Just As I Said You Would Do
Asher splashed the lukewarm water onto his face and chest. He watched the previously
dried blood run in pale red rivulets over the hard contours of his body, down his legs to his bare feet, spilling into an
expanding pink pool on the floor. It was such a shame to have to wash it away. It was as if he was washing away the last vestiges
of Anita herself, figuratively, as well as literally.
Placing his hand on his abdomen, he captured the diluted blood in his palm and smeared
it over the skin on his hips. It was beautiful blood. Closing his eyes momentarily, Asher dragged his fingers through the
warm slickness coating his body, reaching lower to slowly stroke himself a few times, reveling in the mere sensation.
The scent of Anita's body was all over him still. He could almost feel her moving
beneath him and hear her throaty moans of satisfaction. How fantastic their lovemaking had been. To Asher, it was a dream
Waking up as he had, naked and aroused in Jean-Claude's bed, covered in Anita's blood,
Asher had believed tonight would be a replay of last night's passions. He had hoped he would be once more indulging himself
with Jean-Claude in Anita's heated sex, gorging himself on her glorious blood, shattering their minds with ethereal pleasures
over and over again. But now...
How could he have foreseen this incredible turn of events? Not only was he not allowed
to while away the night in his beloved's arms, he was forced to seek out the sanctuary of his dark and dismal rooms, to spend
the night alone.
Asher stared at his reflection in the mirror above the sink. "Anita," he said, almost
reverently. "I had hoped you loved me."
He determinedly reached down and scooped up more of the water to splash on his face.
There was so much blood to wash away. So much of her. Washing her away was something he needed to do. After all, he was making
a clean start. His life, as he had come to know it was now headed down the drain like the blood and the water. Gone was his
peace, his security, his hopes, and what little happiness he'd managed to glean from his sordid existence. All because he
had believed Anita when she had said she loved him.
Asher opened his eyes and shook his head, reaching for a towel. The image in the
mirror had turned angry and ugly. He had to fight himself to keep from smashing the glass with his fist. "You fool," he growled
to his reflection. "You're so fucking gullible. You make me sick."
But it hadn't been his fault. He'd done nothing wrong. There was no reason to be
angry with himself. How could he not have believed she loved him after she had professed the depths of her heart in such an
emotional and beautiful soliloquy? It had left no room for doubt. And so he had loved her last night, just as she had wanted
him to do. Now he was being punished--forced away from his home here, to another territory, to swear allegiance to another
master, away from St. Louis, away from her, away from Jean-Claude.
Asher's heart seized with a new kind of pain. Jean-Claude. His truest, dearest friend.
It wasn't bad enough having to leave him, but having to subject himself to another master's reign where Jean-Claude would
undoubtedly be feared and made his enemy. Asher could barely stomach the thought. As it was, he would most likely never see
him again. And it was all Anita's fault.
Drying himself, Asher then threw the towel aside and stalked over to the wardrobe
in his bedroom. He jerked the doors open with a little more force than necessary, banging them off the wall. His pale eyes
quickly scanned the contents, then he tore a pair of gray-colored khakis from a hanger and pulled them on.
A dull, throbbing ache centered itself behind Asher's eyes. He reached up and massaged
the bridge of his nose, thinking how he should go feed. At least then, he'd feel better physically, if not mentally. But the
thought of seeking someone out and having to feign that kind of intimacy merely to acquire a food source was almost too much
to bear at this point. Tonight, his emotions had already been flayed raw--more than his body ever had. He'd rather go hungry.
Asher yanked a black shirt from the wardrobe and balled it in his fists. Damn her. Damn her. Damn her!
Anita just wasn't being reasonable. When was she ever? The woman simply did not make
sense. Once more, it was her way or no way. And of course, Jean-Claude caved to her irrationality to keep the peace with her.
This time, at Asher's expense! What did he expect? Jean-Claude had always put Anita's wants and needs above his own even.
To an unimaginable extent which had been revealed just tonight. What made Asher think anything would be different now?
God, he didn't want to leave, but now he had to. He had to. Whatever torture his
new master might choose to inflict on him would be nothing compared to the torture of staying here under such conditions.
To actually have realized his sweetest dreams only to have them taken away based on Anita's ever-fluctuating whims. He could
almost hate her for that. He was losing everything because of her. All because of her.
