She did.

The wounds looked shallow. They bled and hurt like all get-out, but none of them would impair my ability to swing my sword. I tried moving my leg. Still worked. Little creaky. Little agonizing. But it still worked.

My face hurt, too. My lip felt swollen. "How's my face?"

George picked up the mirror. "Ready?"

"Hit me."

She raised the mirror. A big bruise blossomed in all of its blue glory on the left corner of my jaw. My mouth was puffy and swollen, and a long cut snaked its way from my hairline down to my right ear. The swelling and the bruise came courtesy of being hit with a shapeshifter's tail. The cut, I had no idea.

"I'm a sexy fiend, aren't I?"

She winced. "It's not that bad."

"It's good that Curran is gone. He might not be able to contain himself. If he decides to ravish me in public when he comes back, I expect all of you to look the other way."

Mahon cleared his throat at the door.

"You've got a status report for me?"

"The attack involved five creatures," Barabas said. "It started here. They busted through the door. One smashed Doolittle's equipment and attacked Eduardo and Keira. They crippled her and then the doctor latched onto her throat. That's her." Barabas pointed at the woman's corpse outside the window, on top of a short tower.

"He never let go," George said quietly. "When I got here, she'd smashed everything, rolled, flailed, rammed the walls with him. Eduardo got knocked out, and Keira would jump out of the way, but Doolittle never let go. I had to rip him away, and then she tried to fly away."

"She was dying," Keira said. "Doolittle had clamped onto her neck and severed the jugular. His teeth kept her wounds open and bled her dry. Thirty seconds more and she wouldn't have been able to fly." She put her hands over her face. "We should've fought harder."

"We're all still here," Mahon told her from the door. "You did your job."

"While Doolittle was fighting, the second and third attackers blocked access to this room," Barabas said. "Aunt B and Mahon took down one in the hallway, and Curran met the third in the hallway and fought it into Desandra's room. The fourth busted in through the balcony into Desandra's room after the fight began. The fifth, we are not sure."

"Injuries?" I asked.

"Doolittle is the worst of it," Barabas said. "Derek has a broken arm. There are some cuts and wounds, but everyone is still alive and moving around."

They hit here first. "Doolittle was the primary target."

"It appears that way."

Curran had said Doolittle wanted to talk to us. He must've found something, something that made him a target.

Barabas sat on the floor next to me, his face serious.

"Whenever you have that face, it means something nasty is coming."

"Do you remember that you asked me to set up meetings with you and the three packs tomorrow morning? Do you want to cancel?"

"Hell no. I want to go and look them in the eye when they tell me they didn't attack our medmage in the middle of the night." Anger flared inside me. I would find the ass**les responsible and they would pay. Nobody hurt Doolittle and lived. "He was a noncombatant. We will find whoever went after him and I will personally make them regret the day they were born."

"What she said," Keira said. "Nobody touches the medic and lives."

George swung into my view. She held a bottle of brown liquid in her hand.

"What is that?"

"Whiskey." She handed me a wadded-up rag. "Here, I need you to bite down on this."

What the hell? "Why?"

"I'm going to clean your wounds."

"The hell you are." Not with alcohol. It didn't disinfect the wound unless one drenched it, it killed the living cells, and it generally did more harm than good. Not to mention the wound would take forever to heal after being treated with alcohol, and pouring whiskey on an open gash guaranteed scars.

"Kate," George said, her voice suddenly very patient. "You don't have a shapeshifter's immune system. Your wounds need to be sterilized."

"You're not sterilizing them with whiskey. Are you nuts?"

"They always do it in movies and in books. So many people can't be wrong."

I channeled every iota of menace I had into my voice. "George, if you come near me with that bottle, I'll hurt you."

"Right." George looked at Barabas. "We may need to hold the Consort down."

Barabas looked at Derek. Derek shrugged, as if to say, I don't know. Barabas clamped my arms to the floor.

"Do you need me to help hold her?" Desandra called out. "Because I can totally do that."

"George!" I snarled.

She uncorked the bottle. "I'm sorry it's going to hurt. I don't want you to get sepsis."

"Barabas, let go of me. This is an order." I strained, but I had no strength left. I might as well have tried to lift a car.

"It's for your own good," Barabas said.

George stepped toward me with the bottle.

"Let me go, you idiots!"

"I'll make it quick." George leaned over me.

"Stop!" Doolittle said.

Everybody froze.

"Georgetta, put down that bottle."

George sat the bottle on the floor and stepped away from it.

Doolittle had raised himself in the tub and was looking at us. "I don't have the strength to tell you all of the things that are wrong with what you doing. Release the Consort this instant."

Barabas raised his hands. I slumped on my blanket. Thank God. He was conscious. Thank you, thank you, Universe.

"Derek, find a large blue bottle marked STERILE SALINE SOLUTION. Georgetta, look for a green wooden box with clean gauze. Keira, did you hit your head?"

Keira's eyes got really big. "Yes. Among other things."

"Is that rag on your head cold?"

"Ummm . . ."

"It should be cold. Preferably iced. Blurred vision?"


"Did you vomit?"

"A little. I'm fine now."

"You need to ice that rag. Why is Eduardo naked? Did none of you think about the man's dignity? Find him a clean sheet. Has anybody checked his vital signs? There is a pregnant woman here covered in blood and none of you are alarmed by this. Nobody is helping her to get clean." Doolittle surveyed us. "I leave you for a few brief minutes, and you're courting disaster."

Suddenly everyone became terribly busy.

Tags: Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Vampires
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