In the past few days, I've been working on the last edits for Beyond The Edge, and remembering all over again why I love Anando so much. Here are five snapshots featuring the man himself, including one from Beyond The Edge.
From Out of the Box 3 / Out of the Box Complete Series
“I thought you were going to be good.” I had to struggle to look stern, but it was part of the game. “Who said you could touch me?”
His eyes were sparkling with mischief. “If I were good, I wouldn’t need to be cuffed, now, would I?”
I couldn’t fault his logic. But I could—and I had to—punish his transgression. “If you insist on being bad, there’ll be a price to pay.”
I climbed onto the bed and knelt over his upper thighs. His cock twitched against his stomach.
“What’s the price, then?” he asked.
I clucked my tongue. “There you go again. Speaking without permission. That’s two strikes against you.”
I paused for a few instants, waiting to see if he’d take the bait and speak out of turn again. He grinned knowingly, certainly understanding my game, but held his tongue.
“I think that each time you are bad, I will request one answer from you.”
He sounded both puzzled and wary. It was the first time since I had met him that his confidence had appeared to crack.
“That’s three, Anando. And yes, answers. You seem to know way too much about me already, and I know way too little.”
He gave a small, almost hesitant nod. As a reward, I laid my hand over his slowly softening cock. It sprang back to life beneath my light touch.
“Here’s my first question, then.” It came to my lips before I even realized I knew what I wanted to know. “Do you like it better to tie someone to your bed, or to be the one tied up?”
The caution in his gaze melted back into amusement. I wondered what he had expected I’d ask.
“I enjoy both.” He let out a little hiss when I stroked his cock from root to tip with no more than the tips of my fingers. “Usually I’m in your place at this time, but a change of pace can be nice. Don’t you think?”
Inside, I agreed, but I was the one asking questions. I squeezed his cock gently to remind him of that fact.
“Second question, then.” This time, I hesitated, unsure how he would react to the more intrusive probing. “Have you…have you ever felt something for one of the women you bring here? Something other than lust?”
In a flash, the wariness was back. “I suppose that by ‘something’ you mean love? Haven’t you ever heard that vampires don’t love?”
I had heard as much, of course. It’s one of the most widely known things about vampires. But I’m not sure I have ever truly believed it. Vampires have all been human, at one point; it makes no sense that they would lose the ability to love.
“You’re not answering the question, Anando.”
His gaze locked with mine. I was sure, for a moment, that I had pushed too far and that he would call it all off, right then and there. I was about to back off when he finally answered.
From Out of the Box 10 / Out of the Box Complete Series
She reached the bar just as I was about to leave it. My heart jumped to my throat when I found myself in front of her. I didn’t realize I had spoken her name until she smiled in response.
A flash of guilt rushed through me. I had to make her understand before it was too late; before she started hoping for things that couldn’t be. “I’m not back,” I blurted out.
Her smile faltered, though it didn’t entirely disappear. “You could have fooled me.”
I didn’t know what to reply. I could only stand there, my feet glued to the floor, unable to tear my eyes off her. She was wearing faded jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. No make up, no jewelry, messy hair and still sleepy eyes… As beautiful as ever.
“Would you like to sit down with me?” she asked, a little uncertain, after we had been standing like that for long, awkward seconds.
Words were beyond me. I barely managed a nod. She slowly, delicately took my hand in hers, and when I didn’t pull it free, she led me to one of the booths in the back. We sat on either side of the table, facing each other. I couldn’t tear my gaze off her.
I think it was then that I started realizing it; leaving again wouldn’t be as easy as I had thought.
A waitress came by. Virginia asked for a coffee. I didn’t want anything. I’d had too much to drink, already.
For a few minutes, we did nothing more than look at each other. How strange to have come so far to talk to her, to have such important questions for her, yet to be unable to say a word. I didn’t know anymore if I’d ever ask her, as plainly as I had imagined doing, if she loved me. If she did, it would only be cruel to ask. Just because someone else had been cruel to me was no reason to be cruel to her.
Only when the waitress had returned and Virginia had taken a sip from her cup did she finally ask with a faint smile, “So, how long have you not been back?”
I averted my eyes, turning them to the bar in the center of the room. Leo was serving a customer, but as he finished, he threw a glance in our direction.
“I arrived today,” I grudgingly replied.
“I see.” She took another sip. “And were you going to come and see me?”
“I was planning to, yes, but...” I sighed. I didn’t like that little hopeful light in her eyes; I had better extinguish it right away. “I’m not here to start anything again with you.”
The light wavered but did not wink out of existence. Her coffee cup made a light clinking sound when she put it down on the table. “Why are you, then?”
I didn’t know what to reply. The truth was, I shouldn’t have come at all.
“Anando?” She rested an elbow on the table and leaned her chin against her fist. “I’m beginning to wonder if you’re being entirely truthful. I’m not used to you lying to me.”
“There are cameras above us,” he murmured, his lips brushing against my temple. “Maybe someone is watching us at this very moment.”
I wasn’t sure what caused more sparks of desire to flash through me: his words or his hand as it cupped my left breast, his thumb swiping over my hardening nipple.
I tried to bat his hand away, but it was already moving down, across my stomach, down my hip, and finally under my skirt.
