Home > The Curse of Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson #10)(9)

The Curse of Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson #10)(9)
Darynda Jones

“Two hundred thousand,” Amber said just as I was thrown to the ceiling. “Last night Quentin said it only had a few hundred hits, and now it’s over two hundred thousand. It’s going viral.”

“This is so bad,” Cookie said, repeating an earlier sentiment.

The angle at which I bounced off a sidewall, my foot punching through the straw before being jerked—shoeless—back out was worth the price of admission.

“This is so awesome,” Amber said, her voice full of awe.

And my face slams into the packed earth, bounces back up, and slams again. I laughed softly before catching myself. Reyes stood deathly still. He rarely found the humor in things I did.

“I’m sorry, Uncle Reyes,” Amber said, believing she’d made some kind of mistake. “I didn’t mean—”

“He’s fine.” I turned to him, but he continued to stare at the phone.

He bit down. Lowered his head. Stalked off.

“I’m so sorry, Aunt Charley.”

I watched him go, only a little concerned. He did that. Got angry at the strangest things. He was probably mad that he hadn’t been there to save me from the big bad monster. But what could he have done even if he’d been there? Gotten tossed around with me?

“He’ll be fine, hon. But, seriously, did you see the look on my face?”

I played it again, and Amber and I burst into laughter at last, doubling over as it shook us to the core. Cookie stood there. Speechless. Sadly, her astonished expression only served to prod us deeper into the darkest caverns of amusement, and my belly started hurting.

“Charley,” Cookie said, “what are we going to do?”

“Wait,” I said, holding up an index finger while I tried to gather myself.

Amber anchored her arm against me and sobered first. “Sorry, Mom. It’s just … she bounces.”

We crumpled into a heap of giggling Jell-O on the floor.

3

What does it mean if the holy water sizzles when it hits your skin?

—ASKING FOR A FRIEND

Once I was able to form complete sentences again, I promised Cookie I’d think long and hard about the possible ramification of that video. I’d made a similar promise to my high school principal when he told me to think about my actions that day. Who knew a wolf call would cause John Burrows to run Hailey Marsh over with his shiny new ’Stang? It was a pretty car. And a pretty boy. And Hailey’s legs totally healed after six months of leg braces and another six of physical therapy. Though her dream of the Olympics was pretty much over. I did feel bad about that.

I had to admit, however, I was very curious who’d posted that video.

“Quentin and I will find out,” Amber had said, her chin jutting proudly.

“Quentin and you will do your schoolwork,” Cookie replied. She’d drawn her eyebrows into a stern line, but her voice fell a few inches short of the intended emotion. Quentin did that to her. Turned her all soft and mushy.

“We will, Mom. Then we’ll find out who posted that video.” She gave me a thumbs-up. “We’re on it.”

Knowing those two, they’d do it. I thought about putting my friend Pari on it, too, just in case. That woman was a hacker extraordinaire. But I’d give them first crack at it.

In the meantime, I had to get dressed and get to work, because going to work in my pajamas was apparently the definition of unprofessional. Cookie’s words. I looked it up, though. She was wrong. Webster’s mentioned nothing about pajamas.

The bulk of Reyes’s anger seemed to have evaporated, but not his sudden … what? Insecurity? Was that what I’d felt wafting off him since we got back? Surely not. He was about as insecure as a jaguar in the jungle.

As he was leaving, wearing jeans and a white button-down with the sleeves folded up to his elbows, he turned back to me and leaned against the doorframe to the bathroom, where I was pulling my hair into a ponytail. He lowered his head, his dark hair falling forward.

“I’ll see you for breakfast?” he asked, hesitant.

“I don’t know. I’ve kind of been seeing someone for breakfast on the side.”

One corner of his mouth lifted. “And who would that be?”

“Her name is Caroline. I’m in love with her.”

“Is that right?”

“She makes the best mocha lattes I’ve ever had. She splashes in a touch of heavy whipping cream. Makes all the difference in the world.”

“So, your breakfast is a mocha latte?”

“Yes.”

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