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In The Flesh Part 17: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

In The Flesh 2 12006311_1476805985954344_6570546160088833292_nIn episode 17 of In The Flesh, Susan’s sojourn with Alonso Darlington and his entourage involves a return visit to a dream she doesn’t remember. Today’s episode is a little longer, in which much is revealed, and is often the case, when much is revealed, the plot thickens.

 

And check out the alternate cover the fabulous Kev Blisse has designed for me. Hard to say which I like best.

 

Read! Enjoy! Spread the word!

 

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 15, Part 16.

 

In The Flesh Chapter 17

‘What?’ I came out of the chair nearly upsetting my coffee cup onto the white linen tablecloth the servant had spread. ‘Talia’s going to sleep with me? Are you crazy?’ I could imagine Annie getting a good laugh out of this, elbowing me in the ribs saying if I wasn’t up for the task she’d be happy to oblige.

‘Oh it’s nothing sexual,’ Alonso reassured me, gently patting my arm.

‘Well,’ the woman said with a modest shrug and a dip of her blue eyes that said she was checking me out. ‘It could be, if you want it to be.’

Before I could totally panic, Alonso slipped an arm around my shoulder and glared at this Talia person. ‘You’ll have to forgive my colleague, Ms. Innes. She has a very strange sense of humour. I promise, she’ll do nothing you don’t invite,’ I didn’t miss the threat in his voice, clearly aimed at the woman. Then he turned his full attention on me. ‘And I would suggest that what you do invite be nothing more than the sharing of dreams, considering that your … love life, as it were, is already somewhat complicated. You don’t need to add another complication to the menu.’

‘To the menu,’ the woman chuckled wickedly. ‘Oh, I like that turn of phrase, darling. Perhaps you should have been a Scribe yourself.’ She spoke to Alonso, but her gaze was locked on me. ‘She does look practically edible, don’t you think? Though I’m guessing you’re probably well-sated after feasting on Reese.’

Alonso growled at her. He actually growled and, I think — yes, I’m certain, he bared his teeth! My skin prickled and the fine hairs on the back of my neck rose. For a moment, I swear the man seemed more animal than human and, between him and the woman, who eyed me like I was dinner, I felt like I had been set loose in the primordial woods with the wild beasts.

‘What’s going on here?’ I started at the sound of another woman’s voice, one I’d heard in the dark of the crypt, dark moon image_xl_6338206and turned to see Maggie, with Michael right behind her. If I hadn’t been wrong-footed and frightened already, I certainly was now. Alonso and Talia might have been scary beasts in the woods, but Maggie was the huntress everyone feared, myself included. Even Talia was instantly subdued by her presence. In the midst of raised hackles, Michael came to my side and slipped a possessive arm around me, literally pulling me away from Alonso, just as a ginger-haired man in jeans and a plaid shirt entered the room.

‘Is everything all right?’ He asked.

Talia offered half a smile. ‘Of course it’s not, Reese. Come on in. You might as well join the fun.’ She gave Maggie a sideways glance and stepped up to flank Alonso on one side while Reese came to his other.

For a moment the room was deathly silent. Only Maggie stood alone, nearly blinding in her golden brilliance, and I couldn’t keep from wondering how someone so stunning could be so terrifying, and why. Even Talia paled in comparison – especially on my fright-meter. And the minute her gaze turned on me, even from behind the strange dark glasses she wore, I felt a tingle bone deep as though I had just passed beneath a high-tension wire and a million volts was just a heartbeat away.

‘How’s Annie?’ Christ in heaven, I don’t know how I found my voice in front of her. Maybe because I was still pissed off that she’d left me in the crypt at Chapel House. But she had rescued my friend, something I’d made a thorough mess of. I owed her hugely for that.

‘I’ve done what I can for her.’ Her voice was like honey dripping over hot flame. ‘She’s resting comfortably.’ She moved forward, gaze still locked on me, until she stood close enough I could feel her breath on my face, cool and sweet like the fell air. I was sure she could see how my pulse raced in my throat at her nearness. ‘Right now I need to know what you’ve done to release the Chapel House Guardian so I can learn how to return him to his prison. He was there for a reason, you know. Though I imagine you’ve figured that out by now.’ She gave me no time to defend myself and, if what everyone said was true, I had no defense anyway. ‘Since you have no memory of the momentous occasion, I need you to sleep with the succubus.’

‘Succubus? She’s a succubus?’ I nodded to Talia, who only shrugged modestly. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me! I have a demon trying to seduce me, an angel who’s marked me, and by the way, Michael, that mark — it hurts like a sonovabitch when the demon gets mad, and now you want me to sleep with a succubus? Honestly, I don’t see how the hell –’

‘Oh for fuck sake,’ Talia broke in, ‘stop being such a drama queen, do you really think I want to incur Magda’s wrath?’ She gave the woman a quick nod of her head. ‘If you want sex, you won’t get it from me. I’ll just tiptoe through your little dreamscape all nice and polite-like and prod a memory here and there as needed. You won’t even know I’m there. Your loss,’ she added under her breath.

‘I’ll stay with you,’ Michael said, giving Talia the look he might reserve for a rabid wolf.’

She cursed under her breath. ‘Anyone else want to join in? Why don’t we just make an orgy of it?’

‘Shut up, Talia,’ Alonso said. ‘We’ve already discussed this.’

Embarrassed by Talia’s bluntness and by my ridiculous whining when my friend’s life was in danger, I squared my shoulders and found my voice, cowardly though it was. ‘What do I have to do?’ I asked, hoping my trembling wasn’t as obvious as it felt to me. I was pretty sure it was only Michael’s support that was holding me upright at the moment.

2015-09-04 15.53.34               ‘You just have to go to sleep and dream,’ Talia said.

‘The juice,’ Alonso spoke, nodding to the empty orange juice glass on the breakfast table. ‘It contained some herbs that will make you drowsy very shortly. You’ll sleep in Talia’s arms.’ He nodded toward the door. ‘You should probably return to your room shortly, unless you want Michael to carry you.’

‘When were you going to tell me about this juice, about being drugged?’

‘I just did.’ Alonso replied ‘Besides, as Magda has said, we really have little choice if we want to put this monster back where he belongs and save your friend’s life.’

Magda lifted my chin on the curl of her fingers and, I swear, if Michael hadn’t been holding me upright, I would have fallen through the floor. Even through her glasses, there was something about being the center of her attention that made me feel like I was being unraveled one molecule at a time. But when she spoke, the situation became very tightly focused, indeed. ‘Susan, if I can’t sever Annie’s link with the Guardian, she will die. She’s been under his thrall too long. You’re the key, like it or not, and if you’re not willing to do whatever it takes, then it’s best you put a bullet in your friend’s brain right now, because her death will neither be easy nor quick. Do you understand me?’

There were no more jokes, no more snipes. The room was silent as a grave as I stepped away from Michael. ‘All right.’ I glanced at Talia, who nodded in return and stepped forward. ‘If it’s all the same to everyone, I’d like to make it back to my room under my own power.’ I was beginning to feel like my tongue belonged to someone else, and the floor felt a long way from my feet. With Michael flanking me on one side and the succubus on the other, I carefully maneuvered my way back down the hall. It was only as Michael kissed me possessively and tucked me down beneath the duvet that I noticed Magda perched on the edge of a sailor’s trunk in the corner near the bathroom.

‘Are you the audience,’ I slurred.

