Kitty Goes to Washington Page 36

I looked after him as he walked away, and the retreating bodyguards blocked my view of him.

Something touched my shoulder. I gasped and pulled back.

It was Jeffrey, forehead creased with concern. “That wasn't the smartest thing you could have done.”

I'd been accused of a lot of things, but flights of genius wasn't one of them, so I couldn't argue.

We had to clear the room for the next set of hearings, a different committee, a different subject. The wheels of government rolled on, no matter what little paradigm shifts were going on in my head. I lingered outside in the hallway, arms crossed, shoulders hunched in and angry.

“Can we sue him?” I said to Ben. “There's got to be something we can sue him for.”

He shrugged. “I don't know. I'll look into it. I'm always game for a frivolous lawsuit.”

“It's not frivolous! There's something seriously creepy about that guy. We have to figure out what he's really doing with that church of his, because I know it's just horrible. It has to be.”

“If he hasn't broken any laws, then there probably isn't anything we can do.”

How could we know if he'd broken any laws if we didn't even know what he was really doing? Really, he was just inviting people to an old-fashioned revival meeting, and if they wanted to stay with him, well, that was their choice, right?

I had to find out what he was. “Jeffrey, if Smith isn't human, what is he?”

“I was hoping you'd have a guess,” Jeffrey said.

I humphed. “Believe it or not, you probably have more experience with that kind of stuff than I do. I mean, you can see that he isn't right. If we find out where he's camped, take a look, maybe you'd see… I don't know. Something.”

“I'm not sure I'm willing to get close enough to try that. He's dangerous, Kitty. I can see that much about him.”

“Ben?”

“Don't look at me. Somebody's got to stay behind to bail your ass out of jail when things go wrong.”

That vote of confidence was staggering.

Ben said, “If you're about to do something prosecutable, I don't want to know about it until afterward. I'll see you tomorrow.” He started off down the hallway, waving over his shoulder.

Jeffrey watched him go. “He's your lawyer, huh? He's…”

“Brusque?” I said.

“I was going to say honest. He's got a good aura.”

Well, that was something I supposed. I apparently had an honest lawyer.

I sighed. “Since I don't know where Smith's caravan is, the whole plan to go looking for him is moot anyway.”

I couldn't really see me climbing into a cab, flashing a fifty at the driver, and saying, “Follow that man!” I started to ask Jeffrey if he would do an interview on the show, when Roger Stockton stepped around from behind us, where he'd been lurking, eavesdropping, and who knew what else. He still had the camera, but at least he held it down and not pointed at me.

“I know where Smith is camped,” the reporter said. “And I know he isn't human.”

“Then what is he?” I said, once I'd regained control of my jaw. “And how do you know?” I'd tried to catch a scent off him, but his bodyguards stayed close, and I couldn't get past their smells, the overpowering scent of werewolf that set my instincts on edge.

“I'll tell you when we get out there.”

“So I just get in your car and let you drive me to God knows where?”

“Look, we all want the same thing here. We all know Smith isn't curing anyone, not for real anyway, and he's got some kind of funky voodoo—I saw what he did to you back there. We all want to expose him, and we all know that he's dangerous. This way none of us has to go it alone and we all get to break the story together.”

“Are you sure you're not just after some prime Kitty Norville footage for sweeps week?”

“I wouldn't mind that—”

I turned away with a dismissive sigh.

“He's telling the truth, Kitty. He knows,” Jeffrey said. Jeffrey, who claimed to see honesty radiating off a man.

I had a guy with second sight and a reporter from Uncharted World for backup. A girl could do worse, I supposed. I looked around to see if Cormac was lurking somewhere. Now there was backup, assuming he kept his guns pointed in someone else's direction. But wouldn't you know it, the one time I might want him around, he'd disappeared. He hadn't been near the hearings since Duke fired him.

I said to Roger, “We find the caravan, we check it out. Then what?”

“Then, we see. Sound good?”

“No. If you know what he is then you should know what he's doing, and what we should do about him.”

“I can't do it alone” Roger said. “Are you in?”

Jeffrey nodded. He seemed eager, even, as if this were just another enlightening experience.

I had to be out of my mind.

Chapter 8

Stockton's smugness at knowing something I didn't was stifling. I was glad Jeffrey had agreed to come along. He sat in the backseat, regarding both of us with an amused smile.

I had no idea what we were going to do when we got there. If anything I'd heard about the caravan was true, shutting it down would take the National Guard.

Maybe between Jeffrey's intuition and Stockton's camera, we could collect enough evidence to bring about some kind of criminal prosecution. It was a modest enough goal.

It was all I could hope for. We weren't exactly the Ghostbusters.

Around sunset, we left tract housing and suburbs and entered countryside, driving along a two-lane state highway. The light was failing, streaking the sky shades of orange and lighting up the clouds. The land seemed dark, shadowy. The fields around us might have been fallow farmland, or rolling pastures. Fences bounded them by the roadside, but beyond that, trees surrounded them.

Trees everywhere, rows of old growth oak or elm, windbreaks planted a hundred or two hundred years ago. The road curved from one valley into the next, making it impossible to see what lay ahead.

I was surprised, then, when we rounded a turn skirting yet another gently rolling hill, and Stockton put on the brakes. The seat belt caught me. He pulled onto the shoulder, to where we could look over the rail fence.

Ahead, occupying the back half of a wide swath of pasture, was what looked like the back lot of a down-on-its-luck traveling circus. Maybe two-dozen old-fashioned campers hitched to beat-up pickup trucks, a few RVs, Airstreams and Winnebagos, converted vans and buses, parked in a rough circle, like pioneer wagons. Another dozen cars were scattered among them. In the center, like the spoke of a wheel, the top of a large canvas tent was visible. Around the perimeter, a few figures, indistinct forms in the twilight, walked around wire fencing that enclosed the settlement. Lights flooded the area inside: lights from the campers, the trucks, floodlights inside the tent. Even a hundred yards away I could hear the generators. The place was an event, a carnival without a town to go with it, a circle of light in an otherwise shadowed world.

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