Asher closed his eyes as images of Anita's flaring cross pendant flashed through
his mind like bolts of lightening. Asher knew such supernatural protection drew its power from the wearer's belief that its
holiness repelled vampires who would do them harm. The fact the object had glowed in his presence was baffling to Asher. It
was not as if Anita was in any danger from him. After all, she was the one who turned on him! He could still hear Jean-Claude's
question of accusation ringing in his ears. What have you done, mon ami? What have you done?
Indeed, Asher thought, his eyes flying open. That was the question which had yet
to be answered to his satisfaction. He wasn't about to believe that Anita felt anything more than humiliated at being overpowered
by a vampire of his caliber. The fact he had rolled her mind so completely in the throes of their passion, had taken the reins
of control out of Anita's hands for once, and she simply didn't like it. Well, he was sorry for that, but as much as he adored
her, he was not about to stop being who and what he was to suit her. He couldn't even if he wanted to and if she couldn't
deal with that, then to hell with her.
Someone suddenly knocked on Asher's apartment door, startling him out of his angry
reverie. For a fleeting moment, he thought, even dared to hope that perhaps it would be Anita, coming to apologize to him,
and make everything right. But in an instant Asher realized it was Jean-Claude at his door. Probably acting as a goodwill
ambassador, coming to beg him to reconsider.
Asher strode to the door, pulling on his shirt. He flung it open and launched into
a warning. "Save your breath, Jean-Claude," he began. "There is nothing you can say right now that will make me change my
Jean-Claude was leaning against the doorframe. Whether it was his intention or not,
he looked rather provocative to Asher, standing there the way he was. His weight was shifted on one leg and his left hand
was planted on his cocked hip. He was dressed head to toe in navy blue that was so dark it seemed black in the shadows. His
hair was still slightly damp, curling wildly about his beautiful face, falling in soft layers over his chest, and spilling
down his back in a cascade of rippling black waves.
Asher found his resolve wavering at the mere sight of him. The thought of never being
able to gaze upon Jean-Claude's exquisite good-looks ever again was enough to give anyone pause after having done so at will
for years. It was one of Asher's simple pleasures in life. A pleasure he was loathe to lose.
Jean-Claude held his pose awhile longer as if sensing the effect it was having on
his friend's conviction. Asher was just about to accuse him of doing just that, but then the other vampire straightened and
looked up at Asher, letting his hand slide off his slim hip.
"Is that so?" he asked flatly. He gestured inside the room with a graceful sweep
of his hand. "May I come in? I promise to only take a moment of your time."
Asher frowned. Only a moment? Was his friend that sure of his ability to persuade,
or was he here for other reasons? Maybe to simply bid him farewell. Or worse, order him out of the territory as soon as possible,
so as not to upset Anita further.
Asher turned away from Jean-Claude and focused on fastening the cuffs of his sleeves.
"Technically these are your apartments, Jean-Claude. I cannot keep you from them."
Stepping inside, Jean-Claude sighed heavily as if with infinite patience. "I am not
here to start anything with you, Asher. Right now, I only want you to listen to me."
There was something in Jean-Claude's voice. It made Asher think his worse fears were
about to be realized. He hadn't come here to beg Asher to reconsider. He was ordering him to leave. Something Asher knew he
could not bear to hear Jean-Claude actually voice out loud.
He shook his head. "No. I've heard enough. I'm not going to listen to anymore."
Jean-Claude fixed his dark eyes on Asher's. "It is just that kind of attitude that
has put us in this predicament, my friend," he rumbled. "If I were you, I would proceed with more caution. I am not in the
mood to endure anymore of your temper tonight."
Asher threw up his hands in exasperation. "Temper? Is that what you think this is
"Perhaps not just your temper," Jean-Claude conceded. "But temper, nevertheless."
Asher tried concentrating on buttoning the front of his shirt, but found his hands
were shaking too badly, forcing him to leave his shirt open. He turned away from Jean-Claude and headed for the bedroom, looking
for his shoes.
"You promised you would make this quick, Jean-Claude," Asher quipped. "Just say what
you came to say, and let me be on my way. I was just about to leave."
"No," Jean-Claude nearly growled, catching Asher by surprise and stalling him in
his tracks. He turned around to face Jean-Claude again.
"What?" Asher asked as if he hadn't heard him correctly.