‘Afraid so, darling. Traditionally the dreamer and her dream walker are witnessed by a third party who doesn’t sleep and remains uninvolved in events so she can awaken the dreamers if … there are problems.’

‘Are you expecting problems?’ I looked from Talia to Magda and back again, to find Talia was stripping out of her clothes. For a second that thought disturbed me, but I was way passed holding a thought in my head for very long.

‘Possibly,’ came the reply that disturbed me way more than the naked succubus now sliding down under the duvet by my side. Whoever this Magda was, she pulled no punches and made no effort to soften the blows. Clearly the woman didn’t have to make nicey-nice.

Michael leaned down and kissed me again. ‘I’d wish you pleasant dreams, but under the circumstances … ’ He 2015-09-04 16.12.40 HDRshot Talia a warning glance, then settled near the foot of the bed on a battered captain’s chair that creaked under his weight.

My last memory of the waking world was Talia pulling me into her arms and kissing me as though she were pulling the breath from me, pulling me under, into the world of sleep, and just before I lost consciousness, I wanted nothing more than for Talia to keep on kissing me.

 

It was a cry of terror that awakened me from a mundane dream of sitting at the big desk in the study of Annie’s old flat tapping away on the keyboard of my Mac. After all the dreams I’d had, or thought I’d had recently, after the way dreams had bled so convincingly into reality, I was totally prepared to be the one screaming like a banshee and making a fool of myself. I was completely unprepared to find that it was Talia doing the screaming.

I shoved my way from under the duvet and fell on my arse in the middle of the floor amid blinding light, confusion, shattering glass and screams. Michael helped me to my feet, and eased me back onto the bed. By the time my eyes adjusted to the light, I discovered Alonso sitting in the middle of the floor with Talia in his arms. She was wrapped in a blanket, sobbing and trembling against his shoulder. Magda knelt next to her and Reese stood behind them shoving aside pieces of the shattered mirror from one of the wardrobe doors with the toe of his hiking boot.

When Magda saw that I was awake, she moved to my side, motioning Michael away from me. ‘Are you all right?’ She lifted both of my eyelids in turn, staring into each like she was an optometrist.

I shrugged her away. ‘I’m fine. What happened?’ I nodded to Talia.

‘The succubus claims the Guardian’s inside you, that he confronted her in your dreams. Was he there?’

‘Christ, Maggie, you’re as subtle as a heart attack,’ Michael spat. ‘Do you even know what tact is?’

She shot him a warning glance, and he shut up. ‘Clearly you weren’t seeing the same things, she saw. Were you dreaming?’ Suddenly all eyes were on me.

‘I was, yes. But it was nothing important, certainly nothing about Him,’ I shuddered at the thought of the dream visits I’d had from Him. No, if he’d been there I’d have known.

‘I know what I saw,’ Talia said, looking at me as though I had two heads.

‘Susan, perhaps you should tell us what you remember,’ Magda suggested.

I told them, a little embarrassed that I’d had such a mundane dream and poor Talia had clearly had a nightmare. ‘There’s no way He could be inside me,’ I added. ‘I’d know. I mean surely I’d know.’

No one nodded agreement. Instead they all gave me the jaundiced stare. That did nothing to make me feel Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500better. For a moment, no one said anything at all. Then I remembered my friend, who supposedly was resting comfortably somewhere in the bowels of High View and an icy prickle crawled up my spine. ‘What about Annie? If He’s here, won’t He go straight for her? I mean isn’t she an easy target?’

Michael shot Magda an accusing glance, which she ignored. ‘Trust me, Susan, she’s safe from him.’

‘Instead he was drawn to the succubus?’ I said.

‘Everyone is drawn to a succubus,’ Talia replied with a convulsive shiver. ‘That was the whole point.’

Unnoticed, Reece had gone into the bathroom and returned with a glass of water, which Talia took from him with a nod of thanks.

‘I was the bate.’

‘Jesus!’ I suddenly felt queasy. ‘You mean you went into my dreams knowing you might encounter Him there?’

Talia gave no answer, only sipped at her water.

‘Just because it’s a dream, doesn’t mean it’s not real,’ Magda said. ‘The only one who would have half a chance against the Guardian if he were to choose the dream route, which I’m guessing is how he got to you, was Talia. She feeds on dreams, especially sexual dreams.’

Talia forced a laugh. ‘That didn’t work out so well, did it?’

‘So it was you He was waiting for then, not me,’ I said, standing to pace by the bed. ‘All I had was a dream about writing, something I do every day.’

‘Oh he wasn’t trying to seduce me,’ Talia said. ‘He was trying to chase me out, and that’s exactly what he did.’ She forced her way to her feet with a little help from Alonso and Reese, then came to pace next to me. ‘Tell me about your dream in as much detail as you can remember.’

I shook my head. ‘All right. It was a writing dream. I have them all the time. I have them more often when I’m close to a deadline. Usually those involve my laptop breaking down or my entire manuscript being deleted, that sort of thing.’

‘Look, what might seem completely mundane to you could be critical,’ Alonso said. I noticed his arm was now draped protectively around Reese’s shoulder and the two had crowded into the shadowy space next to the wardrobe away from the window.

‘It is strange,’ I said, sifting through the jumble of events of the past few days. ‘Every other dream I’ve had up rose imagesuntil this one has been either sexy or nightmarish or some bizarre combination of the two. Even if I just doze. I’ve dreamed a lot,’ I added.

Talia studied me for a second, brow drawn, then she huffed out a sharp breath. ‘May I try something?’

‘Of course.’ The words were barely out of my mouth before she pulled me into her arms and kissed me. She kissed me hard and deep, and I returned the favor with more gusto that I would have thought possible. Somewhere far off, I heard Michael protest and Magda cut him off. In the back of my mind for a split second, I heard Katy Perry singing I Kissed a Girl, and then the world went blank as though someone had just pushed the reset button.

 

I set in front of my Mac the tap, tap of the keys filling the silence like the rhythm of my pulse. The moon hangs heavy, framed by the open window in Annie’s study. I’m tipsy, but not drunk, at least not too drunk, but I can’t sleep. My whole body buzzes, but it isn’t an alcohol buzz, it was like being in the zone when all the words flow onto the page, and the story I have inside me explodes like magic, like an orgasm. I’m breathless and trembling and pushing, pushing, always pushing against it, rubbing against it, feeling it penetrate me, fill me, ride me in the darkness until every last breath, every last word, every full stop burst onto the page, and I’m left weak and trembling and wrung out.

Then I’m no longer in Annie’s comfy flat. I’m in the crypt at Chapel House, the darkness awash in the scent of roses, sweet, sweet roses. I’m writing away with insane focus, something that has to be said, something that has to be freed onto the page. And, fucking hell, I’m horny. I’m always horny when the words are flowing. When the story’s coming fast and furious, it makes me want to come too. I’m writing. I’m writing. I’m writing! The silver light bleeding through the bars in the tunnel, touches me like the words do, touches me exactly where they do, in places so private no one has ever touched me there before. And I’m shy, and I’m embarrassed, even ashamed, and I’m overwhelmed with desire that burns me and flashes across my synapses like sheet lightning. And I need! Oh God, how I need! I’m writing. I’m writing …but what I’m writing is more powerful than any story I’ve ever written, and I want more, good Christ I want so much more! I want it all and I need it with an ache that will surely destroy me if I can’t have it!

