I’m very happy to offer the fourth instalment Demon Interrupted, a new story from the Elemental Coven that will be unfolding in its entirety right here on A Hopeful Romantic over the next few months. The Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy left so many stories untold and so many fun places in the lives of the Elemental Coven yet to be explored, that a serial seemed like the ideal way to share more of the coven’s adventure. With a coven that specialises in sex magic, it’s not only exciting to revisit my witches at Elemental Cottage, but it’s sizzling hot. Here are the links to the previous two episodes in case you missed them:
Chapter 1 of Demon Interrupted: Perchance to Dream.
Chapter 2 of Demon Interrupted: A Chat with a Demon
Chapter 3 Demon Interrupted: Enter the Shadows
Enjoy Chapter Four, and thanks for joining the fun with this Work in Progress. If you want to know more about the Elemental Coven’s sexy adventures, check out the Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy: Body Temperature and Rising, Riding the Ether and Elemental Fire. Enjoy!
Chapter 4 of Demon Interrupted
‘Wait! Wait don’t go! Who are you? Please don’t leave.’ Ferris shoved up from the chair, cramming his cock into his trousers as he went and, before he realised what was happening, he burst through the bookcase, right on in to the big modern kitchen behind and out through the thick stone wall into the extensive herb garden. He found the woman standing beneath an ancient oak, still holding on to the coiled length of the rope.
When she saw him, she uttered a yelp of surprise and dropped the lead of the noose, backing away from him, her eyes wide with terror. ‘Who are you? What did you do to him? What are you?’ Ferris felt a wave of dizziness that was swallowed up in panic. How the hell had he just gone through two solid walls? The ground beneath him tilted and in another wave of dizziness he fell to his knees, shaking his head, which buzzed as though it were full of angry bees.
Before he could clear his mind the woman rushed to him grabbed his hand and pulled him to his feet. With wild eyes, she glanced at the door to the kitchen. Her complexion was marble-pale, her breathing was desperate. ‘Hurry, oh god, please hurry!’ If he catches you, he’ll kill you. Especially if he sees you with me,’ she sobbed. ‘ I thought he was gone. I thought he was dead. Oh, how can this be happening all over again?
She yanked hard, practically dragging Ferris. With the buzzing still raging in his ears, he followed as she tugged him with all of her strength, coiling the rope around her arm to keep from tripping on it. ‘Oh, hurry, do hurry! I know a place where he won’t find us,’ she called over her shoulder just as she passed through the high stone wall at the edge of the garden.
Ferris cried out and raised a hand to protect his face, but there was no need, her momentum and her tight grip on his hand pulled him through as easily as if he had been nothing more than mist, and they found themselves in an overgrown topiary interspersed with vine-tangled statuary that lined an aging reflection pool. It was a part of the property that had been derelict when Ferris became caretaker at Storm Croft. Though plans had been drawn up to restore it, Ferris was not a wasteful man, so when it became clear that Cassandra would never make use of it, he had not bothered to carry through with the project.
The woman guided him to sit on a moss-covered stone bench next to the pool. ‘He won’t find us here. He hates this place. He says there’s something evil about it. That’s why I always came here, because I know he’ll leave me alone.’
Instead of sitting, Ferris slid onto his knees in front of the pool and, with shaky hands, splashed water onto his face, fearing that he would pass out, then come to himself and the woman would be gone.
‘What are you?’ she asked again. ‘You’re no ghost. I know you’re not.’
‘Of course I’m no ghost. But I know that you are and …’ He stopped mid-sentence. The buzzing intensified in his head and the dizziness once again rolled over him. Staring back at him in the moonlit water was a face other than his own. He leaned forward until he nearly fell into the pool, and found reflected back at him a face broader and sharper boned, with hair that was pale and longer than his own, and the body … he ran a hand over the chest, a hand that responded to his thoughts, but a chest that was broad and muscular, beneath shoulders that blotted out the moonlight in their heft.
‘What are you?’ the woman repeated again. ‘Did you resurrect him? Did you kill him? Does he know you?’
‘I don’t know who you’re talking about.’ Ferris fell back onto his arse on the concrete edge of the pool. ‘But this is not my body. This is not me. I don’t know what happened.’
The woman came and knelt next to him, her eyes moving over him, her hand still gripping the coil of the rope. ‘How can you not know?’
‘Tell me,’ he said. ‘Tell me what you saw.’
She took his hand and pulled him up onto the bench. ‘I was … doing my duty to him …’ she bit her lip, and her eyes filled with tears. ‘All this time there’s been peace. It didn’t matter how I paid for it. All this time I thought he was gone and that I was free.’
‘What do you mean doing your duty? You were with me and you … well you had sex, with me and then you were afraid and I realised you were a ghost and then … somehow I followed you here.’
‘No! No it wasn’t you I was with. I would have never … done that to a stranger. It’s only that he always expected it of me, and when I saw him back again, I didn’t want to make him angry. I don’t understand. I thought I was free of him. ’ She covered her face in her hands and began to sob.
