My fingers were numb with cold. I had just spent the
last six hours outside
in temperatures hovering slightly above zero degrees and was eager to jump
in a hot shower--not
only to wash away the sacrificial chicken blood
splattered on my chest, but to thaw myself out. And then, I did
date. Wouldn't be kosher showing up in dirty jeans and a crud-speckled
shirt. Especially since
my date tonight happened to be the undisputed
fashion-plate of the vampire underworld.
I fumbled with the keys, forcing my fingers to cooperate and pushed the door
leaning into it with my shoulder. In the darkness my eyes were
immediately drawn to my answering machine and the
little red light blinking
impatiently beside the cradle.
Sighing, I closed the door behind me, locked it again, and stalked over to
phone, flipping a light switch en route. Eyes fixed on the answering
machine, I slipped out of my lined, leather
jacket and tossed it over the
back of my couch.
No one had paged me via beeper. Usually if something important came up like
police-work, Dolph would call that first. Please don't let this be
important, I pleaded, stabbing the button
to replay the message. I didn't
want to have to do anything else work-related tonight. I was actually
forward to this date, had been all evening, and the inevitable
intimacies my dates often led to as of late.
The message began. First, there was a long-suffering sigh, then
smooth-as-milk-chocolate voice caressed away the silence.
"Ma petite, I am truly sorry, but I must cancel our date tonight." Another
sigh. "Something has come up at the last minute. I hope you'll forgive me
for not being able to tell you
this sooner. Sleep tonight, ma cherie, and I
will make it up to you the next time we are together, I promise.
then, Je reverai de vous ce soir."
"No!" I said out loud and swore softly under my breath. "Damn you,
I've been looking forward to this all day!" I sat down, or
rather threw myself into the nearest chair and pouted.
"Your loss, bud."
Now you don't get to see my new dress. You would have liked it too. I
spared a glance
at the garment hanging on the back of my bedroom door.
Short and black and satin. Yeah, he would have liked it.
The store tags
still dangled from the three-quarter lace sleeve and I actually considered
taking it back as a way
to punish him.
"You shit!" I pounded the arm of the chair with my fist, then stood up.
was not here so my anger and melodrama were wasted, but being angry made me
feel better. I couldn't stop
that little niggling voice in the back of my
head that kept telling me Jean-Claude saw me only when it was convenient
him. He was still Master of the City and anything that involved surely took
precedence over little ol' me.
"Fine," I spat, glaring at the answering machine on my end table. "See how
available I am next time you call." I bent to press the erase button on the
machine and paused, my hand hovering
inches above the tiny gray nub. He did
sound sorry. In fact, he sounded down-right depressed. I punched
replay button instead of the erase and stood there, wrapping my arms around
myself as I listened.
It was that sigh. The one that began the message. It was ragged and
forceful. And there was something in the tone of his voice as he
apologized. Jean-Claude had an exceptional
voice and frequently used it to
his advantage, but not here. The words spoken, as romantic and sweet as
were, had been murmured with a flat, thick French accent. He sounded
tired and tense and entirely asexual.
Something was wrong. Granted,
Jean-Claude's voice at its worse was still better than many at their best,
I've heard Jean-Claude make reservations at a restaurant over a phone
before with more panache than this.
I played the message back one more time before making up my mind. Turning
with newfound purpose, I strode determinedly towards the bathroom, stripping
off my clothes along the way. First
things first. I needed to shower.
It was snowing rather steadily by the time I pulled up in front of the
of the Damned. I tucked my silver cross pendant beneath the collar
of my black polo shirt, then did a quick inventory
of the weapons I had
brought with me. Some women feel naked without jewelry, well, I felt naked
without my Browning,
Firestar, knife sheaths, and extra ammo. Especially
down in the Blood District.
The first noticeable sign I encountered that all was not well, was Jason and
standing like sentries at the bottom of the stairs outside the door
leading beneath the Circus. It made me wonder
if my showing up here tonight
had been anticipated after all. They huddled in the shadows, hands tucked
their arms like matching Indian braves, to ward off the cold. The
snow around their feet swirled and danced in the
brisk north wind, lighting
upon their shoulders and hair, melting, and streaming in cold clear trails
down their cheeks.
As soon as Jason saw me he shook his head and stepped towards me with his
raised as if to ward me off. Stephan's eyes widened and his mouth
dropped open like a kid's on Christmas morning.
Now why would my sudden
presence invoke that kind of reaction from them? Something was up.
"Anita," Jason began, moving to stand in front of me. "What are you doing
here tonight? Didn't you get Jean-Claude's message?"
I frowned at him and tried to step around him, but he moved again, blocking
way. I stared back at him with angry, narrowed eyes.
"I got his message. And that's precisely why I want to see him. Now
tell me why you're trying to keep me out of there? What's going on, Jason?
And don't tell me 'nothing' because
this," I gestured at Stephan and back
at him in an all-inclusive wave, "is entirely too suspicious-looking."
noticed Stephan backing up slowly towards the door out of the corner of my
eye and purposefully peered around Jason
at him. "Don't tell me you're both
standing out here freezing your butts off watching girls go by. You're
guard duty and I want to know why."
Jason tried to put his hand on my shoulder to turn me back around, but I
it away. He sighed heavily and placed his hands on his hips
"Anita, go home. Please," he begged, licking his chaffing lips. "There's
no reason for you to be here tonight."