And the door’s not locked, and I’m terrified and aroused, and intrigued, and I can almost see the words flowing Scribe computer keyboardMG_0777onto the page as, with trembling fingers I open the barred door that creaks with ancient disuse. And He’s there like light itself splitting the darkness. And I write Him onto the page, feeling His lust, His need, His passion in every word. And when I’m finished, trembling and spent and replete, He’s there, fully present, fully mine to possess.

Then I hear Annie in the bathroom. The toilet flushes, and I hold my breath, hold my secret tight so she won’t hear. And when I’m sure she’d gone back to her bed, with fingers cold against the keys, I copy everything, all of it, every word, every nuance, every stuttering heartbeat onto a memory stick. Then I hide it away. But before I do, I delete the words from my Mac so no one else will see, no one else will share in my ecstasy, in my passion, in the shame that so arouses me.

It’s only then, when I feel His breath against my neck, and the scent of roses fills the night air, that I realize I can’t close the door.

 

In The Flesh Part 16: Dark Paranormal Romance In Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_nIn episode 16 of In The Flesh, whisked away from Chapel House by Michael and the mysterious Maggie, Susan finds herself tucked away in the High Fells of the Lake District, where help comes from an old friend — one not particularly happy to see Maggie, and the help he offers may be as bad as the problem itself.

Read! Enjoy! Spread the word!

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 13, Part 14, Part 15.

 

Chapter 16

It was deep night when I woke up with my heart hammering in my chest. I was groggy, disoriented and completely naked. It took me a few seconds to convince myself that I was no longer in the crypt at Chapel House. Then I recalled the events of the past – what was it anyway, twelve hours? Twenty-four hours? Maybe more. I remembered Michael quite literally carrying me away from Chapel House. I remembered Annie’s screams, and I remembered waking up in the arms of some man named Alonso, who clearly wasn’t happy at having unexpected guests in the middle of the night … or at least I thought it had been night. Nothing was very clear to me at the moment. The past few days were an insane blur that I still hoped against hope to wake up from and find it had all been just a bad dream.

Once my eyes had adjusted to the ambient light, the room was far from dark. The heavily carved wooden bed I was in looked ancient and battered. Next to the bed a trunk, no less battered, served as a bedside table, with a bare-bulbed lamp on top, cord disappearing over the edge into the dark. The other furnishings in the room looked to be a double-doored wardrobe and more trunks, lots more trunks and wooden crates. Clearly the room had been thrown together in a hurry to accommodate me, though as I turned onto my side it was easy to feel that the sheets and bedding were not only clean, but of the highest quality, possibly even brand new. The bed faced a large curtainless window, which opened to the night, to the light coming from the waning moon and the star-filled sky.

Without turning on the lamp, I stood and moved to the window, nearly tripping over my bag, which I had no memory of Michael grabbing before sweeping me away, but then I had not much memory of anything but fear and lust and anger. There was quite a bit of anger thrown into the pot when I found out Michael had kept the truth from me. The thing was, I had no memory of the truth myself. Could everyone be lying to me? None of it made sense. How could I have ever released a demon spirit from his prison beneath the crypt of Chapel House and set Him loose on my friend with the plan of returning to claim Him as my lover? I was a lot of things, and like most writers, I had a fair-sized streak of self-absorption, but I wasn’t vicious or cruel, and I considered myself a fairly decent human being in spite of all my neuroses and foibles. Of the two of us, Annie had always been far more self-absorbed, and I figured that was a part of her gift, a part of what made her as successful as she was. Not that I wasn’t successful, but my idea of success was quite different from hers.

As I moved toward the window, I had an overwhelming need to breath fresh air and was surprised to find that though the glass in the window itself seemed ancient, it opened with very little effort on my part. The air was that of high places, bracing and sweet, cold enough to raise chill bumps across my bare arms and delicious enough that I was reluctant to shut out the chill. After inhaling several lungsful of the intoxicating fell air and gazing up at more stars than I had any idea could be in a night sky, I made a more coherent effort to take in my surroundings. The bare slate floors were covered with a path of what looked to be very old Turkish carpets that ran from the bed to the window, in front of the wardrobe, and then to a door across the room, behind which I discovered a well-equipped bathroom – far more modern and luxurious than the rest of the room. I splashed my face with cold water, ignoring the urge to have a wallow in a very large claw-footed tub. From somewhere in the house, I heard the sound of voices, or thought I did anyway. I found my clothes neatly folded on a large trunk at the foot of the bed and slipped into them, now shivering from the cold breeze coming in the window I was not yet willing to shut. If someone was up in the house, perhaps they could answer some of my questions. Would Michael be here? What about this Maggie woman? Oh, I had a thing or two I wanted to say to her alright, don’t think I didn’t!

I pushed open the door that looked new and unvarnished and, on tiptoes, made my way down a long hall, my 2015-06-24 12.46.27feet silent on the slate floor. The place was not totally unlike the crypt at Chapel House, the walls were bare stone and the windows along one side were deep as though they belonged in some Medieval castle, and certainly the view out the window from my bedroom had done little to diminish that notion. I half expected the staircase to be narrow and winding down the inside of a tower, but I didn’t make it to the stairs, wherever they were. Just down the hall next to my room, a set of open French doors led into a darkened study. There was an open set of identical doors across the room, which led out onto a balcony. It was from there I heard voices carrying on the night air from down below. I couldn’t make out the conversation, but I did make out my name, so I eased my way across the room and out onto the balcony. Below, I could see a narrowly terraced garden above a beck running steeply down the hunched back of the fell. In the garden on a stone bench sat two men in quiet conversation. Neither of them was Michael, but I recognized the bigger of the two as Alonso. He sat with his arm around the shoulder of the other. The tone of their speech was soft and conversational, and I leaned forward over the stone railing holding my breath to hear something, anything that might give me a clue as to what was going on and where I was. Alonso was speaking to his companion, who offered a soft laugh at whatever the man had said. It was as Alonso slid his hand down the man’s back to rest low on his hips and drew him close that I realized what I was watching, what I was listening to, had become intimate and no longer had anything to do with me. Just as I turned to go back into the study and back to my room, Alonso pivoted on the bench and looked up at me. I swallowed back a yelp, and stumbled away from the railing, not terribly subtle, but it was dark, and I’d managed neither to fall nor cry out. I certainly had done nothing wrong. The doors to the study had been open and inviting. If Alonso had not wanted me there, all he would have had to do was close the door. But then again, supposedly I was notorious for opening doors not meant to be opened.

I made it halfway across the study, heading back to my room when Alonso’s large form blocked the door in front of me, and this time I did yelp.

His full lips twisted in a wicked smile, then he offered me a very formal bow. “Alonso Darlington, at your service, Madame.” The man was not quite as big as Michael – nearly as tall, but of a more slender build. Still, he gave the illusion that he was much larger than even the angel. “I’m sorry for startling you, Ms. Innes. I forget sometimes to make noise when I approach. I have startled Reese terribly more times than I care to admit. Though the other members of my staff and my colleagues are used to my … unusual ways, for Reese’s sake, I truly am trying.”

It wasn’t so much his silence as it was his speed that startled me. No human could have moved from the garden below so quickly. “Reese is the one you were with?” I asked, steadying myself on the edge of a large antique desk that dominated the room, willing my pulse to slow to a gallop. If this Alonso wasn’t human, the last thing I wanted was to anger him by saying the wrong thing.

“The one you saw me with.” His face lit with a smile that I knew full well was reserved for thoughts of one’s lover. “Yes, that’s Reese.”

“I … I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude.”

