Frostbite- Chapter 53

Night had officially fallen. The stars were out, thick in the heavens, and they gave enough light for the two of them to see each other but not much more. The moon had not yet risen, so they were still human.

Powell wore a pair of coveralls much like her own—she guessed he, too, had been forced to scrounge for clothing since he’d been in Port Radium. He didn’t have Dzo around to follow after him in a rusty pickup truck anymore.

He had an ugly scar across his forehead and cheek. Either he’d been injured since his last change or he’d had a near miss with a silver bullet. His icy green eyes were quiet—she couldn’t quite gauge what he was thinking. Or what he was planning.

She wondered if he’d given as much thought to this confrontation as she had.

“Hi,” she said, moving toward him as sedately as she could manage. “Powell. Listen. There’s something I have to tell you, something I—”

“Save it,” he said.

Then he leapt right at her, his head down, his arms wide. He grabbed her around the midsection and knocked her off her feet. She went skidding along a rough section of asphalt and her head bounced off a broken stone. Light erupted behind her eyes and she couldn’t seem to breathe.

He was on top of her, a piece of rubble in his hands as big as her head. He brought it up high, clearly intending to use it to smash her face in. She lunged upward with her knees and he flew off of her. Rolling onto all fours, she looked over and saw him doing the same.

“Just give me a second,” she called. “Just let me—”

“No more lies,” he said.

Together they jumped to their feet, their arms in front of them. They wheeled around each other like sumo wrestlers. Chey had been trained in unarmed combat by the U.S. military. She knew how to hold her own. But Powell had had a century to learn how to fight. He rushed her and she dodged, but he must have expected it—he turned in mid-swing and grabbed her around the waist, twisted up underneath and slammed her to the ground. The wind went out of her, but she managed to kick out with her legs and hit him in the ankle, toppling him to the ground, too. They both rolled over, panting for breath. Then he looked up and met her gaze.

Could he kill her? Did he even want to?

“Please,” she begged. “Just let me explain.”

For a second they just stared at each other. Then he reached out and grabbed the chain that held her hands together. She cried out as he yanked, hard, and dragged her across the stones, but she couldn’t get her feet underneath her, couldn’t twist out of his grip.

He dragged her inside the big corrugated tin building. The darkness inside was nearly complete. He pulled her a ways farther, then dragged her up and off the ground. Both of his hands grabbed at her flesh and then she was airborne, hurtling over the poured concrete floor. She hit hard enough to make spit fly out of her mouth.

“So you’re just going to kill me? You won’t even talk to me first?” she shouted. She couldn’t see him at all in the shadows.

“I never want to kill anybody,” he said. “It just sort of happens.” He was moving around, circling her. She thought of her training. She needed to move, too. She needed to get a wall at her back. “I’m sorry that I killed your father, but believe me, I did what I could to prevent it. You should understand that by now.”

“Maybe I do,” she said. “Maybe better than you think.”

He didn’t bother to reply.

She could feel him nearby, but she couldn’t determine where he was. She scrabbled up to her feet and started moving toward the wall ahead of her.

She felt his body heat a moment before he scooped her up and threw her back into the dark. She landed badly with an arm underneath her, crushed by her own weight. She cried out in pain.

“You done yet?” he asked. He was close, but not close enough to hit. “Why can’t you just go away and leave me alone? I never wanted any of this. I just want to survive the mess you’ve made for me.”

“I know,” she said. “And I’m sorry. You have to see my side, though. You killed—you killed my father. I had a right something. But things have changed. I’ve changed. And I know, now, that I can’t do this alone. Like it or not, you’re the only one who understands me right now. Who knows what I’m going through. And those assholes out there want me dead, too. We’re on the same side. Aren’t we?” She crawled forward through the gloom. Maybe this time he’d actually heard her. Understood that she didn’t come here to fight.

But he hit her hard, then, hard enough to pick her up and carry her, screaming, across the floor. They smashed into the wall and through it. The corroded tin collapsed under their combined weight and she saw stars, real stars as they rolled back out into the parking lot. Her shoulder gave way with a popping noise—if it wasn’t broken it still hurt like a bastard. He pushed her away and staggered into the night. She knew better than to think he was done with her.

Check out the previous chapters of Frostbite right here.

Excerpted from Frostbite: A Werewolf Tale by David Wellington. Copyright © 2009 by David Wellington. Published in the Unites States by Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. Published in the UK as Cursed by Piatkus Books, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group.

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