Home > Wounded (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #24.5)(7)

Wounded (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #24.5)(7)
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton

She huffed off with a billow of long blue skirts. The groomsmen had all been in black tuxedos, white shirts, and royal-blue ties and cummerbunds. The bridesmaids were in royal blue, which looked good on everyone. The dresses hadn’t even been too horrible; they didn’t look good on everyone, but they didn’t make anyone look like a blue flower had exploded all over them and then frozen in place.

Nathaniel came over to me smiling, tie undone and a few buttons open to show more of the strong lines of his throat and just a hint of chest. “Great DJ,” he said.

I kissed him, and he hugged me close enough that I could bury my head against his chest. I let him wrap me in the warmth and vanilla scent of him. He always smelled like vanilla to me, which was part his choice of shampoo, soap, and such, but underneath that it was just the sweet scent of him. I wasn’t sure if it was the vanilla, but I remembered a snow day before my mother died when we’d made sugar cookies and spent the day decorating them. That was how he made me feel, like my mother’s sugar cookies on the perfect snow day, when there was icing everywhere to lick, and spread over those hot cookies, and my mother was still alive and smiling down at me. It seemed silly that someone who made me think of sex almost every time I touched him made me remember my mother and a snow day, but he did, in that moment he did.

He pulled back from the hug first, which was unusual, but when he put out one arm I knew why he’d done it. Micah was there to walk into the other side of Nathaniel’s hug. Micah put his face next to mine and we wrapped an arm around each other, the other one going around Nathaniel’s waist. He was five foot nine, so we both fit under his arms, our faces pressed against each other so I could nuzzle Micah’s face while Nathaniel leaned down over both of us. Micah smelled warm and spicy like cinnamon and things I couldn’t name, and suddenly I was back in my mother’s warm kitchen. She’d fixed us Mexican hot chocolate that day, a mix of regular American hot cocoa and that much spicier, darker, richer drink. She’d made it full strength for herself, so dark it was bitter. I could still remember the taste she’d let me have, but mine had been sweet chocolate with a hint of the spices and heat of hers. Micah’s skin smelled like exotic spices, cinnamon, and dark, rich chocolate, and a memory that I’d almost forgotten. My mother would die the summer after that snow day. I’d been eight.

I held them as close as I could and for some reason I felt my throat tighten, my eyes hot with tears that weren’t quite falling yet. Micah said, “Are you crying?”

“Almost,” I said.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing.”

“So why the tears?”

I looked from him up to Nathaniel, and the first tear slid down. They both looked worried until I laughed and quoted something Nathaniel said sometimes back to both of them: “Sometimes you’re so happy you can’t hold it all in and it spills out your eyes.”

They smiled and hugged me then. I finally broke from the hug, dabbing carefully at my eyes so I didn’t smear the eyeliner. I didn’t usually wear this much, but Nathaniel liked it when I dressed up top to bottom; he’d taught me to dab at my eye makeup, not just rub and smear it. Having boyfriends who wore makeup onstage had made me much better at the girly side of being a woman.

“I hate to be the one who breaks such a great mood, but Tomas is really hurting.”

Neither of us asked if he meant the gunshot wound, because that was a given, but it wasn’t what Micah meant. Nathaniel asked, “How can we help him?”

“What he said,” I said.

“We need to talk to Manny first.”

I looked up to scan the crowd, but the dance floor was full again and I was too short, even in heels, to see over everyone. Micah didn’t even have the heels, so it was Nathaniel who started leading us around the edge of the floor. We just trusted he’d seen Manny and followed him.

He was dancing with Rosita, his head resting on her generous bosom like it was his favorite pillow. She looked embarrassed and pleased, as if she felt torn between setting a good example and enjoying the fact that after nearly thirty years of marriage they still danced like teenagers at a prom in need of a chaperone.

Nathaniel put his arms around both of us and said, “I want us to be like that in twenty years.”

I gave him a one-armed hug, resting my head against his chest. “I can’t imagine twenty years in the future, but yes, yes.”

Micah smiled at Nathaniel, but there was something in his eyes that didn’t match the happiness of the moment; maybe it was talking to Tomas? “Twenty years is a long time, but I’ll do my best.”

If Nathaniel heard the hesitation in his tone, he didn’t show it. He just gazed at the happy couple, face almost shining with the potential of marital bliss that could really last for a lifetime. I caught Micah’s gaze, and he said, “I hate to interrupt them with serious things.”

Ah, he didn’t want to ruin their happy moment or take any of the joy out of Connie’s wedding day. Me, either. “Can it wait?” I asked.

He thought about it very seriously, the weightiness of it darkening his face, filling his leopard eyes with thoughts that would never go through the eyes of a real cat. They didn’t weigh other people’s happiness against their immediate needs, or maybe they did; I was more a dog person.

He nodded.

“I’m still looking for someone who makes me feel like that,” a voice behind us said. It startled me, but neither of the men reacted; maybe they’d heard her coming. Mercedes Rod-riguez, maid of honor, looked great in the royal-blue dress. The color made her skin seem even darker, as if she had that perfect, dark tan that other people risked skin cancer trying to achieve. She had her mother’s height but her father’s slenderness, so that she looked model-like, but with too much of her mother’s curves to truly look like a modern model. The vampires in my life had told me that thinness that extreme was only for the poorest of people, those who couldn’t afford food. If you had money, you didn’t starve yourself. Times change, I guess.

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