Low Midnight Page 28

“Let me get this straight,” she said. “You’ve been told there’s a werewolf involved, but you don’t believe it’s true, and you want me to check it out. Sniff around, as it were.”

“Right. Simple.”

“And you want me to help, but not tell Ben, is that it?”

“I can’t tell you what to do,” he shot back. So yes, Ben would find out. He hoped Anderson Layne’s name would stay out of it, because Ben would definitely remember Layne. Cormac would deal with that later.

“Just what exactly are you getting mixed up in?” Now she was curious.

“Nothing I can’t handle.”

“Some things about you haven’t changed at all, you know that?”

He did. He tried not to think about it.

Chapter 12

CORMAC’S FATHER and uncle had been involved with—had gotten in trouble with—the previous heyday of the militia movement in the nineties. He shouldn’t have been surprised when the whole thing started up again. He listened to the rhetoric, and it sounded the same as it ever did.

The politics of it all was irrelevant, as far as Cormac was concerned. These things moved in waves. There’d always be radicals, there’d always be discontent. The degree rose and fell, and he figured the government now wasn’t any worse than the government of a hundred years ago, and mostly it was like any other bureaucracy—too big to do any good, and too ponderous to do any real evil as well. All you could do was stay out of its way, take care of you and yours. That was his real problem with most of these guys—they wanted to take care of them and theirs, and everyone else’s as well. They weren’t any more immune to corruption and stupidity than anyone else. And there was no worse combination than stupidity and a lot of guns.

This was the problem with these movements. They talked a big talk and their spiel sounded good, especially if you were someone who’d been screwed over by the government one too many times like a lot of these guys had been. But they ended up being a cover for bullies who saw a way to make money and get other people to take the fall for their crimes. Like Layne buying up foreclosures. Who knew what Jess Nolan was up to.

According to Layne, Nolan and his presumed werewolf held court in a bar down in Cañon City. It was a place to meet, to launder money. Likely the same function the biker bar on Highway 24 served for Layne. He picked Kitty up at the radio station, and they’d gotten all the way to southbound I-25 past Denver before either of them said anything. She was slouched in the passenger seat, head propped on her arm. Saying volumes without saying a word.

Cormac surprised himself by talking first. Kitty had successfully outwaited him. “So what did Ben say?”

“He said to make sure you stay out of trouble.”

Cormac just smiled. Benhad been saying that their whole lives. And, well, Cormac was still around, wasn’t he?

The drive took a couple of hours, and Kitty brought a book with her, something nonfiction about the history of Roman culture in Palestine. Research—know thine enemy, he imagined.

“Find anything good?”


“In the book.”

“Don’t know yet. I mean, I can always learn something new. I’m just trying to figure out what he must have been like. Back before Roman became a vampire. Just curious, I guess.”

She put the book away when they turned off the interstate. Cormac started looking for their destination.

“Kind of gives me the creeps, making this drive,” Kitty observed. “Reminds me of coming to visit you.”

Cormac did his time at one of the state prisons in Cañon City. He hadn’t really thought about it until now—he’d worked to compartmentalize it, put it behind him so he could move on. But Kitty and Ben had driven here from Denver once a week for over two years to see him during visiting hours. To make sure he was okay. Kitty probably could have made this trip blindfolded. He’d never be able to show enough gratitude. He couldn’t even articulate it.

“That’s over and done with,” he said, eyes on the road.

He found the place without too much trouble. It was even dumpier than Layne’s bar. A straight-up rectangle of a building, it might have been built in the fifties and only had spotty repairs and patching since then. The parking lot to the side might have been asphalt at one time, but the whole thing had crumbled to gravel.

Kitty stared out the Jeep’s window. “My parents warned me about places like this,” she said, deadpan.

“It probably looks scarier than it is.”

“Does anything ever look scary to you?”

Prison ceilings at night. The door to solitary confinement. The thought of calling Ben and Kitty and them not answering.

Death …

That, not so much.

He got out, slammed the door. Back in the day, he’d have worn a handgun in a belt holster, more for credibility than out of any intention to use it. He wondered if he’d ever get used to not carrying a gun, or if he’d always feel a little too light. Like he’d lost a limb or something.

Kitty climbed out of the Jeep more slowly, regarding the building with increasing skepticism as she shut the door.

She said, “If there’s really a werewolf here, he probably considers this his territory, and he’ll notice me before we notice him.”

He’d thought of that. He wasn’t worried. “If that’s the case, he’ll give you a warning, tell you to leave—and we’ll know what we came to find out.”

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