Destined for an Early Grave nh-4, Page 2Jeaniene Frost
“The obvious,” Bones said, almost yanking on my arm as we walked up to a picturesque chalet partially concealed by clinging vines. “Gregor told you to come here.”
We were greeted by a lovely French couple, both vampires, who met us at the entrance with welcoming words I didn’t understand. Bones spoke to them in the same language, his accent sounding as authentic as theirs.
“You didn’t tell me you knew French,” I murmured.
“You didn’t tell me you’d had multiple dreams,” he shot back in English.
He was still pissed. I sighed. At least we’d had a couple of peaceful weeks between us.
Introductions in English were made. Sonya and her husband, Noel, were our hosts for our stay in Paris.
“You’re married?” I asked in surprise, then flushed. “I didn’t mean to sound so shocked, I just—”
“You’re the first bonded vampire couple she’s met, mes amis,” Bones smoothly filled in. “I think she was starting to believe she had a monopoly on the status.”
They both laughed, and the awkward moment passed. Sonya never even batted an eye at the half dozen vampires who took up position around the perimeter of her home.
They showed us to our room, with views of the surrounding gardens. Sonya was a horticulturist. Her gardens could have been used as a blueprint for Eden.
“Diligence and patience, ma chérie,” she said when I complimented her. “All things can benefit from the proper application of both.”
She eyed Bones in a pointed way after she said it, letting me know she hadn’t missed his earlier curt comment.
“My dear Sonya, I’ll try to remember that,” he replied dryly.
“You’ll want to refresh yourselves and settle in, of course. Cat, there is fruit, cheese, and chilled wine. Bones, should I send someone up for you now, or later?”
“Later. First I must speak with my wife.”
Again, his tone held a note of challenge when he said those two words. Sonya and Noel left. Before their footsteps faded away, Bones started in on me.
“Blast it, Kitten, I believed we were past this, yet once again you’ve decided what I can and cannot handle without discussing it with me.”
Some of my remorse left me at his accusing tone. “I thought it was nothing, that’s why I didn’t tell you.”
“Nothing? That’s a fine way to describe a notorious vampire’s attempts to steal you straight from our bed.”
“I didn’t realize that’s what was happening!”
“You knew something was off, but you hid it from me. I thought you’d learned six years ago that hiding things from me was a mistake.”
That was a low blow. Several months after we met, my inhuman status was blown when I was arrested for killing the governor of Ohio. I didn’t know that Don, the FBI agent who interrogated me, was the brother of my deadbeat vampire father, who’d only impregnated my mother because he’d had sex with her so soon after turning. I also hadn’t known that Don had been aware since my birth that I was a half-breed. I’d just thought Don was a high-ranking FBI agent who knew about vampires—and who’d kill Bones if I didn’t take his offer to join Don’s elite secret team.
So I tricked Bones and went away with Don, believing it was the only way to save his life. Bones didn’t take being left behind very well. It took him over four years, but he found me, then he showed me how wrong I had been in thinking it was impossible for us to be together. I still had horrible guilt over what I’d done, and here he’d just shoved a hot poker in that old wound.
“How long are you going to punish me for that? If your last comment is any indicator, I guess I’ll have this thrown up at me for years.”
Some of the anger went out of his face. He ran a hand through his hair, giving me a frustrated—but less damning—look.
“Do you have any idea what I would have gone through, waking up to find you vanished without a trace? It would have driven me mad, Kitten.”
I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. If I thought Bones could disappear on me in his sleep, taken by a strange vampire for unknown purposes, I’d lose all semblance of rationality, too. Get it together, Cat. Now’s not the time to keep score on remarks neither of you means.
“Let’s try to get past this, okay? I should have told you about the dreams. If they happen again, I’ll tell you as soon as I wake up. Scout’s honor.”
He came to me, gripping my shoulders. “I couldn’t stand to lose you like that, Kitten.”
