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In The Flesh Part 34: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_n

It’s Friday! Time for chapter 34 of In The Flesh, in which Susan learns startling things about angels.

There are only a few more episodes of In The Flesh left, so be sure to mark Fridays on your calendar, and hold on to your hats because things are getting wild.

 

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

 

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4 Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16, Part 17Part 18Part 19Part 20Part 21Part 22Part 23Part 24Part 25 Part 26Part 27Part 28Part 29, Part 30Part 31Part 32, Part 33. 

 

You can also read In The Flesh on Wattpad.  

 

In The Flesh Chapter 34

“Talia said there was no indication of the Guardian being present when Susan fed from her, and she should be able to sense him if anyone could,” Magda said. “Even Alonso hasn’t been able to discover if he’s there. Certainly no one else who’s fed her felt anything unusual – aside from the obvious bloodletting, that is.”

I stepped back around the corner at the sound of Magda and Michael’s hushed conversation. I knew they were nervous about the fact that we’d had no clear evidence that the plan had worked, that the Guardian had been trapped inside me when I was changed. Since everyone had assured me that he couldn’t be killed, then the only possibility was that he was trapped or that he’d escaped — a possibility that we all feared more and more as each day past without any definite knowledge of his whereabouts. But then again, the truth was that none of us really knew what to expect. I listened in silence as only the dead could, knowing that if it had been Alonso and Talia talking, or even Reese, they would have known I was eavesdropping. Sadly the connection with Michael through his mark seemed not to work any longer. I assumed that was due to my change. Though in all fairness I’d been avoiding him like the plague, and the fear of a repeat of what that linked had allowed last time had prevented either of us from trying to connect, so I listened undetected.

“Is it possible he got away and is laying low until we least expect it?” Michael asked in a whisper I could Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500have never heard when I was mortal.

“I don’t see how he could have,” Magda replied. “If anything, Susan and Alonso’s plan was much better than ours. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it.”

Michael used some very colourful language in response to that. “Do you think that’s why she won’t see me, for fear the Guardian might still use the link between us?” Even in the quiet whisper, I heard the pain in his voice, pain that I knew I’d caused, pain that made me feel like my own heart had been ripped from my chest.

“She won’t see you because you were a fool last time she did. She doesn’t want to hurt you.”

More cursing. “She won’t! She won’t hurt me, but between the damn vampire and his people and you and yours, I can’t get close enough to tell her. I can’t get close enough to apologise.”

“Sorry, but that’s what she wanted. Besides, you know there are way more variables involved now that she’s a vampire, now that there’s been no evidence of the Guardian in over a week. Everyone is playing it safe. You’re at risk too, you know, after what he did to you through your link with her.”

He gave a bitter laugh. “Maybe there is no link, not any more. Not now that she’s …”

“Now that she’s dead?”

I don’t know if Michael flinched at Magda’s choice of terminology, but I did. I still couldn’t quite get used to the fact that while my heart most definitely beat, albeit much slower, I didn’t need to breathe. Alonso was teaching me, however, that the living were not comfortable when one did not respire, as he put it. Superfluous respiration was essential in order for a vampire to blend in with the living, so I respired, or at least when I remembered to, I respired. Respiration was only one of a million things I had to learn, unlearn, or relearn. I had to learn to slow my every movement so that it didn’t startle the living, so that I didn’t crash into things, break things, frighten the hell out of people, or seriously injure someone. I had to learn to hold objects gently in order not to crush them. I had to learn to touch things tentatively. I had to learn to move much more awkwardly than I was now actually capable of in order to blend in and not frighten mortals. I had to learn to live in the night and protect myself from the sunlight, and, most terrifying of all, I had to learn to manage the hunger so that I could feed without killing, even if I had to hunt to do it.

It was the learning to be gentle and handle things carefully that tripped me up in my attempt at eavesdropping. As I stepped back into the corner further out of their sight, I accidentally knocked over a small ceramic figurine setting on the edge of one of the many full bookshelves Alonso had liberally located around his home. In High View, one was never more than a few feet from a good selection of books. My reactions had improved to the point that catching the figurine before it hit the floor was no problem. The problem was holding the delicate figure of a horse and rider without crushing it. This I was learning to do, but it didn’t come automatically, and the thing shattered in my hand emitting a loud crack overshadowed by my hissed ‘son of a bitch’ as the shards bit into the flesh of my hand. Both Michael and Magda were on me instantly, reminding me with their own preternatural speed, that they were no more human than I was.

“Jesus! You’re bleeding!” Michael said taking my hand in his.

Try though I might, the fact that Michael was touching me, the fact that his touch was as wonderful as I had remembered, as I had ached for it to be again, I couldn’t take my eyes off the racing of his pulse in the vein of his neck. “Leave it.” I jerked away. “It’s nothing. I’m fine. I have to go.” Magda, who never missed anything, already had her mobile out calling Alonso as I turned to flee. But as fast as I was, to my surprise, Michael was faster. He grabbed me by the arm in an effort to pull me back, ignoring Magda’s command to let me go.

“You’re not fine, Susan. It’s a bad cut. It needs tending.”

2015-09-04 16.17.13“I heal fast.” Or at least I hoped I did. “Now let me go.” Truth was the sight of my own blood and Michael’s attention to it both frightened me and aroused the hunger in me, a situation Alonso had warned me to be very careful in. And the crazy thing was I wanted to fuck Michael senseless almost as badly as I wanted to drink his sweet rich Angel blood down in thirsty gulps, almost as badly as I wanted to open the vein above the swell of my breast and fed him from my blood, make him drunk from my blood, drunk with lust for me. My nipples hardened to agonizing points pressing against the cotton of my blouse, and I wanted Michael with an ache that was physical. I wondered if Alonso knew that women could be every bit as possessive and protective of what belonged to us as men could. But we could be a hundred times more vicious if need be.

I shoved him away with such force that he landed with a hard wump up against the stone wall, and the oxygen left his lungs along with more colourful language. Then I turned to run. I barely made it to the stairs before he was on me, grabbing my arm and pulling me back to him with surprising strength. “You’re not going anywhere until we talk.”

I could smell his blood hot and earthy and summer berry sweet racing through his veins; I could smell my own blood already drying from the wound on my hand, now healed, and hunger — both physical and sexual nearly drove me to my knees. I mumbled something about me not being safe, as I elbowed him hard in the ribs, then turned and tore up the stairs with dangerous untested speed, Michael only a hair’s breadth behind me. Over our struggle I could hear Alonso on the phone arguing with Magda. Fucking hell if the man didn’t tell her to leave us alone, to let us sort it out! Dear God, was he out of his mind? How could he tell her that when he knew what it was like, when he’d been where I was and knew the worst?

At the top of the stairs, I shoved my way into the bedroom where I’d stayed before Alonso moved me underground for protection from the sunlight. It was a place I still liked to go after dark, to enjoy its exquisite view of the night sky. “Go away, Michael,” I yelled, slamming the door behind me. “You don’t know what I’m capable of. I nearly killed — ” My words died in my throat with a little yelp as I turned to find him already standing by the bed, hands fisted at his side, chest heaving, eyes blazing.

