I patted Requiem's hand and said, "Excuse me a minute." I went to the big security guards. Buzz saw me moving, and he gave the three women over to someone else to usher outside. He followed me. You'd think he didn't trust me not to start trouble.
"Excuse me," I said, "are you Anthony Dietrich?"
He turned, then had to look down, as if he'd expected me to be taller. "Who's asking?"
The creepy thing was that he had their eyes. Those beautiful cornflower blue eyes stared out of a lined and aged face. He was close to six feet tall, and the face was flat and harsh, not the delicate bone structure of the boys. Only the eyes staring out of a stranger's face.
The eyes shook me, so that I stood there staring for a second, and it was Buzz who said, "The boys have a restraining order against you. You can't enter this club without violating it. Charon, Cerebus, get his ass out of here. Don't hurt him, but get him out."
The two big men took an arm apiece, lifted, and carried him, without his feet touching the ground, out the door.
I turned to Buzz. "Does he try to get in here often?"
"A couple of times, whenever Harlow or Marlowe are scheduled."
I shook my head. "That is just so... wrong."
Buzz nodded, then took a deep breath and shook his shoulders, like a bird settling its feathers. "I'm going to have to talk to Clay."
"You talk to him, then send him to me, because I want to talk to him, too."
He looked at me. "Okay, but Brandon saved a chair by the stage for you, and I think he'll be very disappointed if you don't at least catch the end of his act."
It took me a second to remember that Brandon was Nathaniel's stage name. "Oh, yeah, sorry, got distracted."
"The fact that that piece of shit keeps trying to get in and watch his sons strip distracts me, too."
I nodded. "Yeah."
"Requiem will take you to your seat. Enjoy the show."
The vampire was just suddenly at my elbow, and I let him lead me through the crowd, but my eyes were back toward the door. What did Anthony Dietrich want with Gregory and Stephen? What could he possibly want from them after all these years? They were too old for a pedophile to be interested in them, weren't they?
I bumped into a chair and had to apologize to the woman who sat in it, and pay more attention to what was in front of me than what was behind. It was worth paying attention to.
Nathaniel was on stage. I don't know what I'd expected. I knew he stripped. I knew he performed. But I'd never seen him do it.
It wasn't that Nathaniel was shy, but he was quiet, gentle. The person on stage was neither of those things. He stalked, he strutted, and he danced. It was similar to what he'd taught me, moving to the beat of the music, but this was the real deal. Him throwing himself around the stage, springing up in the air, and spilling himself back down, every movement fluid and graceful, and amazing.
He was down to a cream-colored G-string. It left his ass bare and held him tight in front, so that he filled the cloth, and I knew him well enough to know that he was already excited. That he liked what he was doing. His eyes sparkled with it, his face shone with a fierce joy. He threw himself into the air again and landed in a push-up position. The audience screamed.
Requiem lowered me to the chair by the stage and lifted the reserved sign off the seat before I sat on it. I forgot to smooth my skirt down in back until I touched the cold chair. I had to sit up enough to smooth it down and not put my bare cookies on a chair that someone else would have to sit on later. Just politeness. But my eyes never left the stage.
Nathaniel did push-ups, then his h*ps dropped lower, and his body came up, and he did a movement that managed to look like he was f**king the stage, and at the same time, was a bigger movement than that, like a wave that went from his head to his feet. Over and over again, until the women in the audience were almost hysterical. A woman two chairs to my right was pulling down her blouse, flashing her br**sts at him.
He crawled across the stage in that way that the wereanimals had, as if they had muscles in places that humans didn't. It was graceful and dangerous, and utterly sensual, as he slinked on all fours toward the end of the stage.
From the back, with his legs tight together, he looked nude. He laid his head on the floor, and the ponytail of his auburn hair spilled out around him like a cloak. He stayed that way for a moment, in a tight ball that looked so terribly nude. Then the music changed and his head flew up, his hair spilling in an arc through the air like a shining spray of colored water, until it fell around his back, and I realized that he had it up in a high, tight ponytail. So that the hair bounced and moved with him. He used it like it was a piece of costume, to hide his body, to peek pale flesh through it, then to swirl it around him so that the hair itself was the show for a moment, then he began to do that sensuous crawl around the stage, and people began to put money in the thin strap of his G-string. There was already a pile of money at the far end of the stage, as if he'd been getting it all along, but only now was he letting them slip the bills in so close to his body.
One woman pulled on the G-string, pulling it away from his body, and he cupped his hand over the front of him, to hide, and I almost got up. Almost rode to his rescue, but he didn't need to be rescued. He kissed her, and she let him move her hand away from his clothes and sat back like he'd stunned her. He joked and chastized and flowed through their hands like muscled water. He was always almost close enough, but never quite where they reached, if they were reaching where they shouldn't have.
I watched the other women, and the one or two men, and I felt something. Lust, I think, it was lust, but it was as if their lust was solid enough to grab, to pull out of the air itself and wrap around my body like a coat. Jean-Claude's voice whispered through my head, "Ma petite, do you want to know how to feed on their lust, to feed without touching?"
"You know I do," I whispered.
And it was like before with Primo, it was as if he stepped inside my skin almost, so that I suddenly knew what he knew. I knew how to open myself up and pull in the thick air. It wasn't like breathing, and it wasn't like feeding when I touched someone, it was closer to literally pulling at the air with metaphysical hands and dragging the lust hand over hand and pulling it inside me. It was the oddest sensation, as if the lust were silk or satin and I pulled it inside my body, as if silk scarves could pass through a hole in my skin. The sensation felt like I'd made a wound in my body and was pulling things through that wound. It was a sensation just this side of pain.
Jean-Claude's voice in my head, "It will not be so uncomfortable when you have practiced it."
"It feels awful."
"But are you feeding?" he asked.
I had to think about it, because all my attention was on how disturbing it felt to draw the lusts of strangers inside me. But once I thought about it, I realized I was feeding. I felt less cold than I had, but... "Do you ever fill up this way?"
"It keeps one from starving, but it is not a meal, no."
I don't know what I would have said to that, because suddenly Nathaniel was in front of me. I think he was repeating himself, but I hadn't heard him the first time. "I said, do you want to come play with the kitty?"
Jean-Claude was gone from my head, and I'd stopped feeding from the audience. Everything just shut down, everything but the lavender eyes staring at me from the edge of the stage. His hand was held out. Women's voices were calling, "I'm not shy... pick me, if she doesn't want to go. Brandon, Brandon, she doesn't want you, but I do..."
I put my hand in his, but I made a face to show just how uneasy this whole thing made me. I didn't like to dance where strangers, or even friends, could see me. Being dragged on stage at a strip club was so far beyond my comfort level. Until that moment, I hadn't really thought about what it would mean to mark him tonight. On stage, in front of people. Eek!
I stumbled going up on the stage, because I remembered the short skirt and the lack of anything under it, so I was very ladylike getting up on stage. Trouble was the stage was too high from the floor to be that ladylike, so I stumbled, and he caught me and gave me a look. That look gave me a last refuge. That look said, If you can't do this, I'll let it go. He would have, too, but I also knew that if it wasn't me, it was going to be someone else. Truthfully, I wasn't sure how I felt about watching him get pawed, or paw another woman. The fact that I thought flaunting myself up on stage would be a lesser evil than watching someone else flaunt themselves at Nathaniel, said clearly that my priorities had become skewed.