|Author||Laurell K. Hamilton|
|Cover artist||Jody Ake|
|Series||Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter|
|Genre(s)||Horror, Mystery, Erotic novel|
|Publication date||June 1, 2010 (Berkley edition)|
|Pages||368 p. (Berkley edition)|
|Followed by||Hit List|
The book is set five years after Guilty Pleasures. Matthew, who was born after the events of The Killing Dance, is now three. Narcissus In Chains happened over two years ago. The events of Blood Noir are referred to as having happened "this past summer", and Skin Trade, which came after Blood Noir, is said to have been almost a year ago, although this is not necessarily a contradiction if the events of Bullet are set in spring.
"The triumvirate created by master vampire Jean-Claude, necromancer Anita Blake, and werewolf Richard Zeeman has made Jean-Claude one of the most powerful vampires in the U.S. He's consolidating power in himself and those loyal to him, doing in America what Belle Morte did in Europe when she was at her height of power. She almost owned Europe, and there was those who are determined that Jean-Claude won't do the same in America. Jean-Claude's motives may be kinder, but as any lawyer will tell you: motives matter, but you're just as dead.
Assassins are coming to St. Louis to kill them all. Anita knows they're coming, but even being forewarned doesn't mean you can win."
Bullet takes place in St.Louis, MO in the Summer based on descriptions of clothing and comments on the heat.
Anita is attending a dance recital after work for Monica Vespucci's son Matthew, Nathaniel, Jason, and Stephen. Everyone in Jean-Claude's entourage is in attendance for this event, with the exception of Richard, who because of his job can't afford to be outted as something other than human. There are performances from children as young as two years old up to high school seniors. Jason, Stephen, and Nathaniel helped elevate their dance partners' performances to new levels of excellence. It brings many of them to tears.
As the crowd disperses to find their talented loved ones, Anita and Micah try to locate Nathaniel. During the congratulatory greetings, Nathaniel kisses Micah. They had shared kisses privately before, but never in public. Anita notices in the commotion that Asher is furious. Jean-Claude, Asher, Wicked, and Truth make their way back to the Circus of the Damned by limo.
Meanwhile, Anita, Micah, J.J. and Vivian wait for Jason, and Stephen after the show. Vivian reveals she would like to have a baby with Stephen if the weretigers are able to help her fellow wereleopard Gina keep her baby. Stephen is afraid of having children due to his abusive father. This makes Anita realize she is afraid to find out if Micah and Nathaniel wanted to have children.
Once they make it back to the Circus, they find Asher threatening to leave St.Louis with Narcissus and the wereHyenas if Jean-Claude will not return his feelings and be with him intimately. It is a strategic power move, threatening Jean-Claude's power base. No one knew that Jean-Claude and Asher were not having sex. Jean-Claude feared Anita's reaction, but also that Asher would roll him completely, making him his slave, as he almost did in the past. Jean-Claude states that if Anita is present, he and Asher can once again be lovers. To the total shock of everyone, Richard shows up so that their triumvirate can once again be complete. After a sharing of power, Richard agrees to going to bed with the three of them.
Before getting down to business, Richard explains his change of heart. He'd been in therapy for several months trying to work out many of his deep seated issues. The other leaders in the Were-community had held an intervention to discuss how his behavior was hurting everyone. He takes the time to apologize to Jean-Claude and to Anita for his actions over the years and vows to make things better from now on. The mood begins to transition and they begin a sexy BDSM scene.
After feeding the ardeur and dropping their shields, they are met with the scent of roses, jasmine and a vision of Belle Morte and Padma, Master of Beasts. They have been possessed by the Mother of All Darkness, who everyone thought had perished in an explosion almost a year ago. Their ardeur being too well fed, Belle and Padma begin calling Anita's beasts. To keep herself in one piece, Anita draws upon the power of both her triumvirates and all those she is metaphysically connected to for protection. Padma explains they must destroy Anita because she has grown too powerful. She gains powers from every vampire that ever attacked her. Inadvertently, Padma helps Jean-Claude understand how to keep powers gained when they are attacked and bind the two triumvirates into one power. They learn that each member of the Vampire Council has been possessed by Marmee Noir, with the exception of The Traveller. Jean-Claude, Anita, and Richard help to free Belle of the Dark Mother's influence and the vision fades.
