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It’s Release Day for In The Flesh!

kdgrace-itf-finalIt’s release day for In The Flesh, and I couldn’t be happier! I just got my gorgeous author’s copies yesterday, and the good reviews are already coming in. I’m all ready to celebrate!

When I began In the Flesh as a serial on my blog, I never imagined it would grow from the short story it started its life as ten years ago to a novel. It started out as just sexy horror, but it never felt quite complete, so I thought I’d let the story tell itself. WOW! What a story it turned out to be! It evolved into a full-length novel and became a strange mix of demons, vampires, angels and Medusa – that’s right, even Medusa shows up for the fun. And why not? It is the first book of Medusa’s Consortium, after all. I didn’t see that coming either, since I’d already written the third book of The Medusa’s Consortium series, thinking it was the first.

What I discovered as I wrote it is that the characters who joined the cast throughout the novel may have come to the party uninvited, but they were always a welcome addition that made the story better and stronger and juicier as it unfolded. Those new characters and the chemistry and complications they created opened the doors to whole new possibilities and made the novel shine and sizzle in ways I could have never achieved without a little party-crashing mash-up of characters from my short novella, Landscapes, and from the third novel Buried Pleasures — and yes, it became the third novel because In The Flesh’s mash-up of party-crashers added a big fat juicy twist to the novel that absolutely guaranteed Michael, Susan and the Guardian were gonna need a sequel. That will be Blind-Sided, which I’ve already started on.

 

If you like sexy, chilling, thrilling urban fantasy/paranormal romance, then In the Flesh is right up your ally. Here’s a sneak peek, along with a little bit about the Medusa Consortium Series.

 

In The Flesh Blurb:

 

When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

  

 

EXCERPT from In The Flesh: Susan’s Secret Writings:

I wasn’t alone in the dark. I knew that the first time I entered the crypt at Chapel House. I could feel a presence there, almost as though someone stood just behind me, about to reach out and touch me. The shiver over my skin was not so much from fear, though certainly there was an element of fear, as it was from longing, bone-deep longing. I could barely breathe for it, I could barely stand under the weight of it, and I couldn’t imagine how such an ache, such a hunger could exist inside my flesh and not tear me apart. I was astonished that Annie seemed completely unaware of anything out of the ordinary, and to be quite honest, I wasn’t anxious to share it with her.

She continued to chatter on about her plans to make Chapel House over with a state of the art kitchen—she who didn’t cook, and a master suite that would rival the finest hotels in London. Strange that I could listen with one part of my brain and comment on her ideas for an open plan living space, for a library in the choir loft, for a wet room in the sacristy, while with another part of my brain I felt like every cell of my body was responding to whatever it was, whoever it was that I was certain waited there in the darkness, just beyond the beam of Annie’s Maglite.

***

The departmentalizing of Annie’s plans and the feel of the presence in the darkness became much more difficult when I felt the closeness of a warm, hard body against my back and the humid nip of a kiss on the nape of my neck. I explained away my little gasp of surprise to Annie by saying I’d almost lost my footing. I should have been frightened. I should have been terrified, and believe me, I was. But by the time I felt a large hand splayed low against my belly, by the time I was certain of the maleness pressed hard and low just above my butt, I was far more intrigued than I was frightened. Even if terror had won out, I don’t think I could have forced myself to move as the hand in the darkness migrated to cup my breasts and thumb my nipples, first one, then the other, and the slow grind and undulation from behind became more demanding.

“The roses, they smell lovely.” I managed a breathless response to Annie’s ramblings about plans for the overgrown mess of a garden. “You might want to consider a scent garden.”

She laughed. “I can’t smell anything, but then you were always the one with the sensitive nose. Of course I’ll make suregraveyard-angel-1
there are lots of roses.” She knew they were my favorite, but I couldn’t imagine her not smelling them; the scent was nearly overwhelming in the tight space of the crypt. To my surprise, as she rambled on about a patio with a Jacuzzi, the smell of roses was subsumed in my own scent and the humid, piquant scent of a man well aroused. The hand on my breast began a slow, torturous descent, and I wanted nothing more than for Annie to keep talking, keep planning, anything to keep her from dragging me away from this place, at least for a few more minutes.

I asked about the Jacuzzi, hoping that would give me another minute. By the time she got started about the sites she’d looked up online and the builders she’d talked to, I was rocking back against the hardness, craning my neck to yield as much bare skin as possible to teeth and tongue and lips all soft and warm and wet and sharp and hard and demanding. Oh,

I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible, but looking back, I wonder how the hell Annie couldn’t see? How could she have missed it? But she rattled on and on about some builder just up the road near Keswick who was supposed to be really good, some guy named Michael. Like I gave a fuck.

The study suddenly felt stuffy and overheated, and Michael’s grip on my hand convulsed. His jaw tightened, but he didn’t look at me.

Magda paid little attention to either my discomfort or Michael’s. She just kept on reading.

He was cute, Annie said. That led to observations about this Michael’s broad shoulders and nice arse and speculation as to whether or not he would be any good in bed, and was it wise to seduce him before he put in her Jacuzzi or wait till after and seduce him in it. All the while I nodded and pretended to be interested.

I was thankful for the extra time, but Christ, how could she not notice me standing there, legs apart, rocking back and forth and shifting from foot to foot like I had ants in my knickers? In truth, what I wanted in my knickers surely couldn’t actually be there, and yet I felt it, fucking hell, how I felt it! I swear, I could feel muscle and sinew. Hell, I could feel the actual shape of an erection as though we were both naked, as though all he need do, this dark being who surely was just my imagination, was bend me over and open me, me struggling to keep my breathing quiet, me struggling to focus enough attention on my friend that she wouldn’t suspect I was about to come. Oh yes, I was terrified. I would have, should have, run, if I hadn’t been so intrigued, so turned on. I just wanted one more second, and then another and another.

In desperation that shocks me even now as I write this in the dark silence of Annie’s flat, I grabbed onto a wrist that I swear was as solid and warm as my own and guided the caress, the tease, the fondling of fingers and palm down my belly toward where I really needed it to be.

Annie yammered on about this Michael, all the things she’d heard about him, all the things she wanted to do to him—at least I think she did. My God, my whole body felt alive, every cell, every molecule. I could damn near feel the coursing of my own blood through my veins. You have no idea what an exhilarating combination fear and arousal make. I lost track of what Annie was saying, and the air was filled with the scent of sex. I could smell him, actually smell this phantom man, who was as near release as I was, and I was sure, as my knees gave beneath me, I felt the warm wet of his orgasm against my lower back. And then for an instant everything around me was silk and darkness, so perfect, so ecstatic. But just beyond that warm tight space, I knew. I knew as well as I know my own breath, I was terrified, and what I felt was like no terror I’d ever known before and, holy God in heaven, I want to feel it again.

And then I was shivering on my knees against the stone floor in the crypt at Chapel House.

