For disclaimers, please see Part One.

Tasting Desire
Part Four

by Shadowriter

My first awareness was of sounds around me; soft conversation, distant music, and the clink of glasses. There was also a buzzing noise that began to fade as I awoke, and it took me a few minutes to realize it was coming from inside my head.

Without opening my eyes, I tried to take inventory of myself. One head, dizzy but still there. Two hands, two arms, two legs all attached to a body that was completely relaxed in it's position. I was lying on my back, my head cushioned on something that smelled vaguely of spices and incense. There seemed to be no need to move, and I stayed relaxed, intending to let myself fade back into the darkness.

Footsteps approached, and whatever I was resting on tilted slightly. A soft hand stroked my cheek.

"Trey? Babe, you need to wake up now. Come on."

I didn't move, hoping she'd go away.

"Come on, Trey. Don't make me go back to the Janx and tell Jace you're crashed down here with a couple of vamps."

That made me open my eyes.

"Good girl." Nix smiled at me. "How do you feel?"


"I'll bet." She laughed a little, then looked up as Tess approached.

"Hey. You ready to go another round with my girlfriend?"

My voice came out all scratchy and low. "Sorry, but I wasn't ready for the first round."

They both laughed, and then Nix took hold of my shoulders and pulled me into a sitting position.

I squinted up at her and blinked several times.

"What the hell was that?"

"What? You mean the bite?"

"Bites. I distinctly felt two sets of fangs."

"Yes, well, I didn't think Cam was going to participate. Didn't think she wanted to."

"She didn't take much, Trey, not even as much as Nix did." Tess handed me a wine glass. "She just wanted a taste, that's all."

"You didn't want one, Tess?" I sipped the wine, grateful for it's cold sweetness.

"Oh, I'd have loved one. But I'm a glutton, and you wouldn't have woken till tomorrow."

I didn't know what to say to that, so I nodded and took another sip of wine.

Looking around I noticed that I was in a room different than I had been. This wasn't the front of the bar. I didn't remember being carried upstairs, but I supposed that could have happened. The room was smaller, with only a couch, a table, a few chairs, and a small bar and refrigerator. The music I'd heard as I awoke was drifting in the partially open door.

As I was glancing at the door, Cam came through it, carrying a small bowl. She smiled at me.

"How're you doing, Trey? Feeling okay?"

"Yeah, I'm all right, Cam. A little groggy, but -- I hear that happens after blood loss."

Laughing, she took Nix's vacated seat next to me, and shooed the other two back to the table.

"Here." Handing me the bowl, she then reached over and grabbed the fork Tess was passing her. "Eat this."

"What is it?" It looked liked small pieces of rare steak.

"It's small pieces of very rare steak. You've lost protein, and you need to replace it. This is one way of getting some protein back."

"So, I need to eat almost raw steak?" I tried to hand it back to her. "Thanks, Cam, but that's okay. Don't think my stomach could take anything at the moment."

She pushed the bowl back towards me. "It's either that or raw liver. Your choice. And your stomach will feel better after you get something in it; it's the combination of alcohol and blood loss that's making you queasy."

I glared at her. "Can't I just wait until I get home and have an egg or something?"

"Not if you intend to walk home." She waited, and finally, I sighed.

"Fine." I stabbed a piece of meat and ate it. "Happy?"

"Finish the bowl and I'll be happy."

I shook my head. "I donate my blood and they make me eat raw steak."

"It's not raw, just very rare," said Nix. "Besides, I would have thought you liked rare steak. You adventurous types always seem to."

"Oh, I do. I just felt the need to bitch about something until I feel better."

They all laughed.

"Come on, move over here to the table, and as soon as you're finished, you and I will head back." Nix kicked a chair out for me as Cam helped me to stand.

The room spun for a moment and I squeezed my eyes shut. It passed, though and I took the two or three steps to the table and sat down in the chair.  Cam grabbed my glass and refilled it. I drank it gratefully.

"So, how come you're giving me more alcohol if it's bad for my stomach right now?"

She smiled and showed me the bottle. "We're not. It's sparkling grape juice. Nice and cold and sweet, to soothe your throat and raise your blood sugar just a touch."

I nodded. "Makes sense. Gee, you'd think you guys had done this before."

