I called the number I had for Fox. No emotional problems, just business. What a relief.
"You have everything in the file that you need to raise Rose from the dead, Marshal Blake," Fox said.
I'd figured he'd say that, but... "Just tell me this. Fox, how hot was Emmett Leroy Rose?"
"What do you mean, 'hot'?" he asked, but his tone said he knew.
"How important a witness was he?"
"He died of natural causes, Blake. He wasn't murdered. There wasn't a contract out on him. We just caught him doing something bad. So bad, he didn't want to go to jail over it. So he gave us more important people. Or was going to."
"Did he have a bad heart?"
"No, if he had, we'd have had a court reporter in to take down his testimony, just in case. We found out later that his father had died of an unexpected heart attack at almost the same age."
"You see, Fox, if you'd known that, you might have gotten his testimony down sooner, right?"
He was quiet a second, then said, "Maybe."
"Is anything you haven't included in this file going to bite me on the ass later? Like a father who died of a sudden heart attack."
He made a sound that might have been a laugh. "It's a good point, Marshal Blake, but no, there's nothing we left out that will impact you or your work."
"Have you ever seen someone raise the dead, Special Agent Fox?"
He was quiet again. Then, "Yes." Just that one word.
I waited for him to say more, but he didn't. "So you're happy with the information I've got."
"Yes," he said again, and there was a tone that said this conversation was about over. "Why do I think that if I'd called you in first instead of Kirkland, you'd have been a much bigger pain in the ass?"
That made me laugh. "Oh, yes," I said. "I'm a much bigger pain in the ass than Larry."
"How's his wife doing?"
"I'm going to call them when I get off the phone with you."
"Give him my best." He hung up.
I sighed and hung up my end. Then I went for my cell phone in the front of the briefcase. I turned it on, and there was a message. I pushed buttons until the phone gave up the message. Larry's voice: "Anita, it's Larry. They've got the labor stopped. They're going to keep her overnight, just to be safe, but it looks good. Thanks for taking the run to Philadelphia. Thanks for everything." Then he laughed. "How do you like the file? Real informative, isn't it?" He laughed again, then hung up.
I sat down on the couch sort of suddenly. I don't think I'd realized how worried I was until it was all right. I didn't even like Tammy much, but Larry was my friend and it would have broken his heart.
Micah was standing in front of me. I looked up. "Tammy and the baby are going to be fine. He must have called while we were in the air."
Micah smiled and touched my face. "You're pale. You were really worried about it, weren't you?"
"Were you hiding it from me or didn't you know either?"
I gave him a smile that was a bit too wry to be happy. "Stop knowing me so well, dammit."
"Better than you know yourself, sometimes," he said softly. And that was a little too close to the truth.
Room service came with a knock and a polite voice. Micah got to the door before I did, but he didn't just open it. Some people in my life I've had to teach caution to, but Micah had come with it as part of the standard boyfriend package.
He checked the peephole, then looked at me. "Room service." But he didn't open the door. I watched him take a very deep breath, scenting the air. "Smells like room service."
My hand eased back from the gun under my arm. I hadn't even realized my hand was on it until that moment. His scenting at the door had made me think, just for a second, that something was wrong, not that he was simply scenting the air because it smelled good.
He put his sunglasses on before he opened the door. I made sure my jacket was covering the gun. Didn't want to weird anyone out, and definitely didn't want to give the staff a reason to talk. Hiding how far outside normal we were was standard practice. People tend to get nervous around guns and shapeshifters. Go figure.
The guy smiled and asked where we'd like the tray set up. We let him put a cloth on the table by the window.
It seemed to take a long time for him to get everything ready. He placed water glasses, real napkins, even a rose in a vase in the center of the table. I'd never seen anything this elaborate from room service.
Finally, he was done. Micah signed for the food, and the guy left with a Have a nice day that actually sounded sincere.
Micah shut the door behind him, putting all the locks in place. I approved. Locks don't help you if you don't use them.
I was trying to decide whether to frown. "I like the caution--you know I do."
"But," he said, setting the sunglasses on the coffee table.
"But I thought I should compliment you before I complain about something else."
His smile slipped a little. "What now?"
"There's a salad here with grilled chicken on it and a butterflied chicken breast grilled with veggies. The salad better not be mine."
He grinned then, and it was that sudden grin that gave me a glimpse of what he might have looked like at fifteen.
"You get the chicken breast."
I frowned. "I would have preferred steak."
He nodded. "Yes, but if you eat that heavy then sometimes the food doesn't sit well if the sex is too, um, vigorous."
I tried not to smile and failed. "And is the sex going to be, um, vigorous?"
"I hope so," he said.
"And you got the salad, because..."
"I'll be doing most of the work," he said.
"Now, that's just not true," I said.
He wrapped his arms around me, and his being the same height made the eye contact very serious, very intimate.
"Who does the most work depends on who is doing what." His voice was low and deep. His face leaned closer as he said, "I know exactly what I want to do to you and with you, and it means that I will be doing"--and his mouth was just above mine--"most of the work."
I thought he'd kiss me, but he didn't. He drew back and left me breathless and a little shaky. When I could talk without sounding as wobbly as I felt, I asked, "How do you do that?"
"Do what?" he asked as he sat down on his side of the table, spreading his napkin in his lap.
I gave him a look.
He laughed. "I am your Nimir-Raj, Anita. You are my Nimir-Ra, my leopard queen. The moment we met, my beast and that part of you that calls and is called to the wereleopards were drawn to each other. You know that."
I blushed, because the memory of just how much we'd been drawn together from the moment we'd met always made me a little embarrassed. All right, more than a little.
Micah was the first man I'd ever had sex with within hours of meeting him. The only thing that had kept it from being a one-night stand was the fact that he stuck around, but I hadn't known he would when it first happened. Micah had been the first person I fed the ardeur off of, the first warm body that I slaked that awful thirst on. Was that the bond? Was that the foundation of it?
"You're frowning," he said.
"Thinking too hard," I said.
"And not about anything pleasant, from the look on your face."
I shrugged, which made the jacket rub on the gun. I took the jacket off and draped it across the back of the chair. Now the shoulder holster was bare and aggressive against the crimson shirt. My arms were exposed, which showed off most of my scars.
"You're angry," he said. "Why?"
I actually hung my head, because he was right. "Don't ask, okay? Just let my grumpy mood go, and I'll try to let it go, too."
He looked at me for a moment, then gave a small nod. But his face was back to being careful. His neutral, pleasant I'm managing her moods face. I hated that face because it meant I was being difficult, but I didn't know how to stop being difficult. I was tripping over issues I'd thought I'd worked out months ago. What the hell was the matter with me?
We ate in silence, but it wasn't companionable silence. It was strained, at least in my own head.
"Okay," Micah said, and his voice made me jump.
"What?" I asked, and my voice sounded strident, somewhere between breathy and a yell.
"I have no idea why you are this"--he made a waffling motion with his hand--"but we'll play it your way. How did you get the scars on your left arm?"