Chapter Thirty – Debt

"Look Carrot Cake," Mr. Big rasped. "Nicky and I have an accord," his beady eyes grew hard. "And it's got nothing to do with you."

Judy straightened, biting back a wince as Raymond's claws curled down in warning. "Maybe Nicky's ready for deals that spread his business' good name," she lifted her chin. "Ones that show the kind of mammal he really is."

"Oh?" Mr. Big scowled, obscuring his eyes with his brows once more. "What kinds of deals are those? You a rival looking to move in on my turf?"

Judy scoffed. "Never," she peeked at the fox who had gone rigid beside her. "I just mean he might be ready to help others – like city newcomers with antiquated, country ideas," she gave a small smile before letting her expression harden. "Instead of taking advantage like you."

Nick resolutely avoided her gaze, staring at the floor instead. Though her words warmed his stomach, he desperately wished she'd keep quiet. This dance was dangerous.

Mr. Big pushed off the arms of his chair, getting to his feet. "He's got bigger obligations than his reputation," the squeak was gone from his voice, now low with threat. "A family you don't know about. A mother who depends on his success to keep up with house payments. He knows what he's doing."

Judy reared as Raymond snarled above her. "So that's how you do it? You threaten the safety of those he cares about to keep his garage in your employ?!" She shook with sudden fury. "You should be ashamed!" She crouched low, ducking down and escaping her captor's grip, rushing towards the desk. She missed the surprise on the faces behind her, glaring down at the shrew and stopping at the desk's lip seething. The rabbit made no move to grab him – an action which probably saved her life – and crossed her arms in a futile attempt to hold back her wrath.

Mr. Big waved off the giant polar bear lumbering into action, advancing with claws outstretched, palming the arm ends of his chair. "Ashamed?"

Judy nodded, ignoring the swish of air behind her as Nick shook his head vigorously in futile council. "Yes," she palmed the desk's edge. "Whatever debt he owed you…," she gauged him for a moment. "It's been repaid."