Kitty's Big Trouble Page 57

“Just like that?” I said. “After all … that? You just go to work?”

“What else am I going to do? Somebody’s got to open the store.”

“Kitty likes to debrief over coffee,” Ben explained.

“What’s there to say?” she said.

I sputtered, because I couldn’t get all the words out at once. “I need to know what happened down there. I need to know what all that magic was, and who those people were, and where they come from, and what’s it all mean, and what’s going to happen to Anastasia, and what’s going to happen next—”

“You think I know all that? I got roped into this, just the same as you. I can’t explain it.”

“You have a better chance than any of us.”

She stepped close to me, her jaw set, and her words were fierce. “You expect me to be able to explain all of Chinese culture and mythology and folklore to you in a couple of hours? China isn’t a culture—it’s hundreds of cultures. I don’t speak the same version of Chinese as half the people in Chinatown right now. Every religion that came into China got incorporated. What’s the point in talking about God? We have hundreds of them, and they all have their own temples, their own stories. Sun Wukong is a Buddhist hero. Xiwangmu is a Taoist goddess, but they both end up in the same story about the Monkey King stealing the Elixir of Immortality from her. And there are stories about her way older than that, so I don’t know where she comes from. Now that I’ve met her, I see she’s got a little bit of all those stories in her. Hundun is part of an old story that got wrapped up in a Confucian parable. I’m not the person who can explain all this. I inherited some tricks and spells and a set of keys and a bunch of promises my ancestors made. I didn’t think I was ever going to have to use any of that, then it all shows up to bite me in the ass. What else you want me to say?”

Like I expected her to be a sage dispensing wisdom. Like even if she did explain it, it would all make perfect sense. But she was right—it didn’t matter how much explaining she did, it would never make the kind of sense I wanted it to.

“Maybe I just need to talk it out to make sure it all really happened.”

She put her hands on my shoulders and squeezed, shaking me a little. Completely unconcerned that I was a werewolf. Unafraid of monsters. “It really happened,” she said. “Now, go home. You still have a life. We all still have a life.

“Call me at the store later if you still want to talk.”

She hopped off the sidewalk and crossed the street during a break in traffic as though she couldn’t get away from us fast enough.

“Now what?” Ben asked.

I frowned. “I can’t decide what I want first. Dinner, a shower, a bathroom, or a really stiff drink.”

Cormac dug into his pocket, but instead of drawing out some magical implement, he held his cell phone. “Now it works. Figures.”

I tried mine. Eight o’clock. Was that all?

“May I borrow it?” Henry said, hand out to Cormac. “I can get us a ride.” The vampire, so pale he almost glowed, was leaning against the wall. He looked tired—he’d had to work to draw the breath that allowed him to speak.

Cormac didn’t seem inclined to hand anything over.

Henry’s lips parted, showing the points of his fangs, and he stepped toward Cormac.

Cormac held the polished stake in his hand; he’d kept it hidden under his jacket all this time. When Henry moved, the hunter raised it so the point of it rested against Henry’s chest, ready to plunge it home. Henry stopped. I held my breath, but Cormac didn’t strike.

“Here, use mine,” I said, slipping between the two of them and handing it over. Cormac lowered the stake.

Henry called Boss, and in about ten minutes, the Cadillac arrived and parked by the curb with its emergency lights blinking.

Joe stepped out of the front passenger seat and barely glanced at us before moving straight to Henry. “When you didn’t come home this morning we just about wrote you off. What happened?”

Henry put his hand on the other vampire’s arm and leaned. “It’s a very long story.”

“Hell, you’re a mess.” Joe propped him up.

Henry nodded in agreement.

Joe turned to me next. “Kitty. Boss was hoping you’d survive so he could talk to you.”

“Yeah, I just bet,” I said.

“So. You coming?” He nodded back to the Cadillac.

I looked at Ben and Cormac, my pack. Neither of them seemed thrilled.

“This wasn’t what I had in mind for a debriefing session,” Ben said.

“I think I have to warn him,” I said, and Ben nodded. “Will there be coffee?” I asked Joe.

“I think we can manage that,” he said.

Chapter 18

JOE SAT IN front with Henry and the driver. The three of us sat in back, quiet and dubious. Henry was pale, glassy-eyed; Joe kept a hand on his shoulder. Their mood had the quality of one friend driving another to the hospital for stitches after a minor mishap. Some amusement, which was mostly to mask the palpable concern.

We drove north through Chinatown to the next neighborhood. Abruptly, the signs stopped being in Chinese, the streets widened, and the dim sum restaurants turned into Italian bistros and bar and grills.

The car turned a corner and pulled into a parking alcove hidden behind a low brick building. The front showed the blue and red neon lights of what looked like a popular bar—a line of people waited to get in. We went through a back door and down the stairs to a private club.

The place was nice, kind of retro. Red color scheme, polished wood trim, brass fixtures. A jazz trio played on a tiny stage off to one side. The bar was long, lacquered, and a mirror reflected lights off hundreds of liquor bottles. The clientele seemed well-to-do, dressed up and drinking expensive-looking martinis and wine, and relaxed. Most of them were human. I wondered if any of them knew a vampire ran the place?

Boss occupied a leather booth in the corner. Tonight he wore the complete ensemble: suit and tie, tapping a fedora on the table in front of him. Master of all he surveyed. His two previous companions were with him. The bobbed-hair woman wore a clinging red silk number tonight. Jaw-dropping, really. None of them had drinks. Thank God.

“Have a seat,” Boss said, while Joe guided Henry to an unmarked door in the back.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies