My Birthday, Your Present

Today is my birthday, but this is a present for all of you. One late night of writing as I fought towards the latest deadline, I got on twitter and decided to play a game with everyone. I was writing a sex scene, which was a nice change from all the zombie slaughtering and just violent crime fighting in this latest Anita Blake novel, Affliction. I offered that if someone guessed exactly who was involved in the scene and where it was taking place that I’d post it as a blog. The game was a mixture of sexy clue, and twenty questions. Someone did win, and I was going to post it, but then realized this scene was too far in the book and potentially spoiled some things in the plot and character arc, so what to do? I decided to use a scene that takes place earlier in the book. It does give away a few things plot-wise, and certainly character-wise, but all good sex scenes help develop character, and even sometimes world build. But this earlier scene seemed less like I was revealing too much, so here are two chapters of Affliction which will be out July 2, 2013.

Chapter Fifty:

There are moments when undressing isn’t sexy, being covered in dried blood, guts and brains is one of those moments. Weapons first and there were a few bits of dried zombie on them, too. We’d clean them later. Our body armor had left a clean spot on our shirts underneath. The vests were all going to need cleaned, and since mine was a custom fit job I didn’t have a back up vest. Men’s vests didn’t fit right on women, though I could borrow a man’s vest and because it was really too big for me it didn’t crush my breasts the way it did on women that were bigger through the shoulders and ribcage. But holding the vest up and looking at some of the “stains” on it I thought a second vest might not be a bad idea.

The three of us paid attention to our weapons and body armor, and it was sexless. Shirts first, and Nicky looked at my bra, all right, he looked at my breasts, they just happened to be in a black satin bra.

“I like that about you,” Nicky said.

“What, my breasts?”

He grinned. “That, too, but you don’t bitch if I stare at your breasts.”

“I’m wearing a push-up bra if I didn’t want people to look at my breasts I should probably wear something else.”

“Yeah, but I know that Nathaniel packed for you, which means it’s all going to be push up, satin, or lace.”

I smiled and shook my head. “I’m not sure I own anything else.”

“I like that about you, too,” he said. He took off his shirt in one movement. I heard the cloth stick on one shoulder as it came off, but at least the vest meant the whole shirt hadn’t been covered in gunk, bad for the vests, but good for our peace of mind and a lower ick factor. I concentrated on the muscled expanse of his chest and shoulders; they almost distracted me from the flat plains of his stomach.

“Hmm . . . an eight pack.”

He grinned. “Some of the other guards are pissed, because they can only do a six pack, if they work their asses off.”

“Eight is genetic right, not everyone can do more than a six pack no matter how hard they work out,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said, and he looked pleased with himself.

There was a small sound in the room, the kind that makes you look up and try to locate the source, and depending on who was making the sound, you’d either pretend you hadn’t heard, or comfort the person making the noise. Dev had his belt unbuckled, but his shirt was only partially untucked. He held his hands sort of awkwardly away from his body, as if he didn’t want to touch something, or already had touched something and didn’t want to transfer it from his hands to his clothes.

Nicky and I looked at each other, and without a word, went to Dev. “Let me help you out of those clothes,” I said, trying to put teasing and sexiness in the words.

Dev looked at me, eyes too big, face sort of slack with the edge of panic he was fighting. He held his hands out to me like he was five and had hurt himself. There was no mark on his hands, they looked clean to me, but sometimes you have a sort of Lady Macbeth moment, and even after washing the blood away, it’s like you can still see it, feel it, engrained on your skin.

I reached out to touch his hands, but he jerked back. “I’ve got . . . stuff on me.”

“Me, too,” I said, voice soft.

His eyes fluttered, and flashed white like a horse about to bolt.

“It’s okay, Dev, it’s okay.”

He shook his head.

“You said you thought you’d never get me out of my clothes, and you haven’t even said how cute I look,” Nicky said.

That got a smile from Dev, it was weak, and a little uncertain, but it was better than I’d gotten out of him. He looked at Nicky then, really looked at the other man. He looked at his bare, muscled chest, the way Nicky had looked at my breasts. There were some men in my life that even as comfortable as they were sharing a bed with me and other men all at the same time, they wouldn’t have taken that look from Dev without it being a fight, or at least severely uncomfortable, but Nicky took it in stride.

“That’s better,” Nicky said.

