Kitty Saves the World Page 38

Destroy—a particularly vampiric word. Vampires couldn’t be killed because they were already dead. But they could be destroyed. A very serious word for him to use.

“Oh, so you’re just being lazy, trying to save yourself some actual work,” I said, when I probably should have just shut up and run.

What did it mean, that he actually seemed sad when he said, “I truly am sorry for this.”

Four of his entourage lunged for me, and they were too fast, like I knew they would be. A whole four—I should have been flattered.

I ran. I’d already been braced for it, and power surged through me, launching me forward. It wasn’t enough. One managed to swing in front of me, and when I swerved, another blocked my path. My pulling up to try to change direction gave the two vampires behind me a chance to grab my arms and wrench them back. Another put his arm around my neck to choke me.

I struggled, dropping my weight, yanking with all my strength in an effort to break free. I managed to knock the two holding my arms off balance, dragging them with me. The one around my neck stumbled, but kept hold, so I mostly strangled myself. A pain, as my neck wrenched at an angle it really shouldn’t be in.

Werewolves were tough, with almost limitless fast healing. Mostly indestructible, I liked to say when I was being snarky. Beheading killed us, high explosives, extreme blood loss. Silver. We were fast, and strong. But vampires were faster. I didn’t break free, not that time.

Teeth bared, I snarled. My fingers clenched and I twisted to rake them against my captors. They burned, claws ready to sprout, to tear. My jaw ached, teeth ready to grow.

“Stop!” a voice shouted across the wide space in front of the building. Ben, snarling the command.

And everyone stopped. It was beautiful. I tried again to use weight and speed to break free, but the vampires kept their grips solid, alas.

“Let her go.” Ben moved into view, crossbow leveled at Angelo.

For a moment, the vampire’s threatening demeanor slipped. “Are you any good with that thing?”

“Wanna find out?” Ben said, lips curling to show teeth.

One of the minions, fueled by pure reactive instinct, growled and charged. Ben shifted aim and fired, and the wooden bolt struck true, right through the guy’s undead heart. The vampire crumpled, knees buckling as his skin desiccated, his body drying out, decaying, becoming a husk as it hit the ground. He hadn’t been terribly old—only a few decades of the grave caught up with him.

That made everyone pause.

Quickly, cleanly, Ben put his foot in the stirrup and cocked the crossbow back to reload. He also had wooden spears lying on the ground beside him.

The scene froze for a moment while the respective sides considered the next play. Ben stepped forward, closer to Angelo, the point of the second bolt aimed decisively at his chest. The vampire entourage flinched back. Someone hissed; it seemed a reflexive noise of anger and frustration, laughably cliché.

“Let her go,” Angelo said as if it pained him. His shoulders slumped, defeated, as if Ben had already shot him.

The vampires let me go, slipping past me like ghosts, glaring at me as they drifted back to their entourage poses. Catching my breath, I shook loose the kink in my neck and my aching shoulders. I moved to stand with Ben, wondering … might he just up and shoot the guy? And would I even fault him for it? He was holding steady, for now.

I faced Angelo. “You blew up New Moon because Roman told you to. Right?” He didn’t say anything, which I took as a yes, so I pressed. “And my pack—you did something, you know something—”

“No,” he said. He smiled, but it was a sour, mean look. “We were supposed to find them. Capture them all and put them in cages to use as hostages to control you. You wouldn’t leave Denver or quit the Long Game if we simply asked. But you would, to protect them. There could be no better pawns.” He chuckled, a bit madly.

Let me go, let me kill … Wolf surged with rage, pressing against my control. Baring my teeth, I stepped forward—and Angelo flinched. Small victory.

“But, Kitty, they were already gone,” he said. “We couldn’t find them. I don’t know where they are.”

I blinked, confused, because if Angelo and the vampires hadn’t done something to the pack, I didn’t have a clue what had happened. I had to scramble to think, with Wolf rumbling under my rib cage.

“It’s not too late, Angelo,” I said softly. “Take off the coin, smash it. It’s not too late to come back.”

His minions looked at me, looked at him. I couldn’t tell what they were thinking, and I couldn’t meet any of their gazes, to try to silently persuade them to my way of thinking.

Angelo stepped forward; Ben threatened with the crossbow, and the vampire stopped. But he reached, begging.

“Kitty. Katherine. Please listen to me, you don’t understand. I had to do what I did. You told me to protect Denver, and that’s what I’ve done. They’re going to destroy Denver if we don’t do what they say. And they can do it. They can do it.”

His job as Master was to protect Denver, and he saw siding with Roman as the best way to do that. And I’d been trying to protect Denver from him.

“You should have come to me. We could have stood against him together. Rick would have stood against him!”

Angelo spat. “Rick isn’t here, is he? This is why he never should have left! I told you I wasn’t strong enough!”

I couldn’t argue with that.

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