"You think?" Tess raised an eyebrow at me, and they laughed. I joined them for a moment, then dug into my protein snack.

"So, why do you only bite during sex?" I asked.

I had finished my steak, and Cam had taken the bowl back to the kitchen while Nix went with her to grab my jacket and hers. Tess was sitting with me, watching me finish the last of my grape juice.

"Not just during sex, but --"

"At the moment of orgasm, I got that. Nix did that to Jesse, and then she and Cam did it to me. So, why?"

"Well, during sex your heart rate increases, you know that."


"At the point orgasm, you know that it stops for just a second... you've heard that, right?"

"Yeah. That's why orgasm is called the little death."

"Right. Well, just after orgasm has begun, right after that little death, the heart is pumping hardest. It drives the blood pressure way up, and your body actually creates more blood than it needs. It's the safest time for a vampire to drink. It normally doesn't take too long for the person to recover." She pointed at me. "For example, you're already sitting up and talking and walking. If the two of them had bitten you just while you were standing or sitting or whatever, you'd have been out till Monday morning."

I thought about that, and nodded. "Only thing is -- Nix did the same thing to Jesse. Jesse's stronger than I am, but it took her longer to recover. Why was that?"

Nix answered the question as she and Cam came back in the room. "It's because Jesse had tasted my blood. Remember, it's like a drug, a very powerful one, and it made her weak for a day or so."

"So, if I tasted your blood -- "

"Don't even go there, Trey." Nix held up a hand. "I'm probably gonna be on Jesse's hit list just for biting you, much less letting Cam bite you as well. You're not even going to think about vampire blood. She'd kill me for that."

I nodded. "Right. No thinking. Got it."

She smiled and put a hand on my head. "You ready to go?"

"Yeah. What time is it anyway?"

"Quarter to four, I think."

I shook my head. We'd left the Janx club only two hours before. It seemed like it was Saturday night, rather than Saturday morning.

"All right, then. Let's get out of here."  I stood up and the ground swayed for a moment. Nix caught me, holding me up until the dizzy spell passed.

"You okay?"

"Hell, yeah. Not a problem."

"Right." She laughed and took my arm. "Come on. Let's get you back before Jace and Jesse send out a posse after us."

Nix wanted once again to get a cab, but I said no.

"The fresh air will help me wake up. If I take a cab and stumble in the door, Jace will have my hide and Jesse'll stake you."

She glared at me. "Staking is part of the legend, it's not necessary to stake a vampire to kill it."

"But if you get staked, it'll kill you, right?"


"Then she'll stake you. Trust me."

Nix laughed and shook her head. "Fine. We walk. Come on."

As we walked, I took deep breaths, letting the fresh air push the rest of the haze from my mind. I shook my head a few times and jumped up and down.

"What are you doing?"

"Getting the blood flowing again."

"Oh, believe me, babe, your blood flows just fine."

I stopped and raised an eyebrow at her and she laughed.

"Sorry. Couldn't resist."

I grinned back at her. "Can I take that as a compliment?"


We walked in silence for a little while. I kept feeling this smile on my face, and realized that I felt really great. I was a little shaky yet, but there was still this relaxed feeling in my body, and it was very pleasant.

"So, is Jace going to be angry at you?"

I glanced up at her. "Um, no -- well, maybe a little. I think she kind of knew something was going to happen, but -- I don't know how she'll feel about . . ."

"About you letting us take you in the back room?"


Nix chuckled. "She knew."

"You told me that, and so did she, but I don't --"

"No, babe, she knew. I told her up front that I only bite at orgasm, and I told her I wanted to taste you."

I stopped and stared at her. "Are you kidding?"

"Nope. I knew you two were together, and I wouldn't have asked you to go down to the Shadowbox if I didn't have permission from Jace." She shrugged. "I didn't know Cam would be there, so I didn't know there would be someone else participating, but . . . yeah, I told Jace."

The memory of Jace telling me she knew what was going to happen slipped again through my mind, and I knew, with absolute certainty, that I wasn't in real trouble. But my ass would definitely be blistered by the end of the weekend.

A ghost of a smile crossed my face as I realized Jace had set me up.

"What's the smile for, Trey?"

"Nothing. Just realizing my girlfriend is going to top me this weekend." The smile turned into a full fledged grin, and Nix laughed.

