Just in time for the height of the holidays, I have a nasty cold. Blergh! Of course, this happens right before several family members are set to come over because we are hosting Christmas this year. It’s all my fault, though. Yesterday, I thought “I’m feeling much better. Looks like this cold was only one of those 72-hour deals.” Of course that means I woke up today feeling SO MUCH WORSE. As I said before, blergh! (which is the sound I make every time I finish coughing. I know–my husband’s a lucky man to sleep next to THIS, right? ;))
I could go on complaining (really, I could–I excel at complaining) but instead, how about we get to the new Bones point of view chapter? That will be much less whiny to read, especially since this one has been commonly referred to as the “dirty talk” chapter. Usual reminder: THE OTHER HALF OF THE GRAVE is not an entire book, nor is it a new Cat and Bones novel. For more information and to read the previously-posted chapters, go HERE. There will be new chapters every week from now through part of January. Disclaimers, cold complaining, and reminders aside, happy reading!
A week later, Cat stood in front of the full-length mirror he’d set up for her and stared at her reflection with a fascinated sort of horror.
“You can’t be serious. There is no way I’m going out in public like this!”
Bones leaned back in his chair and didn’t bother to hide his grin. “Come now, you look smashing. Can hardly stop myself from ripping your clothes off.”
If she knew how true that was, she’d do more than glare at him. Most lasses would enjoy a makeover and bags of new clothes, but judging from her scowl, she had not. The results were worth it, though. Her makeover didn’t heighten her beauty as much as demand attention for it, as did her new low-cut, short-hemmed silver and green dress. If not for the boots that reached her knees, she’d be more naked than clothed, and from her scandalized expression, she was well aware of that.
“You think this is funny, don’t you?” she retorted. “This is all a big…bloody chuckle-fest to you!”
He jumped up and faced her. She was so used to his speed that she didn’t blink at how he went from a seated position across the room to staring down at her in less than a second.
“This isn’t a joke, but it is a game. Winner takes all. If some poor undead fellow is busy looking at these”–he tugged at her bodice, earning a slap to his hand–“then he won’t be looking for this,” he finished, holding his latest gift against her stomach.
If she hadn’t been so focused on barring another inch of her bosoms from his view, she would have paid more attention to what he was doing with his other hand. After all, her cleavage was meant to distract her targets, not herself.
She grabbed his new gift and straightened. “Is that a stake, Bones, or are you just happy with my new dress?”
If she only knew.
“In this case, it’s a stake. You could always feel around for something more, though,” he couldn’t resist adding. “See what comes up.”
She gave him one of her I’m-acting-more-angry-than-I-actually-am looks. “That better be part of our upcoming dirty-talk training, ore we’re going to give this new stake a go.”
Oh, he was going to enjoy this next part of her training, and for far more than its practical purposes. She might look like a seductress in her new togs, but she also needed to sound like one. Fortunately for her, he was a world-class pervert who’d spent weeks fantasizing about her. When he was done, she’d be able to handle anything her targets said.
“Now, that’s hardly a romantic rejoinder,” he said, as if this were only part of her lesson. “Concentrate! You do look great, by the way. That bra does wonders for your cleavage.”
“Slime,” she said, but he caught her quick glance down to see if he was right. Then she quickly looked away, as if embarrassed at being caught admiring herself.
She should admire herself. All of her, including her delectably on-display cleavage. She’d been berated into being ashamed for too much, too long. But that was a subject for another day. For now, he had another surprise for her. “Put the stake in your boot, Kitten. You’ll find there’s a loop for it.”
She did, smiling at how her weapon was now concealed, yet still within easy reach.
“Put your other one away as well,” he said, knowing she always carried her homemade silver-and-wood stake on her, though true to their agreement, she’d never tried to use it on him.
“That was a great idea, Bones,” she said when she was done concealing her stakes. Then, almost immediately, her expression clouded.
It hadn’t escaped his notice that whenever she let her guard down enough to enjoy herself with him, she seemed to have a knee-jerk reaction of punishing herself for it. He hadn’t been able to stop that self-destructive cycle yet, but he knew how to distract her from it today. Thoroughly.
“Done that myself a time or two. Hmm, still something not right,” he said, walking around her. “Something’s missing…” he pretended to muse before saying, “I’ve got it!” with a snap of his fingers. “Take your knickers off.”
