The local police had removed the robber’s hoods. They were all women in their early twenties. Andrews stood looking at them for a long time. When he found Ep!phanee standing next to him, he realized that he had almost forgotten she was there.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
“Yes. I don’t think they even shot in our direction, did they?”
The police took both their statements and then released them. They climbed back in the car and the driver took them to the Royal Continental. Neither of them had much to say along the way. Once at the hotel, Andrews met briefly with Wright to fill her in and then he went to his room to begin filling out the inevitable paperwork.
When the Science Police officer opened the door to his assigned room, he decided that a major mistake had been made. Instead of the simple room that he had been assigned in the other hotels, and which had suited him just fine, he found a spacious suite. He stood at the entrance of a large central room with features of both a living room and dining room. A roaring fire was already burning in the gas fireplace next to a fully stocked bar. He realized for the first time that he was shivering, having been out in the pouring rain for most of the evening and not having had the chance to dry off.
He walked to the fireplace and held out his hands to warm them. He stayed in that position until the front of his legs became unbearably hot, and then he turned around and warmed his back. Just as his back was becoming too warm and his front was feeling once again cold, Ep!phanee walked in from the bedroom. She wore nothing but a gauzy nightie through which her tattoos were clearly visible.
“I don’t think I’m really in the mood,” he said.
“In the mood for what? Don’t worry. I know just what you need and I’m going to take care of you.”
“I didn’t realize that you were the ‘taking care’ type.”
“Of course I am. Look how well I take care of myself. First you need to take off those wet clothes. Portland isn’t like the Caribbean. If you get a little rain on you there, it dries off in minutes. Here, you’ll catch pneumonia.”
“It does kind of sink right into your bones,” he replied as he began peeling off his still damp clothing.
“You need to get into the hot shower,” she said, stepping behind the bar and filling two shot glasses from a whiskey bottle. “First have one of these.”
When Andrews came out of the bathroom, wrapped in a very fluffy complimentary robe, he found Piffy seated at the table with a pot of hot coffee. She had already poured him a cup. When he sipped it, he found that she had laced it with more whiskey.
“I think you need to get right to bed,” she said.
“I have paperwork to take care of.” He went to his luggage, which was sitting just inside the door and found his portfolio, bringing it back to the table. Halfway there he stopped and looked back at his luggage. “What am I doing in a room like this anyway?”
“I had you upgraded. If you’re going to be with us, you’re going to go first class all the way. It’s one of the perks.”
Andrews sat back down at the table and began filling out the seven forms necessary when an agent discharged his weapon, all of which required long written statements and all of which were sandwiched with carbon paper and other sheets so that they were produced in triplicate. When he finished the second, he stopped to warm up his coffee and noticed for the first time that Piffy was no longer in the room. He found her, once he was completely done, sprawled across one side of the bed, her bare, very white bottom staring at him from below her nightgown hem. The California king was large enough though that once he stripped off his robe and climbed in, he didn’t notice her presence the entire night. When he woke up, she was gone.
“Good morning.” Ruth walked into the bedroom carrying a tray. “Come on, sit up. I’ve bought you breakfast.”
“I could just get up.”
“No. You need breakfast in bed after the day you had yesterday. You need to be pampered a bit.” The tray contained two eggs, two strips of bacon, hash browns, a waffle with blueberries, milk, and a cup of coffee.
“I don’t know if I can eat all this.”
“Just eat what you want.” She pulled a chair away from the wall and sat down to watch him eat.
She was already dressed for the day, wearing hip-hugger bellbottoms and a halter-top, both of which resembled the Union Jack, white platform shoes, and a red headband holding back her dreadlocks.
“I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you too,” he replied
“I’ve hardly seen you in three days.”
“Well, we’re together now. Do I get to spend the day with you?”
“Actually, we’re supposed to meet later this morning and work out the schedule, but Piffy thought you needed somebody to pamper you this morning.”
“And you thought you would be the one to do it?”
“I jumped at the chance.”
“I can take care of myself. I’m a big boy.”
“You’re telling me,” she said with a sly look. “Now don’t dawdle. Eat your breakfast.”
Andrews finished, though he had only a bite of his waffle, before even thinking to look at the clock.
“Good grief, it’s after nine.”