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In The Flesh Part 28: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_n

 

It’s Friday and time for episode 28 of In The flesh. When Susan can’t accept the plan that Magda and Michael have come up with to recapture the Guardian, she comes up with a plan of her own, but as time runs out, and the Guardian thwarts their every move, can any plan actually work?

There are only four more episodes of In The Flesh left, so be sure to mark your calendars for the next four Fridays, and hold on to your hats because things are about to get wild.

 

 

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:

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 26, Part 27.

 

 

In The Flesh Chapter 28

 

Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500“She’s going to turn him to stone. She’s going to trap the Guardian inside him. Isn’t she? Isn’t that what she’s going to do?”

No answer was necessary, I knew the truth of the plan, and Talia didn’t bother to respond.

“I have to stop her! I have to stop her from murdering Michael!”

I didn’t make it to my feet before she pulled me down hard enough to jar the breath out of me and held my arm in a vice grip I was sure would leave bruises. “Sit down, stupid woman! Didn’t you hear anything she said? She doesn’t want to do this. Do you think she would ever, ever consider such a thing if there were another alternative?”

“But she’s Medusa! She’s fucking Medusa!”

“I fucking know who she is,” Talia said. “And so does everyone else in this household. “She’s the woman who saved us all from our worst nightmares. She’s the woman who does what she has to in order to protect her own, and sometimes that calls for sacrifice.”

“But it’s not her sacrifice, is it?” I said. “It’s Michael’s sacrifice.”

“Don’t you think she would gladly give herself in his place if she could? She’d do anything for Michael. They’ve been together for a long time, longer than either of us has been alive, but the Guardian has left her no choice and even if she were to refuse it, Michael won’t. For your sake, Michael won’t.”

“Then let it be me! Let me be the sacrifice. Surely a stupid Scribe can’t possibly worth the value of an angel, and it’s my fault. This is all my fault!”

“It can’t be you, little girl.” She released my arm and let me get up this time. “You can’t hold him long enough to let Magda do what she has to. You can’t hold him long enough to distract him.”

“How do you know?” I paced the carpet, eyeing the door wondering if I could make a break for it, though not at all sure how to get to Magda’s bothy if I did.

“I don’t know,” Talia said. “But as for your value, yes a Scribe is worth more than an angel. Much more. Haven’t you read there are myriad angels? They’re three for a pound at Sainsbury.”

When I glared at her she backpedalled. “All right, the ones who leave heaven are few and far between, but that still doesn’t matter. A Scribe is rarer by far, and a real one, one that could do what you did, is a precious thing. None of us has ever met one before, and neither has Magda.” She raised a hand before I could interrupt. “But even that wouldn’t matter to her if there was another way. Michael has been her friend and companion for a very long time. She does this for two reasons. Michael will have it no other way, first of all. And secondly, there is no other way, and your Annie’s life is not the only life at stake.”

431px-Medusa_Mascaron_(New_York,_NY)“I don’t care! I won’t accept it! I can’t. If I’m a Scribe then maybe I can hold him just like Michael can. Maybe I can distract him.”

Talia folded her arms across her chest and looked me up and down. “Possibly, but Michael would never allow you to make that sacrifice. Besides such a thing is a waste of a Scribe’s powers really.”

“I don’t understand.”

She stood and moved in front of me, blocking my path and, for a second, I thought she was going to kiss me again. Instead she held me in a hard blue gaze. “You’re a Scribe. You wrote him free. You wrote the Guardian free. Oh it’s true that he deceived you into doing it, but at the end of the day you were the one who wrote the script, Susan.” The proof is downstairs on your computer.” She nodded toward the door.
I stepped back and nearly fell onto the bed. Suddenly there didn’t seem to be enough oxygen in the room. My heart felt as though it had gone into free fall. “Wait a minute,” my words came out thin and raspy.

“Are you trying to tell me that I really could … write him back into his prison?”

Before she could answer, there was a soft knock on the door, and we both jumped. Alonso stuck his head in looking like someone had just run over his dog. We stepped apart and turned to face him, but vampires don’t miss much or at least this one didn’t. He glanced at me and then at Talia and simply said, “You told her.”

“She needed to know,” Talia replied holding his gaze defiantly.

“Yes, she did,” came the unexpected response. “I was coming to tell her myself, and then …” His voice drifted off and his gaze moved toward the window behind me where the shutters were still tightly drawn from his last little run-in with daylight. He forced his gaze back to his familiar. “It’s just as well you did.”

“You’re going to Magda.” Talia said as though she were already certain of what Alonso would do. But then, she was his familiar and his friend and they’d been together long enough that they probably both read each other pretty well.

“I am, yes. I’ll try and present an alternative plan.”

“Do you have one?” But even I could see by his expression that he didn’t.

“I am known for, what is the saying, pulling things out of my arse at the last minute. We shall hope that my arse will provide. Otherwise …” His voice drifted off for a second time, and then he forced a smile. “Otherwise I shall petition for a little more time, then perhaps we can find another solution, though I’m not hopeful.”

“Does anyone ever call her Medusa anymore?” I asked fighting a rise of bitterness in my throat at the thought of what was about to happen.

“Not in a very long time,” Alonso said, “and such a pity that the stories and lies about her have tainted such a noble name. Her name means to protect, to rule over. . Did you know that, my darling girl?”

“I … didn’t. No.”

“And she is truly worthy of that name,” he said stepping in so close to me that I could feel the breath he In The Flesh 2 12006311_1476805985954344_6570546160088833292_ndidn’t need against my cheek. “She paid a terrible price to be free of that past, and it’s no hardship for those of us who know her story to honour her with whatever name she chooses for herself. In truth, our parents give us names they choose, names that suit them, but only we can know our real identities.”

For a moment, we all stood in silence and then he squared his shoulders to the task at hand. “I’ll leave you in charge of our little Scribe, Talia. I have asked that her laptop be brought up for her in case she should choose to chronicle the events.” Then he leaned in and kissed me on the cheek. “Don’t borrow trouble, my darling girl. The day is not yet lost and we must stay in the moment allotted to us.” He brushed my hair away from my cheek, then turned and left just as the maid arrived with my Mac.

Talia took it from her and placed it on the makeshift desk, then she settled in the middle of the bed cross-legged, almost as though she were about to meditate. For a long moment, we both looked at the laptop as though it were about to explode, then I moved cautiously and sat down in front of it. Then I stood up and paced. “I don’t know how to do this, Talia. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”

“Well I sure as hell don’t know,” came the reply that was only just this side of indifferent, though I’d learned never to take Talia at face value. “Shall I have cook bring some coffee? Tea? Whisky?”

I shook my head and kept pacing, and she kept watching from the bed. “What you did to me,” I nodded to the carpet on which she had pulled me down. “I was there. It was me, at first with Michael and then watching him and Magda together after. I was there. It was so real I could reach out and touch what was around me.”

“It’s my little specialty,” she said, looking down at her nails, which I noticed were short, but well manicured. “One of my specialties.”

“It was real. Completely real.”

“Of course it was real,” she said. “You were seeing that I wanted you to see, exactly what I wanted you to see.” She shrugged. “Michael I like. I respect the angel, I always have. What he asked of me, I wouldn’t have done for most people. It’s …” I was surprised to see a blush crawl up her cheeks. “Well for me and for the person I’m with it’s very sexual, but if he had been someone I hated, or simply someone I wished to feed upon, I could have just as easily turned it all back on him. I could have just as easily given him night terrors, made him think that he had actually killed Annie on the roof, or even made him think that he wasn’t even on the premises when it happened, that he was in Manchester with a chick he’d picked up at a club fucking her brains out.”

blue moon 2I shivered and reached for the hoodie Michael had given me. “And you get off on that kind of thing.”

She shrugged. “I’m a succubus. I don’t expect you to understand what drives me anymore than I understand what draws you to that laptop to play with words for hours at a time. But there are some things that exhaust me, some things that drain me rather than energize me, and being a messenger for someone else is one of those things. That’s why I try to avoid it if possible.”

