I had a brother?
Shalimar was aware that her chin was practically scraping the sofa cushions, but her brain was so locked up she couldn't think coherently enough to do anything about it. Her thoughts scattered like tenpins smashed into by a bowling ball, tumbling so chaotically that it barely registered when Olivia rose and brushed past her. She was still trying to wrap her mind around the shattering revelation.
I had a brother. Being an only child was all she had ever known; it never occurred to her that she might have had a sibling. At no time during her life had she ever felt the sense of absence that one reads about in such instances, like that of a missing twin or something. By the time she reached the age where she might have begun to wonder about such things, the changes sparked by her budding mutation commanded all her attention. She used to think sometimes about what it would be like to have a younger brother or sister, especially when she interacted with her friends' families, but that was as far as she got. Eventually she came to the conclusion that her parents probably thought they had enough on their hands dealing with their mutating daughter without doubling down with another child. Case closed.
But this was an older child, one she knew nothing about, lost to tragedy. Shalimar reached for her wine glass, and in her stunned state took a bigger gulp than she intended. The surge of alcohol blazed over her taste buds and bit sharply into the unsuspecting tissues of her mouth and throat, nearly choking her. She sputtered in reaction, her eyes watering. Opening her mouth, she breathed deeply in an effort to cool the burn. As she recovered, she found that the unexpected jolt did manage to jar some of the shock from her brain. Gradually, a sense of clarity began to seep in, bringing order to her muddled thoughts.
Some things from her childhood were beginning to make sense now. Most kids thought that their parents were overly strict, but it always seemed to Shalimar that hers … well, hovered more than most, that they tended to hold on so tightly that at times she felt positively smothered, wrapped up in cotton wool until she nearly screamed in frustration, nearly exploded with the need to break out of the gilded cage they kept her in. She had always assumed that her mutantcy was behind it; that they were afraid she would display her 'abnormality' to their friends and neighbors. That was certainly part of it – maybe a large part – but knowing what she did now; about their firstborn, her own early illness, and later their fears once her powers began to manifest, she could more readily understand why her parents held onto her as tightly as they did.
A stinging sensation in the pads of her fingers made Shalimar realize that she was gripping the fine stemware so firmly it was a wonder it didn't shatter in her hand. With an effort she eased up on her hold. The rich, full body of the expensive vintage was muted on her still-scorched tongue, but she barely noticed. Now that she could think again, scores of questions pelted into her brain.
Why didn't they tell me? That was the most immediate thought, but even as it leaped into her mind Shalimar knew the answer. The pain in her mother's face even after the passage of decades spoke more plainly than any words could have about the terrible anguish and grief they must have suffered. It was no wonder that neither one could bring themselves to broach the subject with their daughter, even if she had been old enough to understand. Her father wouldn't have, that's for sure. Men in his era didn't talk about things like that; they just sucked it up and went on. Olivia had always taken her cue from him, just like a lot of other women her age. That was the way they were brought up. Maybe if Shal hadn't run away she might eventually have been told, but like so many other 'what-ifs' in her life, there was no way she could ever know.
What would he have been like? What if he had gotten the same treatment, and mutated as she did? How different might her life have been if she had a feral older brother, someone who understood the changes she was going through, someone she could share things with, because he had gone through them as well? Or, given all the difficulty her parents had in dealing with a single mutant child, if he had survived, would she have even been born?
Shalimar lifted her wine glass again and brought it to her lips. To her surprise, no liquid flowed. Glancing down, she saw that it was empty, although she had no recollection of finishing off the last swallow. It was no wonder, really, considering her mind-blown state. She walked back to the kitchen where the Bordeaux stood on the counter, and filled her glass nearly to the brim. Her fingers lingered for a moment on the neck of the bottle, then she picked it up and carried it back with her.
The living room was still empty. Shalimar refilled Olivia's glass and set the bottle beside it on the coffee table, then sat down carefully, her own glass cradled in her hand. A mellowing warmth was gradually spreading outward from her belly, a soothing balm to her frazzled nerves. Olivia could probably use some of this right about now. Should she take the wine to the bedroom where she could hear her mother moving around? Shal considered the matter at length. Probably not, she decided. No doubt the older woman would prefer having a few moments of privacy to collect herself; Shal knew that was the way she herself would feel. In that, as with a number of other things, they were alike. Olivia would return when she was ready. The feral leaned back into the luxurious embrace of the burgundy sofa, sipping her Bordeaux in pensive silence.
