Micky sat in the little room that had been opened up for them. She was sick with worry about her sister and didn’t want her to die. She supposed they all wanted that, but she and Rowan were close. They told each other everything. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know anyone was in here.” She told Kylan to come and join her. That she could use some company. “All right. If you don’t want me here, just say so. I’m sure I can find someplace else.” His smile was reassuring. “Rowan and Roone are only eleven months older than me. The others are about two years apart from the next one. Jeff and Winnie are twins as well.” He told her that must have been wonderful growing up. “It was. We were never alone. None of us have ever been without someone we can depend on. Rowan is my go-to gal when I need a shoulder or just to let off steam. She was good at that. Helping you let off some steam to her.”
“You were told what we did for her, weren’t you?” She nodded and looked down at her water bottle. “I made sure her knees were repaired. I may have to go back in again and make sure her bones are healing the way they should. Bryant, he made sure the rib that pierced her lung was moved and put in place before healing her lungs. I guess I never thought of how much damage could happen to a person even with a vest on.” “As close as we were told he was to her, it’s small wonder he didn’t break more than that. Three ribs aren’t that many when you get shot twice in the chest at close range.” Kylan nodded and said he’d have more respect for cops now because of it. “My father was a cop. His father too, and so far back, I have a feeling we might well have been the very first ones. Not really, but it’s a family thing. Dad didn’t care if any of us carried on the tradition so long as what we did made us want to do it every day. And if it didn’t, then find something that did. That’s one of the reasons I’m selling my daycare to someone right now. I’ve found that now I’ve taken it about as far as I can go with it, I want to move on.”
“What do you think you’ll do now? If you don’t mind me asking.” She said she was still working on that but didn’t mind him asking at all. “We all tried a little of everything while we grew up. I couldn’t draw a stick person well when I started out drawing, but I’ve had a lot of time to work on it. Now I think I’m pretty good. I had to really work at it. However, it’s something I still enjoy. Advertising is a fun way to make a living.” “Bryant mentioned that you were all very old. And the first black tigers. I’ve never seen one in real life. Just pictures. They’re so different than Bengals, aren’t they?” He told her they were even larger than the ones in zoos too. “I can’t imagine how you were able to go from being a little kitten to what you are today. It must have— My mind is blown by what sorts of things you’ve seen change since you were born. What was the biggest change that wowed you?”
“Everything, really. The first time we saw electricity was terrifying for us. Then there were cars that moved down the road. Antibiotics were the biggest, best thing I can think of. So many people died from a simple cut that wouldn’t even need any kind of assistance from a doctor nowadays. Trains too. I used to love riding on them. Not the kind now that will pamper to your every need, but just hitching a ride on one of the carts to get from one point to the next. I didn’t even have to have a place to go. I just enjoyed the ride.” Micky laughed and was glad that he’d come to sit with her. “There aren’t as many changes as there used to be. Still, they happen, but not on the level they did then. What do you enjoy doing?” “I’m the black sheep of the family, you might say. I am forever looking for the next project I can immerse myself in. I’ve started and moved on to more projects than all of the others together. It’s what I do.” He asked her if she enjoyed that. “I used to. Not so much anymore.
I have money, a great deal of it. We all do. It’s not like I start these projects, then just walk away. I get them up and running, then hire someone else to take over. I have my toes in a lot of water all the time.” “Good for you.” They both laughed, and when Bryant joined them, he asked his brother if he was ready to go back to Rowan. “Would you like to come with us? I know you’ve all declined to see her like she is, but she looks a good deal better than when we came in. We were warned not to heal her completely, for the press, but unless something else happens to her at this point, she’ll live.” “I think I would.” When she stood up, she followed them out of the room. “Rowan is my best sister. I need her like I need air to breathe.” “I know just how you feel.” The room was dark when they entered. It wasn’t until they told her why that she understood. “Having the lights off in here doesn’t bring us any unwanted attention while we’re with her.
