Home > Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4)(5)

Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4)(5)
Author: Patricia Briggs

I should have tried to stop Adam - I'd fed Stefan before without any ill effects that I knew of, and I was pretty sure that Stefan cared whether I lived or died. I wasn't so sure how he felt about Adam. But I was remembering Stefan telling me that there "shouldn't" be any problems because it had only been the once, and I'd met a few of Stefan's band of sheep - the people who served as his breakfast, dinner, and lunch. They were all completely devoted to him. Don't get me wrong, he's a great guy for a vampire - but I somehow doubted that those people, mostly women, could live together devoted to one man without some sort of vampire mesmerism at work. And I'd sort of had my fill of magical compulsion for the year.

Any protest I made to Adam would be an exercise in futility anyway. He was feeling especially protective of me at that moment - and all I would do was stir up tempers, his, mine, and my mother's.

Adam pressed his wrist against Stefan's mouth, and the vampire paused his incremental closing of the distance between my arm and his fangs. He seemed confused for a moment - then he drew air in through his nose.

Stefan's teeth sank into Adam's wrist, his free hand shot up to grab Adam's arm, and his eyes closed - all so fast it looked like the motion of a cheaply drawn cartoon.

Adam sucked in his breath, but I couldn't tell if it was because it hurt him or because it felt good. When Stefan had fed from me, I'd been in pretty rough shape. I didn't remember much about it.

It was strangely intimate, Stefan holding me as he drank from Adam's wrist, and Adam leaning harder into me as Stefan fed. Intimate with an audience. I turned my head to see that my mother still held her gun in a steady two-handed grip, pointed at Stefan's head. Her face as calm as if she saw burnt bodies appear out of nowhere, then rise from the dead to sink fangs into whoever was closest to them all the time, though I knew that wasn't true. I wasn't sure she'd ever even seen one of the werewolves in wolf form.

"Mom," I said, "the vampire is Stefan, he's a friend of mine."

"I should put the gun away? Are you sure? He doesn't look like a friend."

I looked at Stefan, who was looking better, though I still wouldn't have recognized him without my nose.

"Truthfully, I'm not sure how much good it would do anyway. Bullets, if they are silver, may work on werewolves, but I don't think any bullets do much to vampires."

She tucked the Glock, hot, into the holster inside the waistline of the back of her jeans. "So what do you do to vampires?"

Someone knocked on the door. I hadn't heard anyone drive up, but I'd been a little distracted.

"Don't let them in your home in the first place," suggested Adam.

Mom, who'd been on the way to the door, stopped. "Is this likely to be a vampire?"

"Better let me get it," I said. I wiggled my arm, and Stefan released me and took a better grip on Adam.

"Are you all right, Adam?"

"He's too weak to feed fast," Adam commented. "I'm good for a while yet. If you'll get my phone out for me and hit the speed dial, I'll call for some more wolves, though. I doubt one feeding will be enough."

With Mom watching, I behaved myself while I dug his phone out of the holder on his belt. Instead of taking the time to sort through his contacts, I just punched in his house number and handed him the ringing phone. Whoever was outside was growing impatient.

I straightened my shirt and took a quick look at myself to make sure there wasn't anything that said, "Hey, I have a vampire in my house."

I was going to have a bruise on my forearm, but it wasn't too noticeable yet. I slipped past Mom and opened the door about six inches.

The woman standing on the porch didn't look familiar. She was about my height and age. Her dark hair had been highlighted with a lighter shade (or her light brown hair had been striped with a darker color).

She wore so much foundation that I could smell it over the perfume that a purely human nose might find light and attractive. Her grooming was immaculate, like a purebred dog ready to be shown - or a very expensive call girl.

Not a person you'd expect to find on the porch of an old mobile home out in the boonies of Eastern Washington at night.

"Mercy?"

If she hadn't spoken, I'd never have recognized her because my nose was full of perfume and she didn't look anything like the girl I'd gone to college with. "Amber?"

Amber had been my college roommate Charla's best friend. She'd been studying to be a veterinarian, but I'd heard she'd dropped out her first year in vet school. I hadn't heard from her since I'd graduated.

When I'd last seen Amber she'd been wearing a Mohawk and had had a ring in her nose (which had been bigger) and a small tattooed hummingbird at the corner of her eye. She and Charla had been best friends in high school. Though it had been Charla who had decided they shouldn't room together, Amber had always blamed me for it. We had been acquaintances rather than friends.

Amber laughed, doubtless at the bewildered look on my face. There was something brittle in the sound, not that I was in any position to be picky. My manner was stiffer than usual, too. I had a vampire feeding from a werewolf behind me; I wondered what she was hiding.

"It's been a long time," she said, after a short, awkward silence.

I joined her out on the porch and shut the door behind me, trying not to look like I was keeping her out.

"What brings you here?"

   
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