Kitty Saves the World Page 64

“Ben, get her out of here. Go after Roman.”

Nodding, Ben pulled me toward the tree line. I started to argue, but Cormac had already turned away, and somehow my feet had decided to run with Ben. I took a look over my shoulder to see Grant and Tina surrounded by demons, and Hardin and Cormac back to back, facing several more, including Ashtoreth. Hard to count how many demons there really were. Ashtoreth raised her spear. Tina had somehow acquired one of her own. I smelled blood on the air.

Sun Wukong had slipped behind Ashtoreth and took a running leap, preparing to drive down with his staff in some blunt-force attack that couldn’t possibly work. I choked back a cry of denial, because there was nothing I could do. Cormac was right: we had the location, Roman was working his spell right now, and we had to stop him.

I wasn’t okay with this, the others sacrificing themselves to give me a chance to escape.

But something else was happening: not all the demons were attacking my people, because some others had joined the battle. I’d missed them at first—they were cloaked, shadowy. Hard to see, like the demons. There were only a couple of them, but they moved lightning fast, engaging the demons with long metallic spears that sparked in the waxing moonlight. I managed to take a deep breath, to see if I could catch a scent around the brimstone and blood. There was a chill on the air, a cold scent of death. Vampire—

One of the shadowy cloaked figures drove a weapon into a demon’s chest, and the demon screamed, some prehistoric sound of pain. A second one stabbed another, rushing in, launching over, and away to face the next one.

“Ben, who are those—”

“We have to go, now!”

We ran.

Ben was very focused, going straight to Cormac’s Jeep—Cormac must have handed over the keys when I wasn’t paying attention—getting in, starting the engine, without a pause. I barged into the passenger side and closed the door as we peeled off the shoulder and onto the road, heading south.

Yellowstone Park was big. It was a long drive from Norris Basin to the lake. Now that I had a chance to open the map and study it, the distances seemed immense. The whole place would blow up before we found Roman.

Ben was driving very fast. I decided not to look at the speedometer to see how fast. It seemed moot. He hunched over, gripping the steering wheel with stiff hands, bent like claws. His teeth were bared, his eyes gleaming gold. I couldn’t tell if it was the engine growling that hard, or him.

He was close to shifting. In the face of danger, his wolf fought to break free. Our wolves were stronger. My own Wolf responded, kicking, digging claws into my gut, ready to tear through.

I doubled over. If one of us lost it, we’d both lose it, which would be a disaster, speeding down the road. We couldn’t afford to lose it. The original Regina Luporum must have gone through something like this, maybe even worse than this. She kept it together. We could.

Steadying my breathing, I straightened. I had to be calm when I touched Ben—our nerves and anger would only feed on each other. I put my hand on his arm, spoke softly, “Keep it together. We have to keep it together.”

He slammed a fist on the steering wheel and gave a shuddering sigh. “I know. I know.”

The fury in his gaze faded. His grip on the wheel finally relaxed. He put his hand on mine and squeezed. We drove like that for a mile, two, feeding calm to each other, trying not to think about the madness we’d left behind.

“Kitty,” he said. “Where are we going? You have to tell me where we’re going.”

I scrubbed my face, tried to focus. So much depended on what we did in the next few minutes. I turned on the domelight and held up the map.

The place where the bear spirit had pointed showed on the map as a blackened smudge—a noseprint—on the western spur of the lake. This was a region, not the pinpoint location that would have been most useful. But a region of a couple of hundred yards or so was a million times better than trying to search the entire park. I looked for the nearest road, for a label that would help us navigate to the spot.

“West Thumb,” I said. “A place called West Thumb. It’ll be a left turn.”

“Okay, okay, I think I saw that on the sign marker back there. We can do this.”

“Yes,” I said.

We drove for five, ten minutes.

“They’ll be okay,” Ben said. “Those five are the strongest people I know, they’ll be okay.”

We didn’t know that. The strongest might not be enough for this. But I said, “Yes, they will, they’ll be fine, we just have to do our part now.”

It’s not like we had a choice.

A dozen miles later he glanced at the rearview mirror, glanced again, then took a brief look over his shoulder to the road behind. I turned to see what he was looking at.

Some distance behind us, visible on the straightaways, I made out a car, a big, dark SUV, driving without its headlights on.

“We’re being followed?” I said, disbelieving.

“Apparently.”

“What do we do?”

“Frankly, I’m more worried about what’s in front of us.” What the others had set us to do, and what they were fighting Ashtoreth to give us time to do.

I didn’t want to think about what was happening with them right now.

Ben bent over the steering wheel, his focus ahead.

The big SUV kept following us. Another henchman of Roman’s? The Men in Black? Who was it? Maybe just a coincidence? Not bloody likely. We kept ahead of them, so maybe Ben was right. We didn’t have worry to spare.

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