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A New Excerpt from Blindsided

Happy Sunday my Lovelies. I’m having my coffee and my oatmeal and thought I’d share this insightful excerpt with you from Blindsided, my new release and the second book in Medusa’s Consortium. One of the things I’ve loved most about writing Blindsided was the interaction between Alonso and Michael and their struggle to deal with their feelings for Susan and for each other as their own relationship evolves. Lots of evolving relationships in Blindsided. This is one of my favourite scenes from their imprisonment. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Blindsided Blurb:

In New York City, away from those she loves, living with the enigmatic vampire, Desiree Fielding, Susan Innes struggles to come to terms with life as a vampire whose body serves as the prison for a deadly demon.

When Reese Chambers arrives unexpectedly from England, desperate for her help, she discovers that Alonso Darlington, his lover and her maker, has been taken captive and Reese has been warned to tell no one but her. Before the two can make a plan, Susan receives her own message from a man calling himself just Cyrus. He not only holds her maker prisoner, but also her lover, the angel Michael. If she wishes to see either of them alive, she’ll come to him and not tell Magda Gardener, the woman they all work for and fear.

With no help coming from Magda or her Consortium, Susan and Reese must turn to the Guardian – the terrifying demon now imprisoned in her body. He alone can help them, but how can she possibly trust him after all he’s done?

 

 

What I didn’t want to know – Excerpt form Blindsided:

For a long moment, they lay in silence, the rise of their steamy breath in the freezing air the only movement. Michael observed that Alonso really had internalized the appearance of respiration. Even in pain and several pints low, he still kept up the human ruse. He wondered if in time Susan would do the same. No doubt if the demon living inside her thought it would protect him, he would make damn sure she breathed regularly. That was one more argument he and Susan had left unresolved. He had all but accused her of spending time with the Guardian and keeping it from him. He’d hurt her with his words, and she’d been angry. Fuck, how the hell did he think she’d respond to such accusations? He hated unfinished business, especially when he wasn’t exactly sure he would ever get the chance to finish it. But this was Susan he was talking about, and Reese was no slouch either. The two would find a way. He was sure of it, and when they did he wouldn’t want to be in Cyrus’ shoes.

A soft grunt from Alonso as he tried to get comfortable brought Michael’s attention back to the present. “I was

thinking,” he said, “I can stretch my wrist out far enough for you to feed. Would that help at all?”

Alonso made another attempt to move and cursed under his breath. When he was in control of the pain, he spoke. “It wouldn’t do anything about the silver, but it might make me strong enough to do something worthwhile if we get our chance.” Then he added, “Are you sure you want to do that? You’ve fed Susan. You know what it’s like, and I don’t have the strength to shield myself if you do.”

Fortunately Michael could still shield himself. He didn’t figure Alonso knowing that Cyrus had one of his henchmen slit Reese’s throat and that Susan had killed the bastard and healed Reese would be helpful right now. He would withhold that information until it could do them some good, a lesson he’d learned from Magda, the hard way. “I’ll do my best to be as non-observant as possible.”

Truth was, he couldn’t stand the thought of the man being weakened in this way. Alonso’s strength had always been a given, and being a part of Magda’s Consortium meant the vampire always had his back. You could do a whole lot worse than having a vampire as strong as Alonso as your ally—especially when the woman you work for has so many enemies. And now there was one more to add to the list—Cyrus, whoever he was. Without being able to bring Magda into the situation, they were short-handed in a serious way. He needed Alonso strong.

He wriggled and squirmed as close as he could get, then extended his arm, wrist up, maneuvering so that Alonso would have to move as little as possible. “Pretty sure Hal won’t disturb us for a little while,” he assured him as he positioned himself, glad, for the first time since he woke up in this icebox that he had on only a T-shirt. “There’s a poker game going on in a warmer part of our villa, and he likes to gamble. He’s on a winning streak at the moment.” When Alonso raised an eyebrow, Michael shrugged. “I hear things—especially when I eavesdrop. Besides, my hearing’s as good as yours, you know?”

“But not your manners,” Alonso said with an attempt at a chuckle that came out more like a clipped hiss.

“I can be well-mannered when it serves me,” Michael replied. “I’m an angel, remember?”

“Good, then prove it by trying not to pay too much attention to my inner workings while I feed.”

Before Michael could respond, Alonso clamped down on his wrist—none too gently. “Ouch, you bastard. Why don’t you just rip it open and gnaw on the bone a bit while you’re at it?”

While Alonso made no response, Michael could have sworn the man was smiling around his efforts to chew the offered wrist off. Then the flood of feelings, memories and experiences hit Michael like a sledgehammer. He would have been embarrassed, would have looked the other way, would have shut it all off if he could have. He simply hadn’t expected Alonso’s inability to shield to be so complete. The silver was doing a real number on him.

Right at the forefront of all that Michael neither wanted to see nor feel were images of Susan, naked and clutched in Alonso’s arms while he drained her life away. Through it all, Michael had sat helplessly watching, knowing that there was nothing he could do. But along with that image was a wave of gut-wrenching sadness. For the first time Michael realized that Alonso had truly not wanted to make Susan into a vampire. Even as he drained her, his heart broke for what would now be the gift he would give to her. How could Michael have believed that a man who lived in forced solitude to protect the world from the threat he saw himself to be could have ever wished that existence on anyone else? And yet in his jealousy, in his own pain and loss, that’s exactly what he thought.

To see another person’s inner workings through the blood meant more than a voyeur’s little look-see. It meant experiencing the feelings that ran deeper than the blood, whether they belonged to the person who fed, or to the person being fed upon. It meant experiencing them as though they were your own. That was in addition to your own, and Michael’s inner workings were unsettling enough without adding Alonso’s to the mix. No wonder shielding was the very first lesson both vampire and familiar learned. It was respect. It was decency. It was something that Alonso couldn’t do for himself in his weakened state. Too late, Michael discovered to his horror that, under the stress of the situation, he was no more able to shield himself than Alonso was.

He could do nothing but relive the memory of Susan feeding from Alonso for the first time, of Alonso giving her back the life he’d taken, giving it back through the gift of his blood. Michael held his own painful memories of that horrible time, memories of watching helplessly as his beautiful Susan lay naked in Alonso’s arms, the fledgling of a vampire who found her way more attractive than he ever intended. She’d done it all so that she could become a prison cell for a demon who lived for lust. She’d done it all to save him, to save all of them. And yet it hurt as nothing ever had hurt in all of Michael’s long existence.

