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In The Flesh Part 6: Free Story in Progress. Enjoy!

Happy Friday Everyone! Time for more chills and thrills with part 6 of my dark paranormal story, In The Flesh.  psyche_et_lamour_327x567

In the Flesh is a dark and sexy story that has had several incarnations in its shorter form, but never quite worked because it needed space to grow. I couldn’t think of a better place for it to grow. In the Flesh is a blend of paranormal erotica and almost, but not quite … okay, quite possibly … horror. What I’m sharing with you, this version, is an expanding work in progress. You get it just shortly after I write it, and as far as what happens next, well … we’ll see. 

Happy Reading! 

 

 

 

 

To read the story in its entirety up to this point, follow these links to  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3 & Part 4 Part 5.

 

Part 6

If I had been lost in the garden trying to get to the kitchen door of Chapel House, I was even more so trying to get away. rose images
In my panic, there was no being quiet and, with each snapping of twig and rustling of undergrowth, I was certain someone was following me, certain I could hear footsteps right behind me. I had been attacked under the sculpture of the angel. Christ, had it been Michael after me all along? Though my own breathing sounded like a rush of wind, and the hammer of my pulse thrummed like thunder, still I was certain I heard the breath of another just behind me. Frantically I glanced over my shoulder, seeing nothing but the sway of the brambles and overgrown lilacs I’d just shoved my way through. Too late, I turned my attention back to the path. My foot caught on the upturned edge of a paving stone disturbed by an ancient hawthorn root that resembled a thick serpent shoving it’s way up from the depths. I did a belly flop, an outstretched bramble scratching my cheek as I went down. For an instant the world went black, flashes of colour exploded behind my eyelids, and then my vision returned. I would have screamed as the sudden scent of roses overwhelmed me, but there was no breath left for it, and stunned as I was, I couldn’t quite remember how to move. It was that same sense of paralysis I’d experienced in nightmares when I needed desperately to run away, to flee some horrible danger, and yet my body refused to respond.

Though my body refused to respond to the need to run, parts of it responded perfectly to the touch down my spine, the kneading caress of my bottom, the heat of muscle and sinew and heavy maleness stretched out alongside me, an insinuating knee between my legs making room for further exploration of fingers I could feel on bare skin in spite of knowing full well that I was still completely clothed. Another hand curled in my hair, pushing the tangle aside to expose my nape and the back of my neck, to clear a path for lips and teeth and tongue. I think I might have said ‘please don’t,’ but then I might have simply said ‘please.’ Wherever I was, it was not in my head. But I was most definitely in my body, nipples aching, hips shifting, oblivious to the hard rock of the path bruising ribs and belly, responding only to the fingers that had found me embarrassingly wet and needy. A little voice somewhere so far off that I could barely hear it kept whispering that I should fight back, that I should run away, but it was hard to listen to that voice when I felt like my whole body would burst into flame with longing for more of whatever it was, whoever it was teasing me so exquisitely. It was hard to listen to that small voice inside myself when something outside me whispered louder, whispered words I didn’t understand at first, all the while nibbling my ear lobe and trailing kisses down along my shoulder now somehow exposed. I must have gotten lost in the voice. I don’t know how long. It could have been a second, it could have been an eternity, but my next conscious thought was that I had been maneuvered onto my hands and knees, bottom raised, legs open, that my jeans and panties were down around my thighs and a body much larger than my own, mantled me, warm, naked, smelling of male lust, dark and heavy and primordial-thick as the fecund vegetation around me. No matter how good my imagination, I was certain the weight of an erection rubbing low against my spine was real, becoming more real with each passing moment as it slid up the cleft of my buttocks, seeking me out like a stag in rut.

“No one can give you what I can, Susan.’ This time I understood every word, felt the shape of warm lips against2015-06-24 12.43.56 my ear. ‘I can show you such ecstasy, such beauty. I can show you the meaning of the universe and everything in it. I know your longings, your dreams, the depth of your heart, and I want you. To be wanted, to be possessed by a god. Is that not everyone’s deepest desire? And yet you, my beauty, you want more than that, don’t you? You want to possess god. Just like Lucifer before you, you want what god has. You want me to open myself to you, to pour my wisdom into you, my creative force as surely as I pour my lust into you.’ The hands had become insistent, groping breasts and belly, fingering me open, touching every part of me in ways even I didn’t know I wanted to be touched. The voice, the whisper, became so intimate that I could feel it inside my head, inside the blood pounding at my temples. ‘And then you want to take the mind of god and translate it, write it down with your gift of words and share it with the rest of humanity. Oh, I know you, my darling, and I know your deepest longing. You are the object of my lust, Susan, and the object of my love. I want no other. I desire only to make you my lover, and in doing so I will give you the mind of god.’

“But you’re not god.” The words erupted from my parched throat feeling as though I had vomited them from the depths just as the scent of roses gave way to burning garbage, and I gasped for air, shoving and clawing at the pavement against the weight on top of me. A gust of wind whipped my hair around in my face as I managed to pull myself into a sitting position. Suddenly free from the heaviness of the masculine body that had not really been there, at least not in the flesh, I fumbled my jeans up over my arse, embarrassed, angry and frustrated, but mostly just really, really scared. The flash of a knife was my only warning before Annie was on top of me, shoving me back down onto the jagged paving stones.

‘I told you to get out!’ She screamed, jamming a knee in my ribs. I caught her wrist and rolled just in time to keep her from plunging the knife into my stomach. ‘Your stuff, I threw it over the fence. You should have taken it and left. I don’t want you here. I never wanted you here. Now you’ve ruined it all. I’ll kill you! I will. I need him, and he needs me. He’ll understand that once you’re dead.’ She tried again to bring the knife down, but this time a large hand grabbed hold of her arm and yanked her off, tossing her into a bed of overgrown geraniums as though she weighed nothing, all the while she screamed and raged and cursed me. The next thing I knew, Michael jerked me to my feet and flung me over his shoulder like I was a sack of grain. I screamed and did my best to squirm free making useless attempts to knee him in the stomach. “You lied to me! It’s you! It was you all along, you sonovabitch! It was you all along!” The air reeked of burning rubbish and my lungs burned like fire. The wind had risen to near gale force and I could do nothing but close my streaming eyes and hang on as Michael shoved through the rank vegetation, slammed open the wrought iron gate and shoved me into the passenger seat of the lorry. ‘Let me out,’ I managed around a hacking cough. ‘You lied to me! Let me out now!’ But instead, he belted me in the seat and locked the door.

‘It wasn’t me, goddammit! Now shut up and sit still until I can get us out of here or it’s it’ll be all over.’

