Hugh pointed through the bars at Nick. “Well played. You and I aren’t done.” He turned to me. “At noon, I’ll be coming for you.”

He turned and walked up the stairs.

I thrust my hand between the bars and unlocked the cage.

Nick walked over to Ted, crouched, and touched his neck. His voice shook with suppressed rage.

“Well, here we are. You’re dead, you fucking dumb bastard. Two years of my life undercover. Do you have any idea what sort of shit I’ve seen? Do you know the things I had to do? The things they did to me? Two years of gathering information, waiting for a chance to make a difference. And you burned me. You threw it all away so you could have a witness to your holy war.” Nick rose and kicked Ted in the head. “And now you’re dead, you fucker, and I have to live with all of it.”

I swung the door open and ran to Ascanio. He was breathing. The gashes were still open, but his chest was no longer a misshapen mess. I turned to Mauro and felt for a pulse. Please. Please, please, please . . .

No shiver. Not a hint. Mauro was dead. He was dead. How would I ever explain it to his wife? How . . . ? Who would look after all the dogs he raised . . . ? He was just alive, just a minute ago. He would never go home. He was just dead. I felt so hollow, so ragged, as if my soul had been shredded to pieces. It hurt. It just hurt so much.

When the National Guardsmen came to pry us out of the vault, I was sitting by Mauro’s body, Robert was trying to call to the Pack from the Order’s phone, and Nick was kicking Ted Moynohan’s corpse and growling like a rabid animal.


ONCE THE MSDU took over the scene, they found the Order’s petition and released us. The last I saw of Nick Feldman, he was surrounded by soldiers. There was no getting to him. We had convinced the National Guard to give us a lift to one of the Pack offices. From there Robert and I had loaded Desandra, Derek, and Ascanio into a Pack vehicle and driven to the Keep. None of the three moved. They were still breathing, but we needed to get them to Doolittle.

I walked into the Keep two hours before dawn, covered in drying blood and limping. My face must’ve been terrible, because people moved out of my way.

The Keep was crowded. Every shapeshifter in the city who didn’t evacuate had traveled here.

Barabas came running down the stairs.


“No word yet.”


“Should be in Virginia by now.”

I turned around. The Keep had gone quiet around me. People stood in the hallways and on the stairs, waiting. I was the Consort. I was their alpha.

My voice rang out in the sudden silence. “Bring me Dorie Davis! Bring her to me alive!”

Everyone moved. People dashed in all directions, some human, some furry. The Keep sprang to life.

Behind me Robert roared, “We need a medic!”

Jim appeared as if by magic.

“I need to tell you some things. Come upstairs.”

I marched upstairs into one of the conference rooms and landed in a chair. Some time ago I had gone to a place where pain didn’t matter, but now it was coming back again, gnawing at me. Everything hurt. Jim followed me.

Thirty minutes later I finished talking.

Jim leaned forward and flashed his teeth. “Hugh fucked up.”

“Yes. He’d had the advantage, what with us being the guilty party, and he pissed it away by attacking the Order. He’ll still bring the People here, but now the city won’t help him.”

“We can use this,” Jim said. I could almost see the wheels in his head spinning.

“We need Dorie Davis.”

“I’ll find her,” Jim promised. “We can work with this, Kate. The MSDU and PAD were staying neutral, but this just changed the game.”

“Maxine called Nick the crusader Nikolas Feldman,” I said.

“Interesting last name,” Jim said.

“Is he related to Greg Feldman?”

“I don’t know,” Jim said.

“Nick showed up right after Greg was killed, he involved himself in the investigation, and he has the same last name. When this is over, I need you to find out if Greg Feldman had a younger brother or a son.” Because that would just be the cherry on the bloody sundae of the past twenty-four hours.

“Likely a brother. Greg was about forty when he died,” Jim said.

“No, Greg looked about forty. He looked like that for the last fifteen years I knew him. Who did you send to North Carolina?”

“A unit with three renders and our two best trackers. They’ll find him, Kate. No worries.”

If they didn’t, I would. I would look for Curran and I would not stop.

“I’ve got this from here,” Jim said. “Rest. I’ll send Doolittle up.”

Last time I checked, the good doctor was still in a wheelchair. It would be a lot easier for me to go down the stairs than for him to come up. “Not now. There are three sick people downstairs. He’ll be busy for a bit anyway.”

I still didn’t know if they would live or die.

Jim rose and leaned on the table, closing the distance between me and him. “You look like hell.”

“Thanks.” I felt like hell. I felt like I had walked through it, wading through blood and dragging a giant rock behind me.

“Go upstairs, take a shower, and sleep. You pulled us out of the quicksand. We’ve got a fighting chance now. You earned an hour of sleep.”

I forced the words out. My voice was hoarse. “A whole hour, oh boy!”

“An hour, then I’m sending Doolittle up. I need you to be at the top of your game. Go,” Jim said. “I’ll wake you up if the sky starts falling.”

He left.

I sat alone in the chair. I felt completely empty, like someone had drained me of all anxiety, fear, and anger. It was still there, simmering under the surface, but fatigue had taken over.

I was so tired. My God, I was so, so tired.

I covered my face and waited for the tears. I’d brought this on us. It would’ve happened eventually. The Pack had grown and Roland wanted to limit its power. But my presence had accelerated the process. I had watched as the entire Atlanta chapter of the Order was slaughtered. I wanted to cry just to let the pain bleed out of me, but my eyes were dry.

I would’ve given anything to have Curran walk through the door behind me. I could imagine him doing it. He would walk in, put his arms around me, and it would all be better.

I stared at the door.

Please walk through it. Please.

The door remained shut.

Tags: Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels Vampires
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