Cloud City (Anna Strong Chronicles #9)


Leticia's hand snakes between their bodies. "I'd say you were happy to see me."

I clear my throat. "Can you restrain yourself until you're alone?" I wait for them to part-reluctantly-and look into Prendergast's eyes. "Jonathan?"

He nods. "In the flesh evidently."

"Is Prendergast in there with you?"

A pause as if Jonathan is taking inventory. "I think he's gone. I felt something when I first entered his body. A sharp pain in my-his-chest. For a minute I thought we had both died."

"He had a heart condition," Sophie says, joining us from the shadow of the bar. "If we'd waited a minute longer, you both would have died."

I steel myself for Jonathan's reaction when he sees Sophie. Would he be angry that she risked his life to be rid of him?

Leticia is rubbing the back of his neck, nibbling his ear. He's projecting nothing but contentment, purring inside like a kitten getting a chin rub.

After a moment, he rouses himself long enough to face Sophie. "I knew you were unhappy. You took a risk bringing Leticia into it, though. You would be dead if hadn't worked."

"You may still be dead," Leticia growls, "if the spell turns out to be temporary. I need to know-what is Jonathan? Human or vampire?"

Sophie shakes her head. "I don't know. But does it matter? If he's human, you can change that."

Leticia raises her eyebrows. "Hadn't thought of that. You're right. We'll test it tonight."

Jonathan looks around the bar. "Are there any mirrors? If I am human, I'd like to get a look at myself."

Sophie spies one behind a booth. "There."

He walks over, Leticia by his side. There's a fuzzy image, fading even as he looks. I get a flashback to my first realization that I was a vampire. A mirror image vanishing as I watched just as his does now.

A stab of emotion washes over me-recollection of what I felt then-a sense of loss, uncertainty, fear.

That was eighteen months ago.

I've reconciled to what I am. Jonathan won't have to go through that same period of adjustment. He'd been a vampire a long time before his assimilation into Sophie.

Jonathan runs a hand through his hair, glances down at his hand with a frown. "Well. I guess I have my work cut out for me. This guy was flabby and what's with this hair?" He sweeps Leticia into his arms. "Can you live with this face?"

"We've got other things to discuss," I remind him before he and Leticia start another round of petting. "Prendergast had a job. Do you intend to take over his life as well as his identity?"

He shrugs. "I suppose it depends on how much fun I can have. And how much money he makes. I am used to a certain lifestyle."

Leticia clucks her tongue. "Money is no object, my love. I have plenty for both of us."

"And there is Jonathan's estate," Sophie adds quietly. "I am willing to relinquish any claim. I still have my house in Denver."

Jonathan waves his hand. "All things we can discuss later. Tomorrow." His voice is husky. "Right now, I have more urgent matters on my mind." He leans over and whispers in Leticia's ear.

She pulls back, grinning. "You haven't had sex in how long? What are we doing standing here?"

Jonathan looks at Sophie. "Prendergast was in room 302, right?"

She nods. "The key is probably in his pocket."

Jonathan and Leticia barely take the time to wave on their way out.

Great. If I could hear Prendergast pecking at his computer and talking on the phone, what will it be like when those two start going at it?

I stay behind with Sophie to help her clear away the debris from her spell making and scrub the pentagram from the floor. We don't speak. I imagine it's a relief for Sophie to be alone with her own thoughts so I don't intrude with small talk.

We part at the hotel lobby and I go reluctantly up to my room. It's been a couple of hours, but the bed springs are still singing next door and the mingled moans of Jonathan and Leticia keep me awake long past dawn. The windows are open and once in awhile a whiff of sex and blood drifts in, making my own hormones jump into overdrive.

Tomorrow, I ask for a different room.