Kitty Saves the World Page 8

He explained over dinner at our place. “Roman’s not stupid. He may only have her name, but he’ll dig up what he can on Amelia Parker, and he’ll know that she’s dead. He’ll already be suspicious no matter what we do, but he’ll also be curious. When he sees Tina, maybe he does recognize her—but he knows she’s psychic, and he might think that she’s channeling Amelia, or that Amelia possessed her. It’ll make sense to him, and even if he thinks there’s some connection with Kitty, he’ll want to check it out. It’s the best kind of bait: too good to pass up, but not too good to be true.”

Tina stayed in our guest bedroom. We spent some time catching up on news. Her show was still going strong in its eighth season, and her cohosts, Jules and Gary, were doing well, though she confessed they’d started checking out urban legends and rumors that made the more science-minded Jules bristle. None of them were ready to quit yet. I talked her into recording an interview for The Midnight Hour, which seemed excessively normal next to all the other weirdness going on.

After she’d started hearing voices, she’d spent some time trying to contact Anastasia using her toolbox of channeling techniques, which included Ouija boards and automatic writing. But our Chinese vampire friend had gone quiet. She’d nudged Tina, Tina was here, and that was that.

I wondered if Tina was having trouble talking to her because Anastasia wasn’t really dead—or not fully dead. Tina knew how to contact the dead, but Anastasia was something else. I suggested this to Tina, who turned thoughtful at the suggestion.

“It feels bigger than that,” she said, her gaze vague. “Like we’re all tools for a greater force.”

And didn’t that sound ominous? I wasn’t a fan of destiny as an excuse for these things. Like magic, it was too easy a target to blame. I wanted more control over the situations I found myself in. I wanted to believe we had a chance. In the meantime, all we could do was wait, and prepare. Three days seemed like a very long time when you were trying to save the world from a powerful vampire.

Three days was long enough to introduce complications.

I was at KNOB wrapping up work on the next episode of the show the day before we were set to drive to Albuquerque, when my cell phone rang. The caller ID said it was Detective Jessi Hardin. I shouldn’t get a sinking feeling in my stomach when the police called, but I felt that every time I got a call from Hardin. She was head of the Denver PD’s Paranatural Unit, and she rarely brought good news.

“Hi,” I said cautiously.

“I can sense the dread in your voice in one syllable,” she said.

“Can you blame me? Maybe if you ever called offering, like, prize money or wishing me happy birthday or something.”

“Mercedes Cook is back in the country. I thought you’d want to know.”

My mouth went dry and for a second my brain stopped thinking because it was too much to deal with. Mercedes Cook—another old and powerful vampire, one of Roman’s minions, and this couldn’t be a coincidence.

“I don’t even know what to do with that,” I said finally.

“Watch your back, I imagine.”

I’d been watching my back for years now. I was tired of it. “How’d you find this out? Where exactly is she?”

“It was luck,” she said. “She didn’t show up on any of the security cameras, but we’ve gotten pictures of her in every Interpol office in Europe and in quite a few agencies outside it. An officer spotted her at the airport in Frankfurt boarding a private jet. And I don’t care how supernatural and scary you are, your private jet still has to file a flight plan when it uses major international airports. She landed in Atlanta. This was last week. After that, we don’t know.”

Still, a little information was better than nothing. “Does her professional schedule show anything?” Mercedes Cook made her name as a Broadway performer and world-class singer. This was before she made her name as the world’s first celebrity vampire. She’d been keeping a lower profile lately—no shows, no concert tours announced for the near future.

“No,” Hardin said. “She doesn’t have anything planned. She’d be easier to track if she did.”

“Yeah, that’s the point, I imagine. I’ll ask around; maybe someone else has heard something.” Sometimes it felt like all I could do was share information. Little more than gossip. It had to be worth it, it just had to.

“Anything else going on?” she asked. An innocent question, but I felt a spike of anxiety. My first impulse was to brush her off. Everything was fine, just fine. But it wasn’t. I wouldn’t be doing anyone any favors by not telling her.

“Actually, something’s come up. You might be able to help out…”

*   *   *

ONE SET of people I hadn’t told anything to: my family. Ben and I had dinner with my parents, my older sister, Cheryl, and her husband and kids every other week or so. We’d been scheduled for dinner in a couple of evenings, but the trip to Albuquerque meant I had to cancel. Since I couldn’t tell my pleasant, easygoing mother that I was on my way to trap and assassinate the two-thousand-year-old mastermind of a global vampire conspiracy, I made up something about a onetime chance to interview a very important person for the show. Mom made impressed and encouraging noises and didn’t ask questions. Bless her.

But she did want to know if we could have dinner tonight instead, and I couldn’t say no. So there we were, Ben and me sitting in the car in their driveway, getting ready to go in. Cheryl and Mark and the kids were already here. The lights in the front window were blazing and warm, welcoming. Domestic bliss.

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