I stood my ground. "I want to see Jean-Claude, Jason and I'm not leaving
until I do, so you might as well back off and let me in."
He shook his head again, lips pressed firmly together. He glanced back at
Stephan. "You better go tell him she's here," Jason grumbled.
Stephan shook his head now. The dusting of snow he had acquired on the top
of his head fell anew onto his shoulders like a minature storm. "I'm not
telling him. You go tell him.
I'll stay out here and take my chances with
I blinked at Stephan suspiciously. "Since when would telling Jean-Claude
such a thing make you afraid?" I faced Jason again and reached for the
Firestar. "Somebody better go tell
Jean-Claude I'm here, because I'm tired,
cold, and starting to get really pissed off at all three of you, and you
want me pissed at you, boys. Not tonight."
Jason swore and grabbed my wrist, or rather tried to. I leaned into him
buckled his knees with a swift sweep of my right leg. As he crashed to the
snow-covered ground, I slipped
behind him and gathered him to me in a choke
hold, pressing the muzzle of the Firestar into his temple. His hands
around my arm as his face turned red from anger and lack of oxygen.
"Damnit...Anita...I don't want to have to hurt you....For once can you
well enough alone?" he sputtered. He tried flipping me then,
but I slammed my knee into the middle of his back.
He grunted with pain and
swore hotly under his breath.
"Don't struggle and I won't be forced to hurt you either," I murmured in his
then glanced behind me at Stephan. "Please be so kind as to tell
Jean-Claude I am giving him five minutes to get
his shapely little ass out
here or his favorite midnight snack is going to end up spilled."
Stephan's eyes were perfectly round pale blue saucers rimmed in white. He
nodded repeatedly and fumbled to get the door open while keeping his gaze
fixed steadfastedly on me. He opened
it just enough to slip inside and
slammed it behind him with a resounding thump. I wondered briefly if he was
running to tell Jean-Claude about me, or if he was running inside
just to get away from me.
I eased my grip on Jason and stepped back, keeping the Firestar pointed at
spot between his shoulder blades. The bullets weren't silver. Even if
I shot him he'd be all right after awhile.
Jason took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He settled back on his
massaging his neck with his hands, wisely opting to remain on his
knees in the snow in front of me.
"I want some answers Jason and I want them now," I ordered.
Jason nodded, giving in. In the past few minutes, his demeanor had changed.
He was ready to behave now. He was staring up at me submissively, head
bowed and shoulders hunched.
His hands hung open and limp at his sides. I
was his lupa after all, and I knew he felt compelled to obey me.
the gun and then tucked it discreetly away.
"Jean-Claude doesn't want you here tonight," Jason began, his voice tight
strained. "He halfway expected you might come anyway, though. That's
why Stephan and I were ordered to guard
the door. He told us if you did
show up, under no circumstances were you to be allowed inside." Jason broke
eye contact with me, focusing on the pattern our little tussle had left in
the snow. "He's going to be mad now,
Anita. He's going to punish us, big
Like Stephan, Jason was genuinely afraid. I could taste his fear.
Jason often found himself torn between the will of his two masters. I knew
Jean-Claude didn't usually resort
to that kind of intimidation. Knitting my
brow anxiously, I shook my head. "I won't let him hurt you, Jason.
know that. And he should know that." I folded my arms across my chest.
"Just tell me what's going
Jason dragged his hand roughly through his wet hair, pushing it back from
eyes. He took several deep breaths and turned his face away from me.
"Let's just say...he's already got company tonight."
At first my heart kind of skipped a beat, then began banging heavily inside
chest. A tightness pressed in against my sides, making it difficult to
breathe. The cold was numbing
my fingers again, but inside me was a heat
rising that could burn down a six story building.
I closed my eyes. "What are you saying? Are you saying he's..." I
struggling to find a tactful way to put it, "...screwing someone else and
doesn't want to be disturbed?"
All right, not very tactful, but I wasn't
exactly feeling tactful at the moment. I shook my head and laughed
Most people hang little plastic 'do not disturb' signs on
their doors. Jean-Claude apparently hung wolves outside
I suddenly felt sick and wasn't wholly sure why. I pressed my palm against
my forehead and took a deep breath.
"Go home, Anita. Please go home."
"No," I said automatically even though I knew I should just go. There was
no reason for me to stay really. But my nausea was slowly succumbing to a
rising anger. Now I knew why
Jean-Claude had canceled our date, but I
didn't like it. I didn't like it one bit. "Why did he believe I would
to see him tonight?"
Jason frowned. "He knows you, Anita. All too well."
I felt nothing but anger now. "If Jean-Claude set this up just to make me
jealous, it's not working! I don't give a damn if he's slithering around
behind my back and getting some on
the side! Whoever he's fucking, can have
him, because I'm tired of these games! I'm tired of being used!"
yelling at the top of my lungs, hoping he just might hear me.
My mind made up, I turned on my heel and stomped around Jason to leave.
realized I felt betrayed and more than a little hurt, and that realization
upset me more than anything. I
should have never let Jean-Claude get under
my skin, so to speak. It's not like I was in love with him or anything.
Let's face it, he was just a way to scratch an itch. That's all it was and
that was all it would ever be.
I did not love him. Right? Shit.
