Ice monkeys drunk monkey.., p.33

Ice Monkeys [Drunk Monkeys 7] (Siren Publishing Ménage Everlasting), page 33

 

Ice Monkeys [Drunk Monkeys 7] (Siren Publishing Ménage Everlasting)
 



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  She would help her men take this fucker down.

  * * * *

  On Wednesday, they finally let Donna and Uni go to the CDC to see Victor. Once she was standing there in the hallway, a room and two windows between them, she wished she’d just stayed home.

  This was worse.

  A lot worse.

  Victor looked pale, weak. He wasn’t awake, and she didn’t want them to wake him up just to talk to her. They told her he’d spent most of the past couple of days asleep, which was better for him in the long run.

  Uni stood behind her, his arms wrapped around her, his chin resting on her shoulder. “He’s strong and stable,” he reminded her. “They said his fever might break sometime today.”

  She nodded, not speaking.

  Right now, she wished she had an eidetic memory the way Uni did, so she could remember this and all her anger and all her pain and keep it right there, just below the surface, to call on it when she needed strength and focus.

  “Take me back,” she whispered. “We have a lot of work to do. I don’t want to wake him up.”

  Clara cocked her head as she stared at Donna. “You all right?”

  Donna didn’t take her gaze from Victor. “No, I’m not. But I’m a lot better than Hannibal Silo will be when I get finished with him.”

  “Want me to teach you how to do castrations?” Clara teased.

  “Um, no thanks,” Uni said. “I’m going to overrule that.”

  Donna finally managed a wan smile. “I’d never do that to you guys.”

  “I appreciate that. Still, I think one woman trained in castrations in our unit is plenty, thank you very much.”

  * * * *

  When they got home, Donna didn’t want to be around anyone else. Uni led her to the bedroom, where she collapsed onto the bed. Uni was going to go back out to get her some food when there was a knock on their open bedroom door.

  Ax.

  He looked positively miserable. “Can I come in?”

  Donna sat up. “What do you want?”

  “I just wanted to make sure he’s okay.”

  “No thanks to you,” she said.

  Uni reached out and touched her arm. “Babe, it’s okay.”

  Ax stepped inside the room. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry Silo’s guys caught on to who you are and where you lived. I know it’s lame, but I’m sorry. I feel horrible.”

  She stared at the guy. If it hadn’t been for him, her friends would still be alive.

  She also would never have met Victor and Uni and found love.

  He was trying to take down Silo. He’d meant well. And, so far, he appeared to be living up to his end of the bargain.

  “If I live the rest of my life hating you for what happened, it doesn’t do either of us any good,” she finally said. “I know you didn’t mean for that to happen. But you want to make a dent in trying to make it right? You promise me something.”

  He nodded. “Anything. I swear.”

  “You keep working with these guys and you don’t stop until you do everything you can to bring Silo down for good. Destroy him.”

  “We can’t give you dibs on castrating him,” Uni joked, “because Ak already got promised that.”

  She looked at him. “That’s okay. As long as I can watch.”

  “I have a feeling we could sell tickets to that event,” Uni muttered.

  “Sell tickets to what?” Chief appeared behind Ax.

  “A public dismemberment of Rev. Silo,” Uni said.

  Chief snorted. “I’m sure we could be rich over that.” She turned to Ax. “What was I hearing just now?”

  He looked down at his shoes. “I’m in,” he said. “All the way. For good, until the end. I’ll help you take Silo down. You have my word. Whatever I have to do.”

  Donna got out of bed and walked over to him. “This isn’t the Ax show, either. This means you have to listen to them. Do what they say. Got it?”

  He nodded, finally lifting his gaze to hers.

  Yes, he looked utterly miserable. Broken.

  He’d lost his parents years ago to Silo. She couldn’t fathom the pain he’d suffered throughout the years over that. It wasn’t like he’d blithely killed Lisa and Ginny.

  If she couldn’t make herself forgive him, she’d never be a happy person.

