Anita sat in the first class seat believing that if she had to fly this was the way to go. Leave it to Edward to open her up to this experience. He had decided to leave Albuquerque with her in light of the note Olaf had left behind with the professor. Anita needed a crazed serial killer wanting her to be his girl friend and sidekick right now like she needed more stitches. She was nobody's Bonnie to their Clyde that much was a certainty.
She felt Edward's hand close over hers on the armrest bringing her to look at him instead of the clouds. She gave him a slight smile comforted by his warmth, by the knowledge he knew of her fear of flying and didn't ridicule her for it. "I'm fine," she said realizing what an enigma this man Edward, Ted was. They could kill one another on a moment's notice without regret, yet both knew that a part of the other one would be missing without the other here.
She hadn't had much time to dwell on her reasons for disliking Ted being engaged. It wasn't just the children whose lives he would be altering either. She believed that when he ended things with Donna that he would do it in such a way that Becca and Peter wouldn't be harmed by the separation.
He had mentioned something about Anita being his soul mate and while she knew it wasn't a romantic thing, she couldn't help but feel that a part of her would be lost if he was married to someone else. Her connection to Edward in some ways was more serious than the connection she shared with Jean Claude and Richard. There were no preternatural elements involved; they were just simply enough alike that they fit together.
That thought caused her to laugh to herself. He wasn't a monster in the true sense of the word, at least the sense of the word that he and Anita had come to taken it to mean over the years. She knew that it bothered him that she slept with two of the monsters they both hunted. But yet, he was a monster too. He just wasn't preternatural, the undead, a lycanthrope or anything else. He was your ordinary average Joe who was a hunter, a predator, a stalker, and a killer.
Anita was glad that she had so far avoided being his prey. She knew without a doubt had he accepted the contract out on her life that she'd be dead now. While she was still wary of him sometimes, she would have let him into her apartment without a thought. He could have drawn a gun on her and she would have thought it was just another new toy to show her or gift her with.
It would have been that simple for him, because when it came right down to it, Anita trusted Edward. She trusted that neither would go behind the other's back if it came to wanting the other dead. It would be like in one of those old westerns where they had a shoot out in the middle of town. Whoever drew their gun fastest and delivered the killing shot first would be the victor. That's how it would go down between them, neither would surprise the other.
Edward just needed someone different than Donna. True, she had come through in the end for Becca and Peter, but Anita wasn't convinced the transformation would last. She'd see what happened when the next crisis came along.
She must have dozed off because the next thing she knew the plane was landing. Edward had decided for safety purposes it would be best if they flew into Chicago and worked their way southwest to St. Louis by car. Anita wasn't altogether sure why exactly this was best or safest, but Edward knew Olaf best.
She had worked hard since her accident to keep the blocks in place so that Jean-Claude and Richard could not access her mind. She felt pushes every once in a while, and knew that one of them was trying. She assumed they would realize she was okay since her blocks were back in place and secure.
Edward checked them into a hotel, separate but adjoining rooms. Anita knew it was yet another attempt of Edward's to protect her from Olaf. The doors adjoining their suite remained closed, but both had unlocked their respective door once inside. Anita stood with her back against the door more frightened than she cared to admit.
A human stalking her, hunting her wasn't quite the same as the undead or something else preternatural. Humans weren't supposed to stalk her. She wondered if Edward found it as odd as she did that he was taking her to Jean-Claude in order to stay safe. She didn't particularly like it, but she understood his reasoning. Olaf would be hard pressed to get into the bowels of the Circus. She just hoped Jean-Claude realized it was a temporary situation.
At first it had struck Anita as odd that Edward had chosen Jean-Claude over Richard. He had liked Richard up until learning that he was a lycanthrope. Now that she had time to think on it, though, it wasn't surprising in the least. Jean-Claude would move heaven and earth if he could to keep her safe. Would Jean-Claude risk his life for hers? There were times she thought that he would not, but inevitably she believed he would. And if he did not want to or decided not to it would be after much thought. Anita didn't believe Richard would give himself up for her.
She took a quick shower, made an attempt at managing her curls without the proper equipment or hair products and then knocked on the door leading to Edward's. They had agreed to get dinner before retiring for the night. She was glad, she didn't want to be alone with her thoughts and fears when she knew she'd be unable to sleep.