The exchange of blood was like that. It carried with it incredible lust and longing. Michael felt it in the tiny exchanges he’d made with Susan, a bonding that deepened not only their lust and their longing, but their love and desire for each other. How much more would that be the case when the exchange was complete, when a whole life was given up in the blood and then taken back?

Alonso loved Susan with all of his heart. The place she held within it didn’t eclipse Reese’s, but it balanced it in a way Michael couldn’t comprehend, and he was certain Reese couldn’t either. In an instant, he understood exactly why there was trouble in paradise. And just when Michael struggled to get his head around that unwanted bit of information, Alonso’s fantasies broadsided him. The things the man fantasized about doing to Susan made Michael at once insane with jealousy and on fire with lust. In spite of the former, his cock responded as though the fantasies were his own.

“I need you to stop now,” he forced the words up through his tight throat. Alonso didn’t respond, lost in the flow of blood as he was, and even though Michael was shielded, he doubted himself, doubted his abilities. He sure as hell didn’t want the bastard to see his thoughts, his inner workings. He panicked and jerked back. “Goddamnit, Alonso, I need you to stop. Now!”

But even in his weakened condition, Alonso held tight, pulling deeply and roughly at the flow of blood. Pain shot up Michael’s arm clear to his shoulder. Then, with a groan that was agony of a different kind, Alonso pulled free, gave a quick sealing lick to the wound and turned away with a hiss of pain and the smell of newly-burnt flesh. This time the tension in his shoulders, the wracking drag of unnecessary breath wasn’t from physical pain.

Michael pushed himself back against the wall, the jangling of the shackles on his ankles and wrists drowning out the sound of their ragged breathing. He shoved as far away from Alonso as he could get, the ache in his groin a vivid reminder of the violation he’d just committed. Christ, he hadn’t meant to embarrass Alonso. In spite of his own embarrassment at doing the unthinkable, he couldn’t force back the jealousy of the closeness Alonso shared, and what he felt for his only fledgling. Nor could he fight back the lust. Not his fault. Not Alonso’s fault either, and yet he hated him for it. He hated that there was so much more than just jealousy caught up in his feelings, so much more than anger and frustration. “Alonso, I’m—”

“Shut up, Michael.” There was another groan as the man shifted further from him beneath his silver chains.

Michael looked down at the bite marks on his wrist, wondering what the hell had inspired him to ask a vampire, whose secrets he was certain he didn’t want to know, to feed from him. It wasn’t like it would do either of them much good at the moment.

He watched Alonso’s back for a long time until he was fairly sure he’d lapsed into unconsciousness again. His own lust eased, dissipating into the cold metallic air that now smelled faintly of his own blood, and he was relieved for his solitude. The bite mark on his wrist was nearly healed. Angels healed as fast as vampires—physically, at least. The healing from what had happened to Susan, the bond she now inadvertently shared with Alonso, well, that wound wouldn’t heal so quickly. None of them could have possibly known the consequences of her choice. She was a fledgling vampire with a demon living inside her, a demon who was her prisoner, a demon who had once been his lover, and who had often resided in him.

Christ, was he jealous of Susan now, too? Or was he jealous of the demon for sharing an intimacy with the woman he loved that he would never have? But then neither would Alonso. Fat lot of comfort that was.

 

Flesh & Bone & Dreams of Sex

I’m on my way home from Snowdonia while you lovely lot are reading this blog. My first foray into paranormal and urban fantasy was my four booked Lakeland Witches Series. I’ve chosen to share a little excerpt with you today, since at  the moment with the launch of Blindsided only five days away, I really am thinking thoughts of ghosts, demons, succubae and all sorts of things that go bump in the night.

 

Perhaps one of the most powerful questions that paranormal and urban fantasy allows both reader and writer to explore is a very big one — just who are the real monsters? Though that question is asked over and over again in literature of all kinds, it is never more evident than in urban fantasy and paranormal, a perfect place to explore the making of a monster and the making of a hero. That being the case, I think it’s no wonder I’ve enjoyed writing both the Witches series and now the Medusa’s Consortium series.

 

The excerpt below has always been one of my favourite passages from the second Lakeland novel, Riding the Ether. Anderson is a favourite of the characters I’ve created, and for him to finally have met his match was a delight for me to write. If the lines between relationships were skewed in the Elemental Coven of the Lakeland witches, they are even more so in Medusa’s Consortium, but not quite as congenially. The battle to live and work and love with the monsters is never an easy one, but oh what a delight it is for both writer and reader.

 

Enjoy this excerpt of Anderson and Cassandra’s first meeting in the flesh. And remember, book one of Medusa’s Consortium, In the Flesh is now on sale at 99 c/p, and you can now pre-order Blindsided, book two of Medusa’s Consortium.

 

 

Blurb for Riding the Ether:

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

 

But sex is dangerous in a place like the Ether…

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

Excerpt for Riding the Ether:

Marie Warren felt a chill crawl up her spine from where she stood over the sink doing the washing up, and she knew she wasn’t alone. But the ghost was upon her before she could fully register her presence. Thinking that it was Lisette, she was about to chide her for sneaking up on her when she turned to find Serina Ravenmoor standing almost on top of her.

 

Marie jumped back hitting her hip against the edge of the counter. ‘What the hell are you doing here?’

 

‘I’m sorry,’ the ghost stepped back. ‘I’m not a very good judge of distances anymore, but I need you to come with me. Where’s Mr Anderson? He has to come too.’

 

‘Now why would I want to go with you? And who do you think you are waltzing right into my kitchen like you own the place and –’

 

‘I know where Cassandra Larkin is, and if you don’t come quickly she’ll die.’

 

The ghost barley got the words out before Anderson materialized out of nowhere. He ignored Marie and focused on Serina. ‘I felt her leave the Ether just as we were preparing to enter. Do you know where she is?’

 

She nodded. Please hurry,’ Serina’s eyes welled. ‘I don’t know what happened, but I’m afraid she’ll die.’

 

‘Then take me to her at once.’

