Jean-Claude released the ardeurwith less than an hour to go, before they would die. I did not want to be trapped underneath anyone when that happened. But the ardeurhad been denied longer than I'd ever denied it, and it was like a force of nature, a storm that broke over us, washed away Jean-Claude's clothes and what was left of mine.
I took Asher into my mouth and explored the perfection of him, found the one thin scar that trailed down his scrotum. I sucked the ridge of scar tissue into my mouth and made him cry out above me.
It was chance more than planning that put Jean-Claude underneath me, inside me, with Asher at my back, his weight beating into both of us, but without an opening to claim. Or without an opening I was willing to share. I could feel the length of Asher pressed along my back. Every time Jean-Claude pushed himself up inside me, Asher pushed himself against my back, wedged between the cheeks of my buttocks. They echoed each other perfectly. When one moved, the other moved. Until somewhere in the middle of it all, I begged, Asher to enter me, take me.
Jean-Claude's voice came as if from a great distance, "Non, mon chardonneret,we have done no preparation. She has never had it done before."
Dimly I realized what I'd asked and was happy someone could think well enough to stop me from letting others hurt me. But part of me was angry, the ardeurwanted Asher inside, wanted to drink him in.
I rode Jean-Claude's body, while Asher's body rode mine. Jean-Claude's hands were on my waist, holding me in place, steadying me, directing me, the way you lead a dance partner. One of Asher's hands propped him up on the bed but the other had spilled up to cup my breast, his hand kneading, pulling, just this side of pain.
I felt the building pressure inside me, that feeling that preceded the explosion, and I didn't want it yet, not yet. I wanted Asher, the way I wanted Jean-Claude. I wanted, needed him to pierce my body. "Please, Asher, please, be inside me, please!"
He drew my hair to one side and bared my neck. The ardeurflared through me. "Yes, Asher, yes."
That warm deep well was filling up, up inside me, there were only seconds to have him join us. I wanted his release with ours. I wanted him with us.
There seemed like there was something else I should have been remembering but it was lost in the pounding of Jean-Claude's body, the rhythm of my hips, the feel of his hands on my waist, Asher's hand on my breast, tight enough for pain now, the feel of him so solid, so wet from his own body, so that he moved in a channel of his own moisture, yet I knew he had not come.
He raised the hand from the bed and cupped my head to one side, holding it, straining my neck in a long, clean line.
It was as if they knew, they both knew what my body was about to do, as if they could smell it, or hear it, or taste it. At the moment that that warmth spilled over the edge, as the first drop of it spilled over my skin, tightened my body; Asher struck. There was one moment of sharp pain, and the pain fed into the pleasure, and I remembered what I had forgotten. Asher's bite was pleasure.
I rode that pleasure over and over and over until I screamed out, wordless, soundless, skinless, boneless, I was nothing, but the warm spilling pleasure. There was nothing else.
Jean-Claude came screaming, his nails digging into my skin, and that brought me back, reminded me I had a body, that skin contained me, that bones and muscles rode the body underneath me. Asher came in a scalding wave against my back, as his mouth stayed locked on my throat. We fed on one another.
My ardeurdrank Jean-Claude up through the warm moistness of my body, through the skin wherever it touched his. His ardeurdrank me down, pulling down the long shaft of him like a hand inside my body taking things away. My ardeurdrank Asher down, absorbed him where he lay on my skin, sucked him in as he pulled at me. The feel of his mouth locked on my neck was like a trap, the ardeursucking him down through his mouth, and he, sucking my blood, feeding, swallowing, drinking me down. As long as he fed, he brought orgasm in one crashing wave after another, wave after wave of pleasure, and it wasn't until Jean-Claude cried out underneath me that I realized, through his own marks, he was able to feel what I was feeling.