“You intrusion, my dear, is hardly your fault, and I do apologize for the state of the room you have been forced to endure. High View is being renovated at the moment, and we are in a shambles. And of course, I’m deeply sorry for my less than cordial welcome.”

“You don’t like Maggie, whoever the hell she is. I got that. Frankly, I don’t like her very much either, so no need to apologize.”

“It isn’t so much that I don’t like her. I have a great deal of respect for the woman, and in truth, I owe her much.” He moved to stand next to me, and I could feel him studying me, but looking into his eyes made me feel ever so slightly off balance, so I looked away, taking in the surroundings of what was not a study at all, but a lovely library that would have fit right into any stately home I’d ever toured. “It’s just that whenever Magda shows up, things get more complicated than I’d like them to be, and I try very hard to keep things simple and to not draw attention to myself.” As if he anticipated my next questions, he added. “Your friend is sleeping peacefully. Magda and your angel are with her at the moment.”

“He’s not my angel,” I snapped.

Alonso offered a low, throaty chuckle. “Oh I think that he is, my dear.” Before I could protest, he pulled an iPhone from the pocket of his black jeans, punched in a number and waited for a second, then I heard a woman answer.

He offered me a quick, reassuring smile that was nearly as hypnotic as my first glance into his eyes. “Talia, darling, if you’re finished, our guest is awake and we have need of you in the library.” He returned the cell phone to his pocket and motioned me to the leather sofa in front of his desk. I happily obliged, my legs still feeling none to steady. “You must be hungry. I’ve had Cook prepare something for you, figuring that the monstrosity who held you prisoner would have had little forethought for your creature comfort.” Then he added, “no doubt your angel has encouraged you to eat. Food is always essential in the presence of magic or one can find oneself in serious trouble.”

I didn’t bother to tell Alonso that the monstrosity he referred to had, indeed seen to my creature comfort, though I had no idea how long ago it had been. It bothered me that I found myself wanting to defend Him.

Alonso sat on the edge of the desk and crossed his legs at the ankles. I noticed he wore scuffed hiking boots, but then that was to be expected in the fells. “You say you have no memory of releasing this … entity into the world?”

“I have … sketchy recollections of dreams I had that night, the night it must have happened, but honestly, I Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500don’t know how I could have done such a thing. I couldn’t even find my way around the shamble of a garden at Chapel House, and I had no idea where the key was to the place where He was apparently kept prisoner. I seriously doubt if Annie did either.”

“He … yes, well it would have been easy enough for him to guide you and for him to give you the location of the key if a physical key were necessary. I’m inclined, however, to believe that the key was magical, and you, being a Scribe, would indeed have the imagination to figure out what was needed to release … him.”

“But why would I do that? Why?” I asked.

Almost before I knew he had moved, Alonso sat next to me and took my hand into his, which was large, slightly calloused and cold. My first urge at the rush of current up through my arm and straight to my heart was to pull away, but his grip was firm, and I was afraid to move, feeling like a rabbit in the headlights. Then he spoke, and I found myself relaxing into the hypnotic lilt of his voice, with its slightly strange accent and its deep-chested baritone. “For the love of your craft, Ms. Innes, for the love of your craft is reason enough. Surely you know that by now.” He stroked the back of my hand with his thumb, and I found myself calming still further. “Were you not inspired by the crypt at Chapel House, by the tangle of the garden, by the fact that it was once holy ground? I’m certainly no writer, and yet such places stimulate my imagination. Do you not think that such an entity as the one you’ve released would have recognized your urge to tell a story, your imagination so stimulated and taken advantage if it were at all possible.” Then he leaned close, holding my gaze, and I felt as though I were falling. “Does not the Bible itself say that ‘the word became flesh and dwelt among us, that the word is living and active and sharper than any double edged sword?’ Words have power, my dear woman, power that nothing else in the history of human culture, nothing else in the history of our human nature have. The storytellers of old were revered. They sat in the presence of kings and queens as their equals.” With a sweeping gesture, he took in the bookshelves that rose from floor to ceiling all around us. “Some of the words in this room were written thousands of years ago, those who penned them have long ago turned to dust, and yet we read their words, their stories, and we’re transported, at times transformed by the minds of men and women long dead. Surely you don’t think that an entity who has existed as long as the one connected to Chapel House would not know this, would not seize the opportunity to take advantage of the magic of the mind of a Scribe and the stories she can create?”

“But it was never my intention. I didn’t mean to. I only … We were drunk, excited about Annie’s new home. We were celebrating, telling stories. I …”

Alonso smoothed the hair away from my face and held my gaze. “You underestimate the power of your magic. I understand my darling. You’re not the first Scribe to have done so, nor are you the first to have paid a high price for such a mistake. You’re among the greats in that.” He glanced around the room at the myriad books, and then offered me a reassuring smile. “Never mind. First you must eat, and then we shall see what we can do to aid your memory.”

Almost if by magic, a man dressed in full livery arrived with a silver tray and sat it on a table near the window. Alonso took my hand and guided me to sit in front of eggs, toast and porridge all washed down by rich dark French roast coffee. He watched me eat silently making no effort to join me. But then it was the middle of the night.

I had just finished the last of the toast with homemade raspberry jam when a tall woman in a form-fitting turquoise dress knocked softly on the open door and let herself in. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She was — well for lack of a better word, she was beautiful. She had dark, thick hair, startling blue eyes, and she had that way about her that made more ordinary people, myself included, want to be close to her so that they could look at her, just constantly look at her because surely this kind of beauty couldn’t be real. Then I was reminded of Alonso’s sudden movement, of his all but admitting he wasn’t human, and I suddenly wasn’t so sure about the woman either.

Alonso stood and embraced her, kissing her on the cheek. The two mumbled softly for a few seconds, glancing dark moon image_xl_6338206occasionally over their shoulders at me. Then he took her hand and led her forward. “Ms Innes, I’d like you to meet Talia. She’s a colleague and a dear friend of mine. She knows your problem and recovering lost memories and understanding people’s dreams is her specialty.” He shrugged. “Well, one of them, anyway.”

The woman studied me for a second, then smiled and nodded her greeting. I seemed incapable of doing anything more than smiling and nodding back.

“Now that introductions have been made,” I forced my gaze away form her and back to Alonso, “if you’ve had enough to eat, me dear Ms. Innes, and you’re ready, Talia is going to sleep with you.”

 

In The Flesh PART 15: Dark Paranormal Romance. Read & Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_n
I’m just back from Scotland well and truly inspired to write like the wind. That being said, it’s time for Part 15 of In The Flesh in which Susan learns more of the truth than she wants to know, but not nearly enough to get her out of the mess she’s in.

Read! Enjoy! Spread the word!

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 13, Part 14.

 

In The Flesh Part 15

“Susan? Are you all right? You’re shivering and I don’t want you to catch a chill.”

When I came back to myself I still stood naked in front of the mirror. But He was right, I was shivering.

“Darling, you’re frightening me. Please, go to the bed Annie has made up for you and get beneath the duvet and make yourself warm.”

I did as He asked without thinking, though it was fully of my own volition. He was not compelling me in any way I could tell, but the next thing I knew, I was curled in a fetal position in the on the mattress on the floor, the duvet pulled up to my chin, and still I shivered, as I struggled to get my mind round what he’d just said.

He sat next to me. I could feel the weight of Him on the mattress, and I knew He watched me. “Shall I rouse Annie to make you more tea? Perhaps that would help.”

“No. Let her rest.” I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing her the way she was now, and I really wasn’t up to another knife confrontation with my best friend. Until I had some plan of action to help her, to get her out of here, it was best to let her sleep.

