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Dead Ice (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter 24) Laurell K. Hamilton 2022/8/5 17:00:50

I rose up just enough, like a version of an ab crunch, so I could watch him slide in and out of me, but as his rhythm sped I had to spill back along the desk and just let my body ride the sensations of him inside me. I looked up into that face, and he stared down at me so that we were drowning in each other's eyes as he fucked me on the desk, my body moving with the push and pull of him, his hands tight on my hips to keep me on the edge of the desk. That deeper pleasure began to build like a weight of anticipation in a part of my body that he couldn't actually touch, but it felt as if every deep thrust, every pull-out over that one spot just inside, touched things that no light would ever see, no hand could ever touch, but he could; Jean-Claude could find all the dark happy places inside me.

His eyes bled to vampire glow, as if a night sky could blaze with its own light and let you know that even in the darkest hour the sky is still blue. The press of pleasure built and built as he conjured it closer and closer to the surface, and then from one moment to the next, one stroke of his body to the next, he brought me screaming, my hands scrambling across the smooth empty surface of the desk.

He held on to his rhythm until he'd brought me multiple times and I was almost boneless on the desk, my body half-conscious from the pleasure of it all. Only then did he let himself speed his thrusts for himself without aiming at the sweet spots inside me, and finally let go of all that control. I watched his face through half-closed eyes as his head came forward, all that hair spilling around him, hiding his face, and then his spine bowed backward, taking his head with it so that he was curved above me, face slack with his own pleasure.

His breathing was ragged, and I could see his pulse against the side of his neck. The sex brought him to "life" more than almost anything else. I loved watching his body react like any man's with a light dew of sweat on that pale, muscled chest. There was a faint pink shine to the dew of sweat on his chest from the blood he'd drunk from me. He might not be able to wear a white shirt to work tonight. I was okay with that, and I was pretty sure so was he.

JEAN-CLAUDE AND I cleaned up in the half bath that was in the back of the office. Ever the gentleman, he let me clean up first, but also because he'd take longer in the bathroom than I would, and he knew patience wasn't my greatest virtue. The compromise was that I came out of the bathroom in my bra and undies and would dress out in the office, so he could fuss in the bathroom longer. I checked my phone before I put on anything else, but there was no message from Manny, no missed call. Screw it. I called Manny again. My first phone message had been simply, "Call me." This one needed more details.

It went straight to voice mail, so he was on the phone. Damn it. "Manny, this is Anita again. I really need to talk to you about a case. I need your input." I stopped short of mentioning Dominga Salvador for two reasons. One, I tried not to share any information about ongoing federal investigations that I didn't have to, and two, his wife, Rosita, checked his phone regularly. She knew he and Dominga had been lovers once. She'd never forgiven him for sleeping with any women besides herself, even those who were years before she and Manny met. I didn't really understand jealousy to that degree, but I didn't want to make his life hard if I could avoid it. But if he didn't call me back soon, I was going to have to mention the name, because I knew that would make him call. She was dead, but it was like talking too much about the devil; you always wondered if they heard you. In Dominga's case, hearing us from hell seemed totally reasonable. Yes, she had been that kind of evil scary.

I sat there staring at the phone and thought about texting him, but Manny was like a lot of people over fifty. He had a smart phone, but he treated it like it was still just a portable phone. He never returned texts. I wasn't even sure he read them.

My phone rang, but I knew it wasn't Manny, because it was Micah Callahan's ring tone: "Lovefool" by the Cardigans. "Hey, short, dark, and handsome," I said, and was smiling as I said it.

"Hey, beautiful." And I could hear the smile in his voice, too. "I heard that the jewelry appointment was cut short."

"Wow, that's fast gossip."

"I told Lisandro I needed to talk to Jean-Claude and you if there was a free moment, so he told me."

"Okay, but I will have to leave in about forty-five minutes. I can't leave clients waiting for long."

He laughed. "They get nervous if you leave them alone in graveyards, I know."

"Cemeteries are actually damned peaceful. They just spook themselves," I said.

