Kitty's Big Trouble Page 27

After figuring out what I thought was the side that opened, I worked my fingers into the gap until I found the edge of the door. The door frame scraped my skin, but I also felt a sense of hope. I could do this, get it open, and get us all out of this place. Standing back and leaning over, I braced my legs and put my weight into pulling back on the door, shaking it hard every now and then to try to loosen it. When it budged a quarter of an inch, I grinned and pulled harder, until it jumped another six inches.

“Ha!” I announced in victory.

“Where’s it go?” Ben asked.

“Dunno.” I put my face to the opening; the hallway appeared to continue on in darkness. Ahead, a faint white light glowed. An emergency light in a room, maybe, or the exterior light over a doorway? A streetlight and freedom?

I jammed my shoulder into the opening to force it wide enough for me to slip through.

“Are you sure you should be doing that?” Ben asked, hovering. He put his hand on the wall next to me and peered over my head through the gap. “I can’t see anything in there.”

Exhaling, I flattened myself as much as I could, pushed against the door, and popped on through. I stumbled away from the gap.

“There, see?” I said. “No problem—”

The door slammed shut behind me.

“Kitty!” Ben shouted through the wood. He banged on it; the sound was muted.

This side didn’t have any kind of indent to use as a handle. I pushed the door, rattled it, tried to get my fingers into the gap, but this time, the door didn’t budge, didn’t offer a centimeter of purchase.


“I’m okay, but I can’t see how to open it.”

The banging against the door became deeper, steadier. Ben was throwing his whole body against it; the vibrations pounded against my hands, which I’d been holding flat against the wood. When the door started to bow toward me, I backed away, expecting him to splinter through it at any moment.

I stumbled and fell before I realized that the floor behind me suddenly sloped downward. Even then I would have recovered, flailing a bit before regaining my balance, except that after a few feet of sloping, the floor dropped away entirely, and I fell into an open pit. I was too surprised to even scream.

Chapter 10

AFTER HITTING THE hard concrete bottom of the shaft, I lay on my back, blinking into darkness. My Wolf’s vision had adjusted to the distant, pale light that still shone and I made out shapes, sensing the closeness of the walls, the stuffiness of the subterranean room. The tunnel was a faint, glowing circle above me. That had been a hell of a fall. My heart was racing, my breaths came in gasps, but even Wolf was shocked and quiet.

When I finally tried to sit up, stabbing pain slashed down my right hip and thigh. I groaned and lay back again. I hoped this didn’t mean what I thought it meant—something was seriously broken. No matter how I tried to catch my breath, I couldn’t seem to slow it or my heart rate down. Panicking, I let out a groan.

I waited for Ben’s voice calling down to me. It didn’t happen. I couldn’t hear him banging on the door anymore, and I wondered if he managed to break through. I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket, thumbed it awake—and nothing happened. I’d just charged the thing that afternoon, but it was dead. Like Cormac’s flashlight, like the gun.

The pain was spreading, a deep throb up and down my right side.

I’d been shot once, with a non-silver bullet. The pain from that had vanished surprisingly quickly. I’d been cut, clawed, mauled, and slashed more times than I could count in various werewolf battles—all surface wounds that had closed and healed in a matter of minutes, growing healthy pink scabs while I watched. This was different. This was deep, invisible, and it didn’t fade.

I’d always wondered what happened when a werewolf broke a bone. I assumed the rapid healing still played a part, but I had no idea how long it would take or if it would even heal the way it was supposed to. I couldn’t guess what exactly was broken, or what had shifted around inside. I was afraid to move.

Gritting my teeth, I let tears fall. I wanted my pack. I wanted my mate. “Ben!” I shouted, hands around my mouth, focusing my voice up the shaft. “Ben! Cormac!”

Nobody answered. Which meant they hadn’t busted through the door, they weren’t in the corridor, and they had no way of knowing what had happened to me. They had to know that something had happened when I stopped answering their calls, but as far as they could tell, I had just vanished. And as far as I could tell, they’d vanished.

Maybe they needed help as much as I did. What did I do then? I had to find a way out of here on my own and get back to them.

I gave myself ten or fifteen minutes, though my sense of time was growing wonky. I felt like I’d been in this bizarre maze for hours and that dawn ought to be approaching. Maybe the time between when Grace had opened the door and now had only been an hour. Between the pervasive dark and my racing heart, I couldn’t tell.

The pain lessened, but I didn’t know if that meant the break was healing, or that I was succumbing to shock.

Happy thoughts …

I braced myself, held my breath, pushed up on my arms. And gasped as a new shock wave of pain hit me. After waiting for that to subside, I tried again, rolling to my good side, getting my left leg under me. Another stabbing pain racked my right leg, and I felt nauseated, and also like I was getting used to it. Just as long as it didn’t get any worse than this, I’d do okay.

Trying to stand would certainly be interesting. But dammit, the leg had to start healing sometime. Carefully, I bent both legs, and was encouraged when the pain didn’t spike. Even if it didn’t improve. Reaching out, I found a wall and leaned against it. Keeping all my weight on the good leg, I stood. And didn’t pass out.

I could see the wall in front of my face but not much else. Creeping forward, I leaned on the wall, shuffling, trying to use the right leg without moving it. It hurt, the whole thing throbbed, but I must have been getting used to it, because I managed to make some progress. Progress toward what, I couldn’t tell.

This seemed to be a room made of brick, wide and round. I didn’t encounter anything like a door, but at one point the wall gave way to a rudimentary staircase, wooden slats built into the brick on a rickety frame—it had no railing. But it did go up, toward the light and escape, I hoped.

I started climbing, which was harder than walking, but I kept my shoulder to the wall and took it one step at a time. Pondering why anyone would put a big hole in a corridor, have it drop into a room that seemed to be self-contained and serve no useful purpose, and then build a staircase that led right back to the original corridor, gave me something to focus on. It made me angry, since I was beginning to think I was the butt of someone’s practical joke. I’d get to the top of the stairs, and Ben would be waiting for me, and Grace would be there to explain what was going on. Everything was going to be just fine.

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