The door suddenly banged open behind me with enough force to make me jump.
whirled around and saw Jean-Claude standing just outside the threshold.
He obviously hadn't taken time to dress for the
inclement weather. The thin
white shirt he wore was completely open, billowing around his slim hips in
wind. His tight black jeans were unfastened and unzipped
slightly, allowing just a glimpse of the thick glossy black
My stomach clenched at the sight of him and my breath caught in my throat.
looked like he had just walked off the cover of some torrid and trashy
romance novel, beautiful, provocative, and screaming
sex. I swallowed the
excessive saliva pooling inside my mouth and tried hard not to lick my lips.
was not his intent at the moment, however. His anger was
genuine and poured out of him like scalding oil.
He was all but glaring
daggers at Jason. He strode over to him and grabbed him by the hair,
lifting him to his
"It was a simple request, my wolf," he said through clenched teeth,
his grip on the back of Jason's head. "Get out of my sight now.
I will deal with you later." He shoved Jason
towards the open door,
releasing him so quickly, Jason stumbled.
My own anger came rushing back. "Leave him alone, Jean-Claude! He
you told him to do. He kept me outside."
Those fiery eyes were suddenly turned on me now. They sparked and flashed
with barely contained fury. Just for a moment, before he could collect
himself, but a moment was all it took.
He had never looked at me that way.
Never. I took a small step back before I realized what I was doing, then
cursed myself and purposefully walked back up to him and stopped.
Almost touching. Not quite.
"Beside the fact that I obviously interrupted the little bump and grind fest
canceled our date for, what the hell is wrong with you?" I demanded,
locking my eyes on his with a determined intensity.
"I'm a little stressed," he fairly snarled, curling his upper lip back
to flash his fangs.
I looked him up and down. "And why are you 'stressed'? Sex is supposed
"Not this kind," he snapped back and I saw that he immediately regretted
even that tidbit of information. He closed his eyes momentarily
and took a deep, shaky breath.
So he admitted he was having sex. But he wasn't enjoying it. That
itself seemed unfathomable. "Then why do it?" I shot back.
"Because it is the price I must pay," he stated flatly, his voice barely
in the stillness around us. He looked down at me, his face void of
any expression, his eyes dark and unyeilding.
I raised my hand tentatively and placed it on his chest over the
scar. His skin was warm and supple and his heart tapped gently
against my palm. It made me want to wrap my
arms around his waist and press
his body against mine, melding our curves together into one writhing,
"Why did you come here tonight, ma petite?" he whispered. I could feel the
tension in his body melting away like the snowflakes kissing his bare skin.
His long black hair whipped around his
face and he slowly, unconsciously
brushed it away with long pale fingers. If he felt cold, he didn't show it.
He made no move to gather his shirt around him or cross his arms to
conserve his body's stolen heat.
"You obviously expected me," I pointed out.
"I was merely being cautious."
Forcing myself to lean away from him, I placed my hands on my hips. "What's
going on, Jean-Claude? I'm not leaving until I get some straight answers."
"Ma petite, I need you to go home now. I will explain everything when I
but not tonight."
"No. You either start explaining right now while I'm generously giving you
the chance to or..." Think fast, Anita. Ah ha! "Or you can forget about
us getting together for
the next six months. It's your call." I waited,
watching crystalline snowflakes slowly collect upon his long
before he blinked them away. Seconds passed yet he remained quiet, his face
a beautiful, expressionless
mask. I cleared my throat. "Jean-Claude....I'm
He suddenly dropped his eyes from mine, pursing his full lips in an
pout, then sighed. "Why must you make everything so difficult?"
"You're the one being difficult," I accused him, shifting my weight to one
"I need to go back to her." And just like that, he turned to leave.
Startled, I grabbed the lapels of his shirt to stop him, and shook my head
"Who is she, Jean-Claude? Why are you submitting yourself to
her like this? What does she have on you?"
Rather than answer my questions, Jean-Claude simply pried my hands from his
and enveloped them in his own. He rubbed my left palm against his
cheek and then turned his head into it, brushing
it with warm velvet lips.
His tongue caressed it softly, tantalizingly, and slithered in between my
I closed my eyes and sighed raggedly, in spite of myself.
"Stop....trying to distract me....and answer my questions....damn it," I
leaning into him.
Slowly, his arms encircled me and he buried his face in my hair, nibbling
on my earlobe.
"Jean-Claude...." I exhaled, trying to sound threatening, but failed
"I will think of you, ma petite," he whispered thickly, "when she places her
on me. I will see your face and remember the sweetness of your skin.
It will....help me."
My heart skittered across my chest. Jean-Claude dragged his mouth slowly
down my neck. "You're afraid of her." It wasn't a question.
"No," he stated, his lips pausing over my throbbing pulse. "I simply
her. Immensely." He kissed me and continued nibbling his way down
the side of my neck.
I sighed as I felt the soft scrape of his teeth over the skin at the base of
throat. He knew better than to draw blood from me, but he latched on to
that particular piece of skin with an equivalent
enthusiasm. His mouth was
hot and wet and he was making happy little vampire sounds as he sucked and
on it with sensuous abandon. That was going to be one hell of a
hickey. "Jean-Claude..." I half-moaned his
name. "I'm worried about you."
