Kitty Saves the World Page 28

I growled and sank back against the seat. We sat for a long moment, catching our breath, holding on to our human sides.

He lifted my arm, studied a bruise there—it was already fading to yellow with my werewolf healing, but I’d clearly been manhandled. Vampirehandled.

“They’re done playing nice,” he said finally. “They’re not even pretending anymore.”

“Angelo’s scared, Ben. He acted like someone with a gun held to his head. All the vampires are scared. He told me to leave Denver. I think … I think he thought he was looking out for me.”

“Don’t go convincing yourself he’s a nice guy—he’s a vampire.”

“That doesn’t make him a bad guy.” Rick and Alette were not bad guys.

“It doesn’t make him a good guy,” Ben said pragmatically. “This is not the time to be giving anyone the benefit of the doubt.”

“I think he knows where the pack is. He just wouldn’t tell me.”

“We’ll find them, Kitty.”

I scrubbed my face. I was so tired I could feel my pores.

He started the car and headed out of downtown. “I think it’s time to sleep. We’re going home.”

*   *   *

THE NEXT day, Detective Hardin stopped by to check on Tina and the rest of us. Tina was up and about, still banged up. The bruises on her face had turned some amazing colors, and she expressed gratitude that the next season of Paradox PI wouldn’t start filming for another month.

“I’ve filed a missing-person report for Shaun, to start with,” Detective Hardin said, pacing across the kitchen, arms crossed, right hand tapping—she was still on her plan to quit smoking, God bless her. “So it’s in the system, but until we get a lead I’m afraid there’s not much more we can do.”

“So raiding Obsidian and arresting Angelo is out of the question?” I asked. Obsidian was a downtown art gallery that doubled as the Denver vampire Family’s main base of operations.

Hardin glared. “No probable cause. Sorry.”

Ben was at the back window, looking over the property and wild open space beyond, as if he could will Shaun and the others to appear, walking to the house like they’d just gone out for a stroll. We were all anxious, snappish.

“I could try scrying for them,” Tina said. “But I’d need to get these painkillers out of my system first. They kind of muddle things up.”

“Don’t push yourself,” I quickly reassured her. “I imagine trying to be all psychic while in pain isn’t any more effective than being psychic on painkillers.”

She sighed in agreement.

“What’s your next plan?” Hardin asked.

Used to be, I avoided telling her things, because so much of the supernatural world fell in gray areas as far as law enforcement was concerned. I’d killed people; Hardin knew I’d killed, but she didn’t know how many times. She didn’t know about Carl and Meg. Part of her wouldn’t see it as self-defense, and would insist that I should be arrested for murder. Usually, I felt the same, that if vampires and werewolves wanted to live in the civilized world, we had to follow civilized laws. But there were exceptions. There were situations that fell through the cracks, and the woman with the badge maybe didn’t need to know about those. But she was in this now as much as the rest of us. She’d bent rules for me. She was an ally.

If I’d had a next plan, I would have told her.

I said, “I want to find out what’s got Angelo and the vampires so jumpy, but we may have to wait for them to make the next move.”

“Well, keep me in the loop,” she said, giving us all a thin smile before showing herself out.

Tina managed to eat lunch before going back to bed, and I went to our home office. To think.

For all our efforts, for all our attempts at prediction, we still didn’t know what Roman had planned. We assumed he was going to use the Manus Herculei, this spell that caused volcanoes to erupt, to create a massive disruption, and in the resulting chaos he’d collect his allies and enact some kind of global takeover. A massive volcanic eruption would create clouds of volcanic ash, a permanent overcast sky blocking the sun, creating a nuclear winter—a dark world, great for vampires. And demons with a sensitivity to sunlight.

I kept what I called our volcano map pinned to the wall of the office. It was a spectacular geology lesson. The Ring of Fire around the Pacific Ocean was aptly named, an almost regular series of active and dormant volcanoes marking the boundaries between continents and oceans. Island archipelagoes formed by volcanoes stood out. The recent eruption in Iceland of the volcano that no one knew how to pronounce had made me wonder, is this it? Is this what we’ve been waiting for, the focus of Roman’s plans? It had certainly annoyed a lot of people, halting air travel in Europe and across the Atlantic for weeks. But it hadn’t been particularly destructive. Volcanoes did erupt on their own; not everything was Roman being a dick. I’d put a big X on that site on the map, just in case. I’d asked Tina to take a look at the map when she first came to the house, to see if she could pick up any particular insight from it. She’d passed her hand over it, and kept coming back to the North American continent, which had plenty of volcanoes, starting in Alaska and running all the way down the West Coast. “That could just mean it’s my home and I’m worried about it,” she explained.

I couldn’t chase the man all over the world. We’d set a trap for him and failed. What now? Pull the blankets over our heads and hide?

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