Kitty Rocks the House Page 19

“You see, that rings true to me. The original Edward Alleyn made his fortune in the theater and in spectacle. I have to believe that some of that impulse would still exist. But more than anything I offer this: of all the historical figures a vampire could claim to be, why on earth would anyone pick an Elizabethan actor who, apart from appearing as a secondary character in a popular film a dozen years ago, is virtually unknown to anyone outside the field? If this is a wild bid for attention, why not impersonate Walter Raleigh or Francis Drake, or even Shakespeare himself? If you’re trying to be famous, impersonating a celebrity hardly anyone remembers is not the way to go about it.”

When she didn’t respond right away, I prompted McAdams. “Professor? What do you think about that?”

“I have to admit, you have a point there.” She sounded thoughtful rather than disappointed.

Eret said, “Then you concede—I’m right, and the memoir is real.”

“I wouldn’t go that far,” she said. “There’s still a reputation to be made in establishing myself as the professional skeptic on the topic.”

I said, “All right, level with me—that’s why the Shakespeare debate’s still out there, isn’t it?”

“Because there are people who are professional skeptics on the topic? Of course.”

“Well, I have to respect your honesty, at least.”

Eret said, “Professor McAdams, would you be interested in staging a series of public debates on the subject?”

“That’s a wonderful idea. Maybe we could even co-present at the next MLA conference?”

“Splendid! Each of us ought to be able to get a book or two out of this. Are you tenured yet?”

“No—I could really use a high-profile book. Maybe even for a popular audience…”

“Then a formal rivalry could help both our careers,” Eret said cheerfully.

Are you kidding me? I wondered if they even remembered that I was here. “You guys do realize you’re still on the air, right?” They both made polite affirmative noise. “Do I dare ask about any conclusions on the subject of In the Blood and its author?”

“We’ll obviously never be able to come to some kind of consensus,” McAdams pronounced decisively. Nay, happily even.

“Right then. Thank you both for speaking with me this evening. I’m going to wrest control of my own show back and open the line for a couple of questions. Hello, Arthur from Spokane.”

“Hi, yes, I just wanted to say that you really can’t be so cavalier in dismissing the argument that the front man purportedly known as William Shakespeare did not write those plays. The actor Edward Alleyn may not have even been aware of the cover-up, as many contemporaries were not—that’s why it’s called a cover-up—”

God, I really needed to check the monitor more closely. “I’m sorry, that’s a little off topic tonight. Can you tell me if you think Edward Alleyn is really a vampire?”

“Well, of course he is, if he says he is.”

And yet Shakespeare couldn’t have written Shakespeare. I stared at the microphone. “Seriously? You’re going to stick with that?”

He sounded offended. “Well, yes, and if I could get back to the question of Shakespeare—”

“No, you can’t. Next caller, please, and let’s stay on topic. Hello?”

“Oh, Kitty, hi! I just have a quick question—do you think maybe that Shakespeare is a vampire?”

I had to think about that a minute. No, I needed to think about that for several minutes. But I didn’t have a few minutes. I had the threat of dead air and a sudden wish that I had done this week’s show on the possibility of psychic houseplants. “No, I don’t. And I think it’s about time to break for station ID and go have a drink. Or three…”

Chapter 8

I’D DONE worse shows. I’d done better.

Shaun had a beer waiting for me at New Moon as soon as I walked in, and that was only one of the many reasons we kept him around. This late, right before closing, only a few stragglers remained. Lingering parties, successful dates. Darren was sitting at a table for two—with Becky. At the moment her smile sparkled brighter than I’d ever seen it. Oh dear …

“How long have they been at it?” I said to Shaun, nodding at them.

“Couple of hours. She’d been here for half an hour or so, stopping by after work, and he showed up. They’ve been together ever since.”

“So—what do you think?”

“He hurts her I’ll rip his face off,” he said. I was thinking the same thing. But for the moment she seemed so gosh darned happy, I could hardly judge. But it seemed … odd. Darren was certainly making himself at home.

I sidled over to their table. Just checking, I told myself. Politely interested, not intruding. “Hi, guys. Sorry to bother you, but could I have a word with Darren, just for a sec?” My smile was so big it hurt.

Becky actually glowered at me, offended. I didn’t glare back and made what I hoped was a comforting shrug. For his part, Darren only seemed confused as he followed me back to the bar.

“What do you need?” he said as he hopped up on the stool next to me and leaned in close—closer than I was comfortable with. But I couldn’t flinch back, not a millimeter. I couldn’t figure this guy out. Maybe he was a were–golden retriever? We’d find out soon enough.

“Full moon’s tomorrow night, I just wanted to go over a few things. We have territory in the mountains—”

He waved a hand as if to say, no problem. “Becky told me all about it.”

“We usually carpool. You can ride up with Ben and me if you want—”

“You don’t have to go through the trouble, I’ll be okay.”

But he didn’t even know where we were going. The dirt roads we followed were Forest Service roads, not marked on the usual maps. How was he going to get there without a guide? Oh—he was riding with Becky.

I soldiered on. “We hunt together, as a pack. We keep an eye on each other. Livestock and roads are off-limits.” I assumed I didn’t have to tell him that people were off-limits as well. Maybe I shouldn’t make that assumption …

He just kept smiling. “You don’t trust me, do you?”

I sighed and shook my head, as if I could shake away my misgivings. “I just want everything to go smoothly. Full moon nights are always touchy.”

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