"That's a good thing I take it?"

"Oh, yes. That is most assuredly a good thing."

She shook her head. "I have to admit, I was surprised when she said yes."

After thinking about it for a moment, I said, "I'm not."


"Not really. Jace knows I love her. There's never been any question of that. We have this unique relationship. It's not open, but -- well, we both like to experiment, though she does so far more often than I do."

"So, you both let the other play?"

"Yeah. We have  limits. Like, no playing with drugs at all, and no sexual play unless the other is present or has given permission." I shrugged. "It's different, but it works. We trust each other."

"I guess I'm just surprised. Not many couples would accept that kind of thing."

"True. It's different. But, we're both voyeurs, kind of, and it's required that we tell each other what happens on our experiments, so we can both enjoy it. Besides, it makes my writing better. "

"How so?"

"Well, almost everything I experience ends up in my writing in some way or another. Different characters, different situations, but it shows up eventually."

"You think you'll write about tonight?"

"Sure. It'll go in my journal sometime in the next few days, and then sometime -- don't have a clue how it'll end up being portrayed, but -- it'll show up in a short story or something longer, maybe." I turned and looked at her. "Would that bother you?"

She stopped for a moment, thinking. Then she shook her head. "No, I don't think so. I mean, I don't want to see myself immortalized in literature or anything; my ego is big, but not that big. But, it wouldn't bother me if you wrote about tonight. I would want you to change the names, though. And maybe leave Tess and Cam out of it -- I don't know how they'd feel."

I nodded and we resumed walking. "I'll remember that."

Again we were silent.

"Why did you choose me, Nix? I mean, you had a bar full of women, and you probably could have even had Jesse again tonight. Why me?"

I heard her take a deep breath, and let it out. "You know, I'm not sure. I'd been there for a while before I saw Jesse and the rest of you come in, but there just didn't seem to be anyone really interesting there." She frowned. "Course, there's been no one truly interesting since Jesse."

A wistful look flew across her face again and was gone.

"Anyway, there is no way that Jesse would have let me touch her tonight. She basically said as much. And when she told me to stay away from you, well . . ."

"It was like a challenge. She said no, so you had to try it, right?"

"Eh, kind of. I wanted to know why she had said no. Once I found out, well -- then I really did want you. You were different, quiet but intense. There was something in your eyes that said you wanted to know a secret." She smiled at me and winked. "Find out any secrets tonight, Trey?"

I had to smile back. "A few."


We moved into the street to avoid some construction.

"I guess I'm curious as to why you didn't choose Kruise. Most people want her the moment they meet her."

"Oh, she's beautiful, all right. And if I got the chance, I wouldn't turn it down -- not to sleep with her, or bite her. But -- I don't think I'd ever get the chance. She's very attached to Jesse, I think, and since it might appear that I hurt Jesse, then . . . "

"Do you think you hurt Jesse?"

She sighed. "I don't know. I didn't try to. I didn't want to, but -- maybe." Nix kicked at a stone in her way. "So, what's the deal with Jesse and Kruise, anyway? They exes, or just close friends?"

"Friends. They had a fling with each other a couple years ago, Kruise told me."

"Just a fling?"

"Yeah, why?"

"I don't know. It just seems there's something more between them. Not a sex thing, but something else, that binds them together."

I shrugged. "Don't know. But they've been like that since I met them both."

Nix moved a little closer and put an arm around me. "I really should have insisted on a cab."


"Cause we're being stalked. Three men. If I'm right, they're nosferatu, and they're looking for a kill."

I looked up and down the street. "Do we have time to get a cab? How close are we to the Janx?"

"I've been watching, and there haven't been any cabs. This is a smaller street, so they don't usually patrol here. And we're too far from the Janx for comfort."

I stayed quiet, letting her listen, and think.

"One guy left, so there's just the two of them. He might be swinging around trying to cut us off, though, so keep your eyes open. Okay, you see that alley we're about to come up on?"


"When we get to it, you duck into it and stay out of the way. I can take these two out easily, but not if I'm worrying about you. Got it?"

"Got it."

"Watch for the third guy, and keep your head down, Trey."

"Be careful, Nix."

She slowed our steps a little, and put a hand on my back. Now I could hear footsteps behind us. I glanced up at her just as we got to the alley. She winked, then shoved me into the darkness, turning to face the two men following us.

