Home > Deadtown (Deadtown #1)(11)

Deadtown (Deadtown #1)(11)
Author: Nancy Holzner

After another minute, he shut his phone and clipped it onto his belt, beaming at me. God, that smile. Kane had the most dazzling, gorgeous, feel-it-all-the-way-down-to-your-toes smile. It made his gray eyes sparkle from within, like they had a light of their own. I smiled back. He picked up his briefcase, then came over and kissed me on the cheek. I inhaled the woodsy, musky scent of his aftershave.

“Hi,” I said. “What are you doing out so early?” Most Deadtown residents were night creatures, but Kane, whose office was near Government Center, kept human hours.

“Early day at the office. But on my way out the door I realized it’s been, what, over a week since I’d seen you.” Actually, it had been two weeks, three days, and fifteen hours, but who was counting? “I hoped maybe you’d be putting on a pot of coffee.” He nuzzled my neck. With his slightly rough lips exploring my skin, not only did I stop counting—I stopped seeing, stopped thinking, almost stopped breathing.

“What do you say?” he whispered. “Can I come up?”

For some reason, when I opened my mouth no sound emerged except heavy breathing. So I nodded, then grabbed Kane’s arm and pulled him into the lobby. We stumbled inside, intertwined, trying to move forward and grope each other at the same time.

A harrumphing noise pushed its way through the lust-filled haze. “Good morning, Miss Vaughn. Mr. Kane.” Clyde, the zombie doorman for my building, poured about a hundred gallons of prim disapproval into his voice.

“Oh, um, hi, Clyde.” I put some distance between Kane and myself, feeling like a cheerleader who’d been caught making out under the bleachers. Kane, who never got frazzled, merely nodded at Clyde, then winked at me.

Clyde harrumphed again. His face remained blank enough for a poker tournament, but he managed to glare his reproach from behind his sunglasses. Clyde had been a minister while alive—Presbyterian, I think, or maybe Lutheran—and he frowned on public displays of affection. At the moment, he was frowning on us big-time.

I pressed the button for the elevator, and Kane and I waited side by side, not speaking and not quite touching. After a second, I forgot about Clyde’s gaze burning holes in my back. Kane stood to my left; my body was so aware of his closeness that sparks of electricity skittered up and down my side.

The elevator door had barely closed when we pounced on each other, coming together in a full-body embrace, our lips hungry for each other’s flesh. My hands sought the warmth inside his coat, inside his suit jacket, the smooth compactness of hard muscle under the Egyptian cotton shirt. By the time the elevator pinged at the fifth floor, I was half out of my leather jacket and Kane’s necktie was on the floor.

As the doors opened, we came up for air. “I hope your roommate’s asleep,” Kane’s voice, at once husky and breathy, sent tingles to places I didn’t even know could tingle.

“Juliet hardly ever stays up past six.”

“But I hear voices in there—don’t you?”

“She probably left the TV on again.” I don’t think he understood what I said. It’s hard to talk, nibble someone’s ear, and turn the key in a lock all at the same time.

Finally, I got the door open. Inside, Juliet’s huge television blared PNN, the Paranormal News Network. Kane’s eyes locked onto the screen, his hands dropped away from my shoulders, and he stepped around me to get a better view. Damn. So much for the heart-racing promise of our ride up in the elevator. I walked to the coffee table and picked up the remote. Watching Kane’s intent gaze, I was tempted to click the damn thing off; instead I lowered the volume to something slightly below “wake the dead”—which is pretty damn loud if you happen to live in my neighborhood. Juliet was nowhere to be seen.

Kane glanced at me. “Sorry, Vicky. I’ll turn it off in a minute. I just want to see what’s happening with this story.” The reporter was talking about the zombies’ application for a group permit to march in Boston’s Halloween parade. Mayor Milliken had denied it. “This is why I’m going in early today,” Kane said. “I’m filing an appeal as soon as City Hall opens. I was up half the night working on it.” He flashed a half-apologetic smile and turned back to the screen.

So. There I stood, all revved up like an idling sports car with no one to slide into my driver’s seat. For a moment I contemplated yanking Juliet’s TV from the wall and hurling it out the window. The fantasy gave me a rush of pleasure—the only pleasure I was likely to get this morning, now—and my fingers itched to do it.

