Read Anita blake 22.5 - dancing Online

Authors: Laurell K. Hamilton

Anita blake 22.5 - dancing (page 4)

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When they were done and he helped his ballerina to her feet, the kid said, “My arms feel like they do after lifting heavy weights. That was a serious workout.”

“You’re lifting a whole person above your head, and making it look graceful and fluid while you do it,” Nathaniel said.

“Wow, is all I can say. I can feel my arm muscles twitching.”

“That means you gave it your all,” Nathaniel said.

The dark-haired ballerina laid a kiss on the kid’s cheek. “Thank you so much, I wish we had guys in our school that were as strong as you.”

He looked at her, and said, “Where do you take lessons?”

The dastardly plan worked better than expected. I heard several little boys asking for dance lessons, and talking about how hard it had been and that they wanted to be stronger so they could lift the girl.

The music changed to something slow and not ballet. Zerbrowski took Katie’s hand and led her onto the floor. He was grinning, she was smiling, and they danced smoothly, gracefully, like they could read each other’s moves before they happened.

“Zerbrowski, you can dance,” I said.

“Ballroom dancing lessons were my present to Katie for our thirteenth anniversary. Give me a few years and even I can learn,” he said as he whirled Katie around the floor.

Nathaniel came to me and held out his hand. What else could I do, I took it, and let him settle me in his arms. I went up on tiptoe since the shoes I was wearing didn’t have the heels of dancing shoes. How did I know how to do ballroom dancing? We’d all learned so that we didn’t disgrace Jean-Claude at the big vampire balls and parties that we sometimes had to do as part of vamp politics. The older and more powerful the vampire, the more they liked spectacle and a show. We’d actually started having a once-a-month dance lesson and ball at Danse Macabre, the dance club that Jean-Claude owned, because he never lost an opportunity to make money off of a necessity. We had to learn the old dances so we could show the other vampires we were civilized. He taught them to humans who wanted to dance with the vampires, politics and capitalism in a nice little package, that was my main vampire sweetie.

There were actually a few couples that joined us, including Jamie and Kevin Appleton. Greg Zerbrowski went back to his ballerina and offered her his hand. She took it smiling and he led her to the dance floor and showed that his dad had taught him more than just how to throw a curveball.

Several of the wives dragged their husbands awkwardly to the dance floor, but a number of them refused. Nathaniel kissed me lightly, and handed me over to Micah, who proved that he could dance, too. Nathaniel went to Jean Forbes and asked her husband’s permission to dance with her. Since he’d refused to do it, what could he do but say yes.

Jean didn’t know how to do this kind of dancing, but Nathaniel was a good partner and led her through the moves while she giggled.

A lot of the boys went and got dance partners, including Matthew, who was out with Becky Appleton. I wasn’t surprised to see Jeannette Forbes with Cyrus, or that he was a lot less happy trying to do this new dance than Matthew was. It was movement to music and Matthew picked it up better than any of the other younger boys. Some of the little girls were leading their partners through rather than being led, and that was okay, too. Dancing like this was one of the places I was perfectly content to not be in charge.

Micah moved me effortlessly, our arms forming the framework to hold our bodies in space and time with each other. I’d hated it when we first started learning, but it was actually relaxing now to follow instead of being followed.

The wives partnered with Nathaniel and Micah, and Zerbrowski and Greg, and even Kevin Appleton. Katie, Jamie Appleton, and I helped some of the husbands out, but mostly they either watched, or drifted away.

The football player stayed to learn with his dark-haired ballerina. Jean got her husband Mitchell to try. He moved awkwardly, but I couldn’t decide if it was because he couldn’t dance, or couldn’t get out of his way enough to allow it.

I’d half expected creepy-but-beautiful Elise to try and dance with Nathaniel, but she wasn’t here. I asked Zerbrowski and found out that Clint and Crystal had confronted her about her lie in front of Elise’s husband, and they’d left with a truly spectacular fight starting between them. Apparently, her husband hadn’t known she’d tried to sleep with Nathaniel. Karma: what goes around comes around, and sometimes it bites.

