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Tiresias's Dilemma

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Harry?" Ivy's voice broke and trembled over the phone.

"Did something happen?" The hairs on the back of my neck came up, worry sweeping through me.

"I'd like to contract your services." She ignored my question.

"Of course," I agreed, before my brain caught up with me. How could I possibly help the Archive? Whatever it was, it was sure to mean trouble, but that didn't stop me. Ivy was a friend.

"How soon can you be here?" She sounded harried. "I'm at the JW Marriott."

"Wait? You're in Chicago?" I asked, surprised.

"Obviously. How soon?" I could feel the tension in her voice, though she hid it well.

"Ten minutes," It was too early in the morning for rush hour to be quite over yet, so the Beetle was out, but there was a Way close to the Loop. I tried to avoid the Nevernever for the most part, but for Ivy I was willing to make an exception.

"Good."

"Are you alright?" I asked, before she could hang up. I didn't like the weariness in her voice.

"Yes," Ivy said after a slight hesitation.

"But?" I prompted her.

"You'll see when you arrive."

"Where's Kincaid?" I asked.

"He-he's here," Ivy stuttered. The alarm bells in my head went crazy. Ivy did not stutter. "He's unconscious," she went on. "Hurry up, please." She hung up before I could reply.

I stared at the phone in my hand for a second, before the meaning of Ivy's words caught up with me. Stars and stones, it took power to even put a dent in Kincaid. Whoever was after Ivy was bad news. I jumped into action. I put on my leather mantle and gathered my weapons (all of them) as well as a couple of useful potions and Mouse. It was enough to start a small war. I just had to hope that it'd be enough to win one, too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That Marriott was—well, let's just say I was pretty sure that their smallest room cost more for one night than my whole month's rent. I left Mouse outside. As it was, I was probably down-classing the lavish decor just by virtue of my presence, but I didn't let it stop me. One of the receptionists gave me a polite yet dubious look that turned friendly and helpful the moment I mentioned Ivy's name.

A concierge took me to her room. The poor guy kept trying to engage me in small talk, but I was too busy trying to keep my magic in check, terrified that the elevator would break mid-way to Ivy's floor. I had wanted to take the stairs but the concierge had blanched when I suggested it, desperately pointing out that Ivy had one of the penthouse suites. So the elevator it was.

The door flew open before I had finished knocking, and Ivy threw herself into my arms. "Harry, you're here!" she cried.

I hugged her awkwardly, not really sure where to put my arms when confronted with a handful of very powerful—yet obviously scared—pre-teen. My life, I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

"It's going to be all right," I said. It was the same lie parents the world over used to soothe their children's fears, but it had always made me feel safe, when I was young.

"Thank you," Ivy said, straightening up. She composed herself, all traces of emotion disappearing from her face. She tipped the concierge, whose presence I had almost forgotten, and urged me into the room.

"What happened?" I tried asking again once we were alone, hoping that this time around she'd be more willing to answer.

"We were attacked by Denarians," she said in a clipped, firm tone.

I stopped dead in my tracks. "Are you alright?" I had to fight down the need to go to her and check for any kind of injury.

"I'm fine," she said. "There were just two of them." She sounded far away, lost in memories. She shook her head, snapping back to the present. She opened the room's safe and handed me a small, sealed bag. "Give this to Mr. Carpenter. He'll know what to do with them."

Lasciel's sigil burned hot in my hand. Even through the bag, the two coins felt warm to the touch.

"Are these...?"

"Yes," Ivy said crisply.

"The hosts?" I inquired, curious despite my better judgment.

She looked at me, fearless. "Dead."

I nodded in acknowledgment.

"They caught us by surprise," Ivy continued. "Mr. Kincaid jumped in front of the curse they aimed at me." She paused, unable or unwilling to carry on. "I thought they had killed him. I might have overreacted."

I shrugged. "They got what they deserved. Is he still unconscious?"

Ivy nodded, her little face deadly pale. For a second I was terrified she would start crying. "May I see him?"

"Of course," she said. "Follow me." She led me into an adjacent room. The sheer magnitude of the place took me aback. I didn't know hotel rooms could be this big. I'd seen smaller houses.

Kincaid lay on a huge bed, curled on his side, facing the wall. Someone, probably Ivy, had placed a blanket over him. Blond locks of hair, sprawled over the pillow, were the only part of his body that could be seen. He looked deceptively small. I had to fight the sudden urge to go to him and check for injuries. Ivy would have done it already.

"Do you want me to look after you while Kincaid is out of commission?" I asked her.

Her eyes narrowed, and the room filled with her power. "I can take care of myself," she snapped.

"Then what is it you want?" She wouldn't have called just to give me the coins. She could have gotten rid of them herself.

"I still have some business to attend in town. The reason I came here—No, I can't tell you what it is," she said, nipping my curiosity in the bud. "I want you to look after Mr. Kincaid in my absence."

The idea was ludicrous. Kincaid was ten thousand times deadlier than me.

"I also want you to figure out a way to counter the curse they threw at him. I've been able to identify it, but there have never been any written records on how to counter it," she informed me. "I don't know what to do."

"What curse was it?" I glanced at Kincaid's prone figure, itching to go to him and pull the blanket away, wondering what I would find underneath.

"Tiresias's curse," Ivy answered.

The name sounded oddly familiar, but I couldn't quite place it. "That doesn't tell me anything," I admitted.

"It's a rather obscure curse. There aren't many records of its use. The prophet Tiresias was its most famous victim," she said. "It changes the victim's gender. Tiresias spent seven years as a woman, before he was permitted to regain his male form."

"But you're already a woman." I frowned. "Why would they want to—"

"It changes gender, Mr. Dresden. The Denarians wanted me to become a boy. Had they succeeded, all the knowledge stored in my mind would have been lost," Ivy said. "Only a woman can be the Archive."

That was . . . a Denarian thing to do, I realized. "Does that mean that Kincaid is—"

"A woman?" Ivy finished for me. "Yes, I'm afraid so. I don't know when he will wake up. I need to attend to my meeting. You're to stay here and keep an eye on him. I'll pay for your services, of course."

I wanted to tell her that she didn't need to, but I remembered I was a month behind on the rent and although being a Warden paid, it wasn't quite enough. I swallowed my pride and nodded. "I'll start looking into a counter-curse immediately."

"I have to leave," she said and primped her dress. Her gaze lingered on Kincaid, and for a moment she seemed like a scared little girl and not the powerful magical being she truly was.

I didn't want her to leave without protection. "Mouse is waiting outside the hotel. Take him with you," I offered. "You don't know if there are more of them."

"Oh, really? You'd let me take Mouse with me?" she asked, a faint trace of her usual excitement shining through in her tone. "I promise I'll take great care of him. Thank you so much! I'll have the whole day to talk to him," she said, clasping her hands. "Do you think being a Foo Dog is as complicated as being the Archive?"

"I wouldn't know," I said. I had enough trouble being just me.

"I'll ask Mouse," she said. "He'll tell me. Goodbye, Mr. Dresden."

I shut the door behind her and hurried back to the bed. I pulled the blanket away and stared at Kincaid. He looked like a woman. Even though I'd known what I would find, it still managed to surprise me. He—or more accurately—she looked so normal. If I hadn't known better, I wouldn't have been able to tell that magic was involved.

I extended my senses, trying to identify the source of the curse and was surprised when I couldn't find anything. It just didn't make sense. Changing someone's gender wasn't easy. It was black magic—the blackest kind. There was a reason why 'Thou shalt not transform others' was the Second Law of magic. That kind of change left damage behind. Yet there was no sign of psychic trauma, no blood, not even a single bruise.