Even without Jean-Claude with her physically or otherwise she found herself ordering food and wine with him in mind. If Edward noticed he said nothing, and at the last minute Anita changed her order of a glass of wine to a beer just to prove to herself that she could.
"So do you really think he's going to come after me, Edward?" They were standing in front of her hotel room now. She really didn't like the idea of going to Jean-Claude out of necessity, to have to stay with him. It was tempting fate far too much, tipping the scales in his favor too far. She believed Edward knew this too, but Edward had to find Olaf he couldn't worry about Anita at the same time. He, like Anita, knew Jean-Claude would keep her safe.
"Olaf wouldn't have left you the note if he wasn't going to, Anita. He may never actually approach you. He may just enjoy hunting you, watching you, stalking you and knowing that you'll never feel safe again."
"Thanks for sugar coating it for me."
"I don't believe in sugar coating things, not this sort of thing and not where you are concerned." He ran his thumb along the security code strip on the key card briefly. "Maybe you don't believe all those things I said, but they were true. I'm not so sure my life would be quite the same if you were gone."
"If I were Donna I'd be jealous hearing you say those things about someone other than me."
He smiled widely, for a moment his eyes readable and warm. His arms slid around her waist and he slid the key card into the slot on her room's door, opening it. His arms didn't move from being around her though, he merely extended a foot to keep the door propped open. "She is jealous of you," he said amused. "And you're not her."
"You don't think I'm capable of feeling jealous?"
"No, that's not what I meant. I don't think you were jealous of her, I think you were shocked at first."
"And after the shock wore off?"
"I think you just didn't like her, there was nothing menacing behind it."
"She's weak." She struggled slightly against his embrace, testing it more than anything. "Edward," she said softly her eyes meeting his.
He guided her into the room, his body pressing up against hers giving her little choice but to move backward.
"Am I frightening you," he asked as the door latched closed behind them. Instinctively, he went to the set of doors adjoining their rooms and listened on the other side before opening the door. There was no one there; he left the door open so the doorway leading to either room was open.
Edward looked at her, one brow above his blue eyes rose slightly in question. She sounded relieved. He stepped toward her, his hand cupping her cheek, taking some curls in between his fingertips. "I should be."
"You don't frighten me, Edward."
"This is different, Anita, and you know it." His voice was low with a husky tone to it that sounded foreign even to him.
"We shouldn't be doing this, Edward. One thing I've always liked about you, about us, is there was never this between us."
"Maybe I've never given much thought to losing you before now."
She laughed lightly and then stopped abruptly when she realized he was serious. She had just barely stopped laughing when he kissed her. Her head begun to spin slightly, she felt heady. So this was what it was like to kiss a human. She had forgotten what it was like. There was no attempt to possess her, no attempt to meld her mind with his, no attempt to do anything but merely kiss her. His hands caressed along the length of her spine, his fingers moving through the length of her hair. He was gentle, and Anita briefly wondered if this was Edward or Ted kissing her.
"It's been a long time since I've kissed a woman who knew me."
She looked up sharply, her lips still warm from his kiss. "How did you know I was thinking that?"
"Thinking what," he frowned slightly.
She shook her head resting her forehead against his chin. "I was just thinking which one of you it was kissing me. I've never thought of you as being a sexual being before, Edward."
"I have needs like any other man, Anita."
"Yes, well I guess I suspected somehow that the thrill of the hunt and the kill fulfilled you somehow."
He laughed, a full blown and hearty laugh. "Ah, Anita, you are so na´ve sometimes. I forget that about you every once in a while." He pressed a thumb to her lips.
"I'm not that na´ve, Edward. Once upon a time I was, sure."
"I don't mean in that sense of the word, Anita. I just mean that here you have been sleeping with and spending time with the Master of St. Louis and his lycanthrope friend and yet you think I'm a non-sexual being."
"Well, no, that's not really what I thought about you. I just assumed you took care of your needs like you do everything else, efficiently without thought for the other person."
"That hurts, Anita."
She smiled slightly, the pad of his thumb surprisingly smooth and gentle along her lower lip. "Sorry."
"No, you're not." His hands moved to rid him of his shirt.
"Uh, Edward, doesn't it matter whether I want to do this?"
"But you do, and I have to defend myself after all. I can't have you thinking I leave my women unfulfilled."
