He gave a small smile. "A room to use for my lovers, yes."
Then I realized something. "You mean like bring strangers here. People you've just picked up, and have them like sleep over, be at the breakfast table in the morning?"
"Yes," he said, and I understood the look on his face now; it was a challenge. He knew I wouldn't like the thought of strangers coming into the house, much less facing a strange woman that he'd simply brought home to f**k, first thing in the morning.
I had a tiny spurt of anger, and that helped me think. Helped push back that need to touch him that had nothing to do with the ardeur, and everything to do with power. "I know you had a room at the Circus. Maybe we could arrange something with Jean-Claude, so you could take lovers back there."
"My home is here, with you. You are my master now."
I cringed a little at the master part. "I know that, Damian."
"Do you?" He pushed away from the island and came to stand just in front of me. This close the power shivered between us. It made him close his eyes, and when he opened them, they were still drowning emerald pools. "If you are my master, then touch me."
My pulse was jumping in my throat like a trapped thing. I didn't want to touch him, because I wanted to touch him so badly. In a way, this was part of the attraction between Jean-Claude and me, as well. What I'd taken for lust and new love was also partly vampire trickery. A trick to bind the servant to the master, and the master to the servant, so that both served the other willingly, joyfully. It had bothered me when I first realized that part of what I felt for Jean-Claude was somehow tainted with vampire mind games, though it wasn't on purpose from Jean-Claude's point of view. He couldn't help how it worked on me any more than I could help how it worked on Damian.
He was standing so close I had to crane my neck backward to see his face clearly. "I want to touch you, Damian, but you're acting awfully funny tonight."
"Funny," he said. He moved in so close that the edges of his coat, the poofy satin of his pants brushed the thick cloth of my tuxedo pants. "Funny, I don't feel funny, Anita." He leaned his face close to mine, and whispered his next words, "I feel half-crazed. All those women touching me, rubbing themselves against me, pressing their warm," he leaned in so that his hair brushed my cheek, "soft," his breath felt hot against my skin, "wet," his lips touched my cheek, and I shuddered, "bodies, against me."
My breath shook on its way out, and my pulse was suddenly loud in my ears. It was hard to concentrate on anything but the feel of his lips against my cheek, though all his lips were doing was resting lightly against my skin. I swallowed hard enough that it hurt, and said, "You could have gone with any one of them."
He laid his cheek against mine, but it meant he had to bend over more, which moved his body farther from mine. Compromise. "And could I trust that their windows were proof against sunlight?" He stood up and put a hand on either side of the cabinet behind me, so that I was trapped between his arms. "Could I trust that they would not harm me, once the sun rose and I lay helpless?"
I tried to think of something to say, something helpful, something that would help me to think about something other than how much I wanted to touch him. When in doubt be bitchy. "I'm getting a crick in my neck with you standing this close." My voice was only a little breathy when I said it. Good.
Damian put his hands around my waist, and just the solid feel of his hands around me stopped whatever else I meant to say. It stopped him for a moment, too. Made him bend his head down, eyes closed, as if he were trying to concentrate, or clear his mind. Then he lifted me, suddenly, and sat me on the edge of the counter. It caught me off guard, and he had put his h*ps between my knees before I could react. We weren't pressed together, except for his hands on my waist, but we were one step away from it.
"There," he said, voice hoarse, "now you can see me better."
He was right, but it hadn't been what I meant him to do. I wanted breathing space, and instead my hands were free, and he was a hard thought away. My hands came to rest on his arms, and even through the heavy material of his coat I could feel the solidness of him. It was as if my hands had a mind of their own. I traced up the line of his arms, found his shoulders, and ended with my hands on the broadness of those shoulders, with his hair tickling along the back of my hands. There was something about my hands on his shoulders, or the silk of his hair on my skin that made me bend toward him. I wanted a kiss. Simple as that. It seemed wrong to be this near and not touch him.
He bowed his head toward mine. His eyes were like deep green pools, deep enough to drown in. He whispered, "You have but to tell me stop, and I will stop."
I didn't say stop. I slid my hands to the smooth pale line of his neck, and the moment I touched his bare skin with mine, I was calmer. I could think again. That was his gift to me, as my servant. He helped me be calmer, more in control. When I was touching him, it was almost impossible for me to lose my temper. He lowered my blood pressure, helped me think.
I cupped his face between my hands, because I wanted to touch him, but what I gained from his centuries of controlling his own emotions, was that when he put his lips against mine, I was not lost. Not overwhelmed unless I wanted to be overwhelmed. It wasn't that I felt nothing, because it wasn't possible to be enfolded in Damian's arms, pressed against his chest, have his lips caressing mine, and be unmoved. You'd have had to be made of stone not to melt into that embrace, just a little. But, as I'd gained calmness from him, he had begun to gain back the passion that he'd lost over the centuries. A passion not just for sex, but any strong emotion, because the master that made him tolerated no strong emotion, save fear. She'd beat everything else out of him over more centuries than most vampires ever survived.
He drew back enough to see my face. "You're calm. Why are you calm? I feel crazed, and you give me peaceful eyes!" He grabbed my upper arms, and dug his fingers in until it hurt, and I still felt calm. "It is cruel fate that makes you calmer and calmer the more we touch, and drives me more and more wild." He gave me a small shake, his face raw with emotion. "I am being punished, and I have done nothing wrong."
"It's not punishment, Damian," and even my voice was low and calm.
"Jean-Claude says that if you wished, you could gain calm only when you needed it. That you could touch me and enjoy touching me, but not be trapped behind this mask." His fingers were digging in so hard, I was bruising.
"You're hurting me, Damian." My voice was still calm, but there was an edge of heat to it, an edge of anger.
"At least you feel something when I touch you."
"Let go of my arms, Damian." And just like that, he released me, let me go as if my arms had grown hot to the touch, because he could not disobey a direct order from me. Whatever that order might be.
"Take a step back, Damian, give me some room." I was angry now, even with the rest of his body touching me. When he did what I told him and was no longer touching me at all, the anger filled me up and spilled over my skin like heat. God, it felt good. I was used to being angry. I liked it. Not the most positive thing to say, but still true.
I started to rub my arms where he'd squeezed, then stopped. I didn't like letting anyone know how much they'd hurt me.
"I didn't mean to hurt you," he said, and he was holding his own arms. I thought for a moment he was feeling my pain, then realized he was hugging himself to keep from touching me.
"No, you just want to f**k me."
"That's not fair," he said.
He was right, it wasn't fair, but I didn't care. Without him touching me, I could be as unfair as I wanted to be. I wrapped my anger around myself. I fed it with every petty impulse I'd fought for days. I should have remembered that one control is much like another. That if you throw away one kind of control, it makes other kinds harder to hold on to.
I unleashed my anger like you'd unleash a rabid dog. It roared through me, and I remembered a time when my rage had been the only warmth I allowed in my life. When my anger had been my solace and my shield. "Get out, Damian, just go to bed."
"Don't do this, Anita, please." He held his hand out to me, would have touched me, but I moved back, just out of reach.
And with that he couldn't help himself. I'd given him a direct order. He had to obey.