Kitty Goes to Washington Page 62

Cormac drove. He eyed me in the rearview mirror. “Anyone you want me to beat up?”

I laughed, a tight and painful sound. I gasped for a breath, thinking I might start hyperventilating. I said, “Can I get back to you on that?”

Ben sat with me in the back. “Personally, I like the sound of 'putative damages' much better.”

“That's because you get a percentage,” Cormac said. Ben gave an unapologetic shrug.

I steadied my breathing. I was calming down a little. Maybe. “How bad is it?”

“How bad is what?” Ben said.

“Have the lynch mobs started? Torches and pitchforks? Repressive legislation?”

“Too early to tell,” he said. “The talking heads are still mulling it over. They probably need to replay the broadcast for another twelve hours before people get really sick of it.”

“Talking heads?”

“Every network. Every cable news network. I think the Sci Fi Channel is running a marathon of The Howling!”

That wasn't going to help my cause. Wasn't anyone in the least bit offended that I'd been kidnapped?

“And your mother called. She wants you to call back.”

“Are you serious?” My voice squealed. “What did she say?”

“She didn't say anything, she just called.”

“Did she watch it?”

“I don't know. Call her back if you want to know.”

I pressed my face to the cool glass of the window. Maybe if I slept, I'd wake up to find everything was all right. “Ben, what am I going to do?”

“I'd suggest heading to the hotel and getting some sleep.”

“I mean big picture. My life, my job, the hearings—”

“Not much you can do about that right now. We'll see about pressing charges in the morning.”

That would be up to Ben. I couldn't do anything. I didn't have control anymore, and I hated that. My attempt to turn their brutal expose into my own show had been a flailing burst of desperation. Had it worked? Had it garnered any sympathy? And I wasn't talking about sympathy for the plight of soon-to-be oppressed werewolves and supernatural beings everywhere. I wanted sympathy for me personally—so that the public would skewer them instead of me. Selfish bitch.

This night wasn't even near over, and the ball was so far out of my court I couldn't see it anymore.

“Ben, let me borrow your phone.” He handed it over.

Cormac turned a half smile. “Look at that, she really is calling her mom at four in the morning.”

Except that I wasn't. I was calling Alette. I'd almost forgotten to include Leo in that skewering.

No one answered. I checked the flip phone's monitor for coverage, which was fine. It just kept ringing, and ringing.

I took a deep breath, shut the phone off, and gave it back to Ben.

I said, “One of Alette's minions helped Flemming and Duke. He's the one who got me into the cell.”

“How?” Cormac said. Not offended, like I was. More like with a tone of professional curiosity.

“Silver handcuffs.” Cormac nodded thoughtfully. I almost growled at him.

Ben said, “I told you to stay away from her—”

“She didn't have anything to do with it. It's Leo, he's working with Flemming and Duke.” Which meant Alette was in trouble. But she was several hundred years old and could easily take care of herself, right? They didn't get to be that old unless they could take care of themselves.

Leo had left the festivities in Flemming's lab in a hurry. And with backup, though why he needed backup was anyone's guess. She wouldn't be looking for danger from him.

I had to get to Alette's.

“I have a hard time believing Duke, Flemming, and some vampire minion are all in bed together,” Ben said.

“Duke didn't know about Leo. Flemming's been talking to him. But Duke and Flemming, they both want government attention—just for different reasons. I think they both think they can one-up the other when the time comes. It's like they're all playing chess, but each of them only sees a third of the board—a different third.”

“What does the vampire get out of this?” Cormac said.

“Contacts? Influence in the government?” Leo wasn't interested in those things, not like Alette was. He wanted pure, simple power. He wanted to play games with it.

Maybe he wanted to start his own games. “He can go over Alette's head, for control of the city. Alette's got the cops, but if Leo got the military—”

We approached D.C. proper again. Cormac was taking us to the hotel. Get some sleep, Ben had said. Not likely. I'd be climbing up the walls.

“Stop the car. Let me out here.”

Cormac kept driving, like I hadn't even said anything.

“Cormac, stop the car!”

He looked at Ben for a sign.

Ben said, “If he's got military backing, there's no way you can go up against him.”

“Ben!” That did come out more like a growl. I'd shifted once tonight; didn't mean it couldn't happen again. I'd never done it twice this close together. It would hurt. I pressed the heels of my hands into my eyes. I had to keep human eyes. Keep it together.

“Kitty,” Ben said, looking at me over the backseat. I had to hand it to him, standing up to a werewolf like this. I didn't know if he trusted me not to shape-shift. He only sounded a little anxious. “You can't do anything about it right now. Get some sleep, wait until morning. It's much safer going against vampires in daylight, trust me.”

He was telling me what to do. Bossing me around. I might as well be in a pack again.

I wasn't going to put up with that.

We were at the hotel. Cormac slowed down to turn into the parking garage. I scooted closer to the door. Then, I pulled the handle, popped open the door, and rolled out. The car was still moving, jerking me over the pavement. I had to stumble to keep my feet, but I managed to stay standing. I launched into a run.

The tires screeched as Cormac braked, but I didn't look back. I didn't look to see if they followed me.

I must have run for three blocks before I got my bearings. By then, I was thinking I shouldn't have done it. They were only trying to help. Looking out for me, like friends should, no strings attached. Except I was paying Ben.

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