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Micah stood up, the water and bubbles clinging to his body, some of the suds beginning to slide down his skin as he reached for Nathaniel. I wanted to help the suds caress his skin, wanted to help them hurry down his thigh, cup my hand over that strangely thick pile of bubbles on the front of his body. The first time we'd ever made love together there had been suds and water involved.

I laid the guns and knives on a corner of the black marble where most people would have put candles, and put the holsters on the edge of the sink, farther away from the potential splash zone of the bathtub. Free of the holsters and all the weapons, I could finally start to pull my shirt over my head, but Jean-Claude said, "Ma petite, come here, let me undress you."

He'd come to the side of the tub while I'd been watching Nathaniel and Micah. How had I missed him just feet away moving through the water? He was on his knees, hands resting on the edge of the tub so that he lifted himself half out of the water toward me. I was suddenly staring into the midnight blue of his eyes, the darkest blue I'd ever seen, so that it was almost black, almost, and then he'd turn and the light would catch it, and the deep blue of his eyes would gleam to life. The night sky is never truly black, it just looks like that when there's no light to see by, but I could always see the light in Jean-Claude's eyes, no matter how dark.

I went to him and he raised himself even higher from the water. I had a moment of thinking of mermaids lifting themselves up on rocks at the edge of the sea to kiss their sailors, or princes. Of course, the raven-haired beauty offering me a kiss was a king. Did that make me the mermaid? Nah.

I met his lips with mine so that we kissed with me still dressed at the edge of the marble tub. I felt his fingers on the bottom of my T-shirt. "Sit on the edge of the tub, ma petite, so I can use both hands."

I did what he asked, because who wouldn't? He leaned back into the water enough to make room for me, face lifted toward mine, so that it was the most natural thing in the world to meet his lips with mine. He slid his hands underneath my shirt, lifting it upward as we kissed. I raised my arms so he could pull it over them, but he stopped with it up to my shoulders, and kept kissing me. I pressed into the kiss as I felt his fingers at the back of my bra. The snap gave and his hands glided under the line of my bra, spilling over my breasts, and the kiss grew. I pressed my mouth against his, my tongue sliding between his lips and oh so carefully between the dainty hardness of his fangs. His hands touched my breasts with the water still clinging to them, so that he made my breasts as wet as other parts of me were starting to become.

He finally drew my shirt over my head and the kiss had to stop. I glanced over to find Micah and Nathaniel in their own kiss, though since they were both naked and one of them was wet and covered in suds it distracted me a little more than it should have in Jean-Claude's arms. I turned to him to kiss him again, to apologize for ogling other men while I was almost in the middle of a kiss with him, but he was looking at the other men. I wrapped my arms across his shoulders, pressing my breasts against the wet slickness of his skin, and put my face against his while we watched our two shared men share a very passionate kiss.

Jean-Claude put his arm around my waist and sighed. "We are lucky, you and I, ma petite."

"We are, but I'm wearing too many clothes." I whispered it against his face.

"You are," he whispered back.

Micah and Nathaniel came up for air, half laughing. "I think we're distracting them," Nathaniel said.

"I think you're right," Micah said, and he aimed a smile around the edge of Nathaniel's body. It was a smile that would have been more at home on Nathaniel's face, or Jean-Claude's, but there it was on his face, a look that said he knew his worth and he knew just how hot he was, all wet and wrapped around our shared boy.

Nathaniel kissed his cheek and said, "We better stop distracting them, so Anita can get naked." He pulled Micah with him through the water to settle against the far side of the bath. He threw an arm across Micah's shoulders and drew him in against his body, because it was always easier for the taller half of the couple to throw an arm across. Micah cuddled in against him, tracing one hand over the other man's chest. Nathaniel raised Micah's hand and kissed his palm.

Micah closed his eyes as Nathaniel kissed across his hand and licked delicately across his wrist. "Stop that or we'll just keep distracting them."

Nathaniel rose from Micah's wrist, smiling. "I'll behave myself until Anita is out of her clothes, then no promises."

"Off with the clothes," I said.

"Yes, please," Nathaniel said, grinning at us.

"We'll watch you and Jean-Claude now," Micah said.

"We must make it worth your while, then, mon chat." Jean-Claude turned to me and said, "Give me your foot, ma petite."

"I'm wearing combat boots, not high heels."

"It does not matter what you wear. I would still want to help you out of them."

