Kitty Takes a Holiday (Kitty Norville #3) - Page 11

“I like picking out my own dead meat, thanks.”

“I'll remember that.”

He crossed his arms, leaned on the counter, and looked at me. I blinked back, trying to think of a clever response. Finally, I offered him the bag I was holding. “Cookie?”

He shook his head at it. “How's Ben?”

“Asleep. How are you?”

“Feeling stupid. I keep thinking of everything I should have done different.”

'That's not like you. You're a head down, guns blazing, full steam ahead kind of guy. Not one to dwell in the past.”

“You don't know anything about me.”

I shrugged, conceding the point. “So what's the story? You know all about my dark past. I don't know anything about yours.”

“You're fishing,” he said and smirked.

“Can't blame a girl for trying.”

“Save it for your show.”

Ouch. If only I were doing the show. It occurred to me to consider how big a favor I would have to do for Cormac before I could talk him into coining on the show for an interview, if taking in him and Ben in their hour of need didn't do it.

Cormac pulled himself from the counter. “You have a bathroom in this place?”

“In the bedroom.”

He stalked off to find it. A minute later, the shower started up. At least he'd be clean.

I found my cell phone, dialed the number I wanted, and went outside. The air was cool, energizing. The inside of the house had become stifling. I sat on the porch and put my back against the wall.

A woman answered, “Hello?”

“Hi, Mom.”

“Kitty! What a nice surprise. Is everything all right?”

“Why wouldn't it be?”

“Because you never call unless something's happened.”

I sighed. She had a point. “I've had kind of a rough couple of days.”

“Oh, I'm sorry. What's wrong?”

Between the extracurricular shape-shifting, animal sacrifices on my front porch, my lawyer getting attacked by a werewolf, and a werewolf hunter camping out in my living room, I didn't know where to start. 1 didn't think I

should start.

“A lot of stuff. It's complicated.”

“I worry about you being out there all by yourself. Are you sure you don't want to come home for a little while? You've had such a busy year, I think it would be good for you to not have to worry about things like rent.”

Strangely enough, rent was one of the few things I wasn't worried about. As much as going back to my parents' and having Mom take care of me for a little while sounded like a good idea, it wasn't an option. Not that Mom would have understood that.

“I'm actually not by myself at the moment,” I said, trying to sound positive. “I have a couple of friends staying over.”

“That should be fun.”

If I would just break down and tell Mom the truth, be straight with her, these conversations would be much less surreal. I'd called her because I needed to hear a friendly voice; I didn't want to tell her all the gory details.

“Yeah, sure. So how are you? How are Dad and Cheryl?”

She relayed the doings of the family since her last call—more of the same, but at least somebody's world was normal—and finished by turning the questions back on me, “How is the writing going?”

“It's fine,” I said brightly. If I sounded like everything was okay, maybe it would be, eventually. “I think I've gotten over the writer's block.”

“Will you be starting your show again soon? People ask me about it all the time.”

I winced. “Maybe. I haven't really thought about it.”

“We're so proud of you, Kitty. So many people only ever dream of doing what you've done. It's been so much fun watching your success.”

She couldn't have twisted the knife any harder if she'd tried. I was such a success, and here I was flushing it down the toilet. But she really did sound proud, and happy. To think at one point I'd been worried that she'd be scandalized by what I was doing.

I took a deep breath and kept my voice steady. Wouldn't Jo any good to break down now. “Thanks, Mom. That means a lot.”

“When are you finally coming to visit?”

“I'm not sure… you know, Mom,

it's been great talking to you, but I really need to get going.”

“Oh, but you only just called—”

“I know, I'm really sorry. But I told you I have friends staying, right?”

“Then you'd better get back to it. It's good to hear from you.”

“Say hi to Dad for me.”

“I will. We love you.”

“Love you, too.”

I sat on the porch for a long time, the phone sitting in my lap. I was looking for someone to lean on. Cormac and Ben showed up with all this, and I wasn't sure I could handle it. Wolves were supposed to run in packs. I was supposed to have help for something like this. But I didn't have anyone. I went back inside, back to my milk and cookies.

From the bedroom, the shower shut off. Ten minutes or so later, Cormac, hair damp and slicked back, came into the front room. He'd shaved, leaving only his familiar, trademark mustache. He was cinching on his belt and gun holster.

“I'm going to help Rosco out there with his stakeout. Do a little hunting around on my own.” The contempt in his voice was plain. He was restless; I hadn't really expected him to stay in bed for twelve hours.

“Be careful.”

He gave me a funny look, brows raised. “Really?”

Exasperated, I sighed. “I wouldn't want him to shoot you because he thinks you're the bad guy.”

“Who says I'm not?”

Wincing, I rubbed my forehead. “I'm too tired to argue with you about it.”

“Get some sleep,” he said. “Take the sofa.”

“Where'll you sleep?”

“The floor, if I decide I need it. You looked after Ben all day, I'll keep an eye on him tonight. Take the sofa.”

This cabin was not built for three people who weren't actually all sleeping together.

“Fine.” I'd lost a lot of sleep over the last couple of days and was tired. Before I trudged over to the sofa, I faced Cormac. “If Ben wakes up, tell me, okay? He'll be confused, I'll need to talk to him.”