“So you were exhausted after giving me Michael’s message.”

“Not so much. His was a message of love. Those are easier, and the other, what I saw, well it was mine to give.”

I paced a little more and like clockwork, Cook, or this time one of Cook’s assistants — I figure Cook was taking a little break after feeding Alonso — brought a tray with sandwiches and fruit and a pot of tea. The succubus poured, I sipped, had a bite of a smoked salmon and cucumber sandwich and then settled into the chair in front of the laptop. I was barely aware that I’d been writing, that there were words appearing in the open document until Talia leaned over my shoulder.

“Bloody hell,” she whispered. “You do know what you just wrote?” I nodded and waved her away with a shrug of my shoulder. I knew exactly what I wrote and the goose bumps riding up my spine were evidence. She paced and I wrote. By the time she’d come back to read over my shoulder the third time, I had begun to notice a strange buzzing in my head, not unpleasant, like the sounds insects make on a hot summer day and, a little more unpleasant, was the feeling that I had slipped slightly out of sync with the world around me, that wherever I was, no one else could go. With a little start, I realized that I’d had that same feeling the night I’d written about the Guardian in the study at Annie’s flat.

“Your insane,” Talia said. She had stopped pacing and I had no idea how long she’d stood behind me, reading over my shoulder as I wrote.

“Takes one to know one,” I said and kept writing as fast as I could, breathing as though the speed of my writing was such that I had gone into oxygen deficit, while my heart raced with each word.

She didn’t bother replying, but now she was reading out loud. “Shut up,” I said. “I need quiet.”

She did for a few minutes, and then she cursed loud enough in my ear that I glared at her through the reflection of the computer.

“You’re out of your bloody mind,” she said. Her voice was almost as breathless as mine. “He won’t. He Writing pen and birds 1_xl_20156020wouldn’t. Would he?” Then she nodded. “That might work, but, fucking hell, Scribe, are you sure?”

“That’s about the stupidest question ever,” I replied and kept writing.

“She would never let you, Magda, and certainly Michael wouldn’t.”

“In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m not asking their permission.” I kept writing, still faster, and she leaned over me so closely that I had to elbow her away to keep her from fogging the monitor with her breath, and still I wrote on. I wrote on to the end. I couldn’t stop. The words kept coming from some wellspring I didn’t know existed and yet I knew it had always been there. I wrote until I forgot to breathe. I wrote until I believe my heart forgot how to beat. I wrote until my mind saw pictures of what I wrote, and not words, as though it were already happening this very second right in front of me, and I felt it all unfold in the space just behind my breastbone, even as it terrified me, even as it refused to be unwritten.
By the time I was finished the buzzing in my head sounded like a swarm of angry hornets, and everything beyond the words on the monitor had become nothing more than an unfocused blur of light and color. My whole body ached as though the feat had been a physical one, as though I had endured a beating for every word I wrote.

Even Talia’s voice had become nothing more than a series of disjointed sounds with no meaning. “You need to stop. You need to stop now. Susan, you have to stop!”

It was Alonso’s hand on my shoulder firm and solid, the reflection of his face in the monitor that brought me back with a gasp. My hands fell away from the keyboard, and I would have toppled off the chair if Alonso hadn’t caught me and carried me to the bed. He held a water glass to my lips and forced a few bites of chicken salad sandwich between my lips before the world around me came fully back into focus.
I was surprised to find both the vampire and his succubus leaning over me, her hand resting on his shoulder. “Are you all right my darling girl?” he asked. His eyes were dark, his pupils dilated.

I ignored the question. “They wouldn’t listen, would they?”

He shook his head. “Sadly there was nothing to listen to, and the truth is the longer they put off the inevitable the more we risk the Guardian invading again, and who knows what havoc he might wreak the second time around. I am truly sorry, my dear little Scribe.”

2015-07-19 20.19.25“Thank you for trying,” I squeezed his hand. I was about to tell him that I thought there might be an alternative when Talia said it for me.

“You need to see this,” she spoke quietly next to his ear and nodded at the Mac still open to the document I’d been working on. “The Scribe’s been busy.”

Alonso leaned in and kissed my forehead. “I shall look, Talia, but you must see that she eats and has something to drink. Whatever she has done has clearly been taxing upon her person.”

Alonso settled in at the computer and scrolled back up to the beginning of the document. I was halfway through my second sandwich when I heard him catch his breath, and he shot a glance around at me and then at Talia. She only gave him a raised eyebrow and handed me a cup of tepid tea, which I took gratefully.

For the next few moments I had little time to spare as Talia all but force-fed me everything that was left on the tray Cook’s assistant had delivered and I ravenously did my best to accommodate, like she was a mother bird and I her nestling. But I couldn’t keep from noticing the way Alonso sat on the edge of the chair, the way he leaned forward, the way the tension had risen in his shoulders.

When I could stand it no longer, and really there was nothing left for Talia to shove in my gob, I pushed up off the bed and moved to his side. “Well?” Clearly he was done reading, but he only sat now staring at the monitor, at the words, and I knew exactly what he was looking at. “It can work, Alonso. Don’t you think it can work?”

For a long moment, he didn’t speak. Then he took a deep breath and looked up at me. “There’ll be … consequences, consequences you can’t possibly foresee.”

“I know that. I’m willing to take that chance.”

He looked at Talia, and whatever it was that passed between them was way more than a conversation, though I could neither see nor hear. She only gave him a slight nod of her head. Then he stood so quickly that the chair went over backward and I yelped, for a brief moment reminded again that the man I had come to respect, the man who had given me shelter was, after all, a vampire. Once again my skin was pocked with goose bumps, and my heart raced as though it were being chased by something deadly. In truth, it was being held by something deadly, or I was, at least, as he grabbed me to keep me from falling, and settled me on the trunk at the foot of the bed, where he knelt in front of me looking up into my eyes, my hands, now nearly as cold as his, held tightly next to his chest. “It can work, this plan of yours, my darling girl, as you know very well it can. Though there are always variables one can’t know until the
Graveyard angel 2da8f31cc622c5a47d15ff0c4f1e114abmoment of execution, but it can work.”

“Then you’ll help me, both of you?” I already knew that Talia would. In spite of her constant attestations to my lack of sanity, I could feel her excitement as she lingered over my and read.

“If I help you,” he said, holding my hands against the place where his heart would have beat if he lived, “if we do this, then you must know, there’ll be no turning back.”

“I know.” I braced my feet hard against the floor to keep my knees from shaking. Christ, I really would like at least a little bit of dignity at moments like this, but I found myself fighting back tears, as he pulled me into his arms and held me to stop the shaking. There had been no turning back for a very long time now, I thought, as I bury my face in his shoulder and clenching my eyes shut so tightly that I saw sparks of light. It had just taken me this damn long to figure it out.

 

In The Flesh Part 27: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_nIt’s Friday and time for episode 27 of In The flesh. As the situation becomes dire, Magda Gardener has a plan, but is that plan worth the cost? And can she do it without revealing her own secrets?

 

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:

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 26.

 

In The Flesh Chapter 27

It was the first time since I’d seen Magda Gardener looking anything but calm and relaxed and only just slightly this side of laughing at a good joke. She looked tired. She didn’t just look tired, she looked downright worried, and that scared me. Clearly it scared everyone in the room, although after what had happened on the battlement, Magda Gardener’s countenance was probably just the icing on the shit-storm cake we were all facing. That sucked, but it was Michael sitting across the room doing his best to avoid my gaze that shredded me. Alonso offered me his hand and gently guided me to the loveseat to sit next to him, the battered copy of Marcus Aralias falling to the floor with a muted thump.

Everyone settled, and then everyone waited expectantly, all eyes on Magda Gardener – all eyes but Michael’s. He only stared at the floor, looking pale and drawn. There were dark circles under his eyes that hadn’t been there before we’d all made our mad race to the battlement to save Annie. With an icy shiver I realized he was showing the same symptoms Annie showed, the result of the Guardian’s attentions. But before I could dwell on Michael’s situation, Magda spoke. “I’ve done what I can to protect Michael from another invasion, but with magic there are never any guarantees, especially not in dealing with the Guardian.”

