Kitty Rocks the House Page 34

“You okay?” I asked her.

“I hid behind my badge and managed to convince them the fire was accidental and that we took care of it. I don’t want to have to explain the whole story. Mostly because I don’t know it.” Frowning, she said to Cormac, “I don’t see my suspect coming out to check on his spell.”

“That’s because the spell is still there,” he said, cradling his arm and wincing. “I didn’t break the protection, just pissed it off.”

“So now what?” she demanded.

“Just give me a few more days,” Cormac said.

“Maybe I can arrest you for fraud,” she muttered. I thought she was joking. Probably. She may have still been bitter that she wasn’t the one to put him away. Maybe she was looking for a second chance. Other than the fried bush and ashy streaks on the wall and sidewalk, no evidence of the conflagration remained. At this point, she didn’t have the physical evidence to charge Cormac with anything. But give it time …

“You can’t arrest him,” I said in a rush. Cormac was so close to finishing his parole, didn’t he see that? Didn’t she see it? If he wrecked that chasing down some wild goose that I’d set him on, I’d never forgive myself.

She said, “Did you learn enough about it to try again?”

“Yes,” he said. He probably would have said yes no matter what.

“And is this going to get my suspect to come out of there so I can arrest him?”

“Keep knocking at his door hard enough, he’ll come out,” he said.

She nodded, apparently satisfied.

“Let’s get out of here,” I said, a hand on Cormac’s shoulder to steer him back to the street.

“Hey,” Hardin said, stepping into our path, stopping us. “What happened to you in prison?”

“What makes you think anything did?” he said in his usual flat tone.

“Ever since you got out, you’ve been … weird. Not crazy, not more crazy at least. In fact I think you’ve been less crazy.”

“Less crazy?” he said, with a short laugh, like he thought it was hilarious. As well he might.

“Before, you acted like you didn’t have anything to live for. Now, you do.”

I looked at him, to see his reaction. Because I thought she was right. Would he tell her the truth?

He bowed his head, smiling wryly. “The system works, detective. I’m rehabilitated.”

She maintained an expression of skepticism. Without another word, he stepped around her. I followed. She didn’t.

I felt like we’d made a narrow escape. I walked with Cormac to his car. “Rehabilitated?” I said.

“You going to argue?”

I couldn’t. He wasn’t exactly on the straight and narrow these days, but he was a lot closer to it than he had been. “You really should be more careful around her.”

“Naw. I think she meant what she said—she wants to see what happens next.”

On second thought, Hardin was wrong. He may have had something to live for now, but he was still crazy. “You don’t have to go after this thing anymore,” I said. “I’ll find another way to talk to Columban and Rick, and Columban can convince Hardin not to arrest him.”

He’d opened the driver’s side door of the Jeep; I leaned on the hood.

“It doesn’t bother you that some vampire is camped in the middle of Denver inside a magical shield, doing who knows what?”

Well, when he put it like that … “It’s not worth getting hurt over. More hurt.”

He glanced at his arm in the sling. “I can take care of myself.”

“You keep saying that.”

Awkwardly, guiding his broken arm so it didn’t bang on anything, he climbed into the front seat and slammed the door. He had to reach across with his good hand to do it. When he started the engine, I had to decide if he really intended to drive right over me. He was very likely thinking, I was a werewolf, I could take it. I stepped away from the Jeep as he steered from the curb.

Chapter 12

“DETECTIVE HARDIN hired Cormac?” Ben said, when I finally got home and told him the whole story as we settled in for the night.

“I know, right?”

“That’s not exactly what I meant when I said he should go into business for himself,” he said, lying on his back and regarding the ceiling thoughtfully.

Lying in the crook of his arm, I drew on his warmth to ease the knots from my muscles. “That’s what I told him you’d say.”

“And she didn’t arrest him?”

“Nope,” I said.

“Huh. He could do worse than have a homicide cop owe him a favor.”

I propped myself on an elbow. “Are you sure you should be encouraging this?”

“I’m not sure either of us has much of a say in the matter.”

My scrunched expression must have looked grouchy. He levered up just far enough to kiss my lips, and I sank back into his arms.

* * *

I DIDN’T get much sleep, dreaming about attacks of flaming death. Sparks of spell-laden fire still flashed at the edges of my vision when I closed my eyes, lingering memory of the night before. I wondered if Cormac had gotten any sleep. If I worked more, I could forget about it, so I went to the station early the next day and deleted e-mails for an hour.

My cell phone sitting on the edge of my desk rang, and I grabbed it. “Hello?”

“So, what happened to talking ‘tomorrow’?” Cheryl said.

Oh God, what day was it? When had I last talked to her? Days ago. I’d been dealing with Cormac’s broken arm and had completely forgotten about Cheryl. I was the worst sister ever.

I planted my elbows on the desk and slouched. “Cheryl, I’m so sorry. You would not believe what’s been happening. Ben’s cousin broke his arm and we had to take care of him, and—”

“Your life is a whirlwind, yes, I know. If you don’t want to talk to me could you just say so?”

I glanced at the wall clock. Almost noon. “Are you doing anything for lunch today? I could come over. I’ll pick something up, pizza or Chinese or whatever. I’ll come over right now.” I held my breath, waiting for her answer.

Her sigh was long-suffering. “Yeah, okay. I’m home. You don’t have to bring anything, I’ve got a frozen pizza I can heat up.”

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