The Roaring Mouse, second in the Feathered Princess series, will be out 12/16. If you want a free review copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send one your way!
And then she hears the window shatter. The one right above her head.
She’s frozen in shock as the glass falls around her. The window is too small for anyone to get in, she tells herself. It’s too small. It’s too –
A booted foot knocks her across the back of her head. Followed by black-clad legs, a twist to the hips and the man is in up to his chest, wriggling, wriggling. Kate watches in mute terror as the pale blue shirt rides up an unnaturally pale chest and then… the shoulders pop through. The man falls to the floor.
Kate’s first instinct is to hide in the tub. Join her infant daughter in her terrified screams.
It’s too late once she thinks better of it. She has already taken a half step that direction.
And the man’s eyes are locked on Elisabeth now, just her head peeking out amongst the covers, but it’s enough. Kate doesn’t think at all. She can’t tell anymore what’s the pounding of her heart and what’s the violent battle raging in the outer portion of the motel room; her body vibrates and the walls vibrate and there is no more Kate, at least nothing separate, no identity, just pure rage in this moment, all the violence a suddenly palpable thing and Kate is only a single finger of the greater bloody body, reaching out.
She slams into the Barracks man with her shoulder to his chest, hears his breath whoosh past her head. She sinks her nails in at his hairline, suddenly wants nothing more in the world than to peal his entire face off, imagines it will melt off beneath her fingers like a Hollywood mask, gets a grip despite the warm wet and rakes her nails down.
She realizes, belatedly, that the screaming is him.
But maybe he realizes it then too. Because he grows suddenly still. And that’s when his training comes back, she supposes. He flips her over the toilet. Blackness swims before her eyes as her head hits the tile floor and then her feet fly over until her face is pressed into her own blood spatter. She struggles to stand as she recognizes the screaming as Elisabeth’s now. But she can’t seem to make her limbs cooperate. They’re shaking too hard to hold her and the floor is heaving. She slips in her blood. Hits her head a second time.
And then it’s even worse, the silence. Elisabeth’s screaming has ceased. And the head of the man is already back through the small window, his shoulders are twisting, the pale blue, blood spattered shirt is stretching – No!
Kate lunges for a black boot, locks onto the ankle above.
And then Finch is back, standing in the doorway, asking, “Can you hold him?” Kate flops against the wall as the man tries to pull himself up. “Can you hold him?” Finch demands.
Kate realizes, suddenly, yes. She will hold him.
She will kill him.
He touched her baby.
He took her baby.
The second thought is almost enough to shake her, but she feels the indignation swell up just beneath, how absolutely horrified she is by the tide of weakness that sweeps through her at the thought of losing Elisabeth. She can’t afford it. Not now. Elisabeth can’t afford it.
Elisabeth can’t have a mouse for a mother.
Even so, Kate knows she can’t hold on much longer. She reaches down through the red haze, closes her hand around a jagged piece of glass. She reaches up. Shoves it into the man’s upper thigh. Pulls down. Blinks through the sudden rain. Tastes blood.