Kitty Saves the World Page 4

“I blame Dracula,” I said, deflecting the issue entirely, because I had a show to run. “All right, let’s take another call. Hello, you’re on the air.”

An authoritative male voice came on the line and lectured. “I think you’re ignoring the real controversy here, which is how the World Health Organization is planning to start incarcerating werewolves in concentration camps to serve as food for vampires, to spare the human population…”

And that was The Midnight Hour.

*   *   *

MY PHONE rang as I left the KNOB studios. Normally, after-midnight calls would be a cause for worry, except the caller ID said it was Cormac. He usually called at strange hours, so I wouldn’t know if this was an emergency until I actually talked to him.

“Hey!” I said brightly, hopped up on postshow adrenaline.

“You going to New Moon tonight?” he said, without any extraneous social preamble. Not his style.

Many times after the show, I’d head to New Moon, the bar and restaurant my husband, Ben, and I owned, to burn off said adrenaline with a drink and company. Sometimes Cormac, Ben’s cousin and our friend, joined us. He rarely gave warning ahead of time.

“Yeah,” I said. “Ben should already be there.”

“I’ll meet you there,” he said.

“Why? What—” He clicked off without explanation.

Well, that was Cormac, man of mystery. He’d found something, obviously. And now my stomach was churning, wondering what it was and what can of worms it would open.

Chapter 2

WORRY ABOUT what trouble Cormac had gotten into squashed my postshow buzz, so I walked into New Moon distracted and frowning. After midnight on a Friday the place was busy, but past peak crowd. Seeing lots of people here ordering lots of food and drink usually gave me a warm fuzzy feeling—a busy restaurant was a successful restaurant. Tonight, I cut through the crowd without noticing, looking for a familiar face.

First up was Shaun, the restaurant’s longtime manager and part of our werewolf pack. Family, practically. Early thirties, confident and sensible, he had close-cropped black hair, brown skin, a shining gaze, and a smile that lit up when he saw me. People he didn’t like never saw that smile; I was glad he was on my side.

“Wild show tonight, Kitty.”

“I don’t know how you listen to it with all this racket going on.”

“You kidding? It’s one of our Friday night attractions. The Midnight Hour drinking game.”

How did I not know about this? And why was I not surprised? This was what I got for never being at New Moon during my own show. “A drinking game? How long has that been going on?”

He shrugged. “Maybe a couple months.”

“So what, it’s like someone calls in asking how to get bit by a werewolf, take a drink. I hang up on a religious rant, take a drink.”

“Exactly!”

“How often does this result in cases of blood poisoning?” He just grinned. I should have been laughing, but I wasn’t. It was just one more thing.

“What’s up?” he asked. “You’re nervous.”

The muscles across my shoulders were tight. I must have walked in here looking like a wolf on the prowl. “Distracted. Hey, while I’m thinking of it—thanks. The reason this place works is you. So thanks.” Now I was sounding maudlin.

Shaun shrugged, a way to brush past the sentimentality. “I love it here. Dream job, you know?”

The bartender pushed over a glass of my favorite beer. Personalized service. I could hug the guy. “Cheers all around,” I said, and lifted the glass in a toast.

Ben, suit jacket over the back of a chair and the first couple of buttons of his shirt undone, was waiting for me at the back table, “our” table, where we held court and seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time. Sometimes plotting, sometimes just hanging out. This was our den, our refuge, our tribe.

Why did it all suddenly seem fragile?

He stood when I approached, and I set the glass down so he could fold me in an all-encompassing hug, his arms tight around me. I leaned my face against his neck and breathed deep, taking in his scent, soap and skin and the sweat of the day, the wild and fur of his werewolf side, as familiar as my own self.

“How’d it go tonight?”

“So you weren’t here for the drinking game?”

“No, I had a call from a client. There’s a drinking game?”

“Apparently.” I tried to sum up tonight’s far-ranging show, and couldn’t. “The usual, I think. It’s so hard to tell from that side of the mike. And how are you?”

His expression was drained. “It’s been one of those days.”

Ben was a criminal defense lawyer. When he said “one of those days,” he meant it, and I likely couldn’t imagine how bad it could really get. Because of client confidentiality he didn’t go into details, but he spent a lot of his professional life with people who were hitting bottom or on the way there.

I pulled back, tipped his chin toward me, and kissed him. I felt the tension leave him, and his arms settled more firmly around me. That only made my own tension more evident.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“That obvious?”

His smile was kind, and he brushed a strand of loose hair back behind my ear. “Seems like a little more than your usual after-show jitters.”

“Cormac’s on his way over. I think he found something.”

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