Dev put his head to one side, and said, “You don’t like men, so why do you care if I admire the view?”

Nicky shrugged as much as his shoulder muscles would let him. “I like knowing that you’re not just kidding about it.”

“You like knowing that I’d do you if you’d let me, and you’re still going to get in the shower with me. Most straight men would be totally creeped by it.”

“I’m secure in my masculinity.”

“Well, that’s the truth,” I said.

Nicky smiled at me, and I smiled back.

“But you wouldn’t be doing me, I don’t bottom to anyone,” Nicky said.

“That works for me,” Dev said.

I was no longer certain we were joking.

Nicky grinned. “If I come across for you then I’ll have to fight off Jean-Claude and Asher. I think I’ll stay on this side of the hetroflexible divide, it’ll make things less complicated.”

Dev pouted at him, and if you’ve never seen a handsome, athletic, 6′ 3″ man pout and be able to make it totally work for him, then I’m sorry, because it was way fun to watch.

Nicky laughed. “Let’s get naked and wet.”

The look on Dev’s face at such a bold comment from the other man ruined the pout and stripped his face to something uncertain and hopeful. I hadn’t known that Dev thought Nicky was cute, but Nicky’s maneuvering of the other man let me know that my werelion had known. Was I that blind, or was Nicky just that observant?

Dev stripped his shirt off in one fast motion and threw it on the floor as if he didn’t want to touch it any longer than he had to, but he unzipped his pants and stripped them off to join his socks and boots which were already on the floor beside him. He was suddenly totally nude and beautiful, but he wasn’t looking defiantly at me, he was looking at the other man. It was almost as if he thought Nicky would chicken out, and have a moment of heterosexual panic, but I knew better. If it was a test of nerves, my money was on Nicky.

He didn’t disappoint me. He just unfastened his pants and stripped them off, okay he had to peel them off due to some fluid that had dried on one leg, but he got them off and let them fall on top of his own boots and socks. He stood there naked and yummy, and stared at Dev like he was daring him to say something.

Dev opened his mouth, closed it, and then laughed head back, eyes closed, totally delighted. Nicky looked at me, and smiled. I decided then and there that I would never try and bluff Nicky, because he was out of my league. I could lie, but I couldn’t manipulate like that, not even in a good cause.

Nicky held his hand out to me, and I went to him. “You have too many clothes on,” he said.

“We can fix that,” I said.

“Yes,” Dev said his voice still holding an edge of laughter, “we can.”

We did.

Chapter Fifty-One:

We helped each other get clean. It took three times through the shampoo for Dev’s hair to get clean. He’d gotten hit the worst from something, or maybe it was the baby fine texture of his hair, whatever Nicky helped me pick bits out of the back of Dev’s hair. He started shivering even though the water was steaming hot, but there is cold that no amount of hot water will warm. I think we could have turned his skin pink with heat and he would still have shivered.

He put his hands on the tile of the wall and leaned, as if he were trying to take strength from the wall to keep standing. Nicky and I exchanged a look; he motioned with his head for me to get closer to Dev while he kept picking bits of zombie out of the other man’s hair. I touched his arm, and he jumped.

“It’s me, Dev, it’s just me,” I said.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

I let that go, we both knew what was wrong, but knowing doesn’t always fix it. I touched his arm again, and this time he stood still for it. I slid in under his arm and even with him leaning against the wall he was tall enough for me to look up at him and not have to bend over at all. He was a foot taller than I was, and standing there with his arms on either side and above my shoulders, his face above mine, I was suddenly aware that he was a really big, not just tall, but wide through the shoulders, broad through the chest. If he would have spent half the time that Nicky did in the weight room Dev would have been massive. I wasn’t sad that he didn’t, I might have felt physically overwhelmed and then again, maybe I wouldn’t. I could see Nicky’s shoulder on one side of Dev’s, and I didn’t have a problem with Nicky. I didn’t think a few inches of extra height would have tipped the difference for me.

Wet, Dev’s hair fell a little below his shoulders, framing that square and very masculine jaw. His blue on blue eyes blinked a little too quickly as he stared down at me. I slid my hands over the slick wetness of his chest as Nicky kept working on his hair.

“I don’t think I’m in the mood, Anita. I never thought I’d say that, but I can’t stop thinking about what Nicky is cleaning out of my hair. Now I know why you insist on a shower before you greet everybody some nights.”

