Home > Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4)(6)

Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4)(6)
Author: Patricia Briggs

She folded her arms over her chest and turned to gaze at my scraggly-looking field where a rusty VW Rabbit rested on three tires. From where we stood, the graffiti, the missing door, and the cracked windshield weren't visible, but it looked junky anyway. The old wreck was a joke between Adam and me, and I wasn't going to apologize for it.

"I read about you in the paper," she said.

"You live in the Tri-Cities?"

She shook her head. "Spokane. It made CNN, too, didn't you know? The fae, werewolves, death... how could they resist?" For a moment there was a flash of humor in her voice, though her face stayed disconcertingly blank.

Lovely. The whole world knew I'd been raped. Yeah, that might have struck me as funny, too - if I'd been Lucrezia Borgia. There were a lot of reasons I'd never bothered to keep in contact with Amber.

She hadn't driven over from Spokane to hunt me down after ten years and tell me she'd read about the attack, either. "So you read about me and decided it might be fun to tell me that the story about how I killed my ra**st was all over the country? You drove a hundred and fifty miles for that?"

"Obviously not." She turned back to face me, and the awkward stranger had been replaced by the polished pro who was even more a stranger to me. "Look. Do you remember when we took a day trip to Portland to see that play? We went to the bar afterward, and you told us about the ghost in the ladies' room."

"I was drunk," I told her - which was true enough. "I think I told you I was raised by werewolves, too."

"Yes," she said with sudden intentness. "I thought you were just telling stories, but now we all know that werewolves are real, just like the fae. And you're dating one."

That would have come out in the newspaper story, I thought. Double yippee. There was a time when I tried to stay out of the spotlight because it was safer. It was still safer, but I hadn't been doing so good at stealthy living the past year.

Unaffected by my inner dialogue, Amber kept talking. "So I thought if you were dating one now, you had probably been telling the truth then. And if you told the truth about the werewolves, then you were probably telling the truth about seeing ghosts, too."

Anyone else would have forgotten about that, but Amber had a mind like a steel trap. She remembered everything. It was after that trip that I quit drinking alcohol. People who know other people's secrets can't afford to do things that impair their ability to control their mouths.

"My house is haunted," she said.

I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. I took a step toward Amber and turned a little. I still couldn't see anything out there, but with Amber a little downwind so her perfume didn't ruin my nose, I could smell it: vampire.

"And you want me to do something about it?" I asked. "You need to call a priest." Amber was Catholic.

"No one believes me," she said starkly. "My husband thinks I'm crazy." The porch light caught her eyes, just for a minute, and I could see that her pupils were dilated. I wondered if it was just the darkness of the night or if she was on something.

She was making me uneasy, but I was pretty sure it was just the weirdness of seeing Amber, queen of the unconventional, dressed up like a rich man's mistress. There was something soft and helpless about her now that made me think prey, while the Amber I'd known would have taken a baseball bat to anyone who annoyed her. She wouldn't have been afraid of a ghost.

Of course, my unease could have been caused by the vampire lurking in the shadows or by the one in my home.

"Look," I said. Stefan and what had been done to him were more important to me than what had happened to Amber, or anything she might want from me. "I can't get away right now - I have company.

Why don't you give me your phone number, and I'll call you as soon as things calm down."

She fumbled her purse open and handed me a card. It was printed on expensive high-cotton paper, but all that was on it was her first name and a phone number.

"Thank you." She sounded relieved, the tension flowing from her shoulders. She gave me a small smile.

"I'm sorry that you were attacked - but I'm not surprised you got your own back. You were always rather good at that." Without waiting for me to answer, she walked down the steps and got into her car, a newer Miata convertible with the soft top up. She backed out of the driveway without looking at me again and sped off into the night.

I wished she hadn't been wearing perfume. She'd been upset about something - she'd always been a terrible liar. But the timing was just a little too convenient: Stefan arrives, tells me to run, and Amber arrives with a place for me to run to.

I knew what Stefan had been telling me to run from, and it wasn't him. "She knows," he'd said.

"She" was Marsilia, the Mistress of the Tri-Cities' vampires. She'd sent me out hunting a vampire who'd been on a killing spree that risked her seethe. She'd figured I was her best chance to find him because I can sense ghosts that other people don't see, and vampire lairs tend to attract ghosts.

She hadn't thought I would really be able to kill him. When I did, it made her very unhappy. The vamp I'd killed had been special, more powerful than the others because he'd been demon-ridden. That the demon had made him crazy and he'd been killing humans left and right hadn't bothered her except that it might have exposed the vampires to the human world. He'd gone out of control when he'd grown more powerful than his maker, but Marsilia believed that she could have fixed that, taken control of him. She used me to find him - she'd been sure he'd kill me.

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