Asher rode us both, rode us and brought us, rode us and brought us, until when he drew back there was blood pouring from his mouth and I knew he'd taken more than he needed merely to feed. It wouldn't kill me, but in that one shining moment I wasn't sure it mattered. It was the kind of pleasure you'd beg for, kill for, maybe, maybe even let yourself die for.
I collapsed on top of Jean-Claude, twitching, unable to control my body, unable to do more than shiver. Jean-Claude lay trembling underneath me. Asher collapsed on top of us. I felt him tremble against my back. We lay shaking, trembling, waiting for one of us to be able to move enough to walk, or scream, or anything. Then dawn came, and I felt their souls slip away, felt their bodies go slack and empty. I was pressed between the frantic pulse and warmth of their bodies, the fluids not even cooled on our skin, and suddenly, Asher was heavy, and Jean-Claude was totally limp under all the weight.
I struggled to get out from between them, but my arms and legs weren't working yet. I did not want to lie here while their bodies cooled. I couldn't get up. I couldn't get Asher off of me. I couldn't make my body work. How much blood had I lost? Too much? How much?
I was dizzy, light-headed, and I couldn't tell if it was from the sex, or if Asher had truly taken too much blood. I tried to push him off of me, I should have been able to do that, and I couldn't. The first edge of nausea hit me, and I knew it was blood loss. I touched my neck and found that blood was still seeping from the puncture wounds. That shouldn't have been happening. Should it? I never donated blood voluntarily. I didn't know how long the wounds should bleed.
I tried to lift with my arms, like doing a push-up, and the world swam in streams of colors, dizziness threatened to engulf the world. I did the only thing I could think of–I screamed.
The door opened and it was Jason. I don't think I'd ever been so happy to see him. I managed to say, "Help me." My voice sounded weak and scared, and I hated it, but I also was feeling nauseous and dizzy, and that wasn't post-coital languor, it was blood loss.
Now that I could see again, I realized I was drenched in blood–and other things–but it was mainly the blood that was worrying me, because it was all mine.
Jason rolled Asher off of me. He moved with that boneless ease that only a truly dead body has. I don't know what the difference between sleep and death is, but you know instantly when you move even an arm whether it's death, or whether it's sleep.
Asher lay there on his back, his hair spilled around his face like a halo, crimson blood glittered on his chin, his neck, his upper chest. The scars didn't take away from the beauty of him nude. They weren't the first thing you noticed, or even the third. He lay, drenched in my blood, like some fallen god, come down to death at last.
Even sick from loss of blood, I could not find him anything but beautiful. What the fuck was wrong with me?
Jason had to help me slide off of Jean-Claude, catching me in his arms, holding me like you'd hold a child. I was nude, he'd just dragged me from a bed where I'd obviously had sex with two men, yet Jason hadn't made a single quip, or joke. When Jason had this much ammunition but didn't tease, things were bad.
I laid my head against Jason's shoulder, and that helped the dizziness, made the world a little less shaky. He started to turn me away from the bed, but I said, "Wait, not yet."
He stopped moving. "What?"
"I want to remember this."
"What?" he asked again.
"The way they look together." They both lay on their backs, but whereas Asher looked like some fallen death god, Jean-Claude looked like a god of a different kind. His thick black hair lay in a heavy mass around his head, carelessly arranged like a dark frame for that pale, pale face. His lips were half-parted, his lashes thick as lace upon his cheeks. He lay as if he had fallen asleep after some great passion, one hand across his stomach, the other at his side, one knee bent, so that he seemed almost displayed. Only Jean-Claude could die and look this pretty while he did it.
"Anita, Anita," I realized that Jason had been talking for awhile. "How much blood did they take?"
My voice came out hoarse, my mouth was dry. "Not they, only Asher."
He settled me closer in his arms, almost like he was hugging me. His leather jacket creaked as he moved. His bare chest was very warm against my naked skin. "He didn't just feed." Jason sounded disapproving, which you didn't hear much.
"He got caught up in the moment, I think."
