Read Dark ink tattoo: ep 3 Online

Authors: Cassie Alexander

Dark ink tattoo: ep 3 (page 3)

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I inhaled the secondhand smoke deeply, contemplating. I could jump down there and kill them both easily. I had otherworldly strength. But I couldn’t torture and bleed one effectively without killing the other and there was always the chance that I’d kill the wrong one first….

“And all over that whore. I can’t believe her pussy’s worth more than Wade’s life.”

My ears perked. That whore – did they mean Bella?

“It ain’t the whore. It’s the kid.”

“Then we take the kid.” Murphy said, pounding a fist into an open hand.

“But he don’t want it like that,” Daziel said.

Murphy grunted. “Too much silver’s made him soft.” He reached into his vest and lit another cigar and went through the ritual of clipping it, lighting it, sucking the smoke deep. “I did the right thing, didn’t I?” he asked, after exhaling the first fragrant puff.

Daziel did a whole-body shrug. “You did what Gray wanted. That’s close enough.”

I rocked back on the roof. Now that I knew what they looked like, retribution was just a matter of time.

 

 

Chapter 4

 

Somehow, all day long, I managed to do what Mark’d told me to. I went home and showered, dodging my mother’s requests, and had Mattie salvage one of my appointments for the afternoon, blaming car trouble, which with my car was all too likely. Then I picked up Rabbit, went to the grocery store, got everything for dinner, and went home to start cooking like nothing had changed.

Any time my mind wandered, I remembered Mark’s promise and the way his hand had clenched me. Like I was his.

Only I’d been clenched like that before – by the man who was haunting me now –

“Mom?” Rabbit asked, looking up from his coloring book on the dining room table. “Where’s my red crayon?”

“I don’t know, sweetie. Can you use another color?”

“It’s Santa mom. He’s mostly red –“

I tasted the marina sauce I was heating. It needed salt. “Try pink. Or blue. Or green. Santa’s only limited by your imagination.”

Rabbit shook all his crayons out so he could search them. “You wouldn’t want me to color a firetruck yellow would you?”

“Of course not. That’s silly,” I said, making a face so he’d know I was teasing. “Also firetrucks are real.”

Unlike Santa – but like werewolves.

The doorbell rang and Rabbit sprinted for it – but I got there just in time, catching his shoulders and spinning him around to face me. “What’ve I told you about opening the door?”

“Don’t do it, ever.”

“Ever ever,” I said, staring straight into his eyes.

“Mom, you’re hurting me,” he said, trying to shrug away.

“Ever,” I repeated, pushing him back. I leaned up to the peephole – and saw Mark. I reached for the door and pulled it slightly open. “I -- thought you were going to call.”

“I decided to visit instead,” he said, holding up a bottle of wine, and a bouquet of flowers. “Can I come in?”

And I realized he was asking to come inside. He’d always gathered me up from here before, respecting the boundary I’d kept between my dating life and my home, we’d always stayed out, or over at his condo. But I’d never spent a full night away from home – and I’d never let him in.

Until now. I stepped back, making room, giving him a tentative smile. “Sure. Do you like spaghetti?”

He gave me a look, one eyebrow rising. “I’m Italian.”

I laughed. “Perfect.”

I heard the whine of the scooter engine as my mother pulled in. “Is this Mark?” she asked pointedly, looking between the two of us.

“Yes, Ma’am.” Mark strode over and held his hand out. She shook it warmly.

“Nice to finally meet you! Please, take off your coat, make yourself at home.” He grinned and slipped his jacket off, putting it on the back of a nearby chair. I noticed he was wearing a different suit than he’d worn this morning. At least I wasn’t the only one a little put out by our rendezvous. 

“Mom?” Rabbit asked from the other room, peeking around the wall. Brave when the door was closed, not so brave with it open.

“Rabbit, this is Mark. Mark, this is Rabbit.”

True to his namesake, Rabbit came out warily, his blonde hair tousled every which way.

“Nice to meet you, Rabbit,” Mark said, with his sonorous voice, and held out his hand.

Rabbit sized him up and then took it, shaking it like he must’ve seen on TV.

“That’s a good shake there.”

“Thanks. Who are you?”

I bit my lips to keep from laughing, as Mark looked over at me. “I’m, uh, one of your mother’s friends.”

“Oh – okay,” he said, then dodged around Mark to sit back at the table and keep coloring.