Some people might have seen us going back and forth, but we’ve made it so they don’t know our faces when we leave here.” “I would imagine this sort of thing could get you a lot of kooks coming around wanting you to heal every Tom, Dick, and Harriet they know.” Micky moved up to the bed to look at her sister. “She does look better. When Doctor Fleming showed us pictures of her, I decided I didn’t want to see her in person. That guy, he did a number on her.” “Yes, she was lucky her vest was nearby.” Touching her fingers to her sister’s cheek, she half listened to the other two as they gave Rowan more of their magic. They were telling her sister what they were doing, how it was going to affect her, as well as some of their personal information. Kylan had two little girls and a son on the way. She was— “Guys?” Neither of them said anything when she called for them. “Guys, she’s staring at me. My sister is looking at me right now.” “Talk to her.” Nodding, nothing at all came to mind. If asked, Micky wasn’t even sure she could have told Rowan what the weather was like, much less the date. “Go ahead, Micky. Tell her how much you miss her.”
“I do.” She leaned closer as Rowan looked at her. “You’re going to get better, and we’re going to go on the cruise we promised we’d go on. Remember?” She blinked twice at her, and Micky laughed and cried. Leaning down to kiss her on her forehead, Micky whispered how much she loved her. Rowan’s hand moved, and reaching for it, Micky held onto it for several seconds while they looked at each other. The tube in her mouth, helping her breathe from the lung injury, prevented Rowan from speaking, but the two of them were able to convey volumes in just those short few minutes. Then Rowan closed her eyes and drifted into what she hoped was a better sleep than before. “You were lucky today.” She nodded, unable to speak to Kylan when he spoke to her. “In my family, they’d be so jealous that you’d been able to talk to her. She’ll get better more and more now that she’s on her way. I’m betting soon they’ll take the tubing out, and she’ll be able to breathe on her own.” Micky knew they were each giving Rowan blood. Not very much, just a few drops she’d been told. But it was working wonders on her. Working to bring her sister to them again. Not wanting to leave her, but knowing she had to when they did, she stood outside the room and sobbed.
It was going to be all right, she told herself. Rowan would be her old self in no time, and they really would go on that trip. Making her way back to the little room she’d been in, she was both dismayed and happy that Roone was there. Telling him what had happened, the two of them held each other as they cried. “The first thing I’m going to make her do is to get better locks on her doors. Not to mention stronger doors.” Micky told Roone she’d more than likely not want to live in the house any longer. “I never thought of that. You’re more than likely right. I don’t know that I’d want to live there either. Although, perhaps she’ll want to live with one of us for a little while. Just until she’s up and around for a while.” “She won’t want to do that either, Roone. If she’s up and around even a little, you know her well enough to understand she’d want to live on her own. That way, no one can tell her when she should rest.”
Roone laughed with her. “I’m betting in no time at all she’ll be taking on cases from wherever she’s living and solving them too. There is no stopping a Bronson when they can use a phone.” They sat there for a little while longer, just the two of them. Kylan came in once and said they would see to Rowan once more before they left. The two of them had refused any kind of payment from them, not even for their hotel. She thought if the rest of the family were anything like these two, she might like to meet them. When Jeff and Winnie showed up, they were told about Rowan, too, while Micky drifted down to the cafeteria area of the hospital. She just needed a moment of quiet time before she went home. The six of them were taking turns staying with Rowan so they could get some rest and food. Her turn wouldn’t be again until tomorrow morning. But she needed this time just to sit and think. There was too much going on right now for her to rest well. Not only did she want to be there for Rowan, but the others too. What she’d not told Kylan was that she’d put her daycare center on the market and was in the process of selling it now.
Just walking away from a business was something she rarely did. Usually, she would hire someone to take it over while she reaped the profits. She didn’t want to do that this time. Going home, Micky pulled her laptop to her while she was resting on the couch. She looked up the Prince family and was impressed with the things they were into. The picture of them all together at what looked like a wedding showed six big men and a mom and dad. She wondered, like everyone did, she was sure, how they had gone for so long not finding their wives, being as old as they were. She supposed that waiting on one’s other half—their mates, as they were called—took time. Micky didn’t think she’d ever marry again. The first one, lasting only five weeks, had ended abruptly when he was killed by a drive-by shooting. She’d not even dated all that much since then and wondered why. “Oh yeah. Men are pigs.”
