Kitty Goes to Washington Page 61

Duke stared, mouth open, disbelieving. Stockton took the chance to break free and pull away from the door.

Everyone stared at the wolf huddled in the corner. Frightened, she just wanted to be left alone. She didn't even go for the meat.

The broadcast cut off there. Watching a miserable wolf wasn't that exciting, the network decided.

Chapter 12

I woke up shivering. The linoleum was cold. I hugged myself, but I was naked, lying curled on the floor, unable to get warm. My jeans were all the way in the middle of the floor. My shirt was torn, I couldn't tell if it was salvageable.

The door to the cell stood open.

Sighing, I gathered myself for the effort of dressing. I had to get out of here.

I'd crawled halfway across the floor when I saw Flemming outside the cell, leaning against a lab table, arms crossed, watching me.

Nothing to do but carry on. Quickly I pulled on my jeans and retrieved my shirt. It had a rip up the side, along the seam, but it would have to do. I sat on the cot to lace up my sneakers.

“So. Did you get what you wanted? Besides getting to watch a naked woman sleep for half the night.” I tried to sound angry, but my voice cracked, weary to the point of failing.

He scowled and looked away. “I don't know. The network aired the live footage for an hour. They sold the footage and the news channels have been replaying the pertinent clips all night.”

The pertinent clips. That meant the thirty seconds of me shape-shifting, and nothing else. None of my words, nothing of what I'd said to explain those thirty seconds. What a farce.

“Is that what you wanted? Do you even know what you wanted?”

He took a shuddering breath and turned his lips in a pained smile. It might have been the first time I'd ever seen him smile. “I wanted to change the world. I wanted to single-handedly open a whole new discipline of study. I wanted to find the… the cure for everything. Superimmunity. Somewhere in your biology is the secret to that. If I could just convince the people with money that it's not fiction, that I'm not… crazy.”

“And you think kidnapping me, locking me up, and putting me on TV is the way to prove that?” I wanted to rip him to shreds. I could. Sprout a couple of claws, run a couple of strides, and be on his throat in a heartbeat. Inside, Wolf was growling. “The one thing you haven't learned is that you can't control this. No one can control this. People—werewolves, vampires, the church, the Senate, everybody—have been trying for centuries and it doesn't work. The Master vampires build their Families, take over cities, bully the lycanthropes, and play their little power games. Packs form and disintegrate, witches lay curses, charlatans make promises. The church holds its inquisitions, the Senate holds its hearings. And in the long run none of it works. This isn't nature, this isn't science, not like you think, because there's this… this thing, this ineffable part of it all, that takes it out of the realm of knowing. That's why it's called the supernatural, Flemming. It's magic.”

He glared, quivering almost, like he wanted to argue but couldn't find the words. I glared back, challenging. Go ahead, start a fight.

His gaze dropped. “Primitive man thought the sun rising and setting was magic, but we know now that it isn't. It's science that they didn't understand. So is this. We will understand it.”

“If you say so.”

“Can—can I give you a ride somewhere?”

One of those moments, those noises that was laughter bubbling into despair, lodged in my throat. The nerve of him. The complete fucking nerve.

“You've done enough.” I walked past him, concentrating so that I didn't launch into a run, keeping my head down. Clutching the torn edges of my shirt and hugging myself so I wouldn't be naked.

Part of my Wolf stayed with me. I could never be fully human because of it, despite all my high-toned rhetoric. But sometimes, her instincts were useful. It can be a strength, T.J. had always told me. I'd scoffed at him, because I hated that part of myself that I believed I had so little control over. Now, I used it. Wolf wouldn't collapse in a heap, sobbing, furious over what had happened and dreading what was to come. She'd stalk. Keep her head down and get out of there. If I could just keep moving I'd be okay.

I made it all the way out of the building. Someone had thoughtfully left the door unlocked for me. I kept walking. Kept moving.

I hadn't slept very long. The sky was still full dark, overcast. The air was cold and damp, like it was about to rain. I shivered. Keep moving. It'd keep me warm.

A ways down the sidewalk, where the building's drive intersected the main road, a midsized sedan parked by the curb turned on its headlights. My first thought was of Bradley. He couldn't be coming to pick me up. He was dead. I almost lost it, then. He was dead, and he shouldn't have been.

The two front doors opened and two men got out. It might have been Bradley and Tom, my Men In Black, the way I first saw them when I arrived in D.C. But no. I started to panic, backing up a couple of steps, ready to run. Then I breathed. I caught a familiar scent of gun oil and leather.

They moved to the driver's side of the car and leaned on the side of the hood, watching me. One had ruffled hair, wore a trenchcoat over slacks and a dress shirt unbuttoned at the collar. The other: biker boots, jeans, T-shirt and leather jacket, mustache over a frown. Ben and Cormac, with Ben's rental car.

Now, I wanted to start crying. I rubbed my face, and my hand was shaking.

Ben came forward, shrugged off his coat, and held it up for me, waiting to help put it on me like we were on some kind of date. Didn't say a word. He was mostly shadow, outside the reach of the headlights. I couldn't see his face.

Wolf wanted to run away, but I wanted to fall into his arms. While the two halves argued, I stayed rooted to the spot, unable to move.

He put the coat over my shoulders, adjusting it so it settled in place. The warmth from his body lingered and made me shiver harder for a moment, but I clutched the edges and held it tight around me. His hand stayed on my shoulder, and that made me shiver, too. I hated people, at that moment.

I was crying silent, frustrated tears and couldn't talk. Couldn't explain why I wanted him to go away, and why he couldn't, because I needed a friend.

“Let's get out of here,” he said, pressing my shoulder to guide me to the car. I shuffled forward. He opened the back door and steered me inside, like I was a child or an invalid.

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