Kitty Goes to War Page 25

“Do you guys want to get out, maybe see a little of Denver?” I said. Ben glanced at me, questioning.

Tyler and Walters looked at each other, and Tyler said, “Could we really do that?”

“Why not? You can sit here and have a conversation. The next step is to sit out there and have a conversation.” I nodded in the direction of the door. “Discipline. It’s all discipline and self-control.”

“The army way,” Tyler said, quirking a smile.

My phone rang with “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” The soldiers jumped, and I glanced around the table apologetically.

“Cormac,” I told Ben as I clicked the phone on. I’d finally given him his own ringtone so I’d have some warning.

“That’s your custom ringtone for Cormac?” he said.

I smirked back at him as I went to the corner for some privacy. Into the phone I said, “Yeah?”

“Your guy, Franklin? I found something,” Cormac said.

Life could never be simple, could it? I couldn’t deal with just one problem at a time, could I?

“What is it?” I pressed a hand to my other ear and listened.

“Your friend was right,” Cormac said. I almost corrected him, that Charles wasn’t my friend—but when he needed to talk, he’d called me. What did that make me? Cormac continued, “Harold Franklin was traveling in all those locations on those dates. I’m not sure it means anything—the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy—”

“Whoa—what was that you just said?”

He paused before saying, “Never mind.”

“But—”

“Maybe Franklin had something to do with those storms, maybe he didn’t. But it’s interesting that he’s never been present for major earthquakes, mudslides, wildfires—just storms.”

So Franklin coincidentally shows up for major, historically significant storms, but not other natural disasters. It wasn’t much to base a defense on. “Like you said, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. And I don’t think it’s admissible in court.”

“Probably not. But it’s a start. I’ve got some more checking to do.”

“Great. Cool. Whatever you can find. Do you need help?”

“You know—I might,” he said. “Let me talk to Ben a minute.”

Sure, he could connive with Ben but not with me… I held the phone out to Ben and raised my eyebrows at his curious expression. “I may not be guilty of libel after all.”

“Not about Speedy Mart, anyway,” he said.

“Hey!” I pouted.

Grinning, he took the phone and replaced me in the corner. I tried to listen in, but Ben’s side of the conversation mostly involved him saying, “Yeah… okay… okay…” Cormac was speaking low enough that I couldn’t hear his side.

“What’s that all about?” Tyler asked.

I sighed. How did I explain this in as few words as possible? “I spent part of my show last week talking about whether or not something supernatural is going on with Speedy Mart—the 24-hour convenience store chain, right?”

“Something supernatural—like vampires and werewolves?” he said.

“Kind of. Anything, really. Magical, supernatural—weird. Anyway, the president of Speedy Mart is suing me for libel. So now we want to prove that there really is something going on with him because then it isn’t libel.”

Tyler leaned forward a little. “If someone’s giving you trouble, Walters and I could maybe take care of it—”

“No,” I said. “That will definitely not be necessary. We’ve got it under control.”

Not that siccing a couple of Green Beret werewolves on Franklin wouldn’t be fun to watch

Ben returned to the table, folding my phone and handing it back to me.

“Well?” I said.

“Later,” he said.

“You two lead interesting lives, don’t you?” Tyler said.

I shrugged. “For certain values of interesting.”

We finished the meal. The sodas were drunk, the skewers lay empty and bloody. I was feeling quite pleased with myself.

“Thanks,” Tyler said. “Been awhile since I’ve eaten that well.” Walters made a sound of agreement. Was he actually smiling?

“You’re welcome,” I said. “Think about that next step, okay? I’ll see if I can’t arrange a field trip.” I tried to sound encouraging.

Tyler’s responding smile was grim, but it was a smile. Walters looked up, then away. But tension in the room was less than it had been when we entered.

Ben and I left shoulder to shoulder, and Shumacher led us back to her office for the debriefing. She kept looking at Ben—who had, of course, blown his cover by coming here and talking werewolf with the soldiers. Ben looked back at her, unconcerned and amused. We’d discussed this—and if he hadn’t been okay with her knowing, he wouldn’t have come.

“I assumed you’d guessed when I didn’t mind getting Kitty’s blood all over me,” he said finally.

She blushed and ducked her gaze. “I didn’t spot it. I thought I was getting good at identifying werewolves on sight. But you hide it well.”

“I’d appreciate it if you kept it quiet,” Ben said. “I’m not the publicity hound Kitty is.”

“Publicity hound? Is that a joke?” I said, and he kissed my cheek in response.

“Of course,” Shumacher said. “Of course.” She was nervous around us—her body tense, her gaze darting, her smell sharp. I’d have thought she’d gotten used to being around werewolves by now. Maybe she didn’t like being outnumbered. “Are you sure taking them outside is a good idea?” She set her clipboard on her desk.

Ben and I took chairs across from her.

I shrugged. “They’ll be supervised. We have to start somewhere.”

“I’m not sure they’re ready,” Shumacher said.

“Have you even talked to them? Found out what they want?”

“I’m not sure they’re in a position to be making those kinds of decisions, after what they’ve been through.”

“They’re not children,” I said. “Sure, they need help. But they deserve to have a say in what happens to them. The only way they’re going to get better is if they have a reason to get better. It’s the carrot approach.” I sat back and tried not to frown.

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