Leopard's Fury(142)

By: Christine Feehan

She began her slow crawl down the side of the tank once she felt she wouldn’t leave behind a trail. Her body was hot now, so hot she felt as if her skin would crack open. Her muscles cramped and she couldn’t stop shaking. That didn’t bode well for crossing the roof, but at least it was very dark now that the spotlights had been turned off. If she shook when a guard was close, hopefully the darkness would conceal her.

It took her just under forty minutes in the dark, with her body on fire and her muscles cramping painfully, to climb down the side of the building. The virus he’d given her was vicious, her fever high, her insides searing her. For someone like her, someone needing more water than most people, it was sheer agony, as if he’d developed the strain specifically for her—and he probably had. That only strengthened her resolve to escape.

She rested for a moment to get her bearings and plan out her next step. She needed the antidote immediately, and that meant putting herself back in Whitney’s hands. She had no other choice. Bellisia made her way across the lawn to the street where the van was waiting for her. It was parked one block down to be inconspicuous, one block away, which put it right next to the river.

She was staggering by the time she reached the vehicle, and Gerald, one of the supersoldiers sent to watch over her, leapt out to catch her up and get her back into the van. He placed her on a gurney and immediately spoke into his cell to tell Whitney she was back. She closed her eyes and turned her face away, as if losing consciousness.

“I need the information she has,” Peter Whitney said. “Get it from her before you administer the antidote. Take her to the plane immediately. Your destination will be Italy.”

Her heart nearly jumped out of her chest. She knew several of the women had been taken there to ensure they became pregnant. The GhostWalkers had destroyed his breeding program in the United States. No way was she going to Italy.

“Whitney needs a report,” Gerald said.

She kept her breathing shallow. Labored. Eyes closed, body limp.

“Bellisia, honey, come on, give me the report. You need the antidote. He won’t let me give it to you until you give him what he wants.”

She stayed very still. Gerald and his partner, Adam, were her handlers on nearly every mission. The three had developed a friendship of sorts, if one could be friends with their guards. She knew how to control her breathing and heart rate, and she did both to make him think she was crashing.

“We’re losing her, Doc,” Gerald said while Adam caught at her arm, shoving up the material of her bodysuit.

“Be certain. She could be faking,” Whitney warned.

“No, she’s out of it. She got back way past the time she was supposed to. We might be too late to save her. They locked the building down and she was still inside.” Gerald’s voice held urgency.

“Did you see Violet or any of her people going in or coming out?” Whitney demanded.

“I never saw Senator Smythe. I have no idea if she was there or not,” Gerald said. Bellisia wasn’t altogether certain he spoke the truth. He may very well have seen the senator, but Gerald and Adam didn’t always like the way Whitney treated the women.

“Be sure Bellisia is really out.”

Gerald prodded her. Hard. She made no response.

“She’s burning up. And she’s bleeding on her back and thigh.”

“Inject her. She’ll need water.”

“Adam, give her the antidote fast. We’ll need water for her.”

She felt the needle and then the sting of the antidote as it went in. She stayed silent, uncertain how fast it was supposed to work. She hated needles, in fact the sensation of them entering her skin often made her nauseous. The double row of muscles caused the needle to spread a terrible fire through every cell.

“Doc says get her water.”

Adam held up a bottle. “She’s not responsive enough to drink.” That showed her how upset Adam was on her behalf; he knew she would need to be submerged in water. He wasn’t thinking clearly.

“Not drink. Pour it over her.”

The cool water went over her arm and then her chest. She nearly lost her ability to keep her heart and lungs under control, the relief was so tremendous.

“That’s not enough. Get it out of the river.”

Adam threw open the double doors to the van and hopped out. Her acute hearing picked up Whitney hissing in disapproval. He didn’t like that they’d parked by a river. That was her signal to move.

She leapt from the gurney and onto the ground right beside a startled Adam.

“Grab her,” Gerald yelled.

She raced across the street with Adam rushing after her. The tips of his fingers brushed her back just as she dove right off the edge into the river. Water closed over her head, the cool wetness welcoming her.