Kitty and the Midnight Hour Page 7

I awoke human in the gray of dawn. The Wolf lingered, bleeding into my awareness, and I let her fill my mind because her instincts were better than mine, especially where the One was concerned.

She lies naked in the den, a covered hillock that is his place when he sleeps off his Wolf. He is there, too, also naked, and aroused. He nibbles her ear, licks her jaw, sucks her throat, and pulls himself on top of her, leveraging her legs apart with his weight. She moans and lets him in; he pushes slowly, gently. This is what she lives for — his attention, his adoration .

Speaking in her ear he says, "I'll take care of you, and you don't ever need to grow up. Understand?"

"Yes. Oh, yes."

He comes, forcing her against the earth, and she clings to him and slips away, and I am me again.

Alpha's prerogative: He fucks whomever he wants in the pack, whenever he wants. One of the perks of the position. It was also one of the reasons I melted around him. He just had to walk into a room and I'd be hot and bothered, ready to do anything for him, if he would just touch me. With the scent of him and the wolves all around us, I felt wild.

I curled against his body, and he held me close, my protector.

I needed the pack, because I couldn't protect myself. In the wild, wolf cubs had to be taught how to hunt, how to fight. No one had taught me. Carl wanted me to be dependent. I wasn't expected to hunt for myself, or help defend the pack. I had no responsibilities, as long as I deferred to Carl. As long as I stayed a cub, he would look after me.

The next afternoon at the studio, I jumped at every shadow. Every noise that cracked made me flinch and turn to look. Broad daylight, and I still expected vampires to crawl through windows, coming after me.

I really didn't think anyone took the show that seriously. I didn't take it that seriously half the time.

If Arturo really wanted me to quit the show, and I didn't, there'd be trouble. I didn't know what kind of trouble, but one way or another it would filter back to me. Next time, he and his cronies might not bother going through Carl as intermediary. He'd take his complaint straight to me. I walked around wishing I had eyes on the back of my head. And the sides. I contemplated the fine line between caution and paranoia.

Carl might not always be there to look after me. He couldn't come to work with me.

I found Matt, the show's sound engineer, as he came back from supper. One of the benefits of my newfound success: Someone else could pay attention to make sure the right public service announcement played at the right time. He was laid-back, another intern turned full-timer, and always seemed to have a friend who could do exactly the job you needed doing.

"Hey, Matt—do you know anyone who teaches a good self-defense class?"

Chapter 3

"I'm Kitty Norville and you're listening to The Midnight Hour , the show that isn't afraid of the dark or the creatures who live there. Our first call tonight comes from Oakland. Marie, hello."

"Hi, Kitty. Thank you for taking my call."

"You're welcome. You have a question?"

"Well, it's a problem, really."

"All right. Shoot."

"It's about my Master. I mean, for the most part I have no complaints. He's really sexy, and rich, you know? I get lots of perks like nice clothes and jewelry and stuff. But—there are a couple of things that make me uncomfortable."

I winced. "Marie, just so we're clear: You're human?"


"And you willingly enslaved yourself to a vampire, as his human servant?"

"Well, yeah."

She certainly wasn't the first. "And now you're unhappy because—"

"It isn't how I thought it would be." And Marie certainly wasn't the first to discover this.

"Let me guess: There's a lot more blood involved than you thought there would be. He makes you clean up after feeding orgies, doesn't he?"

"Oh, no, the blood doesn't bother me at all. It's just that, well—he doesn't drink from my neck. He prefers drinking from my thigh."

"And you're quibbling? You must have lovely thighs."

"It's supposed to be the neck. In all the stories it's the neck."

"There are some vampire legends where the vampire tears out the heart and laps up the blood. Be happy you didn't hook up with one of those."

"And he doesn't wear silk."

What could I say? The poor girl had had her illusions shattered.

"Does he make you eat houseflies?"


"Marie, if you present your desires as a request, not a demand—make it sound as attractive as you think it is—your Master may surprise you. Buy him a silk shirt for his birthday. Hm?"

"Okay. I'll try. Thanks, Kitty."

"Good luck, Marie. Next caller, Pete, you're on the air."

"I'm a werewolf trapped in a human body."

"Well, yeah, that's kind of the definition."

"No, really. I'm trapped ."

"Oh? When was the last time you shape-shifted?"

"That's just it—I've never shape-shifted."

"So you're not really a werewolf."

"Not yet. But I was meant to be one, I just know it. How do I get a werewolf to attack me?"

"Stand in the middle of a forest under a full moon with a raw steak tied to your face, holding a sign that says, 'Eat me; I'm stupid'?"

"No, I'm serious ."

"So am I! Listen, you do not want to be attacked by a werewolf. You do not want to be a werewolf. You may think you do, but let me explain this one more time: Lycanthropy is a disease. It's a chronic, life-altering disease that has no cure. Its victims may learn to live with it—some of them better than others—but it prevents them from living a normal life ever again. It greatly increases your odds of dying prematurely and horribly."

"But I want fangs and claws. I want to hunt deer with my bare hands. That would be so cool!"

I rubbed my forehead and sighed. I got at least one of these calls every show. If I could convince just one of these jokers that being a werewolf was not all that cool, I'd consider the show a success.

"It's a lot different when you hunt deer not because you want to but because you have to, because of your innate bloodlust, and because if you didn't hunt deer you'd be hunting people, and that would get you in trouble. How do you feel about hunting people, Pete? How about eating people?"

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