Low Midnight Page 29

“That’s the best-case scenario. He may not bother with the warning.”

“I’m sure you can talk it out,” he said.

Arms loose at her side, she walked across the parking lot, moving parallel to the building rather than heading for the door. She studied the area, and her nose was working—chin tipped up, nostrils wide, her breaths coming slow. He stopped to watch her.

“I’m not smelling anything,” she said after a couple of minutes.

If a werewolf had even just walked across the parking lot at any point in the last few days, she’d have sensed it. If one regularly spent time here, she’d definitely smell it. That seemed to be his answer right there. But he had to be sure.

“Right,” he said. “Let’s go in.”

“I want to go on record as saying that this makes me nervous.”

“We’ll go in, sit down, have a drink, and leave. It’ll be fine. I’ll buy.”

“Well, how can a girl refuse an offer like that?”

The inside was marginally better looking than the outside. The linoleum floor seemed to be from the eighties rather than the fifties, at least. The wooden tables and chairs were mismatched, as if they’d been acquired at thrift stores over the last couple of decades. The lighting was appropriately dim. There were people here, a sparse collection of working-class-looking men sitting at the bar and at a couple of tables—coming off shift, or working irregular jobs. A worn-out woman in her forties was both bartender and waitress. She spotted Cormac and Kitty as they came in and told them to sit anywhere, she’d be right over.

“Would you know this guy if you saw him?” Kitty asked.

“I’d probably recognize Nolan. This guy who’s supposed to be a werewolf, I don’t know who he is.”

“He’s not a werewolf. I’d smell him. My Wolf would smell him. Who told you he was a werewolf?”

“Somebody’s spreading stories. Intimidating people, convincing people he uses magic. I think it’s all a put-on. I was told this guy killed somebody by tearing him to pieces. Hence, werewolf.”

“A dead body can be made to look as if it was torn to pieces. There’re other things than werewolves that tear bodies to pieces.”

“Well, something’s going on. I want to know what.”

The waitress came by and they ordered Cokes. Cormac stopped her before she turned away. “Do you know a guy named Jess Nolan? Heard he comes in here sometimes. I’m an old friend.”

“Yeah, sure, I know Jess. He usually shows up late. Want me to tell him you stopped by?”

“No, that’s okay, I’ll track him down.”

Some of the guys in the place looked over, studied him a second, and looked away. Cormac pretended not to notice, but at this point he half expected them all to befamiliar faces from the old days. Guys who knew his uncle, his dad, and would saunter on up to him wanting to know if he still killed werewolves. All these old faces, all this talk that was like a scab breaking off.

“How many of these guys have guns on ’em?” he asked Kitty softly.

She tilted her head, half closed her eyes. The wolfish gestures took over, as she studied the air the way he might have studied the room’s layout. But the wince and furrowed brow was all human. “All of them? Or a couple of them have more than one.”

“Right.” He drank most of the Coke, pulled a five out of the inside pocket of his jacket and threw it on the table as he stood to leave.

“So that’s it?” Kitty added a couple of bucks of her own—a conscientious tip—before joining him on the way to the door.

“One other place I want to check out.” Some of the old haunts might very well turn up something. Even though part of him was saying he should walk away. This was trouble, and he was supposed to be keeping his nose clean.

Just looking can’t hurt.

Famous last words, he muttered back.

They got back on the road, traveling west until he turned down yet another county road, rural and unmarked, lined with barbed wire and cattle crossing signs. Graded gravel kicked up to rattle the side of the Jeep. This road wound into the foothills. He was looking for a shed at an abandoned mine. Some friends of his uncle used it to store their stockpile back in the day. He didn’t remember hearing that the Feds had ever cleared this one out, and he had a hunch if anyone in the area was still keeping it up, it might be Nolan.

“Where the hell are we?” Kitty observed, leaning forward to search out the window. “I haven’t been down in this part of the state in years.”

“How much has Ben told you about the shit his dad was into?”

“Not much. He doesn’t like to talk about it. Most of what I know I picked up from the newspaper articles I dug up. He was some kind of bigwig in the local militia movement. His conviction was for illegal weapons stockpiling and conspiracy, some kind of plan to set off a bomb at the state capitol from what I gathered. Didn’t get very far.”

“That’s because the Feds had so much surveillance on him by then they knew when he brushed his teeth. They waited long enough for him to actually say the plan out loud so they could get the charges on him. But there’s a lot that didn’t make the papers. Not about Uncle David specifically—I think he really believed in what he was doing, but Ben would rather write him off as crazy. Some of those other guys, though—you have to ask how they got the money to buy all those weapons. They like to take capitalism as far as they can, you know? Illegal doesn’t matter as long as they make money off it.”

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