“I don’t see that you have much choice but to return me to Chapel House,” I said, and I was surprised to find that I had no ulterior motive this time other than wanting Michael and Annie free from this horror and everyone else safe.”

“You’re right. There is no other choice,” I was surprised to find that it was Michael who replied. He 2015-09-04 16.16.05 HDRlifted his gaze to me. “You’ll be returned to Chapel House and me along with you.” Before I could protest Magda cut in.

“He wants you both. Having you both is his way of proving he can do whatever he wants and we can’t stop him.” She ran a hand through her windblown hair, which settled around her like a writhing halo. “It’s a good bet that once you’ve both been returned to him he’ll see to the death of your friend and then begin working away on Alonso’s people as well It’s his way to punish us for thinking we can best him, to punish me for having done so before.”

“Jesus! You can’t let that happe — ”

“Shut up, Susan,” she cut me off. “The time for negotiation is over. I’m telling you exactly what he’ll do because he doesn’t negotiate, he has no feeling of human emotion, he has no understanding of compassion or empathy.”

“I won’t give up people under my protection, Magda. You know this,” Alonso said.

“I know you’re a fool, Alonso, driven by your heart to the bitter end, and that’s why you’ll do exactly as I say. That’s why you’ll all do exactly as I say, because your humanity is your strength. It’s the one thing he doesn’t understand. We can us that against him.”

“You have a plan then,” Talia asked.

“I do.” Magda bit her lip and squared her shoulders taking in everyone in the room with a gaze that was made all the more impressive by the dark glasses she always wore. “And if you all do exactly as I say, exactly as I say.” She emphasized the words as though our lives depended upon them, which was more than likely the truth. “Then I’ll have the Guardian safely back in his stone prison by this time tomorrow.” She raised a hand when Alonso started to speak. “There will be no negotiation, no second guessing, no questioning.” Is that clear? Susan?” I felt as though her gaze beneath the glasses was turning me to ice. I nodded mechanically. “I mean it. I’m the only one who knows how to deal with this bastard and I’ll tolerate no interference.”

“So what’s your plan then,” Reese asked, moving to sit on the arm of the loveseat next to Alonso.

“Tonight, Michael and Susan will steal a vehicle and slip away, back to Chapel House, where they’ll fervently negotiate with the Guardian to release Annie and everyone else in exchange for them.”

“Why a night escape? In case you’ve forgotten, this is a vampire lair,” Talia said. “The place will be far less vulnerable when the vampire is able to move about freely.”

“I’ve forgotten nothing,” Magda replied. “Didn’t you just hear Alonso say that he would do whatever it took to protect his own.” She nodded to Michael and me. “They’re not his own. They bring danger into his house. The Guardian will have no trouble believing that Alonso will turn a blind eye, even possibly leave the keys in the getaway car. Remember he has no concept of loyalty or compassion. He’ll believe it, trust me.”

“And then what,” I said. I hadn’t realized that I was trembling until Alonso slipped a comforting arm around me, and the look that crossed Michael’s face as he watched was raw anguish.

“And then, I invite him in,” Michael said. “That’s what he wants more than anything, to experience the sensations of being in the flesh. That’s what I can give him. He wants to experience taking you with my body.” The muscles along his jaw twitched, his lips thinned to a grim line and I could see the pulse in his temple hammering a rapid staccato. For a second, he struggled, as though the power of speech had suddenly left him, then he drew himself up to his full height and his eyes locked on mine. “I … I have to let him if we’re ever to end this.”

I nodded, for a second losing my own ability to speak, as my throat constricted and I felt as though the room were tilting around me. “I understand,” I managed. I didn’t. I never would, but I certainly had no idea how to fight this bastard, especially not when most of the time what I wanted on a visceral level was for Him to fuck my brains out. “And then what,” I finally managed.

“Once he’s in Michael, he’s vulnerable,” Madga said. “It’ll be your job to hold his attention, which S6302008shouldn’t be too difficult since you’re the object of his lust and he’ll be enjoying you physically, something he won’t be able to resist. You just need to hold his attention until I give the word.” The room was deadly silent. I would wager everyone was holding their breath. I certainly was. “And this is very important, Susan.” She turned her full attention on me again. “When I give the word, you close your eyes, you close them as tightly as you can, and you don’t open them for anything. Not for anything until I say it’s okay.”

“I don’t understand. How’s that supposed to help me or Michael? If I’m lying there helpless with my eyes closed and — ”

“Michael knows what to do,” she interrupted again, “and everything hinges on you keeping your eyes closed. I don’t care if you understand or not. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that you do exactly as I say, that you close your eyes and keep them closed until it’s over.”

“Susan,” Alonso gently squeezed my hand. “Please don’t argue. Do as she says. Magda knows what she’s doing, and if you do as she says, you’ll come back to us safely.”

Michael, who still held me in his laser gaze nodded his agreement with Alonso and Magda. “The plan will work, Susan. It’s the only plan that will work, and you have to trust Magda. You have to trust me.”

I nodded. But I didn’t. I didn’t trust either of them, not really. I didn’t trust anyone against the Guardian. He didn’t think like a person would, and while He might not understand human emotions, He was incredibly intuitive, and He did understand human actions. It wasn’t just that, it was the way Magda and Michael were behaving, the furtive glances, the stiff upper lips. Something wasn’t right. I wasn’t being told what would actually happen. I was being told to trust in a place where I had not seen any reason to trust – not because people didn’t have my best interest at heart, but because we were all dealing with insurmountable odds and I was being asked to go in blind. But still I nodded my agreement; I nodded my consent and the trust I didn’t feel. There was nothing else I could do at the moment.

That seemed to be enough for Magda though. She gave a decisive nod and stood. “Good, then I suggest at the moment, you get some rest. Michael will stay with me for safety sake and Alonso, if you would see to Susan’s safety, I’d appreciate it.” When the time comes, when it’s fully dark, you’ll escort Susan and Michael out in what will be seen as your effort to keep your own people safe. I’ll find my own way to Chapel House, and by the time they arrive I’ll be waiting there. Oh don’t worry,” she waved a dismissive hand at me, “I promise the Guardian will have no clue that I’m there. I’m good at hiding, and I’ve hidden from way scarier bastards than him.”

As everyone stood to leave, Michael left without so much as a backward glance, and I felt the lack of him as though someone had ripped my heart out. It was Alonso who supported me, whispering softly against my ear. “Let him go, my darling girl. Let him do what he must for Annie, for you.”

We stood while everyone filed out of the room except Talia, who came to Alonso’s side. “Cook’s waiting in your room. It’s his turn, and you need to feed.” Before he could protest, she said. “Now’s not a good time for you to be weakened Alonso, now go and feed. I’ll take care of this one,” she offered me half a smile, “and when you’re done, we’ll be in her room.”

Alonso dropped a cool kiss on my forehead and left the room with a quick backward glance.

Feeling like I’d been gutted with a spoon, I followed Talia up the stairs to my room. Neither of us spoke, and though I was completely strung out, I knew I couldn’t sleep. As she opened the door and stepped aside for me, I was just about to ask if we could go back for my computer when she shut the door and locked it. Before I knew what was happening, she took me into her arms taking my mouth with a deep, probing kiss. I gasped and tried to push her away as her power overwhelmed me. My knees gave from under me, and we half settled half fell onto the aubusson carpet.

“Listen to me, Susan Innes,” she spoke against my mouth in between urgent kisses. “We don’t have much time. Michael asked me to give something to you after everything was all over.” She covered my mouth with her hand when I tried to question. “But I made an executive decision not to wait. I don’t believe in subterfuge, and I don’t believe in keeping vital information from people. It causes more damage than it does good, and you’re the Scribe, not some silly helpless little girl. Now hold still, be quiet and let me give you what he wants you to have.”

