Scarred Love - Part IV

Chapter 19
Zebrowski decided to go home to his wife. Me? I called home. Micah answered.
“Hi Micah. I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to the Circus. I have to talk to JeanClaude and Asher.” I could hear Nathaniel laughing in the background.
“Ok, are you going to spend the night then?” He asked. I was still getting used to the fact that he didn’t care I was still sleeping with JeanClaude and now Asher.
“I don’t know, probably. I’m headed there now.”
“You sound tired. Are you ok?”
“Yeah, I quit my job today. Bert was coming down on me as soon as I walked through the door. I just got fed up and quit. Then I went to see Zebrowski and Dolph flipped out on both of us. It’s been a rough day, even for me.”
“Sounds like it. Anything I can do?” He asked softly.
I sighed. It would have been nice to go home to him. Have his arms around me. But, “No, I’ll be home in the morning with Edward. I’ll see you then.” We hung up. It was hard not saying I love you at the end of every phone conversation I had with him. I’d been sleeping with him for almost a year but was I in love with him? No, but could I be? The answer to that was yes. I loved JeanClaude. At least I knew that much. I called the Circus and told JeanClaude I was coming over. I told him I wanted to talk to him and Asher. He seemed pleased that I’d included Asher. I wondered at that.
When I got to the Circus I used my key to open the door. JeanClaude and Asher were waiting for me in the sitting room. They were sitting on the couch together cuddling. My breath caught in my throat. They were gorgeous. Asher was wearing one of JeanClaude’s white frilly shirts that exposed his chest. Scars covered half of that beautiful skin. The other half showing was flawless. The whole front of his body was like that. He was wearing gold tone skin tight lycra pants. They looked painted on. Light tan soft leather boots rose to just above his knees.
JeanClaude looked just the opposite. A darkness to Asher’s light. He wore a dark deep blue version of the same shirt. It framed his face and made his eyes stand out against his pale skin. His pants were black lycra, skin tight like Asher’s but where Asher’s boots came to just above his knees, JeanClaude’s black suede boots came to ride high on his thighs.
I think forgot to breathe because my breath came out fast and shaky.
“Ma petite, have you not fed the arduer?” JeanClaude asked, bringing me out of my sexual fantasy.
“No, this isn’t the arduer. It’s just me. Though, now that you mention it, I haven’t fed the arduer since before I had the dream with Belle. I haven’t needed to.” Asher and JeanClaude looked at each other then back to me. “What?”
Asher said, “It is possible.”
“What’s possible?”
“Ma petite, Asher means it was a possibility that you would only have the arduer temporarily. That it would eventually leave. But what has made it leave you?” He held his hand out to me. I walked to him and sat between the two of them.
“Ma cherie.” Asher kissed my hand gently. I smiled. I answered JeanClaude, still looking at Asher. “I don’t know JeanClaude but I’m glad it’s gone.”
“As I would be as well, but are you so sure it is gone?” That made me look at him.
“What do you mean?”
“I believe I should call the arduer to see if yours reacts.” His eyes sparkled mischievously.
“But I’ll react anyway. You’re just trying to get in my pants.” I glared at him but I didn’t mean it and he knew it. He laughed seductively, the sound toughing my body, teasing it, sliding along my skin touching places even the light of day hadn’t touched.
“Stop it JeanClaude.” I rubbed my arms to make the gooseflesh go away.
He gave a half bow, “As my lady wishes.” Hard to bow while you’re sitting but he managed to make it graceful. I settled back against the couch.
“What did you wish to talk with us about ma cherie?” Asher asked softly.
“I wanted to talk about what happened to us. The closest thing I’ve experienced to that was with Micah and Richard. We shared beasts but with you I can’t share beasts. You don’t have one.”
“No, ma petite what you shared was a partage d'âme.” He looked serious for a minute.

“What’s a partage d'âme?” I asked, Asher answered.

“It means to share one’s soul with another. Though you needn’t worry, your soul is not in jeopardy. 
Our energies, came together, that is all. It is much like what you, JeanClaude, and Monsieur Zeeman have done but on a lesser scale.”

“What does this mean for us?” Asher looked to JeanClaude. JeanClaude’s face was a blank mask.

“JeanClaude?” He looked at me.

“I am not sure. I have never heard of this happening with anothers human servant.”

“Okay, if I wasn’t your human servant, what would happen?” He was quiet for long I thought he wouldn’t answer, then he said, “You would be able to speak in each others minds and you both would gain power from each other. We have already experienced the first.” JeanClaude studied Asher.

“Mon ami, do you feel different?”

“Non, Anita?” Both were looking at me.

“How am I supposed to tell? Earlier today I was purring for Christ’s sake. On occasion my eyes glow and sometimes I’ve got sharp pointy teeth.” I looked back and forth between the two.

“Have you noticed anything else? Ma petite, when Asher and myself held you down, you almost freed yourself. I would say you’ve gained strength as well.” I had forgotten that. I looked at Asher, suddenly worried.

“Did I hurt you? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to. I couldn’t control it. I’m sorry, both of you should hate me or at least be angry with me.” I covered my face with my hands, rubbing my eyes.

“Ma cherie, I am fine, we are fine. We understand that you were not yourself.” He put his arms around me and kissed my hair.

“Ma petite, Asher speaks the truth.” He lowered my hands to look in my eyes, “Vous êtes mon coeur et ne pouvez pas me blesser. Je marcherais par l'enfer pour être sur votre côté. Vous êtes plus étonnant que mille sunrises à un homme de mort. Je t'aime.

“My you french guys say such pretty things.” I smiled, he smiled.

“It is in the blood.” Asher smiled, showing a hint of fang. We all laughed though I think I was the butt of the joke. JeanClaude kissed my forehead. Yep, definitely the butt.

Chapter 20
I woke up to the alarm going off. I slapped a half dozen buttons until it was quiet once more. I wrapped the crimson sheets around me, smelling them. They still smelt of JeanClaude and Asher. We hadn’t had sex but they had lain with me while I slept. They did that sometimes.

We had talked until after one o’clock, when I started yawning, so we moved it to the bedroom. I nodded off somewhere around two, I think. That meant I’d had about six hours of sleep. Edward’s plane was set to arrive at 9:30 so I had an hour and a half. Time enough for a bath.

I grabbed a change of clothes and headed for the bathroom. I’d started leaving clothes here for the main reason that I spend the night often enough to need them. I’d gotten tired of wearing yesterday’s wrinkled mess and sometimes yesterday’s wrinkled mess was more than just wrinkled.

I loved JeanClaude’s bathtub. Not only was it beautiful and huge, it reminded me of him. It was, after all, the first place we’d made love.