Max, the Master of Las Vegas calls almost immediately after they are free of the vision. His wife, Chang Bibiana along with all the other tiger clans' Changs, had woken up from a nightmare about the dark trying to eat them. In order to defeat the darkness, they must find a new Master of Tigers, one to harness the powers of all the clans. They believe that Anita and Jean-Claude can become this. Bibi has sent her son Victor, Cynric, (the only known blue tiger in existence), Rick, and others on a plane headed for St.Louis. She is placing all of her faith in Anita, believing that with all the power she could stand to inherit, Anita will not allow herself to be corrupted by it.
Once Anita is off the phone with Chang Bibi and Max, Augustine, the Master of Chicago calls. He too is angry that Marmee Noir is still alive and that she attempted to possess him as well. He tells Anita that in order to better secure their power base, she needs to tame Haven. He also believes that if Jean-Claude were allowed to sleep with a female Were of a cat-based group it would help Anita better control her cat-based animal groups. Anita isn't sure how she feels about Jean-Claude sleeping with another woman, but welcomes the idea of him helping her control the cat-based groups.
They all clean up and meet with Haven and the WereLions in the living room. Haven's rage over not being Anita's Rex has clouded his ability to sense truth from lies and suspects that Anita has slept with Travis and Noel. Because of this he has beaten both badly, Noel close to death. Anita attempts to heal Noel using the power of the triumvirates, and the werelions, including Nicky. The massive amount of power raised helps to save Noel, but in giving over that much power, it has broken down their shields once again. They were left with the intense craving to tear Noel apart and it wouldn't have stopped with him. They had given up their control and the Morte d'Amour, full of the possession of Marmee Noir, chose this moment to strike. Anita, Richard, and Micah beg for Jean-Claude to change the bloodlust and beast's hunger into something else to save them all from certain death. Instead of becoming a meal of death and destruction for the Lover of Death, they raised the ardeur. But with the amount of power raised, it exploded out into the room.
Anita wakes in Jean-Claude's living room to find herself covered in bodies and with eight vampire bites. Relieved to have woken up at all with that many bites, she and Jean-Claude see that the ardeur spread beyond the living room as there are bodies scattered all over. Richard wakes next and upon touching Anita and Jean-Claude, they are all assaulted with a brief flashback of the previous night's activites. They all acknowledge that sex was a better alternative than slaughtering each other as Morte d'Armour and Marmee Noir had wanted and that they must do whatever they can to protect themselves and the U.S. from the Vampire Council. And that boils down to creating a council in America with Jean-Claude as the leader. It's become a race to see if the Vampire Council can conquer or kill them before they have enough power to stop them.
While they are in the guest bathroom cleaning up, Haven attempts to join Anita in the shower. Wishing she'd been able to find her weapons, she dresses quickly. They talk and she tries to explain that his lack of seeing the big picture hurts his pride and everyone else around them as a leader in St.Louis. He admits that as Rex he doesn't care about his lions, only Anita, and says that he refuses to share his Regina with anyone. He won't believe that she'd only ever slept with Noel the previous night. Their conversation continues but it becomes clear that Haven just doesn't understand Anita and isn't willing to compromise to make things work so he can be her lion. In a last ditch effort, she explains why she didn't roll him the way she rolled Nicky, but makes it clear that he shouldn't make that her only option.
