Kitty Goes to War Page 46

“Any idea when it’ll open back up?” Ben asked the officer in a maddeningly calm voice. I wanted to shriek.

“Once the snow slows down and we get the road cleared. It’s just too much of a mess out there right now,” the officer said. “Sorry.”

“Thanks.”

Ben closed the window and pulled out to cross the overpass behind the previous car.

“You didn’t even try to argue with him,” I grumbled.

“I’ve warned you about arguing with the cops before,” Ben said.

My angry sigh sounded like a growl. He wouldn’t look at me, meet my gaze, or stare. I wanted to pick a fight, but he wasn’t cooperating.

From the backseat, Tyler made a sound, half grunt, half growl. He held his hands in fists, braced against his legs, his eyes shut, and was breathing too quickly.

I was angry; he was picking up on my mood. I forced myself to breathe slowly, calmly, and I spoke in a whisper. “Keep it together, Tyler. It’s okay.” Ben put a hand on my thigh and looked at me, worried.

Tyler sighed, letting out a shuddering breath. He didn’t open his eyes, but his hands opened. If he wasn’t entirely relaxed, at least he didn’t look like he was about to burst out of his skin.

“We’ll find a different way to get there,” Ben said. His back was stiff, and he was starting to smell angry—a hint of sweat, tangy around the edges. So he wasn’t as calm as he let on.

Three werewolves trapped in a little metal box during a snowstorm, going nowhere fast. Wonderful. It was amazing we’d gotten as far as we had. I cracked the window and let a blast of cold air hit us. Driving snowflakes sent a stinging, icy wave across my skin, and it felt good. It woke me up, focused me.

We made a quick stop at a Village Inn to use the restroom, wash up a bit, and get some coffee and food. The deer from last night wasn’t stretching too far. In the restroom, I regarded the mirror. I didn’t just still smell wolfish, I looked it. I hadn’t brushed my hair, just haphazardly tied it back. Strands were coming loose in a tangled halo around my head. My eyes were shadowed, glaring, and my frown was fierce. I was a muscle twitch away from snarling. I was still wearing nothing but a damp T-shirt and jeans. And I had a ways left to go.

The guys didn’t look too much better. We left quickly.

Back in the car, Ben picked our way to the state highway east of the interstate. The weather wasn’t any better, but traffic was a little easier. Wind blasted eddies of snow across the blacktop.

A massive pileup stopped us north of Colorado Springs. It looked like an SUV braked too quickly at an intersection and momentum carried it, slipping and fishtailing, into the waterlogged intersection, where it hit a sedan and sent it spinning into another car. Two other cars had slammed into the mess when they couldn’t stop in time. We waited forty-five minutes before the cops cleared enough of a lane for traffic to pass by.

The weather seemed to be conspiring against us, which was terribly ominous, given recent events. I resisted an urge to call Cormac to see if he’d learned anything new. He would call when he had something to say. Probably.

Chapter 19

I COULDN’T BELIEVE it had taken us most of the day to get here.

We went east before turning south, hoping to avoid most of the city and its traffic. Finally, we turned west, picking our way through the various grids and arteries that passed for the Springs’s road network, toward FortCarson.

After all that—the snow, the traffic, the worry, and arguing with Tyler—we reached FortCarson and were stopped cold at the gate. When I’d come here last week, the gate was staffed by regular security guards in blue uniforms and safety vests. Now there was a pair of soldiers in army fatigues, bundled up with gloves and parkas, carrying rifles. A siren was wailing in the distance.

“We’re here to see a patient at the hospital,” Ben told the soldier as he offered his ID.

“I’m sorry, sir. The post is under lockdown. I can’t let you through.”

On the roundabout ahead of the gate was a lot of activity: trucks and vehicles in desert beige and a bunch of guys holding rifles. A couple of soldiers were stringing razor wire, creating a serious roadblock. Something was happening. I thought of all that tract housing, the quiet residential neighborhoods with the normal-looking schools and nice playgrounds that made up this part of the base—and then I thought of Walters as a werewolf tearing through those neighborhoods. My heart grew sick.

Tyler opened the back door and started to get out.

“Excuse me, sir—” The guard looked panicked for just a moment, as if he thought he was going to have to tackle Tyler and really didn’t want to. Who would?

Tyler took charge. “I’m Sergeant Tyler, stationed here. What’s happening?”

The guy let his guard down, shaking his head. “They’re not telling me anything. There’s been some kind of hostage situation. Some guy back from Afghanistan snapping—you know how it is.” He glanced over his shoulder at the burgeoning roadblock. That was one hell of a snap, he must have been thinking.

“I know who it is,” Tyler said. “He’s a friend of mine. I’m here to help. Call Colonel Stafford and tell him I’m here.”

The soldier was scared. He didn’t know what was happening, he’d only been told not to let anyone through. I wondered what rumors were flying, what he’d heard. And how bad it really was. In the face of that, Tyler’s solid presence and determination was a calming influence.

“I’ll call. Wait right here,” the soldier said, and went inside the booth.

Tyler waited, resting an arm on the roof of the car and looking ahead, as if expecting an attack.

“I don’t like this,” I said, stating the obvious.

Ben reached over and took my hand. “We can turn around and go home.”

“Tyler won’t leave,” I said. In my gut, Wolf was defiant. This was our mess, we’d clean it up. Protect our own, defend our territory, punish the rogue. I didn’t always understand the Wolf’s black-and-white worldview. I usually didn’t want to. I rubbed my forehead, trying to smooth away the headache I was developing. “How could I have been so wrong about Walters?”

“You want to think the best of people. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“But it gets me into so much trouble. My back’s been stabbed more times than I can count.”

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