Olivia had lost her first-born son to a terrible illness. What must that have been like for her? Never having conceived and carried a child of her own, experienced that special bond formed when a woman felt the small life growing inside her and then gave birth to that life, Shalimar couldn't even begin to fathom the terror, the gut-wrenching despair of going from doctor to doctor, of clinging to any desperate straw she could find, while watching her son waste away until finally death claimed him. Then when Shalimar came along and contracted the same sickness, the nightmare started all over again. Shalimar could easily understand what drove her mother to insist on taking her to Genomex.
To Adam, who cured her. He never told her, either. He must have known about her brother; he would have gotten an extensive medical history from her parents before designing the therapy that saved her life and gifted her with mutant powers. Adam had been in many respects her second father. Why then, when it became clear that she wanted nothing more to do with her parents, hadn't he told her? She pondered that, letting the possibilities swirl in her mind. Maybe he thought she already knew. Or barring that, he may have thought that it wasn't his place to tell her, and then there was the whole doctor-patient confidentiality thing. On the other hand, Adam was a man of many secrets, and he was supremely good at keeping them. Who could say what his reasoning might have been, or for that matter, what else he hadn't told her?
That line of thought was cut off when Olivia returned, carrying a shallow box with a gold-tinted lid. Her eyes were a little puffy, and she had acquired a fresh handkerchief, but she looked fairly composed. She sat down next to her daughter and removed the lid.
It was a small baby book nestled in worn scraps of white tissue paper. The pastel blue bow on the front was flattened and faded, and there were round, tear-sized spots staining the smudged satin cover. Shalimar's eyes misted. Something inside her clenched, and a fierce ache gripped her heart. She was about to meet the brother she never knew she had. The tissue paper crinkled as Olivia parted it and lifted the book from the box with trembling hands.
"I haven't looked at this in years," she confessed. Shalimar didn't need to ask why. She scrunched closer as Olivia opened the cover, her fingers light, even caressing, on the worn fabric, and spread it between them. Shalimar peered at name written in fancy black script.
"Garrett Nicholas Fox," she read in a hushed voice.
"He was named after your paternal grandfather," she said, "It was a tradition – the first-born son was named after the father's side, the first-born daughter after the mother's. The grandfather he was named for died in the war when Nicholas was very young; that's why you never knew him."
Shalimar looked at her mother, her eyebrows arched inquiringly.
"There's someone on your side of the family named Shalimar?"
Olivia's lips twitched in a faint smile.
"No, I broke tradition – but that's another story."
She turned the page to the first picture, a hospital photograph of a red-faced infant wrapped in a pale blue receiving blanket. The few wisps of hair crowning his head appeared to be light in color, but it was hard to tell for sure from the aged image. Shalimar touched it lightly, reverently.
"Tell me about him," she whispered, "Tell me about my brother. Everything you can remember."
Olivia's smile was soft, almost ethereal, and her eyes took on a misty, faraway look. She clasped her daughter's hand and squeezed gently.
"Garrett was four years older than you, and like you he inherited his father's temper…"
They sat there on the sofa for a long time, their two blond heads close together as they pored over the album and Olivia shared stories of the little one lost. With hugs and a few tears mother and daughter reconnected, and though there was sadness and grief for all the pain and wasted years, there was still a lightness blooming in Shalimar's heart that she never dreamed was possible only yesterday. After all these years, she had finally come home.
Brennan's head fell back against the headboard of his bed with a frustrated groan, laying the book of poetry he had been trying to read for the last half hour spread out across his thigh. Usually he could count on Walt Whitman to soothe his rambunctious spirit whenever it got restless, but tonight even that was proving useless. So had the vigorous workout an hour before, the subsequent shower, and even his favorite single-malt whiskey, a half-empty glass of which was sitting beside a freshly-opened bottle on the desktop beside him. None of the usual remedies were having any effect on his tangled state of mind. Knowing exactly what was bothering him was no consolation, either. In fact, it made his agitation worse because at the moment there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it.
There had been an ulterior motive in his mind when he lured her out onto the mountain yesterday. Sanctuary was huge, its common areas spacious and open to combat the naturally claustrophobic feeling of living a couple of hundred feet underground, but that also made it a highly visible place. With four people rattling around in it most of the time, privacy wasn't exactly an abundant commodity. The mountainside, however, particularly in the stand of woods where he set out his snare, was much more to his purpose, and in a number of ways.