After spending more time searching for weapons in the living room with Nathaniel, Anita is grabbed by Noel and they share a flashback. They all continue searching for belongings, when Haven strides in naked and fresh from the shower. Seeing Noel and Travis standing near Anita infuriates him. Anita, Claudia, and werelionesses Kelly and Rosamond all fight Haven to defend the younger, weaker wereLions. Rosamond, then Kelly go down first. Claudia gives Haven a run for his money until he cheats by grabbing a gun and shooting her in the arm. Anita has a .357 magnum she found on the floor and shoots Haven in the chest while others join in to take him down. As her hearing returns, she realizes that her shoulder pain is due to Nathaniel's being shot. Noel has been shot in the head while saving Nathaniel's life and can't be saved this time. Even with all the damage Haven took, he is healing and would recover. He admits to Anita he had aimed for Nathaniel on purpose because she loved them all more than she loved him. Three close range shots later, she is blinking blowback out of her eyes. Once she makes it to the showers, Anita breaks down and Richard is there to comfort her.
In a shock induced daze, Anita sits on the edge of the Jean-Claude's bed while he blow dries her hair. Richard beings her fresh coffee. Anita's mind struggles to come to terms with what has just happened and she finally demands Jean-Claude to explain to her how this came to be. Richard and Jean-Claude both explain that Haven wanted to hurt Anita the way she had hurt him, emotionally, not physically. Haven had never loved anyone in his life before Anita, but his brand of love was based on possession and ownership. Because he couldn't control Anita and make her love him more than all her other men, especially those he viewed as weak, he wanted to kill Nathaniel.
Jean-Claude states, "You love me, I know that, but the thought of Nathaniel dead and gone, the thought of how close you came to losing him today, that is the thought that turns your skin cold and makes you unwilling to feel." Anita explains that she would have this reaction if either of them were lying injured in the other room. Richard finally understands the cost that protecting everyone has had for Anita over the years, but admits he'll never be a shooter. She explains that she didn't kill Haven because he was too dangerous to be left alive. She killed him because it was the only thing she could do to honor the brave sacrifice made by Noel and because as long as Haven lived, Nathaniel wouldn't be safe. And she would do anything to keep him safe. Richard and Jean-Claude continued to hold her as her crying turns into screams.
While Anita visits Nathaniel in the CotD hospital room, Damian comes into the room bringing a tray with coffee and food. After a brief argument about how she didn't want to eat, Damian convinces her that Nathaniel needs it to heal faster so he doesn't drain them both of energy. Anita is advised to eat even more than normal and curl up next to Nathaniel and get some extra rest to help their triumvirate be at their best without being a pain in the ass about it. Easier said than done.
After a Haven-related nightmare, she wakes up and Nicky, back in human form, comes into the room to check on her. Moments later, Anita's phone rings and it's the Werelion Rex, Jacob Leon, warning her that he's just turned down an assassination contract on her, Jean-Claude and Richard. He is calling to help Nicky, but also because he's been partially rolled by Anita and can't resist calling to warn her; this angers him greatly. She mentions that they are in need of a new Rex and Jacob fears that if she demands it of him, he wouldn't be able to refuse her request to come to St.Louis. Finding out that he had waited 48 hours to call them, Anita commands him to call immediately next time and to be given a number where he can always be reached. Because if his delay causes them trouble, she'll call on him to come help them out of it. After hanging up, Nicky and Nathaniel ask Anita what the plan is. "Kill them, before they kill us," she says.
Having gotten dressed to go start warning everyone of the new threat, Anita and Nicky make their way outside the room, where they run into Graham and Stephen. While feeling around with that part of her that's connected to so many people, she realizes that Richard has left the Circus. Even worse yet, Shang-Da and Jamil are inside the Circus instead of with their Ulfric. She contacts Richard mind-to-mind to warn him of the threat. He is on his way home from his lunch date when he finally agrees to come back to the Circus. However, while they were still linked, he is shot in the chest. Anita falls to her knees unable to take a breath and gasps, "shot." The assassins have managed to hit his lung, but his heart still beat strongly in Anita's head.
