Magic Graves Page 2

I sighed. Tammy began ordering us to take her back to her house. Bones ignored her, pulling onto the road and continuing in the opposite direction of where she lived.

"It's only for a few days," I said.

Or so I hoped, anyway.

Chapter Two

Most people who'd had three brushes with death - one involving a ghoul - would be scared into a very cooperative state. Tammy appeared to be channeling her inner Paris Hilton instead. Evidently she'd never heard the word no before. She was outraged that we didn't let her go back to her house to pack, and then she was really upset once she saw the town we were hiding out in.

"You've got to be kidding." Tammy gave a disparaging glance at the rustic countryside and overgrown cherry orchard bordering the property where I'd grown up.

"It's in the middle of nowhere," Tammy went on. "You probably have psychotic inbreds living in the woods!"

She's suffered a traumatic experience , I reminded myself again, gritting my teeth. Cut her some slack.

Licking Falls was in the middle of rural nowhere, but that was the point. It might not look appealing to a young heiress, but for safety, it was ideal. No one would think to look for Tammy here.

We'd rounded the last turn and were heading down the long gravel road that led to my old house when Bones abruptly stopped.

"What's wrong?" I asked, feeling his tenseness like invisible ants marching across my skin.

"Your house isn't empty," he stated low. "And the occupant isn't human."

"Let's get out of here," Tammy said, her voice rising. "Now!"

I had my hand over her mouth even as Bones slid soundlessly out of the car. All we needed was for Tammy to start screaming to really alert whoever the undead intruder was. How the hell had someone beaten us here? We'd told no one we were coming! Instinct made me want to follow Bones, but that would leave Tammy unprotected. I glared at Tammy and ordered her in a low tone to be silent. The power from my gaze rendered Tammy mute at once. Then I let go of her mouth and pulled out a few weapons, all my senses directed toward the house half a mile up the road.

Relief rolled across my subconscious moments later, causing me to lessen my grip on my knives. Bones must have killed the intruder. Being connected to Bones this way was like hitchhiking on his emotions. In situations like this, it also came in handy.

I began to drive up the road again, ignoring Tammy's frantic pokes on my shoulders. I'd compelled her to be quiet, but not to be still, more's the pity.

When I was halfway up the road, Bones appeared, a bemused expression on his face.

"Your mum's here," he said.

I'd slowed on seeing him, but at that, I slammed on the brakes. "She is?"

Bones nodded and got into the passenger sear. "In the undead flesh."

"Catherine?" I heard my mother say, sounding as surprised as I felt. Of course. Even a hundred yards away, with her new hearing, she'd pick up my conversation with Bones as easily as if she'd been in the car.

A lump made its way into my throat. "Yeah, Mom. It's me."

I hadn't seen my mother in months. Not since the night I killed the man who kidnapped and forcibly changed her into a vampire. He'd done it just to hurt me, the bastard. It was a shame I couldn't kill him twice.

My mother was framed in the front door, watching me as I pulled up. The highlights had grown out of her hair and her skin was already paler than it had been the last time I'd seen her. Feeling the aura of supernatural energy coming from her was something I didn't think I'd ever get used to.

"Hi," I said as I got out. I wanted to hug her, but I was afraid she might push me away. My mother had always loathed vampires. Now she was stuck as one, and it was all because of me. To say that strained our relationship was putting it mildly.

Her hands fluttered, like she wasn't sure what to do with them. "Catherine." A small smile creased her face. "What are you doing here?"

"We were going to use the house to hide out, but since you're here -"

"Someone's after you again?" she cut me off, green tingeing her blue gaze.

"Not me," I hastened to assure her. "Tammy, the girl in the backseat. Bones and I are, uh, guarding her for a few days until Don squares things away."

"Hallo, Justina," Bones said, getting out of the car. "Certainly didn't expect to see you here."

"I wanted somewhere quiet to go for a vacation," she muttered.

He let out a sardonic laugh. "Seems we're not the only ones to have our vacation interrupted, then."

Bones took it for granted that we'd still be staying here. We'd decided this place was perfect to hide Tammy and I'm the one who owned it, so to him it was settled. But after all my mother had been through, I didn't want to subject her to my current predicament.

"We'll go somewhere else," I said with an apologetic shrug.

"Is something wrong with the girl?" my mother asked, pointing.