  She held her arms open in a hug. “I forgive you,” she softly said. “I know it wasn’t deliberate. But Silo has to pay for what he did.”

  He nodded as he hugged her, now sobbing against her shoulder. “I’m so sorry, Donna. Really, I am. That guy murdered Mom and Dad, I know he did. Something just like this. Hiring people. And…what he’s done to his wife all these years. Who knows who else? All those people in LA and Kite… I just want him gone.”

  “Then we’ll make him gone,” she said. “And if you fuck these guys over, I’ll be the first person begging for them to kill you. Understand?”

  “Yeah.” He finally let go of her, sniffling and wiping at his face. “I don’t blame you.” He turned to Chief. “What do you need me to do?”

  “We need to keep talking to Mary Silo,” Chief said. “Have you tracked her down yet?”

  “Not yet. I think she’s on the move. I’m trying to get her to trust me. I don’t want to scare her off.”

  “If we can bring her in,” Chief said, “we have an iron-clad case against Silo for everything he’s done so far.”

  “Isn’t there something about spouses can’t testify against each other?” Donna asked.

  Chief smiled. “Who said anything about there being any testimony?”

  “You…you’re not going to kill Mary Silo, are you?” Ax asked. “I can’t let her get hurt, too.”

  “Nope,” Uni said. “She’s safe. We only want Silo.”

  “No, hurting her is not what I meant,” Chief said. “I meant who said anything about Silo actually making it to trial? History is written by the winners. We can get rid of him and still write the ending the way we want it seen. Now, you and me, let’s get out of here and leave them alone.”

  When they were alone again, Uni pulled her in for a hug. “That was awfully adult of you, sweetheart.”

  “What?”

  “Forgiving him.”

  “He’s part of this unit now anyway, right? I can’t spend all that time hating him. Besides, I’d rather hate Silo.”

  “That’s a pretty large club.”

  * * * *

  Victor’s fever broke early Thursday morning. He actually woke up, relieved that the headache he’d been plagued with since Sunday was also gone.

  Turning his head, he saw two people in protective suits over in the corner, going over his chart. Clara, and Mama, it turned out.

  “There he is,” Clara said. “Feeling better?”

  “What happened?”

  “Your fever broke a little while ago. Your latest round of blood work came back looking good.”

  “Am I getting better?”

  “I think,” Mama said, “it’s safe to say that you’ve gone from critical to guarded.”

  “I still feel like crap, just not as crappy.”

  “Again, that’s good,” Clara said.

  “What’d you give me?”

  “More like what you are giving us,” Mama said. “My apologies, but you will be spending some time over the next several weeks giving us a lot of blood samples.”

  “So…it was Kite?”

  “Absolutely. The interesting thing is that the latest samples we’ve taken from you have changed based on your antibodies.”

  He rubbed at his face, at the days of stubble there. “What?”

  Clara chuckled. “Never mind. You feel like some soup?”

  His stomach rumbled. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d actually eaten. “Yeah, I could use some. What time is it? Hell, what day is it?”

  “0300 Thursday.”

  “Thursday? Holy fuck, I’ve been out nearly two days?”

  “Yep. Mostly. Donna and
Uni came to visit you yesterday but they wouldn’t let us wake you up.”

  “How is she? Is she okay?”

  “She’s…” Clara seemed to think about it. “I don’t know her the way you guys know her, but she reminds me of Ak, how she was right after her brother…” She shrugged. “Vengeance runs deep in our estrogen, apparently.”

  He managed a harsh laugh that set off a coughing fit. Clara got him a cup of cool water and he sipped it through a straw, realizing how parched and sore his throat felt.

  “How can I feel this shitty and be getting better?”

  “Just go with it,” she said. “Meanwhile, I’ll get you that soup.”

  * * * *

  Donna awoke Thursday morning to Uni smiling down at her and poking her in the shoulder.

  “What? What’s going on?”

  He held out the tablet. On it, a haggard looking Victor smiled at her. “Hello, babe.”

