Kitty Goes to Washington Page 56

“Walk,” he said.

I stumbled. He moved too quickly, but somehow I got my feet under me. We were outdoors, out of D.C. The air was a little fresher. Where were we? Given another moment I might have figured it out by the smell of the air, but Leo was in a hurry.

A door opened, then closed behind us. We'd entered a building. Here, the air smelled antiseptic, sickly, too much disinfectant and not enough life. The floor was tile.

I knew that smell. I'd been here before. This was the NIH Clinical Center.

We rode an elevator. I tried not to think, because thinking made me scared and angry. The more emotion I felt right now, the closer Wolf came to breaking free. The moon was so close right now.

I leaned away from Leo; his grip on my neck tightened. I had to breathe, calmly and coolly. My mouth was dry. I swallowed back screams.

The elevator opened into the basement. Leo pushed me forward again. I knew how many steps we'd go, I knew which door he guided me through. Without seeing, I could have made my way around the furniture in the office.

In the next room I smelled people. I sucked in air, trying to sense them, how many, who they were.

“My God, was this really necessary?”

I knew that voice. I knew that voice better than I knew the man it belonged to. Dr. Paul Flemming.

“Could you have done it any better, then?” Leo said, annoyed. “You wanted me to bring her, you didn't say how.”

Leo rattled the handcuffs—turning a key. Unlocking them. All my muscles tensed. He said he'd kill me and I almost didn't care. I just wanted to hurt him.

The burning metal fell away, but before I could turn, he shoved me forward. I scrambled to keep my balance. I stayed on my feet, and in the same moment tore off the gag and blindfold.

I stood in the werewolf holding cell of Flemming's lab. The walls sparkled silver, pressing against me. The door was locked. Slowly, I stepped toward the Plexiglas wall. Keep it together, I told myself. I wanted to face them as a human, to tell them what I was thinking.

Flemming's lab was full of people. At least, it seemed like it. I had to stare, studying the scene before me for a long time, because it didn't seem real. I didn't believe it. Flemming stood near my window, arms crossed, looking hunched-in and miserable, lips pursed and gaze lowered. To my right, near the wall, stood Senator Duke and one of his aides, a man I recognized from the hearings. Beyond them were three hard-core army-looking types: they wore all black, down to the combat boots, had severe crew cuts, and toted machine guns. They glared at me. Leo stood directly in front of me, grinning like this was the funniest thing he'd seen all week.

To my left, occupying the largest space of floor that was free of lab benches and equipment, was a news crew. It looked like a full-on studio job, with a large television camera, a camera operator, and a sound guy with a mike on a boom and headphones. And Roger Stockton, sans handheld video camera. Someone had given him a promotion. An equipment bag on the floor nearby bore the logo of a local network affiliate.

He stared at me, wide-eyed, like a rabbit in a trap. He trembled like prey, like he knew that if I wasn't currently behind a locked door, I'd kill him.

I started to laugh, then stopped, because the nausea wracking my stomach was about to break loose. I swallowed, and my mouth tasted like copper.

“What's going on here?” My voice cracked.

No one said anything. They'd come here to see a monster. Monsters weren't supposed to talk back.

Finally, Roger said, “Live broadcast. I sold the story to the network. It's my big break. I can take my work to the mainstream. Hey, if you'd just given me an interview, I wouldn't have agreed to this.” A smile flickered, then disappeared.

“Unreal,” I muttered, not aware I'd spoken aloud until I heard my voice. But why stop myself? “Fucking unbelievable. You were supposed to be for real! Searching for the truth, looking for knowledge—not in it for the fame and money! But you really are scum, aren't you? Playing like you're my friend, then selling me out the first chance you get—” My first impressions weren't always faulty, apparently. “What the hell are you trying to accomplish with this? What the hell do you think is going to happen? And you.” I pressed my hands to the glass in front of Leo. “What are you getting out of this? Does Alette know you're working for them? God, of course not—you wouldn't have killed Bradley then. You're moving against Alette, aren't you?” His expression of amusement didn't waver.

Duke said with a tone of disgust, “We don't have to explain ourselves.”

“It's just for the night,” Flemming said softly. “You'll be free to go in the morning.”

Then, I did laugh. Bitter, hysterical laughter. I shut my mouth before it could become a howl. “Are you kidding me? Do you think that makes everything all right? You're supposed to be a scientist, Flemming. You call this science?”

“I think he calls it public relations,” Leo said. “He's a bureaucrat. Well, gentlemen, it's been lovely working with you, but I have business elsewhere.” The vampire wore a sly grin on his face, looking terribly amused. “Doctor, if you'll remember our agreement?”

If anything, Flemming became more pale and uncomfortable-looking, kneading the fabric of his jacket sleeves. He looked over at the soldiers and nodded. Two of them moved toward the door and waited.

Leo tossed me a salute. “Take care of yourself, Miss Norville.”

He stalked out of the room without waiting for a response. The two soldiers followed him.

Soldiers. Flemming had given the bastard backup. I had to call Alette. Would someone let me call Alette?

Senator Duke marched over to the doctor and pointed an accusing finger at the door Leo had just left through. “Dr. Flemming, I have to protest you making deals with that monster. When I agreed to help you, you said nothing about working with the likes of that!”

“I think there's some debate about who's helping whom here, Senator. I'm giving you the evidence you want. You said you didn't want to be involved in collecting that evidence.”

“You'd do well to remember you wouldn't even have a chance to save your research if it weren't for me.”

“I seriously wonder about that.” He kept his gaze focused on me. I felt like a bug under a microscope.

I had to move. I had to get out of here. I saw the way out—through the door, past my enemies. Had to be a way out. If I kept moving, walking long enough, far enough, I'd find a way out. Had to turn before I got too close to the wall—it felt hot, the silver would burn me.

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