"You have greeted Thomas, but we have two other sons," she said.
Micah came up beside me. He took my hand. "In fairness to our other guests, I think we need to greet more of Auggie's people."
"They are only his henchmen, and his mistress. We have brought you our flesh and blood, the fruit of our lives."
Micah nodded, still smiling. "We appreciate that, but--"
I cut him off, and said, "Enough, Micah, thanks for trying to be all polite and hosty, but I've had enough of games for the night."
He squeezed my hand, as if saying, Be nice.
I squeezed back, but I was done being nice. I wouldn't be rude, but... "I'm going to greet Auggie and his people now, because they didn't try to roll me. Until Jean-Claude joins us, you and your sons are just going to have to wait to be greeted."
"So Augustine's whore is higher in rank than my sons?" Thea sounded genuinely angry.
There was a sound of outrage from the other side of the room--a woman's voice protesting and Auggie trying to calm her. I glanced to find him talking to a statuesque brunette in a very tiny dress. She was mad, and I didn't blame her.
I turned back to Samuel. "You talk to her, Samuel. You explain that your wife damn near abused our hospitality tonight."
"If we have truly abused your hospitality, then Jean-Claude could revoke our safe conduct," he said, voice deep, but strangely soft.
"I understand that."
"Did we frighten you that badly?" he asked.
"I agreed to Thea tasting my power, not Thomas. It wasn't what we negotiated for. I was told you were an honorable man; bait and switch isn't very honorable."
"Could you hear anything we said while Thomas touched you?" Micah asked.
I glanced at him, and shook my head. "I could hear his voice and the sound of the sea, that was it."
"I pointed out to Samuel that you hadn't bargained for Thomas."
"What did he say?"
"He said that for a siren to truly taste your power it needed to have a sexual flavor to it, and since you were not a lover of women, one of the boys would be helpful."
I shook my head. "I'm going to greet Auggie and his people now. Whether I let any of your other children touch me, or not, is up for a very serious debate." I put my gaze on Thea. "I don't like to be forced, or played, Thea. If you really want your sons to have a chance at my bed, or body, or power, you need to remember that."
"I saw into your mind when I embraced you," she said. "I saw what you think of my sons. You are disinclined toward them. Without magic to persuade you, I do not think they have any chance at your bed, your body, or your power."
My pulse was suddenly in my throat. I fought to keep a blank face, but wasn't sure I succeeded. How much had she read while she was playing inside my head? Did she know about the pregnancy scare?
Thea was watching me very narrowly. She saw the fear on me, but didn't understand why. Which meant either she'd only read things about her sons in my head, or she didn't understand why being pregnant would scare me. If the former, yea; if the latter, she was too odd for me to talk to.
I turned to Auggie and his angry girlfriend. She was the only woman on his side of the room. Standing in the spike heels she was over six feet tall. But whereas with Claudia it was all muscle, and menace, this woman was thin. There was no play of muscle to her arms and legs. She was making angry gestures with large hands, darkly painted nails, a diamond flashing on her right hand. Her dress was red with silver sequins. It fit her like a tiny, glittery second skin. The dress was so short that when she flounced around the couch, taking too long a step, she flashed enough flesh that I knew she wasn't wearing anything under the dress. Oh, my.
Auggie coaxed her back to me. Her face was perfect in a high-cheekboned, almost stark way. She wore enough makeup, artfully applied, that stark should not have been a word you used for her face. Her hair was long, and teased too high on the top, as if she'd never quite left the eighties, but it was brunette. It might even have been her natural color. The spaghetti straps of her dress and the thin material should not have been able to support her br**sts. Breasts that large do not stay perky without more help than the dress could give. Her br**sts sat under the dress in a way that real br**sts just don't. She flounced toward me, holding Auggie's hand. The walk was good, bouncy, but her br**sts didn't bounce with her. They were big, and even shapely, but they rode under her dress like they were way more solid than br**sts are meant to be.
It took Micah tugging on my hand to let me know I'd missed something, staring at her chest. I shook my head and gave Auggie eye contact. "Sorry, what did you say?"
"This is Bunny; she is my mistress."
Bunny. I thought, was it her real name? I hoped so--who would choose to be Bunny? I nodded. "Hi, Bunny."
Auggie gave her a little pull, and a nod.
She gave an angry sullen face to me. "At least I'm only whoring for one man, not a dozen."
Micah actually pulled me away from her. I let him do it. I was so astounded at the rudeness of it that I was speechless. I wasn't even angry yet; it was too unexpected. Too rude.
Auggie ordered her to kneel, and when she didn't do it fast enough, he forced her. "Apologize, now!" His power filled the room like cold water, shivering along my skin.
"Why am I a whore, when his wife is pimping out her own sons, and this one is f**king everything and everyone that will stand still?"
"Benny," he said in a very quiet voice. I knew that tone of voice. It's the careful, controlled one you use when you're afraid of what you'll do if you yell.
The only vampire he'd brought with him moved around the couch to stand beside him. "Yeah, boss."
"Take her out of here. Get on a plane, take her back to Chicago, help her pack. Make sure she takes only what belongs to her."
Bunny's eyes went wide. "No, Auggie, no, I didn't mean it. I'm sorry."
He moved away, so she couldn't touch him. She tried to crawl after him, but Benny grabbed her arm. "Come on, Bunny, we gotta plane to catch."
She was human, and in five-inch heels, but she put up a fight. Benny was having trouble getting her to the door without hurting her. She'd proven to the entire room that she was na**d under the tiny dress.
I said, "Claudia."
She came to me, all serious, the bodyguard's bodyguard. "Pick someone, or two someones, to help Benny get her out of here."
Claudia nodded, almost a bow, and said, "Fredo, Clay, help our guest out."
Fredo pushed himself from the wall, all boneless ease like some dark, well-armed cat. Clay just took Bunny's other arm, and helped Benny start carrying her toward the door. She used the spike heels effectively, probably drawing blood through Clay's pants. He never slowed, and neither did Benny, though his face was bleeding from nail marks. Fredo got both her ankles, and they carried her out.
Auggie gave me a very low bow. "I don't know what to say, Anita. I'm sorry that I brought her. I knew she was jealous, but not crazy jealous."
"Jealous?" I made it a question.
"She, like Samuel's Thea, is very competitive around other women."
I frowned at him. "So she and Thea were like trying to outbitch each other?"
He looked at me. "You really don't understand why she didn't like you from the moment you stepped into the room, do you?"
Micah drew me in against his body, hugging me one-armed. I looked back and forth from one to the other of them. "What?"
"No," Micah said, "she doesn't."
"Don't what?" I asked.
"You are a natural beauty," Auggie said. "Artifice gave Bunny her face, her figure; most of her best features were found under a surgeon's blade. In you walk, all natural equipment, wearing more clothes, and still get more attention from the men in the room than she did. When you were with Thea and Thomas, every man in the room was riveted. We wanted you. Wanted to touch you, in a way that is rare."
I felt myself blushing and tried to stop it, but, as usual, lost. "You're babbling, Auggie," I said.
"Watching you and a siren, two if you count the boy. Watching two creatures formed of desire, and it was not the pale beauty most eyes watched, Anita. It was the dark."
I frowned at him. "I don't need this much ego-boo, Auggie, just make your point. If you have a point?"
Nathaniel came up. "I'll translate."