Kitty Rocks the House Page 47

“Kitty, I know if we really need you you’d be here in a heartbeat. You were at Grandma Norville’s funeral, weren’t you? Of course I’d like to see you more often, we all would. But you have your own life to live.”

“If you say so. But Cheryl—”

“She’s going through a rough stretch right now, but she’ll be fine, eventually. You might call her every now and then, take her out for lunch or dinner. Let her know you haven’t forgotten about her.”

“I can do that.” It wouldn’t even be difficult. And just like that, life got a little brighter. “Thanks, Mom.”

* * *

PART OF the talking Becky and I did at the diner over third and fourth cups of coffee was make a plan. Darren had a plan. Becky was part of it, and she hadn’t told him the plan was off. So that was how we’d face him. Follow his plan, right up until we didn’t.

Their plan was for Becky to call me that evening and say that Darren was hurting her, and could we please come help. They’d be out by the full moon den, a remote space where we could have a proper showdown. Darren also picked the spot to be symbolic—this was the place the wolves called home, he wanted to prove he could control it. Becky would call, Ben and I would ride to the rescue. Trap sprung.

The hardest part of the new plan was going to be Becky convincing Darren she wasn’t lying when she told him that the old plan was still on. He’d be able to smell the deception on her. On the other hand, he’d only known her a few weeks. He didn’t know any of us, really, any more than we knew him. Maybe he’d think her strangeness was nerves.

She went home and showered to get the smell of the diner, and Ben and me, off her. Then, we went home and waited.

“We should call Cormac, let him know what’s happening,” Ben said, pacing across the living room.

“And have him ride to the rescue with his gun and silver bullets? No,” I said. We could do this without him.

Wincing, Ben scratched his head, ruffling his hair even more than usual. “You’re right. God, I hate this.”

Finally, Becky’s call came. “All right,” she said. “Time for you to rescue me.”

Darren must not have been within hearing range. She didn’t sound scared, or even like she was faking being scared. Nervous, yes. But also determined. I expected nothing else from her.

“We’ll be there soon,” I answered. “Just hold on.”

“Yeah,” she said and hung up.

I looked at Ben, and he kissed me.

“What was that for?” I said.

He shrugged. “I felt like it.”

“You want to maybe do it again?”

He did, arms closing around me, lips soft against mine. Well, I felt better.

“Ready?” he said, after his next breath.

“Ready.”

* * *

THE SUN had set by the time we reached the mountains and turned onto the side road in the national forest where we spent most of our full moons. The air was gray, the trees lost in shadow. Not the best time of day to be fighting.

We had troops in reserve: Shaun, Tom, and Wes, the toughest males in the pack. They followed us in a second car. Darren hadn’t talked to anybody else in the pack. He recruited Becky and expected the two of them to be persuasive enough to convince everyone else to drive us out. He was old-school, monarchical. All he had to do was prove he was stronger, and everyone else would fall in line.

Shaun parked, and Ben pulled our car up beside his, my passenger window next to his driver’s window.

“He’ll smell you as soon as you get close,” I said. “So hang back. Ben’ll call you. Keep your phone on and you’ll be able to hear everything. Maybe this’ll just blow over.”

He grinned. “You just keep thinking that. The rest of us will be ready to pounce.” He gestured to his companions, who glared with lupine glints in their eyes. Yeah, I was glad they were on my side. “We’ll stay downwind,” he added.

And so the general marshals her forces.

“Worried?” I asked Ben, as he guided the car along the last hundred yards of dirt lane to the meeting point.

“Naw, not really,” he said, though the hint of sweat on his skin put the lie to that. “I probably ought to be. But I have the confidence of the righteous. It’s like a trial—I can’t walk into a courtroom expecting to lose or I’ve already lost.”

He kept his handgun in the glove compartment, just in case.

Around the next curve in the road sat a car I didn’t recognize. Darren’s, I assumed. We parked behind it. Under my rib cage, Wolf kicked. The triggers were here—the place, the time, the smells. Ben at my side, moving carefully, keeping a strict control of himself. It was time to run. Everything said so. But no, not now. Maybe later. Next full moon for sure. That was how this worked.

We stepped out of the car. “Shall we?” Ben offered his elbow, an elegant gesture.

Smiling, I wrapped my arm around his and we continued on, as if heading to a fancy dinner or the symphony. Hmm, there was an idea, for after we got through this. Assuming we got through this …

Ben dialed Shaun’s number on his phone, exchanged a short greeting, then put the phone in his pocket. “There. We’re bugged.”

Twenty more paces brought us into the clearing, a meadow bounded by pines on one side and lichen-covered boulders on the other. Nice, open ground, all of it shadowed in the twilight. Nowhere to hide. Darren and Becky stood in the middle, waiting.

“Hi,” I said, super cheerful, arm raised in a wave. “We’re here to rescue Becky. That’s what’s on the script, isn’t it?”

“I wasn’t sure you’d show up,” Darren said.

“What, was there a schedule? Are we late?” I said, looking at Ben.

“Hmm, my watch must be slow,” he drawled.

“You can’t lead this pack,” Darren said, hands in fists, teeth bared in anger. “You haven’t been leading it for a long time. You should admit it. Step aside. It’s best for everyone.”

I clicked my tongue. “Wow, about that. We have different ideas of what’s best. You put on a good show, but you strike me as being one of those alphas who thinks all they have to do is beat people up and that makes them strong. Did Becky tell you, we had a couple of those alphas in charge before I took over? Nobody liked it much.”

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