I covered his hands with mine. “You won’t. I promise.”
The Palais Garnier Opera house was extravagant in every detail, with an antique, old-world architecture that only came from being old-world. Sonya and Noel went with us, as well as our protective entourage. Bones was taking no chances of Gregor’s showing up to crash the fun.
This was my first opera. Usually I didn’t get to wear a pretty dress without someone to kill, but unless the opera was far more graphic than the brochure detailed, that wasn’t happening tonight.
Bones received so many admiring looks on our way to the gilded entrance that my hand tightened on his. Granted, he looked spectacular in his black tuxedo, a white silk scarf draped around his neck, but did women have to stare? Most of the time, I pinched myself over his glittering gorgeousness, not quite believing someone so stunning could belong to me. Sometimes, however, the lustful glances thrown his way made me wish he wasn’t such a damned bowl of eye candy.
“They’re not staring at me, pet,” Bones murmured. “They’re looking at you. As I am.”
I smiled at the leer he gave me. “It’s just the dress,” I teased. “The way it drapes makes my hips and boobs look bigger.”
The vermillion taffeta gown did have extra swaths across my chest, hiding the light boning that held the strapless dress up. Then those swaths gathered at my hips before fanning out in a fishtail at the bottom of the long, narrow skirt. It was the fanciest thing I’d ever worn.
Bones gave a low chuckle. “I can’t stop wondering how I’m going to take you whilst you’re in it. Right now I’ve decided on from behind, although that may change by the end of the opera.”
“Why did we go to this if you’ll just be mentally molesting me and not watching the performance?”
“Because that’s right fun in itself,” he responded with a wicked grin. “I’ll enjoy imagining all the things I’m going to do to you once we’re alone.”
Then he became more serious, and the gleam left his eyes. “Actually, I thought we’d see the opera, have a late supper, then stretch our legs exploring the city. Although we’ll have our escorts following us, they shouldn’t need to be strapped to our backsides, I suspect. Would you like that?”
My mouth dropped. Walking around without full body armor and a highly armed squad at my elbow? Just sightseeing, like normal people?
“Oui, sí, any language the word for yes is in. Please tell me you’re not about to say ‘psyche’.”
“I’m not. The performance is about to start; let’s find our seats.”
“Very agreeable, aren’t you?” That sly tone was back in his voice. “I’ll take advantage of it later.”
When the curtain came down at intermission, I knew three things: I loved the opera, I wanted a drink, and I had to pee.
“I’m going with you,” Bones announced, when I voiced my bathroom necessity.
I rolled my eyes. “They have rules about that.”
“I have to freshen my lipstick, Cat, would you mind if I accompany you?” Sonya asked. “Bones, you could fetch some champagne, I’d love a glass as well. It’s across from the facilities, so you’ll have no trouble finding us.”
The translation was obvious. Bones would be close in case there was trouble of any kind, be it misguided dream suitor or murderous undead opera buff, and I’d have a bodyguard.
He nodded. “I can escort you. That’s not being overprotective. It’s only mannerly.”
“Sure.” My lips twitch
ed. “Whatever you say.”
There was a long line at the ladies’ room. Bones let out an amused snort when he saw my speculative glance at the empty entrance to the men’s facilities.
“They have rules about that,” he mocked.
“I know all these chicks aren’t waiting to let out their bladders, they should have a separate makeup room so the rest of us can pee,” I grumbled, then turned to Sonya apologetically. “Um, I didn’t mean you. Just ignore everything I say, we’ll both be better off.”
She laughed. “I know what you meant, chérie. Often I’ve thought the same myself, since the latrines have been of no use to me for a long time.”
“Bring me some liquor, Bones, fast, to take my foot out of my mouth.”
He kissed my hand. “I’ll see you back here.”
When he walked away, I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the view of him leaving.
The low exhalation came from a brunette farther up in line. I gave her an arched brow and tapped my engagement ring for effect.
