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Working Out My Demons

Over the years I’ve noticed certain recurring themes in my novels and stories. I’ve also noticed them in the novels of my
favorite authors – the ones whose entire body of work I devour hungrily. How can I not wonder about the psychology of those themes and what it is me and my favorite authors – quite possible all writers of story – are trying to work out in our own psyches. Back before I published my first novel, those recurring themes ended up in the enormous navel-gazing tomes of journals I wrote. These days they work themselves out in my stories, and so much the better, I think. Certainly it’s more creative and more fun.


Speaking of recurring themes, it hit me just recently that I seem to write a lot about demons. Almost all of my paranormal and urban fantasy novels have to do with demons in one way or another and, as I just released Blindsided, book two of the Medusa’s Consortium series, I found myself wondering just what my writing so much about demons says about me. Some of my stories are about exorcising the demon, getting rid of it completely, but most are about embracing the demon, or at least finding a way to live with it. Certainly that has turned out to be a major theme in the first two Medusa novels. Personally, I’m inclined to think that the latter is by far the most practical method of dealing with demons in real life. In reallife, unlike in fiction, our demons are not that easy to exorcise.


We all have them – demons. And they come in as many varieties as there are people. We writers have more than most, I think. Though I’m sure in my case a lot of my demons are linked very tightly to the fact that I’m just flat out, majorly, neurotic. Oh I’ve definitely tried exorcising them, but I’ve actually found that exercising them works better. And didn’t you see that coming from a fitness junkie and wannabe pole dancer?


The truth is I take the old adage ‘working out my demons,’ literally. I take mine out for a nice long walk or invite them to be my guests at the gym to sweat it out with the kettle bells, and it seems to suit them down to the ground. And yes, they are loving the pole dance training. I think they’re especially fond of the bruises. I guess maybe all that hard work and exercise wears them out enough that they forget to torture me. Or maybe after the endorphins have kicked in and we’re all well sweated and relaxing with a good protein shake or a handful of nuts, I just don’t notice their torment so much. But the truth is, they can often be quite useful, my demons.


Having said that, I guess it shouldn’t come as any real surprise that I write about demons so much. If there’s anything my demons like more than to be exercised, it’s to be the center of attention in a novel or a story. Frankly, I don’t think it matters if I’m writing about demons in the literal sense or if I’m writing about the less paranormal, more concrete demons my characters battle. By writing the story, but exploring the things that frighten me, the things that make me uncomfortable, I think I’m finding a healthy way to live with those inner demons. As neurotic as writers tend to be, the truth is that the best place to write the most powerful stories is right smack dab in the middle of the neuroses – the scarier, the more irrational, the more chaotic the better. It’s a helluva ride, but if I can stick with it, the resulting story is worth the bruises and the shear terror.


Telling a story is another way of exercising my demons. I make them work for me instead of against me. In truth, I don’t suppose I ‘make’ them do anything. I think maybe they wanted to be put to the challenge all along. Don’t get me wrong, they seldom make it easy, and they’re often uncooperative. They often make it as difficult and as uncomfortable as possible for my characters and they often make the telling of my characters’ tale as squirmy and uneasy for me as they can. What the hell else is a demon supposed to do?


Writing with demons … there just might be a book in there somewhere. Oh, wait a minute, I just wrote one! Anyway, my point is that sometimes the things that cause us the most stress and make us the most fearful are the things that not only make for the best fiction, but the fact that we do write from the place of our discomfort makes the writing all the more powerful and the demons all the more bearable.


The other thing about demons is that they seem so much less terrifying when I’m writing my brains out with a story that won’t let me rest until it’s finished. It’s almost like there’s no room for demon intimidation when I’m in the grip of a tale needing to be told. For that bright and shining span of time it almost feels like instead of the demons possessing me, I possess them. Perhaps that’s the true story I was trying to tell with In The Flesh and now with Blindsided. Perhaps our demons don’t possess us so much as they drive us, and if we can just figure out how to buckle up and go along for the wild ride, then living with demons, writing with demons – paranormal or otherwise — can actually be useful.