“And you don’t know what I’m capable of,” he replied, moving toward me so fast that even my preternatural vision couldn’t register his motion. He had me in his arms before I could even blink. “You think you’re the only one who struggles with power?” He pushed me against the wall and held me with one arm across my chest while he quite literally ripped his shirt off with the other hand. “I’m an angel, for fuck sake! And mortal or not, I’m still more than a match for any damn vampire. Didn’t your maker tell you that? Or was he just wanting to keep you all to himself?”

“Don’t you blame Alonso for this. The choice was mine to make. He didn’t want to, and you know damn good and well I nearly killed you – would have killed you if …” With a flick of his thumbnail, he opened the wound above his left nipple — with ease this time and, as the blood welled, I completely lost my train of thought as the ripe fruit scent of it overwhelmed my senses. I cried out and fumbled for the doorknob in a desperate attempt to get away, even as he held me firmly.

“You think I can’t handle you? You think you’re too much for me?” He curled his fingers in my hair at the base of my neck and reeled me into a kiss that would have been fatal if I hadn’t already been dead, then he pulled away breathing like he’d been running. “That’s the trouble with you damn vampires, you’re so fucking arrogant.”

I shoved him with enough force to send him careening backwards over the bed and on to the floor behind. “Oh, and you goddamned angel’s are so full of humility!”

“I didn’t say anything about humility.” With terrifying strength, he grabbed the heavy wooden bedframe, an antique that must have weighed as much as a small lorry, and turned it upside down with a loud crash. “Did you ever hear me say anything about humility?”

When I made another run for the door, he tackled me, pinned me on my stomach with my arm up behind my back, me screaming and fighting and bucking until I unseated him just long enough to roll over and crabwalk back toward the door, but before I could gain my footing, he was on me again. He In The Flesh 2 12006311_1476805985954344_6570546160088833292_nstraddled me, wrapped his legs around mine and spread me into Judo hold from which it was no trouble at all to feel his full erection. If that didn’t have my vampire heart racing, the blood running down his bare chest did, and just before he could get a solid judo hold on me, I bucked him off, shoved him back, his head hitting the edge of the upturned bed hard enough to cause a hissed stream of expletives before I straddled him with him cursing and roaring like an angry bear. The instincts of the predator took over even as the scent of our lust nearly overpowered the scent of blood. I ran the flat of my tongue up from the waistband of his jeans following the trail of fresh blood, careful not to miss a single drop as I lapped my way up to the wound. It was a shallow wound, enough to trickle freely without the danger of him bleeding out, enough to make me work for my snack, and it was a surprise to discover that it was just a snack, a very tasty snack, albeit. This was about play. This wasn’t about life and death. Even predators played, didn’t they? With a shock I realized, this was about sex, this was about possession. This was about the balance of power we had to find before we destroyed each other in ways that were far worse than the physical damage we could cause.

 

In The Flesh Ch 33: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

 

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_n

It’s Friday! Time for chapter 33 of In The Flesh, in which Susan comes back to herself with a lot to learn.

There are only a few more episodes of In The Flesh left, so be sure to mark Fridays on your calendar, and hold on to your hats because things are getting wild.

 

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

 

 

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4 Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16, Part 17Part 18Part 19Part 20Part 21Part 22Part 23Part 24Part 25 Part 26Part 27Part 28Part 29, Part 30Part 31, Part 32.

 

You can also read In The Flesh on Wattpad.  

 

In The Flesh Chapter 33

I don’t remember much of the next few days. Occasionally I would realize that Alonso or Magda were in the room with me, but mostly my focus was on whoever served as my meal. The rest of the time I slept somewhere beyond the dream world, truly the sleep of the dead, I suppose. But I always woke ravenous, always beyond the grasp of my own rationality, always beyond the grasp of my own control. Most of the time I wasn’t familiar with whoever fed me, and as long there was a source of blood, I didn’t really care who they were. When my conscience did rear it’s seriously brow-beaten head, whoever was with me at the time would assure me that Michael was all right and that I had not killed or permanently maimed anyone. On the third day, I came back to myself, my whole body tingling, especially my tongue and lips, which were pressed against the open vein at Talia’s wrist. I gave a little shutter that could have possibly been an orgasm, after all, Talia was a succubus. As I eased myself away from her wrist with a quick lap of my tongue to seal the wound, the world righted itself and I was able to exert some control.

“Welcome back,” she said, with a wicked smile. “We were beginning to think you would drain us all and all of Magda’s household too before you were finally sated.” She glanced down at the inside of her wrist. “If you can resist my blood, sweet little Scribe, then I reckon you’re well on your way to learning some control.”

My stomach growled and she nodded down to it. “You’ll have to learn to manage the hunger. It’ll get easier with time and practice, but it never goes away, or so Alonso tells me. You were lucky to have his strength as well as Magda’s and Michael’s.” She shrugged, “and yours truly of course, to keep you and everyone around you safe. You’ve been pretty much out of control for the last three days.”

There was a soft knock on the door and Alonso pushed his way into the room, offering a huge smile when he saw me sitting up in the bed. “How do you feel, darling girl?”

431px-Medusa_Mascaron_(New_York,_NY)            “Different,” was the only reply I could think of, and that was an answer no one would have understood better than Alonso Darlington.

“Of course you do. I would expect nothing else under the circumstances, but you also seem a little more yourself this evening.”

“Well she didn’t try to rip my throat out when I pulled away from her,” Talia said. When Alonso glared at her she only shrugged. “That’s what she’d been doing, isn’t it?”

“Your comments are not helpful, Talia.”

She heaved a hard-put-upon sigh. “Sadly honesty is seldom seen as helpful, even when it’s exactly what’s needed.” She kissed me lightly on the mouth, leaving a tingle in places far removed from my lips, then stood and left the room.

Before I could ask, Alonso answered my question. “Michael is fine, only frustrated and hurt that you won’t see him.”

The flood of relief was overshadowed by the gut wrench of knowing that I’d hurt him, that he didn’t understand why I had to keep him away. I blinked back tears at the sudden tug of loss. “You know why I won’t see him. I won’t put him at risk again.”

“He put himself at risk, darling girl, a thing which he would happily tell you if you would but allow it. Have you forgotten that he is an angel?”

“Of course I’ve not forgotten what he is, nor have I forgotten that I nearly killed him.”

“He could have pulled away from you at any time, Susan, but for his possessiveness. The foolish man wanted you to take only from him, a desire I can easily understand, being a rather possessive creature myself.” I could tell by the inward turn of his smile that he was thinking of Reese. “I fear your Angel is not pleased with the bond you now, of necessity, have with me.”

“You mean he nearly let himself be killed because of a stupid testosterone pissing contest?”