I leaned forward and pushed Kincaid's bangs away, wanting to get a closer look at his face in case I was missing something. Kincaid opened his eyes. One moment I was looking at him, the next I was on the floor, sprawled on my back, the wind knocked out of me. Kincaid was straddling my chest, the tip of a very sharp knife digging painfully into my throat. I stayed utterly still, too afraid to even breathe.

"What are you doing here?" Kincaid asked. He paused, and I could see the moment the higher, feminine sound of his own voice registered, giving him pause. "Where's Ivy?" he asked next, even though I was sure that wasn't what he wanted to know.

"She left," I said, trying to avoid making any sudden moves. "She wouldn't tell me where. Some business she had. She asked me to keep an eye on you. You've been cursed," I added.

"Keep talking," Kincaid said, caressing my neck with the edge of his knife.

I told him what little I knew.

He relaxed slightly as I talked, and the pressure of the blade eased. "Tiresias's curse," he repeated slowly, as if committing the name to memory. "Does that mean I'll be a woman for the next couple of years?" He tucked the knife away and stood up in a swift movement. "Wow, you weren't kidding. My center feels out of whack. That'll take some getting used to."

He walked to one of the room's many mirrors and took off his shirt. "Holy shit! Dresden, come check out my boobs." He wolf-whistled. He cupped them in his hands and bounced them up and down a bit. "They're amazing!"

My eyes went to her? his? Breasts—I didn't know what was the right pronoun for this kind of situation—before I could think better of it.

They were really something. I looked immediately away, feeling embarrassed.

It seemed unfair somehow. It was bad enough that Kincaid was roguishly attractive as a guy. Did he have to be so damn hot as a girl, too? His body had the kind of curves that would make men of all ages turn their heads.

"Yes, you have an awesome rack. Now, please, cover it," I demanded, being careful to keep my eyes firmly on the wallpaper.

Kincaid chuckled, the pitch of his laugher softer than usual, definitely female. Before this whole mess was over I was going to get a headache, I already knew. Keeping the pronouns straight was going to be a losing battle.

"You're no fun, Dresden. Don't you want to help me try out my new girl bits?" he asked with a tone of voice aimed to bypass the brain and go directly to the groin.

"I—what?" My eyes darted back to him. Kincaid had gotten rid of his trousers, too, and was standing almost naked in front of the mirror, his boxer briefs leaving almost nothing to the imagination. I couldn't quite convince myself to look away. "Are you out of your mind? Y-you want to try them out?" I choked out.

My mind short-circuited. Nothing against women—I knew for a fact that their bodies were nice and soft and lovely to touch—but really, if I ever found myself in the same situation as Kincaid, I'd probably die of embarrassment. I love my cock too much, thank you. The idea of being trapped inside a female body, made me want to cringe in fear and cross my legs. I didn't know why Kincaid was so damn happy.

"Well, duh, of course. You didn't think I'd let such a golden opportunity pass by, did you?" He snorted. "Seriously, multiple orgasms alone would be so worth it. Did you know that some women can have more than hundred orgasms in one hour? The most I've ever managed as a guy is nine."

"Nine!" He was totally screwing with me. Demonic stamina or not that just wasn't possible. Or was it?

"Hmm, yes, those were glorious times. You can say what you want about Vlad, but he knew how to make a boy have fun. Provided you liked your pain, of course," he added as an afterthought.

The smile on my face felt stretched. "Right. Uh … okay … look, we need to concentrate in finding a cure for your … uh … condition."

"Why? I like my body fine just as it is," he said, stroking both his hands down the curves of his naked breasts. He pulled his stomach in and turned slowly around. He looked over his shoulder at the mirror and arched his back, pushing out his barely covered butt and shaking it. "Check my ass, Dresden. I'd want me some of that."

I couldn't look away, no matter how much I told myself that it was the sensible thing to do. "Wouldn't you rather go back to normal?" I tried to reason with him, feeling a headache coming up.

"Define normal. It's not like being half-demon is what anyone would call normal."

When he was right, he was right. "Fine, to whatever passes for normal in your case," I amended.

"Again, why? I've been a male for centuries. It was getting kind of old. I don't mind keeping the new equipment for a while," he said and rubbed his nipples, pinching and pulling at them alternatively. "My tits are way more sensitive. This is going to be so much fun!"

"Could you stop doing that? It's fucking distracting," I snapped, unable to tear my eyes away from her—his, whatever—breasts.

"Hm … fucking. Excellent idea! Shall we move this to the bed, then?" he asked in a sultry voice.

I tried to come up with a coherent reply to that, but it just—"Look, Kincaid, Ivy asked me to find a cure. You don't know what this spell will do long-term. It might even kill you for all you know."

Kincaid's smile broadened. "All the more reason to enjoy it while it lasts."

"Thanks, but no thanks. I'll pass." I crossed my arms and glared disapprovingly at him, trying to convey how little I thought of his idea. I wasn't interested in guys, even if my body was having a hard time remembering that the gorgeous, almost-naked woman playing with herself right in front of me was actually male.

"You sure?" He seemed rather amused by my protests, and I had the distinct impression that my denial wasn't fooling him at all.

"Positive," I insisted.

"All right." He shrugged dismissively, hair falling over his face. He tucked it behind his ears and looked around. "Ah, there it is," he said and walked to the phone. "Stay over there and think calming thoughts. I need to make a call."

"Shouldn't you put on some clothes first?" I asked a tad desperately.

"What for?" He dialed a number by heart and put his forefinger in front of his mouth, indicating I should remain silent. "Hey, Karrin, it's me, Jared," he said after a couple of seconds.

My head snapped up and I stood still, muscles coiled with tension, unable to do anything but listen to the unfolding conversation.

"It really is me. I got turned into a woman. Isn't that grand?" Kincaid said, all cheer. "Oh, you need proof, do you?" His voice made me think of Penthouse letters.

Hell's bells, he was a guy no matter what he looked like now! I needed to get a grip.

"Well, how many people know about that little mole that looks almost like a butterfly inside your left thigh, just two inches shy of your pussy? Or maybe you want me to describe exactly how you like to be licked, short stabs of the tongue and a bit of teeth." Kincaid threw his head back and laughed out loud. "You sure you want me to stop now? I was just getting started."

That just—As if having to deal with a female version of Kincaid wasn't hard enough, the images of Kincaid eating Murphy out didn't help any. I couldn't stop thinking about it. Except that, well, it wasn't the male version of Kincaid I kept seeing.

Great. Just great. At least before I'd known where I stood. Whenever I remembered Murphy's little Hawaiian vacation, I had to fight the urge to growl. Now, thinking about Kincaid—her almost naked body providing technicolor details I didn't need—going down on Murphy no longer pissed me off. Quite the contrary, all my systems were go. Boy were they ever.

"I haven't cross-dressed since the 20's," Kincaid was saying. "My wardrobe is a bit outdated for current times. Shopping, and then girl time together? Oh, come on, Karrin, don't be like that. I am too a girl! I have boobs, and probably a vagina, and a clitoris. I'm sure I must have a G-spot, too. Tell you what, have dinner with me tonight and we can compare our girly bits, see if there's a difference."

Brilliant, as if my overactive imagination needed to be fueled further. I became more determined than ever to turn Kincaid back to normal as soon as possible. I wasn't doing it for Ivy; I was doing it for myself. Self-preservation was the name of the game.

Kincaid laughed again and hung up. "If Ivy calls, tell her I went shopping," he said to me and started to search his bags, looking for clothes. He put on a t-shirt that was a couple of sizes too big for his new body and hid most of its tantalizing curves. A small mercy, but I was willing to count my blessings where I could.