Not knowing what else to do, Ferris pulled the woman gently to his chest and to his surprise she threw her arms around him. ‘If you have killed him then I owe you a debt I’ll never be able to repay. If he is dead then you’re my saviour.’
‘Madame, please,’ he pulled her hands into his and eased her back so he could look into her dark eyes. ‘I don’t understand any of what you’re speaking. I have killed no one, and I promise you that it was me with whom you had sex. And now I find myself in a body with which I am not familiar, a body that’s no more fleshly than your own. His first urge was to call out for Lucia. Lucia would know what was happening to him if anyone would, but the woman drew his attention back to her.
‘It wasn’t you! It wasn’t this body,’ she gestured to his chest. ‘It wasn’t you I was with. If it had been, if he had found out, he would have hurt me.’ She grabbed her head between her hands as though she were in pain. ‘This isn’t right! None of this is right. He’s dead. I know he’s dead. And I’m dead because of him, but in all these years I have never seen his ghost. I believed that he went to hell. A man such as he could have gone nowhere else. And you’re not him! I know you’re not him.’
‘Patrick! Patrick Farringdon.’ You’re not Patrick. Patrick’s dead, and yet I’ve just been with him.’
‘I don’t know any Patrick Farringdon,’ Ferris said. ‘My name is Ferris Ryder. I have been the caretaker of Storm Croft for almost thirty years now and…’ His voice faded as though it were drown out by the roar of a wind. He could see the woman’s lips moving, see the alarm in her dark eyes, and then it was as though he were being sucked into a maelstrom of sound and distance, then unearthly silence.
But the silence was short-lives with the sudden rush of air into his oxygen-starved lungs seconds, or possibly even years later. He could not tell. For an instant he felt as though he were suffocating in his own flesh. The angry swarm of bees returned to his head, and there was someone talking, frantically talking.
‘How can this be? How can this be? How can this be?’
He jerked hard enough for his neck to pop as he came back to himself, once again slouched in the brown leather chair at his desk. His trousers were open. His cock was still wet from sex.
The woman cowered by the sofa, hands twisting the rope she held. ‘What are you? It’s Patrick’s flesh I see with my own eyes, but it’s some one else who animates him. You are not my husband. He was a monster, even now as I look into his eyes I see he’s not there. There was no kindness in him, and you, you’re too big for his body, and yet there you dwell. Who are you?’ She glanced over her shoulder as though she were once again about to flee
‘Please don’t run. I won’t harm you.’ In a sudden wave of embarrassment, Ferris yanked his trousers up over his arse and tucked away his cock. ‘My name is Ferris, as I have said. It was me with whom you had sex. I promise you, I don’t know any Patrick Farringdon.’ But he could almost guarantee Lucia did.
Slowly the woman moved toward him, one hand resting against her chest, the other holding the rope. ‘How can this be?’ she said again as she brought her free hand to trace the curve of his jaw. ‘This body is like his in every way, but you who animate him are other.’
Ferris took her hand in his and heard the catch of her breath. ‘I promise you I’m not him.’ He didn’t tell her that he was unsure of who he was, but he knew with absolute certainty this flesh that now housed him was not his own. He silently cursed Lucia, equally certain that somehow this was her doing. ‘Who are you, my dear lady?’
‘I am Elaine,’ she said, still studying him as though her eyes deceived her. ‘As you have said, I am dead.’ She nodded down to the rope in her hand.
‘And how is it that you still have form and flesh? Strong magic is required for a ghost to wear flesh.’
‘I don’t know,’ she said. ‘It’s as though I’ve only just came back to my flesh when I saw you there … pleasuring yourself … I felt compelled to touch you. That I was able to do so stunned me … and then, even though I thought you were Patrick, I felt … my own arousal growing. That I had not expected. That I never experienced with Patrick. I only ever experienced fear with Patrick.’ Her pale cheeks flushed crimson and the hand that had returned to her chest clenched in a fist.
‘Did your husband do that to you?’ Ferris nodded to the noose around her neck.
She didn’t answer immediately, and when she did, she avoided his gaze. ‘In a manner of speaking, I suppose he did.’
‘Take it off,’ he said. It’s disturbing and morbid.’ Before she could respond, Ferris stood, took the noose in his hands. With sure fingers, he slipped the knot, lifted it off over her head and tossed it aside. Then he pulled her into his arms, fearing that she would faint from the stress of her experience. ‘It’s alright, Elaine. I am not Farringdon, however I may look, and I won’t hurt you.’ He guided her to the sofa and sat down next to her.
He pushed the hair back over he shoulders, marvelling at how soft it was, exposing the ligature marks purple and angry. ‘Great goddess, woman, what happened?’
She pushed his hand away from her throat. ‘I was … hung for my crime.’
‘What crime?’ The woman was scared of her own shadow, he thought as she sat trembling next to him. What could she have possibly done? ‘Elaine, you’re already dead. You can tell me. Of what crime were you accused.’
Her eyes were bottomless, and her face was paler than moonlight on the high fells. The breath she no longer needed tore at her lungs as though she had been running, but she did not look away. ‘I killed Patrick. I killed my husband.’
Now available — Chapter 5 of Demon Interrupted: The Empty Spaces in Between