She kissed me again, and this time I wrapped my arms around her neck and kissed her back as the Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500floor gave way beneath me. The whole world gave way. I knew that Talia was more than just a succubus, though that would have been frightening enough, but her powers were far more formidable. Michael had called her a living flash drive, and I understood why as she took my mouth in what was so much more than just a kiss, and suddenly it was Michael I was kissing, suddenly we stood together in the hallway by the stairs, him pressing my tightly against the wall, him caressing me, him holding me. But he slapped my hands away when I tried to undo his jeans. “There’s no time for that now,” he said, “I need you to listen to me Susan, just listen. I love you. I’ve loved you since long before I ever met you. Angels have eternity stretched out before them. They can see all time is it plays out, no beginning, no end. It’s a terrifying thing to face time with no end. In order to stay sane, we choose a moment, an experience, a person, and we focus on them. They are our true north. You were mine long before my fall from grace. You were my reason for holding on and my reason for fighting my way back from the Guardian.

“Perhaps this is the reason for my whole existence, and now that I’m human, now that I am mortal, I can give it all up and let it go knowing that you’re safe, knowing that you’ll go on to become the Scribe you were intended to be. Listen to Magda. She’ll teach you. She’ll guide you, and she’ll comfort you when you feel you can’t go on. Only listen to her, and never forget that I love you. If anything of a person lives on, then let it be that, let it be my love for you.”

And once again I was lying on the floor wrapped in Talia’s arms struggling hard to get away. “He’s going to sacrifice himself. I can’t let that happen! Let me up, damn it! Get off me, Talia.”

But she didn’t. Instead she straddled me and pushed me down hard to the floor, trapping my wrists in her hands. “What I gave you,” she managed, breathing hard, “that was from Michael. What I give you now is from me, what I’ve discovered, because you need to know. You need to know what’s happening.”

This time the kiss was little more than a breath at first, and then it was as though I were standing once again on the battlement in the storm, and I was the one falling, endlessly falling from the tower. But all that disappeared with a jerk and a tremor, and I found myself standing in front of Magda Gardener’s little bothy, safely hidden behind a hawthorn thicket. Oh it wasn’t me, of course. It was Talia, but I saw it all through her eyes. I knew I shouldn’t be there, but I had to know what was going on. Someone needed to know what Magda was up to, so I hid and watched and listened as she spoke with Michael.

“You know there’s no other choice now,” Michael said. “If you turn me while the Guardian’s inside me, then he won’t be able to escape. He’ll be trapped.” His laugh was tinged with bitterness. “The bastard has inadvertently given us a way to trap him, and what church yard doesn’t benefit from one more stone angel?”

“I can’t do that, Michael. You can’t ask that of me. You can’t.” The anguish in the woman’s voice vibrated through the whole room, even through the rocks of the foundation and the menagerie of sculptures around it.

“Magda, Magda, listen to me.” He knelt in front her and took her face in his hands, careful not to disturb the glasses. “You have no choice and you know it as well as I do. He’s gotten into me. He won’t go away, and he won’t stop until he has Susan and Annie is dead and then, you’ve already said it, he’ll come after all of Alonso’s people starting with Reese just for revenge sake. And once that happens, there’ll be no one standing in his way. Magda, you know I speak the truth.”

“Not you, Michael. Not you! You don’t deserve this.” The woman was actually crying. “No one deserves this.”

“That’s right, no one does, but that’s not important, that doesn’t matter, Annie and Susan, keep them safe. That’s what matters. Susan, she is a Scribe, a true Scribe, she writes the truth of what happens, she writes the possibilities. You have to keep her safe. And besides,” he said, settling back onto a rough wooden bench, “I lover her. You know I love her.”

I could hear the soft patter of something hard and tiny like seed pearls hitting stone, but I ignored the sound as Michael continued. “Don’t you see, once he’s inside me, he’s vulnerable. We can trap him forever and it’ll all be over. Finally it’ll all be over.”

Magda Gardener laid her glasses aside and buried her face in her hands. For a long moment Michael sat silently next to her, then he reached out and took her into his arms. When she straightened, he turned and looked away while she reached for her glasses. And then she wiped her eyes with her fingers and the sound of seed pearls broke the silence. It was then that I saw it, the tears on Magda’s cheeks were wet only for a moment. I blinked and blinked again. Surely I was imagining it, but the tears were transformed to tiny stones, not much bigger than grains of sand as they slid off her cheeks and into her lap and fell onto the floor.

“Do you understand?” The voice came from a long way off. “Do you understand now, Susan?”

I glanced around me at the stone menagerie every animal, no matter how small, perfectly carved in incredible, impossible detail. Another stone angel, Michael had said. When you change me, he had 431px-Medusa_Mascaron_(New_York,_NY)said. It can’t be. It couldn’t be. ‘When I give the word,’ Magda had said, ‘you close your eyes, you close them as tightly as you can, and you don’t open them for anything. Not for anything until I say it’s okay.’ That’s what she’d said. That’s what she’d repeated. That’s what she’d stressed. She always wore the dark
glasses. She wouldn’t let me look at her when she came to me in the crypt. It all made sense now, and yet it was impossible, so totally impossible.

“It can’t be. It just can’t be. It can’t,” I came back to myself sitting on the floor leaning against the bed, my head resting on Talia’s shoulders repeating over and over again, “It can’t be. It’s impossible. It can’t be” But I knew the truth at last, in my gut I knew the truth. “Magda Gardener – she’s … She’s Medusa.”

Talia held me in her bright blue gaze. “Now you understand,” she said. “And you needed to understand because you’re the Scribe and you write the story.”

 

In The Flesh Part 26: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

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Not only is it Friday, but it’s Friday the 13th and time for Episode 26 of In The Flesh, in which Susan has tea with a vampire, while Magda and Michael plan.

 

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 24, Part 25.

 

 

In the Flesh Chapter 26

“Annie, no! Annie don’t do it! Annie, please! Annie!” I screamed her name to be heard above the howl of
the wind. The fine hairs on the back of my neck prickled with terror that Michael’s invaded body would reach out and grab me and pull me back, or worse yet, race ahead of me and take the decision completely out of Annie’s fragile hands. It was only a few steps to get to her. I should have been able to reach her in three quick strides, but it might as well have been a million miles. I swear, the distance between us stretched and elongated to an impossible space. It was Him. He was doing it! I knew He was. Even as it was happening, I knew it wasn’t real, but no matter how hard I struggled to reach her, it was like being caught in a nightmare, one of those in which the harder you run, the slower you move and the farther you have to go. It was as though everything had switched into slow motion, my begging and screaming being blown back in my face, a mindless cacophony of desperate sound. And the agonizing moment she stood in the wind teetering on the edge of the battlement stretched and elongated with my tortured efforts to reach her. And then for the briefest of seconds, the wind died down, just a tiny bit, and she turned and looked at me and in her eyes, for a tiny moment, I saw my friend still there, still inside the ravaged body. I saw recognition in her eyes. “Annie! Dear god, Annie, hang on!”

But then the wind rose again and swirled around us like an evil thing intent on tormenting us, which was dark moon image_xl_6338206a very real possibility. “Susan?” I heard nothing, but saw her lips mouth my name as she reached out her hand toward me, and it was the very effort to save herself, that off-balanced her.” She screamed and teetered on the edge. We both screamed and I dived toward her with both arms flung outward, reaching, stretching as far as I could and beyond, her fingertips just brushing mine, with me raging into the wind, “no! You bring her back! She’s not yours! You fucking bring her back!” But I wasn’t fast enough. How could I not have been fast enough?” For a thousand years, no! For a million years I watched her topple slowly, endlessly off the battlement as though that instant, that instant of my own helplessness, of my own horrible guilt, that instant lived and breathed in a suspension of eternity, all of which I had to dwell on what might have been if I were only just an instant, just a fraction of an instant faster.

