Magic Graves Page 6

The black haired vampire addressed as X stepped forward. "A human hires a hitman to kill his cousin for money, boring. That same hitman botches the job twice, funny. Then the desperate hitman sends a ghoul after the girl to finish things up, my curiosity's piqued. That same ghoul ends up with his head cut off by a mysterious redhead...ah. Now I'm interested."

"Who's your friend, honey?" I asked Bones, not taking my eyes off of X.

"Former coworker, you could say. An overly competitive one who got brassed off when I killed several of his best clients."

Former coworker . X must not have been a small-time hit man for Bones to refer to him that way, which meant the vampires with him had to be badasses, too. Our chances just got downgraded from slim to screwed.

"Could my old friend Bones be involved, I wondered?" X went on. "The young heiress has government connections, it turns out, and so does the Reaper. And the Reaper's supposed to be such a bleeding heart when it comes to humans. When another rumor spread that the human heiress would be here tonight, I took precautions in case I was right about who was protecting her. And lucky me, I was."

Precautions? That was one way to describe the dozen vampires surrounding us, all of whom were armed to the teeth. I glanced back at the nightclub. Would anyone come to our aid? Or would they stick to the whole "no violence on the premises thing" and stay the hell away?

"You're here for me, leave her out of it," Bones said, with a barely perceptible nod at Tammy. "Let her go back inside, and we'll settle this ourselves."

"She may not be why I'm here, but I'll be sure to kill her, too, so I don't risk war."

Clever bastard. If X killed us while we were defending Tammy, he could call it business. Tammy had a contact out on her; otherwise, Bones's people could consider it personal and retaliate for our slaughter. X was covering his bases well.

Tammy began to whimper. X gave her a genial smile. "If it makes you feel better, your cousin's dead. I killed him after I learned what I needed to know about you."

So that's why Don couldn't find Gables, not that it did us any good now.

Bones glanced at me. "Kitten, are you getting angry yet?"

I knew what he meant. Since I found out I'd absorbed fire-starting power from the pyrokinetic vampire I drank from, I'd fought to keep that borrowed ability under control. But now, I let all the repressed anger, determination, fear, and sadness from the past few months roar to the surface. My hands became engulfed in blue flames, sparks shooting onto the ground.

"Kill her!" X shouted.

Knives flew at me in a blur. I rolled to avoid them, concentrating on X. Two months ago, I'd burned an entire property and explode a Master vampire's head right off his shoulders. Burn, I thought, glaring at X. Burn.

Except...he didn't catch fire. Sparks still shot from my flame-covered hands, but nothing more lethal came out of them. I shook my hands in frustration. Work, damn you! Flame on, fingers!

But the previous, deadly streams of fire that had scared me with their ferocity seemed to have vanished. The most dangerous thing I could do with my hands now was light someone's cigarette.

"Oh, shit," my mother whispered.

I couldn't agree more.

"Protect Tammy," I yelled, then grabbed for my knives, cursing as I tried to dodge another hail of blades aimed at me. Some of them found their mark, but none in my chest, thank God. Still, that silver burned where it landed, making me fight the urge to yank it out now. I flung some of my weapons instead, adding more silver to the barrage Bones had just sent. Then I rolled behind one of the cars for cover, finally getting the chance to snatch out the silver embedded in my shoulders and legs.

Tammy screamed as some of the vampires took to the air. I took two of the knives I'd pulled from my body and sent them winging at the vampire closest to where she was crouched. The blades found their mark, and he crashed into a car instead of Tammy and my mother, who was crouched over her.

The rest of the vampires seemed more concerned with taking on Bones than dealing with Tammy or my mother. I rolled under a truck to get to Bones - and then screamed as my shirt went up in flames.

Goddamnit! There must have been oil drops pooled underneath the truck I'd rolled under, and the useless sparks from my hands ignited it.

"Kitten, you all right?" Bones called out.

"Fine!" I yelled back, afraid he'd get killed rushing to check on me.

Stupid, stupid, stupid , I lashed myself. Oil plus sparks equals fire, dumb ass!

I'd just ripped my burning shirt off when a car slammed into me, pinning me to the vehicle behind me. I gasped at the unbelievable pain, paralyzing in its intensity. Tammy screamed. Over that, I heard Bones hoarsely call my name.

Something thudded on the mangled car pinning me. The redheaded vampire. He smiled as he pulled out a silver blade, knowing as I did that I couldn't shove the car off in time to save myself.

But there was something I could do. Oil plus sparks equals fire, I thought savagely, and rammed my fist through the car's fuel tank.

