One Grave at a Time

Page 36

Glass exploded outward as a piece of porch furniture hurtled through the bedroom window. It didn't go far, bouncing off the dragon's hind leg and almost flattening my cat, who huddled in terror behind the remains of the bed.

"Room service!" Ian sang out, appearing in the smashed-open window. He had lit sage overflowing both hands, but when he saw the dragon, he froze just like Kramer had, his fanged mouth dropping open.

"Bugger me blind and bowlegged!"

"Don't just stand there, throw the sage," Bones ground out.

Ian shook his head as if to clear it, then he threw the sage at the ghost, who howled as he finally tried to whoosh out of the way.

More plaster and wood showered the room in the next instant. Then Spade appeared in the huge hole he'd made in the wall by the blocked-off bedroom door. I scrambled to protect my cat just in time, grabbing Helsing before the bed-and-furniture barricade collapsed on top of him. Spade, too, was packing sage, and between the huge snapping dragon that Kramer didn't seem to want to poltergeist through, and the two vampires throwing lighted greenery his way, Kramer couldn't dodge the flying plant missiles fast enough. With a spate of harsh-sounding German, he disappeared.

"What in the holy hell is that?"

Tyler peeked around Spade's bulk, more smoldering sage in his hands, to gape in disbelief at the dragon. His thoughts careened from disbelief, to fear, to fascination as the dragon's form wavered, began to shrink, then finally culminated in Denise wearing nothing but a few spatters of blood.

Ian appeared to have recovered from his surprise. He gave Spade an almost accusatory look.

"You're shagging a woman who can turn into a dragon? Blast you, Charles, I am sick with envy!"

"Not now," Spade muttered, pulling off his shirt and placing it over Denise. I tried to yank the blanket off the remains of the bed, but it was too tightly wedged in with the other furniture, and I only ended up tearing off a long piece.

"Kitten, this first," Bones said. Then he began to pull the knives out of me where Kramer's blades had found their mark. I winced at each sharp, efficient tug, the silver feeling like it tried to take hunks of my flesh along with it.

"Tyler, grab a blanket from the next room?" I suggested, turning my attention to the silver still embedded in Bones's body. His mouth tightened as I began to pull multiples blades out of him, but he made no sound even though I knew it hurt him as much as what he did pained me.

Tyler went to get the blanket, mumbling under his breath that this was the craziest shit he'd ever seen. Spade cradled Denise, who looked a little woozier than normal after a shift. Maybe it was the blood loss from her wounds, though they'd already healed. Or maybe it was her body taking a minute to recover after briefly becoming a thousand-pound mythical creature that looked so intimidating, it had even scared the pants off a homicidal ghost.

Tyler coughed as he came back in and passed a blanket to Denise. Smoke filled the room from the many lit plants, combined with the carpet starting to smolder from the burning piles of sage thrown onto it.

"Fire," I noted, brushing off Bones's attempts to get the last of the silver out of me. I was already done desilvering him, he apparently being able to dodge the blades more efficiently than I. I ran into the bathroom, quickly soaked several towels under the shower, then threw them over the worst of the burning spots. Bones, Spade, Denise, and Ian were stamping out the smaller places. Soon all the fire was out, leaving only some sage burning on nonflammable surfaces, like twisted metal segments of the bed frame and the hunks of the bathroom countertop that had served as my and Bones's temporary shields.

I looked around at the destroyed furniture, broken glass, holes in the ceiling, wall, and bathroom, multiple silver knives strewn about or embedded where they'd landed, and the charred carpet before shaking my head.

"Spade, you should never, ever let us stay with you again. This is twice now that we've ended up trashing one of your rooms."

He shrugged, seeming more concerned with making sure we had enough sage burning in safe places than in the disrepair of his house.

I heard a car pull up in the driveway. Looked like my mother was back. Sure enough, a few seconds later she was standing in the large hole in the bedroom wall, her expression a mixture of shock and concern as she took in the damage.

"Catherine, what happened?"

"Is everyone all right?" Fabian called out from what sounded like the yard. I went over to the ruined window, seeing him and Elisabeth floating well outside the cloud of sage smoke drifting out.

"What happened?" Bones repeated, his voice hard as he joined me at the window. He stared at the ghosts, his eyes glinting emerald. "What happened is the two of you were followed."

Chapter Twenty-One

I wrinkled my nose as I set the pet carrier down in the small living room of the town house. The former occupants must have been smokers. A lingering scent of tobacco permeated the walls and carpet, but it was better than the garlicky ganja aroma we'd surrounded ourselves with at Spade's. Not that it had done any good. Kramer was obviously too powerful for that to be a deterrent. But, since I was supposed to be looking on the bright side, last night meant we didn't have to start looking for Italian chefs and drug dealers in order to layer up this place with a bunch of garlic and weed. How was that for a Glass-Half-Full perspective?

The first thing I did even before letting my kitty out was start lighting sage and putting it on some of the many incense burners and glass jars we'd acquired on our trip from St. Louis to Sioux City. We hadn't gotten any sleep between the drive, picking up supplies, and arranging for our accommodations here, but catching some winks at Spade's had been out of the question after Kramer's visit. Spade and Denise packed up just as quickly as the rest of us. Guilt stabbed me that they couldn't return unless we managed to capture Kramer. Otherwise, who knew if-or when-Kramer might decide to pop back in for another extremely hostile visit. After all, they couldn't burn sage in every room of their house for the rest of their lives. Or until we caught him, whichever came first.

I knew that Tyler was coming with us, and I expected my mother to tag along as well, but I was surprised when Denise and Spade insisted on coming to Sioux City, too. My question of why was met with pointed stares. Guess Kramer had made two new enemies in his raid, but I didn't know if Denise's dragon metamorphosis would work to terrify the ghost a second time. Even a dragon couldn't harm Kramer, and once he got over his initial terror at seeing one, he'd remember that.

Ian also came along with the comment that he had nothing better to do, and he wanted to see Denise do another "shapeshifter trick," as he called it. In spite of my personal dislike of him, Ian was crafty, powerful, and practically fearless in a fight. Too bad all that came wrapped up with the conscience of a barracuda, but he was loyal in his own way to Bones and Spade. Ian might claim he was here only because of boredom or the chance to see Denise shape shift into something unusual, but I knew better. The Inquisitor had f**ked up when he tried to kill Bones. That, Ian cared about.

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