2015-06-24 12.46.27               I didn’t argue further. I knew he was right. We needed to leave now. The wind rattled the truck as though it would turn it over, and for a terrifying moment I though it might. The air, even inside the cab was foul enough to make breathing secondary to not asphyxiating. Michael had pulled the collar of his t-shirt up over his mouth and nose, and I did the same with his jacket, stiff-legging the floorboard and bracing against the dash with the flat of my palm as Michael revved the engine and downshifted, shoving his way through a brutal headwind. He cursed, stomped hard on the gas pedal, and we sped toward the street. With a screech of tires on pavement and a quick swerve into traffic, the wind died completely away and the air cleared as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened. To everyone around us it was just a normal summer day.

“What about Annie? We can’t just leave her. He’ll kill her,” I said when I could speak again.

“He won’t kill her.” Michael kept both eyes on the road, but I didn’t miss the frequent glances in the rear-view mirror. “He’ll punish her by fucking her until she’s too weak to move, all the while telling her that she’s his only love, that his heart’s broken that she could be jealous, that she could think he’d want anyone else.”

I fought down panic at the thought. “She’s already weak. She’s just skin and bones, and she can hardly function now.”

“It won’t matter,” he replied. “ He knows just how close to the edge to take her. He’ll never kill her, and he’ll never let her die while she’s with him. Even when he replaces her with someone else, he never kills his lovers once he’s through with them. He doesn’t have to. He’s become their reason for living. Without his attentions, they’re all more than willing to sacrifice themselves to him. Look,” he said, glancing at me then back through the mirror, “right now there really is nothing you can do, and by going back you put yourself in danger. Don’t let her weakened condition fool you. She’d kill you in a heartbeat, and you’d be surprised just how strong her jealously, her lust for him will make her.”

“There has to be something we can do.”

“Not right now there isn’t. Not after what you’ve just been through, and not when both his attention and hers is fully on you. Now get some rest. You’re exhausted.”

Rest wasn’t my intention, forcing him to turn the truck right back around so I could go get my car and get the St Teresa BerniniEl-extasis-de-Santa-Teresa4hell out of Dodge until I could figure what to do was my intention. I sure as hell had no reason to trust him now. But I did rest. That’s exactly what I did. I slept the sleep of exhaustion, blissful and dreamless with no room for thoughts of what might have happened if things had played out uninterrupted by a crazy friend with a sharp knife and man who might be an angel, or could possibly be even worse than what he’d rescued me from. Christ, sleep was the safest place for me. None of those thoughts needed to be visited, especially not when everything in me felt like an open wound too tender to even touch.

 

When I woke up, I was in a large bed down between midnight blue sheets that smelled slightly woody. From the angle of the sun it was clear most of the day had passed without my knowledge, which suited me just fine under the circumstances. I was still in that state of blurred consciousness I often had when waking. I was no longer in the oblivion of the unconscious, but not fully aware of the goings on in the waking world either. There’s something to be said for not being fully aware. My unconscious struggled to pull me back down into the dark cushioning layers of sleep, and the part of myself that was conscious made a heroic effort to comply. Not wanting to wake up became an imperative, one that my body would have been completely willing to obey had I not noticed Michael standing on the balcony beyond open French doors, silhouetted in the mauve and melon tones of the setting sun. “You’re awake,” he said, turning to face me. I could tell he was fresh from the shower. He was naked to the waist, dark hair curling around his ears. The white gauze curtains billowed on a breeze around his body obscuring and revealing and obscuring again. Beyond him I could make out the hunched backs and rocky outcroppings of the fells thrust up against the horizon. I thought we were in the Lake District, but I wasn’t sure. What was it, an hour by car, forty-five minutes? How long had I slept? I had no memory of him bringing me into the house or putting me into bed. That I was still fully clothed eased my fears a little bit, but then whatever it was that had attacked me in the gardens at Chapel House hadn’t needed to remove my clothing to take his jollies, nor to make me want him. I shivered in spite of the thick duvet spread over me, keeping my eyes on Michael, whom I still didn’t trust whether he had undressed me or not.

For an instant, with the curtains obscuring his legs and groin, with his hand outreached to push them aside revealing the curve of bicep and the straight broad expanse of chest and shoulders he could have passed for the statue in the ruined garden. Suddenly I was wide awake. Panic rose up my spine. I bolted from the bed and was halfway to the door before he caught me by the arm and gently steered me back into the room, settling me into a large wing-backed chair in front of a stone fireplace with no more effort than if I’d been an errant child. “It’s alright. You’re safe.”

“Safe, am I? Safe?” In spite of my best efforts to calm down, my voice rose with each word.

“You didn’t dream, did you?” He asked, pushing a strand of hair away from my face with the curl of a finger.

I shook my head. “How did you know?”

He shrugged one well-muscled shoulder and offered me a self-deprecating smile. “You were exhausted, and I knew if I could get you to sleep, I could keep you from dreaming.”

“You? You got me to sleep? Jesus!’ I whispered. “How?”

“Just the power of suggestion. Nothing magical or anything.” He looked away, suddenly unable to meet my Graveyard angel 1gaze. “Not really anyway.”

With a flash of memory, I recalled my first encounter with the angel in the overgrown garden, the inviting hand, the look of longing. The encroaching evening went silent around me, or maybe the thought, the impossible thought forcing its way front and center in my mind had simply blocked out everything else, everything not relevant to the situation. It was a thought I really would have preferred not to have, but there it was filling my brain, refusing to go away. I braced my feet hard against the floor to keep my legs from shaking, took a deep breath and gave that thought substance. “You’re an angel, aren’t you?” And just like that, I slid deeper into the rabbit hole.

 

In The Flesh Part 5: Free Story in Progress. Enjoy!

Happy Friday Everyone! And to start your weekend off with a thrill and a chill, enjoy Part 5 of my dark paranormal story, In The Flesh.  psyche_et_lamour_327x567

In the Flesh is a dark and sexy story that has had several incarnations in its shorter form, but never quite worked because it needed space to grow. I couldn’t think of a better place for it to grow. In the Flesh is a blend of paranormal erotica and almost, but not quite … okay, quite possibly … horror. What I’m sharing with you, this version, is an expanding work in progress. You get it just shortly after I write it, and as far as what happens next, well … we’ll see. 

Happy Reading! 

 

 

 

 

To read the story in its entirety up to this point, follow these links to  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3 & Part 4.

 

In The Flesh Part Five

It was a trickle of sweat under my arms and along my ribs that brought me back to myself. My arse ached from sitting rose imageson the hard cement of the pavement. The sun baked down on my back and a large hand gently stroked between my shoulder blades. At some point, Michael had joined me. I couldn’t say when.