Alonso laughed quietly. “We men are strange creatures no matter if we are angels or demons. It is in our nature to view the world in terms of our territory and our possessions. It is in our nature to protect and provide for those we see as our own.”

“Even if it kills you?”

“My darling girl, in our eyes death is well-deserved if we are not men enough to take care of our own. If you are to understand your angel, you must learn this fact. And in all fairness, he should have been able to provide the nourishment you needed alone. He is strong enough, and as an angel he is quickly replenished of his life force and ready to meet your demands again. In truth, I would not have believed you could deplete him after I had fed you so well so recently. I have never known one so ravenous as you have been.”

“I’m sorry. I … I couldn’t control myself.” I was suddenly unable to meet his gaze, the heat of shame scorching my face. “It’s just that I’m always so hungry.”

“Do not be sorry, darling one. Creatures such as ourselves are not known for their control. And let us be candid, your circumstances are extenuating to say the least. We do not know the effects of what you have taken upon yourself yet.”

For the first time since Alonso made me, I had the presence of mind to remember why I had asked him to do such a thing, but I had no time to search inside myself to discover if the Guardian were there before Alonso continued. “I have brought you here in this safe place so that you may learn control, so that you may learn what is needed, so that you may learn to hunt properly when you must feed outside those who willingly serve as your source of nutrition, and so that you may give something back when you must do so. Sadly I had no one to teach me in the beginning, and if it had not been for Magda Gardener, I do not know what might have become of me.”

“So that’s how she knows about feeding from the heart’s blood.”Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500

He nodded. “I was little more than a revenant when she took me. When I came back to myself in my lucid moments, the horror of what I had done, the guilt sent me scurrying back into my darkness. She took me into her home, isolated me in a cave she had prepared for my needs and fed me of her own blood alone until I was calm enough and rational enough to learn control, and to learn to live with what I had become. In that time with her, I discovered that there are many creatures such as I– and not all of them vampires by any means. We must all learn to live with our own darkness and find a way forward – not to make amends, for we can never right the wrongs we have done no matter how many lifetimes our existence might be. But, instead, we must learn to live lives that are … of value in the present.” He held my gaze. “I have not killed for a very, very long time, my darling girl, but the memories of what I have done do not fade, just as I am sure Magda’s do not, nor will yours. My life lived well is my penance, and my joy, as yours will be, in time.”

“Why?” I asked. “Why would Magda do that? Why didn’t she just … you know, turn you to stone?”

This time his smile was edged with a bitter chuckle. “I believe I was very much hoping for a stake through the heart. I fear I would have single-handedly decimated a small village in the Yorkshire Dales if she hadn’t hunted me down, brought me back to Cumbria and taken me under her wing. You see, the village elders sought her out for that purpose. Mortals are nothing if not a cunning lot, and surprisingly good at overcoming insurmountable odds. Indeed, Magda could have ended my miserable existence, and easily. In fact I begged her to at least a thousand times during those dark days when she held me captive. You see, I owe her much.” As though he anticipated my next question, he waved a dismissive hand. “Oh it is always difficult to tell with Magda Gardener if her acts are done out of compassion or out of her own desires to add to the Consortium.” Another chuckle. “That’s what she calls those she has brought together when she’s putting, how is it you say, the proper spin on it, but we all just call ourselves Magda’s collection, of which both myself and the angel and now you, my darling girl, are a part.”

For a moment, we both sat in silence, then he moved onto the bed next to me, unbuttoned his shirt and with a quick flick of a fingernail opened the vein above his heart, still holding my gaze. “In the days ahead of us, my little one, I will give you of myself, but a sip here and there, to strengthen our bond and to make you stronger. While others will be the source of your nourishment, what I can offer of myself will help you in what you must learn, and it will comfort and calm you as well.”

For the first time since my new life began, I didn’t lunge; for the first time, I let him gently guide me to the flow, which I savoured with light flicks of my tongue and pulls of my pursed lips.

He grunted softly. “You must be careful, my darling girl. The pleasure you receive from the taking is returned in kind, and while I am sure Reese would understand if I took you that way, living with a vampire and a succubus as he does, I am not sure I could forgive myself, and I am most certain your angel would not forgive me. In fact, I do believe he would seek out a stake for my heart.

I pulled away and sat up next to him. “I’m sorry. I –”

“Do not apologize, my darling. You must learn. I shall teach you. When you feed from your angel, you may take of his manhood, which will happily respond to your feeding, as you already know. In fact,” he offered me a wicked smile, “you may feed him from your heart’s blood,” he made a negating sign with his hand. “Only but a little, for he will not be able to take more without becoming intoxicated. A little, however, will pleasure both of you in ways you will find startlingly delightful.” He rebuttoned his shirt and wiped as smudge of his blood from my lips with the pad of his thumb, licking it off with a quick flick of his tongue, which made my heart race. “And now, my dear girl, there is someone here who very much wants to see you.”

There was a knock at the door and Magda stepped in with Annie at her side looking startlingly well, if 2015-09-04 16.17.13still quite thin. “I have given her but a little of my own blood to help her heal,” Alonso whispered next to my ear, or at least I thought he had, but then I realized I had heard his voice inside my head. “Yes, my darling Susan, there are other connections besides blood that we now share.” He nodded to Annie. “Go to her. You will not hurt her, of that I’m certain.”

The thought was barely complete before Annie broke from Magda’s solicitous hold on her arm and ran to the bed, throwing herself into my embrace. “You’re all right! Oh thank God you’re all right,” she sobbed against my shoulder. I could see the hammering of her pulse in the vein of her throat. I could smell the sweet flowery scent of her blood within. But inside my head, almost inside the centre of my chest, I could feel Alonso’s reassuring nod. So, gently, carefully, I pulled her closer and found myself sobbing in empathy. “You’re a vampire now?” She pulled back wiping her eyes and looking me over as though she expected me to flash my fangs – fangs which I wasn’t even sure I had, but surely I must, I had no problem getting to the source of blood offered from a wrist or a neck, and while Alonso had assured me that the vampires lack of reflection is only an old wives tale, I had not had the presence of mind to truly inspect myself for changes.

“I am, yes.” I found myself blushing.

“And you did that for me?” A huge tear rolled down her thin, but healthy looking cheek. “Oh Susan, I never meant for this to happen.”

“I know,” I pulled her back against my shoulder and let her cry. “It wasn’t your fault, Annie. It wasn’t your fault. If anyone is to blame it’s me, and I’m so, so sorry.”

“What has happened is no one’s fault,” Alonso said. “Blame will do no one any good in moving forward into a future that, while quite different from the one I’m sure we all anticipated, will be bright.”

“Come darling. We’d best leave our little scribe to get her rest.” Magda shot first me, and then Alonso a glance from beneath her glasses as she motioned to Annie.

“Can’t I stay just a little longer,” Annie protested. “Susan isn’t going to hurt me. Susan would never hurt me.”