"You can't leave!" I said, blocking the door with my body, just in case. The idea of letting Kincaid go to Murphy to… to…. No, I wasn't going there. The point was, I couldn't let that happen.

Kincaid raised a curious eyebrow, which looked kind of cute on his new face. "Why not?"

"I need you with me to find a cure," I reminded him.

"Relax, Dresden, if it takes longer to find a cure, it takes longer. I told you I was in no hurry. I'm going shopping now, and then I'm going to dinner."

"All right, it sounds like a plan. I'm coming with you." I was not going to leave him alone with Murphy.

"You are?" He sounded genuinely surprised.

"I am. I'll drive you."

"I can drive myself," he said, amused.

"I'll like to see you explain to a cop why your driver's license has a guy's picture on it," I pointed out.

A nasty little smirk spread across his lips, making him look like the kind of girl who'd know how to give a boy a good time. "Oh, believe me, if a cop stops me, the last thing he'll be interested in checking is my license."

"Not all cops fall for charms and a pretty face, you know," I said.

He came closer, stepping into my personal space. "Oh, Dresden, and here I was starting to fear you didn't think I was pretty."

I had walked into that one. I crossed my arms and frowned at him. "Please, as if you need the confidence boost."

"With that attitude it's a miracle you get laid at all." Kincaid rolled his eyes.

"I manage all right," I lied. "Do you want me to drive you or not?"

"Oh, by all means, please do." Kincaid picked up his discarded trousers and put them on, smiling at me all the while. It looked distractingly sexy despite the odd contrast between his lean, female body and his too big male clothes.

I had the strong suspicion that he was playing me somehow, but it was my duty to look out for Murphy. She didn't understand that Kincaid was a total cad. Even if he looked harmless and fragile now, he was still the same person underneath. It was my duty as a friend to make sure that Murphy was protected. Thus, operation chaperoning Kincaid was a go.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Where did you park?" Kincaid asked me once we were outside.  

"Ivy said it was urgent. I used the Ways."

"Practical. I like that," Kincaid said. "Fine, we'll take my rental." He turned around and strode away without waiting for me.

I glared at his back and followed, definitely not noticing the mesmerizing way his cute little ass swayed as he moved. He stopped in front of a sky blue Corvette and threw the keys at me. It was the kind of car that would make anyone's mouth water in envy. My poor Beetle couldn't compare, but at least it didn't break down on me. It wouldn't surprise me if the Corvette stopped working and we needed to be towed.

The car didn't break. Its GPS thingy didn't even twitch. It kept on giving instructions in a friendly computerized female voice that grated on my nerves, but no matter how much I glared at it, it went on untroubled. Kincaid leaned back in the passenger seat, enjoying the ride. Every now and then he'd shift around, as though trying to find the perfect position to accommodate his new body. He wore aviator sunglasses that were too masculine for his new appearance, but he carried them with such confidence that instead of looking weird, it made him look all the more attractive.

The stray thought caught me off guard, and I frowned. I needed to be more vigilant. This was Kincaid sitting next to me. He might look like a lady in need, but he wasn't one. He was a tough half-demon who could kill me in the blink of an eye.

"The car is not going to break. Stop glaring at it," Kincaid said.

"What would you know? Modern technology isn't as reliable as you think," I said.

"No, but old protective runes are," he pointed out. "Wizards aren't the only ones with enough power to make technology go haywire."

I looked at him, taken aback. "I didn't know there were runes for that."

Kincaid shrugged. "What can I say? Working for the Archive has its advantages."

"Could you—"

"Nope, very hush hush. You'll have to take it up with Ivy. Turn right on the next one," he said. "I want to start my shopping spree on the Mag Mile."

"The Mag Mile?" I asked aghast. I tried to avoid the place as much as I could. In my opinion, you couldn't trust shops that didn't even bother with price tags.

"It's the best place to shop in Chicago, Dresden. I need a complete new wardrobe," Kincaid said, sounding rather excited by the prospect.

"Look, this isn't a Murphy kind of place. Maybe we should go to—"

"We aren't meeting Murphy. She had to work," Kincaid said, and I could hear the hidden laughter in his tone. What a total ass.

"I thought we were meeting her." That was the reason I had come, to stop the two of them from—from—whatever crazy thing Kincaid would have gotten Murphy into.

"Really, why would you think that?" Kincaid said, and I had to fight down the desire to slap the butter-wouldn't-melt-in-my-mouth expression off his face. Female or not, the idea of clocking him one looked more and more attractive by the second.

"I heard you talking to her on the phone!"  

"Tut-tut, Dresden. Didn't anyone tell you that eavesdropping on other people's phone calls is not nice," Kincaid said.

"I wasn't eavesdropping! You knew I was there!"

"Tomato. Tomahto," he sing-songed.

I bit back my retort, painfully aware I wasn't going to win the argument, and concentrated on driving. I had the slight suspicion that the rest of my day wouldn't be any better.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"What do you think?" Kincaid asked, spinning around and making the hem of his dress flutter in the air.  

He looked great, or he would have, had he been an actual she. I couldn't bring myself to compliment him, though. What would I say? 'Yes, you have great legs and the dress brings them out? By the way, you need to shave.' It wasn't the kind of thing you could say aloud.

I might have complimented Susan on an outfit, even Murphy—if I was feeling suicidal enough—but I just couldn't bring myself to flatter Kincaid. Beneath that lovely female body he was a guy, no matter what kind of magical forces were playing havoc with his current appearance.

"Pink isn't your color," I told him instead, trying to convey how absolutely ridiculous I found the whole affair.

"Don't listen to him, honey. You look lovely in that dress," said a woman coming out of a neighboring dressing room. She glared at me, daring me to contradict her. There were two other women nearby, including the sales lady. They all cooed in agreement. I could feel the weight of their disapproving stares like a black cloud. For once, I did the wise thing and remained quiet.

Kincaid had already bought ten different dresses, four pairs of jeans, twelve tops and I don't know how many shoes. I didn't know what he needed yet another dress for. I already looked like a pack mule, as he kept passing all his shopping bags to me. I ignored the knowing glances other guys gave me, or the way some of them eyed me from head to toe, measuring, as if trying to understand what Kincaid saw in me and coming up empty. I tended to glare back until they looked away and pretended to busy themselves with their cell phones. Then I glared some more for the sake of it, until their little technological wonders sparked and died. With the day I was having, I had to entertain myself somehow.

"Is something the matter?" Kincaid asked, looking between me and snob suit-dude number fifteen and his now broken phone.

"No," I hurried to answer, maybe a bit more hasty than strictly necessary.

Kincaid didn't seem convinced. "Cheer up," he said, passing me yet another shopping bag before dragging me out of the shop. "You'll like the next stop."

"I doubt it." If I had to carry one more bag I was going to set something on fire.

"Lingerie, Dresden. I'll even let you pick colors this time." He winked at me.

"Stars! What's wrong with what you're wearing now?" I squeaked, trying valiantly to stop the mental image of Kincaid in sexy underwear. And failing.

Sh-he was wearing a light blue summer dress he'd tried twenty stores ago. Whatever underwear he had bought while I wasn't looking fit the dress perfectly. I would be a happy man if I didn't have to see Kincaid trying on lingerie as if he were on a catwalk.

He caressed the silky material of the dress and looked at me from beneath his eyelashes. "You do like my dress," he said, smile just shy of coy and not fooling anyone.

I gave a noncommittal grunt.