The rest of us danced. We stayed behind to help the Zerbrowskis clean up after most of the other guests had gone. Zerbrowski did the dishes, whistling to himself as he did it. Like he’d said, seeing Kaitlin that happy had been totally worth it. Matthew fell asleep in the middle of the floor as if his batteries had given out all at once. I thought picking him up would wake him, but he was so deeply asleep that he never stirred as Nathaniel picked him up to carry to the car.

Katie and Zerbrowski both hugged me bye. Kaitlin and Greg were already in their rooms asleep. Katie hugged both my men good-bye, and Zerbrowski shook Micah’s hand and patted Nathaniel on the shoulder.

“You made our daughter’s month,” he said.

Nathaniel smiled. “It was a pleasure, she’s a good dancer, and she was really good helping teach the younger kids.”

“She wants to have her own ballet school someday—after she’s been a prima ballerina, of course,” Katie said.

“Of course,” Nathaniel said, smiling.

We walked out into the humid summer evening, night insects filling the darkness with a high humming buzz. It took two of us to get Matthew fastened into his safety seat, because he was so asleep that he kept trying to slide out, but we got him buckled in and then Micah asked to drive home. He almost never asked to drive, so I gave him the keys. If he’d been one of those men who always insisted on driving I would have fought him, but Micah didn’t try and control, so I didn’t have to fight to keep control. Life is like dancing, sometimes one of you leads, sometimes the other, and if you do it right it’s beautiful, even when it’s hard.

 

Keep reading for an excerpt from the latest Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novel

AFFLICTION

Available now from Berkley Books

 

My gun was digging into my back, so I shifted forward in my office chair. That was better; now it was just the comforting pressure of the inner-skirt holster, tucked away underneath my short royal blue suit jacket. I’d stopped wearing my shoulder holster except when I was on an active warrant as a U.S. Marshal. When I was working at Animators Inc. and seeing clients, the behind-the-back holster was less likely to flash and make them nervous. You’d think if someone was asking me to raise the dead for them that they’d have better nerves, but guns seemed to scare them a lot more than talking about zombies. It was different once the zombie was raised and they were looking at the walking dead; then suddenly the guns didn’t bother them nearly as much, but until that Halloweenesque moment I tried to keep the weapons out of sight. There was a knock on my office door and Mary, our daytime receptionist, opened it without my sayingCome in, which she’d never done in the six years we’d been working together, so I wasn’t grumpy about the interruption. I just looked up from double-checking my client meetings to make sure there wouldn’t be any overlap issues and knew something was up, and knowing Mary it would be important. She was like that.

She’d finally let her hair go gray, but it was still in the same obviously artificial hairdo that it had always been. She’d let herself get a little plump as she neared sixty and had finally embraced glasses full-time. The combination of it all had aged her about ten years, but she seemed happy with it, saying, “I’m a grandma; I’m okay looking like one.” The look on her face was sad and set in sympathetic lines. It was the face she used to deal with grieving families who wanted their loved ones raised from the dead. Having that face aimed at me sped my pulse and tightened my stomach.

I made myself take a deep breath and let it out slow as Mary closed the door behind her and started walking toward my desk. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I didn’t want to tell you over the phone with all the clients listening,” she said.

“Tell me what?” I asked, and fought the urge not to raise my voice. She was about one more uninformative answer away from getting yelled at.

“There’s a woman on line two; she says she’s your future mother-in-law. I told her you weren’t engaged to my knowledge, and she said that she didn’t know what to call herself since you were just living with her son.”

I was actually living with several men, but most of them didn’t have families to use words like son. “Name, Mary, what’s her name?” My voice was rising a little.

“Morgan, Beatrice Morgan.”

I frowned at her. “I’m not living with anyone named Morgan. I’ve never even dated anyone with that last name.”

“I didn’t recognize it from your boyfriends, but she said that the father is hurt, maybe dying, and she thought he’d want to know about his dad before it was too late. The emotion is real, Anita. I’m sorry, maybe she’s crazy, but sometimes people don’t think clearly when their husband is hurt. I didn’t want to just write her off as crazy; I mean, I don’t know the last names of everyone you’re dating.”

