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

He looked at me, and it was that you know look. There weren't many people I'd take that look from, but Jason was on that short list.

"I like that he's rough. Sometimes a brute in bed is exactly what I want," I said.

She shuddered. "You can have him, I'm done."

"I don't want him as a boyfriend either, but the occasional sex is great, that was always fabulous between us."

"You look delicate, like he'd break you."

"Looks can be deceiving," I said.

Jason squeezed my shoulder. "The fact that Anita likes rough sex is one of the reasons I wanted everyone to meet this morning."

The comment made me look up at him. "What does that mean?"

The tea timer went off and he went to rescue it, and also neatly avoided answering my question.

I called after him. "What do my sexual preferences have to do with anything?"

"I'm getting the tea," he said with his back to us as he fished the bag out of the mug.

"What is this little meeting about this morning?" I asked, suspicious now.

Nathaniel spoke as he came into the kitchen. "It's about helping everybody in our poly group feel better."

He'd pulled on a pair of his favorite jeans, the ones that were nearly white with washing and had begun to thread out across the thighs. His knees peeked out of actual holes as he padded barefoot toward me. His ankle-length hair was in its usual braid so that it was mostly hidden behind him with only glimpses of the thick auburn rope peeking from behind him as he moved.

My smile of greeting changed to something less happy. "What does that mean, and why do I feel like you and Jason have been plotting behind my back about something?"

He smiled, and it was the real deal, not the one that he flashed at Guilty Pleasures to get customers to shove hundred-dollar bills down his pants. If they could have seen this smile full of love and lust and just . . . Nathaniel, they'd have found thousand-dollar bills to offer him in hopes that he'd deliver on everything that smile hinted at.

I fought to stay grumpy at him, but found it impossible as he crossed the golden bars of sunlight, turning his lavender eyes almost blue, as if they were paling in the warmth of all that sunshine. His eyes were truly the color of spring lilacs. Only two things made them darken to a truer purple: anger and lust. It had to be enough of both, and anger was a rarer cause for it than lust.

He changed his walk slightly so that I was suddenly aware of just how well he moved, how muscular and yummy his naked upper body was. He'd actually had to tone down his weight lifting because he was bulking up too much for the flexibility he needed as a dancer. He was learning, and starting to perform, some modern dance pieces, but it was the exotic dancer part of him that glided and strutted his way over to give me another good-morning kiss. We'd done more than kiss before I got out of bed to meet Jason in the kitchen.

He bent that handsome face over me where I sat, coming in for a kiss. "You know just how much you affect me, don't you?" I whispered.

"It's my job to know," he whispered back, and kissed me.

I kissed him back, because what else could I do? Hell, what else did I want to do? I wasn't angry enough not to run my hand around his bare waist and caress him as our lips met.

He rose and I smiled up at him, damn near stupid-faced with the kiss, and the memory of earlier, and all the days before. We'd been living together for three years and it just got better.

"That," Envy said, "that's what I want. I want someone to look at me the way you two look at each other, or the way that Jason and J.J. look at each other. I want gentleness and love."

"Doesn't everybody?" Jason said, as he carried her tea to the table.

"No. Anita says she likes Richard being a brute, but she has Nathaniel, and Micah, and Jean-Claude. She has her gentle, and her love."

"You have Jean-Claude," I said.

"No, I have sex with Jean-Claude, I'm his lover, but he doesn't love me."

Nathaniel turned to her, one hand still in mine. "Are you in love with him?"

I stiffened, my hand tensing in his. "Nathaniel!"

"No, Anita, we need to know how we all really feel about each other. If we're not honest it all falls apart."

"He's right," Jason said. He sat down at the table at the end so he could see all of us easily.

"Don't give me that look," he said, laughing. "You know it's true."

I tried to keep frowning at him, but started smiling in spite of myself. Jason had had that effect on me from almost the beginning when I met him. It was one of the reasons that we were friends and that I hadn't killed him when I first met him; so glad I hadn't.

I finally gave in to the smile, but did my best to smother it in my coffee cup, though since I was still holding hands with Nathaniel, the tough-as-nails attitude was a little compromised.

Nathaniel pressed the back of my hand against his bare stomach and I suddenly had more trouble thinking. I looked up at him. "You're doing that on purpose, aren't you?"

"Doing what?" he asked, violet eyes wide. If it had been Jason I'd have known he was being disingenuous, but with Nathaniel just liked touching so much sometimes he did it without thinking.

Jason grinned at me from the other end of the table. I started to try to glare at him again, but finally said, "Fuck it, what's wrong, or what's up?"

Nathaniel raised my hand up so he could kiss it, and rub his cheek against it, like a cat scent-marking--mine. I liked it, because we were each other's mine; the fact that the word didn't include an exclusivity clause didn't make the possessive mine any less real, a point I just couldn't seem to explain to my monogamous friends.

"I'll get breakfast started while we wait for Domino. He's still in the shower."

Domino was one of our bodyguards, and one of my lovers, but he didn't sleep at this house much either. We were still organizing our guard rotation since we lost Ares, and I had been willing to believe that Domino was going to be more at the house because of that, but realizing he was going to be in on the talk this morning let me know it hadn't been a coincidence that the weretiger had slept over and shared a bed with Nathaniel and me. Our third, Micah Callahan, was traveling on business again, so the big bed had room for a guest.

"Tigers like water, a lot," I said, and sipped at my coffee.

"I'm not overly fond of it," Envy said, "but that may be because you can never take a shower without a man thinking you want sex."

Nathaniel moved toward the oven, laughing softly. Jason started to laugh, too. I coughed and nearly aspirated coffee.

She gave me the full weight of those exotic blue eyes. "It must be true for you, too. Richard loves shower sex."

Jason laughed harder.