To save all of the triumvirates, Jean-Claude shuts down the link between Anita and Richard. They don't have enough energy to spare Richard without one of them dying. There is no time for sex either. Thinking fast, Shang-Da and Jamil urge Anita to use their energy to save Richard in the way they had witnessed her take Chimera's life force (the power she had gained from Obsidian Butterfly, Izpapatlotl). She begins to feed on the very essence of what made Jamil's body move and function and it feels good. The power pouring into Anita flows into Jean-Claude and he re-opens the link to share the power with Richard. Shang-Da bravely switches places with Jamil. With so much power, Anita shares it with all of the injured wereanimals within the Circus to heal them. In order to bring Jamil and Shang-Da back from the shriveled live corpses she'd just reduced them to, Anita reverses the process by calling on her necromancy and gains even more power from this. However, Shang-Da and Jamil are now terrified of her.
Damian and Jean-Claude's eyes are just as black and filled with stars as Anita's and she knows that whereever Richard is, his eyes are the same. This power creates the kind of rush that is highly addicting and even Damian remarks that it is almost as good as blood. Anita realizes that the only thing that keeps her from becoming a monster with this kind of power and not giving in to the rush it gives are her choices. But there's always tomorrow and another chance to choose.
Moments later, her cell phone rings and it is Marshal Finnegan in Atlanta, GA requesting that she view a crime scene video. They want her to figure out why the events happened and get back to them ASAP. Jean-Claude allows her to view the video while their eyes return to normal so they can meet their Were-Tiger guests. As servants of Anita's will, Damian and Nicky are allowed to view the video with her because they won't be able to reveal to anyone what they have seen.
When Anita reaches the computer room, Valentina is alone using a PC. She is irritated that no one will "play" with her and that Anita refuses to give her anyone to torture as Belle Morte had done. Once she is gone, they check the computer to see what she was looking at. The screen fills with the most gruesome crime scenes, torture, and war time casualty photos imaginable. Both Damian and Nicky suggest that Valentina be killed because it's only a matter of time before she really hurts someone. Torture is her only passion; it is the only thing on her mind. After 800 years of practice, Valentina is the perfect interrogator. Not wanting to think about putting little Valentina down like a rabid animal, Anita turned her attention back to the crime scene video footage.
The vampire lair is horrifically littered with bodies that were broken, bruised, and left to bleed out. Vampires have been shot up and wading in pools of blood. But Damian and Anita figure out that the Master of the City of Atlanta was a rotting vampire, descendent of the Lover of Death. Frantic, Anita dials Marshal Finnegan back to warn him and the executioner Morgan that removing the head and heart of the Master would not kill this type of vampire. And come nightfall, all of the vampires will rise and continue the killing spree. They needed flame throwers to torch the entire crypt. But before anyone can do anything, an incident occurs and Clayton, the Master of the City of Atlanta, has Morgan's cell phone in his possession. They speak only briefly, but Anita now knows that Clayton intends to continue the slaughter so his true master can feed from the death.
After filling Finnegan Marshal in on the current situation, Anita has no time to recover from her rage, as she answers her phone again. This time it is Jake, wolf to call of one of the Harlequin, who gave Anita a charm to protect her from Marmee Noir. The turn of events is so sudden, Anita barely had time to catch her breath. Someone is targeting weretigers and Jake is seeking safe shelter for his group while also offering to come back and work as extra security for the Circus. He will tell Anita everything as long as he can first speak with her privately to keep those who know the truth to a minimum. Anita informs Nicky that he alone will accompany her to meet Jake and that he is to kill him if he harms her.
To protect the lives of those in the triumvirates, Anita, with only Nicky, faces Jake in Asher's office. Jake explains The Mother of All Darkness wanted the gold weretiger clan to be destroyed, but a few of them were hidden in various parts of the world, waiting for another Master of Tigers who isn’t evil. He also tells them the dark secret that Marmee Noir used to possess all of the council members centuries ago, though most do not remember. The council had the illusion of fairness in judgment, but they were all her puppets. However, some members were harder to control than others and this has proven to be true even now. The Harlequin are split in their allegiance and are privately at war with one another. The Mother of All Darkness isn’t dead and is trying to turn the council back into her puppets. Those against The Dark Mother are hoping that Anita and Jean-Claude can become Master of Tigers. They need Jean-Claude to gain powers as well so he can head the council in America. Jake states that it's crucial for Anita to bond with one of the gold tigers as soon as possible so she and all the tigers can become more powerful and have a chance against those who wish to kill them all.