She gasped. “What?”
“Your knickers,” he repeated, using all his control to keep a straight face while chortling on the inside. “You know– panties, underwear, muff-huggers, nasty nets–”
“Are you out of your mind?” she interrupted. “This is where I draw the line! What does my underwear have to do with anything? I’m not flashing my…my crotch at someone, no matter what you say!”
Her color was up, but she hadn’t blushed yet.
He’d soon fix that. “Look, you don’t have to flash anyone anything. Believe me, a vampire will know right off without you showing him that your box is unwrapped.”
“And just how is he supposed to know that?” she snapped. “No panty lines?”
“The scent, pet.”
Ah, there was his blush!
“No vamp in the world could mistake that. Like dangling catnip in front of a kitty. Bloke gets a good whiff of–”
“Will you stop?” she all but screeched. “I get the picture. Stop drawing it, okay? God, but you are…are…profane!”
He’d started this to distract her–and yes, because she was even lovelier when she blushed–but she really did need to get over her modesty before it endangered her life. Her first hunt was this week, and she would be ready. Seemed that their upcoming provocative chat wouldn’t be her only lesson today.
“Besides, I hardly see how that’s necessary,” she added, trying to collect herself with visible effort. “You’ve got me dressed up in these screw-me clothes, I’m all dolled up with hair and makeup, and I’m going to burn their ears off with dirty talk. If that isn’t enough to get them to take me for a ride, then I think it’s hopeless.”
“It’s like this, luv,” he replied, now not teasing at all. “You’re right fetching, but suppose a fellow prefers blondes? Or brunettes? Or likes ‘em with a little more meat on the arse? These aren’t greenhorns looking for the first available vein. These are Master vampires with discriminating tastes. We might need something to tip the scales, as it were. Think of it as…advertising. Is it really that difficult for you? With a vampire’s natural sense of smell, it’s not like he can’t sniff you out in the first place.” And if she hadn’t realized that before, she would with what he said next. “I can tell right off when you’re got your monthlies, knickers or no knickers. Some things you just–”
“All right, I get your point!” Now her face was fire engine red, but to her credit, she took in a few breaths and then met his eyes squarely. “Fine, I’ll do it, when we go out on Friday for the hunt. Not before. I’m not negotiating on this one.”
“Whatever you say,” he acquiesced.
“Right, then, let’s get on to the nasty speak. You know the rules: for every blush and recoil you give me, you owe me ten miles running through the woods. So, Kitten, which are you going to be by the end of tonight? A trained, triumphant seductress? Or a tired jogger?”
“Triumphant seductress,” she said with admirable confidence for someone whose cheeks were still stained with a prior blush.
He gestured to the table he’d set up for this very purpose. “Let’s find out.”
She sat down, giving a dismayed glance at how her hemline hitched up even higher on her thighs. Bones saw it and snorted.
“Going to lose our wager before I’ve even started?”
With a defiant arch of her brow, she yanked her hemline up another notch and then glared at him for admiring the view.
“Are you?” she countered. “If I don’t blush or pull away, you lose. I wonder what punishment I’ll think up for you?”
“Think away,” he replied with a grin. “It’ll never happen.” Then he sat down and held out his hands. “Game on, luv.”
After a moment’s pause, she slipped her hands into his. As soon as she did, Bones told her what he was really thinking.
“You look luscious, pet. The only thing that could make your mouth more beautiful is if it were wrapped around my cock. I wager you could start my heart again. I want to bend you over just to hear how loud you can scream when you come. I bet you like it rough, too. So do I, and I’ll tear into you until you’re too tired to keep begging for more–”
“My, my, someone hasn’t been laid in a while,” she interrupted.
Her tone was cool, but she was already using sarcasm as a shield, and her eyes had dilated with more than a little interest. He rolled his thumbs over the pressure points in her hands, and her legs clenched as if she were feeling his touch somewhere else.
Her gaze widened, and he stared into her eyes while letting her see past his usual mask.
Yes, I mean every word. Yes, I intend to do all of this and more to you, and I won’t even mention what I can do with my fangs that you will absolutely love.
