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Affliction (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter 22) Laurell K. Hamilton 2022/8/5 16:54:10

I woke blinking into a bar of golden sunlight, made more gold by the blond hair that was spilling across my face. The sunlight was a slit in the curtains. The bed was moving, and I blinked through the hair and sunlight to see Nicky sliding out of the bed. That meant the very warm and softly muscled someone wrapped around the back of me was Dev. I tried to sweep the hair out of my face and realized my arms were pinned by his arm. He snuggled closer, arm flexing as I tried to move. Apparently Dev was a serious snuggler.

I heard deep voices soft and low at the door. I was able to turn my head and see around Dev's head enough to see Nicky naked at the partially open door, but couldn't see who he was talking to. Then he opened the door, and Edward walked in, which made me suddenly look down to see how much of me was covered with sheet. It hadn't seemed that important a minute ago.

Dev had not only my arms pinned, but the sheet trapped at about my waist level between us. At the moment his arm covered some of my breasts, but some is not enough when the person who just walked into the room isn't a lover. Yes, Edward was one of my best friends, but it wasn't the same as having a best girlfriend.

I could reach my sheets with my hands pinned, but I couldn't actually get any more sheet to cover me because it was caught between Dev's body and mine. Crap! I did the only thing I could: I hid behind Dev and said, 'Just a minute, Edward.' I planned on my voice being calm and matter of fact. I failed.

Edward laughed, that rare real laughter for him, and the fact that he did it in front of Nicky meant he approved of him in some way. 'I'll turn my back until you cover up.' His voice was made up mostly of laughter. I wasn't sure I'd ever heard him sound quite that pleased. It wasn't just this moment of embarrassment for me, as I poked Dev and made him blink awake so I could grab covers; I thought it was Donna and her working her issues, so that there would be a wedding. Maybe I was being all girly and projecting, but Edward was happy. When we met years ago we were both pretty miserable; I just didn't know it.

'I'm moving, I'm moving,' Dev said, as I pushed at him a little furiously.

Edward was standing with his back to the bed like he'd said, but his shoulders were shaking with laughter. Nicky stood beside him totally nude and totally comfortable, as he watched me struggle to hide my nakedness and drag all the covers off Dev. He didn't care any more than Nicky did - stupid wereanimals and their lack of modesty, and stupid me still caring this much.

Edward was bent almost double, laughing so hard it sounded like he was having trouble breathing. 'Glad I could lighten your morning,' I said, grumpily.

It made Dev grin, and then Nicky chuckled.

I pointed a finger at Dev. 'Don't you dare.'

Dev's mouth quirked as he fought not to laugh. Nicky's face was alight with suppressed laughter. I fled to the bathroom with the king-size sheet wrapped around me like the most oversized robe in the world, grabbing my overnight bag as I moved, so that I actually tripped over the sheet and fell in the doorway to the bathroom.

'Motherfucking son of a bitch!'

That was it; both of them laughed out loud. I gathered my sheet and what was left of my dignity and closed the door to the bathroom to the sounds of masculine laughter. I rolled my eyes at myself in the mirror and realized that I had no idea why Edward was in our room. I was betting it was business, which meant crime to solve, bad guys to catch, and a mysterious master vampire to find. That took the smile off my face, but I realized not entirely. Yeah, things were bad, and last night had been brutal, but I could still hear the men laughing to themselves. It was a good sound, and not a bad way to start the day.