“Best you don’t just now,” Alonso said, reaching to push her hair, which once again was a shiny golden blonde, away from her face. “Susan is just now coming back to herself, and she has much to learn about being what she now is if she is to remain safe and keep those around her safe.”

On an impulse, Annie leaned in and landed a kiss on my cheek, and I was suddenly overwhelmed by the dark moon image_xl_6338206scent of her, the powerful efforts of her blood to heal her, to restore her health, the fact that she lived and breathed and that her body held what I needed. I curled my fingers in her hair and pulled her close with more force than I intended. She gave a little Yelp of surprise, but threw her arms around me in a bear hug. There was no fear in her in spite of what I had become, in spite of the fact that I wanted to taste her blood with a need that was so close to physical my chest ached and my stomach clenched. With the preternatural senses I was still trying to get used to, I could not only see the tension tightening Magda and Alonso’s bodies, but I could feel the change in their breathing, in their blood pressure, even a change in the very scent of them. They were nervous. They were afraid, both tensing to pull Annie away from me should things go tits up, which I knew with the pounding of my own heart was a very real possibility.

I don’t know exactly how it happened. It was all so fast, but I lowered my mouth just to kiss, just to touch that place where her heart beat in her throat with my lips, maybe with my tongue and then there was a moan that sounded like someone in agony, and I was suddenly on the far side of the bed up against the wall, trembling like a leaf in a Cumbrian storm.

Annie’s eyes were huge and round as Magda all but jerked her to her side and stepped back beyond the threshold with no less preternatural speed. But just as Magda pulled her through the door, Annie grabbed the molding and stopped progress long enough to turn to me. “I’ll see you soon, Susan. I think we’re long overdue for a girl’s night in, you know, a nice bottle of wine, a good chin wag? She can drink wine can’t she,” she asked Alonso.

He offered his usual calming smile. “Do not you worry my dear Annie, our Susan will be able to drink wine, though she may no longer find it’s taste to her liking.”In The Flesh 2 12006311_1476805985954344_6570546160088833292_n

Annie’s laugh was nearly a sob. “I can’t imagine Susan Innes ever being dead enough not to revel in a good glass of Malbec.” She blew me a kiss as Magda all but pulled her bodily through the door, and then
I found myself sobbing in Alonso’s arms, even as I smelled his confusion.

“My darling girl, whatever is the matter? Why are you weeping so? Do you not wish to enjoy a good chin wagging with dear Annie?”

“Of course I do,” I blubbered, “but you saw what just happened. You had to pull me off her. I’m not safe. I’m not safe!”

“Of course you’re not safe, my dear Scribe, and neither am I, but I promise you I did not pull you away from Annie. You backed away yourself, and a good thing the wall was stone or you would have gone right through it in your efforts to keep her safe.”

 

In The Flesh Part 32: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

Happy New Year everyone! And all the best in 2016! Since this is a time of new beginnings, today’s IMG_5258episode of In The Flesh is quite fitting as Susan awakens to a new life to find that the road might be a lot rougher than she’d expected.

There are only a few more episodes of In The Flesh left, so be sure to mark Fridays on your calendar, and hold on to your hats because things are getting wild.

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

 To Read the story in its entirety up to this point, follow the links.

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4 Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16, Part 17Part 18Part 19Part 20Part 21Part 22Part 23Part 24Part 25 Part 26Part 27Part 28Part 29, Part 30Part 31.

 

Also follow In The Flesh on Wattpad

 

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_nIn The Flesh Chapter 32

Awareness returned slowly with an irritating drip, drip, drip of something between my parted lips. Even more irritating was the acid burn at the back of my throat as whatever it was trickled down. Whatever it was, I felt I should have known, but I couldn’t for the life of me recall. Drip, drip, drip! I coughed and choked, flailing to shove the hand away from my face that stroked my jaw, but my efforts were useless. I was weak as a kitten, and I had no context for my situation, a fact that frightened me, and I flailed harder.

Strong arms cradled me, cool fingers stroked my throat and, someone spoke softly. “Swallow, my darling girl. You must swallow and take my strength.”

Drip, drip, drip!

“She has to drink. You have to make her drink, or she’ll die.” There was another male voice, a voice full of worry. A familiar voice.

“She’s already dead, Michael.” A woman’s voice commented.

“Shut up, Magda,” came the reply, a reply which I barely noticed because my attention was on the fact that I was dead. I was supposed to be, wasn’t I? Wasn’t that the plan? And then something was supposed to happen after that. I just couldn’t think for the irritating, burning drip, drip, drip making my eyes water and my sinuses sting.

“Drink my darling girl,” the soft voice was still insisting in my ear. The cool fingers were still stroking my throat. “You must drink from me now, as I have drank from you, and all shall be well.”

I choked and gagged and then swallowed. And the acid burn became warm and sweet and soothing down the back of my throat, bursting with richness and flavor, and suddenly I was starving for whatever it was that filled my mouth. The acid burn was transformed to fire and heat and life, and I was freezing and shivering, and I couldn’t get enough its warmth.

“That’s it, that’s right my darling drink. Drink from me. The shivering will pass, and you will soon not notice the cold.” A large hand cradled my head and guided me toward the source of the liquid fire. My teeth punctured flesh and, for a moment, I thought I would be sick at the very thought. But then, the drip, drip, drip became an even, steady flow that flooded my mouth and coursed down my throat into my belly, and the world around me burst into sharp focus. Alonso held me against his bare chest and I fed from the vein just above his left nipple. I fed as though I was starving. I fed as though I would never get enough. Child of his heart’s blood, he said I would be, and now I understood why.

“Welcome back.” Magda Gardener smiled down at me. But I didn’t respond. I had forgotten how to do anything but drink from Alonso, throwing my arms around him and pulling him closer to my lips, an act which caused him to sigh and moan softly. I couldn’t tell if it was with pleasure or if I was hurting him and, to be honest, I don’t think it would have mattered one way or another. I had little control over my need to feed at that point. It was far more instinct that drove me than it was any higher brain function and that, in itself, would have terrified me if I’d had the capacity to dwell on it. Whether I was causing him pain or not, he made no effort to hinder me, and I fed aggressively. For me it was pleasure, but of the most primitive kind, it was the satisfying of hunger, urgent, demanding hunger, hunger that insisted I feed as though I might never feed again; hunger that had as little to do with filling my belly as a thunderstorm has to do with filling the ocean. And yet in spite of my raging need, I was keenly aware of everything around me. It was just that I could concentrate on nothing at the moment but taking more of the spiced wine heat of Alonso’s blood into me. I had never tasted anything so sweet.

“It’s best not to touch her just yet,” Alonso said, when Michael reached out to stroke my cheek. “She is not herself. She is not yet safe.”

“Of course she’s not safe,” Michael snapped. “She’s a fucking vampire.”

“She is not yet a fucking vampire,” Alonso replied evenly. “She is not yet fully made. She must feed, then she must rest, and then feed again. Until that has happened, and until we can help her control her urges, she is in danger as are those around her.”