Clayton, the Master of the City of Atlanta, emails Anita a gruesome video of him murdering a female crime scene tech and more officers and dares her to do something about it. She's able to get Finnegan on the phone and tells him they need cadaver dogs and a flame thrower team to kill Clayton. Even though Anita wants desperately to go to Atlanta to help, she knows it is too dangerous for her to be out on her own with Mommie Dark and the assassins after her.
With Nicky in tow, Anita explains the Atlanta situation to Jake. He tells her he can help save the people in the other US cities with Masters of the City that descend from Morte d'Amour, if she'll pick one of his "kittens." In response to one of Nicky's comments, Anita asks Jake how much he knows about the Bride phenomenon. He replies that it's really rare and only seen in bloodlines descended from the Father of the Day, e.g. Belle Morte or the Dragon. Therefore, it's an ability that Mommie Dark doesn't have. Jake realizes that she's stalling to delay meeting the Tigers, so he suggests she have Jean-Claude assist her.
While the Tigers wait in the living room, everyone else is with Anita in Jean-Claude's bedroom. Before they can discuss which Tiger to choose, Micah notices that Anita's skin is cool and she seems like she's going into shock. She allows Nicky and Damian to relay what happened in Atlanta. Jean-Claude draws Anita into a hug stating that she's given herself no time to recover after dealing with so many recent horrific events. Angrily, she says there isn't time to give for that since she has to choose a tiger ASAP. In that moment, she hates all of them.
Gingerly, Nathaniel comes forward, palms up and suggests she work out so the anger has some place to go. Meeting a room full of weretigers angry is not a great way to start. Carefully he convinces her to come with him. On their way out, he tells them all that they should choose the Tigers they all like best, but ultimately Micah should choose. After Nathaniel explains his rationale, everyone agrees and he, Anita, and Nicky file out of the bedroom.
Once in the large cavern that had been transformed into a gym, complete with a track around the outer edge, Anita, Nathaniel, Nicky, Stephen and Gregory stretch out for their run. It becomes apparent that everyone needs to tread carefully around Anita, because her anger could flair at any moment. Their running group took to the track. Anita begins to focus on just her body and the movements required to continue to run and lets everything else slip away. She tells Nathaniel to speed the pace a bit and after two laps at this new pace she tells him to "kick it".
The four of them, Anita, Nathaniel, Stephen, and Gregory begin to run around the track so fast everything begins to blur. It's faster than Anita ever thought she could run. They take a cool down lap and return to the side of the track where the bodyguards are cooling down with Nicky after their group's run. Ares, one of the werehyena snipers, had earlier teased Anita about not being able to keep up with their running group due to her short stature and it had raised her anger, causing him to sense it and back off in fear. Now that she's blown off some steam, he is back at it, only calling her amazing running ability, "not bad".
So she challenges him to a test of stamina by punching the heavy bag after their run. Lisandro, one of the wererat bodyguards, sets the rules and starts taking bets. Ares is seriously arrogant and the bodyguards, having seen Anita with the heavy bag, they all know better than to bet against her. With the majority of the guard being wererats, they call her Negra Gatita or Black Kitten, as a sign of tremendous respect.
Ares and Anita both have a heavy bag a piece and after being taped up they begin the competition. Ares is fast and flashy; Anita is accurate and punishing. Everything for Anita begins to narrow down to the bag and her movements. Eventually she stops to take off her padding to feel the impact of each blow more, because right then and there, it's what she needs. She just needs to hit the crap outta the bag and forget about everything else. She beats the bag with every part of body that she can throw into it until her vision blurs and all she can see is grey with white stars. Grabbing hold of the bag finally out of exhaustion, she peeks to see that Ares is sitting against the wall. Anita has won. Utterly weary from the physical exertion, Anita on all fours manages to sit up. Realizing she wouldn't be able to spar today, Fredo, another of the wererat bodyguards that has been teaching Anita and the other guards how to fight with a knife, takes the rain check offered to him from Anita.
