Rogue Page 98

I whirled around, ducking as I spun. My fingers scraped the gritty, dust-covered concrete.

Andrew stood behind me, arms raised. Something heavy whooshed over my head. I buried my fist in his stomach. Air burst from his lungs. He doubled over. Something hard crashed onto my head, then clanked to the ground.

I stood, rubbing the new bump on my skull, and prepared another kick. My foot slipped on the pipe he’d dropped. It rolled from under my boot. I landed on my ass in front of him.

He kicked and I rolled out of the way. I sucked in a quick breath, and with it came dust and a sticky cobweb. Andrew kicked again, and I reached for his foot. My hand closed around his ankle and I pulled. He fell beside me, catching himself on both hands.

I rolled over, and my hair clip slammed into the concrete. It burst open. Thick black hair fell over my face. I pushed it away, freezing in place as a low, unfamiliar roar rumbled from overhead.

Scrambling to my feet, I looked up to find a loft running across the left side of the engine depot. And another on the right. I squinted, trying to see movement in the darkness. But I saw only shadows.

On my right, Andrew lurched to his feet and a growl echoed from my left. Whirling around, I saw a dark form spring from some twelve feet above, taking shape as it neared. The shadows cleared, exposing the lithe, elegant form of a werecat in midleap.

Luiz. He’d hidden in the loft to Shift.

The cat landed graceful y in the middle of the room, on all four paws.

Marc faced him, two-by-four held ready in both hands. Luiz considered him for a moment, then turned toward Vic instead.

“Vic!” I shouted. He looked up to see Luiz flying toward him, but had no time to move. The cat landed on his chest, claws bared. Vic screamed.

I was scanning the ground for a weapon, when something hit me from behind. Pain exploded. I flew forward, throwing one foot in front of the other to stay upright. My feet tangled over each other, and the ground soared up to meet me. I caught myself on my left arm. Pain shot through my shoulder, reviving an injury three months old.

Fingers tangled in my hair and pulled. I clenched my jaws against a scream and scrambled to my feet to keep my hair from being ripped out by the roots.

“Payback’s a bitch,” Andrew whispered in my ear, his voice a bitter echo of what it once was. “But then, so are you.”

“Andrew, wait—”

His grip on my hair tightened, and his free fist slammed into my kidney.

Pain ripped throughout my entire body, rebounding for an instant encore. My legs folded and I crumpled to the ground. Tiny popping sounds filled my ear as hundreds of individual hairs were ripped from my scalp. I couldn’t breathe, much less scream.

I forced my body into motion, rolling away in spite of the pain. He kicked me in the thigh. Then the blows stopped.

I opened my eyes, and Andrew was gone.

Manx lay unconscious across the room. Parker knelt over Vic, who now lay on the ground near Jace, who was in a pool of his own blood.

Beyond them, Marc stood, iron pipe in hand, facing off against the werecat.

Luiz hissed, teeth bared. He lunged forward. Marc swung the pipe.

Luiz dodged the blow easily. But Marc had already gotten off at least one good shot; Luiz was bleeding below his right ear.

I sat up, and Andrew stomped past me, headed for Marc. Before I could shout, Parker shoved himself off the ground and snatched the slab of wood Marc had dropped. He swung. The board connected with Andrew’s shoulder. Andrew hit the ground, and I gained my feet careful y, wincing at the ache in my spine.

Parker turned toward Luiz. Marc swung the pipe again, and again Luiz dodged it—right into Parker’s path. Parker swung, low and arcing, as if the board were a golf club. The two-by-four hit Luiz’s back left leg.

Luiz yelped and limped sideways.

Marc slammed his pipe into Luiz’s right shoulder. Luiz whined, then growled. He bounded to his left, past Marc and out of his reach. In less than a second, he was gone, limp-running right out the door. Marc took off after him, the bloodstained steel pipe clenched in his fist. “Take care of them,” he yelled over his shoulder at Parker. Then he was gone.

Andrew watched them go, his jaw slack with shock, eyes brimming with fury. He’d been abandoned—again.

“Andrew…” I began, hoping he’d believe me now. That he final y understood Luiz wasn’t helping him. And that I could, if he’d let me.

He met my eyes, and the pain and loathing in his made me sick to see.

He hated me. He wouldn’t let me help him. And he certainly wouldn’t help me.

“Fuck this,” he growled through clenched teeth, looking from me to Parker, then back to me. “And fuck you.” Then he turned and ran, right for the front door.

I took off after him, without a second thought.

“Faythe!” Parker yelled.

“I’ve got him,” I yelled, already halfway out the door. “Don’t you dare let Jace bleed to death.”

“No!” he shouted. But he didn’t follow me. Jace and Vic needed him worse than I did. At least, I hoped I wouldn’t need him.

I followed Andrew around the corner of the building just in time to see the door of the abandoned train station swing closed. Shit. We didn’t have time for hide-and-seek. If anyone had recognized Manx’s gunshot for what it was, they’d have called the police. The cops were probably already on their way.

But a glance at my watch told me that—amazingly—less than a quarter of an hour had passed since we’d jumped the fence into the rail yard. Though the fight in the depot seemed to last an eternity, it had only been minutes long. Thank goodness.

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