Kitty Saves the World Page 7

“That … that makes sense. I keep feeling like I’m hearing her voice. At first I thought maybe something had happened to her. Can you call it dead when it happens to a vampire? They’re already dead—”

“I call it dead,” Cormac said.

“I usually have a really hard time sensing vampires because they’re in between, not dead or alive. I’ve never channeled one who was, you know, dead dead. This didn’t feel like any of that.”

“Anastasia accepted an employment opportunity offered by a divine being,” Ben said helpfully.

“Oh. Well, okay then.” Very little fazed Tina. “I think she’s been trying to tell me something. I’m just not sure exactly what. But coming here, seeing you—seemed like the right thing to do. I can’t get any more specific than that.” She looked back and forth between us, and at Cormac’s laptop—we’d obviously been in some kind of conference. “Something’s about to happen, isn’t it?”

Worse yet, I was sure several somethings were about to happen. At once, and spectacularly. I just didn’t know what, and Tina’s sudden appearance with ominous messages didn’t help the feeling.

Meanwhile, Cormac’s gaze had finally settled on Tina, and he was studying her thoughtfully. Like he was sizing up an elk he was about to shoot.

“What?” Tina said.

“She’ll do,” he answered.

“What?” I repeated.

“We need an Amelia,” Cormac said. “She’ll do.”

Oh good God, he had to be kidding. “No,” I said. “No no no. We can’t ask her to do that.”

“Do what, what is he talking about?” Tina asked.

Tina knew about Roman, the Long Game—most of it, anyway. She was one of the people I called when I had questions. One of my allies. But she didn’t know what she’d be getting into with this. It was too dangerous, and I wasn’t going to put her in danger. Not again.

I didn’t say anything. Ben didn’t say anything. Cormac was the one who explained. “We have a chance to take out Roman, but we need a woman to front the trap. Someone he doesn’t know.”

Direct and to the point. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

“No,” I said. “Absolutely not. It’s too dangerous. And besides, Roman knows Tina—he’s seen her, she was with me when he was in Denver that first time.”

“Then she knows exactly what we’re up against,” he said, without a speck of hesitation.

“Not to mention she’s on a famous TV show!” I shot back.

Now Tina had that same thoughtful, determined look on her face that Cormac did. “You’d be amazed how many people don’t recognize me without makeup and my hair done.” Sure enough, no one in the bar was looking her way now. In her casual jacket and jeans, her hair tied back, cosmetics free, she looked different. Inconspicuous.

“Roman would recognize you,” I said. “Ben, tell her—”

“Do you think I can’t do it?” she interrupted.

I slumped and set my head in my hands. “That’s not it. It’s…” I didn’t want anyone to get hurt. Anyone else. I didn’t want any more people to die because of this. Cormac and Ben would tell me that this was the whole point—to confront Roman so no one else had to die. The risk was worth it. We weren’t going to solve anything by sitting here and stewing. Here, we finally had a plan. So what was my problem?

“I don’t like any of this,” I said simply, sullenly.

“I’m here for a reason,” Tina said. She put a hand on my arm, a simple gesture of comfort, like she knew that a gentle touch from a friend calmed werewolves. “I knew I had to come see you. This must be why.” Being psychic, believing in magic—that made everything so easy, didn’t it? Everything became a matter of fate. I didn’t much like fate. “If not me, then who? Who else are you willing to put in danger?”

I couldn’t answer that.

Cormac said, “You won’t have to do anything but stand there. I’ll take care of the rest.” He was probably trying to sound reassuring, but it came out ominous.

“Sounds like fun,” Tina said, bright eyed, a picture of cheerful enthusiasm.

Ben gathered my hand in his, squeezed. “It’ll be fine. It’s a good plan.”

I wasn’t sure I’d go so far as to call it a good plan. But it was the best plan we had.

Chapter 3

AFTER E-MAILING back and forth a few more times, Cormac and the mysterious correspondent identifying himself as Roman set up a meeting in Albuquerque in three days. I was suspicious enough to start questioning whether this person even was Roman, or was actually one of Roman’s minions trying to draw us out, or some entirely new player trying to pull one over on us. Any possibility seemed likely when they all seemed outrageous.

Roman originally asked for a meeting in Las Vegas, which was out of the question. The city was one of Roman’s strongholds, its vampire Master one of his dedicated servants. I had allies there—the magician Odysseus Grant, especially—but I couldn’t risk it. I wanted neutral ground. We came up with excuses and alternatives, without dropping any clues that Amelia had anything to do with Denver, and therefore me.

This was turning into real cloak-and-dagger shit. I hated it, but Cormac seemed determined. Driven. He was finally hunting again, the biggest prey of all. He was very excited about Tina playing the part of Amelia. At least, as excited as he ever got about anything, emotion revealing itself as a glint in his gaze.

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