He abruptly drew back and looked searchingly into my eyes. "There is no
need for that, ma petite. I am in no danger. She is a master, but she is
here on my terms, in my lands,
as my guest. I may not like what she plans
to do to me tonight, but I will endure it willingly." He stepped
me and held me back at arms' length. "Go now. I must not keep her waiting
"I don't like this one bit, Jean-Claude. Why won't you tell me anything
about her? You're not trying to protect me from her, are you? Because if
Jean-Claude laughed lightly, making me tingle all the way down to my toes.
ma petite, I am trying to protect her from you." He reached down and
grasped my hands in his and kissed each one
in turn. "Now, please, Anita.
You must leave."
God, I hated it when he said 'please' like that. I couldn't refuse him
All right, he had assured me he was in no danger. The fact that
he was about to play the gigolo for a visiting master
vampire didn't exactly
sit well with me, but I did understand his sense of obligation. Despite
was determined to do this because for some reason he owed
her. And apparently he wasn't going to enjoy it, or so
he said. What could
I do, really? I might as well go home and get some sleep for a change.
I nodded my consent.
"I'll go. For now."
He narrowed his eyes and raised his chin slightly, gazing down at me
the tip of his perfectly straight french nose pointing at me
accusingly. I rolled my eyes.
"Scout's honor," I swore, holding up two fingers in a distorted version of
Boy Scout's pledge.
He smiled then, an exact mix of condescension and amusement. He leaned
and kissed me lingerly before turning on his heel. He disappeared
into the shadows through the large wooden door
and the sound of it closing
behind him brought chills to my skin. I turned and slowly stalked away.
My bedroom was too warm. I had turned up the heat before taking my shower
and had forgotten to turn it back down. I lay on the bed on my back, the
covers pushed aside for the time being.
I was tired, but couldn't get
comfortable. I was sure my over-active mind would not let me fall asleep
Not when I kept trying to get a sense of what was happening to Jean-Claude
at the Circus--trying to determine if he was in trouble or being hurt
at all. I didn't have a sense of anything
amiss however, and came to the
conclusion he must be blocking me. After awhile, I stopped fighting the odd
in my mind, and my rampant thoughts grew steadily quieter as I
finally succumbed to my exhaustion. I rolled over
on my side and promptly
fell into a deep sleep.
"Talk to me, ma petite."
I didn't recognize the room I was in and staggered drunkenly through the
towards the sound of Jean-Claude's voice coming from the far side
of the room. I noticed I was wearing a long lacey
gown that was so
brilliantly white it hurt my eyes to look down at it. The bodice was a
cross between a demi-bra
and a merry-widow--something I would never wear in
real-life, and suddenly I knew I was dreaming. I looked down
at the dress
again, shielding my eyes from its glare and saw there were dark spots on the
bodice and dark spots on
my exposed décolletage. I tried to wipe the spots
away but only smeared them. When I looked at my fingers
they were stained
Frowning in confusion, feeling anxious and suddenly afraid, I stepped deeper
the shadows and futilely looked around. "Jean-Claude, where are you?"
"Here, ma petite. I am here," he whispered.
There was a soft clinking of metal chains in the darkness. I paused.
strong sense of foreboding hung heavily in the cold, damp air around me
which made me wish, just for once, he'd
let me be armed with at least one of
my guns in some of these dreams.
I licked my lips and turned around slowly. There was a figure facing the
wall with his arms stretched over his head to my left. I could just make
out the curve of his naked back.
I drew closer and noticed his wrists were
shackled to the wall with heavy chains. It was Jean-Claude, of that much
was sure, but something looked wrong. It took me a moment to figure it out.
He was too dark, that's
what it was. Jean-Claude had a complexion like
white porcelain, flawless and smooth. For some reason, in this
skin was nearly black.
As I approached him, the dress I was wearing started to glow with enough
wattage to light my way and chase off the remaining shadows
blanketing Jean-Claude. Now, not only did he look dark,
but gooey and
filthy, and dripping wet. Each step I took revealed even more unsavory
For one, he was covered in clumps of raw, blackened gore and his beautiful
skin, from the top of his head to the tips of his toes, was glistening
with brownish-red blood. It ran down his
body in a steady stream, dripping
from his elbows and chin. Even his hair was soaked with blood. It
the long black tendrils to his shoulders and neck and looked like
fat, twisted leeches. My eyes widened in shock
and I screamed.
Jean-Claude turned his face towards me and smiled. "It is not as bad as
appears, ma petite," he assured, but his voice was hoarse and strained as if
he had been doing more than a little
"Oh my god! What did she do to you?" I shrieked. My hands reached
him but I could not make myself touch him. As it was, each time he moved,
he splattered me with blood.
"Hush, ma petite," he soothed, angling his body towards me as far as the
would allow him to. "I am only slightly injured. Very little of
this," here he paused and gestured at the
blood with a downward sweep of his
eyes, "is mine."
I felt bile at the back of my throat and swallowed it down forcefully. "Why
am I here, Jean-Claude? If you wanted me to kill her you should have
dressed me in something a little more practical."
I looked down at the gown
I was wearing with utter disdain.
Jean-Claude looked me over slowly. "Hmm. I suppose you are right about
dress," he admitted. "It will have to go."
I nodded. "Good. I love a man who can admit when he's wrong," I stated
triumphantly. "Now, answer my question. Stop beating around the bush."
