Kitty Saves the World Page 45

Isobelle and I kept digging. And digging.

“Bugger this,” she muttered, and tipped the crate over. I jumped back, startled. She pawed through the spilled packing material, kicking paper away, until the stuff was spread all over the floor.

Except for the several square feet of packing material, the crate was empty. I must have stared at it for a full minute.

“We’re too late,” I said.

“Looks like it,” Braun said.

“What now?” Ben said.

“Back to square one,” I said, leaning against the wall and rubbing my face.

“Is this bad?” Isobelle asked. “This is bad, isn’t it?”

“It means whatever he’s got planned is going to happen soon,” I said. And I had no idea how to stop him.

“I hate to say this, but I think Kitty’s right,” Braun said. “We have to get everyone together and batten down the hatches if we’re going to get through this.”

“I thought we could stay isolated,” Isobelle said, crossing her arms, looking hunched in and unhappy. I wondered what her story was: art appraiser turned vampire, or the other way around? “Not have to pick sides, not get involved.”

“I’m hoping this will all be over soon,” I said.

“One way or another,” she answered.

We left the building to find Cormac standing in the parking lot, armed with his crossbow and a dozen stakes hanging off a bandolier. Various vampires were keeping their distance, glaring and waiting for an opening.

“Whoa, wait, stop!” I said, jumping between Cormac and the vampires. He didn’t lower his weapon. Maybe because he knew a bolt through my heart wouldn’t kill me. Still, I was a little put out.

“Why the hell didn’t you wait for me?” Cormac said.

“No good reason,” I answered. “But hey, we’re all friends here.”

His frown at that was very familiar.

Ben finally put away his crossbow, to set an example maybe. He went over to Cormac. “It’s okay. I think we’re done here.” Then, Cormac lowered his.

“We’ll get out of your hair. Thanks again,” I said to Braun.

He made an ironic bow while Isobelle just frowned. They were vampires, immortal; all they had to do was lie low and they’d get through whatever was about to happen. I bet Angelo had thought that, too.

I grabbed the guys and hauled them back to our cars at the front of the building.

“Well?” Cormac said. After looking us up and down he added, “Jesus, you guys got thrashed.”

“Sort of,” Ben said. “It’s healing.”

“Yeah, I don’t think it’s even broken anymore.” I stretched my arm; it was feeling better. Cormac narrowed his gaze.

“Did that go how you planned?” Cormac asked.

“About,” I said.

“Roman’s still out there,” Ben said. “And whatever the Manus Herculei is, he’s got it.

Cormac glanced at his watch. “It’s not long until dawn. He likely can’t do much else tonight.”

“Not like he hasn’t already done enough,” I muttered.

“Roman’s in town, he has to be. Daylight hours, we’ll go hunting,” Cormac said. “Meanwhile, I’m going to sleep.” He stalked to the driver’s side of his Jeep without a backward glance.

“Thanks, Cormac,” I said uselessly.

“You sure you guys are okay?”

We didn’t answer right away, which was telling. Finally, Ben sighed and said, “Relatively speaking, yes.”

Cormac nodded, didn’t question further. He made a wave and that tight-lipped expression that passed for a smile.

Ben loaded our gear back into the trunk—except for the crossbow, which he wanted to keep up front with us.

“I can never tell if he’s angry,” I said, watching the Jeep pull away.

“Naw, he doesn’t get angry,” Ben said. “He gets even.”

*   *   *

IN THE end, sleep was an awesome idea. Cormac was right: daytime was a much better time to be hunting vampires. Evidence said Roman was in Denver. Between Amelia and Tina, maybe we could scry for his location, then flush him out into the sunlight.

All the way home, I was still mulling over the night, chewing like a dog with a bone. Playing the whole scene over again, wondering what clues I missed. I could still hear Angelo screaming my name as he crumbled to dust. Ben waited for me as I climbed tiredly out of the car.

I looked at the coin still hanging around my neck. It had all happened just a few hours ago.

“I can’t believe Angelo’s gone.” He’d worked so hard to stay unnoticed, out of power and therefore out of trouble. I remembered him at New Moon, leaning back in his chair and smirking like we were all beneath him. Playing the stereotypes, but still a reluctant Master. “I can’t believe I had to kill him—” I just started crying. Waterworks. All that stress, it just broke.

We stopped, right there on the walk leading to the front door. Ben held me. Didn’t say a word, didn’t try to say everything would be okay. I sobbed on his shoulder, and he was there through it all.

Finally I cried myself out into sniffles and eye rubbing. Ben’s shirt was soaked with tears and snot, and he stood and took it. Then he put his arm around me and we walked into the house.

*   *   *

I DIDN’T sleep well. I kept jerking awake and sitting up, wide-eyed, like I expected to find monsters in my room. Monsters other than Ben and me. But nothing was there, just the usual collection of shadows and ambient light. My arm still ached, but the bone was apparently healing the way it should. In a few more hours it would be back to normal.

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