"…, You're on the Air."
Disclaimer: Twilight is owned by SM and the Kitty Norville series is owned by Carrie Vaughn.
Ch. 1: The Intern
"This is Kitty Norville, the Voice of the Night, and you've been listening to The Midnight Hour. Tune in next week when the topic will be Relationships and the Supernatural," I practically purred into the microphone as the show's theme song, CCR's Bad Moon Rising, started to play. The wolf's howl that had been added to it was my own. I'd recorded it during one of the few times I'd voluntarily transformed into my wolf.
Hollywood and folklore would have everyone believe that werewolves only transformed on the full moon. The truth is that like our cousins, the shapeshifters, we can transform anytime we want but it is forced during the full moon. There were two reasons my kind never tried to correct that misconception. Firstly, it's a matter of self preservation. When the general public found out that the supernatural was real, which would probably be anytime now as the government already had an obscure report on the biology supernatural creatures, it would be easier to convince them that their lycanthropic neighbor was only dangerous during the full moon. Then secondly, the more any lycanthrope, werewolf or otherwise, changed, the more animalistic they became until only the animal remained.
"Great show," Matt, my sound engineer, said from the booth while he gave me two thumbs up.
I just smiled and rolled my eyes, he said that after every show. He'd joined me after my second show as a permanent addition when it was still just a local broadcast at KNOB. Ozzie, the station manager had been thrilled when the show was syndicated in sixty other markets because he got a percentage as the Producer. Not only did I get a sound engineer, but an office and a personal assistant as well.
After I left the studio and high-fived Matt, I headed straight to my office. Bella Swan, my assistant, was already hip deep into the research for next weeks show. Like me, she'd graduated from the University of Colorado with a BA in English. Bella had taken a job as an Intern here while she took a break from school. Ozzie had had her sorting my mail but her responsibilities just grew from there. Although still listed as an Intern on the payroll, she's the highest paid one at the station. If any of the others found out, KNOB would have a mutiny on its hands.
The two of us had bonded over books, shared complaints about old professors and the fact that she quickly deduced that I was somehow supernatural but was never bothered by it. She treated me just like a normal person which made her one of my best friends. Bella was the only one at the station that knew I was a werewolf before the big reveal show when a bounty hunter named Cormac outed me on the air as he was on his way to kill me. Thankfully, that situation worked out.
From her body language, I knew that the chocolate-eyed brunette was upset about the research she was doing. There was a story there but I wasn't going to push her. She had respected my secrecy so I had to respect hers. In the back of my mind, I knew she would tell me when the time was right.
"Hey Bells, it's been a long night. Let's blow this pop stand and hit a club to unwind. I'll call TJ to meet us somewhere," I called out to the human.
"Why not, watching you and him fight over the cute guys is always entertaining," she replied with a laugh.
"You and I both know that while TJ and I are distracting the men folk, you're going to free reign with the women," I countered playfully.
Bella did want any mature young woman in her early twenties would do, she stuck her tongue out at me as she got up from her desk and headed toward the door. I switched the light off in the office and the two of us made our way out into the street. TJ had said that he was unable to meet us, so we went back to my apartment, instead of a club, for some wine and good tunes.
It was Friday night and I was on my back to the KNOB studios in Denver from a side trip down to Colorado Springs. Thanks to Detective Jessi Hardin, I'd been sucked into the investigation of a string of murders that were being committed by a rogue werewolf. Bells had found a story about a mauling down in Colorado Springs, so I decided to see if there was a connection. There wasn't, so now I had to haul ass after a wasted trip so that I made back on time for the show.
A semi had overturned and blocked all the lanes on the Northbound side of the highway. I was stuck with no way around until the semi was moved. I called Matt to tell him to put on a recording of an old episode until I made it in, if I made it in. At midnight, I turned on the radio to see which show Matt chose and received a shock after the theme song played.
"Good evening, you're listening to The Midnight Hour, I'm Izzy the Intern temporarily filling in for our beloved Voice of the Night, Kitty Norville, who is stuck in an accident out on the highway. Tonight's topic is Relationships and the Supernatural. Are you a human romantically involved with a supernatural creature, or vice versa? Maybe you're a supernatural involved with another supernatural? If so, give us a call and let's talk," Bella said in a sultry voice that I'd only heard her use when she was hitting on women at the club. I had to admit, it had gotten me wet on more than one occasion.
I was surprised with the ease the other woman had behind the microphone. She had the same sarcastic, snarky, style as me and handled the callers like a seasoned pro. The first hour went by at a light hearted pace, then came The Call and everything changed in an instant.
"Hello Karen, you're on the air. I believe you had a relationship problem you wanted to talk about," Bella said airily.
"Hi…Izzy…it's my husband," Karen stammered then continued, "He just came home after being missing for several days. When I demanded to know where he'd been, his eyes turned completely black and he started to shake. He rushed past me but brushed against my arm on his way to the bed room. I think he might be possessed, what do I do?"
There was a brief pause, I heard Bella blow out a breath then respond.
"Exactly how long was he gone for and what color were his eyes before the turned black," she all but demanded.
"Ummm, he was missing for three days and his eyes looked red before they changed color. Almost like he'd been crying," the caller responded in a hesitant tone.
"Damn! Karen if there is a phone in the bed room, have your husband pick it up then get out of the house now. He's a vampire, but more importantly, he's a Newborn vampire and extremely unpredictable. I don't know how he has managed to control himself this long when every instinct is screaming for him to tear open your throat and drain every last drop of blood from you. Call me back on a cell phone once you're in the car and on the road," Bella commanded then there were two clicks as one extension was picked up and another cut off.