From Blindsided, here’s a little peek at just how helpful a demon can be. Michael has been mortally wounded; Alonso is chained and just when it looks like no help is in sight … enter the demon.



Enter the Demon – Blindsided Excerpt:


“You’re unable to fight, angel,” Cyrus said as Michael struggled to his feet. “If you surrender to me now, I won’t promise you a painless death, but perhaps it will be a little quicker, since I am expecting a guest at any moment.”

The impact was like being hit by a bus. And then it was as though the fucking bus shoved its way right on into his chest and parked there. “I don’t remember you being so rough,” he managed, his eyes watering from the experience, his heart hammering with the adrenaline rush.

“I don’t remember you being in such desperate need,” came the Guardian’s voice inside his head.

Michael knew that wasn’t true. He was always in desperate need when he was the Guardian’s lover, but then again, it was never like this, never with those he loved depending on him. Back then, it hadn’t mattered if he lived or died, but it mattered now. More than anything it mattered now.

Immediately he was full, in a way he’d never been full before. Even when the demon had taken possession of his body, it hadn’t felt like this. He felt no pain, in fact he felt so much more than himself that he wondered if he could survive it.

“You will survive it. The need of our cocks was never as great as this need, my darling Michael. I have given you more of me than I ever did before, more of me to use as needed, for I have promised Susan that I will bring you and our Alonso back safely. I have promised that we will defeat this deformed bastard of the sea god, and I will see that promise fulfilled.”

“That totally works for me,” Michael responded.

“Angel? With whom are you speaking?” Cyrus’s voice broke into the conversation. “Are you calling upon your scribe? Surely you know she can’t help you with her puny words. And Magda Gardener, well, she doesn’t care enough about you to be in any hurry to save your unholy skin, even if she could, and she can’t. Perhaps you’re delirious? Perhaps I’ve hurt you too much for you to fully experience what I have planned for you? Is that it?” But even as he spoke, he stepped back, sheathed the knife and lifted the axe at the ready.

“Trust me, Michael. Trust me as you have never trusted me before, and we shall defeat this creature together.”

Michael gave up the last vestiges of control and felt the Guardian fill every muscle fiber, every cell, felt the exquisite timing that even a retired angel could have never managed, and just as the axe fell, when it was but a hair’s breadth from severing his arm at the already-wounded shoulder, he shifted. The blade came so close that it literally shaved the hair from the skin.

As though the world around him had moved into slow motion, he grabbed the handle just above the axe head, and in one smooth movement he gave it a hard yank. Both blade and wielder went flying, hitting the metal cage where he and Alonso had been imprisoned with such force that it bent and almost collapsed.

As Cyrus struggled free, Michael scrambled to the cross so quickly that he barely knew he’d moved. He took the chains that bound Alonso in a hand that he recognized as his own, but with power he could scarcely imagine. A single tug, and the chain broke and coiled free with a clatter around Alonso’s feet.

“Watch out!” He heard Alonso’s voice in his head just in time to shove him out of the way and swing the chain, sending the end whipping out to coil around Cyrus’ neck and pulled him off balance.

“You wanted a battle. You got one,” Michael roared, feeling the Guardian even in his voice. “You will not hurt me or mine ever again, and you will take the message to your child-raping father that he’s not welcome here ever!”

Cyrus fumbled free of the chain, hefted his axe and charged, his rage sizzling through the chamber. But Michael had some rage of his own. Add that to the Guardian’s and Alonso’s and they were damn lucky the place didn’t blow itself apart. Michael tore an aging metal pipe from the wall and met Cyrus blow for blow, while Alonso took on the now advancing Myrmidons, snapping the neck of the first one and arming himself with his sword as he shoved the corpse aside and attacked.

