road. Hennessey says we'll send her out when you come in." Switch was at the door again, that same malicious smile wreathing his face.

Bones raised a dark brow at him.

"Don't think so, mate. Bring her to the door so I can see her and then I'll come. If not, you and I dance right now."

The mildness left his tone and his eyes bled to green. Even though the car was blocked from behind by the other vehicles and we were surrounded, Switch still looked uneasy.

"You can hear her heartbeat in there. She's alive," he defensively countered.

Bones gave a short humorless laugh.

"I hear seven heartbeats in there, and who's to say any of them are hers? What's to hide? Is this a bargain or not?"

Switch glared at him, then, with a jerk of his head, one of the other vamps scurried inside.

"Look now."

I gasped. In the window lit by low lighting, my mother's face was shoved into view. A hand was wrapped around her throat, holding her against the chest of her captor. Blood seeped from her head and her blouse was red from where more of it had stained.

"There. Your proof. Satisfied?"

Bones nodded once and stepped out of the car. Immediately he was encircled by the six vampires. I slid across into the driver's seat and locked the door.

Switch smirked at me through the glass.

"Wait there. We'll bring her out and then you can leave."

By his complete lack of concern over me, either my mother hadn't disclosed what I was or, as predicted, they didn't believe her. Thank God for fools.

The front door closed behind Bones and I was left alone in the car, blocked on three sides by the SUVs. My mother was wrenched away from the window and out of sight, to my relief.

A voice boomed out from the house, sounding sinister and cheerful. I recognized it at once as Hennessey's.

"Well, look who's come to join the party! Be careful what you wish for, Bones. You've wanted to find out who was involved with me for years, so take a good look around. Except for one, here we all are."

There they all were. The people who'd wrecked hundreds of lives, not just mine. I thought of all the families these scum had torn apart, and it gave me strength. With hands rock-steady, I picked up the cell phone and dialed the number on the card Detective Mansfield had given me, seemingly another lifetime ago. A woman's voice answered.

"Franklin County Sheriff 's Department, is this an emergency?"

"Yes," I breathed. "This is Catherine Crawfield. I'm off of Interstate 71 and 323, just a few miles from Bethel Road in a house at the end of a dead-end street. Earlier I speared Detectives Mansfield and Black with silver knives through the wrists. Come and get me."

I hung up as she started to sputter and put the car back in gear. The front door flew open and Switch stalked out, moving with inhuman speed. They'd heard me on the phone, as I knew they would, and were coming to silence me. Somehow in all their plotting they never once thought Bones would have me call the police. Always pride before a fall.

With a savage grin at Switch, I hit the gas. The SUVs had blocked me in from every side-except the front. Ready or not, boys, here I come!

The car shot forward, and Switch avoided being run over only by leaping onto the hood. Immediately he punched through the windshield and tried to grab me, but my hand was ready with a blade. I plunged it into his neck and twisted. It tore his throat open as I ducked down under the steering wheel while the car crashed into the house.

There was a spectacular explosion of wood and brick as the vehicle smashed through the front window. The screech of metal and shattering glass was deafening. Without hesitation I leapt through the shattered windshield and rolled off the hood, flinging silver knives at anything that moved toward me. Bones knew to duck, and shouts of pain accompanied the hiss of the steaming engine, which coughed and wheezed in its death throes.

Hennessey was in the remains of the front room along with approximately twenty-five other vampires. Mother of God, there were more of them than we'd anticipated. My mother was shoved into a corner, hands and feet tied together. Her wide, disbelieving eyes were fixed on me. The red haze of fury I'd carefully controlled since first seeing my grandparents' lifeless forms erupted inside me and I let it consume me. A snarl of vengeance tore from my throat and my eyes blazed with emerald fire.

Bones took advantage of the distraction. Someone had been in the process of chaining him when I'd made a garage out of the house. The dangling irons from his wrists whipped out and wrapped around the neck of the nearest vampire. With a merciless jerk of the links the vampire's head snapped off and Bones whirled in a blur of speed to the next one.

Three vampires jumped me. Their teeth were murderously extended, but so were my knives. I darted away from their fangs while landing punishing blows with my legs, tripping one of them. At once I was on him, gouging his heart and shredding it in one slash before rolling over and repeating the process with the next two.

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