Once again, happy New Year! Before we get to the next chapter in THE OTHER HALF OF THE GRAVE, I have more free reading for you because who doesn’t like free reading, right? This time, it’s Ian and Veritas in the spotlight. In case you missed it earlier this week, you can read the beginning plus several additional scene snippets (about six chapter’s worth!) from WICKED BITE here. Come on, take a bite out of Ian! Believe me, he’ll like it ;).
Now, to the new Bones pov chapter! Usual reminder: THE OTHER HALF OF THE GRAVE is not an entire book, nor is it a new Cat and Bones novel. It is a limited-time, unfinished serial. For more information and to read the previously-posted chapters, go HERE. There will be new chapters every week through part of January. Disclaimers and reminders aside, happy reading!
It took an hour for his anger to abate enough to think clearly again. By that time, he was at the club, waiting for her to arrive and wondering if she would. He’d left her a note telling her to proceed with the plan, but since then, he realized he hadn’t given her much reason to.
What the bloody hell was wrong with him, using a rape taunt against a woman born of rape? It didn’t matter that he’d never do such a thing, or that she’d been dead wrong about her part in their argument. He could’ve used any number of other ways to point out her bigoted hypocrisy. His taunt might have seemed a ridiculously far-fetched example to him, but for too many women, it was a brutal reality. No wonder she’d eyed her stakes. Right now, he wouldn’t blame her if she’d have used them, too.
He hated that he’d hurt her. Again. That was not what he wanted at all.
The grinding sound from an old Ford’s engine snapped his head around. Relief washed over him when he saw her park at the far end of the club’s lot. She’d come. She might be angry at him, but she hadn’t abandoned their partnership. Yes, she still had a long way to go when it came to overcoming her biases, but she didn’t truly believe the rot she’d hurled at him. If she did, she’d never trust a vampire as her backup.
And she obviously did trust him, because here she was.
She got out of the truck, gave a final dismayed tug at her short hemline, and then she strode toward the club as if she’d worn dresses like that her entire life. Heads turned, and the bouncer took one look at her before waving her to the front of the line. She looked startled, but then she smiled with a seductiveness that had the bouncer almost tripping in his haste to let her inside.
Bones would have pitied the lad, if she didn’t hold the same power over him. One day, she’d realize that. God help him then.
He stayed on his motorcycle in the farthest, darkest corner of the parking lot. A full visor helmet hid his face from anyone who happened to notice him. Few did since most people parked as close as they could to the club’s entrance. Failing that, they chose the safety of the spots under the lights since this was hardly the nicest part of Cleveland. Bones led the deep shadows hide him while he stared at the approaching patrons, looking for his target.
So far, no sign of Sergio, but according to Bones’s sources, this club was the vampire’s favorite weekend haunt. Bones also kept a constant eye on his mobile in case Sergio had arrived before him. The video feed from the cameras he’d hidden two days ago showed the club’s emergency exits as well as the service entrances. So far, the emergency exits remained closed, and only human employees went in and out the back.
What was his Kitten doing? Was she still angry at him about their argument? Or was she not thinking about him at all?
His mouth twisted.
She probably wasn’t thinking about him. No doubt she was fending off numerous admirers while downing several gin and tonics. He could do with a whisky himself right now, but that would require doffing his helmet and revealing his face. So, he’d wait.
An hour later, a ripple of energy rolled over him like wisps from an incoming fog. Almost at once, a new Mercedes S class drove into the VIP section of the parking lot. Then a tall, dark-haired vampire got out and waved the approaching valet off.
It had been years since Bones last saw Sergio, but the vampire still wore expensive suits that flattered his softer build with hidden pads and clever tapering. He’d been a pampered aristocrat back in the early seventeen hundreds, so he had none of the muscles and leanness that marked Bones’s poor, rough upbringing. But Sergio could destroy his fancy Mercedes with his bare hands if he wanted, and with his temper, it wouldn’t take much to incite him. Bones had seen him smash in a human’s skull simply because the poor bloke had brought him the wrong drink.
The thought of Sergio using those same hands to touch Cat made rage erupt through him. Sergio paused, turning. Bones was on the ground before the other vampire finished swinging around, and he held in his telltale aura.
Fool! he lashed himself. Alerting his target to his presence with a metaphysical rage bomb? The rankest of amateurs knew better!
After a moment, Sergio dismissed whatever he’d felt and went inside. Good; then Sergio was a fool, too.
Bones stayed on the ground, locking his emotions behind the same wall that had protected them for centuries. When he was back in control, he rose.
He hadn’t chosen the life of a vampire hunter for Cat. She’d chosen it herself long before she’d met him. She was the only one who could un-choose it, too. Until then, he’d make sure she only killed vampires who deserved it, and he’d have her back so that none of them killed her. Sergio more than fulfilled the first qualification. Now, Bones needed to fulfill the second.
A mere twenty minutes later, Sergio came out of the club with Cat on his arm. She clung to him as if she needed his help to stay upright, staggering as Sergio led her to his car.
“Sorry. Think I had too many gin and tonics,” Bones heard her say with a breathy laugh.
“Don’t worry, pussy cat,” Sergio replied, leering down at her. “I’ll lick you and make you feel better.”
