Requiem rested above me, pressing every inch of his nakedness against the front of me, but he laid his body on top of mine, not inside it. He pressed me down into the bed, kissing me as if he would eat me from the mouth down, and only luck kept us from cutting our lips on his fangs. The feel of him, swollen and hard, made me spread my legs and try to wrap my legs around him, but he moved away. Moved above me, holding most of his weight away with his arms and legs, as if he were afraid to touch too much of me. It had all seemed to be going so well, and then he'd climbed back into himself, regained control somehow. Requiem in control went back to being a gentleman. In a situation where I would not have blamed him about taking full advantage, he still seemed painfully aware that he wasn't my first choice, or even my seventh. He tried to feed the ardeur without crossing that last barrier, because he knew, or thought he knew, I didn't want him.
"Requiem, please, please, finish it."
"Finish it," he said, voice showing the strain of his control. "Your words betray you, Anita. You use me only because you must, not because you want me."
Anger flared through me. "My body wants you, Requiem."
"But your heart does not."
I screamed, half from anger, half from the need in my body that he'd raised, and wasn't going to satisfy. The thought came that I could make the ardeur stronger, that I could overwhelm him with it. An old thought from Belle's memories, I think. But in his way, Requiem had made it clear he did not want to be food, or my f**k buddy. When push had come to shove, he wanted to be more than that. I understood that, but I couldn't give it to him. This was one thing I could not do. I could not love him.
"I need food, Requiem. If you aren't food, then get off."
I watched emotions struggle across his face. I think he was fighting his own body's need, but finally that so-refined sense of self won, and he slipped to the side, burying his face in his arms. He did not leave the bed, but he wasn't touching me.
The ardeur was still there, but faded under the anger and frustration of the riddle that was Requiem. I reached outward for Damian, and he was still fragile. The energy I felt in him now would never wake; it wasn't enough to bring him back to life for the night. If he tried to wake now, and failed, would he die? Would that fragile spark rise, and fall, never more to burn with life?
I yelled, "Jean-Claude!"
He came to stand by the bed on the other side of Requiem's softly weeping form. I reached out to him, but he stepped back, just out of reach. "I make all the other vampires of this city wake at dusk. We cannot risk trading one life for many."
I screamed, wordless, my hand reaching skyward, reaching for anyone. In that moment I used the ardeur to call food, not deliberately, because I'd never purposefully used it to call a victim to me. Jean-Claude had said that the ardeur was calling food of its choice; now I knew he had been right, because I could feel it. I felt the ardeur spread not randomly like some sort of shrapnel bomb, but like a high-tech heat-seeking missile. I felt the ardeur brush Asher; I knew the taste of him, but his energy signature was weak. He still hadn't fed. The ardeur brushed against a dozen lesser fires, but finally it found one it liked.
I knew only three things about the energy it called; it was vampire, it was no one I'd ever touched, and it was powerful.
A hand grabbed mine, and that one touch stabbed through me, a hard, tight thrust of energy that tightened my body, and tore a cry from my mouth. So much need, God!
It was London who crawled over the footboard of the bed. London whose hand in mine had already fed me more energy than all of Requiem's touches. I didn't know why, I didn't care. It was too late to care. He pressed his fully clothed body over me, settling between my legs, so that I could feel him tight and hard through his clothes. The sensation of it fluttered my eyes closed. I felt his face above mine, and opened my eyes to see him, so close it was startling.
I stared into his eyes from inches away, and realized they weren't brown at all, they were black. A black that made his pupils vanish into them, an island of darkness in the whites of his eyes.
His face lowered toward me, his breath escaping in a sound like a sob, before he pressed his mouth against mine. That sound made me remember that there was something important about London and the ardeur. Something I needed to remember, but he kissed me, and I stopped thinking about anything but the feel of his mouth on mine.
