Home > Zen and the Art of Vampires (Dark Ones #6)(12)

Zen and the Art of Vampires (Dark Ones #6)(12)
Author: Katie MacAlister

Kristoff's lips thinned. "It is an act, Alec, put on to make us think just what you're thinking."

Alec! Aha, a name at last.

"But - "

"If you would oblige me by not believing everything a woman tells you, we might live to see this task done," Kristoff said, rubbing a spot on his chest.

Contriteness filled Alec's face. I spent a moment musing just how much I liked his name, but dragged my mind back to the task of escaping the latest in what seemed to be an evening filled with strange episodes.

"You said the wound was healed. If it is still bothering you - "

"It has long since healed, but it reminds me of the folly of taking people for granted." Kristoff's eyes glowed in the darkness of the car as he glanced back at me. "It is said the blood of a Zorya can heal any injury."

"That's it!" I said, holding up my hands. "I'm officially through. I've been insulted, challenged, nearly brainwashed by some deranged cult, hunted, pleaded at by a pair of ghosts and leered at by a third, rejected, and now kidnapped, but when you start talking about using my blood, it's time for me to go to bed and pretend I never came on this trip. Since you're so determined to drive me somewhere, would you please drive to the Hotel Andersson? Thank you."

I sat back in the seat, determined to hang on to what was left of my shreds of reason. If I believed hard enough that these two handsome, but clearly unbalanced, men were just taking me to my hotel, and not about to commit some sort of ghastly blood sacrifice, perhaps I could escape with my sanity intact.

Alec considered me again with a not unfriendly eye. "We could go to the bookseller, to see if it proves her story."

"That would just be a waste of time. The shop is sure to be closed at this time of night."

"If I was still talking to either of you, which I'm not because I no longer recognize your existence, I would point out that although the shop was closed, there might be some sort of clue there as to the origins of the bookmark," I said, calmly examining a fingernail.

"She has a point," Alec agreed.

I decided to unbend enough to give him a grateful smile. He returned it with a little wink. I started to feel a bit warm as another blush swept upward. Could it be possible he was flirting with me? A man as handsome as him? As unobtrusively as possible, I sat up a little straighter to maximize my good points (large boobs) and minimize the bad (rest of the body).

"Not really, but if you are going to insist on giving her the benefit of the doubt, we might as well get it over with quickly so we can take her before the council."

"Council?" I asked, grabbing the backs of their seats and hauling myself forward. "What council?"

Kristoff's face could have been made of granite, so cold was it and the accompanying gaze he cast toward me. "I thought you weren't speaking to us."

"I have decided in the interests of avoiding an international incident that I will keep the lines of communication open. What council?"

"The Moravian Council," Alec said, hitting the gas and sending us shooting down a bumpy street, making a tight U-turn to head back into the heart of town. "Don't worry, Pia; if you're truly what you say you are, you have nothing to fear from the council."

I sat back, grasping the seat belts, unwilling to strap myself in just in case I needed to make a fast getaway. "Just out of morbid curiosity, what exactly is this Moravian Council? And what would happen if I wasn't telling the truth?"

"You will be taken before the council to answer for the seventy-three deaths your people have caused over the last three years," Kristoff answered in a deep, lyrical voice that would have sent shivers of delight up my back if he hadn't clearly been repulsed by me, and obviously under the delusion that I was someone bad.

"My people?" I asked, running my mind over my immediate family members. "They run an apple orchard in eastern Washington. I don't think they've conducted any mass executions in, oh, geez, years and years. Although with my brother, you never can tell. He's a Microsoft yuppie."

My humor, sarcastic as it was, was not wasted on Alec. He chuckled and flashed me a quick grin in the mirror before returning his eyes to the road as we approached the square.

Kristoff grunted and looked out the window.

I figured it would take Alec forever to find a parking spot, but he solved the issue by simply parking sideways across a sidewalk. "That is the bookstore?" he asked, pointing to the end of the street, where it opened into the pedestrians-only square.

I nodded.

"Let me see the books," Alec said, opening the door for me and offering his hand to help me out of the car.

I was simultaneously charmed by the gesture and pleased by the warmth in his eyes. "I'm afraid I only have one of them. I dumped the other one when Mattias started after me."

"Mattias?" Alec asked, examining the book I held out for him. He riffled the pages but found nothing.

"The sacristan," Kristoff informed him. He turned a hard gaze on me. "Why, exactly, were you running from him?"

I was flummoxed for a moment when Alec tucked my hand in the crook of his arm, covering my fingers with his free hand as he led me down the street. It was a surprisingly intimate gesture, one that gave me more pleasure than I wanted to admit.

Part of me, the vindictive, evil part that I really liked to pretend didn't exist, wished that Denise would walk past us at that moment. I wouldn't gloat, I wouldn't preen, I'd simply smile and allow my two incredibly handsome escorts to accompany me.

Fortunately for my ego, she wasn't present in the crowd who now pulsed and bobbed in that odd throbbing fashion large groups of people packed into a small space have when they attempt to dance. The music hit us with the force of a brick wall, and it wasn't until we slipped around to the back of the row of buildings lining that side of the square that I could make myself heard above the noise.

"No answer?" Kristoff said, stopping at a metal door bearing a faded plaque with the name of the shop. One of his chocolatey brown eyebrows rose in mock surprise. I had the worst urge to yank it back down.

"I'm not avoiding the question. I just didn't want to bellow it out in front of everyone," I said with dignity. "I was running from him because he was just as mistaken as you two - he thought I was this Zorya person, and wanted to marry me."

   
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