Kitty Rocks the House Page 37

He grinned. “I think it kinda turns me on.”

How could I resist a come-on like that? The flush rolling through my gut helped push away some of my anxiety. I grabbed his collar, pulled myself toward him, and kissed him. His mouth opened to mine, and I leaned in to wrap his warmth around me. There went a little more anxiety.

Pulling away, he donned a thoughtful, puckered expression. He seemed to be licking his lips. “What on earth did you eat?”

The question recalled a memory of dense fur on a lithe, stringy body. “Um. I think I killed somebody’s cat.”

“Oh geez,” he said, and laughed.

I glared. “It’s not funny.”

“It kind of is. I know, not to whoever’s cat it is. But anybody who lets their cat out around here knows about coyotes. It’s not exactly safe.”

Some cat wasn’t coming home tonight and it was my fault. “I feel really bad.”

He put his arm around my shoulder and hugged. “That’s what makes you a good person. You know that, right?”

Time to get out of here, surely. He helped me slip on the overcoat, then gave me a hand up. He didn’t let go, and I happily leaned into the solidity of him. We started hiking across the open field. I recognized where we were—an open swathe of greenway that wound through Highlands Ranch. I was still within a mile of my sister’s house. I’d lucked out, losing it this close to a reasonable facsimile of wilderness.

“I remember when you did this for me. I completely lost it, ran off. And you were right there to call me back.”

“I should know better,” I said. “After all this time, I really ought to know better. I’m the pack alpha—what kind of example is this? I feel so … dumb.”

“You controlled it enough to stay away from people. You didn’t hurt anything, so no harm done, really.”

“Except for the cat.”

He laughed again. “I’m sorry, it’s just … you couldn’t find anything more appetizing than a cat?”

“You’re not helping, dear,” I growled.

He’d parked his car by the curb, away from the main road that wound through the neighborhood. I was happy to see it. One step closer to home.

“Oh—we’re not telling Cormac about this, right?” I said.

“We are not telling Cormac about this,” he agreed.

We’d climbed into the car when Ben’s phone rang. Ben’s, not mine, which was a nice change. I even checked, patting my jeans pocket. The thing somehow managed to stay lodged there through all that mess. The call was probably one of his clients needing to be bailed out or looking for advice—before they did something stupid rather than after, one hoped.

“Hello? Yeah … yeah. She’s right here. She wasn’t answering her phone for a while. Is something wrong?” After a moment of listening, he said, “You’d better talk to her,” then handed the phone to me.

Who is it? I mouthed at him, but the voice on the other end of the connection was already talking.

“Ms. Norville? Kitty?”


“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” he said, sounding wheezy, as if forgetting to draw breath in order to speak.

“Do what? What’s wrong?” If I didn’t know better I’d have said he was in a panic. Vampires didn’t panic.

“I need … I’m trying…” He really was gasping out the words. I clamped my mouth shut to keep quiet, to let him talk. “I need help,” he finally said.

I had to let that sink in. “What?”

“I. Need. Help.” He bit the words off.

“No, I heard you, I just didn’t believe it. You need what?” Oh, this made up for all the times he’d stood at the doorway to Rick’s lair telling me I wasn’t good enough to speak to the illustrious Master.

“Kitty. Please, I’m being serious.”

And he was. The panic was definitely there, in a brittle edge to his voice.

“What is it?” I said.

“Rick is missing.”

I turned the words over a couple of times because they didn’t make sense. “You mean he still isn’t answering calls—”

“I mean none of us have seen him for a week,” Angelo said. “He may be eccentric, but he’s never been … neglectful. I’m fielding calls from the envoy from Buenos Aires and I don’t know what to tell him. Rick needs to be here.”

If Rick hadn’t told his own lieutenants where he was, why would he have told me? I didn’t say that. I should have been flattered that Angelo even thought of calling me. How much pride had he swallowed to do that? He was obviously continuing to choke on it.

As for Rick … “Yeah, he does.”

“He talks to you—you’re his friend—”

“And you’re not?”

“I know you know where he is. Just tell me.”

The thought of tracking Rick down just now made me tired. I needed a shower. And a change of clothes. I looked down at myself, my ratty hair and torn clothes, wrapped up as well as I could be in Ben’s coat, and decided this couldn’t wait. “I’ll call you.”

“I want to be there when you talk to him—”

I hung up on him. Ben looked at me. “That’ll piss him off.”

“I’ll deal with him later. Rick can deal with him later.”

Ben started the car. “Then you know where we’re going?”

“Yeah. St. Cajetan’s.”

“I knew it.” The car pulled away from the curb. “What about those protective spells?”

“I just want to talk, we’re not going to provoke anyone. We should be fine.” Famous last words.

“You sure you don’t want to go home first?”

“Let’s get this over with.”

The drive took almost half an hour. I could have waited, but I called Cheryl instead.

“Hey,” I said when she answered.

“Kitty! Oh my God, where are you? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Ben found me. Cheryl, I’m sorry I ran off on you.” There, I said it. I felt relieved.

“What the hell happened?”

“I lost my temper.”

“Oh, is that all,” she said, with a thick layer of sarcasm.

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