"We" will be ready, he'd said. Didn't I have enough "wes" in my life? I went for the shower and left them debating on whether the bed would hold, or whether it would be safer to simply remove the frame entirely. It wasn't until I closed the door behind me that I thought to wonder why we needed the bed. Jean-Claude could feed on Richard kneeling on the floor, couldn't he? If this was my first chance to touch both men at the same time in months, then I preferred not to be covered in drying goop. But once I was clean, we could still all do it on the floor. We didn't need the bed.
I thought about going back out and telling them that, but didn't. No matter what else, they were both still men, and men feel better when they have something to do. They could straighten the bed and sheets and get everything all neat and tidy. It would keep them from having any more of those awkward silences. Or, that was the hope.
When I stepped out of the shower, my black robe was hanging on the back of the door. How had I not seen that, or heard it? If Jean-Claude could do that while I was in the shower, and me have no hint, then I was shielding too tight. In shielding this hard, I was losing some of my awareness of my surroundings. Not good.
I dried off, wrapped a towel around my hair, and put the robe on. I'd have given a great deal for clean underwear, but hell, if I tied the sash tight and the little string tighter, the robe didn't gap. I checked that nothing showed in the mirror but a little upper chest, very proper. I'd washed away all the makeup. I looked pale and clean, and, with my hair up in a pale blue towel, I looked sort of too pale, almost sickly. I started to take the towel down, because I knew I looked good in the robe with my hair down, wet, or not. But I resisted the urge. First, my hair was too wet, and silk doesn't like being wet. Second, I had only one boyfriend in the other room, not two. I wasn't trying to look my best, just help Richard not have a fit about letting Jean-Claude touch him.
I looked at my face, my eyes so dark, and wondered if I could admit, even to myself, that I still cared that Richard thought I was attractive. Yeah, to myself, I could say it, but I left the towel on.
They were arguing about candles when I came out. Jean-Claude had had some brought in for the bedside tables, and Richard was saying, "We don't need candles, Jean-Claude. You're just feeding. That's it."
"I vote with Richard. We don't need candles."
"The two of you are not romantics."
"This isn't about romance, it's about food," I said.
Richard motioned to me. "See, Anita agrees with me."
"Of course, she does, mon ami." Jean-Claude didn't sound too put out, he still had that cat-who-ate-the-cream sound to his voice.
The mattress and box springs sat on the floor, covered in new, bloodred sheets. Even the pillowcases had been changed, so that the bed shimmered scarlet in the subdued light. The bed frame being gone probably explained why Richard had removed his jean jacket and was just in an olive green T-shirt.
"I had not realized how dark Jason's room is," Jean-Claude was saying. "I have no extra places to put lamps, but we could have more light with candles. I would prefer a romantic reason, but in truth, it is simple practicality. I would like more light."
"You're a vampire," Richard said, "you see in the dark better than I do."
"True, but if you were allowed to touch someone who rarely allows you to touch them in any intimate fashion, would you not wish light to see what you are doing?" He gave Richard a look, then his eyes slid past him to me. It was a quick look, but Richard followed it, and suddenly he didn't seem to know what to do with his face, so he turned it back toward the other man.
"Have I missed something here?" I asked, "or am I about to miss something?"
"You miss very little, ma petite."
"Candles are fine," Richard said, still not looking at me.
I was shaking my head, but I felt a small touch against my skin. I knew that touch. I dropped the tiniest edge of my shields. Jean-Claude's voice blew through me like a caressing wind. "Does it mean nothing to you, ma petite, that the mere sight of you in your robe has changed Richard's mind?"
I shook my head and tried to answer back as silently as he did. I still wasn't great at it. What I tried to think back was, "Me in this robe with this towel, is not worth him changing his mind."
"You still do not value yourself, as we value you, ma petite."
There was that "we" again. I started to open my mouth, to add something out loud, when a warm rush of energy danced through my body. It stopped me in midstep. "Talking in someone's head, when the other person isn't allowed into the conversation is rude," Richard said. "It's like whispering and pointing."
I couldn't argue it, but wanted to. "Trust me, Richard, it's not worth repeating."
"I'd like a chance to be the judge of that," he said.
I sighed, for what felt like the thousandth time today. What had I been thinking? I should have told Jean-Claude that we didn't need the bed, that Richard could kneel down and he could just feed. Voilà, and we'd be done with it.
Richard took off his T-shirt. "It's too pale, if you get blood on it, it looks like blood." He explained it out loud, and it made sense, but I was glad he wasn't looking at me when he pulled the shirt off, because seeing him shirtless had its usual effect. I'd said before that the day I could walk into a room and not have my body react to Richard, I knew it was over between us. But hormones are traitorous little bastards. They don't care how broken your heart is, only that there's an attractive man in the room. Shit.
Jean-Claude was moving from candle to candle with one of those long battery-operated lighters. I could never get them to light. He moved effortlessly, from candle to candle, the other hand holding the draping sleeve of his robe back out of reach of the flame.
Richard sat down on the corner of the bed. His blue jeans and the solid line of his black belt looked fine against the red sheets. His tanned upper body looked better, and as if he'd heard me think it, he lay back against the sheets, not flat, but propped on his elbows, so that the shimmering scarlet framed his muscular upper body. There were tiny folds in his stomach, like there are on real people, unless they have washboard abs, and Richard had better things to do with his time than do that many sit-ups. His stomach was flat and perfect, but perfect doesn't mean perfectly flat. Lines are flat, people had curves and bumps and places to explore.
Richard turned his head and looked at me. His face wasn't neutral anymore. His dark eyes held heat, and it wasn't his beast, or at least not just that. It was a look I'd seen before, a look that said he knew exactly the effect he had on me, and enjoyed it. Of late, that look had been to tell me, I know you think I'm gorgeous, and you don't get to touch this anymore. Now, I wasn't sure what the look meant, but I didn't like it.
Jean-Claude moved to the other side of the bed, his tall, black-robed figure breaking Richard's and my stare. When Jean-Claude cleared the way, though, Richard had pulled himself farther onto the bed, so that his legs were no longer touching the floor. So that all six feet one of him was on the bed, framed by sheets the color of fresh blood, and the flickering light of candles.
My mouth was dry. Not good. "I've changed my mind," I said. "You guys don't need me, not really." My voice sounded breathy.
Jean-Claude turned from lighting the last candle. He smoothed the sleeves of his robe down around his long-fingered hands, and stood looking at me. His eyes glittered like dark sapphires, catching the flickering light in a way that human eyes just didn't. "Ah, but we do, ma petite. We most certainly do. You are the bridge between us. You are the third of our power. Does that sound like someone we do not really need?"
"I don't mean like forever, just not now, not here. I mean, you can feed without me here. You can..." I was having trouble concentrating.
Richard rolled over onto his stomach, and he did a little head movement that showed me that his hair had grown out just enough to fall a little forward around his face. Not long, but thicker than I'd thought. The candlelight didn't dance on his jeans, but Richard's body in tight jeans didn't need anything else, it was sort of self-explanatory.
"I'm going now. I'm leaving now. Yep, that's what I'm doing." I was babbling, and I couldn't stop it. But I did start for the door, so many points for me that I can't count that high.
Jean-Claude called, "Ma petite, do not go, please."