I caught my footing and ducked into the shadows by the edge of the dumpster in the alley. Turning, I put my back to the wall and watched as Nix kicked one guy into a parked car, and punched the other in the face. He fell back, and Nix turned to the man sprawled on the car. Her hand went up into the air and I saw a flash of light off the blade that she'd pulled from somewhere.

There was a noise in the alley to my left, and I edged forward to peer around the garbage dumpster. There was a man there, and he appeared to be confused as he looked around the alley. I realized he must have been the third member of the gang that Nix had warned me about and he was probably looking for me. Finally, with a shrug he headed for where his pals were battling Nix.

A glance let me know Nix was in a little trouble. The man she'd punched had jumped on her back while she finished the guy on the car, and now he had an arm around her throat. In the light from the street lamps, I could see his face was distorted in a snarl , and one of his hands was clamped on Nix's wrist, keeping the knife trapped in that hand. I could see Nix trying to get a grip with her other arm.

She'd probably be fine, if the other guy didn't join the battle.

I looked around the alley for some kind of weapon. There wasn't much there, but I finally found a decent sized broken brick. Sticking two fingers through the one hole still intact, I crept from my hiding place, prepared to bring the weapon down on the back of his head.

My foot hit a stone as I started my swing, and he turned, the brick catching him in the face and making his nose gush blood. He staggered back, and I kicked him in the groin, then in the face. He hit the wall and started to slide down it.

Feeling proud of myself, I turned to watch Nix finish off the guy she'd just flipped over her shoulder.

"Trey, look out!"

The shout came from the street and I heard it just as the guy I thought I'd knocked out ran into me, driving me to the ground. I fell with him on top of me, straddling my waist. The brick fell from my hand, and I tried to punch him, using all the leverage I could get into the blow. His head snapped back, then he laughed at me.

The laughter stopped and he groaned, then slowly toppled off to the side. I saw Jesse standing there, her switchblade in her hand. Kruise was standing a little way off, and from the corner of my eye, I saw her turn quickly away as if she would be sick.

Jesse stood frozen to the spot, staring down at the body in front of her, and occasionally glancing back to the knife in her hand. She swallowed several times, and she blinked rapidly.

"Jesse, he wasn't human."

Nix reached for Jesse's arm as she spoke, but Jesse pulled away. I saw Nix look down quickly, and there was guilt and sadness on her face. Then she took a deep breath and tried again.

"He wasn't human, Jess. He was a Nosferatu, and he would have killed Trey." In a softer voice she said, "You did the right thing."

Jesse stared down at her knife for a few seconds, then her eyes closed and her knuckles went white. Her eyes opened, and there was no emotion there. She'd locked it all away, and I knew at some point in the future she'd talk to me and Kruise about it over a real good drunk. But until then, she'd lock it away, to tear at her till she couldn't stand it anymore. The thought made me ache inside.

She offered me a hand and I took it, letting her half lift me off the ground.

"You all right, Trey?"

"Yeah, Jess, I'm fine." I looked over at Nix, who was watching Jess with a look of regret on her face. "You okay, Nix?"

The vampire nodded and turned away.

Jesse knelt and wiped her knife off on the guy's shirt before retracting the blade and slipping it inside her waist band into the hidden pocket she kept it in. Then she put a hand on my shoulder.

"Come on. Let's get you home to Jace."

"Did she send you to find me?"

"She got tired of waiting at the bar. Told us to wait for you and send you back to the hotel when you and Nix got back." Jesse looked at me with a glare. "We went looking for you cause we were worried."

"Nah, I was with Nix. Pretty damn safe, really."

I was grinning, but it disappeared as Jesse pulled my shirt down to reveal the marks on my neck.

"Safe, huh?"

I nodded. "I really was, Jess."

She shook her head and turned away.

Kruise was watching from the mouth of the alley, leaning against a wall, her arms folded over her chest. "Jess, why don't you take my bike and run Trey to the hotel? I'll stay and help Nix -- do whatever needs to be done."

My finger was aching and I looked down at it, surprised to see a cut across the back of my knuckle. "Ouch, damn."

"What?" Jesse turned to me.