The other vampire continued, but as he went on, it became apparent to Asher that
Jean-Claude wasn't as angry as he was getting impatient. "You are not going anywhere until you hear this. When I am finished,
then, by all means, go if that is what you wish. But for now, you are still here, in my territory, in my apartments--which
you were so quick to recognize before, under my protection, and you will give me the courtesy of listening without further
argument. Have I made myself clear?"
Asher could feel his anger rising however. "Crystal," he hissed back. He glared at
his friend, fairly seething. Already, Jean-Claude was treating him like a mere subordinate subject. Obviously, he had not
come to Asher to beg him to stay. He had not come to say a tearful good-bye. Apparently, the master vampire wanted his turn
at raking Asher over the coals for what he had done. As if Anita's own rejection had not been punishment enough.
Asher noticed Jean-Claude sighed again. This time, it seemed more in relief than
anything. "I want to talk to you about Anita," he said more softly.
"Anita." Great. Here it comes. "Fine. What about her?"
"I wanted you to know that after you left--"
Asher raised his brow as something suddenly occurred to him. "Where is she anyway?
I would have thought after I left, the two of you would be..." Asher paused, believing the remainder of his original train
of thought was better left unsaid. "...Seeking comfort in each other's arms," he added more tactfully.
Surprisingly, Jean-Claude lowered his eyes and shook his head. He appeared to be
struggling with an emotion he'd rather not let Asher see.
"After you left, I told Anita to go," he explained. When he finally looked up at
Asher, his face was perfectly blank. "I thought it best...for all of us."
Asher could hardly believe his ears and nearly staggered under the impact Jean-Claude's
words hit him with.
"You sent her away?" A flurry of new possibilities poured into his mind. Did this
mean Jean-Claude was siding with him against Anita? It was just too incredulous to be true.
Jean-Claude dropped his gaze from Asher once more, feigning a sudden interest in
the room's meager decor. "I regret it profoundly now," he went on. "I have come to realize how very wrong I was not to listen
to her." He peered up at Asher again past a rippling lock of hair which had strayed and fallen over his brow. His eyes held
accusation. "You should have listened to what she was trying to say, but instead you were going on at such a clip, it was
all she could do to defend herself."
Asher's rising hopes deflated allowing his anger to rise in its stead. He planted
his hands on his hips and threw a challenging look at Jean-Claude. "I recall you saying something about not being here to
start anything with me."
The other vampire frowned. He reached up and dragged his hand through his hair, pushing
aside the errant lock from his eyes. "Oui, so I did. Forgive me." He took a deep breath. "I only ask you think about someone
besides yourself for one moment."
"Why should I?" Asher snapped back, turning on his heel to proceed on into the bedroom.
He had to find his shoes. He wanted out of here now. "If I don't think about myself, no one will. Not even my friends who
claim they love me. Even when I am right and have done nothing wrong, no one steps up to stand beside me. Neither you, nor
Anita spare a thought for my feelings in all this." With that, Asher stormed into the bedroom and rapidly scanned the floor.
As expected, Jean-Claude followed him.
He stood at the doorway, his arms outstretched across its expanse as if attempting
to keep Asher from escaping back into the living room.
"But you were wrong to do what you did to Anita," Jean-Claude countered, locking
his gaze on Asher as he paced the length of the small bedroom like an animal in a cage. "If you would give me a chance, Asher,
Asher opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a hard knocking on his door.
He noticed Jean-Claude looked relieved. "Ah! That would be Jason. I'll go let him
in. Then you can hear it first hand."
"Jason?" Asher was doubly perplexed now. What did the young werewolf have to do with
any of this?
But Jean-Claude simply turned and glided back into the living room. Asher sat down
on his bed, feeling suddenly wrung-out and exhausted. He truly wished he'd never woken tonight.
As it was, Jason looked less than pleased to be here. More than once, Jean-Claude
had to prod him deeper into the room, closer to where Asher was sitting.
"Geez, Anita's gonna kill me for this," Jason grumbled under his breath.
Jean-Claude crossed his arms over his chest. "You'll have to get in line behind the
two of us," he duly pointed out.
Jason swallowed hard. "I thought you were going to tell him? I was only supposed
to fill in the details."
"I tried," Jean-Claude said, his eyes darting towards Asher. "He has not been in
the most receptive of moods."
Asher scowled at both of them.
