"We have some ex-military, special forces, things like that. I'll ask around."
I nodded. "Good." And I'd call Edward, see if he knew Heinrick. I started walking down the steps again. Bobby Lee fell in beside me, though since he was six feet and I so wasn't, it was probably an awkward stride for him. He didn't complain, and I didn't offer to speed up. I wasn't exactly looking forward to seeing Jean-Claude or Asher again. I still didn't know what to say.
We were within sight of the big heavy door that led into the underground areas. It was partially ajar, waiting for us. "By the way, Jean-Claude and Asher request your presence in Jean-Claude's room."
I sighed, and my unhappiness must have shown on my face, because he touched my arm. "Don't look so glum, honey, they said something about owing you an apology."
My eyebrows went up at that. An apology, them owing me. I liked the sound of that. I liked the sound of that a lot.
It wasn't the apology I was expecting, but under the circumstances, any apology was better than none. Especially if I wasn't having to give it. Of course, it took them nearly five minutes to get me to hear the apology, because once I got a good look at the two of them in their banquet finery, I was rendered speechless, deaf, and damn near blind to anything else.
I don't think it was magic or vampire trickery. They just looked fine.Asher wore a jacket of pale gold with darker gold embroidery, and an edge of true metallic gold thread shot through the embroidery itself. There was a touch more gold at collar, lapels, wide cuffs. Just enough extra sparkle to mingle with the gold of his hair as it cascaded over his shoulders and add emphasis to the gestures of his hands. His shirt was a foam of white frills at chest and wrist, like a tamed cloud. I knew from rifling through Jean-Claude's closet that the shirt wasn't nearly as soft as it appeared. The pants were the same pale gold as the jacket with a line of embroidery down either side of his leg. Boots the color of oyster shells graced his legs, their tops folded down just above the knees, tied with pale brown leather belts and small gold buckles, which could be glimpsed as he moved.
I noticed Asher first, maybe because of his powers, or maybe because he was all shiny and gold and eye-catching. It was like noticing the sun. You couldn't help but see it, to turn to face the heat of it, to bask in the glory of it. But often when the sun is high in the sky, the moon is up there, too. A dim memory of what she will be in the night, but there, nonetheless, dim and misty, hard and white. At night, there is only the moon, the sun is nowhere to be seen. There are no distractions when the moon rules the night sky.
Jean-Claude's coat was a black velvet so soft and fine that it shown like fur. It was opera length, flowing down to his ankles. There was embroidery on the lapels and wide cuffs, a deep royal blue. The embroidery on the coat matched that on the black vest, but the shirt that showed in all that black and royal was the same shade of blue of the silk sheets on the bed. Cerulean blue, a color caught between the skies of day and night. It brought out the blue of his eyes so that they were like living jewels set amid the black of his hair, the near pure whiteness of his skin.
The silk was mounded into soft ruffles at his chest, and tucked into the vest. A gold and sapphire stickpin pierced the ruffles at his chest. The stone was almost as large as one of his blue eyes. Cuff links winked as he gestured, gold, with sapphires almost as large as the one on his chest. The sapphires were that cornflower blue, like a drop of Caribbean Sea water made solid.
His hair was a mass of black curls. It was almost as if he'd done less to it than normal, letting it tousle around his face and shoulders. The black of his hair blended into the black of his coat, so that the hair was like a living accessory.
For a moment I thought he was wearing leather pants, until I realized the black boots ran up the entire length of his leg. He waswearing black pants but they were barely visible. I got just a flash of the back of the boots when he moved. The entire length of the boot from ankle to ass was tied with a blue cord that matched the startling blue of his shirt.
I was caught between going yippy-skippy I get to play with them both, and running like hell. I managed to simply stand there in the middle of the room and not run, or fall at their feet like a groupie. Though that last part took more determination than I'd ever admit out loud.
"Ma petite,have you heard a word that we have said?"
I remembered that their mouths had been moving while I gazed at all that masculine splendor, but for the life of me I couldn't repeat a word of it. I blushed as I admitted, "Not really."
He looked exasperated, hands on hips, spreading the coat backwards, flashing more of the blue cord as he paced towards me. "It is as I feared, Asher. She is besotted with you. If we cannot," he made a waffling motion with his hands and I saw the sapphire ring for the first time, winking at me in the candlelight, "tone this effect down, she will be useless tonight."
"If I had dreamt that she could be so totally affected I would have held back."
Jean-Claude turned and faced Asher. I could see that there was blue embroidery on the back of the coat. It made a pattern or picture, but I couldn't figure it out through the spill of hair. "Would you, mon ami,would you truly have withheld such pleasure? Could you have resisted?"
"If I had known this, oui.I would not have weakened us with Musette and her people here, not for any pleasure."
I frowned and shook my head. "Hold it guys." They turned and looked at me. They both looked surprised, I think because I sounded so normal. "This can't be Asher's powers, not unless his fascination extends to Jean-Claude, because you both seem equally nifty. I feel like jumping up and down and saying yippee, I get to play with them both." I blinked and fought not to blush. "I'm sorry, did I just say that out loud?"
The two men exchanged glances, then Jean-Claude turned back to me, and Asher directed that pale blue gaze on me. "What are you saying, ma petite?I have never seen you stand so speechless and insensible before me."
I looked at the two of them and shook my head. "Fine, you need a reminder, I can do that." I walked past them to the full-length mirror that sat on the opposite side of the room. I motioned them both over. "Come on, come on, we don't have all night."
They finally drifted over to me, looking puzzled. I got a little distracted watching them glide towards me in all that silk and leather and sparkly stuff. But finally, I had them standing in front of the mirror, though they weren't looking at the mirror, they were looking at me, still puzzled.
I finally had to touch each of them lightly on the arm and maneuver them so that the golden cream of Asher's coat spilled against the black velvet of Jean-Claude's. So that black curls intermingled with golden waves. I pushed them together until the startling blue of Jean-Claude's shirt and the sapphire pin brought out the blue of both of their eyes.
"Look at yourselves, and tell me that any mere mortal isn't going to stand there and say wow, for a few minutes."
They looked into the mirror, they looked at each other, and finally Jean-Claude smiled. Asher didn't.
"If it were merely Asher's powers then, you are correct, ma petite,it would not extend to me." He turned to face me, still smiling. "But I have never seen you this besotted."
"You just haven't noticed."
He shook his head. "Non, ma petite,I would have noticed such a phenomenon before."
I shrugged. "Maybe I've never seen you both dressed to kill before. The double impact is a little overwhelming."
He moved away enough to turn in a graceful circle, arms out, showing off the outfit. "You think it is too much?"
I smiled, almost laughed. "No, not even close, but I'm allowed to stand dumbfounded in the presence of such beauty."
"Trespoetic, ma petite."
"Looking at the two of you, I only wish I was a poet, because I can't do you justice. You look amazing, wondrous, specfuckingtacular."
Asher walked to stand at the far end of the room beside the false fireplace. It was hard to see in the dimness, but tonight someone had put two tapered candles on the mantel piece, each encased in crystal, so they glimmered like jewels. Asher's hair sparkled in the uncertain light. He put one hand on the mantel, his head down to stare at the cold hearth, as if the new fire screen Jean-Claude had added was tresfascinating. The fire screen was a huge antique fan encased in glass. The colors were vibrant reds, greens, a brilliant spray of flowers and delicate lace. It was pretty, but not that pretty.