Then suddenly, the breath was knocked out of my lungs by a force like a freight train that hit me from behind, and I was pushed back hard toward the open door as a blur flew past me and disappeared over the battlement. I tumbled backward and hit my head against the stones hard enough to rattle my teeth and jar my brain. For a second I lay stunned, pinpoints of light flashing behind my eyes, hearing nothing but a loud ringing in my ears, and then I heard people scrambling up the stairs. Magda was at my side one minute, then at the battlement the next, Reese moved with her. At first I could make no sense of what was happening, and then a large hand reached over the stones and caught hold of Reese’s wrist and suddenly both Reese and Magda were pulling and straining and leaning so far over the battlement that I feared they’d go over too. Still half-stunned, I looked around for Michael, who was nowhere to be found. It was Talia, who offered me a hand and helped me to my feet, but her attention was on what was happening at the battlement. “Did you get her?” she called into the wind.

psyche_et_lamour_327x567And then Reese, grunting and straining, reaching so far over the battlement that my heart stopped. Then it started again, it started to race like a wild thing the instant I realized it was Michael who he heaved up onto the battlement Michael holding on for dear life with one arm while, with the other he handed the sobbing, trembling Annie into Reese’s care. “Take her, and get her out of her,” Michael’s voice carried on the wind. “I’m not safe.”

Reese hefted my friend into his arms and gave me a reassuring smile before he hurried toward the open door as Michael collapsed on the wet stone, drenched and shaking and gasping for air.

“Jesus, Michael what did you do?” I said, rushing to his side. “When I didn’t see you. I thought you’d jumped too.”

Before I could throw my arms around him, he stopped me with a raised palm. “I should have. I would have if it hadn’t been for Annie. Stay back. I told you, I’m not safe.” Then he turned to Magda. “Get her away from me. Now.”

“Michael, what are you doing? We’ll figure this out. It’ll be okay. He’s not in you now. I can feel He’s not,” I tried to fight Magda, but her grip on my arms was like iron as she turned me toward the door. “Michael,” I called over my shoulder, straining against her hold, “Don’t push me away. Michael, I can help.”

He pulled himself to his feet with an effort that looked as though it hurt him and, for a moment rose imagesthat was all too brief his gaze locked on me. “I’m sorry, Susan. I’m so, so sorry.” Then he turned his back and hunched against the battlement, shoulders rising and falling as though each breath were a desperate effort.

“What’s he going to do? What the hell is he going to do?” I fought for all I was worth, but Talia flanked me on the other side and the two women maneuvered me to the stairs. “It’ll be all right,” Talia said, but there was very little conviction in her voice. Inside she slammed the stair door behind us effectively shutting Michael on the roof. Alonso was waiting just beyond the daylight. He took me in his arms and bodily carried me, kicking and screaming down the stairs as Magda turned back to the battlement.

At the bottom of the stairs, Alonso pushed me up against the wall, pressing one forearm across my shoulders just above my breasts so I couldn’t move. With the other he took my chin in his hands and forced me to meet his gaze. “Susan, he’s not going to jump. Magda would never let him do that, and it’s hardly his way. Calm down.” The sheer force of him, prickled over my skin like electricity, and I relaxed. When he was sure I was calm enough to hear what he had to say, he smoothed the rain soaked hair out of my face and spoke. “Michael’s right. He’s not safe, as you just saw, as we all just saw, it isn’t safe for you to be with him right now, not until Magda figures out what to do.” He gave the succubus a nod and she disappeared down the hall. “Talia will bring you some dry clothes, and then she’ll stay with you until Magda can sort things out.”

“I’m not any safer than he is,” I said, fighting back a sob.

He wiped an escaped tear with the tip of a cool thumb. “Then I shall stay with you. Not that I’m exactly safe either, but I’m probably your best bet at the moment.”

Once I had changed into a dry, if rather oversized, track suit, Talia informed me that Annie was safely back in her bed, this time with stronger magic to protect her. Though I had little confidence in any form of magic after all that had happened, I still held he stone heart that Magda had made for me in a suicide grip every second that I was alone. Alonso dismissed the succubus and led me back to his study. There, he pointed me to a roll-top desk in one corner where my Mac sat. “My good sister was a writer, and a fine one, indeed.” He chuckled softly, “Of course that was long before the days of computers, but I know a writer’s mind. I know that sometimes the only way to make sense out of the chaos is to write it down, and if you are a Scribe, as Magda says, then it’s even more true for you.”

“Thank you,” I managed, as he pulled out the chair for me and settled me at the desk.

“Not at all, my darling girl. We all work out our demons in different ways.”

Right on time, Cook delivered tea and homemade shortbread.

“Allow me,” Alonso said, pouring the tea into a porcelain cup from a matching tea service that I 2015-09-04 16.16.05 HDRsuspected would have brought a fortune on Antique Road Show. As he did so, he inhaling deeply. “Though I can no longer enjoy a good cup of freshly brewed tea myself, I may still take pleasure in the scent, in the warmth and in the sharing of the experience with those who can enjoy.” He offered me a steaming cup.

I sipped and felt the heat curl down deep in my belly, where everything had turned to ice from the incident on the battlement. “What about your demons, Alonso?” I asked, as he settled onto the sofa with a battered copy of Marcus Aralias’s Meditations. “I’m sorry, I know it’s none of my business. I guess I just needed to know that I’m not the only one doing battle, though clearly you haven’t failed so miserably in you efforts as I have.”

“Oh I’ve done more than my share of failing miserably, darling girl.” He laid down the book and stroked his chin. “In the old days, anything that stood between me and what I wanted, I simply drank its blood, then killed it.” He offered a little chuckle when I shuddered. “That obviously didn’t work too well in the end, and I had to find a way to live with who I am, what I’ve done, and what I must do to survive. Talia has been a friend and companion to me for a very long time, and her help in sorting my dreams, in offering me solace has been invaluable. Of course now Reese is the delight of my heart, and wise far beyond his years. But in truth,” he shifted on the sofa and held me in a dark gaze, “it was Magda Gardener who saved me from my worst demon, and that was none other than me and my own self loathing.”

“But not without a price,” I said, tasting bitterness at the back of my throat.

He shrugged. “Everything has a price, my darling girl. It’s up to each of us to decide if it’s a price worth paying and, in my case, it’s not a price that I have ever regretted.” His chuckle was almost a purr. “Of course the woman can be a bloody nuisance at times, but I can overlook that. If she needs me, I’ll be there, and she knows it and she’s quick to return the favor.”

We sat in silence for a moment, both lost in our thoughts, me wondering how it was that, though everyone feared Magda Gardener and no one was ever particularly happy when she showed up on their doorstep, everyone always willing did for her whatever she asked of them, and they seemed to do it out of respect for her rather than fear. “May I ask you a question?” My voice sounded overly loud in the quiet room.Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500

“Of course.”

“Magda says it’s because you’re a vampire that the Guardian can’t get to you?”

He nodded. “He must feed on the living just as I must, so I am of no use to him.”

“And what about Reese, why haven’t you turned him into a vampire? Aren’t you afraid the Guardian might take him?”

“Oh I’ll bring Reese over if he wishes it one day. But only if I’m certain that he wishes it. There’s no undoing the deed once it’s done, and the price is a very high one, indeed, never to see the light of day, never to taste the pleasure of a good cup of tea, always to feel the insatiable hunger for blood. Always to live in fear that you might be found out, and worst of all the fear that you might hurt or even destroy the ones you love. It isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, and Reese knows this well. But you see, Reese sups regularly from my heart’s blood, and he is the lover of a vampire, my familiar. He is … polluted, if you will. Oh the Guardian could still take him, but only as a last resort.”

“And Talia? She drinks from you.”

“She’s also less vulnerable because she’s under my protection. Everyone who works in my household is … I suppose you could say … tainted by my blood. The Guardian would find that very distasteful, and of no interest as long as he has his mind set on you. Nonetheless Magda is wise to do all she can to protect what’s mine. You see, what’s mine is also hers.”St Martha's Hill 3

“So in a way you’re her familiar.”

At this, he laughed out loud, “I suppose you could say that. Though I’ve never quite though of it that way, and I’m sure she would no more approve of that parallel than would your angel.

The mention of Michael made my throat tight and the room blurred as my eyes misted. “Michael! Dear god, what he’s been through.” I laid my hand against his mark, which still stung as though I had abraded the skin somehow. “How can this be happening to him again?”

