Home > Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson #7)(8)

Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson #7)(8)
Author: Patricia Briggs

It had been Thanksgiving. I exchanged a bleak look with Jesse. A lot of the pack was at the house.

"Honey and Peter and Paul and Darryl and Auriele." He stopped naming wolves for a moment to take a breath. "Mary Jo. Warren."

"Mary Jo wasn't there," I said. "Neither was Warren." Warren and his boyfriend had put on a Thanksgiving dinner for their friends who didn't have families to go home to. Being g*y meant they had a number of friends with no welcoming families. Mary Jo, a firefighter, had been on duty.

"Smelled them," growled Ben. Then he paused, his body tightening. "Said ... they said, not Adam said. They said ... 'Come quietly no one gets hurt, Mr. Hauptman.' Adam, he said, 'I smell blood on your hands. Warren and Mary Jo. What have you done to my people?' They said, 'Federal agents,' again. Said, 'Here's our ID.'"

He took in a big breath. "Adam said, he said, 'ID is good. But you are not federal agents.' Liars. Adam said they lied."

I couldn't tell if I was holding Ben or he was holding me.

"How did they find Mary Jo?" I asked. Mary Jo worried that she would lose her job if they knew what she was. If they knew about Mary Jo, knew about the tranquilizer, then someone knew too many of our secrets. It was a rhetorical question, I didn't expect Ben to know the answer.

"Cell phones," he told me. "Bran sent a text."

"I got it," I said. "I thought it meant that the phones weren't safe to use."

He shook his head. "Meant that someone was tracing our phones. GPS tracking. Charles has spiders." Charles was the son of the Marrok, who ruled the werewolves. Among his wide array of talents were killing people, making money, and a scarily thorough understanding of technology - but not arachnids. Not that I knew of, anyway.

"Spiders?" I asked.

He huffed a laugh. "Spiders. Bits of code out looking. Watching out for things like that. Spyware in the phone-company logs. Think he might have someone on the inside. Warning came too late, though."

"How did you escape?" I asked.

"I was upstairs." His voice was getting closer to his usual enunciation, and he sounded more coherent. "Getting toilet paper for the fu - for the downstairs bathroom." He made a noise, a half sob. I hugged him more tightly.

"Go ahead and swear," I told him. "I promise not to tell Adam."

He snorted. "Bad habit." I couldn't tell if he was talking about his swearing or me promising not to tell Adam.

"You're right," I said, because he was. "So you heard them and ran for Gabriel?"

"I heard," he told me. "I waited. Whole pack was down there. Then Adam said, 'In all Mercy, Benjamin Speedway.' Adam said that 'Benjamin Speedway' like he was swearing, but I knew. I'm Benjamin. Mercy is you. Speed meant go. He was ordering me to run, to find you. Disguised the order to give me a moment of grace before they figured it out. There were people out the back, and they saw me jump out the window. Hit me with the damned dart, and I ran for the river. Doubled back and found Gabriel. Made him drive. But you weren't here. You were supposed to be here."

If it hadn't been for the wreck, Jesse and I would have finished our shopping and headed home. Presumably into the arms of whoever had Adam. Luck. It made me take a deep breath, and I got a good whiff of what I'd been smelling all along.

"Blood." I leaned back, trying to get some space between us. "Ben, where are you bleeding?"

Chapter Two

"Do we need lights?" asked Jesse.

"I'll get the big kit in the shop," Gabriel said, and ran for it. Night was dark to him, but he knew his way around, and the first-aid kit was on the wall just inside. He wouldn't be as fast as me, but I was attached to a werewolf at the moment.

I knew what Adam would say about turning on the lights when we were possibly hiding from some unknown group capable of taking on a pack of werewolves and coming out on top. But my night vision wasn't up to first aid in the dark.

"Flashlight," I said. "Under the counter. Also get the box cutter next to it in case I have to slice his clothes." I put my hands on either side of Ben's face and tried to make him look at me. "Ben. Ben."

"Yes?" It came out clear and crisp-upper-crust-British, as Ben, with his excellent four-letter-laced vocabulary seldom did. But he didn't let me pull his face up so I could see it.

"Where are you hit?"

"Tranq. Arse." That one wasn't as clear, but I could understand him and assumed the last word was a location and not an epithet, though with Ben it was a risky call.

"No. Not the tranq." A tranquillizer dart wouldn't have left him bleeding this much later. "Someone shot you, Ben. Where?"

Jesse aimed the flashlight. "Leg," she said. "Just above his right knee."

He wouldn't let me go, so Jesse sliced through the fabric of Ben's khakis with the box cutter. Gabriel took the flashlight and got a good look at the wound.

"In and out," he said, sounding calm, though his face paled and took on a greenish tinge.

It hadn't healed, so either whoever had shot him was using silver bullets - or the silver in the tranquilizer mixture was slowing his healing. Whichever way, we needed to get the bleeding stopped.

"Telfa pad," I told Jesse. "It's important not to use anything that might stick on the wounds." Ben's skin could grow over it if he started to heal as fast as he should be healing. "Then gauze, then vet wrap. We'll pack up, go to Samuel's, and hope that he's home."

Samuel Cornick, who was both a doctor and a werewolf, would know best what to do for Ben. He wasn't answering his phone, either, so he'd probably gotten the message from Bran. He also wasn't pack. There was a good chance that he'd been overlooked when they, whoever "they" were, had gathered up the rest of the wolves. I hoped desperately that he'd been overlooked.

I needed to get Ben to Samuel, then I needed to get help - which hopefully would also be accomplished at Samuel's. I needed to find Adam, the pack, check on the other wolves who hadn't been at Thanksgiving - and make sure that no one else had been taken or hurt, like Warren's boyfriend or Mary Jo's fellow firefighters.

If our enemies had known to find Mary Jo and Warren, then they knew more than they should about who was a werewolf and who was not. If they were humans - and Ben would have told me if he'd noticed that they were anything else - and they were willing to kidnap damn near thirty wolves, then they were either crazy, planning on killing everyone all at once, or at least armed and very, very dangerous. And they might be feds, despite Ben's recollection of Adam accusing them of lying.

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