It was time to take their relationship to the next level.
He had been thinking that for a while now; it seemed inevitable to him that they would become lovers at some point. The chemistry had been there from the start, but the fact that they were not only housemates but teammates, with their lives dependant upon split-second decisions in battle, made them hesitant to add the possibly messy complication of a more personal relationship between two admittedly volatile personalities. That didn't stop them from being drawn to each other; on the contrary, it was because their spirits were alike in many ways that they intuitively understood what made the other tick. The physical attraction continued to grow as well, and although both recognized it, neither one would come right out and admit it for fear of screwing up what they already had. Instead they tacitly circled around it with light-hearted flirting and double-entendre remarks, sparring and some horseplay, a sort of dancing-on-the-razor game that acknowledged the sparks between them but kept them just short of crossing the line. Lately, though, Brennan felt that the pull had been intensifying. They had been gravitating to each other more and more, both in work and in quieter moments around Sanctuary, and it seemed that when they were together there was a palpable feeling of electricity in the air, a sort of tingle that had nothing to do with his elemental powers and everything to do with the increasing magnetism between them.
He knew Shalimar felt it too. Her little touches on his arm, face or body had become more common and more lingering; she was comfortable with the casual drape of his arm around her shoulders or waist, and would unconsciously fit herself to him, or lean back into his embrace when he stood or sat behind her as the team discussed strategy. For his part it was becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the sweet feel of her body melting against his, or to keep his hands from straying to the lush curves they itched to explore. Still he vacillated, because he knew instinctively that once they started down that path, there would be no turning back, and he wasn't sure he was ready for everything that entailed. Now, though, with the threat from the Dominion growing and the future of Mutant X becoming more uncertain with each passing day, all the doubts and denial, at least on his side, faded into mist. He came to the realization that he didn't want to wait any longer.
He wanted her.
Brennan picked up the glass of whiskey and drained it, feeling the fiery bite of the liquor merge with the turmoil blazing in his mind. Wanted, hell! he snorted to himself derisively. That was far too tame a word for the gnawing hunger, the searing desire building inside him, to the point where the thought of making love to Shalimar, to experience the wildness of her passion and return it with his own, was stretching his self-control to the breaking point and playing havoc with his sleep. Something had to give, and soon.
But was she ready to take that step? He rather thought she was, or at least pretty close. It was his impression that, like him, she was only wavering because she didn't want to jeopardize what they already had. It was equally possible that she was in as much denial as he had been, or she could simply be waiting for him to make the first move.
It was time to find out, which was the other reason why he took such care in setting up his trap on the mountain. First of all, it was Shalimar's natural setting. All of her senses would be keyed up. Second and most importantly, dragging her out on the mountain when she was short on sleep would make her react impulsively, without thinking. Getting caught in his snare would make her angry, and when Shalimar got angry, she got physical. Brennan reasoned that from there it was only a short step to passion. All he had to do then was let nature take its course. To admit to the blatant truth, in typical male fashion he was using their little contest as a form of foreplay.
His plan had worked to perfection. Wrestling in the leaves like that, then feeling the warm weight of her lithe body stretched out on top of his, had him half aroused, and he knew without question that he wasn't the only one. When he gently removed the leaf from her golden hair, he saw the playful gleam in her eyes transform to something almost startled before her body recognized what was happening and the embers within leaped to the fore. Her cheeks flushed a becoming shade of pink, and he could almost hear the sizzle of sexual energy between them. He was bringing his hand back up to bury it in her silken curls, to draw her into his kiss, when Jesse – damn his lousy timing! - called over the comlink.
Stop it! Brennan shook his head in self-disgust. Ignoring the glass this time, he grabbed the whisky bottle by the neck, savagely unscrewed the cap, and took a hefty pull. Cut the macho crap and be honest. He wasn't a green kid with out-of-control hormones. Raging, yes, but this wasn't about lust. There was more to it – much more. Lust didn't even begin to describe the soul-deep sense of connection he had with her, as evidenced in the way they so often communicated without words, like yesterday when they came back in from the mountain. There was also the sense of contentment that permeated his being whenever he was with her. That Shalimar excited him in so many ways he already acknowledged, but the difference was that she excited his mind and heart as well as his body. She was like no other woman he had ever known; smart and fun, incredibly powerful and devastatingly sexy. She could go from kitten to tiger, or vice versa, in the space between heartbeats, something that never failed to intrigue and captivate him. He also admired her strength of character, her loyalty, and her incredible mental toughness. Even more, she had seen him in some of his weakest moments without turning a hair. In retrospect, the fact that he was okay with her seeing him in that state should have been the telltale clue.
