Kitty Takes a Holiday (Kitty Norville #3) - Page 4

And if all that weren't enough to drive me crazy, the show's theme song was Bauhaus's “Bela Lugosi's Dead.”

After a few lines of the song, the woman herself came on the air. Her voice was low and sultry, as seductive as any film noir femme fatale could wish. “Greetings, fellow travelers in darkness. It's time to pull back the veil between worlds. Let me, Ariel, Priestess of the Night, be your guide as we explore the secrets, the mysteries, and the shadows of the unknown.”

Oh, give me a break.

“Vampires,” she continued, drawing out the word, pronouncing it with a fake British accent. “Are they victims of a disease, as some so-called experts would have us believe? Or have they been chosen, serving as undying ambassadors from the past? Is their immortality a mere quirk of biology—or is it a mystical calling?

“I have with me in the studio a very special guest. He has agreed to emerge from his sanctum to speak with us tonight. Gustaf is the vampire Master of a major U.S. city. He has asked me not to say which, to protect his safety.”

Of course she wasn't going to say which.

I pouted a little. I'd never gotten a vampire Master to be a guest on my show. If this Gustaf really was a Master. If he really was a vampire.

“Gustaf, thank you for being here tonight.”

“The pleasure is all mine.” Gustaf had a low, melodious voice, giving a hint that he might burst out laughing at a joke he wasn't going to share. Very mysterious.

“Hm, I bet it is,” Ariel purred. “Tell me, Gustaf, when did you become a vampire?”

“In the year 1438. It was in the Low Countries, what people call the Netherlands today. A very good time and place to be alive. So much trade, commerce, art, music— so much life. I was a young man, full of prospects, full of joy. Then I met… her.”

Ah, her. Standard dark lady of the night fare. She was exquisite, more intelligent and worldly than any woman he'd ever met. More brilliant, more attractive, more everything. She'd swept him off his feet, yadda yadda, and here he was, some six hundred years later, and all this time they'd played a game of seduction and mayhem that read like something out of a bodice-ripper.

It was quite the tale of danger

and suspense. Out here, alone in a cabin in the woods, with a fire burning in the stove and wind shushing through the pine trees outside, I should have been shaking in my booties.

I'd sure love to give Ariel a real scare.

That gave me an idea. A really bad idea.

I retrieved my cell phone from my desk. I dialed the number that Ariel's aggravating voice had seared into my memory.

“You've reached Ariel, Priestess of the Night,” said a man. A regular, nonmysterious-sounding man.

“Hi,” I said. Oh my God, not a busy signal. I was talking to someone. Was I actually going to get on the show?

“Can you give me first your name and where you're calling from?”

Shit, I hadn't really thought this through. “Um, yeah, I'm… Sue. And I'm from… Albuquerque.”

“And what do you want to talk about?”

What did I want to talk about? My brain froze. Was this what happened when people called my show? My big mouth took over. “I'd like to talk to Ariel about fear,” I said.

“Are you afraid of vampires?” the screener asked.

“Sure.”

“All right, if you could please turn off your radio and hold on for a minute.”

Crap. Double crap. I turned off the radio.

Instead of hold music, the phone piped in Ariel's show, so I wouldn't miss anything.

Gustaf was talking about the inherent selfless nobility that vampirism conferred upon its victims. “One begins to feel a certain stewardship for humankind. We vampires are the more powerful beings, of course. But we depend on you humans for our survival. Just as humanity has learned it cannot wipe out the rain forests or destroy the oceans without consequence, we cannot rule over humankind with impunity. As we would certainly be capable of doing were we less conscientious.”

So people were nothing more than a bunch of endangered monkeys? Was that it? No, vampires would never be able to take over the world because their heads were generally stuck too far up their own asses.

Finally, Ariel made the announcement I'd been waiting for: “All right, listeners, I'm going to open the line for calls now. Do you have a question or a comment for Gustaf? Now's your chance.”

I

desperately wanted Ariel to put me on the air so I could call bullshit on the guy. She took another call instead. A desperately awestruck woman spoke.

“Oh, Ariel, thank you, and Gustaf, thank you so much for speaking with us all. You don't know how much it means to hear such an old and wise being as yourself.”

“There, there, my dear, it's my pleasure,” Gustaf said graciously.

“I don't understand why you—I mean you as in all vampires—aren't more visible. You've seen so much, you have so much experience. We could learn so much from you. And I do think the world would be a better place if vampires were in a position to guide us—”

Ariel butted in. “Are you saying, then, that you think vampires would make good world leaders?”

“Of course—they've seen nations rise and fall. They know better than anybody what works and what doesn't. They're the ultimate monarchs.”

Great. A freakin' royalist. Ooh, what I would say to this woman if this were my show…

Ariel was maddeningly diplomatic. “You're a woman with traditional values. I can see why the ageless vampires would appeal to you.”

“Since the world would clearly be a better place if vampires were in charge—why aren't they? Why don't they take over?”

Gustaf chuckled, clearly amused in a detached, condescending manner. “Oh, we certainly could, if we wanted to. But I think you underestimate how shy most vampires are. We really don't like the harsh light of publicity.”

Could have fooled me.

Ariel said, “I'd like to move on to the next call now. Hi, Sue, you're on the air,” Ariel said.

Sue—that was me. Wow, I made it. Back on the air— in a manner of speaking. Ha. Here I go—

“Hi, Ariel. Thanks so much for taking my call.” I knew the script. I knew how to sound like a fan. I'd heard it enough from the other side. “Gustaf, I don't think all vampires are quite as sensitive and charitable as you imply. Are they stewards watching over the rain forests, or shepherds fattening the sheep for market?”