Chapter 10 - Caught

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I leaped to my feet and ran down the hall. "Lu! Qiao! She's made her move!"

The door opened and Lu and Qiao burst out, eyes wide. "Yes!" Lu exclaimed. "I have heard it, too!"

"We've got to stop Jia-Li," I said, looking Qiao in the eye. For once he didn't glare straight at me. Instead he glared into the distance, as if targeting Jia-Li directly.

"Yes," he growled. "But how does one stop a dragon of her power?"

"She has a bomb," I said. "I almost touched it and she chewed me out. I think runs on magic."

Qiao and Lu stared at me in gaping silence as I described the lead box and the three colored sparks inside the vials.

Lu turned to her brother and whispered a few words in Chinese. He nodded once. In English he said, "We must find the bomb and deliver it to the elders. You will lead us."

"Right." I shrugged. "But you have the car keys."

Qiao drove.

As we headed west, I watched road signs. We'd been out in Redlands somewhere. As we headed back toward Pasadena, the eastbound road filled with cars headlights. Sometimes they bogged down into a massive traffic jam, and police screamed by on the shoulder with red and blue lights flashing.

A knot settled into my stomach. If Jia-Li hadn't picked me up, none of this would have happened. If I hadn't been so willingly seduced by Cindy, none of this would have happened.

All of this was my fault.

I stewed on that for a while as the freeway curved its way into the big city. Then Qiao took an exit, and I saw a road block waiting for us down the freeway, all orange cones and reflectors. The exit hadn't been blocked yet, so Qiao managed to get off on the back streets and weave his way eastward. Cars clogged the roads, people ran red lights and lots more people hurried along the roads on foot, clustering at bus stops and clutching bags.

So much panic. All my fault.

Then I started getting mad. I sat straighter in the seat and clenched my fists. If this was my fault, then I was damn well going to set it right. Jia-Li wanted a vampire as a tool? I'd be more than a tool. I'd be a weapon. I was a freaking vampire with dragon strength inside me!

As Qiao wove through the traffic, I brainstormed about that bomb. If she'd made threats to the government, it wouldn't be in her house anymore. She'd have planted it somewhere. Somewhere that would terrify people if the bomb went off. What sort of landmarks did Pasadena have? The convention center? The Pasadena Paseo mall? Or the Rose Bowl stadium?

If I were Jia-Li, I'd totally blow up the Rose Bowl.

The hours ticked by as we worked our way back into Pasadena. The crowds grew worse. National Guard tried to direct traffic, police were everywhere, helicopters swirled overhead. There had to be vampires out there, too.

We were stopped at an intersection, waiting for a mass of sluggish traffic to creep by, when I saw the first fox.

It looked like a real fox, but as it ran under a streetlight, its fur coat gleamed blue.

I slid forward and grabbed Lu's seat. "A fox! Did you see it?"

Lu and Qiao craned their necks to look, but it had vanished in the darkness. Lu chewed her fingernails. "This is bad. They should not be showing themselves yet."

"You're telling me." I glanced out the back window, expecting at any second to see the furry-woman coming for me.

We hit a roadblock and wound up detouring into residential streets, where everything was dark and creepily deserted. No looters yet. I suppose that hadn't occurred to people yet. We were debating the merits of trying the 210 when the Huli Jing found us.

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