Kitty Saves the World Page 23

“What do you think?” Ben asked. Cormac and I were standing next to him; he was talking to both of us.

“Real fishy,” Cormac said. “But I don’t think the plan’s changed. You want to find out who did this, my money’s on Roman. And that demon. Wouldn’t have taken much—sabotage the gas line, some kind of gasoline bomb.”

Ben sighed. “Right. Maybe the investigators’ll turn up something interesting.”

“I’ll be back in a minute,” I said, moving off, keeping my gaze on the wreckage of the building, like it was another predator and I was waiting to see which way it would jump.

I stepped slowly, breathed calmly, searching for—I didn’t know what. I didn’t know enough about explosives or fire-starting techniques to think I’d be able to smell anything under all the ash. I hadn’t had enough experience to develop a catalog of those smells. It couldn’t hurt to try, to see if anything jumped out. But mostly, I wanted to say good-bye. File this spot into my memory before walking away.

On the side of the building that looked like it had been blown out, I thought I smelled brimstone. Just a whiff, like the exhaust of a car that had backfired a block away, or the rubber from a squealing tire. Might have been my imagination. But I could see her, Ashtoreth, one of her storms blazing around her, powerful enough to knock down walls, blowing gas lines and leaving fire in her wake.

We had to figure out how to stop her. Not just banish her, not drive her off. Stop her. She’d appear again, and next time, I wanted to be ready. Like Cormac said, the plan hadn’t changed.

I continued to the back of the building and swung around to the front again, where I spotted two men standing just outside the caution tape. They didn’t look like the rest of the gawkers, and they didn’t seem to be acting like investigators, even though they wore dark suits and sunglasses and seemed very official and government-like. They were the same height; one was a white guy with brown hair, the other had olive skin, black hair, short and curly. Their frowning made them seem old. I tried to get a scent off them, but the burning smell was too overpowering.

Because of the sunglasses I couldn’t tell if they noticed me staring at them. I stopped, surprised and somehow drawn to their incongruous presence. Were they cops? Insurance adjusters? One of them leaned in to murmur at the other, and they seemed to give the building one last look-over before turning to walk away. I frowned. I’d been about to go up and talk to them. I was maybe a little sensitive about strange Men in Black poking around.

Eventually, I made my way to the front of what used to be New Moon. The fire captain shook hands with Ben, gave me a sympathetic smile, and walked away. Cormac was standing back, arms crossed, frowning.

Ben put an arm around me, and I slipped easily into his embrace. “He thinks the building’s a complete loss. Insurance should cover us, financially at least.” We only leased the building. Technically, that wasn’t our problem. But it was going to be a mess to sort out.

“I can’t think of what to do about that right now,” I said. “If I think about it I’ll start crying.” Rubbed my face again, took another deep breath. Moving on. “This happened in the middle of the night. Angelo must know something. If Roman or one of his people is in town causing trouble, Angelo should know—”

“He’ll be asleep,” Ben said. “We can’t ask him until nightfall.”

I wasn’t going to sit around on my ass for the next few hours until dark. “Then in the meantime we need to figure out what’s up with Shaun and the others.”

Something had very decisively destroyed New Moon, the pack’s human center. Had it also gone after the pack? My shock and grief were falling away, and fury rose up to replace them.

*   *   *

SHAUN AND the others still hadn’t called back.

We hadn’t picked up the pack’s fresh scent at the remains of New Moon—none of them had been here since closing time. We had to find their scent somewhere else. And follow it. Before heading out, we took Cormac’s Jeep back to his place to finish out the round of musical cars. After dropping off Tina, Hardin had returned here to trade Ben’s sedan for her own.

“There’s got to be some way to track that demon,” Cormac said. “Amelia wants to do some poking around, now that we have a name to go with it.”

“Assuming Tina was right,” Ben said.

“Tina’s got a good track record,” Cormac answered.

“You two seemed to get along pretty well,” I said, obviously leading and not even caring.

Cormac glanced at the rearview mirror. “I’m pretty sure she gets along with everybody,” he said, deliberately dodging.

“Well, yeah, but. You know,” I said, because it was vague.

“She’s too smart for that,” he answered.

I was about to ask if that meant he liked her or not, when Ben leaned in, interrupting. “We have to find the pack.” He’d gone stiff, sullen. Tapping a hand on his knee, shoulders bunched up. We had to do something, get out and bleed off this anxiety. Find Shaun and the others.

“You can do that better than I can,” Cormac said. “I’ll go after the demon.”

“You can’t take her down by yourself,” Ben said. “You’ve tried it, what, twice now?”

“Yeah, but she won’t surprise me next time.” His lips curled in his wicked hunter’s grin. “Third time’s the charm.”

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