Kitty Saves the World Page 18

He looked at her, bug-eyed.

A woman screamed—Mercedes. My first thought was, aha, at last and good riddance, Roman had ripped her head off or drained her borrowed blood. But no—they stood apart now; she was clutching her throat, and he was holding an object: a coin on a leather cord. He’d ripped it from around her neck and threw it to the side like it was trash.

“This was never about you, and it was never about power.” He said this calmly, in the tone of someone laying off an employee. Mercedes stared at him, eyes round and in shock. She’d probably never been rejected in her life.

“You can’t do this,” she said, her ordinarily powerful voice gone reedy as she struggled for breath. “I have been loyal, for centuries I’ve followed you—”

“You overstepped yourself in London. You should have known.”

Mercedes’s expression turned stricken. “No. Oh no, no—”

Violence hung in the air, nasty and imminent. I bared my teeth, and Wolf tore at my gut. Change, attack, fight—

No, this wasn’t our fight. We were caught in the middle of something else entirely.

The wind changed, a slap on my face, and I smelled brimstone, heat, fire, anger. I dropped to a crouch, nose up, searching for this new enemy. Meanwhile, Tina screamed. It happened in a second—the wind, her scream, and me turning to look up into the face of a tall woman, monstrously tall, and powerful. She wore leather and weapons, spears and daggers, swords and javelins, all wood and silver, all made to fight monsters. Dark-tinted goggles strapped over her short-cropped hair covered her eyes, even in the dark. She backhanded Tina across the face, sending her flying a dozen feet. Air left her lungs with a gasp.

Then the demon turned to me and sneered.

Chapter 6

TINA LAY still. Unconscious? Maybe she just had the wind knocked out of her. I hoped. Meanwhile, the demon transferred a weapon—a long spear tipped with a sharp metal point, no doubt laced with silver—from her left hand to her right. I’d met this demon before, and her sole purpose was hunting creatures like me.

“Got new goggles, I see. Nice.” I winced. My mouth ran faster than my legs. Last time we met, I’d managed to rip her goggles off—Cormac had them now. Any light at all, even the dim streetlights of the parking lot, left her blind and slowed her down—briefly.

She didn’t credit me with an answer, just drew back in order to impale me. The impaling wouldn’t kill me—the poison of the silver in my bloodstream would. In the back of my brain, Wolf howled, furious. We could shift, we could attack, we’d driven her off before, we could do it again—

In the time it would take me to turn, run, shift, anything, she’d have me pinned to the ground. I backed away¸ delaying.

“Do you have a name?” I said, my voice rising. I couldn’t disguise my fear. “I keep running into you and I don’t know what to call you.”

“Won’t matter in a second,” she said. Her voice rumbled like breaking wood.

I could run. And she could throw that spear. I could charge her, get inside her range. But it would only take a scratch from that silver to kill me. Plus, she had a dozen daggers. No room to fudge this. I sat up from my crouch, bracing to do … something. Like, talk more.

“You told me you don’t work for Roman, then why are you here, covering his ass? Who do you really work for?”

“You’ll never know,” she said, and prepared to launch.

“No!” Tina sat up, wobbly. A cut marred her forehead and blood streamed down her face. Metal rivets on the demon’s glove had cut her badly. My heart sank, seeing what she was trying to do. She should run away, just get out of here—

The demon turned, Tina charged, grabbed her arm—trying to turn the spear away from me. The demon shook her off easily, smacking her again for good measure, and again Tina fell hard.

But it was enough of a distraction. I grabbed the spear, dropped my weight, and wrenched the weapon out of the demon’s hands. Turned the point back on her, stabbed. She smacked it aside with her leather-armored arm, but I kept hold of it. She kicked, and I dodged, but not fast enough. I was fast, but she was a demon from hell. The blow struck my gut, knocked the wind out of me, but I kept my feet.

I had to get close enough to take those goggles—that had worked last time. I braced for the next attack, but the demon suddenly looked up, as if at a call or an alarm. Lips curled, teeth bared—wolflike—she ran, grabbing another spear off the collection of them strapped to her back. This one was sharpened wood, not silver. It couldn’t hurt me. She had a different target now.

I ran after her.

Mercedes called a name—her driver, I assumed—and made to retreat to her car. Stricken, the driver looked back and forth between Hardin and his mistress—and the demon.

Cormac stepped up, ignoring Mercedes now to face the demon—shifting his focus to the baddest bad guy. He held a cross in one hand and a burning torch in the other. And where had he gotten a torch? Ah, he’d made one, out of a crossbow bolt and a scrap of cloth. Maybe doused with fluid from a lighter. He had a whole warehouse of useful items in his pockets.

The demon ignored him and continued after the vampire.

Mercedes sprinted, but the demon was faster. A thrusting spear stabbed through her back, driving her off her feet. The point planted in the ground.

“No!” Mercedes growled, an unmusical noise coming from her throat. She grabbed the spear protruding from her chest and twisted, as if she could wrench herself off it. But she was already crumbling. Her hands fell apart, her arms turned to dust. She kept saying no, grimacing with bared teeth, lips moving after sound ceased.

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