Halfway to the Grave

Page 83

This had to be handled very carefully. "Um, they were from some branch of government, they didn't say which. Weren't real chatty, you know? I think they were taking me to a special jail or something because of Oliver."

He gave me a look. "You should have waited for me. You could have gotten killed."

"I couldn't wait! One of Oliver's dirty cops tried to shoot me, and he was supposed to plant a bomb in the hospital where they were taking my mother! Oliver was the one, Bones. He admitted it, practically bragged about how Hennessey was 'cleaning up' his state for him. Like all those people were nothing but garbage. God, if I'd killed him ten times, it still wouldn't be enough."

"What makes you think those blokes who were taking you away weren't more of his men?"

"They weren't. Besides, you hardly treated them like you were giving them the benefit of the doubt. You dropped a car on four of them."

"Oh, don't fret." Unconcernedly. "They jumped free before the explosion. And if they were too thick not to, then they deserved to die for their stupidity."

"Whose car is this?" We were riding in a black Volvo SUV, fully loaded with that new car smell.

Bones cast a sideways glance at me. "Yours. Do you like it?"

I shook my head. "Not whose it is now, but won't it be reported stolen soon?"

"No," he replied. "This was your Christmas present. It's registered under the name on your false license, so there's no way for them to track it. Hope you don't mind missing out on the surprise, but under the circumstances, it was our best option."

My mouth hung open, because he was clearly serious. "I can't accept this. It's way too expensive!" In the midst of everything, here I was arguing over the lavishness of a Christmas gift. Normal and I would never meet.

He gave an exasperated sigh. "Kitten, for once could you just say thank you? Really, luv, aren't we past this?"

A sharp stab of misery poked me when I remembered we were way past this, just not like he thought.

"Thank you. It's beautiful. All I got you was a new jacket." Christmas was only two weeks away, but it might as well have been a thousand years.

"What kind of jacket?"

God help me, how would I have the strength to walk away from him? His dark brown eyes were lovelier than anything money could buy. I swallowed hard and described it, because talking kept the tears at bay.

"Well, it was long, like a trenchcoat. Black leather, so you'd look spooky and mysterious. The police probably ransacked whatever was left of my apartment the vampires didn't destroy. It was wrapped and hidden under the loose board in the kitchen cabinet."

Bones took my hand and squeezed it gently. Now there was no halting the moisture from my eyes.

"Switch?" Better asking late than never. The fact that Bones was here made the question almost rhetorical.

"Shriveled in Indiana. That bugger ran at full speed for hours. Sorry I couldn't have taken my time with him, Kitten, but I wanted to head straight back to you. When I caught him, I staked him and left him to rot in the woods by Cedar Lake. With all the bodies left back at the house, one more isn't going to rock the boat. In fact, Indiana's where we're headed now."

"Why Indiana?" Dimly I was glad Switch was dead. Maybe now my grandparents could rest in peace.

"Got a mate there, Rodney, who will set you and your mum up with new identification. We'll bunk at his place tonight and leave tomorrow afternoon. Just have to run a few errands in the morning to be set. From there, we'll proceed to Ontario for a few months. We will track down those last two sods, mark my words, but we'll do it quietly once this heat over Oliver cools down. When your lads can't find a trace of you after a bit, they'll look for other fish to fry."

Oh, if only it were that simple. "How did you know when they were moving us?"

He gave an amused grunt. "By watching. When they cleared a path from a floor to the back exit and had armed guards waiting by a bunch of vehicles, it was obvious. I just stayed ahead of them until the timing was right."

A solid thumping noise drew my attention to the backseat. Bones grinned.

"Looks like your mum woke up."

Chapter Twenty-Seven

RODNEY WAS A GHOUL, TO MY SURPRISE. Somehow I just expected vampire. Bones lifted my mother out of the backseat, tape still over her mouth, and handed her off to me as he made the introductions. Rodney didn't bat an eye. He must have been used to people showing up at his house bound and gagged.

I set my mother on her feet and shook Rodney's hand as much as I could while keeping her from bolting away.

"I hate to impose right off, Rodney, but where's the bathroom?"

"It's no imposition, it's on the left," he said with a smile.

I hauled her with me. "Be back in a minute, Bones. I want to get her cleaned up and have a word with her."

"Take your time, luv."

I locked the door behind us and immediately began to run the water in the tub. On the way over, I'd come up with a plan, but now I had to get my mother to play along. She made furious grunts behind her gag, and I sighed. Even with the water running, Bones might hear us.

I gave the bathroom mirror a cagey glance and then turned the faucet to run as hot as possible. Soon the room filled with steam. Bingo.

I used my finger to write on the now-fogged mirror:

Leaving tomorrow don't speak he'll hear you

Her eyes bugged. "He killed the man who murdered Grandpa Joe and Grandma, Mom," I said in a clear voice. "He won't hurt me and he won't hurt you."

She wrote three words next to mine:

Leaving without him?

I nodded my head yes, even though I wanted to throw up. "I know you hate vampires and I know this will be hard, but you're going to have to listen to me for a while."

He doesn't know, he would stop us

"Just give me a little time. You have to trust me. Our lives depend on it."

Play along no matter what

"We're staying here tonight, and then tomorrow we're leaving the country. It's the only way."

I kept repeating that to myself. This was the only way. It just hurt more than I could stand.

"Well? Are you going to be reasonable? Can I take the gag off?"

She gave me a hard stare and wrote again on the mirror:

Leaving without him promise me

"You can trust me," I repeated. "I promise."

My mother nodded once, and I took her gag off. She glanced at the door, but didn't say a word.

I grabbed one of the pretty hanging towels and rubbed our words off the mirror. "Try to be nice when we go out."

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