I was clean, sufficiently dressed in black jeans, red shirt, black nikes, and black suit jacket. Once I had all my weapons where they should be I went out to my car and left. About half way to the airport I noticed a gray late model sedan behind me. I was probably just paranoid. I put it out of my mind.
When I took the turn off for the airport, it followed. Ok maybe I wasn’t paranoid. When I parked, it was only a few rows back. Could it be Olaf? Well if it was, the last thing I wanted to do was let him know I knew he was there.
My beeper started to vibrate, making me jump and bringing a small sound from my mouth. I got a dirty look from a few people passing me. I looked at it. I didn’t recognize the number. I don’t give my number out to just anyone. So that usually meant bad news. I hated bad news. I went to a bank of phones to my right and returned the call.
When they answered I said, “This is Anita Blake. This number was on my pager?”
“It’s me Anita. Can you come get me? My plane landed early.” Edward said.
“Sure, I’m already here. I think I’m being followed though.” I told him about the car and how I thought it might be Olaf.
“Have you seen him?” He asked.
“No, I haven’t been looking. I don’t want him to know that I noticed it.”
Good, come get me at luggage and be very happy to see me.” He hung up. What did that mean? Be very happy to see him?
It took all I had not to keep looking over my shoulder. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end. It was like I could feel him watching me. I half expected him to jump out at any moment and yell boo but I made it to the luggage area in ten minutes. Edward was waving to me with a big smiles on his face. He was wearing mirrored sunglasses so I couldn’t see his eyes. The rest of him was covered in blue jeans, white shirt, black leather coat, complete with black boots. His hair was that blonde that’s almost white. Most people have to use bleach, his is natural.
He put on his fake big o’l Ted grin and said in a loud voice, “Anita! I’ve missed you. I’m so glad to see you honey.” I smiled in return because hearing Edward call me ‘honey’ is just too funny.
He drew me into a hug and whispered in my ear, “Just play along Anita.” Then before I knew what was happening, he was kissing me. I went stiff. He kissed me gently, teasing my lips with his tongue. “Anita, relax.” When I opened my lips to him, his tongue slipped inside to mingle with mine. The kiss turned to something more demanding, more desperate. His lips were so soft. And he was good, really good. My knees went a little weak and he lifted me, keeping his lips on mine. I thought JeanClaude was a good kisser but my God, who knew that Edward could kiss like this? He broke the kiss and laughed. I was still a little dazed so I held onto him.
Was that relaxed enough for you?” I asked, my voice breathy.
Not bad, not bad at all.” His voice sounded raspy, like what we had just done was more intimate than it should have been.
When I got my breath back I stepped away a little and looked at the bags near his feet. There were four duffel bags and one suitcase.
My God Edward. You’re worse than a woman.”
I’m here as Ted so that means I get to bring toys. The suitcase is the only one with clothes inside. Make yourself useful. Grab one and let’s get going. I'm starving.” Just like that things were back to normal.
As we walked back through the airport I knew his ice-blue eyes were scanning the crowding people passing by.
Once we had everything stowed in the Jeep, I hopped in and said, “It’s at least a half hour to the restaurant so you get to tell me your plan.”
By the time we got to the restaurant he had basically told me the same thing as before. Edward was here to piss off Olaf and make him come to us. I wasn’t sure it would work. Olaf had seemed smarter than that but I guess I really don’t know him. Edward knows him better than I do but they weren’t friends either.
The rest of the morning went as good as could be expected. We held hands during breakfast. We were mushy towards each other. It was actually more exhausting that I’d thought it would be. How did Edward do this on a daily basis? This acting?
I pulled into my driveway at last and gave a sigh of relief. I thought I heard Edward do the same thing but I couldn’t be sure.
We got out and I opened the back of the Jeep. We both took two duffel bags. One for each arm then headed to the house. I opened the door and dumped his bags on the living room floor. He kept walking.
Here we are.”
He looked around the living room and said, “Nice.” Then started towards my bedroom. He opened the door and walked in.
That’s my room.” I said.
He stuck he head back through the door, smiled and said, “I know.” Then he was back through the door to my room again. My bedroom. Oh we’d just see about that. I followed him in.
What do you think you’re doing? This is my room. MY room.” I said. He had his suitcase open on the bed and was looking in my dresser.
I know it’s your room. We’ll be sharing your room.”
Why on God’s green earth do we have to share a room? Isn’t it enough that we played smoochy face at the airport?”
Anita, if for some reason Olaf gets into the house and he thinks we’re lovers, where is he going to go?” I just looked at him. “He’ll come here Anita. To your room. Besides, if he comes to your room and I’m not here, what do you think he’ll do? He loves you Anita, that’s something for Olaf. He sees you in the arms of his enemy? He’s not going to want you to walk away from this one. We have to share this room Anita. I don’t want to lose you because his feelings are hurt. So just deal with it ok?” He started putting his clothes in with mine.
I don’t need you to protect me Edward.” We were so not going to do this.
I know you don’t. If it makes you feel any better I’ll sleep on top of the sheets.” He smiled.
Can’t you sleep on the floor?”
No and you know why.” He was right. I did know why but I didn’t have to like it.
“Fine, I’m going to go get the rest of your stuff. Don’t make yourself too comfortable.” I wasn’t sure how I felt about sharing a bed with Edward but I guess we needed to. What would happen if Olaf found me in bed with Micah and Nathaniel? I didn’t want to think about it. I walked out to the Jeep. Edward caught up to me and grabbed my arm.

“From now on, wherever you go, I go. I don’t want Olaf taking you out while your alone.” Whatever. I didn’t say anything I just kept walking.

I could hear a car coming down the road. I guess Edward heard it too. He pinned me up against the Jeep and started kissing me. It was hard and fast. His hand went up to my hair, threading into it, rubbing my skull. His other hand went to my waist. We both tensed as the car passed but he kept kissing me. He kissed me hard enough to make my head spin. He pressed himself against me and I whimpered. He was hard, so hard. His hand moved to my ass and squeezed. I nibbled his bottom lip. He kissed me harder, his tongue playing with mine, with my lips. He kissed his way to my neck. His breath was coming out in pants. He kissed and nibbled and bit his way along my neck and ear. I wrapped my arms around his back. Moving my hands up and down in slow circles. His hand moved to just under my breast, resting on my stomach as if he was afraid to go further. I grabbed his hand and shoved it up, over my breast. He moaned low in his throat and pressed himself firmly against me. I cried out. I wanted him. I wanted Edward. It felt wonderful. It felt amazing.

“Edward?” my voice sounded as confused as I felt. I opened my eyes and could see every fiver of his shirt, in great detail. Everything had glowing edges. I cried out but this time it was not a sound of pleasure. I covered my face with my hands.

“Anita? What is it? Did I do something wrong?” He sounded worried and confused. Join the club. I didn’t want him to see my eyes but...

“No you didn’t do anything wrong,” I uncovered my face and looked at him, “I did.” I looked into his eyes and watched them go cold.