Freshly showered, dressed, and armed with knives and guns, Anita is as ready as she's gooing to be to meet the gold weretigers. She literally dreads adding yet another man to her already full dance card, but it can't be helped. She must bond with one of them and she needs Jake's group to help save more innocent people from being killed by descendents of Morte d'Amour's bloodline.
While in the kitchen drinking a chocolate protein shake, Anita feels she has a roaring emptiness in her head, similar to the place she goes when she kills. It lets her know that whatever is wrong with her, isn't fixed. Just then, her phone rings and it's Micah. She admits that she's feeling better, but states she feels nothing about the whole Tiger situation, which of course is very unlike Anita. He says they've narrowed it down to three Tigers, one being a girl. Even that doesn't move her. At the end of the conversation, Micah tells her that he loves her and she says the same, but feels nothing. It's as if that thing that allows her to feel has died inside her.
Nathaniel's phone rings next and it's Micah calling him to check up on Anita, which once upon a time, would have pissed her off royally. But right now, she is fresh out of trying to impress anyone. After hanging up, Nathaniel and Anita talk candidly about her shock-like behavior. She still feels very much at fault for allowing things with Haven to get so far out of hand. She feels as though she has failed the werelions and because of that she doesn't want to add more wereanything.
Nicky, Stephen, Gregory, and Dino, another of the wererat bodyguards, join the conversation. They help her understand that the situation with Haven couldn't have been helped any other way than her killing him sooner. He had failed his Pride as Rex; the werelions are weak because of him. His obsession over Anita clouded his ability to sense that those around him, e.g. Travis and Noel were telling the truth about their connection with her. He was the type of guy that couldn't accept that she just didn't want him if he couldn't share. He wanted to believe it had to be another guy's fault, so he picked on Travis and Noel and hated Anita's other men, especially Nathaniel and Micah.
Beginning to understand now that Haven had been lost either way they looked at it, she still struggles with the loss of Noel. After she realizes that Nathaniel feels horrible about Noel's sacrifice on his behalf, she begins to see that it was Noel's choice, and no one's fault, but Haven's. Nicky snaps them back to the present by reminding them that guilt isn't sexy and they have to be charming when they meet the gold weretigers. Before they leave the kitchen, she confronts Nicky about his fear of her after seeing what she'd done to Shang-Da and Jamil in the hallway. He states that although the energy felt amazing and that he'd do anything she asked of him, he'd rather not be the wereanimal she'd be using for energy.
Anita doesn't like that her allies like Shang-Da and Jamil are now afraid of her. Dino paraphrases Machiavelli, "it's better to be loved than feared. But if you can't be loved, then fear will do." He knows she still feels like a monster after what she did to Haven . Anita says she feels like a monster because she was able to look into Haven's eyes and shoot him, the same eyes she'd looked at during sex. Realizing she's dealing with Catholic guilt, Dino offers one more quote, this time from Nietzsche. "Is it better to outmonster the monster or be quietly devoured?" Anita decides she will not be quietly devoured and votes monster. One by one, they all voted monster.
As they enter the living room to meet the gold weretiger clan, it looks like an island centered between all of the rock walls of the cavern. The drapes had been taken down and the carpet cleaned with bleach to clean up the blood stains. Richard, still in wolf form, Micah, and Asher came to greet Anita. Neither Asher or Richard seem happy with their guests, but there was no time to ask for specifics.
Upon reaching the loveseat, Jean-Claude speaks mind-to-mind to Anita telling her he senses that these tigers are not like the others, but something is different. Facing them in the two overstuffed chairs, are two male gold weretigers. The one with curly blond hair and pale brown eyes is called Pride and the other with straight blond hair and pale blue-hazel eyes is called Mephistopheles. They both possess arrogantly handsome, golden tan faces.