She smiled at her reasoning and thought of all the shit she was going to have to do now that she didn’t have anywhere to go. It wasn’t like she’d not be able to find herself a job, but she didn’t want to right now. “Maybe I’ll take a few days and just drive around the state.” Her cat, a small house cat, came and sat near her on the couch. He wouldn’t get up with her no matter how many times she told him it was all right. After figuring out what was going on, she laughed until she was crying. The cat knew she’d been around a bigger cat, and he was jealous. “You might as well join me here, Becket. He’s not going to come around once Rowan is well.” Still, he only stared at her, looking about as betrayed as she’d ever seen him look. Laughing harder, she went to the kitchen to get him a treat. “You’re the reason I can’t have any friends over—you know that, don’t you? You’re rude, and you can’t stand anyone around me. Well, I guess you’ll have to get used to the smell, little man. I believe your favorite person in the world is going to smell a great deal like a bigger kitty. It would serve you right if I were to pick her over you.”
After he sulked for a few hours, he finally got up on the couch with her. But he didn’t sit on her lap, nor did he look at her when she said his name. The stupid animal was acting just like all the men she knew. Snooty and out of joint because she’d been out having fun. Well, not fun, but not here with him either. Setting her alarm after not being able to get her stupid cat to like her again, she went to sleep. Tomorrow was going to be a good day. She might even be able to have a conversation with Rowan again. Micky was smiling when she felt herself roll over into sleep. ~*~ Micky and Rowan loaded up the car with the few things they planned to take with them. Mostly it was snacks and bottled water and juice, but it was a road trip they both wanted. Maybe even needed a little. “I can’t believe how quickly my house sold.” She told Rowan she thought she’d gotten a good deal on it too. “Yes, I did. Now I have to figure out what I’m going to do when I get back. Taking a leave from the station house wasn’t my idea, but now that I’m going with you, I think I might enjoy it.
Are you sure you don’t mind taking me with you?” “It’ll be just what we both need.” Not only had her sister sold her house, but she’d gotten someone to take over the running of the nursing home. “We neither one have ties to hold us back or that we have to rush back to. Roone and the others are going to come to see us when they can. This will be better than the cruise we were going to take.” “I still want to take that cruise with you.” Micky wanted that too, but now wasn’t so sure she’d be able to enjoy it. “Are you going to tell me what is going on, or are you going to make me guess? Tell me.” “I have cancer. It’s in my lungs, lymph nodes, as well as my breasts. It’s not that I’ve not had checks every year, but this is an aggressive form that is going to take my life. I don’t want to die, Rowan.” She said she didn’t want her to either and hugged her. “I wanted this to be so much fun for us. The two of us getting out and seeing things we might not have otherwise.” “You’re not going to die.” She nodded at her.
“No. You’re not. We’re going to make our first trip out to see the family that saved me. If they can put me back together the way they did, you won’t be a problem.” “I can’t ask them to do that. They saved you. That was more than enough.” Rowan told her she’d tell them, not ask, and that saving her without her bestie wasn’t good enough. “This is why I didn’t want to tell you. I knew you’d want that too.” “I can’t go on without you, Micky. You’re as much my twin as Roone is. I need you.” She said she needed her too. “Do they know? Any of them?” “Mark does. The doctor I usually used was out of town when I fell. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but Mark saw me in the emergency room and found out. Told me about it too.” She told her it would be all right. “No. This is all we’re going to do. Go on this trip, have some fun before I’m too weak to go on, then I’ll die peacefully in my sleep with you holding my hand.” Getting into the car, she hoped that would be the end of it. However, she should have known better. Rowan was not one to put off. The first hundred miles or so was her talking about how they were going to approach the family. To beg, if they needed to, for what they wanted them to do for them. By the time Rowan let it go, they were outside the city limits of the town the Prince family was from. At some point, Rowan had driven them right there.