“Susan? Susan, you’re scaring me.” Annie’s worried face invaded my field of vision before she half-blinded me with her Maglite. “Are you all right? What the hell happened?”

“Sorry, I got a little lightheaded there. Probably just blood sugar. I missed lunch,” I lied, stumbling quickly to my feet, making a quick swipe at the back of my skirt, surprised to find it was dry. Glancing over my shoulder into the narrow beam of the Maglite, I saw only the empty darkness of the crypt and the tunnel that led back to the rusted barred door. But I was certain someone was there, someone I hungered for way more than I hungered for food. And I was equally certain that I would have Him.

  

Buy In the Flesh Here

 

 

About the Medusa’s Consortium Series:

 

Contrary to popular belief, Medusa is alive and well and living a quiet life in the English Lake District. But don’t let that fool you, ever since she escaped Greece and the Olympians, Medusa/AKA Magda Gardener, has been secretly kicking ass and taking names.

 

431px-medusa_mascaron_new_york_nyMedusa may be public enemy number one with the Olympians, but in the modern world, Magda Gardener never turns away someone in need. For those she helps, those who are drawn to her, those she seeks out, life will never be the same. Like the Godfather, those who owe Magda Gardener never know when she’ll call in the debt, or what will be required of them when she does. Magda is a rescuer of monsters and demons and a thief of all things dear to the Olympians. She is irreverent, powerful, rich and has her own agenda, in which the lines between right and wrong are not always clearly drawn. Even more importantly, she and her consortium are all that stand between the modern world and a new age of Olympian tyranny. Magda Gardener is a female Nick Fury in dark glasses commanding her monsters, gods and demons version of the Avengers.

 

But what’s at the heart of the gorgon? Can she ever really heal from the rape of a god or overcome the curse of a goddess? As her consortium of powerful misfits grows into a cohesive, if rather troubled, family, it becomes more and more difficult to keep her distance from the lives of those who belong to her. Scheming to keep one step ahead of the Olympians and wreak as much havoc upon them as possible, can Medusa find redemption and possibly even love among the monsters? The Medusa’s Consortium Series is Magda Gardener’s story and the stories of those drawn to her.

 

In the Flesh Now Available for Preorder

kdgrace-itf-final

 

 

In the Flesh is a brand new beginning for me, and an opportunity to tell a tale that’s been near and dear to my heart for a long time now – or at least to begin the tale, because this tale is going to be a long one. In The Flesh is the first novel of the Medusa’s Consortium series, and I’m very proud of it. If you like sexy urban fantasy/paranormal mixed with more than a few chills and thrills and plenty of sizzle and romance, then In the Flesh is the novel for you.  In the Flesh was inspired by a short story I wrote several years back for Seducing the Myth, the wonderful book of myth-based erotic short stories edited by Lucy Felthouse. I wrote a story called Stones speculating on what might happen if Medusa were alive and living a reclusive life in Southern California. I hadn’t written the first paragraph before I knew there was SO much more to a tale of Medusa in the modern age than just a short story. I was SO right! The hair-raising ride is just beginning! You see what I did there.

 

 

 

 

 

In the Flesh Blurb:

When Susan Innes visits her friend, Annie Rivers, at Chapel House, the deconsecrated church Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend has become reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover she claims is God. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human. Even worse, he’s turned his wandering eyes on her, and he won’t be denied his prize. But her demon stalker, known only as the Guardian, is not the only non-human who wants Susan, and if she is to be free of the Guardian and save the life of both her best friend, Annie, and the fallen angel, Michael Weller, whom she’s grown to love, she might just have to give the demon what he wants – a body of his own. In order to do that she’ll need to make a deal with a vampire and bond herself inextricably to a gorgon.

In The Flesh Excerpt:

By the time I finished my breakfast and was ready to go, Annie was already fast asleep, curled in her nest at the foot of the altar. Outside, the smell of burning rubbish stung my eyes and the back of my throat.

I had little enthusiasm for the handbag sale, nor for lingering at the make-up counter. Instead I found myself in a coffee shop, laptop open researching God’s love life, which turned out to be a long history of seducing humans.

Zeus visited Danae in a shower of gold. He seduced Leda in the form of a swan. Eros came to Psyche in the dead of night forbidding her to look upon his face. Hades dragged Persephone down to the Underworld. The Virgin Mary was impregnated by the god of the Bible. In the New Testament, Christ is the bridegroom, and the church his bride. And the list went on and on. Perhaps even the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was just another way for divinity to experience flesh.

I had always loved mythology, and I’d read all these stories before. I’d just never put them together to get the whole picture. And though I was seeing an aspect of divinity that I found rather disturbing, I couldn’t help feeling there was still a piece of the puzzle missing.

I suppose I should have felt relieved. Annie wasn’t as unusual as I’d thought. God was the ultimate stalker, and he didn’t seem to be very faithful to his lovers. Just Annie’s type. I tried not to think about the implications of my experience in the bath last night. After all, it was just mythology, and I’d had a lot of wine. And there’s never any accounting for my vivid imagination. After all, I was a writer. I made my living as a teller of tales.

“What are you reading?”

I jumped at the sound of Annie’s voice and quickly minimized the page. “Didn’t expect to see you here.”

“I’m feeling better.”

“How did you know where to find me?”

She leaned down and whispered next to my ear. “My lover’s God, remember? You can’t hide from him.” I barely had time to register shock before she reached down and restored the page.

“Trying to learn a little bit more about him, are we?”  She smiled at the monitor and nodded knowingly. “None of this does him justice. He’s the Hound of Heaven. He’s always pursuing those he loves, and there’s no escaping. Once he’s set his eyes on you, he’ll do whatever it takes to make you his own.”

I suddenly felt cold.

 

Pre-order In the Flesh Now for a 20th September release:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

(for complete list of buy links, see the In the Flesh page)

 

 

Shameless Selfie in Sleepy-Town

Yup! That’s me all right. Nope! I’m not actually sleeping, and I’m certainly not dreaming. I’m faking it because if I’d IMG_6186been doing either, I wouldn’t have been able to take a selfie. Having said that I did dream just before I woke up that I’d somehow managed to delete everything from my iPhone and from my computer and no one could help me get it back. Not the kind of dream a succubus would send me, no doubt, but certainly one I was relieved to wake up from.

And speaking of succubae, this Shameless Selfie comes from book 2 of the Lakeland Witches novels, Riding the Ether. For those of you who love Anderson, and who doesn’t, this is his story, and it’s too hot to handle. Enjoy!

 

WARNING Succubus dreams rated XXX

 

Book two of the Lakeland Witches trilogy (Click here for: Book One | Book Three)

Cassandra Larkin keeps her ravenous and dangerous sexual appetite secret until she seduces Anderson in the mysterious void of the Ether.  Anderson is the sexy, insatiable ghost who can give her exactly what she needs.

