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Danse Macabre (Vampire Hunter 14) - Page 51


He stopped trying for rhythm and thrust inside me as hard and fast as he could. He brought me again; I dug my nails into his shoulders and back, and he finally thrust up inside me. Thrust as far and hard as he could. He stayed there like that for a heartbeat, forever, then he slumped lower on his knees, while I still clung to him.

Our bodies were slick with sweat, and blood, and other things. He clung with his hands to the headboard, his heart beating so fast I could see it. "God, that was good," he said, voice breathless, and not quite like his voice at all, yet.

I tried to say yes, and couldn't do it. It was as if I couldn't figure out how to form words, and I still couldn't make my eyes work. The world was still a white-edged blur, like something wrapped in cotton.

"Anita," Micah said, "are you all right?"

I managed to give him a thumbs-up, because it was the best I could do. It wasn't the first time that Micah and Nathaniel had f**ked me wordless.

"Damn," Micah said, "I thought with three of us we might finally f**k you unconscious." His voice was teasing.

It took me three tries to say, in a very hoarse voice, "You need more men."

Micah leaned in close, kissed my cheek. "I think we can arrange that."

I managed to whisper, "Not tonight."

He kissed my cheek again. "Not tonight." He turned to Nathaniel. "You need help?"

Nathaniel nodded, wordlessly.

Micah and Jean-Claude helped peel us apart, then they went into the bathroom to clean up. Nathaniel and I still couldn't move enough to leave the bed. We lay side by side, touching, but not in each other's arms. Our bodies weren't working well enough for that, yet.

"God, Anita, I love you," he said, voice still breathy.

"I love you, too, Nathaniel," I said. And I did.

21

I THOUGHT THAT Micah might protest when Jean-Claude got into bed as na**d as everyone else, but he didn't. If it had been another girl cuddling up against my na**d behind I might have protested, but Micah was a lot less trouble than I was to deal with. I guess someone had to be less trouble.

I fell asleep like I did most nights with my stomach cuddled against the back of Nathaniel's nude body, the warm curve of his ass tucked up tight against my stomach, one arm up so I could touch his hair, the other around his waist, or maybe a little lower. Micah cuddled in behind me, mirroring me almost exactly, except that his arm didn't curve in around my body but stretched across so that he was touching a little of Nathaniel. Jean-Claude cuddled in against Micah as if he'd done it before, putting his arm across Micah so that he could touch me. His hand curved around me, and I raised the arm around Nathaniel's waist, so I could touch Jean-Claude's arm. Dawn was close, and that warm, living arm wouldn't be warm or living for long. Vampires lost heat faster than a dead human. I wasn't sure why, but they did.

I enjoyed the warm curve of him while I could. Nathaniel snuggled closer to me, as if he'd pressed his ass through me into Micah, but I didn't mind. I liked it close. Besides, I knew he was missing me holding him tight. My fingers played on the small hairs on Jean-Claude's arm, back and forth, tracing his skin. The feel of him like that made me regret for an instant that it wasn't my body he was pressed up against.

I fell asleep in a nest of warm bodies and silk sheets. I'd had worse nights.

I came instantly awake in the pitch black, my heart in my throat. I didn't know what had woken me, but it was something bad. I lay there pressed between Micah and Nathaniel, looking around the room in the dim light from the half-open bathroom door. It was the light Jean-Claude left on for us when we slept over. The room looked empty, so why was my pulse in my mouth? Bad dream, maybe.

I lay there pressed between the men, straining to hear something, but there was nothing but their quiet breathing. Jean-Claude's arm was across Micah's body, but it was no longer warm. Dawn had come and gone, and taken him from me again.

Then I saw a shadow. A shadow sitting on the foot of the bed. When I looked directly at it, it wasn't there, but out of the corner of my eye I could see it: a blackness that began to take on a shape, until there was a dark outline of a woman sitting at the foot of the bed. What the hell?

I shook Micah's arm, trying to wake him, but it didn't work. I tried Nathaniel, and the same thing happened, nothing. Their breathing never changed. What was happening?

I couldn't wake them. Was I dreaming and didn't know it? I drew breath to scream. If it was a dream, it wouldn't matter; if it wasn't a dream then Claudia and the guards would come. But the moment I drew a sharp breath, the voice floated through my mind. "Do not scream, necromancer."

The breath left me, as if someone had pushed on my stomach. I finally managed a whisper: "Who are you?"

"Good, this guise does not frighten you. I was hoping it would not."

"Who..." Then I smelled it: night. Night out of doors, night some place warm and soft with the scent of jasmine on the air. I knew who it was. "Marmee Noir" was the least rude of the nicknames the vampires called her. She was the Mother of All Darkness; she was the first vampire, and the ruler of their council, though she'd been in hibernation, or a coma, for more than a thousand years. The last time I'd seen her in a dream she'd been as big as the ocean, as black as the space between the stars. She'd scared the shit out of me.

The shadow smiled, or at least that's what it felt like. "Good."

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I struggled to sit up, and the men slept on, not even moving in their sleep. Was this a dream, or was it real? If it was real we were in deep, deep shit. If it was a dream, then I'd had powerful vamps invade my dreams before.

I put my back against the wood of the headboard. It felt real and solid. But I didn't like sitting there na**d in front of her. I wished I had a gown, and the thought was enough. I was suddenly wearing a white silk gown. Dream, because I'd been able to change it. Dream, it would be okay. It was just a dream. The knot in my gut didn't believe me, but the rest of me tried to believe.

I thought of several questions to ask that shadow, and finally settled for, "Why are you here?"

"You interest me."

It was like having the devil suddenly take a personal notice of you; not good. "I'll try to be less interesting."

"I am almost awake."

I was suddenly cold down to my toes.

"I can taste your fear, necromancer."

I swallowed hard, and couldn't keep my voice from being breathy. "Why are you here, Marmee Noir?"

"I need something to wake me after such a long sleep."

"What?"

"You, perhaps."

I frowned at her. "I don't understand."

The shadow began to grow more solid, until she was a small female figure in a black cloak. I could almost see her face, almost, and I knew I did not want to. To see the face of darkness was to die.

"Jean-Claude has still not made you his, still not crossed that last line with you. Until he does, another more powerful than he can take what is his, and finish it."

"I am bound to a vampire," I said.

"Yes, you have a vampire servant, but that does not close the other door." She was suddenly sitting at my feet. I tucked my feet up, and pushed myself against the headboard. It was a dream, just a dream, she couldn't really hurt me, but I didn't believe it.

She spread a hand wide, and the hand was carved of darkness. "I thought this guise would make me less frightening, but you cringe from me. I am wasting a great deal of energy to speak to you in dream, rather than invade your mind further, yet still you fear me." She sighed, and the sound of it flittered through the room. "Perhaps I have lost the knack of being human, even to pretend. Perhaps if I have lost the knack, I should stop trying--what do you think, necromancer? Should I show you my true form?"

"Is this a trick question?" I asked.

I felt her frown, rather than saw it, because I couldn't see her face yet.

"I mean, is there a good answer here? I don't think seeing your true form would be a good thing, but I don't really want you to keep playing humanish for me, either."

"Then what do you want?"

I wanted Jean-Claude awake to help me answer this question. Out loud I said, "I don't know how to answer that question."

"Of course you do; humans always want something."

"You to go away."

I felt her smile. "This is not working, is it?"

"I don't know what was supposed to work," I said. I was hugging my knees now, because I did not want her touching me, not even in dream.

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