Ricky squinted at the thermometer. 102.8. Where the hell was Kalila? He fumbled for his BlackBerry, but she hadn’t returned his message.
There could be only one reason. The band was up to no good and Kalila didn’t want to heal him because he’d try to put a stop to their antics. He struggled to focus so he could read the time. Damn. If he could somehow get dressed, maybe he could be there for the second set.
He slipped out from under the covers, his head pounding and the room swaying. He fumbled in the dresser for a pair of socks, but was shivering too much to pull them on.
Who the hell was he kidding? He collapsed back on the bed and curled up in a ball. Where was Kalila? Oh, yes. Mayhem. Bitchy genie. For all he knew, they weren’t even at their gig. Ricky found his BlackBerry under the covers and called the venue.
“Sure, they’re here,” the manager said. “Or at least they’re somewhere. They just went on break. Great first set. The girls love your bass player.”
Ricky licked his lips and tried to keep his voice steady. “So, no problems?”
“Not with the band. We had a girl pass out before the show, but it was probably some kind of anemia thing.”
Silently cursing the vampire lead singer, Ricky tried again to get dressed, but the room tipped and dumped him to the floor. Resigned, he climbed back into bed. For the next few hours he drifted in and out of consciousness, his mind a jumble of vampire and zombie mayhem, indiscriminate incubus couplings, and Kalila presiding over it all, reminding him, “You knew what you were getting into when you let us renew your contract.”
When he next found himself fully awake, he took his temperature, found it still over 101, and turned on the television, hoping for a distraction. He tried to watch an old movie, but when a news crawler appeared at the bottom of his screen telling of the disappearance of a local college student, he panicked. Lazaro couldn’t have done that, could he? Ricky tried to reassure himself that anything the zombie drummer got up to tonight wouldn’t make the news until tomorrow, but logic didn’t help.
He was trying again to figure out how to get his socks on when the door flew open and Kalila swept in, followed by the other band members. “Hi, Ricky,” she said. “We missed you tonight.”
Ricky grabbed a blanket off the bed and pulled it around himself. “Where the hell have you been?”
“At our gig. What did you expect?”
“I told you I was sick and to come heal me.”
“It’s about priorities, primate,” Vic informed him. “Florence Nighting-djinn here couldn’t fix your stupid cold and still be on time for the show.” He slumped into the nearest chair. “You always say honoring our contracts comes first.”
Ricky shivered. “Please, I’m not up for any of this. You wanted to run amok and you knew you couldn’t do it if I was there.”
Vic and Bo made as if to protest, but Kalila silenced them with a wave of her hand. “Ricky, you’re being very unfair.” She pushed his damp hair off his forehead and looked into his eyes. “I’ll make this fever go away and you’ll feel much better.”
“Just don’t mess with my brain, okay?”
“Oh, Ricky. You should trust us.”
He didn’t want to do as she said, but her voice was soothing, and her touch sent a glow through his body, easing his shivers and the dull ache of his joints. The room felt comfortable now, and he looked up at Kalila, realizing that he couldn’t remember what was the last thing she had said to him, or if she had said anything at all.
“What did you make me forget?”
Kalila took a step back, offended. “Nothing. I ended your fever, is all.”
“Are you sure?”
“Don’t you trust us?” Kalila made a small motion to Bo, who turned off the TV, where a reporter had been discussing the missing college student.
She touched his face again, and Ricky felt the same peaceful warmth course through him. Of course the band hadn’t gotten up to anything tonight. They came straight over after the show. They cared about him and would never cause him trouble. “Thanks, guys,” he said, drowsy now that he was no longer feverish and in pain. “I knew I could count on you.”