Bite (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #8.5)(8)


by Laurell K. Hamilton

Malcolm stepped over the struggling, gagged form of the other vampire and went out the door with his deacons. None of them even looked back at the vampire chained on the floor.

There were a flock of waiters and waitresses in their skimpy uniforms, huddled in the doorway. “Take this vampire and load him in ma petite’s car.”

He looked at me, and I got my keys out of the leather coat and tossed it to one of the vampires. One of the women picked the chained vamp off the floor and tossed him over her shoulder like he weighed nothing. They closed the door behind them without being told.

I picked my coat off the floor. “I have to go.”

“Of course, you do.” His voice held just a little bit of anger. “You have let your desire for me out and now you must cage it again, hide it away, be ashamed of it.”

I started to be angry, but I looked at him sitting there, head down, hands limp in his lap, as dejected as I’d seen him in a while, and I wasn’t angry. He was right, that was exactly how I treated him. I stayed where I was, the coat over one arm.

“I have to take him down to the police station and make sure the press gets the truth, not something that will make the vampires look worse than they already do in all this.”

He nodded without looking up.

If he’d been his usual arrogant self I could have left him like that, but he was letting his pain show, and that I couldn’t just walk away from. “Let’s try an olive branch,” I said.

He looked up at that, frowning. “Olive branch?”

“White flag?” I said.

He smiled then. “A truce.” He laughed, and it danced over my skin, “I did not know we were at war.”

That hit a little too close to home. “Are you going to let me say something nice, or not?”

“By all means, ma petite, far be it for me to interrupt your gentler urges.”

“I am trying to ask you out on a date.”

The smile widened, his eyes filling with such instant pleasure that it made me look away, because it made me want to smile back at him. “It must have been a very long time since you asked a man out; you seem to be out of practice.”

I put on my coat. “Fine, be a smart alec. See where it gets you.”

I was almost to the door when he said, “Not a war, ma petite, but a siege, and this poor soldier is feeling very left out in the cold.”

I stopped and turned around. He was still sitting on the desk trying to look harmless, I think. He was many things: handsome, seductive, intelligent, cruel, but not harmless, not to body, mind, or soul.

“Tomorrow night, pick a restaurant.” One of the side effects of being his human servant was that he could taste food through me. It was the first time he’d been able to taste food in centuries. It was a minor power to share but he adored it, and I adored watching him enjoying his first bite of steak in four hundred years.

“I will make reservations,” he said, voice careful again, as if he were afraid I’d change my mind.

Looking at him, sitting on his desk all in red and black and satin and leather, I didn’t want to change my mind. I wanted to sit across the table from him. I wanted to drive him home and go inside and see what color of sheets he had on that big bed of his.

It wasn’t just the sex; I wanted someone to hold me. I wanted some place safe, some place to be myself. And like it, or hate it, in Jean-Claude’s arms I could be perfectly who and what I was. I could have called Richard up and he’d have been just as glad to hear from me, and there would have been as much heat, but Richard and I had some philosophical differences that went beyond him being a werewolf. Richard tried to be a good person, and he thought I killed too easily to be a good person. Jean-Claude had helped teach me the ultimate practicality that had kept me alive, helped me keep others alive. But the thought that Jean-Claude’s arms were the closest thing I had to a refuge in this world was a sobering thought. Almost a depressing one.

He slid off the desk in one graceful movement as if his body were pulled by strings. He started to glide toward me, moving like some great cat. Just watching him walk toward me made my chest tight. He grabbed each side of the leather coat and drew me into the circle of his arms. “Would it be pushing the bounds of our truce too far to say, that it is hours until dawn?”

My voice came out breathy, “I have to take him to the police and deal with reporters, that will take hours.”

“This time of year dawn comes very late.” He whispered as he bent to lay his lips against mine.

We kissed, and I drew back enough to whisper, “I’ll try to be back before dawn.”

IT was four days before Christmas, an hour before dawn, when I knocked on Jean-Claude’s bedroom door underneath the Circus of the Damned, one of his other clubs. His voice called, “Come in, ma petite.”

An hour. It wasn’t much time, but time is what you make it. I had stopped by the grocery store on the way and picked up some ready-made chocolate icing in one of those flip-top canisters. He could taste the chocolate while I ate it, and if it just happened to be on him while I was eating it, well…. The silk sheets on his bed were white, and we laughed while we covered him in chocolate and stained the sheets. But when every inch of him that I wanted was covered in thick, sweet chocolate, the laughter stopped, and other noises began, noises even more precious to me than his laughter. Dawn caught us before he could take a bath and clean himself of the sticky sweetness. I left him in a pile of chocolate-smeared white silk sheets, his body still warm to the touch, but his heart no longer beating. Dawn had found him and stolen his life away, and lifeless he would remain for hours; then he would wake, and he would be “alive” again. He truly was a corpse. I knew that. But he had the sweetest skin I’d ever tasted, candy-covered or plain. He had no pulse, no breath, no movement, dead. It should have made a difference, and it did. I think the siege, as he called it, would have been over long ago if he’d been alive, or maybe not. Being a vampire was too large a part of who Jean-Claude was, for me to separate them out. It did make a difference, but I laid one last icing coated kiss on his forehead, and went home. We had a date tonight, and with the feel of his body still clinging to mine, I could hardly wait.

ONE WORD ANSWER

Charlaine Harris

BUBBA the Vampire and I were raking up clippings from my newly-trimmed bushes about midnight when the long black car pulled up. I’d been enjoying the gentle scent of the cut bushes and the songs of the crickets and frogs celebrating spring. Everything hushed with the arrival of the black limousine. Bubba vanished immediately, because he didn’t recognize the car. Since he changed over to the vampire persuasion, Bubba’s been on the shy side.

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