Kitty Takes a Holiday (Kitty Norville #3) - Page 22

Ah, the charm of the small town. Everybody knew everybody. We just had to find out which ones were the squirrelly ones. Besides, you know, everybody.

I smiled grimly. “I think I'll give the sheriff a call. Have him clean up that mess.”

Sheriff Marks was not happy. In a really big way, he was not happy. He only gave the hanging carcasses a cursory glance, wearing a stone-faced tough-guy expression to prove he wasn't grossed out or unduly disturbed.

I sat on the porch steps and watched him survey the clearing—this involved standing in the middle of it, circling, and nodding sagely. He didn't even bring along Deputy Rosco—I mean Ted—to take pictures of my car this time.

Cormac stood nearby, leaning on the railing. Lurking.

I ventured to speak. “We think it might be somebody local trying to scare me off.”

Marks turned to me, his frown quivering. “How do I know you didn't do this? That this isn't some practical joke you're playing on me?”

I glared back in shock. “Because I wouldn't do something like this.”

“What about him?” He nodded at Cormac. “What did you say your name was?”

“I didn't,” Cormac said, and didn't offer.

Marks moved toward him, hands on hips. “Can I see some ID, sir?”

“No,” Cormac said. I groaned under my breath.

“Is that so?” Marks said, his attention entirely drawn away from the slaughter around us.

Cormac said, “Unless you're planning to write me a ticket or arrest me for something, I don't have to show you anything.”

Marks was actually starting to turn red. I had no doubt he could come up with something—harassing a police officer, loitering with intent to insult—to pin on Cormac, just out of spite.

I stepped between them, distracting them. “Um, could we get back to the dead animals?”

Marks said, “If I'm right, I could have you up on a number of cruelty to animal charges.”

“Should I call my lawyer?” My lawyer who was inside, asleep, recovering from a werewolf bite. “Recovering” was my optimism talking.

“I'm just

giving you an out, Ms. Norville. A chance to Tess up.”

“I didn't do it.”

“I'm still looking for the hidden cameras,” he said, peering into the trees.

“Oh, give me a break!”

He jabbed his finger in my direction. “If you think being famous keeps you safe, lets you do whatever the hell you want, you're wrong.”

If I'd thought this situation couldn't get any worse, I was obviously mistaken.

“Sheriff, I'm being harassed, and if you're not going to help me, just say it so I can find somebody who will.”

“Good luck with that.” He started back for his car.

“Hell, I could do a better job than this clown,” Cormac said. “At least I can admit when I'm in over my head.”

He didn't even try to say it softly, so Marks couldn't hear. No—he raised his voice, so Marks couldn't help but hear.

Marks turned around, glaring. “What did you say?”

Cormac scuffed his boot on the porch and pretended he hadn't heard.

“You'd better watch yourself,” Marks said, pointing. “You so much as breathe wrong and I'll get you.”

The hunter remained slouching against the railing, as unflappable as ever. He wasn't going to be the one to shoot first in a fight. I wasn't sure Marks knew that.

Marks started back to his car.

“Sheriff, what do I do about them?” I pointed at the dogs. Some of them were swaying gently, as the trees they were tied to creaked in a faint breeze. A garbage bag or a quickly dug hole wasn't going to clean this up.

“Call animal control,” he said. The sound of his car door slamming echoed.

I fumed, unable to come up with a word angry enough for what I wanted to hurl after him.

Hearing steps in the house, I turned around. Ben emerged, standing just outside the doorway and staring out. “Holy shit, what's this?”

“Curse,” I said.

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“I don't suppose anyone's up for breakfast,” Cormac said.

“Are you joking?” I said. He smiled. My God, he was joking.

“You

two go inside. I'll take care of this.”

“Sure you don't need help?” Ben said.

“I'm sure.”

Ben hesitated, like he needed convincing. 1 pulled his arm, guided him inside. He said, “Does this sort of thing happen to you a lot?”

It was starting to seem like it. “I don't know.”

“Is it because you're a werewolf or because you're you?”

Now that was an excellent question. I didn't really want to know the answer.

When my phone rang later that day, I almost screamed, because the noise was like claws on a chalkboard. Mom's call.

Cormac hadn't come back yet from taking care of the mess outside. Ben had gone back to bed. I didn't know if he was sleeping.

I curled up on the sofa. “Hi, Mom.”

“Hi, Kitty. Are you okay? You sound a little off.”

A little off. Ha. “I'm about the same as the last time we talked. Things could be better, but I'm hanging in there.” Hanging. I shouldn't have said that. Didn't want to hear about anything having to do with hanging.

“What's wrong? I wish there was something I could do to help. You'll let me know if there's anything I can do—”

“Thanks, Mom. I can't really think of anything. Unless you know something about blood magic?”

She thought for a couple of beats, and I couldn't guess what kind of expression she had. “No, 1 really don't.”

'That's okay.”

“Kitty, tell me the truth, are you all right?”

My eyes teared up. 1 would not start crying at Mom. If I started I wouldn't stop, and then she'd really worry. And she was right to worry, I supposed. I took a deep breath and kept it together.

“I will be.” Somehow… “Things are kind of a mess, but I'm working through it.”

“You're sure there isn't anything I can do?”

“I'm sure.”

“Are your friends still with you? Are they helping?”