Kitty Goes to Washington Page 21

I had to be calm. CNN was watching from down the hall. I didn't want to do something that would get me a starring role on the six o'clock news.

“Wow. I didn't think Uncharted World had reporters. Aren't you guys more the urban legend and unverified amateur video footage kind of show?”

He didn't react to that, but he was probably used to getting that kind of crap from people. “What was your reaction to being subpoenaed by the oversight committee?”

“I'm sorry, I really don't have time for this.” I dodged him and continued down the hallway. The guy was persistent, though. He ran after me and planted himself in front of me again, cutting me off when I tried to go around him. The hall wasn't wide enough to avoid him.

He spoke quickly. “What are your thoughts regarding the Center for the Study of Paranatural Biology and Flemming's work there?”

The shining little eye of the camera lens stayed trained on me. I had to get away from that thing. “No comment.”

“Come on, you've got more of a right to an opinion on this stuff than anyone else in that room, and you can't take a minute to share your thoughts with the public? Are you going to leave it to other people to decide what tone this debate takes?”

I turned on him, my shoulders bunched, my jaw tight, my gaze burning. I only half raised my hands and took a step toward him, but his reaction was immediate and unambiguous. He stumbled back against the wall, pressing himself to it as if he could fall through it, and clutched the camera to his chest. His eyes went wide and the blood drained from his face.

He knew I was a werewolf. More importantly, he believed it, and everything it entailed. He thought I might actually maul him, right here and now. Idiot.

“I don't want my picture on TV, especially not on Uncharted World. Get rid of the camera and I'll think about talking to you. But right now I'm not inclined to be nice.”

I stalked away from him. And half a second later, I heard footsteps hurrying behind me.

He could not take a hint.

“Look, we're both in the broadcast business. Why not do a colleague a favor? Just give me a couple of quotes and I'll give your show a plug. We both win.”

It didn't even help that his voice had a nervous waver to it now. I tried to ignore him, but he was right alongside me again, holding up that damned camera.

He was looking back and forth between me and the camera, so he didn't see Bradley standing in front of us, blocking the corridor. But I did.

I stopped. Stockton didn't, until Bradley grabbed his wrist and took the camera out of his hand.

“Hey!” Stockton struggled, until he looked at Bradley. First his chest, then up to his face. They couldn't have played it better if they'd been making a movie. All I had to do was sit back and watch.

“This guy bothering you?” Bradley said.

Oh, how a girl loved to hear those words from someone with Bradley's build. “I think he was just leaving. After he erases the last five minutes of footage off his camera.”

Bradley let go of him, then studied the camera's controls. He started pushing buttons, and I had no doubt that in moments my face would be wiped clean from the camera's memory.

Stockton pointed a finger at him. “This is harassment.”

“No, that's harassment,” I said, nodding at the camera.

He frowned. “I don't understand why you're turning down free publicity.”

“I'd like to hold on to the last bit of anonymity I have,” I said. I was going to lose it soon enough when I showed up on C-SPAN.

Bradley handed back the camera. His expression was smug, so I was confident the purge had been a success.

Stockton backed away. “We'll talk again. Tomorrow.”

The bodyguard and I made it out of the building without any other interruptions.

I gave a tired sigh. “I think I owe you one.”

“Not to worry,” he said. “It was my pleasure.”

Only after a couple minutes did I realize that he'd been on his way to meet me after the hearings finished, to escort me to the car, as if I couldn't be trusted to make it to the curb without getting into trouble. Maybe I couldn't. It still annoyed me.

“Shotgun,” I called as we neared the sedan in the parking garage.

He glared. He'd been heading for the rear door, preparing to be all chauffeur-y.

“I can see better out the front,” I explained. He sighed in what I thought was an overly dramatic manner, but he opened the front passenger door for me.

As he pulled out of the garage and into the bright sunshine of the daytime street, I asked, “Can we make a detour? Just a tiny little stop. You can even leave the motor running.”

I faced him, eyes wide and pleading. Even in broad daylight, he managed to look as foreboding as he had the night I first saw him, with his dark, nondescript suit and stony features. As we emerged into daylight, he put on a pair of sunglasses, completing the Man In Black image. “You are an awful lot of trouble, you know that?”

“It's not on purpose, honest.” The trouble I caused was almost always a direct result of speaking without thinking first. This, for example: a rational person would do whatever she could to avoid annoying Bradley. Not me. “Please? Just a tiny little errand, I promise.”

“Where?”

I cringed. “The Crescent?”

“No, absolutely not!”

“I just want to run in and leave a message for Luis, that's all, I promise.”

“No. No way.”

“Please?” I wasn't above begging. “We wouldn't have to tell Alette.”

“Do you really think I wouldn't tell her?” He would, he absolutely would. For a moment, his sincerity almost made me back off. This genuine, seemingly uncoerced loyalty Alette inspired in her people was daunting. I set my elbow on the door and leaned my head on my hand.

Bradley pursed his lips, his gaze flickering at me. “She has your best interests in mind. She's only looking out for your safety.”

“She thinks a wolf needs an alpha, does she? Doesn't want me running around without a leash?”

He didn't answer. As altruistic as he made Alette out to be, there was a core of truth to what I'd said. I stared out the window as we passed yet another neoclassical building. I wondered what that one was.

“All right,” he said. “A minute. That's all. If you duck out on me, Alette may never let you out of the house again.”

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