“I’ll take your breasts into my mouth, licking your nipples until they turn dark red. They’ll do that, luv,” he confirmed as her brow faintly furrowed. “The more I lick and the more I nibble, the darker they’ll get. Let me inform you of a secret about vampires–we direct where the blood goes in our bodies, for as long as we want it to be there.”
More widening of her eyes, and now her breathing hitched, too. He stroked her wrists near her pulse points, feeling as well as hearing her heartbeat speed up.
“I can’t wait to find out how you taste,” he said, voice deepening while his tongue traced his lower lip. “You won’t want me to stop even after I’ve completely exhausted you. You’ll think you were on fire; your skin will burn. I’ll suck all of your juices out of you…and then I’ll drink your blood.”
“Huh?” she said. Moments later, comprehension dawned, and she looked at his mouth with a flash of erotic expectation.
Almost at once, a flush painted her cheeks from ear to ear. She also stood up so fast, her chair upended. Then she moved away and began to pace.
Triumph surged in him that had nothing to do with his winning their bet. She wasn’t blushing from her usual prudery. Oh, no. Her scent, pulse, and the look in her eyes gave her away. She was blushing because part of her wanted him to do everything he’d said…and the rest of her had just realized that.
Soon, Kitten. Very, very soon.
But not now. She wasn’t ready to act on her attraction. She was barely able to admit to it. So, he’d continue the lesson as if both of them weren’t aware of the new tension between them.
He let out a low laugh. “Oh, Kitten, you were doing so well! Guess you couldn’t pass up a nice stroll in the woods. Beautiful night for it, too. I smell a storm coming.”
She muttered under her breath as she continued to pace. Not her usual curses at him; these sounded more directed at herself.
“And you wonder why I had you pegged as an innocent,” he went on. “I’ve met nuns who were more promiscuous. Knew it would be the oral stuff that did you in. I would’ve bet my life on it.”
“You don’t have a life, you’re dead,” she muttered.
Keep telling yourself that. Even you don’t believe it anymore. “On the contrary, if you judge by senses and reflexes, I’m more alive than any human. Just a few more upgrades.”
“Upgrades?” She swung to face him. “You’re not a computer, Bones. You’re a killer.”
Once again, she seemed more desperate to convince herself of that than anything else. He’d pity her that inner struggle if she wasn’t wrong about vampires in general, him in particular, and most importantly, about herself.
So, he only leaned back, tilting the chair until it balanced on two legs. All the while, her gaze kept flicking over him as if she couldn’t help herself. He didn’t want her to stop looking, either. That’s why his shirts had gotten much more form fitting. His new gray one accentuated muscles well-honed from working under a pitiless overseer when he was human. Back then, his lean, hard body had been a stigma, a sign of his poverty. Now, it was fashionable.
“You’re a killer, too, or did you forget?” he finally said in an easygoing tone. “You know, those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and all that rot. Really, Kitten, why so shy on or former topic? Didn’t that sod who shagged you kiss you everywhere first? Don’t tell me the wretch neglected foreplay.”
A new darkness in her voice made him stiffen. He tried to read her eyes but they were now shuttered, and her scent soured with pain while her pacing became jerky with a rage that went far beyond what a normal one-night stand would incur. No, something else had happened. Something worse.
Whoever the sod was, his days were now numbered.
“Not unless you could him taking his clothes off as foreplay,” she went on in a brittle tone. “Can we not talk about that, Bones? It hardly puts me in the proper mood.”
“Don’t fret over him, pet,” he told her, making sure his voice held none of the violence surging through him. “If I meet him, I’ll snap him in half for you.”
And I will meet him. I promise you.
“No, we won’t speak of him any longer,” he continued. “Ready to go back to the table now?”
With that, he waggled his brows in an exaggerated way. To his relief, regular annoyance took over her expression. Good. He never wanted to see that kind of pain on her face again.
“Or do you need a few more minutes to cool off?” he said in his most insinuating tone to further take her mind off the past.
She stopped pacing. “I’m ready. I just wasn’t prepared before.”
She sat back down, and he stretched out his hands. This time, she took them without hesitation.
“Go on,” she said in the same tone he’d heard soldiers use while preparing for battle. “Give it your best shot.”
A slow smile stretched his lips. “Love to give it my best shot. Let me tell you just how I’d do it…”
Before the hour was through, she owed him forty miles.