Then yesterday Shal trusted him with her own vulnerability. Holding her like that while she cried sent his emotions churning in ways they never had before. He bled for her, felt possessive and protective and a host of things he couldn't identify even now. She hadn't been wrong when she said she'd done a number on him, although not in the way she thought. It was seeing the pain she was in that sent a white-hot iron stabbing through his gut. Her hot tears hadn't just dampened his shirt, they soaked straight through his skin and melted the last crumbling bricks in the wall of denial surrounding his heart. That was why he had such an odd look on his face when he approached her to get a fresh shirt. The blast of revelation that just exploded in his brain had been so blinding that it took his breath away. It was then that he finally admitted to himself what his subconscious had been whispering to him for weeks.
He was in love with her.
Some part of him dimly wondered what had taken him so long to realize what was happening. The signs were all there; the increased physical closeness, his worry over her forays into the night to satisfy her feral need to hunt, and the mounting battle to restrain his surging protective instincts. There was even the fact that he subconsciously compared all other women to her and found them wanting. Riley Morgan, the beautiful telepathic bounty hunter he worked with on a recent case, had nearly smacked him in the face with the truth when she said that she felt Shalimar's fingerprints on his heart. Riley had wanted him to run away with her, to help raise the child created from their DNA and that of two others. Brennan refused because he knew in every fiber of his being that he couldn't leave Shalimar. It should have been obvious to him then.
Shalimar was the One.
The realization had hit him like a ton of bricks, and had nearly been his undoing. He crossed his bedroom like a man in a trance. She stared at him like a deer frozen in the glare of headlights, but he could no more have stopped than he could have willed his pulse to cease its thundering. Leaning close, being able to drink in the very essence of her, abruptly slammed his senses into overdrive, setting them ablaze like a match touched to dry kindling. It had only been the confusion on her face and her recently-displayed vulnerability that enabled him to grab a tenuous stranglehold on his shredded self-control. What kind of slime would he have been to move on her when her mind and spirit were in such turmoil?
The inescapable fact, though, was that they were going to have to talk about this when she came back. Brennan wasn't good with conversations of that sort, but he also knew he couldn't pretend that things hadn't changed for him. Shal would see through him within a day – sooner if during this trip she was able to resolve the issues haunting her from her past. At the same time he didn't want push her until she had laid her demons to rest and could think about their future with a clear head. Not only could pressuring her before she was ready spook her into running in the opposite direction, but he also wanted to know that she was as sure about taking their relationship forward as he was. He had to do this carefully. There was too much at stake.
Brennan started to lift the whiskey bottle to his lips for another swig, but paused it midway before finally lowering it slowly back to his lap untasted. No. Enough booze. For one thing, it wasn't working. Besides, Shalimar might be calling soon, and it wouldn't do to be half bagged when she did. She would need his support. Very deliberately, he returned the cap to the bottle and set it back on the desktop beside the empty glass.
He picked up the slim volume of poetry, trying once more to settle his mind while he waited for the phone to ring. The selection he left off with did nothing for him; mere blurred words before his eyes, devoid of meaning. He turned the page and groaned aloud when he saw the next poem.
A Woman waits for me—she contains all, nothing is lacking.
Great. So much for trying to keep his mind occupied with innocuous things. Why hadn't he remembered that this one was next? He'd certainly read this book enough times to know. He closed the tome with a snap, unwilling to add fuel to the fire blazing through his bloodstream by reading further, but his mind traveled on unbidden, taunting him with the familiar passages.
I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters…
Brennan hurled the unoffending little volume across the room and fell back against the headboard once again, laying his arm across his eyes as he fought to dampen the lightning shooting through his loins spurred by the provocative text. An ice-cold shower would be much more to the point, but he didn't want to take a chance on missing the call he was sure was coming. Now more than ever, he wanted to be there for her. Tonight could well lay the groundwork for their future together. He would have to take it slow and get her used to the idea of being lovers first, but for him it had become crystal clear. He wanted Shalimar at his side and watching his back, in battle and at home, laughing and loving for however long Fate gave them, watching their children grow and weathering together whatever challenges came their way.