Pride's cousin Envy walks in with Damian and Cardinal. She is also a gold weretiger with long yellow and white hair and blue and gold eyes. She is tall and curvy. It's clear to Anita that Envy is afraid of her. Anita asks both Pride and Mephistopheles if they are virgins after asking if Mephistopheles had a nickname. They aren't, however, Mephistopheles defends them by stating they had been trained to meet the needs of every vampire bloodline. Combat for the Dragon and Lover of Death, sex for Belle Morte, the others lines are either weak or nonexistent. It is decided that perhaps a kiss will do to figure out if their tigers are compatible, but sex may be necessary. Anita's reaction to this angers Mephistopheles and Anita's gold tiger subtly makes her presence known.
Envy, Mephistopheles, and Pride all notice her change in scent. In a test to see if she is worthy to be their master, Mephistopheles tries for Anita's gun and in the blink of an eye has the gun pointed at his chest. He's impressed since no human and few vampires would've been able to see that he was going for their gun. The Tigers then feel the need to prove their worthiness to Anita, to which she is still feeling very apprehensive about, but decides that she can tolerate a kiss. Both Pride and Mephistopheles strip off their shirts to help her figure out who smells best. As they moved in closer, Anita put her hands up to slow the advance, but that proved to be a mistake.
All of the tigers inside of Anita began to sniff the air and circle around her gold tiger. The two Were Tigers touching her began sniffing her skin. The experience leaves Pride in chills and he backs away from her exclaiming that it isn't possible. Mephistopheles and Envy both came to Anita; Envy leaning over her upturned face to kiss her. Jean-Claude slides an arm around Envy's waist pulling her away from Anita. Mephistopheles then embraces her and stating that they're supposed to be proof against vampire powers, but he wants her to touch him and he wants to touch her. Indecision makes Anita's head swirl. Jean-Claude begins urging them to go to the bedroom as his progress with Envy is reaching the point of no return. Nathaniel declares he wants to watch and Micah watches with calm eyes. Whatever they are going to do, they need to do it soon.
In the midst of all this, Richard, still in his wolf form, begins to pout and Anita exclaims she doesn't need him making this any harder than it already was. As Mephistopheles nuzzles her breasts, she reaches for Micah's hand and on contact, all of her inner beasts look up at once making her smell like everything all at the same time. It dawns on her why it is she was never able to bond with Haven or any other animal king; because Micah had already filled that slot. Seeing his sadness, Anita and Micah tell Mephistopheles there is room for him, but not for another king. Micah reaches out and touches the other side of Mephistopheles' face and their leopards pour into him.
Meanwhile, Richard, shifts back into his human form. Struggling with then gaining his control over his emotions, he tells Anita that he knows he was supposed to be her king. At that he turns to join Jean-Claude and Envy. Having used up the part of herself that wasted energy feeling jealous over Richard, she is reminded why Micah is the one holding her hand.
Jean-Claude insists that sex must take place to make the tigers theirs, but it is Anita's decision. Richard's vote is to make them theirs as he trails kisses up Envy's thighs. Anita, Micah, and Mephistopheles are still locked arm-in-arm, Mephistopheles on his knees in front of them, feeling the warmth as their beasts wove in and out of each of them. The energy between them spikes when Anita watches Richard's and Jean-Claude's progress with Envy. The likelihood of them giving her a double orgasm due to Richard's actions and Jean-Claude's bite, makes Anita think to look for Asher's whereabouts. She calls him over to their group and Jean-Claude breathes "Thank you, ma petite," through her mind, and though she is a little jealous, she is content, because there is plenty of love and sex to go around.
Wicked, Nicky, and Nathaniel follow Anita, Micah, Asher, and Mephistopheles into the bedroom. Wicked and Nicky serving as protection from the still unknown motives of the well-trained were-tiger. Micah embraces her. Suddenly tense about the situation, she realizes that she wasn't bothered at all by seeing Jean-Claude and Richard with another woman and that's the real reason why she feels this way. She enjoys seeing Envy with Richard and Jean-Claude; she finds Envy very attractive. She would like to see one of her other men in the middle with herself and another woman and she is perturbed by that as well. She feels she should be jealous, but is upset that she isn't. The whole revelation is disconcerting to her. Nathaniel hugs her, explaining that she can't use this as an excuse to get out of having sex. Micah and Nathaniel explain they need to make Mephistopheles theirs and to do that they need to have sex with him which was key when she bound Nathaniel and Damien to her. Perhaps it is because her vampire feeds through sex, but they needed to act now and worry about the specifics later.