He laughed, stepped closer and whispered in my ear, "You're full of surprises, Dresden. Such a prude on the outside and so delightfully dirty inside. Does it turn you on? Knowing that I'm not wearing anything underneath? You could put your hand under my dress and shove your fingers inside me in one move. I'll bet you'd get me wet in seconds. Or maybe you don't like that? Maybe you'd rather push me against the wall and fuck me dry. Grind into me until you come, not caring if I liked it or not. Is that what you want?"

My face burned with an odd mix of lust and embarrassment. "Are you out of your mind? People will hear you," I hissed in a strangled voice, hastily stepping away from him and glancing around worriedly. A quick peek at Kincaid showed me that at least his lack of underwear wasn't too obvious. I did my best to ignore the knowing look of the suit guy. He couldn't possibly have heard what Kincaid said to me, could he? I pushed down ruthlessly the flare of desire her—his, damn it—words sparked.

Kincaid's eyes creased with amusement. "Do you want to cut the shopping trip short, then?" he asked.

"Yes!" I'd give anything for this nightmare to be over.

Kincaid shrugged and one of the straps of his summer dress slipped down his shoulder. Faintly, I wondered what would happen if the strap of Kincaid's dress were to slide further down.

"We could go back to your place," Kincaid said, adjusting the strap. I snapped my head up, angry at myself for being so easily distracted. Kincaid's knowing grin reminded me of a shark. A hungry one. "The offer to test-drive the new parts is still open."

No. Just no. I was not going to have sex with Kincaid, no matter how sexy, soft, curvy and fragile-looking he seemed at the moment.

"Nice try, but no cigar." I glowered at him.

"Have it your way. We'll keep shopping then." He turned around and walked to the car, balancing on his new gravity-defying heels as if it was the easiest thing in the world.

We passed a couple of more boutiques, and I was relieved to notice that Kincaid didn't seem all that interested in stepping inside. It took me a moment to register that he wasn't heading for another shop, but for the glass front of the Spiaggia, one of the most upscale Italian restaurants in Chicago. Not precisely the kind of place I could afford—at least not if I wanted to be able to pay my rent.

I hurried my steps and caught Kincaid's arm, forcing him to look at me. "Didn't you want to buy—you know." I waved vaguely with my free hand at Kincaid's body.

"You mean lingerie?" he asked, not bothering to lower his voice.

I cringed, checking if someone had overheard him. "Not so loud," I whispered.

Kincaid frowned. "This is the twenty-first century, Dresden, not the Middle Ages. Chill." He tugged at his arm and I let him go immediately. "Shopping is hungry work," he continued. "Besides, you look as if you need a break."

"I'm fine."

He snorted. "You said you were fine after a bunch of Black Court vampires torched your hand. Excuse me if I don't believe you. Food now, shopping later."

"You can't go in there without—without you know what," I whispered.

He laughed, low and dirty. "Of course I can. That's half the fun. And you're coming with me."

"No, I'm not," I said and added, my pride be damned, "I can't afford lunch at Spiaggia." I eyed the doors of the restaurant with resentment. They probably wouldn't let me in, dressed as I was.

"That's fine," Kincaid said, "I'm paying."

"Excuse me? You can't pay for me," I protested.

"Why not?"

"I don't want a woman to pay for my lunch." It was the principle of the thing. You don't need to tell me that was sexist; I've heard it all before. It was how I rolled. Men were supposed to pay for woman and not the other way around.

"Well," Kincaid whispered into my ear, "then it's a good thing I'm not a woman."

I opened my mouth to retort and realized I didn't know how to counter that. "You look like one," I pointed out, not sounding too convinced.

"Do I now? Do you want to take a closer look and double-check? You never know what I might be hiding under the dress," he breathed into my ear.

I stepped back, trying to put some space between the two of us, flustered despite myself. "Very funny."

"Well, that's settled then. I'm paying for lunch." He arched an eyebrow in challenge, daring me to contradict him further.

I didn't.

"Good," Kincaid said at last. "Shall we?" He wrapped his arm around my elbow and practically dragged me across the threshold of the Spiaggia, effectively destroying my chances to run for it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The restaurant made me feel self-conscious. I just wasn't dressed for a place like this. I felt as if everyone in the room was staring at me when we walked in, except for how they were too polite to actually do it.

I had hoped that maybe we couldn't get in without a reservation, but somehow Kincaid managed to make it happen. An overdressed waiter took us to a table and there was a short scuffle as both Kincaid and I tried to take the seat that faced the door. Kincaid won, milking the helpless woman trick for all its worth, the ass.

"Harry, darling," he said cloyingly sweet. "I just love the view from this seat. You'll let me sit here, won't you?"

I was all too aware of the waiter's disapproving look. No gentleman would deny a woman a plea like that. And Kincaid was a woman, for all the waiter knew. I sighed, and sat on the opposite seat with a churlish glare, feeling exposed with my back to the entrance.   

The oversolicitous waiter asked if he could bring an appetiser while we chose our meals, and Kincaid agreed before I could protest. The waiter disappeared with a pleased nod in her direction, ignoring me completely. It was obvious who of the two of us had the money for the tip, and it wasn't me. Whatever, as if I needed some fancy waiter's approval.  

"Relax, Dresden," Kincaid said. "I'll watch your back."

I huffed and picked up the menu, ignoring his knowing smirk. I winced a bit at the prices and frowned when I noticed they didn't offer any pizza. What kind of Italian place didn't offer pizza? Finally I decided that I would order whatever Kincaid ordered and be done with it. Looking at the prices gave me a headache. I could eat two days in a row at Mac's for the cost of starter. What a total waste.

Kincaid barely glanced at the menu before closing it, and focusing on something behind my shoulder. "When I said I'd watch your back, I really didn't expect to have to put my money where my mouth was so soon," he said. "You sure have all the luck, Dresden, look who's approaching."

I turned around and had to bite back a curse when I saw none other than Gentleman Johnny Marcone and his eternal shadow Cujo entering the restaurant. Marcone seemed to immediately notice my eyes on him. If he was surprised to see me here, he hid it well. For all I knew, he had us followed and was now showing up here to know what I was up to. Control freak.

I wasn't surprised when Marcone walked directly towards our table. "What a pleasant surprise meeting you here, Dresden," he said, stopping in front of us as if he owned the place. For all I knew, he maybe even did. "And who's your lovely companion?" He was too much of a gentleman to actually check Kincaid out openly, but I could tell he liked what he saw.

Kincaid could obviously tell, too, and contrary to Marcone, he didn't bother disguising his appraisal. He undressed Marcone with his eyes, his smile an open invitation.

"Mr. Marcone, right," Kincaid said, leaning forward with a smile and offering Marcone a hand in a playful way. For someone who had only been a woman for less than half a day, he sure knew do how to dance the seduction waltz. "It's a pleasure to meet you. Harry speaks highly of you."

"Does he now?" Marcone said, amused, just as I protested, "I don't!"

"Hush, darling, Mr. Marcone will think you have no manners," Kincaid whispered sotto voce. Then, he turned to Marcone and beamed at him. "Would you like to join us for lunch?"

"No, he wouldn't," I spat.

"Oh, it'd be my absolute pleasure," Marcone said, ignoring my outburst. His lips twitched in amusement as he signalled the waiter over and asked him to add two more seats to our table. The waiter hurried to comply, as solicitous towards Marcone as he'd been towards Kincaid. Some people would do anything for a good tip, I thought with no small amount of contempt.

"See, darling," Kincaid said to me, patting my hand in mock reassurance, "of course he wanted to join us. Don't mind Harry," he said, turning to Marcone and ignoring my death glare, "he's just a bit shy."

