Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand


By Carrie Vaughn

Formats and Prices




$9.00 CAD



  1. Mass Market $8.00 $9.00 CAD
  2. ebook $7.99 $9.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around February 1, 2009. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Werewolf Kitty Norville and her mate Ben face-off against werewolf-hating bounty hunters — on their honeymoon, no less —in this suspenseful follow-up to Kitty and the Silver Bullet.

Already the alpha pair of Denver’s werewolf pack, Kitty and Ben are planning to tie the knot human-style by eloping to Vegas. Kitty is looking forward to sipping fru-fru drinks by the pool and doing her popular radio show on live TV — but her hotel is stocked with werewolf-hating bounty hunters.

Elsewhere on the Strip, an old-school magician might be wielding the real thing; the vampire community is harboring a dark secret; and the irresistible star of a suspicious animal act is determined to seduce Kitty.

Sin City has never been so wild, and this werewolf has never had to fight harder to save not only her wedding, but her very life.


This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2009 by Carrie Vaughn, LLC

Excerpt from Kitty Raises Hell copyright © 2009 by Carrie Vaughn, LLC

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Cover design by Don Puckey

Cover illustration by Craig White

Grand Central Publishing

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10017

Visit our Web site at

Grand Central Publishing is a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. The Grand Central Publishing name and logo is a trademark of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

First eBook Edition: February 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54420-7


Kitty and The Midnight Hour

Kitty Goes to Washington

Kitty Takes a Holiday

Kitty and the Silver Bullet

Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand


Jo Anne Vaughn, Daniel Abraham, and Mike Bateman read drafts and offered a ton of support. My editor, Jaime Levine, once again made the notes that brought it all together. Thanks as well to Ashley and Carolyn Grayson for all their help.

Thanks to Mom for joining me on my "research" trip to Las Vegas. Thanks to Dad for watching the dog. You guys rock. Sorry I couldn't win a million at slots for you.

Chapter 1

This was embarrassing. I never thought I'd become such a victim of tradition. Yet here I was, looking at the gowns in a bridal magazine.

And liking them. Wanting them. All that satin, silk, taffeta, and chiffon. White, ivory, cream—there's a difference between white, ivory, and cream, I learned. I could even wear rose or ice blue if I wanted to be daring. Then there were all the flowers and jewelry. Diamonds and silver. If only I could wear silver without breaking out in welts. Okay, gold, then. I could wear gold. I'd be a princess, a vision, absolutely stunning. And all I needed was a ten-thousand-dollar dress.

"I can't believe it costs this much to take a couple of pictures," Ben muttered, studying the brochure for a photographer, one of a dozen or so we'd collected. All the brochures—for caterers, reception halls, DJs, tuxedo rentals, and a dozen other services I hadn't known we needed—lay piled on the table between us, along with magazines and notepads filled with lists, endless lists, of everything we were supposed to be making decisions about. We didn't even have a date for the wedding yet. My mother had helpfully delivered all this information to me. She was very excited about it all.

We sat at a table for two in the back of New Moon, a new bar and grill near downtown. I had hoped we'd be out of the way of most of the diners and the noise at the bar, which was crowded with a group of after-work businesspeople. The place was busy, almost filled to capacity, and noisy even in back. Which was good, fantastic even, because Ben and I were the restaurant's primary investors.

"Wedding photography's big business," I said, not looking up from the magazine full of gowns that cost more than I made in a year at my first job.

"It's a racket. What if we got my friend Joe to do it? He's pretty good with a camera."

"Isn't he the one who's the crime-scene photographer for the Denver PD?"


I shook my head. My wedding was not going to be a crime scene. Not if I could help it. "Do you think I should go sleeveless? Something like that?" I held up the magazine to show a perfectly airbrushed model in a white satin haute-couture gown. I wondered if my shoulders were too bony to pull off a dress like that.

"Whatever you want."

"But do you like it?"

He sighed. "I like it just fine."

"You've said that for all of them."

"I'm not going to be looking at the dress. I'll be looking at you."

