Blue Moon (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #8)(4)

by Laurell K. Hamilton

I shook my head. "Richard and I both value what little is left of our humanity. Besides, eternity my ass, the fourth mark wouldn't make us immortal. It just means that we live as long as you do. You're harder to kill than we are, but not that much harder."

He sat down on the couch, folding his legs under him. It wasn't an easy position, wearing that much leather. Maybe the boots were softer than they looked. Naw.

He rested his elbows on the couch arm, leaning his chest outward. The sheer red cloth covered his chest completely and left nothing to the imagination. His ni**les pressed against the thin fabric. The red haze of cloth made the cross-shaped burn scar look almost bloody.

He raised himself upward with his hands propped on the couch arm like a mermaid on a rock. I expected him to tease or say something sexual. Instead, he said, "I came to tell you of Richard's imprisonment in person." He watched my face very closely. "I thought it might upset you."

"Of course it upsets me. This Colin guy, vampire, whatever the hell he is, is crazy if he thinks he's going to keep us from helping Richard."

Jean-Claude smiled. "Asher is negotiating even as we speak to try and allow you to enter Colin's territory."

Asher was his second banana, his vampire lieutenant. I frowned. "Why me and not you?"

"Because you are much better with police matters than I am." He threw one long, leather-clad leg over the couch arm and slithered over it to his feet. It was like watching a lap dance without a lap. To my knowledge, Jean-Claude had never stripped at Guilty Pleasures, the vampire strip club he owned, but he could have. He had a way of making even the smallest movement sexual and vaguely obscene. You always felt like he was thinking wicked thoughts, things you couldn't say in mixed company.

"Why didn't you just call and tell me all this?" I said. I knew the answer, or at least part of it. He seemed to be as enamored of my body as I was of his. Good sex cuts both ways. The seducer can become the seduced, with the right victim.

He glided towards me. "I thought this was news to be delivered face-to-face." He stopped just in front of me, so close that the slightly full hem of my nightie brushed his thighs. He gave a small movement of his body and the satin edge of the nightie moved gently against my bare legs. Most men would have had to use their hands to get that kind of movement. Of course, Jean-Claude had had four hundred years to perfect his technique. Practice makes perfect.

"Why face-to-face?" I asked, my voice a little breathy.

A smile curled his lips. "You know why," he said.

"I want to hear you say it," I said.

His beautiful face fell into blank, careful lines, only his eyes held the heat like a banked fire. "I could not let you leave without touching you one last time. I want to do the wicked dance before you leave."

I laughed, but it was tense, nervous. My mouth was suddenly dry. I was having trouble not staring at his chest. The "wicked dance" was his pet euphemism for sex. I wanted to touch him, but if I did, I wasn't sure where it would stop. Richard was in trouble. I'd betrayed him once with Jean-Claude; I wouldn't let him down again. "I need to pack," I said. I turned abruptly and started walking towards the bedroom.

He followed me.

I put my gun on the bedside table beside the phone, got socks out of the drawer, and started tossing them into the suitcase, trying to ignore Jean-Claude. He doesn't ignore easily. He lay on the bed beside the suitcase, propped on one elbow, long legs stretched the length of the bed. He looked fearfully overdressed against my white sheets. He watched me move around the room, moving just his eyes. He reminded me of a cat: watchful, perfectly at ease.

I went into the nearby bathroom to get toiletries. I had a man's shaving kit bag that I kept all the small stuff in. I was traveling out of town more and more lately. Might as well be organized about it.

Jean-Claude was lying on his back, long, black hair spilling like a dark dream on my white pillow. He gave a slight smile as I entered the room. He held a hand out to me. "Join me, ma petite."

I shook my head. "If I join you, we'll get distracted. I'm going to pack and get dressed. We don't have time for anything else."

He crawled towards me over the bed, moving in a rolling glide like he had muscles in places he wasn't supposed to have them. "Am I so unappealing, ma petite? Or is your concern for Richard so overwhelming?"

"You know exactly how appealing you are to me. And yes, I am worried about Richard."

He slid off the bed, following at my heels. He glided in a sort of graceful slow motion while I hurried to and fro, but he paced me, matching each of my quick steps with his easy ones. It was like being chased by a very slow predator, one that had all the time in the world but knew in the end it would catch you.

The second time I almost ran into him, I finally said, "What is your problem? Quit following me around. You're making me nervous." Truth was, his body being so close made my skin jump.

He sat down on the edge of the bed and sighed, "I don't want you to go."

That stopped me in my tracks. I turned and stared at him. "Why, for heaven's sake?"

"For centuries I have dreamed of having enough power to be safe. Enough power to hold my lands and finally, at long last, have some sense of peace. Now I fear the very man who could make my ambitions come true."

"What are you talking about?" I came to stand in front of him, arms full of shirts and hangers.

"Richard; I fear Richard." There was a look in his eyes that I'd seldom seen. He was unsure of himself. It was a very normal, human expression. It looked totally at odds with the elegant man in his peekaboo shirt.

"Why would you be afraid of Richard?" I asked.

"If you love Richard more than you love me, I fear you will leave me for him."

"If you haven't noticed, Richard hates me right now. He talks more to you than to me."

"He does not hate you, ma petite. He hates that you are with me. There is a great difference between the two hatreds." Jean-Claude stared up at me almost mournfully.

I sighed. "Are you jealous of Richard?"

He looked down at the toes of his expensive boots. "I would be a fool if I were not."

I transferred the blouses to one arm and touched his face. I turned his face up to mine. "I'm sleeping with you, not Richard, remember?"