Blue Moon (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #8)(10)


by Laurell K. Hamilton

"No, we're not Mr. Niley's people." That he'd made the mistake made me wonder who Mr. Niley was.

A voice called, "These are the people I've been expecting, Ed." It was Jamil, one of Richard's enforcers. The enforcers were Skoll and Hati after the wolves that chase the sun and moon in Norse mythology. When they catch them, it will be the end of the world. Tells you something about werewolf society that their enforcers were named after creatures that would bring about the end of everything. Jamil was Skoll for Richard's pack, which meant he was head enforcer. He was tall and slender in the way a dancer is slender, all muscles and shoulders planed down to a smooth, graceful machine of flesh. He was wearing a white sleeveless men's undershirt and loose, tailored white pants with a very sharp cuff rolled at the end of the pants legs. Black suspenders graced his upper body and matched the highly polished black shoes. A white linen jacket was thrown over one shoulder. His dark skin gleamed against the whiteness of his clothes. His hair was nearly waist length in cornrows with white beads woven through the braids. Last time I'd seen him, the beads had been multicolored.

Ed flicked a look back at Jamil. "If you say so," he said. He went back to the main building, leaving us to ourselves. Probably just as well.

"I didn't know you were here, Jamil," I said.

"I'm Richard's bodyguard. Where else would I be?"

He had a point. "Where were you the night his body was supposedly attacking this woman?"

"Her name is Betty Schaffer."

"Have you talked to her?"

His eyes widened. "She's already cried rape once on a fine, upstanding white boy. No, I haven't talked to her."

"You could try and blend in a little."

"I'm one of only two black men for about 50 miles," he said, "There's no way for me to blend in, Anita, so I don't try." There was an undercurrent of real anger there. I wondered if Jamil had been having trouble with the locals. It seemed likely. He wasn't just African American. He was tall, handsome, and athletic looking. That alone would have gotten him on the redneck hit parade. The long cornrow hair and the killer fashion sense raised the question that he might violate the last white male bastion of homophobia. I knew that Jamil liked girls, but I was almost willing to bet some of the locals hadn't believed that.

"I assume that is the other African American guy." I was careful not to point at Milo. He was watching us, face expressionless, but too intense. Muscle recognizes muscle, and he was probably wondering about Jamil just as we were wondering about him. What was professional muscle doing out here in the boonies?

Jamil nodded. "Yeah, that's the other one."

"He doesn't blend in, either," I said. "Who is he?"

"His name is Milo Hart. He works for a guy named Frank Niley who is supposed to arrive today."

"You and he sit down and have a talk?"

"No, but Ed is just full of news."

"Why does Frank Niley need a bodyguard?"

"He's rich," Jamil said as if that explained it, and maybe it did. "He's down here doing some land speculation."

"Ed the plane mechanic tell you all this?"

Jamil nodded. "He likes to talk, even to me."

"Gee, and I thought you were just another pretty face."

Jamil smiled. "I'll do my job when Richard lets me."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means if he'd let me watch over him like a good Skoll is supposed to, this rape charge would never have happened. I'd have been a witness, and it wouldn't be just her word against his."

"Maybe I should talk to Ms. Schaffer," I said.

"Babe, you just read my mind."

"You know, Jamil, you're the only person who ever calls me babe. There's a reason for that."

His smile widened. "I'll try to remember that."

"What happened to Richard, Jamil?"

"You mean did he do it?"

I shook my head. "No, I know he didn't do it."

"He did date her," Jamil said.

I looked at him. "What are you saying?"

"Richard's been trying to find a replacement for you."

"So?"

"So, he's been dating anything that moves."

"Just dating?" I asked.

Jamil swirled his jacket from his shoulder to one arm, smoothing the cloth and not looking at me.

"Answer the question, Jamil."

He looked at me, almost smiling, then sighed. "No, not just dating."

I had to ask. "He's been sleeping around?"

Jamil nodded.

I stood there, thinking about that for a second or two. Richard and I had each been celibate for years, separate decisions. I'd certainly changed my lifestyle. Did I really think he'd stay chaste when I hadn't? Was it any of my business what he did? No; no, it wasn't.

I finally shrugged. "He's not my boyfriend anymore, Jamil. And he's a big boy." I shrugged again, not really sure how I felt about Richard sleeping around. Trying very hard not to feel anything about it, because it didn't matter how I felt. Richard had his own life to live, and it didn't include me, not in that way. "I'm not here to police Richard's sex life."

Jamil nodded almost to himself. "Good. I was worried."

"What, you thought I'd throw a fit and storm off, leaving him to his just desserts?"

"Something like that," he said.

"Did he have sex with the woman who's made the accusation?"

"If you mean intercourse, no. She's human," he said. "Richard doesn't do humans. He's afraid they're too fragile."

"I thought you just said he'd been sleeping with Ms. Schaffer."

"Having sex, but not doing the dirty deed."

I wasn't a virgin. I knew there were alternatives, but ... "Why alternative methods with humans? Why not just ... do it?"

"Doing the wild thing can release our beast early. You don't want to know what happens when you're with a human who doesn't know what you are, and you shift on top of them, inside them." A shadow crossed his face, and he looked away.

"You sound like the voice of experience," I said.

He looked slowly back at me, and there was something in his face that was suddenly frightening, like looking up and realizing that the bars between you and the lion at the zoo aren't there anymore. "That is none of your business."