“We need a diversion,” Robert murmured.

If we backtracked, we could possibly set something on fire, but it wouldn’t guarantee that the vampires would move from their posts. More likely they would send a recon team. We were stuck.

Think. Think, think, think . . .

Desandra ducked her head. “Where are we going after this?”

“Centennial,” I whispered. “If we make it, we’ll need to pick up my donkey.”

“See you there.”

“Don’t!” I reached for her. My fingers missed her by a hair. She darted out and sprinted across the street. Damn it.

Desandra cleared half of the road. The vamp spun around to face her. She swung her mace and brained it. The vamp fell on the pavement, jerking, half of his skull caved in. Desandra kicked it. “Eat shit and die!”

She was officially insane and she had decided to do Jennifer a favor and kick the bucket.

Four lean shadows shot out across the parking lot, heading for her, two from the north and the two by the overpass. Desandra spun and sprinted away, running east, long legs moving fast, feet pounding the pavement.

I dropped to the ground, by the wall. Robert flattened himself next to me. Behind us Ascanio and Derek froze, trying to blend in with the rocks.

Four vampires tore past us, eyes glowing, talons scraping the pavement.

We had mere seconds before reinforcements arrived.

In the distance Desandra’s throaty laugh echoed from the ruins. Apparently she was having fun.

I jumped to my feet and sprinted like my life depended on it. Robert and the kids shot by me like three bullets out of a gun. The apartment building flashed by. Sidewalk . . . street . . . I just had to get behind the pile of rubble. Circles swam in front of my eyes.

The door of the nearest minaret opened and vampires spilled onto the wall, scrambling over it like pallid lizards.

I dove behind the rubble, slid on icy dirt, and nearly collided with Robert leaning against a huge chunk of concrete. A dark hole gaped under it. Robert jabbed at the hole with his hand. I leaped into it, fell about twelve feet, and landed on hard ground in a shaft about six feet wide. The impact punched my feet.

In my head I could feel six undead moving toward us, their minds spreading wider apart as they fanned through the parking lot in our direction.

Ascanio jumped into the hole. I shied back against the wall and his feet missed me by half a second. Derek was next.

One of the vampires headed straight for us.

Robert leaped into the hole and yanked a metal lever in the wall. Above us, a metal platform moved, carrying the concrete boulder with it. The platform slid into place, plunging us into complete darkness.

We stood completely still.

The vampire mind was right on top of us.

My body screamed for air, starved of oxygen after the run. I opened my mouth and concentrated on breathing slow and quiet. Inhale. Exhale. Quiet.

A faint scrape came from above, claws sliding on concrete. The undead was sitting right on the boulder.

My lungs were on fire.

Go away.

A minute dragged by. Another.

“Team Two Leader to Mother,” a muffled female voice said above. “Home envelope sealed, no pulse, no bogey, repeat no bogey, advise?”

Go home, I willed. Go home.

“Roger. Team Two, sweep complete, bingo to Mother.”

The vampiric mind turned and fled, heading toward the Casino.

Everything went quiet. I remembered how to breathe properly.

“Go forward,” Robert whispered to me. I put my hands out around me. My fingers found stone walls on either side. The opening between them was barely wide enough to pass through. Dark, cramped, and scary. My favorite.

I squeezed into the narrow hallway and blundered forward. The walls narrowed even further. My shoulders scraped the rock. You’ve got to be kidding me. When I got out of here, I’d kill Hugh for this. Slowly. With something dull.

The hallway needed to end. The walls were closing in on me.

What if the ceiling collapsed? I didn’t even know what the hell was above me. I’d just end up buried here, under tons of dirt and rubble.

Any time now with the ending.

Now would be good.

How long did this place go on?

Suddenly the walls parted. I froze. With my luck, taking a step would land me into a pit of rabid vipers or molten lava. No wait, lava would be good. At least I’d be able to see something.

“Reach forward,” Robert murmured behind me.

I groped blindly and touched something metal. A ladder. Okay. Now we’re in business. I grabbed onto it and climbed upward in total darkness. Robert was right. I wouldn’t have found this place in a million years.

My head connected with something hard. Ow.

The ceiling above me moved, letting in a pale glow. A hand with long clawed fingers grabbed my wrist and yanked me up. A horrifying face swung into view, illuminated by the faint blue light of a feylantern: pale, with patchy fur and a pink nose at the end of a tear-shaped muzzle. Long stiff whiskers fanned from a mouth studded with finger-long incisors. Dark, disturbingly human eyes stared at me.

My mind cycled through a chain of thoughts in a space of half a second. Kill. Wait. Wererat in a warrior form = friend. Stop.

I stopped the throwing knife a quarter of an inch before stabbing it into the wererat’s windpipe. It’s good that I had fast reflexes.

“Conssshort,” the nightmarish creature said. “What are you doing here?”

I made my mouth move. “Looking for you.”

The wererat smiled. My body flinched and tried to run away out of sheer self-preservation, and if I hadn’t been hanging suspended over a dark hole, it would’ve succeeded.

“You found me!” the wererat announced. “I alwayshh wanted to meet you. I am sshhho ffflatterred.”

Robert’s head poked out of the hole. “Jardin, put the Consort down before you dislocate her shoulder.”

“Alpha!” Jardin deposited me to the side. “Itshh shhuch an honor.”

Robert pulled himself up into the room. Derek and Ascanio followed. I looked around. We were in a narrow, rectangular space about as wide as an average van. Three walls looked like concrete; the fourth was covered by a dark curtain.

“Any activity?” Robert asked.

“Not in the lasssht ten minutesh. Before that, very exshiting. I shaw Wolf Beta run by. There were vampiresh chassing her. She was yelling, ‘Bill me, bloodshuckers!’”

Yep, that’s the wolf beta, alright.

“I think I’m in love,” Ascanio said.

Derek smacked the back of the bouda’s head. Ascanio snapped his teeth at him.

Tags: Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Vampires
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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