“You’re all right. You’ll be fine. It’ll be okay.” His voice was barely more than a whisper, but his touch was solid and comforting. “I know it’s a lot to take in, but better you know. If you don’t know, you can’t fight.” He stood and offered me his hand. “Come on back inside. I’ve had Izzy keep the food warm. You need to eat.”

Back in the Little Chef, Izzy delivered the reheated plates offering me a look of sympathy. Then she nodded at Michael, refreshed our coffee cups and left. He gestured to my plate. Grudgingly, I forced the first bite of eggs past my gag reflex only to discover that they tasted pretty damn good.

Michael watched as I gulped two more bites, stuffed half a piece of toast in my mouth and washed it down with coffee. He raised his own cup and held my gaze. “When was the last time you ate?”

“I don’t know.” I thought about it while I polished off a rasher of bacon. “I guess the last real meal I had was the takeaway I ordered my first night at Chapel House.”

His gaze was beginning to make me squirm. “That’s a long time between meals.”

“I had a lot on my mind, what with Annie behaving so strangely and all.” But even as I said it, I felt the skin on my arms prickle. I wasn’t known for my lack of appetite, I, who never missed a meal augmented by several snacks in between. The only time I wasn’t hungry was when I was asleep, and even then sometimes I dreamed of food.

His own meal barely touched, he sipped his coffee, then leaned across the table, still holding me in blue scrutiny. “Susan, tell me about the dream.”

I’d eaten my breakfast and half of his and sat shivering in his jacket by the time I’d finished telling him about last night, struggling to keep the details to a minimum and the whole experience at a safe distance. We waited for Izzy to fill the cups again, and then I plucked up my courage, rubbing my arms, now tender where the bruises bloomed and darkened. “It wasn’t a dream, then.”

“Some of it was, fortunately.” He nodded to where I still chafed my arms. “Those are evidence that it wasn’t all a dream, but the fact that you woke up in your own bed… Well, something interrupted his efforts, I’d say.”

“But how could that be,” I said, remembering the feel of being battered, being invaded, falling through the bottom of the world, remembering the empty eyes of the angel, his hand extended to me in invitation.

He leaned closer across the table until his forehead nearly touched mine. I was struck by how large he really was. I was tall and well muscled, but he made me feel petite, delicate. Why hadn’t I noticed that before? His large hand came to rest on mine and his voice was a soft rumble I felt deep between my hipbones almost like the first intimations of a storm. And fuck, if he didn’t quote John Donne!

Bernini's Hades and PersephoneBatter my heart, three-person’d God, for you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend

Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

*****

Take me to you, imprison me, for I,

Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

By the time he was finished, I was shivering uncontrollably, and I would have laughed if I hadn’t been so frightened. “So he’s not God, this imaginary lover who seduced my friend and nearly raped me, but the rape part was a dream because God rescued me from this devil or demon or whatever the fuck he is before he could do the deed? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?”

He downed the last of his coffee and pushed his plate aside. “I’m only trying to tell you that nothing that’s happening to Annie or to you is straight forward. Things are always way more complicated than the stories in the mythology books, and even in the Christian Bible, make them out to be.”

We sat in silence for a long moment, watching a young couple try to settle two small children and a toddler into a booth nearby. “It was a seduction, not a rape,” he said absently watching the man settle the squirming child into a high chair. “He doesn’t want to take you by force. He wants you to come to him willingly. He’s not above hurting you if you don’t, but it’s your free will he wants most. He wants you to want him like you’ve never wanted anything in life. Your lust, your desire for him, that’s the thing that empowers him most, you see?”

Even the thought of my experience in the bathtub made my nipples tense, and that the sensation low in my belly wasn’t entirely fear made me flush with anger. “No. No I don’t see. I don’t see at all. Is he a demon?” I spoke the word through my teeth, the shape of it the bitter pip at the center of sweet, ripe fruit. “Or … maybe an incubus? I mean he did come to me in a dream, didn’t he?”

“He’s neither, but he has characteristics of both. He’s what he needs to be. He has no definition, not really, and
he’s attached to the place, you see? That place, the place where Chapel House was built, was a site of power long before Christianity came to Britain, long before there was even a name for the ancient powers, the forces that command the changing of the seasons and the ebb and flow of the tides. Back when people lived in fear of the dark, and offered sacrifice to drive back the forces they didn’t understand, the forces that led to famine, starvation, death. He was always there. That place, it’s his place, and he’s happy to share it, needs to share it, actually, but his hunger is as bottomless now as it was when the blood of virgins and young warriors stained the altar stone.”

“How the hell does a builder know all this stuff?” I asked, still shivering into the leather of his jacket.

He shrugged. “I make my living doing renovations of listed buildings mostly. I do a lot of old barn conversions as well, and church and chapel conversions, of course. I specialized in that area because I find the history of the places I renovate fascinating. I know just enough archeology to understand that old buildings often have a history older than the building itself, and that history often connects them with the space where they’re built. When your friend hired me to renovate Chapel House, I jumped at the chance. I got more than I bargained for,” he added as an afterthought.

P1020065               There was another long silence while the little family discussed the menu and the toddler fussed and wriggled. “I have to get my stuff,” I said.

“He won’t let you go easily,” Michael replied, slapping down money for the bill. “Especially if what Annie said is true, and he had her send for you. You’re the one he wants. You’re the one he’s chosen.”

I pulled the jacket tight around me. “You said he wanted me willing. Well I’m not.”

He held my gaze. “You weren’t even tempted?’

I felt colour rush to my face and the bruises on my arms tingled as though they had just been caressed tenderly. He didn’t wait for my reply. It was obvious, I guess. “Susan, you have no idea just how persuasive he can be. If you wanted him, if you were tempted even a little bit, he’s already found a way in. The only way to keep him from getting what he wants is to get as far away from him as possible, and even then he won’t make it easy.”

“Jesus,” I murmured, clenching my eyes tightly.

Michael said nothing, only sat watching me.

“And Annie?” I asked, at last.

He looked down at his hands now folded on the table as though he were about to say a prayer.

“What about Annie?” I asked again. Feeling my chest tighten and my throat constrict.

“I don’t know.” His voice was barely audible. “If he’s had her call you. If he’s already grooming you.”

“He’s not grooming me,” I said, a little louder than I intended. “I’m not his for the taking, and I want my friend out of there.”

He said nothing. Only sat looking at his hands. “I have to get my stuff.” I said again. “My phone, my car keys, my computer. All my stuff is there. I want it back.”

