Kitty Goes to Washington Page 39

I was used to being the goddess of phone conversations. I wanted to grab the phone out of his hand and make his grandmother get to the point. Ask her the right questions. Then I imagined trying to explain to her who I was.

“I'm sorry, Gramma, I can't really talk any louder… I said I can't talk any louder… I'm sort of hiding… That's what I wanted to talk to you about… You know those stories you're always telling? About the Fair Folk… Yes, Gramma, I crossed myself—” He quickly did so, in good Catholic fashion. “Some friends and I seem to have come across one who's doing some not very nice things… What kind is he?… I don't know… Seelie or Unseelie? I don't know that either… No, Gramma, I do pay attention when you tell stories…”

“Unseelie are the bad guys, right?” I whispered at him. “I bet he's Unseelie.”

“Neither one is very good,” he said, away from the phone for a moment. “Yeah, Gramma? I'm pretty sure he's Unseelie… That's right, it's pretty bad… What would you do? Pray?” He rolled his eyes. “What about getting rid of him? Will he just go away? No… okay… okay, just a minute.” He took out a mini notepad and pen, and started writing. A shopping list, it looked like. “Okay… Got it. Then what? Really? Is that all?”

Patience, Kitty. Back in the caravan, people had entered the tent. I couldn't see anything now, or sense anything, except that a large group of people had gathered.

“Thanks a lot, Gramma. This is just what I need. I have to go now… Yes, yes I'm coming for Thanksgiving this year. No, I'm not bringing Jill… She broke up with me six months ago, Gramma.” He held the phone an inch away from his ear, closed his eyes, and gave a deep sigh. I could hear the woman's voice, slow and static-laden, but not the words.

This was ridiculous. I wanted to throttle him.

“I have to go now… goodbye, Gramma… I love you.” He clicked off.

“What did she say? What do we do?” I said, forcing my hands to not grab his shirt and shake him.

“We go grocery shopping.”

“What?”

“Bread, salt, some different herbs. Unless you brought any of this stuff with you?” He showed me the list he'd written: verbena, Saint-John's-wort, rowan.

“Can we even find some of this at the local supermarket?”

He shrugged. “Once we get the stuff it doesn't sound like it's that hard of a spell. We just walk around the camp, sprinkle the stuff on the ground, and poof.”

“Poof?”

“Poof, he's banished back to underhill, or wherever the hell he came from.”

Wherever the hell. Apt phrase, that.

“So we go to the store, get the supplies, come back, and that's that. Easy,” Jeffrey said, grinning like we were planning a school prank.

Stockton put the list back in his pocket. “I think I remember seeing a convenience store a few miles back, at the last intersection. They'll have some of this stuff. She didn't say we need all of it, these are just the options. Why don't you two wait here and keep an eye on things while I go get the stuff.”

“Sure,” Jeffrey said without hesitation. Stockton was already turning to go.

“Wait!” I tried to keep my voice down and sound desperate at the same time.

“You have a better idea?”

“I go get the stuff and you wait here?”

“I'll be back in half an hour, I promise. Here, hang on to this.” He gave me the locket charm, then ran along the shelter of the trees, back to the road.

I had a bad feeling about this. “Split up,” I muttered. “We can take more damage that way. You know we're stranded here once he takes the car.”

“Calm down, it'll be okay. Smith's wrapped up in whatever he's doing in there and the guards haven't spotted us. We'll stay here, keep our heads down, and be fine.”

“You're entirely too pleased about all this.”

“Of course I am! I've never done anything like this before. I'm usually cooped up in a TV studio or a book signing. But this—running around, investigating, spying. How cool is it?”

How did I get myself into these situations? “So, Jeffrey—you want to be a guest on my show?”

“Um—just what exactly would that involve?”

Inside the caravan, nothing happened. If this had been any other church's revival meeting, there would have been singing, shouting, praying. I wouldn't have minded hearing some speaking-in-tongues.

But there was nothing, except Jeffrey and me sitting in the dark and the cold, under a tree, waiting.

Enough time passed for me to think that Stockton had set us up. Somewhere, hidden cameras recorded us, and any minute now actors dressed as bogeymen would leap out of the woods, screaming and carrying on. I'd freak out, adrenaline would push me over the edge, and I'd turn Wolf, because that was what happened when I panicked in a dangerous situation. Stockton would get it all on film and broadcast it in “A Very Special Episode of Uncharted World: Kitty, Unleashed.” I didn't know what Jeffrey would do. Get out of the way, I hoped.

Except the caravan of the Church of the Pure Faith was parked in front of us, and I wasn't going to take my eyes off them. The bogeymen would have to wait.

Jeffrey tapped my shoulder and pointed at the road. A car pulled up—Stockton's. The headlights were off, to draw less attention to it. I hissed a sigh of relief.

A few minutes later, he rejoined us, carrying a plastic bag. “Hi. Anything happen while I was gone?”

“Nothing,” I said. “They've been quiet.”

“Too quiet,” Jeffrey added happily.

Stockton pulled items out of the bag: a loaf of sliced sandwich bread, a shaker of salt, a bottle of Saint-John's-wort herbal remedy, and a pill crusher.

“I figured we'd crush the pills up and sprinkle the powder,” he said. “I don't think you can get Saint-John's-wort any other way these days.”

I deferred to his supposedly greater knowledge, because I didn't have any better ideas.

“Jeffrey, you take the salt. Kitty—” He handed Jeffrey the salt, and me the loaf of bread. While he took the pill crusher out of the package and dug into the Saint-John's-wort, he explained. “We start at the north end of the caravan. Just sprinkle this stuff as we go, and that's that. Which way's north?”

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