Kitty Saves the World Page 39

Abruptly, the vampire looked skyward. “And now … it’s too late.” Something had startled him.

I smelled brimstone.

“Ben!” I hissed, grabbing his shirt, prepared to drag him away.

First, though, he fired the crossbow, and it would have hit Angelo if the demon hadn’t snatched it out of the air first.

At first I thought it was a stray burst of wind knocking it off course, maybe a sign of weather coming in from the mountains. But the wind was followed by a gloved hand reaching out, a body shifting from blurred movement to visibility. It was as if she stepped through a door made of wind that slapped at the leather straps of her armor as she came to stand between us and the vampires.

“Do you happen to have your gun with you?” I asked Ben.

He was busy cocking the crossbow again. “Yeah. You think it’ll do any good?”

“No, but it might make us feel better.”

“Cormac would be very proud of you for saying that,” he said.

The demon had a silver knife drawn—I didn’t want that thing anywhere near us. But she didn’t come after us; she had all her attention focused on Angelo.

“The wolf is still alive,” Ashtoreth said to the Master vampire. “She is a traitor to her kind—as are you.”

Angelo’s fangs showed, and his eyes were wide with desperation. “No. No, she isn’t. Watch, I will still kill her, I will—”

He rushed past Ashtoreth and flew at me, a shadow with fangs and killing hands. Ben fired again; Angelo swerved midstride. The bolt pierced his arm, but he hardly noticed. His hands closed around my neck, squeezed hard, knocked me over. He was too fast to dodge.

My head banged on the concrete. I choked, then I scratched, clawing at him with fingers that were growing sharp and weaponish.

More vampires were on Ben before he could fire again, biting and punching. He couldn’t reach his other weapons. He writhed, flinched, hit, scrambled—managed to stay out of their reach by moving, always moving.

I smelled blood, mine and his. I had a gash on my arm where Angelo’s teeth had dug in and I’d pulled away. Another vampire appeared behind me, one of the women from the nightclub. She grabbed my arms, wrenched them back. I hollered and kicked, but she held tight.

“No! I’ll kill her myself, I have to kill her myself!” Angelo was so furious the woman just let me go.

I lunged forward toward Angelo, and managed to knock him off balance, but he came right back, grabbing my neck, throwing me down.

Something in my arm cracked. Bone—I’d stuck my hand out to catch myself. There was pain; I tucked my arm close to my body and tried to run. I needed a bolt, a spear, a tree branch, anything.

Angelo grabbed my foot and I crashed to the ground again.

It was chaos, and Ashtoreth stood aside to watch, calmly, unperturbed.

“Kitty!” Ben yelled, somehow breaking free from the three vampires attacking him. He had blood streaming from his face, his arms, and his eyes were golden, wolfish.

I looked up to see a staff lofting toward me. He’d tossed over one of the wooden javelins. I grabbed it with my good hand, forced my broken one to clasp it. Angelo was coming at me. I scrambled to my feet, pointed, thrust as hard as I could, howling, running into the vampire with all my strength.

The point slipped between ribs, right through his heart.

One of the vampires screamed. They all stopped; Ben backed off, a long wooden stake in hand, sweeping to clear a space around him.

I kept hold of the wooden staff, and Angelo fell at my feet, groaning, not in pain or fear but in pure anger. Hundreds of years old and he wasn’t done yet. His body dried out, crumbled, blackening to ash, and his mouth stayed open. Somehow he looked straight at me, caught my gaze, grimacing. “Kitty. Obsidian. Go there, Obsidian. Kitty!” The sound died to a screech, his teeth bared as the lips pulled away, blackened, ash scattering on the breath of his last words. He’d held on long enough to scream in desperation—to scream my name.

I howled, dropping the spear. I hadn’t wanted to kill him. I’d never wanted to kill anyone. A coin lay among the ashes of his remains. Belonging to Roman hadn’t saved him.

The vampires, Angelo’s minions, backed away, staring with shock. They could have kept fighting, but their will, their Master, had been destroyed. And I’d destroyed him. What would they do to me?

They ran. Faster than the eye could see, vanishing into the shadows like puffs of smoke. This wasn’t their fight anymore.

And now we were going to have to figure out how to deal with the demon, all on our own, without magic.

“Ashtoreth!” I called. I wanted to see if she responded, and how she felt about me knowing her name.

She looked; her lips pressed together, some indeterminate acknowledgment. Goggles covered her eyes, and I couldn’t read her expression. I wanted at least a grimace, to know if I was pissing her off.

“Why are you here?” I demanded. My voice was rough, on the edge of a growl. “Did I do your work for you this time? Were you here to kill him like you killed Mercedes?”

Now, her lip curled. “It must all seem so simple to you. If you just find the right words to say, you will be saved. But you will not be saved.”

“Kitty!” Ben called.

I stumbled to his side. The pain in my arm was agonizing, so I kept it tucked in. I squinted; blood on my face made my eyes sting. Ben’s shirt was torn, and he was bleeding from a dozen wounds. But we were both on our feet. We’d made it this far.

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