I started to tell her to ignore the call, but looking into Mary’s face I couldn’t do it. I’d trusted her to screen callers for years. She had a good feel for distraught versus crazy. “She give a first name for her son?”

“Mike.”

I shook my head. “I’ve never dated a Mike Morgan. I don’t know why she called here, but she’s got the wrong Anita Blake.”

Mary nodded, but her expression looked unhappy. “I’ll tell her that you don’t know a Mike Morgan.”

“Do that. She’s either got the wrong Anita Blake, or she’s crazy.”

“She doesn’t sound crazy, just upset.”

“You know that crazy doesn’t mean the emotion isn’t real, Mary. Sometimes the delusion is so real they believe it all.”

Mary nodded again and went out to tell Beatrice Morgan she had the wrong number. I went back to checking the last of my client meetings. I wanted to make sure that no matter how long it took to raise each zombie, I wouldn’t be too late for the next cemetery. Clients tended to get spooked if you left them hanging out in graveyards too long by themselves. At least most of the meetings were historical societies and lawyers checking wills, with the families of the deceased either long dead or not allowed near the zombie until after the will was settled in case just seeing the loved ones influenced the zombie to change its mind about the last will and testament. I wasn’t sure it was possible to sway a zombie that way, but I approved of the new court ruling that families couldn’t see the deceased until after all court matters were cleared up, just in case. Have one billionaire inheritance overturned because of undue influence on a zombie and everybody got all weird about it.

• • •

Mary came through the door without knocking. “Micah. Mike was his nickname as a kid. Morgan is her name from her second marriage. It was Callahan. Micah Callahan’s mother is on line two, and his dad is in the hospital.”

“Shit!” I said, picking up the phone and hitting the button to put the call through. “Mrs. Callahan, I mean, Mrs. Morgan, this is Anita Blake.”

“Oh, thank God, I’m so sorry. I just forgot about the names. I’ve been Beatrice Morgan for eighteen years, since Micah was twelve, and he was Mike to us. He didn’t likeMicahwhen he was a little boy. He thoughtMikewas more grown up.” She was crying softly, I could hear it in her voice, but her words were clear, well enunciated. It made me wonder what she did for a living, but I didn’t ask. It could wait; it was just one of the thoughts you have when you’re trying not to get caught up in the emotions of a situation. Think, don’t feel, just think.

“You told our receptionist that Micah’s dad was hurt.”

“Yes, Rush, that’s my ex, his father, was attacked by something. His deputy said it was a zombie, but the bite isn’t human, and it’s like he’s infected with something from it.”

“Zombies rarely attack people.”

“I know that!” She yelled it. I heard her taking deep breaths, drawing in her calm. I heard the effort over the phone, could almost feel her gathering herself back. “I’m sorry. When Mike left us he was so horrible, but Rush said he’d found out that Mike did it to protect all of us and that some of the people had their families hurt by these people.”

“What people?” I asked.

“Rush wouldn’t tell me details, said it was a police matter. He was always doing that when we were married, drove me nuts, but he said that he’d found out enough to know that other wereanimals in that group had their families killed, and Mike had to convince them he hated us, or they would have hurt us. Do you know if that’s true? Does Mike want to see his father? Does he want to see any of us?” She was crying again, and just stopped trying to talk. She hadn’t been married to the man for nearly twenty years, and she was still this upset. Crap.

I was remembering that Micah’s dad was a sheriff of some flavor, and now his mom was telling me that somehow the dad had found out more about Micah and his animal group than I thought anyone with a badge, besides me, knew. I’d had to kill people to rescue Micah and his group, and I hadn’t had a warrant of execution, so it was murder. I was a little leery that Sheriff Callahan apparently knew more about it all than I’d thought. I knew that Micah hadn’t talked to his family in years, so how had his dad found out, and how much did he know?

It was my turn to take a deep breath and make myself stop being so damn paranoid and deal with the crying woman on the other end of the phone. “Mrs. Morgan, Mrs. Morgan, how did you know to call here? Who gave you this number?” Maybe if I made her think about something more ordinary she’d calm down.

She sniffled and then said, in a voice that was hiccupy, as she tried to swallow past the emotion, “We saw Mike in the news as the head of the Coalition.”

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