But sex is dangerous in a place like the Ether…

When the treacherous demon, Deacon, discovers the truth about the origin of Cassandra’s powerful lust, he plots to use her sex magic for revenge on Tara Stone and the Elemental Coven, who practice their own brand of sex magic.

Cassandra must embrace the lust and sexuality she fears and learn to use its power. Will she stand with Anderson, Tara, and the Elemental Coven against Deacon’s wrath or suffer the loss of friendship, magic and love?

 

Lakeland Witches 2 RTERiding the Ether Excerpt:

Chapter 1

‘There will come a time, my dear Tara, when you must let him use his gift.’ Anderson nodded to Tim Meriwether, who sat naked meditating on the edge of the dream bed in the cave. ‘You have said it yourself that he is ready. He has progressed even more quickly than we had hoped once he made peace with the difficult circumstances in which he finds himself. In which we all find ourselves.’ He lifted his high priestess’s chin, forcing her to meet his gaze. ‘And it is possible that I may not always be here.’

She pulled away and continued to loosen the plait of her hair. ‘You’re my high priest. What, are you planning early retirement, maybe a holiday away from all this fun?’ As was common when he broached the subject of permitting Tim Meriwether to perform the task that fell to their masculine sex, in the coven’s dream magic, she made no pretense of hiding her irritation. In truth he knew her irritation was focused inward. Irritation was the most effective disguise Tara Stone could manage for her fear of becoming too attached to the living. In fairness Tara had done all in her power to see to the proper training of Tim Meriwether and Marie Warren, since they had been added to the coven. And they were quickly becoming formidable witches because of said training.

But on this one subject, she would not be moved. Tara Stone would not have intercourse with the living. She allowed herself sexual congress only with ghosts. And though Anderson, being himself a ghost, benefitted greatly from what Tim Meriwether referred to as Tara’s sexual neurosis, he worried about her still, worried about her as he had the entire 150 years they had been together. The burden she bore would have broken anyone else long ago, and yet she shouldered it. His heart ached for her at the thought. He brushed a dark lock of her lush hair away from her cheek.

‘I have heard that Tahiti is lovely this time of year, and I think I should quite enjoy a bit of warmth after the long Cumbrian winter.’

She gave him a look that told him she neither believed him nor was she impressed. ‘You’re a ghost.’

‘A ghost who is at this moment fully in the flesh, and I assure you, my darling, my flesh does not appreciate the cold any more than does yours.’

She forced a smile. ‘And yet your flesh is doing a lot more complaining about it than mine is.’

‘My dear Tara, you have once again successfully directed our conversation away from the topic I endeavored to broach.’

She shook her head slightly, and the last of the plait collapsed into a soft torrent of deep auburn which reminded him of the peaty waters in the fast moving streams on the fells. ‘Clearly not as successfully as I’d hoped,’ she said, ‘or you wouldn’t be bringing it up again.’ She took him by the hand and led him toward the dream bed. ‘Now, do you think we could focus on the magic we’re here for instead of my choice of sex partners?’

He thought it wise not to remind her that the magic had been precisely the topic of their conversation, aware as he was that in her heart she knew that fact even if she could not bear to admit it. And in truth, his timing had been poor. But Tim Meriwether was truly gifted in dream magic, while Anderson had come to practice it only by default being, before Tim Meriwether’s arrival, the only member of the coven equipped with a penis. Anderson was more at home in the Ether. He was trained in ethereal magic and, in truth, it had been many long years since he’d had need of what was now referred to as REM sleep, that sleep in which dreams occurred, that sleep which kept the living sane and healthy. Not for the first time he wondered if it might be more expedient simply to allow him to journey into the Ether and seek out with more direct methods the information they desired. But Tara had forbidden it as too dangerous at the moment. And in spite of the unease he felt, he would do his high priestess’s bidding.

He brought his attention back to the circle that had been cast earlier, and let the full weight of the magic rest against Lakeland Witches 3 EFthe flesh he wore as comfortably as the living wore theirs. He immediately felt his manhood stiffen and tense with the growing urgency of the rising magic. He became aware that Marie and Tim Meriwether were now entwined around each other, naked and sheened in perspiration in spite of the winter outside the cave. Through their act of pleasure, their task was to prepare the way for the magic that was to be worked. Sitting next to them with their arms around each other in a caress of their own were Sky and Fiori, theirs the responsibility of witnessing all that was to happen.

Anderson watched as Tim Meriwether positioned himself between Marie’s pale thighs. She moaned softly and lifted her legs to his hips. Tim’s buttocks clenched with his first thrust, obscuring, for a brief moment, the lovely back hole with which Anderson had grown quite familiar in the passing of the eight months since they had fought the demon together.

Could it have been such a short time since Deacon had been bound in the flesh, in the strange lifeless limbo in which Marie and Tim Meriwether had trapped him? Anderson’s stomach clenched as he thought of how very close he had come to losing the two he had so grown to love.

He knew them both intimately, and memories of making love with them served only to tighten the growing weight of desire in his own loins, as he knew it did with Tara and Sky and Fiori, as it was intended to do. It was the foundation set in motion, the drive to rut, the ancient need that brought humanity to the very edge of ecstasy while at the same time driving it to the brink of its own destruction. And in between ecstasy and destruction, the next generation was birthed into existence. And there, on that knife edge in between, the magic happened as it could happen nowhere else. Again and again Anderson had experienced it, always new, always wild, always almost beyond his control.

With the weight of the magic pressing in on him along with the desperate need it created, he shrugged off his robe and eased aside Tara’s, than drew her down onto the bed of cushions, kissing each of her heavy nipples before beginning his descent to the Gateway. He nibbled at the base of her sternum where her ribs yielded to the rise and fall of her belly, which tightened with the touch of his lips and teeth. The caress of his tongue forged the path to her navel, sinking in, darting, probing in sympathy with what his penis would soon do. He traced the soft goose fleshed skin down to the pillowed curls of her pubis, down to the very bud of her pleasure. In his mind’s eye he could see clearly the Gateway as he reverenced it with a kiss to the keystone. He worshiped at its entrance with long lavings of his tongue, preparing the way.

Tara curled her fingers in his hair and spoke words, ancient words, words that could be understood in no other context than that in which they now found themselves; words that would never be uttered in any other space but the space they now created in their intimate act.

And when he was certain the Gateway was fully open, fully inviting, he rose on his knees and positioned himself, LakelandWitches1BTRone hand on his member, the athame in flesh, the other bracing himself. Then he entered the Gateway with a shifting of his hips and a sigh of pleasure laced with fear of the unknown, fear of the Dream World, which was always unpredictable, never completely safe in its revelations.

