Kitty's Big Trouble Page 23

Grace peered out from around the doorway. The knife she’d used on the cage was a mini Leatherman-type tool on a keychain. It wouldn’t do any good against werewolves, but at least it was something. Her other hand held the candle lantern, the light of which wavered as her hand shook.

I went to her, taking her hand. “You have to get out of here.”

Anastasia watched as I led Grace to the wall and edged around the group. Nobody said anything, but they didn’t look happy, either. Like I was disturbing the delicate, temporary peace by moving, introducing variables. I just wanted one less vulnerable party trapped in the room. I kept her behind me, until we were past the vampire and werewolves, until she had a way to escape.

Once we’d reached open corridor, I pushed her. “Get out of here, go!”

“But you can’t—”

“I don’t want you to get bitten. We can find you later.”

Frowning, she studied me a moment. Then she turned and ran, the light of her candle bobbing along with her. The remaining wolf twitched, as if to chase her, but I planted myself in front of him and showed teeth. Just try it, my Wolf said to his. He drew back his lips but didn’t move. The sound of Grace’s footsteps retreated, then disappeared, and I felt better. Not a lot better, but better.

Now, the only light we had came from the lantern in the room. That, and a dim, phosphorescent glow seeping from the walls around us, as if it was growing there. My vision adjusted—the figures before me were still shadows, monsters writhing in the darkness. Behind me, Cormac snapped on a penlight, which flickered before burning out in a flash. He shook the device, but it stayed off.

The impasse with the werewolves still remained.

Anastasia purred at her victim, “Moving on, then. Can you tell me, does Roman know that I’m here?”

“Obviously he does, he sent these clowns,” Ben said. The vampire glared at him, and he glared right back, wiping blood from his chin with the back of his hand and wincing.

I wanted to rush over, snuggle against him, and lick his face—an action that was perfectly natural to my Wolf, but felt odd in human skin. One of those things that made my divided self seem even more divided than usual. If we’d been alone I might have given into the impulse. But I had to stay here and keep the hallway blocked to make sure the wolf didn’t decide to chase after Grace. I wished Ben knew what I was thinking.

Anastasia returned to her interrogation. “How much does Roman know?”

“I don’t know.”

“You must know something.”

“Keep them busy. Get the thing from them if they have it. That’s all.” He rolled his eyes at me.

“Keep them busy because they’re helping me?”

I glared at her. “Geez, this isn’t all about you!”

“Stay out of this, Kitty.”

“God, your name really is Kitty,” the captive said, stifling a chuckle.

“Quiet,” Anastasia breathed.

“You’re already too late.” He grimaced, lips drawn back, jaw rigid—a vicious snarl. He’d given up. All he had left was anger and rebellion. Lunging forward, he pressed himself toward the knife at his throat; she pulled it away before he could cut himself on it. No matter how much he thrashed, she was too strong. He couldn’t break free. It was so incongruous—she looked so small, so elegant. Yet she could overpower a werewolf.


“You wanted me to talk! I’m talking.” He snapped his teeth, saliva spattering from his mouth. His chin tipped up, and his face was breaking, jaws growing, eyes turning gold, ears narrowing—he was shifting to wolf, and he was laughing.

She dropped the knife and held onto him with both hands. Wrenching his arm back even more, she bared her own teeth, showing fangs, which she planted into the side of his neck, the softest part, where the artery pulsed. Her victim jerked once, but was helpless.

The wolf in front of me barked out a growl and leapt to save his leader. I dived to intercept him, and Ben lunged with me. Together, we tackled him.

We didn’t even have to talk about it, and it seemed so natural, as if we stood side by side in the kitchen chopping vegetables for dinner. Throwing myself onto the animal’s back, I wrapped my fingers in the fur, forcing him to the ground, while Ben grabbed the head and wrenched in the opposite direction. The wolf squealed and flinched, but with weight holding him in two different directions, he couldn’t get the leverage to free himself. My Wolf thrilled, because we were hunting with our mate, as it should be.

The human body didn’t have the right tools to kill with bare hands. Human hands could strangle and break, but they couldn’t rip and tear like teeth and claws, which was the only way to kill properly, decisively. Spill the prey’s blood, let it soak the ground around you. I willed my claws to grow, to gain the power to break skin, and the power surged through me. Skin split under my touch as Wolf’s claws dug into my enemy’s gut, and blood and warmth spilled out.

A crack sounded—the wolf’s neck breaking, as Ben yanked his head even farther back. The animal fell still, but its heart still beat, its blood still flowed. My mate’s sharp claws slashed across its neck, and more blood spilled. Next our teeth would become fangs and we would bury our faces in our enemy’s corpse to feast.

Gasping for breath, I shoved away from the twitching body. We couldn’t afford this, we didn’t need this. We didn’t dare turn Wolf, so far from home and with no safe place to run or sleep when we were done. With silver knives lying on the floor. Keep it together, keep it together—

Inside me, Wolf howled. Blood filled her nose and she wanted to run. No, no, no, I murmured over and over, hugging my knees to my chest, squeezing my eyes shut, focusing on my human body. Fingers, not claws. I needed my fingers.

“Ben!” I called.

He looked up from the open wound he was digging in the wolf’s throat. His gaze was wild, his hazel eyes flecked with gold and amber. Blood streaked across his face.

“Stop, Ben,” I said. He stared a challenge at me, and his lip curled, showing teeth.

Cormac’s silver-inlaid knife lay on the floor where Anastasia had tossed it, within my reach. I grabbed it and stabbed it into the wolf’s belly, then scrambled away. Just touching the handle made my hand itch.

Ben also shoved himself away from the knife, backing on all fours, until he crumpled, folding over and hugging himself. The groan he let out was human.

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