We got trapped in the aisle of the plane, because everyone else had stood up and grabbed their bags, too. We had time for me to lean in against his back and ask, "Why didn't you say something?"
He leaned back, smiling down at me. "Truthfully?"
"It was sort of nice to be the brave one for a change."
I frowned at him. "What's that supposed to mean?"
He turned enough so he could lay a kiss, gently, on my lips. "It means that you are the bravest person I've ever met, and sometimes, just sometimes, that's hard on the men in your life."
I didn't kiss him back. For the first time ever with him, I did not respond to his touch. I was too busy frowning and trying to decide if I should be insulted.
"What, I'm too brave to be a girl? What kind of macho bullshit--" He kissed me. Not a little kiss, but as if he'd melt into me through my mouth. His hands slid up over the leather of my jacket. He pressed himself against me, so that every inch of him was pressed against every inch of me. He kissed me long enough and held me close enough that I felt when his body began to be happy to be there.
He drew back, leaving me breathless and gasping. I swallowed hard and managed a breathy, "No fair."
"I don't want to fight, Anita."
"No fair," I said again.
He laughed, that wonderful, irritating masculine sound that said just how delighted he was with the effect he could have on me. His lips were bright with the red of my lipstick. Which probably meant I looked like I was wearing clown makeup now.
I tried to scowl at him but couldn't quite manage it. It was hard to scowl when I was fighting off a stupid grin. You cannot be angry and grin at the same time. Dammit.
The line was moving. Micah started pushing his carry-on ahead of him. I liked to pull mine behind me, but he liked to push. He had the briefcase, too. He'd pointed out that as the assistant he should be carrying more. I might have argued, but he'd kissed me, and I couldn't think fast enough to argue.
Micah had had about the same effect on me from the first moment I'd met him. It had been lust at almost first sight or maybe first touch. I was still a little embarrassed about that. It wasn't like me to fall for someone so quickly, or so hard. I'd really expected it to burn out or for us to have some huge fight and end it, but six months and counting. Six months and no breakup. It was a record for me. I'd dated Jean-Claude for a couple of years, but it had been off again, on again. Most of my relationships were. Micah was the only one who had ever come into my life and managed to stay.
Part of how he managed it was that every time he touched me I just fell to pieces. Or that's what it felt like. It felt weak, and very girlie, and I didn't like it.
The flight attendant hoped I'd had a pleasant flight. She was smiling just a little too hard. How much lipstick was I wearing and on how much of my face?
The only saving grace was we could hit a bathroom and get cleaned up before we met the FBI. They could pass through security with their badges, but these days even the Feds didn't like to abuse their privileges around airport security.
I was wearing my gun in its shoulder holster but I'd been certified to carry on an airplane. Federal marshal or no, you had to go through special training these days to carry on a plane. Sigh.
I got some looks and a few giggles as I hit the main part of the airport. I sooo needed a mirror.
Micah turned, fighting not to grin. "I made a mess of your lipstick. Sorry."
"You're not sorry," I said.
"No," he said, "I'm not."
"How bad is it?"
He let go of the carry-on handle and used his thumb to wipe across my chin. His thumb came away crimson.
"If you'd been wearing base, I wouldn't have done it." He lifted his thumb to his mouth and licked it, pushing way more of the thumb into his mouth than he needed to. I watched the movement sort of fascinated. "I love the taste of your lipstick."
I shook my head and looked away from him. "Stop teasing me."
"Because I can't work if you keep making me moon over you."
He laughed, that warm masculine sound again.
I took hold of my carry-on and strode past him. "It's not like you to tease me this much."
He caught up with me. "No, it's usually Nathaniel, or Jean-Claude, or Asher. I behave myself unless you're mad at me."
I thought about that and it made me slow. That and the three-inch heels. "Are you jealous of them?"
"Not jealous in the way you mean. But, Anita, this is the first time that you and I have ever been on our own. Just you, just me, no one else."
That stopped me, literally, so that the man behind us cursed and had to go around abruptly. I turned and looked at Micah. "We've been alone before. We've gone out just the two of us."
"But never for more than a few hours. We've never been overnight, just us."
I thought about it because it seemed like in six months we should have managed at least one night with only the two of us. I thought, and thought, until my puzzler was sore, but he was right. We had never been overnight, just us.
"Well, damn," I said.
He smiled at me, his lips still bright with my lipstick. "There's a bathroom right over there."
We pulled the suitcases over against the wall and I left Micah in a small line of men who were also watching bags and purses. Some of them had children in tow.
There was a line in the bathroom, of course, but once I made it clear I wasn't jumping the line but repairing makeup, no one got mad. In fact, a few of them speculated, good-naturedly, on what I'd been doing to get my lipstick smeared that badly.
I did look like I was wearing clown makeup. I got my little bag of makeup, which Micah had made sure I took in with me, out of the briefcase. I'd have probably forgotten it. I had very gentle eye makeup remover that worked on anything, including lipstick. I got the mess cleaned off, then reapplied lip liner and lipstick.
The lipstick was very, very red. It made my skin seem almost translucent in its paleness. My hair gleamed black in the lights, matching the deep, solid brown of my eyes. I'd added a little eye shadow and mascara at home, and called the makeup done. I rarely wore base.
Micah was right, without the base the makeup wasn't ruined, but... but. I was still pissed about it. Still wanted to be angry. Wanted to be angry, not was still angry. Why did I want to hold on to the anger? Why did it make me mad that he had the ability to drown my anger with the touch of his body? Why did that bug me so much?
Because it was me. I had a real talent for picking my love life apart until I broke it. I had promised myself, not that long ago, that I'd stop picking at things. That if my life worked, I'd just enjoy it. It sounded so simple, but it wasn't. Why is it that the simplest plans are sometimes the hardest to do?
I took a deep breath and paused at the full-length mirror on the way out. I would have worn black but Bert always thought that that gave the wrong impression. Too funereal, he'd say. My silk shell was the red of the lipstick, but Bert had already complained months ago: no more black and red--too aggressive. So I was in charcoal gray with a thin pattern of black and darker gray through it. The jacket hit me at the waist to meet up with the matching skirt.
The skirt was pleated, forming a nice swing around my upper thighs when I moved. I'd tested it at home, but now I tested it again, just in case. Nope, not a glimpse of the top of my stockings. I didn't own any panty hose anymore. I'd finally been won over to the truth that a comfortable garter belt, hard to find but worth the search, with a pair of nice hose was actually more comfortable than panty hose. You just had to make sure that no one caught a glimpse of them when you moved, unless you were on a date. Men reacted really oddly if they knew you were wearing stockings and a garter belt.
If I'd known that Agent Fox had already been prejudiced against me, I might have worn a pantsuit. Too late now. Why was it a crime for a woman to look good?
Would I get fewer rumors if I dressed down? Maybe. Of course, if I wore jeans and a T-shirt I got complaints that I was too casual and needed to look more professional. Sometimes you just can't win for losing.
I was delaying. Dammit. I did not want to go back out to Micah. Why? Because he was right, this was the first time we'd ever been alone together for this long.
Why did that thought tighten my chest and make my pulse speed like something alive in my throat?
I was scared. Scared of what? Scared of Micah? Sort of. But more scared of myself, I think. Scared that without Nathaniel, or Jean-Claude, or Asher, or someone to balance things, Micah and I wouldn't work. That without everyone interfering, there wouldn't be a relationship. That there would be too much time, too much truth, and it would all fall apart. I didn't want it to fall apart. I didn't want Micah to go away. And the moment you care that much, a man has you. He owns a little piece of your soul, and he can beat you to death with it.