"Oh, I think I cut my hand on the jerk's teeth when I punched him in the mouth. No biggie." Out of the corner of my eye I saw Nix glance up just as I brought my hand to my mouth to suck on my throbbing knuckle.

"Oh." Jesse turned away. "No, Kruise, I think I should stay and --"

"Trey, no!!"

Nix's warning wasn't quite soon enough, and my eyes rolled back in my head as I crumpled to the ground.

Jesse was right, it was like being on fire. Only there was little pleasure to this. My body was shaking and I couldn't breathe properly. My ears were filled with roaring noise, as if someone had suddenly let the Hudson river come rushing into my skull. Every muscle was tight and cramping, my back arched against the pain and intensity.

Slowly I heard voices fade in, one in particular. At first I couldn't identify either the voice or the words, but then I could make out Nix telling me to breathe, relax and concentrate on breathing.

I wondered how I was supposed to concentrate when there was so much noise in my head.

Suddenly the pressure that had been building in my stomach exploded and the explosion felt like it took my head off. Filled with half pain, half pleasure,  I sucked in a deep breath and would have screamed if my throat hadn't closed up on me.

A few moments later I felt the spasms subside and I let my body relax, my back hitting the ground with a slight thud. The roaring in my head went silent, and then there was only Nix telling me to relax, reminding me to breathe. Someone lifted my shoulders off the ground and I was cradled against a warm body. The long hair brushing my face told me it was Kruise.

I didn't want to move. Half of me was relaxed, and the other half ached. My head felt light and I was afraid to open my eyes. I could hear, finally, Kruise whispering to me, talking to me, asking me to please open my eyes, please be all right.

She sounded scared, and I had never really heard Kruise sound scared, so I opened my eyes, finding her brown eyes looking down at me in concern. Jesse was beside her.

"Hi." My voice came out in a croak, but it seemed to relieve Jesse, who's shoulders suddenly sagged. She wiped a hand over her face and looked at me.

"Don't you scare me like that!"

I smiled. If Jesse was yelling at me, it meant she still loved me. And for that moment I was happy.

Then I tried to move and groaned. Everything hurt.

"Stay still, you idiot," Kruise whispered in my ear. I looked up at her and she smiled at me, then wiped a smudge off my cheek. "You're a fool, Trey, you know that?"

"Yep. But you love me anyway."

She laughed, sounding a little shaky. "Yeah. We do."

I closed my eyes again and just took deep breaths, trying to make sure all of my body was still intact.

I could hear Jesse moving away, and then her voice asking Nix what they had to do with the bodies.

"The dumpster." The vampire's voice was low and she sounded tired. "I think there's enough trash; I'll set it on fire, and toss the bodies in one by one. By the time the fire department gets here, they'll be ashes."

Jess asked if they needed anything and Nix replied she could use some gasoline to help start the blaze. I felt the vibration in Kruise's chest as she told Jess that her keys were in the ignition and there was a gas station a few blocks from there. The engine of the bike started, and slowly faded out into the night.

I opened my eyes, wondering where Nix was. I saw her dragging a body over to the dumpster. She dropped it, then wiped her hands on her jeans and walked back toward the mouth of the alley, her shoulders slumping.

She didn't look tired, I realized, she looked just plain depressed.

I was beginning to enjoy being in Kruise's arms. She was rocking me a little, her head against mine, and every once in a while she'd turn and kiss my cheek or my neck. I was liking it so much that I was almost sad when I heard the whine of her motorcycle returning.

"She all right?" Nix asked softly.

I felt Kruise nod and I forced my eyes open.  "Hey, babe. How's my favorite vampire?"

Nix chuckled and knelt beside me. "I'm fine. You're an idiot."

"I know. Sorry. Didn't mean to fuck everything up."

She ruffled my hair and looked at me fondly. Then she bent her head and kissed my cheek. "Don't ever change, Trey." The words were a whispered caress against my ear before she straightened and stood.

I kept my eyes open and watched her approach Jesse, who had a small gas can in her hands and was standing on her tiptoes, pouring gas into the dumpster.  Nix spoke softly to her, and Jesse nodded. She set the can down and walked towards Kruise and I.

"Hey. Think you can move, Trey?"

I nodded. "No problem." I tried to sit up and my head began to spin. "Okay, small problem."