There was a brief moment of silence followed by a long sigh of resignation.
are here because I need you," he replied. "You are the only one who
can give her what she wants."
I stared back at him dumbly. "Well, what does she want?"
"She wants my fear."
"Oh." I blinked at him in confusion. "Come again?"
Time itself must have blinked right along with me, because now I was
in the middle of an old dilapidated Catholic church. Now
Jean-Claude was chained to the wall behind the altar, at
the foot of an
enormous faceless crucifix. The blood and gore were gone; the only thing
coating his skin now
was a glistening sheen of sweat. The main source of
light in the church was two large flaming torches, like the
peasants always carried in the early Frankenstein movies, fastened to the
wall on either side of him, giving
off the illusion of flames dancing
erratically across his shiny, naked body. You've heard the term 'in your
dreams'? Well, there you are.
My lacey white gown was also gone and now I was dressed in a tight black
cat suit. There was a wicked-looking whip in my hand and I was
throwing out the lash like a professional mule-skinner,
making the end snap
around Jean-Claude's bare ankles. I had to tell myself to stop.
"I've done everything you have asked of me," Jean-Claude was saying in a
non-chalant tone, while eyeing the flickering torch to his left with
"I have experienced your revulsion, yes, but you have yet to give me what I
desire, Monsieur," I grumbled back at him, then wondered what the hell
I was talking about. Before I could stop
myself, I was addressing him
again, but it wasn't about dreams or guns or frilly gowns. "You fed off my
while I indulged in your body but you steadfastly deny me the fear
"I will not deny you my fear if you can take it from me," Jean-Claude
in a trembling voice.
No, now wait just a minute, I thought. What was going on? I closed
tight and shook my head. "I am so not doing this, Jean-Claude." I peered
down at the whip in my
hand and stalked over to him, tottering on the three
inch stilettos I was wearing. "Okay, I get the fire thing,
the church, and
the whip even," I paused and spared a glance at the old scars criss-crossing
his back. "But
why are you using me in place of her?"
Jean-Claude turned to look at me with tired and bruised eyes. His hair was
tousled and damp with perspiration and several unruly strands of it fell
across his eyes as he bent towards me.
I reached up and tucked them back
behind his ear. I had meant the gesture to be comforting, but he flinched
I touched him as if I had startled him. I withdrew my hand slowly and
took a step back.
"I do not fear her," he stated simply. His hands wrapped around his chains
and he seemed to lean against them for support. "She will not be satisfied
until she has tasted my fear."
I felt a rush of anger wash over me. That sadistic bitch had used him,
him, tortured him, and still wasn't satisfied? Well, as far as I was
concerned, enough was enough. I looked
around the church and swore under my
breath. "Why the hell are you doing this, Jean-Claude? What could possibly
be worth all this?"
Jean-Claude turned his face away from me. "This was the only thing she
from me. It was all I had to bargain with." He took a deep breath
and leaned his forehead against the wall.
"One night of discomfort, ma
petite, and she will never violate me again," he added cryptically.
"You're damned right about that," I hissed, throwing the whip aside. It
then I spied my vampire execution kit sitting on the front pew. Well, it's
about time. I strode over
to it and hefted it onto the altar. "She won't
be touching anyone anymore. Not if I have any say in this."
I unzipped the bag. The sound of it echoed loudly in the vacant church like
a chorus of triumphant angels on high. My heart thumped wildly inside my
chest as I sorted through my cache.
Stake, hammer, knife, silver nitrate,
syringes, silver shot, etc. etc. No guns though. But then I didn't
keep my guns in my kit, I kept them on my person. Shit. I would
have traded the entire kit for my Browning.
Now this was going to have to
be done up close and personal. My least favorite way to kill a master
"All right, who ever you are!" I called out, scanning the interior of the
"Come out and play with me for awhile!" If you dare, that is.
A familiar voice to my left caused me to whirl around. Dolph was standing
in the outer aisle in a crisp white suit, complete with a little silver
cross tacked to his white silk tie.
His hands were folded carefully
together like he was about to pray.
"I'm so glad you've finally come to your senses," he whispered reverently.
think I've made it clear to you how I feel about him." He jerked his
head in the general direction of Jean-Claude.
"He's stealing your humanity,
Anita. He's sucking the very life from you with every breath he takes."
I knit my brow in confusion. "Wait, Dolph, you don't understand,"
lifting the stake and hammer from the bag. Tried and true.
Ronnie was suddenly speaking behind me on my right. "Oh Anita, I'm so glad!
This is wonderful news!" She pointed at Jean-Claude. "I never could
understand what you saw in
him. He must have bespelled you. That's the
only explanation. Now you'll be free of him at last."
She smiled at me
I found myself walking towards Jean-Claude, shaking my head. "I don't know
where you two got the impression I'm about to do in Jean-Claude because I'm
not. I'm looking for--"
"Anita, I don't know what to say," this from Richard who suddenly appeared
my side looking more regal and breathtakingly handsome than I had ever
seen him look before. "You've made the right
choice this time. We'll be
happy forever now. Just the two of us." He touched my shoulder, nudging me
closer to Jean-Claude. "Go on. Do it. I'll be right beside you."
"You don't understand!" I protested. I pulled away from him, looking around
helplessly. Oh god, there was my father. And over there was the priest
from the last mass I had attended.