And that was one of the things that made Ben a keeper. I got a little misty-eyed. He was thirty-four years old, a lawyer in private practice, and rough around the edges, because most of the time he couldn't be bothered with appearances. This gave him almost rebellious good looks. His shaggy brown hair was always in need of a trim, the collar of his shirt stayed open, and his suit jacket and tie could usually be found in the trunk of his car. He also had a smile to sigh over. He was smiling now.

He'd proposed only a month ago, and we were still in the first flush of it all. Once again, I was amazed at how readily I had fallen into the stereotype. I was supposed to be cool and cynical.

We might have sat there staring goofily at each other all night, but Shaun interrupted us, bopping over to our table. "Hey, you guys need anything? More soda? Water?"

Shaun, late twenties, brown skin and dark hair, simultaneously hip and unassuming, managed New Moon. He'd jumped in to make the place his own, doing everything from hiring staff to setting a menu. He was also a werewolf. In fact, I counted six other werewolves here tonight, all part of our—Ben's and my—pack. This was going to be a werewolf wedding. It seemed like a formality, because our wolf halves had established us as the mated alpha pair. I wouldn't say it was against our wills, but it all seemed to happen very quickly. Our human sides had taken a little while to catch up. But they did, and here we were, getting married. We were both still a little shell-shocked.

I had wanted New Moon to be a haven for people like us. Neutral territory, where lycanthropes of any description could gather peacefully. So far, so good. The place had an interesting smell—the alcohol, food, and people smells of any downtown restaurant, along with the smell of the pack. Fur, musk, wild. My pack, distinctive as a fingerprint, and because New Moon had a touch of that, it felt safe. Here, my human and wolf sides came together, and it felt like home.

"I'm fine. Actually, it's getting late. We should probably roll out of here soon." I started gathering up the mess on the table.

Crouching now, Shaun rested his elbows on the table and regarded the smiling faces of beautiful brides in the magazines. "You pick a date yet?"

"Not even close," Ben said.

Shaun's grin seemed amused. To me he said, "Are you changing your last name?"

"Please. That's so last century," I said.

"What's wrong with O'Farrell?" Ben said.

I glared. "Kitty O'Farrell? That's not a name, that's a character in a bawdy Irish ballad."

Fortunately, I didn't have to defend myself any further, because they both laughed.

"I'll catch you guys later," Shaun said, departing for other chores.

"We're not any closer to making any decisions than we were when we sat down." Ben now regarded the brochures and paperwork with something like hatred.

"I can't make any decisions," I said. "I keep changing my mind, that's the problem."

"Then why are we even doing this?"

"Because you asked me to marry you, remember?"

"But do we need the big production? We could just go to city hall and fill out the paperwork."

"If we did that my mother would kill us."

Mom wanted a big wedding. These days it was really, really hard to say no to my mother, who was halfway through chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer. She hadn't been crass enough to drop "I may die soon so you'd better get married now" hints. But then, she didn't have to. She just had to look at me, and her thoughts bore into me like laser beams.

"She'd understand. She's not unreasonable."

"What does your mom say about it?"

"She's ecstatic that I found someone willing to shack up with me at all."

That left me giggling. When I thought about it, Ben was right. I didn't want a big wedding. I didn't want to have to pick a caterer, or decide on an open or cash bar, and I certainly didn't want to hire a DJ who couldn't possibly do as good a job as I could, having started my professional life as a late-night radio DJ. But I did want the dress. And I wanted to do something a little more interesting than wait in line at some government office so we could sign a piece of paper.

That got me thinking. I tapped my finger on a catering menu and chewed on my lip. What if there was a way to save all the time, avoid the organizational nightmare, and yet still have the spectacle? All the fun without the headaches? I had an idea.

"What are you thinking?" Ben said, wary. "You've got that look."

"What look?"

"You're planning something."

What the hell? The worst he could do was say no, and that would only put us back where we started.

"Las Vegas," I said.

He stared. "Your mother really would kill you." But he didn't say no.