 

He turned his attention to Marie. ‘I shall send Miss Ravenmoor back with instructions to where we are as soon as I am with Cassandra.’ He didn’t wait for a reply, but vanished and rematerialized next to Serina Ravenmoor in a small dark space, curtained off, barely big enough for the mattress on the floor. Books stacked in avalanches against the wall overflowed into what little space remained. And there beneath a tangled duvet, looking so much like the dead that it twisted his heart, was Cassandra Larkin.

 

‘This is not how I would have wished our first meeting in the flesh, my darling.’ He spoke softly, sinking onto the mattress next to her. Serina watched him as he took her pulse, which was barely there. ‘Has she spoken at all since her return?’

 

‘Only that she lost Deacon in her nightmare.’

 

‘My clever darling,’ he brushed the hair away from her pale cheek. ‘Clever and ever so reckless.’

 

Even without flesh, Serina Ravenmoor trembled with impatience. ‘She’s dying, and you’re the only one who can save her now.’

 

He would have offered a sharp retort, but the look in the woman’s eyes stopped him.

 

‘You still don’t know what she is, do you, Mr Anderson, or what she needs.’

 

Irritation at Serina Ravenmoor rose like fire in his chest. ‘Tell me if you know what she needs, Madame, and do not waste precious time.’

She took a step closer, still holding his gaze. ‘She’s been kind to me. She doesn’t deserve this.’

 

‘I can tolerate little more, Miss Ravenmoor. I beg of you, speak plainly!’

 

‘She’s a succubus. And if you want to save her then she’ll need your energy.’ She nodded to the front of his trousers and the seat of his manhood.

 

‘A succubus?’ He would have laughed at the utter absurdity of such an idea had the circumstances been different, had Miss Ravenmoor’s countenance not been deadly serious. He felt as though the woman had kicked him in the vitals, had ridiculed him in some cruel way by so slandering his beautiful Cassandra. ‘Surely I have not understood your meaning, Madame.’

 

‘You understand me. Perfectly.’ The little ghost reassured him. ‘And if I weren’t dead, she’d kill me for telling you.’

 

‘But I had not thought such beings to be more than legend,’ he whispered, feeling his heart race at the thought of the magnificent woman who had bedded him, a creature whose power was even more sexual than his own and far more dangerous. She was a being completely unlike that which the legends and myths had spawned in his imagination.

 

‘She doesn’t exactly advertise,’ Serina said. ‘I’ve never seen anyone so full of self-loathing.’

 

Anderson’s heart twisted still further at the very thought that one so exquisite should loath herself. ‘Now that you have said it, I certainly do see how she could be such. When we were together, I would have happily stayed with her, derelict in all other pressing duties, stayed with her and let her take me until I was completely empty of myself.’

 

‘She would never have let you do that.’ Serina Ravenmoor seemed horrified at the very thought.

 

Anderson shook his head. ‘No. She would not.’ He laid a hand on the clammy cool of her forehead. ‘Then it is my … It is my seed that she needs to be healed.’ He spoke softly to the Ravenmoor woman.

 

The ghost shook her head. ‘It’s more than that. Much more. It’s your lust she needs. Your essence. She won’t take from anyone but you, and she may not even take from you now that you’re not in the Ether. It was only there that she felt she could safely control her lust and not do you harm.’

 

‘She told you this?’

 

She looked into his eyes, and shook her head. ‘She doesn’t know how much I know, but I often stayed with her when she didn’t realize I was here, watched what she studied, read over her shoulder.’ She shivered and chafed her arms. ‘You know, to pass the time. I doubt you can persuade her to take from you all she’ll need.’

 

‘Do not you worry, Miss Ravenmoor. I shall persuade her.’ He turned his attention back to the woman lying helplessly on the mattress, and the pull in his heart was nearly unbearable.

‘Go and tell the others where I am. It may be that I have need of them, for I have every intention of giving Cassandra Larkin all that she needs to heal.’

 

Serina did as he asked, and he was alone with the exquisite woman that, in spite of their intimacy, had hid far more from him that he would have imagined possible. He removed his clothing and slid under the duvet next to her cool flesh, pulling her to him gently, offering her his warmth. And even in her weakened state, the touch of her flesh vibrated over his body so deliciously that the power of his own lust surprised him under the circumstances.

 

As he gathered her to him, in spite of being reassured by Miss Ravenmoor of what she needed, he feared that even the first brush of a kiss against her lips would be more than she could bear. And yet even in that briefest of contact, the cool of her lips warmed to his touch, and her chest rose with a shudder. For the tiniest of seconds he feared that he had injured her still further, and it was he who could not breathe for the weight of such fear. And then she spoke, and he thought his heart would burst with the relief of it.

 

‘I’m not dead?’ There was surprise in her voice. And pain.

 

‘You are most definitely not dead, my darling, nor shall I allow you to pass when I have not yet known the pleasure of your exquisite flesh.’

 

Her lids fluttered and with what seemed a tremendous effort, her dark eyes opened to gaze upon him, and she forced the slightest of smiles onto parched lips. ‘Anderson, if I’m dreaming, don’t wake me.’

 

‘It is no dream, my darling. I promise you it is not.’

 

‘I’m home?’ she forced the words up through the tight muscles of her throat, words that sounded abraded and raw.

 

He nodded. ‘In the flesh.’

 

‘And you’re here.’

 

‘Also in the flesh.’

 

Her eyes widened and her pulse raced, and in spite of her weakened condition, she tried to rise from the bed. ‘Deacon, is –’

 

Anderson covered her mouth with his stopping her words, and settled her back on the bed, then he spoke. ‘Deacon is not here in the flesh, thanks to you, my darling.’

 

She could not hold back the tears of relief, but there was no strength to wipe them away. Anderson did that for her. ‘Sh! my darling, Shshsh. He is not here, and you are safe with me now.’ Perhaps it was the press of his ill-mannered member against her thigh that suddenly brought to her attention the fact that he lay next to her naked and fully aroused. As he feared, it was not a thing that pleased her.

 

She thrashed weakly. ‘Anderson, you have to go. You can’t be with me here like this. You have to go. Please! You can’t stay. You mustn’t.’

 

‘Sh!, my darling, shshsh. I will not allow you to send me away.’ He held her until she stopped struggling, then he kissed her again, more insistently. ‘I know who you are, Cassandra,’ he whispered when he pulled away. ‘Why did you not tell me? You insult me to believe I would have thought less of you because of your gift.’ Fearing that her struggles would weaken her further, he wasted no time, but slid his hand down over her mound to ease open her womanhood, sliding a finger carefully down between the folds of her, and she gasped, pulling oxygen into her lungs as though she had only just remembered how to draw breathe. She was surprisingly warm and wet to his touch, and she responded by shifting her hips upward to his probing, only a little, only just, weakened as she was, but the response was there, and it was the response of arousal.

