Kitty Saves the World Page 29

Ben joined me a few minutes later. I sat on the floor, hugging my knees to my chest, staring up at the map. I hadn’t slept well last night, even with his arms around me and his scent in my nose.

“Figure anything out?” he said, leaning on the doorframe, arms crossed.

“Yeah,” I said. “Hiding’s not going to do a bit of good.”

He donned a wolfish grin. “Fair enough.”

“Angelo wants us out of Denver. Whoever’s holding the metaphorical gun to his head wants us out. So we don’t leave. We wave a red cape at them. We show them Denver’s not theirs, it still belongs to us.”

“How—ah, right. Got it. It’s going to be another long night, then.”

Yes, it was.

Chapter 10

WE BEGAN at the house at dusk. I stood at the edge of the yard in nothing but a tank top and panties, dealing with a sense of déjà vu. This was how I’d started out, when I decided to take over the Denver pack. From a human perspective, it was a ridiculous way to provoke a response. But to Wolf’s way of thinking, there was no better way to announce ourselves.

I looked over my shoulder. Ben stood on the back patio, shirtless, wearing sweatpants. Arms loose, hands clenched, he had a hooded, focused expression. His wolf, rising to the surface. Close to naked, out in the crisp twilight air—that only meant one thing. We were going running.

Behind him, leaning up against the house, was Cormac. Our backup.

Since the failed trap in Albuquerque, he’d received one e-mail from Roman on the anonymous account. “I applaud your attempt,” the vampire had written. “It’s a small world, isn’t it? Tell Katherine Norville that she cannot win this, and she’ll merely destroy herself and everything she loves trying. But I’m sure she already knows that.”

Cormac had decided not to send any kind of response. And still, I wanted to poke this guy with a stick. I’d already gone too far to stop.

“Ready?” I called back to Ben.

Cormac said, “You two run into trouble out there, I might not be able to help.”

“We’ll be fine,” Ben said, determined.

“We need you to see what we flush out,” I said. “Keep track of what kind of reaction we get.”

“You’re putting yourselves out there as bait,” he said.

“Well, yeah.” I grinned. “Or swinging the first chair in the bar fight. Take your pick.”

He frowned even harder than normal.

“I’m almost ready to tell you to get your guns,” Ben said.

“Naw. Not yet, anyway,” Cormac said, which sounded ominous. “You two be careful.”

“Yeah,” Ben said. He might have been about to say more, but Cormac slipped inside the house, sliding the glass door firmly shut behind him. He didn’t want to see what came next. Understandable.

“Ready?” I asked. Ben was looking past me to the foothills.

“I think I’m only going to be happy about tonight if I get to kill something. Preferably a vampire. Preferably Roman.”

Alas, werewolves couldn’t easily kill vampires. Not unless we chewed entirely through their necks to decapitate them. “Actually, that doesn’t sound very appetizing. Venison?”

“That’ll do.”

We only had to shift on full moon nights, but the monster was always there, ready to be called. The blood called to us. My mouth watered. “Hey,” I said, running my finger down his arm. I felt pressure in my hand, then pain, a claw waiting to break through skin. I reached up, kissed him lightly on the side of the mouth, whispered, “Race you.” Then turned and ran.

He launched himself after me in the next breath.

I’d had a lot of practice at this. My shirt came off, I shoved my panties down midstride, and my skin flushed against the air. A million needle pricks itched—fur, breaking through. My back bowed, my hips and shoulders wrenched, bone sliding into new shapes, the joints twisting into new angles. It hurt, but not so much if I didn’t fight against it. The roiling in my gut, Wolf breaking out of her cage, was power. I could be powerful if I let it flow through me, just close my eyes and let go—

*   *   *

She is running, four strong legs launching her into the wild, the wind of her passage brushing through her thick fur. Mouth open, she tastes the world, chill air from the mountains, a tang of spring, grass sprouting. Some prey. Not much, not yet. Time to hunt.

Pack, where is the pack …

Her mate runs alongside her, and her panic subsides. He nips at her shoulder, she bares her teeth in mock anger. They’re together, this is right. The two-legged half of her remembers: the pack is in danger, yes, but she must strike back another way. Marking territory, declaring their presence.

She has the feeling that they’re being followed. She keeps stopping to look behind, her head up, ears pricked forward, nose flaring, but there’s nothing there. Nothing that she can sense.

At the hills, the forest begins. She slows, trots along the edges of the trees, catches her breath. Her mate darts off, golden eyes burning and lips curled to show his teeth. He’s stretched out, his nose working. He spins back, circles—then pounces. Sleek and lean, he returns to her with rabbit dangling from bloodied jaws. He drops it at her feet, settles into a crouch. Not the biggest wolf she’s ever encountered, not the fiercest. But he is smart, capable, and he is hers. She gets close to him, wuffs breath over him, taking in his scent, rubbing against him, and licking the blood off his muzzle. They nip at each other, playful, a moment of joy.

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