Catherine. And even Larry. They were
all nodding encouragingly. All dressed in white like participants
in an Easter parade.
"Kill him, Anita," Dolph called out. "Be rid of him once and for all."
"This may be your last chance to save your soul, my child," the priest
"He's a vile creature and will corrupt you. End this now and all
will be forgiven."
Tears welled in my eyes and I continued shaking my head in protest. "No.
No. I won't kill him." I turned away from them all and hurried over to
He was leaning against the wall, shivering slightly. The chains were taunt
and he was peering at me from under his arm with a resigned, but slightly
"What's happening?" I demanded, clutching the stake and hammer to my chest,
up beside him.
"Just think, ma belle petite dame," he murmured. "You'll be free from me
last. No more marks, no more obligations, no more intrusive dreams." He
shifted his weight to one leg
and flexed his arms, straining against the
chains. "You can do it. There'll be no regrets, I promise."
"No!" I insisted. I threw my weapons down and wrapped my arms around his
waist, plastering my body against his back, and fervently dotted his spine
with kisses. "I don't want to kill
you," I breathed against his skin. I
felt his body tense and grow still.
"Yes you do. You've wanted to kill me many times. Deep down you have
always wanted me out of your head and out of your heart and out of your
life." He shrugged away from me and
bowed his head.
"We are all waiting, Anita," Richard said softly. "Do it now. I'm
going to wait around forever you know."
I glanced over my shoulder at him. "Do you mind?"
I turned back to Jean-Claude, his whip-scarred back filling the scope of my
I reached up and slowly traced the length of the most prominent
scar with my fingertips. Jean-Claude gasped and
his skin quivered beneath
my touch. To say he was a little on edge would be a gross understatement.
my hand and closed my eyes.
I got the impression he was actually expecting me to hurt him and my
was catching him off guard. But we were lovers. I didn't really
want to hurt him. Did I? Did I
honestly want to kill him? I suppose I
could if I had to. And it would solve a lot of problems if I did.
be so easy. One good pound of the stake and it would be over, all over. It
was a temptation that
was becoming too hard to resist. Before I realized
it, I had retrieved the hammer and stake.
"Try to aim it just below the fourth rib at an upward angle," Larry advised.
"It will be an instant death that way." He paused and looked at the
others. "Well, no sense in making him
suffer. It seems a little mean to do
this while he's wide awake and aware of everything."
"He's just another monster, Anita. A filthy, murdering corpse," Dolph
in. "Do it and let's all go home. It's been a hell of a night."
I opened my eyes and looked up at Jean-Claude. He was trembling harder and
breathing deeper and faster than when I had last seen him. Perspiration
trickled down the side of his face.
He looked back at me with uncertainty.
It was a very human expression that tore my heart in two. Did he really
I was going to kill him? I looked down at the stake and hammer in
my hands and noticed he was looking down at them
"I punished Jason," he stated loudly and so unexpectedly I jumped.
"He had failed me one too many times," Jean-Claude informed me, his voice
and low. "I needed to make an example of him. I needed to make him
"Oh, Jean-Claude, how could you?" Anger welled inside me. "What did
expect him to do? Did you really think he'd be able to stop me?"
Jean-Claude smiled at me then, but the smile did not reach his eyes. "It
did not matter. He needed to learn who his real master was."
I felt my grip tightening on the stake. I couldn't believe what I was
I had told Jason I would not let Jean-Claude hurt him. I had
"Damn you, Jean-Claude."
"Save yourself, Anita!" Catherine called to me. "Save everyone from him!"
"Evil scourge!" the priest bellowed.
"If you love me you'll kill him," Richard said as he walked towards me.
yourself, Anita. Free us."
I turned slightly and gazed up at him. There was such a look of abiding
love in his eyes. He was radiating a sense of righteousness and goodness
that rivaled the Lord Jesus Christ
Himself. This was just too weird, but
too compelling a notion to disregard. Freedom and love for the rest
life. A little house on the hill. 2.35 children or whatever that odd
statistic was. Breakfast
in bed on Sundays. Maybe a dog, a collie or a
golden retriever. A white picket fence. All this could
be mine. It could
all be mine with one swift downstroke of a hammer.
Well, more like three actually, I suddenly realized, with a sinking feeling
the pit of my stomach. I was going to have to go through the thick
muscles of his back and the span of a lung before
I hit his heart. It
wouldn't be quick or painless at all.
I felt like I was in a daze now, lulled into a rosey-eyed stupor by the
of a simple, normal life. Slowly I lifted the stake and placed the
sharpened tip against Jean-Claude's back.
The muscles spasmed and
Jean-Claude jerked against his chains as if to break free of them but they
did not give.
The crucifix he was shackled under probably had something to
do with that. He was powerless. I raised the
hammer far above my head,
taking careful aim.
Jean-Claude seemed to be holding his breath, or not breathing, and yes there
a difference. He had stopped trembling and was pressed against the wall
so quiet and still now it was almost as
if he had become a part of it. His
head was buried in the crook of his arms and his long hair spilled forward,
his face from view. Just as well, I thought. I was a sucker for
pretty things. If I were to look upon
that perfect and beautiful face one
more time, I might lose my resolve.
I took a deep breath. All right, on the count of three. One, two....
was then it hit me. Like a blast of heat from an open oven. Suffocating
and scorching. A tangible
sense of fear. I was about to kill Jean-Claude.
