Kitty's Big Trouble Page 58

“Is he going to be okay?” I said, nodding after them.

“Joe’ll fix him up. He’ll be good as new in half an hour.”

Cormac said, “You have voluntary donors or what?”

He must have had some kind of professional need to ask. I wondered where he was hiding that stake and if he planned on doing anything with it.

Boss quirked a grin. “Nobody dies feeding me and mine. We don’t even raid the blood banks like some people.”

Cormac’s expression didn’t change. He studied the trio of them as if he was still considering using that stake.

“Nice place you got here,” I said in a blatant ploy to interrupt whatever standoff was developing.

“Thanks,” Boss said. “The kitchen makes a very nice rare steak. Interested?”

My mouth started watering. I hadn’t eaten anything since Xiwangmu’s rice crackers the night before. A bunch of Power Bars were still piled up in a hidden room in Chinatown’s nonexistent tunnels.

I glanced at Ben, who had such a look of hunger in his eyes it was almost lustful. “I think that’s a yes,” I said, glancing over his shoulder to Boss to accept his invitation.

Fifteen minutes later, we had three rare steaks, two beers for the guys, and a glass of pinot noir for me. All in all, not a terrible way to round out the evening. The three vampires watched, amused.

There was a price for the meal. “So, what happened?” Boss asked. “What happened to Henry?”

I explained, in summary. We went underground, found Roman, lost the Dragon’s Pearl, lost Henry, went after them both, managed to get them both back, and then were trapped. We emerged after sundown, when it was safe for the vampires. I didn’t mention the Chinese gods. I wasn’t sure Boss would believe me.

“Where’s Anastasia?” he asked when I’d finished.

I didn’t feel like that was my story to tell. “Her work here is done,” I said, shrugging. “She rode off into the sunset.”

It was even true. Henry couldn’t contradict me when he told his side of the story.

“What exactly did Roman do to Henry?” Boss asked, concerned.

I shrugged. “Put him temporarily under his control, I think. Nothing else, as far as I could tell. Cormac?”

Cormac had pocketed the original two destroyed talismans, the smashed one from Dodge City and Anastasia’s defaced coin. All that was left of her in this world, I thought, with some sadness. We had to carry on. He brought them out now and gave them to me. I put them on the table, and Boss leaned forward to look.

“Roman uses these to mark and keep track of his followers, his minions. There may be more to them than that, they may have some controlling element to them, I don’t know. Henry was wearing one when we found him, but we got it off. They look like Roman coins, but erasing the markings seems to nullify their power.”

“So I see one of these, I need to destroy it?”

“Yeah, pretty much,” I said. Now Anastasia wasn’t the only one who knew about the coins. Now, everyone would know.

“Where is Roman?” Boss asked finally.

“I don’t know,” I had to answer. “Can I hope that he got caught in daylight and went up in a poof of ash?”

Boss shook his head. “A two-thousand-year-old vampire? Not likely.”

I was afraid of that. The thought dulled the taste of the steak and wine.

We finished our meals, made small talk, and ended the meeting. Boss made me promise to send my regards to Rick, which I assured him Rick would be happy to receive, and sent us back to our hotel in his car. We’d worry about fetching our car in the morning, after some sleep.

Flush, alert, and happy, Henry reappeared in time to accompany us on the drive.

“Are you okay?” I asked him as we piled into the Cadillac.

“Yeah, just fine,” he said, shrugging, but his expression was muted. “I’m not sure I remember everything that happened. I seem to remember … there were a couple more people there, right at the end, weren’t there? The Chinese woman, the guy with the staff. It’s not real clear.”

I smiled. “I know what you mean. It’s like something out of a story.”

“Yeah, maybe,” he said.

On the block where our hotel was, the car pulled over to the curb. Henry looked at us over the backseat.

“Kitty,” he said. “It’s been interesting.”

“In the Chinese curse sense, right?”

He ducked his head and chuckled.

“Hey, Henry. Want your shirt back?” Ben asked, tugging on the Havana shirt that was looking a little the worse for wear.

“Naw, keep it,” he said.

“Damn. The one shirt I can’t seem to get rid of,” he said. I leaned into his shoulder and giggled. The shirt had stopped smelling like Henry and smelled like all Ben, which was fine with me.

Ben, Cormac, and I piled out of the car and waved good-bye.

Finally we could get back to our rooms, I could have a long, hot soak in the tub and work all the knots and cramps out of my injured hip and leg. I didn’t even want to know what color the bruises had turned.

In exhausted silence we rode the elevator up to our floor. We’d have to talk about the last couple of days sometime—debrief from our debriefing. But we all seemed to agree that could wait until after a good scrubbing and a long nap.

The elevator doors opened, and we exited and turned toward our rooms. At the far end of the hallway, a figure stood and turned to face us. He looked like he’d been waiting.

Roman wore his long overcoat, and the understated shirt and tailored slacks he always did. His hands were in his pockets, and he regarded us, frowning. The lines in his face seemed set in stone. The hall seemed too bright for him; I’d always seen him in shadows. His face looked even more severe in the light.

Ben leaned forward, baring his teeth, clenching his hands like claws. Cormac reached into his pocket, presumably for his cross, stake, or both. I nearly jumped over Ben to get at Roman. I wanted my paws around his throat. His skin would feel so soft and buttery under my claws …

And then we froze, because he hadn’t reacted. He wasn’t afraid of us. He could stop us before we did anything. Maybe one of us could get him while the other two distracted him. And then what? Vampire smackdown in the middle of the hotel? How would we clean that up? So we all just stood there.

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