  Sleep fled her system. She sat up and snatched the tablet from Uni. “Are you okay?”

  “My fever broke a couple of hours ago. I still feel like shit, and I don’t want you coming in here yet, but this is good news.”

  Relief filled her, starting her tears flowing again. “Really?”

  “Really. They think I’m on the backside of it now.”

  Uni sat next to her on the bed and leaned in so he could get into the picture. “Then get your ass out of that bed and get back to us.”

  “Believe me, as soon as they let me, I will.” Victor’s gaze met Donna’s. “Now, listen to me, honey. They’ve told me you’ve officially got a job to do with our group. You’re one of us. That means, for right now, I’m telling you to focus on that and quit worrying about me. Okay? I promise I’ll call you back and check in later today. But when I ask those jerks for a report, I’d better hear you’ve been head-down over a computer and trying to pin that fucking preacher to the wall, or I’m gonna give you the bad kind of spanking.”

  She nodded, tearfully smiling. “I will. I promise.”

  “Good.” He kissed his fingers and touched the screen. Both she and Uni did likewise. “Love both of you. Now they tell me I might be allowed to have applesauce for breakfast since I kept my soup down. So let me get off here and start ringing for chow.”

  “You’re really okay?”

  “I’ve felt better, but I’ve damn sure felt worse. Love you.”

  “Love you,” she and Uni both said. When Victor ended the call, she threw her arms around Uni and started crying.

  “Want me to get Doc?” he asked.

  She shook her head. “No.” She sat back, wiping at her eyes. “I’ll be okay. I have a job to do. You heard him.” She kissed him. “Don’t you dare go catching this shit.”

  “Unlike flyboy, I don’t plan on putting myself between the ground and a case of Kite.”

  * * * *

  Victor was watching TV before dawn on Friday morning when the door to the decontamination room slid open with a whoosh of air.

  And there stood Jim, smiling.

  He wasn’t wearing a bunnysuit.

  Victor sat up and turned the TV off. “You crazy?”

  “No. They said I could give you the good news personally. You’re not contagious anymore. You’ll be able to get out of here tomorrow.”

  “No shit? I’m really not going to die?”

  “Not today you’re not. Not of Kite, at least.” He sat on the end of the bed. “You had a virulent strain, but they think that…” He thought about it for a moment. “I’m probably going to screw this up, but something about the strain you had, and the way it was mutating, combined with the vaccine you already had, helped blunt its effect on your system.”

  “Close enough,” Julie Chu said from the doorway. She stood there, a smile on her face but wearing exhaustion thicker than any protective bunnysuit.

  Which she wasn’t wearing.

  “So now what?” Victor asked.

  “Now we pull more blood from you and replicate it and test it and hopefully culture the antibodies,” Mama said. “You’re going to stay here in Atlanta for a couple of weeks while we run more tests.”

  “No flying for me yet anyway.”

  “Hell, no,” Jim said. “I’ve loaned one of my guys out to your guys. Once you’re cleared, you can go back to flying.”

  He’d honestly not wanted to let himself hope he’d recover from this. He knew if he died he likely wouldn’t even know it, but now that the good outcome was in sight he was eager to get the hell out of that bed and away from the CDC. “I’m stuck here?”

  “No. Your alternate location, once they finish it.”

  “I can pull the samples from you there,” Julie said. “I only need your blood, not you.”

  “Eh, isn’t that just like a woman?” Victor teased. “Squeezing blood out of a guy?”

  “I’ll remember that next time I am trying to find your vein with a needle.” But she smiled when she said it.

  * * * *

  Kali Enyo got another update from Ax on Friday as she sat in a public library.

  He’s going to make it. They think this might be the missing link they needed to create a vaccine.

  She sat back and stared at the message.

  Her rent would be due soon. She could either pay it, or she could move somewhere else.

  She really didn’t want to leave the area. More and more, as she studied the weather reports, about what they were expecting locally, she considered her options.