I wanted to tell them in minute detail just how shy I wasn't, but knowing Kincaid, he might call my bluff in front of Marcone and then I'd have to deliver. I needed to pick my battles.

"So, Mr. Marcone—"

"Please, call me John," Marcone said, and gave Kincaid his most charming smile, which Kincaid answered in kind.

"John," Kincaid said, and leaned forward, practically undressing Marcone with his eyes. "It suits you."

I had to fight the sudden desire to bang my head against the table. You didn't need foresight to know how this was going to end, and while I didn't particularly like Kincaid—or Marcone—I didn't think they deserved each other, even if it was hard to decide who of the two of them would be drawing the short stick.

"And what should I call you, my lady?" Marcone asked.

Kincaid opened his mouth to reply and faltered. He glanced at me for a second, his smile spreading even wider. "Whatever you like," he said. "So, John, are you free this afternoon?"

"Kincaid," I snapped. "That's what you should be calling him," I told Marcone. "Jared Kincaid." I'd promised Ivy that I'd look after Kincaid, and I was going to keep my word, even if it meant outing him to Marcone.

Marcone, to his credit, didn't bat an eye. "You make a lovely woman." He didn't even have the decency of putting more distance between the two of them. "Choice or major force?"

"Major force," Kincaid answered, glaring at me. "I don't see why I shouldn't get to enjoy it while it lasts, though," he said with a fake pout.

"Neither do I," Marcone said. "Was it a curse?" There was a new intensity to his face. He studied Kincaid's body as if he wanted to pick it apart and learn how it worked.

I panicked, all too aware that Kincaid's curiosity would play right into Marcone's hands. I needed to put a stop to this madness before it could further develop. "It's really none of your business," I told Marcone.

"Come on, Dresden, don't be like that. John is only curious. It's perfectly natural," Kincaid said. "Speaking of curiosity, John," he said in a husky voice, "would you like to help me figure out the new parts? See if everything is working as it should?"

"Hell's bells, Kincaid!" I exploded, unable to help myself. "Could you be any more of a slut?"

A sudden wave of silence spread through the restaurant as all patrons sitting nearby turned to glare at me. Even Cujo, who'd been doing his best impression of the invisible man gave me the evil eye. I flushed with embarrassment. "Sorry," I mumbled.

Marcone arched an eyebrow, eyes darting between Kincaid at me, but he didn't say anything. Kincaid laughed out loud and patted my hand. "Don't mind him. He might not look it, but he's awfully young."

"I'm not," I protested, and even to my own ears my voice sounded petulant and childish.

Marcone ignored me. "I would love to help you figure out the new parts," he said to Kincaid with the same polite solicitude other people used to ask women if they needed help carrying their luggage.

I pursed my lips. "Kincaid and I already have plans."  

"Dresden, I'm afraid sex trumps shopping. So, unless you've changed your mind about the former…?" Kincaid licked his lips suggestively.

A quick peek showed that Marcone seemed more curious than angry about the turn the conversation had taken. I didn't know how to interpret his thoughtful expression. He could be thinking about falling stock prices or drug delivery schedules for all I knew. Then again, he could be plotting my painful demise just as easily.

"I haven't changed my mind," I said out loud. My inner voice, which surprisingly enough sounded like Bob's, screamed at me for letting such a golden opportunity to get laid go. It was a good thing I was used to ignoring Bob's lewd suggestions. "We need to go to my lab and figure out how to reverse the curse. This is not the moment to—" I couldn't bring myself to say the words so I did a vague hand gesture trying to convey my point.

"To what?" Kincaid asked, all fake innocence, daring me to put into words what I was thinking.

"This is not a good moment for sex-capades," I hissed at him in a low tone.

"Dresden," Kincaid said with pity in his voice. "There's no such thing as a bad moment for sex-capades."

I could feel Marcone's amusement as if it was another occupant at the already crowded table.

"Fine," I snapped, feeling the urge to erase the smug superiority off his face. "I've changed my mind. I'm in." There, I could be modern and open-minded, too. From the corner of my eye, I caught Marcone's and Cujo's surprise and had to suppress the urge to stick my tongue out. I bet they didn't see that one coming.

"Perfect," Kincaid said, smiling like the cat that got the cream, the canary and the mouse. "John, I take it you have no objections, right?" he said, turning to Marcone.

For a moment, it seemed as if the two of them were having a silent conversation I was not privy to. Marcone's amusement seemed to be back, despite the fact that I'd just destroyed his chances of getting laid.

"Quite the opposite," he said, and though he was clearly answering Kincaid, his eyes were trained on me.

"That's settled then," Kincaid said. "Maybe we can go to one of your places?"

"Of course," Marcone replied.

"Wait a minute," I interrupted. "What would we need to go to his place for?"

"Well, I doubt your bed is big enough for three," Kincaid pointed out with impatience, as if I was too slow on the uptake.

Maybe I was. "Three what?"

"People," Kincaid clarified, and then, probably noticing my dumbfounded expression, added, "You, John and me."

"Marcone?" I repeated, appalled, and turned to stared at him, expecting to find the same horrified expression on his face. I didn't. He seemed more curious than anything else, as if he was just a passive spectator watching an amusing side show.

"Well, yes. I invited him, and he agreed," Kincaid said.

"That was before I changed my mind and agreed to have … uh… sex … with you," I stuttered, lowering my voice and glancing at the other tables, glad that no one seemed to be paying attention to us.

"Well, I'm not going to un-invite him just because you changed your mind," Kincaid explained as if I was being the unreasonable one.

"I doubt he'll want to—I mean." I turned to Marcone, expecting him to at least see my point of view. "You don't want to have sex with me, right?"

Marcone's amusement seemed to only increase. "Jared was kind enough to invite me. It wouldn't be polite to decline."

"That's not what I asked," I snapped.

"Isn't it? You want to know if the prospect of sharing a bed with you would make me refuse Jared's offer, right? Well, it doesn't," Marcone said. "It's not me who's going to chicken out." And there it was again, that smug I-know-something-you-don't expression that I wanted to wipe off his face—ideally with a fist, although a nice little Fuego would do in a pinch.

"I'm not going to chicken out," I said, and it took me a second to realize what I'd just agreed to. But then it was too late. I wasn't going to take it back. Hell's bell, I was not letting Marcone run me off like a scared little girl.

"Excellent! Good to know that we're all on the same page," Kincaid said with a pleased smile. "Don't worry, Dresden. The new parts have enough holes to accommodate the two of you, and I'll still have one to spare. Technically, we could invite somebody else." He looked at Cujo speculatively.

"No way! No way! If you ask him, you can count me out for sure." I crossed my arms and glared.  

"Interesting boundaries you have, Dresden," Marcone said. "You're in, then? I didn't think you had it in you."

Ha! I knew it! He'd just been bluffing to make me back off, and now he'd have to eat his words. "I'm totally in."  

"In that case," Marcone said, and stood up. "Let's go. I can arrange to have the food delivered to my place. After all, we wouldn't want Dresden to change his mind yet again, now would we?" he said mockingly.

Fine, fine. That was how he wanted to play it then. "Let's go then." I stood out and offered my hand to Kincaid, who took it.

He seemed as amused as Marcone, and if I didn't know better, I would have sworn that the two of them were playing me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Marcone's limousine was waiting outside. Cujo opened the door for us, his expression unreadable. Kincaid went in first and Marcone followed. I hesitated for a moment, but in the end stepped in, unwilling to make a run for it with Cujo there to witness my cowardice.