"You can do nice weddings in Vegas," I said. "It isn't all Elvis ministers and drive-through chapels."


I nodded. The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. "It's like the wedding and honeymoon all rolled together. We'd go straight from the ceremony to the swimming pool and have a couple of froufrou drinks with little umbrellas."

He just kept looking at me. We hadn't been together all that long, not even a year. Before that he was my lawyer and always seemed mildly in awe of the problems I managed to get myself into. But I couldn't always read him. The relationship was still too new. And we still wanted to get married. God help us.

Then he turned his smile back on. "Big scary werewolf drinking froufrou drinks?"

"You know me."

"Vegas," he said again, and the tone was less questioning and more thoughtful.

"I can get online and get us a package rate in an hour."

"And we won't be paying four figures for a photographer."

"Exactly. More money for froufrou drinks."

He shrugged in surrender. "All right. I'm sold. You're such a cute drunk."

Uh. . . thanks? "But I'm still getting a really great dress." Maybe something in red. Me, Las Vegas, red dress. . . Forget the bridal magazines, I was ready for Vogue.

"Fine, but I get to take it off you at the end of the day."

Oh yes, he's a keeper. I smiled. "It's a deal."

At work the next afternoon, I mentioned the Vegas idea to Matt, the guy who ran the board for my radio show. We were in the break room pouring coffee and chatting.

"Las Vegas?" Matt said. He was another show-business twenty-something, stocky, with his black hair tied in a ponytail. "That's seriously cool. Whacked out, but cool. I wouldn't expect anything else from you."

"You only live once, right? And we'll have a story to tell at cocktail parties for the rest of our lives."

"It would be more cool if you'd already done it and not told anyone until you got back," he said.

"We haven't decided anything yet. We may still get talked into going the conventional route."

He looked skeptical. "I don't know. You found a guy who's willing to elope in Vegas—let everyone else have the normal wedding. You only get married the first time once."

There was the philosophy of a generation wrapped up in a tidy little sentence.

That afternoon, Ozzie, the KNOB station manager and my immediate boss, poked his head into my office. I wondered what I'd done to piss him off this week.


"Yeah—what can I do for you?"

"I hear you're headed to Las Vegas to get married," he said.

I tossed aside the stack of press releases I was reading. "Where did you hear that?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. It's all over the building. It doesn't matter, because here's the thing, I've got this great idea."

Ozzie fit the general stereotype of the aging hippie—thinning hair in a ponytail, a general belief that he was enlightened and progressive—except that somewhere along the line he had embraced capitalism and was always looking for ways to make a few more bucks. Why should big industrialists have all the fun? He wanted to beat them at their own game.

"You've been talking about doing a TV show for a while, right? I mean a real one, not that disaster in Washington last year."

Disaster. That was putting in mildly. Never mind that that disaster had made me famous and boosted my ratings.

"I wouldn't say talking. Woolgathering, maybe." We'd mostly been looking for ways to piggyback The Midnight Hour onto someone else's talk show to see if there was a market for it. I'd appeared on Letterman last month when my book came out and managed not to make an ass of myself, despite way too many cracks from Dave about how often a werewolf has to shave her legs. But that was a long way from my own show. Still, any way we could keep cashing in on my instant celebrityhood as the country's first publicly outed werewolf had to be considered.

"How about a one-off? A special, maybe a couple of hours long, where you do the show live. It'd still be exactly the same—you'd take calls, do some interviews maybe. Just with cameras and an audience."

Weird. But cool. And so crazy it just might work. "You think something like that would fly?"

"You on TV? You're photogenic, of course it'll work. And in Vegas you've got an instant audience, access to studios and theaters. I've got a producer friend there—let me make a few calls."

Far too late I realized: he wanted me to work the same weekend I was getting married?

Right. Now both Ben and my mother were going to kill me.

We're getting married, and you want to work all weekend?" he said, in the offended tone of voice I'd expected.

"Not all weekend."