Anita felt the heat of a blush sweep over her and with it the heat of arousal that she had come to know well begin to sweep through her. Damn her body for betraying her in that way. It had been too long, and she had to admit Edward at least wasn't some guy she went to a bar and picked up or something. But at the same time it was Edward. Would things change between them? "You are so vein, Edward."
"Well, you didn't like Bernardo and you didn't take the cop up on his offers."
"I'm not yours to pimp out, Edward."
"I never said you were, but I still think you need to get over the monsters and come back to your own kind. We're alike you and I, so why not me? You would have hurt that poor cop anyway."
She laughed lightly. "Yes, I think I would have, which is why I stayed away from him."
"I know that, Anita, and I tried to tell him that without giving away any of your secrets."
"No problem. You never know when you may need his help somewhere down the road, it's best to leave things on good terms."
"I'm sure you had my professional interests in mind when you spoke with him."
"No, not really. I was hoping," he shrugged and kissed her again.
"I know what you were hoping, Edward," she said amused. "What about Donna?"
"What about her?"
"It's one thing to be unfaithful to her, but we know one another. Doesn't that make a difference at all?"
"Not really. I don't love her, Anita, not in that way anyway. I love her kids, there's a difference. And it's not like you're going to be coming over for Sunday barbeque or anything. Chances are you won't see her again. And chances are this won't happen again."
It would be so easy to give in mentally as her body physically seemed to have already done, but this was Edward. It was that thought that made her push away. "I can't, Edward," she whispered hoarsely, almost apologetically. Why did she feel bad? Wasn't he here to protect her? She hadn't agreed to this for any other reason, she had never led Edward on. After all, in a way, she'd still be sleeping with one of the monsters if she let him do this. At least she loved Jean-Claude and Richard in her own way she didn't love Edward, she wasn't going to marry him and he could never accept all of her.
She looked up at him, his bright blue eyes smiling at her and she felt relieved. "You're not upset?"
"No, I'm disappointed I won't deny it. I thought for a moment there you were going to go with it. It would have been good, Anita."
"I'm sure it would have been, but it's still wrong. Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire, that's what I'd be doing with you."
He smiled widely. That was it, no response otherwise to what she had just said, which made Anita feel better. He knew she was right.
"We're friends, Edward, we've never crossed that line before now and I think it's best that we don't. One day, we both know it, we may have to kill the other one. I don't know that I could shoot you with sex between us."
"That's the big difference between us, Edward, and I'm sorry, but I at least need some sort of emotion from someone if I'm going to have sex with them. I know that you respect me, but it's not enough."
He stepped toward her, his hands moving to her shoulders and he kissed her again. "I know it's not, for you. I was hoping for tonight you could put it past us. A part of me is glad to know that you didn't honestly despite my disappointment."
Anita frowned and drew back. "Give me your word, Edward, that you're not going to come in here while I'm sleeping and finish this." As soon as she'd said the words that way she regretted them and the look of hurt and disbelief on Edward's face wasn't punishment enough. She had just accused him of being a rapist. "I'm sorry, Edward, that's not what I meant. I just need to know that this is finished. That you're not going to be like Jean-Claude and push me feeling eventually I'll give in."
"That's an idea, it did work," he said with a slight lift of his lips despite the disdain and dislike he felt for the other man. He shrugged his shoulders and stepped away, going to the doorway that joined their rooms. "It's not my style, so you have nothing to worry about, Anita. No is no, and I've got enough to worry about then thinking on a daily basis whether you're going to break down and shag me."
He laughed lightly. "Yeah, I was trying to be tasteful about it."
"Oh, is that all it'd be to you, shagging?"
"I won't lie to you and say it would have been much more, but no it wouldn't have been just shagging, Anita. You're probably the one person of the opposite sex who knows the true me and still cares to call me friend. It'd be interesting to see what it's like to shag someone who knows me, all of me."
If he was trying to make her feel a little guilty it was working. She could understand what he was saying. Jean-Claude and Richard both wanted something from her, Edward did too but all Edward wanted was some genuine acceptance on every level. She would like some of that, too. The only difference was that there was parts of her Anita didn't believe Edward would ever accept.
"I suppose I shouldn't have said all this and I hope that my trying doesn't send you running in the other direction from me, Anita. I can forget this happened if you can."