“How long?” Michael ran a hand through his hair and paced the small space, shoving at the makeshift curtain. “How long before she’s back to herself.”

“I do not know,” Alonso said. “It is different with every person, and I have never sired before.”

“Fucking hell! You mean you’re making this up as you go along? Jesus!”

“Michael, sit down and shut up,” Magda said. “Whether or not Alonso has sired a million or none, is dark moon image_xl_6338206irrelevant at this point. Susan made her choice, and Alonso will do what he must.”

“It is also a fact that you must prepare yourself for that while Susan will still be herself at the core of her being, she will be changed in ways that may be … difficult.”

“Christ!” Michael grumbled under his breath. “And the Guardian?” he asked, turning on Alonso, who growled a warning. Or at least I thought it was Alonso, but it was actually me. “Tell me at least that after what you’ve done to her that it worked.”

“There’s no sign of him,” Magda said. “But if he was in Susan’s body when Alonso took her, he’s still there.”

“Oh he’s there all right,” Talia said. “And not very happy about it either. But I promise you, by the time he realized he wasn’t just dreaming Alonso’s presence, the process was too far along for him to escape.”

“Can he hurt her?” Michael asked. “Can he use her as he did me?”

“He cannot use the dead,” Alonso said, and Michael flinched as though he had been slapped.

But Alonso made no apologies for being blunt. In truth he had other things on his mind. I knew because I could feel those things in the back of my own mind as though, by feeding from him, I also took from his thoughts. “She will sleep soon, when she is sated, and then we must get her, and myself, back to High View before dawn comes. This is not a safe place for either of us and, while I could manage in the crypt, I do not know what Susan’s needs will be, and I can better anticipate them in my own home, which is designed with our kind in mind.”

It happened so quickly that I almost missed it, the slacking of my mouth, the flickering of my tongue over my lips to make sure I’d not missed a single drop, and then I licked instinctually at the wound over Alonso’s heart to seal it. I fell asleep before I finished, all the while Alonso spoke soft, calming words to me from the edge of the dream world.

 

That was my last memory until I woke in a huge bed in a deeply shadowed room with no windows. Alonso sat in an over stuffed chair that had been moved close to the bed. I was aware of Magda and Michael in the room, sitting in the shadows, but they didn’t matter. For the moment, only Alonso mattered. I was in a black shirt that I knew was his, and nothing else, but then I had been naked with no actual memory of shedding my clothes when he had come to me at Chapel House. I could smell the high fells scent of him deep in the weave of the fabric beyond the reach of the surface smell of laundry soap.

That was not, however, the scent that dragged me up from my sleep, but rather the scent of blood, a smell that filled my mouth with saliva and made my stomach clench and cramp in hunger. I was out of Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500the bed and on Alonso’s lap, clawing open his shirt, sending buttons flying so quickly that I barely had a sense of my own movement. Had I, it most certainly would have frightened me.

But when Alonso pushed me away and tried to ease me back in the bed saying something about not being able to feed me, whatever I was becoming lashed out like a whip with strength and speed I neither knew I had nor was I able to control. All I knew in that instant was unbearable hunger, which I had to satisfy at all costs. The chair went over backward with me landing on top of Alonso still trying to get to the source of nourishment. A split second later, I was the one flat on my back on the floor, with Alonso straddling me, pinning my arms above my head and me yelling like a banshee, “get off me! Get off me! Give it to me!”

I’ve heard that predators are often tunnel-visioned, unable to see anything but the prey in their sight once they begin to move in for the kill. Even as the thought horrified me, the fact that Michael and Magda now flanked Alonso and were yelling at me trying to calm me brought it home loud and clear that a predator was exactly what I had become, and even though I had known that would be the case when I had asked Alonso to take me, I was suddenly, painfully, aware of what that meant, even as none of the logic mattered, even as nothing in the whole world mattered but feeding.

“Listen to me, Susan,” Alonso was all but yelling at me just to get my attention, and I wanted to rip his face off for it. Damn it, all I wanted to do was to feed! “I cannot feed you, for both Talia and Reese have needed from me after our efforts at Chapel House. I am depleted my darling girl. But Michael and Magda will feed you.” Michael had already shed his shirt and knelt next to me pulling me to him as Alonso eased up his weight, and I lunged.

“Not from your heart, Michael,” Alonso warned, “from your wrist, even your neck, but not from your heart, it’s too dangerous.”

“From my heart,” came Michael’s breathless reply. “Only from my heart.” He swallowed back a hiss of pain as I tore at the flesh above his left nipple in frustration, unable to access the vein as I had with Alonso. He braced himself against my vicious tearing, crying out as I bit him again and again in desperation, only managing to bruise and lacerate and, while the surface bled, I could not get to the vein.

“Michael! Michael, there’s a reason why you don’t feed her from your heart’s blood.” It was Magda, who spoke. In that moment, Alonso wrestled me away from my efforts only long enough for Magda to slice a clean sharp incision with a Vitronox low on Michael’s left pectoral and, before the first flow had fallen to his nipple, I lunged and Alonso released me. I threw my arms around Michael and pulled in the first delicious taste of his blood, so different from Alonso’s, but no less heavenly, with the tang of summer fruit and woodland herbs, and he sighed with relief and cradled me to his chest.

“You romantic bastard,” Magda said to Michael, settling back on her knees and catching her breath while she watched my efforts. “It has nothing to do with your emotions, idiot. The heart’s blood must be opened by the giver, and that’s why it’s considered more intimate. It’s a gift. It can’t easily be taken by force.”

Michael only nodded and moaned as I pulled him still closer. It was when he laid his head back against the bed and his eyes fluttered shut that I realized he could barely hear Magda. In fact, I doubted that he’d understood a single word she’d said. With one hand he gently kneaded and caressed my flank while the other stroked and fisted my hair. In a moment of clarity, I felt the slow, deep shifting of his hips beneath me and became keenly aware that he was fully erect. My body responded in kind, nipples peaking, heat rising heave and humid between my thighs and my own hips shifting. But instinct won out in the end. I would revisit the lust once the hunger eased. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered Alonso saying that feeding and sex were both intimate acts best done together, and in private, whenever possible. Perhaps when I was finished feeding, I would fuck Michael. Perhaps when I was done drinking from the blood of his heart, I would reward him, reward both of us for his efforts.

I wanted him with every cell in my body. I had no idea I could hunger for him so deeply, so deeply that rose imagesall I could think about, all I could imagine was taking him into myself, taking all of him into myself, taking in his luscious dark ruby blood in large, thirsty gulps as though I would never get enough, and then mounting him and taking the essence of his life force in the same way, until we were both spent and exhausted from our efforts. In truth, as we writhed on the floor I felt as though the act of feeding would not be complete until we had coupled, but I needed strength before that could happen and Michael’s strength, Michael’s life’s blood was exhilarating in a very different way from Alonso’s .

