Kitty Raises Hell Page 11

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“The full moon was the trigger,” Grant said, after I told him what happened. “I can’t say that I’m surprised.”

“We should have expected it, is what you’re saying.” I paced the living room, holding my phone to my ear with one hand, scratching my greasy hair with the other. I was still feeling stiff and cranky, off-balance, Wolf’s shadows lurking in my mind. The bars of the cage she lived in most of the time hadn’t quite closed yet. I didn’t feel quite human, and I didn’t want to be talking on the phone. I hadn’t even showered yet. This seemed more important.

“Maybe. But there’s more to this. You said no one was hurt but that this thing was powerful. You could have been hurt.”

“It sure seemed like it. It came out of nowhere. We outran it.”

“Anything else you remember? Any detail at all?”

“Fire. The smell of burning coals. And a shape, something with hands that could fight. I don’t know. It’s not very clear. It’s all in wolf senses. Makes it hard to remember.”

“I understand. They’ve sent something after you, that much is obvious. I’ll learn what I can. If we can identify it, we can get rid of it.”

I already felt better. Right up until he said, “Whatever it is will strike again. Now that it’s exposed itself, it won’t go back to hiding.”

“What does it want? To scare us? Or to kill us?”

He paused before admitting, “I don’t know.”

This was my fault. I’d brought this thing here. “I don’t suppose you know of any cool charms that might work against something like this. Holy water, old Indian arrowheads, that sort of thing.”

“Can’t hurt to try,” he said, as close to encouraging as he ever got. “I’ll call you when I learn something.”

“Okay. Thanks. I’ll talk to you soon.” Sooner rather than later, I hoped.

That evening, I called to tell Rick about the new development. We agreed to meet at New Moon to discuss.

The first time Rick came to New Moon, I had to invite him in.

I shouldn’t have had to. The legend about having to invite vampires in applied only to private residences. Public places, where people were free to come and go at will, were open to vampires. But Rick had come to New Moon and stopped at the threshold.

He’d looked at me through the glass doorway, only mildly perplexed, like this wasn’t the biggest problem he’d faced all day. “This is awkward,” he’d said.

“What? What’s the matter?” I’d said through the glass.

“There’s something odd about this place.”

I’d gotten a big grin on my face. Crossed my arms, regarded him smugly, and seriously considered not inviting him in.

“That’s because it’s not yours,” I said. Then I opened the door and invited him in, because when all was said and done, he wasn’t just the Master vampire of Denver. He was my friend.

“Arturo never would have let you get away with this,” he’d said.

Arturo was the previous vampire running Denver, and this was a place within his city where lycanthropes had power.

“Well. Thanks for not being Arturo.”

This night, we sat in the back, at what had become my usual table. Rick leaned back, looking over the thinning late crowd. We were down to barflies and a birthday party in the far corner.

I was distracted, tapping my fingers, waiting for the building to burn down. “You ready for me to tell you what happened last night?”

He made a palm-up gesture, giving me the floor. I told the story again, and it seemed even more vague and less likely than when I told it to Grant. The whole thing was turning into a dream. Rick listened thoughtfully, attentively, brow slightly furrowed. In a lot of ways, of all the vampires I’d ever met, Rick had stayed the most human. He could still engage in the problems and concerns of mere mortals. At least, he could make it look like he did, finger tapping his chin, his dark eyes thoughtful.

I finished, and he sat back in his chair.

“You didn’t get a good look at it? You don’t know what it was?”

“I don’t know. I don’t remember seeing anything, only what it felt like. Maybe it wasn’t a thing, but a force. You’ve been around for five centuries. Does stuff like this happen a lot? Have you ever heard of a monster that likes to attack werewolf packs on full-moon nights?”

“And also could be summoned by a vampire,” he said.

“Or has something to do with Tiamat. Maybe this isn’t a vampire thing.”

“I think this goes beyond the Tiamat cult,” Rick said. “The cult leader might be using this as an opportunity to get a foothold in this territory.”

“Rick, just because the cult is run by a vampire doesn’t mean this has anything to do with vampire politics. Does it?”

He glanced away, seeming to ponder, and didn’t answer. And wasn’t that just what I needed right now, to worry about vampire politics, as well?

Sighing, I said, “We wanted something to happen so we’d have information. So we’d have something to work with. But I feel like we’re worse off than before.”

“We both have contacts,” he said firmly, decisively, in a way that was probably meant to sound reassuring. “We’ll do our research.”

“Like standing on rooftops, looking for patterns?”

He seemed to be scanning the crowd. It made me nervous, because I could never forget what he was, and the look in his eyes was appraising. I didn’t want him treating my restaurant like his restaurant. He absently tapped a finger on the table.

I was about to say something catty to him when he said, “I called Dom. To ask his opinion, for old times’ sake.”

Dom, the Master of Las Vegas, was only a figurehead. I wasn’t entirely clear on the situation, but he was there to divert attention from the real powers there. Like the priestess of the Tiamat cult.

“What did he say?”

“He told me I’d be better off if I stayed out of it and suggested I’d be happier if the local alpha werewolf wasn’t so uppity. You seem to have made an impression on him.”

“Dom doesn’t know anything,” I said.

“I know. He refused to talk about the vampire priestess of the cult. Whatever we’re up against has him cowed.”

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