Halfway to the Grave

Page 76

"He wants to run for president, and he's using Ohio as his podium," Isaac rushed out in one breath. "Oliver stumbled across Hennessey a few years ago. Think it was when he was buying pu**y on the side. Hennessey came up with the idea to harvest people for feedings, like he had in Mexico, and Oliver loved it. Problem is, it's the pretty young girls who sell most easily, but things get messy when a bunch of them go missing. So they make a deal. Hennessey cleans the streets of the homeless, drug dealers, prostitutes, and degenerates as his end of the bargain, and Oliver makes sure the paperwork disappears on any of the high-end tail Hennessey needs to keep his clients happy. But that got to be a lot of work, so Hennessey began getting the girls' addresses and stopping the reports before they started. Made my job a lot easier, not having to listen to all those sniveling families. It was perfect. Crime rate goes down, economy goes up, voters are happy, Oliver looks like Ohio's savior...and Hennessey makes a bundle."

I was shaking my head in disbelief at the sheer callousness of it all. Frankly, I didn't know who was worse-Hennessey, for doing it, or Oliver, for making himself out as a hero on the bones of hundreds of victims.

"Oliver sent you to kill me, clearly, but what about my mother and the other girls who were at that house? What were you going to do with them, and I dare you to lie to me."

My new clench got a squeak from him, but it also made my point. What he told me next was no candy-coated fabrication.

"Oliver freaked when he heard about the police all over that house and how some girls were recovered alive. He wants any traces to him erased, so I was supposed to shoot you, and then plant a bomb at the hospital where they're taking the girls. Oliver was going to pin it on Muslim extremists. He saw how Bush's numbers spiked right after 9/11, so he thought it would push him over the top as the next presidential candidate."

"You f**ker," I growled. "Where's the bomb?"

"In the trunk."

I thought rapidly. Oliver would be expecting a ka-boom within the next couple hours, and when it didn't happen, he'd send someone else to finish the job.

"Isaac," I said in a pleasant tone, "you're coming with me. I'm revoking my vote."

The governor's residence in Bexley was decorated festively for the holidays. A large evergreen was in the front, complete with lights, garland, and ornaments. More lights were strewn around the exterior, and the gardens were filled with poinsettias in addition to their usual seasonal blossoms. Isaac parked by the wrought-iron fence about a block from the entrance.

"What do you think you're going to do, ring the bell?" he asked caustically.

I sat behind him in the backseat, his own gun poking him in the side. Otherworldly energy permeated from the property. Oh, here there be monsters, all right.

"How many are there? And you know what I mean."

He didn't play dumb. "Three, maybe four vamps, plus the usual guys."

Judging from the heartbeats, there were about six human guards. Maybe they were just innocent schmucks doing their job. Maybe not. The vampires I suffered no conscience qualms about, and not for my usual reasons. If they were here guarding Oliver, they knew damn well what was going on.

"They know you? The guards? You've come here before, right?"

"All the time," he sneered. "You f**ked with the wrong john, bitch. I'm in his pocket nice and tight."

"Uh-huh." I took my shirt and bra off one-handed, not taking the gun off Isaac for a second. Then I pulled my hair over the bullet wound in my shoulder, hiding it. As for the rest of the blood on me...well, there was nothing I could do about that.

Isaac's eyes widened in the rearview mirror.

"Drive right on up and tell them you've brought some Yuletide joy," I said evenly, sitting back. "I'm sure it won't be the first time. And remember, I've got this trained at your head, so if you say anything else, I'll blow you to hell."

Isaac smirked. I knew he'd pull something, but I was hoping he'd be arrogant enough to wait until we were inside to do it.

"Nice tits."


He pulled up the driveway without any more prompting. As he neared the guard station, I moved the gun to where my hip shielded it from view.

Isaac rolled down the window when he came to a halt at the gate. One of the guards poked his head out from his post.

"Hi, Frankie," Isaac said. "Back again."

"Twice in one day, Jay?" the man asked. "Who you got back there?"

Isaac rolled down my window as well. The glass had been tinted. When the guard saw me, he gave a leer at my br**sts and then laughed.

"Never mind. I guess it's better if I don't know. Good timing. The missus just left 'bout an hour ago."

"That is good timing," Isaac drawled, sounding much more confident. "See you later, Frankie."

We went through the gates and pulled up the one-lane drive to the house. I was about to put my shirt back on when someone without a heartbeat stepped out of the front door to announce him.

"Help!" Isaac shouted-and ducked.

The vampire lunged at the car just as I pulled the trigger. If I'd have been merely human, Isaac would have made it, but I was half vampire topped off with two pints of Bones, and he didn't stand a chance. Isaac's head exploded. Blood splattered everywhere, coating the windows and me in a layer of gore.

My door was ripped off its frame in the next second, but that was long enough for me to aim again. In lightning succession I fired into the vampire's open mouth, knocking him backward, pulling the trigger over and over until there was nothing but clicks, and then I jumped him.

His face was a mess. He was healing, but with pieces of his skull mimicking Isaac's current state, it took him too long. I snatched a knife from his belt with relief, ramming it through his heart just in time to whirl and face the other two running vampires.

One went airborne. I ducked to let him sail over me. He landed on the car instead, giving me those needed moments to sprint forward and launch myself on his partner. Swipe, swipe, and he went down, an expression of disbelief on his face. Being underestimated was the greatest thing ever.

The other vampire regained his bearings and circled me, fangs gleaming. There were screams from inside the house and the guard station. I heard Frankie calling for backup, and then the sound of him running. Dammit. Soon this place would be swarming with cops. Or worse.

I backed away and pretended to trip. Fang Face bought it, springing forward. His momentum made the knife I flung sink that much deeper into his chest. He was still snarling when he landed on me, and I rolled backward in a somersault and kicked him through the front window, jumping up immediately to follow him. Better him getting cut up making a doorway than me.

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