Jason laughed, and strangely that masculine chuckle translated just fine through the wolf's throat. The sound made me look at him. He flashed fangs as he said, "Don't be afraid, Anita."
"Then let me go," I said, and my voice was nicely calm, barely a tremor. If they'd been human they wouldn't have been able to taste my speeding pulse, or smell my fear. But they weren't human.
Nathaniel collapsed his body on top of mine, and he was taller, broader, more muscled, or muscled in places he hadn't been before. It was like a different body pressed against mine, one I'd never touched. The fur was thinner on his chest, stomach, groin, but the skin was warmer, almost hot against my na**d body, as if in this form his blood ran hotter.
He licked my shoulder, and a sound very like a small squeal came out of my mouth. I closed my eyes and concentrated on my breathing, just my breathing. Not on the feel of his body, or of Jason's hands with their not-so-retractable claws tickling my wrists. I breathed, breathed while a tongue that was rougher than Nathaniel's licked in long, thick sweeps across my shoulders and upper back.
When I opened my eyes again, my pulse was normal, and I realized that Nathaniel was cleaning off the clear goop that he and Jason had gotten on me. He growled next to my ear, "We got you messy."
"Yeah," I said, and my voice was a whisper.
He settled his h*ps against my thighs and did a small, powerful movement, somewhere between a wiggle and a push. He was suddenly resting against my ass, and I could feel that he was different there, too. Bigger, it felt like, but I might just have been scared. Everything seems bigger when you feel threatened.
He made a sound by my face, sort of a snuff, not like he was sniffing me, but like it was a noise that I should have understood. "You're hungry. Hungry like we are. I can feel it."
I fought to keep my pulse nice and normal, my breathing even. I wasn't going to do anything to escalate this, not if I had a choice. "I'm not hungry," I said.
He leaned harder against me, sliding lower between my legs, not inside, but moving that way. The thought sped my pulse, I couldn't help it. He rubbed his furred cheek against the side of my face. "You need a shower."
"Okay," I said. At that point I'd have agreed to anything that would get me on my feet and out from under the two of them.
"We're not going to eat you, Anita," Jason said. "If that was really an option Jean-Claude wouldn't have trusted me with you, you should know that."
I raised my face and met those wolfish eyes. "Sorry, but you guys going all tooth and claw on me, makes me wonder."
"We won't hurt you," Jason said.
"Then let me go," I said, and my voice was even, normal, my pulse slowing down.
"Not yet," Nathaniel said, with his face still pressed against my face.
Jason looked at him. "Why not?" he asked, before I could.
"Because she still needs to feed the ardeur."
I wouldn't have thought that a wolf face could show that much incredulity, but Jason's did. "Anita doesn't do furry."
The leopardman on my back moved his h*ps another fraction of an inch down. He pushed against me, not inside, but knocking at that most intimate of doors. "You are empty inside, I can feel it. I couldn't feel it before."
Saying it once, was wishful thinking, twice, and I tried to look inside myself. Tried to see the ardeur without raising it. I needed some kind of metaphysical gas gauge, but all I could find was an emptiness in the center of me. A place where something should have been, and there was nothing.
"I feel it," I said.
"I don't feel tired, now, Anita. I feel new." He moved gently against me. "Say yes."
"Let me go, and maybe," I said.
"I like holding you down. I like us both holding you down," he growled against my skin.
"I thought you didn't like to be in charge," I said.
"I don't usually, but today I do. Today I love the feel of your body under mine. I love feeling you fight not to struggle, not to panic. I can taste your self-control on my tongue. I want to lick it away."
"Nathaniel," I said.
"Say yes, Anita, just say yes. Feed the ardeur, then you can shower, while we go looking for other things to eat."
"What other things?" I asked.
"There are supplies deeper in the underground," Jason said, "we've got too many wereanimals in here now not to be stocked up."
"Stocked up on what?" I asked.
He leaned in, hands still on my wrists. "Nothing human, nothing illegal, promise." He licked my face, a quick flick of the tongue, and then he laughed, and it wasn't masculine, it was just Jason making a joke. Jason who would make a joke on the way to hell, even if it meant extra time and a worse punishment. No matter what form he was in, he was still Jason.
That thought made a tension go out of my shoulders, out of my body, that I hadn't even realized was there. It was still Jason under all that fur and claws. It was still Nathaniel rubbing his cheek against me.
Once upon a time I'd begged Richard to show me his beast. But when he did it, I hadn't been able to deal. It took me a long time to realize that Richard had shown me his beast in the worst light possible, because part of him didn't want me to be able to accept the beast, because he couldn't. I'd run from him after seeing him eat Marcus. I'd run from him to Jean-Claude, because the vampire had seemed less the monster that night.
Was I still the same person who hadn't been able to deal? Was I still the person who could deal with the handsome prince, but not the beast? Was it beauty, more than love, that moved me?
Nathaniel pushed gently against me. "If you don't feed now, who will you feed from?"
"Graham really is just down the hall," Jason said. "He'll be in human form because Meng Die won't do him furry. She won't even sleep with him furry."
I didn't want Graham. Was it just the human form I was in love with? Was it some anthropomorphic idea that I loved? Shit. These were just not the kind of relationship questions that the magazines gave you answers to. Did Miss Manners have an answer for being freaked by your boyfriend's animal form? I doubted it.
Jason drew his claws delicately away from my wrists. "I'll get Graham and send him down."
"No," I said, and reached for his furred forearm. The fur was so soft, and his arm was so real. "No, I don't want Graham."
Jason gave me another of those looks, that said, you're joking. "You don't do furry, Anita."
"But I do Nathaniel, and I do you, on occasion."
He grinned, though it wasn't exactly the same coming from the wolf muzzle. "On occasion." He sank back down in front of me. "You want me to be your puppy tonight?"
"I was thinking more that we'd just f**k," I said.
His face was either more expressive than any wolfman I'd met, or it was still enough Jason that I could read his face. He was still under there, somewhere. I'd surprised him, not in a bad way, but I'd truly surprised him.
Nathaniel pushed against me, and he whispered against my cheek. "Is that a yes?"
"Yes," I said.
He made a sound that was half-growl, and half pure eagerness. He raised up just a little, and then plunged himself between my legs. I was screaming before he'd finished, and not in pain. He was bigger, thicker, more, and all those extra bits were plunging inside me.
He brought me with the size of his body, the rhythm of his hips, and the flash of white claws like small knives against the tenderest parts of my body. The thought of what those claws could do to me if they wanted to, brought me struggling under him. Everything that I'd fought not to do, I now let myself do. I struggled, I screamed, I fought, and he held me carefully, delicately, but with no doubt that he could have torn me to pieces if he'd wanted to. It was both the most delicate of lovemaking, and the most dangerous. Not because of what he did, but because of what he could have done.
He raised me to my knees, cradling me against his body with his arms, and I caressed my hands over those arms, those muscles, that fur, so soft, and so different from the wolf. I pet him, not like you'd pet a dog, but like you'd pet a lover. I felt his rhythm change, knew he was close, felt his body strain not to claw me to pieces. Felt the dainty press of the tip of each of those claws, as he held them against my flesh. I came watching the pinpoints of those blades begin to crease my skin, almost, almost cutting, almost, almost piercing, almost, almost killing. At the last moment, he retracted the claws and held me hard and fast against his body, with the fur and padding of those hands lost somewhere between leopard and man.