He shifted me so that he could free up a hand to touch my forehead, which seemed silly since I was nude, but we often fall into habit when we're stressed. You check someone's temperature on their foreheads, even if they're naked.
"You don't feel feverish. If anything you feel a little cool."
That made me remember something, and the fact that I'd forgotten said I was feeling worse than I knew. "Is my neck still bleeding?"
"Should it be?"
He carried me towards the bathroom. "Have you never been bitten this badly before?" He opened the door with his knee and one hand, and carried me through.
"Not without passing out afterwards, non." I frowned. "Did I just say, non,instead of no?"
"Yep," he said.
"Shit," I said.
"Yeah," he said. He sat on the edge of the huge black marble tub, balancing me in his lap while he turned on the water. The water spilled out of a silver swan's mouth, which I'd always thought was ostentatious, but hey, it wasn't my bathroom.
The nausea had passed, the dizziness was waning. "Down, put me down."
"The marble is cold," he said.
I sighed. "I need to find out how well my body's working."
"Just try sitting up in my lap without me holding you. If you're okay, I'll fetch towels and you can sit on them, but trust me you don't want to sit naked on this marble."
"Practical," I said.
"Don't tell anyone I actually made sense, it'll ruin my image."
I smiled. "Secret's safe with me." I tried sitting up, while Jason fidgeted with the water, trying to get the right temperature. I could sit up. Great. I tried to stand, and only Jason's arm around my waist kept me from falling on the marble steps leading down from the tub.
He tucked me safely back in his lap. "Don't try and do so much so fast, Anita."
I leaned back against him, his arm like a safety belt around my waist. "Why I am so weak?"
"How can you have been around vampires this long and ask me that?"
"I don't let them feed," I said.
"I do, and trust me, when you've donated this much, it takes a little while to recover." He seemed satisfied with the water temperature at last. He turned the faucets on harder and had to talk louder over the sound of the water. "We'll get you cleaned up and see how you feel."
I could feel myself frowning, and I wasn't sure why. I felt like I should be angry. I should be something, and I wasn't. Now that I wasn't trapped between Jean-Claude and Asher anymore, I was strangely calm. No, not just calm, I felt good, and I shouldn't have.
I frowned harder, trying to chase this wonderful lassitude away. It was like trying to wake from a bad dream when it didn't want to let you go. Except instead of fighting to wake from a nightmare, I was fighting to destroy a good dream. That seemed wrong, too. Everything seemed wrong. I felt, vaguely, like I'd missed something important, but for the life of me, I couldn't place it.
I felt out of sorts and wonderful at the same time. It was as if my natural grumpiness was fighting some warm happy thought. The warm happy thought was winning, but I wasn't sure that that was necessarily a good thing.
"What's wrong with me?" I asked.
"What do you mean?" Jason asked.
"I feel good, and I shouldn't. I feel wonderful. A few minutes ago I was terrified, dizzy, sick, and scared. But once you got me out of the bed, it all seemed better."
"Just better?" he asked. He was slipping out of his leather jacket, one arm at a time, while he took turns holding me with the other arm.
"You're right, not just better. Once I wasn't scared, it was wonderful again." I frowned and tried to think, and was still having trouble doing it. "Why can't I think through this?"
He rearranged me in his lap so he could unzip his boots, and push them off with his feet. It finally hit me that he was undressing himself, while still holding me in his lap. Who says that the skills you learn at work don't come in useful in your everyday life?
"Why are you undressing?"
"You can't move around without falling down, I'd hate for you to drown in the tub."
I tried pushing this wonderful feeling farther away, but it was like trying to fight a warm, comforting mist. You could strike out, but there was nothing solid to hit. The mist just moved and reformed, and stayed.
"Stop," I said, the one word was firm enough, though I didn't feel very firm inside.
"What?" he asked, as he moved me enough forward so that he could unfasten the tops of his jeans.
"This should bother me, you trying to get naked, while I'm naked, in a tub, that should bother me, right?"
