Tuesday Teaser 5/16/17 Victoria’s Cat Part 19
I am just about done getting the paperback version of Olivia’s Mate ready for publication. My goal is to have it ready for release by June 1. Actually, a little before that would be good. I plan to have a few copies with me for the signing at RAGT in Cincinnati OH on June 9th. If you’re in the area, please come at meet me. I would love that! The signings are open to the public. I am signing from 3:00 to 5:00. Learn more about it HERE.
Now, we are getting close to the end of Victoria’s story. A LOT is going to happen in the next three chapters, and this one starts off with some pretty shocking things. You have been warned! 🙂
Before he could answer, a dozen men in gray-green uniforms poured into the train, all grim-faced, marching in perfectly synchronized, pounding steps. They lined the center aisle, every other man facing the opposite direction, rifles pointed at the passengers. One man with a thin line of red down his sleeve stood at the head of the car and spoke in the ringing tones of authority.
“Everyone will remain in his seat,” he barked. “In the name of President Gerald Todd, this train is now the property of Kansas-Missouri. You are our prisoners. Anyone who attempts to resist will be shot.”
Victoria felt Gina slump beside her. Had she fainted? She turned quickly to help her and found that Gina had buried her face in her backpack. The man in charge pointed behind her. “Sir, release the lady and sit down.”
Marty’s hand clenched painfully on her shoulder before opening. She cast an anxious glance over her shoulder and saw Marty sit back. The turquoise of his eyes seemed to be overlaid by a yellow sheen. She looked quickly at Colby. His face was hard and set. Across the aisle, Ray looked only mildly interested but his eyes glowed with that same odd yellow sheen. Victoria swallowed and turned back to the front.
The men in charge walked down the center aisle to where she sat. He gave Gina a bland smile. “Miss Todd. Your father has been worried about you.”
Gina raised a pale face. “My father is dead,” she said flatly.
He paid no attention to her words. “Your mother is anxious to see you. Please accompany Corporal Lundgren to our vehicle.”
“Lieutenant,” Gina began, but trailed off when his face didn’t change expression. With a sigh, she stood up.
Behind them, Colby growled. Gina shook her head at him. “It’s okay,” she said dully. “I should have known they would catch up with me eventually.” Her gaze returned to the man in charge and her mouth curved in a bitter imitation of amusement. “No need to chain me up. I’ll come peacefully.”
Colby growled again and this time it wasn’t a human growl. Victoria turned her head to see a shimmer of heat. Colby’s wolf was coming out and Victoria could guarantee he wouldn’t be happy.
The wolf never had a chance to be happy or unhappy. Just as the wolf began to solidify, one of the soldiers in the aisle raised his rifle.
“No!” shouted Gina.
Victoria, closer to the soldier, lunged to put herself between the soldier and her cousin. Too late. The report of the bullet was deafening inside the train car. The bullet burned her side. At the same moment, a thud and crunch sounded behind her, and the howl of the wolf was pained. A second shot cut off the howl. Gina sprang toward the aisle, struggling to get past Victoria.
“Stop,” she shouted. “For God’s sake!”
With one hand clamped against the pain in her side, Victoria looked behind her and saw the wolf twisted at an impossible angle over the seat, blood painted an arc over the window. “Colby,” she whispered. And then more loudly, “Colby! Colby!”
He didn’t move. Even his furred ribcage didn’t move. Victoria ignored her side and lunged over the seat to touch Colby. Nothing. “He’s dead.” It came out low and hard, grief and rage bound up with disbelief.
Renee shouted something Victoria didn’t catch, and then fell into muffled sobs. Another set of sobs joined her, tinged with hysteria. Anna McGrath, Victoria decided.
The lieutenant’s face finally showed something. Anger. “Points, take that fool out and execute him. He fired without an order, and injured a woman. Hastings, we need your med kit.” In a gentler tone, he said to Victoria, “I deeply regret that you have been injured, ma’am. Please sit down and allow Corporal Hastings to see your wound.”
What wound? Victoria lifted her hand from her hand and saw it covered with blood. Feeling ridiculously woozy, Victoria slid back into her seat. She glanced back at Marty. His face looked slightly different than they usually did. If his cat came out, with they shoot him too? His lip pulled up in a feline snarl as his yellow-green eyes went from Colby’s body to her.
“I’m okay, Marty. It’s nothing. Is Colby dead? Is he really dead?” She begged him with her eyes to deny it.The
He nodded wordlessly, his face becoming even more feline.
Colby. One of the most annoying of her Alpha cousins, and so dear. What would Uncle Taye do? Aunt Carla? Victoria forced tears back. No crying in front of the enemy. “Don’t do anything stupid,” she told Marty.
What she meant was: don’t turn into a cat. She jumped in her seat when a shot sounded outside. Had they really shot that man? Gina climbed carefully past her. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered miserably. After a quick glance at the seats behind them, she went out the train, followed by one of the soldiers. The lieutenant stepped closer to where Marty was and stared. At him? At Colby’s wolf’s body? What was going on behind that cool, smooth face?
The medical soldier reached for the buttons on Victoria’s blouse. She slapped his hands sharply. “Hey, not in front of an audience.”
The lieutenant overheard this and nodded. “Remove the men from the train,” he ordered.
One by one, the delegates and their escorts who had fled Omaha filed past her, soldiers following. Brother Saul and his boys marched past with disturbingly smug expressions on their faces. Marty seemed to be making a real effort to remain calm.
“I am the lady’s husband,” he said.
The lieutenant shook his head. “Outside.” He jerked his chin at Ray. “You too.”
Victoria heard claws puncture the seat back.
“It will be okay, Marty,” Victoria said, pretending confidence. “Please, we don’t want any trouble.” She used her eyes to indicate Colby. “Okay?”
