Kitty Saves the World Page 73

“You know, I’ve never seen the Grand Canyon,” I said absently. I wondered why.

“Well then, you should go. It’s pretty cool.”

Yeah. My to-do list had pretty much cleared up for the near future. Maybe I could go see the Grand Canyon.

*   *   *

SUNSET MEANT calling all the vampires, at least the ones on this side of the globe. I half expected Alette to already know everything because of her network. But she sounded surprised, and pleased.

“And Dux Bellorum is really, truly dead?” she asked. “You saw him die?”

“I did. He fell on his sword. Figuratively speaking.”

“That … is somehow deeply appropriate.”

As happy as I was not having to worry about the guy anymore, I was still just a bit sad about the whole thing. “There’s always another tool,” Lightman had said. Roman had known he was a tool the entire time, and he must have been satisfied with the role.

I didn’t tell anyone beside Ben about the stone wolf that the Men in Black had given me, because I didn’t know how to explain it. If anything came of it, there’d be time enough to tell. I didn’t doubt that Ezra and Jacob were exactly who they said they were: angels. What I doubted was what it meant. What the entirety of Western civilization believed angels to be, and what they actually were, were two different things, I suspected. That there was a war on between their kind and Lightman and Ashtoreth’s kind I didn’t doubt in the least. Was it a war in Heaven?

That mythology was a faulty interpretation of something I didn’t understand. We were looking at it through frosted glass, or Flatlanders trying to comprehend three dimensions. I let it go. Hamlet was probably closer to the truth: “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” What I had seen of them seemed entirely too mundane for the mighty epics written about them. Driving cars and wearing suits, pouting when things didn’t go their way.

Maybe they would think twice before using Earth as a battleground, at least in the near future.

*   *   *

TINA AND Grant went back to L.A. and Las Vegas, respectively. They both still had their shows to do. I asked Tina if Paradox PI would cover what had happened, the Long Game, the Manus Herculei, any of it. She thought a minute, then shook her head. “The evidence is pretty much obliterated. And you know, technically, we’re supposed to be about entertainment. Not fundamental existential crises of faith.”

“Yeah,” I said. “You say that now.”

Grant had the understated satisfaction of a professional who’d completed a difficult job well. I asked him what was next, and he had to think for a minute. “I think I might take some time off. The world can take care of itself for a little while, I’m sure. But—call if you need anything.”

“Of course,” I said.

Jessi Hardin couldn’t really tell anyone at work what had happened. For all that she was the head of the Denver PD Paranatural Unit, this was outside her mandate. She merely claimed that she had an accident and needed time off. She took a week. When we dropped her off at her place, she asked me not to call her for a month.

I hadn’t seen her reach into her pockets for a pack of cigarettes in days.

*   *   *

A WEEK later, we were still debriefing, unpacking, talking, speculating—and trying to convince ourselves that it really was over. Cormac was here for dinner, Ben was cooking, and I was drinking water. You know, just in case. We sat at the counter in the kitchen, talking.

“We’ve gone back over everything,” Cormac—Amelia, rather—explained. “Even knowing about the clay lamp you saw him use, there’s nothing to determine whether Manus Herculei refers to the artifact or the spell itself. You’re sure you don’t remember any of the symbols he drew?”

“Sorry,” I said. “I recognized some Greek letters and astrological signs, but it all happened so fast. I still don’t know enough to be able to describe it well.”

“Ah, well. It ultimately doesn’t matter. I expect no one will be able to reconstruct the spell again.”

“You almost sound sad,” Ben said, quirking a smile and pulling steaks out of the broiler.

“We’re not sad,” Cormac said, with a decisiveness that was all his. “The less of that kind of magic in the world, the better.” His inward grin suggested Amelia was expressing a different opinion. What in the world was it like, being the two of them? Just another bit of strangeness that had become normal. Even if Cormac could find a way to separate himself from Amelia, I wasn’t sure he would anymore.

A few news stories still trickled out about damage the earthquake had done, and about aftershocks that had rippled up and down the Rockies. The seismic activity had settled, and geologists hadn’t connected it to anything other than normal, expected earthquake levels. Old Faithful hadn’t even missed an eruption—it had lagged behind a few predicted times, that night we’d confronted Roman. But it hadn’t stopped. The caldera still bubbled, and people still made doomsday predictions about it.

However, no one would be using it as a magical weapon.

“What are you guys going to do about New Moon?” Cormac asked when the meal was half over.

Ben and I glanced at each other, and Ben said, “We’re still working through what the insurance is going to pay out, but I think we’re going to find a new site and reopen.”

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