Together. Brennan felt a great surge of longing swell up within him. Facing her past like this was probably one of the hardest things she had ever done. He yearned to enfold her in his arms, to kiss away her tears, to soothe the wounds inflicted on her spirit. He wanted it for himself as well; holding her evoked in him such a sense of rightness, of completion that he had sought all his life. He had never felt as close to anyone else.
I am for you, and you are for me….
The phone warbled softly. One long arm reached out to snag it on the first ring. There were a few others who had this number, and there was no particular time set for her to call, or even definite that she would call, but Brennan knew beyond reason or question that it was Shalimar. The rush suddenly igniting his senses could be caused by no one else, and so there was a special tenderness in his voice when he answered the call.
Brennan tensed. Her voice sounded normal enough, all things considered, but he knew as surely as if he was standing in front of her that she had taken refuge behind the mask she wore at such times, the shield of the warrior that blocked things like pain and weakness from view. He recognized it immediately because it was very much like his own. She was tough, his little tigress, as tough as they come, which made her tears yesterday all the more precious to him because of the trust involved in letting them show. Nor could she emerge from behind it easily. There was a certain amount of pride involved. First he must ease the way with some innocuous small talk to soften the defensive posture. It was the warrior's way. He switched the phone to his other ear.
"I guess you got through airport screening okay – no altercations with the TSA or anything?" Jesse told him about that comment. It made a good opening.
"Barely." The wicked gleam in Shalimar's eye belied her innocent tone. "There was one agent who looked like he was going to single me out for some legalized groping, but for some reason he decided to back off. Rather quickly, too. I can't imagine why."
"'For some reason', huh?" Brennan gave a low chuckle. "Let me guess – you flashed those feral eyes of yours at him, didn't you?"
Amusement tugged at Shalimar's lips. She gave in to it briefly. "That might have been what did it," she admitted.
Brennan could well believe it. The first time he witnessed that phenomenon he was taken aback, too. Even now it still made him just a little bit wary because he knew too well what it portended. His technique was working, though; she was starting to unbend just a bit. He cast his mind around for something to continue with.
"Flight okay? No turbulence or delays?"
"Smooth enough, I suppose, although not what I'm used to."
He jumped on that. "Well, of course not," he said smugly, "You're used to flying with me." Brennan was, after all, the team's most accomplished pilot.
"I was actually referring to the plane. The Helix is faster and more comfortable. I wasn't crazy about being cooped up like that for so long."
"But that's all."
"Well, as to that …," Shalimar couldn't resist teasing him; in fact, she knew he expected it. It was part of the game they played. "If you like, I could check with the pilot, see if he could give you some pointers."
He snorted in mock outrage. "Yeah, right!"
The banter gave them both a slight lift, but then it faded like so much smoke. Silence stretched between them for a long moment. To Brennan it felt like she was a bottle with pressure building up inside. She needed him to pull the cork, and he sensed she was ready. He took a breath, bracing himself.
"How goes the homecoming?"
Shalimar hesitated before answering.
"It was a little tense at first, but we got past it." She paused for a second, and then the mask cracked. "You and Jesse were right -I am really glad I came, and there was so much more going on than I ever knew."
And just like that the words started. She spoke about her childhood and the night the police came, retelling the tale she told him in his bedroom, this time with her mother's point of view added. Then there was the psych ward and the lies that were told, and his heart broke with hers at all the pain and the wasted years. Probably it was all the wine she drank that loosened her tongue so, but she just couldn't seem to stop now. She talked for over an hour; her voice was starting to sound a little hoarse. Brennan just took it all in, interjecting what comfort he could, but beneath it all he could sense that she was leading up to something, something huge and terrible that pierced her to the core, eclipsing everything that had gone before. She fell silent, however, and it seemed to him that there was a catch in the rhythm of her breathing. He gave her a minute, and then probed gently.
"There's something else, isn't there?"
There was the sound of someone blowing their nose, but otherwise the line was quiet. Brennan's voice lowered to a coaxing whisper.
Shalimar swallowed hard. She drew in a deep breath, fighting for control, and her words came out in almost a croak.
"I had a brother."
