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At Graves End, Page 18

Jeaniene Frost

Chapter Eighteen

 

  SPADE LEDHYKSO ANDKRATAS INTO THE trailer, where there were clamps and other such restraints attached to a reinforced wall.

  Bones took my arm. "Let's go. "

  Bones jumped into the back of the second truck and lifted me up. As soon as I passed through the mock crate, I gaped. This interior was so vastly different from the other rig that I just stared.

  Two couches were clamped in place to the floor, as were two chairs and a refrigerator. There was even a rug tacked down.

  "My God," I breathed. "It's a frigging RV!"

  "This is what my men will be staying in, when they're not with Hykso and Kratas," Bones replied briskly. "No need for them all to be cramped inside the one truck. We're just borrowing it to get back to the airport. "

  The axles made a wheeze underneath us as the truck was put into gear. There was a lurch and then intermittent jerking as we drove away.

  Bones folded his arms and stared at me. I fidgeted, hating how loaded the silence was.

  "You know I had no intention for things to go that far with Tate," I began. "I just wanted to get us closer to Hykso, and get them distracted before I chucked those knives. . . "

  "And a brilliant toss it was, pet. Blades landed right in Kratas's eyes. He fired at you blind. "

  I winced at his tone. "I'm sorry," I said, and he knew I wasn't talking about blinding the other vampire.

  Bones stalked around the small room. I didn't need vampire senses to feel the anger pouring off him, but I wasn't sure if it was directed at me, at Tate, or at the war that had put us in the limo in the first place.

  "We should talk about this," I said, steeling myself for whatever incriminations he heaped on me. After all, I was only supposed to have kissed Tate during this charade. Not made out with him for over ten minutes while clad in only a sweater and my underwear. Yeah, if the situation were reversed, I'd be pissed, too.

  Bones spun around. "I rather doubt talking will help. You did what you felt was necessary. I'm very brassed off by your methods, though I can't argue with your results. "

  He walked over in a measured, deliberate way that was no less predatory for its slowness. When he was only a few inches away, his hand traced down the sleeve of my shirt, and I couldn't help but flinch. There was something almost menacing in the way he touched me.

  "Where did he kiss you? Touch you?"

  I looked him in the eye.

  "It didn't mean anything, Bones. It was nothing like how I feel with you. "

  "Ah. " Bones's reply was soft, but his eyes went green. Whether that was anger or something else, I had no idea.

  He leaned closer, his mouth almost brushing my neck. I couldn't help but shiver, wondering what he was about to do.

  "He kissed you here. " Bones's voice was a low growl. "I suspect he touched you here"-he touched my breasts through my shirt-"and I can smell his hands here"-while kneeling and running a hand along the outside of my thigh.

  I didn't move, holding myself still the way prey does while it tries not to catch the attention of the hunter.

  "I almost killed him tonight. "

  Bones breathed the words so close to my skin that gooseflesh broke out on me where they landed. I didn't say anything, sensing that whatever control Bones had used in not doing that before was at its breaking point now.

  "I've never been jealous before I met you," Bones went on, still in that same soft, menacing tone. "It burns, luv. Like silver through my veins. Some nights, watching you with other men on your jobs, I think it will drive me mad. "

  His hands were still stroking my legs with a light, scary sensuality that made me want to cringe back-and edge forward at the same time. My whole body seemed to be holding its breath. Despite his outwardly calm demeanor, there was something boiling up in Bones that would break free any moment, I could feel it.

  "It was just an act," I said again.

  "Oh, I know that," Bones replied at once. Those glittering green eyes met mine. "Tate wouldn't be alive now if it wasn't. I know you only did this to get Hykso, but Kitten. " His voice deepened. Hardened. "No matter the cause, don't you dare, ever, let someone handle you in such a way again. "

  Then, to my complete surprise, Bones yanked my underwear down.

  "What are youdoing?" I gasped.

  "What does it look like I'm doing?" he muttered even as he spread my legs.

  Of all the things I'd expected, this would have been last on my list. "But you're, er, still mad at me. "

  "Right you are," was his somewhat muted response as a deep lick made my knees weak.

  I was about to say this wasn't a fair way to fight, when Bones grasped me around the waist and lifted me. Color rose to my cheeks, because my legs were around his shoulders and my head almost reached the ceiling.

