Kitty Saves the World Page 46

Every time I woke up, Ben woke up to ask what was wrong. A couple of times, I awakened to find him already sitting up, studying the room with narrowed, wolfish eyes.

“What the hell is wrong with us?” I groaned at one point, flopping back onto the pillow.

“Too much stress for too long,” he groaned back, stretching next to me and wrapping his arms around me, like I was a big, comforting pillow. And that was just fine.

Around dawn, after time had stretched and contracted until I had no idea when it was, the bed vibrated, like someone had grabbed hold of the mattress and shook it as hard as they could. I looked for who was pulling the prank—no one. I grabbed Ben’s arm; he grabbed back.

A crash sounded, as something elsewhere in the house fell off a shelf and broke.

Then the shaking stopped. The quiet after was profound.

“What was that?” Ben said. His eyes were wide.

“Was that the house? Is the house falling down?”

Knocking pounded the door. “Kitty?” Tina called.

“Tina, are you okay?” I grabbed my bathrobe and went to open the door. Ben pulled on pajama bottoms and a T-shirt.

She looked a lot better than she had when we got back from Albuquerque, but was still pretty banged up. That didn’t stop her from looking panicked, her eyes wide. She said, “That was an earthquake.”

Somehow that didn’t sound right. “Are you sure?”

“I’ve lived in L.A. half my life, of course I’m sure. That was at least a five-two. I didn’t know Colorado even had earthquakes.”

Ben had his phone in hand and started scrolling through news sites until he found a streaming clip. “… still waiting for confirmation from the U.S. Geological Survey. The tremors seemed focused in Denver, Arapahoe, and Jefferson Counties…” The narration went on, describing initial reactions and warnings to get to a safe place and call the gas company if you smelled gas. I took a long sniff and didn’t smell anything out of the ordinary. But all my hair stood on end and the air seemed charged.

“We’re on a major mountain range; there are plenty of fault lines,” Ben said. “We get quakes, but never anything big, not like this.”

The phones started ringing then: Ben’s, mine, Tina’s, the land line. I grabbed mine and had a dozen text messages pour in. I answered the call from my mother first.

“Kitty, are you all right?”

Yes. Well, no, but not because of the quake. I needed half a second to answer, which probably worried her. “Yeah, Mom, I’m fine—what about you and Dad? Cheryl?”

“Oh, thank goodness. Can you believe it? A real earthquake, here? Your father says to check your roof and foundation. Check the whole house for cracks, you might not see any damage right away, but the house might not be safe.”

I wasn’t even thinking about that. “Yeah, Mom, I’ll do that—”

“Nicky and Jeffy were crying when I called Cheryl. I can hardly blame them, this is just terrifying—”

“But you’re all okay?”

“Yes, we’re fine.”

“I think I need to get off the phone, Mom. I’ve got about a million messages coming in, we should probably free up the lines for real emergencies. You heard about the gas thing—you guys have any gas leaks?”

Her voice went distant as she lowered the phone and shouted at my father, “Jim, do you smell gas? Is there a gas leak?”

He called back, “Do you smell gas? Is there gas?”

“I don’t know, I’m asking!”

“I don’t know—”

“Mom,” I interrupted. “Just stay alert and be careful, okay? I’ll call you back later.”

“Okay, Kitty. Be careful. I love you.”

Ben fielded a call from his own mother—much briefer than my talk with my mom. Ellen O’Farrell was happy with a simple yes, we’re fine—and then the lines got overloaded and the calls dropped off.

“I can’t get hold of Cormac,” Ben said after trying half a dozen times to reach his cousin. I thought of his run-down apartment building, built of concrete a few long decades ago, and tried not to worry. Nothing in this town was made to withstand earthquakes.

“He’s fine,” I said, willing it to be so. He was smart, strong; he could handle himself. Not being able to reach him didn’t mean anything.

After dressing, we migrated to the kitchen, where we turned on the TV and started the coffeemaker.

The local news channels were in breaking-story heaven. Every geologist in Denver was getting fifteen minutes of fame. Some neighborhoods lost power, some buildings had been evacuated. I gave silent thanks that ours hadn’t, allowing us to have coffee. I desperately needed coffee.

Eventually, I sat on the sofa, hot mug grasped in both hands, watching the TV screen intently and not hearing a word. The images were enough—a ramshackle warehouse in Wheat Ridge had collapsed. A small bridge in Littleton had cracked in two. A fire had started in a house where a gas main had indeed broken.

Angelo had said they—Roman, his followers, the demon, whoever—would destroy Denver if I didn’t leave.

Maybe he hadn’t been talking metaphorically.

The doorbell rang, and I snarled. I about sprouted claws right there, because I was just so sick of dealing with crap.

Ben made a calming gesture—I really must have looked like a crazy thing—and went to get the door. A moment later I heard, “Kitty? It’s for you.”

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