Kiss the Dead

Free Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton

Book: Kiss the Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Laurell K. Hamilton
“Let… him… go.” I stopped looking at Stevens’s wide eyes and tried to just see my target.
    He ducked completely behind Stevens so that I had no head shot except Stevens. I kept my aim on where his head had been last. He’d peek back out. He wouldn’t be able to resist—probably.
    He spoke, hidden. “You’re talking in time to your heartbeat.”
    “Yes,” I said softly.
    “Don’t,” Stevens said, voice strained with the pressure of the vampire’s hand against his throat.
    “If I tear his throat out now, you don’t have a shot.”
    Urlrich said, “You kill him, and I’ll shoot you through his body.”
    “I’m already dead; you can’t scare me.”
    “You’re… not… dead,” I said. I was having trouble focusing where I thought his head would pop out. You can’t focus like that forever; you have to take the shot, or rest your eyes. They give out before your arms give out on holding the shooting stance.
    “I am dead,” the vampire said.
    “Not… yet…” I said.
    I saw an edge of blond hair. My breathing just stopped, everything stopped. I pulled the trigger in a well of silence, where the emptiness waited for my heartbeat.
    The blond hair fell back behind Stevens, and I thought I’d missed. I waited for the vampire to tear his throat out as I ran forward, gun to shoulder, yelling, “Fuck!”
    Urlrich yelled, “Stevens!”
    Stevens fell forward on all fours. I waited for his throat to spill crimson. He got to his feet and stumbled away from the vampire. Thevampire stayed on the floor, on his back. I had the AR snugged tight, and suddenly I thought I could aim at that body all damn night. I walked carefully, but quick, up to the fallen vampire.
    Urlrich was moving in from the other side, the shotgun tight to his shoulder.
    I looked down at the body and found that the corner of his skull was open, the blond hair peeled back, with blood and brains seeping out. It was the brain shot that had killed him instantly. If I’d just hit his skull, he’d have had enough time to rip Stevens’s throat out. Fuck.
    “Hell of a shot, Marshal,” Urlrich said.
    “Thanks,” I said, and my voice was a little breathy. My arms were tingling down to my fingertips, almost like pins and needles. It was as if my pulse poured back into my body all at once, as if I’d slowed more than just my heartbeat down for those few minutes. I felt a little weak-kneed, and light-headed. I let out a big breath and focused on standing firm.
    Stevens was throwing up in the corner, not from fear, but the same sense of relief that made me want to drop to my knees rather than keep aiming at the vampire. I could see brains on the outside; that meant dead vampire, hell, dead anything.
    “He dead?” Urlrich asked.
    “Yeah,” I said, “brains on the outside means dead.”
    “Then why you still aiming at him?”
    I thought about that, and let out another long breath, and forced myself to lower my weapon. Somehow I didn’t want to; it just seemed safer. Not logical, but the urge to just keep aiming was very strong. I fought the urge to put another bullet in him, but his brains were leaking out onto the floor. That was dead, until we had to decapitate him and stake his heart. He was dead. He was really, truly dead, but I still moved so that standing with my weapon down kept the body clearly in my sight.
    “See to your partner,” I said.
    Urlrich nodded, and moved to do what I said.
    Smith was in the doorway, and there were more cops with him. “Everyone okay?” he asked.
    “Yeah,” I said, “except the vampire. Who’s dead outside?”
    Urlrich had moved to see to his partner, who was dry-heaving in the corner.
    “Most of the vampires; no cops.”
    “What happened?” I asked.
    “The elderly woman flew, and then our holy items all went off and someone fired.”
    “And everyone else thought the vampires were attacking,” I said, “so they fired, too.”
    “Yeah,” Smith said.
    “Shit,” I said.
    “Hey, no cops

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