She could see reluctance in every stiff line of his body as he stood up. “I love you,” he murmured, and stepped into the aisle.
Ray followed him. There was no one on the train now except for Victoria, Renee, Anna, the lieutenant, the medic, and one last soldier. While the medic unbuttoned her blouse, the lieutenant turned to Renee. He indicated Colby’s broken body with a sweep of his hand.
“Did you know him?”
Victoria could see over the medic’s bent head that Renee’s face was wet with tears, but stony. “You murdered him. You murdered him.”
“I regret it, ma’am. My man fired unlawfully. Do I assume correctly that he was one of the Indian wolf men?”
“Lakota Wolf Clan, moron,” snapped Victoria.
“Vic,” said Renee warningly. “Didn’t you just say we didn’t want any trouble?”
“Ouch!” Victoria glared down at the medic who must be using hellfire to clean out the wound on her side. Or maybe it was just alcohol. “Sorry,” she told the lieutenant insincerely, and went on with utter sincerity. “I wouldn’t want to be you when the Clan finds out what you’ve done.”
The lieutenant smiled at her. “You are also a member of the clan?”
What was he smiling for? She didn’t like that smile. “Eyes up here,” she snapped, pointing at her forehead. He hadn’t actually been looking at her bare chest, and even if he had, there was little to see because her brassiere covered all the important parts “And you better believe it.”
“And you?” he asked Renee.
The lieutenant directed his smile at Anna, who was still sobbing almost soundlessly. “Who is your father, young lady?”
Renee pulled the girl close. “This is my niece,” she answered quickly.
The lieutenant smile grew. “Then I don’t think I need to worry about the Clan, do I? With the three of you as hostages, your wolf men won’t dare to cause trouble.”
Furious, helpless, Victoria glared down at the medic. “Aren’t you done yet?”
“Nearly,” he said cheerfully. “The bullet burned a groove along your ribs but didn’t crack or nick any. You have a nice layer of fat that protected you. You have a lovely …” With a quick look at the lieutenant, he cleared his throat. “We just need to make sure it’s good and clean so you won’t get an infection.”
Victoria gritted her teeth. “Fine. Hurry up.”
Renee looked up at the lieutenant. “It’s bad enough that you killed Colby. If anything happens to us, the entire Clan will be looking for you and when the find you, you’ ll die. Slowly.”
“So keeping you alive and well is in my best interests.”
Victoria hated that smile. She hated it. She wanted to wipe it away.
The lieutenant spread his hands. “But we have no intention of harming you or any woman. President Todd is very clear on that. That is the reason I had the shooter executed. He fired without an order, which would have earned him strict disciplinary action, but the fact that he wounded a woman is what required his death. You are safe with us.”
The medic wound strips of cotton around her torso to hold a pad in place over the wound. Victoria waited until he finished “Thank you,” she told the medic.
He began putting things into his canvas bag. Victoria saw that it was neatly organized with rules of cotton on one side and scalpels and syringes on another. “No problem. Always glad to help a lady.”
She turned from him and stood up to face the lieutenant. It pleased her to notice that the lieutenant was two inches shorter than she was.
Renee stood up too. “Now what?”
“Now you return with us to President Todd’s camp. He will decide what should be done with you.”
Anna clung to her. “I want my daddy,” she wailed.
Renee gave her a pat. “There, there. The clan will come for us.” She held lieutenant’s eyes defiantly. “They’ll be here within the day.”
“Oh, I think it will take longer than that for them to get word of where you are.” The lieutenant leaned over and knocked on the window. He made elaborate hand signs to whoever was out there, and stood back up to smile at Renee. “Since I can’t have your men reporting back to your wolf pack …” He trailed off with a shrug.
A barrage of gunshots sounded from outside the window.
“… I guess we’ll just have to dispose of them.”
Victoria leaped across the aisle to the window, pushing him out of her way. Her heart stopped when she saw two bodies lying on the ground, their golden hair covered in blood, more blood on their chests. “Marty! Oh, God. Marty!” She turned her gaze to the lieutenant and his sickening smile. Rage swelled up in her. “You killed him. You son of a bitch. You son of a bitch!”
Propelled by grief and rage, her fist swung in right hook and landed right in the middle of his smile. He fell back, stumbling into the center aisle, blood welling from his lip, red like the blood in Marty’s hair. But not enough of it. She scrambled after him, wanting revenge more than she wanted air to breathe.
“I’m going to kill you,” she promised.
A jabbing pain in her butt distracted her. The medic stood behind her with a syringe in his hand. The third soldier leaped to pin her arms to her sides. Her recently bandaged wound shrieked with pain, so she shrieked too. Anna cowered behind Renee, who was kicking the fallen man energetically at the ribs. He rolled away and staggered to his feet.
“I’m going to kill you. I’m gonna kill you all.” Victoria struggled frantically, but her strength was draining away. How could that happen so quickly? Didn’t it take a while for medication to act? But everything from the moment the train stopped had happened so quickly. She raised bleary eyes to the medic. “What did you do to me? Whah?”
Her fingers were going numb. Her lips didn’t move properly. “Drugged me. Righ? Drug. Drugged. Me. Sonbitch.”
“I’m sorry. Sit down, ma’am,” the medic suggested compassionately.
She did, but only so that she didn’t fall ignominiously on her face in front of the evil lieutenant. She stared at him, trying to hold her head steady. His lip was bleeding freely, swelling satisfactorily. “No more smiling for you for a while,” she gloated. Maybe that’s what she said. She wasn’t quite sure it came out clearly, so she focused all her effort on the next words. “Kill you. Soon,” she vowed, and gave up the struggle against darkness.
* * * *
Questions? Leave a comment below and I’ll see if I can answer.