Kitty Goes to Washington Page 75

“You told me once that Cormac likes seeing how close to the edge he can get without falling off. What about you? Why do you hunt vampires?”

He shrugged. “I don't hunt anything, really. I just look out for my friends. That's all.”

Which made him a good person to have at your back—all anyone could ask for, really. That, and an honest lawyer, all wrapped into one.

“When are you going back to Denver?”

“After I file suit in court. Though it may not come to that. I've gotten word from both Duke's office and the NTH that they're willing to settle. Duke won't want to settle, but if the Senate Ethics Committee gets involved, he may come around. There are still criminal charges pending, but this might not drag on so long.”

“Thanks for doing all this. I don't even care about the money, you know. I just want a little old-fashioned revenge.”

“That's the best part,” he said, grinning his hawk's grin, the one that made me glad he was on my side.

Luis had tickets to a symphony concert at the Kennedy Center that night. It seemed a great way to spend my last night in town. We met up at the Crescent.

I wore a smoky gray skirt and jacket with a white camisole. Understated, until I put on the diamond Alette had given me. Then, it looked awfully mature. Sophisticated, even. Like something Alette might wear. I didn't feel like myself.

Ahmed met me at the door. He didn't say a word at first, just closed me in a big monstrous hug until I thought I might suffocate. I didn't have much hope of hugging back, so I leaned in and took a deep breath, of smoke and wine and wild. It smelled a little like a pack.

“Come back to visit, yes?” he said, gripping my shoulders. I nodded firmly. Looked like I was coming back to D.C. at some point. Jack waved at me from the bar.

I sensed Luis come in through the door behind me. I didn't even have to turn around. He stalked like a cat and his warmth reached out for me.

He touched my shoulders and kissed the back of my neck. Fire, warmth, happiness, I felt all that in his touch. Finally, Wolf's fear uncurled. Some light came into her burrow. I felt like running—from joy this time, not fear.

“Ready?”

I almost asked if we could blow off the symphony. But I nodded.

I was glad I went, glad I didn't miss seeing the Kennedy Center. The place was so beautiful, so momentous, walking into the four-story-high Hall of States with the marble walls, red carpeting, state flags hanging from the ceiling. I wanted to cry. Felt like I should have been wearing a sweeping ball gown and not a suit.

People stared at me. At us. The people who had tickets for the seat next to me in the concert hall moved. Everyone watched the news, I supposed. I wilted. I would have stuck my tail between my legs if I'd had it. I would have left, if Luis had let me. Bless him, he didn't flinch once. He walked past them all, holding my arm tucked in his, his back straight and chin up. Like a jaguar stalking through his jungle.

Staring at his shoulder, I leaned in and asked him, “How can you stand it? The way they look at us?”

He said, “I know that I could rip out their guts, and I choose not to.”

We stood in the Grand Foyer at intermission. I looked down the hall, taking in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors, the windows framed with soft drapes, a thousand glittering lights in the chandeliers, the immense bust of Kennedy gazing out over what he'd inspired.

A couple walked by. The woman, young and elegant in a blue cocktail dress, brushed past me. Her hand caught mine, hanging loose at my side, and squeezed for just a moment. Then she walked away. She never looked at me.

She smelled like wolf. I stared after her, until Luis tugged at my arm.

After the concert we went up to the roof terrace. Looking southeast, I could see the Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln Memorials lined up, lit and glowing like beacons in the night. Great men and their monuments. They weren't perfect. They made mistakes. But they changed the world. They were idealists.

Luis stood behind me, arms around me, and kissed the top of my head.

“Thank you for this,” I said, my voice hushed. “For showing me this.”

“You ever need to get away, take a vacation, call me. I'll show you Rio de Janeiro.”

“It's a deal.” Like, how about now?

“What will you do next?”

“Take time off. I don't know. Maybe I should write a book.” I pictured myself going back to the show, back to the radio station. I sat in front of the microphone, opened my mouth—and nothing came out.

I had a place in mind, a small town where I'd spent a couple of weeks one summer in college. I could go rent a cabin, be philosophical, run wild in the woods.

And try to remember how to be an idealist.

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