Kruise put an arm around my waist while Jesse grabbed the back of my jacket and pulled straight up. They got me to my feet and I stood still for a moment blinking. Tiny golden lights danced around in my eyes and I had to shake my head to make them stop. Finally they disappeared and I was able to stand with only Kruise's hand on my back to keep me steady.

"Good. Kruise is going to take you home, got it? Don't give her a hard time."

"Would I do that?" I realized I was sounding a little drunk and frowned. After a moment I figured out that I felt kind of drunk too, and I shrugged, not caring.

Kruise helped me walk over to her bike, and then had to keep me from falling on my face as I tried to gracefully swing my leg over the back. I ended up laying on her bike, laughing, while she held onto the handle bars to keep it from falling on its side. I sat up, listening to her cursing as she struggled to get on in front of me.

"I swear, Trey, this the last time I'm ever taking your drunk ass home on the bike."

"Kruise, this is the first time you've ever taken my brunk ass home on your dike." I realized what I'd said and cracked up. "Oops."

She shook her head and passed me a helmet. "Put this on and try not to fall off the bike, huh?"


Nix approached as I was trying to get the helmet on. She smiled, and helped me pull it down, twisting it to I was looking out the front instead of the side.

"Um, Kruise, I'd suggest that you stop somewhere and get her cleaned up. She's still got some of his blood on her from when she punched him in the nose. If she gets any more in her mouth --"

"I get the picture." Kruise glanced back at me. "How about a stop at Mowzer's? It's close and we can go in the back door, right into the rest room. Sound good?"

"Yeppers." I leaned forward suddenly, almost banging my helmeted head into Nix's.  "Thanks, Nix. I had a great time."

She smiled and nodded. "I did, too. Up until this last part, at least."

"Tell Cam and Tess I said hi."

Kruise glanced back at us, but I just grinned at her.

Nix nodded. "I will. Take care, Trey."

"You, too."

She looked at Kruise and gave her a hesitant smile. "She'll sober up soon; she really didn't get that much."

Kruise nodded. "That's good. I hate driving with a drunk on the back. They upset the balance of the bike."

Nix patted me on the shoulder and stepped back. Kruise brought the bike to life and revved the engine.

"Be safe, you two."

We waved at Nix and Jesse and then the bike lurched forward and I had to hang onto Kruise to keep from falling off.

The back door at Mowzer's was kept unlocked all the way till five in the morning. Kruise and I slipped easily inside and directly into the bathroom. Because it was so very late, there was no line.

Kruise stripped my jacket off me, dunking the arms into the sink and letting the lukewarm water wash off the blood that had begun to dry. Taking a handful of wet paper towels, she started to sponge off my face.

My drunkenness had all but disappeared, and it left me with a little bit of a headache and a very sore body. It also made me very cranky.

"Kruise, would you stop? I am capable of washing myself, you know?"

She pulled away, looking slightly guilty. "Sorry. I know. You were just -- it was --"

I took hold of her hand. "I know. But I'm okay. Really." I waited till she looked at me, then smiled. She gave me one of her crooked half grins that always made my heart melt.

"You know, Jace is gonna beat your ass when you get home."

I smiled as I started cleaning myself off. "I know." Her expression didn't change, and I began to worry just a little. "She knew what was going to happen. Nix told her, and she approved."

Kruise nodded. "That's what she told me and Jess, yeah. But she didn't think you'd be gone so long, and she said to tell you she'd whip you when you got home."

"Was she mad?" I leaned over the sink, looking in the mirror intently to make sure all the blood was off my face.

"No, but I'd say annoyed."

"Uh-oh. Mad, I can handle. She just takes the flogger to me. But annoyed -- damn. She's gonna think of some way to keep me uncomfortable for the rest of the weekend."

Kruise grinned. "I take it the two of you agreed she was on top this weekend?"

I shrugged and smiled. "Not really. But I kept her tied to the bed in different positions all last weekend, so . . . "

"So, it's her turn."


She was quiet, and when I turned around, Kruise was looking sad, her eyes staring at the dirty floor.

"What's wrong, babe?"


I knew she was lying by the tone of her voice.  "Kruise. What is it?"

She shook her head and looked up at me. "Nothing, really. Sometimes I just get jealous of you. Jace is such a great woman, and you two have such a wonderful relationship."

I looked down and nodded. "I know. She's really special."