This time he did look up at me and smiled. “Yes, she told me you were a writer.” Then he added quickly. “In the beginning, when she first hired me, she told me, and I know enough about writers to know that the tools of their trade are their treasure. Especially in this day and age.” Then before I could respond, he stood and offered me his hand. “Come on. Let’s get your stuff back.”

 

Twenty minutes later we stood together at the front door of Chapel House, our knocks unanswered. My calling through the door that I just wanted my stuff drew some suspicious looks from passers by, but no response from inside.

“She’s in there,” Michael said, before I could ask. “She’s just not responding.”

“So what should we do? Call the police?”

“I don’t think so,” he said, taking me gently by the elbow and turning me about. “I know another way in. You were staying in the makeshift guest room? I’ll get your stuff. You wait in the truck.”

We walked in silence back to the alley where he’d parked and he helped me up into the cab. “Wait here. I’ll be right back.”

“Hold it” I grabbed him by the arm. “My phone. I dropped it in the transept last night when I … when she was 2015-06-17 09.32.13-2with him … when he came after me.”

He placed a hand on my shoulder and squeezed gently. “Don’t worry. I’ll get it.”

“Be careful, Michael,” I called behind him as he headed through the wrought iron gate.

It felt like I waited ages for him to come back. I was just about to get out of the truck and see if I could find him when I noticed a splash of colour under a bramble thicket on the alley side of the fence. I slid from the seat, leaving the door open in case I wanted to return in a hurry. Reminded of the bruises on my arms, I wondered just what good I though that would do.

Sure enough, there under the brambles were my things, as thought someone had tossed them in a heap over the fence. Mindless of the prick of the brambles and the sting of nettles, I tugged and pulled both my travel bag and my shoulder bag free. Holding my breath, heart pounding, prickle flesh climbing my spine, I dragged everything back into the truck then slammed and locked the door behind me. My computer was safe in its sheath inside the shoulder bag, right where I always carried it. And slid into the little side pouch next to my car keys, I found my cell phone and my wallet. Everything in place. The clothes in the travel bag, my toiletries, everything had been neatly packed before it had been tossed over the fence. The relief of having my stuff back was short lived, my thoughts returned to Michael. What the hell was taking him so long?

Once again I slid out of the truck and closed the door carefully behind me. The alley was deserted. I smelled neither roses nor burning garbage. Perhaps Annie was occupied with her lover and neither of them noticed me. Or perhaps they were occupied with Michael and he was in trouble. As an afterthought, I opened the door again and pawed through the space behind the seat until I found a screwdriver, not a big one, but big enough to do some damage if I needed to. But then, what was I going to do, use it in my friend? Clearly it would do no good on this lover of hers. Nevertheless, I gripped it tightly, shut the door behind me and headed through the wrought iron gate.

Almost immediately I found myself engulfed in the overgrown garden. With heart pounding in my chest, I stood for a moment trying to get my bearings. It seemed like a straight shot from the back door to the gate this morning when Annie kicked me out. Surely I would have remembered the way. Surely it wasn’t so complicated. I squared my shoulders and moved forward into the garden, convincing myself that all I had to do was follow the main path. Ten minutes later, I realized the folly of my decision as I pushed and shoved through ivy and overgrown hawthorn, adding new scrapes and scratches to those already stinging from recovering my bags. I smelled neither roses nor garbage, only the thick, rank scent of summer vegetation. Surely I’d be okay. Surely I’d not drawn any unwanted attention, but where the hell was Michael? What was taking him so long? Christ! What if something had happened to him? Annie clearly Graveyard angel 1wasn’t herself. What if she’d taken the butcher knife to him? What if he was somewhere inside Chapel House wounded and bleeding while I was out here wandering around in the garden unable to get to him. Once again I wished desperately to wake up from the bad dream and find myself safe and secure in my own flat in my own bed. Instead I was brought up short, coming face to face once again with the stone angel, empty eyes locked on me, outstretched hand beckoning me, as though he might lead me to safety. But it was the sculpted face so full of concern, so focused on me, that held my attention. The face, suddenly familiar, suddenly recognizable. Though the eyes were empty, aged marble and not stunning blue, there was no mistaking the strong lines of the face, the square jaw. Even the broad shoulders, the posture of strength and determination, all familiar to me.

“Michael?’ My strangled whisper sounded like a shout in the deep silence. But then again, I might have yelped. I might have even screamed just before I turned to run.

 

In The Flesh Part 4: Free Story in Progress. Enjoy!

Happy Friday! And to start your weekend off with a thrill and a chill, enjoy Part 4 of my dark paranormal erotic story, In The Flesh.  psyche_et_lamour_327x567

In the Flesh is a dark and sexy story that has had several incarnations in its shorter form, but never quite worked because it needed space to grow. I couldn’t think of a better place for it to grow. In the Flesh is a blend of paranormal erotica and almost, but not quite … okay, quite possibly … horror. What I’m sharing with you, this version, is an expanding work in progress. You get it just shortly after I write it, and as far as what happens next, well … we’ll see. 

I hope you enjoy it! 

 

 

 

To read the story in its entirety up to this point, follow these links to  Part 1  Part 2 & Part 3.

 

In The Flesh: Part 4

I woke up with a jerk that made my neck pop. I was lying naked curled around the pillow in the middle of the mattress in the make-shift guest room. The tight space that had been heavy and humid last night was now freezing cold and I was shivering. I gulped oxygen as though I hadn’t breathed all night. Then a wave of relief washed over me. I sobbed out loud. “It was only a dream! It wasn’t real. Dear God it wasn’t real!” My throat felt like I’d been eating ground glass and my head ached. Everything ached. Only a dream! Thank God! Thank heaven! Thank fuck! Thank everything! In the grey morning light that bathed the windowless excuse for a room, I crawled off the mattress and shoved my way into yesterday’s cloths, thrown carelessly across my travel bag when I’d come to bed last night. Then I frantically began to pack. Dream or not, I was out of here as soon as I could extricate myself – politely or otherwise — from Annie. I wasn’t her keeper. I couldn’t make her do what she didn’t want to. I’d call her mother. That’s what I’d do! I had her mother’s number somewhere. I’d call her to take charge, then I’d hope for the best. From a safe distance.

I’d just finished washing my face and running a toothbrush over my teeth when I heard a commotion down therose images hall.

“I told you to stay away! I told you I didn’t want you here. Do I have to call the cops?”

I threw open the bathroom door and raced down the hall to the makeshift kitchen where the noise was coming from. Annie stood at the door, robe wrapped carelessly around her, holding a butcher knife in one hand and her phone in the other, shaking both at a dark haired man in faded jeans and an Elvis Lives, t-shirt. For some reason the man looked familiar, but then again, how many of Annie’s lovers had pined for her and tried to get back in her good graces after she dissed them. More than a few of them had come to me for advice on how to win Annie’s heart. Jesus! The woman couldn’t be happy with a made-up stalker, she had to have a real one too!