* * *

My mother was not so easily dissuaded. She wanted to know everything about Mark, where he’d grown up, what he did, if he liked it, the last president he’d voted for – by the time dinner was ready, the only thing she didn’t know was his astrological sign.

“Really, Mom,” I said, trying to cut her off.

“I just need to know what his thoughts are on global warming –“

“Mother!”

“We live in the desert, honey – it’s not going to get better here unless the world does –“

Mark chuckled and gave me an amused look. “It’s okay. I’m a lawyer, remember? I’m good at asking – and answering – questions.”

“The only questions I want answered now is, ‘Does this taste good’, with a side of ‘How was school today?’” I walked over to the table, pot in hand.

“School was fine,” Rabbit said.

“Just fine?”

“Molly tried to beat me up again.”

“A girl?” Mark asked.

Rabbit hunched over a little, his body expressing his dismay. “She’s really mean. And twice as big as I am.”

“She was held back,” I explained and squeezed Rabbit’s hand. “I’ll talk to the teacher tomorrow.”

“That doesn’t do anything,” Rabbit protested.

“I used to get beat up at school a lot,” Mark volunteered.

Rabbit looked up at him, this man who made our dining room look small. “Really?”

“Yeah.”

“How’d you stop it?” Rabbit asked.

“Well eventually I grew too big. But I spent all of middle school hiding in the library for lunch – until I made enough friends to protect me. When you have more friends than the bullies do, you’re usually all right.”

Rabbit considered this. “I hang out with Michael and Chapman, we try to protect each other.”

“You’re on the way then. I bet you’re not the only kids Molly’s mean too. Find out the other ones and help them out.”

Rabbit nodded, shoving a forkful of spaghetti into his mouth. “This is good Mom.”

I looked around the table at my motley crew. “Yeah, it is.

* * *

Once dinner was over, I had time to trim the flowers he’d brought. My mother’d made a show of going back to the TV to give us ‘privacy’ and Rabbit wanted to play Minecraft online with this buddies upstairs.

“You shouldn’t have,” I said, clipping the second to last rose.

“Hey, if they’ve been watching you, they know we’re dating. And me being here gives my driver an excuse to stay in the parking lot.”

“Your driver?”

“A friend of mine.”

“Watching out.”

“Precisely.”

I felt bad for him, whoever he was, trapped outside in the cold in a car. “Should we take him some spaghetti?”

“He’s made arrangements, trust me.”

I settled the roses into a vase. “Did I overhear you telling my son to form a gang?”

He laughed. “Not in so many words, no.”

“Just checking,” I said, smiling over the roses at him. There was still the unopened bottle of wine. “Should we?” I asked.

He gave me a wicked smile. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Then open this while I get Rabbit into the bath.” I handed him the bottle and a corkscrew and walked upstairs.

* * *

I herded Rabbit back and forth between his bedroom and the bathroom, until he was finally tucked in bed.

“Mom,” he whispered, as I walked for the door.

“What?” I’d already read him a short book – if he asked for a longer one I’d have to put my foot down.

“What about my vitamins?”

I stood there with my hand on the light switch. The temptation to let him skip a day was huge – I didn’t want to run down and then back up, that might invite questions. But I knew how bad my wolf was after a day. One day off, and I bet his wolf would have him egging Molly on, hoping for a fight.

“Sure thing, baby, I’ll be right back.”

I went downstairs and found my mother and Mark in deep conversation, waved to show I wasn’t done yet, grabbed the silver, and raced back upstairs to give Rabbit his eyedropper full. He still didn’t like them, but he liked being babied by me, he was still my little boy. I smooched his head, and turned his light off, and listened at the door until I was sure he’d stayed in bed.

When I came back down the stairs my mother made a show of being tired, out-stretched arms, oversized yawns and all, taking herself off to her room to sleep, as I settled down in a chair.

“Could she be any more obvious?”

“I like her. I like him.” He reached for the bottle and poured me a glass. I eyed the bottle to see how far ahead of me he was, if my mother had driven him to drink. “Your mother told me where these were,” he said, pushing one over. “And now that we both have glasses, I want to propose a toast.”

“Oh?”

“Cento di questi giorni,” he said.

“What’s that?”

“To a hundred days like this.”

I looked over at Mark, appearing content inside my kitchen. “Indeed.” I clinked my glass to his, and sipped. 

