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Dead Ice (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter 24) Laurell K. Hamilton 2022/8/5 17:01:16

The healing energy built and built, and then Micah thrust his tongue and magic deep into the other man's body. It thrust through Rafael and into me like a sword thrust so that it was almost too much, almost pain, and then it burst in a warm rush across my body, making me scream in pleasure. I fought not to close my eyes, but to hold Micah's gaze, the leopard's gaze, because they were flipping back and forth--sex, meat, sex, meat--as I bucked underneath Rafael's body.

Rafael pulled my body underneath his. I was suddenly trapped beneath his chest, Micah lost from view. I might have protested, but he pulled me just that bit lower and I felt him hard and eager a second before he started pushing himself inside me. I was wet, but tight, and the angle wasn't quite right. He was making low, eager noises as he rose enough to scoot me that last fraction into place and could finally push himself inside me. I felt the energy from Micah building again, as Rafael forgot he was hurt and started working himself in and out of my body. He rose enough so he could look down at me as he fucked me. I could glimpse Micah's legs on one side of him, as one arm slid around Rafael's waist, holding on, pressing his mouth tighter against him. Rafael raised his upper body higher but kept his groin pressed tight to mine. I had a moment of meeting the dark glitter of his eyes, and then Micah thrust into the wound, and it all happened at once. The magic and Rafael's body brought me screaming, while his body thrust so long and so hard inside me that it brought me again, screaming and writhing underneath him, nails racking down his ribs. He cried out, body convulsing, thrusting again, as Micah rode his back, arms locked around his waist, holding Rafael's body tight against his mouth and the power that poured out of him.

Rafael and I cried out together as Micah's power poured through us, until he drew back and let Rafael fall to the bed, collapsing half on top of me, our bodies still locked together. Micah's face appeared over Rafael's body and the eyes were leopard eyes again. My pulse was a trapped thing in my throat, as he gazed down at me while I was trapped under the bigger man's body.

A growl trickled out from between those human lips, but the eyes . . . there was nothing human in the eyes. Micah's body was still there, but his beast was driving the bus.

He climbed over Rafael's back, adding his weight, so that I was even more trapped under their combined weight. He leaned down toward my face, a continuous growl vibrating out from between those lips that I'd kissed a thousand times, but in that moment I wasn't sure whether he was going to kiss me or eat me.

HE KISSED ME, thrusting his tongue and the last of the magic into my mouth, so that I screamed another orgasm into his mouth. Rafael cried out again, and this time it was more pain than pleasure, I think, but Micah's hand grabbed my face, spilled into my hair, pulling me up so he could kiss me harder. It was rougher than he usually liked, but it wasn't really his human half biting and kissing at my mouth. It was as if his leopard were still trying to eat my lips, but he kept fighting it into a rough, insanely eager kiss.

Micah slid off the bed but kept kissing me. He pulled me out from underneath Rafael and spilled us both to the floor. He was on top trying to thrust himself inside me, but he was still wearing clothes, so all he could do was rub that hard bulge tight against me. It made me cry out, but it made him growl louder and hiss in frustration like a cat. I pulled on his T-shirt, trying to remind him that it needed to come off. It brought more of Micah back into his face again, so that he went up on his knees, pulling his T-shirt off in one smooth motion. I sat up and undid his belt. He let me unzip his pants, but then his hands were there sliding them down his slender hips. I got a glimpse of his underwear as he pulled his pants down to his thighs, but the rest of the show distracted me. Micah was always large, longer and thicker, but now he was pressed up high and tight against the front of his body. I reached out to touch him, but his hand grabbed my wrist. I looked up to find his eyes doing that back-and-forth again. I wasn't sure if it was the leopard or the man that pressed me to the floor and pushed himself inside me, and I didn't care.

Just feeling him push his way inside me made me cry out. I was writhing and making small eager whimpering sounds before he got himself as tight inside me as he could go. There were inches left outside my body, but we'd learned that I wasn't deep enough to hold all of him. He was growling and making frustrated noises as he fought to get enough room to thrust the way he wanted to. He pulled himself out of me, flipped me over onto my stomach on the floor, and was on top of me before I could decide if it was a good idea.