“What the hell’s going on here?” I roared, the pent-up helplessness from last night giving way to anger. ‘You heard her. Get out!’ I yelled at the man. But to my surprise, instead of coming to my side, instead of standing shoulder to shoulder with me like she always had, Annie turned the knife on me.

“And you! You little whore! I was afraid this would happen, Susan, I tried to tell him. I begged him not to bring you here, but he said to trust him, to trust you. But how could I trust you? How could I trust anyone with him?”

“He brought me here? Who brought me hear? What the fuck are you talking about?” But even as I asked I was Graveyard angel 1terrified that I already knew.

She gave me a hard shove toward the door, her fragile body belying her strength, and I found myself stumbling over the threshold, shoved up against the man at the door, who caught me to keep me from falling. “Get out! Get the hell out, both of you. And don’t come back.” Then she slammed the door in our faces.

“Annie! Annie wait! We need to –” The smell of burning garbage was suddenly so overwhelming that I gagged and choked for breath. The dark haired man grabbed me by the arm and pulled me away from the door and out into the courtyard. With both of us coughing and choking, eyes streaming from smoke we couldn’t see, he half marched, half dragged me through the wrought iron gate and out into the alley behind Chapel House. There, he pulled open the door of a small lorry and tried to shove me inside.

“Let go of me! Let go!” I squirmed free and nearly fell on my arse as he released his grip and another wave of burning rubbish nearly overwhelmed me. “Who the bloody hell are you?’

“I’m the fucking builder! Or at least I was. Now get into the damned truck and lets get out of here before we both suffocate.”

I did as he said, barely getting the door closed before he revved the engine, shoved the truck into gear and pulled out onto the street, the horrible smell receding in our wake. Neither of us said anything until he pulled into a Little Chef off the motorway. He was around the truck and opening the door for me before I could engage with what had happened in the – what was it – just twenty minutes I’d been awake this morning?

He offered me his hand, and I blinked, horrified to discover that I was blinking back tears. “I don’t have any money. I don’t have anything.” I managed. “It’s all back in Chapel House. Even my phone”

“I know.” He settled me onto my feet then reached behind the seat and pulled out a battered leather jacket settling it around my shoulders, bathing me in the comforting scent of wood smoke, ozone and clean male sweat. It was only then that I realized I was shivering. “It’s on the house.” He shut the door and I noticed for the first time the logo printed in bold white against the dark green of the truck, Weller Building.

“Are you Weller?” I asked, as he placed a hand under my elbow and steered me toward the café.dark moon image_xl_6338206

“Michael Weller,” he said opening the door and nodding to a booth in the corner. “And I take it you’re Susan.”

“That would be me.” Once we were seated, he handed me a menu, but I slid it back across the table to him. “I just want coffee.”

As I shoved the menu in his direction, he grabbed my wrist and held tight. “Listen to me, Susan,” He glanced around to make sure we were alone. There was only one other couple in the café this early on a Sunday morning and they were clear across the room. “You have to eat.” He leaned over the table, and for the first time I noticed the bright blue of his eyes — how they contrasted with his dark hair and sun-bronzed skin, and the dark stubble on his chin and square jaw that made him look edgy, just up out of bed. His eyes were startling in their intensity, like some artist had created a face that was more intriguing than it was handsome, but had added, as an afterthought, a stroke of something hypnotic, something beautiful and raw, almost frightening, and yet, the man had been my savior. From what? From a bad dream? From a friend who was slowly going off her rocker? “Listen to me,” he said again, dragging my attention back to his words with a tight squeeze of my wrist. “He starves is lovers. As he grows stronger, they grow weaker, and the more attention he pays to them, the less interested they are in food or drink or …” His voice drifted off and he looked out the window at the sparrows flitting in a sorry looking berberis that had been a lack-luster attempt at landscaping when the place was built. “The less interest they have in anything really.” Then he looked back at me and I was startled all over again by his eyes. “He becomes their world, and once he’s drained them dry and moves on to someone else, they … they have no reason for living.”

With a shiver I remembered the knife in Annie’s hand.

“Are you ready to order, Michael?” I jumped at the sound of the waitress’ bird-like voice.

He glanced up and offered a smile to the chunky middle-aged woman with newly manicured nails, then he returned his gaze to me. “Two full English, Izzy, and keep the coffee coming.” For a second, I feared I’d throw up, as I watched the woman’s blood red nails grip the pen, take the order on the pad. I closed my eyes and grabbed onto the table trying to make sense of everything.

When the waitress left and I was sure I wasn’t going to disgrace myself in the Little Chef, I spoke between my teeth. “You make it sound like he’s real.”

The waitress brought coffee and water. Michael asked her about her kids, both now off in Uni, and I wondered how he could make pleasant conversation under the circumstances. When she left, he waited until I’d had a sip of coffee, all the while holding me in his startling blue gaze. “Oh he’s real alright, and you know it as well as I do. How long have you been at Chapel House,” he asked, looking me over like he was a doctor and I was a patient with some unspecified ailment.

“I got there Friday evening. I’m on holiday. I was surprised that Annie invited me. She’s always so busy, but she said she had some time off, and wouldn’t it be great to catch up. And then, when I got there …”

“Strange things started happening.”

“An understatement,” I grunted. “She says he’s god.” My face burned with embarrassment at saying such a ridiculous thing, but Michael didn’t laugh. “He’s not a ghost is he?” I asked as an afterthought, only then letting the weight of the statement sink in, the fact that I was talking about my friend’s imaginary lover as though he were real. And what was worse, my opinion was being validated by a man who seemed completely lucid and of more than average intelligence.

“He’s no ghost, but he’s not god either.”

I took a gulp of my coffee and burnt my tongue, aware of Michael’s blue gaze. “Susan,” he took my hand and P1020056gave it a reassuring squeeze that really didn’t reassure me at all. “Susan, have you … have you dreamed since you’ve been at Chapel House?” Michael nodded to my right bicep, where the jacket, way too big for me, had slid off my shoulder to reveal four oval bruises the color of overly ripe plums. I slid out of the jacket and shifted in the seat for a better look. They could have almost past for the inked finger prints the police take when they book someone.