From somewhere a long way off, I heard Magda and Alonso speaking in distressed tones, and I wished they’d leave us alone. I anticipated fucking Michael with each deep pull of his blood, and while I would prefer not to have an audience, the need I felt at the moment was even beyond what the Guardian had roused in me, and I was sure one act would not be, in and of itself completed without the other – certainly not when it was with Michael, therefore if they wouldn’t leave, I would just ignore them and have him anyway. But to my irritation, they had no intention of leaving, or even being quiet. They just kept getting louder, and Magda kept saying something over and over again. Gederofim, gederofim, gederofim,’ it sounded like over the euphoric buzz in my ears. ‘Gedheroffim, geteroffim, Get! Her! Off! Him!”

With me fighting like a tiger, Alonso pulled me free, “Susan … Susan! You can’t take any more from Michael. It’s too much.”

“Susan! You’ll kill him,” Magda shouted at me, just as she shoved her wrist in front of my open mouth. It was only once I’d punctured flesh – damn near breaking bone in the process — and tasted the sharp, clean citrus of her blood did I realize that Michael’s eyes were closed and he was pale, so pale. Alonso held the bed sheet tightly to the wound in his chest and gently slapped his face until he roused with a gasp.

In that instant I felt shame, fear, horror, and yet I could no more stop feeding that I could have stopped
the flow of time.

“He’ll be all right,” Alonso was saying, “He’ll be fine. He’ll be a little weak when he wakes up, but he’ll be fine. He’s an angel. He’s stronger than an ordinary mortal.”

And still I gorged, even as I wept and sobbed at Magda’s wrist, somewhere in the back of my mind realizing that my tears were still salt and not blood, and they were as bitter as they had been when I realized that Michael planned to sacrifice himself for me, and I had done all that I had done and still, heIn The Flesh 2 12006311_1476805985954344_6570546160088833292_n nearly died because of me – most surely would have if Alonso and Magda hadn’t intervened. I wept bitterly between great gulps of Magda’s blood, and she held me in strong arms, stroking my hair and speaking to me in some ancient language I didn’t understand, but being very careful not to withdraw her wrist. When I could manage a sane word, when I was sated enough I was once again on the edge of sleep, I sealed the wound and pulled Magda’s face close to mine, careful not to jostle her glasses. “Keep Michael away from me. Please. I don’t want to hurt him and … I don’t want him to see me like this.”

She tried to argue, but I grabbed her by the throat, and she stilled as though she were one of her own creations made of stone. “Promise me! I need you to promise me.”

“All right,” she said softly, and then I allowed myself to tumble back into the sleep of the dead.

 

In The Flesh Part 23: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

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It’s Friday and time for Episode 23 of In The Flesh, in which much is revealed about Magda Gardener, but Susan’s discoveries only deepen the mystery behind the woman and her relationship with Michael and the Guardian.

 

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

 

 

To read the story in its entirety up to this point, follow these links to  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4 Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16, Part 17Part 18Part 19Part 20Part 21, Part 22.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

In The Flesh Chapter 23

“This is where I leave you, Hon.” Talia laid a gentle hand on mine, and there was a tingle that felt a greatS6302008 deal like sympathy. “She won’t welcome a spectator, and I’m not all that keen on being one.” She squeezed my hand and turned back toward the tunnel. I stood for a second gathering my courage. The rain had stopped, but the forest was shrouded in mist and though there were bright bursts of light coming from inside the bothy, the surrounding fell side was sunk in false twilight.

I could smell heat, almost like a forge before I approached the bothy, but the place was icy cold. There was no smoke rising from the roof. In fact, the place felt deserted, in spite of the trail in the high grass which, to my surprise, was littered on each side with a complete menagerie of stone garden sculptures – woodland creatures of all sorts from mice and voles, to rabbits, rats, even a fallow deer, many nearly lost in the high grass, and all so realistic that the deer and the fox both startled me before I realized the grey in which they slunk was not shadow, but the stone from which they were carved. Walking softly through the wet, recently flattened grass, perhaps on some unconscious level fearing I’d startle the stone creatures, but more than likely because, no matter how much I wanted to clear the air with Magda Gardener, I really wasn’t looking forward to the woman’s company – especially after my conversation with Talia.

The closer I got to the door of the bothy, the colder I got. Though the ice I felt in the pit of my stomach had nothing to do with the temperature, which was rather mild under the circumstances, the temperature around the bothy, however, appeared to be its own little microclimate, for which I knew the Lake District was famous, but this was no valley, no dale, this was a place of magic. My breath came in icy clouds as I drew nearer and, in spite of the scent of heat and the flashes of pale light from within, the grass and the stone creatures nearest the entrance were coated in hoarfrost, hoarfrost that I felt coating my lungs as I breathed, chilling me in places that had never known cold before. In spite of the chill, the bothy door was wide open. In fact there was no door at all and, yet, I had the very distinct feeling if I were not invited to enter, the lack of a door would not have mattered. I would have been forced to wait outside for eternity.

“Come in, Susan.” As though she had read my thoughts, I heard Magda’s voice before I actually P1020199saw her. But as I stepped across the threshold, my whole body shivered as though I’d just walked through a very large spider web and, though the room was icy cold, the smell of hot metal grew stronger as did the dance and glare of bright light.

Magda Gardener stood with her back to me in the company of dozens more stone carvings so realistic it was as though she had somehow frozen the toad in mid leap, the wood pigeon in mid preen, the hare in mid hop. There were birds, mice, even several butterflies with stone wings so thin, I wondered at the skill of the artist. They all looked as though the stone from which they were carved would suddenly warm to flesh, and they would all go on about their business oblivious of their recent stone prisons.

“These are amazing,” I said, reaching out to touch a badger that looked as though he would startle at my movement and scurry away.

“They’re just stone,” she said, her voice nearly as cold as the room. For a moment, I thought the woman was welding. She stood with her back to me, bathed in bright flashes of light from which I raised a shielding hand to my eyes. But there was no hiss of acetylene, no sparks from the torch, and she wore no welding mask. She was hunched over a wooden workbench strewn with stone chips and sculpting tools. I could hear the chink, chink of metal against stone, and the smell of heat was acrid enough to make my eyes water, in spite of the cold. I pulled the succubus’ jacket tighter around me, surprised that Magda worked in a loose-fitting shift that appeared to be made of unbleached cotton. It hung mid-calf, moving and flowing with her efforts. As I stepped closer I saw she was barefoot.

“I had forgotten you’re a sculptor,” with a chill, I remembered the life-like sculpture of Michael in the tangled garden at Chapel House.

“It’s an interest of mine,” she replied without turning around. “Something I fell into quite by accident a very long time ago. These days, I use it most often for sympathetic magic, sculpting what I wish to manifest.”

“And these,” I opened my arms to include the stone menagerie on the dirt floor of the bothy, “whatSt Martha's Hill 3 kind of magic are they?”

“Those are magic uncontrolled,” came her reply. “Mistakes with which I now have to live.”

“Mistakes? They’re perfect, so realistic, I half expected them all to scurry away the minute they saw me.”

