Kitty Goes to Washington Page 41

Screw it. Screw him. I grabbed his shirt and pulled, yanking him forward. Across the line.

I expected him to be heavier than he was. Hauling him felt like pulling on a pillow—he was light enough to fly out of my grip. Surprise at this made me lose my balance. I fell backward, but I kept hold of his shirt, determined to bring him down, literally if need be.

I hit the ground, expecting him to fall on top of me. But he didn't, because as soon as his body crossed the invisible barrier that we'd created he caught fire. He burst like a flare, yellow and red spewing with a shrill hiss that might have been a shriek. Ash and embers fell against me, onto my face, scalding. I screamed and put my arms over my face. My hands burned, throbbing and painful. I rolled, trying to get away.

Somebody stopped me and pulled me up until I was sitting. “Are you okay?” It was Jeffrey.

My hands were red, baked and itching, like a bad sun-burn. My face burned and itched, too. I hated to think what it looked like.

I lurched out of his grip and twisted all the way around to look for Smith. “Where is he? Where'd he go?”

“He's gone,” Jeffrey said, laughing a little, nervously. “He just burned up.”

A few black cinders lay scattered on the grass. At the gate of the caravan, people were drifting out, stumbling, confused, shaking their heads.

“It's over,” I said. I was too tired to feel any kind of victory. Yet, I couldn't help but feel like there should have been more. That had almost been easy—anticlimactic. I shouldn't have been able to finish off someone that badass all by myself.

Stockton was still filming, gripping the camera with both hands, white-knuckled. So how did you wrap up a story like this? Brush your hands off and go home?

Behind me, a groan sounded, deep, changing in tone. The tenor was familiar—a human voice, turning into a wolf's growl.

One of Smith's bodyguards was shape-shifting. And why not? How long had it been since any of these people had given in to the other side of their natures? And now the power that had controlled them was gone.

The shorter one doubled over, pulling off his shirt, ripping the sleeves as he did, and growling. As the other one watched, he backed away, but his muscles were rippling, his body melting, changing. All the lycanthropes would react to that; in moments, they'd all shift.

That didn't even begin to mention what the vampires would do, freed from Smith's control.

“Jeffrey, we have to get out of here.”

He looked around, his eyes widening as he realized what was happening. “Yeah, I guess we do.”

“Roger!” I shouted. “Get back to the car! Now!”

Sure enough, a woman who'd made her way out of the gate grabbed a man standing next to her, tripped him so he sprawled on the ground, straddled his back, and bared her teeth. She threw herself at his neck, biting into him. He thrashed, trying to roll and swipe at her. Claws sprouted from his hand.

Many of the others, realizing what was happening, ran flat-out into the woods, no looking back.

Helping each other, Jeffrey and I got to our feet and started running. Stockton stared out, his eyes wide and surprised. His camera was still up, still recording.

I grabbed his shirt as we passed him. “Come on?”

A furious snarl ripped the air behind me. A wolf could run faster on four legs than I could on two.

“Run. Just run,” I said to Jeffrey, shoving him toward Stockton. I turned my back on them to face the wolf that was racing toward me.

Chapter 9

He wanted the easiest prey in the area. I must have looked good. Small enough to be an easy target with enough meat to make it worthwhile.

That described me in so many ways I didn't want to think about.

He was pale, almost white, which made him glow in the moonlight. He was also big, one of the stockier wolves I'd ever seen: massive through the chest and shoulders, legs working, head low, like a battering ram. He'd plow into me and knock me over like I was nothing, then rip into me without a second thought.

But I'd survive the first few cuts. I already had lycanthropy, unlike Jeffrey and Roger. I was tough; I could take it.

Holy crap.

I dodged. At the very last possible moment I dodged and grabbed the wolf's tail. I was stronger than I looked. I kept hold of it long enough to change his momentum, to make him hesitate and look back, to pause before he adjusted the vector of his attack to where his prey had slipped.

His jaws were open, aimed at my shoulder, once again to try to shove me to the ground and hold me with his teeth. Swinging my body, I deflected his face away. Instead of locking a firm grip on my shoulder, his canines scraped down my arm. A couple of deep gouges on the bicep was better than losing a shoulder, right?

I couldn't slow down to think about how much it hurt. Jeffrey and Roger should have had enough time to get back to the car. Time to run away. I kicked the wolf's face before he could gather himself for the next attack. I had to convince him I wasn't as easy a catch as he first thought. This was a time I had to let a little bit of the Wolf into my mind. She was better at fighting than I was. Kick him, snarl at him, scare him off.

Do all that, and stay anchored to my human body as well. I didn't want to lose control of that part of myself. I didn't want to leave myself vulnerable while I shifted. And I wanted to be able to talk about this when it was finished. Assuming I was still conscious when it was finished.

The wolf hesitated. He was thinking about it. Probably because other, potentially easier prey attracted him.

“Kitty! Kitty!” A kid ran up the hill toward me—the young man I'd talked to before everything hit the fan, the one who'd just tried to join the church. “Help, I don't know what to do, you have to help me—”

“Come on.” I grabbed the guy's shirt, shoved him so he was behind me, and shouted at the pale wolf. “Get out of here! Go on, get away!”

I backpedaled up the hill. “Run!” I said to the guy. “Get to the car.”

I turned and followed him. I didn't dare look behind me.

We hopped the fence, first the kid, then me. Jeffrey stood by the car, holding open the passenger side door. He also held a Club—the attached to the steering wheel so the car doesn't get stolen kind of Club—in his right hand, ready to swing it like it was, well, a club. Just in case something was following.

I shoved the kid into the back and piled in immediately after him. Jeffrey jumped in the front seat and slammed shut the door.

Prev Next