Bile rose to my throat. I swallowed hard and turned to examine the other arm, finding similar marks. “It was a dream. It was just a dream. It had to be.” I hadn’t noticed when I woke up in the gloomy grey of the windowless room, wouldn’t have thought to look, when all I wanted to do was just get the hell out of Chapel House as quickly as possible. But the experience in the bath, the smell of roses, the constant feeling of being watched, being touched, what I’d seen last night with Annie splayed on the altar. And then … what had happened after. It couldn’t be real. None of it could be real. And yet the bruises were there, and it was no mystery what had caused them.

The waitress chose that moment to bring the food, but I don’t remember much after that. My brain chose that moment to rebel, because none of this could be real. It was all a bad dream, and I was still back in my own bed in my own flat having the worst nightmare ever. Had to be! Absolutely couldn’t be anything else! I remember shoving my way out of the booth and running for the door desperate for air, desperate for the return of sanity, desperate to get away … far, far away. Mostly I remember being desperate to wake up.

 

In The Flesh Part 3: A FREE Story in Progress. Enjoy!

As promised, here is Part 3 of my dark paranormal erotic story, In The Flesh for you to read and enjoy. A few months ago, I posted a promise to myself to have more fun with my writing. As a part of psyche_et_lamour_327x567keeping that promise, I started a new online serial two weeks ago called In The Flesh. Today I’m very happy to post Part 3 of In The Flesh. One of the things I love to do most on this blog is share stories that you won’t find anywhere else. Writing stories for my blog rather than just sharing observations or navel-gazes always feels much more personal, and much more like I’m sharing more of myself with my readers. Plus, it’s just flat-out fun for me!

In the Flesh is a dark and sexy story that has had several incarnations in its shorter form, but never quite worked because it needed space to grow. I couldn’t think of a better place for it to grow. In the Flesh is a blend of paranormal erotica and almost, but not quite … okay, quite possibly … horror. What I’m sharing with you, this version, is an expanding work in progress. You get it just shortly after I write it, and as far as what happens next, well … we’ll see. 

I hope you enjoy it! 

 

 

To read the story in its entirety up to this point, follow these links to  Part 1Part 2.

 

In The Flesh: Part 3

 
Back at Chapel House, Annie went straight to bed, and I was faced with the prospect of another creepy night alone. “I think I might go home,” I said, sitting on the pallet next to her, watching her struggle to stay awake. “I mean you don’t feel well, and I’m only disturbing you. If I leave now, I can be home before midnight.” Besides I’d be glad to get away from the rubbish burning, which suddenly smelled particularly foul.

“No! You can’t leave.” She grabbed my arm in a grip that was surprisingly strong. Her voice was thin, breathless, punctuated by the racing of her pulse. “Please, Susan, I need you here with me. Please don’t go. I’ll be better tomorrow. I promise.”

Once I had agreed to stay, she relaxed back into her pillows, eyes fluttered shut, and sleep was so instant that for a second I thought she had fainted, or worse yet, she was dead. There was no denying that, in the pale light, she looked like a corpse. I brushed my fingertips over her cheek, smoothing her hair behind her ears where I could see the assurance of a shuddering pulse against the translucent skin of her throat. If I watched closely, I could almost swear I could see the blood coursing through the turquoise veins just beneath the surface. She moaned softly, her eyelids fluttered and the rise and fall of her chest indicated the deep even breath of sleep. Slowly, so not to wake her, I stood and made my reluctant back to my make-shift room.

I pulled up a mindless novel on my iPhone, something light and funny. I didn’t want anything with even the slightest rose imagesbit of creep factor. I just wanted to be well distracted until I could fall asleep, which I was pretty sure I wouldn’t do any time soon. I was wrong. Sleep overtook me nearly as quickly and as completely as it had poor Annie.
Long toward morning I woke with a start. The room was awash in the scent of roses, and I was certain someone had called my name. “Annie?” I half whispered. There was no reply, no sound other than the anxious breathing that must surely have been my own. Surely. The pitch black of the room pressed in all around me like another presence, so close that I felt if I switched on the light, I would suddenly come face to face with it. The bile of panic rose in my throat. I threw off the duvet and fumbled for my phone, dropping it on the mattress before I could finally slice the blackness with a sliver of light. The drop cloth curtains trembled on either side of me, no doubt from my own panicked actions, and the smell of roses thickened.

Careful to keep the sliver of light, I slipped into my robe and hurried to check on Annie. Even in the stairwell I could hear her moans. As I neared the transept the air felt charged and heavy like that moment in a storm just before lightning strikes. The hair on my neck rose and goose flesh prickled up my spine. I held my breath as I tiptoed closer. The plastic drop cloths had been shoved onto the floor in a heap, and there in the moonlight she lay, thrashing atop the altar, her hair splayed like a halo around her head, her nightie pushed up over her hips. She arched her back and cried out, reaching her arms upward to something I couldn’t see.

I wanted to run, but instead, I stood frozen, bathed in cold sweat, waiting for logic to explain everything away, as the moonlight around her seemed to explode and coalesce with her ecstasy. The smell of jasmine, Annie’s favorite flower, cloyed at my throat making my head ache. After what seemed like an eternity, the urge to flee finally took control. Heart pounding, I stepped back, hoping to leave unnoticed, when suddenly I felt a rush of wind against my face and breathed the musky odor of sex. I stumbled backward, unable to hold back a small yelp. My phone slipped through my fingers and skittered under a pew as the scent of jasmine gave way to roses.

In the heavy press of darkness, I half ran, half fell down the hall back toward my room, tripping over the edge of a drop cloth thrown across the floor and coming down hard on both knees with a breathless curse. I pulled myself to my feet gasping for oxygen, groping at the wall for the electrical switch, desperate for light – any kind of light. Though I was disturbed by what I had seen, I was more disturbed by the fact that it had aroused me even through my fear. As my eyes
adjusted, light coming in from the small window in the door of the make-shift kitchen bathed the room in monochrome grey. Another gust of wind blew the door open with a loud crash. I yelped and jumped forward to force it shut. Then I could have sworn I heard my name again, called out with such longing that I couldn’t stop myself. With hands slippery from nervous sweat, I fumbled the door open again and stepped out onto the patio. The clutter of Terra cotta pots looked like strange squat specters in the dance of moonlight and shadow. Making my way past derelict strawberry jars, several bags of ancient compost and wheeless wheelbarrow, I immerged into a large garden over grown with weeds. It was the deconsecrated churchyard, I reminded myself with a shiver. In the bright moonlight, I stood holding my breath. Listening.

