Kitty Rocks the House Page 30

“What are you doing?” I said.

“Getting out of your hair. Heading back to my place. I’m fine, I can take care of myself.”

He hadn’t changed clothes since the hospital; we’d all figured rest was more important. He also hadn’t showered, and was starting to smell ripe, of illness and bandages. But if he was having this much trouble getting himself together, how was he actually going to function on his own?

“You can’t,” I said. “You can’t even put your coat on.”

“I haven’t taken any pills since last night, I want to get home while I’m still lucid. I’ll get back to bed then.” And how long would that last?

“How much pain are you in? Don’t lie.” He didn’t answer, and I let out an exasperated sigh. “You’re in no shape to be driving anywhere! What are you thinking?”

He gave me a look, like he’d be happier if I just kept my mouth shut.

“I’ll drive you,” Ben said.

“I can drive myself—”

“Stick shift with a broken arm, yeah right,” Ben said. He grabbed the Jeep’s keys off the table where Cormac had dropped them, then took his jacket from him. With his good hand free, Cormac could finish shrugging on the sling, resting his broken arm more comfortably. How lucid was he, really, if he couldn’t figure out how to get his sling on? Pointing that out would have made him more surly than he already was. “Kitty, you want to follow in the car?”

Seemed as good a compromise as any. I was still glaring at Cormac. “Only if you promise to call if you need anything. Anything.”

“I promise I’ll call if I need anything,” he said dutifully, to the opposite wall, his shoulders in a defensive slouch.

Not sure I believed him, I continued glaring.

“Amelia will make sure I call if I need anything,” he said.

That, I believed. I found my bag and car keys and followed them out of the condo.

Cormac lived in a studio apartment north of town, along the Boulder Turnpike. Not a great neighborhood, but I usually didn’t worry. Cormac could take care of himself, and he didn’t exactly give off the vibe of someone who could be taken advantage of. But that was when he didn’t have a broken arm. Over the last couple of years he’d worked a series of warehouse jobs he’d gotten through his parole officer. Point of pride—he wanted to be self-sufficient. I didn’t know how he’d manage work with a broken arm, but he didn’t seem bothered.

I parked in front of the building next to the Jeep and helped Ben help Cormac up the stairs. Mostly by hovering. Cormac winced when the arm got jostled, turning a corner and bumping into the wall. For him to show even that much pain meant he was in bad shape. Good thing I’d made sure the bottle of pills was tucked in his jacket pocket. I’d sit on him to get him to take a dose, if I had to.

The apartment’s interior belonged to both Cormac and Amelia. The sparse furnishings—table, chair, futon—and bare walls were Cormac’s. The books piled everywhere—table, floor, kitchen counter; basket full of dried herbs; skein of yarn; locked and weathered mahogany box; and various maps and diagrams drawn on rolls of paper, held down by candles, statuettes, and other various weighted items—those were Amelia’s, the tools of the wizard’s trade. I could have pawed through it for hours, looking for meaning.

Ben guided his cousin to bed, while I went to the kitchenette for a glass of water and ice packs. We watched him until he took a painkiller. In the end, I had a suspicion it was Amelia who made him do it.

Pulling a chair near the bed, Ben sat and glanced around the apartment. “I think you’ve checked out more books in the last year than most people do in a lifetime.”

Cormac chuckled. “I guess I like to read. Who knew?”

I’d taken to sending him books during his stint in prison. It started as a joke, but turned earnest. He really seemed to have read everything I’d sent him.

“I think he’s reading for two, now,” I said, noting some of the titles. Churchill’s multivolume history of World War II; Woodward and Bernstein’s All the President’s Men; Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. I wondered what Victorian Amelia was making of that one.

“Think about it,” Cormac said. “If you went to sleep and woke up a hundred years later, what would you do?”

This wasn’t a hypothetical question—Amelia really had been out of the world for that long. “I suppose I’d freak out for a little while. Everything I knew would be gone. But then—I’d want to find out what I’d missed. I’d want to explore everything.”

He said, “These last couple years—I’m seeing the world in a whole new way. She’s never seen anything like it, and all she wants to do is … take it all in.”

I sat in another chair while we kept watch. Just when we thought he was drifting off, he sat up, propping himself on his good elbow, wincing yet again. He still wasn’t used to favoring the hurt arm. He adjusted the pillow he’d propped the cast on, trying to get comfortable. “You get ahold of Rick yet?” he said.

I leaned back. “No. His Family won’t admit it, but they don’t know where he is, either. He’s not at Obsidian, so I’m pretty sure that means he’s with Columban.”

“At St. Cajetan’s?”

“If they haven’t already left on some crusade.”

“Rick wouldn’t leave town without telling you,” Ben said.

“I hope he wouldn’t,” I said, my uncertainty plain.

“I’m going to figure it out,” Cormac said.

Ben looked at him. “Figure what out?”

“Those protections he’s got up. If we get to the thing that’s after him, we can get to him. Can’t be that hard.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I said. “Really. Just get some rest.”

“You want to know what he’s really up to, I’ll figure it out.” With that, he closed his eyes, snugged down into his pillow, and sighed. In another minute he was asleep.

Ben and I left him to it. I considered taking the keys to the Jeep with us, so he wouldn’t be tempted to run off on some epic scheme, but Ben talked me out of it.

“Are you sure he’ll be okay?” I said as we got in my car.

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