Mercy Thompson

 
 

Mercy Thompson Book 2 - Page 92


"Run," she said. "Run."

"I'm going to take care of him." I told her. "It's all right."

"No," she said, though she let me go. "No."

The house protected them from the worst of the wind, and it still hadn't started raining, though I heard the crack of thunder. If it didn't rain soon we'd have some grass fires out of this storm.

The mundane worry steadied me as I went back into the house to hunt for Andre. I left the bedrooms for last. Partially because I was in no hurry to go back into either, but also because I was pretty sure that Andre had to be on the outside of the rooms in order to lock them.

There were no secret passages I could see in the bathroom, and the closet next to it was full of furnace and water heater: there was no room for vampire. I walked back out to the living room and heard another crash from the dining room.

I got there just as the last framed photo fell onto the floor, just in front of a small throw rug. Something shoved me between my shoulder blades and I took another step forward.

"Under the rug?" I said. "How unoriginal." Sarcasm, I've found, makes terror more bearable. I hoped that Andre would be helpless in the daytime even if Wulfe had not been. Andre was the same age as Stefan, and Stefan told me he died during the day.

I moved the rug and there was a trapdoor, complete with an inset iron ring pull. I took out my flashlight before opening the trapdoor.

Here there was nothing so sophisticated as Wulfe's circular stairway. A free standing wooden ladder stood directly beneath the opening. I ducked my head into the hole, hoping the ghost who shoved me once wouldn't do it while I was hanging my head down.

It wasn't a basement so much as a very deep hole dug into the dirt to allow access to the plumbing under the house. There were a few old shelves leaned up against a foundation wall, and some fencing materials. On the other side of the room was a canopy bed straight out of a bodice-ripper romance.

My flashlight picked out an embroidered pattern on dark velvet fabric that enveloped the bed, hiding its occupant, if there was one.

I lowered myself down onto the top of the ladder, and very carefully stepped down two rungs. From there on it was an easy scramble to the ground. I opened my backpack and took out the stake and a mallet I'd taken from the shop: I'd learned it was harder than I'd thought to punch the stake through a vampire's heart,

I left the backpack and its remaining goodies near the foot of the ladder. They wouldn't do me any good until I'd staked Andre, and I had as much as I could carry with the mallet, stake and flashlight.

Above me, lightning struck somewhere nearby, making me jump. If I didn't calm down, I was going to have a heart attack before I killed Andre-and wouldn't that be a waste?

I stood as far from the bed as I could and used the stake to pull open the bed curtains.

Andre was there. When the beam of the flashlight caught him in the face he opened his eyes. Like Wulfe's had been, his eyes were filmed over and blind. I took a step back, ready to run, but he just lay there with his eyes open. He was fully dressed in a pink knit shirt and beige slacks.

Heart in my throat, I forced myself to walk forward and lay the flashlight on the bed where it still gave me some light, but wasn't likely to roll around and blind me. I set the point of the stake down on his chest. It probably would have been smarter to open his shirt, but I couldn't force myself to touch him. The stake had gone through Littleton 's clothing, it ought to go through Andre's as well.

Though I'd been suffocated with qualms all day, finding his prisoners had freed me from my conscience at last. Andre needed to die.

His hands started to move, startling me so that my first hit was off and the stake slid across his ribs instead of going in. He opened his jaws, showing fangs and his hands moved toward his chest.

Quickly I set the stake again and this time I hit the end squarely with the mallet. I felt the wood hit bone and push forward through the softer tissues beneath. I hit it again and the stake buried itself in his chest.

Like Littleton, Andre's body began to spasm. I ran toward my backpack chanting, " knife, knife, knife," and tripped over some unevenness of the dirt floor. I was still on my hands and knees when Andre knocked the flashlight off and it rolled under the bed, enclosing us in shadows.

I scrambled forward, finding the pack with my nose and fingers. Zee's knife in one hand, I walked slowly back into the now silent black corner. The flashlight's muffled light showed me where the bed was, but it made it more difficult to see inside the bed where the curtains shielded the vampire with shadow.

Did you really think it would be so easy?

The toneless voice burned in my head. I tried instinctively to block it out with my hands over my ears, but it was useless.

Did you think I'd be easy prey like my poor Cory, who was just a baby.

I wanted to turn around and run. I wanted to hide as far from the vampire as I could. I was no match for a vampire, especially not this vampire. The old bite on my neck started throbbing, the ache spreading into the shoulder Littleton had damaged.

That was his mistake, because the pain cut through the fear and allowed me to realize that the fear was imposed from outside myself. Once I knew that, it was easier to ignore.

I continued forward, stopping when my knees hit the edge of the bed. My fingers found his chest, then the stake and I moved my hand forward into the blackness until I touched his throat.

He turned his head, quick as a snake and bit into my wrist. Pain blossomed like a mushroom in my head. I moved my hand and his head followed, stretching upward as if the only muscle control he had was in his jaw.

Zee's knife had no trouble cutting his head off. I used it more carefully to pry my wrist free of his bite-I didn't want to slice myself up any more than Andre already had. I had to cut through his jawbone to free my wrist.