Annie had taken twisted pleasure in speculating about the graveyard that had once been the back garden. She had Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500imagined exhumed medieval skeletons taken to the London Museum to be studies and cataloged. She had imagined underground catacombs where ghosts of priests and and murderers alike scurried on secret missions, some sinister, some holy. I shivered at the thought and pulled the robe tighter around me. I had not found her speculation amusing then, and I found it even less so now. I found nothing about this place amusing. Fighting my way through a tangle of ivy I came to a stone bench that looked like it well might have belonged in a graveyard. Not wanting to go back inside Chapel House, I sat down, hoping desperately that if I thought long enough I’d find a rational explanation for everything that had happened or I’d wake up and discover it had all been a bad dream. Staying in places with intriguing pasts often brought me unsettling dreams.

I could smell roses again — old roses, not any sort of modern hybrid. Only old roses would smell so strong and so sweet amid the rank growth of weeds. As I breathed in the scent that seemed to be coming from just over my shoulder, I felt a humid breeze on my neck, brushing my nape, like breath exhaled with the settling of a kiss. The leaves rustled around

me, and the bench was suddenly in shadow. With a start, I turned to hear the sound of footsteps retreating down the path. “Annie? Hello?” I clamored to my feet and followed the rustle of leaves, the scent of roses always just ahead of me. “Annie, this isn’t funny, alright? This isn’t funny!”

I hadn’t remembered the garden being so large. It felt as though I wandered the paths for hours. My spine constantly prickled, but a quick glance over my shoulder always revealed no one following me. The paving stones were mossy and slick beneath my bare feet. I stumbled along ignoring the scratch of bramble and the sting of nettle, shoving my way through leaves damp with dew until I broke through, as though I’d just pushed aside a curtain. With a gasp, I stopped short, nearly losing my footing on the moss.

The smell of roses was overwhelming. The sense of not being alone crawled along my spine on little insect feet. In a small copse set between aging lilac bushes taller than my head and a gnarled hawthorn hedge that might have once been apart of a formal garden, he loomed over me. I swallowed back a scream just before it could escape, just as I realized he was an angel, or at least a statue of one.

Slightly more than human size, his weathered marble toes barely touched a low plinth, as though he were just alighting. One large hand was extended in invitation toward me, the other rested on his naked chest over his heart. A billowing veil of stone just covered his groin so that his perfect form, all but the most intimate of it, shown silver in the moonlight, frozen in a motion of welcome, muscles tensed in anticipation, empty eyes locked on mine.
With my heart battering my ribs, I stood unmoving, stone cold, as though I were his marble counterpart. I know this sounds crazy. And even after so much time has past, it still sounds crazy every time I think of it, and yet I knew then, just as certainly as I know now that something ancient, something primal, moved over my skin, like the brush of spider webs and dust motes, fingering its way deeper, into secret places, places in myself where even I never dare go. Whatever it was, it knew me, it understood me, and its longing for me was terrible.

The scream that echoed through the garden must have been mine, though by the time it happened, it was no longer an November on Downs 2011 1adequate expression of what was happening to me. I was pushed to the ground, or perhaps I fell. Looking back, it hardly matters now. I barely felt the bruise of cold stone against my buttocks and spine, lost as I was, in the realisation

that what I had feared, what I had disbelieved, was now upon me. And I could hide nothing from it because there was nothing left in me that it didn’t already know.

It closed around me, blocking out the moon, smelling of roses, hammering into me until I was certain I would break apart. And once I was certain it no longer mattered, I stopped fighting. I stopped pleading. My words became sand in my throat. And when I stopped fighting, the rock solid crushing of my soul became a gentle caress, a brush of full lips against my own, a cupping of breasts and groin, a bringing to awareness that in the midst of my own darkness, there was need, there was desire, there was lust as dark as whatever it was, whoever it was that held me, and I gave into it. The night convulsed like leaves in a storm, and I was falling through the bottom of the world, falling forever with nothing to stop me, nothing to slow my descent and no knowledge of what lie beneath. And that too no longer mattered.

 

In The Flesh Part 1 A FREE Story in Progress: Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_n

 

One of the things I love to do most on this blog is share stories that you won’t find anywhere else. Writing stories for my blog rather than just sharing observations or navel-gazes always feels much more personal, and much more like I’m sharing myself with you lot. Plus, it’s just flat-out fun! And if you’ll recall, a few months ago, I did write that I had promised myself to have a little more fun with my writing. 

In the Flesh is a dark and sexy story that has had several incarnations in its shorter form, but never quite worked because it needed space to grow. I couldn’t think of a better place for it to grow. In the Flesh is a blend of paranormal erotica and almost, but not quite … okay, quite possibly … horror. As I say, what I’m sharing with you, this version, is an expanding work in progress. I hope you enjoy it! 

KDG/GM

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Flesh: Part 1

P1020065“You’re early.” Breathing heavily, Annie stood in the door she had opened only a crack.

I wasn’t early, but I wasn’t stupid either. Her hair was mussed, her robe was carelessly wrapped around her and the flushed glow in her cheeks was unmistakable.

“Shall I come back in an hour? Two?”

She threw a quick glance over her shoulder, and from inside I caught the strong scent of jasmine, Annie’s favourite flower. “Thanks, Susan. You’re a dear.”

“Okay, you lucky cow, but when I come back, I’ll expect details.” I barely managed a kissed on her cheek before the door slammed in my face.

Neither of us was famous for our successful love lives. Mine was basically non-existent, but Annie was notorious for her bad choices – usually married or narcissistic twats with a wide range of addictions. Annie hadn’t mentioned that she was seeing anyone, but I knew she had a lot on her mind with her heavy load at the estate agency and the renovation of what she was now affectionately calling Chapel House.

“It happens all the time,” Annie had told me when I went with her to view the place before she bought it. “No one’s religious any more so small churches are deconsecrated when they’re no longer in use, and they’re sold as boutiques, office buildings, houses and even pubs. But this one is about to become my home.” She had chatted away enthusiastically about the lounge that would be where the altar was, and how the whole nave would be open-plan living at its best, kitchen with an Aga, study in what had been the small choir loft, and the perfect en suite that she’d always dreamed of. What good was money if you couldn’t spend it?

After what I felt was an appropriate time at a nearby Starbuck’s, I returned with a nice bottle of chardonnay and my best tell me all about him smile. I knocked, then knocked again. I was just beginning to think she was having such an orgy that she had forgotten about me when the door opened and she squinted out into the fading evening light.

“Susan?”

She was still in her robe, but the glow was gone, and there were circles under her eyes. She forced a smile. “I must have fallen asleep.” Her anemic embrace alerted me to sharp angles and jutting bones that had been cushioned by shapely curves when I saw her three months ago.

“Honey, you’re thin. Must be too much shagging and not enough chocolate. I can’t wait to see what you’ve done with the …” She flipped on the switch behind her, and I could see, in the harsh light of a bare bulb, that for all practical purposes, she had done nothing with the place.

