Kitty Rocks the House Page 39

“Are you okay?”

“Of course. But are you? You look like you’ve had a rough night of it.”

With the overcoat covering them, I’d forgotten my clothes were ripped enough to fall off in a slight breeze. I hugged the coat tighter around me. When I didn’t say anything, Rick looked at Ben.

“She lost it,” he said. The vampire raised an eyebrow.

“I lost my temper and shifted in the middle of Highlands Ranch.”

“She ate somebody’s cat,” Ben added. I was never going to live that down, was I?

Rick seemed taken aback. “Really? That isn’t like you. What’s wrong?”

Everything, I almost said. “I’m a little stressed out. And this isn’t supposed to be about me, this is about you.”

“I’m fine, Kitty. What are you even doing here?”

“Angelo called me. He’s worried.”

“There’s nothing to be worried about,” Rick said curtly. “That is, as long as your bounty hunter keeps his distance.”

I didn’t want to talk about Cormac right now. The protective spell was obviously doing its job; Cormac wasn’t a threat. “The Buenos Aires vampires are going to be here in a couple of days, they’re bugging Angelo about procedure, and we haven’t talked at all about what to say to them.”

“I’m sure you can handle it,” he said. “There’s nothing I can say to them that you can’t say perfectly well on your own.”

“Besides the fact that I’m a werewolf and they probably won’t want to talk to me at all?”

“You’ll just have to convince them otherwise.”

He was dumping this all on me, all of it. The weight of the world, settling on my shoulders. Even Wolf curled up and whined at the thought.

“What’s so important that you can’t come out and deal with this?” I said. I pointed at the wall of the church. “What are you and Columban doing in there?”

“I’m…” He clenched his hands, as if reaching for pockets that weren’t there. “I can’t discuss it. But yes, it is important. Columban is taking on this battle just as much as we are. I think I can help him.”

“But I know you can help me.”

He started to say one thing, but shook his head. He turned back to the building, changed his mind, and looked back. “Kitty. Ben. I appreciate your concern. But you should go home. Get cleaned up, get some rest. You obviously have enough problems of your own, you don’t need to be worried about me.” He spoke with such confidence, in such a decisive, commanding tone, how could I argue? I still felt uneasy.

“Ricardo?” an accented voice called from within the shadows, from an open doorway in the back of the church.

Ricardo, not Rick. I could see the shape of the vampire priest’s cassock, but not his features. I wanted to grab him, shake him, demand to know what spell he’d put on Rick. But I didn’t.

“I have to go,” the vampire said. I might have imagined him pressing his lips in an apology as he turned away and disappeared back through the doorway.

“We’ve lost him,” I said, my voice bleak.

Ben put his arm around me, turned me to the street. He had to push, urging me, before I could get my feet to move.

Chapter 14

I CALLED ANGELO to tell him Rick wasn’t going to be available for the meeting with the Buenos Aires vampires.

“You talked to him?” he said, astonished.

“Briefly. He wasn’t really interested in talking.”

“What did he say?”

“I think he’s gone sort of Buddhist monk. Can vampires be Buddhist monks?”

“I’m sure I wouldn’t know. Kitty—the envoy will be here tonight. He wants to talk to Rick. Not you.”

“Well,” I said, feeling hollow. “He’s got me. Why don’t you send him to New Moon after the show?”

His voice turned arch with disgust. “I can’t send him there.”

“Yes, you can. And make sure he eats something first—somewhere else,” I said and hung up the phone. Either the guy would be there after the show, or he wouldn’t.

Friday night again, already. Couldn’t be possible, but it was. Ozzie called me around lunchtime, because I hadn’t been into work since Thursday morning, and he wanted to know when I was coming in to prep for the show. If there was ever a time I wanted to call in sick, this was it.

Ben insisted on driving me to the station—and coming inside with me, and staying through the show.

“You don’t have to do this,” I said for the ninth time, as we entered the lobby. The receptionist waved hello, and I made a halfhearted motion in response on our way to the elevator.

“Yes, I do,” Ben said. “After your breakdown yesterday? I’m not letting you out of my sight. You might need someone to peel you off the ceiling.”

He was worried about me. It was kind of sweet, and I teared up a little even as I argued. “I wouldn’t call it a breakdown.”

“Then what would you call it?”

Shape-shifting in the middle of the suburbs because of stress? Um, right. I grabbed his hand and squeezed. “Thanks for looking out for me.” He smiled back.

We stopped off at my office to pick up materials for the show and were still hand in hand when we walked into the studio. Matt, in position in the booth by the soundboard, waved at me. And Ozzie was sitting in his seat in the corner. Of all the weeks he could pick to play supervisor. I managed not to groan.

Ben leaned in and murmured, “Someone else been keeping an eye on you, I take it?”

“I don’t want to talk about it. Have a seat and be good, okay?”

He kissed my forehead and did as I asked. I turned a bright, fake smile on my boss. “Hi, Ozzie.”

“Kitty. You haven’t been around much this week. I’ve been worried.” He was a good guy, but his worry usually translated as smothering. Made me bristle.

“Yeah, I know. Family stuff came up.” In a manner of speaking …

“You got something good for tonight?”

“Do I ever. In fact, I’m glad you’re here. You’ll love it.” In fact, I was starting to get an idea …

Some weeks, I was on top of things: planning, organizing, recording interviews ahead of time, writing up my rants and speeches to make sure they sounded intelligent and insightful. Other weeks, not so much. I’d tell myself I’d do it tomorrow, for sure. Then I’d wake up, and it’d be Friday, and I’d have a show to do that day. This week in particular, Friday seemed to have sneaked up on me. Good thing I always had something to talk about. I kept a folder full of articles, links to online rants requiring responses, and notes of random thoughts. The world never failed to provide shocking, interesting, head-scratching topics for me to discuss.

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