She was human, or I’d have thrown down at the second lingering look she gave Bones before shrugging at me.
“Nothing lasts forever.”
My teeth ground. “Except death.”
Sonya said something in French that made the woman’s mouth curl sulkily before she turned away with a last parting shot.
“If you can’t stand for your man to be admired, you would do better to keep him at home.”
With her heavy French accent, her h’s were almost silent. You can’t kill her just because she’s a tramp, I reminded myself. Even if you could have her body discreetly disposed of…
“He fucks even better than he looks,” I settled on saying. Several heads turned. I didn’t care; I was pissed. “And that beautiful face is going to be clamped between my legs as soon as we get ooome, don’t you worry.”
From the crowd at the bar, I heard Bones laugh. Sonya chuckled. The woman gave me a venomous glare and stepped out of line.
“Bon, one less person in front of us, we’ll be finished before he has our drinks,” Sonya observed when she quit laughing.
“One down.” I eyed the line of women, most of whom either smiled or avoided my gaze due to that little scene. “About a dozen more to go.”
Ten minutes later when we entered the bathroom, I was trying not to hop on one leg in impatience. It had been all I could do to wait my turn and not have Sonya use vampire mind control to get the other women out of my way, but that wouldn’t have been fair.
When I came out, Sonya was putting her lipstick back in her small clutch bag. I joined her by the mirror to wash my hands.
“Small world,” someone said to my right.
I turned, noticing a cute blonde staring at me. “Excuse me?”
“You don’t remember me?” She shook her head. “It was a while ago. I wasn’t even sure it was you until you snapped at that woman, but your coloring stands out. Plus, you were antsy the first time we met, too.”
From her accent, she was American. And I’d never seen her before in my life.
“I’m sorry, you have the wrong person.” After all, I was good at placing people. Half-vampire memory skills, and it had come with my old job.
“It was at the Ritz on Place Vendôme, remember?” I still shook my head. She sighed. “No big deal. Sorry it didn’t work out with the other guy, but you seem to have traded up, so good for you.”
Now I was wondering if she was crazy. Sonya moved closer to me. The girl dabbed powder on her nose before tucking her compact back in her purse.
“You looked way too young to get married anyway, so I don’t blame you—”
“Huh?” With open incredulity.
She sighed. “Never mind. Nice to see you again.”
She left the bathroom. Sonya started to grab her when I muttered, “Don’t bother. She’s just got the wrong person.”
Pain went off in my head, like little needles were jabbing at my brain. I rubbed my temples.
“Are you well, chérie?” Sonya asked.
“Fine. She had the wrong person,” I repeated. “After all, this is my first trip to Paris.”
We walked along the Rue de Clichy with our bodyguards trailing several paces behind us. I’d opted against a full dinner and just had a croissant and cappuccino at one of the many charming cafés lining the streets.
Sonya and Noel hadn’t joined us, choosing to let us have our quasi privacy. It did seem kind of intimate, escort and hundreds of passersby notwithstanding. We were just another couple, one of countless, strolling the midnight streets of Paris.
Bones narrated along the way about buildings and structures still standing…and what they’d been before. He had me laughing at stories about him, his best friend Spade, and his sire Ian. I could just imagine the hell the three of them must have raised.
We stopped at the end of one of the long streets where the buildings were particularly close together. Bones called out something in French, then led me farther down the narrow alley.
“What did you just say?”
He smiled. “You’d rather not know.”
Then he covered my mouth in a deep kiss and molded me to him. I gasped when I felt his hands bunching up my dress.
“Are you crazy? There are half a dozen vampires nearby—”
“None within eyesight,” he cut me off with a chuckle. “As instructed.”
“They can hear, Bones,” I continued to object, facing the building as he spun me around.
He continued to laugh. “Then do be sure to say flattering things.”
