Kitty Takes a Holiday (Kitty Norville #3) - Page 58

Ben put his hand out to stop the door from closing. “How much of that did they bring on themselves? They hired my client to kill your brother. He did it, then Miriam came after him. He's in jail now, and you know as well as I do he doesn't deserve to be there. Where did this whole thing get started?”

She was lost, cornered, staring at us with a panicked expression, unable to close the door on us and unable to speak.

“Please,” I said, “talk to us.”

The words seemed to war inside her, like she both did and didn't want to speak. Finally, the words won. “Joan was murdered. No matter what anyone else says, she was murdered. But the more we talk of these things, the more likely we are to bring more curses upon ourselves.”

You got to a point where one more curse wasn't going to make a difference.

“Louise, who are you talking to?” a male voice shouted from within. The father who didn't speak much English, I bet.

“Nobody!” she called over her shoulder.

The door opened wide, revealing a short man with desert-burnished skin aiming a rifle at us.

I wondered if he knew that he'd need the bullets to be silver.

“My daughter's right,” he said in perfectly decent English. “We've had enough. Get out, now, before you bring more evil with you.”

It seemed to me that we weren't the ones carrying evil around with us. We just kept finding it. I had the good sense not to say anything. Funny how a loaded gun can shut you up.

“Well. Thanks for your time,” I said. 1 took Ben's arm and pulled him away from the door. Slowly, we backed along the path, until the door to the house slammed shut.

Ben's muscles were so tense they were almost rigid, like he wanted to pounce. “Keep it together, Ben,” I whispered.

“What a pack of liars.”

“Does this surprise you? This is the family that produced John and Miriam Wilson. Both confirmed monsters.”

“Okay, but you're living proof—in fact you've based your whole career on the belief—that being a monster doesn't make someone a… a…”

“A monster,” I finished, grinning wryly. “A

fucked-up family's a fucked-up family, whether or not werewolves are involved.”

“You think I'd have figured that out by now,” he said.

“You know, I'm sick and tired of people pointing rifles at me.”

“That was a shotgun, not a rifle.”

For some reason, that didn't make a hell of a lot of difference to me.

We got back in the car and pulled out on the dirt track. We didn't speak. Another door had closed, figuratively speaking. One less chance to boost Cormac's defense.

“Kitty, wait, look.” Ben pointed to a figure running toward us, from the Wilson house. Small against the landscape, it looked like it fled something terrible. It was Louise, her black hair tangling in the desert breeze.

I hit the brakes and waited for her to catch up. I didn't see anything chasing her, but I wondered.

I'd started to unbuckle and climb out, but Ben said, “Wait. We may have to drive out in a hurry.”

He was probably right. I left the car running while Ben got out and waited for her. She reached us more quickly than I expected—she was fast, and we hadn't gone far. The house was still visible. I wondered if her father would show up in a minute with his shotgun.

Sliding to a stop, she leaned on the car's trunk. Her dark eyes were wide, wild. She seemed too flustered to speak, but she said in a rush, “Let me in. I'll talk to you, but we have to go.”

Ben put the seat down so she could climb in the back, then he returned to the front.

“Go, now, hurry,” Louise commanded. I was already driving, before Ben even closed the door.

I glanced at her in the rearview mirror. She perched at the edge of the seat, her hands pulling at the fabric of her jeans. Her gaze never rested. She looked around, out both side windows, over her shoulder to the back window, ducking to see out the front. Like she was worried something might follow us. She had the look of someone who was always afraid that something was following her.

1 said, “Do you always jump into strange people's cars and tell them to drive? How do you know we're not murderous psychopaths?”

Her gaze settled on me, briefly. “I know a murderous psychopath when I see one.”

“A murderous psychopath like Miriam?”

“Yes.”

“Miriam was a skinwalker,” Ben said.

“Yee naaldlooshii. Yes.”

“What else can you tell us?”

“Not here. Someplace safe. We'll talk someplace safe.”

“We're in a car driving forty miles an hour,” I said, annoyed. “What could possibly get at us?”

She gave me a look that clearly pitied my ignorance. “You never know what could be listening. Waiting.”

I wanted to laugh, but I couldn't. I said, “If we're not safe driving, where do you want to go?”

“There's a place close by. I'll tell you where to go. Turn right on the highway.”

Her directions steered us farther away from Shiprock, then off the highway. I feared for the car's suspension. Many miles out, a dirt track led down a slope to a ravine— gullies and dry riverbeds like this cut across the desert. 1 never would have found this cleft in the hills if I hadn't been guided here. It was very well hidden.

Ahead of us, toward the end of the ravine, was a hut made of logs sealed with mud. It was octagonal—almost round—ancient-looking, with a low-sloping roof.

We all climbed out of the car, and Louise hurried ahead of us.

She said, “This hogan belonged to my family years ago, in the old days. Everyone's forgotten about it. But 1 found it again. It'll keep us safe.”

“Safe from what?” It seemed like the obvious question.

She gave me a look over her shoulder.

Ben was the one who said, “If you have to ask, you haven't been paying attention.”

“Just trying to make conversation.”

He took my hand and squeezed it quickly before letting it go and walking on. A brief touch of comfort.

The scene we were walking into was from another world, something out of a tour book, or maybe an anthropology textbook: the desert, the cold wind, the round hut that might have been sitting there for decades. I looked up, expecting to see vultures. I only saw crisp blue sky.