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.I skidded to a stop, slipping on the icy sidewalk.The trees.I’d seen movement in the trees.Rage replaced my despair in a single heartbeat.Was it Frank Liles, the lich Lydia had mimicked at the last murder scene? That sick bastard was killing the magical with my bullets.I remembered the hole in the window and how Lydia rose to her feet at just that moment.Had Rowan been the intended target?All logical thought left me, and I wanted only one thing: that murdering bastard’s throat in my grip.I ran for the trees, consumed with the lust for another’s blood.The emotion was so pure, so all encompassing, that I actually laughed.A saner part of me knew I was staring death in the face, but what did it matter? I had nothing.I’d lost my best friend, my lover, and now, my alchemy.There was really nothing left to lose.I made it to the trees without being shot and slowed my pace.I needed to think, to plan, or I’d never get to bathe in any blood except my own.The snow wasn’t as deep beneath the trees, the canopy of branches having caught a good bit of it.I didn’t see any tracks, but the snow-covered leaf litter made it hard to judge.I started forward, looking for signs as I wove my way between the trees.Head down, I stepped carefully around fallen logs and bushes.I glanced at the back of the Institute and tried to triangulate the shooter’s position.I moved a little deeper into the trees, glancing back often.“Hunting for something, alchemist?” a familiar voice asked.I gasped and turned as Henry Huntsman stepped out from behind the nearest tree, his white and tan camo blending perfectly with the snow-covered leaves.A scoped rifle hung from one shoulder.I recognized the make—and the caliber bullet it took.“You!” I launched myself at Henry with the sole intent of scraping out his eyes.I managed to make contact with one cheek before he could lunge to the side.He didn’t try to escape, but came back at me.His hand closed around my throat, lifting me from the ground and slamming me against the tree he’d just stepped around.My head thumped against the unyielding wood and pain splintered my skull.The world darkened around the edges.Henry trailed his fingers over his bloodied cheek.“You dumb bitch,” he whispered, stepping closer.“Henry.” George materialized out of the trees a few yards away, Brian at his shoulder.Both wore the same camo Henry sported.And both carried rifles.“You fucking bastards.” I choked around Henry’s grip on my throat.“Bring her.” George waved Brian forward, and he stepped up to give Henry a hand, grinning at me as he did.Abruptly, he straightened and brought the rifle to his shoulder, aiming back through the trees—toward the Institute.All three of them went still, then I heard it.“Addie?” Rowan’s voice carried across the snow-dampened grounds.A pause, then a door slammed.“He went back inside,” Brian said.“Unlike some people, he’s not stupid enough to run out here.” Henry grinned at me.“He’ll probably sneak out the back, like he did at that clinic,” Brian said.Rowan had managed to catch him that time.“Shall I circle around and take him out?”“No.” The word came out on a shallow breath, and I tried to swallow around Henry’s grip on my throat.“Whatever you want.I’ll get it.”George moved closer.Hazel eyes narrow and calculating, he glanced between me and where Brian stood, awaiting his command.I considered the things he could want and settled on the obvious answer.“The Final Formula.The Elixir of Life.I’ll brew it for you.All of you.”George’s eyes narrowed further.“You know it?”“It’s my formula, dumbass.Neil stole it from me.” I ran out of air and stopped with a wheeze.“He said your memory had been wiped.The amnesia.”“And you believed him?”George raised his arm, and I expected a slap, but he gripped Henry’s wrist instead.“Release her.”Henry did as told, and I slumped against the tree, drawing deep breaths through my nose.“So you can brew us this formula.” George studied me with an eerie detachment that made my skin crawl [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]