Kitty Goes to Washington Page 64

Leo would be there. I had no doubt Leo would be there, along with the two mortal soldiers. I didn't know what I was going to do about them.

I wondered who would tell Alette about Bradley. And where was Tom? Emma? Were they safe?

I arrived at the townhome; the inside was dark. Like all the other houses on the street, like any normal house should be at this hour.

Then I paused. I could see that the lights inside were dark, because the drapes over the front bay window, the window to the parlor, were open. They'd never been open before.

Now, what were the odds the front door was unlocked, letting me walk right in?

Slowly, I climbed the steps and tried the door handle. Not only was it unlocked, it hadn't been closed all the way. It stood open just a hair, as if whoever had passed through here had been in a hurry.

I opened the door a crack.

“Did you hear that?” a male voice called from inside.

Wouldn't have to lock the door if you'd posted guards. My heart in my throat, I scrambled off the steps, over the wrought-iron railing, and crouched in the shadow by the wall of the house. I held my breath, even though I thought my head was going to burst. I wanted to run so badly, hear the Wolf's claws scraping on the pavement as we put distance between me and danger.

Hold the line. Keep it together.

The door opened wide above me. Someone stepped out and looked around. Dressed all in black, his face seemed ghostly in the near-light of dawn. He must have been one of the black ops guys that went with Leo. He watched for a moment, carefully scanning the street, then went back inside, closing the door firmly this time.

Leo needed someone to guard the place during daylight hours, the way Bradley and Tom had done for Alette.

The sky was lightening. I shivered and pulled my coat closer. Ben's coat. I'd forgotten I was wearing it. Now, I was glad I had it.

I had to get in there. I had to find out if Alette was okay. My heart was sinking with the growing evidence that she probably wasn't okay at all. The soldiers had to be in the foyer or front room to hear the faint squeak of the door hinges. I had to get them out of there, distract them somehow. They were obviously twitchy. Some kind of noise, then.

I suddenly felt like I was in a bad spy movie.

Some debris lay on the concrete pad of the window well where I'd been hiding: a few stones, chipped plaster, a rusted piece of metal. I picked up a handful of these items and climbed the railing back to street level.

Backing onto the sidewalk, then to the deserted street, I looked up at the townhome's second-story windows. I hadn't played any sports in school. I hadn't been at all coordinated. I wasn't sure I could do this. Desperation convinced me, however. I had to do this.

All the strength my supernatural Wolf gave me, I poured into that throw. Pitch it hard, focus on the window right above the bay window of the parlor. I grunted as I let the stone fly.

It hit the brick wall and rattled back to the sidewalk.

I growled at myself and tried again, quickly. It wouldn't do any good to have the soldiers come out on the front porch. I hefted the piece of metal this time and threw.

With a spine-numbing crack, the window shattered. The tinkling glass was like music.

To be on the safe side, I turned to the window above the front door and tried again. My whole body was shaking with adrenaline, but I must have had the knack of it this time. I hit the window—this one didn't shatter, but it crunched and a network of cracks laced out like a spider-web.

This whole plan depended on them going upstairs to see what had broken the windows. I had to hope they wouldn't come out the front door.

Did all plans feel this stupid in the middle of the execution?

I ran to the front door and opened it. Leaning in over the threshold, I took a deep breath of air and listened close. I smelled Alette's house, but with an edge. People I didn't recognize had been moving around in here. But I didn't hear anything, no breathing, no footsteps. Except overhead—it sounded like someone was running on the floor above me.

I went inside and shut the door behind me.

The place was dark, empty feeling. I didn't hear any breathing—but vampires didn't breathe.

I moved through the foyer, attempting silence, but the rubber soles of my sneakers squeaked on the hardwood.

The parlor window faced east. The room was almost light, now. Gray and faded, but still light. In another half hour, the sun would pour in.

The furniture had been shoved away to make a clear space on the floor, in front of the window. In the middle of this space, far enough back that I couldn't have seen her from the sidewalk, Alette sat on a chair. She faced the window, like she waited for the sun to rise, like she planned on watching it. Like she planned to die.

“Alette?”

She didn't move. I stepped closer and saw her hands tied behind her back, to the legs of the chair. Rope or cord alone wouldn't have been enough to hold her; there were also chains with crosses on them. Her feet were secured to the chair legs in front. A gag bound her mouth.

Crosses. Leo needed mortal humans to tie Alette up with crosses, which he couldn't touch.

“Alette.” I ran to her. Inside the room, the rug squished wetly. What had happened here?

I pulled down the gag, a strip of cotton fabric. It snagged on a fang, but I got it loose.

Her gaze was wild, desperate, rapidly searching me. “Kitty, are you well? What have they done to you?”

I worked on the rest of the bindings. I started to toss the crosses away, then decided I might need them. I shoved them in a coat pocket. “Forced my national television debut. Don't worry, I'm okay. I'm not hurt.” Physically…

“And Bradley—where's Bradley?”

Dammit. I hadn't wanted to be the one to tell her. This was terrible to think, but I'd hoped Leo had gloated. So at least she'd know.

“I'm sorry, Alette. Leo moved so fast, and he wasn't expecting it.”

“No, I imagine he wasn't. It was probably quick, painless?”

“Broken neck.”

“Kitty.” Her hands free now, she put them on my shoulders, gripping them. Free of the crosses, she was strong, very strong, and at the moment she forgot it. She squeezed, pinching, and all I could do was brace against it, so she wouldn't topple me over. “They're my children, do you understand? My children's children, I've looked after my family all these years. I've provided for them, watched them grow and prosper. That's all I wanted for them, to prosper. Do you understand?”

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