And I’ll rip off your head and spike it at her feet, Bones thought savagely, but kept his rage tamped down this time. Not that Sergio would probably notice even if he didn’t. The other vampire seemed oblivious to everyone except the beauteous redhead he half-helped, half-lifted into his passenger seat.
Cat giggled. “Ooh, kitty loves getting licked.”
Well done, Bones thought, admiration threading through his rage. Anyone listening would never know that only a week ago, she’d have turned sunset red at such banter.
“And I love cream,” Sergio said, licking his lips.
Sergio drove off with such speed, two patrons had to jump out of the way to avoid getting hit. Must be anxious indeed to get Cat somewhere private.
Bones killed his motorcycle’s headlight and followed, keeping far enough back that Sergio shouldn’t hear him. Sergio drove so fast, it was a good thing the stretch of highway he chose didn’t have much traffic since it led out of the city, not toward it. Bones throttled back, allowing more space between their vehicles, until he only saw the faint red glow from Sergio’s tail lights.
Those lights stayed in a relatively straight line for a few minutes. Then, they swerved so hard to the right, they disappeared. In the next second, a scream reached him, the voice too high to be Sergio’s.
Bones abandoned his bike and flew. Seconds later, he saw the Mercedes, half in a ditch from overshooting the road’s shoulder. Before he reached it, the back door exploded outward. Sergio rocketed through it with Cat leaping out after him. She absorbed the first blow Sergio aimed at her, then rolled to avoid the other. Both of them were so focused on each other that they didn’t notice Bones swooping up behind them.
Sergio lunged at Cat–and Bones snatched him back. Stakes protruded from Sergio’s back and neck. Bones grabbed them both, and Sergio froze when he felt Bones’s hands on them.
“Hallo, Sergio,” Bones said with vicious satisfaction.
“About time,” Cat said crossly, but relief suffused her features.
Bones felt the same emotion when he saw that she was okay. She was bleeding from her arm, yes, plus she had a nasty bruise on her shoulder, but aside from that, she was unharmed. Sergio was in far worse shape. One more inch on the blade in his back, and he’d be too dead to get information out of. Not that Sergio could speak very well with the stake Cat had jammed into his throat, but he tried.
“Filthy bastard, how’d you find me?” he garbled to Bones.
“I see you’ve met my friend,” Bones said, twisting the stake in Sergio’s neck. “Isn’t she wonderful?”
Cat was in the process of ripping her sleeve off to wrap it around her wound, but she stopped when, with almost comical shock, Sergio said, “You set me up?”
“That’s right, pussycat,” she replied coldly. “Guess you won’t be giving me that tongue bath after all.”
“She is something, isn’t she?” Bones taunted him. “Knew you couldn’t pass up a pretty girl, you worthless sod. Isn’t it fitting that now you’re the one who’s been lured into a trap? What, did you grow short on funds so you had to go out for dinner instead of ordering in?”
The way Sergio stiffened may as well have been a confession. A stronger stench of fear wafted from him, too–another indicator that he realized Bones knew what he was involved in. Still, he tried to lie.
“I don’t know what you say.”
“Of course you do. You’re his best client, from what I hear. Now, I have just one question for you, and I know you’re going to answer me honestly, because if not”–Bones twisted the stake in Sergio’s back, bringing it right against his heart–“I’m going to be really unhappy. Do you know what happens when I’m unhappy? My hand twitches.”
“What? What?” Sergio sobbed. “I tell you! I tell you!”
Oh, you will. “Where’s Hennessey?”
Cat’s brows went up in question at the name. Bones ignored that. He didn’t want her to know who Hennessey was. He only wanted Sergio to tell him where he was.
“Hennessey will kill me,” Sergio said in a bleak tone. “You don’t cross him and live to brag about it! You don’t know what he’ll do if I talk. And you kill me anyway if I tell you.”
Needed more persuading, did he? Bones twisted the stake in Sergio’s neck while strumming the one in his back as if it were the pick to a guitar.
“See, mate, I promise I won’t kill you if you tell me,” Bones said over Sergio’s screams. “That gives you a chance to run from Hennessey. But I swear to you, if you don’t tell me where he is, you’ll die right here. Your call. Make it now.”
Cat’s mouth dropped open hearing him say that he wouldn’t kill Sergio.
Bones gave her a look that said, for once, don’t argue.
Then he stopped twisting the blades. Sergio quit screaming, but his head slumped forward as if he were already dead.
“Chicago Heights, south side of town,” Sergio mumbled.
Close enough to run the operation in Ohio, far enough away to claim ignorance if any Law Guardians came sniffing around. Not that they probably would since humans were the main victims. If it didn’t involve protecting the secrecy of the species, Law Guardians mostly had a “not our problem” attitude when it came to humans.
“Thanks ever so, mate. Now, is this your stake, luv?”
Bones ripped the silver blade out of Sergio’s back and tossed it at Cat. She caught it one-handed, understanding dawning on her features. Much as Bones would enjoy killing Sergio himself, he deserved to die at the hand of someone he’d tried to victimize the same way he’d victimized so many others.
“You promised! You promised!” Sergio screeched, understanding now, too.
“I did,” Bones said curtly. “She didn’t. Got something you want to say to him, Kitten?”
“No,” she said, and shoved the blade so hard into Sergio’s chest, her hand briefly disappeared. “I’m done talking to him.”