I had to swallow hard and fight to control my voice as I said, "Why are you mad at me for something she posted to Facebook?"
"She's complaining that you tried to steal another man from her, but she won this time. She seems to think that it was the fact that she was in a bikini and you were wearing too many clothes at the pool."
The ridiculousness of this woman that we'd just met posting things about me on social media, and that causing a fight between Nathaniel and me, helped my anger start to fade. It was just too stupid a reason for us to fight. "I didn't try to steal Bernardo from her."
"But you did go down to the pool and talk to him, while you knew we were up here waiting to have a romantic afternoon with you."
I finally had a clue as to why he was so angry--to him it was just another case of me ignoring him for other people. "I didn't want to go and hold Donna's hand in the first place, remember."
"So how did it help Donna for you to go down and lounge by the pool with Bernardo?"
"Are you jealous of Bernardo?" My anger faded even more, because Nathaniel was one of the least jealous people I knew. I glanced at Micah, trying to get some clue as to what was going on. He shrugged and spread his hands, showing either that he didn't know or he didn't want to get dragged into it.
"Maybe I'm jealous of anything that seems more important to you and Micah than I do."
"I know we went to rescue the local guy, Andy, and I'm sorry that interfered with our time together. I'll give you that one, but talking to Bernardo was wedding related."
"And it was so important that it couldn't wait until after we'd had sex?" His voice was rising again, the softness around his mouth vanishing into his anger. I had to fight to keep my hands from turning into fists again, the tension in my shoulders returning.
My voice came out too soft, too controlled, closer to the way I talked when I was angry on the job and didn't want to lose my shit at a suspect. "If I hadn't given Lucy's message to Bernardo, I'd still be waiting to give the message directly to Edward. I hunted down Bernardo so that I could be up here with you now instead of in an hour."
"You know Edward's room number. You could have just told him yourself." Nathaniel's tone was sneering. I'd never heard him like this. Because it was so unlike him, it helped me to be less angry.
"He'd just taken Donna back to the room for makeup sex, and since he'd forgotten to tell her that he was married once before, and she just found out today, the makeup sex is going to have to be fucking spectacular."
"What did you say?" Micah asked.
"Edward was married before and didn't tell Donna?" Nathaniel asked.
"Yeah," I said.
Nathaniel looked shocked. "Jesus, is the wedding canceled?"
"It was, until I talked Donna down."
"Start from the beginning, Anita," Micah said.
"From where Donna dragged you off for the girl talk," Nathaniel said. He wasn't angry now; he looked shaken. Nothing like a real crisis to short-circuit a fight.
I told them everything that had happened, including Dixie's being more convinced than ever that she needed to stop the wedding, and her determination to tell Becca. "Lucy told me to find Bernardo and have him warn Edward, so I could be here with the two of you sooner."
Nathaniel sat down on the edge of the bed and put his hands in his lap, head down and staring at the floor. "I'm sorry I was so terrible when you walked into the room."
I sat on the bed beside him, leaning my head on his shoulder, taking one of his hands in mine. "I forgive you, if you can tell me what it was all about, so I won't step on that particular emotional landmine again."
"I'm not sure, not really."
Micah came to sit down on the other side of him and reached for Nathaniel's other hand, so the three of us sat in a row holding hands. "Before Anita got here, you were talking about our being workaholics, and that you needed more time with us than you were getting."
I sat up straighter, using my free hand to sweep his hair back so I could see the side of his face. "I'm sorry that we're both working so much."
"It's not just that."
"What is it, then?" I asked.
He glanced at me, and then at Micah. He took a deep breath, let it out, and then took another one as if he were getting his breathing under control for something physical. "Even when you're in town we don't always have sex anymore."
"We had great sex just yesterday," I said, and almost laughed.
He gave me an unfriendly look. "We used to have sex twice a day. Now we're lucky if it's once a day." The hurt in his eyes chased the last of the laughter away.
"Oh, Nathaniel," I said, and leaned in to kiss his cheek, "baby, I'm sorry. If I need to say it out loud, I want you. I always want you."
"Then why aren't we having as much sex as we were before?" He looked at me with such sadness in his eyes that it made me kiss him again, but he didn't respond with his usual passion. He looked at me, wanting explanations more than affection at that moment.
Micah said, "I can't speak for Anita, but sometimes I'm exhausted when I come in from a trip. My being tired doesn't mean I don't love you." He kissed Nathaniel's other cheek.
