Kitty Goes to Washington Page 33

I had no way of knowing who to believe. I wanted to think well of Alette, and if she trusted Leo I shouldn't question it. She'd known him longer than I had. Maybe Flemming really was harmless, and all the cloak-and-dagger shenanigans with Cormac had been a waste of time. I felt like I was working my way through a maze. I hated mazes.

This town was getting to me.

Chapter 7

Thursday was exploitative celebrity day at the hearings.

There was me, of course. I'd been told I might testify today, if the committee had time. Ben told me not to hold my breath. I was thinking of starting a pool among the press corps to guess when I'd actually be called up.

The good senators had called in others who'd made themselves famous based on the stuff of magic and the supernatural, and the others arrived today.

Waiting in the hallway outside the hearing room, a swarm of people collected around a lone figure, a slick-looking man in his thirties who smiled amiably. At first I thought the people surrounding him were reporters, but then the man took one of the notepads, signed his name on it, and handed it back. I recognized him, then: that easygoing smile, the fashionably trimmed sandy hair, the clean features that made him instantly likable and trustworthy. Jeffrey Miles, professional psychic and channeler.

He was best known on the daytime talk show circuit, where he impressed the hosts and awed the audiences with his intimate knowledge of their friends and relatives who had “passed on.” He claimed to be able to communicate with the “other side,” to deliver messages and reassurances from the dead, and to reveal information that only the deceased or the audience member could have known. Classic cold readings. He appealed to the angels and Precious Moments crowd.

I leaned on the wall and smirked at the proceedings. Someone in my position—werewolf, witness to the supernatural—might have been inclined to believe in his awesome powers. Except I didn't. It was manipulative bunk, and it was people like him who made it difficult for the rest of the world to believe in people like me.

The session was set to begin, and it took security guards to clear out Miles's admirers. His geniality didn't disappear with the fans; it wasn't some mask he put on for them. He shook his head, amused, straightening his blazer as he headed toward the door.

He walked right by me without a second glance, and was through the doorway before he stopped, backed up, and turned to look at me.

“You must be Kitty Norville,” he said.

“And you're Jeffrey Miles.” I crossed my arms.

“You know—” He scratched his head and seemed suddenly uncomfortable. “I have a confession. I hate to admit it, but I was one of those people who thought it was all a gimmick. Your show, the werewolf thing. But you really are a werewolf, and I have this urge to apologize for doubting.”

I stared, dumbfounded and speechless for maybe the third time in my entire life. The polite, socialized part of my brain scrambled to graciously accept his apology. The sarcastic part clamped down on that right away.

He was human, straight up as far as I could see, with nothing in the way of heightened senses that a lycanthrope had. I really had to know, “How can you tell?”

“Your aura is very wild. Very animal. I only see that with lycanthropes.”

The sarcastic part of my brain started beating itself against a figurative brick wall to stifle the laughter.

“Well, thanks for the vote of confidence,” I said. “I'm sorry I can't return it.”

“Too many documented frauds?”

“Something like that.”

He closed his eyes for a moment and visibly relaxed, his shoulders sagging a bit, his face going slack, like he had fallen asleep right there on his feet. I watched, intrigued. Looked like I was going to get a free show.

Then he said, “Theodore Joseph holds a strong place in your thoughts.”

I grit my teeth to make sure my mouth stayed closed. He might as well have punched me in the gut. I looked away before my eyes had a chance to tear up, the way they always did when I was reminded of T.J. at an unexpected moment.

My mind raced. He could have done research. He'd have known in advance that I was going to be here, he could have looked at the police record, the one where I named T.J., there were records that Miles could have easily found—

He continued. “He says—there's nothing to forgive. Stop asking for forgiveness.”

That wasn't recorded anywhere. The police didn't know T.J. was dead. I hadn't told them that part.

I hadn't ever asked T.J. for forgiveness. Not out loud—I mean, how could I? He was dead. And it was my fault he was dead. I was so, so sorry, and maybe all these weeks I'd just wanted to say that. I wished I'd had a chance to tell him that. I wished that he were here for me to tell him.

And there was Jeffrey Miles, watching me with a quiet, sympathetic look in his eyes, wearing a grim smile.

I scrubbed my eyes with the heels of my hands, but it didn't work. Tears fell.

“I'm sorry,” he said, handing me a tissue. He had it ready, like people burst into tears in front of him all the time. “This isn't the time or place for this.”

“No, it's okay. I asked for it, didn't I?” I chuckled halfheartedly. “I can almost hear him sometimes. You're saying it's real?” Jeffrey Miles was for real. I felt like a jackass.

“I think he's been watching out for you. Not a ghost, nothing so strong as that. But he's interested.”

“Where—where is he?”

“Even I don't know that. They come to me. I can't find them. Who was he?”

“Don't you know? I thought you were psychic.”

“He's not a forthcoming presence.”

“Got that right. T.J. My best friend. I got him killed.”

“I don't think he sees it that way.”

And I knew he was right. Somehow, that nagging little voice that I had mistaken for my conscience told me that it wasn't my fault. It had been there the whole time, telling me I was okay, to stop being silly. I hadn't believed it. T.J. had wanted that last fight with Carl, not just to defend me, but because the fight between them had been brewing for months. He'd wanted to win, but that hadn't happened. Stop asking for forgiveness.

After that, I wasn't sure I was ready to sit in that room for two hours, but the security guards were about to close the doors, and Jeffrey urged me inside.

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