But I know a lost cause when I see one. I abandoned Kane to the news and went into the kitchen, where I measured coffee beans into the grinder. It was satisfying to hear the blades pulverize them into powder. I’d like to do the same thing to that giant, sixty-three-inch plasma monstrosity that dominated the living room like a yeti at a pixie convention. Juliet was fascinated by television and had insisted on buying the biggest, flattest, highest-definition set she could find. Even though she loved her TV, like most vampires, she couldn’t maintain much of an interest in what was on it. After a few hundred years, the current pop culture trend or “crime of the century” news story just doesn’t have the same impact, I guess. So Juliet was always turning on the TV and then wandering off to do something else. It was an annoying habit. Today, I’d promote it to super-annoying.

Not to mention Kane’s ability to go from red-hot lover to news junkie in about one-point-three seconds. I sighed, then focused on inhaling that delicious coffee aroma. Nothing like freshly ground, freshly brewed coffee to lift a girl’s spirits. Besides, I couldn’t really complain about Kane’s devotion to his job. It was my fault as much as his that we hadn’t seen each other in two weeks (three days and fifteen hours). We were both workaholics; it was one of the reasons we got along.

By the time I carried two steaming mugs into the living room, I was feeling better. Kane, sitting on the sofa, clicked off the TV and turned to me. I handed him a mug. He put it down on the coffee table and pulled me to him.

Mmm, I thought, snuggling in. This was more like it.

It wasn’t the two sips of coffee making my heart race as Kane’s lips moved from my collarbone and up my neck, then to my ear. His breath warmed my skin and made me shiver—both at the same time.

“Vicky,” he whispered.

Instead of answering, I kissed him. Joined at the lips, our bodies pressed their full lengths against each other. This was definitely more like it. After a minute, he drew back—just a little—and again I felt his warm breath at my ear.

“You know . . .” His murmur brushed me like a caress. “Saturday’s the full moon. Are you coming with me?”

Ever have a nice, steamy shower suddenly go ice-cold? That’s the effect his words had on me. I sat up, pushing him away.

“Not this month. I’m busy.”

Kane wanted me to go with him on his monthly werewolf retreat. As a condition of getting limited legal rights in Massachusetts, werewolves were required to spend three days each month—the time of the full moon—at a secure werewolf preserve: in Princeton, in Athol, or out in the Berkshires in Savoy. For those three days, werewolves were free to unleash their inner beasts, as long as they stayed inside the twelve-foot-high electrified fences topped with silver-coated razor wire. The surveillance towers, staffed by sharpshooters, made the local townsfolk feel secure enough that they didn’t show up with torches and pitchforks.

You’d think that Kane—campaigner for PA civil rights— would object to what amounted to a three-day imprisonment of all werewolves every month. But that wasn’t how he talked about it now.

“You have no idea how beautiful it is. The moon shining over the hills, almost as bright as day. Not a human anywhere. You can run and run, feeling all the raw power and strength that you’ve held back all month, let go of everything you’ve kept coiled inside.” He moved back in, so close his lips brushed my ear as he spoke. “And making love is amazing. We can be who we really are.”

He reached for me, but I pushed him away again. “Who youreally are. I’m not a werewolf.” I slid over to the far end of the sofa.

“But you can change into a wolf. You’d be just like one of us.”

“Just like,” I repeated darkly, reaching for my coffee. Just like nothing, I thought. Sure, I could change into a wolf. But I could never be one of them. I was a shapeshifter; my instincts were different. I didn’t wantto be a sham werewolf.

Why was it so hard to explain that?

Kane sighed, then picked up his coffee mug. We both sipped in silence for a minute.

“Besides,” I said. “I already shifted once this month when I was doing a job over in the Back Bay. I’ve only got two left.”

“So come on Saturday instead of Friday. Stay for two days.”

“But then—” I tried to think of another excuse and came up dry.

“What are you afraid of, Vicky?” he asked, not looking at me.

“Nothing,” I said, hoping the bright, professional voice I used on the phone would cover up the lie. “This month doesn’t work for me, that’s all.”

His look—brows raised over skeptical eyes—said I didn’t fool him for a second.

I opened my mouth, but he held up a hand. “Don’t answer me now—not if you’re going to say no.” He scooted next to me and lightly stroked my thigh. “We’ll talk about it later, all right?”

“Later won’t make any difference.”

Another sigh. Then he sat up straight, checking his watch. “Damn, I’ve got to go.” He was on his feet. “I’m giving a press conference in front of City Hall, and I need to get there early. There’s a rumor that Baldwin might show up.”

Seth Baldwin was running for governor on an anti- “Monsterchusetts” platform, vowing to take away the few rights PAs had won and drive us from the state. “You think he’s going to crash your press conference?”

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