"She's sick," Jason said. He was quiet for a second. "She's asleep. I'd rather not wake her."
I tried to remember why I was here and came up with nothing, just a blank. I started to roll over, I think to ask who it was, when I realized I was naked. I pulled the sheets up over my br**sts and turned over to see Jason.
He was laying on his side, his back to me, the sheet pulled down enough that I could see the top of his bu**ocks. What the f**k was I doing na**d in a bed with Jason? Where was Jean-Claude? Okay, probably in his coffin, or his bed. I never shared the bed when he was stone cold. But why hadn't I gone home?
"I don't think she's going to be well enough to come out today."
I tried to sit up and found that the world wasn't quite steady. Maybe sitting up wasn't such a good idea. I stayed on my back, sheet clutched to my chest, and had to try twice to say, "I'm awake." My mouth was incredibly dry.
Jason turned towards me. The movement pooled the sheet into his lap and left the backside of his body bare. He covered the receiver with his hand. "How do you feel?"
"How did I get here? Why am I here?" I asked in a voice so hoarse it barely sounded like me.
"Do you remember anything?"
I frowned, and that hurt. My throat hurt. I raised a hand and found a large bandage on the right side of my neck. There was a vampire bite under the bandages, I knew that, and with that knowledge, I remembered.
I remembered everything, and it wasn't just my mind that remembered it. My body convulsed against the bed, my spine bowing, hands clawing at the sheets, a moan tore from my throat, before my body stole all the breath from me, and I bucked against the bed, caught in a sensory memory. It wasn't as good as the original, but damn it was close.
I dug my fists into the sheets, balling the cloth up, trying to find something to hold on to. Jason was suddenly beside me, he grabbed my upper arms, tried to hold me still. "Anita, what's wrong?"
My hands came up, automatically, grabbing his forearms, holding on. My eyes rolled back into my head, my body convulsed, and my hands tore down his forearms. I felt my nails sink into his flesh, felt his skin give under me.
Jason cried out, somewhere between a scream and a moan.
I lay back against the bed, panting, eyes unable to focus. I held onto Jason's arms, because it was the only solid thing I had.
"Anita," he said, his voice, strained, "are you alright?"
I tried to say yes, but finally was reduced to nodding. He pried my fingers from his arms, gently, folding my hands across the sheet and my stomach. I felt the bed move as he moved. I realized my eyes were shut. I didn't remember shutting them.
"What the hell was that?" he asked.
I started to say, I didn't know, but I did know. I remembered Asher sitting at a long banquet table with his hair in golden ringlets, dressed in gold and crimson. The wife of our host crushed her wine glass in her gloved hand, her mouth half-parted, her breath making the white mounds of her br**sts rise and fall. A small sound escaped her, and when she could speak, she asked for her maid and to be helped to her room, for she was ill. She wasn't ill. Asher had seduced her the night before, on Belle's orders. He had complained to Jean-Claude that the woman simply lay there, eyes rolled back in her head, true, but with almost no other reaction. It had been most disappointing.
She'd experienced a flashback of the orgasm the night before at the dinner table, but she was a quiet sex partner, which meant that her flashbacks could be explained away in public. Sort of.
I lay there staring up at Jason, seeing him now instead of candlelit rooms long deserted and people long gone to dust. I found my voice, and it was more hoarse than before, as if the screaming had taken the rest of my voice.
"It was a flashback." I coughed.
"To what?" he asked.
He hopped off the bed and knelt by a small refrigerator next to the bed. He got out a small bottle of some athletic juicer. "It helps replace the electrolytes better than water."
"I don't like this shit."
"Trust me, you'll feel better if you drink it than if you drink water. Water can make you nauseous."
Suddenly the neon blue drink looked a whole lot better. He opened it and handed it to me. Blood had filled the scratches on his forearms and was slowly seeping down his skin in red rivulets.
"Jesus, Jason, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to cut you up." I took a sip of the neon bright liquid. The taste was as bad as I remembered, but a few small sips, and I did feel a little better. When I talked, my voice didn't sound like I'd been in the desert for a month.
He held his arms up. "It's okay, though normally when I get this cut up it's because I did a wonderful job entertaining a friend." He smiled.
I shook my head, and I wasn't dizzy this time. Good.
"You said this was a flashback, a flashback to what?" he asked.
"To what happened with Jean-Claude and Asher."
He raised eyebrows at me. "You mean that was a flashback to what, the orgasm?"
I felt heat creep up my face. "Something like that," I muttered.
He laughed. "You're joking."
"I don't think so." I drank some more of the vile drink, and avoided looking at him.
"I've served as refreshment for Jean-Claude for years and I've never had any reaction like that."
"It's something Asher can do."
"What?" he asked.
"You're bleeding all over the place," I said.
"I'll doctor myself in a minute. First I want you to finish this explanation."
"You know, Asher's bite can be . . ."
"Orgasmic," he finished for me.
"Yeah," I said.
"I've experienced the mild version of it," Jason said. "So have you once in Tennessee when Asher was dying. He rolled your mind. If I remember right, you didn't like it much."
"It wasn't that I didn't like it, Jason, it was that I liked it maybe too much, so yeah, it scared me."
"Jean-Claude said that Asher always holds back unless he can keep the person, whatever that means."
I nodded, took a drink, nodded again. "I think, no, I know that Asher didn't hold back last night."
"How do you know?" he asked.
"I've got some of Jean-Claude's memories. I'm reacting like a woman that Belle had Asher seduce once."
"Acting how?" he asked, "Slicing people up?"
"I said I was sorry."
He sat down on the edge of the bed, one knee tucked up, the other down, so that he was pretty much flaunting himself at me. Generally I don't have trouble making eye contact with a man, but it was sort of eye catching.
"I'm just teasing, Anita." He seemed totally unaware of his nudity, like most of the shape-shifters I knew.
I handed him an edge of sheet. "Please cover up a little."
He grinned. "Why, we slept for," he glanced at the bedside clock, "four hours na**d together. Why should I dress now?"
I frowned at him, and suddenly it was easy to have eye contact. It usually is when I glare.
"How are you acting like this other woman?" he asked.
"Echoes, flashbacks to the pleasure that happened when Asher took blood."
"Is that going to keep happening?" he asked.
I blushed again. "Off and on, f**k."
"What?" he asked.
"The woman I'm remembering was quiet in bed, she didn't jump around a lot, not according to Asher."
"She could hide it better than I can."
He laughed out loud. "Are you telling me that all this jumping around is normal for you?"
I glared at him. "You should know, you've seen me in bed once, you helped bring me, remember." I was blushing so hard my head was beginning to hurt.
His smile faded. It had taken me months to be comfortable around Jason after that. "The ardeurwas riding all of us," he said, "we were all a little jumpier than usual."
I shook my head, not looking at him, tucking my knees and the sheet to my chest. "Except for wanting to tear out your throat, that was about normal for me."
He coughed, laughed, and finally said, "No way."
I kept my eyes firmly on the sheets. "Fine, make fun."
He took the bottle from me. "I need a drink."
I hugged my knees to my chest, huddling in the sheet. "You are so not funny."