Micky’s nap was the perfect time for her to get off the highway and to the city. She shouldn’t have told her. “Because they shared their blood with me, I’m betting I have some sort of beacon I can contact them with. What is it they do in those dirty books you read?” She told her they weren’t dirty, but romance. “Potato, potahto. Whatever. What do they do?” “They sort of mind reach out for them. I doubt that would work anyway. I mean, it’s only in books. Right?” Rowan turned and smiled at her. “You did it, didn’t you? Have you no shame?”
“Not where you’re concerned, no, I don’t. We’ve been invited for dinner. I’m talking to Bryant right now. He thinks it’s funny that we’re here. They were all just talking about me.” Misty said they should find a hotel. “Nope, we’re staying with them. They have plenty of room, and we’re going there.” The drive through town was slow going, but it was a nice little town. The more they got out of what could only be considered the downtown area, the houses got bigger and pricier. Rowan pulled into the drive of one of the biggest houses she’d ever seen. She asked her if this was right.
“You tell me. Is that him on the front porch?” Not only was it Bryant, but he was waving at them. The woman with him could only be Harper, the woman she’d spoken to briefly when she’d called to talk to her husband. “I’m assuming that’s a yes. Come on, dork. We’re going to have a lovely dinner with them, then we’re going to see about saving you for me. This might not work the way I want it to, but I’ve got my gun. We’ll just have to make them help you.” Before she could tell her she was insane, which she was sure Rowan was, she was in the car all alone. Getting out, she had a moment when she was dizzy and didn’t let go of the door just yet. When a tiger came to the car beside her, she wondered if this would be an easier way to die than the cancer she had. “Hello.” She smiled at the man who walked from the porch to her. “I’m Collier. Emmie is my daughter. Kylan is her husband. He wants me to talk to you. Can I do that for you? Also, you should know that this is Marcus.” “Is he planning on having me for dinner?
I’m ill. He should know that too.” Collier told her she had been ill. “I’m sorry. No one has touched me here. I can’t be cured.” “He said you were touched by your sister. Hugged, too, if he doesn’t miss his bet. Marcus said you were cured of the cancer the moment she held you in her arms. However, he is very happy you’ve come to visit them.” She said she didn’t understand. “Marcus said they explained to you about the magic they used on your sister. Also, telling you they didn’t know how it would work with her. She can apparently heal people with just a touch. Even the cut on your leg you did this morning while shaving is gone. He said you missed a spot on your ankle.” “Does he have any manners at all?” Collier laughed and said all of them did, usually. She looked at where she’d cut herself badly this morning and found that not only was it gone, but there wasn’t a scar. “I don’t understand this. We came here…Rowan has a gun.
She planned on using it on your family if they didn’t help me.” “Not that it matters, but since you’re healed, we don’t have to worry about that.” She asked him why it didn’t matter. “We’re all immortal, including you and your sister. Are you coming in for dinner? I’m starved.” When he walked away, she looked at the tiger. He was staring at her like her cat did, who she had left in the back of the car. Going to get it out of the cage, she warned the big tiger that she wasn’t too keen on bigger cats. As soon as he leapt from her hands, the cat was gone.
“Micky? Are you coming in or staying out there all day?” She looked at her sister, then at the tiger. “Come on. We’re all waiting on you?” “Something is going on here, isn’t it?” He nodded at her. “Do you suppose we’re going to be unhappy with whatever it is?” The cat shrugged like a human would. Then he took off for the side of the house. “I’ve entered The Twilight Zone. I just know it. I’m going to start hearing that scary music, then end up in some cornfield where I’ll never be heard from again.” Going into the house, she felt calmed. The aroma coming from the dining room had her following her nose. Whatever they were serving, she wanted some of it. Sitting down next to her sister, she started piling up her plate. The tiger, in the form of a man, came in and sat down too. This was just going to drive her over the edge. She knew it.