The inside smelled of expensive leather and decadence like most of Marcone's places did. I sat opposite the two of them, needing the distance to regain my footing. The door closed with a low click and I jumped.

"Relax, Dresden," Kincaid said, sounding almost kind. "You're over-thinking this. Here, let me help." He leaned forward and pushed me back against the soft leather cushions of Marcone's limousine before straddling my lap. His dress hiked up as he settled in on top of me, rubbing his crotch deliberately against my groin. The smell of his arousal washed over me, and my hips jerked up of their own volition.  

Just like that I was ready.

Kincaid noticed—how could he not? He smiled at me, hungry and dirty. Intellectually, I’d already known he was a half-demon, but now I believed it. The realization only got me harder.

"Yeah, that's more like it," Kincaid said, and kissed me.  

I panicked a little. I'd never kissed a man before and until that moment I'd never really wanted to. It scared me that I couldn't tell the difference with Kincaid—his lips were soft like a woman's, even though he was more demanding than any of my lovers before. He kissed without doubts. There was no hesitation, no teasing, just Kincaid laying claim to a new territory.

I panted into the kiss, fighting him for control, pushing my tongue into his mouth and trying to make the panicky voice in my head asking 'What are you doing?' shut up.

Kincaid sat up and licked his lips. He cocked his head, studying me with a frown. "You're still thinking, Dresden. Quit it."

"I can't." I breathed in and out, slowly, willing my erection to die—for all the good it did me. I dug my fingers into the leather of the seats, needing something to hold on to, suppressing the urge to drag Kincaid back into another demanding kiss. Nothing good ever came out of the few occasions I'd let my cock do my thinking.

"It's the male thing, right?" Kincaid said. It wasn't really a question.

"No," I replied, my eyes darting to Marcone for a second. He was watching both of us with badly-disguised curiosity.

He caught me looking at him and smirked. "Don't break anything trying to please me, Dresden. If you're not up to the challenge, I'm sure I can find someone who'll help me give Jared what he wants."

"Oh, he's up to the challenge all right. Believe me," Kincaid said, rubbing his crotch onto me until I gasped.

"Well, if it's the male thing, think of Jared as a woman. I'm sure he won't mind," Marcone suggested.

"Kincaid isn't a woman!" I snapped. Okay, maybe it was the male thing.

"Now, darling, whatever gets me fucked faster," Kincaid said, and leaned forward to whisper in my ear, "Right this instant I'm a woman. Let's enjoy it while it lasts, yes? John," he said, louder. "Why don't you help me convince Dresden?"  

"Why? Can't you do it alone?" Marcone asked, but he switched seats, sitting next to me, a bit too close for comfort. "Are you afraid, Dresden?"

"Of you? Never," I spat, all bravado. My heart was beating staccato, and I wanted nothing more than to make the car stop and get out, leave Kincaid and Marcone to deal with each other. It'd be the rational thing to do.

"You don't seem too confident," Marcone whispered in my ear, close enough that I could feel the warmth of his breath against my cheek as he spoke. "If you're having performance anxiety, I could ask Mr. Hendricks to stop the car and let you out. He'd be more than happy to take your place, I'm sure."

I couldn't see it from my position, but I knew that his smile was unbearably smug. And even though his words just echoed my own thoughts, they pissed me off. I wasn't going to give Marcone the satisfaction of backing off.

"I don't have performance anxiety," I hissed at him. It's a male thing, okay; we don't take lightly to people questioning our stamina. "It's you who should be worried. I doubt you can keep up with a wizard." I made sure my voice dripped condescension.

Marcone laughed out loud. It was the most genuine sound I'd ever heard him make. "Dresden, you're terrified of touching Jared. Stamina alone won't help you." He traced a finger down Kincaid's collarbone and pushed the straps of his dress, dragging it down slowly. The cloth clung snugly to Kincaid's breasts for a second, before it slipped free, revealing the gorgeous rise of pale flesh. Marcone rubbed his thumb against one of Kincaid's nipples, alternating between pinching and pulling at it softly. I couldn't tear my eyes away from Marcone's tanned skin—a sharp contrast to Kincaid's paleness.

Kincaid moaned, arching his back and pressing his breasts into Marcone's hand. I felt the slick wetness of her on my thighs, and it helped. Kincaid not only looked like a woman, he smelled and felt like one, too.

It would be easy enough to close my eyes and pretend that that was all he—she—was. A woman. I had to think of her as a woman, that was all.

Marcone's eyes were fixed on mine in challenge, and it was impossible to look away as he lowered his head and mouthed along the curve of Kincaid's collarbone.

"What's the matter, Dresden?" Kincaid gasped, arching into Marcone's touch. "Are you gonna let John win without a fight? Because, boy, is he winning."

"Thank you," Marcone said, and used a hand to turn Kincaid's head towards his. He smirked at me, smug and knowing, before he lowered his lips to Kincaid's and kissed him—her—as if he didn't know how to stop.

Just like that, all of my doubts and second thoughts disappeared. A surge of competitiveness washed through me, spurring on the lust. It didn't matter anymore if Kincaid was a only temporarily a woman. I—Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden—was not going to be second best to Mr. Johnny Moneybags Marcone.

I pulled at Kincaid's hair, breaking her kiss with Marcone. Before I could think better of it, my mouth was on hers, and I dived into her lips, intending to erase the taste of Marcone from her memory. Kincaid met my kiss with that same surprising fierceness. Her lips were soft and velvety, yet unyielding. She kissed like she fought, brutal and dirty, no quarter given or taken, like someone who had been around for a long, long time and knew all the tricks in the book.

It was me who ended up gasping for breath, bucking my hips up in a desperate needy attempt to get more friction.

"Now you're getting with the program," Kincaid chuckled against my lips. "That's more like it. Put those hands of yours to use. Marcone is doing all the work."

Marcone laughed, low and throaty, far nearer than I'd expected. I opened my eyes, and saw that his face was only inches away, watching me from behind Kincaid's neck, his green eyes dark with arousal. "Don't mind me. I love pleasing a lady," he said in his gentlemanly way, eyes crinkling at the corners.

"I can do better than that," I said.

'Bring it on, Marcone,' I thought loudly at him as I used my height to turn the tables. I pushed Marcone into the back of the seat and placed Kincaid on his lap, her back still to his chest. I knelt between their legs, thankful for the limousine's ridiculously large leg room, and pushed Kincaid's thighs apart. The smell of her arousal hit me like a wave as I hiked up her dress.

Somehow, along the way I had managed to forget (again) that she wasn't wearing any panties, and the glistening blond curls of hair covering her pussy took me by surprise. They were everywhere, wild and untamed, spilling down the upper parts of her inner thighs before thinning out. The few women I'd been with before, all trimmed and shaved their pubic hair and somehow the stark contrast between them and Kincaid made everything seem more real.

This wasn't some girl I was seducing into my bed. Kincaid was a guy, had been a guy until early that day, would probably be a guy again if I ever managed to break the curse as Ivy asked me.

"It's not polite to leave a lady waiting, Dresden," Marcone said, and put his hands into my hair, pushing me down into Kincaid's open legs. I startled and glanced up at him.

His eyes were hungry and intense, but his smirk matched Kincaid's. They were both waiting to see what I'd do, daring me to back down. I swallowed, realizing that it was much too late for that. Besides, I was half stupid with arousal and need. Suddenly, letting them use me didn't seem too bad a thing.

My eyes darted back to Kincaid’s pussy, an open gap between the curls of hairs covering her labia, flushed and swollen with blood and so, so wet. My mouth felt suddenly dry, and the hammering of my heart got louder the closer I got. I let Marcone push my head down; it was easier than admitting that I wanted to do it myself.

