Home > Crimson Death (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #25)

Crimson Death (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #25)
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton


1


   I’D FALLEN ASLEEP cuddled between two of the men I loved most, with one arm flung across their naked bodies so I could touch the third. All three of them were warm when I fell asleep, but when my phone woke me hours later, only two of the bodies in the bed were still warm. The only vampire in the bed had died when the sun came up a mile over our heads in our nice safe cave of a bedroom. It was great for vampires, but if you were afraid of the dark or didn’t like the idea of tons of stone pressing down on your head, well, you couldn’t sleep with us.

   I scrambled over Nathaniel’s almost fever-hot body for my phone, which was plugged in on the bedside table, but when the screen came on it was his phone, not mine, because his lock screen was a picture of the three of us and mine was a close-up of our hands entwined with the new engagement rings. I finally got my phone and hit the button, but it had already gone to voice mail.

   Micah asked in a voice thick with sleep, “Who was it?”

   I squinted at the bright screen in the very dark room and said, “I don’t recognize the number, or hell, the area code. I think it’s international. Who the hell would be calling me from out of the country?”

   Nathaniel snuggled against the front of my body, burying his face between my breasts, as he tucked himself lower under the covers. He mumbled something, but since he was both the heaviest sleeper and the most likely to talk in his sleep, I didn’t pay much attention.

   “What time is it?” Micah asked, his voice less sleep-filled and closer to awake.

   “Five a.m.,” I said. I clicked my phone to black and tried to put it back on the bedside table, but Nathaniel had pinned me and I couldn’t quite reach.

   “We’ve only been asleep for three hours,” he said in a voice that was starting to sound aggrieved.

   “I know,” I said. I was still trying to push my phone back on the edge of the table with a now firmly asleep Nathaniel weighing me down.

   Micah wrapped his arm around my waist and Nathaniel’s back and pulled us both closer to him. “Sleep, must have more sleep,” he said with his face buried between my shoulders. If I didn’t slide down into the covers soon, they’d both be asleep and I’d be pinned with my arms and shoulders bared. The bedroom at night was about fifty degrees; I wanted my shoulders covered. I gave one last push to my phone, which fell to the floor, but it didn’t light back up, which meant it was still plugged in, so I was good with it on the floor. Screw it, I was going back to sleep.

   I had to force both men to give me enough room to slide down between them so we were all covered and warm again. I was just starting to drift back to sleep to the sounds of their even breathing when my phone rang again, but this time it played a different song, George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone.” It was the personalized ringtone for one of my best friends, Edward, assassin to the undead and fellow U.S. Marshal Ted Forrester. Interestingly, Edward and Ted were the same person; think Clark Kent and Superman.

   I flung the covers off all of us and scrambled, falling to the floor and fumbling for the phone that was glowing in the pile of clothes beside the bed. I hit the button and said, “Here, I’m here!”

   “Anita, are you all right?” Edward’s voice was too cheerful, which was all the clue I needed that he was with other police officers who would be overhearing everything.

   “Yeah, I’m good. You sound awfully chipper for five a.m.,” I said, trying not to sound like I was already getting cold outside the body heat of the bed. I started to fumble in the clothes pile for something that was mine but kept coming up with just the guys’ clothes.

   “It’s eleven a.m. here,” he said.

   He wasn’t home in New Mexico then, so I asked, “Where are you?”

   “Dublin.”

   “Dublin what?”

   “Ireland,” he said.

   I sat naked and shivering on the floor, scooping through the pile of clothes around me like a bird trying to make a nest, and tried to think. I failed, so I asked, “Why are you in Dublin, Ireland?”

   “For the same reason I’m calling you, Anita.”

   “Which is?” I tried not to get irritated at him, because it usually amused him, and Ted usually took longer to tell anything. Edward was far more abrupt. Yes, they were the same person, but Edward was more of a method actor, and trying to get him to break character wasn’t a good idea.

   “Vampires.”

   “There aren’t any vampires in Ireland. It’s the only country in the world that doesn’t have them.”

   “That’s what we all thought until about six weeks ago.”

   “What happened six weeks ago?” I asked, trying to burrow myself into the clothes on the floor for warmth.

   Someone from the bed above me threw my robe on top of me. I told whichever of my leopards had done it, “Thanks.”

   “They had their first vampire victim,” Edward said.

   I slipped into the robe, using my chin to hold the phone against my shoulder. The black silk robe was better than being naked, but silk isn’t really very warm. I kept meaning to buy something with a little more heat retention, but it was hard to find sexy and warm at the same time. “Vampire victim, so dead?”

   “No, just a little drained.”

   “Okay, if it was nonconsensual blood donation here in the States the vampire would be up on charges, but if it was consensual it’s not even a crime.”

   “Vampire gaze wiped her memory of it,” he said.

   “If the vampire and blood donor had agreed that the vamp could use their gaze so the donor could get the whole vampire experience, then it’s treated like you let someone drink too much at a party and then let them walk home drunk, again it’s not even a crime here, just bad judgment.”

   “Vic can’t remember, so we’ll never know if consent was given or not.”

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