He pushed inside me and pulled my hips up so that I was on all fours for him as he began to push himself in and out, in and out. I felt that warm pressure begin to build deep in my body where he was rubbing himself over and over inside me. I did what I usually did, and said, "I'm close."

The only answer I got was a deep, rumbling growl that almost didn't sound like Micah in any form. I looked back over my shoulder, trying to see him, and found that his chartreuse eyes were gone, and I was looking into the fire-colored eyes of the black tiger he'd turned into only once before. I had a second to wonder if it was like any new beast form, harder to control at the beginning, and what that might mean if he shifted now, and then he picked up his rhythm so it was fast, and faster, thrusting all that hard, eager thickness deep within my body, so that he brought me screaming, but he didn't stop. He pounded himself into me while I screamed orgasm after orgasm. I wasn't sure if I let the ardeur go or if it rose on its own, as if the orgasm had made me lose control of more than just my pleasure. Always before Micah could keep me from feeding on him until he orgasmed--that brought all his barriers down--but when I reached out to feed this time he was just there, ready, eager to give it up, to give it all up. I had a second to feel how tired he was and how much he needed to let it go, and then the ardeur spilled up and over, and through us both. Micah thrust inside me and we both screamed our pleasure, as I drank him down everywhere his skin touched mine. His scream went from human to leopard, as his body gave one last thrust. I felt him go inside me, and we cried out together, but this time his scream was a lower, deeper, bass sound that I'd never heard from him. I felt the rush of heat just before his body shifted and then liquid hot as blood ran down the back of my body, but only where he touched me, so much neater than Domino had been.

The new form was like a reset and he was suddenly hard and impossibly big inside me. It was still black furred arms that reached for my shoulder, but the arms, like other parts of his body, seemed bigger. Claws dug in to hold me in place as he thrust one last time, so deep inside me that it was just this side of too much, just this side of pain, but it was the kind of pain you'd sell your soul for just one more time.

Blood began to ooze down my shoulder as the claws tightened and his body convulsed inside mine. He gave another coughing scream, and I knew before I looked back over my shoulder that it would be the tiger with fire-colored eyes that was pouring himself thick and hot inside me.

I HEARD THE door open behind us but couldn't see anything but the change of light behind the tigerman's body. I called out, "It's Micah, he's all right, I'm safe." I trusted Micah, I did, I did, damn it.

"Holy shit!" A man's voice from the door.

The tiger snarled over its shoulder, its claws digging in a little more, so that blood trickled faster from the points of its claws in my skin.

Rafael spoke from the bed. "Do not startle him."

"Us, startle him?" I could see Benito now as he moved farther into the room so he could see me around the tiger's body, so if he had to shoot the bullet wouldn't go through the weretiger and into me.

"It's Micah, he has two forms now," Bram said; I knew his voice without seeing him.

"That's not possible," Benito said.

Rafael said, "I saw him change form; it is Micah. I don't know how it is possible, but it is him."

I looked at the floor, where my blood was starting to form tiny drop patterns. "Micah . . ." But the growl came again, and this time he leaned over me, nuzzling m

e, pressing his face into my hair, until I could feel the hard push of his muzzle against the back of my neck. Male cats often bite the back of their mate's neck during sex, but if what I was feeling bit the back of my human neck I was gone, or crippled for life, unless I could heal it.

Bram stepped wide around us, hands held out so that his gun was pointed at the ceiling. "Micah, Nimir-Raj, can you hear me? I am one of your leopards."

His breath was hot as he huffed into my hair, but he wasn't just getting my scent; I was getting his and my black tiger snarled inside me, awake and pissed. We didn't like the claws in our shoulder, not one bit.

"Run, get Jade, bring her here, now!" Bram said. I heard someone running away, and Benito was still in the room, so there were more guards in the hallway.