 

Ever so gently, he pushed back the duvet until her lovely breasts, nearly translucent in the pale light, were exposed, then he nursed at each of her bosoms until her nipples rose to greet his tongue and lips in a delicious caress of their own. With each press of his mouth on her flesh, with each probing of his finger into her wetness, she strengthened, and the feel of her against his body became more and more exquisite, kindling his arousal to a heightening flame, filling him with a sense of well-being and ecstasy that he had only ever felt in high magic. And yet even that paled in comparison to the feel of Cassandra Larkin, naked and needy in his arms.

 

It was only when he carefully pushed her legs apart and eased himself on top of her that she panicked. ‘You know what I am! Dear Goddess, Anderson,’ she croaked, shoving at him with all the strength she could muster in her still weakened state. ‘If you know what I am, then you know why we can’t do this here. We’re not in the Ether. It’s the only place you’re safe from me. Please.’ Her words became nearly incoherent in her tears, in her weakness. ‘Please don’t do this. I can’t live with the thought of hurting you. You don’t know what I’m capable of. You don’t know what a monster I am.’ She struggled beneath him, but she was too weak, and he held her, cradled her, careful that his weight was not on her

 

‘I will hear no more such talk, my darling. You are by no means a monster, and you can take nothing from me that I do not freely give.’ This time he kissed her hard and spoke between the thrustings of his tongue and the suckling of her lips. ‘I have already told you, Cassandra, you cannot harm me, and we will hear no more of this. I will not be denied. You will take what you need from me, all that you need from me until you are sated, until you are healed. I shall hear no argument.’

 

‘You’re not my boss.’ She tried to shove him with the flat of her hand against his chest. ‘You can’t tell me what to do.’

 

He held her hand to his chest and gripped it tightly. ‘Then when you are healed and once more yourself, you may punish me as you see fit for my transgressions, a thought which I relish.’

 

She wept against his neck, and though she yielded willing to him, she was still weeping when he entered her with the slightest shifting of his hips. It disturbed him deeply that his arousal was such when she was in anguish, but he knew how close she walked to the gateway of death, as only one who has already passed through it could know. And he would not allow her to make that journey no matter how she protested. And she was, indeed, ready for his penetration, slick and dilated with need, need that he understood was now far beyond the simple drive for sexual satisfaction. The satisfaction of such need would make the difference as to whether Cassandra Larkin crossed through that dreaded gateway or woke healthy and strong to breathe the blessed air of the living.’

 

With the first thrust, her back arched, she gasped for air and her whole body stiffened. For a terrifying second he feared he had hastened the very thing he sought to prevent. By the second thrust, however, Cassandra had the strength to wrap her legs around him. He pulled her to him with a sigh that was almost a sob. ‘Dear woman, do not ever, ever do such a thing to me again. I was desolate without you,’ he whispered against her throat. ‘It cannot be thus again. I could not bear it. Take from me what you need, my love, all that you need. It is the desire of my heart that you do so.’

 

‘I don’t want to hurt you.’ But even as she spoke she curled her fingers in his hair and pulled him to her. ‘You don’t know me. You don’t know what it’s like when I need. When I’m empty, my emptiness is bigger than the void. Oh goddess, Anderson, please don’t let me hurt you.’

 

‘You shall not harm me, my darling.’ He spoke around the rise of euphoria in his head and the feel that his manhood could never get enough, but this was only his desire for her, he told himself, and even if it were otherwise, even if all that he was she took from him, then it was an exquisite ending to a very long existence. But he would not let it be so for he could not bear the thought of her anguish at such an ending for himself.

 

It was desperate and deep, her need, like oxygen when it is most needed, like food when meals have been missed, like the filling up of an empty ocean. And she wept even in her passion, wept that she was reduced to such raw need, wept that it was offered to her so freely, wept that if felt so good.

 

For his part, he was surprised by it all when he had the wit to consider beyond the pleasure of her powerful lust. All the while she took from him, he held his seed, feeling the intense pleasure that one does when the weight of lust rests heavy and tight in ones loins, when every second longer that one may hold off one’s release, the pleasure becomes more exquisite. And it was long in the process of their pleasuring before he became aware that his strength was indeed waning.

 

She sat atop him head thrown back, pale hair falling wild and tangled around her face. Her lovely bosoms danced with her thrustings. Her dark eyes had grown pale in the rise of her magic, the colour of the sky over Blencathera when it thins to the palest blue before it darkens. The room was awash in the sound of racing water and wind in summer trees, and he could feel himself being pulled into the emptiness of her need, filling it with his very essence, with something far beyond the life force which he had given up long ago.

 

Her orgasms began as tiny ripples from a place of weakness and grew to ocean waves washing over both of them, cleansing away Deacon’s touch, imprinting upon her flesh Anderson’s lust, and it was at that moment Anderson feared that Cassandra could no longer release him no matter how badly she desired it, that she was beyond herself, and with each thrust that weakened him, she grew stronger. With a shudder of fear that he barely felt in the ecstasy of their sex, he knew that if he could not of his own accord pull back from her at the right moment, then he would, indeed be lost.

 

But the thought had barely entered the bleariness of his mind before his manhood convulsed mightily and he emptied himself into her, then she fell forward against him gasping for breath, and pressing her lips to his.

 

‘There now, you see, my darling. All is well,’ he whispered, easing her off of him and once again down into the white fluff of bedding, when to his great relief, he realized he still had consciousness and essence and being, and though he was barely able to hold it together, he still had flesh. ‘You have pleasured me deeply and healed from my pleasuring. Am I not twice blessed? ’ The words came from his throat feeling raw and tight with emotions he could not, in his present condition, contemplate as he desired, not the least of which was relief. ‘Rest now my love. Rest and heal, and when you are able, we shall take you back to Elemental Cottage where you shall be safe.’ She was already asleep before he had finished his sentence. And it was just as well. He did not want her to see him in his weakened condition. It would only distress her, and for no good reason.