  "Bones," I managed to say. "Stop. Let me down. "

  Ruthlessly his tongue continued to tease me. "No. You're mine, and I'm taking you now. "

  I didn't want to respond to him. It seemed. . . wrong to do this while he was still mad, but if this was a new way to fight, I was losing the battle. A short cry wrenched from me as Bones's fangs rubbed my clitoris, not piercing it, just applying pressure. It felt incredible, inciting me to arch against him to feel it again. And again. Then repeatedly, gasping in ecstasy at the sensations bombarding me. Talking things out suddenly felt very overrated. Bones knew just what I loved, and I couldn't stop myself from getting lost in the sensations.

  "Tell me you want me," he growled.

  "God, yes," I managed, aching for him to be inside me.

  "Say it. " It was a demand even as his mouth continued to torment me. I dug my fingers into his hair and almost tore him away from my flesh.

  "I want you," I rasped. "Now. Don't you dare say no to me. "

  A harsh laugh tickled me. "Wouldn't dream of it. "

  Bones set me down, dragging his mouth up my skin until my feet made contact with the floor. As soon as they did, I pushed him back toward the couch. He fell on it with me on top of him. I slid down, yanking his pants off, and then wrapped my mouth around him.

  His flesh was cool, like marble come to life. I took him in until I couldn't fit any more, then began sucking with deep, rough pulls.

  Bones moaned, his back arching. "Harder. "

  I increased the pressure. His hands tangled in my hair, then clenched into fists as I drew harder still.

  "Bloody hell, that's so good," he said in a choked tone. "I can't wait. "

  He lifted me, ignoring my protests, and settled me on his hips while thrusting deeply into me. Filling me until it almost hurt. The jostling of the truck increased our friction as he moved with hungry, rapid strokes.

  My head fell back and I moved with him, lost in blind sensation. Bones sat up, catching my nipple in his mouth. He sucked on it until it was almost numb with pleasure, then switched to my other nipple, giving it the same sweet, rough attention.

  My nails raked down his sides. His mouth slid to my neck as he pressed me closer to him. I cried out at the feel of his fangs on my neck, grazing but not breaking my skin.

  I held him closer to my throat. "Bite me. "

  He licked there instead. "No. You've lost too much blood tonight. "

  I didn't care. I wanted my blood inside him. It was a need almost as strong as the desperation that each new thrust within me brought.

  "Do it," I moaned. "Show me I'm yours. "

  His arms lashed around me even as he moved faster. "Youare mine," he ground out, sealing his mouth over my pulse.

  I barely had a chance to smile at my victory when his fangs slid into my neck. A hot swell of passion flooded me, making me dizzy, but for more reasons than the single swallow Bones took before he closed the punctures.

  He kissed me, the metallic taste of my blood flavoring his mouth. I clung to him while the escalating intensity seemed to make my whole body boil.

  "Your tu
rn, Kitten. " His voice was rough with lust. "Show me I'm yours. "

  My teeth sank into his neck. Bones's hand wound in my hair, holding me closer, inciting me to bite harder, until his blood filled my mouth.

  I swallowed. Bones tugged my head back to kiss me again, our mouths tasting of sex and each other's blood. There was something primal about that, his anger, and the seething urge I had to prove to him that no one else mattered.

  Don't stop. Don't stop.

  Maybe I said it out loud. Maybe I didn't. Either way, Bones flipped me over until he was on top of me, moving with ever-increasing intensity.

  "I can't stop. "

  It was the best fight we'd ever had.

  The strobe light of the control tower pierced the darkness with sweeping circular beams. It had snowed earlier. I was freezing even with my double pants, double sweaters, and jacket. Bones hadn't bothered to don anything over his clothes except his black leather coat, but that was probably more from habit than need for warmth.

  The strobe light turned off. Our signal.

  In the darkness, Bones circled the base in whirls of aerial speed, too fast and random for anyone with a bulky weapon to target, and if they had anything smaller, it wouldn't matter. I was clasped in his arms, closing my eyes against the dizzying dips and turns. We could have just driven up, but Bones was being extra paranoid. He didn't want to risk the chance that one of Patra's people had somehow followed us from the wreckage of Hykso's plane and was waiting near the compound with a rocket launcher like Max had.