She tasted sweet, musky and female. I don’t know what I was expecting, but somehow, the fact that I couldn’t tell the difference from any other woman I’d shared a bed with made it easier to bear.

Kincaid moaned the moment my lips touched her, and her legs closed, trapping my head in place. “That feels odd, fucking awesome, but odd as fuck,” she panted.

“Tell us,” Marcone said, and I could feel his hands as they insinuated themselves in between her thighs, brushing against my cheeks, and forcing her to open her legs once more, giving me enough room to move. Her hips kept twitching, in small, abortive movements, as if she was trying to figure out what to do with them.  

“It’s all turned around,” Kincaid said. “Fuck, do that again!” And her hands were the ones guiding my head this time, pressing me further down.

“Turned around how?” Marcone insisted. Because of course Gentleman Johnny Marcone would insist in being all precise and accurate with his information gathering while in the middle of sex. I renewed my efforts, wanting to distract Kincaid out of answering, and then, because sometimes I do stupid things without thinking them through first, I let the fingers of my right hand trail down until they brushed against Marcone’s obvious hardness.

He hissed once in surprise and his hips jerked forward, jarring Kincaid. It lasted just a fraction of a second before he had himself back in control, but that little slip made me feel as if I’d won some silent competition I hadn’t even known we were having. I let my hand brush against the seam of his trousers again. He didn’t make a noise this time, but I could feel the muscles of his thighs clenching as he tried to stay still.

Marcone’s fingers, rough and calloused, went to Kincaid’s clit and started working it. Every now and then they would slip lower, brushing against my mouth and tongue. Despite being covered in Kincaid's juice, Marcone's skin still tasted different, rough with callouses, salty and male, a faint hint of gunpowder and metal clinging to it.

I didn't know what Marcone's goal was. Maybe he just wanted to take back some control, show that he, too, could play the game I'd started. But it was as if part of my rational mind had left. I didn't feel like backing down. On the contrary, the taste of Marcone's fingers and the hardness of his cock under my other hand made me want to up the ante.

I took hold of his hand and moved it where I wanted, pushing one of his fingers into Kincaid's cunt, while I moved up to her clit and started sucking at it. Kincaid keened and jolted. "This is killing me, but what a way to go," she panted as she rotated her hips, matching the rhythm we were setting.

Marcone and I didn't need encouragement. For all our bickering and disagreements, we worked well together when circumstances demanded it. It was true when fighting enemies of Chicago, and it was true now.

Soon, Kincaid's moans turned into an uninterrupted litany of dirty curses, spurning us on. I licked and swallowed at her clit, hinting at teeth every now and then.  

"Give it up," Marcone told her. He'd added a second finger and was pushing faster and faster into her, urging me to speed up, too. "Stop fighting it and give it up," he demanded.

"I can't! It's too much!" Kincaid whined, despair coloring her voice.

"You can," Marcone said, and then he did something.

Kincaid screamed, loud and piercing. She arched her back and stayed there for a moment, her clit quivering beneath my tongue as she came. We worked her through her orgasm, until her muscles gave up and she slumped against Marcone's body, relaxed and boneless. She pushed feebly at my head and I stopped licking her clean, letting myself fall back on my heels. I dragged myself onto the opposite seat of the limousine, cock hard as a rock, but with the smug satisfaction of a job well done.

"This was the best idea ever," Kincaid said, still in Marcone's lap, her head resting against his shoulder.

Marcone was playing with the curve of her breast, letting his fingers trace invisible patterns on her skin. "I suggest we move this to the bedroom," he said after our breathing had calmed down a bit.

"Are we there already?" Kincaid asked, glancing through the window.

Only then did I notice that we were in some kind of garage, and that the car wasn't even moving. "Seems we were a bit distracted," I murmured.

"More than just a bit." Kincaid laughed. "Well, gentlemen, the bedroom awaits." She rucked her dress into form as best she could and stepped out of the car.

"After you," Marcone said to me. For once, I didn't feel the need to fight him on it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The way to the bedroom passed in a blur of kisses and touches that didn't leave room for much else. Under different circumstances, I might have taken the time to look around and get a feeling of the layout in case I ever needed it, but I was too distracted to care.

I followed Marcone in a daze, distracted by Kincaid's clever hands and lips, which were constantly on me, clouding my judgment, erasing all rational thoughts before they could begin to form.

Kincaid came to a sudden stop and whistled. "Nice bed."

I turned around and startled. The bedroom was huge. My apartment would have probably fit five times over in it. Yet despite the expensive furniture and the impossibly big bed, I didn't think this was Marcone's place. It was too impersonal. It felt more like a hotel than a house. Thinking back, I didn't even remember feeling any threshold magic when we entered the house. The place had been an open invitation to everyone who wanted to get in. Miss Guard would have never let Marcone live in so unsecured a place.

"Okay," Kincaid said. "Let's talk logistics." She rubbed her hands and clapped. "Dresden, you take my ass. First times for everyone today."

“I’ve taken girls up the ass before,” I protested, feeling slighted.

Kincaid and Marcone both laughed out loud and I flushed red with embarrassment, unable to believe I'd just said that.

“All the better," Kincaid said, amusement still coloring her voice. "You’ll know what to do then.” She leaned closer and whispered in my ear, her breath tickling the side of my face. “But Dresden, in case you’d forgotten, I’m not a girl.”

"I don't need the reminder,” I grumbled, and fisted my hand into her hair, forcing her head upward. I kissed her again, wanting to erase that all-too-knowing smirk of her pretty face. She still tasted and felt like a woman. That would have to be enough.

Marcone joined the kiss, working at Kincaid’s mouth from the other side. His tongue, Kincaid’s and mine met and whirled around each other, an odd dance of challenge and retreat until it was impossible to tell whose tongue was whose. At some point, it stopped mattering. I was going to see this through the end, come hell or high water.

We lost our clothes on the way to the bed. I couldn't help a quick peek down Marcone's body, just a swift glance to check out the competition. And well, I was rather pleased to see that my taller size bred through all the way. Hah, take that!

We stumbled onto the bed, a mess of limbs and mouths and tongues. At first, I had thought it was a competition between Marcone and me to see who was the better lover, but soon it developed into a dirty Kincaid and Marcone versus Harry, as the two of them teamed up to drive me crazy with need. Not that it was difficult.

I’d never had lovers like them. My encounters with Susan or Elaine had been filled with tenderness and caution. With Marcone and Kincaid sex was a fight: intense and unforgiving. They moved like a commando unit with a locked target; whatever got in their way was razed to the ground.

Marcone opened up Kincaid’s ass with his fingers, making her wild for it, opening her with first with one finger, then another and another, until she was panting and cursing and telling him to either fuck her or get ready to die with a bullet in his head. She raked her fingernails down my chest and bit at my lips, trying to distract herself from what he was doing.

Marcone ignored her protests and went on at his own leisure, not letting himself be rushed. Minutes later, after he'd reduced Kincaid to a whimpering wreck of uncontrolled need, arching and turning between the two of us, Marcone looked at me, his black pupils wide with desire, erasing almost all the green from his eyes. “What are you waiting for, Dresden? You heard Jared.” His hand was still dripping with lube as he grabbed my cock, slicking me in three quick up-and-down motions that were over before I had time to realize what he'd done. "He's ready. Fuck him."

Fuck him. The pronoun jarred me. I'd been working hard to forget that Kincaid was in truth a guy. I swallowed the feeble protest forming in my mind and obeyed Marcone's order as if in a trance.

