Kitty's Big Trouble Page 62

“Good evening, this is The Midnight Hour and I’m your host, Kitty Norville. I have to admit I’ve had a rough couple of weeks, which means the world’s feeling a little bigger and scarier than it usually does. It doesn’t matter what kind of monster you are, vampire or werewolf or were-badger or something even stranger, and it doesn’t matter how tough you are or think you are. One day you’re going to face something that throws you for a loop. That’s just life, in whatever form your own life happens to take. So let’s talk about problems, because we haven’t done that in a while. Time to put the big cosmic questions on hold and get back to basics, because when you get right down to it, the big cosmic questions don’t mean a whole lot when your own life is out of control. They can wait. Do you have a problem, is your life feeling crazy, do you want some outrageous advice, or are you just looking for a friendly ear to rant at? Give me a call, the lines are open.”

The monitor lit up as it always did, but which still surprised me a little when it did. I skimmed the calls and punched one up that looked good—in this case, meaning one that I could actually help.

“Hello, Angela, you’re on the air.”

“Hi, Kitty? Am I really on?”

“You really are. What have you got for me?”

“Okay. Well. I’m a werewolf—I’ve been one for a few years now, and I’m doing okay. I’m part of a pack; it’s a good group most of the time. But I’ve been arguing a lot with my alphas. They’re a couple, and they’ve taken good care of me, but it seems like lately they’ve been coming down really hard on me for every little thing I do wrong. I argue with them about the stupidest things when I should just be rolling over and taking it. I’m talking back, mouthing off, calling them names, and it makes them more furious. I’m thirty years old and I feel like a teenager!”

I smiled. “Would you believe this sounds very familiar to me? I went through something similar.”

“Really? How did you handle it?”

Um, I ran away, came back with a posse, killed the alphas, and took over the pack? “It’s kind of a long story. The important thing here is that what you’re going through is normal growing pains. You’re getting more comfortable with being a werewolf, gaining confidence, and you’re starting to assert yourself. Your alphas see this and are worried about a challenge to their authority. You may even start moving up in the pecking order, and that kind of disruption is always going to make a pack’s alphas twitchy.”

“Yeah, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It explains a lot, actually,” Angela said, sounding a little amazed. From the outside, the issue seemed obvious. From the inside, she couldn’t see it. “What do I do about it?”

“I’m going to suggest you to try and deal with it as a human being instead of a wolf, and ask your alphas to do the same. I know it always sounds cheesy when I say it, but I think the three of you need to lay this out on the table in order to deal with it without anyone getting hurt. Because if they haven’t already, they may start getting physical, and that’s no fun at all. Maybe you can have lunch or dinner, tell them that you’ve noticed what’s happening, and that you want to work out the problems. Offer compromises—if they stop picking on you, you won’t make any challenges. Or maybe you can take on some responsibilities in exchange for higher status in the pack. What would be best of all is if you can somehow make them think this was all their idea.”

“Actually, I think they may listen to the show. They may figure out it’s me calling. I hope they don’t get angry…”

“Or what may happen is they’ll call you first and start the whole conversation. How about that?”

“That would be such a relief.”

“Basically, Angela, you have two choices: work something out, or leave town and go it alone.”

“I hope it doesn’t come to that. I like it here, I like my pack, I really do. It’s just they make me so angry sometimes.”

“Then there’s a lot of incentive to work something out.”

“Yeah. Thank you, Kitty. I feel better.”

“I’m glad. And good luck to you.”

Sometimes I really could imagine that I was making the world a better place.

* * *

BEN PICKED me up after the show, as he sometimes did, and we drove to New Moon, as we often did, to have a couple of beers and decompress. It was a good spot to be. Billie Holiday was playing on the stereo. Shaun was bartending. Between customers he was chatting with Becky and Tom, who were two other werewolves from my pack. Seeing them there, smiling and contented, gave me a warm and happy feeling. The pack was all right. Everything was fine.

Cormac was waiting for us at our usual table in the back. He already had a beer and a basket of buffalo wings, and was leaning back in his chair, surveying the place like he owned it. My alpha Wolf should have bristled at that, seeing his appraising attitude as a challenge. But I didn’t, because he was Cormac, and while he may not have been a wolf, he was part of the pack.

Ben and I sat opposite him, and Shaun brought us our usual beers. There we were, perfectly normal, with all the shadows safely outside.

“What’s next?” Cormac asked.

“Quiet,” Ben said. “That’s what’s next. Peace and quiet. No vampires, no magic, no nothing.”

He glanced at me with a certain amount of trepidation, like he expected me to argue. I had no plans to argue. Well, not exactly. I had plans. I pulled a sheet of paper from my pocket, unfolded it, and held it up.

“What’s that?” Ben asked, suspicious. Cormac leaned forward to study it.

It was a flyer I’d printed off from a Web site, announcing the First International Conference on Paranatural Studies to be held in London. We were going mainstream—at least, scientifically mainstream. I grinned at them over the top of the page.

Ben groaned. “No. You’re joking.”

“They’ve asked me to be a keynote speaker,” I said. “Cool, huh?”

“I suppose you’re going to spin this as being good for your career, a great opportunity for publicity and a chance to increase your credibility,” Ben said.

I blinked. He had the patter down better than I did. “Yeah. That’s exactly what I was going to say. Plus, London! I can go visit London!”

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