Home > Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson #7)(9)

Frost Burned (Mercy Thompson #7)(9)
Author: Patricia Briggs

"Can you stand?" I asked Ben, when Jesse had finished making a pretty good job of the bandage.

He grunted.

"We've got to get out of here. If they knew enough to get Warren and Mary Jo, we've got to assume they know about this place."

"Danger," he said, sounding bad again. "In danger. You." That thought seemed to inspire him because with a sound that was more wolfish than human, he stood up, then sort of sagged until he was draped over me.

"It's not the leg," he said, overenunciating a little. "It's the drug. Weak. Weak. Weak." He was tensing up, his eyes bright gold with the wolf's drive to protect itself. No predator likes to be weakened and vulnerable.

"It's all right," I told him firmly, because it was important that he believe me. If he didn't, he'd get aggressive, and we would have even more trouble. "You are among friends. Gabriel, grab the keys to the Mercedes parked in the garage and help me get Ben to the car."

Marsilia's dark blue Mercedes, an S 65 AMG, was parked inside my garage lest anyone walk by the parking lot and decide to key the paint or toss a rock. It was three months old, here to get its first oil change, and I could have bought a second shop for less than its sticker price.

"The AMG?" Gabriel said, though he retrieved the keys as he spoke. "You're going to let Ben bleed all over a Mercedes AMG?"

"He's already bleeding all over a Mercedes," Jesse said dryly. Then she turned to me. "Wait a minute. The AMG? That AMG? Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman, what are you thinking of? You can't let Ben bleed all over Marsilia's Mercedes."

"Marsilia the vampire queen?" Gabriel choked. "Mercy, that's just stupid. Take my car."

"She's not a queen, she's the Mistress of the seethe," I corrected him. "That car seats four and doesn't scream VW mechanic on the run with wounded werewolf." What I didn't say, because I didn't want to panic anyone, was that because the vampires were a lot like the CIA crossed with the Mob, the Mercedes also had bulletproof glass. More importantly, if we were really dealing with an attack by a government agency, this car was clean of tracking devices. Between me and Wulfe - the magic-using vampire who served Marsilia - all the tracking gadgets that were routinely attached to new cars all the way down to the RFID tags on the tires had been disabled.

And right now I had bigger things to worry about than offending Marsilia, scary though she was.

Get Ben to Samuel, who could treat what was wrong with him.

Take Jesse and Gabriel to someplace safe.

Find whoever had taken my mate and get him back.

Adam's pain was a roar in my heart, and I was going to make everyone who hurt him pay and pay.

It was like triage. Decision one - preserve those who were safe. Decision two - retrieve the rest. Decision three - make the ones who took them regret it.

On that thought, I ran back into the office. At Adam's request, I'd taken to keeping my 9mm Sig in the safe. Being married to the local pack Alpha gained me some notoriety, and it made Adam feel better knowing I was armed. I shoved two spare (loaded) magazines into my purse and grabbed the extra box of silver ammunition. If I'd had a nuclear bomb, I'd have grabbed it, too - but I would make do with what I had.

Jesse had settled in the back with Ben. Smart girl. Ben knew Gabriel well enough under normal circumstances, but Jesse smelled like Adam. Ben couldn't sit in the front with me because the combination of drug and wound made him too volatile, and he was too strong for me to wrestle with while I was driving. Jesse had also found an old blanket to cover the seat.

I backed the Mercedes out of the garage and waited for Gabriel to close the door and get in.

"Your eyes are gold, Mercy," said Gabriel as he slid into the front seat. "I didn't know they did that."

Neither had I.

Samuel lived about twenty minutes from my garage, but it felt like hours. The temptation to put my foot down on the accelerator was strong. Marsilia's car topped out at 250 mph - I had also, at her request, taken care of the electronic governor that limited the car to more human-reflex-safe speeds. But there were a lot of cops out even at this rarefied and still-dark hour because the shopping crowds were starting to increase again. I needed to avoid getting pulled over as long as I had a man with a gunshot wound in the back seat.

At sixty miles per hour, we purred slowly along the side of the river to Samuel's house in Richland.

Before I'd married Adam, Samuel had been my roommate. He still came by to visit a lot. A wolf, especially a lone wolf, needed the presence of others. Though Adam was Alpha and Samuel was very dominant, they had a cautious friendship.

Samuel had a condo in Richland right next to the river, where land prices were at a premium. He could care less what his home looked like - he had lived with me in my elderly fourteen-by-seventy trailer for two years, more or less, without much complaint - but he loves the water. What he paid for that condo could have bought a huge house anywhere else in town.

The complex was less than ten years old, built of stone and stucco and groomed to within an inch of its life. I parked the Mercedes in front of Samuel's garage, left my comrades in the car, and knocked at the door.

No one answered. I put my forehead against the cold surface of the fiberglass door and listened, but I could hear nothing.

"Please, please, Samuel. I need you." I knocked again.

When the door finally opened, it wasn't Samuel but Ariana, Samuel's mate. She wore a sweatshirt and fuzzy midnight blue pajama bottoms decorated with white kittens playing with pink balls of yarn.

Fae have glamour - that's what makes them fae. They can take any living shape they like, and mostly they like forms that blend in. I'd first met Ariana in the guise of someone's well-to-do grandmother. I've also seen what I think is her true face and form, which is spectacular and beautiful.

Ariana's current facade was neither beautiful nor ugly, more of a pleasant average. Pale gold hair, more often found in children than adults before the advent of hair dye, framed her face and set off her soft gray eyes. Her apparent age of somewhere between twenty-five and thirty was a match for Samuel's apparent age. There were traces of her fae-self in her face, just as my old mentor Zee's fae countenance shared similarities with the human one that I was more accustomed to seeing.

Thing was, she shouldn't have been there. She was fae. She should have been at the reservation with all the others. I'd called to check on Ariana as soon as I'd found out that the fae had retreated and had gotten Samuel. He'd told me - in what I now saw was a suspiciously relaxed manner - that Ariana was safe and would return when she could. Apparently, that was a lot sooner than any of the rest of the fae.

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