Asher, Micah, and Mephistopheles go to bed with Anita, in a scene similar to the one earlier with Jean-Claude, Envy and Richard. Nathaniel joins them. Meanwhile, news of what happened in Atlanta had spreads through the vampire community and people are now ready to give up their power to Jean-Claude. "It was as if the power and loneliness of the vampires’ world had combined with the group-oriented puppy-pile world of the shapeshifters and made something new." Jean-Claude has a plan and the first part of that is a party to introduce her and Jean-Claude to the tiger clans now that they had a gold tiger bound to them. Anita hates the thought of the dress they have chosen for her, but she is persuaded that it is important to go and cement Jean-Claude's new relationships. They reserve the gold tigers for later because they expect the Harlequin's spies to be present. Since they always appear masked, no one would recognize them by their faces. At the party Anita meets Victor, the son of the Master of Las Vegas and his girlfriend Julia, both of whom are white tigers. Anita faces down a challenge from Julia and the other tigers in the room submit to her as well, including Domino and Cynric.
Anita finds a powerful black tiger in the room who turns out to be a spy for a Harlequin vampire who is controlling her remotely. She gets the tiger, named Jade to submit to her by having sex with her, a new activity for Anita. She uses the ardeur which can see into the mind, the heart, the soul, to the thing you want most and wants to give you, your heart’s desire. Jade wants to be free of her abusive master. She has been sent to spy along with another tiger, a golden one with a kinder master. The Harlequin have broken with the Vampire Council and are running from the Mother of All Darkness -- this news, which she learns when her mind melds with Jade's, pleases Anita.
A red tiger named Reba also challenges Anita, and she takes the males Reba claims to command away from her, and then forces Reba to change to her tiger form. Anita and Jean-Claude announce that they are powerful enough to be the Master of Tigers. Someone says they lack only gold and this is their cue to bring on the gold tigers. They bring out Dev and Envy who decide to stay with Jean-Claude and Anita, because they wantt he alliance to work. The other golden tigers sort of haven't decided yet, and Topaz, the golden with the kind Harlequin master, goes back to him. Morte d’Amour is still loose and still carries Marmee Noir inside him, but he’s stopped trying to take Anita and J-C over.
Bullet introduces the following characters.
- The Mother of All Darkness is blamed for the ardeur-fueled orgy in Skin Trade, when Anita was forced to have sex with Cynric, Domino and Crispin (among other people), but although the original idea came from Marmee Noir and she did it to Anita both before and after, it was the Father of the Day who was behind that particular event.
- Anita and Jean-Claude are told to have been a couple on and off for five, almost six years. However, the events of Guilty Pleasures are said to have been five years ago, and they didn't actually start dating back then yet, unless she's counting from when Jean-Claude started chasing her.
|Anita Blake Series|
|Novels||Guilty Pleasures • The Laughing Corpse • Circus of the Damned • The Lunatic Cafe • Bloody Bones • The Killing Dance • Burnt Offerings • Blue Moon • Obsidian Butterfly • Narcissus in Chains • Cerulean Sins • Incubus Dreams • Micah • Danse Macabre • The Harlequin • Blood Noir • Skin Trade • Flirt • Bullet • Hit List • Kiss the Dead • Affliction • Jason • Dead Ice • Crimson Death • Serpentine|
|Short Stories||Magic Like Heat Across My Skin • Blood Upon My Lips • The Girl who was Infatuated with Death • Those Who Seek Forgiveness • Selling Houses • Beauty • Dancing • Shutdown • A Girl, a Goat, and a Zombie • Wounded|
|Comics||The First Death • Guilty Pleasures & Handbook • The Laughing Corpse • Circus of the Damned|