He made no reply, but lay down next to me and in a moment, I felt his body naked against mine. “Please don’t.” I whispered.

“I only wish to warm you, my darling. I promise I won’t take you until you are ready for me.”

How there could be body heat when there was no flesh to generate it, I didn’t know, but there was, and I couldn’t help snuggling back against Him, doing my best to ignore that He was ready for me, whether I was ready for Him or not. It hit me then, that He was exerting control over himself by not trying to control me. Whatever lust I had for Him was no more than I would have felt for any well-endowed man, who lay next to me when I was under such stress. I knew, He could easily change that. I knew He could make me want Him to the detriment of anything else that could possibly matter. I reminded myself that He hadn’t said if I was ready for Him, but when. I needed, above all else, to remember that. His strategy was to replace Annie with me, and He didn’t necessarily have to force the issue to make that happen. All of those things were in my mind, but the fact that I might have been the one to released a monster into the world just happened to take center stage in my brain, at least for the moment.

“What you said. That can’t possibly be,” I managed between chattering teeth. “How I could have removed the gate and the padlock? I mean I couldn’t have. It isn’t possible. I had no key, I couldn’t have even found my way back to the crypt through that tangle of a garden without Annie’s help, and besides, I … I didn’t know you were there. How could I have known you were there?”

He smoothed the hair away from my temple and kissed me in the spot where my pulse thundered. “Of course you solicited Annie’s help, my darling. She helped you find your way back, but only you could open the gate. Only you could set me free.”

“I didn’t know you were there,” I repeated, my words sounding more like a plea.

“Of course you did, my little Scribe. You sensed me there in the darkness waiting for you, longing for you, and your words breathed hope into me. Don’t you remember your dreams?”

“I … vaguely. But I was drunk and I was only telling stories. Often what I’m writing about or thinking about invades my dream world. I don’t remember you, though, and I don’t remember releasing you.”

“Don’t you?” His hand moved down then to cup my breast and the press of his penis became more urgent against my bottom. “You convinced Annie to help us. Ultimately I could see that your plan was for her to ultimately get us together, you and me.”

“No! That was not my plan! There was no plan. It was only a dream, and I would never use my friend that way. Ever!”

He only kissed my shoulder and spoke quietly as though He were telling me a story. “Of course it was your plan. Annie would be mine. She would stay with me, satisfy me until you could come to me, until you could be mind. That was always our plan, my darling. I always knew that in my heart of hearts.” I felt him shrug. “A figure of speech of course. I have no actual heart, of course.”

“Oh Christ,’ I whispered, fighting back panic. Had I not awakened in both terror and arousal? Hadn’t my last thoughts in the dream world and my first in the waking been that I had opened a door I could not close again?

“This is insane! It was just a dream.” With all the force I could muster, I shoved my way up off the mattress and fled to the bathroom, snatching up my clothes, still on the floor where I’d dropped them. “It was just a fucking dream!” I shouted, sensing His presence behind me as I scrambled into my jeans. “I’m not crazy. I know a dream when I have one.”

“The dreams of a Scribe carry more weight than those of an ordinary mortal, Susan, do you not know this? Has no one told you? I would have certainly thought Michael would have said something, after all that’s what the bitch who owns him wants.”

“What the hell’s that supposed to mea? Why would Michael care? He has nothing to do it. I write stories! People pay me for them,” I said buttoning my shirt over my braless breasts while shoving the bra into my bag, “That’s what I do. I don’t live out my dreams! I don’t open doors into strange abysses, and I didn’t release a –”

Before I knew what was happening, He was on me, forcing me back against the sink. The mark on my breast suddenly burned like fire that spread down my torso, and I screamed at the press of him, still naked, still aroused and all hard invisible muscle that bore down on me like a suffocating weight. “What, Susan? You didn’t release a monster, is that what you were about to say? Do you think that you wouldn’t? Do you think that you couldn’t? Are you so naïve as to believe that what’s inside your head, what you put on the written page is any less monstrous, any less dangerous?”

“What else are you but a monster,” I shouted, “hurting me like this, hurting poor Annie who did nothing to deserve it! Nothing! If I’m the one to blame, leave her alone, let her go and –”

I swallowed back my words in a yelp as the floor tilted beneath my feet and the air around me crackled with static and ozone, and my head felt full and tight as though I were suddenly on a train passing through a tunnel at high speed. In my confusion, it took me a second to realize the roar that I thought was a sudden clap of thunder was the sound of His anger, followed by my scream as I found myself flying through the air and landing with a thud on the stone floor. A sharp shockwave raced down my spine and pinwheels of color exploded behind my eyes. For a split second I thought He’d broken my neck, but that was secondary to getting the breath back that he’d knocked out of me. Then, in an instant, the room righted itself and He was gone. I heard Annie scream, as he vanished.

I stumbled to my feet, still barely dressed, lost my footing in a wave of dizziness, and came down hard on one knee, yelling my friend’s name as I shoved through the door and down the hall. “Annie! Hold on, I’m coming. Hold –’ Then the kitchen door burst open, and the breath that I’d only just recovered was knocked out of me again as Michael scooped me up like I was a sack of grain, threw me over his shoulder and was nearly to the gate before I could do more than gasp. “Annie! Annie! I can’t leave, her,” I gasped as he shoved me into the passenger seat of my own car.

“Maggie’s got her! It’s all right! Maggie’s got her and they’re headed for–” I accidentally elbowed him in the chest and he sputtered. “Fuck! How many goddam times are we gonna have to do the great escape routine!” Then he slammed the door shut, cursing as he hopped into the driver’s seat and shoved the key home. I don’t know how the hell he got it, and I didn’t ask as we pulled away from Chapel House like we were being chased by all the demons from Hell, and God knew one of them was fucking bad enough!

I stiff-legged the floorboard and shoved both hands against the dashboard with a sense of deja vu I neither wanted no appreciated. Then, when we’d put a good few blocks between us and that horrible place, I turned on Michael. “He said I set Him free! He said I’m the one who let him loose on the world, let him loose to do this to Annie. He fucking said you knew!”

Michael cursed under his breath, the tension in his body evident still in his suicide grip on the steering wheel. “I’m sorry, Susan. I was going to tell you. I said all the time we should tell you right up front so there’d be no surprises, so you’d know what you were up against, but Maggie said not to, Maggie said to wait. She said she had a plan. Some fucking plan!” He ranted, cursing the first born this Maggie would supposedly never have and wished every plague and pestilence he could think of upon her – some I’d never heard of, but I didn’t hear anything after that except for the beating of wings against my ears and the desperate draw of breath into my lungs. It was true. I released Him. How the hell could it be true?

“Susan?” It was the sound of my own name that made me realize the rant was over and Michael was addressing me. “Did you hear me? I’ll explain everything once we’ve reached the rendezvous point, well, Maggie can explain better than I can, but we need to make sure you’re safe first.”

I forced a laugh that was decidedly on the hysterical side, and I really didn’t give a fuck. “Safe? How the hell can you even use that word when He’s out there? And why the hell do you think I’ll actually believe you when you lied to me? You fucking lied to me!” I punched him hard in the arm with my fist, and he responded by trapping my hand against his body, driving with one hand on the wheel and the other holding my wrist away from him, but at such an angle that my arm twisted making any movement uncomfortable. That done, he let me have my rant, the fucker barely breathing hard as I called him every name I could think of, and then threatened him with some seriously creative bodily damage, none of which did he seem concerned about even for one second.