“Anando,” I said urgently. “What are you…”
I lost my voice when he pressed me back against the wall. His body shielded me from anyone who might come down the aisle behind him, but anyone in the side aisles would see that his hand was under my skirt, and those cameras, wherever they were, would certainly reveal what we were doing.
Yes, we. Because I wasn’t idle anymore, I couldn’t be, not when his fingers were sliding along the cotton of my panties, circling my clit and running back and forth along my folds. The fabric was becoming damp under his fingers—as damp as his boxers were against my palm when I slipped my hand inside his pants. I couldn’t move much like this, but I could press down rhythmically against the tip of his cock, so hard under my touch.
“You’re so wet, Virginia.” His murmur caressed my neck, raising goose bumps all over my body. “Enjoying our little field trip, are you?”
I rested my cheek against his shoulder and breathed out a completely unconvincing, “Don’t.” I wasn’t sure whether my voice was shaking more from nervousness or desire. “Someone could—”
“See us?” he finished for me. “Yes, probably. Someone could stop me before I make you come? That would be a shame, but I doubt it. As long as we’re quiet and don’t make a mess, they’ll leave us alone. You can be quiet, Virginia, can’t you?”
I tried to protest again, but somehow, all that came out was a quiet, almost meek, “Yes.”
In reply, his fingers pushed inside my panties and brushed against my folds, spreading my wetness.
I took in a shaky breath and said, as primly as I could manage with his fingers playing with my pussy, “You’re a terrible influence on me.”
And he was right; my hand had stopped, curled over the top half of his cock, the tip pressed into my palm. I started squeezing him in time to the flicks of his thumb, back and forth across my clit. It was all I could do to remain quiet like he had asked, and I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep silent.
At last fully awake, I turned onto my side to watch her sleep. Her hair was a mess, and the light makeup she had forgotten to wipe off her eyelids and lashes was smudged, but to me she looked as gorgeous as ever. Even in her sleep she continued to radiate the confidence that had driven her the previous night. I can’t think of anything that is more attractive on a woman than the poise, the knowledge that she knows what her lover wants and that she can offer it, and much more.
I was careful not to touch her, but maybe she felt my gaze on her, because after a few moments she stirred and, with her eyes still closed, smiled.
“You’re watching me,” she murmured.
I finally let myself touch her, and brushed away a strand of hair that rested on her cheek. “I am,” I replied as quietly. “You’re beautiful.”
It was her cue to make some comment about how she probably looked like a mess, so I could assure her that she had never looked more gorgeous to me. It was all a dance, the steps as familiar as those we took on the dance floor at On The Edge. She said nothing, however, and only smiled a little more brightly as her eyes slowly opened, her eyelids batting like the heavy wings of a still-sleepy bird.
“Are you hungry?” I asked her. “Would you like me to bring you breakfast?”
Her eyes narrowed to slits again as she stretched and made a sound not unlike the purr of a cat.
“Maybe in a while,” she replied after yawning. She shuffled a little closer to me until she was burrowed against my chest, her head tucked in under my chin. “This is nice.”
And it was. It really was. There’s more to being intimate with someone than being inside their body or allowing them inside yours. Close contact, little rituals, innocent touches with no other purpose than to connect: all of it can be as heady as an orgasm.
I held her, closed my eyes, and listened to her heartbeat as it thumped, slow, strong, steady for the two of us.
I’ve never missed my heartbeat; sometimes, I’m not sure I even remember what it felt like to be human. It’s been so long since I walked in the daylight, so long since the sun touched my skin without burning it, that every memory I have from before my turning feels like a half-forgotten dream.
But when she’s in my arms like this, so close that I can’t tell where my body ends and hers begins, it’s a little bit like being human again. I feel warm again. Alive.
From Beyond The Edge
Anando stared at Virginia and waited for the crash of thunder that surely should have punctuated her quiet words. Thunder, heavenly choirs, a dramatic gong, something—anything.
But nothing happened. Virginia continued to look at him, her eyes shiny and a little bit worried, waiting for his reaction.
“Are you sure?” he asked, and the words came out like a croak.
She gave him a small, uncertain frown. “As sure as I can be right now. I mean, those stick things are supposed to be pretty accurate.”
She still held the stick in question, white and blue plastic with little lines in the middle, no longer than her hand. It seemed odd that an object that held so much meaning, that would change so much in their lives, should be so small and innocuous.
“Anando? Say something?”
He blinked and looked up from the stick to Virginia’s face. Her hair was a little wild; she’d been up before dawn that morning, getting dressed in a hurry and leaving without telling him much more than she needed to go buy something and she’d be right back. Even before that, ever since he’d suggested he could take her on a trip around the world, she’d been… not agitated, exactly, but tense. It had taken her a long time to fall asleep. He’d thought he had pushed too hard when asking her to quit and resolved to drop the subject. Apparently, her discomfort had had a very different reason. Anando could hardly wrap his mind around it.
“I… I don’t know what to say,” he confessed.
Dropping down to his knees in front of her, he pushed her shirt up, baring her midriff, and pressed his ear to her stomach. Virginia rested a hand to the back of his head and asked, her smile bursting from every word, “What are you doing?”
“Listening for a heartbeat.”