 

He slipped from the bed and pulled the duvet snugly around Cassandra’s shoulders. Then with trembling hands, he wrapped himself in an afghan and stumbled from behind the heavy curtain that separated the sleeping area from the rest of the bothy to where he was surprised to find the entire coven and Serina Ravenmoor squeezed into the tiny space amid the avalanches of books and notebooks. Everyone was present except Tara. Sky caught him before he fell to his knees and settled him onto the make-shift bench next to the small table.

 

He forced a smile and with an effort cleared the growing fog from his head. ‘I am indebted to all of you for your help, indeed do not look so concerned. All is well.’

 

Sky laid an unnecessary hand on his forehead, as though he were still numbered among the living, and though superfluous, it felt soothing, indeed. ‘We didn’t do anything, Anderson. She released you of her own volition.’ She shook his head. ‘I wouldn’t have thought it possible in her condition, knowing what she is. But then until today, who knew that her kind even existed.’

 

Anderson looked around the room again, and it was Marie who spoke, as though she had read his thoughts. ‘Tara was here. She left when she knew you were alright. She’s pretty upset still, about what you did. About what we did.’ She squeezed Tim’s hand.

 

‘Don’t worry, she’ll get over it,’ Fiori said. Then she nodded to the make-shift bed chamber. ‘Is Cassandra alright?’

 

He forced a smile past the pain in his heart that he had so wounded Tara, but it was more than he was capable of considering at the moment. ‘My dear Fiori,’ he said. ‘I believe Cassandra Larkin, will not be journeying through the gates of death today. She is now resting peacefully. However,’ he breathed. ‘I am undone. Please do not make my condition known to her, as it will only trouble her unnecessarily, and I shall be well, only I shall be unable to manifest flesh for a brief time. But I am, indeed very well. Very well indeed.’ It was only as the last words passed from his throat that Anderson realized he was no longer in the flesh and that Sky sat on the bench holding only the afghan he had been wearing.

 

 

The Smell of Traveling: When the Nose Knows

airport-2Airport encounters – who’s had one? I’ve never had the pleasure. Who’s fantasized about having one? Or maybe it would be better to ask who the hell hasn’t? Travel figures prominently in a lot of my romance novels and it has been that way since the beginning with my very first novel – in fact it’s been that way since my very first short story. As I mentioned in my last post, the thing about travel is that you spend a lot of time being in that space in between, and it’s in that space in between that unexpected things, almost magical things happen. No place represents the space in between more than airport lounges. Most of the time you do whatever you have to in order to keep busy and keep from getting bored. But there are times when you get way more from an airport lounge that just good coffee and a comfy place to wait for your flight. Certainly that’s Liza Calendar’s situation in To Rome with Lust. Liza’s all about olfactory encounters, and this particular one is a delight to the sense of smell. Enjoy!

 

To Rome with Lust

Book three of The Mount trilogy

(Click here for Book One | Book Two)

The adventure that Rita Holly began in The Mount in London and Nick Chase took up in Vegas continues when a sizzling encounter on a flight to Rome has journalist, Liza Calendar, and perfumer, Paulo ‘The Nose’ Delacour, in sexy olfactory heaven. The heir apparent of Martelli Fragrance, Paulo wants Liza’s magnificently sensitive nose to help develop Martelli’s controversial new line. Paulo has a secret weapon; Martelli Fragrance is the front for the original Mount, an ancient sex cult of which he is a part, and Paulo plans to use the scent of sex to enhance Martelli’s Innuendo line. As Liza and Paulo sniff out the scent of seduction, they become their own best lab rats. But when someone steals the perfume formulas and lays the blame at Liza’s feet, she and Paulo must sniff out the culprit and prove Liza’s innocence before more is exposed than just secret formulas.

 

To Rome with Lust – The Nose Knows Excerpt:

to-rome-with-lustLiza thought she had only dreamed such an exquisite scent. She’d certainly never smelled anything so sexy while she was awake. It was all very strange. Her dreams had always been the only part of her life that was olfactory-free. She sat in the business lounge at JFK dozing, blocking out the noise and the smell of the busy shuffle. But this smell was different. This smell was just too delicious to ignore. It intensified, then faded, and she snuffled and inhaled and shifted in her seat.

Delays due to heavy thunderstorms meant the place was packed with passengers awaiting a spate of flights going out at nearly the same time. But her flight wasn’t delayed. She was just there way early, thanks to Carl. After an unplanned night alone in a hotel room, she couldn’t get out of New York City fast enough — not after what she’d seen … and smelled. But she didn’t want to think about Carl. Time to move forward.

She had just slipped back into that space between wakefulness and sleep when the scent wafted over her again. There was no denying it was the primal smell of male. It was the smell of desert lightening, of sage and juniper and thick, dark night. It was the smell of sex – or at least the intimations of sex or what sex might be like with a man who smelled so irresistible.

Jesus, was she really going to have sexy dreams right here in the airport? What next? Would she be rubbing herself against the sofa while all the businessmen and the tourist pretended not to notice? Surely it was only because of the sex she’d expected to get last night, but didn’t. Surely it was just her angry unconscious inventing an olfactory fantasy, but God, the man smelled good – better than anyone she’d ever smelled, and she smelled everyone! She inhaled again and her deep intake of scent came out sounding like a sigh. Her lips parted just enough to take in the fullness of the experience. She could almost taste that hypnotic smell of masculinity. Her nipples chafed against her bra until they dominated the front of her sweater with an achy tetchy fullness that matched the tightening she felt between her thighs. It was as though the man stood right over her. She could smell expensive fabric weighted and warmed with the heat of his flesh. His crotch, where the delicious scent was purest, was so close that her mouth watered. The scent was heavy, thickening, male — driven by passion. Letting the dream take control, Liza shifted, uncrossed her legs and leaned forward to draw in his scent, wanting nothing so much as to touch, to caress, to experiment on ways to arouse from her dream man more of that delicious scent.

There was a soft grunt, a startled gasp, and a large hand came down heavily on her shoulder. There was a desperate clearing of a throat and a slightly accented ‘Pardon me.’

