Kitty Raises Hell Page 4

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Over the months, my human side had come to depend on having him in my life. Love had sneaked up on us rather than bursting upon us like cannons and fireworks.

Sliding into the seat next to him, I continued the motion until I was leaning against him, falling into his arms, then almost pushing him out of the seat. Our lips met. This kiss was long, warm, tension-melting. This was the way to end a day.

When we drew apart—just enough to see each other, our hands still touching—I asked, “So, how was it?” The show, I meant. Everyone knew what I meant when I asked that.

He smirked. “I love how you work out your personal issues on the air. It must be like getting paid to go through therapy.”

I sat back and wrinkled my brow. “Is that what it sounds like? Really?”

“Maybe only to me,” he said. “So, are you okay? Everything’s all right?”

“I’m fine. Nothing’s happened. I still haven’t learned anything new.”

“What’s Rick been doing?”

“Sitting on rooftops being gargoyle-y. He says he can see ‘patterns.’” I gave the word quotes with my fingers.

“He’s just saying that to make himself look cool,” Ben said. I kind of agreed with him.

“Is there anything else we ought to be doing?” I asked.

“The restraining order against our friend Nick and the Band is filed. There’s not much more we can do until something happens. Maybe this—this emotional harassment—is all there is.”

“Wouldn’t that be nice?”

Nick, a were-tiger, was the leader of the Band of Tiamat. He also led an animal and magic act in Las Vegas—only the animals were all feline lycanthropes. The whole act was a front for the Tiamat cult, and when they weren’t using the Babylonian-themed stage and sets in their show, they were using them to conduct sacrifices. Their preferred victims? Werewolves. Dogs and cats, at it again. Nick himself was certainly hot and sexy enough to front a Vegas show. He was also an evil son of a bitch. I got chills just thinking about him.

Ben moved his arm over my shoulder, and I snuggled into his embrace. “I wish I could just go back there and... beat them up,” I said.

“We’ve been over that. They didn’t manage to kill you last time. It’s best if we don’t give them a next time.”

Especially since I wouldn’t have quite the same backup if I faced the Band of Tiamat again. Evan and Brenda, the rather uncomfortably amoral bounty hunters who’d saved my ass, had had to leave Vegas in a hurry to avoid awkward questions from the police. They couldn’t help me.

And the one supernatural bounty hunter in the world I actually sort of trusted was still in jail.

“Grant’s keeping an eye on things for us,” Ben continued. “If they do anything funny, we’ll know it.”

Odysseus Grant was a stage magician in Las Vegas, a niche act who’d made his reputation with a retro show featuring old vaudeville props and reviving classic tricks that had gone out of fashion in the age of pyrotechnics and special effects. That was the public face, at least. I still didn’t entirely understand the persona underneath. He was a guardian of sorts, protecting humanity from the forces of chaos. It sounded so overwrought I hesitated to even think it. But, having encountered some of those forces firsthand, I was grateful for his presence.

I had allies. I should have felt strong. I had a whole pack behind me, and a vampire, and a magician. The Band of Tiamat didn’t stand a chance against all that.

It had to be enough for whatever they threw at us. It just had to be.

Chapter 2

What did people ever do before the Internet? Could you really go to the library to find out that the hit TV show Paradox PI was coming to Denver to film a couple of episodes? Because the show’s producers certainly hadn’t chosen to let me know.

I found this information after searching on Harry Houdini, trying to learn more about him. What I found, I liked. He traveled, did thousands of performances and demonstrations of stage magic and escapism. He loved debunking fakes. He claimed that he wanted to believe—he was desperate for proof that the mediums and séances he discredited could actually reach the “other side” and communicate with the dead. But every one he encountered used tricks and stagecraft. When Houdini was alive, the supernatural was still hidden. It kept to shadows and refused to draw back the curtains. I had a theory: You could tell who the real mediums and psychics were because they didn’t advertise, they didn’t brag, and they certainly weren’t going to look for attention from someone like Houdini. Ironically, in his search for the real deal, Houdini drove the real deal away, deeper into hiding. He’d have loved this day and age.

As Professor Olafson had said, Houdini promised that if it was possible, he would deliver a message after his death. Despite hundreds of mediums and séances attempting to help him to do that, the world was still waiting.

Paradox PI did an entire episode on the search for Houdini’s message from beyond and didn’t find anything. Now they were coming to Denver.

I’d seen a few episodes of the show. They specialized in paranormal investigation, especially haunted houses. Went in, set up all kinds of cameras, microphones, infrared scanners, motion detectors, seismographs, and so on, hoping to record some evidence of spectral activity. They usually found something small and indeterminate—heavy breathing in a room where no one had been, the flash of a shadow on a camera, or a drop in temperature in a hallway. The on-camera team—two men and a woman (the woman had beautiful, flowing raven hair and tended to wear tight shirts and jeans)—would stand around, regarding the “evidence” and nodding sagely, and happily inform the haunted establishment’s owner that while they couldn’t prove the place was haunted, this looked pretty cool. The whole thing had a reality-TV aesthetic, lots of shaky video footage of people talking, the occasional expletive bleeped out. It promoted a sense of artificial urgency. They’d never come up with something as definitive as an image of Jacob Marley rattling his chains, but they always pretended that they might. Bottom line: It was a TV show, not paranormal investigation.

Since the emergence of the supernatural—the government acknowledging the existence of vampires and werewolves, my own show exploiting the topic mercilessly, dozens of others jumping on the bandwagon—the fakes had been having a field day. When you’d seen a werewolf shape-shift on live TV, the psychic hotline somehow seemed a lot more reasonable.

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