Kitty's Big Trouble Page 42

The young man had backed off. Planting his staff on the floor, he leaned on it and regarded us with a big goofy grin, as if he’d just delivered the punch line of a really awful joke. His breathing wasn’t labored, though sweat gleamed on his hairline.

He hooked a thumb around the strap of the bag he wore over his shoulder and said, “You want this? I don’t think so.”

Roman turned to him with a look of such hunger and determination, his craggy face had gone slack. Sun smiled like it was a game.

“Sun, get out of here!” I called, my voice thick with desperation, despair.

“You get out,” he said. “I’ve got it covered.”

Roman lunged for him.

“Ben,” I said, clinging to him.

“I don’t know why he doesn’t just run,” Ben said.

“He’s got something in his hand,” Cormac said.

“Who, Sun? Or—”

No. Roman had pulled something from his pocket and threw it in the space behind Sun. The powder hit the flares along the ring of candles and exploded, knocking Sun off his stance. He hit the floor, rolled—didn’t drop his staff, but ended up on his back, with the vampire looming over him.

I lunged forward. “We have to help, we have to stop—”

Again they were too fast, and I was too slow. Sun swung to block Roman. Roman ducked and slashed with the knife he held in his other hand, slicing through the strap of the bag.

The vampire grabbed it, strode away, and came face to face with me. Ben was at my shoulder. I sure hoped Cormac was conjuring some spell to counter him.

From under my shirt I pulled out the cross Cormac had given me, back at the beginning of the night, eons ago. I held it up to him, sure that it wouldn’t do any good, but needing to try.

Sure enough, Roman’s lip curled, mocking me. “You know I can destroy you.”

“You can’t have it,” I said, nodding at the cloth sack in his hand. Something heavy inside it bulged.

“Yes, I can.”

I threw the cross at him. He ducked without effort and flung his arm at me in a backhanded strike. I fell before it landed—Ben pushing me out of the way. We both hit the hard stone floor.

Roman tossed out more of the flammable powder, which burst in a wall of flame that filled the room. Sun had picked himself up, but had to duck again. I curled up, arms around my head—I could smell my hair burning. Ben crouched over me. I hoped Cormac and Henry were okay—

Smoke burned my lungs and made my eyes water. I couldn’t see or smell anything. The bursts of fire and smoke were magicians’ tricks. Roman had baffled us with bullshit, as they say. When I could raise my head again, when the room had cleared, Roman was gone. Maybe Grace and Anastasia could stop him. But I rather hoped he didn’t find them at all.

“You okay?” Ben asked, helping me up. His hair was singed, his skin flush with the heat, but he seemed uninjured. I squeezed his arms back.

“Think so. Cormac?”

“Fine,” he said, brushing himself off. He’d crouched by the wall. “Roman’s gone, though. With the pearl.”

I looked at Sun, crouched in a defensive posture, staff braced across him. At least his smile had turned sheepish. “Yeah. Um, oops?”

“Oops?” I said. “Just who are you?”

“The guy with the Dragon’s Pearl? At least, I was.”

“You took it from the safe?” I said.

“Yeah. When we found out so many people were looking for it, it seemed best to move it. To keep it safe.”

I glared. “You did a hell of a job of it!”

“You needed help,” he said, pointing the staff at me.

“That’s beside the point!”

Ben touched my arm, interrupting. “Kitty? Where’s Henry?”

The wall where Henry had slumped was empty. I thought of all the fire, looked for a pile of ash where he used to be—nothing. The room looked desolate. The chalk marks were smeared, the candles had melted to puddles of spent wax.

“Roman took him,” Cormac said.

My injured leg, weak and throbbing from the fight, finally gave out. Ben and Sun both caught me as I fell. I sat there a moment, sprawling, both of them hanging onto me, and fought back tears. So, the worst vampire ever now had the super magical thingy. And Henry, whom I’d been getting to like. And we were once again stuck in the impossible tunnels without our guide.

What was Sun, really? I stared at him. “We need to find Grace and Anastasia. But you get to tell her what happened.”

“Aw, her?” he said. “She’s really a big old softy on the inside.”

“Let’s go,” Ben said before I could scream.

With Cormac hobbling in the lead, Ben and I leaning on each other, and Sun bringing up the rear, we left the scorched and smoking room and made our way down the corridor. The walls seemed to glow with their own green phosphorescence. I squinted; Wolf’s vision saw everything as shadow.

We came to a T intersection.

“Which way?” Ben asked.

“The others went left,” he said, and so we went left. “Oh by the way, nice to see you again. Human this time, even.”


“We met earlier, but you were furry then.”


“Have you been watching us?” I said. “Following us?”

“Maybe a little,” Sun said.

“Who are you? What are you, some kind of ninja?”

“Um, no.”

The musty corridor continued. Ahead, Grace’s candle shone, but the light seemed dampened. Maybe it was just my outlook.

Ben and Cormac pulled up short; I almost ran into them. Sun was behind me, looking back. He held his staff in both hands, blocking, waiting for attack.

Ahead of us, Grace stood in the middle of the hallway, and Anastasia leaned against the wall. She looked exhausted and still fuming, like she wanted to run right back to take on Roman.

“You waited,” I said to Anastasia, startled.

She nodded at Grace. “Chen wouldn’t let me leave. What happened?”

We all looked at Sun, who scuffed a sneaker on the stone floor and winced. “Well. First I had the pearl—I took it from the safe to protect it. Then I lost it.” He shrugged.

I was used to seeing vampires as calm and imperious, moving serenely through the world, which crashed like waves around them. Pillars of stone, unmoving and unfeeling.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies