"This one sure as hell did," Graham said, frowning at my wrist and putting pressure and a fresh gauze pad back on it.
"Exactly, so much is going wrong tonight, or not working exactly like it's supposed to, that I can't risk letting it have that much time. I have to put it back tonight, as soon as possible."
"Why?" Requiem asked.
"Just in case," I said.
"In case what?" Graham asked, this time.
"In case it becomes a flesh eater."
They both looked at me, like you've got to be kidding. "I thought that was like legend," Graham said.
"I have seen such things," Requiem said. "Long, long ago. I thought that the power to do such," he seemed to think what word to use and settled for, "things, was lost."
"Evil, you were going to say, power to do such evil, was lost."
He gave me a faint smile. "My apologies," he said.
"That's alright, nobody likes necromancers. Christian, Wiccan, vampires, whatever, nobody likes us."
"It is not that we do not like you," Requiem said.
"No," I said, "it's that everybody's afraid of us."
"Yes," the vampire said, softly.
I sighed. "Tonight for the first time I felt that I could have raised this entire cemetery without a sacrifice of any kind. I could have raised them, and they would have been mine, totally mine. I contacted Richard, because I was fighting the urge to raise my own personal army of the dead."
"Contacting your Ulfric went very wrong, from what I understood from your side of the conversation," Requiem said.
Graham said, "He tried to help."
"Yeah, he did, but just as Jean-Claude and I are gaining powers, so is Richard. Neither of us expected him to be able to link up with the zombie."
"I have never heard of such a thing," Requiem said.
"We're a u-fucking-nique bunch here in St. Louis," I said.
"Unique," Requiem said, as he and Graham began to bandage my arm. "Well, that is one way of putting it."
"How about scary?" I said.
He looked at me with those blue, blue eyes with their hint of green from the shirt near his face. "Oh, yes," he said, "oh, yes, scary will do."
Yeah, scary would do.
I canceled the rest of the clients for the night. It had been too close for comfort. I would put this zombie back, but that was it until I figured out what the hell was going on. Bert would be pissed. The clients would be pissed. But not half so pissed as they'd be if I raised a shambling army of the dead and terrorized the city. No, that would be more bad press than even Bert could figure out how to cure.
Besides, I'd finally lost enough blood that I wasn't feeling well. It wasn't metaphysics, it was just physical. I was light-headed, vaguely nauseous, cold even with the leather jacket and a blanket from the back of my Jeep. I'd lost enough blood over the years to know the signs. I didn't need like a transfusion or anything, but I didn't need to lose anymore blood tonight, either. In fact, I'd have Graham drive us back to the club, pick up Nathaniel, and beg off on any big sexy scene tonight. Sex called on account of blood loss. Surely he'd accept that as a good enough excuse.
We were all huddled in the backseat of the Jeep. Me, because I felt like shit. Graham and Requiem because I couldn't get warm on my own. A blanket, the leather jacket, and I was still shivering.
"My lady, may I make a bold suggestion?" Requiem asked.
It took me two tries to stop my teeth from chattering long enough to say, "Sure."
"If we do not get you warm, you will be fit for nothing tonight."
"Just say it, stop"--I shook so hard it almost hurt, when the shuddering passed--"stop talking me to death, Requiem."
"Graham under the blanket would double your body heat." He said it very crisp, no wasted words, it was nice to know he could be concise when he needed to be.
If I could have stopped my teeth from chattering I might have argued, but I couldn't, so I didn't. Besides, a little fully clothed cuddling under a blanket seemed pretty tame after what had happened earlier tonight. What could it hurt? Oh, hell, don't answer that.
Graham was still in his serious bodyguard mode, so he eased under the blanket, as if I'd bite. "I can't really be security while trapped under a blanket in the backseat," he said.
It took me three tries to say, "You carrying?"
"You mean a gun?"
"If I'm the only one armed, then you ain't my security."
He looked like he'd argue, and Requiem said, "There are many ways to guard someone's body, Graham. If we do not help her warm herself, then I fear we will be going to the emergency room with her. Would you like to explain to Jean-Claude how you let that happen, when you could have prevented it with such a small action on your part?"
"No," Graham said, and eased himself in around my right side. It was as if he were a totally different person from the one that got that taste of orgasm from me earlier. He seemed stiff and uncomfortable. He slid his arm across my shoulders tentatively, awkwardly.
"She will not break, Graham," Requiem said.
"I've forgotten my job twice tonight. I don't want to do it a third time."
I snuggled in against the warmth of his body, burrowing under his leather jacket to find where the heat was trapped between his own body and the leather. He was so warm, so incredibly warm.
"God, she fits under my arm." That arm curled around me, almost reflexively, as if he just couldn't help himself. "She seems so much bigger when she's moving around, or talking, or doing anything." His voice sounded puzzled, and soft. His arm wrapped around me, tucking me close in against the line of his body, and he was right, I did fit. He was around six feet, and I so wasn't. He could have cradled me like a child, and I hated that, but he was so warm, so warm. His body felt almost hot. We were about a week away from full moon, and some lycanthropes' body temperature went up before the change, almost like a fever. Either I was colder than I thought, or Graham was one of the wereanimals that ran hot.
My teeth stopped chattering, and it was as if my muscles began to unclench. I still had small involuntary spasms, but it was better.
"Can I pick you up?" Graham asked, and he sounded like he expected me to say no.
I said, "Why?"
"You'll be warmer," he said.
I thought about it. He was probably right, but it would reinforce that I was tiny enough to sit in his lap and cuddle against his chest like a child. I really hated doing shit like that. But he was probably right, it would be warmer. Damn it.
"Yes," I said, and even to me it didn't sound happy.
"Are you sure?"
"The lady has spoken, Graham, do not make her repeat herself," Requiem said.
Graham hesitated for a second, then he scooped me up in his arms, like I weighed nothing. He sat me on his lap, and I found another downside to the thong. He must have been wearing new jeans because they weren't soft. I was so not wearing enough underwear, or enough skirt. But I'd dressed mostly for meeting Jean-Claude and Asher later in the evening. I'd been thinking date, not medical emergencies. Silly me.
He was able to curl most of me underneath his jacket against his chest, the rest of me curled into a small ball in his lap, with just a little leg off to one side. He put one of his arms across that spill of leg, and the other arm held the jacket tight around me. Requiem helped us get the blanket draped around us, and the only thing uncovered was the top of my head. It was dark and warm, and I laid my head against his chest, and the T-shirt was a thin barrier between me and the heat of his skin. I let my body ease into the warmth of his skin, and the scent of leather, and just him. I realized why his scent seemed so comfortable to me. He smelled like pack, that faint scent that all of Richard's wolves had. I was too friendly with too many of them not to equate that faint ruffling musk with safety. I let myself sink into a warm nest of leather, and blanket, and body, and shared warmth, and the distant smell of wolf, and I slept.
The next thing I was aware of was Graham's voice, very soft, as if he didn't really want to wake me. "Anita, Anita, they're done with the zombie."
For a second I couldn't remember where I was, or who was talking to me. Fresh from sleep, to me his body felt more like Richard's than anyone else's. The size and the musculature and the faint scent of musk was all Richard, but the voice didn't match.