Kitty Rocks the House Page 8

“I can’t decide if I want him to find a way to use them or not,” I said.

“I think I’d just as soon have the coins turn out to be harmless.”

“But then we don’t have anything we can use.” I fidgeted, tapping my feet. I’d gotten to where I half-expected Roman to show up anywhere, anytime; I always felt like he was looking over my shoulder. Ben regarded me with an amused hazel gaze, the lines around his eyes crinkled. His hair was shaggy, always two weeks overdue for a cut. I reached up and brushed it. He caught my hand and kissed it. Warmth passed between us, and once again I felt a tingle—he was my husband. The fact often amazed me.

He pulled away, turned to his briefcase, and drew out a stack of papers—way too many real estate listings. “To get your mind off conspiracies, you want to start making some decisions?”

I called for a round of beers.

We were supposed to be looking for a house. Ben had been doing most of the work, narrowing down choices, checking out neighborhoods. I kept dragging my feet. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to move into a house—preferably one on the edge of civilization, with access to forest and places to run. The condo we shared had gotten a little cramped over the last couple of years. But I was having a hard time taking that first step. If I was really honest, I was afraid of change, of moving into a situation that resembled far too closely that of the previous alpha pair who’d led the Denver pack. Having a house in the wilderness where the pack could gather would make us look a little too much like them, and they had been abusive and evil and incompetent.

Maybe I just didn’t want to admit that even after being in the position for years, Ben and I really were the alphas of the Denver pack. People kept coming to us for answers. I would never get used to it.

“Kitty—” Ben must have sensed my consternation.

“I know, I know. What have we got?”

He shuffled the pages in front of me. “These are all the ranch-style houses on at least one acre of land between Castle Rock and Boulder.”

“Closer to Denver would be better.”

“Agreed. We have Golden, Evergreen, Georgetown, Idaho Springs, Brighton—”

“I’d rather be in the mountains than out east, if we can swing it.” Frankly, the listings had all started to look the same to me. They all said the same things: lovely, sunny, big yard. Lots of character, which I’d come to believe was the real-estate version of “has a nice personality.”

He shuffled a few more pages, pulled one out. “What about this one? It’s the right size, great location, it backs up to open space—”

I pulled the page out of his hand and stared. I knew this house—the ranch design, the roof shape, the spread of the driveway, the landscape around it. I checked the address just to be sure, and my stomach flopped. I swallowed back nausea.

“No,” I said, wadding up the page and shoving it back at him.

“But it’s got everything we’re looking for—”

“That was Carl and Meg’s house.” I’d had no idea it was on the market. I didn’t even know what happened to it after they died. After I killed them, rather. It should have been funny, seeing it for sale. It should have been really funny that it had made Ben’s list. Carl and Meg, former alpha pair of the Denver pack. The two werewolves I vowed I’d never be anything like. What was the saying, that you always turned into your parents whether you wanted to or not. Did that include wolf parents?

“Really?” Ben said, sounding equally unhappy. He took the lump of paper from me, smoothed it out, and studied it. “I didn’t even notice. I was only there the one time. And I guess I was a little distracted.”

Tortured, he meant. Beaten and bloody. I shouldn’t have been surprised that he didn’t remember the house. He couldn’t have known. The pictures on the listing made the place look so pretty. Those back windows had a great view.

“It’s the place. I spent a lot more time there than you did,” I said.

“Right. Not this one.” He tore the page in half, then into quarters, then into eighths. I wished we were a smoking restaurant, so I could burn the bits in an ashtray. I took Ben’s hand, he squeezed it back, and kissed my hair, lingering there, letting his warm breath play on my scalp. And all was well, for that moment in time.

He threw the torn-up pieces away behind the bar. If only the memories were so easy to discard.

That tiny bit of exorcism performed, we spent the next twenty minutes narrowing down the choices until we had a dozen or so we actually wanted to look at. The idea of moving started to feel like it was really going to happen.

The restaurant had cleared out, and about ten minutes before closing, Shaun was wiping down the bar when he called, “Hey, Kitty?”

I looked, and he nodded to the front door, where a man in a black wool overcoat was knocking on the glass. He was short, round, with silver hair so close-shaven he almost appeared bald. He seemed hunched, urgent inside the coat, as if he was hiding.

The man caught my gaze through the glass of the door, and my vision swam for a moment. I couldn’t have said what color his eyes were; I couldn’t have said much of anything. I felt like I had walked into a room and forgotten what I came there for.

I shook my head and looked at Shaun. The moment of vertigo passed. “You haven’t locked up yet, have you?”

“No,” he said.

“Then why doesn’t he just come in?” I said, moving to the door.

“Kitty. Careful,” Ben said, tapping his nose.

I paused and took a breath, scenting around the beer and fried food, the eddies of people coming and going all night, the signature of the pack that permeated the corners and made this our territory.

The door had enough of a draft that I caught the chill from the outside, a thread far too cold for the weather outside. Which explained why he couldn’t just walk in—he was a vampire, and he hadn’t been invited.

I sauntered up to the door, arms crossed, donning an amused smirk. I didn’t meet his gaze this time.

“Hi there,” I said, full of false cheer. “What can I do for you?”

“I cannot enter here. Why not?” he said, the door muffling his voice. He had a rolling, cadenced European accent. Italian maybe, which made me wonder if he was part of some kind of vampire Mafia. That would have been too much.

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