Chapter 21
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Edward sat on my couch facing me while I stood but he wouldn’t look at me. He stared at his hands, held loosely in his lap.

“I was going to. I just didn’t know how or when or even how you’d react. I know how you feel about the monsters. What was I supposed to do? Call you up and say ‘Hi Edward, how are you? Oh by the way, I’m a monster now, please don’t kill me.’?” The fact that my unknown lust for Edward had brought this on made me uncomfortable, nay embarrassed.

“When?” he asked still staring at his hands.

“When what?”

“When did it happen? How did it happen? Were you attacked or a bad batch of vaccine? What?” He spoke calmly but his hands betrayed him. He was holding them so tight they were mottled pink and white. If it hurt he didn’t show it.

“I’m not a lycanthrope. Well, not exactly. Truth is I’m not sure what I am.” I told him what happened with Belle. I told him about the eyes and teeth, the enhanced senses and the boost in strength. I left out the purr session. That was personal. Hell all of it was personal but I wouldn’t give him that. When I had finished, I stood looking out the window. “Say something. Anything.” He stayed silent. Fine. When in doubt, make coffee. I went to the kitchen. The saying Death cures all ills didn’t really work for me, “Coffee cures all ills” definitely sounded better.

When the machine was percolating, I heard Edward stand. If I hadn’t been listening I probably wouldn’t have heard it. Or maybe I would have. I didn't understand how these new powers worked yet.

I didn’t turn when he stepped into the kitchen. Didn’t want him to know I’d heard him. I heard metal scrape fabric. A human wouldn’t have heard that. Edward had pulled a knife on me. Did he really think I was that dangerous?

He was standing almost directly behind me but more to my left. Standing about a foot and a half from me was close enough for me to hear his breathing. Calm, normal. He could kill me and not get excited. That was the difference between us. I could still kill him but I wouldn’t like doing it.
I felt him tense before he swung his arm in for a side strike. I moved in a blur of motion catching his hand, stopping the blade inches from my ribs. I held his wrist tightly. He tried to pull it away but couldn’t. I yanked on his wrist, making his body fall against mine. He had no where else to look but my eyes. I stared in his empty cold eyes and I knew he saw light brown fire. We stood like that for what seemed hours but was only mere seconds.

Finally I spoke, forming words around the perfectly formed canines, “Don’t do this Edward,” the next came out in a half-growl, “you don’t want to go down that road.”

I watched the knowledge fill his eyes. If he started this, I would end it. I think he finally knew who was better. His eyes searched my face and he grinned, it touched his eyes making them sparkle.
“Maybe you’re right.” He laughed. “Maybe you are right.”

“You shithead! You did that on purpose.” I could feel the canines sliding back into place, like the power sliding back inside me. I knew that my eyes were no longer glowing.

“I had to know. Now I do.” He was still smiling. He looked pleased, no that wasn’t it. Smug, he looked smug.

“You son-of-a-bitch.” I said laughing. “How can you go from kissing me senseless to trying to kill me then laughing about it? Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad you’re on my side but that doesn’t mean I understand you.”

He went serious, “I’m sorry about the kissing you senseless part. I got a little carried away. It’s been a while for me.”

“Been a while? What happened to Donna?”

“She couldn’t handle it.” I knew what ‘it’ he was talking about. The truth. Donna couldn’t handle the truth about the real Edward. His alias, Ted Forrester, was a legal bounty hunter, Edward was not. He was an assassin. He got paid to kill people. The scarier the better. He’d once been offered a contract on my life but he’d turned it down. The reason? He’d get to kill more people protecting me than if he just killed me. He didn’t just do it for money. He enjoyed it.

“What about Becca and Peter?” Donna’s two kids.

“Peter still calls me even though Donna forbids it. Becca...... “ he shrugged.

“I’m sorry Edward.” I meant it. He looked at me, really looked at me then nodded.

Just then a car pulled in the driveway and we were both on full alert.

It was Nathaniel’s new car. I’d made him get his driver’s license it was only fair that I buy him a car. It was used but that hadn’t mattered to him. It was a 95’ Chevrolet Cavalier Coupe. I’d even paid for the paint job. It was an iridescent pale blue that changed to light purple then to dark blue. It went well with his violet eyes. A second vehicle pulled in behind Nathaniel. It was Micah’s truck. A 98’ Toyota Tacoma extended cab, painted a nice deep kelly green. Nathaniel, Zane and Cherry got out and Micah, Caleb and Merle followed.

I turned to Edward, “You’ll behave yourself right?”

He gave me his best Ted smile and said, “Of course.” This was not going to be fun.

Chapter 22

“Everyone this is Edward. Edward?” I pointed to each person in turn, “This is Micah, Nathaniel, Caleb, Cherry, Zane, and Merle.” I looked Edward dead in the eyes, “They’re my leopards.” I’d just shown Edward that they all had my protection and were off limits. He gave me a slight nod in understanding.
“Nice to meet you. Anita’s told me so much about you.” Micah extended his hand. Edward took his offered hand and shook. Micah’s face was utterly blank. He was being careful. I knew he wasn’t just a pretty face. “I’m told we have you to thank for the way Anita is now. I, for one, am glad she met you when she did. Otherwise, she’d probably be in the ground somewhere.”

I was about to say something when Edward beat me to it, “Actually she wants to be cremated.” I looked at him. In some ways Edward and I were perfect for each other. But the Executioner and the Undertaker shacking up? Scary thought.

Micah looked a little confused so I explained, “I don’t want anyone raising me from the dead. Once I’m dead, I’d like to stay that way.”

“Oh.” Everyone was silent for a few moments.

“Edward will be staying with us for a little while. I’m sure Micah told you why.” I said to the others. I stepped closer to Micah, “Can I talk to you for a minute? You too Edward.” I said, looking at him.
The others went about the house doing God knows what while the three of us walked to my bedroom. I knew we’d be heard but the appearance of privacy made me feel better.

Micah saw Edward’s suitcase and looked at the both of us. “That’s what you wanted to talk about wasn’t it? I told you coming into this that I’d take what I could get. It’s none of my business if you’re sleeping with him but how are we all going to fit in that bed?” he had a sad smile on his face as if he already knew the answer.

“We’re not. Edward and I are going to share the bed because Olaf will expect it. I don’t like it but Edward thinks it’s necessary.” I said.

“You mean you aren’t going to sleep with him?” He looked relieved. I’m not sure how I felt that he’d assumed that I already had but his next question changed the subject. “What about the arduer? You going to feed off him?” He asked looked at Edward. Edward, of course, stood there with a smile on his face.

“If she had to, I would let her.” He was looking at me. His eyes weren’t cold anymore but I couldn’t read them. I’d never seen that look in his eyes before but damned if I knew what it meant.

