"In retrospect, you're right," he said.
"In retrospect, you could have gotten Anita killed," Micah said.
Fox took in a lot of air and let it out slow. "You're right, Micah. I almost f**ked up your life again."
I frowned at them both. "What are you guys talking about now?"
"When Micah was in a bed like you are now, I told him that I had wanted to put out an alert two days before he and his uncle and cousin went hunting. I wanted to put out an alert to keep the hunters out of the woods, but I wasn't the agent in charge. Hell, I was just the Indian who got lucky, because some of the first kills were on Indian land. I was outvoted, and I liked my career more than I liked the idea of saving lives. I told Micah that I owed him for that." Fox looked at all of us. "And now I owe him again, because we should have taken more precautions for your safety."
I looked at him. "I didn't think the FBI was allowed to admit they were wrong."
He smiled, but not like he was entirely happy. "If you tell anyone, I'll deny it."
I raised Micah's hand to my lips and kissed him. It took some of the anger out of his face. I kissed Nathaniel's hand too, and held them close. "I'm just glad to be alive, Agent Fox."
He nodded. "I'm glad, too." Then he headed for the door.
When the door closed behind him, Micah let out a breath I hadn't realized he'd been holding. "Every time I see that man, something bad happens in my life."
I tugged on his hand so he'd look at me. "What happened to the zombie?"
He gave a frown that showed even around the sunglasses. "I know Salvia tried to kill you, but you ask first about the zombie?"
"Salvia's dead," I said.
He nodded. "I thought you were unconscious by then."
"I was, but once I wasn't there to help with the zombie, it tore him apart, right?"
"Yes," he said.
"He deserved to die," Nathaniel said, and there was a look in his face, so fierce, so pitiless, that it almost scared me. I'd seen a lot of looks on his face, but never one so cold.
"They shot the zombie, they cut at him, but he tore Salvia up."
"Did they get the shooter?"
"They got him," Micah said. "He's dead, too."
"Did they get Rose's testimony?" I asked.
He lowered his glasses enough to give me the full force of his chartreuse eyes. The look was eloquent. Nathaniel laughed.
Micah looked from one to the other of us, then finally back at me. "Do you seriously think that with you dying, Salvia dead, and an assassin gunned down, they were going to question the zombie?"
"Well, why not? They had to wait for the ambulance, right?"
Micah shook his head. Nathaniel laughed again and leaned over to plant a kiss on my forehead. He looked at Micah. "If she'd been there and awake, she'd have questioned the zombie," he said.
"Fine, if they didn't question Rose, what happened to him? Without me they couldn't put him back in the grave."
"Larry flew up."
Nathaniel pointed to the huge bunch of Mylar balloons. "Those are from Larry and Tammy."
I realized then what the death of the salesman would have meant for Larry. It wouldn't have been some salesman in the wrong place at the wrong time; it would have been Marshal Larry Kirkland dead.
"He was really upset, Anita. He blamed himself."
"Not his fault." I squeezed Micah's hand. "Though thanks for the romantic hotel room. Who knew it would be a lifesaver?"
"Let's get you dressed," he said, "and go home."
Nathaniel kissed my hand and started finding my clothes, wherever the nurses had hidden them. Micah went for the door to see if Dr. Nelson needed any help getting me signed out. He stopped in the doorway and said, "You scared the hell out of me. Don't do it again."
"I'll do my best," I said.
He leaned his forehead against the door edge for a moment, then he looked at me. "I love you."
I had a lump in my throat that hadn't been there a second before. "I love you, too."
Nathaniel was suddenly airborne. I had a second to make that little-girl eep sound, and then he landed around me on all fours, perfectly. "Does anything hurt?"
"No," I said, breathless and laughing.
"Good," he said, and he lay down on top of me, pressing his body against me hard enough that I had to either spread my legs for him or risk bruising tender bits on both of us. He lay above the sheets, both of us fully clothed, but he was suddenly above me, and the look in his eyes was more intimate than nakedness could have made it. Because what was in his eyes was emotion too real for lust, too real for anything but a very different four-letter word.
He kissed me. He kissed me as if my mouth were air, food, and water, and he'd been dying without the taste of it. That's when Nurse Debbie and the other members of her betting pool came in. They screamed like freshmen at their first frat party. And I'd thought nurses were jaded.