"Micah," Rafael said, "say something, let us know you understand us and that you are not going to hurt Anita."

The tiger leaned back from my hair. I felt a tension ease from the muscles in his arms, and the claws in my shoulder eased. "I'm here. I'm here," he said in a voice that was lower and deeper, coming from the chest of the tiger, bigger than even his leopardman form could boast.

Benito spoke, "My king, move to me, you do not need to be here."

"Is that right, Micah, are you a danger to us?"

"I am aware, but I am having some issues regaining full control," the tigerman said; for some reason I couldn't think of him as Micah the way I did his panther form.

"What kind of issues?" Benito asked.

"Do not shoot him, Benito," Rafael said.

"The room is too small, and you are too close, my king."

"Anita, call your leopard, remind him who he is," Bram said, and he knelt, very slowly, down beside us as the tiger turned and snarled at him.

"I'm sorry," Micah said. "I don't like how many people are in the room, or the guns."

Bram kept his hands up, gun pointed skyward, but he was less than three feet from us; he might not get the gun down, pointed, and fired this close before the weretiger was on him. He wasn't just risking his life; he was offering it.

I wanted to say, Bram, don't, but my own tiger chose that moment to start running up that long corridor inside me. She was coming to take care of us, to give us claws and fangs to fight back. The spatter pattern on the floor was growing more decorative, and the trickles down my arm had finally met the spatter so it was beginning to pool. I was hurt, bleeding. It made it hard to argue with the tiger as she raced to help.

"My black tiger is coming, Micah."

The weretiger snuffled my neck again, but it wasn't a growl he breathed out against my spine this time. It was almost a . . . purr. "She smells good to this body."

"She won't be good if you bring her; she's pissed that we're hurt."

He bent over me, and it was as if he hadn't realized what he'd done until that moment. "Oh, Anita, I'm so sorry, I've never hurt you like this before."

"You might dismount before her tiger forces the issue, my friend," Rafael said.

"Please, Micah, she's close, and she's not listening to me."

He started to pull out of me, moving his hips back, but his body still mostly inside me. I saw my tiger leap like a piece of darkness made furred and muscled, snarling, and she crashed into me. It was like getting hit by a freight train, except my body was the tracks and the train and the prison she was trying to break. The impact drove me upward, shoving me into the weretiger on top of me, sending us both careening across the room and into the wall. His body took the impact or I'd have broken something.

My human body was stunned, breathless, smashed against the furred body behind me, but the tigress could move. She sprang to her feet, but something about my being stunned let her stand in my human body, so that we were suddenly in the hallway facing back toward the doorway, snarling, crouched on the balls of my feet and fingertips, as if I couldn't remember if I was four-or two-legged.

The weretiger that was Micah spilled through the doorway on all fours, the massive humanoid upper body hunched as it looked at me with eyes like fire. I screamed at it, and it was a tiger's scream that felt like it tore my throat just to make the noise, but it was as if the tigress had figured out how to drive and I couldn't get back behind the wheel. All I could do was watch as she launched us at the black figure in the doorway.

Bram was there to block my arm, to stand between me and my prey. I tried to slash his face, but the claws I could "see" in my head passed through him as if they weren't there. I tried to throw a left hook, but my shoulder wasn't working right, and Bram just pushed my arm down and moved into me, forcing me back not with blows, but just his size. He was taller than me and he shouldn't have been. My tiger was bigger than that; it was . . . wrong.

My tiger snarled and it came out of my mouth, but it hurt as if my throat couldn't, or shouldn't, make the sound. I dropped to my knees and could see Micah past Bram's legs. He was still in tiger form, but he reached out for me with a clawed hand still stained with my blood. "I'm sorry."

He collapsed slowly to the floor, hand still reaching for me. I started to crawl toward him, but Bram knelt down and stopped me. "I don't know if he's himself yet."