"I know you love me, Micah, but do you want me?"
"Of course I do. How can you ask that?"
"You almost never initiate sex when it's just the two of us. When we were together in Jean-Claude's bathtub was the first time you'd suggested just you and me in months."
Micah looked surprised, started to say something, and then seemed to think better of it. He sat there for a few seconds, hugging Nathaniel with one arm, while he thought about it. "I hadn't realized it had been that long, but I think you're right." He laid his head on Nathaniel's shoulder and hugged him more tightly. "I am so sorry."
"If it's any comfort, it's not just you," I said. "Micah and I aren't doing much better with just the two of us."
Micah raised his head. "It hasn't been months for us."
"No, but we're both tired, and holding each other sometimes seems like the best thing in the world."
Micah reached across to take my hand while he kept his arm around Nathaniel's shoulders, which meant we both had to let go of Nathaniel's hands to hug him and hold each other. "Falling asleep in each other's arms is the best thing ever," Micah said.
"It is great. I love it, too, but I love it most when we fall asleep after having sex," Nathaniel said.
"Well, me, too," I said.
"Am I the only who is having problems getting into the spirit of things?" Micah said.
"After seeing the pictures and knowing what you've been dealing with, I think the case is getting to you," I said.
"There have been some really hard ones the last six months." His face looked sad. His eyes were almost haunted as he stared at the wall, and he wasn't seeing the honeymoon suite. I knew that look. I had my own version of it. Sometimes the nightmares just pile up so high inside your head that you can't stop thinking about them.
"I know some of it," Nathaniel said, "and that's why I haven't been pushing this, but the fact that we've been in Florida for hours and still haven't had sex is just depressing. There was a time when we couldn't get into the bedroom fast enough to get our clothes off and fuck like bunnies."
"We fucked like bunnies this week," Micah said, smiling.
"Every other day, and that was after months of not having sex with you at all, Micah." Nathaniel looked at him.
Micah looked uncomfortable and drew a little away from both of us. "I'm allowed to be tired and stressed from work, Nathaniel."
"You are, but I'm allowed to miss you, miss us together, and to be sad that you find more time to have sex with Anita than with me."
"We discussed this before I said yes. I'm still not completely comfortable with . . . sex with men. I feel bad that there are things that I still don't do for you that you do for me."
Nathaniel took his hand and said, "I know I'm your first-ever boyfriend, and that you never expected to be in love with another man. I know that you
're heteroflexible at best, not bisexual like I am. I love that you love me enough to push your boundaries as much as you do, and I told you that because you let me sleep with other men in our polycule, so that I get those needs met elsewhere, that I can live with you not doing certain things with me."
"I am sorry that I'm still not there completely with you."
"If we were monogamous, it wouldn't work, but we're not, so I can get my guy-on-guy needs met. But that you don't reach for me as much as you reach for Anita . . . that hurts."
"I didn't realize it had gotten that bad," Micah said.
"I think it's because you and Anita are out of town and in town opposite each other a lot lately. When she's with us you think of sex more, because there's a woman in the bed, not just another man."
"I can't even deny it. I just hadn't realized it."
"I wasn't going to bring it up on our trip. I thought we'd catch up on all the sex and nefariousness together, but when that didn't happen I just couldn't take it anymore."
"You needed to tell us," I said.
He looked at me. "I know you've worked hard to control the ardeur better, Anita. The fact that you can go more than twenty-four hours without having to feed is great for traveling with the marshals, or going out of town to raise the dead, but I miss you reaching out to me like you did before. Feeding the ardeur is such a high."
"I can't feed on the same people every time without risking draining them to death. I don't want to risk either of you."
"And I love that you want to keep us safe, but now that you can go longer between feedings, that means that the ardeur isn't pushing us to have as much sex as it was before, and I'm beginning to think the ardeur was the reason we had as much sex as we did."
"Probably," I said.
"Passion doesn't stay at the same level all the time," Micah said.
"It does for me," he said.
"I don't think I can do sex twice a day, every day, forever," Micah said.
"I can," Nathaniel said.
Micah smiled gently and touched Nathaniel's face. "I'm sorry, but I'm not as multiorgasmic as you are."
"I'm a girl, so I can have sex twice a day, every day, if the scheduling works."
Nathaniel smiled and kissed me.