“You’ll pay for your blasphemy with punishment clearly your god was too weak to exact,” Cyrus roared. His rage was an old rage that stank of fear and helplessness and needs unmet, things that Michael would have never recognized without the Guardian in residence. He ducked and rolled, and the axe came down in a flare of sparks against the concrete where
Michael’s head had been. He’d barely made it to his feet when the chamber went icy cold, and the skin on his bare arms goosefleshed as the presence of something familiar, someone familiar, filled the space.

“What is it, Cyrus, the truth not to your liking?”

All heads turned as Magda Gardener strode into the chamber, the walls coating with hoarfrost at her approach, even with her dark glasses still in place. Michael had never seen her so angry. Around her face the golden hair flew like a banner, and the serpents peeking from beneath her locks and coiling around her arms hissed, mirroring her rage.



Magda Agrees to Cover Shots: New Covers for Medusa’s Consortium


The Medusa’s Consortium series is getting a new look! AND the lady herself finally consented to do a cover shot. Not sure how she managed it without her glasses, or without turning the photographer into stone, but the Queen of Scary has her secrets, and I’m happy to say that both photographer and cover designer are safe and still in the flesh. Though it was touch and go for the novelist there for a little while.



And what did it take to convince Magda Gardener/AKA Medusa to appear on the new covers of the stories of her Consortium, you may ask. Well I’m still flesh and blood, so she got over her huff with little damage done. However, she did say it would cost me majorly, something along the line that my arse is now hers. As if it wasn’t already. It didn’t hurt that she got on well with Emmy Ellis and the lovely folks at Studeoenp. I think I actually heard that she and Emmy are having coffee together sometime next week.



I have no idea what the cost will be in the long run. Magda Gardener has a way of calling in debts when you least expect it. She always gets her pound of flesh with interest. Still, I think it was worth it, don’t you? I’m willing to pay.



Buried Pleasures Available for Pre-Order



 With Blindsided just hot off the presses, I can’t tell you how excited I am to inform you that Buried Pleasures, book three of Medusa’s Consortium, is now available for pre-order.



Guarantee you’ll get the first read when Buried Pleasure continues the story of Magda and her gang in Vegas. And wow, the woman has one helluva gang in Sin City. It’s a good thing, because she’s going to need all the help she can get, and so is Samantha ‘Sam’ Black, the last siren.



Buried Pleasures Blurb:

When Samantha Black shares her sandwich with a dog, his owner, Jon—a homeless man living in the Las Vegas storm tunnels, gives her a poker chip worth a fortune from the exclusive casino, Buried Pleasures. All Sam has to do is cash it in. Sam is in Vegas for one reason only, to get her friend, Evie Holt, away from sinister magician, Darian Fox, who holds her prisoner in an effort to force Sam to perform at his club, Illusions. A neon circus tent of strange and mystical acts, Illusions is one of the biggest draws in Vegas, and he’s hell-bent on including Sam on his more than slightly sinister program.

The shadowy Magda Gardener will do anything to keep Sam from cashing in that chip. She knows that Buried Pleasures is the gate to Hades and cashing in the chip is a one-way ticket across the River Styx, which runs beneath the storm tunnels of Vegas.



Coming 9th January 2018 – available for pre-order now!

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Amazon AU
Amazon CA
Barnes & Noble
iBooks UK
iBooks US


A Different Kind of Magic — Buried Pleasures Excerpt:

She opened the piano and ran her fingers carefully over the cool ivory. The buzz of the long familiar, and yet ever mysterious, magic climbed her spine with the effervescing tingle that was always there in the presence of potential music. Jon, who had returned to her side, pulled the padded bench out for her, and she slipped onto it letting both hands arch delicately against the keys, barely making contact. The cloak she’d nearly forgotten she wore, slid down her arms to cover the backs of her hands, but before she could shrug it back, Jon moved behind her and undid the clasp at her throat, easing it off her shoulders to pool on the bench around her.