Another thought hit me. Edward had just volunteered for sex. Well technically it didn’t have to be actual intercourse, just a sexual release, but did he know that? I was betting no.

“I’m hoping that won’t be necessary. JeanClaude and Asher think it’s gone. I haven’t had to feed it in a couple days so I agree.”

Micah seemed to think about that for a bit. “Nathaniel won’t like that. Unless you keep sleeping with him?” he made it a question.

I sighed, “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I only started sleeping with him because of the arduer. I don’t’ do casual sex Micah.”

He looked at me like I was the pathetic deluded little girl. “Ok, so it’s not casual anymore, but I still don’t know and I don’t want to think about it right now ok?” I admitted. He left it alone, smart man.
“Alright, Nathaniel and I will take the upstairs bedroom then. I’ll go tell him so we can move some of our stuff. How long do you think this will last?” He asked, looking from me to Edward and back. Edward answered.

“Hopefully not very long. I don’t like waiting. We might have to bait him some more though.”
“What did you have in mind?” I asked, a little apprehensive about the answer.

“A date.” Oh boy, a date with death, pardon the pun. Nathaniel opened the door, not looking happy. I wondered if he’d heard us.

“Anita, phone call. It’s Irving.” He left and Micah followed.

Irving Griswold was a pack member for the Thronnos Rokke werewolf clan. When he wasn’t busy turning furry he was an investigative reporter. He usually got his best headlines from me. I just happened to also be his Lupa, Werewolf Queen, though I was human. Long story short, I’d dated Richard, he made me their human Lupa and they kept me even though Richard and I weren’t dating anymore. Save enough lives and people tend to like you.

I looked at Edward, he shrugged. I grabbed the phone on the way to the kitchen. I still hadn’t had my cup of coffee.

“Hello Irving.” I think I sounded a bit less than hospitable.

“Geeze Anita, you could at least try to sound happy to hear from me.” He said.

“Sorry. It’s been a long couple of days.” I could just hear him perk up.

“Care to tell me about it?” he sounded hopeful.

“Not really. Is there some reason you called?” I asked.

“Two reasons. First, I hear you got a letter from the suspect of those murders you’re working on. Care to comment?”

“No I do not.”

“Please Anita? I need something.” He pleaded.

“What’s the other reason?” Hoping he’d take the change of subject. He did.

“My sources tell me you quit your job at Animators Inc. That true?” I could answer this one. Yay.

“Yes, I did. That’s not exactly headline material though.” I could hear his pencil scratching.

“You plan on going solo? I’ve heard you’re good enough. Unless that’s just rumor.”

“No it’s not rumor but I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I do know I’m going to take a much needed vacation.”

“Any reason why you walked out?” he asked.

“Difference of opinion.” It was true enough, though Bert and I always had a difference of opinion. That would never change. That man had no morals and I swear he’d sell his own grandmother if she weren’t already dead. Hell, that might not even stop him.

“Are you sure you can’t give me anything on the murders?” He asked sounding a little desperate.

“Sorry Irving, I’m not at liberty to discuss police business with the press. Although...... “ an idea formed.

“What? Yes?” he sounded a little too eager. Like a puppy chasing his first bitch. No pun intended.

“I’ll have to clear it with a few people but I might have something for you. Let me call you back, you going to be there for a while?”

“A tip on a story like this? You bet your ass!” We hung up. I called Zebrowski and told him my idea.

“I don’t know Blake. You could get me in trouble with this.”

“So get the Captain to approve it. Tell him that Ted’s dealt with him before.”

“He may not go for it. I’ll try and call you back.”

“Thanks Zebrowski. I’ll owe you one.” He laughed

“Anita you already owe me one. You’ll just have to make it two.”

“So put it on my tab.” 
“I’m sure I could find a way for you to repay me.” He snickered, I swear.

“Not what you’re thinking. Anything you come up with would have your balls on a silver platter and your wife holding the knife that cut them off.”

“Yeah Katie is wonderful isn’t she?” I laughed this time. We hung up laughing together.

While I waited for Zebrowski to call back, I filled Edward in on my idea. He looked like a proud father who’s son just won his first touch football game.

“Good idea. But you aren’t getting out of our date tonight. Olaf still needs to see us together.”

“Somehow I knew you’d say that.” He left the room.

What could I expect on a date with Death? Flowers? I doubt it. Edward didn’t seem like the flower type. But then again I didn’t know what type he was. I’ve known him for five years but I didn’t know much about him.

I was in the middle of pouring my much anticipated cup of coffee when the phone rang. It was loud in the silence of the kitchen. So loud and unexpected that it made me jump, spilling hot coffee all over my hand.

“Shit!” I said with feeling. I grabbed the phone and stuck my hand under the faucet, running cold water over the burn.

“Hello?” I took my hand out and examined it.

“Hey Anita. The Captain gave the go ahead but wants to meet Ted. Can you bring him here in an hour?” Zebrowski asked.

I watched as the redness slowly disappeared leaving my skin slightly pink but healed. It didn’t even hurt. I guess with the new powers, healing must be an added bonus.

“Anita? Did you hear me?”

“Huh? Yeah ok sure. An hour, no problem. See you then.” I hung up. Still staring at my hand, I dialed Irving.

“Anita?” he answered.

How did you know it was me?”

“I didn’t” He left it at that.

I told him the plan and gave him a few details from the crime scene. I told him that the suspect, no name given, had left me one letter and sent one to my house.

“Anita, this guy sounds dangerous. Watch your back. I don’t want a new Lupa.”

“I will Irving. Don’t worry about me, just print your story as soon as possible.”

“It’ll be out in the morning even if I have to work all night. Thanks Anita.”

“No problem.” I hung up as Edward came back into the room. I told him what we had to do.

“Fine, you ready to go?” Edward asked.

I took one last look at my hand and sipped some coffee. “Yep, don’t get us killed ok?”

Wouldn’t dream of it.” He said quietly with a dangerous gleam in his eye.

Chapter 23

Introducing Edward to the Captain hadn’t been as bad as I thought it would be. Edward had put on his Ted face when we walked through the doors of RPIT. Ted Forrester, upstanding citizen, catcher of bad guys, always willing to help the local fuzz. Right before we left, Zebrowski had told me that the case would stay with them for a bit longer. The SLPD was swamped with some serial killer. As I was walking away, he had called me back only to tell me to watch my back. In the past couple of years, I’d heard that phrase a lot. Maybe I should take that as a sign.