I understood the words, and my inner tiger agreed he was too dangerous to approach, but me, myself, I wanted to touch him. The black tigerman looked at me, and then from one blink to another his eyes changed from orange and yellow to Micah's chartreuse leopard eyes. He slid to his side and looked at me as the black fur began to slide away and his human body melted upward through the black-on-black stripes.

I went to him when he was back to being my Micah, and no one stopped me as I knelt by him. He put his hand in mine and looked up at me. "I love you, Anita."

"I love you more," I said.

"I love you most," he said. His eyes started closing, eyelids fluttering as he fought it. His eyes closed; his hand went limp in mine as he passed out.

I kissed his cheek and whispered, "I love you mostest."

THEY PUT ME in the room next door to Rafael while they looked at my shoulder. Adding insult to injury, Rafael wasn't healed. Once the endorphins from the sex, the magic, and then the emergency with Micah had passed, his back had started to hurt again.

Dr. Lillian looked at my shoulder, shaking her head. "I spend far too much time patching you up, Anita."

"Some of the other guards get hurt more than I do."

She frowned at me. "They're guards, you are not. It's their job to risk injury, not yours."

"Patch me up, doc, I need to meet the FBI."

"You need to rest and heal," she said.

"No time, gotta catch the bad guys."

She gave me a flat look out of her pale eyes. "The tough-guy act is getting old, Anita."

"It's not an act," I said.

She sighed. "Fair enough, you are as tough as you think you are, but you are not as indestructible as you act."

"This was not my fault," I said.

"Was it Micah's fault?"

I looked down and thought about it. "I don't think so, he only got this new form earlier today. I think he was able to control his leopard when we had sex, but the tiger was newer. I think it surprised him when I fed the ardeur."

"Don't feed the ardeur on him again until he's had tiger for at least a month, Anita. He had enough control to only puncture you; if he had clawed you . . ." She shook her head, looking way too serious for comfort.

"I know it would have been worse," I said.

"I heard he was sniffing your neck; if he'd bitten you there . . ."

"Stop, just stop, okay; I was scared enough while it was happening."

She looked at me. "You never admit you're afraid."

"Well, it's been a hard day, and I have to be well enough to meet with the FBI when they let me know the meeting is on."

"What could be important enough to push yourself this hard?"

"I can't tell you about an ongoing investigation, but it is one of the worst things I've ever seen, doc. If I can

stop it before they take one more victim, then it's worth pushing myself."

"Some of the things you've seen are terrible, Anita, really terrible."

"Yes, they are," I said.

She nodded. "Do you really think that your being there will make that much difference?"

She sighed. "All right, I'll bandage you, and put your arm in a sling, but what you really need is to lie in this bed with some of your animals to call and let their warmth and energy help you heal faster."

"That'd be great, doc, but the FBI could call anytime, and I'm supposed to go to something for Cynric this afternoon."

"He's old enough to understand that you're hurt, Anita."

"If he doesn't understand, put me on the phone and I'll explain it, but once you finish with the FBI, then you must rest. Can you at least call the agents you'll be meeting with and see if you have time for a quick nap, or some solid food?"

It sounded reasonable, so I called Special Agent Manning. "We're waiting on one of our agents to get into town."

"Marshal Kirkland is in town already," I said.

"We've got another specialist coming in to help review the videos."

"How long until he arrives?" I asked.

"She, but maybe three hours at the outside, probably more like two."

"Jesus, Manning, they could be picking a new victim right now."

"They're zombies, technically they aren't victims."

"You know that to capture their souls like this they have to be there ready at the time of their deaths. They may not be leaving that to chance; they may be killing these girls."

"I know, Blake, I know that, but we've been ordered to wait for the last agent to arrive, and I have to listen to my superiors more than you do."

"Fine, fine, I'm too tired to argue." I was tired, suddenly and completely exhausted.

"How much sleep did you get last night?" she asked.

She made an exasperated noise. "Then go to bed, take a nap. You won't be any good to anyone if you're too tired to focus."

"That's what my doctor said."

"Doctor? Are you hurt?"