His touch was a different kind of magic. It sent a cascade of goose flesh over her clavicle down the tops of her breasts, and the tight gasp that escaped her lips was almost, but not quite a sob. Above the keys she flexed her fingers. Behind her, heat radiated off Jon’s body. His breath was warm against her nape. Then he leaned down and spoke close to her ear. “Sing for me, Samantha. I need you to sing for me.”

She withdrew her hands as though the keys were suddenly on fire and clenched them tightly in her lap. “I can’t. You saw what I did to those men, and when I sing I see things, things I shouldn’t know, things I don’t want to know. I … I invade peoples’
private space. I don’t mean to,” she added quickly, “but it happens, and I can’t help it, and the music takes over and I can’t stop until it’s finished no matter how badly I want to, and … I don’t want to do that to you.”

He stepped closer until the tense muscles of his thighs warmed her back, until the shape of him pressed against her almost as it had in his bed. But she was so much more conscious of it now, so much more conscious of the depth of what he desired from her, of her own desire to give it to him, to give him what she’d never been able to give anyone.

He slid strong fingers down across her neck, over her pulse point, which hammered and jerked beneath his touch. Then he cupped her cheek with a rough palm and pressed her back against his belly.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” she managed around a struggle to breathe. “I never wanted to hurt anyone. When it’s good, it’s the most amazing thing ever. Believe me, I would gladly share that with you, but when it all goes wrong …” Her eyes misted at the thought of all that she’d had to keep hidden to protect the people around her.

He leaned over her and took her clenched hands into his. “You won’t hurt me, and it will be good, I promise.” Then he brought her fists to his lips and kissed her knuckles, easing her fingers open one by one as he did so. “You’re a siren, Samantha. That’s why you can do what you can do. Your music is your power and you can control it.”



If you haven’t yet read In The Flesh, Book One of Medusa’s Consortium, nows your chance to get it FREE!



The lovely Victoria DeLuis has invited an amazing bunch of Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy authors in for this wonderful giveaway. She was kind enough to include yours truly. She has invited us to take iveaway for the whole month of October. I’ve included In The Flesh, book one of my Mesdusa’s Consortium series.

Follow the link below and you’ll find over SEVENTY fabulous FREE reads, featuring novels, novellas, and previews. So if you love UF and PNR as much as I do, browse through the covers, and then click to download the book from Amazon, InstaFreebie or BookFunnel


It’s like trick-or-treat candy for lovers of UF/PNR. So go ahead, indulge! Better than chocolate and calorie free!


Here is the page link: http://victoriadeluis.com/promo/




Blindsided Launch Day!


It’s launch day for Blindsided! I could have never imagined, six years ago when I wrote the short story, Stones, for the wonderful anthology, Seducing the Myth edited by Lucy Felthouse that I would fall so completely and totally in love with Medusa. Nor could I have known just what an exciting, convoluted epic of a tale she would whisper in my ear. While the Magda Gardener in the Medusa’s Consortium novels and stories is quite different from the original character in that first short story, she and the members of her consortium, as well as the monsters they’re up against are endlessly fascinating.


One of the things I discovered about Magda early on is that she prefers I showcase her consortium members in my stories rather that the lady herself. So far, I’ve complied, but as you’ll see when you read Blindsided, it’s getting harder and harder for her to stay out of the limelight. I’m not the only one who wants more of her. Her team needs her, and while she may not be willing to admit it, she need them too. They’re her family. Oh, and the enemy wants her big time!


Magda is a female Nick Fury and the Consortium is her deliciously monstrous, paranormal, sexy, scary version of the Avengers. They get the job done in a chilling, thrilling sexy way.


And there’s more!


With Blindsided launching today, you’ll be happy to know that if you haven’t yet read In The Flesh, book one of Medusa’s Consortium, now is the time. It’s available at all outlets for 99c/p.


And to help celebrate, I’m offering the prequel Consortium novella, Landscapes, for FREE. Just follow the link. So you can now officially binge read the first two novels.


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?