Bones had an arm around my waist, locking me next to him. My squirming only ratcheted my dress higher as his hands bunched it up. Then the sudden pierce of his fangs into my neck made me freeze. A low rumble of pleasure came from him.
“Ah, Kitten, you love that almost as much as I do. Sink into me, luv, as I do the same.”
The blood leaving me and spilling into him felt like it was replaced by sweet fire. Bones was right; I loved it when he bit me. My skin felt hot, my heartbeat quickened—and then I was rubbing against him and moaning at the delay of his unzipping his pants.
“Bones,” I managed. “Yes—”
The building hit me in the face so hard I felt my cheek fracture. And then the gunfire registered.
It came in staccato bursts from above us, on all sides…everywhere but from the building I was mashed against. Bones had me pressed into the brick. His body covered mine, and he was draped over me, shuddering while he punched at the wall in front of me. Trying to make a door where one didn’t exist.
That’s when I realized why he was shaking. He was being strafed with bullets.
It sounded like our guards were taking even worse treatment. From the intermittent spaces without Bones jerking in reflex, they must have formed a perimeter around our crouched bodies. When a concentrated burst of gunfire ended with a scream cut off, I started to struggle in a panic. It was much worse than I’d thought. Whoever this was, they were firing silver bullets.
“We have to run, God, this’ll kill you!” I screamed, attempting to unroll myself from the ball Bones had me stuffed in. With his strength pinning me, I was flapping uselessly like an upside-down turtle.
“If we run, they could cut you down,” he rasped, almost inaudible over the racket of gunfire. “One of them will have called for backup. We’ll wait. Mencheres will come.”
“You’ll be dead by then,” I countered. It was hard to kill a vampire by gunfire, even with silver bullets, because it took too long to shred the heart. Bones had taught me that. No vamp will sit still and pose for you…
His words over six years ago, dismissing the use of guns as effective weapons. Yet Bones might as well be sitting still and posing for them. Backup would arrive too late. He had to know that, even as I did. For once, he was lying to me.
The building’s frame gave where his fist hamme
red away. People inside screamed. Given time, Bones could tear through the structure, and we’d have a shelter from the pitiless firing. But pounding at it one-handed while being riddled with bullets? Bones was already moving slower, his punches taking on an almost drunken quality. God, he’d die crouched over me, right here on this street.
Something savage surged within me. There wasn’t even a clear command my brain gave to my body. All I knew was Bones had to get away from those bullets long enough for him to heal.
With that goal in mind, I managed to maneuver around, then shot straight up with my arms locked around him. We made it to the top of the five-story building we’d been huddled against. Once we hit the roof, I rolled with him, but oddly, no bullets whizzed around us.
I didn’t bother pondering why the gunmen weren’t targeting us at the moment. Not when I felt Bones sag in my grip. Fear fueled me, sent me leaping onto the roof of the neighboring building with him. And then the next one and the next, not even taking the time to be amazed at what I’d just done. When the remaining gunfire sounded fainter, I stopped. With what I had to do, I’d drop like a stone, but Bones needed blood. A lot of it.
We weren’t being chased by any flying assassins. Maybe our guards were holding them up for now, but that might not last. I grabbed Bones’s slumped head and slashed my wrist on his fangs, letting my blood pour into his mouth.
For a frozen, petrifying second, nothing happened. He didn’t swallow, open his eyes, or do anything but let the red liquid stream out of his mouth. Frantic, I used my other hand to work his jaw, forcing the blood down his throat. Tears blurred my eyes, because he had a mass of silver-filled holes all over him, even on his cheeks. Oh God, please don’t let him die…
At last he swallowed. His eyes didn’t open, but there was suction on my wrist that hadn’t been there before. That suction grew, pulling the blood from my veins, and the relief crashing through me numbed the dizziness that followed. Mesmerized, I watched the holes in Bones start to swell, then the spent silver rounds expelled from his body. It made me smile even as the edges of my vision became fuzzy and faded just as Bones opened his eyes.