And he knew it.
I froze. "Jean-Claude?" I whispered.
"...Oui, ma petite?"
"You're absolutely terrified right now, aren't you."
There was a long moment of silence. "Oui," he confessed, then released the
breath he'd been holding in a long, hissing sigh. Then: "She is satisfied."
I forced my cramped hands to open and dropped the weapons I held. They
to the floor.
"That's what this was all about," I murmured. I stood up and turned around.
The church was completely gutted. No more altar, no crucifix, no torches.
Everyone who had been
egging me on had all but evaporated into thin air.
I faced Jean-Claude. "You were baiting me all the time."
Jean-Claude peered over his shoulder at me and nodded curtly.
"Oh you bastard!" I shrieked, furious. I saw the whip lying on the floor
out of the corner of my eye, snatched it up and smacked him with it. He
yelped in surprise and dodged away from
me. "I could have killed you, you
idiot! I would have killed you, don't you understand that?" I suddenly
realized how true it was. It would have been so easy for me. He knew that
and it made him afraid of me.
I was the source of the fear he so
desperately needed tonight. I stared at him in shock and disbelief, my
shredding within my chest. "I could have killed you," I repeated
Jean-Claude eyed the whip in my hand warily. "Do not despair over it, ma
petite. I still love you and do not hold such things against you."
I shook my head, feeling nauseous suddenly. How could he love me knowing
could kill him just as readily as I fucked him? Somewhere down the long
twisted road he'd traveled, he'd become
more than a little warped.
"I am sorry, ma petite," Jean-Claude suddenly apologized, snapping off his
with a quick flick of his wrists. He massaged each wrist briefly
before turning around to face me. "Ah, petite
chat noir," he whispered
seductively, eyeing the leather cat suit I was wearing with a look of
held out his hand towards me. "Come to me. Let me make it up
Now we were outside and it was spring. We were both naked, standing chest
deep in the middle of a pond just beneath a waterfall. Sunlight streamed
through the trees, dappling my skin,
and the glittering surface of the
rippling water around me. Jean-Claude stood a little ways off, his hand
stretched out to me in invitation. The roar of the waterfall equaled
the roar of my pulse in my ears as I gazed
back at him, allowing myself to
be mesmerized by his flawless beauty.
He smiled lasciviously at me, the rays of the sun beating down on his wet
harmlessly, his long black hair waving languidly in the soft afternoon
breeze. This was obviously another dream.
I looked around and noticed the
colors of the budding trees, the grasses, and rocks were a little off, like
colorized movie. Everything was pale and dim-looking as if its base
color was either black, gray, or white.
I turned back to face Jean-Claude
and he shrugged apologetically.
"After all these years, my mind's eye has forgotten the colors of the day,"
I grinned. "That's all right. I still like it here."
Lowering his head, Jean-Claude sighed. "Good. I want you to enjoy
now. I want you to enjoy me." Slowly, tentatively, he raised his eyes to
meet mine. The
sun struck them, reflecting the sparkling water into them
and set the color of them ablaze like a dark blue fire.
A very nifty effect
and utterly breathtaking too.
"Come," he said simply, letting the intensity of his gaze draw me to him.
Carefully, I waded towards him, then flung myself into his arms. He exhaled
forcefully as if he had been holding his breath, then crushed me against his
wet chest and kissed me hungrily.
I reached up and stroked the side of his face with my hand. He closed his
eyes and leaned his head into my palm with a soft contented-sounding moan.
I slid my other hand into his hair, happily
tangling my fingers around his
thick black curls.
"This is a much better dream, ne ce pas est?"
I smiled. "Oui."
He bent towards me, capturing my mouth with his in another devouring kiss,
arms locking around my shoulders, holding my body tightly to him. I
could feel his heart banging inside his chest
and the water gently lapping
at my sides with the exact same rhythm. A dark, sensuous rhythm, one that
of heat and passion and intimacies too instinctual to ignore. A
warmth centering itself low in my abdomen quickly
spread through me that had
nothing to do with the dreamt-up sunshine.
I tore my mouth from his and slid it along his jawline. He tilted his head
back into the water to give me better access to his neck, letting the ends
of his hair dance around him in the bubbling
waves, I obliged him, nipping
his skin delicately in between kisses while trying to entwine my legs around
his to bring our hips closer together.
"Now," I whispered in his ear. "Now."
He raised his head out of the water and regarded me with mild surprise.
nodded encouragingly, then started licking at the water dripping from his
chin. Closing his eyes, he moaned
softly and kissed my brow, then slipped
his hands down my sides until they cupped my buttocks. I could feel the
length of him pressing eagerly against my abdomen now. Gently, he nudged my
legs open with his thigh.
I fastened my arms around his neck and closed my
eyes, my mind already zoning out in passionate bliss, and rested my cheek
against his, bracing myself. He entered me with one smooth, forceful thrust
of his hips, filling my insides
with a burning thickness.
I felt his body shift and slowly lean back into the water, moving me on top
him. My arms and legs tightened around him, not wanting to separate from
him. I discovered he was surprisingly
buoyant because we were floating now,
drifting over the surface, the sun saturating my back with a strange
warmth. Perhaps Jean-Claude couldn't remember what the sun's rays
actually felt like anymore either. No matter.
We were creating enough
internal heat of our own, thank you very much.