“Would that they could.” She said, and the light around her flashed so bright, I closed my eyes and looked away. “Stop,” she commanded, as I stepped toward her. “Stay where you are. Let me finish this first.”

I did as she said. It was hard to imagine anyone not doing as Magda Gardener said in that voice of authority that you could feel right where all the blood flows in and out of your heart and right where the hips shelter your center of gravity.

“Magic?” I asked, standing on my tiptoes in an effort to see what she was doing.

“It is.” The smell of molten metal intensified, and the dance and arc of light reminded me again of an acetylene torch. “It’s to help your friend rest and to guard her dreams. I said stay put,” she commanded again as I pressed forward, “unless you want to end up like the animals on the floor.”

“What the hell’s that supposed to mean?” I snapped.

“It means I’m working with powerful magic and unless you want me to make a mistake and lose control, you will shut up and stay still until I’m finished.” The tone of her voice hadn’t altered. There was no anger, no frustration. In fact, she could have been giving me her grocery list, but the light over the worktable flared, and for a second, the air was virtually toxic with the smell of burning. For a second I felt as though my skin was freezing solid on my flesh and my lungs were solidifying in my chest. But before I could choke or gag, certainly before I could make a move for the door, the light dissipated, the air cleared to the point that I could smell nothing but the fresh fell breeze, and the room was suddenly warmer.

I only noticed her dark glasses laying on the end of the workbench because she reached for them.
2015-09-04 16.17.13When she turned to face me, she was wearing them again. “Here, put this on.” Before I could respond, she slipped a black chord around my neck on which hung a heart carved from what looked to be the local stone. I drew it up into my hand and ran a thumb over the perfectly detailed feather etched on its surface.

“It’s a protection spell,” she said before I could ask. “No one is to touch it but you. Well, your angel can touch it, of course, but only because the two of you have been physically joined anyway and he’s given you his own protection spell. The heart represents your heart. The quill is a symbol of your craft. A scribe’s magic lives through symbol, therefore it’s you, not I, who will empower it with what’s needed when the time comes. You may not know it yet, but your craft is the most powerful magic you have with which to fight the Guardian.”

I settled the heart between my breasts. “And that’s why you want to steal me?” I hadn’t meant to be so abrupt, nor to sound so ungrateful, but I didn’t like having choices taken out of my hands.

If she were upset by my lack of gratitude, she didn’t show it. “You undid my efforts, Susan, and now the Guardian is free once again to wreak havoc. Anyone who can do what you did, I want as an ally.”

“An ally is not a possession,” I said.

“On the contrary, I’ve found that it’s usually best when your allies are your possessions.”

I barely heard her words as my gaze came to rest on the object she’d been working on. When I reached for it, she slapped my hand away. “I told you the magic is for your friend. Don’t touch magic that belongs to someone else.”

I was cold again, cold to the core as I studied the tiny image on the table resting among stone chips and dust. It could have been Annie asleep in miniature, just as I’d left her a few hours ago – the body too thin beneath the duvet, the face racked with exhaustion. Even the details of the bedding and her tiny hand gripping the headboard were identical. Once again I was certain the piece was carved from local stone, but it was polished shone as though it were somehow lit from within. “Jesus,” I whispered, bending to look closer. “It could be her, living and breathing in miniature.”

“In truth, it does contain a tiny bit of her essence – a strand of hair, a clipping of a fingernail, but 2015-06-30 11.27.42
it’s only stone, Susan, taken from that cave, in fact.” She nodded to the cave I’d just come out of. ‘After you’re little visit, I was forced to redo the magic,” she said, picking up the piece, which was no bigger than a small chess pawn and turning it over in her hand. “Your unauthorized contact with her raised unconscious longings, made her restless. I’ve had to strengthen the magic to protects her, and to protect all of us.”

I recalled the butcher knife incident with a shudder. “I’m sorry,” I said, “but she’s my best friend, and I — ”

“And you don’t trust me with her. I understand that. But not trusting me is exactly what the Guardian is counting on. He’ll make you doubt everything you know to be true. Knowing that to be the case, knowing that the moment will come when you’ll want desperately, need with every fiber of your being to believe him, I will tell you the truth now, Susan, listen to me now, in this place of magic and know I speak truth. I rescued you, with Michael’s help, when no one else knew you even needed rescuing. I took a ridiculous risk and rescued your friend as well, though I’m still not sure what I can do for her. I am the only one who has ever fought the Guardian and won, and even though your fantasies of him are sweeter than any romance you’ve ever written or read, the truth is that in a few months you’d have ended up just like your friend, and the Guardian would be seeking yet another to devour. This would have been your fate had I not rescued you. You know this to be true. And you must also know that Michael fights the same battle, the same desires, but he is already allied with me. He won’t fight his battle alone, and neither shall you.” Her gaze locked on me from beneath the glasses, and she slipped the image of the sleeping Annie into a small leather pouch that hung around her neck and tucked it back inside her shift. Then she turned for the door and motioned me to follow her back to the cave.

“Rescue is not the same as stealing,” I said, scrambling to keep up.

“I believe the Guardian would beg to differ.”

“That doesn’t mean I’ll belong to you. If we all live through this,” I added.

She stopped in the middle of the cave, deep enough that the natural light had dissipated to dusk, and still she wore the glasses. As she held me in her gaze, no – it was more than that, for a moment I wasGraveyard angel 2da8f31cc622c5a47d15ff0c4f1e114ab certain she held me in her thrall – but as she held me there, I was suddenly, irrationally very glad for the barrier the glasses provided. “No one belongs to anyone, my darling girl, but what you will come to understand if, as you say, we survive this little adventure, is that some debts can never be repaid.
Therefore the loyalty we feel, the sense of gratitude, goes much deeper than simply belonging to someone. I have stolen you from the Guardian, but at the end of the day, it will be you who will steal yourself for my purposes and give yourself over willingly.”

“You’re purposes? What the hell are your purposes?” I asked.

“Why to write, of course. You are a Scribe, after all. Come now.” She found a Mag Light at the entrance to the tunnel and nodded me to follow. “The others will be waiting. It’s time we return to Alonso’s drawing room to finish your little story.”

 

In The Flesh Part 22: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_n

 

 

In episode 22 of In The Flesh, Susan discovers the chilling truth about what Magda Gardener and Michael were trying to steal from Chapel House.

 

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

 

 

 

 

To read the story in its entirety up to this point, follow these links to  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4 Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16, Part 17Part 18Part 19Part 20, Part 21.

 

In The Flesh Chapter 22

“I really need to go.” Michael kissed my ear and cupped my breast, thumbing the nipple that was just peeking from the cloud of geranium scented bubbles. After we’d made love, we slipped down the stone staircase to my room, which, I discovered to my delight, was just below his. He’d requested it that way. For my protection, he said, so he could get to me quickly if the need arose. And since High View was in the process of renovations, this was the best Alonso could do. Once we were back in my room, Michael had filled up the big bathtub and undressed me at his leisure, pausing to kiss and caress as necessary. Then he guided me down into the warm sudsy water and crawled in with me, to bathe me, he said — an act that was accomplished after another, less frantic, reinforcement of his mark. Warm, clean and sated, I leaned back against the humid rise and fall of his chest half dozing, trying hard to pretend that we were simply two lovers enjoying a little wet afternoon delight.