"So are you, Trey." Her voice was very quiet. "When I fall in love, I want it to be with someone like you."

My eyes started to sting and I blinked rapidly. Then I was crossing to her and taking her in my arms. She hugged me, hard, and I held on, rubbing her back and enjoying the feel of her against me.

As she pulled away, I tilted my head and kissed her lips gently. She returned the pressure, one hand cupping the back of my head, until the friendliness of the kiss gave way to something more.

Her lips teased mine, and she sucked my bottom lip into her mouth, worrying it softly with her teeth. Releasing it, she waited till my mouth opened, and then slipped inside, her tongue teasing mine, daring it to come play.

I leaned into the kiss, pressing her back against the wall, letting my hands trail up her sides and back down, then coming around in front to gently brush her nipples.

Her mouth left mine, and she moved softly down to my throat, her lips weaving fire into my blood as we both dropped slowly to the floor. I leaned back on my elbows, and she followed, her hands resting easily on my breasts, her legs straddling my waist.

My mind brought up images of being caught between Nix and Cam, and desire surged up. With a groan, I slipped my arms around Kruise, letting my body go all the way back against the floor. She moved her head up to kiss my mouth again, and her hands started slipping buttons through their holes, pulling my shirt open.

As she lowered her head and kissed the top of my breasts, I moaned her name, tangling my hand in her hair. I pressed up against her with my hips, wanting, needing more.

And suddenly she was pulling back, looking at me with shock on her face.

"Gods, Trey, I'm sorry, I --"

"Don't be sorry. And don't stop." Sitting up, I reached for her shoulders, pulling her back to my mouth, nipping at her lips.

I tried to lean back again, my arms around her, but she stayed upright, her hands reaching back to detach mine from their hold.

"No, Trey, we can't."

"Yes, we can, Jace wouldn't mind, she knows we always tease each other, please, Kruise . . . "

"No, Trey."

I grabbed her hands, pulling her towards me. "Please, Kruise."

"No." Her voice was soft, but firm. I didn't want to listen to her, but she pulled her head away before I could kiss her and when I looked in her eyes I saw tears in them.

I held her still for a moment, confused. I knew she wanted what I did, I could feel it in the way she kissed me, the way her hands touched me. Why was she suddenly pulling away? Why the tears?

Finally, she looked up at me and swallowed. One of those tears escaped and rolled down her cheek.

"I have lots of fuck-buddies, Trey. I don't need another one."

My eyes widened.

"There's a big difference between a fuck buddy and a best friend. I only have one best friend." Another tear slipped out. "Please don't take her away from me."

We stared at each other, silently. I could feel the desire in me abate, and my thoughts returned.

Then we were hugging each other, the emotion of the night coming out of me in great sobs as she rocked me, holding me tight and whispering in my ear.

As she held me, my thoughts went over what had just happened. Jace had known about Nix, so that couldn't really be thought of as cheating, since she'd approved. But -- she didn't know anything about this. I'd almost cheated on her with my best friend. I swallowed the lump of guilt in my throat, feeling my stomach turn queasy.

I don't know how long we stayed there, but it was long enough that someone from the Mowzer staff started banging on the door, telling us we needed to leave. I looked up at Kruise, wiping a hand across her cheek to erase the lines from her tears. She smiled at me, but I couldn't smile back.

She helped me up, and we both washed our faces. After a quick examination to make sure all the blood was gone from me and my jacket, I slid the leather back on, wincing at the cold damp of the sleeves.

We had to get someone from the staff to let us out the back. The sun was coming up, and I watched the sky turn colors as Kruise dug out her sun glasses.



"Do you think Jesse's upset with me? For leaving with Nix, I mean?"

She shook her head.

"Are you?"

She sighed, but shook her head again.

"For real? You're not?"

"No, babe, I'm not upset with you."

I folded my arms, almost hugging myself, and sighed. "This is why I normally don't take chances, cause they always turn out bad."

Kruise was quiet and still for a moment, then she swung her leg back over the bike and turned around to face me.

"I think," she said in a soft voice, "that you spend all day writing, creating fantasy worlds and incredible characters, placing them in situations, and getting them out of situations. And then you have to come back out to the real world -- and it's not what you want it to be. So, you look for the opportunity to make things exciting. You look for stimulation. Most of the time, the feeling fades as you come back to reality. Othertimes, like tonight, it doesn't, and you reach for it. That's not a bad thing, Trey. Even when it backfires, you learn something."

