Kitty Takes a Holiday (Kitty Norville #3) - Page 51

“What problem? I don't see a problem. Eyewitnesses, that's what you need, that's what you have. Isn't it?” I had the feeling he was about to tangle me up in some legal loophole.

“Why were we all there in the first place?” he said.

I wasn't sure I could explain it anymore. It seemed so long ago. “We were going to remove Alice's curse. Tony said he had a ritual.”

“Magic. Witchcraft,” he said curtly. “So how do you convince the legal system that this is real? That when Tony and Alice talk about casting their spells, they're serious, and it's real. That they're not crackpots. I'm afraid Espinoza's going to use that angle to discredit their testimony. He'll say, of course a couple of people who are out in the woods at dusk lighting candles and burning incense are going to think up some story about how this woman really turned into a wolf. Of course they'll say that even shot through the chest and dying she was a threat because she was a skinwalker. He'll say they're as deluded as Miriam was and therefore their testimony is suspect.”

He was twisting the words, manipulating the story. Just like a lawyer. Just like Espinoza. Ben was thinking of all the angles, but none of them seemed to work in our favor.

“So you can't use their testimony.”

“Oh, I'm going to use it and hope for the best. Maybe I'm wrong and Espinoza won't shoot them down.”

This was looking grimmer and grimmer. Grasping at straws. “What about Marks? He had it in for me in the first place—that's why we were at the cabin when Miriam attacked. Can't you use that to discredit him as a witness?”

“If you want to sue Alice and Sheriff Marks for harassment, I'm all for it. I think you have a good case against them. You don't even have to bring up magic to prove that leaving dead dogs in someone's yard is harassment. But it's a different case. I'll certainly bring it up, but the judge might decide that a suit against Marks doesn't have any bearing in the case of Miriam Wilson's death.”

The pizza had gotten cold and I'd lost my appetite. Ben wasn't eating either.

“The whole thing seems

rigged,” I said. “It's not fair.”

“Welcome to the American justice system.” He raised his bottle of beer as if in a toast.

“Cynic.” I pouted.

“Lawyer,” he countered, grinning.

“Ben. Drink your beer.”

I went to see Sheriff Marks the next morning. I told Ben 1 was taking a walk to the grocery store for donuts.

Carefully, I approached the front desk at the sheriff's department like it was a bomb. I asked the woman working there, a nonuniformed civilian, “Hi, is Sheriff Marks in? Could I speak to him?”

“Yes, I think he is. Do you have an appointment?”

“No,” I said, wincing. I fully expected Marks to refuse to see me. But I had to try.

The receptionist frowned sadly, and I tried not to be mad at her. She was just doing her job. “Then I'm afraid he probably won't be available, he's very busy—”

“It's all right, Kelly.” Marks stood in the hallway to the side, just within view. His expression was guarded, pointedly bland, like he'd expected me to be here all along and didn't mind. He knew his place in the world and I couldn't shake it. “I'll talk to her. Send her back.”

He turned and went down the hall, presumably to his office.

“Go on back,” Kelly the receptionist said. I did.

Marks disappeared through a doorway halfway down the hall, and I followed him into a perfectly average, perfectly normal cluttered office: a desk with a computer sat against the wall. There was an in-box overflowing with papers and files, bookshelves, also overflowing, certificates and plaques on the wall, along with a huge map labeled Huerfano County. Colored pins marked various spots; a red pin was stuck about where I guessed my cabin was.

Marks sat at the desk and gestured me toward a couple of straight-backed plastic chairs by the opposite wall.

“Thanks” I said, sitting. “I didn't think you'd even talk to me.”

He gave an amiable shrug, donning the persona of a friendly small-town cop. “I figure the least I can do is hear you out.”

“The least you can do is let Cormac go.”

“Have you

seen that guy's file? You know what he's done? He should have been locked up years ago.”

“And if he had, I'd be dead, and so would you and four other people.” I matched him, glare for glare. “He saved my fife, Sheriff. That's all I'm paying attention to right now.”

His glare set like stone, unrelenting. “That man's a killer.”

Yes, but… “You can't deny he saved my life.”

“That girl couldn't have really hurt anyone,” he said, giving a huff that was almost laughter.

“Didn't you see what she did to me?”

“You had a few cuts,” he said.

Then I realized, maybe he hadn't seen. It had been dark; I hadn't even known how bad it was until I got inside and saw all the blood. Marks simply might not have seen it. Once again, I kicked myself for not taking pictures.

I said, “Then you don't believe she really turned into a wolf. You're buying the 'insane woman in a wolf skin' version.” He answered with a cold stare that said it all. “How can you believe in werewolves but not in skinwalkers? How can you believe in magic enough to curse my house, but not enough to believe what she was? You just want to put Cormac away because you can, without giving him the benefit of the doubt or anything!”

“Ms. Norville, I think we're done here.”

“You're a hypocrite—you've broken the law yourself, in the name of protecting people, when you did those things to me. Well, Cormac was doing the same thing.”

Marks leaned forward, hand on his desk, his glare still hard as stone. Nothing could touch this guy, not when he was like this. “He shot and killed an injured, dying woman in cold blood. That's what he's being charged with. Goodbye, Ms. Norville.” He pointed at the door.

I glared at him, my throat on the edge of a growl, and he couldn't read the stance. All he saw was an angry, ineffectual woman standing before him. And maybe that was all I was.

I left, gratefully slipping out of his territory.

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