I touched his face, made sure I had serious eye contact. “The thing in the basement tonight was bad, Dev, even by my standards it was a slaughter. I don’t do that every night. Hell, I don’t do it most of the time.”

“You mean I’m not being a serious pussy?”

I smiled at him. “Well, you are a pussycat, but no, it was bad, worse than normal even by my standards for mess and brutal fighting. Flesh eating zombies just don’t stop coming. I’ve never, ever seen that many of them.”

“Really?” he asked, and his voice was fragile, like the look in his eyes.

“Really,” I said my hand on the side of his face.

His head pulled back as if Nicky was moving his hair too much. Then I saw Nicky’s hands come up and he ran his fingers through Dev’s hair. “There, all clean.”

Dev let out a shaking breath, but he straightened, pushed away from the wall, and ran his own hands through his hair. He did it a second time a look of relief on his face, as he smoothed his hair back from his face.

“Thanks, Nicky,” he said.

“You can return the favor sometime,” Nicky said.

Dev looked over his shoulder at the other man. “Are you inviting me to shower with you again?”

Nicky smiled. “So far you’ve been a perfect gentleman; I think my virtue is safe.”

“You have virtue to keep safe?” I asked, peering around Dev’s body.

Nicky raised an eyebrow at me. I realized he’d swept his wet hair back from his face completely exposing the scars that covered the socket of his right eye. He usually hid the scars with that triangle of bangs, so that I valued when he didn’t. It meant he was comfortable. I liked that.

“No, no I don’t,” he said, and there was something about the way he said it, more sad than teasing back, that made me remember that he’d been abused as a child both sexually and physically by his mother. She’d been the one that took his eye. I suddenly felt stupid and slow, and . . .

I went to Nicky, stroking my hands down his bare, wet arms. “I wasn’t thinking, I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” he said.

I wrapped myself around him, nakedness to nakedness, and it wasn’t erotic, because he didn’t hold me back, he stayed upright and didn’t meld into the hug.

“I missed something,” Dev said behind us.

Nicky said, “Yeah, you did.”

I looked up at the man in my arms, searched that closed down face. He’d turned away from me just enough to hide the scars, not to be pretty the way Asher would do to hide his, but it was either that or reach back up and smooth his wet hair down over them, and that would have been admitting it mattered to him and Nicky wouldn’t do that.

“Look at me, please,” I said.

He did, but the look on his face was arrogant, distant as his body felt because he wouldn’t hug me back.

“I’m sorry, I forgot.”

He glared at me, and I felt the first rush of heat as his anger hit his lion and it stirred. “How can you forget when you have to look at this every time you see me?” He touched his finger to the edge of the scars.

It was the first time he’d said anything out loud that the scars bothered him, reminded him every time he looked in the mirror. The way he wore his hair let me know that it bothered him, but he’d never actually said so, before.

“It’s just a part of you,” I said, “that’s what I think when I look at you, that’s all I think.”

He stared down at my face, studying it. “I can feel that you mean that.”

“I like the scar,” Dev said, “and the fact that you are as good as you are with weapons and hand to hand having to compensate for the lack of depth perception is impressive.”

Nicky shifted in my arms, and that flare of anger was like heat marching down my body as if the heat of the shower was starting to emanate from his body and not the taps behind us. “He really does like scars,” I said, “Dev’s a texture junkie.”

He relaxed a little in my arms, and finally put his arms around me. He wasn’t holding me tight, but it was progress.

“I’ll prove it to you, if it won’t freak you out,” Dev said.

Nicky gave him a look, as if nothing he could do would be that freaky, but I knew Dev better than Nicky did. I was betting there was plenty that the weretiger could do to freak out the werelion. The reverse was also true, but Dev’s would be sensual and Nicky’s would be more violence. I didn’t really want them to try to freak each other out though; I feared it would go badly.

Dev moved in behind me until his body was pressed up against mine, which pinned Nicky’s hands between my body and the other man’s. Nicky was only touching against Dev’s stomach, he didn’t complain, or move his hands. Neither man’s body was excited to be there yet, so though it was nice, it wasn’t as erotic as it might have been. He reached out to touch Nicky’s cheek.

Nicky jerked back.

