Kitty Rocks the House Page 25

“She’s the expert,” Ben said. Trey raised a disbelieving brow, and Ben added, “Unless of course Sam wants you to chase after her, to prove you really love her, and if you don’t call she’ll feel neglected—”

“Don’t try to game the system,” I said. “Give her a couple of days at the very least. Then call.”

“Can you do it?”

“Do what?”

“Call her. Put in a good word for me.”

“No! I mean, I’d love to meet her, but only when she’s ready. If she’s nervous now imagine what’ll happen when she faces a whole room of werewolves.”

“I don’t want to think about it.”

“Besides, imagine what she’d think if this strange woman she’s never met butts into business that ought to be between you two.”

He sagged again. “I guess that would look strange.”

More than a little. “I know it’s tough, but you can get through this. If she’s as great as you say she is, she’ll come around. She’ll be fine.” Please, let Sam be a sensible woman, let this all work out …

Trey was about to respond when my phone rang. Still shoved into my jeans pocket after last night. One of these days, I was going to take a hammer to the device. Justifiable technocide. I checked the caller ID.

“It’s Detective Hardin,” I said, as justification for taking the call. I wouldn’t have, for just about anyone else, but I clicked the talk button.

“Kitty?”

“Detective Hardin?” I said, worried, but at least I didn’t start declaiming about how I’d done nothing wrong and it wasn’t my fault.

“I’m here at the emergency room at St. Joseph’s with your buddy Cormac.”

She kept talking, but I didn’t hear anything. Something had gone wrong, and it didn’t matter that he’d been keeping his nose clean, trying to stay out of trouble—at least as best he could. Someone from his past had found him, he’d gotten into a fight he couldn’t get out of—

“Kitty?” she said. “Are you there?”

“What’s wrong, what happened?” Ben had gone tense, sitting up and leaning forward, straining to hear, bacon and coffee forgotten. Even Trey responded to the anxiety, straightening, as if we faced danger right here.

“Don’t worry, he’ll be fine. But he asked me to call you and Ben. You should probably get down here.” It couldn’t have been too bad. She sounded almost amused, not at all like someone delivering bad news. In fact she may have been enjoying this. That still could have meant bad news, knowing how she felt about Cormac …

“What happened?” I squeaked.

“He said he’ll explain it when you get here.”

“Right. Okay. We’re on the way.” I clicked the phone off. I stared at it for a moment.

“Go,” Ben said, pushing at me to let him out of the booth. “I’ll drive.”

“What is it?” Trey said. He hadn’t been close enough to hear Hardin over the phone. “You’ve gone completely white.”

“Ben’s cousin’s in the emergency room,” I said starkly. I looked at him despairing. “Can we pick this up later? I’m sorry—” Wolf, curled up deep in my gut, growled a little. We were alpha, we shouldn’t be apologizing. But I was human, and Trey had asked for help.

I couldn’t do everything.

“Yeah, sure, of course,” Trey said. Ben had the presence of mind to slap a twenty on the table as we were leaving. At least we didn’t stick him with the check.

Ben took my arm and pulled me toward the door. Shaken out of my shock by his urging, I hurried to keep up.

Once outside, we ran to the car and drove to the downtown hospital in silence.

Chapter 10

FINDING PARKING took forever. Of course it did, we were in a hurry. I suggested just parking right outside the big sliding doors with the red EMERGENCY sign posted over it, but Ben indicated that that would be a bad idea when the next ambulance plowed into his sedan. Never argue potential traffic violations with a lawyer.

Walking to the emergency room after finding a parking spot also seemed to take forever, as if the space between us and the doors kept expanding.

“What did she say?” Ben asked for the millionth time. “Did she say what happened?”

“You heard as much as I did. She said he’d be fine, but that was it. Said that Cormac wanted to explain it himself.”

“God, if he’s broken parole…” he muttered.

Detective Hardin’s involvement did seem to suggest Cormac had done something illegal. He’d been doing so well, and he only had a couple more months on his parole. Surely this couldn’t be that bad.

“We should have more faith in him,” I said, as much to myself as to Ben.

“You haven’t known him as long as I have. Him and trouble, they’re like magnets.”

“Like somebody else you know?” I said, my grin lopsided.

He huffed at that, and we were inside.

The lighting was oppressively artificial, and the mood in the waiting room was dour. A dozen people slouched in plastic chairs watching a talking heads news show with the sound off on a TV hung in the corner. A kid sleeping in his mom’s lap coughed. The place smelled like illness, and bodily fluids covered over with antiseptic. My nose wrinkled.

Ben marched straight to the reception desk. “You’ve got a patient, Cormac Bennett? We’re his family.”

The nurse, a tired-looking woman whose brown hair was coming out of its clip, checked a sheet of paper and nodded. “Yes, let me take you back.”

She led us around the corner to a series of exam spaces separated by curtains. Halfway down the row, she held back a curtain and gestured us in.

Cormac was sitting on the side of the bed, his legs hanging over, slouching and looking annoyed. At first glance he didn’t look different; he was dressed in his usual jeans and T-shirt. His leather jacket lay over a nearby chair. But he smelled of sweat and adrenaline—of pain. His left arm was resting on a rollaway table that fit over the bed, wrapped in a bandage and covered with blue cold packs. Hardin stood a few paces away, arms crossed. She regarded us with amusement, eyes crinkled, smirking.

“What happened?” I burst. I had an urge to rush over and hug Cormac and make protective cooing noises over him, but I didn’t. He wouldn’t have appreciated it. I was just so relieved to see him alive, conscious, sitting up, and being himself.

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