Kitty Rocks the House Page 53

I supposed a lot of vampires found it easier to match the expectations of those stories. Werewolves, too—and yeah, some days I wanted nothing more than to run to the wilderness and be an agent of chaos. But civilization was worth fighting for. Worth a prayer or two, if you believed in prayer.

I sat on a step about halfway down the staircase and waited for Rick.

Fifteen minutes later, Cormac, arm in a sling, came walking around from the west side of the church.

He was sprinkling something on the ground, from a pouch nestled in his sling. Creating a circle, for some nefarious purpose. He even looked sinister, in his leather jacket, wearing sunglasses at night, no matter that they must have wreaked havoc on his vision.

“Hey,” I called, holding back offended annoyance.

He stopped and looked. “What are you doing here?”

“I could ask you that.”

“If I told you it’d be a good idea for you to get out of here, I don’t suppose you’d leave,” he said.

Oh, now I was very curious. “Not a chance. You’re not trying again, are you?”

“Yeah.” He continued on, sprinkling as he went. Smelled like sage, with something else, an herb I couldn’t identify.

I trotted down the steps. “What makes you think it’ll work this time?” Stepping along with him, I followed him around the building, to the east, where he’d started his circle.

He paused before joining the two ends of the circle together. “You want to do me a favor and step outside?” He pointed to the obvious doorway he’d left.

“What if I say no?”

“Kitty. Please.”

I wasn’t sure I’d ever heard him say the word please before. At least, he didn’t use it often. He sounded urgent, out of patience. Cormac was the most patient guy I knew—he could go hunting, waiting in a blind for days for his prey to come along. Now, whatever he was doing, he didn’t have time to argue. I stepped out of the circle; he closed it behind me, brushing crumbs off his good hand on his jeans.

“Cormac, what are you doing?” I said, hoping to match his seriousness.

“I’m still working for Detective Hardin, and she’s still got a warrant for that vampire. I just want to see what’s so badass it needs a spell like this to protect against. I think I’ve got it this time. We’ll scare the guy out.”

“You think? And what are you going to do once you get a reaction out of him?”

“She says she can arrest the priest, I’m not going to argue with her.”

Hardin had gone up against vampires before, and she claimed arresting one as her lifelong ambition. Columban wouldn’t wait quietly for her to put handcuffs on him, no matter what anti-vampire weapons she threatened him with, no matter if Cormac managed to break his spell.

Cormac was prepared. He had a whole bundle of stakes hanging in a makeshift quiver off his belt, along with a spray bottle, probably filled with holy water, dangling alongside it. A large gold cross hung on a chain around his neck. All of it, including the sunglasses, protection against vampires.

This was going to get messy.

“I don’t suppose I could talk you out of it?”

He shook his head, expressing exactly what he thought of that idea. “Tell you what, you stay out of my way, I’ll stay out of yours.”

Hardin found us glaring at each other, beside the shrubbery between the church and the rectory.

“What are you doing here?” she said to me.

“The evening’s most popular question,” I said. “Just taking a walk, officer.”

She huffed in disbelief.

Cormac shoved the pouch of herbs back in his jacket pocket and drew a piece of chalk out. “I need you two to not interrupt me during this. You think you can do that?”

“Sure,” Hardin said, and I didn’t say anything.

He knelt and started drawing on the sidewalk, the usual indecipherable arcane marks that went along with this sort of thing.

Pointing at the scribble, I said, “You going to let him get away with vandalism like that?”

She aimed a long-suffering glare at me. “Kitty…”

I crossed my arms. “I don’t think you can arrest a vampire.” Kill, maybe …

“I’m sure going to try. I’ve got two patrol cars for backup on the driveway.” She rested a hand on the radio hooked to her belt. Next to it was a handheld crossbow, loaded.

By this time I thought I’d be numb to the sense of foreboding welling up in my gut. I felt it so often. “Just … Rick’s my friend. You’ll leave him out of it?”

“I tried calling him, but if he won’t talk to anyone there’s not a lot I can do.”

I wondered what would happen if I crossed the circle to beat on the front door, to warn them? I had no idea if it would simply ruin the spell, or do something more nefarious, like zap me with lightning or fire. That was why, in the end, I didn’t do it. The vampires must have known already that something was happening.

Cormac progressed clockwise around the circle, drawing symbols. The letters weren’t really glowing, I told myself. The yellow chalk just showed up oddly under the streetlights.

He completed the circuit around the building, then started on a third, dripping wax from a red candle. The process no doubt made sense to him; to me, it seemed random, confusing.

“Tell me—why’d you hire him? You used to want to arrest him,” I said to Hardin.

“What can I say? Guy seems to know what he’s doing.”

“What do Denver PD regulations say about hiring magical consultants?”

“I followed the same regs I would for hiring any other consultant. Captain signed off on it and everything.” Her grin was smug. “I’m following your advice.”

My advice, that supernatural law enforcement ought to follow the same rules and procedures as any other law enforcement. If people like me—lycanthropes, vampires—wanted to be out in the open and treated like everyone else, then we had to be part of the same system. I’d run headlong into some barriers regarding that belief. Problems that the existing system just couldn’t handle. Problems like Roman, for example. Nonetheless, I admired Hardin’s effort in spite of myself.

Cormac completed the third circuit of the building, where the protective boundary had been laid. I had to press my lips tightly together to keep from asking him what came next.

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