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Jason (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter 23) Laurell K. Hamilton 2022/8/5 16:58:21

She was shorter than I was, more petite, so that when we stood she fitted under my arm like I did with most of the men in my life.

I ran my thumb over her knuckles over and over, to reassure us both. She liked to touch me, in some ways needed to touch me, but she was usually still when we touched, holding on, but not petting until sex started. I'd asked her about it once and been informed that her ex-master had liked her to hold on, but not to pet him, and I knew the kinds of things he'd done to teach her his rules. I'd broken her ties with him metaphysically, and my one regret was that I hadn't hunted him down and killed him yet. We had other people hunting him now. I'd learned that when you're king you can't always go slaying the dragons, because if the king dies the kingdom needs a new king, and the next one may be a real bastard. I risked myself enough as a U.S. Marshal; I wasn't allowed vendettas.

I stayed with Jade and kept her safe; that was my job. Hunting down her tormentor and killing his ass was left to guards who were also ancient vampires and knew him of old.

J.J. stood beside the bed holding Jason's hand. "If I clapped my hands and made happy bat noises, would anyone get mad at me?" she asked.

He shook his head. "I wouldn't, I'm just sad I'm only allowed to watch. I'm more exhibitionist than voyeur."

She kissed his cheek. "I'm sorry, honeybunch."

"I feel your pain," Domino said from the other side of the bed.

J.J. had agreed that he could strip down to a pair of silken boxers similar to what Jason was wearing. It was fair in case either she or Jade relented and let me have my extra guy in the bed, or let each other have their lover. Jason's silk was a blue that almost matched J.J.'s nightie; Domino's was a red that matched Jade's, since I'd bought both his and hers as a pair. Jean-Claude had helped me pick the color so that it was a perfect match of scarlets.

"I know you do, bro," Jason said, and gave a fist bump to the air that Domino returned in the air on his side of the bed. I'd have traded places with either of them in a hot minute, so that I didn't have to do this particular scene. In a way Jade topped from the bottom, which was a phrase to describe the way a submissive could control a relationship even though the dominant was supposed to be the one in control.

Technically, I should have been able to dictate to her that I wanted Jason in the bed, and she'd just have to deal, but the submissive had a full vote, and she'd said no. I had a full vote, too, and could have said, Jason is in the bed or we're done, but I hadn't. Why hadn't I? Because I wasn't sure whether I really wanted him in the bed with me as much as I just didn't want J.J. and Jade there, and that was the truth. I was so far outside my comfort zone I couldn't see it from the shore anymore. I felt lost at sea, but determined to weather the storm, even if it was a storm formed of soft flesh and silk. To do anything else would be cowardice, and I couldn't do that, wouldn't do that. I wouldn't be a coward on something so important to this many people I valued, loved. This was too important for my issues to win. Either you work your issues, or they will work you. It wasn't so much Jade topping from the bottom, it was me, my near-panic driving me forward and forcing me to face whatever the hell bothered me about extra women in the bed with me.

I sat there rubbing my thumb faster and faster across Jade's knuckles as if her hand were a worry stone, and if I just petted hard enough I'd figure out what was wrong in my head to make me this uncomfortable.

I had female friends who were this afraid of multiple men in bed, as if more men equaled rape, but for me, men were like a security blanket. Women scared me, and I had no idea why. I just knew that I wouldn't let this fear best me any more than I let fear of that noise in the dark keep me from going in gun ready, searching for the rogue vampire I knew was inside. All fear is the same no matter the cause of it; you conquer or are conquered by it. I wasn't into losing, not even to myself, maybe especially to myself.

I told myself I could safe-word at any moment, and kept trying to rub a hole through Jade's hand.

Jade leaned in and whispered, "Are you all right, Anita?"

Truth was, no, but out loud I said, "Sure."

She gave me a look, and if we'd lowered our metaphysical shielding, she could have felt everything I was feeling, and I her, just like I could do with Domino, Jason, and Nathaniel. Jade was my black tiger to call, Domino was my white/black, Jason my wolf, and Nathaniel my leopard to call. They were my animals to call, my Moitie Bete; we all had to work at not sensing each other's emotions.

Of course the tension singing down my hand into Jade's probably gave me away just fine. You don't have to be psychic to pick up on the obvious.

I looked at him and J.J.

I shrugged. "I think this is the most complicated BDSM scene I've tried without Jean-Claude or Asher involved. It's like we have all this talent and potential, but no one is in charge." That was all true. It wasn't exactly what was spooking me, but it was still part of the truth. It also meant that they'd probably quit asking me what was wrong.

"I cannot be with Asher," Jade said.

I shook my head. "I wasn't suggesting it, just not sure who's directing everything."

"We've made love with Nathaniel in bed with us before," she said, her voice soft, low, and strangely musical. Her voice didn't always sound that way, but it often did when she was trying to persuade, or I guess manipulate me. I'd asked her if she'd had theater training, but she didn't seem to know what I meant, so I'd let it go. I let a lot of things go with Jade, even I knew that, but when she puzzled me enough I stepped back rather than pushing. I wasn't sure if I was growing up, or she was winning.

"You're in charge, Anita," Domino said, "so be in charge. What do you want to do?"

In my head I thought, Leave. Maybe it showed on my face, because he said, "Do what you enjoy and Jade will follow your lead."

"Really?" I asked her.

"Okay, I know what I want to do."

"I will follow where you lead," she said.

I knew it was both the truth and a lie. She'd follow me for a while, until she decided she didn't want to, or she got too uncomfortable, then she'd do whatever the hell she wanted to do and somehow it would be my fault, again. I was starting to seriously sympathize with the men who were dating me.

I SNUGGLED DOWN against the left side of Nathaniel's bound body, and Jade mirrored me on his right. I started by kissing those full lips of his; he kissed me back with his eyes already losing their focus as he began to give himself over to the rope, to our touch, to simply not being in control. It was one of my favorite things about bondage.

Jade leaned over, but didn't kiss him; she offered her red lips to me. She had never kissed Nathaniel on the mouth. It was something she saved for me. We kissed and it was a mingling of identical scarlet lipstick. She'd started wearing my shade of red, because if she wore something else it ruined both our lipsticks, or made colors that looked good on neither of us. I realized that she got more kisses now that our lipsticks matched; good thing the color looked good on both of us.

Nathaniel watched us kiss, his lips touched with red just down the center. He'd coined it the go-faster stripe, and wore it proudly. There was an eagerness in his eyes that wasn't just the submission; he liked seeing us kiss above him. I loved it when he and Micah kissed, so I totally got that he liked seeing me kiss another woman. Funny, I hadn't thought he had that typical male fantasy of two women and him; just goes to prove that bisexual doesn't mean not guy, just a different kind of guy.