Kitty in the Underworld Page 2

My first book had been a memoir—the life and times of America’s first celebrity werewolf. This one wasn’t going to be about me. It was going to be about history, stories, and the different ways of interpreting them, because they look different when you know that vampires and lycanthropes are real. I wasn’t the first person to suggest that Norse berserkers might have been werewolves, but I was going to take the idea and run with it. I was going to talk about the Capitoline Wolf, and those Greek myths about people turning into something else. From the beginning, people told stories about the ways humans and animals interacted with each other—and the roles of each weren’t always clearly defined. Animals talked, people went mad and ran off to the woods, and maybe it wasn’t always a metaphor. Maybe Daniel survived the lion’s den because he knew how to talk to the lions.

I’d learned this once, but now I was being reminded in agonizing detail: announcing that you were writing a book was easy. Signing the contract and depositing the check were very easy. Actually doing it? Not as easy. Research, online or otherwise, was lots of fun and often yielded treasure, but it was also a deep, endless tunnel one could enter and never return from. I had stacks of notes that I needed to turn into text. Just wishing it would happen wasn’t working.

When writing at my office at KNOB didn’t work anymore, I rotated back home, to the office in the spare bedroom. I’d pinned up a photo of the Capitoline Wolf there as well and sometimes caught myself staring at it, my mind wandering.

Since Ben and I moved out of the condo and bought an honest-to-God house, we now had a home office, half mine and half his. Pretty swank. He was a lawyer with his own practice, mostly criminal defense, a job that involved a lot more paperwork and phone calls than the TV shows let on. I tried not to sprawl out of my half of the room, but with the piles of books and articles I’d collected for research, this was getting difficult. Not to mention outlines, abandoned outlines, rough drafts, and notes from editorial phone calls. If the amount of information I’d collected was any sign, I ought to have more than enough for a book, assuming I could put it all together. I felt good, looking at my masses of notes. Productive. I could finish and actually make those shiny new house payments.

The room wasn’t that big to begin with—ten feet or so on a side, with two desks and a couple of bookshelves shoehorned in. Ben and I could wheel our chairs back and run into each other if we aimed right. Fortunately, he spent as much time out of the office as in it, meeting with clients or appearing in court, so I could do what I wanted. Hence, the sprawl. It was so nice having the space.

After dark, I heard a familiar sedan engine hum from down the street, grow close, then stop. Ben’s car, parking in the driveway. A moment later, the front door opened and closed, and his scent touched the air. My nose flared, taking in the smell of my mate—male, paperwork, and coffee, the wolfish fur-and-skin of lycanthropy. I smiled. The house was nice, but it didn’t feel like home until Ben was here.

His footsteps approached, and I turned to greet him just as he appeared in the doorway.

“Hey,” I said, grinning.

He glanced at me, but spent more time looking around at the rest of the office. “I take it you’ve been busy.”

The sprawl had gotten particularly bad this afternoon. I was sitting on the floor, books open around me, manuscript pages marked up with color-coded sticky notes tucked into them, pictures tacked to the wall or lying piled on the desk. If he was careful, he might be able to pick a path through the mess to his desk.

“There’s a method to all this. I actually know where everything is.” I was a little scared to start straightening up and moving things around—I might never find anything again. “I’m fact-checking, making sure all the references match up. It means I’m almost done. It’s a good thing.” I tried to sound confident, but ended up sounding defensive.

He pursed his lips, like he was trying to stop himself from saying something. He finally let out a sigh. “Then maybe it’s a good thing I’m going away for a couple of days. You’ll have a chance to work in peace.”

I shoved books and papers away so I could scramble to my feet. “What? No! Terrible things happen when you go away.”

“No,” he said. “Terrible things happen when you go away. I’m just a normal guy who has to take a business trip.”

I could have argued with the normal. Once I was standing in front of him, I couldn’t resist—I pressed myself to him, wrapped my arms around him, and leaned in for a kiss, which he was all too happy to give me. I didn’t even let him put his briefcase down first so he could hug me back properly. He just dropped it.

Yeah, I could have stayed like that for a good long while. “Business trip where?”

“Cheyenne. Friend of the family got in some trouble over illegally grazing his cattle on federal land. I’m going to go help clear it up.”

“That sounds … arcane.”

“It’ll be fun. This is the kind of thing that got me into law in the first place. The initial hearing’s in a couple of days, and depending how that goes, I may not have to go back.” Unless something went wrong, in which case he could be making this trip back and forth for months.

“Better you than me. Do you really have to stay there overnight?”

“I’d spend more time driving back and forth than I would on the case. Unless you really have a problem with it.” He said it hopefully, like he wanted me not to be able to live without him for even a day.

We were pack, and this was our territory. He was my mate, and we belonged together. That was what Wolf said, wanting to cling to him at the mere suggestion of a separation. The world always felt off-kilter when we were apart. We’d barely been apart in years. But we were also human, with careers and responsibilities. A normal human couple coped fine with the occasional business trip. We ought to be able to as well. Or not, Wolf grumbled.

Theoretically, I could go to Wyoming with him while he worked. But he was right—having the house to myself might help me get work done.

“Only a couple of days?” I said. “Promise?”


“Then I suppose I should take advantage of you while I have the chance,” I said, hooking my hands over the waistband of his trousers, pulling even closer to him, pressing as much of myself to his body as I could, feeling gratified when his skin flushed and he responded, his hands crawling to my backside.

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