Home > Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4)(7)

Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4)(7)
Author: Patricia Briggs

And she'd have been right if I hadn't had friends.

Since she'd sent me after him, she couldn't seek retribution without risking losing control of her seethe.

Vampires take things like that very seriously.

I'd have been safe if it hadn't been for the second vampire.

Andre had been Marsilia's left hand where Stefan was her right. He'd also been responsible for creating the demon-possessing vampire who'd killed more people than I could count on both hands. And Andre and Marsilia had intended to make more. One had been more than enough for me. So I'd killed Andre, knowing that it meant my death.

But Stefan had hidden my crime. Hidden it with the deaths of two innocent people whose only crimes had been that they were Andre's victims. He'd saved me, but the cost had been too high. Their deaths had bought me two months.

Marsilia knew. She'd have never hurt Stefan so badly for anything else.

She'd tortured and starved him and let him free to come to me. I looked down at the red marks Stefan had put on my arm - if he'd killed me, no blame would have fallen on her.

There was a noise, and I looked up. Darryl and Peter were walking past the battered hulk of the Rabbit. Darryl was tall, athletic, and Adam's second. He got his dark skin from his African father and his eyes from his Chinese mother. His perfect features came from the happy combination of very different genes, but the grace of his stride came from the accident that had turned him into a werewolf. He liked nice clothes, and the crisp cotton shirt he wore probably cost more than I made in a week.

I didn't know how old he was, but I was pretty sure he wasn't much older than he looked. There's something about the older wolves, an air they carry of being not quite of this age of cars, cell phones, and TVs, that Darryl didn't have.

Peter was old enough to have been in the cavalry, but here and now he worked as a plumber. He was good at his job, and he had a half dozen people (human) on his payroll. But he walked to the right and behind Darryl because Darryl was very dominant and Peter was one of the few submissives in Adam's pack.

Darryl stopped at the foot of the porch. He didn't like me much most of the time. I'd finally decided it was snobbery - he was a wolf and I a coyote. He was a Ph.D. working in a high-priced think tank, and I was a mechanic with dirt under my fingernails.

And worst of all, if I was Adam's mate, he had to follow my orders. Sometimes the chauvinism that permeates the rules by which the werewolves operate works backward. No matter how submissive the mate of the Alpha is, her commands are second only to his.

When he didn't say anything, I just opened the door and led Adam's two wolves into my home.

Chapter 2

STEFAN WASN'T AMENABLE TO CHANGING DONORS, SO Peter and Darryl knelt, one on either side, and began to pry his grip loose. When I approached to help, Adam snarled at me.

If he hadn't snarled, I'd probably have let the wolves take care of it. After all, they all have awesome werewolf superstrength. But if Adam and I were going to have a relationship, something that was giving me butterflies already, it was going to be on an equal footing. I couldn't afford to back down when Adam growled.

Besides, I despised the cowardly part of me that flinched at his anger. Even if I was pretty sure it was the smart part.

Peter and Darryl were working on Stefan's hands, so I went to his head. I slipped my fingers into one side of his mouth, hoping that vampires had the same reaction to pressure points as the rest of us. But I didn't need to use any nerve pinches, because as soon as my fingers touched his mouth, he shuddered and released Adam, his arms going limp at the same time as he pulled his fangs out.

"Won't," Stefan said as I pulled my fingers out of his mouth. "Won't." It came out a whisper and faded eerily as he ran out of air.

His head moved until he rested against my shoulder, his eyes closed. His face almost looked like his now, filled out and healing. The broken places on his skin, hands, and lips looked like wounds now. It said something about how bad he'd been that oozing wounds were an improvement.

If his body hadn't shook against me as if he were having an epileptic fit, I'd have been happier.

"Do you know what's wrong with him?" I asked Adam helplessly.

"I do," Peter said. He casually pulled a huge pocketknife out of its belt sheath and made a small cut in his wrist.

He moved me out from under Stefan and moved him around until Stefan was lying down with his head on Peter's lap, held steady by the werewolf's unwounded hand. Peter held his bloody wrist in front of the vampire, who clamped his lips together and turned his head away.

Adam, who had wrapped his hand around his own wrist to staunch the bleeding, leaned forward.

"Stefan. It's all right. It's not Mercy. It's not Mercy."

Red eyes slitted open, and the vampire made a sound I'd never heard before... and wished I could still say that. It raised every hair on the back of my neck, high-pitched and thin like a dog whistle but harsher somehow. He struck and Peter jerked, gritting his teeth and hissing.

I didn't notice when my mother left us, but she must have at some point because she had Samuel's big first-aid kit from the main bathroom open on the couch. She knelt by Adam, but he surged to his feet.

Alpha werewolves don't admit to any pain in public, and seldom in private. His wrist might look like it had been savaged, but he'd never let my mother do anything about it. I stood up, too.

"Here," I said, before he could say something to offend her or vice versa. "Let me see."

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