Home > Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4)(8)

Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4)(8)
Author: Patricia Briggs

I tugged and pulled until I could see the wounds. "He'll be all right," I told Mom with satisfaction. "It's scabbed over already. A half hour from now it'll just be a few red marks."

That was good.

My mother raised her eyebrow, and murmured, "And to think I was always worried that you didn't have any friends. I suppose I should have been counting my blessings."

I gave her a sharp look, and she smiled past the worry in her eyes. "Vampires, Mercy? I thought they were made-up."

She had always been good at making me feel guilty, which was more than Bran had ever managed. "I couldn't tell you," I said. "They don't like it when humans know about them. It would have put you in danger." She narrowed her eyes at me. "Besides, Mom, I've never actually seen any in Portland." And had been very careful not to look when I smelled them. Vampires like Portland - lots of rainy days.

"Can all of them just pop in wherever they want to?"

I shook my head, then reconsidered. "I only know of two, and Stefan's one of them."

Adam was watching Stefan feed; he looked worried. I hadn't realized he and Stefan were more than casual acquaintances.

"Is he going to be all right?" Mom asked.

Adam was pale but healing just fine. Other wolves would have taken longer, but Adam was an Alpha, and his pack gave him more power than other wolves had. But if Stefan gnawed on Peter the way he'd chewed up Adam, it would take Peter a while longer to heal.

She looked at me, and her dimples peeped out. "I was speaking of the vampire. You do have it bad, don't you?"

I'd been trying not to dwell on Stefan's condition and why it was so bad - and how it was my fault. "I don't know, Mom," I leaned against her, just a little, before straightening to stand on my own. "I don't know that much about vampires. They're hard to kill, but I've never seen one as bad as this who survived." Daniel, Stefan's... what? Friend hadn't quite covered it. Maybe just Stefan's. Daniel had quit feeding because he believed he had run crazy and killed a whole bunch of people. He'd looked bad, but not as bad as Stefan.

"You care about him, too."

She didn't sound surprised, but she would have been if she knew as much as I did about vampires.

I knew Stefan kept a bunch of people virtual prisoners to feed from - though none of them had seemed to mind. I'd had my rose-colored glasses ripped off when he'd killed two helpless people, people I'd rescued, in order to protect me. It might have been the enigmatic vampire Wulfe who'd twisted their necks, but Stefan had been the director of that macabre little conspiracy.

But it hurt to see him like this.

"Yes," I told Mom.

"You can let him go now," Adam told Darryl. "He's feeding."

Darryl dropped Stefan's arm and stepped back as if fearing contamination. There wasn't a lot of room left in my living room, but he bumped his back up to the counter that separated the larger room from the kitchen and curled his lip. Adam gave him a considering look before turning his attention to the other wolf.

"Are you all right, Peter?" Adam asked.

I looked at the werewolf and saw that there was sweat gathering on his forehead and he'd closed his eyes and turned them away from the vampire, who was sprawled across his lap and fastened to his arm.

Judging from the difference between his reaction and Adam's, it might have been better to find a more dominant wolf to feed to Stefan.

Peter didn't answer, and Adam walked behind him so he could put a hand on the skin of his neck.

Almost immediately I could see the impact of that touch as Peter relaxed against his Alpha with a sigh of relief.

"I'm sorry," Adam said. "If there'd been someone else... Ben should be here soon."

There had been Darryl, who was staring at his shoes. Adam's remark hadn't been pointed, but Darryl looked like he'd been slapped.

Peter shook his head. "No problem. It was bad for a minute, though. I thought it was supposed to be a myth that vampires could trap your mind."

That was one of the problems with the vamps. Like the fae, there was so much misinformation out there it was hard to sift truth from fact.

"He's not himself," I found myself saying. "He wouldn't do it on purpose." I wasn't entirely sure that was truthful, but it sounded good. He'd taken me over once. It had all worked out just fine, but I'd rather it never happened again.

My mother looked at me. "Do you have orange juice or something else with sugar in it for the blood donors?"

I should have thought of that. I hopped over Stefan's legs so I could go to the kitchen and look. Once my roommate had declared me completely unadventurous in my food choices, he'd taken over shopping.

I had no idea what he'd managed to stuff into the fridge.

I found a half-full bottle of low-pulp orange juice and poured two glasses. I handed the first to Adam and held the second in front of Peter.

"Do you need help?"

Peter gave me a half smile, shook his head, and took the glass, downing it in quick time and handing me back the glass.


"Not now," he said. "Maybe when it's over."

MOM AND I SAT ON THE COUCH, ADAM TOOK A CHAIR, and Darryl stayed where he was, pointedly not looking at the vampire.

There was a sharp knock on the door, and Darryl said, "Ben."

He made no move to answer it, but it popped open anyway and Ben stuck his head in. His blond hair looked almost white illuminated by the porch light. He glanced at Stefan and said in his nifty British accent, "Bloody hell. He's in bad shape."

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