Kitty Rocks the House Page 45

Trey said, “I gave her a copy of your book. The one about being a werewolf.”

My first book, a memoir called Underneath the Skin, had done pretty well for itself. This was a use for it I hadn’t considered. I hesitated, astonished. “Wow. That’s … that’s kind of crazy. But I’m glad.”

“She said it helped her see my side of it, and helped her explain to me what was bothering her. We must have talked about it all day.” He went on like that, waxing poetic about Sam and how amazing she was, his voice going all dreamy. I heartily approved. I almost forgot about the main reason I’d called.

“She wants to meet you,” he said, proudly.

“And I want to meet her, definitely. But I’ve got another problem right now—Becky and Darren are challenging for leadership of the pack.”

He paused a beat. “What?”

Yeah, exactly. I explained, and he said, simply, “I’ll kill him. Just point me at him.”

That’s my pack … “I’m hoping that won’t be necessary. We’ve got a plan brewing.”

Trey promised to side with me when the time came. We could do this, we really could.

The last person I called was Becky.

Her phone shunted me to voice mail, which I expected. I couldn’t imagine what she thought when my name came up on her caller ID. “Hi, Becky,” I said in a suitably cheerful voice that probably came out sounding saccharine and evil from her perspective. “This is Kitty. Of course it is. I’d really like to talk to you. You know how it is with me and the talking. No pressure, no strings attached, just talking in a well-lit public place. I’ll keep calling until you feel compelled to pick up the phone. Just to warn you.”

I called again ten minutes later. Then ten minutes after that. On the sixth call, she answered.

“What?” she’d said, sounding like a kid who’d gotten caught stealing gum.

“Not over the phone. I want you to look me in the eye when you explain to me why you think screwing me over is a good idea.”

“I don’t have to do that,” she said sharply.

“Nope, you sure don’t. I just want you to ask yourself how Darren’s little coup is likely to succeed when it’s you two standing on one side of the fight and me and the rest of the pack standing on the other.”

She only hesitated a beat. “He says the others will follow him. When they see how much stronger he is, how much more experienced. Kitty, you know you aren’t cut out for this, you never were, and with all the traveling and all this stupid vampire politics—”

“Becky. You know this pack. Who are they really going to listen to, him or me?” She didn’t seem to notice that I hadn’t actually said Darren was wrong on anything he’d said about me. He may have been right. But he’d severely misjudged my response to the situation. He assumed I’d fold. Because I wasn’t a “born alpha.” To hell with that.

Her voice cracked a little. “If there really is going to be trouble with the vampires, we’ll need someone strong, like him.”

“And you?”

“I’m strong enough.”

“Yes, I know,” I said. “Which is why we’re going to talk about this.”

“Talking isn’t going to help—”

“Says you.”

“Kitty—”

“Now you’re going to tell me I’m being naïve, unrealistic, that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, and I’m setting myself up for failure.”

She didn’t say anything to that. Score a point for me.

“The diner on Sheridan. Can you meet me there in a couple of hours?”

“I’m not sure—”

“Come on, yes or no. You want to come talk to me, or are you chicken?” I didn’t think that would actually work, but it couldn’t hurt.

“Fine. I’ll be there.” Still sounding like a pouting kid. Which meant I was still alpha, at least for now.

I donned the insufferable perkiness of a morning talk show host. “Great! Looking forward to it! I’ll see you there!” I clicked off the phone before she could respond.

Ben was watching me from the other end of the sofa. “You got her, but will she listen to you?”

“That, I don’t know. I hope so.”

“Yeah,” he said, unconvinced.

Because if we couldn’t talk her out of the coup, we’d have to drive her out of Denver. At the very least.

* * *

BECKY WAS already at the diner when Ben and I got there. An attempt to gain the high ground. She occupied a booth and sat facing the door, so she’d see us as soon as we entered. And we’d see her.

Ben and I made our plan before arriving. I went to Becky’s booth, and Ben waited by the door, arms crossed, staring at her. She couldn’t leave without getting past him. She’d have to sit and talk until I said she could go.

I approached, and she stood. Again, to claim high ground, to avoid having to crane her neck back and look up at me from a weak position. All I had to do was stand and glare. To her credit, she matched my gaze, didn’t look away. She really was strong enough to lead the pack, I believed that. I just couldn’t let her do it while I was around. I wasn’t going to let anyone drive me out of the city again.

“You’re not going to change my mind,” she said in a rush, another attempt to one-up me by getting in the first word.

I stayed calm. I had all afternoon for this. “Have a seat,” I said, nodding at the booth. To press the point, I sat first. Conceding the ground because it didn’t matter to me—I was stronger, and I didn’t have to prove it.

She sank into the seat opposite me. Looking deeply uncomfortable on the hard plastic, she perched on the very edge, hands folded on the table in front of her, shoulders bunched to her neck, jaw hard and her eyes like ice. Good. This wasn’t supposed to be comfortable. Though with both of us sitting like that, staring at each other like we were getting ready to arm wrestle in what was supposed to be a hip happy fun-time coffee joint, we were really out of place. Let people wonder.

“Why are we here?” Becky said, her voice low.

“I want to talk.”

“No, I mean why are we here?” She gestured at the setting. “Why not New Moon? That’s where you usually do your talking.”

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