Jean-Claude had gained Nathaniel and Damian's neediness. What had I gained? I'd had sex with Byron and Requiem, and I didn't feel bad about it. Even now, I felt bad only because I didn't feel bad. It hadn't bothered me. That's what made me almost run into three cars, and pull into the parking lot so I could have my little moment of shock reaction.
I didn't feel guilty about Byron. I only felt guilty about not feeling guilty about it. And even now, I wanted to turn the car around and go back to Jean-Claude. I wanted him to hold me, to kiss me, to feed from me. I wanted the whole ride, now that I'd had a taste. I wanted it the way junkies want their fix. That's not love. That's control. I wouldn't let anyone control me like that. I couldn't, not and still be me.
I didn't explain any of this to Graham or Requiem. They weren't close enough to me for a heart-to-heart. I just said, "Whoever feels better to drive, drive."
"I do not know how to drive," Requiem said.
"I'll drive," Graham said, "just don't touch me while I'm behind the wheel."
"I'll do my best to resist," I said, and made it plain by my tone that it wouldn't be hard.
He laughed and got out his door to walk around. In the moments it took him to walk around the car, Requiem said, "You feel very serious tonight, Anita."
"I'm always serious," I said.
"Perhaps," he said, and he might have said more, but Graham opened the door and I got out. I walked around the car and got into the passenger seat, as Graham started the engine. "Where to?"
"Sunset Cemetery. It's less than five minutes from here."
"Do you feel well enough to raise the dead tonight?" Requiem asked.
"Just get me there, and don't let me touch any of the clients. I'll do the rest. Just don't let me f**k anybody or tear anybody's throat out."
"What if you order us to allow you to f**k someone?" Requiem asked.
"Or kill someone?" Graham said.
"I'm not planning on it tonight, okay?"
"You weren't planning on it earlier," Requiem said quietly.
Graham pulled carefully into the traffic on Gravois, as if he were trying to make up for my bad driving earlier. "What do we do if some new vampire power kicks in?" he asked, as he eased us to the first stoplight.
"Just keep me from hurting anybody," I said.
"And if the need arises for you to feed again, what then?" Requiem asked.
I turned in my seat as far as the seat belt would allow, so I could see his face in the streetlights. He was revealed in startling white light for an instant. It made his eyes glow, then shadow swept over the backseat, and his eyes faded to a dim blue glow. "What are you getting at?" I asked.
"Did you wonder why Jean-Claude chose us, and only us, to guard you tonight?"
"I had some ideas, but enlighten me."
"He wanted people with you that were strong enough and dominant enough that if they had to, they could override you. That they would use their best judgment and not blindly follow."
"Bully for you both," I said.
"But it wasn't that alone."
"Just spill it, Requiem, the foreplay is getting tiresome."
"I heard that about you," Graham said.
I turned and looked at him. "What?"
"That you don't like a lot of foreplay."
I gave him a very cold look. "One, no one that would actually know would tell you shit, and two, don't let a little metaphysical sex go to your head. Remember, I watched you writhe all over the seat, and it didn't appeal to me. It wasn't foreplay, or a preview, it was just an accident."
I turned back to Requiem. "Now, you, just tell me what you need to tell me. No preface, no long explanation, just say it."
"You won't like it," he said.
"I already don't like it. Just tell me, Requiem, just tell me." I was getting a headache. I didn't know if it was loss of blood, or tension, but whatever, it was beginning to pound right behind my eye.
"He thought that if things went as badly as they could go..."
"Games, word games, just say it."
He sighed, and the sigh seemed to fill the Jeep with echoes. "If you had to feed the ardeur, or if your beast rose, we were the two most likely to survive an attack without having to resort to hurting you."
"You left something out," I said.
"I've said enough," he said.
"All of it, Requiem, I want to hear all of it."
"No," Graham said, "you don't. That tone in your voice, no you don't."
"Just drive," I said, and turned back to the vampire. "Tell me the rest."
He sighed again, and it flittered through the interior of the Jeep like it had a life of its own.
"And can the voice tricks, or you're really going to piss me off."
"My apologies, it is automatic for me, when faced with an angry woman, to try and pacify her, by whatever means."
"Talk to me, Requiem, we're almost at the cemetery. I want that last bit before we get out of the car."
He drew himself up even straighter in his seat, very formal. "We were also the two at the club most likely to be able to turn violence to seduction, if the need arose."
"He must have a high opinion of you both, or a low opinion of me."
"That last is not true, and you know it," Requiem said.
I sighed. "Just the way I'm feeling tonight."
Graham said it. "You're feeling slutty because you did Byron."
I looked at him. "Well, that's one way of putting it."
"It's exactly how you're feeling," he said, sounding sure.
"And you're sure of that?"
"The way you're acting, yeah. Besides, I know your reputation. If anyone can resist temptation it's you."
"Everyone keeps telling me that, but I don't seem to be resisting much anymore."
"I have lived with others more powerful than I in Belle Morte's line for centuries, Anita. I, more than most, know just how much you must fight every night of your existence not to be consumed by their power." He paused and then whispered so that it filled the darkened car, "If you are not careful, their beauty will become both heaven and hell, you will betray every oath, abandon every loyalty, give up your heart, your mind, your body, and your immortal soul to have them near you but one more night. Then one cold night, a hundred years after the passion is spent, and nothing but ashes remain, you look up and see someone gazing at you, and you know that look, you've seen it before. A hundred years later and someone gazes upon you as if you were heaven itself, but you know in your heart of hearts that it's not heaven you're offering them, it's hell."
I didn't know what to say to that, but Graham did.
"Now I know why they call you Requiem. You're poetic, but f**king depressing."
Tonight, I just thought he was accurate.
Sunset Cemetery was a nice combination of old and new. Big monuments of angels and weeping virgins combined with flat, modern stones--so much less interesting. It was still a place for the rich and famous to be interred, like our local famous brewery family, the Busches.
In his day, Edwin Alonzo Herman had been a very important man, and his monument showed that he thought so, too. It loomed up into the darkness like some winged giant. There was enough light to see that the huge angel had a sword and shield, and it gave you sense that it was waiting to pass judgment, and you wouldn't like what it decided. Of course, maybe that was just the way I was feeling tonight.
There were more than a dozen people waiting at the paved road, most of them lawyers, though with enough family members to have nearly caused a fistfight when I introduced myself and briefly explained what I'd be doing. I'd started telling people up front that I'd be using a machete and beheading chickens, for two different reasons. I'd had an overzealous bodyguard of a very wealthy man nearly shoot me when I drew the big blade. At a different graveside for a historical society, the secretary of said society had jumped me and tried to save the chicken. She'd turned out to be a vegan. That's like a rabid fundamentalist vegetarian. I'd been glad later that it hadn't been cold enough to wear a coat, because leather is the only kind of coat I own.
Tonight was cold enough for coats. October isn't usually that chilly in St. Louis, but tonight had decided to be cold. Or maybe it just felt colder because I was wearing a thong. I'd been surprised by two things about the skimpy underwear: One, once I got over the sensation of having something in the crack of my butt, the thong wasn't uncomfortable; two, a thong under a short skirt on a cold night was damn cold. I'd never fully appreciated how much warmth a little extra bit of satin or silk could hold in against my ass. I certainly appreciated it as I walked over the grass in my little boots and skirt. I huddled in the borrowed leather jacket, but kept my face away from the collar. I did not want a repeat of what had happened in the car. I willed the warmth in my upper body to travel downward. I was suddenly wishing I'd taken one of the taller men's jackets. It wouldn't have looked as good, but it would have covered my ass.