  The guard's faces on the roof were masks of carefully controlled shock as first Bones appeared out of the dark, landing, striding toward them without even a falter in his step. Right behind him was Ian, who carried Tate. Then came Tick Tock and Zero.

  Don had argued about Ian knowing where the compound was, but Bones brushed him off. He didn't think Ian would betray the location to anyone, so Ian was here, letting go of Tate as soon as he touched the roof. Ian looked around with mild curiosity. His being herewas ironic, of course, considering how Don had sent me to capture or kill Ian just a little over a year ago. How things had changed since then.

  The six of us went inside. No one had been shot at and nothing had exploded. So far, so good, if you asked me, though truth be told, I didn't know why we were here in the first place. After our, um, argument in the back of the tractor trailer, Bones had said he needed to see Don. I'd asked why, of course, but he had a really effective method of distracting me. Then there had been the interesting scene at the private airport, where Bones green-eyed an unsuspecting pilot into flying us to Tennessee. So now here we were, and I still didn't know what Bones wanted to talk to my uncle about. Guess I'd find out soon enough.

  I'd avoided looking at Tate since we met up with him, Ian, Tick Tock, and Zero a few miles from here. There was a big awkward factor between us now. For his part, Bones didn't act any differently, even though he would have been able to sense and hear my mental discomfort. Therefore, I was taken aback when Bones announced that he'd meet me in Don's office, saying he wanted to find Juan and have a word with him.

  "Okay," I managed, torn between going with him just to keep Bones as a shield between me and Tate, and staying because of how cowardly that was. I picked staying. Whoever said I took the easy road? Not me.

  Ian cast a meaningful look at Tate and then grinned. "I'll go with you, Crispin," he said.

  I began walking toward Don's office. It didn't surprise me that Tate followed. I heard Bones let out a sardonic snort right before the elevator doors closed. Yeah, he wasn't surprised by Tate's actions, either.

  Tick Tock and Zero kept pace behind us. I glanced back at them, once again struck by their dissimilarity in appearance. If ever there was a pair of vampires who looked less alike, it was the albino-ish Zero and the chocolate-skinned Tick Tock.

  "Where did the two of you meet Bones?" I asked, struggling to fill the silence before Tate did.

  "Poland," Zero replied.

  "Australia," Tick Tock said.

  I'd never been to either place. Tate's comment that I didn't really know Bones after spending just one year with him out of the two hundred and fifty he'd lived echoed in my mind. Then I squashed it. I know what counts, I reminded myself firmly.

  "So, how are you and Crypt Keeper doing?" Tate asked in a casual tone.

  "Fine. " My voice was clipped.

  Tate stopped walking and grabbed my arm. "How long are you going to pretend nothing happened, Cat?"

  "Don't!" I said to Tick Tock, who'd already cleared his knife from his belt. "Back down, guys. I can handle this. "

  Zero's fangs slid back into his gums, and after another hard stare, Tick Tock put away his knife. Then I rounded on Tate, looking him full in the eye.

  "It was a job, Tate. Things went further than they should have, but we got our targets and that's what matters. Now, before you permanently burn our friendship, would you pleasestop reading anything more into it than it was?"

  "I know what I felt," Tate said roughly. "You can pretend all you want, Cat, but for a while there, you weren't acting, and you can't say you were only thinking of me as a friend. "

  I had a moment of warning at the power filling the air before I heard Bones's mocking laugh.

  "Just as I suspected," he snorted from the other end of the hallway. "Knew it wouldn't be two minutes before you'd make that claim, but you're barking mad if you think you'll ever come between me and my wife. "

  Tate folded his arms. "I already have. "

  Bones came closer. More of that cracking power filled the air. Ian just leaned against the wall in the hallway and smiled, like he was enjoying the show. Zero and Tick Tock moved aside, until nothing stood in Bones's way to Tate except me.

  "What are you about to do?" I asked low.

  Bones arched a brow. "Nothing, pet. Why?"

  Because you look like you're about to play soccer with Tate's head,I said to him silently. And that's not going to happen, even if he is being an idiot.

  My uncle came out of his office, looked at the vampires lined up in the hallway and Tate's defiant stance, then coughed.