She opened her eyes and found herself nose to crotch with a very expensive suit not quite able to disguise a very nice package. Her fingers were fisted in the edges of the front pockets of the trousers, reeling their wearer ever closer and closer to her salivating mouth. She yelped and practically shoved the guy, who might have fallen if not for the hand resting on her shoulder. ‘Oh my god! I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,’ she gasped. ‘I was dreaming.’ Her face burning and her pulse did a drumroll in her ears as she raised her eyes up and up and up the length of the well filled-out charcoal suit to meet rich caramel eyes looking down at her from beneath thick midnight lashes. The scent hit her in waves, making her giddy, making her want to sniff like a dog in heat, making her feel wrong-footed and out of focus.

‘Must have been some dream.’ His eyes sparkled and he offered her a half-smile. His warm hands fell to cover hers and disengage them from his pockets. ‘I can’t tell you how sorry I am that I woke you, but I’d really hate it if your dream got us both kicked out of the lounge.’ His thumbs brushed over the backs of her knuckles before he released her. ‘Is it all right if I share you sofa? The lounge is really crowded.’

‘Yes! Of course, please.’ She shifted and rearranged herself, resisting the urge to fold her arms across her perky nipples. It was even harder to resist the urge to pant and sniff. My God, if an aphrodisiac could be inhaled, his scent would so be that aphrodisiac. She felt moist and swollen, splayed in the crotch of her panties, too tender for the weight of her body against to sofa.

‘Are you all right?’ The man’s eyes had darkened with concern. ‘You seem in distress.’

‘Fine! I’m fine,’ she said with enthusiasm that made her sound like a dork. ‘Just outrageously embarrassed.’

‘Don’t be. You made my morning, and gave me something I’ll smile about for what’ll be a very long, very tedious flight. You sure you’re all right?’

‘You smell amazing,’ she blurted out before she could stop herself, then she felt the flash-fire burn rise to her cheeks again. Jeez! Could she sound any more stupid?

He raised an eyebrow and cocked his head. ‘Thanks. Ode d’ generic hotel soap,’ he said.

‘No, it’s not the soap, I mean I can smell that too, but …’ What the fuck was it with her? She practically attacked the guy — who handled an embarrassing situation very graciously all things considered — and now she informs him she’d been sniffing? ‘Never mind. I … like I said, I was dreaming.’

He leaned forward in a wave of scent that made her dizzy with lust. ‘No, please, don’t be embarrassed. I’m very airport-4interested in all things olfactory. And I’m really flattered that you like the way I smell.’

‘I’m sorry. I have a sensitive nose.’ She forced a laugh. ‘I guess maybe I’m a little closer to my animal roots than most people. I … I pick up on scent … way more than most people do. Bit of an evolutionary throw-back, I’m afraid.’

His smile was practically edible. ‘Humans are mammals. Mammals live through their sense of smell. We’ve just gotten lazy and forgotten how to do that. Real scent is hard to come by in a world that’s been deodorized, sanitized and scrubbed. Apparently you remember.’

Oh, she remembered all right. She remembered so much more than she wished she did at times. She could feel his dark, rich gaze against her, feel his scent baring down on her, now spiked with the cinnamon nip of curiosity. She knew what was coming. She waited for it.

‘So,’ he leaned still closer and everything in her felt giddy and humid. ‘Tell me what you smell?’

God, she knew he was going to ask that. She should have kept her damned mouth shut. To ask her to describe his scent was like asking her to describe what she thought sex with him would be like, and with a scent like his, she could imagine it would be pretty fucking amazing. On the other hand, if he stayed leaning close like this, she’d have a few more seconds to sniff and enjoy before he suspected her of total nutterdom.

‘Don’t be embarrassed. As I said, the sense of smell and the way we humans use it is of special interest to me.’

She leaned in and inhaled deeply through her nose. After all he had given her permission to sniff. ‘You smell like summer lightening … at high altitude. She inhaled again and closed her eyes, hearing the catch of his breath. ‘Beneath that, you smell like evergreen and the earth around tree roots.’ His breathing accelerated. She leaned still closer, and the slip and slide of fabric on fabric informed her that he’d done the same until they were nearly touching. She inhaled again. ‘You smell like a rainstorm on the wind just before it arrives, but that’s because you’re skeptical, and I don’t blame you.’

It became a competition to see who could breathe the hardest. Her belly muscles trembled and tensed way down low; in her panties, the clench and release, clench and release had left her swollen and pouty. She opened her eyes just a slit, then closed them again, but there was no mistaking the shape of his growing erection. Her own scent spiked all honey- butter and nutmeg.

‘What else?’ he breathed. ‘Is there more?’

‘Your curiosity smells of cinnamon and there’s a bit of irritation, tart, tangy, almost like lemon.’ Her eyes fluttered open at the same moment his did.

‘Oh it’s not you,’ he said quickly. ‘I mean I’m not irritated with you. It’s this trip. I didn’t plan to take it and now I find out … wait a minute. You can smell emotions?’

‘Kind of,’ she said, trying not to look at his erection, as he shifted to rearrange himself a little less conspicuously. Then she couldn’t resist. ‘What about me? Can you smell me?’ Jesus! Why did she ask such a loaded question?

mountboxsetHe squirmed again, which did nothing to hide his needy package. A blush rose to his cheeks. ‘Maybe … Possibly.’ He inhaled a shaky breath through his nose like he was afraid of what he might smell. ‘The more we talk … the more I smell.’ His eyes fluttered shut again. ‘You’re … not wearing perfume.’

‘I never do.’ She eased herself closer, resisting the urge to rest a hand on his thigh. ‘It interferes with other smells.’

He nodded, as though he completely understood. ‘You smell like the sea, but you also smell like honey and butter melting over hot bread.’

Did she just whimper? Oh god, please say she didn’t just whimper and shift her bottom against the sofa. Surely she
didn’t do that.

This time he inhaled boldly, pushing forward on the sofa, his eyes closed, suddenly making no attempt to cover the heavy strain against the front of his trousers. The cinnamon scent of him spiked and became more peppery. ‘Jesus, I can’t believe we’re doing this.’ His voice was little more than a whisper between parted lips, lips that Liza would only have to lean into to touch with her own. ‘I can’t believe I can smell all that. I’m probably imagining it.’

‘No you’re not. You’re not imagining it,’ she whispered back.

He was suddenly breathing as though he’d just ran a marathon, each breath through his nose, each breath followed by a gulp, almost as though he were eating the scent of her.

‘People are looking. We should stop.’ She barely got the words out before he leaned in just a tiny bit further and, in his enthusiasm, his lips brushed hers. Everything spiked in a sharp stab of scent that went straight to her pussy, as they both gasped and sat back, eyes wide, fingers pressed to lips.

