"Yes, you can refuse the ardeur's call, but you are cold to the touch, and it is your warmth that gives warmth to Damian, in a way that goes far beyond sharing blood."
I closed my eyes and leaned my head back against the seat. "Shit, shit, shit."
"Will you let him die for embarrassment's sake?"
I opened my eyes. "That question would have a lot more merit if you weren't the one kneeling by my knees."
He put his head to one side, and a curious look came over his face. He looked as if he'd say something, then shook his head as if he'd decided better of it, and I was almost certain that what came out of his mouth wasn't what he'd thought of first. "Are you able to feed the ardeur without intercourse, or donating blood?"
"Yes," I said.
"Then allow me to offer myself as a tiding over snack until you reach the club and your pomme de sang."
"Define snack," I said.
Damian screamed through my head, and I got a confused glimpse through his eyes of a blond woman bending over him. It was Elinore, one of the new vampires. She was speaking, but he couldn't hear her anymore, only watch her lipsticked mouth move, noiseless.
I grabbed the front of Requiem's shirt. "Out of time. Damian needs... needs to be warm."
"Then let me share my warmth with you," Requiem whispered it as his face bent toward mine. As happened so often, tonight I didn't have to explain, or give detailed instructions. He just grasped what was needed, and acted.
His lips touched mine, and the kiss was gentle, and no liberties were taken, his tongue stayed nicely in his own mouth. Of course, that did nothing to raise the ardeur.
He drew back and searched my face with his gaze. "You are still cold in every way."
I nodded, and down that long metaphysical line, Damian called out for help. He was dying, not like a human dies, but like you watch a flame fade from lack of oxygen. It was as if some invisible spark were being blown out inside him. I was his spark now, and I didn't know how to fix this.
I looked up at the man in front of me. He was handsome enough, but without the ardeur's heat, he was still a stranger, and I didn't lust after strangers. I had to be seduced not by the color of someone's eyes, or the flawlessness of their face, but by a smile that had become dear to me, a conversation so familiar that it had become like music to me. Familiarity never bred contempt with me, it made me feel safe, and until I felt safe, I did not lust after people, at least not in the front of my head, and it was the front of my head that I needed. I'd finally found the lock for my subconscious, which meant I had to bring the ardeur out on purpose, not just get out of its way, or stop fighting it, but truly had to coax it to life. Again, I hadn't thought what it would mean to control the power to this degree. I seemed to spend my life not understanding the mess I was making until it was too late.
I grabbed Requiem's arms, dug my fingers into his flesh. "Damian is dying, and I don't know how to save him."
"Simply raise the ardeur and feed."
"I don't know how to do it, without the ardeur pushing on me. Shit."
"Do you mean you do not know how to raise lust for me?"
"Nothing personal, but I don't know you."
"There is no shame in not being a creature of casual lusts," he said.
"Damian is dying," I whispered it, because I could feel it. I could feel him beginning to pull away from me. He was trying not to drag me to the grave with him, so he was shielding as best he could.
"I can raise lust in you, Anita, it is not the ardeur, but it is one of my gifts."
If we'd had time I would have asked him what the difference was, but we were out of time. "Do it, help me feed. Don't let me kill Damian, not like this."
"Drop your shields, or I am helpless to bespell you." He cupped the side of my face in his warm hand.
Damian felt like a cold wind in my head. I dropped my shields, and two things happened at once. Requiem's power crashed into me. It was as if that power had been pushing at me all night, and I simply hadn't felt it. He couldn't have gotten past my shields, he was right, but without them... without them, I was suddenly wet, soaking through what panties I had. It left me breathless, helpless, staring up at him, my body already moist and ready for him. It wasn't lust, it was like hours of really good foreplay packed into seconds. The second thing that happened was my own special little power went, wow. It was as if his power complemented the ardeur, as if it were a key to the lock, or maybe all of Belle's line were like this, that we could bring each other.
