Kitty Goes to War Page 54

“But what—”

“It’s complicated.”

I bit back a million questions. Cormac wasn’t right. Something had happened to him in prison, and it was beyond my ability to guess what. His stubbornness hadn’t changed—he wouldn’t explain until he was ready to.

“What do we need to do?” I asked.

“We need to put the gromoviti znaci on the doorway of every Speedy Mart in the area. It should neutralize Franklin’s power.”

“Should?” I said, a little wild.

“This isn’t an exact science.”

I almost laughed.

Between tracking down Franklin and the research I’d done for the show the previous week, I knew where the Speedy Marts were located. In my mind, I tried to map an efficient route between them all. Denver was a sprawling city, its suburbs reaching out for miles. The southernmost location was in Parker, in the southeastern corner of the metro area. The northernmost was in Lafayette, closer to Boulder than to Denver. It would take an hour to drive straight from one to the other, without any detours, in the best of weather and with no traffic.

“We can’t do it,” I said, at a loss. “It would take all day, even if the weather was perfect. Maybe if we had a dozen or so people to help—”

What was I saying? I had resources. I had a wolf pack that lived all over the region.

“What is it?” Cormac asked.

“We can do this. Can you e-mail this symbol of yours? Or do you have a URL people can link to? We have to do this before the power goes out—or do it by phone.” I didn’t know if everyone had phones that could receive photos. Shaun did—he could help cover gaps, maybe.

“Yeah, I think I can send out a photo. Who am I sending it to?”

“Shaun. You remember Shaun, from New Moon?” He did, and I gave him the number. “Give me a minute to call him and warn him it’s coming.”

“What’s this going to accomplish?”

“I’m sending my pack out to do the legwork. I need to look at a map, but I should be able to get someone to every location within an hour.”

Cormac breathed a relieved sigh. “Good.”

“I gotta run for a sec.” I hung up. Tyler had just pulled up in a beige Humvee.

Ben said, “That sounded like a plan.”

“Yeah. I sure hope so. We need a map of the city, to mark down the addresses of all the Speedy Marts and figure out who in the pack is closest to each of them. We can hit the ones on the way into town.”

“I think I can handle that. Just a sec.” He went outside, ducking before the driving snow, and headed toward his car.

Tyler’s Humvee seemed to be going awfully fast as it rounded the corner. I braced, waiting for it to slide and spin out on the ice—but it didn’t. He brought it right up to the curb, where it stopped cold.

The vehicle was squat, low profile, low center of gravity. It had four doors, and I could see a stark interior through the windshield. The tires had chains on them. Maybe we could get to Denver after all.

Ben returned with supplies: phone, a blanket, road flares, a bottle of water, and a ragged city map. Tyler was waving to us from the cab of the Humvee.

“You ready for this?” Ben said.

I hadn’t stopped to consider whether I was ready for this. I took a deeper breath—my ribs still hurt, my stomach was sore. They hurt less if I didn’t think about it. So, time to power through.

“Yeah,” I said, brushing back his mussed-up hair.

Tyler drove, and Ben and I sat in back where we could plan. We got moving, heading east, back to state Highway 83 rather than the interstate, which we assumed would still be closed farther north. We were hoping to see little to no traffic. Tyler assured us that with the vehicle’s four-wheel drive and the chains, we ought to be able to make good time. The highway went straight to Parker.

The Humvee was rough and noisy. Between the rattle of the chains on the tires, roaring engine, the uninsulated steel cab, and wind beating against the windows, I couldn’t hear much of anything, and every little bump jostled us. But I had to make these calls.

“Hey, Shaun?” I shouted into my phone.

My werewolf hearing was the only way I heard his reply, a clear voice under all the rattling. “Kitty? What’s going on? What’s all that noise, I can barely hear you.”

“It’s a long story. I’m in a Humvee heading north. You feel like saving the city?”

“Does it involve stopping this snow?” he said.

“Yeah, actually.”

“Then I’m totally in.”

“Cool. This is going to take footwork and phone calls. Where are you?”

“I’m snowed in at the restaurant. They weren’t predicting this. I thought we were going to get the usual snowy day lunch crowd looking for coffee and a bowl of soup. This is epic.”

“Yeah, more than you know. Look, Cormac—you remember Cormac? He’s going to be sending you a photo of a symbol. We have to put that symbol over the door of every Speedy Mart in town.”

“And that’ll stop the snow? That’s kind of crazy.” He chuckled.

“Shaun, we’re werewolves, we don’t get to judge crazy.”

Ben had the map spread out over his lap. We didn’t have anything to write with, so he’d poked holes in the Speedy Mart locations. “Here, I think I got them all.”

I double-checked his work and found a couple he missed. Now we had to figure out who lived closest to where and start making assignments.

A couple of members of the pack—such as Rachel, who lived in the foothills west of town—were too far away to be any help. With the weather like this, they were probably socked in under a couple of feet of snow by now. But with a few of the other locations, we were in luck—Becky lived a couple of blocks from the store in Littleton. Trey lived up north in Broomfield and ought to be able to reach the two northernmost locations. Shaun would cover the one downtown, after calling everyone and passing along the symbol.

“Have them call me if they argue. This isn’t a request, it’s an order from on high.” I rarely pulled rank in the pack. Instead, I usually cajoled and prodded. I was hoping the rarity of me issuing orders would get across how serious this was.

I was also hoping that Cormac was right, and that this would work.

“This isn’t going to be easy,” Shaun said.

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