Kitty Raises Hell Page 23

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Jules smirked. “Thanks for the pep talk.”

I said, “Tina. You felt this thing, or whatever it is that psychics do. What’s it like?”

Tina shrugged. “Probably nothing you don’t already know about it. Heat. Malice. Fire. Destruction. It’s what ties all this together, isn’t it?”

My head ached, I was so exhausted. I seemed to remember eating something today, but I couldn’t remember what. And I was scared to go home. Scared to stay here. Just scared.

“Maybe we should get some sleep,” I said. “Maybe this will seem clearer in the morning.” And maybe pigs would fly.

“It’s noon in Britain,” Jules said. “I’ll make some calls and see if some of my contacts have any information.”

“I’ll go check on Gary,” Tina said.

We parted reluctantly, even though we all needed to sleep, even though no amount of hashing it out over coffee would solve the problem. But there was safety in numbers. Comfort in the shared experience. We could look each other in the eyes and know that it really happened, that we weren’t going crazy. We promised to leave our cell phones on and call the minute, the second, anything weird happened.

When we arrived home, I half expected to see the condo spewing flames and surrounded by fire trucks. But it was quiet.

The best part about having Ben around—rather, one of the best parts—was finding myself in his arms at the end of a really rough day. Assuming, of course, that arguing with him hadn’t been part of what made the day rough. Usually, though, I could count on him to hold me and tell me everything was going to be fine. Even if the tone in his voice wasn’t convincing. That night, he was cold and clinging to me as much as I was clinging to him. Neither of us fell asleep easily, and we woke up far earlier than we wanted to.

Not able to fight my way back to sleep, I left Ben in bed, pulled on an oversize T-shirt, and wandered to the living room.

My head pounded, and my eyes were caked with grime. My hair smelled like soot and fire. Fire. No wonder I felt boiled and limp. I didn’t want to see what New Moon looked like in the daylight. Seeing the damage in detail would probably break my heart.

I checked my phone. It hadn’t rung, which I took as a good sign.

The first person I called was Shaun. I needed to tell him what had happened before the lunch crew showed up for its shift and saw the damage firsthand. We needed a plan to get the place repaired and functional.

As the phone rang, I squeezed my eyes shut really tight. I still didn’t want to tell him. Like if I didn’t say the words “New Moon almost burned down,” I didn’t have to believe it.

Shaun picked up. “Kitty.”

“Hi, Shaun. How are you?”

“I don’t know—how are you?” His voice was coy.

Deep breath. Had to get it out. “Not good. There was an accident at the restaurant last night—”

“I know,” he said. “It was in the paper this morning.”

“What?” I was relieved and chagrined. I didn’t have to explain, but—he was going to yell at me for not calling him last night, wasn’t he?

But he didn’t. “Is everyone okay?”

“One person’s in the hospital,” I said.

“Shit,” he said. “What are we going to do?”

“Make repairs. Reopen as soon as we can.” We had to continue, onward and upward. What choice did we have?

“Does the fire have anything to do with that thing that went after us the other night?” His voice was numb, like he didn’t want to believe it had really happened, either, and didn’t want to give voice to the truth.

“Probably,” I said, wincing. “It had the same smell.”

“When’s it going to stop? How are we going to stop it?”

Saying I don’t know would have been the truth. But it would also be a sign of weakness. It would be admitting that I was floundering. And I couldn’t show that kind of weakness and still keep the pack together. I had to be the strong one. If the others lost confidence in me... well, I didn’t want to go there. It didn’t matter if I had any confidence in myself. I just had to convince them I did.

“I’m working on it, Shaun. I’m sorry I don’t have a better answer than that.”

“Let me know if there’s anything I can do.”

“I will. Thanks. I’ll talk to you soon.”

He hung up without saying goodbye. I’d make it up to him, I promised myself. I’d make this right.

Next I called Tina for an update on Gary. Jules answered her phone.

“We’re still at the hospital,” he said. “Tina finally conked out, so I’m letting her sleep.”

“How’s Gary?”

“Awake, but groggy. He doesn’t really remember what happened. But he’s going to be okay.”

I repeated my promise to myself: No one was going to die. We’d figure this thing out.

“Any other news on your end?” I said.

“Not yet. I’m waiting to get replies to some of my e-mails and calls. We still need to talk about what we’re doing next. We could meet this afternoon, if you like.”

“Sounds good.” We agreed on a time and place—the hospital cafeteria—and said our farewells.

I made another call. Grant picked up on the first ring.

“You’re probably getting sick of hearing from me,” I said.

The barest hint of a smile touched his voice. “If I were, I wouldn’t answer the phone.”

Ah, the magic of caller ID. What did we ever do without it? Strangely enough, I was comforted.

“What’s happened?” he said.

“There was a fire.”

I told him, starting with the incident with the van, even including the part about the Ouija board, even though that was a little embarrassing. I didn’t want to leave anything out in case it turned out to be important. But we’d had enough attacks now to discern a pattern: heat and fire. Something invisible that struck suddenly and left no trace.

“It’s rare finding someone who can read anything through a Ouija board. It’s not the most efficient tool.”

And I’d been worried that he’d make fun of me for going along with it. Grant seemed to take everything seriously.

“What is an efficient tool?” I said.

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