Whatever the reason, whatever the cause, the ardeur roared back to life. And I felt it smash into him the way his power had hit me. His eyes drowned in bright, blue flame, like gas lights sparkling in his skull. Our mouths met, and this kiss wasn't gentle. This kiss was like feeding. Like we were trying to suck each other's souls from between our lips. The thought brought the memory of what the Dragon had shown me, had tried to get me to do, but it was distant and gone. It wasn't souls we were after.
I fed on him and shoved it down that cold line to Damian. I heard him in my head, "Anita," but still he was cold, still he lay in someone's arms.
The Jeep skittered around a turn and stopped. Graham yelled from the front seat. "What the f**k are you two doing back there? My skin is crawling with it."
My hand was on the seat belt a second before Requiem's. The seat belt unsnapped, and he spilled me to the seat with him on top. He was suddenly grinding me against the seat, and I was suddenly very aware that the front of the leather pants were laced up tight. Those lacings began to rub against me. I tore the side of the thong panties and pressed na**d against the front of his leather pants.
He hesitated, as if afraid he'd hurt me, but I pulled at him, made him collapse on top of me. He looked down at me with eyes like drowned flames, and whatever he saw on my face seemed to decide him, because he slid hands on my na**d hips, cupped my ass, and angled me up against the front of his pants, so the leather bindings rubbed directly onto the most delicate of places.
The sensation bowed my spine, threw my head back. I wrapped my legs around his waist, pressed myself tighter against the front of him, dug that strangely smooth roughness in against me.
That distant spark was growing brighter. I shoved the energy into Damian, shoved the feel of it, the heat of it, and knew he was awake. Knew he gazed up at the world through eyes that had swum to green flames.
His voice sounded soft in my head. "Anita, what are you doing?"
Requiem did something with his h*ps that brought me back into my head, my skin. I knew I was still giving energy to Damian, small bits of the pleasure, but I was back to gazing up at Requiem. His hands, his arms were around my waist, his groin pressing into me, the leather braiding rubbing up and down the front of my body. He rotated his h*ps and rubbed back and forth between my legs. I could feel him swollen and thick behind the leather.
I let my head fall back, so that my upper body draped backward, my hair trailing along the seat, and was staring upside down when the door opened. Graham stood looking down at me. He went to his knees, as if he meant to kiss me, but Requiem picked me up, moved me out of reach. He put one hand under my shoulders and lifted, so that my back was pressed against the back of the seat. I was suddenly trapped between his body and the seat in a way that I hadn't been before. The push of his body was firmer, harder, rougher. It was as if he'd spread me wider with the push of his body, peeled back the layers of my most intimate places, until the leather braiding rubbed directly on those spots, that spot.
It was as if he knew exactly what he'd done, because he looked down at me with those burning eyes, and said, "Does it hurt?"
"No, not yet." I put my hands on his shoulders, and would have drawn him down to a kiss, but he drew back, and stroked himself against me, so hard, so rough, so smooth. The leather was wet from my body, from how wet he'd made me. If I'd been a little less wet, he'd have hurt me, but it didn't hurt. He began to pivot his hips, rubbing his groin against mine, beginning to rub across me, not just back and forth, but around, rolling himself over me, around and around, over and over. That bright spark of pleasure began to build inside me. It all felt good, but it was at the height of his stroke, as his groin brushed over that one small point, that the spark grew. It grew as if he were feeding some tiny flame. Every stroke, every rub of the leather, soaking wet from my body, every time he touched me there, the spark flared bright, and brighter. It was as if fire had weight to it, and that bright light grew heavy inside my body, until I could feel the brush of that heat every time he moved over me. Until it was as if my lower body became heat and weight, nothing but the building pleasure, and then finally at the height of one of those rough strokes, all that heat and weight spilled over me, through me, washing like heat across my body. Spilling in screams from my mouth, dancing down my hands, so that I ripped his shirt until I found skin to drive my nails into.