  "Cat, Bones, glad you arrived safely. Won't you come sit down? I have some whiskey I was about to open up. "

  I couldn't remember the last time I'd seen Don drink, but I was glad for the tension dissipater. Bones smiled.

  "A nip would do me just fine, old chap. "

  I laced my fingers in Bones's as we went inside, which was a good thing, because I almost tripped when Bones said, "You, too, mate," to Tate.

  The three of us filed into Don's office. I took a seat on the couch and Bones sat next to me. Tate stood, his posture stiff and unyielding.

  Don looked over each of us in turn before he sighed. "Why do I feel like I just interrupted a potentially nasty scene out there?"

  "It doesn't matter, they're done now," I said to Don, glaring at Tate to let him know he'd better stick to that. "It was a vampire pissing contest, but it's over. "

  "Right you are, luv. "

  Bones leaned over to place a light kiss on my cheek. Then he dropped the bomb.

  "I can read humans' minds now, Don. Therefore, I know the dilemma you're in, but the way out is right in front of you. It's commendable you haven't used your assets for monetary gain before, but desperate times call for desperate measures, don't you agree?"

  "What?" I gasped, both confused by his last sentence and astounded that Bones had told Don about his new power.

  My uncle didn't blink. "I won't expose the public to Brams. Synthetic vampire blood made into medicine is too experimental. In the wrong hands, it could turn the entire population into superhuman killers. "

  "What are you two talking about?" I demanded again.

  "Don's in a bind," Bones replied. "His government's implemented deep budget cuts, and he's looking at closure in a year or two. He didn't want to tell anyone for fear of lowering morale. "<
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  My jaw dropped. Don's face confirmed it. "How could you have not said anything?" I gasped.

  Bones tapped his chin and gave Don a calculating look. "Smart of you to realize how destructive Brams could be, but you don't need it. What's got the politicians in a twist today? Terrorism. Scares ' em sackless. What can you offer that no one else can? An interrogator guaranteed to get all the facts, names, places, and plots quicker than they can say full-scale retaliation. "

  Bones paused to let his words sink in. I was still shocked that Don had held back something as important as closing from the rest of us.

  "You're offering to do that?" Don asked, openly skeptical.

  Bones chuckled without humor. "Not me. Tate. Ship him to wherever their most stubborn hostage is, have him green-eye information out of the bloke, then sit back and sell him out to the highest bidder. You'll be flush inside of two months while providing an invaluable service to your country to boot. Best of all, the Geneva Convention can kiss your arse, because the hostage-and his holders-won't even remember how it happened. "

  "You bastard!" Tate burst, advancing on Bones in a fury.

  "Sit down, soldier!" Don shouted in a tone I'd never heard him use.

  Tate halted in his tracks, staring at me. "He's only doing this to get me away from Cat. He doesn't give a shit about our operation, this country, or anything else but her!"

  "That's not the question, is it?" Bones asked icily. "Doyou care about your operation, this country, or anything else but her? I seem to remember you saying your love for her wouldn't interfere with your job. Prove it. "

  I knew then that Bones had planned this ever since he'd ripped the roof off that limousine. Don't get mad, get even didn't begin to cover it.

  Don stood up. "Well, Tate? What's your answer?"

  Tate gave Bones a look of pure hatred. "You order me to go, Don, and I'll go. "

  Don sighed. "You're the finest man I know. You'll prove that everything I believed about integrity being corrupted after turning into a vampire was wrong. " Don's gaze flicked to Bones. "I'll need someone to replace him. Cat's gone too much now, and Dave isn't enough. "

  Bones didn't flinch. "Let me have Tate 'round another week, then you can ship him off and I'll provide you with a replacement. "

  Don turned back to me. "Go on, Cat. I'll handle things from here. "

  Even though this was for the best, I felt anguished for Tate. I knew what it was like to be forced to walk away from the person you loved. I just wished that with this absence, Tate would fall in love with someone else. Maybe being away from me would wake him up to the fact that there were plenty of great women out there, instead of always having the person he thought he wanted dangled just out of his reach.

  "Damn you," Tate growled to Bones.

  "I hope. . . " The proper words failed me, so I just mumbled, "Take care of yourself, Tate," and walked out the door with Bones beside me.