Kitty Saves the World Page 74

The building had been condemned, and the owner took the insurance payout rather than try to rebuild. If we wanted a restaurant again, we’d have to move. I brought up the idea of just letting the place go, but Shaun and Ben both nixed it. Shaun I expected to want to keep the place going; it was mostly his baby anyway, Ben and I were just the backers. But Ben had the best reason of all.

He explained, “One of the reasons the Denver pack is so stable is because of New Moon. It’s what you always wanted it to be—a second home, neutral ground. We give it up, I think we’d have to work that much harder keeping the pack together.”

He was right. So, one way or another, New Moon would be back. It would be different, but somehow, that seemed okay, too. This was a new era.

The doorbell rang then and we all straightened, looking at each other. The anxiety came back so quickly—wondering what was wrong, what battle we were going to have to fight next. Who was after us this time. I needed a deep breath to settle myself.

“You expecting anyone?” Cormac asked.

“No,” Ben said, moving out to the front door. I followed close behind.

“Hello, Ben,” I heard, after he opened the front door.

Rick stood there in his familiar black trench coat, smiling. He said we’d talk later, and here he was. I waved happily from behind Ben’s protective stance.

Standing behind Rick were his two companions, the vampire ninjas from Yellowstone. I got a better look at them this time, mostly because they weren’t dressed in their ninja outfits, cloaks and hoods and all. In fact, they wore modern, normal street clothes, which seemed incongruous. The man with the ponytail was half a head shorter than Rick, compact but obviously powerful, holding himself at the ready. The woman was much the same, tall and serene, regarding me with a dark, hooded gaze. She didn’t seem to like me. Was it because I was a werewolf, or because I was me?

“It’s good to see you, Kitty,” Rick said, smiling his calm smile. “May we come in?”

Ben stood across the doorway, blocking it, like he was going to tell the vampire no. If we didn’t invite them in, they couldn’t come in, that was the rule. I glanced at Ben; we exchanged one of those looks. He stepped aside.

“Come in,” I said. “And your friends, too, I guess?”

Rick came inside, and I caught him in a big hug. He had that vampire chill, but his hug was warm and heartfelt. Rick was back.

His companions entered, but politely hung back until Rick was ready.

“I didn’t get a chance to make introductions before,” he said. “These are my colleagues, Ibrahim and Ruth.” They each nodded. They had that old-world civility that a lot of older vampires had, all nods and bows rather than an enthusiastic American handshake. They seemed watchful, cautious, and I wondered how old they were.

“Hi,” I said, hiding any doubts I might have had about inviting them into my house.

“Your name really is Kitty,” Ibrahim said, tsking like he didn’t believe it. “I heard the rumors. Now I believe them. You look like a Kitty.” This was said with a good-natured smile, a wry wink. Maybe he was just trying to be friendly?

“Thanks, I think?” I led them back to the kitchen, where we could sit and talk. “I’m sorry I can’t offer you anything to drink. You know how it is.”

“It’s quite all right,” Rick said. It was an old conversation, familiar and comforting.

“I didn’t get a chance to thank you before. Thank you. We couldn’t have stopped Roman without you.”

“No one could have stopped Ashtoreth without our kind of help,” Rick said. “I’m sorry it took us so long to reach you. We were almost too late.”

Cormac was the kind of guy who always carried a stake stashed in a pocket or slipped up his sleeve. He usually kept it hidden. Now he sat back and flipped it in his hand, tossing it and catching it, then again.

“Mr. Bennett,” Rick said, amiably enough. Cormac didn’t say anything.

Ruth glared at him. “Do we need to worry about this?”

Rick raised a brow. “Do we?” He didn’t seem worried, but he knew Cormac. Then again, the last time they’d been face-to-face, Cormac had had a stake pressed to Rick’s chest, and the vampire had threatened to kill him.

I rolled my eyes, because I did not want to have to worry. “Do you have to do that?” I asked Cormac. “Please?”

He slipped the stake back up his sleeve like he was putting away car keys. He’d made his point, apparently. No pun intended. Besides, the odds were not in his favor here.

I was still studying Ibrahim and Ruth, without looking like I was studying them. Ruth had her arms crossed over a tailored suit jacket, dark brown, but not as dark as her skin. Her silk shirt, trousers, and shoes were equally high quality. Her hair was cropped close to her head, giving her an elegant, intimidating profile. Ibrahim wasn’t quite so polished, in shirt and trousers that seemed expensive but thrown together. That was probably the point, to make people underestimate him. I knew much of Rick’s story, but what about theirs? Where were they from, and how did they end up with the Order of Saint Lazarus of the Shadows? The three of them seemed so comfortable with each other, like they’d been a team for years—centuries. They’d certainly fought like a well-practiced team. But Rick couldn’t have been with them for more than a year. I wanted to know everything, but I didn’t know what to ask to unlock the stories.

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