Kitty Goes to Washington Page 2

“The vampire's human servant didn't travel with him?”

“No, he dumped her to run off with the werewolf.”

There couldn't possibly be more. Bracing, I said, “Then what?”

“Another werewolf, who used to be the alpha female mate of the werewolf before he hooked up with the vampire, showed up. She wanted to get back together with him, saying this stuff about wolves mating for life and all, but he didn't want anything to do with her, so he hired the same hunter to go after her—”

“This hunter, his name wasn't Cormac by any chance, was it?” I knew a vampire and werewolf hunting Cormac, and this sounded like something he might do.

“No.”

Phew. “Just checking.”

The story only went downhill from there. Just when I thought the last knot had been tied in the tangled web of this town's supernatural soap opera, the caller added a new one.

Finally, I was able to ask, “And what's your place in all this?”

He gave a massive sigh. “I'm the human servant of the local vampire Master. They make me deliver messages. 'Tell them they have to leave town.' 'Tell your Master we don't want to leave town!' 'Tell the hunter we'll pay him to call off the contract!' 'Tell him if he doesn't come back to me I'll kill myself!' It never ends! And all I want to know is—”

Maybe he just wanted to vent. That was what I was here for. Maybe he wouldn't ask me to sort out his drama for him. Fingers crossed. “Yes?”

“Why can't we all just get along?”

Oy. It was one of those nights. “That, my friend, is the million-dollar question. You know what? Screw 'em. They're all being selfish and putting you in the middle. Make them deliver their own messages.”

“I—I can't do that.”

“Yes you can. They've got to realize how ridiculous this all looks.”

“Well, I mean, yeah, I've told them, but—”

“But what?”

“I guess I'm used to doing what I'm told.”

“Then maybe you should learn to say no. When they act surprised that you've said no, tell them it's for their own good. You've basically been enabling all their snotty behavior, right?”

“Maybe…”

“Because if they had to start talking to each other they might actually solve some of their problems, right?”

“Or rip each other's throats out. They're not exactly human, remember.”

Taking a deep breath and trying not to sound chronically frustrated, I said, “I may very well be the only person in the supernatural underworld who feels this way, but I don't think that should make a difference. Crappy behavior is still crappy behavior, and letting yourself succumb to unsavory monstrous instincts isn't a good excuse. So, stand up for yourself, okay?”

“O-okay,” he said, not sounding convinced.

“Call me back and let me know how it goes.”

“Thanks, Kitty.”

The producer gave me a warning signal, waving from the other side of the booth window, pointing at his watch, and making a slicing motion across his throat. Um, maybe he was trying to tell me something.

I sighed, then leaned up to the mike. “I'm sorry, folks, but that looks like all the time we have this week. I want to thank you for spending the last couple of hours with me and invite you to come back next week, when I talk with the lead singer of the punk metal band Plague of Locusts, who says their bass player is possessed by a demon, and that's the secret of their success. This is The Midnight Hour, and I'm Kitty Norville, voice of the night.”

The on air sign dimmed, and the show's closing credits, which included a recording of a wolf howl—my wolf howl—as a backdrop, played. I pulled the headset off and ran my fingers through my blond hair, hoping it didn't look too squished.

The producer's name was Jim something. I forgot his last name. Rather, I didn't bother remembering. I'd be at a different radio station next week, working with a different set of people. For the better part of a year, most of the show's run, I'd broadcast out of Denver. But a month ago, I left town. Or was chased out. It depended on who you talked to.

Rather than find a new base of operations, I decided to travel. It kept me from getting into trouble with the locals, and it made me harder to find. The radio audience wouldn't know the difference. I was in Flagstaff this week.

I leaned on the doorway leading to the control booth and smiled a thanks to Jim. Like a lot of guys stuck manning the control board over the graveyard shift, he was impossibly young, college age, maybe even an intern, or at most a junior associate producer of some kind. He was sweating. He probably hadn't expected to handle this many calls on a talk show that ran at midnight.

Most of my audience stayed up late.

He handed me a phone handset. I said into it, “Hi, Matt.”

Matt had worked the board for the show when I was in Denver. These days, he coached the local crew. I couldn't do this without him.

“Hey, Kitty. It's a wrap, looks like.”

“Was it okay?”

“Sounded great.”

“You always say that,” I said with a little bit of a whine.

“What can I say? You're consistent.”

“Thanks. I think.”

“Tomorrow's full moon, right? You going to be okay?”

It was nice that he remembered, even nicer that he was worried about me, but I didn't like to talk about it. He was an outsider. “Yeah, I have a good place all checked out.”

“Take care of yourself, Kitty.”

“Thanks.”

I wrapped things up at the station and went to my hotel to sleep off the rest of the night. Locked the door, hung out the do not disturb sign. Couldn't sleep, of course. I'd become nocturnal, doing the show. I'd gotten used to not sleeping until dawn, then waking at noon. It was even easier now that I was on my own. No one checked up on me, no one was meeting me for lunch. It was just me, the road, the show once a week. An isolated forest somewhere once a month. A lonely life.

My next evening was spoken for. Full moon nights were always spoken for.

I found the place a couple of days ago: a remote trail-head at the end of a dirt road in the interior of a state park. I could leave the car parked in a secluded turn-out behind a tree. Real wolves didn't get this far south, so I only had to worry about intruding on any local werewolves who might have marked out this territory. I spent an afternoon walking around, watching, smelling. Giving the locals a chance to see me, let them know I was here. I didn't smell anything unexpected, just the usual forest scents of deer, fox, rabbits. Good hunting here. It looked like I'd have it all to myself.

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