Tears leaked silently as she told him about Garrett. This time she let them fall unrestrained, whereas before she tried hard to control them, not wanting to add to her mother's grief. It could also have been because she was tired and drained, or that she didn't have hide them because no one could actually see them streaming down her cheeks. Or maybe it was because it was Brennan. Her mind flashed back to his parting words at the airport. You don't ever have to be afraid or ashamed to show your emotions. Not with me. The story poured from her in a torrent of words at first, about his illness, her parents' desperate search for a cure they wouldn't find until she came along and contracted the same thing, about the stories her mother shared. There wasn't much to tell; his life had been so short, not even two years. She told him about the baby book Olivia saved, and how mother and daughter bonded all over again in the shared loss and what might have been.
"He looked like me, you know," she concluded almost as an afterthought, the flow of words dwindling as the emotional torrent finally ebbed, "Blond hair, brown eyes, the same nose – the works. Our baby pictures are nearly identical."
Calmer now, she sniffled quietly, trying to keep him from hearing it, and reached for a fresh tissue to blot her tears. He must have somehow borrowed her feral ears, though, because he heard it anyway.
"Shal…are you all right?"
There was so much ache for her in his voice that she couldn't help but smile just a little. She sighed.
"I'm getting there. Things are just a little close to the surface right now." She managed a self-deprecating little chuckle. "I almost wish I'd let you come with me…even though it would probably have cost you another shirt."
"I'm with you," he assured her, and there was an odd, husky note in his soft whisper she never heard before. "Close your eyes. Can't you feel it? Can't you feel me holding you right now?"
She did as she was told, and in that moment it almost seemed as if she could feel his arms around her, reaching out across the miles to enfold her in his warm and comforting embrace. He would be wearing one of his typical T-shirts; the thin cotton fabric covering the solid wall of his chest would be soft against her cheek, the strong, masculine scent of him filling her nostrils, just like yesterday when she came to his room and he held her. She hadn't wanted it to end. It felt so good, indescribably good…like it was where she belonged. She allowed herself to savor the feeling for a long moment before reality intruded. Get a grip, girl! she chided herself. He's just comforting you. Don't read more into it than what's there.
Shalimar took a deep breath, trying to tamp down the sudden stark loneliness that filled her, the yearning to lose herself once more in his arms. No matter how much she may want to, it wasn't fair of her to lay all that on him, to ask more than he was prepared to give, especially when she wasn't completely sure of what she wanted. She pulled another tissue from the box, wiped her eyes, and blew her nose once more. When she spoke again the mask was somewhat back in place, her tone one of studied nonchalance, betraying not a hint of the wistfulness surrounding her heart.
"So …anything going on there?"
Brennan closed his eyes. The change of subject didn't surprise him. He recognized it for what it was; her need to regroup after the emotional storm she had just gone through. Hell, just listening to it, he could use a little regrouping himself. He wished he was truly with her right now, holding her, comforting her, no matter how many shirts she drenched with her tears. The longing surged through him again, and it was all he could do to reply in normal tones.
"Nothing much. Jesse and Lexa went out to dinner, supposedly to discuss contingency plans regarding the Dominion."
Shalimar smiled. "'Supposedly'? You think it's something else?"
"I think so, yeah…at least on his part. Not so sure about hers. I don't know what happened, but he looks at her a little differently these days."
"I know, I've seen some of those looks, too. I just hope she doesn't hurt him. She's so …closed up. "
"And we know she's got a lot of baggage."
"We all have." Shalimar sighed. "On the other hand, maybe he'll be the one to help her unpack that baggage."
The line was quiet for a couple of minutes, each wrapped up in their own thoughts. Brennan couldn't help wondering if it was really Lexa's baggage that Shalimar was referring to. At least, that was the inference he wanted to draw. He could almost see his opening hanging in the air. Go for it, he urged himself. He gathered his courage and tried to sound casual.
"You know…that's not a bad idea."
"When you get home, maybe we can go out for a drink or something…just the two of us."
Shalimar smiled. A warm glow filled her heart despite her earlier cautioning words. Maybe, just maybe, there was something there after all. And maybe it was time she took a chance and found out.
"I'd like that."
[Author's note: The poem referenced is "A Woman Waits For Me" by Walt Whitman. The series established early that Brennan was a fan of that poet's works. I recommend that you Google it to get the full picture behind his agitation.}