Kitty Goes to War Page 43

He nodded and put his arm across Becky’s back. The touch made her relax. They left together.

I felt better, knowing everyone else was on the way home, safe, warming up and drying off.

“What do you think happened? Why take off now?” Ben said. He stood next to me, the skin of our arms pressing together. I shivered. We may have been able to withstand a lot of cold, but we were going to have to get out of this weather soon.

“I think he got scared,” Tyler said. “Or mad.”

“Where’s home for him?” I said. “Do you think he may be trying to reach family?” His original pack, I thought. If he didn’t feel safe with us, he’d try to find someplace safer.

Which brought us back to Tyler’s original guess: he was going to find Vanderman.

“No. Gordon picked us because we weren’t married, didn’t have kids or girlfriends, didn’t have big families. So we wouldn’t have any other loyalties.”

I scowled. “If he was so smart why’d he go and get himself blown up?” Tyler ducked his gaze, his shoulders tensing even more. He looked like he wanted to tip his head back and howl. “I’m sorry,” I said softly. “That came out wrong.”

“Yeah,” he said, with a grim chuckle. “I’ve been asking myself that every day since it happened.”

“Let’s get out of this mess,” I said, and started on the hike back to the car. Ben matched my stride, caught my hand in his, and squeezed. I pressed near to him. Tyler followed closely. He didn’t have to, I supposed. But I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to fight with him about it.

I didn’t want to have to make the call to Dr. Shumacher. I didn’t want to listen to her tell me that I was wrong, and she was right. Actually, we were both half right. Tyler seemed to be doing just fine.

“We need a plan,” I said as we reached the car. I couldn’t wait to start drying off. Maybe then I could think straight.

“I guess we go after him,” Ben said, sounding resigned.

“He can’t have gone far, right?”

“Except that this is what we do,” Tyler said. “We spent the last two years running, evading, hunting. If he thinks he’s on a mission, I don’t know if we can stop him.”

If Tyler thought this, what reason did I have for optimism? Because I didn’t want to think about the alternatives.

“That’s not acceptable,” I said. “How long will it take him to get to FortCarson, if that’s where he’s going? Two days?”

“If he goes straight there at top speed he’ll be there by the end of the day.”

A hundred miles in a day. Yeah, that was what we were dealing with.

Inside the car, Ben started the engine and blasted the heater. Cold air came out, and I shivered. It would warm up soon enough. I dug in the glove box for my cell phone and made the dreaded call.

“Yes, what is it?” Shumacher answered on the first ring. She’d probably been waiting by the phone all night—she didn’t sound like I’d waken her up.

“We have a problem. Walters went rogue. He ran and Tyler thinks he’s headed for Vanderman.” I tried to get it all out before she could say anything, ask any questions, or make accusations.

“And Sergeant Tyler, he’s still with you? He didn’t run?” She sounded surprised.

“He’s fine. He’s been a big help.”

“I’ll call Colonel Stafford,” Shumacher said, as if she’d been expecting it.

“We’ll head to FortCarson,” I said, glancing at Ben and Tyler for confirmation. Their expressions were set in agreement. “Maybe we can intercept him.”

“Kitty, I think you should go home. Stafford and his men can find Walters. We’ll take care of it.”

The others could hear Shumacher’s side of the conversation. Tyler frowned, looking as though he wanted to say something.

“I’d really like be there, Doctor.” I slowed down my breathing to try and calm myself.

“I appreciate all of your help, I really do. I’m grateful for the attempt.”

I could tell when I was being kissed off. “Doctor, I don’t think you’re listening to me—”

“You’ll be bringing Sergeant Tyler back to the VA hospital as soon as you can, I trust.”

One strike and that was it? We’d screwed up with Walters and now I was kicked off the team? For once, I couldn’t think of anything to say. I couldn’t think of what would change Shumacher’s mind or convince her to keep me in the loop. I didn’t even have a snappy retort.

I slammed the phone shut and dropped it on the floor.

“I’m not going back there,” Tyler said. “I think I’ve earned the right not to be locked up.”

“You have,” I said. “We’re not going back.” Tyler let out a sigh and slumped against the seat. “And we’re going to FortCarson anyway.”

“Of course we are,” Ben said. “But I feel a professional need to point out that messing around the U.S. Army could get us in a serious amount of trouble.”

“You’re saying we shouldn’t do it?”

“I didn’t say that,” Ben said with a shrug. “I’m just making an observation.”

The snow was falling harder, driving thickly at an angle across the country highway. Visibility was low and the asphalt was wet. The windshield wipers banged, and Ben peered forward, turning all his attention on the road.

Here was the problem: who was the outsider here? We were the werewolves. We ought to be able to take care of our own. We had every right to go after Walters, not them. They were outsiders. They didn’t understand. They didn’t belong. That was my Wolf’s instincts talking, though. Was that rational? Was I assessing the situation by the wrong standards? Should I just let it go?

No, because I still wasn’t convinced Shumacher knew what she was doing, and that she and Stafford’s gang wouldn’t make the situation worse. Like, Walters and Vanderman breaking loose and rampaging in Colorado Springs.

“It should only take us a couple of hours to get there, right?” Tyler said. “We should be able to head him off.”

“Usually. But I don’t know in this weather,” Ben said, shaking his head. “Plus we’ll hit the Springs in time for morning rush hour. I can try 83 or one of the back ways.”

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