Kitty Goes to Washington Page 55

Just after dusk, Bradley and Leo prepared to drive me to the Crescent. I'd meet Luis there. I didn't know why Leo had to come along. He said he wanted the air. Alette said she wanted him to make sure we weren't followed and that Luis would take good care of me. Like they'd turned into my parents who insisted on vetting the boys I dated. I was an adult, for God's sake. I tried to ignore him.

I couldn't wait. Before we even left the driveway, my foot was tapping a rapid beat on the carpeted floorboard in the backseat of the sedan. In moments, I'd be at the Crescent, with Luis and the others, away from Leo and politics and all of it. I was back in jeans and a T-shirt, my hair loose, feeling a weird and not unpleasant charge in the air. On these nights, when I could feel the full moon rising, even though it wasn't visible yet, the Wolf leapt inside of me. She turned into a kid at Christmas, giddy with anticipation, knowing her big moment was close.

I had to stay human a little while longer. I had to keep her locked in, and that was the hard part, because slowly, bit by bit, sliver by sliver, I was losing control. By midnight, I wouldn't be able to hold her in any longer.

“Lovely evening,” Leo said conversationally, over the backseat. “I have to admit, I'm a little jealous. The chance to run around with a bunch of animals. I get chills just thinking about it.”

It was a perfect night for running. Clear and crisp, with a touch of a breeze. Scents and sounds would carry. Morning would be cool enough to make me grateful to have others nearby, bodies contributing warmth. I rolled my shoulders, stretching, knowing what would come soon.

“You know,” Leo continued in his mock-amiable tone. “I imagine you make a lovely little wolf. I'd very much like to see that.”

I couldn't bring myself to care enough to tell him to shut up.

Bradley glanced at me in the rearview mirror. “Are you sure you're going to be okay?”

Him, I smiled at. “I've done this before, you know.”

“Yeah, but it's a new place. New people. I just thought I'd ask.”

“Thanks.” I was sick of people asking if I was going to be okay. I'd made it this far, hadn't I?

I was going to be a little late. Just a few minutes. I hoped Luis would wait for me. But really, I didn't doubt that he would wait for me. Just nerves.

Leo said, “Bradley, would you mind pulling over here for just a moment? I'd like to take a look at something.”

“Here?” Bradley pursed his lips, looking confused, but came to a stop at the corner, as Leo requested. “What is it?”

I wondered as well. The Crescent was only a few blocks away. I could walk there at this point.

“Don't worry, it won't take long.” Leo flashed his grin at me, then lunged at Bradley.

It happened so fast the driver didn't have a chance to flinch. Leo grabbed his head and wrenched, twisting it sharply until it crunched. As a man, Leo didn't look like much. Didn't look strong enough to break a man's neck. But he was a vampire, with a strength and speed that were blinding. Bradley probably didn't even know what was happening.

I didn't even have a chance to scream.

Leo didn't pause before launching over the backseat. It should have been awkward, but he seemed to fly, leaping at me arms outstretched, pinning me. He grabbed my hands, slipped something out of his pocket, wrenched my arms back, and a second later I was locked in handcuffs, my hands behind my back. The cuffs burned, searing against my wrists like they were hot from an oven. When I pulled against them, the pain flared.

Who the hell had silver alloy handcuffs?

Leo rolled me faceup and straddled me, pinning my legs with his body, squeezing his hand on my throat. “Be a good little kitten and this will all be over soon. If you start shape-shifting, I will kill you. Understand?”

He wasn't actually wanting to rape me, was he?

I squirmed, the handcuffs seared my skin, and I whimpered.

“Oh, you poor dear.” He leaned close, breathing against my cheek. I shut my eyes and turned away. I could get through this. Whatever he planned, I could get through it.

His teeth rubbed against my jawline just before a fang dug in. It felt like a pinch.

I screamed, arching my back to thrash away, not caring about him or the silver, just wanting to get away.

He held me too well, pinned against the length of the backseat, my arms immobile under me. I wasn't getting away. He licked the wound he'd made. Then, laughing, he straightened.

“My, you are high-strung, aren't you? Don't worry, as much fun as it might be, this isn't what the evening has in store for you.”

Howl, claw, bite, Change, run away…

No. Couldn't let Wolf out, couldn't let her panic overwhelm me. Keep it together, stay in my body, my human body. I didn't doubt that Leo would kill me if I Changed.

That took all my strength. I didn't have enough left over to even tell him to fuck off.

From his jacket pocket he took out a couple of handkerchiefs. I was breathing hard, whining with every breath, frozen with panic. Bradley's face leaned against the seat, toward me, dead eyes staring at me. Dead, blank, gone. I should have seen it coming, he should have seen it coming, this shouldn't be happening—

Leo jammed one scarf into my mouth, tying it behind my head. Another went around my eyes.

Breathe, steady, stay anchored. Keep it together, that was what T.J. always said. Good girl.

T.J. wasn't around to rescue me this time.

Chapter 11

The car door opened, closed. Then another one opened and closed. My nose and ears worked overtime, compensating for the lack of sight. Leo had left the backseat and returned to the front seat. A weight shifted. He was shoving Bradley's body out of the way.

The engine was still running. Bradley hadn't shut it off, only shifted to park. Leo put the sedan in gear, and we drove away.

I didn't count turns, knowing it wouldn't do any good because I couldn't judge the distance. We drove for what seemed a long time. We must have been leaving town. We could be going anywhere.

All I could do was keep breathing, and keep my hands still so the silver didn't burn as much.

Finally, we stopped. Car doors opened, first the front, then the back.

“Sit up,” Leo said.

I couldn't. My muscles were frozen. He grabbed my shoulder and hauled me up.

“Out.”

Again, I tried. Given enough time, I could have made the epic journey from the seat to outside the car on my own. But I was too slow for Leo. He dragged me out, and he was strong enough to keep me on my feet when all I wanted to do was collapse. He held me up with one hand on my arm. The other clamped on the back of my neck, guiding me.

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