"What do you know about this?" he asked the young wolf outright. Better just to get
this over and done with.
Jason cleared his throat. "Well.... Like I told Jean-Claude, I don't know if Anita's
too keen with me telling you two this considering she didn't say anything about it herself, but she was seriously messed up
this morning. All day actually." He paused and seemed to squirm like a child tattling on a sibling.
Asher seized the opportunity to look questioningly towards Jean-Claude. "What does
he mean, 'messed up'?"
"Malade," he replied quietly in French. "Ill."
"Definitely ill," Jason confirmed. "Just about every way a person can be sick, she
was. I had to drive her around today. She couldn't even manage that. I hate to be the one to say it, but she had a reaction
to your bite, Asher. Your power did something to her when you rolled her mind. She got...well, messed up."
Asher listened in growing horror as Jason continued to elaborate on Anita's ups and
downs throughout the day. He knew exactly what he had done wrong now. The things he had not taken into consideration before.
Here he had been blaming Anita for ruining everything when he had been the villain of this tale all along.
By the time Jason had finished what he had had to say and excused himself from the
vampires' presence, Asher peered up at Jean-Claude with tears in his eyes.
"Because of my arrogance and my pathetic lack of control, I have placed us all in
jeopardy," Asher mumbled. "I have saturated Anita with my power and bespelled her to the point she doesn't know what she's
genuinely feeling anymore. The news of her sickness is both shocking and disturbing to me, but I should have known better.
Anita is not wholly human. What was I thinking? What have I done?"
Asher could no longer look Jean-Claude in the face. He studied the carpeting beneath
his bare feet and rubbed roughly at his burning eyes.
Jean-Claude approached him and came to stand directly in front of him. Asher looked
up, expecting condemnation in his friend's eyes, but finding sympathy there instead. It became clear to Asher in that moment,
that Jean-Claude had already beaten himself up over this and could empathize with Asher entirely. What he said next confirmed
"Do not be so hard on yourself, mon ami," he said breathily. "Ma petite was angry
at you tonight, and even a little wary, but if we go to her, and apologize together for mistreating her so, she may give us
the opportunity to make amends. We cannot appear divided or at odds with our esteemed guests in town. Anita knows this. She
will try her best."
Asher nodded, but felt miserable just the same. "Why didn't she say anything?" he
wondered aloud. "The only thing she mentioned was feeling bespelled. I had no idea I caused her harm. No wonder she was upset.
She's frightened of me now." Inside, Asher's heart clenched at the thought. The last thing in the world he wanted was for
Anita to be afraid of him. He loved her. Why was he always hurting her? As it was, he had done this to her before--intentionally
rolled her mind, and made her afraid, and still he had not learned his lesson.
Asher found himself angry again, but this time he lay the blame where it rightfully
Jean-Claude seemed to sense Asher's growing anxiety. He stepped even closer to him
and wrapped his arms around his friend's broad shoulders. Asher accepted the embrace and leaned forward, resting his head
on Jean-Claude's stomach. He put his arms around his slender hips and hugged him tenderly. He could feel Jean-Claude's hands
stroking his back and hair. Asher closed his eyes and tried to find solace in the rapture of once more being in Jean-Claude's
"Do not worry about ma petite," Jean-Claude told him. "She has an uncanny knack for
working through her fears and she is powerful enough to have resisted your spell so far." He sighed and pulled away a little,
grasping Asher's head in his elegant hands and tilting his face up to his. "All we can do is apologize."
"Oui," Asher whispered. "But first, I owe an apology to you."
"To me?" Jean-Claude brushed Asher's bangs from his face with a gentle sweep of his
hand, looking down at him with an expression of mild curiosity.
"I could have ruined everything," Asher explained. "I could have come between you
and Anita." He lowered his eyes and swallowed hard, leaning his cheek against Jean-Claude's soft palm. "I can still hardly
believe you sent her away on my account."
"Asher," Jean-Claude sighed. "Don't you know by now how very important you are to
me? How much it means to me to have you near me again?"
Asher didn't answer. Feeling the tears well in his eyes once more, he drew Jean-Claude
back into the circle of his arms and buried his face amid his soft, silk shirt. If he cried, he wasn't sure if his tears would
be of sorrow or of joy. Regardless, Asher felt as if everything would be all right now. He was still under Jean-Claude's protection,
and knew he would continue to be, for many, many years to come.