Hit list, p.7
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         Part #20 of Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K. Hamilton
Chapter Seven

  I WOKE TO country music and my arm flung over someone's stomach. That someone was wearing a T-shirt; no one I slept with wore clothes to bed. I felt that someone move as he rose up and said, "Yes, morning. "

  The moment I heard his voice I knew it was Edward, and the night came flooding back. Without rising up, I said, "Who is it? Is it another murder?"

  "It's Donna," he said.

  That made me lift my head and blink at him. It also made me take my arm off his stomach and scootch a little back from him so we weren't touching, as if his fiancee could see as well as hear us.

  "It's Anita," he said.

  Donna's voice was suddenly loud enough for me to hear it. "What's she doing waking up beside you?"

  "There was only one bed. "

  I buried my face in the pillow. That was so not the answer he should have given.

  "Hold on," he said, and he used his phone to take a picture of the mattress and box springs against the window. "I'm sending you a picture that shows what happened to the other bed. "

  "This better be good," she said, voice still loud with anger.

  I glanced at Edward's calm face as he listened to her angry breathing. A few minutes later she asked, "Why is the bed in front of the window?"

  "So that if the vampires and wereanimals we're hunting tried to break in, the bed would slow them down enough for us to start shooting. "

  "What happened?" she asked, but her voice was already calmer.

  "Anita and another marshal were attacked last night. The other woman is in the hospital. I didn't trust anyone else to guard Anita but me. "

  "Of course not, you're the best at what you do. " Her voice got soft enough I couldn't hear her side of the conversation.

  Edward handed the phone toward me, saying, "Donna wants to talk to you. "

  I shook my head vigorously, No.

  He gave me the hard look, which let me know I wasn't going to win this fight. I took the phone carefully and tried for cheerful, or at least not nervous, as I said, "Hey, Donna. "

  "Are you all right?"

  "I'm fine. "

  "How badly was the other marshal hurt?"

  "She'll live. She'll heal, but we're still waiting to find out if she's got lycanthropy. "

  "It was a shapeshifter?" And I could hear the fear in her voice.

  I cursed myself for being careless. Donna's first husband had been murdered in front of her by a werewolf. Peter, who was then only eight, had picked up his father's dropped gun and killed the werewolf, saving both his mother and his little sister. Peter was seventeen now, and in a lot of ways he seemed more Edward's son than Donna's.

  "Yeah, it was, but we're okay. I mean, the other marshal isn't, but she was new on the job, and . . . "

  "How new?"

  "It was her first real hunt. "

  "I'm so sorry. "

  "Yeah, me, too. "

  "Take care of Edward for me and the kids. "

  "You know I will. "

  "I know you'll bring him home to us safe, and he'll do the same for you. "

  To that the only thing I could say was, "We will. " She wanted to talk to Edward then, so I handed the phone back to him. I also went into the bathroom to do morning stuff and give them some privacy. Since when did Donna and he talk every morning? But hey, it wasn't my relationship.

  When I came back out he'd hung up. He looked at me. I looked at him. "That went way better than I thought," I said.

  "Donna trusts you. "

  "She trusts me to keep you alive. She doesn't trust me with you. "

  "She doesn't trust any woman with me. She's a little insecure in that area. "

  I frowned at him. "You give her reason to be. "

  "No, insecure people don't need an excuse to distrust. It's just what they do. "

  "I couldn't live like that," I said.

  He smiled at me. "You're polyamorous, which means many loves?"

  "I've never actually called myself that. "

  He gave me a look. "You're living with multiple men, and sleeping with more, and everyone knows about it - that's about as poly as you can get, Anita. "

  I wanted to argue, but couldn't. I shrugged. "Fine. "

  "None of your men can be insecure or they couldn't be poly with you. " I laughed. "Oh, no, don't believe that there's no insecurity. There is. The hardest part about having this many loves in my life is the emotional upkeep. Trust me, we all have our issues. "

  He looked at me, studying me for a moment.

  "What?"

  "I guess I just thought that you had to be completely secure to be in a relationship like that. "

  "No one is completely secure, Edward. "

  "Not even your Master of the City?"

  "No, not even Jean-Claude," I said.

  He looked thoughtful, then stood up and took his shirt off. "Are you getting dressed?" I asked.

  "Yes. "

  "Do I go in the bathroom, or do you?"

  He frowned at me. "Why?"

  "I'm not comfortable with you dressing in front of me. "

  He gave a half-laugh. I think I'd surprised him. "You live with shapeshifters, and they go around nude all the time. "

  "Seeing my friends and lovers nude is fine, but seeing you nude, no. "

  He studied my face. "It really would bother you. "

  "Yes. "

  He frowned again. "Why?"

  "If I'm having sex with someone it's okay to see them nude, but if sex isn't an option, then no nudity. "

  He laughed, abrupt and surprised. "You're still a prude, and you always will be. "

  "It wouldn't bother you to strip in front of me?"

  "No, why should it?"

  I sighed. "Fine, I'm a prude. I'll go into the bathroom while you dress. "

  "No, I'll dress in the bathroom. " He was still smiling, his face shining with the remains of his laughter, as he gathered up his clothes.

  "Glad I could amuse you after less than two hours of sleep," I said, arms crossed under my breasts in his oversized T-shirt.

  "I guess you're right," he said, as he walked past me. "Everyone has their issues. "

  I had no idea what to say to that, so I didn't try. He went into the bathroom to get dressed, and I realized all my clothes were still in the other room. I hoped forensics would let me back in; otherwise I was going to have to send Edward shopping for clothes for me. Edward had a lot of talents, but I was betting that shopping for women's clothing wasn't one of them.

 
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