"Do you want us to come to you?"

"I just came up all those damned stairs, so no. I'll come to you. I love you, Anita."

"I love you mostest."

We hung up and I turned to find Jean-Claude out of the bathroom shirtless, but with his leather pants fastened. He was as dressed as he could get until he was sure it was safe to put the white shirt back on or he got a second, darker shirt.

"I really do like you in the blue; thank you for not getting dressed yet. Which of our cats was on the phone, for that is your endearment only to the two of them," he said.

I ignored the compliment, because saying that it had been accidental rather than undressing for him on purpose seemed the wrong thing to say, so I said, "Glad you like it, and it was Micah; apparently he told Lisandro to alert him if we had any free time to talk."

"Talk?" Jean-Claude said. "About what?"

"He didn't say, but he's already up the like bajillion steps from the underground apartments, so he'll be here in minutes and you can ask him."

"The steps were designed to discourage intruders, ma petite."

I laughed. "Seriously, how many steps are there, has anyone ever counted?"

I would say he sat down on the couch, but that doesn't really cover it. He draped himself artfully on the couch, long pale arms stretched along the back of it, so that the leather of the couch acted like a frame for his body. He rested one booted ankle on his opposite knee so that he managed to look both like a tough from some Old West movie and suggestive.

"Do you do that on purpose or are you just naturally that decorative?" I asked, leaning my butt against the desk.

"I did have a natural flair for being, as you say, decorative, but centuries of practice do, indeed, make perfect." He smiled, obviously pleased with himself, and it made me smile, because once he'd hidden from me just how much he liked himself. I didn't blame him, because I had so many issues with my own physicality that I'd been uncomfortable with how very comfortable he was in his own skin and with his own beauty.

He held one hand out toward me, and I went to him, because when someone you love holds out their hand to you, that's what you're supposed to do. I curled up beside him in my new blue undies and he drew me in against his body, holding me close with one arm.

"You may distract our leopard king dressed like this."

"I don't have time to talk and distract him," I said, laughing, and started to get up, but he pulled me back down, and then there was a knock on the door.

"Just a minute," I called out.

Lisandro said through the door, "It's Micah."

"I'm not exactly dressed," I said, "so him, but not you."

Lisandro laughed. "I'm going home to my wife at the end of shift, I won't peek." The door opened with a glimpse of Lisandro's dark figure turned away so he couldn't see into the room and Micah could walk past him.

Micah came through the door like he came through every door, as if the room were his room, or at the very least he was thinking of purchasing it. It was a surety and security in himself that he'd had since I'd met him. He was wearing blue jeans and a deep green T-shirt fitted to his lean runner's body, because he was exactly my height, and when a man is that short he needs fitted clothes, or he always looks like he's borrowing someone else's. His dark brown hair was back in a braid, or something so tight that you could barely tell that it curled. Loose, it fell past his shoulders. He almost al

ways kept it back, and if I hadn't threatened to cut my hair short if he cut his, he'd have cut it boy-short, but I loved his hair, and he loved me.

He smiled when he saw us, his delicate triangular face alight with some inner joy; the sunglasses that hid his eyes stopped us from seeing that happy thought fill his eyes, but as if he heard my thought he took them off and let us see his chartreuse eyes. They were more green than gold because of the shirt he was wearing, but you could still see the yellow in them like sunlight shining through some jungle canopy. They were leopard eyes trapped in his human face; he'd had brown eyes in human form once, but that was before I met him. To me, Micah's eyes were always this amazing color, in whatever form he took, human or leopard.

"Well, don't you look pretty as a picture," he said, his voice full of that happiness that showed in his face.

"Join us and it will be prettier," I said.

He shook his head but kept walking toward us. "A man's got to know his limitations, and since I'm third prettiest in the room, I won't add to the beauty factor."

I frowned. "You are beautiful," I said.

"You are beautiful in your own right, mon ami."

He grinned, standing just at the edge of the couch looking down at us. "I know I'm attractive, I'll give you pretty, though when I was younger I hated being told I was pretty."