 

Chapter 5

 

The night air didn’t phase me. I lay down on the stripmall’s roof, staring up at the clear Vegas sky, lit by the belly of the moon. Murphy was still behind me, pacing, smoking, pacing again – I’d always know where he was as long as I could smell him and his cigar.

Had there been a cigar scent at Bella’s? No. But I was okay with creating some collateral terror as I worked my way back to killing the right Pack boss. To my mind, all of them had been involved.

I watched the stars turn until my flesh was almost as cold as the night itself, when I heard Murphy prepare to leave, saying as much to a subordinate. Then I leapt up, and raced for the far end of the roof where I’d parked my car. I turned my engine over as he turned his, masking my sound with his own, and as his motorcycle pulled out from the thinned herd of chrome, I followed.

I wanted to see which way he was going first – I knew crime paid well enough, but I was curious if Murphy would let that show – nothing like buying too nice a house to interest the IRS. Instead of driving into Vegas, he drove out, toward the surrounding desert. Maybe he wanted to commune with his conscience under the moonlight. I followed at a distance without headlights, but when he pulled over, I turned them on and drove up, slowing down, blocking his bike in with my car.

I stopped, opened my car door to stand halfway out, and pretended to be companionable. “Did you break down?”

My arrival startled him. Whatever he’d been doing – something involving the front of his shirt – he stopped and looked guilty. “I’m fine – go away.”

“Afraid I can’t.” I propelled myself over the hood of my car to land feet first on the other side. “Does the name Bella ring any bells?”

“Shit –“ He tossed a leg over his motorcycle – I ran up and kicked his back tire, hard enough to bend his rim. He didn’t let it fall though, he fought my momentum, holding it upright. His hands went to bags as I leaned in to punch him.

The man had a jaw like a piece of granite. And my punch should’ve taken him down – but all it did was knock him off his bike. He stumbled backwards but didn’t fall, even as his motorcycle tipped over. “Who the fuck are you?” he said, holding his jaw.

“A concerned friend.” I kicked his motorcycle out of the way, sending it ten feet out into the scree. “What happened to her? What’d she want with you?”

He looked from his bike to me. “How the fuck – who are you?”

“What happened to her,” I repeated in a low growl, bringing the full force of my whammy to bear.

He blinked, momentarily mesmerized. “We had her for months. She never mentioned a boyfriend.”

“Had?” I asked archly, still using my powers. His answer would determine how many of his bones I broke before killing him.

Then he shook himself. I didn’t think he should’ve been able to, but he did. No matter, there were other ways of getting information.

I jumped him.

Neither of us were pretty fighters, none of the graceful shit you see on TV. We were bred for the pits, and acted like it. I was taller than he was and had better reach, but he was fucking sturdy in a way I’d never seen. Blows that would’ve incapacitated a normal man did nothing to him, while he rained heavy fists on me any time he got close. I just needed to get him down into a headlock – I saw an opening and took it, but he punched back, just in time. I dodged it, but a rock slid out from under my boot, making me drop my guard. His next punch landed hard, and I felt ribs snap.

I clutched a hand to my chest. As a vampire, I’d never had anyone hurt me before.What the fuck are you???I wanted to ask him – then I realized if I kept staying alive, he’d ask the same of me. He turned and ran –

“Oh no you don’t –“ I said and leapt for him – as he dove for his bags and brought a sawed off shotgun up. I had time for the weapon to register, right before he shot me. Catching a chest full of lead, I fell.

* * *

I…was injured. Not dying, but…hurt. It was an entirely new sensation for me. I rose up onto my elbows and looked down at myself. Blood, precious blood – mostly other people’s – leaking out, scattershot on my chest, literally. I didn’t know what to do – should I pretend to be mortally wounded? Would he know what I was if I didn’t? Would he come and try to finish the job?

How come I hadn’t finished him?

Rage boiled in me then, even as blood sieved out. I wanted him to die – and I needed to drink him, to make up for what I’d lost. I stood up and lurched forward. He tried to shoot me again, but he’d used his last shot. Must’ve missed reloading day at Biker Boy Scouts. He was breathing hard, like I was – I’d hurt him more than he’d let on, one eye swelling shut, blood dripping from where I’d broken his nose, his free hand wrapped around to guard his liver. A wind struck up, wafted the scent of his fear to me, and I laughed. Vampirism offered few true joys, but getting to occasionally be exceptionally creepy and laugh like a maniac was one of them.

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