At last he spoke. “Are you finished? Because I need my arm back. A safe driver keeps both hands on the wheel.”

“Safe driving is the least of my concerns at the moment,Michael, and believe me,” I growled, “we’re not anywhere near finished, and I have no intention of dying before I kick you seriously in the balls a few times.”

“Fair enough,” he said, and then he released me.

“Where are we going?” I asked once my temper had cooled enough to remind me that I was scared shitless, exhausted and physically damaged, and if I were going to survive whatever happened next, I would need Michael’s help, whether I liked the plan of action or not.

“There’s a place in Cumbria, up in the fells. Friend of Magda owns it. No one will find us there.”

“And Annie? She’s in really bad shape, and she … she’s not in her right mind.” I swallowed hard thinking that my best friend had tried to kill me, then delivered me right into the mouth of the dragon. But that was forgivable under the circumstances. What was unforgivable was the fact that it seems to have been my actions that put her at risk in the first place.

“She’s in good hands, I promise.” He patted my arm gently. “Maggie will know what to do, and at the moment, we need her safe and out of the equation so he can’t use her against you.”

We turned of the M6 onto the A66 heading toward Keswick with Michael questioning me about what had happened. When I told him of his boss’ visit in the crypt, he unleashed some seriously colorful language and slammed his hand against the steering wheel hard enough to rattle the whole car. “Damn her! We had you safe. We had you away from Him, away from Chapel House. If I’d been awake, I would have known you were walking into a trap. I would have stopped you. We’d have all been safely away by now.”

I gave him a sideways glance. “And what about Annie?”

The muscles along his jaw clenched tight and his shoulders stiffened. “We got her out, didn’t we?’

“But that wasn’t part of the plan, was it?”

“I don’t know what the hell the plan is,” he snapped. “Clearly Maggie’s keeping me as much in the dark as she is you. We’ll have … words, when I see her.”

Before I could respond with some things I’d rather have with this Maggie bitch that were much more physical than words, Michael continued. “You need to sleep now. Alonso … well Alonso is a bit neurotic, though I understand that’s pretty typical of his kind. He doesn’t like people to know where he lives. Took a page from Maggie’s book where that’s concerned. Anyway, I’ll put you to sleep, and when you wake up, we’ll be there.

“Magic? You’ll magic me to sleep?”

He shrugged and I thought I saw a blush crawling up his neck. “I suppose you could call it that. Don’t worry, it’s harmless, but useful at times. God! Only three days ago, I didn’t believe in magic or angels or monsters. Shows what the hell I knew.

When I woke up, the car had stopped. It was dark outside and some unknown man was carrying me like a child.

“I’m not keen on Maggie using High View for her little capers,” the man was saying, his voice a purr of a vibration deep in his chest. I shivered and snuggled close for warmth but felt none.

“I’m not too keen on it either, Alonso, I’d much rather be in my own place where I can pull up the drawbridge, but looks like you drew the short straw this time around.”

I was about to ask what was going on, not that I expected anyone to give me a straight answer, but I fell back to sleep in this Alonso’s arms before I could manage more than a moan.

 

In The Flesh Part 14: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_nIt’s time for Part 14 of In The Flesh! I’m in Scotland while you read this, gallivanting about the Highlands with my Hubby and my sister, so I expect to come back fully inspired. In the meantime,  s the plot thickens and things get darker, Susan finds out that she has a few dark secrets of her own.

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 12, Part 13

 

 

In The Flesh Part 14

“What do you want,” I asked again, realizing that I didn’t actually know for sure – at least not other than the fact He wanted to fuck me. But there had to be more to the story than that, didn’t there? Surely.

“I want you to come away from there before you hurt yourself, Susan. Please.” The word ‘please’ sounded like perhaps He wasn’t used to using it, wasn’t used to making polite requests. I felt a warm hand on my back. “You need to eat. Then you can have a bath, and we’ll talk. I apologize for locking you up in this horrible place. I was angry. You were right. I behaved very poorly. Come. Please.”

As I turned to make my way back I could see anemic daylight from the now open door of the crypt. “Don’t try to 2015-06-30 11.27.42escape.” He spoke as though he’d read my mind. “You can’t. And I don’t want to hurt you again. I don’t like doing that to you, darling, really I don’t.”

“I don’t like it much either,” I said, standing and stretching when the crypt opened out into a space high enough to do so.

I walked stiffly through the tangle of vine and ivy, somehow sensing that I was being guided, though not being forced. This time, He didn’t take me past the sculpture of Michael. He took me round close to the aging brick of Chapel House and right to the open kitchen door. Inside, the smell of grilled meats and spices nearly overwhelmed me, and my mouth watered. I didn’t know how long it had been since I’d eaten. I didn’t know how long I’d been in Chapel House, but I was starving. There was doner kebab and pita bread and a pot of fresh brewed tea.

“Annie tells me you like kebab, and that you like your tea brewed strong. I hope it’s all right.”

“You did this?” I asked, stuffing a huge chunk of pita into my mouth and swallowing almost without chewing.

“I had her do it. She made the tea and ordered the kebab from the local shop, which delivers, a very useful service when sustenance is required, or so she tells me.” He chuckled softly. “Obviously I’m not very adept in a world designed for the enfleshed.”

“The enfleshed,” I smiled in spite myself. “That’s what we are?”

“It is yes. Awkward, but not without its elegance, flesh.”

“And it’s shortcomings,” I said, rubbing the knot on my elbow, which I had banged heartily on the wall flailing to keep from falling into the abyss in the crypt. “You said Annie prepared this.” I looked around the room anxiously. “Where is she? There’s plenty here for both of us.”

“Oh she’s not hungry,” came the reply. “She needs her rest.” Then He added quickly. “Please don’t worry about her, Susan. I’ll keep her safe. I told you I take care of my own.”

“Besides, she wants to kill me,” I said, suddenly not so hungry.

“She’s just very confused. She doesn’t understand how it is with us,” He said. “But she will with time.”

In spite of the sudden loss of appetite, I made an effort to eat. I knew that I’d need all my strength if I were to have any chance of surviving this mess, and what was happening to Annie, her slow starvation, I’d be damned if I’d let that happen to me. “Do you have a name?” I asked, around a mouthful of kebab.

“If you wish for me to have a name, then I shall have a name,” came the reply.

I took the teacup into my hand and sipped it, holding it as much for warmth as anything else. “Are you saying that your name is mine to give?”

“I’ve observed that names matter a great deal to the enfleshed, and that they matter a great deal more to one such as you, my darling scribe. They’ve long made no difference to me. But even as you sit there I can see your struggle to define me, and I must admit, I find it very exciting, this … being defined by the woman I desire.”

I felt the muscles low in my belly tighten at His words, then relax like butterflies taking flight. I squinted into blue moon 2the space across the breakfast bar from me, the space where I perceived Him to be. “Didn’t Annie want to know your name? I mean don’t all lovers struggle to define each other, to understand the uniqueness of the person they desire?”

He chuckled softly. “You would think so, would you not? But most people are too self-absorbed to consider the name of another or how the other defines himself except in how it pertains to them and their need to control that which they love.”

“And Annie? ”

“Oh my darling Annie was not so interested in defining me as she was in my definition of her, in my ability to … make her feel more herself.”

“By that you mean in your ability to make her come? I would think that would also have a great deal to do with her making you feel more yourself? Surely you can’t tell me that was of no interest to you?”

