Kitty Goes to Washington Page 57

“Kitty!”

I flinched, startled out of my manic thoughts. Flemming had uncrossed his arms and was watching me, concerned.

“You're pacing,” he said.

Like a caged wolf, back and forth across the front of the cell. I hadn't even noticed.

I couldn't see the moon. I didn't have to. A cramp wrenched my body. I doubled over, hugging my stomach, gritting my teeth, and unsuccessfully stifling a groan.

“Jesus, what's wrong with her?” the cameraman said.

Flemming frowned. “She's a werewolf.”

Public relations. That was the game we were playing, was it? Flemming and Duke would both win support for their causes if they could prove, once and for all, that the monsters were real. The hearings hadn't been able to do that; that was all just talk. They needed videotape. Brightly lit, clinical videotape.

I didn't have to give up the fight that easily. There was a way out. If I could keep in control for a little while longer, I could beat them. I breathed, taking a moment to center myself, to convince my body to stay human. You'll be out soon, I told Wolf. Just give me the next hour or so.

She settled. We lived by compromise, my Wolf and I. She understood that the human half had to fight this battle.

“Roger, come here. I have to talk to you.” I stood near the glass wall, by the dinner tray slot. I turned my back to the others.

“Why?” He laughed nervously. “You look like you want to kill me.”

“That's because I do. But I won't. Come here.”

I must have sounded serious, because he obeyed. Stockton crept forward slowly, like he thought I could break out of here. I couldn't; leaning on the Plexiglas told me it was solid. The hinges on the door were strong—and painted with silver. I might be able to break through, but I'd have to throw myself against it all night and probably wouldn't be in great shape afterward.

Let the human side deal with this.

“I have a counteroffer, Roger. How'd you like to produce the first live televised episode of The Midnight Hour?”

His brow furrowed, confused. “What, here?”

“Yup. Look, I know Duke and Flemming aren't going to let me out of here. But if I'm going to end up on TV, I want to do it on my terms. I get my show, I get to have my say, and you get your footage. That's what you want, isn't it? Real live film of a werewolf transformation, in a brightly lit lab, no shadowy forests and night-vision cameras, and you get a front-row seat. I just want a little credit. Duke and Flemming still get to prove their points. Everybody wins.”

“What, you want me to put in a phone line, take calls—”

“No, there's no time for that. I just want a mike so I can talk to the audience. A few supplies, some music, I'll carry the whole thing by myself. That's all I'm asking for, some odds and ends and billing for the show. What do you say? You owe me, Stockton.” That did come out as a growl. Just a little. I grit my teeth, glared—I couldn't imagine what I looked like to him. Like a werewolf. He stepped back.

“If all I want is werewolf footage, I'll get that one way or the other,” he said.

And he was right, of course. I was in a very poor bargaining position. “Then tell me what you want.”

He glanced at Flemming and Duke, who were their usual stolid and frowning selves. He hesitated, his face gone stony with thought. His jovial, animated facade had disappeared. Then, he said, “I still want that interview. I'll interview you, then you can do or say whatever you want for the rest of the broadcast.”

Dammit, if he asked me any questions I was likely to swear a blue streak at him. I didn't know how much self-control I could manage for the next hour—surely not enough to produce a cohesive interview. All I wanted to do was scream. But I was in no position to negotiate. I wanted a microphone, and if this was what I had to do to gel it, then so be it. “Fine, okay.”

He pursed his lips and nodded. “Right. We'll do it.”

I thought I was going to melt with relief. The night wasn't over yet, but I'd gotten the ball back in my court. Half a ball, anyway.

I said, “Call my home radio station and talk to the executive producer, Ozzie, he'll clear up all the legal stuff.” I gave him Ozzie's phone number, and recited the list of gear I thought I'd need. CD player, Creedence Clearwater Revival and whatever other CDs he could scrounge up, a copy of London's Call of the Wild, and—

“A rump roast?” Stockton stared at me before writing it down.

“It'll make her much happier, trust me.” Let him work out that bit of phrasing on his own.

Stockton conferred with his crew, then turned back to me. “I'll be back in twenty—no, fifteen minutes. Don't start without me.”

“Wouldn't think of it.”

Flemming looked worried. “What do you think this will accomplish?”

I shrugged, feeling giddy. “Don't know. Don't care. It's just nice to be doing something.”

I wasn't supposed to be here. I really wasn't supposed to be here. As in, this wasn't the way my life was supposed to go. Even just a few years ago, as a child of yuppies my life had been pretty much laid out for me: a decent degree from a decent university, a decent job—maybe in radio, but probably something nine to five, like sales. Marriage, children, tract housing on the prairie and a golden retriever playing fetch in the backyard. What all the other girls were doing.

Then the attack, and the wolf came, and nothing could ever, ever be normal again. There'd never be a golden retriever in the backyard—dogs hated me now. They could tell what I was.

Still, none of that explained how I got into these situations. Was I too young to retire? Get a nice, quiet job in accounting somewhere?

On full moon nights, keeping human form became painful, then it became impossible. Wolf had to be free, she had to be released, and if she had to rip her way out, she would. So much easier to let it slide, let it happen.

I couldn't do that, not tonight. Had to stay human as long as I possibly could, had to be in control, know what was happening. I'd had practice at this. I sat still, kept still, breathed slowly. Just a little while longer, girl.

I had a couple of tricks I used to keep the Wolf at bay. Humming Bach while thinking of broccoli. My humming was becoming more frantic, and still my stomach churned. The thin line between human and beast was growing thinner. When it disappeared, I'd be gone.

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