Dev let his hand fall and smoothed his hands down my arms. “See, it freaks you out.” He leaned down to lay a kiss on the top of my head, nuzzling against my wet hair.

I wriggled into Dev’s touch, raising my face up so he could kiss my lips. We kissed, and the kiss grew until it tightened my hands around Nicky and made me grind myself against Dev. His body was already beginning to react which encouraged me to grind harder against him. Nicky’s arms around my back kept me from grinding as much as I could have, which forced me away from Nicky’s body in an effort to touch more of Dev’s.

Nicky’s body pressed in tighter from in front. It brought me back from kissing Dev and to move my face towards Nicky. This time he leaned over so I could reach his lips. We kissed and it was a soft brush of lips, then a more urgent press of his mouth on mine. He moved his arms from between Dev and me, and at the same time I was suddenly pressed tight between both of them. One of them thick and growing thicker against the front and the back of me, the sensation of being pinned between their bodies tore my mouth from Nicky’s and made me cry out.

It was only when Dev leaned over me for another kiss that I realized why they were both pressed so close. Nicky had moved his arms so he was holding onto the other man’s waist and Dev had done the same, so that they were using their strength to press themselves in tighter against my body. Nathaniel and Micah called it, making a sandwich, and I loved being the middle of it.

They took turns kissing me, until I writhed and ground against both their bodies and they were both hard, and thick, and achingly ready. With their skills at foreplay it seemed a shame to skip most of it, but sometimes the urgency of the need is its own foreplay.

Dev rose up from kissing me and touched Nicky’s scar. When he didn’t protest Dev leaned over me, which pressed him even tighter against my ass, and he laid a soft kiss on the scar. Nicky didn’t really react to it, so it encouraged Dev to move one hand up to the side of Nicky’s face. He leaned in and kissed the scars where Nicky’s eye should have been more thoroughly. I looked up to watch the kissing, my body still pinned between theirs. Nicky had gone still, and his body wasn’t quite as happy to be pressed against me, though Dev had no way of knowing that.

He kissed down Nicky’s face, one soft kiss at a time, and I got to watch each kiss get closer and closer to Nicky’s mouth, until finally Dev kissed him.

Nicky drew back from it, shaking his head. “No,” he said, not angry, but firm.

Dev dropped his hand from the side of the other man’s face, and kissed me as if he were trying to kiss me as deeply and completely as he could. He drew back from the kiss lips half parted, face so eager, so excited that it made me laugh a little breathless and shakily.

Nicky kissed me then, and it was gentle, tender, as if he were making love to my mouth. He drew back and left me with my eyes still closed, lips half parted. I was even a little weak in the knees, just from the kiss.

“Wow,” Dev said, “I feel like I need to try again.”

I opened my eyes enough to see Nicky smiling down at me. He looked utterly pleased with himself. It made me smile up at him, but the smile spread until it was more an evil, happy, grin.

“Now I know I need to try another kiss,” Dev said, “because that is a really good smile.”

“Yes,” Nicky said, “yes it is,” and his voice was already deeper with the first rush of testosterone, and a smile that held all the heat you wanted to see in a man’s face. It was full of love, yes, but it was also full of lust, and the thought of everything he was going to do to you, and with you.

“Why do I feel like I need to catch up when I’ve been standing here the whole time?” Dev asked.

“She loves me,” Nicky said, as if that explained everything, and apparently it did, because Dev said, “You are a lucky man.” That’s usually something a man says, when what he means is, your woman is hot and I would totally fuck her, but it’s either morally wrong, or you would kill me for it. It seemed weird that Dev felt the need to be so polite with his nakedness pressed against my ass, and knowing that he was getting sex, too, but sex isn’t everything. It’s nice, it’s great even, if you’re lucky, but everyone, eventually, wants love.

I went up on tiptoe to kiss Nicky again, and Dev moved back a little so that we could use hands and arms on just each other, while the kiss grew from tender to urgent. When we drew back just to look at each other, Dev said, “I’ll offer just once more to give you guys’ privacy, and I should get major brownie points for offering, at this point.”

I looked over my shoulder at him, with Nicky and I still holding each other. I wasn’t sure what I would have said, because Nicky said, “Breast, or ass?”

“What?” Dev said, frowning, obviously puzzled.

“Do you want to fuck her first, or have her suck your dick first?”