I'd come home from the station, slumped on the sofa, and told Ben the big idea. He was still at his desk, where he'd been working at his computer, and regarded me with an air of bafflement. He'd be perfectly within his rights to call the whole thing off. Postpone it at the very least. I clasped my hands together and twisted the engagement ring he'd given me.

Crossing his arms, he leaned back in his chair. "Why does anything that happens to you surprise me anymore?" He was smiling, and the smile was encouraging. His nice smile, not the "I'm a lawyer who's about to gut you" smile.

"So. . . you're okay with this?"

"Oh, sure. But while you're working, I'm going to go lose a lot of money playing blackjack or poker or something, and you're not allowed to nag me about it. Deal?"

I narrowed my gaze. "How much money? Your money or mine?"

"No nagging. Deal?"

My fiancé, the lawyer. The werewolf lawyer. I should have expected nothing less. At least he hadn't said he wanted to cruise all the strip clubs in Vegas.

"Deal," I said.

Chapter 2

Ozzie arranged it, and more quickly than I would have thought possible. A million things could stall a plan like this. I figured he'd have lost touch with his contact, or this person would have changed careers and was now selling used cars, or it wouldn't be possible to put this kind of show together, or he wouldn't be able to get airtime for it. Maybe Ozzie would lose interest, and I wouldn't have to work the same weekend I was getting married. But he pulled it together. His producer friend thought it sounded like a great idea and signed on, found the venue, sold it to a high-profile cable network, and before I knew it the avalanche was upon me. I couldn't say no. They picked a weekend, I told them no—full moon that weekend, no way was I going to be spending it in foreign territory. They changed the weekend, the contracts were drawn up and signed, and we had a TV show. We'd broadcast in a month. Promotion began in earnest.

To tell the truth, I was excited. My first TV appearance had been against my will under very trying circumstances. It would be nice to be the one in charge this time.

The month before the trip passed quickly. With the Las Vegas producer's help we booked the theater, lined up an interesting set of local guests, and started promotion. On the wedding front, we set it all up via the Internet. No long, drawn-out stress at all. As a bonus, because this was now a business trip, the boss was paying for the hotel and plane tickets. I even found the cutest dress in the world in the window of a store downtown—a sleeveless, hip-hugging sheath in a smoky, sexy blue. Sometimes all you had to do was look around and solutions appeared like magic.

The only problem really remaining—I still hadn't told my mom I was planning a Vegas wedding. And wasn't that an oxymoron? You weren't supposed to plan a Vegas wedding. Maybe I could pretend it had been spontaneous.

In the meantime, I still had this week's conventional show to get through.

"—and that was when I thought, 'Oh, my, it's an angel, this angel has come down from Heaven to tell me how to write this book!' These words on the page, these aren't my words, these are the words of the angel Glorimel, a cosmic being of pure light who in turn is channeling the voice of the universe itself! If you close your eyes you can almost hear the singing in the words, the harmony of the spheres—"

"If I close my eyes how am I going to read the book?" Oops, that was my outside voice. I winced. Fortunately, if the fringe element of any group had one thing in common, it was an inability to recognize sarcasm.

Chandrila Ravensun said, with complete earnestness, "The words flow through you. You just have to be open to them."

I set my forehead on the table in front of me, which held my microphone and equipment. The resulting conk was probably loud enough to carry over the air.

This was the last, the very last time I did Ozzie a favor. "I have this friend who wrote a book," he said. "It'd be perfect for your show. You should interview her." He gave me a copy of the book, Our Cosmic Journey, which listed enough alluring paranormal topics on the back-cover copy to be intriguing: past-life regression, astral projection, and even a mention of vampirism in the chapters on immortality of the soul. I assumed that anyone who wrote a book and managed to get it published, no matter how small and fringe the publisher, had to have their act together enough to sound coherent during an interview. I had thought we might have a cogent discussion on unconventional ways of thinking about the mind and its powers and the possible reality of psychic energy.

I was wrong.

Fortunately, she had decided the aura of the studio was too negative and insisted on doing the interview over the phone. She couldn't see me banging my head against the table.