“I am what I am,” came the reply. This time, I felt Him standing next to me. “I am no less driven by my nature than you are yours. Now come,” I felt his hands on my shoulders and in my mind’s eye, I could almost make out the shape of his long graceful fingers, but surely it was only my imagination. “Come and have a bath,” he said. “Oh don’t worry, I won’t … attack you.” There was bitterness in His voice that I felt in my own mouth as though it were my own. I shivered and quickly downed the rest of my tea in an effort to wash it away.

 

True to His word, not only did he not attack me, but He left me completely alone to bathe. In spite of the stress of the situation, I felt my shoulders relax in the warm waters of the bath, as I lay back with my eyes closed. I gave up trying to plan my escape, at least for the moment, and my thoughts returned to the tunnel beyond the crypt, then to the dreams that I’d had the night after Annie first showed me Chapel House. I was surprised to find that a great deal of that time was sketchy in my memory, and with a sudden flash of insight, I realized I’d never written anything about that day, not in my journal, not in my notebook, not anyplace. I hadn’t spoken of it, dreamed of it or even thought of it until just now in the tunnel. A crypt, a deconsecrated church with a sketchy past, a great deal of drunken speculation on the story behind Chapel House, and yet I, a well established writer, who never let anything go unobserved or undocumented, had neither written about it nor thought about it, as though it had never even happened.

But I remembered now, as I sifted through my memories, that the tunnel had most definitely been barred shut and padlocked and right about where I nearly fell into the abyss. I remembered it clearly now. I remembered both of us making jokes about what was beyond the bars. I remember we did it until we scared ourselves, then we turned and left the crypt – not really running, but definitely not lingering, as though we feared perhaps those bars weren’t quite as strong as they look, and perhaps the padlock wasn’t really locked. I remember the feeling of my own flesh creeping as we laughed and joked about the release of demons from the pit of hell and about souls hungering for what He had called enfleshment, but Christ! It was just my imagination. That’s what I did! I wrote stories. I spent at least as much time in my imagination as I did in the real world – maybe more. It was Annie who had no imagination. But then she really didn’t need it. Her life already was a story. All of the things she wanted, all of the things that happened to her could have been the plot for a cheap romance novel or an episode of East Enders on steroids. She was the practical one, the one who made bags of money, which she spent on a luxurious lifestyle. She was the one who had no time for love, not real love anyway. Oh she had lovers, all right. Men queued to be with Annie. But for her it was never more than a dalliance followed by a minor drama of a break-up. There’d be a few tears shed, followed by some laughs with her girlfriends over too much wine, and then on to the next one. I was the one who would have happily lived in a cardboard box as long as I had something to write on. As for love, well my passion, the love of my heart, had always been the telling of stories. That kept me way too tunnel-visioned and in love with my own creations to notice even if a bloke did pay attention to me.

And why the hell was I thinking about all this now? Was it fear of losing my friend? Was it fear of facing my Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500own mortality? With a shiver, I realized that the lust, which had not left me since my first night in Chapel House, had eased back to a gentle buzz low between my hipbones, and my mind was suddenly clear.

I stepped out of the tub and dried myself, still thinking about the events of that night, which seemed like an eternity ago now, and with a start, I realized that He had left me unsupervised. I could have left. My car was just outside. My bag was on the floor by the sink. I suppose he’d had Annie get it. Christ, He used her like a zombie. But then at the moment she wasn’t much more, was she? With a shiver, I recalled how He had moved me to where He wanted me to go as though I were a puppet on a string. Still, He would have let me walk away just now. I knew He would have. I don’t know how I knew, but I did. He’d left me alone on purpose – to see what I would do. So why was I standing stone still and naked staring at myself in the mirror? Why wasn’t I already long gone?

I stepped closer to my own reflection, studying Michael’s bite on my breast, darkened now to shades of midnight blue and purple. There was no evidence of the burn from His touch, no evidence of anything other than a healing love bite. Why was I still here? Did I still think I could save Annie? Oh, I wouldn’t leave without her, I knew that. I also knew that it was entirely possible neither of us would leave at all. I knew as well that sometimes you just needed to run away, to fight another day, and yet I hadn’t, had I?

This time when He approached me, there was no scent of roses, but the scent of a man, a man aroused, but in control, a man who had not come with only sex in mind, a man who had come to court me. An obsolete term, perhaps, but it seemed to fit under the circumstances. My nostrils flared to breathe Him in, and my flesh tingled at the thought of all a person could learn from the smell of a man in his prime. And yet, this was not a man standing next to me. I dared not forget that, no matter what my senses told me.

“You stayed,” He said, and I felt his fingers caress my shoulder. I didn’t flinch, but closed my eyes and leaned back against warm flesh, flesh that was not really there. My senses traced the rise and fall and shape of him, and I liked what I felt. It took me a moment to catch my breath, and even though I expected him to, he made no attempt to do more than touch my shoulder.

“I have … questions,” I said, my mind unable to ignore the fact of Him, the fact that He was as naked as I was, and it was not difficult to tell, He was well and truly ready to make love to me if I asked. And if I asked, He would show me what the gods kept secret from all humanity except for their human lovers, and I would never be the same again. Quite possibly, I wouldn’t even survive it. All I had to do was ask. He wouldn’t deny me.

But he made no further move at seduction. He stood still, while I leaned against him, supporting my weight, but little more. “Of course.” His voice was warm and humid against my neck. “Anything I am able to tell you I will.”

“In the crypt, in the back, the tunnel?”

“Yes?”Graveyard angel 1

“There were bars and there was a padlock, a big one.”

“There were, yes. But they’re gone now.” He cupped my breast, and this time His touch didn’t burn when he stroked my nipple with his thumb.

“What happened to them?’ I arched against him, like a cat being stroked. ‘Did Annie have them removed?”

“Why no, my darling little scribe. Don’t you remember? You took them out. You removed them in order to set me free.”

 

In The Flesh Episode 13: Story in Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_nIt’s time for Part 13 of  In The Flesh. And yes, 13 is my lucky number, because the fabulously talented Kev Bliss has created a fantastic cover for In The Flesh. As the plot thickens and things get darker, I can’t help but wonder if Kev was reading my mind when he created it, and possibly even seeing the story before I did! Thank you, Kev!

 

Enjoy Part 13 in which Susan explores the crypt as well as some disturbing memories of a drunken celebration and strange dreams.

 

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 11, Part 12

 

 

In The Flesh Part 13

Once the panic passed and I was sure I wasn’t going to hyperventilate, pass out, or lapse into hysterics; once I’d stopped calling the bitch Michael worked for every name I could think of for not getting me the hell out of here, I crawled forward, as carefully as I could, one hand outstretched in front of me until I found the wall. Then I slowly followed it around making my way toward where I hoped the door would be. I didn’t know why I bothered. It wasn’t like I could get out, and even if I could, it wasn’t like I could just give Him the slip, was it? That was assuming I’d even have the will power to try. In spite of feeling like I’d had one helluva beating, in spite of being scared witless, my whole body still buzzed with a desire for Him that hurt almost as badly as the burn above my breast. Still, finding the door gave me something creative to do, something to think about other than the fact that I was trapped in a place created to inter the dead. Of course the estate agent had assured us that all of the sarcophagi had been removed along with any human remains, ages ago. All that had been left when Annie took possession was an empty space perfect for a wine cellar, the agent assured her.

