Kitty Takes a Holiday (Kitty Norville #3) - Page 46

The hawk was gone. I should have seen it, but it wasn't there. Instead, he looked like he'd been cornered.

I watched him go, wringing my hands on his behalf. Then all I could do was wait in the lobby on a hard plastic chair, leafing through copies of news magazines a month out of date. I wanted to climb the walls. The place was clean, not terribly old or worn out. But it smelled of sweat and fatigue. It was not a good place. People ended up here when they'd hit bottom, or were about to hit bottom.

My wounds still itched. They should have been almost healed. Cursed, Tony had said. I hadn't realized how much I took the quick healing for granted. Then again, if I didn't have rapid healing, I wouldn't go around intercepting attacking wolves.

I watched the clock. Hours later, after midnight, Ben came back to the lobby. He was pale, ill-looking, and sweat dampened his hair. He looked like he'd run a race, not talked with the cops. I stood and met him.

He smelled musky, animal, like his wolf was rising to the surface. I took hold of his hand. “Keep it together, Ben. Take a deep breath.”

He did, and it shuddered when he let it out. “I don't know what Cormac did earlier, but Marks has it in for him. He already called the prosecutor. They want to file charges. Six eyewitnesses saw Cormac save your life, and they want to press charges. They won't set bail until the advisement hearing tomorrow. And I just sat there and stored at them.”

“How does this usually work? You make it sound like this isn't the way things normally go for you guys.”

“Usually I have plenty of evidence that Cormac had a good reason for doing whatever he did, and the charges don't even get filed. But we have a couple of problems this time. Somebody around here wants to make a reputation for themselves.”

“Marks?”

“Marks and George Espinoza, a very earnest prosecutor who's probably never encountered anything more serious than trespassing.” His tone was harsh.

“And?” There was an “and” in there.

“She was already dying when he killed her. It was excessive force, even for Cormac. That's the argument Espinoza's going to use.”

This was going to be about

splitting hairs. Cormac did what he had to—I could convince myself of that. A hundred horror movie climaxes said he did the right thing.

But how would a judge see it?

“How's Cormac?”

“Stoic. He's Cormac. There's something else. They've ID'd the body. The skinwalker. Miriam Wilson. She's the twin sister of John Wilson, the werewolf that Cormac shot. The one that got me. A missing person report on her was filed three months ago.”

As if we needed the situation to be any more complicated. I tried to imagine a state of affairs where a brother and sister would become the things they were, and wreak the havoc they had.

“Brother and sister? One of them a werewolf and one of them a skinwalker. What's the story behind that?”

“I wish I knew.”

“And her family reported her disappearance to the police, but they hired Cormac to hunt down the brother?”

He shrugged. “We don't know that it was her family that filed the report. I'm guessing they didn't send Cormac after her because she wasn't a werewolf. We don't know if they knew what she was. We don't know anything. Christ, I'm going to have to go buy a suit. I left all my clothes in my car back in Farmington. I can't go to court without a suit.” He was currently wearing his coat over jeans and a T-shirt, like he'd been wearing for the last week.

“We'll go buy you a suit in the morning. Is there anything else you need to do? Can we get out of here?” I wanted to get him out of this place, with its unhappy smells and atmosphere of confrontation.

“Yeah, let's go.”

That started a very long night. Ben used my laptop and spent hours looking through online legal libraries for precedents and arguments that would spring Cormac. He scratched out notes on a notepad. I watched, lying on the sofa, wondering how I could help. He grew more agitated by the minute.

“Ben, come to bed. Get some sleep.”

“I can't. Too much to do. All my work is back in my car, I have too much to review, I have to catch up.” He glared at the screen with a frantic intensity.

“How much are you going to be able to help him if you're falling asleep in the

courtroom?”

He took his hands away from the keyboard and bowed his head. I could see the fatigue radiating off him. When he came to the sofa, I sat up, made room for him, and pulled him into an embrace. My body was healing, finally, but still sore. I didn't complain. He needed me to comfort him, however much I wanted someone to comfort me. We stayed like that a long time, his head pillowed on my shoulder, until the tension started to seep out of him. I got him out of his clothes, into bed, and held him close, curled up in my arms, until he finally fell asleep. He never fully relaxed.

The next morning, we went to buy a suit. We weren't going to find anything fancy in Walsenburg. This put Ben even further out of sorts. But we managed, somehow.

He changed clothes in the car on the way to the Huerfano County Courthouse, where Cormac's first hearing was scheduled to take place. The suit didn't fit quite right, it didn't make as slick a picture as he might have wanted. 1 brushed his hair back with my fingers, straightened his tie, smoothed his lapels. Like 1 was sending him to the prom or something.

Ben looked like 1 was sending him to an execution. He was still holding himself tense, shoulders stiff, like the raised hackles on a nervous wolf.

“You going to be okay?”

“Yeah. Yeah, sure. This is just a formality. The judge will look over his statement, the witness statements, and throw out the case. That's all there is to it.”

He headed into the building alone to meet with Cormac before the hearing. I made my way to the courtroom. In other circumstances I might have admired the hundred-year-old building, made of functional gray stone and topped by a simple decorated tower. They built them to last in those days.

1 didn't know what I expected—some kind of dramatic, busy scene like in a courtroom drama on TV. But the place was almost empty. Marks stood off to one side. A couple of people in business suits conversed quietly. Fluorescent lights glared. The whole place gave the impression of dull bureaucracy. I sat in the first row behind the defense side. I was sure this would be educational if I weren't so nervous on Ben and Cormac's behalf.