I stood before the mirror in my bedroom trying to decide between a low cut, form fitting deep blue shirt or the deep red one that wasn’t as tight and had long sleeves. They both went with the short black skirt I already had on. Ronnie insisted. I finally decided on the red. If I took off my jacket, the somewhat puffy sleeves would cover my knives. It still didn’t leave much to the imagination. Now all I had to do was arm myself, have to use the belly-band holster, shoulder straps tend to stick out on red, and pick out shoes. I’d already done my makeup and hair so I didn’t have to worry about that.
Ten minutes later I met Edward in the living room. I’d decided on my only pair of comfortable dress shoes. My suede knee high boots. They had low heals, in case I had to run. I didn’t think it would come down to that but I’d hate to wear real heels and be wrong, ruining a pair of perfectly good hose if I had to take them off and run barefoot. You just can’t run in high heels. It’s dangerous.
Speaking of dangerous, the most dangerous man I knew was standing in my living room, waiting for me.

Edward was wearing black slacks, black shiny shoes and one of those skin tight stretchy black shirts. The unrelieved black made his pale eyes and hair stand out but not in a bad way. He’d done something with his hair to make it spike. I didn’t know you could spike hair that short. He had the talent of looking handsome and dangerous at the same time. Most of the time I looked helpless. Sometimes it helped, sometimes it didn’t.

“I’m not even going to try to guess where you hid everything. I know you’re armed, that’s good enough for me.” I said.

“You ready?” He asked as he looked me over. “You’ve got a small gun in a belly holster, knife on each arm, and something, I’m betting another knife, on your right ankle inside the boot.” He hadn’t spotted the knife sheath down my spine. Point for me.

“Yeah, just let me grab my jacket.” I tried for enthused but I don’t think I pulled it off. He just frowned at me.

I drove because Edward didn’t know where the restaurant was.

“What’s the name again?” He asked as I turned off into the District.

“Amour Marqué, the direct translation is ‘marked love’, but around here they call it Scarred Love. It’s pretty new. They’ve got good food.” I didn’t tell him that JeanClaude owned it, he’d figure it out. Asher was the silent partner, hence the name.

“Why would they name a restaurant ‘Scarred Love’?” He asked.

“I don’t know. I do know that unless you know french, I’ll be ordering.”

“Got me there. It’s not like I’m getting lessons from certain french vampire.”

“Leave it alone Edward.” I watched him shrug out of the corner of my eye.

I’d picked this restaurant because Edward wanted us to be seen. It was the hottest restaurant in the District right now. Celebrities could be spotted there any given day of the week. It also had two seating sections. One with blackened windows for vampires and they’re dates. Wouldn’t want Cuddlefangs to burn up if they stayed out too late. And the other had huge picture windows with great views of the city. How was I able to get a table on short notice? Easy, I was the Master of the City’s Human Servant and girlfriend. I’d say wife, because what we’re bound with would take death to part us, but that’s a little too domestic for me. I had called JeanClaude and told him the plan, he’d called the restaurant and made arrangements. Sometimes there were perks to being bound to a vampire like him.

The restaurant was actually at the top of a four story building in the middle of the District. Before vampires were legal citizens, it had been an apartment complex. When JeanClaude bought it, he had it renovated. The first three stories held a lingerie shop, yes I had shopped there, a foo foo shop with bath stuff and perfumes, and on the ground floor was a massage parlor where if you went after dark you could get a massage by the vampire of your choice. It was a great setup. Get a massage, a bite to eat, no pun intended, then buy something sexy with some exotic perfume and you’ve got yourself one sex-filled night.

When you walk through the door, opened by a doorman, you could either go to the bank of elevators or choose the desk on the right with the gold embossed sign that said, “Sinful Touch” and in smaller letters, “Enjoy the delights of a vampire massage”. Edward and I walked to the elevators. Green marble, gold trim, wood tones, it was beautiful and looked expensive.

On the top floor I gave my name to the maitre d’. He showed us to our table. Edward put his hand on my back over the sheath, he’d found it and made it look like he was just being a gentleman. I guess I could take back that point now.

The waiter was immediately there. I knew what I wanted so I ordered for both of us. The waiter ran off.

“What did you order for me?” Edward asked.

“Steak, medium rare. You seem to like your cow still moo’ing.” He nodded and extended his hand across the table, palm up. He was smiling mischievously.

“What?” I asked smiling in return. I couldn’t help it. He was acting funny. Scratch that, he was acting like Edward.

He lowered his voice, still smiling, “Olaf may be watching. We’re supposed to be two lovebirds out for a romantic evening. Lovebirds hold hands.” I smiled, a little forced but I did. I met his hand with mine. His hand was warm as it closed over mine.

“You’re enjoying this way too much, you know that?” I lowered my voice like he had. Edward erupted in a short burst of laughter like I’d said something funny. To him, maybe I had. Or maybe he was just putting on a show. I could never be sure with him. I decided two could play at this game. Lovebirds? I think I can pull that off.

I smiled his mischievous smile. Under the table I slipped my left leg out of it’s boot. Couldn’t have anyone seeing the knife on my other ankle, now could I? I raised my foot and rubbed the inside of Edward’s thigh, near, very near, his groin, in slow soft movements. I watched his smile slip a bit before coming back in full force. He crouched a bit lower in his chair, forcing my foot to touch his groin, where I found him very much erect. I know surprise showed on my face because his smile deepened. He was testing me, I knew it. I glared at him, then smiled as I ran my foot up and down that hardness. He felt wonderful through the hose and cotton of his slacks. Things low in my body began to tingle with warmth but he broke before I did. He closed his eyes and a small gasp escaped his mouth.

I laughed and started to pull my foot away, but I laughed too soon. Edward grabbed my foot and pressed it against himself. Hard enough for me to really feel how big he was. He was big, real big. He was caressing my foot, running his hand up my leg then back to my foot where he rubbed himself against it.

This time I gasped. I was tingling all over. The memory of his erection still in my mind, he laughed and gently released my leg.

The waiter showed up and I blushed nearly as red as my shirt.

“Miss, are you alright?” No I was not. Edward laughed and said, “She’ll be fine.” Not if I had to sleep next to him tonight I wouldn’t be. I’d die.

Chapter 24

Edward had behaved himself for the rest of dinner. He had also been silent on the way home. That bugged me. He had always been so professional, but so far he’d threatened bodily harm, nothing new, behaved himself with a bunch of shifters AND flirted with me. The first two I can deal with but the last? I’d once explained to Donna, his ex, that he and I were too alike to be interested in each other. It’d be like incest. Somehow that had changed. 
Edward understood everything about me except my love life. I’d had to fill him in about the arduer a few months back when he’d walked in on me basically have what amounts to group sex in my bed. He’d been in town on a contract and stopped by with a new toy. That had been the first and only time I’d seen pure shock on his face. I think he knew I was sleeping with more than one man but I didn’t think he ever imagined I’d be doing them at the same time, in the same bed no less. It had been extremely embarrassing. We never talked about it. I did get to keep the toy though. A nice set of small throwing knives with a high silver content. He’d even shown me how to throw them properly. One was strapped to my right leg.

“Edward, what’s changed?” I broke the silence. I was just too confused to keep quiet.
“What do you mean?” He was staring out the window.

