(Now back to where, and when, we left Nick, Janette and Chance…)
Nick and Janette sat on the couch in the corner of the office. His appearance hinted loudly at their earlier…activities. His hair was mussed and his shirt was untucked and unbuttoned down to the fourth button. Janette also seemed slightly tousled, but she at least maintained her usual amount of refinement. Both were, however, very flushed (for vampires). In the silence that now hung between them, Nick felt the guilt returning. Guilt over using her to ease his frustrations…guilt over cheating on Natalie. Finally, he spoke, his voice rough with emotion. He began to tell her about his “close call” with Nat on Saturday. How he’d wanted the kiss to go on forever. Yet at the same time, he’d wished she was somewhere else instead of in his arms.
Janette listened intently for several minutes. She knew full well why he had come to her instead of Natalie Lambert. Nat was mortal, and her involvement with Nick was hard on him. He couldn’t seem to handle being close to her…because he was afraid he would kill her. Janette had heard all his excuses before, and quite frankly they ceased to illicit strong emotions from her. Instead, she was both amused and delighted that he kept coming back to her for comfort and to relieve his frustrations. Knowing that he came to her bursting with sexual and vampiric passions and left her with a calm and peaceful heart satisfied her immensely. It also renewed her hopes that someday he would be hers again for all time. Until then, she could suffer through this Natalie-phase.
“Nicolas,” she whispered breathily, “please be silent…you’re spoiling the mood.” With that, she leaned over and kissed him, cutting off the words of protest which came to his lips. Her kiss wiped away all the guilt as Nick felt passion rising in him again. His arms tightened around her and his mouth sought hers with hunger.
At that moment, however, a sound reached their ears from the hallway behind them. It was Chance, calling out, “Nick? Detective Knight? Where are you? I’m ready to leave now.”
The two vampires sprang apart. As Nick struggled to make himself look presentable (trying to tuck in his shirt and button it at the same time), he called out to the other man.
“We’re in here, Chance! The office at the right.” Moments later, Chance stepped into view, an awkward expression on his face.
“I’m ready to leave now,” the photographer repeated.
Nick noted with some surprise that the other man looked extremely nervous. He wondered what had happened while he and Janette were…distracted. Had one of her patrons been a little too friendly with Chance?
Nick frowned, both upset with himself at choosing to bring him here in the first place, and annoyed by the photographer’s interruption.
“I’m not quite ready to leave yet. Janette and I have some things we need to talk about.” The words came out more curtly than he’d intended, but he softened a little when he saw the concerned look on Chance’s face. The other man was genuinely frightened.
It would be better to get him out of here before he starts figuring things out…if he hasn’t already, the vampire admitted to himself.
“Look, um, why don’t you just take the Caddy for the night? I won’t be using it until I go to work tomorrow anyway, and I’ll send someone over to get it before then.”
Chance frowned. “But then how will you get home?”
At this point, Janette turned to the photographer with a sly, satisfied smile. “Oh, don’t worry about Nicolas…I’ll take care of him.”
Nick reached for his coat, dug in the pocket, and threw Chance the keys.
“Are you sure?” the photographer asked uncertainly.
“Positive. Just take good care of it.”
Chance nodded and disappeared as quickly as he could from the doorway, leaving Nick and Janette to whatever plans they might have for the rest of the evening.
the next day…
Nick awoke at about ten AM with a nagging feeling in the back of his mind. His passion had gotten the better of him again, and this time the only person who could bail him out was Nat. Calling her, however, was not something he was looking forward to. He hated lying to her, but he knew he stood a chance of losing her if she ever found out where he was.
Sliding from the bed, he glanced back at Janette’s sleeping form before reaching for the phone. Dialing Nat’s number, he half-hoped she wouldn’t pick up. She did.
“Ummm, Nat…it’s me, Nick. Good morning,” he said, trying to sound cheerful. At best, he sounded barely awake. Which was rather close to the truth, since he’d only been asleep (or resting, rather) since nine. Janette, on the other hand, had fallen asleep almost instantly. It was his guilt which had kept him awake longer and had woken him before he really fell asleep.
“I let Chance Harper borrow my car last night so he could check out the night life for his photo essay. I thought maybe you could go get it for me.” This was partially true, Nick rationalized. There’s no need to tell her everything just yet.
“Sure,” Nat replied, sounding slightly confused. After all, it was a strange request. “Should I drive it over to the loft when I pick it up?”
He turned pale. It was a good thing she couldn’t see the look on his face, as he looked a little like death itself. “No!” he said too quickly.
“No? What’s wrong, Nick? Don’t you want me at the loft today?” Nat sounded suspicious. “Is there something there you don’t want me to see?”
“No…I didn’t mean to snap at you, Nat. I…” He thought for a moment, unable to come up with a good excuse. He yawned suddenly, an idea coming to him. “It’s just that I’ve been up all morning thinking about what happened the other day at work…what happened between us, I mean. I haven’t slept at all since yesterday. Why don’t you keep it for the day and drive it in to work? I’ll meet you after our shift is over and take you home. How does that sound?” His last question sounded hopeful. Nick was hoping she would both buy his excuse and accept the offer to go for a drive with him–even if it was just to her place.
“Why, Nick! I’d love to drive the Caddy for a day! Thank you so much…I’ll see you tonight.” As she hung up, the glee in her tone added weight to his guilty conscience.
Hanging up the phone, Nick stood there for a while, his head hung in shame. How could I have lied to her? he asked himself.
Janette, having been awakened by the sound of his voice, slipped from the bed where she’d been studying his body language. Walking over him, she slipped her arms around his waist. “Nicolas, darling, are you well? You look ill,” she asked, feigning ignorance.
“I just got off the phone with Nat. She’s going to pick up the Caddy for me.” He sighed. “I lied to her, Janette. I told her she couldn’t bring the Caddy to me at home because I was too tired…not because I wasn’t even at home.” His voiced wrenched with torment.
Nick pulled out of her arms and walked over to sit on the bed. *Her* bed…the bed they’d shared since the Raven closed in the wee hours of the morning. He looked depressed, all slumped over, holding his head in his hands dejectedly.
Janette joined him on the bed, stretching out like the lioness she was. Slipping her arms around him once more, she drew him closer to the center of the bed…and closer to her. “If talking to Natalie depresses you so, Nicolas…simply don’t do it anymore,” she said sweetly.
“It isn’t talking to her that depresses me. It’s lying to her,” Nick protested, even though he knew what she meant.
“But Nicolas…try to see it this way…your lie has saved Natalie some heartbreak. It was a justified lie,” she said, trying to ease his guilt.
Nick hesitated for a moment, then he smiled slightly. “You’re right, Janette. It was justified. I feel better now.” With that, he kissed her gently before snuggling into bed beside her. He was asleep within minutes, a peaceful smile on his face.