That made me smile, and I lifted my leg up so he could reach my boot. He unlaced it slowly, making what would have been awkward for anyone else graceful, sensual. He pulled the boot off, and there was the thick boot sock, about as unromantic as it gets, but he just tossed the boot to the floor and then reached up under my jeans with those long, slender fingers, rolling my sock down slowly. He did the same on the other side, and once I was barefoot, he helped me stand up on the top step leading to the tub so that he could unsnap my jeans. I reached to help him unzip them, but he moved my hands away, shaking his head at me. I let my hands fall to my sides and he began to pull my jeans down my hips. He pulled the lacy thong down with them, so that as he pulled the jeans he revealed me nude. He got the jeans to midthigh and then leaned in and laid the gentlest of kisses against that line where thigh and hip meet. It brought my breath in a sigh, my head falling back, my eyes closing as he kissed the other side where my hip met more intimate things.

He eased the jeans downward, placing kisses on my legs as he did it, until he licked behind my knee, which was a ticklish spot, and I squirmed for him. "No fair, no fair."

"I think it is very fair," he said and licked behind my other knee.

I laughed, squirmed, and tried to cover the backs of my knees, but my ankles were still trapped in my jeans, so it was like being in soft ankle-cuffs, which meant that squirming around on a marble step wasn't my best move. I fell trying to "get away" from the tickling.

Jean-Claude caught me, but I was trying to catch myself at the same time and we both fell into the water. I remembered to hold my breath as we went through the suds and underwater. I started to try to swim my way to the surface, but Jean-Claude stood up with me in his arms, water and suds streaming off both of us. I was coughing and sputtering. He didn't have to breathe, so at least he wasn't dealing with that. My jeans were soaking wet and trailed down from my ankles, trapping them even more than when they'd been dry. Jean-Claude's careful hairdo was a wet mass, and whatever had been holding it in place was still trying to hold on with the heavy wet curls, so that it was just tangled around his face and neck but wasn't free of the bobby pins, or combs, or whatever.

I wiped suds from my face, and he was trying to blink them out of his eyes because he was using both hands to hold me. Nathaniel and Micah were both laughing. I reached out and wiped the bubbles out of Jean-Claude's eyes and started to laugh.

"The first time we made love I fell into the bath with all my clothes on," Jean-Claude said.

"Well, at least it's just my jeans getting wet this time."

"I have been a ladies' man for centuries. I am truly suave and debonair, except with you, ma petite, except with you."

"I think I told you, it was a hint, that first time."

"You did," he said, and smiled.

Nathaniel asked, "Are your lower legs as tangled as they look?"

"Wet jeans cling like crazy," Micah said.

"We could use the jeans for bondage," Nathaniel said.

I shook my head, laughing. "No, not tonight. I just want to get the jeans off so that I can ge

t in the nice hot bath with the rest of you."

"You do not want me to simply stand here and hold you, ma petite?" Jean-Claude's smile widened as he said it.

"No," I said, laughing.

Nathaniel reached up to take one leg of the jeans and Micah took the other. There were suds in their hair and I realized we'd splashed them when we fell in. We'd also splashed my guns, but lucky for me, the days of having to keep your powder dry so that a gun would fire were long past. Most modern guns could be dragged through water, or even mud, and still shoot.

They got me out of the jeans and Nathaniel tossed them over the edge of the tub to the floor. The fall into the water had broken some of the momentum to rush into sex and gave me time to remember the idea I'd had about the lamia and helping Micah's clients in Florida.

I was still in Jean-Claude's arms when I said, "Have you thought about talking to Melanie about your clients in Florida?"

Jean-Claude put me down into the hot, sudsy bathwater and there was that moment when my body just relaxed into it. It wasn't about sex or anything but my body letting go of more of the stress that I seemed to carry around.

"What did you say about Melanie?" Micah asked.

"She's a lamia," I said.

He blinked at me and then said, "I can't believe I didn't think of talking to her. I've been agonizing about this for weeks and it never occurred to me to talk to her."

"You are talking about the sad shapeshifters that Micah and the Coalition have been trying to help," Jean-Claude said.

I looked up at him from the water, nodding. "I don't know how much he told you, but the lamia is the closest to their type of shapeshifting that I've seen."

"He told me some, but I was more intent on the two of us spending time together, to ease each other's . . . stress, than talking about work." There was something in his voice that made me look up at him again. All the warmth and laughter of a few seconds ago was gone. His face was still lovely to look at, but the cold expression made it more like a statue, a work of art that you could look at but weren't allowed to touch.

I reached out to touch his arm and he actually moved back from me. I knew something was wrong, but it took Nathaniel moving back to join Jean-Claude on their side of the tub before I realized what.

"We're all naked in the bathtub and I'm talking business," I said.