Alonso was instantly at my side offering a pristine handkerchief from his pocket. “I don’t know, my darling girl, but I do know that Magda defeated the Guardian before and brought Michael safely away from him.”

“And I released the bastard to torture him again.”

Alonso knelt in front of me and lifted my chin so I was forced to look into his bright eyes, which instantly made the world seem slightly askew before it righted itself again. “Do not you think for one moment that this is your fault. You were deceived. You were deceived!” He took my face in his hand so I couldn’t look away. “You know your heart, Susan. You must trust what you know. You’re a Scribe, for God sake! You know your own soul better than any mortal can, and I’ve been around long enough to be a very good judge of character. It’s in the nature of the Guardian to deceive. It’s what he does, and it’s in the nature of a Scribe to reveal the hidden and release it into the world, to unlock secrets. He knew that as you never could, and he took advantage. The laying of blame is always easier than facing the truth, my darling girl, and there are times when one needs an unbiased eye to lay the blame where it properly belongs. I shall be that for you, Susan Innes, if you’ll allow me the honor. I shall tell you without bias that you are not to blame for the release of the Guardian into the world. The blame for all that he’s done, all that he has ever done lays squarely at his miserable feet, and no one else’s. You must believe me in this if you or any of those you love, are to survive, and if there is to be any chance of returning this monster to his prison.”

Before I could respond, the door to the study swung open and Talia came in followed by Reese,In The Flesh 2 12006311_1476805985954344_6570546160088833292_n

and not far behind him Magda. Michael brought up the rear.

“Michael! Thank God! Are you all right?” When I tried to go to him, he glanced at Alonso and shook his
head. Alonso nodded his understanding and gently but firmly settled me back at the desk.

For a second Michael stood as though he wasn’t certain what to do next. Whatever it was that crossed his face in the split second before he regained control of his emotions both terrified me and broke my heart. Feeling me tense, the vampire’s grip tightened gently around my wrist. For a second longer, Michaels stood at the door. Then he squared his shoulders took a deep breath and pulled it shut behind him moving to take a chair on the far side of the room carefully avoiding my gaze.

“We need to talk,” Magda settled in the big wing backed chair near the fireplace. “Clearly the Guardian has forced our hand, and it’s time to end this before more damage can be done.”

 

In The Flesh Part 25: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

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It’s Friday and time for Episode 25 of In The Flesh, in which Michael discovers he’s made a very big, very costly mistake.

 

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 23, Part 24.

 

 

In The Flesh Chapter 25

“What the hell do you mean Annie’s gone?” I said, practically catapulting from the sofa. “She can’t be gone.”

“I’m sorry,” Cook addressed Alonso rather than me. “I brought her tea, and I was surprised to see she wasn’t in her bed. I had hoped perhaps she was improving. But she must have hidden behind the door. She hit me with the candlestick.” He touched his bleeding head once more as though he couldn’t quite believe it had happened. “When I came back to myself, she was gone. I can’t have been out for more than a few seconds.”

I turned on Magda. “You said your rock magic would keep her asleep, out of harms way, you said.”

“Clearly I was mistaken.” She didn’t seem to be the least bit rattled by the fact my crazy, half-starved friend was wandering around somewhere at High View.

Alonso was on his feet and through the door almost before I realized he’d moved. He called over his St Martha's Hill 3
shoulder as he headed down the hall, ‘I’ve got the whole place monitored with cameras so I can enjoy the property in daytime and protect my perimeters. The control room is just down the hall. If she’s outside we should be able to find her.” We all scrambled to follow.

I fell into step beside Magda. “I’ll never forgive you if something happens to her.”

She raised an eyebrow from behind the dark glasses. “The responsibility for your friend’s desperate situation does not lay at my feet, little girl, in case you’ve forgotten.”

If she had gut-punched me, I would have felt the impact no more. Michael moved next to me, clearly overhearing the exchange and slid an arm around my shoulder, but I jerked away. “The blame may lay at my feet, but it was rather convenient for the little act of thievery you two were planning at Chapel House, wasn’t it?”

Now it was Michael who had the freshly gut-punched look.

I shoved past both of them and fell into step next to Talia, who offered me a sympathetic nod. “Alonso always tells me that when comrades are reduced to placing blame, then the enemy has already won.” Seemed it was the day for gut-punches.

We all crowded into a room not much bigger than a closet, which was crammed with monitors and keyboards. Alonso sat down in a captain’s chair and began systematically pulling up the cameras around the property, all of which had the capability of zoom and, in some places, the places where the property was most vulnerable; there were multiple cameras for multiple angles.

“Nothing so far,” he said. “The mist is making it difficult to see anything. I’ve checked the vehicles in the rose imagesdrive and those in the garages, but none are missing. I would assume it’s her plan to go back to Chapel House. In her weakened condition, if she tries to go on foot or hitchhike, it would have to be almost entirely under the Guardian’s power. The woman is little more than a skeleton.”

“He could do that,” I said. “When she attacked me, I couldn’t believe how strong she was.”

“But that was more fear of losing him than it was any aid of his,” Magda said. “The ability to get back to him from here, I would think, would depend entirely on his strength.”

“And on him wanting her back,” Michael added, eyes locked on me rather than on the monitors which, so far had revealed nothing but a very soggy red squirrel, hunkering down in a fir tree to avoid the rain, otherwise the place was deserted. Alonso had sent the builders away when Magda and team had arrived, not wanting to put them in any danger or raise any suspicions.

It was then that it hit me with such import that I grabbed onto the back of Alonso’s chair to keep my knees from buckling. “He doesn’t want her back. He’s deserted her totally, and she has to know that by now. And if she knows it …” As the implications hit home like a an exploding bomb I raced for the door, in a burst of adrenaline, yelling back at Michael, “The tower, where your room is, does it lead to the roof?”

“Fuck!” That was all the answer I needed.

I took the stairs out of the basement two at a time with him right behind me. He passed me as we
2015-09-04 16.16.05 HDRsprinted through the hall on the main floor but then ran into one of the maids with a tray full of dirty dishes from our tea. He spun her around and barely managed to right her before both tray and maid could do a swan dive on the hard stone floor as I sped past the little pas de deux, barely missing being clotheslined by a flailing arm. The steps up the tower were narrow and winding, and I reached the ancient wooden door to the parapet a split second before he did. It was standing wide open, and the view beyond stopped me in my tracks, stopped my breath, stopped my heart. Michael had done the same, coming to a screeching halt right behind me. The tower of High View was shrouded in a light mist. The roof of it was barely big enough in diameter for a tall man to stretch out across. It was surrounded by a stone battlement that was clearly built for decoration, high enough to lean against, but not high enough to be defensive and, there on the far side, Annie was just stepping up onto the top of it. The rain, which had become a downpour plastered her borrowed nightdress to her body and rendered it transparent. She truly did look skeletal beneath it. Her foot slipped, and I screamed, but the wind and rain carried my voice away from her and she thankfully didn’t hear me, as she righted herself.

Before I could run to her, Michael threw an arm around my waist and pulled me tight against his body. “Let her go. It’ll be so much easier for us if you do.” I was suddenly overwhelmed by the smell of roses, and yet when I turned, there was no one behind me but Michael. Fingers of ice climbed my spine and I felt as if the world were tilting beneath my feet as he offered me an unnatural grimace of a smile and a jerk of his shoulders. “After all, that is what we planned from the very beginning, isn’t it my darling. She was only ever a substitute, a stop-gap, as it were, until we could be together.”

“Michael?” I stumbled out onto the parapet and fell backward on the wet stone but before I could scramble to my feet, he grabbed me by the arm and jerked me upright with bruising strength and uncharacteristic awkwardness, the smile on his face stretched too far, his eyes opened too wide and his breath came in labored, syncopated rasps.

“Yes, of course, Michael is here, just as you see, my darling. But as you can also see,” he gave a spastic laugh, “he’s not in control right now.” The smell of roses was suddenly so strong that I felt as though I were drowning in them.

