Home > Zen and the Art of Vampires (Dark Ones #6)(10)

Zen and the Art of Vampires (Dark Ones #6)(10)
Author: Katie MacAlister

"Maybe the bookseller will know," I murmured as I reclaimed the bookmark from the top of the trash, but as I did so, a cold chill ran down my back.

The top book was, as I had told the Frenchwoman who had plowed into me earlier, a mystery, but beneath it lay the Regency romance I'd snatched up. I hadn't really looked at the cover, since I had a love of Regencies, but I saw now that the two people gracing the cover were depicted dancing. "Dancers on the cover... oh, no. Now what am I going to do?"

I grabbed the book and stuffed it into my bag, wondering if there was any chance I'd find the woman in the holiday crowd.

"What a mess," I murmured, and with a hand pressed to my side, I limped my way down the street toward the waterfront. Perhaps I would get a glimpse of the woman if she was still looking for bookstores.

I had just made it across the park when Mattias popped up out of nowhere. He didn't see me, but I knew that, exposed as I was, he soon would. I had to get away, but he was in a position that allowed him to look down the three streets that met at the park. I whirled around, scanning for anywhere I could hide, my gaze sharpening on a dark curve at the far edge of the park, where it butted up against a cliff. People were still streaming out of the park, but couples were using the darkness along the tree-lined end to engage in a little romantic snogging.

I hunched over and tried to use people to shield me as I made my way to the trees, intending to hide behind one of them until Mattias left. But as I glanced over my shoulder toward him, he was looking in my direction; he started forward hesitantly, as if he wasn't sure he had seen me.

"Dammit," I muttered, excusing myself when the couple nearest me broke off what was surely a marathon lip-lock session to glare at my interruption. "Sorry. Go on with what you were doing."

The woman snorted and, grabbing her partner by the hand, dragged him off. Just beyond them, Mattias was heading straight in my direction.

Another couple left the security of the shadows, giggling and laughing about something as they passed. A shadow separated from the wall behind them, a male shadow who appeared to be alone.

"Pia?" I heard Mattias call as he approached.

"This is so cliché I can't believe it, but desperate times and all that," I muttered to myself as I gathered up my mental strength and stopped the man who was walking past me. "I sure hope you speak English, and I really hope you don't take this the wrong way, but here goes."

At my touch, the man stopped, turning toward me, his face deep in shadow. Eyes the shade of blue known as teal, like a Siamese cat's, seemed to glow at me. I prayed I wasn't about to get tossed in jail for assault, grabbed his other arm, and more or less flung myself on him, chickening out at the last second and kissing the very edge of his cheek where it met the corner of his mouth.

"Please don't yell or anything like that," I murmured against his skin, my lips tingling at the sensation of soft stubble.

"Yar!" a man said next to my ear.

I jumped and stared with shock at the face that appeared just behind the man. Like Karl and Marta, he was nearly translucent.

"I likes a bit o' the cash, meself, but ye're missin' the dock there, lass," the ghost said. "Yer aim's off."

The victim of my pathetic but desperate plan stiffened in my arms but didn't shove me away or yell or even try to kiss me back (more's the pity - I've always been a sucker for blue eyes). He did, however, look a bit taken aback at what was surely an expression of utter and complete befuddlement visible on my face.

Mattias loomed up in my view, but he couldn't reach me, blocked as he was by the people between us. "Pia?"

I slunk down a few inches lower, shifting my grip on the man I held so that my fingers clutched soft, curly hair. I threw in a rapturous moan as I kept my lips glued to his cheek, my attention moving him, to Mattias, to the ghost who continued to leer at me.

Mattias peered at us for a moment, then gave a little shake of his head and moved off. At that moment, hands that felt like they were made of steel grabbed my wrists and pushed me backward.

"I appreciate the offer, but I am not interested," the man said, his voice deep and lyrical, with an Italian accent that seemed to skitter over my skin like electricity.

"I am," the ghost said, winking. "You can snog me any day."

"Um," I said, not sure how to respond to a lecherous ghost. "Are you a sailor, by any chance?"

"No," the blue-eyed man said, frowning.

"I'm sorry, I wasn't asking you; I was asking him," I said, nodding toward the ghost.

The man looked behind him, then narrowed his eyes at me. "Are you drunk?"

"Not in the least, although I'm really wishing I was at this point. You don't see him?"

"See who?" he asked.

"The ghost. I think he's a sailor from a ship that went down in 1922."

"The Rebecca," the ghost said, nodding. "Went down in a bank o' fog the likes o' which I'd ne'er seen afore, and hope to ne'er again."

"There is no one there," Blue Eyes said slowly.

"You're bein' the reaper, then?" the sailor asked. He was a short man, somewhat squat, with a face that looked like it had been in more than one bar fight.

"I'm sorry, but I'm not. I just have this," I told the ghost, holding up my wrist to show him the moonstone, which had once again changed into a tiny crescent moon lantern. "But if you go to the café on the square, you'll find a couple of other people who were on the ship, and who are waiting for the person in question."

"What are you talking about?" asked the man.

"Café, you say?" the ghost said, looking hopeful. "Ye be thinkin' they'll have a tot o' rum there?"

"They might. You never know."

"Aye, that ye don't. I'll be on me way, then." He gave me a gap-toothed grin. "Ye might want to be practicin' yer aim while I'm gone. Looks like yer fella doesn't appreciate ye kissin' naught but his cheek."

I said nothing, not wanting the man whom I'd jumped on to think I was any crazier than he already did. Obviously the moonstone/lantern contained some sort of magic that allowed only its bearer to see ghosts.

"I'm so sorry; you must think I'm the worst sort of woman," I told Blue Eyes. "But there was a man chasing me, and I really didn't want him to find me."

   
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