The delayed flight to Paris was called over the intercom immediately after one to Frankfurt and, in the jostling and shifting and gathering of belongings, no one paid any attention to them. She wasn’t sure it would have made any difference even if they’d suddenly been center stage. Their gaze locked on each other, cheeks flushed, chests heaving, they sat locked in a moment so tight, so full that its breaking apart was inevitable. It was ridiculous. She was seconds away from coming, and his cock was about to burst his trousers. And his lips, my god his lips, she could think of so many places on her body she wanted those lips.

‘I have to know,’ he gasped. ‘Surely you want to know too.’ Then he did the unthinkable. He curled his fingers into the back of her hair and pulled her to him. This time their lips met with a clash of teeth and a gasped swallow of oxygen that transitioned into parted lips and darting tongues and an absolute explosion of scent. If he had smelled amazing by himself, if his scent had sharpened hers to the cutting edge of orgasm, then the mixing and blending that happened when they touched, when those two scents came together was shattering. ‘I’ve never smelled anything like it,’ she breathed into his mouth.

‘Me neither,’ He bit her lower lip and tugged and their blended smell became darker, more spicy, tones of earth and sea, pepper and honey and my god the guy could kiss!

She came first with a guttural grunt of an orgasm that began deep in her pussy and washed over her like a riptide. She tried desperately to hide it, but he knew it. He felt it, she even thought he smelled it, and he tightened his fist in her hair, breathing her into his open mouth. Both his hands then slid to her shoulders in a grip that was almost painful as he pulled back. His eyes locked on hers, and his whole body convulsed, and again, and again, his deep mocha gaze holding her tight as pupils dilated and eyelids shuddered.

For a moment they sat stunned, staring at each other, struggling to catch their breath. He looked shell-shocked, and she must have looked at least as bad. ‘I’m sorry,’ they both said at the same time as they mirrored each other in a airport-7nervous laugh.

Then the intercom called the flight to Rome. ‘That’s my flight,’ she gasped, awash in a wave of embarrassment. She
babbled something about duty free and gifts, sounding like a total idiot. She grabbed her bag and her laptop and fled, feeling certain everyone was watching, feeling certain everyone knew exactly what they had done. It didn’t matter though, at the end of the day, she’d never see the man again. And she’d never smell him again. That saddened her.

 

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Travelling with Pets!

airport-2I’m travelling for the next two weeks, so I’ve decided it’s time to give you lot a tasty sampling of travel writing. When I started thinking about it, I realized that travel figures prominently in a lot of my romance novels and in none more so than in The Pet Shop, which is set both sides of the pond. The thing about travel is that you spend a lot of time being in that space in between. Most of the time you do whatever you have to to keep busy and keep from getting bored. I guarantee my flight to Oregon won’t be anywhere nearly as exciting as Stella James’ flight to Oregon was. Enjoy!

 

Oh, and warning in advance! ADULT CONTENT!

 

The Pet Shop Blurb:

In appreciation for a job well done, STELLA JAMES’s boss sends her a Pet for the weekend – a human Pet. The mischievous TINO comes straight from THE PET SHOP complete with a collar, a leash, and an erection. Stella soon discovers that the pleasure of keeping Pets, especially this one, is extremely addicting.

Obsessed with Tino and with the reclusive philanthropist, VINCENT EVANSTON, who looks like Tino, but couldn’t be more different, Stella is drawn into the secret world of The Pet Shop. As her animal lust awakens, Stella must walk the thin line that separates the business of pleasure from the more dangerous business of the heart or suffer the consequences.

 

 The Pet Shop — Mile High and then Some! Excerpt:

 

Accompanied by a black-suited handler who carried the mauve and crème rucksack someone had selected for her, she thepetshoparrived at Heathrow, but not at departures. When the handler helped her out of her pet carrier, it was a smartly dressed male flight attendant who took her bag, and offered her his arm, leaving the handler looking on from the van. On board the attendant addressed her. ‘You are to relax and enjoy the flight, Ms James. I’ve been instructed that you have very bad laryngitis and can’t speak, so please feel free to write down any instructions you may have for me. I’ve left a pen and pad of paper in the seat pocket for you. Now buckle in. We’ll be underway in a few minute.’

She could barely manage the seat belt, she was trembling so badly. Her mind was vacillating between all the horrible things she could imagine might happen to her and memories of the last time she was put aboard a private jet.

‘Here, let me get that for you.’ Suddenly Vincent Evanston, well turned out in Armani, clean shaven, every hair in place, knelt in front of her, placed his large hands over hers and buckled the belt. And she collapsed in a puddle of shakes.

“Oh for heaven sake, Stellla, it’s all right. There, there, now. Calm down.’ He settled in next to her and slipped his arms around her. ‘It’s all right. What did you think, that they had sold you to the highest bidder to be added to some despot’s harem in outer bumfuck somewhere. It’s just me. That’s all, just me. I promise no harem, no outer bumfuck, and I’ll have you back in time for work on Monday.’ He shrugged and offered her a crooked smile. ‘More or less.’ He tut-tutted. ‘And I can only imagine how long this weekend is going to be for the mighty Stellla James, a whole forty-eight hours bursting at the seams with so many burning questions, and not being allowed to ask any of them, you poor thing.’

The laugh that forced its way up her throat sounded pathetically like a sob. She tried to shove him away playfully, but he caught her face and landed a kiss across her lips, with just the tiniest flick of tongue to make her catch her breath. ‘Don’t think I’m a softie, Stellla. That would be a mistake. I’ll happily punish you soundly for misbehaving. How else are you going to learn to be a proper Pet?’

The pilot announced departure and Vincent buckled in next to her. As soon as the plane was leveled at cruising altitude and the seat belt sign was switched off, he unbuckled himself and her, took her hand, and hurried her to the back of the plane, which was partitioned off with a built-in bed. He motioned to the bed. Once she was on it, he pushed her to the centered and practically tore her clothes off, with her using all the control she had not to help him. At last, when he had her naked and her clothes shoved onto the floor, she rose on her haunches to sniff and nuzzle him in the getting acquainted ritual, but Vincent rolled on top of her and pinned her spread-eagle beneath him. ‘You don’t need to get to know me, Stellla. You already have my scent, and I yours.’ Then he sat astraddle her and shoved and pushed his own clothes off until expensive Armani lay as casually discarded as cheap jersey.

