Home > Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4)(9)

Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4)(9)
Author: Patricia Briggs

But his attention was all for my mother.

"She's married," I warned him. "And if you call her a rude name, she'll shoot you with her pretty pink gun and I'll spit on your grave."

He considered me a moment and started to open his mouth.

Adam said, "Ben. Meet Mercy's mother, Margi."

Ben paled, closed his mouth, and opened it again. But nothing came out. I didn't think Ben was used to meeting mothers.

"I know." I sighed. "She looks like my younger, better-looking sister. Mom, this is Ben. Ben is a werewolf from England, and he has a foul mouth when Adam's not around to ride herd on him. He's saved my life a couple of times. Against the wall is Darryl, werewolf, genius, Ph.D., and Adam's second.

Peter, also a werewolf, is the nice man feeding Stefan."

And after that, the awkwardness set in. Darryl wasn't talking. Ben, after one more bemused look at Mom, kept his head down and his mouth shut. Peter was obviously distracted by the feeding vampire.

Adam was staring at Stefan with a worried frown.

He knew what Stefan's first words had meant, too. But he couldn't talk to me about it in front of my mom until I did. And I wasn't going to let her know that Marsilia and her vampires were after me. Not unless I had to.

Mom wanted to ask me about... about the incident last week. About Tim and how he died. But she wouldn't ask me about anything until everyone else was gone.

Me? I'd just as soon not talk about any of it. I wondered how long I could keep everyone together, awkwardness being better than the stomach-churning panic that conversation with Adam or my mother was going to cause.

"I'm done in," Peter said.

Stefan wasn't any happier about changing donors this time. But having an additional wolf did the trick and, with only minor damage done to my end table, he was soon feeding off Ben. But only a few minutes later, Stefan went limp, his mouth falling away.

"Is he dead?" Peter asked and took a sip of his second glass of orange juice.

"Him?" asked Ben, extracting his wrist. "He's been dead for years."

Peter grunted. "You know what I mean."

Truthfully, it was difficult to tell. He wasn't breathing, but vampires didn't, not unless they needed to talk or pass for human. His heart wasn't beating, but again, that didn't mean much.

"We'll take him to my house," Adam said. "The..." He glanced at Mom. "My basement has a room without windows, where he'll be safer." He meant the cage where they locked up werewolves when they had control issues. He frowned. "Not that that will stop whoever dumped him in the middle of your living room, Mercy." He knew "whoever" all right.

Marsilia, I thought, though maybe it had been Stefan himself. Or maybe some other vampire. The one who'd explained that Marsilia and Stefan were the only ones who could teleport like that was Andre, the one I'd had to kill. Hard to trust his information too far.

"I'll be careful," I told Adam. "But you have to be careful, too. There was a vampire watching the back of the house when I was out talking to Amber."

"Who's Amber?" Adam's question was just a hair faster than my mother's "Amber? Charla's friend Amber from college?"

I nodded at Mom. "She read about... I've apparently made national news. She decided that she should look me up to check into her haunted house."

"That sounds like Amber," Mom said. Char and Amber had spent a number of weekends at my parents' house in Portland while I was in college. "She always was self-centered, and I don't suppose that would change. Though why would she think that you could help her with a haunted house?"

I had never told Mom about seeing ghosts. I hadn't really thought it was anything unusual until recently. I mean, people see ghosts all the time, right? They just don't talk about it much. Having a daughter who turned into a coyote was bad enough, so anything else I could keep quiet about, I had.

This didn't seem like the time to tell her about it either. I hadn't told her about last week. I hadn't told her about vampires. I had no intention of informing her of any other secrets I'd been keeping.

So I shrugged. "Maybe because I associate with werewolves and the fae."

"What did she expect you to do about it?" Adam asked. He'd have listened in on the whole conversation with Amber; werewolves have very good hearing.

"Beats me," I told him. "Do I look like an expert at laying ghosts?" Seeing them was a long way from sending them away. I wasn't even sure it was possible. I thought about what Amber had said. "Maybe she just wanted me to go tell her that her house really is haunted. Maybe she just needs someone to believe her."

Adam knelt on the floor and picked up Stefan. "I'll take him home now." Though Stefan was obviously taller than he was, Adam's supernatural strength wasn't apparent - he just looked like someone who could carry a great deal of weight without effort.

It should have been Darryl who picked up Stefan, not Adam. The Alpha just didn't do the heavy lifting when there were capable minions about. Ben and Peter had both fed the vampire, but Darryl didn't have that excuse. He must have a real thing about vampires.

Adam didn't seem to notice anything wrong with Darryl. "I'll send someone back to watch your house, tonight." He looked at my mom. "Do you need a place to stay? Mercy's"  -  he glanced around - "a little short on space."

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