Kitty Raises Hell Page 53

“Hey, have you found Grant?”

“There’s something weird going on with that guy. I tried to get into his dressing room, but nothing worked, and I’ve picked dozens of locks before. I’ve never found a door I couldn’t get into.”

Was that even legal? “You know, if you ever want to do this sort of thing professionally, I think there are guidelines that say breaking and entering is bad.”

“Yeah, okay, but there’s still something weird going on.”

“Agreed.” He had no idea just how weird.

“I went to the police to see if a missing person report’s been filed on him, and I think I found something. There’s about a dozen people over the last five years who’ve gone missing at the Hanging Gardens. That’s unusual, even for Vegas. If you need nonsupernatural proof that something’s going on over there, this may be it.”

“Enough to get the police involved?” I said.

“I need to get someone here interested enough to start an investigation and get a search warrant. I still don’t know quit what I am looking for—”

“Anything they might be using to cast spells or summon demons. Blood, daggers, arcane symbols, Arabic written on ancient parchment. Use your imagination. You’ll probably be close.”

“I still have to talk someone into serving a search warrant.”

“I think I know someone who might be able to help you with that,” I said and grinned over at Ben. I handed the phone to him at his desk.

They talked for a good long time, and I tried not to be antsy, sitting on the sofa with books and my laptop pretending to do research. I couldn’t get a whole lot of meaning from only one side of the conversation, especially when Ben slipped into lawyer speak, but they sounded like they were making a plan.

“I’ll fax you a copy of the paperwork,” Ben said, and hung up.

“Well?” I said.

“You have a DVD of the show from Vegas?”

“Yeah. What for?”

“I’m going to use it as proof that your buddy Nick is psychologically harassing you and that the harassment is continuing, in violation of the restraining order. We convince the Vegas cops the harassment is dangerous and establish just cause for a search of their place for evidence linking them to the fires.”

“Will that actually work?”

“It might. If it doesn’t, we haven’t really lost anything.”

Nothing but time. “You’re the lawyer,” I said.

He started packing up his laptop and collecting a few papers from the file rack on his desk.

“I’m going to go try to get the police reports about Mick and New Moon. It may take me a few hours to get it all together, then get the files to Peter. Will you be okay?”

I smiled. “Yesterday you didn’t want to leave me alone.”

“But you don’t need to go anywhere today, right? You’ll head to the radio station this evening, but you’ll be here the rest of the time, and the building’s got all that blood gunk around it, right? So you’ll be fine.”

Truthfully, I wasn’t sure, because I was worried about Ben out there by himself, unprotected, where the demon could get to him. And maybe I was nervous about being alone, too. But I nodded. “I’ll be fine. Will you be fine?”

“Yeah, I think so. I hope so. I’ll probably bring a jar of that gunk along, though.”

“I’ll go find one,” I said and went to the kitchen, where I had a box of the stuff. I’d never get the smell of it out of my nose, would I?

When I returned, Ben was running his hands through his hair. “Do I look too ratty? I should probably comb my hair.”

Aw. I touched his cheek. “Yeah, but you usually look like you need to comb your hair. You’ll be fine.” We kissed, and for that moment I really did think we’d be all right.

“I’ll meet you at KNOB in time for the show.”

We said our usual “be careful” version of goodbye.

Twilight fell, evening came. I grew more nervous, because the disasters always happened at night, like the world really was divided into light and dark, good and evil. I always tried to give the world the benefit of the doubt and pay attention to the shades of gray that seemed painted everywhere. Times like these, though, it was easy to feel an inexplicable black darkness rising against me. Easy to feel the monster that dwelled inside me and believe myself doomed.

Willpower. Had to keep going. In a world that seemed determined to turn us all into monsters, I had to keep making the list of reasons to keep fighting, to keep myself whole, to stay human, sane, and good—or at least the best I could. My family, my career, chocolate. Blazing Colorado sunsets, The Clash, Jimmy Stewart and Harrison Ford movies. My friends, which I counted more of every day. And Ben.

In that mood, I slung my bag over my shoulder and went outside to my car.

On the sidewalk, I stopped abruptly as I caught a scent. Smoke, smoldering, fire waiting to burst forth. Brimstone.

My skin flushed hot. Looking around, desperate to catch a sign of it, to see a figure outlined in flame or to hear ghostly laughter, I waited for fire to consume me. I’d caught the smell as soon as I left the protective barrier the blood and ruin potion formed around the building. It had been waiting for me. But the smell was everywhere, without source.

I’d had the feeling that someone was watching me for weeks now, and not just Peter. No matter where I looked, nothing presented itself. I couldn’t spot anything. I swallowed back a whine.

“Stop stalking me!” I called, feeling like an idiot, but I could either yell at it or scream incoherently. “You want to come after me, then come after me! Face me! You could burn me to a crisp, so why don’t you?”

A grating voice chuckled.

This was what I’d been reduced to: yelling at air in my parking lot. The demon was trying to drive me crazy, and it was succeeding.

“What are you?” I said, my voice low, like a growl. I’d attack it, I really would. If I had any idea how.

Something grabbed my wrist. I’d have sworn it was a hand, a strong, rough hand, four fingers and a thumb wrapping around me and squeezing hard, like it meant to drag me away. Gasping, I jerked away, scrambling back, cradling my hand to my chest. That chuckle sounded again, amused, mocking.

Red burn marks shone on my skin, like a sunburn, in the shape of fingers. Like a red-hot hand had grabbed me.

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