Kitty Raises Hell Page 52

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“What do you mean, what have I been doing?”

“Are you near a TV? Can you turn on the news?”

“Just a sec.”

The TV was in the next room. I pulled on a robe and went out to turn it on, then flipped channels until I found what Hardin was talking about: A local newscast showed a building on fire. Then another one. And another. A series of film clips showed five different buildings, in different parts of town, all on fire. The scenes were nighttime—they must have happened last night. A caption read “Fire Department Stretched Thin.”

Ben had been working at his desk. Drawn by the images, he leaned forward and stared at the TV.

“Oh my God,” I said, sinking to the sofa. “What happened?”

“I was hoping you could tell me. Even apart from injuries from the fires, I have three more bodies just like Cabrerra.”

A wave of dizziness hit me as the blood left my head. I sat down. “Who? Who are they?” Which of my pack members had paid for my curse this time?

“They’re not werewolves. The victims are random, as far as we can tell. If these are all connected, and I dare you to tell me they aren’t, this thing’s gone on a rampage, and I need to know why.”

Not werewolves. My pack was safe. But I didn’t feel any better, since three random innocents had died because of this. No one was safe.

“I think we cornered it,” I said. “Maybe even scared it.”

“So you figured out what’s doing this? You know how to stop it?” She sounded excited.

I winced. “What would you say if I said it was a genie?”

“Like in a bottle?”

“Yeah.”

She paused for a long moment. “I don’t know what I’d say. Aren’t they supposed to grant wishes? Not go around burning people to death?”

“Well, there’s the bedtime stories, and there’s reality. We all know how that works, right?”

“This doesn’t help me figure out what to do about it. I don’t want anyone else to die, Kitty.”

“And you think I do?” I said, shrill.

Taut with frustration, she said, “Why do these things always happen to you?”

I nearly screamed, but I swallowed it back. My voice sounded unnaturally calm. “If I knew that, I would make them stop.”

We both simmered for a moment. Then she said, “How do I arrest a genie?”

That was always the first thing she asked. How do I arrest it? She’d managed lycanthropes so far and was gunning for vampires, and I had no doubt that if a way to arrest genies existed, she would find it.

“Some of us are working on the problem,” I said, sighing.

“I want in on it,” she said.

“What?”

“I’m not convinced you’ve ever really bought into this supernatural-and-law-enforcement-working-together philosophy, no matter how much you might talk about it on your show. I think you’re still in this mind-set of working under the radar and making sure the supernatural takes care of its own problems. I don’t know who you have working on this, and I don’t really care. I just want in on it. Don’t keep me in the dark.”

Whoa. She not only listened to my show. She, like, paid attention. Read into it.

I changed my tone, leaned back against the sofa, and tried to sound nonchalant. Tried to relax so I could sound nonchalant. “Detective. You like my show?”

She huffed. “I consider it part of my job to listen to it. I don’t know if there’s any like involved.”

Ouch. That wasn’t exactly a vote of confidence. I avoided an urge to whine about it. “Listen tonight,” I said. “Then you’ll know everything I know.”

I hung up before she could argue.

Leaning on the table, I covered my face with my hands. I wanted to run. Wanted to be wild, without responsibility. I didn’t want to have to face this problem anymore.

We watched the news report run on. This was a special, not the regular newscast. Another fancy caption and graphic came on-screen: Arsonist Loose in Denver? They had no idea.

“That was Hardin, I take it,” he said. “Calling about this?”

I nodded. “She says three people have died. No one from the pack, but still.”

“Shit,” he said again. “I hate to think what this thing is going to do next.”

Him and me both. I shook my head, leaned back to stare at the ceiling with aching eyes, beyond tears and beyond words.

“There isn’t enough blood and dust to protect the city,” I said. Now it was all of Denver I felt responsible for, not just me and my pack. All I had to do was make enough of the potion to drench over the whole city. That would go over well.

“You know what this means?” Ben said. “If you bring this up on your show tonight, it’ll strike again. Every time we’ve provoked it, it’s struck back. Lashed out. It’ll use your show as an excuse to attack again.”

This had occurred to me. “Then you think I shouldn’t do it. I shouldn’t talk about it on the show.”

He shook his head. “No. It just means you have to finish it tonight. You can’t let it go on another night.”

“What if we can’t? What if we can’t figure out how to stop it tonight? What then?”

“Then we’ll deal with it tomorrow. One day at a time.”

He was right. If we wanted to rile it up, it had to be because we knew how to finish it. No good just pissing it off for the hell of it.

That was it, then. One way or the other, tonight, we’d face the monster.

Chapter 18

We had all day to prepare. That should have been enough time, right? I read everything I could get my hands on about genies, though most of what was out there was from the One Thousand and One Nights collection of stories, and I wasn’t sure I bought most of that. They were mischievous and seemed most often trapped by clever tricks. The stories were like those of Celtic fairies, pixies, and leprechauns—over time, the truly scary, otherworldly creatures had turned into harmless, cute little beings who granted wishes. Time made the stories nicer. Grimm turned into Disney. Why couldn’t I get a genie that granted wishes and sounded like Robin Williams?

Then again, this genie was granting wishes—just not mine, but my enemies’.

Peter called to check in from Las Vegas. “Hey, Kitty.”

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