I tried to pull away from Richard, but his fingers dug into my ribs. Jean-Claude's arms tightened around my shoulders. "Build the power, do not fight it, ma petite."

I fought the panic, my breath coming in quick gasps. I was going to hyperventilate and pass out if I couldn't get a handle on it. I rode the power and my own fear, and I was losing.

Richard's mouth bit gently at my stomach. His mouth sucking my skin. Jean-Claude's lips touched my neck, nibbling gently. His arms cradled me against his chest. Richard was a growing warmth at my waist. Jean-Claude like some cool fire at my back. I was being eaten from both ends like a piece of wood going up in flames. The power was too much. It had to go somewhere. I had to do something with it or it was going to burn me alive.

My legs buckled, and only Richard's and Jean-Claude's hands on me kept me from falling. They lowered me to the floor, still cradled in their arms. My shoulder touched the ground, then my hand, and I knew what I could do with the power. I felt it surge through the ground, seeking, seeking the dead. I rolled onto my stomach. Jean-Claude's hands were on my shoulders, his face brushing mine. Richard's hands were under my shirt touching my back, roaming higher, but it was all secondary. I had to do something with the power.

I found the dead I needed, and it didn't work. The power continued to build until I would have screamed if I could have gotten enough air. A step, an ingredient, something was missing.

I rolled onto my back, staring up at both of them. They stared down at me. Jean-Claude's eyes had gone solid, midnight blue. They both leaned towards me at once. Richard went for my mouth, Jean-Claude went for my neck. Richard's kiss was almost a burning. I could feel the brush of fangs as Jean-Claude fought not to bite me. Temptation was everywhere. Someone's hand was under my shirt, and I wasn't sure whose it was anymore. Then I realized it was both of them.

What was one thing I needed for raising the dead? Blood. I must have said it out loud: "Blood."

Jean-Claude raised up, staring at me from inches away. His hand was just below my breast. I'd grabbed his wrist without thinking about it. "What, ma petite?"

"Blood to finish it. We need blood."

Richard raised his face up like a drowning man. "What?"

"I can give you blood, ma petite." Jean-Claude leaned into me. I stopped him with a hand on his chest, at the same time that Richard put a hand on his shoulder. The power poured over us in a searing wash, and I was seeing white spots.

"You won't use me to sink fangs into her for the first time," Richard growled it at him. His anger fed the magic and I screamed.

"Give me blood, or get off me." I held up my own wrist between them. "I don't have a knife, someone do it."

Richard leaned over me. He swept his hair back from one side of his neck. "Here's your blood."

Jean-Claude didn't argue. He leaned into him, lips drawn back. I watched in a sort of slow motion as he bit the side of Richard's neck. Richard tensed, a hiss of breath as the fangs sank home. Jean-Claude's mouth sealed over his skin, sucking, throat working.

The power roared through me, raising every hair on my body, creeping through my skin until I thought I'd come apart. I sent it all outward to the dead that I'd found. I filled them up and still there was too much power. I reached outward, outward, and found what I was looking for. The power left us in a cool, burning, rush.

I lay gasping on the floor. Jean-Claude lay on my left, propped on one elbow. Blood stained his lips, trickling down his chin. Richard lay on his stomach to my right, pinning my arm underneath his cheek. His chest rose and fell in great gasps, sweat glistening along his spine.

The world was gold-edged, almost floating. Sound returned slowly, and it was like I was listening down a long tube.

Jean-Claude licked the blood from his lips, wiping a shaking hand across his chin, licking the hand clean. He lay down beside me, one hand across my stomach, his head cradled on my shoulder. His bare chest and stomach lay across my arm. His skin was almost hot, feverish. He'd never felt like that before. His heart pounded against my skin like a captive bird.

His hair fell against my face. It smelled of some exotic shampoo and of him. He gave a shaky laugh and said, "It was glorious for me, was it good for you, ma petite?"

I swallowed, and was too tired to even laugh. "Trust you to know just what to say."

Richard raised himself up on his elbows. Blood trickled down his neck where two neat fang marks showed. I touched the bite mark, and my fingers came away stained crimson.

"Does it hurt?" I asked.

"Not really." He grabbed my wrist, gently, licking the blood off my fingers, sucking them clean.

Jean-Claude's strangely warm hand caressed my stomach under my shirt. He undid the button of my pants.

"Don't even think it," I said.

"Too late, ma petite." He bent and kissed me. I could taste the metallic sweetness of Richard's blood on his tongue. I rose up to meet him, pushing at his mouth. I'd asked for the blood, not either of them. The truth was, we weren't done with the bloodletting today. Whatever I'd called from the grave had to be put back. That would take blood, fresh blood. The only question was who would donate it and how would it be gathered. Oh, one more question, how much blood would we need?

26

Jean-Claude's fingertips slid along the edge of my pants. Richard grabbed his wrist. Anger flared from both of them, and that shared power flickered to life.

"You won't use this as an excuse to get into her pants, either," Richard said. His voice was thick and dark with more than anger. His hand tightened on Jean-Claude's wrist.

Jean-Claude balled his hand into a fist and bent his arm at the elbow. Concentration and anger touched both their faces. I could feel the trembling effort through their chests. Their anger prickled along my skin. It was too soon to do all this shit over again. "You can arm-wrestle later, boys, we've got to go see what I raised from the dead."

There was a fraction of hesitation, then they both looked down at me. Their arms were still straining against each other. Richard's face showed the effort. Jean-Claude's face had gone blank and curious, as if it was no effort to hold off a werewolf. But I could feel the fine trembling through his body. Illusion was all with Jean-Claude. With Richard it was all nerve endings and reality.

"What did you say, ma petite?"

"She said she raised the dead," Richard said.

"Yep, so get off me. You can fight later, but right now, we need to check on what I did."

"We did," Jean-Claude said. He eased away from Richard, and after a second, Richard released his hand.

"What we did," I said.

Richard stood, the muscles in his bare legs moving under the skin, and it was hard not to touch them, feel the movement of him. He offered me a hand up.

"Give me a minute," I said.

Jean-Claude stood as if drawn to his feet by strings. He offered me a hand, too.

They stood glaring at each other. Their anger played through the air like invisible sparks. I shook my head. I seemed to be more worse for wear than either of them, poor human that I was. I'd have actually taken a hand up, which was rare for me. I sighed, got my feet under me, and stood without help from either of them.

"Behave yourselves," I said. "Can't you feel what's in the air? Anger works just fine to call whatever it is, so stop it. We may have to do it again to lay to rest what we've already called from the grave."

Jean-Claude looked instantly relaxed, at ease. He gave a low bow. "As you like, ma petite."

Richard rotated his neck, trying to loosen his shoulders. His hands were still balled into fists, but he nodded. "I don't understand how what we did called zombies."

"I can act as a focus for other animators. It's a way to combine powers and raise an older zombie or more than one or two zombies. I don't know how to do anything else but raise the dead, so when you shoved that much power in my face..." I shrugged. "I did what I know how to do."

"Did you raise all of Nikoloas's old cemetery?" Jean-Claude asked.

"If we're lucky," I said.

He put his head to one side, puzzled.

Richard looked down at himself. "Can I get some pants on?"

I smiled. "Seems a shame," I said, "but yeah."

"I will fetch my robe from the bathroom," Jean-Claude said.

"Help yourself," I said.

"No comment about how it is a shame that I am getting dressed?"

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