Kitty's Big Trouble Page 41

He was staring at Roman, still entranced, waiting for the next instruction.

“Kill the wolf,” Roman said to him, and Henry looked at me.

So much for that.

“Ben,” I hissed, looking for my husband. I didn’t have to look far—he stood behind me, shoulders hunched, ready to attack. I grabbed his arm and pulled him toward the doorway. “We gotta go.”

I thought Cormac was right with us, on the same page—escape and regroup. But during the commotion, Anastasia’s outburst, and Henry’s enslavement, he’d clung to the wall and worked his way around the edge of the room. He was going to do something stupid; it wasn’t going to work. I kept my wide-eyed gaze on Roman, hoping not to draw any attention to the hunter, who had slipped Wyatt Earp’s polished stake into his hand.

He lunged, stabbing the stake down toward Roman’s back. The strike was perfect—the careful stalking, the patient waiting, and the pounce that came without warning, without a flinch. Any wolf pack would be proud of such a hunt.

Roman saw it coming anyway.

The vampire pivoted back, arm raised, cracking his fist into Cormac’s face. The hunter fell, limbs loose, crumpling to the stone floor. Blood streamed from a split lip.

Ben and I sprang to protect our family. Hunting as a pack now, we went low and high, me for Roman’s legs and Ben for his throat. Not that either target would have any impact on the immortal undead. If we chewed long enough maybe we could rip his head off. If only Roman would give us the opportunity.

The vampire punched, putting his whole body into the strikes, one fist into Ben’s face, the other into mine, in almost the same movement. I hit the floor and saw lights. Roman stood, immovable as stone. We were never going to win this fight, and in my gut Wolf whined, kicking with an urge to flee.

Roman moved before the doorway, blocking our exit while the three of us were still picking ourselves up off the floor. This would be the perfect chance for someone standing in the doorway to put a stake in the guy’s back, but Grace and Anastasia had fled; the hallway behind Roman was empty. Well. At least they’d gotten away. Roman didn’t appear willing to give us a chance to do the same.

In the absence of any targets directly in front of him, Henry had paused, looking at Roman and waiting for the next command.

“Henry!” I called. “Henry, please, wake up! Help us!”

“Henry, sleep,” Roman said. The younger vampire closed his eyes and slumped against the wall, not even bothering to fall all the way to the floor. He seemed suddenly childlike and helpless. How could I ever think of a vampire as helpless?

The walls felt like they were getting closer.

“Cormac?” I whispered. I sounded hoarse, Wolf’s voice on the surface. Still holding the stake, he nodded. If we could distract Roman, we might get a second chance. Roman couldn’t fight all three of us at once, could he?

Actually, he could.

He moved too fast, and his senses were too good. No matter how we tried to game it—one or two of us attacked from the front while another of us waited to ambush from behind, or all of us tried to jump him from three different directions—he was always ready. To strike first, to step out of the way, to grab one of us and slam us into the other. He’d survived for two thousand years. He knew a lot of tricks.

We were getting pummeled, but we kept going because we could take a lot of pummeling. My injured leg had gone stiff, throbbing with pain. Cormac—he’d slowed down and half his face was bloody. He couldn’t take much more of this, but how did we stop it? Roman was playing with us, catlike.

Get Roman away from the door, grab Henry, then run. That was the plan. I gave Ben a nod, hoping to communicate this to him. He was panting for breath, and his own wolf glinted gold in his eyes.

Someone whistled, a high, sharp note that hurt my Wolf’s ears. It sounded close, right behind me even, but I couldn’t see who made the noise. I didn’t dare look away from Roman, who was glancing behind him, also searching for the source. None of us saw it. Our breathing echoed harshly; Roman was silent.

The whistle came again, and we all looked, watchful and ready to pounce. I wouldn’t have been so worried except that Roman didn’t seem to know what it was, either. His brow had gone furrowed, anxious.

The attack came from the shadows in the hallway. A long, wooden staff struck at Roman’s legs, toppling him. He hadn’t seen it coming. I was in awe.

Roman rolled to his back, looking for his attacker, and Sun sprang over him, smacking him back with the end of the staff.

Now if only it had been a sharpened stake able to puncture his chest.

Sun seemed content to slap the vampire around. He was grinning, like this was fun. I just stared and wondered where he’d come from and why he thought beating up an evil vampire—rather than staking him—was a good idea. Did he even know Roman was a vampire? And how the hell was he able to beat him up in the first place? Roman dodged the blows from the staff, but he wasn’t able to get to his feet, much less get in a strike of his own.

Their speed seemed impossible. Sun’s next blow came even as Roman dodged the last. Though Sun never stopped moving, striking, none of the subsequent hits landed. They were two perfect warriors.

Meanwhile, something had happened to the room—the candles flared brighter, and the chalk lines on the floor had taken on some of their own light.

“Cormac?” I asked.

“I see it,” he said. He was holding his side and wiping his bloody face on his sleeve.

Sun seemed to have a strategy that may not have involved destroying Roman. Instead, he was leading Roman away from the door—giving us an escape route. I grabbed Ben to get his attention. Together we helped Cormac to his feet. Cormac moved sluggishly. He was fine, I told myself, heart racing. He’d be fine.

The candles were sparking now, hissing with fire. I had to squint my eyes against them.

“Wait a minute,” Cormac said, his fingers digging into my arm as he tried to wrench out of my grip, to turn back. “His spell, it’s reacting—the pearl, it’s here, it’s here!”

We stopped. Roman heard him, too, because he looked at us.

“What are you talking about?” I hissed, because it didn’t make any sense. The pearl hadn’t been here when we got here, I didn’t see anything that looked like a pearl now—what had changed?

Sun. Sun had arrived.

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