Kitty Goes to War Page 49

The smell came from an intersection ahead. I approached it slowly, breathing deeply and listening, and turned right to follow the scent of blood.

We found the body a few feet in, hidden around the corner. In a white uniform, he might have been a nurse or an orderly. His blood streaked across the linoleum floor. I knelt beside him, started to turn him over, and got as far as seeing his ruined neck and face before letting him be. The muscles on my back twitched, Wolf growing in my awareness, listening for enemies, waiting for an attack. This time, I smelled both Walters and Vanderman among the blood.

“I assume that’s Vanderman,” Ben said. “Walters got him out.” He looked in the opposite direction I did, and his breathing quickened. The two rogues could be anywhere now.

“I’m assuming,” I said.

“I could have stopped this,” Tyler said. “I should have kept better track of Walters. I should have made sure none of us got out. We shouldn’t have—”

“Stop it,” I said. He lowered his gaze. But I knew how he felt—I was the one who argued to let Walters out in the first place.

“Kitty,” Ben said, whispering. “Can you really talk them down?”

A couple of Special Forces–trained werewolves on the loose? I had to shake my head. I didn’t think I could, not with blood spilled. I remembered Vanderman in his cell, endlessly pacing, glaring out at me, murderous and unrepentant.

“We’ve got the gun,” Tyler said. “We can take them.” He sounded bitter, but determined.

That somehow didn’t make me feel any better.

“Come on,” I said, and retreated back around the corner from the direction Walters and Vanderman were likely to come at us. I hoped it gave us a more defensible position. It would at least give us some warning before the two werewolves launched an attack. “We need backup for this.”

The soldiers should have contacted Colonel Stafford, who would be here any minute now, but I wanted to make sure. Then I realized I didn’t have the first idea how to get ahold of Colonel Stafford. So I pulled out my cell phone and called Dr. Shumacher.

She answered before the phone had finished ringing. “Hello? Kitty?”

“Hi, Dr. Schumacher. I was wondering, could you give me Colonel Stafford’s phone number? I mean, if he even has a cell phone. Or if he has a secretary who has one. Or whatever.” My phone voice sounded like my radio voice, I realized—I came across far peppier than I was really feeling.

“Kitty, where are you, what’s happening, what’s going on?”

I hesitated a beat. “I expected Colonel Stafford would have called you the minute I showed up.”

“No, he didn’t,” she said, sounding frustrated. I couldn’t blame her for being put out. She probably thought she and Stafford were partners on equal footing. Stafford probably wasn’t thinking about her at all.

I sighed. “FortCarson’s under lockdown. I managed to talk Stafford into letting us through because I thought I knew where to find Walters, and I was right.”

“He’s at the hospital,” Schumacher said. “He’s trying to release Vanderman.”

“Yeah,” I said. “He already has.”

“I should be there, I should have found a way there, this never should have happened.”

“Are you snowed in in Denver?”

“The news says it’s a storm of the century.”

“Hey, we usually get those every ten years or so,” I said. Ben was watching me, smirking—so I was still being too chipper. Tyler was braced like he was going to pounce on the first thing that came around the corner. He hadn’t drawn the gun yet. Maybe he wanted to do this with his bare claws. “Doctor, I need to get ahold of Stafford. I need to tell him what’s happening here.”

“I’ll call the colonel,” Shumacher said firmly, determined to be back in charge. I wanted to growl at her. That wasn’t what I asked, that wasn’t what I wanted to have happen.

“Doctor, how are you going to know what to tell him? You have no idea what’s going on here—”

“It’s my project. I’ll call him.” She hung up.

We were all going to die. I slammed my phone closed and shoved it back into my pocket. I didn’t want to think about what version of the story Shumacher was going to tell the colonel. He might just gas the place the place and call it a day.

“Someone needs to go outside and catch Stafford on the way in, tell him what’s happening,” I said.

Tyler said, “If we get to a land line we can call the front gate. They’ll be in radio contact.”

I smiled. “That’s so low tech it’s cool.”

“And in the meantime, we do what? Wait for our guys to stroll along and ask them to stop by for coffee?” Ben smelled twitchy, sweat breaking out despite the chill. He tapped his leg and looked like he was ready to start pacing.

“We have to keep them in the basement. We can’t let them get out.” We’d probably have to shoot them, which made me angry. And hopeless. I turned to Tyler. “Can you go tell Stafford that Walters is here and Vanderman’s out?”

“Kitty, you should just go upstairs and wait for him. You can explain it all when he gets here,” Ben said.

“I don’t think Stafford would even listen to me. He’ll listen to Tyler.”

“He won’t have a choice. Would you please just go upstairs?”

Ben wanted me out of here—he didn’t want me to face down Walters and Vanderman. We looked at each other, and I saw so many unspoken words. So much fierce protectiveness. I had a sudden urge to throw myself at him and wrap all my limbs around him. My hands itched from wanting to grab him.

“Ben, you should go,” Tyler said. “Stafford will listen to you.”

“Like hell. I’m not leaving Kitty here,” Ben said.

“Kitty has the best chance of talking them down,” he said. “And if she can’t talk them down, there’s me. So you have to go talk to Stafford.”

“I hate to say it, but we’re way past talking,” I said. It wasn’t just Vanderman who’d be up on murder charges now.

“You have to try,” Tyler said. “It can’t be too late.”

He wasn’t worried about Walters or Vanderman; he was worried about himself. He had to believe it was possible for them to come back from that dark place. Because then it would be possible for Tyler.

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