“How?” I managed, the wind blowing my breath back into my mouth. I tried to pull away but his hand circled my wrist like a manacle that was too tight.

If it were possible, he smiled even wider, and then with his free hand, he groped my left breast so tightly
that I gasped, but it wasn’t until his thumb slid over Michael’s mark that I screamed in pain, more pain than I had ever felt in my life. The smell of roses was subsumed in the stench of burning garbage, and I would have fallen if he hadn’t held me there, hand around my wrist, stretching me upward as though I were weightless until my toes barely touched the ground. Almost before it happened, the pain passed and with it the stink, leaving me dazed and wondering if it had happened at all. “Remember, Michael allowed me use of this flesh, this lovely angel flesh of his. A very long time ago, it was, but time is of little relevance to one such as myself, and his mark on your flesh is my way back into his.” The spastic laugh came hot and heavy against my face. “Oh the poor lad was wrong in his assumption that by fucking what is mine, by marring it so, that he could keep it from me. Even more importantly, my darling, he was wrong in assuming that I didn’t pleasure your body that night when you returned to release me from the crypt, that I would not reward you for your gift to me by making love to you when we both wanted it – needed it so desperately. Oh yes indeed, he was very wrong. I had you that night, my darling. I had you over and over again with you begging me for more each time. You wore my mark deep in your very soul long before Michael’s feeble attempt to take what isn’t his.” He leaned in and kissed me with the awkwardness of an adolescent boy. “And then, I took the memory from you because I needed you able to function, able to do what had to be done until I sent for you. Michael’s marking you as he did was an extra gift. The lad didn’t realize, but in doing so, he gave me the gift of enfleshment.” He chuckled softly, more naturally, and I smelled roses again. “I think perhaps now it is time for me to give you those memories back, my darling, so you’ll stop fighting me, so you’ll understand your place is by my side, and now, so is Michael’s.”

Before he could bestow upon me memories I knew I was better off without, he was interrupted by a cry that sounded like an excited child, and we both turned to find that Annie was no longer standing on the battlement, but she was standing next to us, eyes fever bright, the broad smile she wore belying her ill condition. “You came for me, my darling. I knew you would.” She took in the way he held my wrist and the way I struggled and her smile broadened still further. She practically buzzed with excitement. “And you’ll give her what she deserves, just like you promised?”

“Oh, I will indeed give her what I’ve promised, Annie, but sadly that promise doesn’t involve you.”

She looked from him to me and back again. The smile slipped from her face. She shifted from foot to foot. “I … don’t understand.”

“Annie! Annie, he’s going to hurt you. You have to get out of here before –” I caught my breath in a cry of dark moon image_xl_6338206pain as he pressed his thumb against Michael’s mark. Annie’s response was to laugh and clap her hands like a delighted child.

“Stop laughing, stupid woman!” Both Annie and I jumped, startled by the power of his voice even above the rage of the storm. “She is my beloved, I have sent for her. Do you not know? It’s not your place to laugh at my chosen.”

And just like that Annie was trembling all over, once again feeling the effects of the weather and the cold and the last few months of her ordeal. “But what about me?” Her lower lip trembled and she wrung her hands. I glanced desperately back at the stairs. Where the fuck was everyone? What was taking them so long to get to us? They had to know where we were. They had to!

“My darling, you already know the answer to that question.” He nodded back to the battlement. “You’ve served me well with your flesh, my dear Annie, and for that I shall never forget you, but your job has always been to prepare the way. How could you have ever doubted that? Surely you understood this when I had you send for the Scribe.”

She studied me for a long moment as though seeing me for the first time, and then the anguish on her face disappeared, and she came forward, pulled his hand away from my breast and kissed it, a thing, which he allowed her to do like some beneficent king. The moment he removed his hand from Michael’s mark, I could breathe again. I could think clearly again.

“Run along now, Annie, darling,” he said, giving her a little shooing motion, he might have given a favourite pet who was making a nuisance of itself. “Now your job is finished. Time for you to rest. Leave us to our lives together and free my beloved from her concerns for you.”

The wind howled around us and the mist thinned enough that I could see the battlement and the woods beyond. Perhaps he was right. It was inevitable. Even Magda said so. And at the end of the day, if Magda’s magic couldn’t heal Annie, than really, what could? What was left to her but to be sent away to some asylum where she would be drugged and tied to a bed to drool and piss herself until she wasted away pining for the lover who would never return for her. It was a kindness really. It was best to remember the way she was, the way she had been when she was whole, when she was my best friend. Though really, what did any of those memories matter now?

I watched as, on trembling legs, she fumbled her way onto the battlement, all the while He spoke softly to me, reassuring me, telling me that it was for the best, teasing me with little flashes of memory, of moments in the crypt, of the instant He first entered me, when I suddenly felt the entire world, every molecule of it, every breath of it. He teased me with little glimpses of Him nursing at my breasts with the innocent discovery of a child and, yet at the same time, with the passion of a lover powerful enough to set the tangled garden on fire and the whole city along with it. In an instant I saw the eternity we’d spent together that night. The heat of the body He’d not possess took me to heights of ecstasy I could never have imagined and, I, not unlike Annie, had come to those heights of my own free will, only to throw myself off into the abyss that would have terrified me had not He been there to catch me, had not He been there to kiss me everywhere, to enter me again and again, spilling the ocean of Himself into the tiny space that was my flesh, and spreading me over its surface until there was nothing left of me but a thin, transparent skin, permeable only to Him. I hadn’t known I could come like that. I hadn’t known I could be so opened, that I could contain so much and still long for more. Dear god, how could I ever, ever walk away from Him? What difference did the death of one person mean in comparison to being with Him?
What difference did the death of everyone who lived in High View, in Penrith, in Manchester, in all of Britain matter in comparison to being the one He chose to love?

In The Flesh 2 12006311_1476805985954344_6570546160088833292_n“And Michael will stay with us too, my love,” He was saying, as I watched Annie trembling and struggling and pushing her way up to stand on the very edge of the battlement, toes curled over rain slicked stone. “His flesh, his angel flesh, will be mine, will be yours, and we will be together, united as I’ve always wanted.”

A gust of wind whirled around us and something cold and wet thumped me in the chest. With a startled gasp, I reached up and felt Magda’s heart-shaped stone warming to my touch, and without thinking, I curled my icy fingers around it for warmth.

There was a gasp, a curse, the sharp smell of burning garbage and suddenly I was free, running toward the battlement screaming Annie’s name at the top of my lungs.

 

In The Flesh Part 24: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_n

 

 

It’s Friday and time for Episode 24 of In The Flesh, in which we learn just how Susan did release the Guardian from the crypt of Chapel House.

 

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 22, Part 23.

 

In The Flesh Chapter 24

Back in Alonso’s basement drawing room, Cook had delivered still more coffee and tea along with little finger sandwiches that reminded me of high tea at the Ritz rather than a quick snack in a vampire’s lair before I exposed myself again. I took nothing. I didn’t think I could force anything past the tightness in my throat, but Alonso handed me a cup of Kenyan tea and plate laden with treats. “You need to eat,” he said softly. Michael sat me down and, before I could protest further, offered me up a miniature chicken salad wrap as though I were a child not capable of feeding myself. He’d stolen me! He’d fucking stolen me, I reminded myself and resisted the urge to, quite literally, bite the hand that fed me. With the first mouthful, however, I realized just how hungry I was. As I opened my mouth for another bite, I decided we’d table the Chapel House robbery discussion until after I’d eaten. With the second bite I remembered poor Annie wasting away in the bed upstairs. The next sandwich, I fed myself, then gulped the tea and braced for impact as Magda, once again, began to read the words I didn’t remember writing.

“Come to me, my darling. I need you to release me so that we can be together. You, my beautiful Scribe, are the only one who can set me free.” That’s what He kept saying to me, and I swear it felt as though He were whispering it in my ear.