She smiled and touched my face. "Besides. It's part of what makes you who you are. And none of us would want you to change."

I smiled back, ducking my head a little so she wouldn't see my tears.

Kruise turned back around, swinging her leg over and resetting herself.



I paused for a second and smiled. "I probably won't stop asking you to sleep with me."

She laughed and reached for the ignition key. "I know. That's just a part of you, too. Heck, if you did stop, I'd be disappointed."

I chuckled, then tightened my grip on her as she started the bike. We pulled out of the parking lot just as the sun made it's first appearance over the edge of the horizon.

I remember thinking it was the strangest Friday night of my life -- as well as the longest -- and the best.

It's now Sunday morning, a little after sunrise, and I'm sitting on the balcony of mine and Jace's hotel room. The air is cool up here, but it feels good on my skin.

Jace kept me hot all night.

When Kruise and I got here yesterday morning, Jace was awake and waiting. She poured orange juice for both of us, and ordered room service. The three of us ate together, while I told my story of how the night had unfolded.

Kruise let her eyes bulge out a few times, especially when I told them about the double bite in the back room. Jace, however, said nothing, merely watching me with curious eyes, a half smile dancing across her face occasionally.

I figured I was in for it when Kruise left, but Jace just kissed me and told me to get some sleep. I had to be up at one so I could go with her to the festival.

I knew better than to think that was it. I was right. Just before we left for the festival, she handed me a menstrual pad and told me to put it in my underwear. The scent wafting up from it told me what was going on, and I groaned. It wasn't meant to absorb wetness, since it had already been dampened. Instead, the hot oil she'd poured into it would keep me hot and itching all day. It was meant as a punishment. And it worked, as always. By the time we reached the festival I was squirming with wanting her, and by the time we left, I was aching and ready to beg.

She let me take the pad off before we went to the bar last night, but she stuck a vibrator in my jeans and told me to keep it there. It was one of those remote things that work from several feet away. While we were at the bar, she'd wander up as I was talking to someone and without warning turn it on. I'd be getting desperately close to release, and she'd turn it off, then kiss me and wander away again.

By the time we got back to the hotel about two this morning, I was exhausted, and not thinking clearly.

And then she meted out punishment for Friday night.

Being kept uncomfortable all day and night was to remind me that she'd been waiting for me back at the Janx club. Five lashes with the flogger for leaving with Nix in the first place. Ten for letting her bite me. Twenty for letting her make me come without Jace.

Then she switched to the hard leather cat with the knotted ends. Twenty lashes for letting Cam bite me without permission. Another five for being foolish enough to taste the blood of the nosferatu.

Ten for doing more than kiss Kruise in the bathroom at Mowzer's.

My ass and back are still on fire, and I had to swipe a pillow from the little couch in our two room suite just to sit without major pain. I'll be sitting gingerly for two or three days.

That's okay. This weekend was worth it.

Jace and I talked about what happened between me and Kruise, and she admitted that it hurt a little bit, but she thinks she understands. I wish I did. I don't know if I was just out of control as a result of everything that happened, or if there's something else there. I know I'm not in love with Kruise, and I am in love with Jace. But in that restroom, those facts didn't matter. I wanted Kruise, and if she hadn't pulled back --

It didn't happen, though. I'm glad. She's my best friend, and it's nice to know  she feels the same.

I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of our friend Nix. Jace and I are planning to move to New York City in the next few months. If we do, I know Jesse and Kruise will have us joining them at the bar more than once every six weeks. And since Nix is a regular at the Janx, I think we'll see her again.

She and Jesse made a clean escape from the alley, by the way. Jesse said they had no plans to meet again, and she said she hoped they didn't. But I don't think I believe her. Jesse likes Nix. She's afraid of how much she likes her, but she definitely likes her. I know Nix feels the same way. But she thinks Jesse's afraid of her, and she's not going to push it.

When I mentioned this to Jace, I could see the wheels start turning in her head.

I'm the writer. I create the scene and make observations. I explore and experiment. Then I report.

Jace is the matchmaker. I think she's looking for a way to set Nix and Jesse up.

I can't wait to see what happens.


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