Kitty Goes to Washington Page 28

Then Senator Henderson recessed the hearing for the day. I didn't testify after all.

Anticipation produced the worst kind of anxiety. It didn't matter how nervous about a show I was beforehand, how worried I was that a guest wouldn't show, or that I'd get a call I couldn't handle, or that I was presenting a topic that would get out of control, once the show started that all went away. I was only nervous when I sat there, doing nothing, inventing terrible stories of everything that could go wrong.

The longer I sat at the hearing without doing anything, the more nervous I got. I'd be shaking by the time I finally got up there to testify.

Cormac stayed in the back, leaning by the door, where he could keep an eye on the whole room. When the committee members left out the back and the audience was breaking up to leave, he came to our row and sat beside Ben.

“Has it been going like this the whole time?”

Ben crossed his arms and leaned back. “No. They've been totally businesslike until now. I wonder if they've lost interest.”

I pouted. “That doesn't matter, they still have to let me talk. I drove all the way out here, I've been sitting here for three days—could they really not let me talk?”

“Theoretically, they can do anything they want,” Ben said.

Case in point: one of Senator Duke's aides, a young man looking stiff and uncomfortable in his suit, came down the aisle toward us. I guessed he was Duke's aide—the senator had returned to the room and watched us closely from the side of the benches. The aide only glanced at Ben and me, then leaned in to whisper to Cormac.

“The senator would like a word with you, if you don't mind.” He waited, then, like he expected to escort the bounty hunter that very moment.

Cormac deliberately picked himself up out of the chair, taking his time, then followed the aide to see Duke. The reason for the summons became clear at once. Duke didn't even need a microphone to be heard.

“You didn't tell me you were friendly with her!”

If Cormac answered, he kept his voice subdued, and I didn't hear him.

Duke replied, “Does conflict of interest mean anything to you?”

He apparently didn't know Cormac very well. Even I knew the answer to that one.

“You're fired! You're off security! I want you out of this building!”

With as little concern as he'd shown strolling up there, Cormac walked back, wearing a wry smile.

“So sue a guy for trying to make an easy buck,” he said.

Ben asked, “Could we? Sue, I mean. Is there a breach of contract?”

“No,” Cormac said, shaking his head. “I took a kill fee.”

Ben hesitated, then said, “Kill fee. That's funny.”

“No, it's not,” I said, interrupting. “That's not funny at all.”

Too bad they were both grinning. I gave a long-suffering sigh.

“Come on,” Ben said. “We'd better get you out of here.”

Flemming left just ahead of us. He'd tucked his briefcase under his arm, ducked his head, and strode out of the room like he was late for something. His gaze flickered over us as he passed; we were all staring at him.

“Who's that guy?” Cormac nodded after him.

“Dr. Paul Flemming,” I said. “He heads the Center for the Study of Paranatural Biology. The committee spent the first two days grilling him.”

“He a straight shooter?”

“Not in the least. I went to his office this morning and found him shredding a stack of documents. Just try to get a clear answer from him.”

“Used to working under the radar. Going crazy now with the spotlight on him. He looks the type.” Ben nodded in agreement.

I said, “What I want to know is: what's he hiding?”

Cormac pursed his lips thoughtfully. “You really want to know? We could find out.”

“How? I've tried talking to him, I even had him on the show.”

Ben said, “I've pulled everything on him I could—military record, academic record. He's got this scientific veneer over everything he does. Talks a lot, uses big words, doesn't say anything.”

“We could break into his office.”

I hushed Cormac. “Are you out of your mind?” He was talking like this in a government building. I looked around, but no one seemed to have heard.

“You know I can do it,” he said. “Especially since it looks like I'm not busy for the next couple days after all.”

He could do it. I didn't know where he learned how to do things like breaking into radio stations and government buildings, but he could do it.

Cormac could probably learn more in a couple of hours of breaking-and-entering than I had in months of wheedling. He grinned, because my hesitation was all the confirmation he needed to go ahead with the plan.

“Officially, I'm not hearing any of this,” Ben said. “Unofficially, be sure to wear gloves.”

Cormac huffed. “I think I've just been insulted.”

“I'm only saying.” Ben squeezed past us to the door. “You kids have fun.”

Cormac turned to me. “Where's this guy's office?”

“Bethesda. At the Magnuson Clinical Center, in the basement.”

“Show up there at about four. Go inside the building, I'll be watching for you.”

“Four—in the morning?” I said.

“Four this afternoon,” Cormac said.

“You want to do this in broad daylight?”

“Do you trust me or not?”

If he really wanted to shoot me, he'd had half a dozen chances. And I still couldn't answer that question. I swallowed a lump in my throat. “Do I really have to be there?”

“You're the one who knows what you want to find.”

Ben said to me once that Cormac wasn't a crusader. He wasn't a werewolf hunter because he hated werewolves, or had a religious beef against them like Duke. Rather, he liked to see how close he could walk to the edge without falling off. He didn't have any loyalty to the government, the people who hired him, or anyone else.

Cormac was only planning this to see if he could. For him, it was a challenge.

“All right. Four o'clock this afternoon.” I sighed, hoping to still my pounding heart.

“Bring gloves,” he said, then stood and walked away.

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