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Jason (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter 23) Laurell K. Hamilton 2022/8/5 16:58:24

Nathaniel snuggled in closer against me. "I'm so glad you were willing to be closer to me than you were to Damian." He kissed the side of my face, and then lower at the curve of my jaw, working down to my neck in soft, warm kisses.

"I saw Anita close her eyes, almost fluttery like during sex, and now you just know, that quickly?" J.J. asked.

"Yes," Nathaniel said, and made another kiss lower on my neck.

"What did I tell her about Jade?"

He rose up from kissing me to say, "That Jade isn't the girl for her, and she should dump her."

"I never said it like that."

"But that's how Anita interpreted it, and I got her version of the last few minutes."

"Wow, that's just . . . eerie, useful, but a little . . . I don't know, not creepy, but disturbing."

"Sweetums," Jason said, kissing her cheek, "that wasn't even on the scale of our version of creepy."

She turned enough in his arms to see his face. "Really?"

We all said "Really" in unison.

She looked around at all of us, and then smiled. "If I were the jealous type, it wouldn't just be Anita I was jealous of, it would be the way the three of you interact."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"You guys are so tight as friends. I don't know if it's because you also have sex as a threesome, or more-some, but you are all just close."

"Why would you be jealous of friendships, or is it the sex?" I asked.

"Both, but Freda is jealous of my friends, and has pretty much cut me off from them. I understood the ex-lovers that I was friends with, but then she kept pushing until I really have only her in New York."

"You have friends in the dance company," Jason said.

"I did, before I spent two years with Freda; now they're just work friends, and I'm isolated from them." She looked so unhappy that I reached out and touched her arm.

"You know, it's not just me who's dating a woman that doesn't make me happy," I said.

She nodded. "We give the advice we need to hear sometimes; I heard it."

I turned enough to see Nathaniel's face. "Do you agree with J.J. about Jade?"

"I have some of the same issues you have with personal boundaries, so I'd say let's see if we can incorporate her into our sex life more as a group, and if that will satisfy her need for a relationship with you, then great, but if she keeps pushing you to go out to movies and plays with just her, then say no. You barely have time to actually date Micah, me, and Jean-Claude."

"You're usually the more the merrier," I said.

"Only with people who work their issues. It would be great to find a woman to add to us. It would make most of the other men incredibly happy, but Jade isn't the woman to help make us all happier."

"So even if she went to therapy and really worked hard at it, you veto her for more," I said, turning so I could watch his face.

He looked very serious, and a little sad, but underneath that his eyes held almost anger. I wasn't sure if he was angry at Jade, angry at the lost chance of another woman, or if he had to get angry to vote against her.

"She wants too much of you, Anita. You're already committed to too many people you love, and who fit into our lives better, and who make things better. We don't need someone who drags us down and just sucks energy. We need people who help lift everyone up and raise the energy level. Jade doesn't help enough, and she needs too much emotional hand holding without giving enough in return."

I cuddled Nathaniel's arms around me tighter. "So I get to stop dating Jade, or having sex with her?"

"Did you hear what you said, just now?" J.J. asked.

I looked at her. "I said I was breaking up with Jade."

"No, you said you 'get to' break up with her. That implies you don't really want to have sex with her, let alone date her."

"I don't want to have sex with Jade anymore, and I sure as hell don't want to date just her, just the two of us, she's too hard emotionally."

"I hate to say it, but doesn't dumping her after tonight seem like punishing good behavior? She did let more men interact with her than ever before."

I didn't know whether to scream or cry, because it was a good point.

"Why should that change anything?" J.J. asked.

"It just does," I said, and sighed.

"It doesn't have to change everything you just decided," Nathaniel said.

I turned in his arms enough to see his face. "I'm listening."

"What parts of being with Jade do you enjoy?"

ht about it, really thought about it. "I like taking care of her, watching her get braver and more certain of herself. I'm okay with sleeping with her beside me, lost in our puppy pile, as long as she doesn't get all freaky about the other people in the bed."

"Before this weekend I would have said I don't like having sex with other women, but it's not the girl parts, it's the personality conflicts." I looked down so I wasn't meeting anyone's eyes, and then said, "And I'm actually a little disappointed that I didn't get to watch Nathaniel have sex with J.J. I've never watched any of my guys with another woman before." I forced myself to look up then, so I had to see their faces.

Jason and J.J. were grinning at me, like his-and-her mirror images. Nathaniel laughed behind me, that deep, happy guy laugh, and hugged me tighter.

"We'll make a voyeur out of you yet," J.J. said.

"Well, I wouldn't just want to watch," I said.

She gave me a look out of those innocent blue eyes that wasn't innocent at all. "Even better."

We talked it out a little bit more, deciding that I wouldn't cut Jade off from sex completely, but I wouldn't date her, or work to make the relationship more, because I didn't want more. I most definitely wanted less. She would have to deal. We also talked about possible sex for tomorrow that would make J.J. comfortable enough to have intercourse with Nathaniel so I could watch, with participation from Jason and me, too. It was nice to make a plan with another woman involved that didn't have to include a plan for what we'd do if the other woman freaked out about the sex. Once we'd talked it out, we took turns in the bathroom cleaning up, and then lay down to sleep with Jason and me in the middle and Nathaniel at my back, and J.J. at Jason's. She fit into the puppy pile just fine.

Keep reading for an excerpt

from the next Anita Blake novel

by Laurell K. Hamilton

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"SO, YOU'RE ENGAGED," Special Agent Brenda Manning said. She wore a black pants suit with a heavy belt that wrapped around her waist and held the gun at her side. She was FBI and didn't have to worry about concealed carry, so the fact that her gun flashed every time her suit jacket flared out wasn't an issue. The gun looked very stark as it reared up above her belt against the white button-up shirt.