Just some character development.
“Okay, I officially feel like I’m stuck in an episode of Poirot.” I peered into the dark office and watched Martin’s back as he fiddled with the lock on Margie’s file cabinet.
He snickered. “If it were, we would’ve found out what Rex was already.”
“Okay, okay, point taken. But, obviously it’s not bad, because he’s helping us, right?”
Martin sighed and stopped fiddling. He turned his head to the side. The light from the living room windows cast extreme shadows over his perfect profile. Whatever girl ended up with him, they’d both be lucky.
“Can you please come inside and shut the door, Katie?” he asked.
I glanced out into the living area one more time. Then, I shut the door quietly behind me.
I leaned over the desk, watching while he worked his magic. All he had was two hair pins—generously donated by Sam. He positioned one at the top of the lock, and the other toward the bottom. He jimmied it around a couple of times, then cursed.
“What?” I whispered over his shoulder.
“Why are you whispering?” he asked at a normal volume.
“This isn’t a normal filing cabinet.” He sighed.
“Maybe it’s got the soul of a locksmith,” I suggested. He laughed from his belly like he did when he was really amused.
“You have to stop doing that,” he said, turning to look at me.
“What?” I giggled to myself.
“Making me regret—” He clipped the sentence off, returning to what had become his normal, guarded self. We both knew what he’d wanted to say, but the non-verbal baggage of the statement hung in the air around us. “Could you...give me a little room to work?” he asked.
“Oh.” I cleared my throat and perched on the edge of desk, giving us a good twelve inches. “Sorry.”
“So, you never did tell me how your date went.” He went back to his work and that stupid small talk I hated so much. “Did you notice anything out of the ordinary when you were with him?”
Him being Rex. “No. Well...maybe when he...” I didn’t want to finish that sentence.
“When he what?” Martin asked, jiggling the hair pins inside the lock.
Something snapped. “Damn.” Martin let out a long breath. He must have been holding it in. “Guess I’ll have to do this with one pin...”
“I can get another—”
“We don’t have time.”
“Rex said he’d text me if Margie was com—”
“He kissed you, didn’t he?”
I stopped breathing. “What?”
“That’s what you were going to say, wasn’t it? You felt something weird when he kissed you.”
I couldn’t see his face as his back was to me, so the tone of his voice was my only insight into what expression he was wearing.
“What did you feel?”
It was more than a question. He was demanding to know. And he didn’t just want to hear me say that I sensed something in Rex that would clue us in to what he was, but he wanted me to say I had feelings. But I couldn’t have feelings! I’d only been on one date!
“Cold,” I blurted before I could stop it.
“Cold?” he repeated.
“Well, not...like...cold cold. It was, like...minty. Cool... I don’t know.”
“Uh-huh...” He jiggled the hairpin around. It didn’t cooperate, so he tried another angle. “Everything is cold with him—his kitchen, the looks he gives me, when he...kisses you. I’d thought he’d give you those molten shivers you covet so much.”
I only got those with you. Why couldn’t I say that stuff out loud?! “Nope. It was refreshing at first, but... I don’t know. I guess it was a cold night and I was wearing that dress.”
“Why? Do you think the cold thing has something to do with his soul?” I asked, leaning forward.
He shrugged. “Sure. He could be a Wyvern. Although those don’t feed off strong emotions.”
“What’s a Wyvern?” I asked.
“Just think Coat of Arms.”
“Oh. Oh... Okay. Well, in that case, couldn’t he be a Cold-drake?”
He chuckled. “Sorry, Kay, no soul dragons.”
I pouted. “Damn. Admit it though, a Soul Dragon would be cool. Imagine him dancing around to James Brown all day.”
He laughed again. “You just don’t give up.” Something metal clicked inside the cabinet. “Nice. We’re in.”
I checked my phone. Nothing. After hopping off the desk, I stood next to Martin while he opened the first drawer.
“What did you find, Captain Hastings?” I asked in a faux French accent. “Is it the jewels Masseur Lavington hid in the...Chinese...Box... Okay, I’ll stop, now.”
“There’re only five files in here.” He pawed through them, lifted them out of the cabinet, and handed them to me. Fanning them out on the desk, I sat to look through each one. A label was in the corner of every file—one for each girl. I opened Sasha’s.
Her birth certificate was the first thing inside. I scanned the various nonsensical information and stopped when I reached her parents’ names.
Brendon Henry Cox, and, “Marjorie Alison Taylor.”
“What?” Martin asked from behind me.
“Sasha’s mother’s name is listed on her birth certificate as Marjorie Taylor. Her father’s name is Brendon Cox.”
I went through the rest of the files. Each birth certificate had a different father, but the same mother’s name: Marjorie Alison Taylor. Rex was right. Margie was getting an illegal free ride from the state. I voiced my opinion to Martin.
“Yeah. I wonder if that’s enough evidence. Check this out.” He shoved the files aside and plopped another onto the desk. This one had Rex’s name in the corner.
I groaned. “No. I thought we’d decided that he was a Wyvern.”
“We didn’t decide anything. Look what the notes say on his social services check.” He pointed to the middle of an official-looking letter.
“I can’t read in the dark.”
He sighed. “You were just reading all those birth certificates!”
“My eyes are tired.”
“It says they died in a ritual suicide.”
“Huh?” I squinted at the paper. “But he told me they were in a car accident.”
“Well, he was young when it happened. Maybe—” I was cut off by my phone vibrating in my pocket. I took it out to a message from Rex: “Incoming.” All in caps. “Crap!”
I stood up and instructed Martin to shove all the files back into the cabinet. As I was handing them to him, Sasha’s spilled onto the floor.
“Quick, pick it up!” I barked.
Martin scrambled with the papers. I knelt down to help him. As I was attaching the birth certificate back in place, I did a double-take. I’d thought for a split second that the name, Marjorie Alison Taylor had been different—shorter. But at second glance, it was the same.
I pushed the file shut between both hands and shoved it at Martin. He squeezed it back into the filing cabinet, and he both stood up. But the only way out was the way I had come, and I was blocking his way.
“Katie,” he started, grabbing my upper arms. I almost lost my balance, so I placed my hands on his chest to steady myself.
Something warm, familiar, and comfortable flushed through me. He was holding me again. Looking at me again. All thoughts of Rex blanked from my mind. Whatever Sam had told me that very morning was irrelevant. I wanted Martin.
I didn’t know at the time if he realized he was doing it, but his hands slid down to my hips. I swore he pulled me half an inch closer.
“What did it feel like, Katie?”
I looked into his eyes. Shadowy light from the frosted window allowed me to see the complexities inside him.
“What did what feel like?” I whispered.
“When you kissed him. What did it feel like? Was it...like when we used to...?” His voice was a fraction of its normal volume. And it had grown husky. God, how I loved it when his voice was husky. Those devilish hot shivers coursed through me. He came closer. Our bodies were touching. Every muscle fiber inside me throbbed with anticipation.
Then, my phone buzzed again. Martin jumped and pushed me in front of him. “We gotta get out of here!”