I pushed my hips against his and he inhaled sharply, his fingers digging
the soft flesh of my rearend as he pushed back against me. I whimpered
with desire and bumped down on him and he
pressed himself deeper inside me.
It took a little while to find the right rhythm with nothing to support us
water, but Jean-Claude had perfected the art of aquatic love-making
over the past couple hundred years and had it down
to an exact science. It
wasn't long before we were grinding against each other with an unbound
rolling around and splashing in the water like two Nile
crocodiles wrestling over a piece of meat. How we kept from
other I will never know.
As delectable as this all was, neither one of us seemed to be in the mood to
our gratification. He needed to be reassured of my feelings for him
as much as I needed to be reassured of his feelings
towards me before we
could languidly indulge our passions like before.
Mind you, I'm not complaining. Our intense enthusiasm was making this
session fiery hot. I knew within the next few thrusts of his
hips I'd be one extremely satisfied woman. So
as soon as I felt his body
lock against mine, tremoring exquisitely as he came, all cognitive thought
eluded me and
my mind went up and over the edge. I know I screamed
wordlessly for the duration of my climax as wave after wave
crashed over me. Damn, he was good. I felt like I was having an out of
rising up all the way to the stars.
The sweet sound of Jean-Claude's voice whispering in my ear brought me
back down to earth on a cloud of crystalline bubbles.
"Ah, tu es tres belle. Je t'aime, ma cherie," he breathed. He laughed
lightly and softly kissed the side of my face. "C'est tres bon avec toi,
ma petite. Tres bon."
"Oh yeah," I agreed, breathlessly. "It was very good."
He gathered me up in his arms then and leaned his head against my hair.
want you to remember only this dream, ma petite. When you wake with the sun
tomorrow morning, forget the
dream you had before."
I looked up at him and snuggled blissfully into the security of his embrace.
"But I don't want to forget," I protested mildly. "I still have
questions, Jean-Claude. I especially want
to know who that woman was. What
did you get out of all this tonight? And why did you use me like that?
Please don't tell me you're actually afraid of me."
Taking a deep breath, Jean-Claude frowned. "Please, ma petite. Do
troubled by such things. I have told you this before."
"But the truth remains," I went on. "You're more afraid of me, your one
only 'ma petite', than some strange and powerful, sadistic master vampire
who feeds off horror and fear. I don't
know how I should feel about that. I
know I don't like it."
Jean-Claude smiled easily. "Let's just say, I have a healthy respect for
you, ma petite. Now. Think pleasant thoughts. You'll wake soon. I don't
want this on your
mind when you do."
I sighed heavily and reached up to push the hair from his eyes but stopped
He wouldn't flinch from me now, would he?
Shaking his head and clucking his tongue, Jean-Claude cradled my head in his
hands. "What are you thinking now? Your beautiful face is full of
I dismissed his concern with a wave of my hand. "Oh nothing, honest,
I'm fine." I licked my lips, squinting up at him as he stood
there silhouetted in the sunlight. "All right.
Just tell me one thing."
He sighed. "One thing, very well."
"Did you really punish Jason?"
He laughed a short sharp bark of a laugh. Not the reaction I was expecting.
I pulled away from him and placed my hands on my hips, though I had to
admit, it was hard to look intimidating
while standing naked in a pond.
"Mon Dieu! Non, ma petite, I did not punish your precious wolf cub.
fact, he is happily curled up at the foot of my bed as we speak."
Jean-Claude gazed down at me steadily, his face
losing all expression and
mirth. "At first I was angry. But in truth, I was very pleased you came to
tonight. It gave me a chance to look into your eyes and feel your touch
before winter's descent on me."
"Winter's descent?" I questioned, confused by the metaphor. I wondered
if 'Winter' was her name.
Jean-Claude nodded. "Her arrival tonight brought cold, death, and decay.
Like winter. Your arrival however was my spring. You helped me bear the
long dark night with your promise
of life-giving warmth."
I grinned. "Ah. I see. That's very sweet of you to say, but
doesn't change the fact that I was part and parcel of your torture tonight.
If there's one thing I can't
abide, Jean-Claude, it's torture."
"Merde," he growled. "Ma petite, I haven't much time. What can I do
make you forget all that?"
I leaned into him and slipped my arms around his narrow waist. "How much
time do you need? How much time do we have?"
He smiled then, catching my innuendo. "For you, ma belle petite dame, as
long as it takes to get the job done." He bent forward to kiss me as I rose
up on my toes to kiss him back.
It was morning. I opened my eyes reluctantly and noticed it had stopped
snowing sometime in the night. The air in my bedroom was cold with drafts,
so I pulled the blankets up tighter
under my chin and stared out of the
window from the warm comfort of my bed. I didn't want to get up just yet.
was Saturday, so it wasn't as if I had anything in particular to do other
than workout with Ronnie.
I snuggled down into the mattress and sighed contentedly, feeling sapped and
and realized for a person who just spent the entire night alone, I
had absolutely no right to feel the kind of a sexual
afterglow I was
presently basking in. Then memories of warm, rippling water, long black
hair, and soft pale
skin blinked to life in the back of my mind. I had to
smile. Apparently, I hadn't been alone last night after
though, usually he makes sure I remember every last detail of my dreams with
him. This morning
I could hardly remember a thing.