"I think you can forget it happened a lot easier than I can, Edward, but that doesn't mean I can't. It just means you're far better at burying things than I am."
"It's part of my charm," he smiled wryly and turned to go to into his room. "Good night, Anita. Forgive me."
"No problem, Edward. I can forgive you for this. I'm not so sure I can forgive you for handing me over to Jean-Claude, though."
He leaned against the doorframe and peered at her, his arms crossed over his chest. "It's the only place I can think of to keep you safe while I'm out searching for clues as to where Olaf might be. I can't bring you with me, it'd be too dangerous."
"I know, Edward. I know."
"You can be strong, Anita, I know you can. Jean-Claude will leave you alone if you truly want to be left alone. That part is up to you and something only you can decide for yourself. I may not care for the man particularly much, but I know he's no more a rapist than I am. At least not sexually and not with you."
"Are you accusing him of raping me other ways?"
"Yes, he has. He talked to you in the hospital, Anita. There was no telephone in your room. There's only one way he could have communicated with you. Whatever this human servant relationship you have with him is, it's left you open to his mind probes."
"It was only because I had been hurt and unable to keep my barriers up. I haven't been involved with either of them, Edward, for months."
"I know and I believe you, I never said I thought you were being untruthful with me. But he's still in you, a part of you, in a way no other man can be. And that has ruined you I think for any others. You couldn't even take the gift I offered you in Bernardo, a chance to experience a human. And now me. It's not lack of need, Anita, I could see it in your eyes when talking to Bernardo and Ramirez, and a moment ago with me. You want to, but you're afraid or just unable."
"Well, Edward, it's kind of hard to compete with a man who's been doing this for over four hundred years and one who can shift parts of his body at will."
He rolled his eyes with a shake of his head. "That was probably more than I needed to know, but I see your point. Find a monster that I like and perhaps I wouldn't be so critical and negative. I just don't like him, he's using you."
"Oh Edward, I know why you're saying that." She sat on the edge of the bed, exhausted now. "At first that is what it was, he wanted my power and I know that. He wanted me merely because I said no to him and it had never happened to him before. But I haven't been with him in quite some time and he still worries for me, still wants me, he already has my power, has the power I bring to him by being his human servant and a part of the triumverate." She shook her head realizing Edward wouldn't understand all this talk.
"What of what Obsidian said, that you are weakening him by not having sex with him?"
She frowned slightly, hoping she wouldn't have to think on that for quite some time. She was supposed to apologize to him, beg his forgiveness but Anita wasn't sure she would go to that extreme. "I don't know," she admitted her eyes looking at him with uncertainty and a little bit of fear. "I can't stand the thought of being responsible for bringing about his downfall in any way, Edward. She might be lying."
"I don't think she was."
Anita was surprised by his response. "I don't think she was either," she admitted hoarsely. "I need to go to bed, Edward. I need to think on this without you here pushing me, guiding me. If I didn't know better I would believe you were trying to get me to go back to sleeping with Jean-Claude."
"If it would keep you safe, I think you should."
"Olaf won't know what and who he is, Anita. He doesn't believe in your world, our world. If you can make Jean-Claude stronger, enable him to protect you better and that's how you have to go about getting that strength and the offered protection it brings then do it."
"I don't believe you of all people is saying this."
"Me neither," he admitted. "Good night, Anita. Think about it. You enjoy his company, I saw the way you ordered dinner tonight even without him it was with him in mind."
"I changed my mind."
"Yes, you did, out of spite not for necessarily wanting to change it. You wanted to prove to yourself, and to him, that you could."
She rubbed her temples before removing the knives fastened at each wrist, laying them on the bed. "Good night, Edward. This is more than I can handle right now. I'll think on it, I promise."
"That's all that I ask, we have a bit of a drive ahead of us tomorrow, so think on it all you need to."
He closed the door leading from her room, leaving it ajar and retired to his own room for the night.
He returned to the room a moment later. "Does he know what you eat? Can he taste it? I mean, was there a third person enjoying our dinner together without my being aware of it?"
She blushed slightly, ashamed to admit she had let down her blocks enough to share her meal with him. She knew how much he enjoyed their meals together. "Only because I let him, yes."
"Interesting. Good night again, Anita."
"Good night, Edward."
Story ©Susan Matthews/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com