Kitty Saves the World Page 6

A simple problem to put an end to a simple plan. Would it be wrong to be secretly relieved that Cormac was not going to be marching straight up to Roman to put a stake in his heart? “So what do you want to do?”

“Find someone to be Amelia,” he said.

“What, throw some poor innocent woman in Roman’s path?” I said.

“Whatever it takes,” Cormac said. “Maybe someone from your pack—Becky, she’s pretty tough. Might not matter that she’s a werewolf.”

“We’re not using Becky as bait.” I wanted to get up and pace.

“Kitty, calm down,” Ben said, touching my hand. “I thought this was what we’ve been waiting for. Why so worked up?” From anyone else, the question would have sounded condescending, but his expression held only concern.

I shivered, trying to work out the tension. “I just have a bad feeling about this. It can’t be that easy.”

“I don’t expect it to be easy,” Cormac said. “But it’s a chance.”

The front door opened, letting in a taste of the night air outside. Usually I ignored it—the scents that came with the breath of air were generic, anonymous, strangers coming and going, or familiar smells of people I knew and expected to be here.

But I caught this scent and looked up, because I recognized it, and it was totally unexpected. My hand closed on Ben’s arm and I stood.

“Tina!”

A striking brunette, Tina McCannon was lean and photogenic, one of the stars of the TV show Paradox PI. We’d met when the show came to town a few years ago, and I roped her and her colleagues into an interview, which turned into a live ghost-hunting session and a Ouija board séance that set New Moon on fire. We fixed it. Turned out, Tina was good at ghost hunting because she really was psychic. A year later, we both participated in a cabin-in-the-woods reality TV show that went very south very quickly. We survived, when not many of the original participants did. Made for a tight-knit club. She’d been one of my go-to resources on psychic phenomena ever since.

Tonight she was in jeans, T-shirt, and jacket. She paused at the doorway, searching. Her gaze lit up when she found me.

“Kitty!”

I squealed as we came together in a big, noisy hug there in the middle of the bar. I might have been a werewolf, but I had a monster-sized sentimental streak. The last time I saw Tina she was recovering from a gunshot wound in her gut. My friends and I, bound by our scars. And Ben and Cormac wondered why I worried so much.

“This place looks so much better when it isn’t on fire, doesn’t it?” she said.

Yes, yes it did. “I didn’t know you were going to be in town, why didn’t you call?”

“I knew you’d be here. I am psychic,” she added, a twinkle in her eye.

“Er. Right. Come in, sit. What’s up?”

Over at our table, Tina and Ben shared a friendly hug and traded mutual well wishes. Cormac looked on expectantly, patiently. I had to think for a minute—he’d been in prison when she came through town, hadn’t he?

“Um, Tina—this is Cormac.”

She blinked at him, then donned a sunny smile. “Hi, I’m Tina,” she said redundantly.

He smiled thinly, took a sip of beer.

“Um,” Tina said, leaning toward me. “There’s something weird going on with his aura.”

“There are two of them,” he said.

“Cormac and Amelia,” I said.

That weird subtle change came over Cormac as he spoke in a suddenly refined voice. “Hello, I’ve heard so much about you. Delighted to finally meet you. Um, Cormac would rather I step aside for the time being. But yes.”

“Oh. Hi. Yes, nice to meet you, too.” She nodded sagely, like she encountered this sort of thing all the time. And maybe she did. “So, I take it he’s—they’re—in on everything.”

Ah, how to explain Cormac and his role in all this in a dozen words or less? Without making him sound like a maniac?

“You could say that,” Ben said. Nailed it.

I made us all sit, and Tina asked a server for a glass of water.

“How are you? What brings you to Denver?” I asked.

“This was kind of last minute,” she said, wincing as if chagrined. “That’s why I didn’t call. I just got in my car and drove.”

“From L.A.?” I said.

“Yeah.” That wince again, like she knew it sounded crazy and couldn’t explain it to herself, much less me. “I need to talk to you.”

“You couldn’t have called? Not that I’m not happy to see you—but what’s wrong?”

“Would it be weird if I said I didn’t feel safe calling? I keep looking over my shoulder like someone’s following me. I just … I needed to see you, to make sure it was you, you know?”

That made a scary amount of sense. I exchanged a concerned glance with Ben. Cormac studied the inside of his beer glass. It was that feeling again, that something was about to happen. So, it wasn’t just me.

“There’s something in the air, I think,” I said.

“Kitty—when was the last time you heard from Anastasia?” she asked.

“That’s … a long story,” I said. They were all getting to be long stories. Anastasia was a vampire, some eight hundred years old, from China. She was also a survivor of that terrible reality show.

I’d last seen her in San Francisco’s Chinatown—the last time I confronted Roman, come to think of it. What happened to her after that … I wasn’t exactly sure. It involved Chinese gods and goddesses, ancient spells, and interdimensional tunnels. “Would it mean anything to you if I said I think she’s gone to another plane of existence?”

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