Kitty Goes to War Page 38

He nodded. “It’s when he came to see you. There are a couple of kinds of hit men. There are the pros, the ones who do the job quick and clean, no fuss, collect the pay and go home. Then you have the thrill seekers. They have to be clever. Look the target in the eye. Put some flash into the job. Taunt. Franklin’s a wizard first. He just hires out for the thrill. He wasn’t kidding when he said he just wanted to see you face to face.”

“So what do we do? How do we stop him?”

Ben and Cormac glanced at each other, then away.

“We don’t,” Ben said finally. “Because we have no proof.”

Cormac said, “All we have is speculation. We can’t do anything until he makes a move. Unless we want to take him down ourselves.”

Which put us in legal trouble, if we got caught.

I got up and went for my phone, in my bag on the coffee table.

“Who are you calling?” Ben said.

I’d already speed dialed the number; I held my hand up to ask Ben to wait. And the voice mail came up, which I expected. I left a message. “Hi, Rick. It’s Kitty. We may have a situation. I’ll explain later, when you’re awake. If I’m still here, that is.” I flipped the phone shut.

“Rick’s not going to be up until nightfall,” Ben said.

“I know, but at least he’ll know there’s trouble when he is up.” Then I dialed the second number.

Detective Hardin answered on the first ring. “Hardin here.”

Detective Jessi Hardin was my ally in the Denver PD, head of and pretty much only officer in the Paranatural Unit. She handled crimes involving the supernatural and had a generally open mind—and a hard nose.

I opened my mouth and realized I had nothing to say. This was what Ben and Cormac meant by not having proof. What did I tell her, that the respected president of a major company was really a wizard hit man out for my blood and that the entire city might be in danger? That was crazy even by my standards. Hardin was usually sympathetic, but this might be pushing my luck.

“Hi, Detective. How are you?” I said instead.

“Kitty, I’m a little swamped here. Do you need something?” I heard the sounds of traffic and yelling in the background.

“I don’t know,” I said, wincing. “I have some… suspicions. I’m afraid something might be up.” Was that vague enough?

She sighed. “I’m sure it’s very interesting, but unless you have an actual crime for me to investigate, can it wait?”

In other words, until we had something we could arrest Franklin for, she couldn’t do anything. “Yeah, sure. Sorry to bother you.”

I wasn’t sure she heard me—she was shouting at someone about getting a car off the road. “Kitty, I’ll talk to you later, okay?” she said into the phone.

“Sure. Hey, take care, it sounds rough out there.”

“You have no idea. Later,” she said, and hung up.

I closed the phone. Ben and Cormac were both looking at me, smug in their lack of expressions. They didn’t even have to say I told you so.

“The question still stands,” I said. “What are we going to do?”

“It’s a full moon tonight,” Cormac said. “I assumed you’d both be busy.”

Shitty timing, as usual. But if Cormac was right, it was all part of the plan. I returned to my seat; my coffee had gone cold.

“We’ll just keep our eyes open, as usual,” Ben said, and gave a fatalistic shrug.

“You’ll keep an eye on Franklin while we’re out?” I said.

“I’m stuck on him like a burr,” Cormac said, getting up and grabbing his coat off the back of his chair. He left the photo on the table.

“Be careful,” I said. He nodded, and closed the condo door behind him.

Chapter 16

THE SKY hadn’t done more than spit snow all afternoon. Meteorologist predictions didn’t call for anything worse than that, but I wasn’t making any bets. Low cloud cover made for a depressing trip out; the sky seemed darker than it should have been, settling over the city like a lead blanket.

Cormac called once to say he didn’t have any more news—Franklin was lying low. He told us to be careful, which indicated that he was, in fact, worried.

Well before sunset, Ben and I picked up Tyler and Walters at the VA hospital. Dr. Shumacher met us at the door. She wore jeans, a sweater, and a heavy down parka and looked like she was getting ready for an Arctic expedition. Fair enough; it was cold out. But it was so incongruous, so unlike her usual prim appearance and bearing. It set me on edge.

“Hello, Doctor,” I said. “Are they ready to go?”

“Just about, I think. I’ve asked them wait inside while we talk.”

I glanced at Ben; his expression was neutral. One of his courtroom faces, which made me pretty sure he wasn’t going to like what Shumacher was about to say any more than I would. She had a tension to her—tight lips and stiff shoulders.

“What’s the problem?” I said.

“I need to know where you’ll be tonight,”

Of course she did. I shook my head. “I can’t tell you that, Doctor.”

“I have to know where you’re taking my patients.” She straightened, trying to make herself look taller; we were about the same height. She’d probably been working herself up to this conversation all day. She smelled nervous, sweating under her coat.

“I’m sorry, but this isn’t just about your patients. It’s about my pack. I need to keep them safe and that means no outsiders. As long as Tyler and Walters are with me they’re part of my pack.”

“But I have to monitor them, I have to record their progress, and if something were to go wrong—”

“So you can have Colonel Stafford there with the tranquilizer guns? Around my wolves? No.” And I realized that she’d probably been planning it. Stafford and his soldiers were probably on alert, waiting for Shumacher’s call in their van or troop carrier or whatever they used. They’d expected to be able to watch our full-moon adventures. I had to rein in my frustration, my anger. Next to me, Ben’s shoulder brushed mine, a brief touch to anchor me: settle down, now.

“How can you call them your wolves?” she said. She’d probably thought of them as hers.

“Because they’re my responsibility. I’ve promised to protect them.”

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