"What did it look like?" I said, feeling punchy.

"What did what look like?"

"The angel. Glorimel." And wasn't that the name of one of the elves in Tolkien?

"I'm sorry, what do you mean, what did it look like?"

I huffed. "You said this being came to you, appeared in your home, and recited to you the entire contents of your book. When it appeared before you, what did it look like?"

Now she huffed, sounding frustrated. "Glorimel is a being of pure light. How else do you want me to describe it?"

"White light, yellow light, orange sodium lights, strong, weak, flickering, did it move, did it pulse. Just describe it."

"Such a moment in time is beyond mundane description. It's beyond words!"

"But you wrote a book about it. It can't be that beyond words." I was starting to get mean. I ought to wrap this up before I said something really awful. Then again, I'd always been curious about how far I'd have to go before I got really awful.

"How else am I supposed to tell people about Glorimel's beautiful message?"

"Psychic mass hallucination? I don't know."

"Glorimel told me to write a book."

Okay, enough. Time to stop this from turning into a shouting match. Rather, time to take myself out of the shouting match. "I'm sure my listeners have a lot of questions. Would you like to take a few questions from callers?"

She graciously acquiesced. I tried to pick a positive one to start with.

A bubbly woman came on the line. "Hi, Chandrila, may I call you Chandrila?"

"Yes, of course."

"I feel like we're sisters, in a way. I've also had visits from an angelic messenger—"

It only got stranger. I stayed out of it, taking on the role of the neutral facilitator of the discussion. And made a mental note to kill Ozzie later. No more angelic-messenger shows, never again. So I'd been called the Barbara Walters of weird shit. So I regularly talked about topics that most people turned their rational skeptic noses up at. Just because some of it had been recognized as real didn't mean it all was. If anything, telling the difference became even more important. There's weird shit and then there's weird shit. The existence of Powerball doesn't make those Nigerian e-mail scams any more real.

But it was hard convincing people that your little realm of the supernatural was real and someone else's wasn't.

Finally, Matt gave me a signal from the other side of the booth window: time to wrap it up.

"All right, thanks to everyone who called in, and a very big thank you to Chandrila Ravensun"—I managed to say the name without sounding too snide—"for joining us this week. Once again, her book is called Our Cosmic Journey and is available for ordering on her website.

"Don't forget to tune in next week, when I'll be trying something a little different. I'll be broadcasting live from Las Vegas, in front of a studio audience. That's right, you'll be able to watch me on TV and maybe even get in on the act. If you're in Las Vegas, or near Las Vegas, or thinking of going to Las Vegas and need one more excuse, please come by the Jupiter Theater at the Olympus Hotel and Casino. If you've ever wanted to see what it looks like behind the scenes at Midnight Hour central, now's your chance. Thank you once again for a lovely evening. This is Kitty Norville, voice of the night."

The ON AIR sign dimmed, and I let out a huge sigh. "I'll kill him. I'm going to kill him. The bastard set me up with that woman."

Matt was grinning, like he thought it was funny. Not an ounce of sympathy in him. "You can't do that banging-your-head-on-the-table thing on TV."

"Yes I can. It'll be funny."

He gave me a raised eyebrow that suggested he disagreed.

I rolled my eyes. "I'll try not to bang my head on the table."

"I can't wait 'til next week," he said, shaking his head, still grinning.

I was starting to think Las Vegas was a bad idea. More like a train wreck than a publicity stunt. This time next week, we'd know for sure.

I couldn't keep the Las Vegas trip secret. We had to do a lot of publicity if this was going to work. Generate a lot of interest. I should have been pleased that people were hearing about it. It meant the publicity machine was working. But there were a few people I wished weren't paying quite so much attention.

While I was walking out of the KNOB building, not half an hour after the end of the show, my cell phone rang.


"Kitty. It's Rick."

