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Home > Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson #7)(12)

Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson #7)(12)
Author: Patricia Briggs

The "Mr. Jones" made Adam think seriously about rolling his eyes like Jesse, but it would require too much energy. Jones? Did this man not know that Adam could hear every lie out of his lips? At least it hadn't been "Smith."

Adam also thought about shedding the restraints and killing the man behind the desk - but so far no one had been irreparably injured. The burn of the silver fought with the dampening effect of the tranquilizer and left his temper raw and vicious. But he had people to protect. So he held his temper and sarcastic comments and continued the parley that Mr. Jones had begun.

"You've gone to a lot of trouble to get us here." Adam's voice slurred a little, and he pulled energy from the pack bonds, aware that he was taking from them what they didn't have to give. But he needed to be strong and smart and able to fight for them. To do that, he could afford to show no weakness before the enemy. "What do you want?"

The power cleared his head a little - and cleared mine, too. Between my desperation and whatever they'd hit him with, I had merged myself too deeply inside him.

Experimentation had taught me that visualization worked better than almost anything for getting out of trouble when immersed in the oddity that is werewolf magic. I visualized myself stepping out of Adam's body. It tickled and made me a little nauseated.

Mercy?

Yes, I told him, and received a flood of questions that slid past me wordlessly, too fast for me to grab. He might be thinking more clearly, but he was nowhere near his usual alertness. I tried to send him power through our bond and felt him snatch it and pull. I staggered and grabbed his shoulders to steady myself. He felt solid under my fingers, but I couldn't see my own hands.

"Mr. Hauptman?"

Adam ignored him as he sent another burst of need toward me. This one was much more visceral than a simple need for strength. I couldn't tell what he wanted, but I could make a pretty good guess.

Ben found Gabriel, and they both found Jesse and me. We're all safe at Samuel's. Ben is hurt, but not seriously. I didn't tell him that Samuel was gone.

Adam straightened and took a deep breath. The pain was shivery and concentrated in his joints, making it difficult to move. He opened and closed his hands to make sure they worked. His vulnerability made it difficult to control his rage at the people who had done this to him.

I was picking up everything he felt.

I left my hand on his shoulder as I took another step back, hoping that it would give me more distance, so I could think. And then I tucked the other hand in the back of his waistband like a child in the dark - I was afraid that if I didn't anchor myself to him in some way, I'd go back to Samuel's house with no information at all.

It was better, though I could still only see what he saw, and his vision was oddly limited.

The silver, his wolf said. Too many things not working right. My eyes see, but Adam doesn't perceive.

I patted him on the shoulder, not knowing if he could tell what I was doing or not. Words were useless. Adam had to control the wolf, and I wasn't really there to help.

You always help, the wolf disagreed. He tugged on our bond and took just a little more strength from me. Always, Adam agreed, as his wolf settled around him again.

"Mr. Hauptman, am I boring you?"

Adam moved his full attention to our enemy, and Mr. Jones flinched. That flinch satisfied me and made me hungry at the same time - I liked his fear. I liked it very much.

"No, Mr. Smith," said Adam softly. "I find you very interesting at the moment."

"Jones," snapped the man behind the desk. The lie of his name smelled tainted. His angry reaction told Adam that he was weak-minded, easy prey. No less dangerous - in some ways more dangerous because he'd react with his emotions - but under real pressure, he'd break.

Someone moved to Adam's right and into his field of view. From my perspective, it was almost violently sudden. Like Jones, he wore black. His clothes weren't just a uniform, though; with Adam's perceptions I knew that he wore armor. He moved better, too. Someone had trained him for hand-to-hand combat.

I had the sense that there were other people in the room, more of the enemy, but for some reason this one held Adam's attention. He and Jones were the only ones I could see.

Soldier, Adam told me. He showed me the bulge of a second weapon inside the cuff of the man's pants - knife or gun, and another on the outside of the opposite leg.

Adam watched the body language between the soldier and Mr. Jones. Jones was nominally in charge, but the men (the ones I couldn't see but Adam was aware of) followed the second man - including Jones. Adam had seen it in the army, when the commanding officer was green and leaning a little too heavily upon the skills of the men of lower rank. The soldier demanded respect, while Jones smelled and acted like prey trying, unsuccessfully, to be a predator.

Whatever this kidnapping was, Adam was on his feet, and the pack was okay. Not good, but alive and breathing. I was aware, because Adam was, that our pack were lying in heaps behind us. All of them chained hand and foot as he was, sick from the silver and the tranquilizer but otherwise okay. Adam thought that meant that this wasn't an extermination order. They wanted something and thought that Adam and his pack could provide it. For the moment, they were safe.

"Well?" said Jones impatiently.

Adam held his silence. They weren't friends, and Adam wasn't going to start a conversation about the weather. They had done their best to leave Adam powerless. He wasn't going to expose himself further. They would - eventually - tell him what this was about; and then he would have some leverage to move them. Until then, silence was his best defense.

The politician who was not named Jones, whatever he said, leaned back in his chair and sighed. "I was told you might be difficult. We have a proposition for you, Mr. Hauptman. Our information indicated that this was the best way to ensure your cooperation."

Adam raised an eyebrow, and the soldier smiled where Not-Jones couldn't see him. As soon as he noticed Adam watching, the smile disappeared - but they both knew Adam had seen.

"We need you to kill someone," the politician said. "We both know you've killed for the government before, Sergeant." Adam had been an army ranger in the Vietnam War. Not many people outside the pack knew about it. "Don't worry. It's no one you'll feel bad about. US Senator Campbell, Republican from Minnesota." He smiled again. "I see you know who I'm talking about."

So did I. Campbell had been in office over twenty years and was one of the loudest anti-fae, anti-werewolf voices in Congress. Ever since a few werewolves killed - and mostly ate - a man in Minnesota, he had been arguing for giving law enforcement the power to kill rogue werewolves or fae with only a judge's warrant. He had a lot of bipartisan support because people were scared. He was a man with a plan, a centrist who didn't fall neatly into either the conservative or liberal camps, and so could be cheered on by both sides.

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