I turned back to look at Nicky, the look was enough, because he said, “You love me and I love you and it’s amazing, but at heart I’m a thug, Anita. I’m crude and rude and violent, and you’ve taught me the only gentleness I’ve ever known, but I’m still me.”

I nodded. “Okay, it’s not that I don’t agree with the division of labor it was just a little crudely put, that’s all. You surprised me.”

He smiled. “Okay, Mephistopheles are you a breast, or a thigh man?” Nicky looked at me, head cocked to one side. “Better?”

I grinned. “Yes, thank you.”

Dev watched us like he’d never seen us.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I’m just wondering when you guys became a couple and why didn’t I notice?”

I looked back at Nicky and he slid his arms more securely around, bringing me in against his body in a way that was less sexual and more romantic. It seemed weird in the shower all naked with another man, but there you are, if it works don’t poke at it. I was trying to be smarter.

“You were busy worrying about Asher,” Nicky said.

Dev nodded. “True, and I’ll take thighs.”

Nicky grinned quick and fierce, more a baring of teeth like a happy snarl. “We fuck both ends.”

“I’d like to go down on her, while she goes down on you.”

“That’s hard in the shower,” I said.

“Bed?” Dev asked.

“Normally, I’d say, not only yes, but hell yes! But if the police call before I get some sleep I’m going to cry, so just this once let’s just have intercourse,” I said.

Dev’s face showed a conflict of emotions, but finely he smiled and said, “Who am I to argue with the Queen of Tigers?”

“Still not sure I like that title,” I said.

“You hated mother of tigers more,” Nicky reminded me.


“But I don’t think we’ll be fucking right away,” he said.

“Why not?”

“Too much talking, not enough sex,” he said and motioned that he wasn’t hard anymore.

I glanced at Dev and found similar deflation. “I can fix that,” I said and knelt between them on the shower tiles, the water rushing around my knees.

“So we get oral and intercourse seems unfair,” Dev said.

“I like and can orgasm from both,” I said, looking up at him from my knees.

“I’ve had women orgasm from intercourse, but you’re a first for oral,” he said.

“Anita, will you please shut him up?” Nicky asked.

I went done on Dev while he was still talking, stopping him in mid-syllable. The feel of him in my mouth was, as always, amazing. I liked the sensation of men when they were small and soft, and it was easy to take them all in my mouth, roll them around with my tongue, and bury my lips against their bodies as close and tight as I wanted without choking or fighting my gag reflex, and as long as I kept him deep in my mouth he’d stay smaller. It was only as I began to draw back off of him and suck him back into my mouth that he began to grow longer, and thicker.

Nicky ran his hand through my wet hair and turned me to him. He wasn’t as small as he had been, just watching me go down on Dev and anticipating his turn had made him grow bigger, so that he filled my mouth more, and I had to fight a little around the beginnings of my gag reflex to bury my mouth against his body as far and tight as I could.

Nicky put his hand on the back of my head holding me on him, but moved my hand from his thigh to wrap it around Dev so I could feel that the other man was thick and hard in my hand. The double sensation of my hand and mouth filled up with that eager hardness . . . they were both so warm, skin soft like muscled velvet to suck and stroke, so that it made me suck harder and faster on Nicky and stroke my hand up and down Dev’s shaft to curve over the round, thick, silk of him.

Nicky wrapped his hand in my hair and pulled me away from his body. “I want inside you first,” he said, voice breathless. He used his handhold on my hair to push me towards Dev. I slid my mouth onto Dev, but kept my hand on him, too, so that I was stroking the shaft and sucking and licking the head and first few inches.

He whispered, “Oh, my God.”

I felt Nicky’s hands on my waist and hips as he pulled me into place. I started to turn and say something, or look, but he pushed his hand into the back of my head, holding me down on Dev for a second. Without words he was clear what he wanted, me to go on Dev while he . . . I felt the head of him brush against my opening, but being in the water, even just a shower, had made me tighter even than normal, so that I felt the brush of his hand as he guided himself in place and then began to push the head of him against the tightness of my opening. Just feeling him do that made me begin to suck faster and deeper on Dev, my hand wrapped around the base of him against his body.

“I won’t last long,” Dev said.

Nicky pushed his way inside me, fighting for every inch against the tightness from the water. It made him feel even bigger, thicker than I knew he was, and the sensation of him pushing his way inside made me cry out around Dev.