I groaned, because while I liked Rick, him calling meant trouble. Rick was the newly minted vampire Master of Denver. I was still getting used to the idea. Still trying to figure out if he was going to stay the nice, interesting guy he'd been before—even if he was a five-hundred-year-old vampire—or if he was going to get all pretentious and haughty. I'd just touched the surface of vampire politics. It was like any other politics, bitchy clique, or virulent board meeting. Vampires may have been immortal, but they were still human, and most of them still acted like it when it came to organizing themselves. But with vampires, the players involved could stretch their Machiavellian intrigue over centuries. The Long Game, they called it, predictably. On some levels it made them myopic. On others, it made them incomprehensible.

He chuckled. "It's nothing serious, I promise."

Which actually was helpful, since I'd basically agreed to help keep him as Denver's Master should the need arise. The devil you know and all that. This call must have meant that Denver wasn't under attack and he didn't need my help.

"Sorry. I'm still a little twitchy, I guess."

"I don't blame you. I'm just calling to see if you can do me a favor."

"If I can. If it's reasonable."

"I hear you're going to Las Vegas next weekend."

"You heard the show, did you?" I said.

"It's a great idea. But why Las Vegas? Why not LA or New York?"

Why did I feel cornered by that question? Why did I start blushing? "Why not Las Vegas?"

"You're going to elope, aren't you? You and Ben."

I turned flustered. "Not that it's any of your business."

"Congratulations, at any rate."

"Thanks. So what's this favor?"

"Can we meet somewhere?"

I had this suspicion that vampires, at least the old ones, had an aversion to technology. Rick claimed to have known Coronado. On that scale, the telephone was still a flashy newfangled device. They preferred talking in person. Also, talking in person meant they could use their weird vampiric influence, a kind of hypnotism that left their victims foggy-brained and helpless.

"Rick, I'm sorry, I don't have time to go traipsing all over Denver. Can't you just tell me?"

"How about I stop by your office tomorrow evening?"

He wasn't going to let me say no. "Make it Monday evening. Don't make me work on a weekend."

"Right. I'll see you then." He hung up.

I drove home, annoyed. Eloping in Vegas was supposed to simplify matters, and here it was, turning into a circus. City hall was starting to look pretty good. My bad attitude went away, though, when I walked through the door and Ben greeted me with a kiss that lasted longer than I could hold my breath. I sank into his embrace.

"The show sounded good," he said. "How do you feel?"

He listened to my show. He asked how my day was. This was why we were getting married. As if I needed reminding.

I gave him a goofy smile. "I feel just great."

I would be lying if I didn't admit that part of the attraction of eloping in Vegas meant not having to deal with the huge crowd of invitees—friends, family, coworkers, werewolves, and so on. Keep it simple. If we didn't invite anyone, then everyone we knew could be offended equally.

Unfortunately, my mother also listened to my show and could read between the lines better than anyone I knew. Almost, she was psychic, which was a terrifically scary thought. But it would explain a couple episodes in high school.

We practically lived in the same town. Mom and Dad lived in the same house in the suburb they'd been in for the last twenty-five years, a short freeway trip away from the condo Ben and I shared. Still, Mom called every Sunday. I could almost set my watch to it. She liked to check up on things. It was comforting, in a way—I could never disappear without anyone noticing, because Mom would notice, sooner rather than later.


  • "Vaughn's universe is convincing and imaginative, providing enough series mythology to satisfy without slowing down the narrative."—Publishers Weekly on Kitty Takes a Holiday
  • "Vaughn's clever new take on the supernatural is edgy and irreverent . . . will have readers clamoring for the next installment."—Romantic Time BOOKreviews Magazine on Kitty and the Midnight Hour
  • "Funny, heart-wrenching, and thought-provoking."— on Kitty Goes to Washington

On Sale
Feb 1, 2009
Page Count
320 pages

Carrie Vaughn

About the Author

Carrie Vaughn had the nomadic childhood of the typical Air Force brat, with stops in California, Florida, North Dakota, Maryland, and Colorado. She holds a Masters in English Literature and collects hobbies; fencing and sewing are currently high on the list. She lives in Boulder, Colorado. Her website is

Learn more about this author