It wasn't just the force of his kiss, but that I fed from that kiss. As if his energy were some sweet liquor, spilling into my mouth, down my throat. There was no effort to feeding from London. He gave himself to the ardeur with an abandon that was exactly what I needed. I poured that energy into Damian, and felt his spark begin to grow to a small, flickering flame.
I wrapped my arms and legs around London's body, pressed my most intimate parts against the hardness still locked behind his clothes. He made that sobbing sound again, his breath hot inside my mouth. I thought he would pull away from the kiss, but he kissed me harder, pressing, exploring, and I kissed him back, sending my tongue between the sharpness of his fangs. It was as if I had more room to explore, as if his mouth were wider than Jean-Claude's. It was almost a clear thought, and I might have remembered what I'd forgotten, but London chose that moment to feed at my lips, kissing me fiercely, with tongue and lips and teeth, and with the intensity of his kiss, the ardeur fed harder. The sweet salt of blood filled my mouth, and I knew one of us had been cut on his fangs. If he'd given me time to think, I might even have known who, but he didn't give me time to think. He mounded my breast in one hand, jerked his mouth from mine, and pressed his mouth around my breast. He sucked, hard and fast, tongue flicking across my nipple. I cried out for him, my arms and legs falling away from him enough so he could move that fraction of an inch that let him suck me harder, faster, always the press of his fangs like a promise, or a threat, against my flesh.
He made a sound, eager, almost whimpering, then he bit me, fangs plunging into my breast. It brought me screaming, and only his weight kept my upper body from rising off the bed.
He rose up, his lips decorated with my blood. His eyes drowned in black fire, filled with his own power. He pressed his mouth back to mine, but raised his body off me. The taste of my own blood was like sweet metal in my mouth. I tried to draw his body back on top of mine, but only his mouth touched me. When he lay back on top of me, his pants were undone, and all that hard length pressed against my na**d body. The feel of it made me break the kiss so I could cry out.
He raised his upper body off me, angling himself to enter me. I got only a glimpse of him, before he shoved himself inside me, and my gaze tore from his body, to his face above me. His eyes were wide, lost even to vampire glow; there was something frantic about them. He drove his body as deep inside me as he could, drove until there was no more room, then he froze above me. He froze with his body plunged inside mine, and stared down at me. His face was slack with need, and lust, but underneath it all, was fear. That one look, and I remembered. He was addicted to the ardeur. Shit.
I said, "London, London, I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."
He started to draw himself out of me. I thought he meant to stop. But he drew out only so much, then plunged back in, and he f**ked me. He f**ked me as hard and fast as he could. I stared down my own body, and watched him plunge in and out of me, and somewhere in the middle of it, I came. I came screaming, my hands clutching at his jacket, trying to find flesh to touch, but there were too many clothes. He brought me, and the ardeur fed on the waves of pleasure, on the sensation of him plunging in and out of me, on the sound of his breathing, as it changed. He picked me up, at the last minute, he picked me up, sat me in his lap, with his body still inside mine. He sat me across his body, and I wrapped arms and legs around him to help hold me in place. He sat back on the bed, still plunging in and out of me, but less sharp from this angle, less deep. I stared into his face from inches away, my hands in the short curls at the back of his neck. I watched his face grow frantic, felt his rhythm change. He buried his hand in the back of my hair, held me in place, so we had to stare into each other's eyes. With one last, hard thrust he came, and brought me with him. I screamed, and it would have bowed my neck back, but he held me in place, forced us to stare into each other's faces. As his body spasmed inside mine, I couldn't look away. I had to watch his pleasure, and his pain.
His hand eased from my hair, and he hugged me, his arms loose instead of frantic. His heart pounded against my body, his breath so fast, so terribly fast. He clung to me now, softly, and I hugged him back. He had given me his everything. He had let me feed. Damian was awake, I could feel it. London had helped me save him, but as I held him, his pulse thundering against my cheek, I had to wonder at what price. What had it cost the man in my arms?