I glanced at the backseat. Tammy was smacking at the door while her eyes bugged and her mouth opened and closed like a fish.

"Oh shit, I forgot about muting her!"

I let Tammy out and returned her voice with a flash of my gaze. The first thing she did was howl loud enough to make me wince.

"Don't ever do that to me again!"

"Then don't give away our position if we think there's danger, and we won't have a reason to," Bones replied with an arched brow.

"Mom, this is Tammy," I said, waving the blonde forward.

My mother smiled with less tension. "Hello, Tammy. Nice to meet you."

Tammy grabbed my mother's arms. "Finally, someone normal! Do you know what it's like with these two? They're worse than prison guards! They wouldn't even stop to let me eat!"

Bones snorted. "We were a bit busy keeping you alive, if you recall."

My mother glanced at Tammy and then back at me. "Poor girl, you must be starving. I'll make you something for dinner. You don't want Catherine to cook, believe me."

Under normal circumstances, I might have bristled at the implication. But that statement, plus the look she'd given me, said we would be staying here after all. Safety concerns for Tammy aside, I was happy. I'd missed my mother. Maybe our mutually interrupted vacations were a blessing in disguise for our relationship.

"After you, Mom."

*** *** ***

My warm and fuzzy feeling evaporated after dinner, however. The house only had two bedrooms. My mother kindly offered to share hers with Tammy, but just as I was about to thank her for it, Tammy spoke.

"Shouldn't I sleep with him instead?" Tammy's gaze swept over Bones with unmistakable lust. "After all, since I'm the one paying, I should choose who I bunk with."

My mother gasped. I opened my mouth to deliver a scathing retort, but Bones laughed. "I'm a married man, but even if I weren't, you wouldn't stand a chance. Rotten manners you have."

"Your loss," Tammy said, with another toss of her hair. Then she looked around in frustration. "You can't expect me to stay here more than a couple days. I'll go crazy."

"But you'll be alive," I pointed out, which should have been her top priority, in my opinion.

"You killed that thing, didn't you?" Tammy asked. "Doesn't that mean the danger's over?"

Bones shrugged. "I doubt the ghoul was the person contracted to kill you. Sounds like outsourced, cheap local talent to me."

Tammy gaped at him. "She had to cut his head off before he stayed down. That's what you consider cheap local talent?"

"No self-respecting undead hitman would take a contract on a human," Bones said dismissively. "Humans are too easy. Like getting paid to stomp on a goldfish. But in your case, probably a human hitman who knows about the undead got frustrated that his last two attempts didn't work, and gave some quid to a young ghoul to finish you. It's a practical solution; the ghoul gets money and a meal, the hitter still keeps the bulk of the contract payment, and the client's happy that you're dead."

"You would know, wouldn't you?" my mother muttered.

"How's that?" Tammy asked.

Bones smiled at her, beautiful and cold at the same time. "Because I was a hitman for over two hundred years."

Tammy gulped. I didn't add what I knew; that Bones had been very particular about his contracts. He killed other killers, not innocent people, and most of those people were his own kind. That hadn't won Bones any popularity contests in undead circles, but if Bones thought someone deserved to die, he took the contract, no matter the danger.

"In a few days, Don should have your greedy toad of a cousin arrested and then it will be safe for you to go home," Bones went on.

"If you're a hitman, why can't I just pay you to kill Gables?" she asked, recovering. "My birthday isn't for another two months. Who knows if my cousin might try to kill me again, even if he is in jail?"

My eyes widened at how causally Tammy broached the subject. Pass the salt. Kill my cousin.

Bones shrugged. "He might, but you'll have to look elsewhere for a hitter. I'm too busy for that now."

Tammy glanced at my mother, me, and then Bones before her face tightened up. "This sucks," she said, and ran up the stairs.

Considering I could have been spending the next two weeks on vacation with my husband instead of looking after a spoiled rich girl who was being targeted by killers, I agreed.

"It'll be all right, Tammy," I called out.

An expletive was her response. Bones arched a brow and tapped the side of his eye.

"Say the word, luv. I'll glare a whole new attitude into her."

Vampire mind control would be the easy way out, but when did I ever take the easy way?

"She'll come around," I muttered. Hurry up, Don.

"I'll go talk to her," my mother said.

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