He made an inarticulate sound. I could taste salt from the pre-come now, he was close, but I didn’t care as Nicky finally found enough room to shove himself into me, and my body finally opened for him so that he pulled himself almost out, put his hands on my hips to hold me in place, or move me with him, like leading on a dance floor, except this was the water slick tiles of a shower. Then Nicky pushed his way in again, and found a fast, deep rhythm, that made me scream as I buried my mouth down the length of Dev’s body.

“Close,” Dev said, voice strained as he fought to last.

Nicky picked up his rhythm fast and deep so that his body smacked against mine in a sharp repetitive sound of flesh on flesh, and between one quick deep thrust and the next he spilled me over and I screamed my orgasm around Dev’s body. It was too much for Dev, and he thrust into my mouth rather than waiting for me to suck, but with Nicky’s orgasm riding my body I wanted as much of both inside me in that moment. Dev responded to my eagerness by grabbing the back of my head and forcing me down as he thrust up, and it was almost too much down my throat even with orgasm I had to fight not to try and breath, because I couldn’t have. It isn’t always a gag reflex, sometimes it’s a suffocation reflex. I relaxed my throat as much as I could while I was still trying to scream my own orgasm, but Dev had shoved himself so far down my throat that there was no sound possible. I felt him pulse inside my throat all the way along his shaft where it lay in my mouth and knew that he was going, before I felt that moment of hot as he spilled himself inside me and I fought to swallow. If I’d let the arduer lose there would have been no problem, because when that rode me I had no gag reflex, it was like magic and took away all the issues, but I’d fed already and I was trying to do certain things without the arduer’s help, because if I could do it just me, then I could do things more frequently without risking draining my lovers to death. Such a mood killer.

It was while I was struggling to take all of Dev in that Nicky intensified his rhythm and let me know he’d been aiming for that sweet spot nearer the opening, because now he searched for the deeper spot that he could hit from behind. Most women will go from the G-spot being caressed long enough, but not all women go from the two deeper spots, for the longest time I thought I enjoyed having my cervix bumped until I learned that wasn’t what the men were hitting, at all. From behind Nicky slid the head of himself into the spot deep and high within me, and the orgasm that had been fading spilled into a second one from deeper within me, so that when Dev drew himself out of my mouth I screamed loud and deep throated. Nicky drove himself one last time deep inside me, his hands pulling me backwards against his body at the same time so that he thrust as deep into me as he could in that last moment as his body convulsed inside mine. that last thrust was almost too deep, almost hurt, but in the middle of the orgasm, topped by the sensation of him going inside of me, the almost pain translated into a bigger pleasure.

“I’ll go,” Dev said, and stepped out of the shower on slightly unsteady legs. The water that he’d been blocking suddenly cascaded down on me. I hung my head down so it wouldn’t get in my eyes and mouth. I wanted to ask, where Dev was going, but I couldn’t figure out how to say words yet, I was still quivering happily from the orgasm coherent speech was a few minutes way.

Nicky was still buried as deep as he could be, hands still holding my hips in place, so that even if I’d wanted to, I couldn’t have moved. He leaned over me and laid a kiss on my back, and said in a voice growling deep, “You’d think they’d get used to the fact that you’re a screamer.”

Apparently, Nicky and Dev had heard the other guards pounding on the door. I tried to be embarrassed that they’d all heard me screaming, but Nicky chose that moment to lean over me and growl. The sound of it seemed to vibrate through my body as if as long as he was buried inside me I would resonate with the growling depth of him.

I shivered for him.

He leaned his face close to mine, so that the water splashed over us both. “If Dev hadn’t been here I would have set my teeth into your shoulders and marked you as mine, but mustn’t scare the tigers.” And he growled again with his chest curved over me, his face touching mine. I made a small, helpless noise of happiness, and he laughed so deep a sound that it should have had teeth and claws around it.

I hope you enjoyed my Birthday present to you!