"But it doesn't, does it," he said. He was unbuttoning his button fly jeans with one hand. That took talent.
"No, it doesn't," I said, frowning again, "why doesn't it bother me?"
"You really don't know, do you?" he asked.
"No," I said, not even sure what I was saying no to.
He'd gotten his jeans unbuttoned. "I can either lay you down on the very cold tile, or I can throw you over my shoulder for a few seconds while I take the pants off, lady's choice."
The decision seemed too hard for me. "I don't know."
He didn't ask a second time, just tossed me, as gently as he could over his shoulder, sort of half a fireman's carry. Being upside down made the world spin again, and I wondered if I was going to be sick all over his back. He balanced me there while he wormed out of his jeans.
I was now staring down his bare back as the jeans slid down the top of his butt. The nausea had passed, and I giggled–I never giggle–"Nice ass."
He choked, or laughed. "I never knew you noticed."
"Underwear," I said.
"You had underwear, I caught a glimpse of it." I had this horrible urge to run my hands over his butt, just because it was there, and I could. It was like I was drunk or high.
"Yeah, I had underwear on, what about it?"
"Can you put it back on?"
"You don't really care if I have underwear on, or not, do you?" and there was something in his voice that was almost teasing.
"Nope." I shook my head, which made the world spin again. "Oh, God, I think I'm going to be sick."
"Stop moving, it'll pass. You wouldn't be sick at all if you hadn't fought to get out from between the two of them. Too much physical exertion right afterwards will make you sick as a dog. Sink into the feeling, just ride it, and it feels wonderful."
I felt a little silly talking to his ass, but it didn't seem nearly as silly as it should have. "What feels wonderful?"
"Guess," he said.
That made me frown. "Don't want to guess." God, what was wrong with me? "Tell me."
"Let's get you in the tub, a bath will help clear your head."
He moved me back to his arms, and stepped over the edge of the tub. "You're naked," I said.
"So are you," he said.
That had a certain logic to it that I couldn't quite argue with, though I felt I should have argued with it. "Weren't you going to put something back on?"
"The underwear is silk, I'm not going to ruin it by wearing it in the tub, because you think I should put it on. Besides, you don't really care if I'm naked or not. Remember?"
A headache was beginning just behind one eye. "No," I said, "but I should care, shouldn't I? I mean . . ."
Jason lowered us both into the water. It felt wonderful, so warm, so smooth, so good against my skin. Jason moved me gently in the water until I was sitting in front of him, cradled against his body.
The water was so warm, so warm, and I was so tired. It would feel so good to just sleep.
Jason's arm on my waist jerked me back. "Anita, you can't sleep in the bathtub, you'll drown."
"You won't let me drown," I said, and my voice was thick with warmth and sleep.
"No, I won't let you drown," he said.
I frowned, as I half-floated in the water. "What is wrong with me, Jason? I feel drunk."
"You have been well and truly rolled by a vampire, Anita."
"Jean-Claude can't, his own marks protect me," my voice seemed to be coming from a long way away.
"I never said it was Jean-Claude."
"Asher," I whispered the name.
"I've shared blood with him before, and it is the most amazing thing. Jean-Claude says he always holds back, because he knows I'm not his pomme de sang,I'm just a loaner."
"Loaner," I said.
"I don't think Asher held back with you tonight."
"The ardeur,we . . . were doing . . . the ardeur." Each word was thick with effort.
"The ardeurcould have made him careless," Jason said. His hands were very solid on me, cradling me in the water more than against his body.
"Careless?" I said.
"Go ahead and pass out, Anita. When you wake up, we'll talk."
"Things," he said, and his voice was sinking away into the candlelit dark. I didn't remember him lighting the candles that Jean-Claude usually kept around the tub.
I started to ask, what things?but the words never made it out loud. I fell into a warm, soft darkness, where there was no fear, no pain. So warm, so safe, so loved.