Deleted Scene: Halfway To The Grave
Cat and Bones
***Author's note: This deleted scene took place during chapter fifteen in Halfway to the Grave, right after Bones meets Timmie, and right before Cat has her encounter with Spade in the cave. It was cut because my editor didn't feel it revealed anything new to the story and thus slowed the pacing. To give a brief set–up, Cat and Bones are investigating to see if a girl from a withdrawn missing person's report really had been found, or if she was another of Hennessey's victims.***
Bones sat next to me. He wore a suit and tie. A briefcase was at his feet right next to his shiny, business–fashionable shoes. In his professional ensemble complete with thin, rimless glasses, he appeared the very picture of mundane respectability. Talk about a disguise.
"So you see, Mrs. Phillips, why we would feel this was important enough to interrupt you at your place of employment," Bones was saying. "We at the Internal Revenue Service take tax evasion very seriously."
"Of course you would," the brunette sitting opposite us agreed. She kept twisting the fake pearls around her neck. Madeline Phillips was a real estate agent in Hocking County. Her office was tidy, with several pictures of her and a smiling Amanda Phillips in the room.
"Now, if I understand you correctly..." Bones consulted the paperwork in his hands, which had nothing to do with tax laws. "You filed last year that your daughter Amanda was living at home, still a dependent, and attending Hocking Community College. Is that your position for this current year as well?"
A firm nod. "Yes."
Bones leaned forward. "Mrs. Phillips. You called the police last July to report that your daughter hadn't come home. Then you withdrew Amanda's missing person report. Are you telling me Amanda lives with you, even as of today?"
Her fingers drummed on the desk. "Yes. Granted, she had me worried that night, but she apologized and hasn't done it since. You're too young to have a twenty year–old child, but let me tell you, they're a handful. She's always on the run."
Madeleine Phillips was wrong about that. Bones could be a great–great–great grandfather, if vampires reproduced, and if Amanda was like the other girls from the half dozen withdrawn reports we'd followed up on, she wasn't on the run. She was dead.
I got up and closed the vertical blinds. Our charade of being IRS agents in order to get a private meeting with Mrs. Phillips was over. It was time to go green and find out what was really going on with Amanda.
When I turned around, locking the door as a last precaution, Bones already had the brights on in his eyes. He leaned over Madeline's desk, taking his unnecessary glasses off.
"Look deeper, that's right...Now tell me, when did you truly last see Amanda?"
Her eyes were crystal blue and transfixed on his. "I–I don't know...I don't know!"
"Kitten, you might want to turn your back."
"Why?" God, he wasn't going to start beating the shit out of her, was he?
"She's been bitten, I can feel it," Bones replied. "I'll have to drink from her to push her past it. Otherwise, she can't answer me with the truth."
Oh. No, I didn't care to see him feed, he was right about that. But it seemed cowardly in the extreme to turn around.
"Go ahead. Do what you have to do."
Bones met my eyes briefly, then circled around the desk to where Madeline sat. Her hair was already up in a bun, so he didn't have to bother with that. He undid a button on her shirt, pulling her collar open further, and bent to her neck.
I only saw the back of his head and her face. Heard her slight intake of breath, saw her mouth open to make the sound, and then watched her eyelids slowly close. When they were all the way shut, he pulled back, rebuttoned her blouse, and knelt in front of her.
"No marks," I said, feeling very strange and remembering how there hadn't been any on the other girl I'd stumbled on him feeding from weeks ago. "I didn't see you, ah...close the holes."
"You already know how I did it."
My fingers clenched, which was ridiculous. Yeah, I'd had a good idea, but hearing it confirmed didn't make me any happier. Bones had cut his tongue on a fang and held it over the punctures on Madeline's neck until they healed. Since we'd been sleeping together, my method of swallowing Bones's blood had gone from licking it off his fingers to sucking it from his tongue while we kissed. Therefore, it was no surprise to discover he had more than one use for that trick, or where he'd gotten the idea from.
"It's not the same, Kitten," he said, studying my face.
"We have more important things going on, ask her about her daughter, for God's sake."
My voice was harsher than I meant it to be, because I wasn't really mad at him. I was sick over this whole thing. So many girls missing or dead, and we still didn't know how many people were involved in it. Before we came here, we'd looked into the other names from the missing person's reports that had been oddly yanked. Aside from Violet Perkins, whose human boyfriend had strangled her in a mescaline–induced rage, none of the girls were even still reported missing. They were probably dead, and no one, not even their families, knew anything about it.
Bones stared at me for another second before returning his gaze to Madeline.
"Now tell me, and nothing is hidden any longer, when did you last see Amanda? You don't have to be afraid. No one will hurt you."
She'd started to shake. Tears flowed, and her face transformed into an expression of agony.
"I don't know where my little girl is! She went out after her birthday in July, months ago, and she never came home. She never came home!"
Her voice rose. Bones held a finger to her lips.
"Easy now, Madeline. I'm going to help you, so don't fret. Who made you believe Amanda was home? When did it happen?"
In a steadier tone, she relayed how the day after her daughter hadn't come home, someone else had. Madeline couldn't tell us what he looked like. She'd been hit with his eyes too fast, but she knew it was a man, for what little information that was worth. He'd instilled in her that Amanda was fine, she'd just seen her, and to go about her usual routine and do nothing further with the police. It had helped that her ex–husband was a loser neither of them had seen in years. Madeline's parents were deceased, and she had no other children. To any of Amanda's friends who called, Madeline had been programmed to say her daughter had moved.
So Madeline continued to pay for an education that wasn't utilized, kept Amanda's insurance current on a vehicle that wasn't there, and was oblivious to the fact that she'd never see her daughter again.
"All right, Madeline," Bones said when she was finished. "I want you to look at the clock. It's three minutes to five. When its five o'clock, you won't remember anything you've just said. Or anything I've asked you. We're just two IRS agents who inquired about your returns. We didn't talk about anything else, and nothing has changed with your daughter."
"What?" I gasped.
"She walks out of this room saying anything else, and what do you think will happen?" he asked me without looking away. "They know who she is. She'll be lucky if they just kill her, but in all likelihood, they'll have a waste not, want not attitude. You want to sentence her to that? I'd say she's had enough cruelty done to her."
"But...but it's..." There weren't enough words to describe how wrong that felt, leaving Madeline in her state of instilled illusions.
"Not until they're dead, Kitten. That's the only way she'll be safe."
There was no other point I could argue. Bones was right. It was still wrong, but in this case, wrong was the best we could do.
Seconds ticked past. Bones moved away and was seated again when the clock struck five. Madeline blinked – and then her features settled back into polite wariness without a hint of their former pain.
"Thank you for your time, Mrs. Phillips," he said, rising. "We'll be leaving now."
She stood as well, unaware that tears were still drying on her face. "I'll have my accountant go over those figures more carefully next time."
Bones nodded. "We won't need to return if you do, I'm sure."
I left without speaking. What could I say? Have a nice day?
Bones placed a hand on my back as we left the building. His touch was light, barely discernable, yet it kept my legs straight as we walked. I wanted to cry. I wanted to kill someone. I didn't want to ever know things like this could actually happen.
"They kept her alive for two months," was what I said as we got into the rental car.
Bones didn't start it. He just looked at me.
"You've already done a great deal to help these girls, Kitten. More than can be expected. There's no shame in letting me take it the rest of the way. You won't be abandoning them."
I considered dropping out for a selfish, weak second. Then I shook my head.
"I'm in it until the end. However long that takes."
2008 © Jeaniene Frost. All Rights Reserved.