Serpentine (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter 26) - Page 59

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"What kind of questions?"

"If Peter had the anti-lycanthropy shot when he was attacked by the weretiger."

"Why would that matter enough for the surgeon to pause in the middle of things?" I asked.

Becca grabbed my arm. "Is Peter okay? Is he hurt worse? What's happening?"

I looked down at her, having to struggle to keep the phone to my ear. "They've got the bleeding stopped," I told her.

"So why did they stop in the middle of the surgery?" she asked.

"They're asking questions about when Peter was attacked by the weretiger," I told her.

"Why?" she asked.

"Is Becca right there with you?" Bernardo asked.

"Yeah."

"Put me on speaker for a minute." I did what he asked, and his voice changed to cheerful. "Hey, tiny dancer."

"Hey, Uncle Bernardo, is Peter okay?"

"Peter is going to be fine. In fact, the surgeon came out to talk to your mom and dad because he's doing better than they'd hoped. He wanted to come out and reassure everyone that it's good news."

"You promise that's the truth?" she said, face as suspicious as the words sounded, and again there was that echo of the older Becca she was going to become.

"I promise, honest Injun."

She rolled her eyes and said, "Uncle Bernardo, you know that's, like, racist or something. I used the word at school after hearing you use it and I got in trouble."

"I'm sorry, kiddo, I didn't mean to get you in trouble, but tell your teacher that your uncle is a reallive American Indian, so he can say Injun if he wants to."

"I did, but she didn't believe me."

"I can come visit your school, if you want."

"Will you promise to say honest Injun in front of my teacher?"

He laughed. "Promise."

She smiled. "And Peter really is going to be okay?"

"That's what the doctors are all saying."

"When can I come see him?"

"He'll be in surgery for a little bit longer, and then you'll have to wait for him to sleep off the medicine they gave him, so two to four hours."

That seemed to satisfy her. Bernardo said, "Take me off speaker, Anita."

"Are you guys going to talk grown-up stuff?" she asked.

"Probably," I said, and suddenly had Bernardo's voice in my ear again. I asked him, "What's up, Bernardo?"

"Peter is healing faster than human-normal. Medical team saw the scars from the weretiger attack; that's what got them asking about the vaccine."

"Okay," I said, "why?"

"Apparently, people who got the live vaccine after an attack have been exhibiting enhanced healing ability. There's been a paper written up in a medical journal about it."

"Interesting," I said.

Becca was watching me suspiciously, trying to figure out what we were talking about that we didn't want her to hear.

"Blood work still comes back human, but they have enhanced healing, and some of them seem to be exhibiting better-than-normal reflexes."

"But Peter wasn't vaccinated," I said.

"That's what's keeping the doctor asking questions, I think."

Then I had a thought. "The vaccine is just a different kind of lycanthropy, right? The idea is that they'll cancel each other out."

"Yeah, and it seems to be working. They've got, like, an eighty percent success rate with the vaccine preventing attack victims from catching it, if they cross-match it so it's not the same kind of lycanthropy."

"Wow, eighty percent. That is good odds," I said.

"But Peter didn't get the shot," Bernardo said.

"No, but . . ." I looked at Becca. "Can you go in the bathroom and shut the door for a minute, please?"

"No, but I'll go out and wait with Uncle Otto and tell him you're talking grown-up stuff you don't want me to hear."

I debated whether I was comfortable with Olaf being a babysitter even for a few minutes and finally decided I was: If he wouldn't hurt me for fear of Edward, then his harming Becca was right out. "Okay, I'll be out in just a few minutes."

She gave me that eye roll again and then opened the door and went out, speaking to Olaf as she closed the door behind her. Her voice was full of disdain as she said, "She's talking to Bernardo, but Peter is going to be fine, or that's what they're telling me."

I waited for the door to close and then said, "I'm alone."

"What did you want to say that you couldn't say in front of Becca?" he asked.

"When Peter got hurt, one of our wererat bodyguards got injured with him. Cisco was hurt so badly that he died from his wounds, and he bled all over Peter."

"Are you saying that the wererat blood acted like its own vaccine?"

"Yeah, tell the doctor that when Peter was attacked, another wereanimal tried to protect him but ended up bleeding out on top of Peter."

"If the doctor asks where the other wereanimal came from, what do you want me to say?"

"M

ake him an innocent bystander, or just don't answer the question, or let Edward answer it. He was there, too."

"So was Otto," Bernardo said.

"I know. By the way, Otto Jeffries got an invitation to the wedding with a personal note from Donna in it."

"What?" I was glad to hear his voice as outraged as I'd felt. "What did the note say?"

"Something about her hoping that Ted and Otto would work out their differences and mend their friendship at the wedding."

"She did not," Bernardo said.

"Oh, yes, she did. Doesn't it sound like something she'd do?"

"Yeah, I guess it does."

"But if Ted had told her the truth, that he was afraid of Otto, thought he was dangerous, then this wouldn't have happened. Lies catch up with us, damn it."

"Donna couldn't keep the supposed affair between the two of you secret. Do you really think she'd be able to keep her mouth shut about something as big as that?"

"No," I said, rubbing my eyes as if I was tired. I shouldn't be tired. I was on vacation.

"I'll tell Ted and Donna that Otto is at the hotel. I'll make sure Ted knows that he doesn't have to rush off and rescue you from the big bad, but if I tell him about the note from Donna, there may be another fight."

"I can't help that. Do what you think best."

"I know he loves her, and the kids are great, but . . ."

"I know, I don't get it either."

"But, hey, I'm never going to marry and settle down, so what the hell do I know?"

"And I'm trying to marry more people than the law will allow, so I'll keep my opinions to myself."

"That's not what Ted told me."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"He told me you didn't like her."

"I never said that."

"But it's true," Bernardo said.

"And do you like her?" I asked.

He was quiet for a second. "Not really, but he really loves her, like madly, truly, deeply shit."

"She makes him happy most of the time," I said.

"That's more than I've ever had with anyone," Bernardo said.

"I'm sorry to hear that," I said.

"I'm not looking for Ms. Right, and I'm having a hell of a good time looking for Ms. Right Now."

That made me laugh. "I noticed that out by the pool."

"I see the doctor--I'll go tell him about your wererat friend."

"We'll see you at the hospital later," I said.


Tags: Laurell K. Hamilton Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Horror
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