From a long distance, he heard Tara moan, heard the rush of her breath, felt her legs tighten around his hips, but he was already through the Gateway, speeding forward with each thrust deeper and deeper into the dream. It was familiar territory, a journey he had made with Tara many times before. He found himself poised there on the threshold of the unconscious waiting to be drawn under, waiting to uncover secrets. He felt a slight tightening in his chest, an acceleration of his heart, and the scraping of flesh against stone, solid and bruising. His pulse accelerated further. The hair on the back of his neck rose. Someone called his name from a long way off, but it was not Tara. His last thought before he was catapulted from the flesh with a force violent enough to take his breath away, if there had been breath left, was that he was no longer in the Dream World.

 

He was unsure if he had lost consciousness, but Anderson knew immediately, when he had gathered himself enough for the knowing, that he was in the Ether, though how he got there he could not tell. Immediately he cast the counting spell his mother had taught him when, at last, she agreed that even though he was no daughter, he had wit enough and was gifted enough in the Old Ways to walk safely in the Void. He had already crafted his own counting spell, for until she had relented, he had visited the Ether in secret without her permission. More efficient than his, her spell allowed him to set a small clock in the back of his mind, a clock that kept track of time in the World of Flesh, the only way to mark the passing of time in the Ether. If the counting spell were not cast, one could very easily die. While starvation set in, and the comatose body withered away in the World of Flesh, no time passed at all in the Ether. Time was simply not a concept in the Void.

And though he did not remember casting the special enfleshment spell, the one he always cast for himself in the Ether, he was fully in the flesh, albeit flesh that only had substance in the Ether. He was completely naked, and fully, nay, outrageously aroused. The pressure in his groin was both agonizing and exquisite. He reached for his manhood, knowing full well he was in need of wit that he did not possess when his lust was so great. But before he could stroke himself to release, a voice spoke out from the Void. ‘That belongs to me.’

He was not startled that the woman appeared out of nowhere. After all this was the Ether, but he was very startled, if most pleasantly so, that she was as naked as he, and it was no hardship for him to look upon her. Before he could utter even a cry of surprise, she knelt next to him, slapped his hand away and took his member into her mouth.

‘My dear woman,’ he gasped as her tongue snaked up the underside of his manhood. ‘I do not believe we know each other.’

She stopped pleasuring only long enough to reply. ‘We will very soon.’ Then she returned her efforts to his great xcite1DEMON INTERRUPTEDeditneed.

‘I fear this shall end quickly if you do not stop what you are doing.’ He tried, though only half-heartedly, to push her away. After all what manner of man saw to his own release before the pleasure of his lover?

‘I know you.’ As she spoke, she continued to stimulate him with her hand. ‘It may be over quickly this time, but then,’ she lifted her head enough to brush a quick kiss against his lips, enough for him to catch the tiniest glimpse of dark cinnamon eyes. ‘When it’s over we’ll begin again, and then,’ she gave him a squeeze. ‘Then I’m sure I’ll be well compensated.’

She spoke no more, but took the length of him deep into her throat and tightened her grip until there was nothing for it. He shuddered the weightiness of his release into her throat, and she drank it back like fine brandy. And when she had drained him as surely as if he had been the glass containing her drink of choice, she slipped up next to him, her tight roseate nipples brushing against his ribs. And when she kissed him, he tasted himself on her lovely tongue. This time she kissed him with all of her mouth, nay, with all of her body if that were possible, and he felt lust already returning to his loins.

When she pulled away, he spoke in one breathless sentence, fearful that if he did not find his voice immediately, the lady’s own greed for the pleasures of the flesh might make him forget that he even possessed the power of speech, might make him forget why his voice would even be of importance. ‘My dear woman, might I at least enquire who it is that pleasures me so well and in such unusual circumstances?’

Once again she held him with the deepest, darkest eyes he had ever seen on a woman so pale of complexion. ‘I’m Cassandra, Cassandra Larkin, and I’ve been waiting for you.’

‘Then it is clear you have most definitely found me, Cassandra Larkin.’

Though it was usually fear and uncertainty that drove those who rode the Ether to complete the task for which they had come and return to the World of Flesh as quickly as possible, those who were more adept at journeying in the Ether knew that passions and desires were always more difficult to control in that vast space. Therefore it came as no surprise that his desire should return with such intensity.

Though in truth, he had never taken his pleasure in the Ether before, and he was certain other practitioners of ethereal magic would not approve. But at that particular moment on his internal spell-induced clock, he could think of nothing in the Ether he would rather be doing than sharing pleasure with Cassandra Larkin. Though he was much more in control of his manhood after she had so deliciously emptied him, he would most definitely be the first to agree with modern theories on human sexuality, stating that the brain is the seat of desire. And this slender woman pale of flesh and hair, dark of eyes was truly intoxicating. He wondered if her appearance in the Ether was as her appearance in the World of Flesh. Some, he knew, chose to appear differently when riding the Ether.

He felt her hips shifting and rocking with her unsatisfied need, and as he lifted himself onto one elbow rising above her, for the first time he became aware of the bed on which they lay. It was devoid of colour, like the emptiness in which they found themselves, but it was a bed nonetheless. Anderson could not but admire the woman’s attention to function, much more important in ethereal magic than form. And at this moment, hers was the only form in which he was interested, though he wondered why that should be when there was important coven magic in which he ought to be participating.

She guided his hand to the soft warmth between her legs, and he eased a middle finger into the slippery wetness of her ardor. His thumb caressed the heavy node of her pleasure and she trembled like a leaf on water, honeyed eyelashes fluttering over dark eyes. She opened herself to him, shifting her buttocks until he could see the heavy folds and hillocks of her womanhood pouting open before him, until he could smell the heat of her rising up from below her belly at the seat of her desire.

She lifted her arms around his neck. ‘Anderson,’ she pressed his name up through her chest and past her lips with labored breath. ‘Anderson, it’s all right for me to have you here in this place, and I need you. Please. I need you.’

His own need grew with the feel of her beneath him, and he did not deny her the release she so needed. He cupped her buttocks, felt them tighten in his grip, felt the strain of her anticipation as he positioned himself, the head of his member pressed tight against her womanhood. ‘Please,’ she whispered again.

He pushed into her until the sigh of her breath was a sob, then she wrapped herself around him and pulled up to meet him, pressing her mouth to his, whispering against his lips. ‘Ride it with me, Anderson. I need you to ride it with me.’

The power of first contact drove fire up his spine and up into his head until the very fabric of the ether sparked with it. Then as he thrust, it was as though she had inhaled all of him into herself, right up through the very core of her womanhood all the way to the beating of her heart. And then she gave it all back to him again, each time driving the fire up into him hotter and brighter than the time before. His bliss was such that he wondered if it were her intention to burn him until he was but ash to be blown away into the nothingness of the Ether. But he was too far gone for his possible destruction by fire to matter, and when she began to shudder and tremble with her release, driving her heels into his kidneys, digging her nails into his back, he allowed himself to tumble into the abyss with her. The bed she had created quite literally vanished and they were falling, endlessly falling into the heat of their release.

