Kitty Rocks the House Page 9

“It’s our home,” I said.

“It’s a place of business,” he declared. “A public thoroughfare.”

“Yeah, about that. Turns out it’s enough of my pack’s territory to make a difference. It’s our home. I have to invite you in.”

“Then invite me in.”

Here was a guy used to giving orders and having them obeyed. “No, I don’t think so.”

The last time this had happened—a vampire showing up on the doorstep of New Moon, cranky and frustrated because he couldn’t enter—it had been Roman. Dux Bellorum. Lesson: strange vampires showing up demanding to be let in could only mean trouble. All I had to do was not let him in.

He spread his arms. “I mean you no harm, believe me.”

“I’m still not letting you in,” I said. Ben had sidled up to the bar and leaned there, casual but wary. Shaun watched, worried.

“We would both be more comfortable if we spoke inside, where it’s warmer.”

Cold didn’t bother vampires. Or me, much. “You’re used to werewolves doing what you tell them to, aren’t you?”

The stern expression cracked into the tiniest of smiles. “You must be Kitty Norville.” The name trilled with his accent. “I was told I could find you here.”

“And you are?”

“I am Father Columban.” He inclined his head in a bow. “Now will you please invite me into your home?”

My brow furrowed. “Father? Like a priest?” He nodded assent. I was confused. “How is that even possible?”

“Invite me in, and I will tell you.”

“No. Tell me why you’re here first,” I said. “Did Nasser send you?” That would be just like a Master vampire, to go ahead and do what he wanted despite what we’d told him.

“Nasser of Tripoli?” He waved his hand dismissively, then took a deep breath, which was an affectation—vampires didn’t need to breathe except to speak. But he could demonstrate that he was about to make a speech, and how much trouble I was causing him. “I need to speak to Ricardo, Master of this city, but I do not know where he keeps his domicile. I’m given to understand that you can reach him. I would be most grateful if you could arrange a meeting between us.”

Sometimes I wished Rick would just publish his number in whatever vampire directory existed, so people wouldn’t go through me. Arranging a meeting wouldn’t be hard; Rick would want to talk to this guy. A vampire priest? I had no idea.

I pulled my phone out of my pocket. “I don’t need to let you in for that. Hang on just a sec.”

“But—”

I turned my back on him and called Rick. The phone rang four, then five times. I didn’t know what I was going to do if he didn’t answer. Tell this Columban guy to come back later? Send him to Rick’s secret hideout? That’d go over well.

Finally, he picked up. “Yes? I’m a little busy at the moment.”

“What could you possibly be doing that you can’t immediately drop to come take care of my problem?”

He hesitated a beat. “Sometimes I can’t tell when you’re joking.”

“It’s my secret pain. But I wouldn’t bug you if it wasn’t important. I’m at New Moon and there’s a vampire here wanting to talk to you.”

“That’s never good.”

“No. He says his name is Father Columban.”

“Father—like a priest?” He sounded more startled than I had.

“That’s what he said. Interested?”

“Are you sure he’s for real?”

“Just a sec,” I said and lowered the phone to speak to Columban through the door. “Do you carry a coin of Dux Bellorum?”

He cocked his head, narrowed his gaze. His tone held astonishment. “How do you know about the coins?”

The answer didn’t tell me anything, really. Except that he was as neck deep in this as the rest of us, one way or another. “I get around. So, do you?”

“No,” he said, with such earnest simplicity that I was inclined to believe him.

Back to the phone I said, “Did you get that?”

“I did. I’m intrigued.”

“Yeah, I thought you’d be. Where do you want to meet?”

“Do you mind letting him into New Moon? I’ll get there as soon as I can.”

I kind of did. This was our sanctum, and this made it vulnerable. I glanced back at Ben, who shrugged. Shaun didn’t do anything—leaving it to the alphas.

I sighed. “Okay. Come on in.” I opened the door for Columban. “Welcome to New Moon.”

He gave another precise bow. “Grazie, signora.”

Inside, he looked over Ben and Shaun and passed them by to sit at a table in the middle of the room. Ben and I lingered by the bar.

We waited.

* * *

I HELPED Shaun close up the restaurant, and after the kitchen staff was done cleaning up, I sent everyone home. Ben kept his eye on the vampire, who didn’t move, didn’t speak. Didn’t make trouble, at least. He might have been meditating.

When I got back to the front, I tried to start a conversation.

“So. How old are you?”

Columban only raised an eyebrow at me, as if asking how I could possibly be serious. I looked back expectantly. He didn’t say a word. Ah well.

A tapping at the locked front door drew our attention. Rick smiled at me through the glass and glanced with interest at the other vampire. Columban stood, fingertips resting on the table. I opened the door for the Master of Denver.

Rick swept into the restaurant in a puff of cool night air, his coattails fluttering around his knees. He paused as the door closed behind him, gazing around the place. Chairs had been put upside down on tables, the floor had been swept.

“Hello,” Rick said, regarding us all, his expression calm. Columban bowed his head the barest inch. Neither made a move.

We might have stood there all night, nobody saying anything. Except I wasn’t going to let that happen.

“Rick, he says he’s Father Columban,” I started the introductions. “And this is Rick.” I figured after that, my work here was done. I could be a spectator.

Rick waited a long time for Columban to say something, but the self-proclaimed priest just stood there, studying him.

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