Why I Threw Out Everything I Wrote Yesterday

So many of you wrote in and feared for the lovers in Anita’s life. They are in peril. This promises to be a very hard book, but two days ago it wasn’t that kind of trauma for Anita and me. She did her duty. She stayed at her post. She made the hard call in the midst of death and violence. She was a good cop, a good soldier, a good . . . she did her duty. She did not panic. It ended up with her in the hospital and it cost her the life of someone she valued. It also cost the lives of good men and women who stood shoulder to shoulder against the great bad thing. There are losses that aren’t about romantic love. There are losses that are about a different kind of love. The people that will go into the bad place with you and not panic, but stay at your side shooting, fighting, risking it all for the goal, the objective, the mission, but there will always be moments that come down to just surviving. The men and women who stay with you through something like that – you love them. They love you. It’s not romantic love, but it is a bond that will make you answer a phone a decade later and say, “What do you need? What can I do?”
It’s also the kind of emotion that will make you not answer the phone ever. It is a level of pain and trauma that makes you want to forget. You don’t want to relive it. You don’t want to look at it, or talk about it. You want to move on; forget. sometimes in that effort to push it away you will destroy everything in your life to avoid the pain of it, the truth of it.
I have had the privilege of knowing men and women who have served their country, worn the badge, and come away with the real deal. I have dated, and been friends with men that are still haunted. I know when they share their stories with me in any way that it’s a privilege to be trusted with those moments of truth. a lot of them are told with laughter, but every once in awhile their eyes grow haunted and the pain comes too close to hide.
Anita had one of those moments and I spent the next twenty-four hours trying to ignore the pain. I was willing to blow up my imaginary world and throw all the hard work that Micah and Jean-Claude had done to bring together the preternatural community so that we could have a crisis and Anita and I wouldn’t have to deal with what was really bothering us. We were willing to ruin our relationship with Micah. Willing to ruin our relationship with other lovers. Anita and I tried to sink ourselves into sex. Nothing worked yesterday. Some of it was good pages, but really I was blowing up my world, destroying books and books of relationship building. It was my husband, Jon, who told me not to do some of it, that it made no sense. I was angry with him, though we didn’t fight, because I knew something was wrong with me and how I was reacting.
This morning when I woke up I understood what I’d been doing. I also knew what I needed to write today. I have to look at what happened in the shoot out. I have to let Anita feel the pain of what she had to do, and what it cost her and others. I was willing to blow up my world, Jean-Claude’s world, Micah’s, sacrifice Damian, hurt Nathaniel, or try to just skip to sex and comfort. I fought with myself all day and at midnight I called it, because I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I just knew it I wasn’t thinking right.
This morning it was so clear, even logical. I’ve spent twenty years writing Anita. I’ve interviewed people about what it feels like to take a life in the course of their duty. I have been blessed and trusted with the stories, without them this series would have been so much weaker. I wouldn’t have understood, and there are things that I will not understand because this is fiction for me. I’m not there. I’m not going through the real doors. I’m not having to look down the barrel of real guns and make choices that will be irrevocable. In real life there is no rewrite, more’s the pity.
Today Anita has to wake up in the hospital with that moment of confusion of “where am I, what happened,” and then the memory will return. She’ll remember the moment. The gun, sighting down the barrel, pulling the trigger and watching him drop. She would make the same choice, but that doesn’t mean she won’t be haunted by it. You can be right. You can be brave. It is some comfort, but in the end the people still died, and you couldn’t save them all, and sometimes killing the killer is just one more trauma.
There are losses that make you weep, that drive you from sleep to pace the darkened house, because sleep is full of dreams, nightmares, or sometimes it’s just too quiet and alone with our thoughts isn’t that great. I should have remembered that yesterday, but it took me time to work it out – to remember.
I’m just lucky that what I do is fiction. That I didn’t ruin my actual relationship with the man I love, and I have a chance to rewrite the fictional mistake. That I didn’t blow up the political structure of our country for real, but just on paper and I had a smart man to tell me, “This isn’t logical.” Thanks, my husband. Lucky for me, and for Anita, there is a do-over today. It won’t be pleasant, in fact it will be emotionally pretty horrible, but when she’s faced it, worked some of it through, then she will still have the loves of her life, the men she depends on, and the careful political structure that Jean-Claude and Micah have worked so hard to make will still be working. I am dreading writing this, but I feel strangely peaceful about it, too. This is what comes next and the days when Anita would destroy her love life, her friendships, to avoid the pain of what she’s had to do in her job are past. I’ve had better therapy than that, and so has she.
As I write today I will think of my friends who have done, and are doing, this for real. To the men and women who put on a uniform and do their duty, thank you for your service.