For a time, they floated in nothingness, wrapped around each other. The clock in his head warned him he had been gone too long, that there were important responsibilities he must return to, but still he clung to her.

‘Are you all right?’ She whispered against his ear.

He chuckled softly at such a question. ‘As ecstatic as the experience of sharing pleasure with you is, my dear Cassandra, it was only le petite morte and surely you are aware that I am already dead, and therefore undamaged by even the power of your great ardor.’

To his surprise, she wept, only a little, but he appreciated the ways of women. Their ease with their own emotions was a thing much to be envied. And she did indeed weep, and hold him even closer to her, if that were possible. ‘Only le petite morte,’ she sighed. ‘Of course.’ She moved a hand down to rest against his heart. ‘I have to go now, Anderson, and so do you.’ She kissed him, and in that startling moment colours flashed before his eyes, steamy sunsets, nights dense with stars, an older woman with a cascade of white hair falling over a black robe, ghosts, memories, wild places. And the sharp crack of a bullwhip and fire that was cold and unnatural, and yet familiar in a way that chilled him even in his ethereal body. Then, as inexplicably as he had come to be with Cassandra Larkin in the Ether, he fell away from her into darkness.

When the darkness broke over him, he awoke on the dream bed looking up into the concerned faces of the rest of the coven.

 

RTE_teaser

 

Reviews for Riding the Ether:

“Overall, this was another very enjoyable book from K D Grace. It’s an action-packed, erotic paranormal tale with lots of sex of every flavour; straight, gay, lesbian, ménage… the list goes on. So if you love yourself some seriously hot supernatural action, then you should definitely check out Riding the Ether.” Erotica For All

“…another breathless read from the library of K D Grace, she has a magnetic way of drawing us into her books and not being able to put it down till the last page… it’s a thrilling suspense and if you love paranormal erotica this trilogy is for you…” Midnight Boudoir

“This is one book where you have to expect a whole lot of sex or you’re going to be overwhelmed by it. Guys, the sex is epic. Dare I say… it’s an orgy of delight. No lie. There’s sex and then there’s sex with a sex coven. This book is the latter.” Reading the Paranormal

“…the book fairly scorches your fingertips while the story has you dying to know who prevails in the battle to outwit the demon. With suspense enough to bring you to the edge of your seat, and a solid mystery and evident teamwork from members in the coven this book will keep you turning pages to the end.” 5 out of 5, The Jeep Diva

 

In The Flesh Epilogue: Dark Paranormal Romance. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_nIt’s Friday, and the end is upon us! Time for the final episode of In The Flesh, in which Magda takes control once again. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this novel as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. I’ll fee a bit bereft for the next few weeks when Friday rolls around. Please share it with your friends and enjoy! And thanks so much for taking this wild journey with me!

 

In the Flesh  is very dark paranormal erotica. When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 

 

To read the story in its entirety up to this point, follow these links to

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4 Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16, Part 17Part 18Part 19Part 20Part 21Part 22Part 23Part 24Part 25 Part 26Part 27Part 28Part 29, Part 30Part 31Part 32Part 33, Part 34. 

 

 

You can also read In The Flesh on Wattpad.  

 

 

In The Flesh Epilogue

“Is everything all right, Alonso?” Magda knew that it wasn’t. She’d heard the little altercation between the vampire and his lover, and even had she not eavesdropped, she would have known what it was about. Everyone at High View knew what it was about. It didn’t take a great deal of intuition to figure it out.

“Fine. Everything is fine.” He made no effort to sound convincing. He knew she would know it wasn’t, and the look on his face told her he was resigned to her poking her nose in where he wished she wouldn’t.

“You’ll have to send her away, you know that, and the sooner the better. If you love Reese.”431px-Medusa_Mascaron_(New_York,_NY)

“If I love Reese?” He spun around to face her with such speed that one with human vision might have thought it magic. However one would have to be blind not to see the anguish on his face. “Dear God, Magda, you know how much I love Reese. There is no ‘if.’ Besides, against my wishes, Susan is with the angel tonight.” The word angel was tinged with bitterness, the bitterness of jealousy. Then he added with a forced smile. “There, you see, the fledgling has left the nest of her own accord.” Then he added, “does that please you?”

“Michael’s place is just down the road. Do you think that’s far enough to keep you away from the child of your heart’s blood?”

He ran a hand through his hair and paced in front of the open French doors that looked out onto the night garden below, which Reese had built for him, to which the man had fled in his anger only minutes before. “Of course it won’t be enough. There’s no place in Cumbria, not likely any place in Britain, where she’d be far enough away from me that I wouldn’t go to her. She’s like my own soul. I never would have imagined it could be thus, since my maker didn’t take the time to bond with me or aid me in any way, I didn’t know.” He turned to face Magda, the desperation etched deeply on his beautiful face. “I didn’t know.”

“Even if you had known, the bloody demon left us with little choice. We all did what we had to, and you and Susan bore the brunt of the horrific choices we had to make. And now, now that we know he’ll be taking an active role in protecting and watching over her, I’m not sure if I feel better or worse. It behooves him to take care of her, to cherish her, and I know he can’t escape her, and yet still it makes me nervous. There are so many variables.”

“That’s what I have told Reese ad nauseum; that’s why I can’t send Susan away, not until she’s ready.” He nodded out to the garden again, to the place where Reese paced on the slate pavement. “He wants me to bring him over, and I keep telling him that I will as soon as Susan is able to fend for herself and do no harm. I can’t make him understand that I am not capable of giving two fledglings what they would need of me. There are times when I’m not sure I can even care for one as I ought. That is pretty evident, I suppose. But I can’t make Reese understand, in fact I fear that even his desire for me to bring him over is only because he fears losing me to Susan, and how could I bear it if I brought him over and it was not truly what he wanted? We must think this choice through carefully. It can’t be made in a jealous heat, in an act of desperation. He sees it as though I am choosing her over him, and the damned angel’s jealousy only makes matters worse.”

She dropped the bomb, figuring now was as good a time as any, and Alonso would take it better than Michael would, of that she was certain. “I’ve decided to take matters out of your hands. I’m sending her to New York City.”

“What!” He was at her side in what would have seemed like an instant to anyone with human eyes, but Magda’s eyes had been far from human for more centuries than she cared to count. Before he could reach for her, before he could lay distressed hands on her, she stepped aside, and he caught himself with all the dignity, all the grace for which vampires are known, straightened his jacket and took a deep breath she knew he didn’t need. “You can’t take her from me. She’s not ready.”

“I can, and I will. In case you’ve forgotten, Alonso, she’s mine to do with as I see fit. She belongs to the 2015-06-30 11.27.42Consortium now. She came at a very high price, and there’s no overestimating her value, especially now that she’s a vampire who can walk in daylight, now with the Guardian inside her. You may be her maker, but that doesn’t mean you know what’s best for her, and neither does Michael.”

