He shrugged, laughed, but it was too late to go back to the nice roly-poly doctor disguise. There was a very sharp mind in there, and someone who only did good bedside manner because he was supposed to.
Nurse Debbie moved, almost uneasily, beside him.
"You're not a lycanthrope, but you're a carrier, which is impossible. A person either has lycanthropy, or she doesn't. You're actually carrying around four different kinds. Wolf, leopard, lion, and one we can't even identify, all of which is impossible. You can't catch more than one kind of lycanthropy, because once you've got one, it makes you immune to the others." He looked at me as if the look would be enough and I'd crack and confess.
I just blinked at him. I'd suspected the leopard and wolf, but the only time I'd been touched by a were-lion had resulted in tiny wounds. They had been from Micah's old leader, Chimera, in lionman form. He'd bled me, but it was unusual to catch feline-based lycanthropy from such small damage. Lucky f**king me.
"Did you hear me, Marshal? You're carrying four different kinds of lycanthropy." He kept giving me his hard-as-nails look.
I kept blinking at him. If he thought his threatening doctor face was enough to get me talking, then he hadn't seen anything truly scary in his life. I just looked at him.
"Why do I think this isn't news to you?"
I shrugged, the tubes and needles pulling on my left arm. That hurt worse than anything else. "I got attacked by some shapeshifters a few years back, but lucky me, I didn't catch anything."
"Don't you get it, Blake? I'm telling you that you did catch it. It's floating around in your veins right now. But you aren't a lycanthrope, are you?"
I shook my head. "No."
"Why aren't you?"
I shrugged again. "Honestly, Doc, I don't know."
"Well, if we could figure out how to put this into other people and not make them shifters, we could make people pretty much indestructible."
"I'd tell you how it works if I knew."
He stared down at me with that hard look again. "Why don't I believe that?"
I smiled. "If I could tell you something that would help millions of people, I would. But I think I'm sort of a metaphysical miracle, Doc."
"I read the papers. I watch the news," he said. "I know you're the human servant of the St. Louis Master of the City. Is that what makes this kind of healing possible?"
"I honestly don't know, Doc. Not for certain."
"Does being a vampire's human servant help you heal like this?"
"It helps me be harder to hurt," I said.
"And the lycanthropy?"
"That I can't answer, Doc."
"Can't, or won't?"
"Can't," I said.
He made an impatient sound. "Fine. You're fit, well enough to go home. I'll get the paperwork started." He moved toward the door. He turned with his hand on the door. "If you ever figure out how the healing works, I'd love to know."
"If it's something that can be duplicated, I'll share," I said.
He left shaking his head.
I looked at the nurse, and she wouldn't meet my eyes.
"I need to take out the IVs." Debbie hesitated, then said, "A little privacy, maybe?" She said it like she wasn't certain. Why was she so nervous?
Micah and Nathaniel glanced at me. I shrugged again. Nathaniel smiled at me, and the smile had a touch of mischief in it. Micah shook his head, smiling as well, and they left.
Debbie was as gentle as she could be. It actually hurt more for the tape to come off than the needle. When she had my arm free of all the paraphernalia, she said in an almost embarrassed voice, "Which one of them is your boyfriend?"
"You mean, Micah and Nathaniel?"
"Yes," she said.
"Both of them are."
She gave me a look. "Mr. Callahan told you to say that, didn't he? They've been incorrigible, teasing all of us."
"Teasing all of you?" I made it a question.
"Saying that you lived with both of them, then trying to make us guess which of them is your boyfriend." She actually blushed. "There's a betting pool, so whichever of us was here when you first woke had to ask."
"A betting pool for what?"
"Which one is your boyfriend. Some people even bet that they both were. Some even said neither." She looked almost painfully embarrassed. "I have to ask. I'm sorry."
"I live with both of them," I said.
She gave me that look again, like she didn't believe me.
"Honest, cross my heart and hope to--well, you know."
She shook her head. "And what is Mr. Graison's job?"
I had to smile. "He's a stripper."
She put her hands on her hips and almost stamped her foot at me. "It can't all be true."
The door opened behind her. It was my men and Special Agent Fox. The nurse threw them both a look, then hurried out.
"What have you been telling the nurses while I've been lying here?"
"The nurses were just trying to be friendly at first," Micah said, "but when we answered their questions truthfully, they didn't believe us."
"No one lives with two men," Nathaniel said, mimicking someone's voice that I didn't remember hearing. "And federal marshals don't live with strippers."
"Once we knew you were going to be all right, Nathaniel teased them a little," Micah said.
Fox laughed. "A little."
I held my left hand out to Nathaniel, and he took it with a smile. "You mad?" he asked.
"No. It was the crack about federal marshals not living with strippers, wasn't it?" I said.
He shrugged. "Maybe."
"The nursing staff seemed more interested in your boyfriends than in you," Fox said.
"Well," I said, "it's hard to compete when the guys are this cute."
Micah came around and took my other hand. He ran his finger over the new scar. "You've finally got one on your right arm."
I sighed. "My only unscarred arm. Damn."
Fox said, "I come all the way down here to tell you what you missed, and I don't think you give a damn."
I smiled at Fox. "Truthfully, I'm just glad to be alive. When I hit that marble, I knew I was hurt."
His face went very serious. "Yeah, you were hurt. We all thought..." He waved it away. "It doesn't matter what we thought. When you went down, the zombie attacked Salvia. We couldn't stop him. Not to mention he had a shooter in the cemetery."
"I remember Salvia saying something about not shooting me now. That the zombie was up and it wouldn't help anything."
"He wasn't delaying to be irritating. He was delaying to give the new hit man time to get to the cemetery. The idea was that with you dead or badly injured, they'd have more time to think of a plan C."
"Plan C? What happened to plan A and B?"
Micah began to rub his thumb over my knuckles in small circles. Nathaniel pressed my hand against his chest. Whatever I was about to hear, I wasn't going to like it.
Fox told me, "After you and Micah went to a different hotel, a salesman checked into the room that we'd reserved for Marshal Kirkland. The salesman was shot in his room. Then the killer put a 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the door and probably took a plane to a different country. A very clean, very professional hit. Micah wanting a romantic weekend may have saved your lives."
Micah kept stroking my hand, and Nathaniel kept holding on, as if there was more to come.
"Salvia must have gotten the shock of his life when he got word that Marshal Anita Blake was coming to raise the zombie. He scrambled around and hired a not-so-clean, not-so-professional hit."
"But it almost worked," Micah said.
"I finally remembered where I knew Salvia's name from," I said. "He's a lawyer for some old-fashioned mob, real hard-core Italian."
"If I understood what Salvia and Rose were arguing about, then Georgie is the son of the head of that family. He's a pedophile, and Salvia and others had helped cover it up."
"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Fox, didn't you think the son's family would try to stop the testimony?"
"Old-fashioned mob does not attack federal officers. It's bad for business," Fox said.
"Old-fashioned is the operative phrase here, Fox. If what's left of the Italian mob found out one of their own had hidden a violent pedophile, even his own son, the Feds would be the least of Georgie boy's family's worries. The other mobsters would clean house on their own long before subpoenas and trial dates caught up with them."