“You know exactly what I mean. We’ve never been attracted to each other before. Why now?”

He was silent for a while. I’d almost given up when he said, “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since Donna left me.”


“And have you ever noticed that we know more about each other than most people could possibly accept? You know what I am Anita and you don’t run from it.” He said.
“I can’t exactly throw stones Edward. My life’s not much better and you’re wrong. I hardly know anything about you. Like your last name, if you even have one. Where you were born. I know nothing.” I’ve known Edward for five years and all I knew was this; he’d trained with a guy named Van Cleef, Edward was his legal name but it hadn’t always been, he was a paid assassin and he was living in Sante Fe, NM as Ted Forrester. That’s not much. Hell, I didn’t even know how old he was!

“But you know who I am. You know me. You know what I’m like. You know more than I want you to sometimes.” He sounded almost sad. If Edward started crying I’d know I was having a nightmare.

“Where are you going with this Edward?” I asked as I pulled into my driveway. I shut off the engine and we were enveloped in darkness. It was somehow more intimate.

“You accept what I am Anita. I never paid attention to you before because I thought of you as my student. You aren’t a student anymore.” He looked at me then. The look on his face was more confusing than anything he’d said so far.

“I can’t deal with this.” I said, stepping out of the Jeep. I walked into the house. Micah and Nathaniel were in the living-room playing Monopoly. Micah stood up.

“Not right now. It’s late, I’m going to bed and I don’t want to talk about it.” I headed for my bedroom without even breaking stride.

Once inside I sprawled on the bed face down. I heard Edward open and lose the door. I didn’t move. I heard the movement of cloth hitting the floor, then a zipper. I flipped over and looked at Edward. He was getting naked in my bedroom! It registered in the back of my mind that he had a gorgeous flat stomach but Edward getting naked. He kicked off his shoes then dropped h is pants and my eyes went straight to his crotch. No undies. My I.Q. dropped about fifty points. Why did that always happen around naked men? He was still impressive limp. All I could think was, golly gee Edward had a big dick.

When I could finally get my mouth to form words I said, “What are you doing?”

He looked at me with a sexy gleam in his eyes, wasn’t that hard considering he was in the buff. “I’m getting ready for bed.”

“But you’re naked.” State the obvious, guess those fifty points were permanently lost.
“Yes, I am.” He smiled like he knew what I was thinking. “I sleep this way. Problem?”

I couldn’t exactly think so I just shook my head. He started folding back the covers on the other side of the bed. I stood up and watched as he made himself comfortable in my bed. Oh geeze, Edward naked in my bed.

Once he was comfortable, lying on his back, arms behind his head, he said, “Aren’t you going to join me? I was up all night and all day, I’d like to get some sleep some time tonight.” I didn’t move, I just stood there staring at him. “Scared?” Now he was baiting me. I could handle that. I went to my dresser and grabbed a night shirt. I turned around and stripped off my shirt and bra. I pulled the night shirt over my head and it came to my knees. I reached under and took off the skirt and hose. Ta da! I was ready for bed and I hadn’t flashed him.

Without saying a word I climbed into bed and turned out the light. Man this was weird. After tossing ad turning for 20 minutes I finally just lay there and stared at the ceiling.

“Edward, you still awake?” I whispered.

“Yes. How can I sleep when you’re moving like you’ve got fleas?”

“Sorry.” I rolled away from him.

I woke, tangled in Edward’s arms, to the sound of someone outside my door. Two someones actually. Micah was telling someone not to go in the bedroom, to give me time to get dressed. I looked at the clock. A little past 8 am on a Saturday morning. Just once I’d like to sleep in. 
I moved out of his arms and he smiled a slow lazy smile at me. I looked down the length of the bed and found the reason for that smile. There was a large lump in the covers. It happened enough with the shape shifters that I was used to it but I was also embarrassed. It was Edward’s. I turned red and looked away.

“Micah, that’s ridiculous. We’re both girls. Besides, I’ve seen her naked before.” It was Ronnie, we were supposed to go running and I forgot.

Edward was getting out of bed, searching for his slacks when Ronnie barged into the room.

“Oh.” Her eyes were big. She kept looking from Edward to me, to Edward’s crotch, then back to me. She turned bright red. “I’ll just uh... wait in the kitchen.” She was out the door before I could explain.

“Shit.” I grumbled and pulled myself out of bed. Micah had followed her, trying not to laugh. He’d known that we hadn’t had sex. Extra sensitive hearing and all but I bet he wouldn’t tell her that.
Edward was grinning at me while he put on his slacks. I got dressed in seconds flat, just throwing on a pair of shorts.

We joined Ronnie and Micah in the kitchen. I went straight for the coffee. Edward stood leaning against the cabinets, shirtless.

“Ronnie, meet Edward. Edward, Ronnie.”

“Nice to um... meet you.” Ronnie said. Edward just nodded with a smile. She turned red again.
Cup of coffee in hand, I sat across from Ronnie.

“Can we be alone for a minute guys?” They both walked out.

“ That man is gorgeous Anita. You go girl!”

“I didn’t sleep with him Ronnie.” I sighed. “I mean I slept with him but I didn’t sleep with him. Nothing happened.”

“Is he human?” she asked.


“Then what’s the problem?” 
“Ronnie! I don’t sleep with men just because they look my way. We’re working on something together.”

“So you have to sleep in the same bed, with him naked?” She didn’t believe me.

“He sleeps nude.” I shrugged.

“Come on Anita give me details.” She looked eager.

Fine. She wanted details. I told her about the murders and the package and how both Edward and myself knew the person and how we planned to make him angry.

“So, I didn’t really sleep with him.” I said.

“Oh.” That was the second time she’d said that. I kept surprising myself so I guess it wasn’t farfetched that I could surprise someone else.

Chapter 25

I had walked Ronnie to her car and was still standing in the driveway, watching her car drive off until I could barely see the sun reflecting off her back window when Nathaniel joined me. He didn’t say anything, just stood there next to me.

Nathaniel was almost the perfect submissive. There had once been a time when he couldn’t say no. Not just to me either. He’d gotten into a lot of trouble because of it. Not only could he not say no but he liked BDSM, bondage sadomasochism. Being a wereleopard meant he could take a lot of damage and survive but sometimes people would get a little too carried away and without the ability to say no, stop, it turned deadly. His old Alpha had been pimping them out but he had protected them. When I’d killed Gabriel I hadn’t known that it would leave them helpless, anyone’s meat. Zane, one of my leopards, had tried to take Gabriel’s place as alpha and kept pimping them out. Only Zane wasn’t alpha enough and he couldn’t protect them. Nathaniel ended up in the hospital with a wound that would have killed a human and had nearly killed him. It was then that I realized what no one would tell me. I was their leader. I was their Nimir-Ra. From that day, I tried to be the best for them and that meant teaching Nathaniel to say no. He’d gotten a little more independent. He was working on it. I had been his keeper, friend and lover. Did I love him? I would’ve liked to say no but the truth was, yes. I did. Maybe not the way I loved JeanClaude but it was something.