“She’s not ready,” he repeated fervently.

“I know she’s not ready, and I’d never send her out into the world unprepared. You know that. But here is not the place for her training, not under the circumstances. I’ve been in touch with Desiree. She owes me, and she’s agreed to complete Susan’s training in all that pertains to vampires living amongst humans.”

He made a derisive sound in his throat at the mention of Desiree. “For what price?”

She shrugged. “Everything has a price, and it was one I was happy to pay, one that will benefit Susan in the end. I’ve heard rumours of a siren living in New York City.” She waved a dismissive hand. “Oh I know that the chances of such a glorious creature still existing are very slim at best, but the rumours have been consistent and … well let’s just say I feel that they should be checked out. It won’t be a difficult assignment for Susan, but it will be intriguing and satisfying — that along with what Desiree has in mind for her, should ease her into her new roll with the Consortium while she gets her feet under her as a vampire – so to speak. Here, she’s disruptive, at least at the moment.” She nodded to Reese in the garden. “In New York, she’ll be a benefit to both me and to Desiree, and she’ll learn what she needs to without the twin distractions of you and Michael. She wants you as badly as you want her, Alonso, and you know you’re both just a breath away from doing something you’ll both regret, something from which there’ll be no turning back. She may want you, but she loves Michael, just as you love Reese. She needs to be away from both of you, from all of you for a little while. The feelings you have for each other are a normal part of the sire and fledgling relationship, but that’s assuming that neither is in a pervious relationship or that if they are they’re not monogamous. Between you and Michael and Reese, there’s enough jealous testosterone in this house to make me dizzy. I can’t have that for Susan. I need her focused if she’s to realize her potential, and she’ll never be focused here, at least not without a little space away from both you and Michael. You know this, Alonso. You know it well. It’s only for a couple of months, just long enough for her to come to terms with what she is and what she’s capable of doing. Then she can come back without needing you or Michael. She can come back on equal footing.”

“She has never needed us. She has always stood quite well on her own. If anything we’ve needed her.”

“And yet here you and Michael are, behaving like two stags in rut.”

For a long time they stood next to each other in silence. A light breeze lifted the curtains on the French doors, and Reese now knelt next to one of the stone benches tending to some little detail in the garden – perhaps a stray patch of weed, perhaps a slate chip in the wrong place. At last Alonso spoke. “Have you told them?”

“Not yet. I will in the morning when they return to High View.”

“Does this have anything to do with the Guardian’s use of the angel’s mark on Susan? Are you dark moon image_xl_6338206afraid he might try to take over his body again?”

“It’s a precaution, nothing more,” she said, careful to keep her voice neutral. No one had any idea just how neurotic she was for her people, and what had happened between Michael and the Guardian had thoroughly unnerved her, even more so when she feared she’d have no choice but to take the life of her beloved angel. Everyone else within the Consortium was allowed their neuroses and foibles and public displays of bad behavior – what could one expect from a loose affiliation of monsters, mutants, and renegade gods? It took one to know one, she thought. But they didn’t have to know that, did they? They only had to trust that she had their best interest at heart. And her own, of course.

“When will you take her?” It was the deep sadness in Alonso’s voice that brought her attention back to the present.

“I’ve been on the phone with Desiree, and my pilot is making arrangements. He’ll fly from Manchester on Wednesday. Desiree will meet her at JFK.”

“That’s only three days.” Alonso made no effort to hide the disappointment in his voice. “They won’t be happy.”

“They’ll get over it. The truth is that it’s three days too many. Every day she lingers in this volatile complicated situation, the risk rises of something going terribly wrong. Emotions are running high in a group of very dangerous predators. I will not have the bear kill the lion, nor the tiger kill the eagle. I’ll tell them in the morning and then I’ll be keeping a very close eye on her, on all of you, until she’s safely on board the plane.”

There was another stretch of silence. Reese now sat on the bench looking out over the beck below, unaware that he was being watched by monsters, though Magda figured he’d grown dangerously used to that by now. At last she pulled a long breath and stretched her aching back. “Go to Reese. Make it right. He’s waiting for you. Surely you can see that. I’ve never minded members of the Consortium having relationships, and even I’m enough of a romantic to know that when it’s right, it’s worth preserving. Trust me, in three months, when Susan returns, you and Michael will both see more clearly; Michael will hold her more dearly and you will hold her more loosely, as it should be. In three months all that’s passed between you and him, all the strife between you and Reese, will be seen from the proper perspective that time lends to all things.”

Alonso said no more, nor did he gesture his leave-taking. He simply turned and moved through In The Flesh 2 12006311_1476805985954344_6570546160088833292_nthe French doors. Halfway down the path, his pace slowed to a more human pace, a pace that would not startle Reese. When Reese made no response to his approach, Alonso came to stand behind him and rested his hands on the man’s shoulders before bending to speak in his ear. Whatever it was Alonso said, it had Reese reaching over his shoulder to pull the vampire into a kiss. Magda realized she was smiling. God, would she never outgrow the romantic streak that softened her heart ever so slightly? But then it was good to see such devotion, good to cultivate it in others whenever she could. She had long known that was as close to the high walls around her heart as love would ever get. None of them had any idea how tenuous the thread that tethered her to humanity was at times, and a little romance in the Consortium helped her strengthen that bond. They all feared her, as well they should. But she knew as none of them would ever know, that she was by far the most dangerous of all of them, the most dead, in many ways, and what she had built, what she had created, her Consortium of wayward monsters had been the family she’d never had. They did what she wanted. She was the tyrant who ruled them, and yet their happiness was not something she could be jealous of when it was one of the few things that touched her heart. She would have Reese and Alonso happy. And in time, Alonso would bring Reese over, but not because Reese felt threatened by Alonso’s attention to another. In time, Michael and Susan would be together. Oh not in Michael’s little house. She had other plans for them, plans that demanded they be together. Her plans were always way more wide-reaching and far-viewing than any of them knew. That was how she had kept herself safe all of these centuries. That was how she made sure no one could take what belonged to her. But, where Michael and Susan were concerned, well she hardly had to force the love of eternity, did she? All she had to do was cultivate the right circumstances, the right conditions. That’s all she ever had to do, actually. And it had never been that difficult with her intuition and the fact that she was the scariest bitch any of her monsters had ever dealt with.

In the meantime, there might just possibly be a siren seducing the Big Apple with magical songs. Now that would definitely keep Susan occupied for a couple of months. She turned to the credenza and poured herself a glass of Glen Morangie, which Alonso kept on hand especially for her. She drank it back and poured another. Soon Susan would learn, as they all had, that – for good or ill — time was irrelevant in the gaping jaws of eternity and it was the monsters with which one surrounded oneself that staved off the emptiness and made that dark endless throat of time a little more bearable.