An Inside Takeover — Blindsided Excerpt:

As Susan remembered the stories from Greek mythology of sirens luring sailors onto the rocks to their deaths, she wondered what else the woman was capable of. She was just about to text Magda Gardener when another presence captured her full attention. This presence she hadn’t heard from since he was first imprisoned inside her and had made it clear that while this demon, the Guardian, as they called him, might be captive inside the body of a fledgling vampire, he would not live in darkness. He was no more subtle now than he had been that morning at High View in the English Lake District. His essence exploded behind her ribcage with such power that she nearly dropped her phone.

“Susan, we need to leave now.

Before the shock of the Guardian’s surprise visit could wear off enough for her to respond, another voice spoke next to her ear, so softly that it disturbed no one but her, and it disturbed her deeply. “A vampire with something extra, if I’m not mistaken.” A cool hand came to rest on her shoulder and gave it a gentle knead.

“Susan, we need to leave now,” the voice inside her repeated, and the pressure in her chest made her feel like she might be about to have an Alien moment.

Ignoring the voice of the demon hammering on the inside of her ribcage, she turned to find herself face to face with a dark-haired man who could have passed for either a hero in a cheap billionaire novel or a prince from a fairytale. While the man might possibly be wealthy, he was no prince. She was certain from the way his touch made her skin crawl, and the way the Guardian inside her felt like he was taking a sledgehammer to her sternum, that he was no man either. “A great deal of something extra it would seem,” he said, a purr of a chuckle raising the hairs on the back of her neck. “A vampire and a scribe. Such an intriguing combination. I had no idea such a thing existed in all the world, but then the world is a very big place, isn’t it, my darling?”

“Susan! Now! I mean it!” The demon’s voice was loud enough to drown out the gorgeous sound of Flame still wafting from the stage, where the siren kept herself well and truly disguised behind the piano.

But even the Guardian’s voice couldn’t drown out the soft whisper of Prince Scary-ass, all but making love to her ear. “Tonight I’m here for the entertainment.” He nodded to the stage. “Sadly business before pleasure, but there’ll be another time.” He folded a card into her hand, his fingers lingering in a near caress.

She wasn’t certain if he meant there would be another time to listen to Flame or another time to talk to her.

Before she could contemplate further, before she could think what to do, she found herself jerked from the chair, stumbling and twitching toward the door like a marionette with a drunken puppeteer.

“What are you doing? What the hell are you doing?” It might have begun as a silent conversation, but it became quite vocal in a wave of panic as she recalled the last time the demon had used her this way. She elicited several glares from the punters closest to her, and the bartender gave her the evil eye. “What the bloody hell are you doing?” She hissed a whisper between gritted teeth. “You told me you couldn’t control me. You told me that you were mine to command. Stop it! You’re drawing attention to us.”

“You are the one drawing attention to us, Susan,” the voice inside her spoke again. “Just do as I tell you and all will be made clear once we’re safe.”

That got her full attention.

“Now then, that’s better. Listen very carefully. Walk to the subway and get on the train. Then get off at the next stop.”

As she calmed enough to relax the tiniest bit, she found herself once again in control of her arms and legs.

“That’s better, isn’t it?” the Guardian said. “That man in there, the one who sat down next to us, Darian Fox, I believe his card says.

“That’s right,” she replied, forgetting that she didn’t need to speak out loud. It didn’t matter, though. This was New York City. No one really paid too much attention when someone talked to themselves. People just assumed they either had a Bluetooth earpiece or were a little loopy. That was all right too, as long as they kept their loopiness to themselves.

“Do you know who he is?” This time she spoke only in her head.

“I know he means us no good, and I fear he would mean our siren even less good, if he knew of her existence. Fortunately his main interest, as with most males of your species, is for the beautiful singer and what she can do for his cock. As long as he looks to serve his libido, and our little siren continues to keep a low profile, she should be all right. You, however, or should I say us—he was more than a little intrigued by us. We don’t need that kind of attention. He could hurt us. He could hurt the people we love.”




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.


© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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