Kitty Goes to War Page 39

“Can you even do that?”

I asked myself that every day. How the hell did I end up here? With this responsibility? Who was I to deserve that kind of loyalty? To demand that kind of respect? Because I was the one who was there. Because I could.

“You don’t understand, do you? All the research you’ve done, everything you’ve learned, and you don’t understand. I’m the alpha of this pack. And you’ll never find out where we’re going.”

Her gaze flickered away for a moment. Her authority wasn’t working on me.

“I can refuse to release them to your custody,” she said. “I don’t have to let them go.”

I suppressed a growl. I almost exclaimed, shouted a denial in my panic. After all we’d accomplished, she wouldn’t do that, would she? She just couldn’t. I almost begged. But I stopped myself and took a deep breath.

I said, “Then you’re going to have to be the one to tell them that they get to spend the full moon locked up in a concrete cell. You’re going to have to deal with them when they go crazy and try to break out.”

“We have procedures for that. This wouldn’t be their first full moon in custody,” she said, but her voice wavered, like she wasn’t sure. I wouldn’t have wanted to tell Tyler and Walters—I could just about see the looks on their faces. Disappointment, betrayal, rage, and no reason to hold back.

“I don’t want to argue with you,” I said. “You’re the one who asked me to help, and I told you what I think will help—getting them outside and showing them how to control themselves. I promise I’ll bring them back in the morning, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“No, it’s not that. It’s just—” Instead of finishing the thought, she bowed her head and sighed. “I want to be there. I want to watch.”

Ben spoke up. “Has it occurred to you how dangerous that could be?”

“But to see a werewolf pack during the full moon, to record it…” Again, she trailed off. Of course she knew how dangerous it could be. That was why she was never going to see it for herself.

“I suppose you could try one of those cages that the guys who study polar bears use, but I’m not sure how much good it would do you,” I said.

Ben glared at me. Shumacher’s brow furrowed.

Ben and I were wearing our full-moon clothing: old jeans and T-shirts. I went braless; the fewer clothes to keep track of, the better. We went without coats at all—the cold didn’t affect us so much. We didn’t strike a very intimidating picture. But in our stances, our carriage, our glares, we were so much more than we appeared. Shumacher had worked with werewolves, and she knew what she was seeing: an alpha pair defending their territory.

“Let us take them,” Ben said. “Just for the night. If you really have their best interests in mind, if you really want to rehabilitate them and not just study them, it’s the right thing to do.”

Shumacher nodded, and I suppressed my sigh of relief. Clearly, Tyler and Walters were part of my pack. Maybe just for tonight, maybe not for the foreseeable future. But now, they were mine to care for. Mine and my Wolf’s.

The doctor went back inside the building. A growl burred in my throat and I started pacing in front of Ben. “What does she think she’s doing? Did she really think I’d just tell her?”

“Settle down,” he said. He looked calm, but his back was stiff, his shoulders raised. A little of his wolf showed in his eyes, as I was sure my Wolf showed in mine. It was almost time to run; we could both feel it. I stopped pacing and hugged myself. Ben touched my arm and leaned in to kiss my ear, breathing out as he did so. Wolf language: be calm.

Shumacher returned with Tyler and Walters. They were obviously edgy. They kept looking around—along the side of the building, out to the edges of the parking lot, even up to the roof. I wondered how much of their apprehension came from being werewolves on the night of the full moon, or from being soldiers recently come home from a war zone. It was as if they expected grenades to drop.

I stood between them and gave each of their arms a squeeze to anchor them. Everything was going to be all right. I felt something, Wolf awakening in my eyes, catching each of their gazes in turn and staring at them, not in challenge but with assurance: we’ll be fine, we’re a pack, I’ll look after you. It seemed a ridiculous claim to make; I was half Tyler’s size. But they both settled, their shoulders easing, the wolves in their gazes acknowledging me.

“We’ll be fine, Doctor,” I said to Shumacher with all the confidence I’d just shown to the soldiers. “Come on, guys.” Hands on their arms, I steered them toward Ben and the car.

Shumacher looked at me, lips pursed, holding back arguments. I just didn’t care anymore and walked away.

We piled into Ben’s car, the soldiers in the backseat, me in front, Ben driving.

“You guys okay?” I said, looking over my shoulder.

“What happened back there?” Tyler said. “Shumacher looked ready to spit, but she was scared.”

We’d all smelled her fear. “She wanted to know where we were going, to keep tabs on us. Bring Stafford and his guys along, ‘just in case.’ I wouldn’t let her. She threatened not to let you out for the night.” They reacted, jaws clenched, noses flaring—nerves, anger. “Don’t worry, I talked her out of it.”

“I bet they’ll try to follow us,” Ben said. “Track us, if they can.”

“Can we dodge them? Lose them?” I looked around, out windows, for the imaginary Humvee following us. If Shumacher and Stafford really were following us and they knew what they were doing, I wouldn’t see them.

“I can try.”

Tyler leaned forward. Neither of them were belted in, but that didn’t seem important enough to worry about. It’s not as though a car wreck would be likely to kill any of us.

“Don’t take the direct route,” he said. “Are there any one-way streets around here? Big parking lots or garages with multiple exits? You can double back and get away before they’ve figured out what you’re doing.”

“We’d have to go downtown for that,” I said.

“I think I have an idea,” Ben said. He drove a few blocks then swung east on Colfax. Ten minutes later, he turned again, and a couple more blocks brought us to a familiar wide, grassy lawn. We followed the long, looping drive around CheesmanPark. It wasn’t the mazelike parking lot Tyler had asked for, but the road here was twisting and confusing, which amounted to the same thing.

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