Talulla Rising Page 45

‘It’s nothing to be ashamed of.’

‘Merde alors. She looks like a fucking model I worked with, years ago.’

‘She’s a werewolf.’


‘That’s right. Still want her number?’

He listened in frowning silence, then asked question after question, most of which I didn’t have answers for. It was unhinging him, all this sudden change, first Walker and Konstantinov, then me and Walker, now four more werewolves.

‘They’re a pack,’ he said.

‘So what?’

‘Maybe nothing. But I don’t like it that they can find you so easily.’

‘Not so easily, apparently.’

‘That they can find you at all then.’

‘I can trust her. I know. Don’t ask me how. It’s a species thing.’

‘She’s one of four.’

‘Yeah, well, beggars can’t be choosers. They’re going to help us.’

He opened his mouth to say something – then stopped.

‘Mon Dieu,’ he said. ‘Look.’

The TV, he meant. On screen was a large dark building in the middle of nowhere up to its ground-floor windows in snow. I didn’t recognise it at first. Then did. It was the Alaskan lodge. The next shot was inside the lounge kitchen. A team of guys in thermal gear conducting what looked like a forensic sweep. Cloquet found the remote and unmuted.

‘... very early stages,’ one of the team said to an off-camera interviewer. ‘But we have found what at first sight appear to be genetically anomalous materials. We’re not jumping to any conclusions, you know, but this business teaches you to keep an open mind.’

‘An open mind?’ the reporter’s voiceover asked us, rhetorically. ‘One person whose mind is already made up is the young lady whose incredible story started this investigation.’

And there she was: Kaitlyn. She looked harried and greasy in the lights’ glare. She was wearing an enormous Parka and big boots. ‘Look, I never believed in any of this stuff,’ she said. ‘But what happened here was real, and these guys with the scientific... these guys with the equipment and all, they’ve already found particles, right? I mean that’s biological evidence, that’s hard evidence. This thing was as real as you standing right there and for all those people who say I’m crazy they can just talk to these science guys, they can just... you know? This thing was real. It was absolutely real.’

Cloquet and I watched the rest of the report. The story would have started as a tiny item on a Fairbanks radio phone-in or low-rent TV talk show and someone’s interest would have been piqued. A paranormal nut with money. Now science. Now the police. There were county badges among the forensic team.

‘Fuck,’ Cloquet said. ‘Great.’

‘There’s nothing we can do about it now,’ I said. ‘We didn’t fly on the IDs we rented the place on anyway. They won’t be looking for us. They won’t even know we left the country.’

‘She’ll have given a description,’ Cloquet said. ‘If they look at the Anchorage airport CCTV—’

‘Look, forget it. It’s out of our control.’

The phone rang.

The Walker phone. My scalp went hot.


The silence just before his voice was like deep space. I knew what was coming.

‘We’ve found them,’ he said. ‘They’ve got your boy and Natasha together. But we have to move fast.’


According to Hoyle they were in a derelict farmhouse fifteen miles outside Macerata in the Le Marche district in Italy. Jacqueline Delon, five other vampires, four familiars, Natasha Konstantinov and one baby werewolf boy, two and a half weeks old.

I told myself to stay cold. Don’t let the heart in. Let the heart in and you fuck it up. But I sat on the bed sick with adrenalin and hope and fear.

‘We fly to Rome,’ Walker told me, ‘then on to Falconara, where there’ll be transportation. The big problem is weapons.’


‘Because there might not be any.’

I tried to visualise it. I had an image of myself, Walker and Konstantinov moving through a field of long dry grass under an aquamarine sky. I had a very clear sense of what being completely unarmed would feel like, the air passing over my empty hands.

‘How can we do this without weapons?’

‘Well, we go in in daylight, so that eliminates the vamps. Then you’re only looking at four familiars.’

‘Four armed familiars.’

‘I know, I know. But there’ll be six of us.’

‘Six? What happened to twenty?’

‘Well, Murdoch’s killed four of them. The rest are either underground or flat-out not interested. It’s not like all of them give a shit about Mike’s wife. And none of them gives a shit about you or your son. I told them you’re paying, but money’s not what they care about right now. What they care about right now is staying alive. I’m sorry. You’re just going to have to trust that we can get this done. Also, don’t mention to the team that there might not be guns. If there aren’t, we’ll deal with it when the time comes. Now, give me your passport details.’

‘We’re going on a regular flight?’

‘As opposed to?’

‘I don’t know. Something under the radar.’

‘Those were the good old days. We’re outside the organisation now. Helicopters, big hardware, ghost flights, carte blanche mobility – that’s all gone.’

Then why am I hiring you? I didn’t need to say.

Because it’s us or you on your own, he didn’t need to reply.

A little silence in which we both felt over the connection how much more complicated we’d made this by sleeping together.

‘What are we going to do with her ladyship?’ he said.

Ask me when we’re good to go, I’d told him.

Well, we were good to go now – or rather had to go, good or not.

Cloquet sat there on the edge of the bed and took it. I’d just run through the instructions for formula milk, which, having known this moment would come, I’d bought and hidden in my room.

‘There’s no other way,’ I said.

‘I know.’

‘You’re going to be okay.’

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