“To the Consortium.” She raised her glass in salute, watching Alonso and Reese, side by side on the bench, heads together, no doubt talking quietly which, knowing them as she did, was, no doubt, foreplay for a night of passion. “To the Consortium.” She said again, then she drank back the whisky and turned to go home.

 

The End?

BLIND-SIDED:

Susan and Michael’s story continues, along with the rest of Magda’s Consortium in

Book 2 of the Medusa Chronicles

 

 
2015-07-19 20.19.25In New York City away from those she loves, living with the enigmatic vampire, Desiree Fielding, Susan Innes struggles to come to terms with life as a vampire whose body serves as the prison for a powerful demon. When prophetic dreams of blood in the snow and three men in a deep cavern become harrowing nightmares, Susan begins to question her sanity until Reese Chambers arrives from England, desperate for her help. Alonso Darlington, his lover and her maker, has been taken captive and Reese has been warned to tell no one, but Susan, who he is to bring back with him. They’ve barely returned to the British Isles before Susan receives her own message from a man calling himself only Cyrus. He not only holds her maker prisoner, but also her lover, the angel Michael, and if she wishes to see either of them alive, she’ll come to him and not tell Magda Gardener, the woman they all work for and fear. With no help coming from Magda, she and Reese must turn to the Guardian – the terrifying demon now imprisoned in her body. He alone can help them, but how can she possibly trust him after all he’s done?

 

In The Flesh Ch 37: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_nIt’s Friday! Time for chapter 37 of In The Flesh, in which Michael gives Susan a break.

There’s only one more episode of In The Flesh left, so be sure to mark next Friday on your calendar for the big finish!

In the Flesh  is very dark paranormal erotica. When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 

 

Missed Out on Any of the story? Follow these links to IN THE FLESH so far:

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4 Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16, Part 17Part 18Part 19Part 20Part 21Part 22Part 23Part 24Part 25 Part 26Part 27Part 28Part 29, Part 30Part 31Part 32Part 33Part 34, Part 35, Part 36. 

 

You can also read In The Flesh on Wattpad.  

 

In The Flesh Chapter 37

“Talia said this is where you’d be.” Michael sat down next to me on a rock in the last of the afternoon sunlight. “She also said Alonso doesn’t know you’re here.”

“I got tired of everyone watching me like I might explode or my head might start spinning in circles. I had to get out of there.” I nodded to the cavern behind me. Alonso’s still worried about my tolerance of sunlight. That’s why I’m here in the mouth of the cave. If I suddenly smell burning flesh, I’ll make a dive for it. Where were you?” I asked, hoping I didn’t sound as pouty as I felt. “You left in a hurry.”

“I’ve been home making a few arrangements.”

“I see,” I said, but I didn’t. I didn’t see at all. I thought after last night we’d reconnected and made everything right, that after last night we’d stopped pushing each other away, and yet it felt like Michael couldn’t get away from High View fast enough after the Guardian revealed himself. I suppose I couldn’t really blame him. It was bad enough to watch your girlfriend become a vampire, but a vampire with a resident demon was surely a bridge too far – even for an angel.

“I had an important delivery,” he said. “And I had workers coming to help install the blackout blinds. I 2015-09-04 16.16.05 HDRdidn’t want to put it off any longer.” Before I could do more than offer a surprised glance, he continued. “I was trying to make the house more vampire-friendly back before I knew you could tolerate sunlight.” He shrugged and looked down at his hands folded in his lap. “I had to do something constructive or go crazy when you … when you wouldn’t let me near you. Anyway, I suppose all that’s irrelevant now, but the blinds had already been paid for and they seemed like a good idea – you know, just in case you do suddenly smell burning flesh.” He stood and offered me his hand pulling me to my feet. “Come with me, Susan. Come back to my place with me. I want you to see what I’ve done, but mostly I just want you to myself. Oh I know you’ve got to spend time with Alonso, and I’ll make sure you’re back first thing in the morning. It kills me that there are things the vampire can do for you that I can’t, but at the end of the day when he’s finished your lessons, I want you in my house. I want you in my bed, in my arms, and I don’t want to wake up with half the vampire menagerie and a gorgon poking their noses in the door to see what we’ve got up to during the night.”

“Alonso won’t like it and neither will Magda,” I said.

“I don’t care. Do you?’

I squared my shoulders and huffed out an exaggerated breath. “Nope! I’m sick of caring what everyone thinks is best for me. I’m not a child, and I’m tired of being treated like one. Let’s go.” When I tugged him back toward the cave, he shook his head. “I know a short cut to the Jeep. I parked it off the property so we could sneak away. They won’t even miss us.”

“Of course they’ll miss us,” I said. “We can’t even sneeze without someone knowing.”

“Well then they’ll surely appreciate a few less sneezes around High View.”

It was just a walk across the meadow and then we were heading down Honister Pass, and I was away from High View for the first time since my new life had begun. We didn’t talk much. There seemed less need to now that we bore each other’s mark. That he wanted me to be with him, that he’d planned and prepared, even hoped when things weren’t looking very promising, that was enough for now.

At his house, there had been several changes, but the most obvious was the Las Vegas-style blackout blinds in Michael’s bedroom, just inside and above its lovely French doors. “I guarantee no sunlight will touch your alabaster skin through those monsters,” he said stroking my cheek with the back of his hand. “I know it’s not an issue under the circumstances, but just in case. And the basement, well I can have it made up any way you like if you’d feel safer there – you know a study for you to write in, a library. I’ve even drawn up plans to have the basement loo turned into a nice bathroom with a spa tub. We can even move the bedroom down there if you want — just to be sure.”

P1020199“Alonso’s the worry wart, not me. I believe the Guardian won’t let anything happen to him and therefore he won’t let anything happen to me either.”

“Yeah, well I didn’t know that before this morning, did I? So that really didn’t figure into my plan.”

“Your plan.” I sat down on the edge of the mattress, feeling weak kneed all of a sudden. “Michael, are asking me to move in with you?”

He sat down next to me and folded my hand in his. “You can’t go back to your old life, Susan. You’ve burned all the bridges in a major way.”

“Writing and being a vampire aren’t mutually exclusive,” I said. “In fact, under the circumstances, no one would know the difference even if I worked side by side with them — not unless I got hungry and decided to have a little sip from one of my colleagues.” Then I thought about my tiny closet of a flat in Brixton that took the lion’s share, and then some, of my income just so I could live alone, and –technically live in London. The truth was, I didn’t want to go back. The truth was I couldn’t help feeling excited about the life ahead of me now, even as the thought terrified me.

“That’s not the point.” He gave my hand a squeeze. “You belong to the Consortium now, and Magda will want to keep an eye on you. I reckon she’s already making arrangements to have your flat lease terminated. She’ll want you to stay with the vampire until he teaches you the ropes, though what that means is up for question now that you’ve become prison warden for the Guardian.”