Kincaid's ass was tight, tighter than I remembered Elaine's ass being, but Marcone had done a thorough job, and I managed to slide in without causing her pain. I kept pushing in and out in small jabs, encouraged by Kincaid’s loud moans and dirty words. “Yeah, that’s it. Come on, give it to me. I knew that size of yours had to be good for something. You feel fucking fantastic, Dresden. Biggest cock I've had in years. Stop teasing and fuck me already. Put your hips into it and move, damn it!”

I’d never really watched a porn film before. The one time I tried, at the house of a friend back in high school, the TV and video player had exploded just as the film got interesting. The fear that my friend would know I was to blame killed my boner completely. I didn’t much care to read Bob’s rag magazines either. Yet I had the suspicion that porn stars would sound like Kincaid did.

I bottomed out and started to get a rhythm when Kincaid said, “Wait, stop. I want Marcone in on it, too.”

I thrust three more times before the words penetrated into my fogged mind. “What?”

“Stop for a second,” Kincaid said, pushing herself up. My cock slid out with a wet pop, and I had to bite my lips to keep myself from cursing.

Marcone was lying on his back, rubbing himself lazily as he watched us. Kincaid straddled him, swatted his hand aside and lowered herself onto his cock, sliding down in one single motion. She stopped when her thighs met Marcone’s, opened her eyes and blinked. “Huh? I thought that would hurt more the first time going in.”

I bit back a comment about sizes, just to show that I can behave like an adult when I try.

Marcone snorted, and didn't seem offended. “I don’t think your pain threshold compares to average humans, Jared.” He placed his hands on Kincaid's ass and helped her into a lazy rhythm, thrusting his hips up to meet hers.

“Maybe,” Kincaid gasped, and rolled her hips, allowing him set the pace. “All right, Dresden, chop, chop. Get inside again.” She turned to me with impatience.

“You’re kind of busy at the moment,” I gritted out, sounding as frustrated as I felt.

“Multitasking is the new thing. Now, stop wasting my time and fuck my ass already.”

Both of them lay there, watching me with hungry, expectant eyes, and I couldn't help a small sense of trepidation as I cautiously moved closer. My fingers were trembling slightly as I placed my hands next to Marcone's to part Kincaid’s ass cheeks. I could glimpsed the base of his cock where it slid in and out of her, glistening with both their juices and the slick that dripped down Kincaid's ass and into the cleft of her cunt. I swallowed, unsure how to proceed.

With uncertain fingers I pulled her ass cheeks further apart. I thrust my hips forward and my cock slipped down, past its intended target, the tip rubbed against the base of Marcone’s dick. He cursed and jerked up, taken by surprise.

“Stay still,” I complained. “This is not as easy as it looks.”

“No, it’s very, very hard. I can tell,” Kincaid said with that tasteless humor of hers.

“Don’t laugh,” I warned Marcone. “It’ll only encourage her. And stop moving!”

“Hurry up then,” he grunted, staying still and forcing Kincaid's hips to still as well. Slowly, I slid back inside her ass. It seemed even tighter than before, and I could feel the hardness of Marcone’s cock alongside mine as I moved in, the thin membrane separating us barely there. It was as if I was rubbing myself against him, too.

I felt too conscious of my arms, where they were on the bed, bracketing their naked bodies. My muscles strained as I tried to support my weight and not crash on top of them. Every thrust of my hips was a conscious choice. It was difficult to force myself to adjust my pace to Marcone’s. I felt out of tune and awkward, like an outsider trying to fit in and failing.

My senses were on overdrive. Everything seemed to catch my attention: the gasps and moans, the noises of flesh slapping on flesh, the musky smell of sex, the sweat beads running down Kincaid’s back and pooling on the small of her back before they run down the cleft of her ass and tickled my cock where it disappeared inside of her. Marcone’s hands brushed against my own hips whenever I thrust in. Kincaid's body moved between the two of us, joining and separating us at the same time. A myriad of single impressions and senses colliding together and grasping for my attention.

I was too aware of it all, as if a part of me was watching from the outside. In the back of my mind I could hear a voice—which sounded like Bob’s—analyzing my performance and giving useless tips on what to do next.

As sex experiences went, I had had better. I felt clumsy and slow, as if I had missed some secret cue that was essential, and despite the desire burning in me, I couldn't wait for the awkward experience to be over.

“You really do think too much,” Marcone said, and one of his hands caressed the side of my face. I startled and jerked, caught by surprise, yanked away from my thoughts back into the moment. I raised my eyes to meet his, and for a moment it was as if I was falling into his soul again.

“Yeah, let’s do something about that,” Kincaid said, and somehow managed to twist around enough to grab my head and forced me into a demanding kiss. I felt Marcone’s mouth working at the edges of her mouth, joining in, and then his tongue brushed against my lips, twisting inside my mouth alongside Kincaid’s, and just like that the barriers I'd managed to build to keep myself apart from them and what we were doing broke into pieces.

Suddenly, all I could think about was the spikes of pleasure shooting through me as I moved into Kincaid, the way her ass grabbed my cock and squeezed it, as she moved like a wild cat between Marcone and I. The taste of their kiss erased all thoughts, and all I could do was feel. Marcone’s cock rubbed against mine as we moved in tandem; his hands grabbed my ass and pushed me forward, guiding my thrusts until the pace suited him. The sensations added up, and abruptly the same things that drove me to distraction before only pushed me higher, the moans, the gasps, the smells, the sweat, like an impressionist painting transforming from an odd collection of pointless blotches and dots into a detailed landscape where everything fits together.

Like magic.

I broke the kiss, gasping for air, pushing faster and faster, knowing that I wouldn’t last much longer. I didn’t want to be the first to give it up, but Kincaid squeezed her ass around my cock once more just as Marcone’s hands grabbed my ass and forced me deeper. His fingers brushed against my balls, and all my muscles seized and jerked as I exploded and fell over the edge with a shout, the world whitening around me. I kept on thrusting, once, twice, thrice, trying to make my orgasm last, before I collapsed on top of Kincaid too spent to care about politeness.

When I came to myself it was already over. Kincaid laid panting on top of Marcone, who had stopped moving too. To my utter chagrin I realized that I had blacked out for a second or two because I didn't remember the two of them coming. Slowly, I forced myself to roll away, my soft cock slipping out of Kincaid with barely any trouble. I lay next to them, still catching my breath, too blissed out to worry much about what it all meant.

"Fuck, that was something else," Kincaid said, echoing my thoughts. "I'm not giving up this body for at least a decade."

Marcone laughed. "Well, I'm game for any further experiments you want to conduct. Just give me a call."

"After today's performance, I'll put you on speed dial," she said, still out of breath.

"Ivy wants you back to normal," I felt the need to point out. It is a sad, sad day, when mine becomes the voice of reason.

"Boring," Kincaid mumbled against Marcone's neck, not bothering to open her eyes or move away. "Ivy wants me at peak performance capacity, but missing a cock doesn't affect my ability to defend her. Whatever, I'll fight it out with her if it comes to that. In the end, it's my decision, not hers or yours. Stop trying to tell me what's best for me. I don't like it. The only one that knows what's best for Jared is Jared."

"At least let me find out if it can be reversed," I insisted.

"All that can be made, can be unmade. It's the oldest rule in the book," Kincaid said. "I don't need you to find that out. When the time come, if it comes, I'll contact you. Right now the only thing that matters is who's up for round three?"

Marcone blinked and turned his head to look at me. This time, I knew that he was on my side. Obviously, we needed to start working together or Kincaid would end us.

As jobs went, I'd had worse ones.