  Being stuck in frozen St. Louis all winter, close to Hannibal or not, wasn’t what she wanted. Not if she didn’t have a chance of getting to him yet.

  Maybe she could take another road trip. See more of the country while the roads were still clear enough to pass. If she waited, another winter storm due in next week might keep her there.

  After logging out she went for a walk. She’d bought herself a heavy coat, a new one, that kept her nice and warm. A knit cap and a matching scarf wound around her face and neck hid the rest of her features. Warm gloves and comfy shoes.

  Jeans.

  How long since she’d worn jeans, for chrissake?

  Since college.

  Hell, she hadn’t owned pants since she was with Hannibal.

  Today the air felt cold and clear, brisk, invigorating as she confidently walked away from the library.

  She’d never felt better in her life, physically. Like she could take on the world.

  Like she could take on Hannibal.

  But wouldn’t it be nice to get one over on Hannibal?

  Another one?

  Join forces with a group who could help her dreams come true?

  Instead of going to the apartment, she went to her car and stopped by the mailbox where she’d stashed her failsafe.

  It was still there.

  Leaving it in place, she stopped by an electronics store and bought two more hard drives, paying cash for them. She made copies, extra fail-safes, and hid them in the trunk of her car, in the well with the spare tire.

  Then she stopped by another store and bought a large rolling suitcase, one that would hold all of her things. She still didn’t want to show up at the house with her car.

  Her landlords weren’t home when she returned. She quickly packed and cleaned, donning her gloves as she wiped down every surface there. Not hard to do considering how small it was.

  There might be a stray fingerprint or two left behind, but hopefully not. She wrote them a note, with her gloves still on, and left it and a hundred dollars cash on their dining room table as thanks for their hospitality.

  Then she walked out and started wheeling the suitcase toward her car, the small TV securely strapped on top.

  She was ready for another road trip, and there was no better time than right now.

  Chapter Forty-Three

  Donna, with a stranglehold on Uni’s hand, stepped into the hospital room Saturday afternoon. Victor sat on the bed, looking haggard and pale, but at least he was smiling. And he was dressed in real clot
hes, not a hospital johnny.

  He held his arms out to her. “Come here, baby.”

  She flew into his arms, unable to hold back her tears as he hugged her tightly against him.

  “I thought we were going to lose you before I even had a chance to get to know you.”

  “I’m harder to kill than that, don’t worry.”

  Uni stepped in behind her, his arms around both of them. “True story,” he teased. “We’re all pretty damned hard to kill.”

  “Guess I got one over on Doc now, don’t I?” Victor asked. “He only had a mild version of this shit. They said mine was worse.”

  “Well, if it’s any consolation,” Doc said from the doorway, “Mama ran another sample from you last night, and the serum she created from it, against several forms of Kite. The deadly ones. It looks like you and Korey are now Patients Zero and One in terms of nailing this down.”

  Victor brightened a little. “Really?”

  “Yep. She’s working on a batch of experimental vaccine right now. Me and Tango volunteered to try it.”

  “What? Why?”

  “Because we have the strongest-looking base immune responses. Depending on how well that testing goes, the whole unit will get treated with it.”

  “Isn’t that dangerous?” Donna asked.

  “No more dangerous than anything else we’ve tried. We’ll know in about twenty-four hours.”

  “Then what?” she asked.

  Doc shrugged. “Mama says that when the virus mutates down, as she calls it, to a less lethal form, it simplifies its structure. She’s been able to isolate commonalities in the protein signatures of the more advanced strains and work her way backward from there. This might very well be the lucky break they needed, Victor catching this shit.”

  Donna turned to stare into Uni’s blue eyes. “Please tell me they didn’t die in vain.”

  Uni looked sad. “I’m sorry we couldn’t protect them. We take the blame for that. We should have moved them as soon as we brought you in. None of us thought they’d be at risk. We were trying to minimize the impact on them. That goddamned trojan they dumped into your computer threw us for a loop.”

 
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