Nathaniel squeezed my hand, which made me look at him. "Wow, you! Admitting that you can't keep track of things before they blow up in your face. Yay, therapy!" He smiled at the end, but I didn't smile back.
I felt that spurt of anger inside me that was always there like a pilot light just waiting for the right spark, but I breathed through it. I counted and breathed and remembered that I was in love with Nathaniel and he was right.
His smile faded around the edges and he looked at me with those big, beautiful eyes of his, waiting for me to fall back into old patterns and start a fight that didn't need to happen, or do my famous pull away, or even runaway, from him, from the relationships, from everything. I forced myself to relax all the way down to the hand that was holding his and said, "Yeah, yay, therapy."
He gave me a smile that made me happy that I'd been smart instead of stupid, and that I was working through my issues rather than letting them blow my life up. He came to me then, leaning his forehead down so that he touched the top of my head. "I love you so much right now."
I grinned and moved so I was looking up at him. "Why, because I'm working on my issues?"
"Yes," he whispered and kissed me.
"They know we're out here," Nicky said.
I drew back from the kiss. "I figured they did."
Nathaniel started leading me across the carpet and toward the closed bathroom door. Nicky said, "You were really bothered by the extra guards. I thought you liked crowds."
"I like group sex, not crowds," Nathaniel said.
"So, are you feeling overwhelmed by this many people, too?" I asked.
"I don't mind people I'm sleeping or playing with, but most of the guards are just guards. I like an audience, but they aren't good for that."
"We're supposed to be protecting you, not watching the show," Nicky said.
Nathaniel paused with his hand on the door to the bathroom. "Can't you do both?"
"Not really and not well."
"The other guards stopped at the door. Are you still guarding us?" Nathaniel asked.
Nicky smiled. "No, I'm just going to say hi and do this." He drew me into his arms, all that muscle wrapping around me as Nathaniel let go of my hand. Everyone I dated was strong, but Nicky had a way of making me aware of it that was exciting and just the tiniest bit scary. I knew physical potential, and if it ever came down to a real fight, I couldn't win against the strength that pulled me in against his body. Lucky for me, I wanted to be in his arms. He kissed me and put a lot of body English into it, so that he finally picked me up, and my feet left the ground. I tried to wrap my legs around him, but the gun at his waist got in the way. He put one hand underneath my ass, so he held me in place and turned the awkward attempt to wrap my legs around him into something sexy. It was like a good dance partner turning your stumble into part of the dance.
He drew back from the kiss with me still held in his arms. "I've been wanting to do that all day." He set me back down with my legs so shaky that he and Nathaniel had to catch me. That made them both laugh that masculine chuckle that either is at your expense or is a compliment. I took it as the second, because they both knew better than to laugh at me, and we loved one another. Laughter edged with love is always good.
NICKY OPENED THE door and Nathaniel helped me through while my knees recovered from the kiss. We were all half laughing as we stepped onto the black carpet of the black-on-black bathroom with its black marble, double sinks, and silver fixtures, but what was waiting in the big bathtub at the end of the room stole the laughter and made my knees threaten to go weak again.
The bathtub was big enough for four large adults, so Jean-Claude and Micah didn't have to be next to each other, but they were. Micah's hair was so wet it was black, and slicked back so that the bones of his face were bare in a way that they weren't when all the deep brown of his curls framed him. His tanned skin looked even darker against the utter whiteness of Jean-Claude's chest. The vampire's hair was up in a loose man-bun that looked careless, but I'd been dating him and Nathaniel too long to believe the illusion. It was one of those hairdos that looked messy at first, but the longer you looked at it, the more artful it was, with curls trailing around the edge of his face, tracing the curve of his cheek, the line of his chin, so that his lips seemed framed by white skin and raven black hair. His curls were dry except for a few small ones low on his neck. He had an arm across Micah's shoulders, so the contrast between their skin colors was framed against the black marble of the tub edge and the mounded bubbles, which were only a little less white than the vampire's skin.
Micah blinked green-gold leopard eyes at us, trapped forever in his human face from too much time in animal form, so that he couldn't come completely back now. He wasn't wearing his new glasses, which helped his cat eyes see far away, and I wondered how well he could see us in the doorway.
Jean-Claude gestured with one pale long-fingered hand and my eyes followed the movement so that I was left staring at his face. It wasn't a face that had launched a thousand ships, but it might have launched a thousand seductions in old Europe. Even though Micah's face was finer boned, and he was just more delicately made overall, it was Jean-Claude's face that was the more femininely beautiful, more ambisexual. If I hadn't had their faces so close together, I would have thought it was Micah who would be closer to feminine, but some line or curve just made his face more male.
"I'm going to leave the two of you to stare at your shared boys," Nicky said.
It startled me, as if I'd forgotten he was standing with us for a moment. I felt instantly guilty. I started to try to protest, but he waved it away. "It's okay. This show was for you and Nathaniel, not me. I'm not anyone's lover but yours, and Jean-Claude doesn't need blood from me when he has the three of you."
"You do not have to go on my account, Nicky," Jean-Claude said, "for I will have to be getting dressed for work."
I must have pouted, because Jean-Claude laughed, that wonderful touchable laugh that could caress places in my body that no hand could ev
er reach. It made me shiver and clutch at Nathaniel, who clutched me back. That sensual laugh didn't just work on me.
"It's okay, Jean-Claude. I'll hit the weight room while I can."
"You would leave such bounty for the gym?"
Nicky grinned and shook his head. "If I were more into men, then the gym could go fuck itself, but I'm not, so I'll go and let the four of you have some alone time."
It seemed funny to say "alone time" with four people in a room, but Nicky left, closing the door softly behind him. Nathaniel and I were left standing at the door like we didn't know what to do next.
Nathaniel stripped off his shirt in one smooth motion and threw it to the floor. He started toward the tub, stripping off clothes as he went. Okay, maybe I didn't know what to do next.
NATHANIEL HAD KICKED off his shoes and was finishing wiggling out of his jeans by the time I started taking off my jacket and the guns hiding underneath it. There was so much less sexy spontaneity when you were carrying multiple weapons.
"Come join us, ma petite, mon chaton, before I have to leave to attend to much less pleasant duties," Jean-Claude said, reaching out toward me with one pale, muscled arm. He would never bulk the way Nicky did, or even as much as Nathaniel, because he was built like a long-distance runner, tall, lean, graceful lines that moved with strength, but nothing would make him be bulky.
Looking at Jean-Claude had made me miss some of Nathaniel's undressing, so that he was just suddenly nude moving up the three steps of the bathtub. I got completely distracted watching the back of his body from shoulders to legs as he climbed into the sudsy water.
"I can never decide if you look better coming or going," I said.
"I think, ma petite, the phrase you are searching for is dat ass."
Hearing him say the slang in his usually elegant voice made us all laugh. "Yes, that was what I was trying not to say out loud."
Nathaniel looked back over one shoulder at me, flexing his glutes so that his ass flexed like you would to make a biceps harder. It made me laugh again, an edge of almost nervousness to it. I wasn't sure there would ever come a point when I didn't have my moments of, Golly gee whiz, I can't believe I get to play with all these wonderful toys. Sex was a type of play and recreation for me. I'd worked through most of my issues about that, or maybe I'd just accepted that it was supposed to be this way, full of joy, playfulness, and shared humor.