I looked at him then. He’d been watching me. Those violet eyes stared back at me waiting. He had left his waist length auburn hair unbound. The way it moved in the breeze made it seem alive. I knew how that wonderful hair felt across my naked body. I knew how those eyes changed to a deep purple when he wanted me. I’d seen those eyes filled with tears and pain and I’d seen those eyes full of smiles and laughter. I’d also seen those eyes filled with love. I knew Nathaniel loved me. He loved me with all that he was. He loved me for who, not what I was.

I looked at him, just looked at him and loved him. A single tear slipped from my eye ad ran down my cheek. I had fought it for so long. He was mine. I couldn’t give him up, no more than I could JeanClaude. I had thought him a child who needed my help but he had changed and I hadn’t paid attention to him. I’d thought him a burden when he was really a blessing.
He reached up and wiped the tear away. I cradled my face in his hand and sighed.

“Nathaniel, I love you.” I whispered.

I heard him sigh, then say, “I know Anita. I’ve loved you for a very long time.” I looked at him then. His eyes were filled with unshed tears. They sparkled like tiny diamonds caught in lavender satin.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” I covered his hand with mine and kissed his palm.

“You wouldn’t have believed me. You would have believed me if I had just told you I wanted to sleep with you but love? You weren’t ready for that.” He drew our hands to his mouth where he kissed my palm then rubbed his jaw where he’d just touched his lips, like a cat scent marking.

“How did you know I was ready now?” I asked, half-sighing half-gasping when he drew one of my fingers into his mouth playfully. He kissed the tip of my finger before saying, “I saw it in your eyes.”
I drew him to me, wrapping my arms around him. I breathed in the scent of him. Vanilla, sweet sweet vanilla and underneath that, Pard. He smelt like home. He smelt like everything I’d ever wanted and I knew that I’d had it all along, I just never realized it. I let him hold me because I wanted it. I wanted him in my life, however long that life would be, I wanted him in it.

Nathaniel’s body convulsed against mine a second before I heard the soft crack of silenced gunfire. I looked over his shoulder to see someone running towards the woods by my house. Nathaniel started to slump in my arms, slowly sliding to the ground.

“Nathaniel? Oh God no, not now, please not now.” I kept calling his name but he only made weak pain-filled noises as he got closer and closer to the ground. I called his name as tears rolled down my face. I lowered him to the ground and held his head in my lap. Blood was seeping out his back and onto the ground where it started to form a puddle.

“No, please Nathaniel, please don’t die. I love you. You can’t die now. I need you.” I took all that anger and pain and screamed as loud as I could.

Micah and Edward burst threw the front door. Edward took one look at me with Nathaniel in my lap and began scanning the area as he took his gun out. Micah came to my side and started touching Nathaniel, petting his hair. I let Micah take my place and I ran into the house. I grabbed every weapon I could find and strapped them to myself. I ended up with my 9mm Browning Highpower, 7mm Firestar, both of my knives and the little nifty throwing set that Edward had given me.
When I came back out both Edward and Micah gave me wide eyes. I looked down at myself. I looked like a crazed blood thirsty female version of Edward. I was covered in Nathaniel’s blood. I looked terrifying. Perfect, just the way I wanted to look. I was pissed. I was beyond pissed.

“Micah, call 911. Take care of him. I just realized tonight that I love him and all my leopards. That includes you.” Micah nodded and whispered, “I love you too.”

Edward, stay here and guard them. I don’t want any others shot today.” Our eyes met, he inclined his head. “I’m going hunting.” He smiled.

I started running for the woods.

Chapter 26

I gave myself to the land. Trusting it and my body to know where to step, when to jump, how to duck. I followed his scent. I could smell him and his gun. My eyes took in everything. If I ever caught up with this guy I’d have to thank Belle.

I put on a burst of speed. I could feel muscles work in my body that I’d never had before. I used them. I leaped over logs before I knew they were there. The world narrowed down to the scent of him and me speeding through the trees after it. I was just moving. Muscles working, legs running. The world was a blur of green and light and shade.

Then I smelt it. Stronger than before, gun oil. I stopped. I didn’t slow down, I just stopped. I wasn’t breathing hard and I was hardly sweating. I’d only done that a few times and only with Richard. Never alone. It had been his doing then but now it was all mine.

I could see him just up ahead. Walking slowly through the trees. Cleaning his rifle as he went. I growled low in my throat. Olaf turned slowly toward the sound. He smiled. He smiled like he was happy to see me.

“I knew you would come. I’ve dreamt of this day.” He said in a slightly accented voice.

“You don’t get it do you?” I said, more statement than question. “Do you know why I’m here?”

“Of course. You’ve come to me. You’ve come to hunt the Undertaker.”

“You know nothing!” I screamed it at him. “You shot Nathaniel. He was mine. Mine! I will see you dead for that. I will kill you and I will enjoy it!”

“But he’s just a creature. He’s worthless.” He looked confused.

“He is not worthless! You still think I would hunt Edward? No, I would never hunt him. You I would hunt. You I would kill. I hate you Olaf. I hate what you do to your victims. I hate you for what you have done and who you are. I would rather die than ever be with you.” The last came out in a growl through clenched teeth.

Anger filled his eyes like water filling a cup. Now all I had to do was get it to spill over.
“And your victims? Mostly women. Not man enough to pick on someone who can fight back? And those two men you killed? A gay guy who liked it and a momma’s boy. Oh what a challenge. Why don’t you pick on someone who can match you? Unless you’re afraid of dying at the hands of a woman? I’ll even get rid of my guns for you Olaf baby.” Oh he was pissed now. Good, so was I. I tossed my guns to the ground and drew the two knives from my wrist sheaths. I moved closer to him.

“Do not call me that.” He said, his voice low.

“What? Olaf baby? But I thought you luvved me.” He dropped the rifle and pulled a long wicked looking blade from a spine sheath.

“I’m going to kill you bitch. I am going to rape you and gut you. Then we will see who is the baby and who is not.”

I drew on my power. Let it fill me completely, felt the canines grow. Felt my eyes change. I growled and the growl turned into a roar. I threw back my head and the roar turned into the scream of some great cat. I looked at him and spoke around the teeth, my voice more growl than anything, “Yes, Nathaniel is a monster but he was once human just like you. I was once human too. Not anymore. See if you can kill this bitch, Olaf.”

