Kitty Saves the World Page 72

“Hospital,” Cormac said. My knees went so weak I almost sat down.

“They’re fine,” Tina added quickly. “They’ll be fine, they just got banged up.”

“Oh my God,” I muttered, hand on my head. Ben put his hand on my back to steady me.

Sun Wukong laughed. “That’s funny,” he said. “I mean, considering.”

They all looked banged up, to tell the truth. Cormac had a bandage wrapped around his arm. Tina, still recovering from her previous injuries, had new bruises on her chin, her arms. Except Sun—he looked completely unharmed, as usual. I didn’t know if anything could hurt him. Rather, I never wanted to face down the thing that could hurt him.

“And you two—you’re fine, I take it?” Cormac said, politely not mentioning that we looked like a couple of teenagers caught in the backseat of a car.

“Yeah. Just fine,” Ben said, smirking back.

Sun strolled along the shore. “Well, something blew up here.”

In the daylight, the place looked even worse, very much like a bomb had gone off, right where Roman had been standing. All the markings he’d drawn in the soil, all the evidence of his ritual had been swept away. The nearest trees were broken, the air still smelled of soot. But the water looked calm.

“The amulet worked,” I said.

Cormac went to the smear of ashes that used to be Roman. He recognized a destroyed vampire when he saw one. He kicked at it and turned away. “Good.”

*   *   *

CORMAC EXPLAINED that Ashtoreth left the geyser basin right after we did. Her job wasn’t to kill everyone—it was to stop me, keep us away from Roman, prevent us from interfering. She hadn’t let anything distract her.

The other demons kept fighting, but Cormac and the others quickly noticed that they had help opposing them. We now knew they were vampires of the Order of Saint Lazarus of the Shadows. They meant that the mortal defenders had a fighting chance. They’d been injured, but they won. The vampires had left the scene without stopping to say a word.

When the sun rose and the world was still there—when the geysers and fumaroles started bubbling again—they knew I must have succeeded. They focused next on getting help for the most badly injured. I couldn’t wait to see them all again. To thank them. I hadn’t gotten my friends killed, and that seemed like the greatest victory. Like Cormac said, I might have had the biggest target painted on me, but it was everyone else who’d stood between that target at the bad guys.

We tracked down vehicles and gathered the caravan together. Sun took off by himself in his beat-up truck. “I have to report back that all is well. That’ll be fun!” The whole thing might have been a jaunt for him. I gave him a hug, asked him to say hi to Xiwangmu and Anastasia.

I found my phone. I still had a loose thread that needed to be cleared up before I would feel entirely good about this morning. We waited outside the Jeep, Ben listening close while the dial tone rang, and rang.

Then Shaun finally, finally answered. “Hey! Kitty! Holy shit!”

I might have started crying. Just a few tears of relief. “You have no idea how good it is to hear you.”

“Oh, I think I do.”

“Are you okay? Is everyone okay, have you seen everybody?”

“We’re here, we’re all fine. What about you, we went to the house but no one’s there, and New Moon—shit, have you seen what happened to New Moon?”

“Ben and I are in Yellowstone. We’re fine. At least, we are now.”

“Yellowstone. Wait, what?”

“Yeah. Long story.”

“Tell me about it. Kitty, I have so much to tell you. You’re never going to believe it.”

I laughed. “Oh yeah? Not if you don’t believe me first.”

“You’re on.”

And astonishingly, all was right with the world.

*   *   *

WE STAYED in the Yellowstone area another day, to wait for Grant and Hardin to get patched up. She had puncture wounds in her leg and chest, and gashes that needed stitches. Grant also needed stitches, and had a concussion. But they were both conscious and smiling when I finally saw them. With some persuasive fast talking, they were able to get themselves discharged from the hospital. And without filing a report with the police. Because how would they explain any of this?

We rolled into Denver at nightfall.

The city seemed both brilliantly serene and totally worn out. We were returning to an old battlefield at the end of the war. I finally felt safe—might have been the first time I’d felt safe since meeting Roman and learning of the Long Game. But it was over now. It was really over.

I made more phone calls. Cheryl had managed to get the family out of Denver by cooking up some story about wanting to see the Grand Canyon, and didn’t a spontaneous family trip seem like fun? When I called to tell her everything was fine, she sounded relieved, but not about the world not ending.

“Oh thank God, I was running out of excuses, and I have spent way too long in one hotel room with the kids. Kitty, what happened? Is everything really okay?”

“Yeah. It is now. A bad guy was trying to blow up the Yellowstone caldera, and it would have destroyed Denver. But we stopped him.”

“If anyone else said that, I’d laugh. But you’re serious?”

“Yeah, ’fraid so. But everything’s okay now.” Everything, everything would be okay.

“Well, the plus side is we had a nice trip. The kids love the Grand Canyon.”

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