“That doesn’t answer my question. Are you asking me to move in with you?”

“Oh Magda will find you a fantastic place, I have no doubt. She always does, and I know the vampire would keep you there as long as he could, but …”

“Michael, I’m not a charity case. I can bargain and negotiate for myself. I want to hear it from you. Do you want me here, or do you feel obligated because … well because Magda sent you to steal me.” I made quote marks around the word ‘steal’ with my fingers. “If you’re doing this out of — ”

Michael stopped my words with a kiss that felt as hungry and as voracious as I felt when I fed, pulling meBernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500 tightly to his chest, to the pounding of his heart, quite literally pulling me onto his lap. And for a moment, I forgot what the question had been. I forgot what planet we were on as his hands skimmed my back and then moved up to cup my head, stroke my hair and hold me close. When he pulled away breathless, he shook me slightly, as though he were trying to wake me up. “How can you even ask such a question, when having you with me is the one thing I’ve wanted for more lifetimes that you can imagine? Of course I want you here! I want you in my arms when I fall asleep; I want you in my arms when I wake up; I want you like the air I breathe, all the time, Susan! All the bloody time! If you don’t want to live here, if you want a place in which you’ve had a little more input in the choice and the decoration, that’s fine. Anywhere you like. Just say the word. I just want you, that’s all. I just want you.”

I stopped any further conversation with a single word of my own, a word which I breathed into his mouth and pressed deep onto his hard palette with my tongue. “Yes! Yes,” I repeated again and then again, as I pushed him back onto the bed and straddled him. After that it was a long time, a very long time, before either of us spoke again.

Long toward midnight we dozed in each other’s arms, and I dreamed. I dreamed of following a trail of blood, sparkling like a path of rubies on the snow. I followed the drip, drip, drip like a trail of breadcrumbs over the fells and into a deep tangle of woods. I followed it to the entrance of a cave, I followed it deep underground to a candlelit chamber where shadows danced like phantasms against the stone. There it ended in a stain on the cave floor that looked inky black beneath the pale body of a man curled on his side, face toward the wall. Before I could see who he was and if he still lived, there was a groan deeper in the cave beyond the play of candle flame. When my eyes adjusted to the gloom, I saw another man chained to the wall — arms spread wide, shoulders slumped, bare back sheened in sweat. It wasn’t until then that I saw the third man, only a silhouette that, try though I might, my dream vision could not resolve. “I’ve been waiting for you, scribe,” he said softly, and his voice crawled over my skin like I’d walked through a heavy spider’s web.

St Martha's Hill 3I woke with a jerk to find Michael raised on one elbow watching with concern. “Bad dreams?”

“Strange dreams.” I moved to lay my head on his chest and told him in as much detail as I could remember, unable to shake the feel of spider webs over my skin.

When I finished, he kissed the top of my ear and let out a slow even breath. “Do you think it was because of him – the Guardian?”

“I don’t know. Possibly. I mean there was a man chained in a deep cave, but nothing was very obvious, if it was about the Guardian. And why would there be three men?” I shrugged. “It probably should have been a nightmare, but even though I was in it, I watched it all from a distance. It didn’t feel like a nightmare. I don’t know what it felt like. Yes I do. It felt … almost prophetic. But then again, it was just a dream,” I added quickly, embarrassed at such a ludicrous idea.

“Have you talked to the Guardian since your first surprise visit?” he asked, his hand moving down to stroke my back.

“No, but I will. I mean I have to. He lives inside me, and that’s a real head job – even though I was prepared for it, or as prepared as I could possibly be. He’s right; the situation will take some getting used to for both of us. I can’t help but feel there are things he could tell me, things he could teach me. Whether he will or not, I don’t know, but the one thing I do know is that he’s intrigued by our situation. Very intrigued.” I decided not to add that I was too.

Michael lifted my chin so that our eyes met in the darkness. “Susan, it’s dangerous to trust him. You know that.”

“He’s with me twenty-four-seven now, Michael. I can’t ignore him. There are just things I need to know. I would feel better about our situation if I could discuss a few ground rules and ask a few questions. I just can’t believe that if I say nothing, ignore him, as he’s said I could, for the next however many years I have ahead of me, that he’ll be blissfully quiet. Clearly he doesn’t trust Magda. Not that he would have any reason to. I get that,” I gave a dismissive shrug. ‘But if I now belong to her, as it appears I do, if she wants me to do some nebulous work for her that has something to do with my abilities as a scribe – whatever the hell that means, well, I can’t think it’ll be a waltz in the park. I have … options – way more options than I had when I first came to Manchester to see Annie. And because of the Guardian, I have even more options than I would if I were just a vampire. I also have a whole new life – a double life — that I haven’t begun to understand yet, and like it or not, the Guardian is a permanent part of it.”

He pulled me on top of him and hugged me until I groaned. “All right, whatever it takes, whatever you feel you have to do, I’ll be here. You gave me back my life, Susan. You gave me the chance to share it with you, a chance I thought I’d lost forever. I’ll take that on whatever conditions I have to – vampire, demon and all. All I ask is that you don’t try to bear it all alone – what’s ahead of you, what the future holds. I know Magda, and I can help you deal with her. I know the Guardian probably better than anyone. Certainly I’m the only one who’s lived to tell the tale except for Annie, of course, who was just his pawn. And I know Alonso and his familiars. Everyone is quirky. Everyone has an agenda of some kind. I’m no different. But I know that all of us, everyone associated with the Consortium, we all want what’s best for you.” He curled a finger under my chin. “But I’m the one who loves you, Susan. I’ve loved you forever, and that’ll never change, no matter your choices. I want to be a part of your life. I want to be there to help you deal with whatever comes next. But mostly I hope that I can be there just because you want me by your side.”

I pulled him close and buried my face in his shoulder, next to the thudding of his pulse, resisting the urgeIn The Flesh 2 12006311_1476805985954344_6570546160088833292_n to lick him there possessively. “Of course I want you by my side or I wouldn’t be here in your bed right now. Maybe I haven’t loved you forever, but I promise you, I got around to it as soon as I possibly could
under some pretty trying circumstances, and like you, I’m not planning on going away. Will that do?”

He kissed me fervently and offered a smile that warmed me to the core, which always felt slightly chilled now that I was a vampire. “That’ll do, Susan. That’ll do just fine.” With that, he slid up into a sitting position, bare back pressed against the headboard. With what had become a rather expert flick of his nail, he opened the flow of his heart’s blood to me and pulled me close. As I fed next to the steady beat, beat, beat, even knowing how uncertain the future was, I felt happier than I could ever remember feeling. If Michael was with me, if we were together, then it would be all right. Deep in my chest in some nebulous place, I sensed the Guardian waiting, waiting to see what his future would be. Our uneasy truce, our sudden change of circumstances reminded me again that my uncertain future might be a lot of things, but it would most definitely not be boring.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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