I pulled my hands away, shaking my head. Damian was molded against my back, but the moment I pulled away from Nathaniel, his eager hands slowed. "Shit," he whispered, and leaned his face against the top of my head.
Nathaniel's eyes went from shining with love, to something darker, older. He put his hands on either side of my face, cradling me. "Don't pull away," he said.
"I have to."
"If it's not sex, it will be blood, Anita, can't you feel it?" Damian asked.
I could feel something. It was as if this time it was I who put up the shields. But there was still something large and frightening on the other side. Something that I had put in process, but not on purpose, something that was hungry. It didn't care what it fed on, but it would, eventually, feed on something.
Damian's hands were still on my shoulders, but he'd leaned his body back enough so we no longer touched anywhere else. "Anita, please..."
I turned in Nathaniel's hands, so that I could glimpse Damian's face. "It's wrong, Damian."
"The sex, or who the sex is with?" he asked.
I took a breath to answer him, but Nathaniel's hands closed round my face. He turned me back to look at him, and I was suddenly almost painfully aware of the strength in his hands. A strength that could have crushed my face rather than cradled it. He was so submissive that he rarely reminded me of how very strong he was, how dangerous he could have been, if he'd been a different person.
I started to say, Let go of me, Nathaniel, but only got as far as, "Let go," before he kissed me. The feel of his lips on mine stopped my words, froze my mind. I couldn't think, couldn't think about anything but the velvet feel of his mouth on mine. Then something seemed to break inside of him, some barrier, and his tongue thrust into my mouth as deep and far as it could go. The sensation of him thrusting that much of himself that deeply into me tore my shields away, and since no one else was fighting, the ardeur roared back to life. It roared back to life on the edge of Nathaniel's lips, his hands, his need.
There was a confusion of ripping cloth, buttons snapping and raining down on us. Hands, hands everywhere, and the sound of clothing ripping. My body jerked with the force of my clothes being ripped away, and my hands were ripping at their clothes. It was as if every inch of my skin craved every inch of their skin. I needed to feel their nakedness glide over mine. My skin felt like a starved thing, as if I hadn't touched anyone in ages.
I knew whose skin hunger I was channeling. It wasn't just sex that Damian had missed. There are needs of the body that can be mistaken for sex, or lead to sex, but it isn't sex that they are about.
There was one leg left of my pants, pooled around my ankle. My vest flapped open, and the shirt was in shreds. It was Damian's hand from behind that grabbed a handful of my panties and pulled, ripping them off my body, leaving me nude from the waist down. I might have turned around to see how much clothing he still had on, but Nathaniel was in front of me. His shorts had been shredded. By me, I think. He knelt on the floor in front of me, naked. I almost never let Nathaniel be nude around me. It had been one of the reasons I'd been able to resist taking those last steps with him. Just keep your clothes on and nothing too bad will happen.
Now, he knelt in front of me, and all I could do was gaze up the line of his body. His face with those amazing eyes, that mouth, the line of his neck spilling into the wide, hard flesh of his shoulders, the chest that showed the weight lifting he'd been doing, the curve of his ribs under muscle leading my gaze to the flat plains of his stomach, the slight dimple of flesh that was his belly button, the rich swell of his hips, and finally the ripeness of him. I'd seen him totally nude and excited only once before. I didn't remember him being this wide, not quite this long; of course he hadn't been pressed this tight to his own stomach, as if the very ripeness of his flesh was almost too much to contain. He seemed thick and heavy with need, as if the lightest touch might make him spill that ripeness out and over me.
I started to reach for him, but Damian chose that moment to brush the head of his own ripeness against the back of my body. The movement made me writhe and lower the front of my body, raising myself upward to him like an offering, like something in heat. The thought helped me swim back up into control, at least a little. I'd never even seen Damian nude, and now he was about to plunge that nudeness into my body. It seemed wrong. I should see him first, shouldn't I? There was no logic to the argument. No logic left to anything, but it made me turn my head, made me look at him.
The blood red of his hair spilled over his shoulders so that it framed the unbelievable whiteness of his body. He was narrower of shoulder, of chest, and his waist seemed to go on forever, smooth and creamy, like something you should lick down, until you found the center of his belly button, and just under that, the length of him. He rode out from his body, so it was harder to judge length. He seemed carved of ivory and pearl, and where the blood ran close to the surface he blushed pink like the shine inside a seashell, delicate and shining. I realized in that moment that he had been paler in life than any vampire I'd ever seen nude, and his body was almost ghostlike in its coloring, as if somehow he wouldn't be real.
Nathaniel's face brushed mine, brought my attention back to him. He had knelt down so low that his face, like mine, was almost touching the floor. He pressed his cheek against mine and whispered, "Please, please, please," over and over, and between each please he kissed me, a light touch of lips; please, kiss, please, kiss. With his kisses and his voice warm against my face, he brought us both up to our knees again. I'd been so aware of his face, his mouth, his eyes, that I hadn't thought what kneeling this close would do until his nude body pressed against the front of mine. Until the thick, solid length of him pressed between us, pinned against my stomach by the push of our bodies. He was so warm, so unbelievably warm, so warm, almost hot, and the push of him against my body was so solid, as if he were fighting not to push himself through the front of me. To make a new opening, anything, anything, just to be in the warm depths of my body. It took me a second to understand it was Nathaniel's need I was feeling. That he did want that badly, but it was my wanting, too. My wanting and denying that want, that helped make this moment what it was. Over all that, was Damian at my back, his body one huge piece of need. Nathaniel and I were being drowned in Damian's skin-hunger. So lonely, so terribly lonely. And under that was Damian's fear. Fear that this would not happen, that he would be exiled back to his coffin, with all this undone. His loneliness was like a theme underneath his lust, and I had a glimpse of a room high in the castle. A room that overlooked the sea. Silver bars upon the windows, heavy with runes, and the sound of the surf always through the windows, so that even if he turned away, he could still hear it. She'd given him one of the best rooms in the castle as his prison, because she had a way of knowing what things meant to you. A way of knowing what would hurt the most. It was her gift.
Someone kissed me, hard and fast, forcing my mouth open, pushing his tongue so far in I almost choked, but it brought me back, brought us all back from that lonely room and the sound of the sea on the rocks below.
Nathaniel drew back enough to say in a harsh whisper, "Happy thoughts, Anita, happy thoughts." Then his mouth was on mine, tongue, lips, even teeth light against my own lips, so that it was more eating than kissing, but it brought a whimper from my throat, a small helpless sound of pleasure.
My hands were on his body, following the flow of his shoulders, his back, and the smooth silken curve of his ass. The back of his body filled my hands, and the front of him was like heat wrapped in flesh, as if we'd burst into flame.
Damian's hands were on the back of my bra; somehow it had survived that first rush. He snapped it open, and the front of it fell against Nathaniel's chest. Hands spilled over my br**sts; one from behind, and one from the man pressed against the front of my body. Damian's touch was delicate, stroking. Nathaniel wrapped his hand around my breast and dug his nails into my flesh. It was Nathaniel's hand that bowed my back, tore my mouth away from his, and forced a scream from my mouth.
Damian hesitated, pulled back from that scream, as though he had to feel that it was pleasure and not pain. He didn't like to hear women scream. And just like that we were back in his memory. There was a room underneath the castle, torches, darkness, and women, any woman that she thought was prettier than she. No one was allowed hair more yellow than hers, eyes more blue, or br**sts larger. These were all sins, and sins were punished. A rush of images; piles of yellow hair, wide blue eyes like cornflowers, and the spear that put them out, a chest as pale and fair as any he'd seen, and the sword...