But when he lowered himself onto her she bit him hard on the right pec just above his nipple.

‘Ouch! You little devil, you!’ He pinned her to the bed with his knees pressing almost painfully against her biceps and examined the bite. Then he offered a throaty chuckle. ‘Marking territory are we? Well at least you had the decency not to piss on me.’ His eyes sparked like fire. ‘Two can play at that game though.’ He dropped his full weight on her and lowered his mouth to her throat just where the boney press of the trachea gave way to the soft smooth flesh of the nape and he bit hard enough to cause her to yelp, hard enough to make her eyes water, before his lips took over the effort and he suckled and nibbled the soft flesh of her until she could feel the intensity of his pull clear down to her pussy. His fingers curled tight in her hair and held her, neck exposed. The other hand found its way to the nearest breast and airport-7raked at her nipple with a rough thumb.

The sounds coming from her throat were incoherent as he brought every nerve ending in her body to tingle and rage at his attention. He forced her legs apart with his knees and dropped to rake his demanding erection against the swell and splay of her cunt, and suddenly she was struggling with every ounce of her subdued strength to position her hips to get his cock where she needed it.
He didn’t deny her. A slight shift of his hips and a grunting thrust and he was in deep and hard not easing his efforts to give her time to adjust to his thickness. She responded by wrapping her legs around him and kicking like he was a bronco and she intended to break him.

He brought his arms down the side of his body and trapped her legs for damage control, then pulled away from her throat with another painful nip. ‘Now, everyone will know that you’re mine,’ he gasped. ‘You won’t even need a collar.’

Jesus, she couldn’t believe he’d marked her right on her neck where everyone could see like she was some horny chav. She had to work on Monday. It was too damned hot to wear a high necked blouse. But even as she thought about it, the idea of wearing his mark so that everyone could see, everyone could imagine how he had fucked her, how he had subdued her made her pussy clench and gush around his thrusting cock, and she made another futile attempt to kick him. He just held her closer and thrust harder. And it was enough. Suddenly the shaking all over her body had nothing to do with nerves as she bucked and convulsed her orgasm while he rode harder until the bed shook and he stiffened and jerked his load into her gripping cunt. Then he collapsed on top of her.

After he’d managed to catch his breath, he pulled out, leaving a warm trail of sticky come on the inside of her thigh. Then he cleaned himself and began to dress. He started to put on his tie, but thought better of it and tossed it on the nightstand. ‘I have work to do,’ he said. Then he bent and kissed her cheek. ‘But you have nothing to do but lie here all wet and sticky and smelling of our sex until I get back to you.’ He settled a wet kiss onto each of her nipples, then pulled the blanket up over her. ‘And I will get back to you before we land. I’m not nearly finished with the in-flight entertainment yet.’

She never slept on planes, and yet she did this time, deeply, peacefully. At some point in the timeless void that was airline travel, she woke to find him curled around her, naked, his hard penis nestled against her arse, one large airport-6hand curved against her pubis, middle finger stretched between her folds.

‘Tino?’ She spoke his name from the muzzy-minded state of half-sleep, and felt his sleepy whisper against the back of her neck.

‘Tino’s not here. Just Vincent, and if you speak again, I’ll have to spank your little bottom, won’t I?’ He pulled her closer.

They were already on the ground when he woke her again. He was fully dressed in jeans and a jumper looking amazingly no worse for the wear. ‘Come on woman. Let’s get you dressed and out to the Jeep. We still have a couple hours drive ahead of us.’

Reviews:

“I loved The Pet Shop. It was so well done that I could hardly wait to turn each page. Of course the sex was delicious, but the background story, the premise of The Pet Shop, and the magic between the various characters was much more than just delicious sex. Great job bringing me something completely different to read.” 5 out of 5 Manic Readers

*****

“The sex is smoking hot, the storyline intriguing, and the whole thing is so brilliantly written that you’ll emerge from the end gasping for breath. This book is a whirlwind of fun and naughtiness perfect for erotica fans.” – Lucy Felthouse, Erotic Author

*****

 

 

 

Coffee Time Romance“Full of decadent desire, sensual eroticism and hedonistic promises, Ms. Grace uses a wicked pen that enticed this reader into a world of pleasure unlike anything I have read before. The interaction between Stella and Tino is so scorching hot I practically left burn marks on the computer screen. To top it off, there are so many other erotic fantasies intertwined in this tale that this book must have hit upon everyone’s favorite desire. Whether it is male/male, male/female, male/female/male, female/male/female/female or BDSM this novel has it all. The Pet Shop is the cat’s meow!” 5 out of 5, Coffee Time Romance

 

 

Shameless Selfie Peek at a Shameless Diary

Dreams imageIMG_0347

 

It’s Shameless Selfie time again, and with me being in the honeymoon stage of this year’s NaNoWriMo I find myself thinking a lot about what it means to be a scribe, to be a wordsmith. That being the case, I thought it would be a good time to take a little shameless peek at In The Flesh and Susan’s secret diary. Enjoy!

 

In The Flesh Blurb:

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

 

kdgrace-itf-finalIn The Flesh Excerpt — Not Alone in the Dark:

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

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

 

*****

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was thankful for the extra time, but Christ, how could she not notice me standing there, legs apart, rocking back and forth and shifting from foot to foot like I had ants in my knickers? In truth, what I wanted in my knickers surely couldn’t actually be there, and yet I felt it, fucking hell, how I felt it! I swear, I could feel muscle and sinew. Hell, I could feel the actual shape of an erection as though we were both naked, as though all he need do, this dark being who surely was just my imagination, was bend me over and open me, me struggling to keep my breathing quiet, me struggling to focus enough attention on my friend that she wouldn’t suspect I was about to come. Oh yes, I was terrified. I would graveyard-angel-1have, should have, run, if I hadn’t been so intrigued, so turned on. I just wanted one more second, and then another and another.

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

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

 

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“No one writes paranormal fiction like KD Grace. In penning her tales of myths and magic, she plumbs psychological and spiritual depths that most authors don’t even realize exist. Ms. Grace ignores tropes and conventions, following the trail of her stories down the rabbit hole of her own fertile imagination. The truths she unearths amaze, arouse, terrify and delight.” Lisabet Sarai

 
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