A terrific boom went off, combined with the agonizing sensation of being thrown backward, burning, across the parking lot. For a stunned second, I didn't know if I was still alive. Then I realized I wouldn't hurt this much if I were dead.

Move , I told myself, fighting back the lethargy that made me want to curl up wherever I'd landed. Keep blinking, your vision will come back.

After a few more blinks, the parking lot was in a double outline, but I could see. Check for incoming. Do you have any knives left? Two, right, make them count.

"I'm okay," I called out, my voice almost unrecognizable. I hated giving away my position, but I was more worried about Bones losing it if he was too distracted to feel our connection and thought I'd been blown to bits.

"Christ almighty, Kitten," I heard him mutter, and smiled even though it felt like it cracked my face. I was afraid to look at my skin. Burnt bacon could pass for my twin right now. You'll heal, I reminded myself. Quit worrying about your looks and get back to worrying about your ass.

I flexed my fingers, relieved that the horrible splitting sensation was gone. Now I could grasp my knives with purpose, and my vision was clearing by the moment. Through the dirty car window in front of me, I saw Bones fighting off four vampires. He whirled and struck in a dizzying display of violence, slicing and hacking whenever they came too close. Now, where were Tammy and my mother?

I'd snuck around a few dead vampires - one of them crispy - I noticed with satisfaction - and was tiptoeing around a Benz when X sprang out of nowhere. He shoved me, slamming me into yet another car - God, I was so sick of feeling my bones crunch against metal! - but instead of springing forward, I let myself slump as if dazed. X was on me in the next second, knees pinning my torso to the concrete, glowing green gaze victorious as he raised his knife.

My hand shot out, the silver knife clenched in it going straight into his chest. I smiled as I gave it a hard twist. That's it for you, X.

But he didn't slump forward like he should have. Instead, the knife he'd raised slammed into my chest without an instant's hesitation.

Pain erupted in me, so hot and fierce it rivaled what I'd felt when the car exploded on me. That pain grew until I wanted to scream, but I didn't have the energy. Everything seemed to fade out of view except his bright emerald gaze.

"How?" I managed, barely able to croak out the word.

X leaned forward. "Situs inversus," he whispered. His hand tightened on the blade, twisting -

Blue filled my vision. I didn't understand why, and for a second, I wondered if it was even real. Then the blue tilted to the side, X's severed arm still holding the knife in my chest, but the rest of him elsewhere. Sheet metal, I thought dazedly. Bones must have ripped it off a car and wielded it like a huge saw.

X was on his back, the stump from his right arm slowly extending out into a new limb as he fought Bones. I wanted to help, but I couldn't get up. The pain had me pinned, gasping and twitching as I tried to escape from it.

"Don't move, Kitten!" Bones shouted. A brutal rip from his knife sliced open X's chest, oddly to the right of X's sternum. Bones twisted the blade so hard it broke off, and then he was next to me, his hand pinning my wrists above my head.


As soon as I saw his face, I knew how bad it was. That should've occurred to me before, considering I had a silver knife with shriveling hand still attached to it in my chest, but somehow, the pain had blinded me to reality. Now, however, I realized these were my last moments on earth.

I tried to smile. "Love you," I whispered.

A single pink tear rolled down Bones's cheek, but his voice was steady. "Don't move," he repeated, and slowly began to tug on the knife.

My chest felt like it was on fire. I tried not to look at the knife. Tried to focus on Bones's face, but my own gaze was blurred pink, too. I'll miss you so much.

The blade shivered a fraction and a spasm of pain ripped through me. Bones compressed his lips, letting my wrists go to press on my chest with his free hand.

"Don't move..."

I couldn't stand it. That burning from my chest felt like it had spread all through me. A scream built in my throat, but I choked it back. Please, don't let him see me die screaming...

The agony stopped just as abruptly as it started. Bones let out a harsh sound that was followed by a clatter of metal on the ground. I looked down, seeing a slash in my chest that began to close, the skin seaming back together as it healed.

And then Bones spun around. A vampire stood behind him, holding a big knife and wearing the weirdest expression on his face. He dropped to his knees and pitched forward, a silver handle sticking out of his back. My mother was behind the vampire. Her hands were bloody.

"Rough, quick, and thorough, or you won't get a second chance," she mumbled, almost to herself.

Bones stared. "That's right, Justina." Then he began to laugh. "Well done."

I was stunned. Bones swept me up, kissing me so hard I tasted blood when his fangs pierced my lips.

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