He charged me. I stood my ground. Our blades clashed and we grappled. Inches from his face I growled and snapped, “Not good enough Olaf! Try harder!” I hissed. He stumbled backwards and I was on him. I slashed and he blocked. He swiped and I blocked. We circled each other. His breathing was even, so was mine. The beast in me wanted to shred him to bits but me, I wanted him to die slowly. I decided to compromise. 
I moved in a blur of speed. Time seemed to slow down for everyone but me. I brought my right hand down in a side arch and caught him in the left forearm. On the back-swing I caught him in the shoulder before he could block it. I stepped way in time to miss his swing.

He looked at his ruined arm in surprise, then at me and the shock was replaced by anger. “You will pay for that you whore!” Blood was running in fine lines down his useless arm. I had a sudden urge to tear that limb from his body and feed but he wasn’t worth it. The beast in me seem to agree.
He came at me again but I was ready. I switched to my left. When he threw his right in for a stab I grabbed his wrist and yanked. His wrist snapped, making him yelp and drop his blade but the momentum carried him past me. I swung around using the same momentum and shoved his head into the nearest tree. There was another sound as his skull hit the bark of the tree. The sharp crunch of broken bone. I backed off.

Olaf had to use his hands to help himself up but he stood none-the-less. He turned towards me and glared but the movement made him wince. Blood covered his face like a mask. A great crimson mask. I’d broken his nose and from the looks of it, his jaw too. He coughed and spat blood onto the ground. His eyes blazed. He was supremely mad. He cracked his knuckles and looked at me. He tensed. Then he did it. He charged me yet again. He was getting weak, it made him slow.

I used his body to throw him to the side. Again, his momentum carried me with him and I shoved my blade into his back.

He made an “oomph” noise then fell to his knees. I was right behind him, hand still on the knife, the other knife at his throat holding his head up. I leaned in close and whispered, “Did you ever think a woman could kill you? Did you, you son-of-a-bitch?”

“Fuck you.” He coughed and blood spilled down his chin.

“Right back at ya.” And I shoved the blade home. He made a gurgling noise as he hit the ground, twitched twice, then was still.

“Anita?” I reacted, throwing one of the small knives. Edward caught it, smiling, his gun pointed at the ground.

“How’s Nathaniel?”

“He’s on his way to the hospital. The EMT’s think he’ll be ok.” He said as he put up his gun and handed me back the little knife.

“Thank God.” I wiped my knife on Olaf’s shirt, not like he would care, and sheathed it. “Got a cell phone?” he tossed it to me. “Thanks. Can you do me a favor?”

“Can you take the arsenal to the house? All except the browning? I don’t want it to look like, well you know, premeditated.” I smiled when he laughed

When he was on his way back I realized that Olaf had circled back around. We weren’t that far from the house. Good thing too. I thought I was lost.

I called Zebrowski and told him what happened. He seemed surprised, relieved and disappointed all at the same time.

“You’re okay though?” he asked, worried.

“Yeah, he wasn’t as good as I thought he was. You coming out?”

“Yep, and you don’t have to worry about Dolph. He’s out on paid leave again. This time there’s no time limit.” We were both silent for a bit.

“Well hurry up then. Nathaniel is on his way to the hospital and I’d like to see him before tomorrow. And if you’re super fast, once I make sure Nathaniel’s ok, I’ll even help you with the paperwork.” That got a laugh out of him. We hung up and I sat down with Olaf.

Chapter 27 (Finally)
Nathaniel was going to be ok. The bullet wasn’t silver and didn’t touch his heart. He’d remain in the hospital overnight until I’d had enough rest to heal him. Seems that’s another new power. I can heal with touch, not just hands either.

I won’t be going to jail either. Self defense, he assaulted an officer, me. I’m now not only a United States Marshall but I’m part of RPIT legally now. They can now say that they are the only special squad in the U.S. with a Marshall on staff. The paperwork sucks, the pay isn’t great but I have a feeling I’ll love it.

I prayed on the way home from the hospital. I prayed that everything would be ok. I prayed for guidance. I knew God was cool with me. I’d been shown proof. Having my cross grow so brightly the world became white fire, walking across a circle meant to keep evil in as well as out, I’ve even recited scripture in the face of a demon and it couldn’t touch me.

I got the quiet peacefulness I always get when God is listening. It’s almost a physical presence letting me know He was there. He kept telling me He was ok with who and what I am but there was always doubt it in the back of my mind. I just kept doing things and seeing things that pushed me farther and farther away from normal. I kept looking for things I wouldn’t or couldn’t do. That list was getting shorter and shorter but if God was ok with it, I should be too. Logical but sometimes my mind wasn’t always logical.

Halfway home I saw an old gravel road and decided to take it. I wasn’t ready to go home. I wanted to be alone. The road was a bit overgrown and trees brushed the top and sides of the Jeep as I passed. I wasn’t worried. I could always get another paint job.

I drove for what seemed like hours before the road opened up into a clearing with trees forming a half circle. I stopped the Jeep and got out. I walked to the edge of the clearing, found a tree stump and sat down. I just sat there and listened, watching the sky change colors as the sun met the horizon and sunk below. It was always amazing to me that with the dying light, all noises seemed to cease as if the4 animals themselves mourned the loss of light.

Marianne once told me that in Wicca the Sun was the God and the Moon was the Goddess. In the Summer, the God was at the height of his life, the lover and consort of the Goddess. Yet in the Winter, when the days were shortest, the God’s life waned. She said it was a time for self study. To look into one’s self and let go of all the hurtful things, to grow healthy in the Spring again. Rebirth. It was September, it would be winter soon.

I sat on my tree stump and watched hues of the sky change from blues to oranges and reds, then to pinks and purples, until the sun was completely down and silence surrounded me. I thought about everything in my life that caused me pain. And one by one, I studied them, then threw them to the breeze. I let them go and felt peace where there once was pain.

Tears were streaming down my cheeks. I mourned the loss of light but knew it would come again. Just as I knew that I would live another day.

I heard a noise off to my left and whirled to look, hand going to my gun. Standing before me was a huge deer. He had huge horns sprouting from his head. He just stood there, watching me. His eyes were utterly peaceful. He wasn’t scared. It was like he knew why I was here, out in the middle of nowhere, by myself. He looked majestic in the moonlight. His coat shined silver. His antlers stood tall and proud. He was beautiful.

He looked up at the moon, almost full, then back at me. He turned and slowly walked back to the trees, disappearing in the underbrush. I stared after him for a few minutes in total awe.
I stayed there, in my private thoughts, contemplating my life for another hour or so. I only left because my body was telling me I needed sleep. I could have slept there. It was safe. How I knew that I couldn’t say but it was. But if I had stayed, people would have, probably, sent a search party. Besides, it was time to face what was left of my life. No more running. Not from anyone and not from myself. Not anymore.

It was time to take my own advice and embrace myself and who I was. And that was Anita Blake, Vampire Executioner, Necromancer, Lupa, Nimir-Ra, and no longer human.


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