"Is this Karen's husband," she asked tentatively.
"Yeah…Tom," he responded.
"Ok, Tom, see if this sounds familiar; three days ago you were bitten then you felt like your body was on fire. When the fire burnt itself out, you no longer had a heartbeat and all of your senses were supercharged. There was also an awful burning in your throat, am I right," Bella said calmly.
"How did you know? What am I," Tom whispered back hoarsely.
"You're a vampire, Tom. The burning in your throat won't go away until you drink some blood. Here is where you have a choice, you can choose to go the traditional route and drink human blood or you can feed from animals. The traditional way makes you stronger but could cost you your humanity. Animal blood won't slake your thirst entirely but it allows you to retain more humanity and form the same kind of loving relationships as humans do. Now my call screener says the Arturo, the head of the local Vampire Coven or Family, is on the private line. He can help you, if you want I'll transfer you so the two of you can talk," she replied in the same tone one would use when talking with a child.
Traffic had started moving on the highway again as I heard Tom say yes and the line click off. Bella paused for a station identification while I floored when I was sure the cops wouldn't notice. When the break was over, Bella talked to Karen again and explained to her that not all vampires were bad but the woman had to decide if she could stay with her husband or not. The call ended and the next couple of callers asked fluff questions. They were followed by the next bombshell of the evening.
"Hello Eve, you're on the air. What's your question," Bella asked politely but I heard the first hint of strain in her voice. I guessed that the phone call with Karen and Tom had taken a lot out of her.
"You seem to know a lot about vampires, why is that," Eve queried and I had to admit that I was curious as well because I knew for a fact that Bella was human.
"That's the million dollar question but you won't like the answer; I'm a living, breathing, human. The reason I know so much about vampires is that my first and only, boyfriend was one. "Tony" and his Family explained things to me. The relationship didn't work out and they left me. I still miss them but their leaving forced me to re-examine my life and stop lying to myself about my orientation," she responded in a voice that displayed no emotion.
I pulled up to KNOB then ran into the building. Bella looked like an emotional wreck by the time I parked my but into my chair. I took while she remained quiet until the last call of the show.
"Hello caller, you're on the air. I understand that you've got something to say," I said casually. There had been no name for whoever was on the line.
"Yes, I'd like to say that I hope Karen and Tom can work through everything. It won't be easy, Izzy can attest to that. Even if they were both vampires, there's no guarantee it would work out. I used to travel with two other vampires, one of them claimed to be my mate. We came across a Vampire Family sheltering a human, and he decided he just had to kill her. He chased after her while our other companion disappeared. Looking back, my "mate" was an abusive and made me do things I'll always regret," the woman on the other end of the line commented. Her voice had taken on a pained whisper at the end.
"James is dead, Victoria, go see Laurent in Alaska. You were as much of a victim as I was when he tracked me down to Phoenix. We can't change the past, learn to forgive you and live in the present. Find the Family that Laurent went to see, they'll help you," Bella said soothingly while I stifled a gasp as the implications of her words sunk in.
It'd been six months since I fled Denver after Carl and Meg, the Alpha pair of my former pack, killed TJ and banished me from the territory. I decided to do the show from the road; Matt, Bella and Ozzie held down the fort at KNOB and made sure whatever station I broadcasted from was up to snuff. I was leaving Washington, D.C., and headed for Boulder. After the strain of testifying before a Senate Committee, getting kidnapped then forced into a silver lined cell while my change was broadcast live on national television and a couple of other incidents during that trip, I was taking a break from the show.
Bella would take over while I tried to relax. She was doing a remote from CU, Boulder and I wanted to surprise her. I'd just crossed the Kansas/Colorado state line, when my cell phone rang. I checked the caller ID then hit the button on the blue tooth clipped to my ear.
"Hey Matt, what's up," I asked with a smile because it was good to hear his voice.
"Kitty, Bella was attacked this morning. She's badly hurt, the doctors at the hospital in Boulder aren't giving her much of a chance to make it through the night," Matt choked out, his voice thick with emotion.
I hung up then broke the land speed record; I needed to get to that hospital. The rest of the trip flew by in a daze, the only thoughts I had were on Bella fighting for life in the hospital. As soon as the car was parked, I rushed through the hospital entrance and demanded to know which room Bella Swan was in. A nurse led me to the ICU.
The nurse left and I walked over to the bed. Charlie Swan, Bella's dad, sat to one side of it and clung to her hand desperately. We'd met a few times before but not in a situation like this. He looked up at me with haunted eyes. Even from the door, I could tell there was more wrong in the room than just my injured friend. Underneath the smells of pain and sorrow was the smell of decay and rot. It wasn't coming from Bella but her father. Charlie was dying.
"The doctors say she has too many internal injuries to survive much longer. My little girl can't die before me, there has to be a way to save her," the older man whispered then broke into heavy sobbing.
There was pleading in his eyes when he looked at me after his sobbing fit. My focus shifted between the unconscious girl and her father. I'd lost TJ; I couldn't loose Bella as well. Under the thankful gaze of Charlie, I called on the wolf to partially change. Fingers thickened then sprouted claws while sharp canines formed in my mouth.
Please forgive me, I thought as I savaged her body with my fangs and claws.
I watched as the lycanthropy took hold and her wounds healed. As soon as the rest of her injuries were healed, her body would go through the change.