She looked around and colour rose to her face. “I’ve been busy.”

“Things wild at work?”

“I’ve taken some time off,” came the curt reply.

In spite of all her big plans, Chapel House was still a church, complete with dusty pews and an altar covered in plastic drop cloths.

“I see the previous owner hasn’t moved out yet.”

She ignored my comment. “I’ll show you around.”

“No need. You’ve shown me around before. Just find some glasses and fill me in on all your news.” I followed her down a narrow hallway into more recent addition to the building, added on to a small lady chapel no longer in use, which became a a small kitchen and a couple of rooms for classes and meetings, now all divided off by hanging drop cloths, just as they had been when she’d shown me the place before she bought it.

“You can sleep there.” On the floor behind one petition was a mattress with a duvet thrown over it. There was a dusty wardrobe in one corner and a backless chair for a make-shift night table. “Bathroom’s down the hall.” She gave a listless nod in the direction.

“Annie?” I took her in my arms. “What’s going on? What did you and Shag Boy get up to anyway that left you this exhausted?”

“Don’t call him that,” she pushed me away with an effort that seemed uncharacteristically fragile for the woman who had been her company’s best agent three years running. “I’m just tired, that’s all.”

I took her hand and led her into the kitchen. “A glass of wine and a nice take-away will set you right. You should have told me he’d be here, I could have come some other time, or he can stay. I mean I have earplugs, you know. And anyway, when do I get to meet him.”

She offered me a shrug and shoved limp blond hair behind her ear. “It’s complicated.”

I ended up drinking most of the bottle of chardonnay, and a lovely take-away was wasted, as Annie picked at her Mongolian beef and practically fell asleep at the table.

“Come on.” I took the glass from her hand and pulled her to her feet. “You’re exhausted, and I’m not sympathetic, but you can’t tell me juicy gossip when you’re falling asleep in your rice. Now which of these lovely rooms is the master suite?”

“I sleep there.” She shot a glance back down the hall toward the nave. “I like the way the moonlight comes through the big windows in the apse above the altar,” she added quickly.

‘Are you the sacrifice?’ I asked, taking her arm, and I was surprised at her strength as she jerked away.

‘I told you, I just like the light.’ In spite of her protests, I walked her up through the nave, trying to ignore the disquiet clenching at my stomach, as she shuffled up the aisle between the pews, past the transept and the chancel, to a pallet of blankets and pillows on the floor at the foot of the altar. The air was heavy with the scent of jasmine, but there were no flowers that I could see. I felt a chill finger its way up my spine.

P1020056“Annie, I’ve always known you were a little weird, but this is just creepy.”

“No really, look.” With a feline stretch, she lay back in a pool of moonlight and I caught my breath at the affect. It was as though she were lying under a luminous waterfall. In the monochrome tones of growing night, she appeared startlingly transparent. As the robe that she wore fell open, her nipples rose to and peaked, and the woman who had always been a little bit shy about her body tugged and shoved aside the robe until she lay naked atop the blankets, her hair spread across the pillow like a reaching shadow. The moonlight exaggerated the arch and curve of rib bones way too visible for the woman I knew. Goose flesh rippled over rice paper skin, and for a moment, in her writhing and stretching, in the soft moan that filled her throat, if I hadn’t been standing there watching, I’d have thought her to be making love with someone. In spite of what my eyes told me, I gave a quick glance around the room to be certain we were alone and even then, I wasn’t certain.

Annie was usually the take-charge chick between the two of us, but action seemed better than letting myself be freaked out by what was probably, what was hopefully nothing. I sat down next to her and pulled the mound of tangled blankets up around her chilled body, tucking her in. Before she could protest, I laid a hand against her forehead. “Annie, tell me what’s wrong. Have you seen a doctor? Are you ill?” My insides knotted at all the horrible things loss of weight and constant tiredness might herald.

“No! No Susan, nothing like that, I promise you.” She sat up and threw her arms around me in the most enthusiastic show of affection I’d had since my arrival. “Oh Susan, I want so much to tell you everything. I can hardly contain myself, but I just get so tired. You’d understand better if you knew him.”

“Does he at least have a name?”

She squeezed my hand and lay back on the pile of pillows. Outside somewhere close by someone was burning garden trash. I looked around to close the window, but none of the arched windows in the nave were open. Judging from the way my eyes burned, it must be quite a bon fire, I thought. Annie coughed and cleared her throat. “Please, Susan, if you’re my best friend, don’t ask any questions. Just let me tell you in my own time, in my own way.”

“All right. I’m listening.” A flutter of a breeze curled around the altar and rustle the plastic ever so slightly.

For a long time she didn’t speak. Her lips were the only things about her that were still full and shapely, but even they seemed pale and colourless in the moonlight. She smoothed the blanket carefully over her thighs. “I knew he was watching me even while Todd and I were still together.”

“Todd? You mean the married bloke?”

She nodded. “So many times I felt like someone was near me, looking out for me. I really didn’t realize who was pursuing me until after I broke up with Todd, about the time I moved in here.” She sat silently for a few seconds, staring out across the empty pews. “I realized I no longer wanted to live without him. That was the first time our relationship became… physical.”

‘Became physical,’ I chuckled. ‘Right.’

She ignored my sarcasm. The bow of her mouth, the way she curled a lock of hair around her finger, made her seem childlike, innocent. “Oh Susan, you’d understand if you knew him.”

I’d have called the police if I knew him, I thought, all the while wishing the neighbours would stop with the damned burning already.

“I know you must be thinking I’m crazy.”

“Hon,” I squeezed her hand. “I’ve always thought you were crazy, so what else is new?”

She forced a jagged little laugh and continued. “He was so angry when I invited you.”

The disquiet I felt escalated into something a little more tetchy. “Jesus, Annie, he controls who your friends are? That’s really sick.”

“No, it’s not that. He’s been wanting to meet you for ages. He felt I didn’t want you to know about us, that I was ashamed of him. I wasn’t,” she added quickly. “I could never be. And anyway, it doesn’t matter. In the end, he convinced me that you were someone who would understand.”

That I had somehow gotten this bloke’s attention made me feel slightly queasy. “What else does he know about me?”

“He knows everything, Susan. He knows what we’re saying now, what we’re thinking, what we’re feeling.”

“What the fuck is he, a mind reader?”

In the growing gloom, she seemed as unsubstantial as the plastic on the altar. She pulled the blanket close around her with tightly fisted hands, knuckles chalk pale. “Susan,” her voice was a thin whisper that I might not have heard in a place less silent. “This is going to sound completely barking, but I think he might be God.”

*****

Part 2 will be up next week! 

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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