Annie had gone to bed hours ago, and I should have. I should have been fast asleep, but I couldn’t settle, 2015-06-30 11.27.42
couldn’t calm myself, couldn’t focus on anything but what I’d experienced in the crypt at Chapel House and the sweet whisper of His longing against my ear. I wanted desperately to go back. I could sneak out of the flat and drive over there easily enough, but the garden was a jungle, and it was huge. After all it had been a graveyard once. I would never find my way back to the crypt, not without Annie’s help, and I most definitely didn’t want her help. I didn’t want her to know my secret. But the constant nag and niggle, the need to go to Him gnawed at my insides like a hungry beast. And His voice, I could hear his voice calling to me again and again, inviting me to come to him.

“Release me, my love. Release me and we can be together. I’ve waited for you an eternity, and now I can scarce breathe in my longing for you, in my need for you. Please, set me free so we can be together at last.”

Each time I heard His voice, it was as clearly as if he had been standing in the room next to me. And my response, well I’m not sure if my response was out loud, in my head, or in the open document on which I had poured the details of my earlier encounter in the crypt. “I can’t release you. I don’t know how to get back to the crypt and I don’t know where the key is,” I said, bracing myself, half fearing that He might say that he could guide me back to that dark, overgrown place, and half fearing that He would change his mind and get someone else – maybe Annie, to help Him. I couldn’t bear that. I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone else being with Him. I was just about to tell Him I’d do anything, anything He asked, when He told me a secret.

“You need not return to Chapel House, my darling,” came the reply I hadn’t expected “There is no key, and the door to my prison, it means nothing. It’s only a symbol. One could tear it out from the very rock and rip open the earth above and I would still be a prisoner. You! You are the key, my darling. You’ve already begun the process of setting me free. Only a little more remains for you to do, and then we’ll be together. I’ll give you what you want, what we both so desperately need.”

“Tell me! Please tell me!” I did speak out loud then, feeling a longing for Him that I feared would tear me apart if He didn’t tell me what to do.

And then he was so close that I could almost feel the physicality of Him, so close that for a moment, I believed He had somehow managed His own escape. I swear, he kissed my nape and spoke against my ear in a whisper that was barely more than a breath. “All you need do, my lovely, is use your magic. I have read what you’ve written of our first encounter – each word of it like a caress driving me to lust and longing I can scarcely contain, and my heart races with anticipation. Each word is so carefully chosen, each nuance so evocative of our coming together. Your magic, my love, is our story set down for us to share later in our long nights together, when we are sated and reveling in the pleasure of each other. All you need do, my darling Scribe, is write my release, and I shall be free, indeed.”

There have, so often, been times when the worlds I create as I write bleed through to the real world and both become equally real to me. I think nothing of it. It’s a part of what I do, a part what I love about my craft. But this! This was different. The words I wrote returned me instantly to the crypt. I could almost touch the thick darkness as I entered. I don’t know how I could see, and yet I could. I could smell the dust on the ancient stone; I could feel the rusted bars as I curled my fingers around them. And then I felt His warm breath on my face from just beyond the bars. He cupped large hands over mine and His voice was that of a man just awakened from a deep dream-laced sleep and into the arms of His lover. “You’ve come for me, my darling, just as I knew you would. Now set me free. All you need do is open the door.”

Scribe computer keyboardMG_0777 So I wrote me in the darkness of the crypt, me with hands so anxious, but so certain in their task, me exerting all the force I could manage in my effort to pull the gate open on hinges frozen with age. I wrote the sound of rusty metal giving way. I wrote the smell of age and decay yielding. I wrote the anticipation of lovers who have waited an eternity. I wrote the scent of His desire of His longing, mingling with mine dark, fecund, primordial. And then the door was wrenched from me with astounding strength, and He shoved it aside and pulled me to Him and for a moment it was as though I had suddenly been reunited with the other half of me. I knew Him and I knew His heart, and I knew the depth of His desire. And I was overwhelmed with longing. But before that … Just before that … only for a moment, the moment He burst from the earth, the moment He shoved the gate from between us, I felt something else. I felt my body turning to ash on my bones in the heat of fire I knew I would not survive and, in the depths of the inferno I willingly plunged myself into, there was neither escape nor relief. My doom was sealed and I went to meet it rejoicing. But that was all forgotten in His embrace. He was free and it was me that He wanted. Nothing else mattered.

If there were words, I don’t remember them. If I could have found the words, the right words to express what it was like to be touched by Him, to be embraced by Him, to be loved by Him, they aren’t words that human ears could hear or understand, nor that human voices could utter; and if I had written them down, they were somehow lost between the moment of my desire and the moment of His sating me, for honestly, how could it have been more than a moment? In the next second I was back in Annie’s flat, lying on the floor in a beam of moonlight, curled around myself as though I could hold on to the moment just a little longer, the fast fading memory of Him taking me. And He did take me. He made love to me. Surely He did. Or at least I think He did.

And then He stood over me, all silver and translucent like the moonlight. I couldn’t see Him, but He filled the whole room with His presence, as He coaxed me to my feet and back to the open document, glowing pale in the dark study. “And now, my beloved,” He said. “Write me as your secret, a secret that even you won’t remember until the time comes for us to be together. Write me a place of safety, a place where I may sustain myself, a way in which I may control my longing until the two of us can be together again.” Then He saw the story I had told Annie, and His laugh was like the purr of a large cat. “Why my darling little Scribe, you have already written my place of safety, and you have given me this friend of yours to sustain me until you return to me. It won’t be long, my darling. I promise you it won’t be.”

For a long moment, the room was silent. All eyes were on me, and not all of them were without dark moon image_xl_6338206accusation. I couldn’t blame them. If I could look at myself, my eyes would be full of accusation. And contempt. I swallowed the rawness in my throat and spoke. “It was then that I heard Annie in the bathroom and I realized that I had to keep the memory stick safe. And, then the next morning I didn’t remember any of it. Like I said.”

“Did he fuck you?” Of course it was Talia who asked.

“I honestly don’t remember. Surely I would have. Don’t you think?” I looked from Magda to Michael and back again.

“Oh you would have if the choice had been yours to make. I’m certain of it,” Michael said. “But I doubt that he took you. If he had, you’d have never been able to stay away from him. And for whatever reason, he wanted you to stay away until he had Annie call you back.”

“But why?” I asked.

“Because you, he wants to savor. In his mind’s eye, he’ll not use you up, but he’ll keep you. You’re the one he’s waited for,” Magda said. “You’re the one who could release him. You’re the one who could write him and his story. You’re the one he wants as his consort.”

There was a murmur of surprise around the room and an uncomfortable shifting about. But that all receded to background noise at the thought of being His consort. I was right. I had been right all along. I was special. It was me He wanted above all others. It was me He had waited for, me He loved. It was the tingle of Michael’s mark that brought me, grudgingly, back to myself, back to the reality of the situation. I gulped down the last of my tea, now cold, in an effort to clear my head. “But you said, you both said, He’d use me up as He has the others before,” I finally managed.

“No doubt he will,” Magda replied. “You are human, after all. But using you up won’t be his intention. It seldom is.”

Still, she was wrong, a little voice in the back of my mind told me. I was different. Me, He would never hurt. Michael’s mark stung and burned and I bit my lip until I tasted blood, knowing that my logic was flawed, knowing the danger I was in and the danger I’d put everyone else in. Focusing, even with the burn of the mark, was an effort I could just barely manage. “If I set him free by writing his freedom, then why can’t I write his recapture too?” I asked.

It was Michael who answered. “Because you really, desperately wanted him free. But no one,” he laid his hand against my breast next to the mark and the pain eased. “no one who has been with him could ever want to put him back in his prison with that same intense longing.”2015-09-04 16.12.40 HDR

Once again we all sat in silence. I knew Michael was right. I might have freed the guardian, but I could never put Him back in His prison because there was just too much of me that didn’t want Him there. As though Michael understood what I felt and, no doubt he did, he slipped an arm around me and pulled me close, an act, which made the buzz of the bite above my breast once again pleasurable rather than painful.

“So then, Magda, what do we do?” Alonso asked.

Before she could answer, Cook shoved his way through the door bleeding heavily over one eye. “It’s Ms Annie, she’s gone.”

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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