‘Wine cellar my arse.’ The sound of my disembodied voice in the thick dark was startlingly loud, so I kept the rest of my ruminations to myself, as I felt my way along the bare rock, banging elbows and scraping knuckles. I was exhausted by the time I found the even-edged crack between the wall of the crypt and the stone that had served as a door for who knew how many generations. I could have cried with relief, as I inserted my fingers along the vertical axis and slid them up until I was certain what I’d found was, indeed, the door and not just some ancient crack in the stone wall. It was such a small victory, but any victory that was something to hang on to, that was something to keep the panic at bay, was a good one.

I tried to recall what I remembered about the crypt when Annie had taken me on the grand tour right after she 2015-06-30 11.27.42took possession of Chapel House. But we’d been so excited about her future home that while she speculated about the place’s gruesome past, or at least the way she imagined it, I hadn’t paid a huge amount of attention to detail, being, I’m ashamed to admit, more than a little creeped out by the place. In truth, there hadn’t been many details to pay attention to. There were no carvings, no sculptures, no grave goods of any kind, not even a stone vase for flowers. The walls were smooth stone without so much as catacomb-like niches for shrouded bodies. Truly, it wasn’t all that interesting as far as inspiration for good horror stories went. That was probably a good thing, considering my present circumstances. But still, it was a crypt. There had been corpses, lots of corpses over a long period of time. Best not think about that at the moment. Ghosts and ghouls I could do nothing about, but then again, I could do nothing about Him either, and what was He but a ghoul, all be it an outrageously sexy one.

As I recalled the crypt was long and rectangular, narrowing at the back to a tunnel that was barely high enough for me to stand in hunched in over. It was closed off at the narrowest end by rusted iron gate that was heavily padlocked. Beyond the bars, I had no idea where the tunnel led, and neither did Annie. If there were any existing maps or drawings of the crypt, she’d not been able to find them in her research of the place. Perhaps it was some kind of sinister escape route leading to a rendezvous point far beyond the churchyard walls, she speculated – possibly pirates, thieves, murderers or even clandestine lovers.

That night over way too much wine and double chocolate fudge ice cream, safe in her flat, safe away from the creepiness of the crypt of Chapel House, I’d done some speculation of my own, my imagination running wild with a story about monks and nuns and scholars and bishops frantic, not to escape through the tunnel in the crypt, but instead, desperate to keep something out. But just exactly what they were trying to keep out, my inebriated brain couldn’t quite sort. Still, Annie listened wide-eyed and squealed with delight, goose bumps rising on her arms, as I told her how the most powerful bishops and brightest scholars alike all tried to block the entrance to the tunnel to keep out the evil beyond, and all died horrible deaths for their efforts along with the poor monks and nuns who served Chapel House, and a fair few parishioners as well. All of this information, of course, was stricken from the records and kept secret, considered knowledge too dangerous for public consumption. She asked me if it was the tunnel to hell. But by that time I was way too drunk and had way too much of a chocolate buzz to imagine just where that tunnel led, or why it had been closed off. I had all sorts of ideas swirling in my head, though, like I always did when I was inspired, and Chapel House had inspired me as much as it had creeped me out. In fact it probably inspired me exactly because it had creeped me out. And while I was interested in all of Annie’s plans for renovation, I admitted to her, as we laughed and giggled that night, that I kind of liked the place just the way it was, though, I quickly added, I wouldn’t want to live there. As we both stumbled off to bed, I promised myself I’d write down all those intriguing ideas in the morning when I sobered up a bit, but I never did.

As I sat with my head pressed to the door of the crypt, my mind was suddenly flooded with memories of that 2015-06-30 10.12.08night after Annie first brought me here. The place had been officially deconsecrated. Chapel House and its surrounds were no longer holy ground, and yet who can really say what that means? That day while exploring the crypt, we had no sense of sacred or profane, no sense that we might be desecrating something, or that we might have treated anything with disrespect. In the evening we’d celebrated her closing on Chapel House and we made up stories, mad, insane stories. It was the first time we’d ever done that, but it meant nothing really. We were drunk and we simply followed our imaginations into the dark and let them run wild while we hung out in the safety of her very posh flat. But that night I had disturbing dreams. I didn’t remember the details, but I woke shivering as though from a nightmare, body slick with sweat, expensive sheets tangled around me. And yet somewhere in the midst of my dreaming, I’d slid my fingers between my thighs, and I woke as desperate with need as I was desperate to escape the nightmare. I had lain there writhing, breathing hard, aching all over as though a lover had brought me to the brink and left me unfulfilled. All I could remember was that in the dream, I opened the door, and once I’d opened the door, I couldn’t close it again, no matter how hard I tried.

But then the alarm went off and I was dragged hung-over, dry mouthed and head pounding, into the waking world. The dream had faded by the time I’d prop myself against the shower wall until the hot water was all gone. By the time we’d poured enough coffee down our throats and popped enough Paracetamol to take the edge off enough so we could hit the shops, I had totally forgotten it happened. Honestly, the dream never entered my mind again until this moment. That wasn’t like me at all. I kept a dream journal. I sometimes spent hours writing down every minute detail of the most troublesome and the most powerful dreams because I believed that they helped me understand myself. But on a more mercenary level, I also did it because my dream were quite often the inspiration for my stories. Like so many writers, I found dreams and their wild array of symbols and improper behaviors to be a treasure trove of creativity. Occasionally I even borrowed other people’s dreams if they were willing to share.

Before I knew what I was doing, I was hunched over nearly double, one hand resting on the stone wall, the other stretched in front of me to guard against obstacles I couldn’t see. I made my way into the tight space at the back of the crypt, heart pounding, stomach knotted, and cold sweat stinging my sightless eyes. What? Was I out of my mind? Christ, why couldn’t I just leave well enough alone? But there was no goddam well enough, was there? I was screwed and so was Annie if I couldn’t figure out how to get us out of here and away from Him. The space tightened still further. My thighs cramped. My knees ached, and I might have been more claustrophobic than I already was if I could have actually seen just how tight fitting the tunnel was. I didn’t remember it being so far to the end. But then we hadn’t actually gone into the crawl space. Annie had just shown her Maglite down the narrow passage and the beam had glinted off the metal bars dissipating in the darkness beyond.

I was just contemplating whether to drop to a crawl and continue on or to admit defeat and turn back when I
suddenly felt the air change. The musty thickness of the crypt gave way to a metallic chill that reminded me of high altitudes where it never got warm, where the wind always blew. The thought had barely entered my mind before an icy breeze hit me in the face and, had the shock of it not given me pause, I would have surely fallen. Cautiously I extended my foot and found nothing beneath it but emptiness. I yelped and jumped back, falling on my arse as the wind quite Graveyard angel 2da8f31cc622c5a47d15ff0c4f1e114abliterally howled over me.

Once I’d stopped shaking and got the bounce of my pulse in my throat back in control, I lay down on my belly
and extended my hands, blinking hard, light-starved eyes desperate to see something, to see anything. I inched my way forward until my arms and then my head and shoulders leaned out into emptiness. My skin prickled, and I fought back thoughts of demons or corpses reaching up from the pit to grab me and pull me down. There were times when a good imagination was not a plus. The wind stole my breath and whipped my hair like a flag around my face. I was just about to crawl away and move back into the crypt, when the cold iron smell of altitude was overwhelmed by the scent of roses. This time, I felt strangely calm at His approach. I would hardly say that I was glad for His presence, but then it beat the hell out of the alternatives at the moment. “What do you want?” I asked, my voice sounding unusually steady under the circumstances.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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