Kitty Goes to Washington Page 25

“Flemming's got to have an office somewhere in D.C. Can you find out where? I have his phone number if that helps.”

He pulled a sheet of paper from the outside pocket of his briefcase and handed it to me. “Already done.”

The sheet was blank letterhead with Flemming's name on it, and an address at the National Institutes of Health medical complex in Bethesda.

I beamed. “Thanks, Ben. You're the best.”

“That's my job.” I'd turned to leave when he said, “Wait. I found out a little more about him. He say anything to you about serving in the army?”

“Flemming was in the army?”

“Yeah. I've got a request in for a copy of his service record, I'll know more then. There's also a CIA connection.”

I huffed. “You're kidding. That's just a little too outrageous to believe.” I stared at the blank sheet of letterhead, like it would offer up the truth about the real Flemming.

Ben shrugged, unapologetic. “Just watch your back.”

Too many questions and not enough time to look for answers. I tossed him a mock salute before jogging out of there.

I turned my cell phone back on when I left the building. Caller ID showed three missed calls, all from my mother. I thought the worst: there'd been an accident. Someone had died. Quickly, I dialed her back.

“Mom?”

“Kitty! Hi!”

“What's wrong?”

“Nothing.”

I rolled my eyes and suppressed curses. “Did you call me earlier?”

“Yes, I had to ask you, your father says he saw you on C-SPAN this afternoon at those hearings they're doing on vampires. You were sitting in the audience. Now, I didn't think that could possibly be right. You weren't on C-SPAN, were you?”

I hesitated a beat. It wasn't that she was going to be angry that I was on television. No, she was going to be angry that I didn't tell her I was going to be on television so she could call all the relatives and set the timer on the VCR to record it.

“Dad watches C-SPAN?” I said.

“He was flipping channels,” she said defensively.

I sighed. “Yes, he probably saw me on C-SPAN. I was in the audience.”

“Well, isn't that exciting?”

“Not really. It's kind of nerve wracking. I'm supposed to testify at some point.”

“You'll have to let us know when, so we can tape it.”

This wasn't the school play. But I wasn't going to convince her of that. “That's cool, Mom. Look, I have someplace I need to be. I'll talk to you later, okay?”

“Okay—I'll have to call your father and tell him about this.”

“Okay, Mom. Bye—”

“I love you, Kitty.”

“You, too, Mom.” I hung up. Why did I always feel guilty hanging up on her?

I didn't have time to track Flemming down that afternoon. I had an appointment.

At 3:55, I was at the Crescent, sitting at the table by the bar, with a soda in front of me and a glass of schnapps in front of an empty chair. Right on schedule, the old man entered the club. He'd walked another three steps before he stopped, frozen in place, and stared at me.

I hadn't asked how long he'd been coming here. Probably since long before Jack started working here. When was the last time someone had interrupted his routine? I could almost see his thoughts working themselves out on his furrowed, anxious face as he processed this new event, this wrinkle in his life.

I nodded at the empty chair in invitation, but I didn't smile, and I didn't look directly at him. Staring might have been a challenge; smiling might have showed teeth, also a challenge. I worked on being quiet and submissive, like a good younger wolf in the pack. If his body was sliding more to the wolf half, I had to assume his mind was as well, and that those were the cues he would read.

Slowly, watching me carefully the whole time, he came to the table and took the empty seat.

“What do you want?” he said in a pronounced German accent. His voice was gravelly.

“To talk. I collect stories, sort of. I'm guessing you have some pretty good ones.”

“Bah.” He took a swallow from the glass. “There is nothing to talk about.”

“Nothing at all?”

“You think that a pretty young thing like you will soften an old man's heart, with drink and blushing? No.”

“I'm new in town,” I said, soldiering on. “I came here for the first time two nights ago, and I'm just trying to learn as much as I can before I have to leave. I've been pretty sheltered until now. I was in a pack for a while. It wasn't anything like this.”

“You came from a pack?” His eyebrows bunched together in curiosity.

I knew if I kept rambling long enough he'd interrupt. I nodded earnestly.

He scowled and shook his head. “The pack. Is archaic. In the old days, we needed it for protection. To defend against hunters, against rivals, against the vampires. Now? Easier to buy each other off. All the packs will go away soon, trust me.”

I thought about Carl, my former alpha, running his pack into the ground to maintain his own sense of importance, and hoped he was right.

“My name's Kitty,” I said.

He arched that peculiar brow at me. “A joke?”

” 'Fraid not.” I'd never seen much reason to change my name just because it had become a hideous irony.

He stared at me long and hard, like he was deciding whether or not to give something valuable away. Finally, he said, “Fritz.”

“Nice to meet you, Fritz.”

“Bah. You'll go away and in a week I won't remember you.” He regarded his glass thoughtfully for a moment, then shook his head. “On second thought, you I will remember. Kitty.” He snorted a brief laugh.

I had to smile. It heartened me that he could be amused by something, anything, and the icy wall around him seemed to chip a little.

He drained his glass, as he'd done the day before.

“Can I get you another one?”

He shook his head as he pushed back his chair. “Only one. Then I go. Goodbye.”

“Where?” I blurted. “I mean, you obviously live in D.C. But what do you do? Where do you go?”

I'd said too much, crossed a line before earning his trust. He'd never talk to me again. He threw a glare over his shoulder and strode out the door, shrugging deeper into his coat.

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