Kitty Goes to Washington Page 66

Except she was predator, and I was suddenly prey. I had an urge to defend myself. Or run. Fight or flight.

“Your wolf doesn't like the idea much, does she?” Alette said.

“No,” I said, my voice wavering. “She—I—I mean, we don't much like feeling trapped. I'm sorry, it's under control, it's okay—”

She spoke, gently, soothingly. “I understand. You're being perfectly reasonable. You should be frightened of me.”

“I'm not, not really.” But I was. I knew what she was, intellectually I'd always known. But this was the reality, that she could devour me and I wouldn't be able to do anything about it.

But she wouldn't, she wasn't like that, she was kind. If only the last week hadn't completely eroded my faith in my ability to judge character.

“Just a little. I promise,” she said. “A few seconds and it will be over. Is that all right?”

I nodded. She touched my face. She was a ghost in the pale light. “I will not betray your trust. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Are you left– or right-handed?”

“Right,” I whispered.

She took my left hand and moved toward me, leaning so she spoke close to my ear. Her voice had a rhythm, lulling. It ran along my nerves, soothing them, coaxing them from taut panic to calm. More than calm—I felt yearning.

“Do not fear me. I would not have you come to me afraid.”

She kissed my cheek, and I leaned into her. I let her hold me in her arms, let her do anything she wanted to me, because her touch reached deep inside me, into my gut. A warmth rose there; my body clenched in anticipation.

Her breath caressed my neck. I might have moaned a little, because I felt so warm, burning up. She held me close, pulling that warmth into her.

“Rest your head, my dear.” She guided my head to her shoulder. I shut my eyes and pressed my face against her.

She pushed the coat sleeve up my left arm, past the elbow. She supported the arm—I couldn't have, at that point. I felt like I was melting; I wanted to melt into her. She kissed the inside of my arm, firing all the nerves. I bit my lip, overwhelmed.

She traced a line up my forearm with her tongue, tasting and kissing. My hand closed into a fist, which she braced. Her mouth closed over my wrist, but I didn't feel anything except her attention, her caresses, her love.

The skin pinched, the bite. By then, I wanted it.

When she drew away, I felt like a veil had fallen, or that I'd woken from a dream.

I needed a cold shower. Very cold.

“It's over,” she said. And it was. She straightened, pulling away from me. I didn't know where I'd been, but suddenly I was back in the closet under Alette's stairs, in the dark, wrapped in a trenchcoat. “Are you all right?”

“Um, yeah. I mean, I think… wow.” It made sense, really. All part of that vampire seduction gambit: lure the prey to you, give it a reason to open its veins. Sure cut down on that messy struggling. “Just so you know, I'm straight. Totally straight. As an arrow.”

Her voice held a smile. “So am I.”

I smelled a touch of blood on her breath. My blood.

She no longer sounded tired, defeated, like she had a moment ago. She sat straight without effort, and the glint in her eye had returned. She seemed ready for battle.

Two sets of footsteps pounded across the foyer, right outside our hiding place. Alette looked out at the sound, frowning. Then, she pushed at the door.

“No—” I grabbed for her but missed. She slipped through the opening before I could reach her.

What could I do but follow?

Outside, in the foyer, she stood tall on her injured feet—except they didn't seem quite as injured. The redness seemed to have faded, just as her face now seemed flushed and lively.

Before her, two black-clad soldiers held handguns pointed at her. They clutched the guns in two-handed grips, straight-armed, sighting down the barrels.

“You don't want to do that,” Alette said, her voice like honey, music, seduction, passion, all together. “You'd like to put your weapons down now.”

Calmly, she looked back and forth between them. I couldn't see Alette's eyes at this moment. I didn't want to—her gaze focused intently on the soldiers. The men didn't shoot, they didn't say anything. One of them—his arms were trembling, causing the gun to waver.

“I know you're both reasonable gentlemen. You deserve a rest. You're very calm. Very quiet. That's right.”

They both lowered their arms slowly, hypnotically, until they were hanging loose at their sides. After that, they didn't twitch a muscle. They didn't shiver, they didn't blink. They stood like statues, caught in Alette's gaze. Their breathing was slow and rhythmic, as if they slept, but their eyes were open. One of the guys' jaw hung open a little. He wasn't quite drooling.

Alette pulled the guns out of their hands and gingerly put the weapons in the closet. She closed the door. She left the soldiers standing motionless in the foyer.

How did vampires do that?

I crept past them, hardly believing they wouldn't reach out to grab me.

She went to the back of the foyer, to the hallway that led to the kitchen. “Leo will be downstairs by this hour.”

Her gaze narrowed. The hunter had found her trail.

She walked confidently down the hallway, which opened to a modern, impressively furnished kitchen—stainless-steel counters, pots hanging above an island workstation. It seemed to be equipped to prepare and serve state dinners. Who was I to say it hadn't? Alette passed it all by, heading for a door on the far side, by the fridge.

She paused, hand on the doorknob, tilting her head to listen. So, that was the door to the basement, where the vampires spent their days in darkness and safety. Leo might be stretching out for a nap, thinking he was safe.

Or he might have been waiting for us, armed with machine guns.

“Alette, this isn't—”

She opened the door.

Common sense didn't play any part in her current motivation. Revenge probably had a big part in it, along with a liberal dose of blind rage. She didn't wait to see if I'd follow or not.

I followed.

The glow of soft lighting cast an aura up the carpeted stairs. Soundlessly, Alette stepped down.

The basement room was as Victorian in decoration as the rest of the house. Brocade wallpaper, plush carpet, antique lamps. It was a bedroom. No coffins, but a king-sized four-poster bed sat in the back, along with dressers and wardrobes, and a vanity table without the mirror.

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