“I may be borrowing trouble,” he said, “but something doesn’t feel right. It shouldn’t have taken Magda so long to reconvene our little … reading group.” I felt his shrug against my back. “Though she’s not the kind who thinks to inform anyone of a change of plans. Still. I don’t like it. I suppose a delay could be a good sign, but I’m not an optimist when it comes to working with Magda, and certainly not where the Guardian is concerned.” Over my mild protests he stood, causing a mini tsunami of scented water, and offered me his hand.

When we were both dried and dressed, I reeled him in for a lingering kiss. “You don’t have to sleep all St Martha's Hill 3alone up there in that cold little tower, you know.”

He caught my hand and pulled it to his lips. “Are you inviting me to share your bed, Ms Innes?”

“Well I was just thinking that the mark could probably use a bit more reinforcing. Just to be sure. And, just in case you might need to get to me in a hurry or something. You understand.”

“You have a good point.” He nodded in mock seriousness.

“You have a better one.” I rubbed against him.

He groaned into my mouth in a deep lazy kiss. “As much as I’d love to discuss my point with you and give you another demonstration, I really need to find out what’s going on.” He kissed me again, giving my arse a good kneading as he shifted up tight against me, then he nipped my lower lip. “I promise we’ll continue this discussion later.” He turned to leave, then turned back to me. “I need you to stay put in your room until I com back for you. After everything that’s happened, the protective spells around this space have been reinforced to keep you safe when you’re alone. I’ll be back for you, or someone else will, shortly.” He waited until I nodded a reluctant agreement, then he left me leaning breathlessly against the edge of the door as I watched him disappear down the corridor.

As soon as he was gone, the world came rushing back. There was no more pretending that we were just ordinary lovers, there was no way to pretend anything was ordinary anymore. Fighting off the rising panic, my first thought was to boot up my laptop and document the events of the past twenty-four hours. Writing things down always helped me focus and see things more clearly – often things that had completely escaped me in the midst of the action, and I very much needed to see things more clearly right now. Then I remembered that the laptop was still in the study, where we’d all been titillated by my encounter with the Guardian. My stomach knotted at the memory. Well I fucking needed it! I couldn’t just sit around and fret. I needed to do something, anything to keep from going nuts, to keep from convincing myself that the Guardian was the love of my life and I needed to hurry back to Him. Ignoring Michael’s request, I took a deep breath, flung open the door and headed for the study. After all, the study was surely safe from the Guardian, deep in Alonso’s vampire friendly basement. I was sure I’d be fine there. The problem was I’d only been there once, and that was following Alonso’s lead. High View was a complicated maze of ruins and renovations one could easily get lost in and never be heard from again. It was the perfect hangout for a vampire and his pet succubus, I thought. Not so great for a confused writer though.

After two wrong turns and a dead end that led to a fairly creepy tunnel, I was just beginning to get dark moon image_xl_6338206seriously concerned that I might really be lost when I turned a blind corner and nearly ran into Talia. I gave a little yelp, and she responded with an amused chuckle. She was dressed in faded jeans, riding boots and a black leather jacket that hugged her perfect curves. Even in the dim light of the passage she looked terrifyingly beautiful – not like an angel. I knew very well what an angel looked like, felt like. Talia wasn’t like that at all with her waves of dark hair and red lips, with her blue eyes that looked right through you. Talia was like everything beautiful, everything desirable, everything dangerous and forbidden rolled into one breathtaking package. Christ, whatever happened to just normal everyday, sexual attraction between two ordinary human beings? I was out of my depth at every turn, and this was the safe place! I was about to apologize for being so jumpy and ask directions when she brought me up short.

“Are you looking for Magda?”

“As a matter of fact, I am.” At least I was now, now that perhaps I had someone to help me hunt her down. I asked innocently, “do you know where I can find her?” I had a few things to say to the woman and if Michael was overly protective of her, perhaps someone else could point me in the right direction.

“As a matter of fact, I do,” she said, folding her arm over mine and turning me down the hall toward the dodgy-looking tunnel. As she grabbed a Mag Light from a shelf near the entrance, I felt a tingle at the base of my spine, but I wasn’t sure if it was from the idea of entering the maw of the tunnel with a succubus I didn’t totally trust or just the fact that her hand against my bare forearm made me slightly giddy. “I would imagine you have a lot of questions for her,” she called over her shoulder as the tunnel began to narrow and she took the lead. “Not that I would expect too many answers if I were you. The bitch isn’t exactly known for her open door policy.”

“You don’t like her,” I said, scurrying to keep up with the pace of someone who was clearly familiar with the tunnel.

“I like her just fine. In fact I admire the hell out of her. But I don’t expect straight answers from her, and when she does get around to straight answers, usually I wish the hell she would have lied, but then that’s just Magda Gardener for you. Can’t say that I really blame her for trusting no one and using every resource at her disposal, and believe me, she’s got ‘em. Resources, I mean.”

“She certainly seems to have Michael by the shorthairs,” I said, stooping slightly as the tunnel narrowed still further and my heart rate accelerated accordingly.

“Hon, she has everyone by the shorthairs, even if they don’t know it.”

“Are you sure you know where she’s at?” I asked, shivering as a gossamer strand of spider web raked across my cheek.

Her chuckle was low and throaty. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to seduce you in some dark musty corner, if that’s what you’re afraid of and, as I said earlier, Alonso doesn’t feed on his guests, even uninvited ones.”

“Very happy to hear that, on both counts,” I said, raking my elbow on a rough outcropping of rock I rose imageshadn’t noticed in the wavering illumination of the Mag Light. Then I added quickly. “Michael tells me you’re his familiar – Alonso’s, I mean.”

The chuckle came again. “Oh, indeed. I’m very familiar with Alonso. I offer him blood and he reciprocates, when my energies are drained in his service. I’m his eyes in the daylight, and his flesh when he needs me to be. I add that … feminine touch to his household. I’m not his lover, though. Not now anyway. He’s head over heels for Reese, and that’s fine with me. I prefer human lovers. Their dreams are really quite … twisted, surprisingly. I know, right? Wouldn’t you think the dreams of a vampire, certainly a vampire who has been through what Alonso has would be far more exciting? But,” she turned and I suddenly found myself nose to nose with her, breathing in her cinnamon and peaches breath, “vampires and succubi and things that go bump in the night are born of the human psyche, you know. The veil between the dream world and the real world is so much thinner than anyone who hasn’t walked both could easily imagine.” She reached out and brushed a spider web from my hair. “I would think a Scribe would know that.” Then she turned and continued on.

Born of the human psyche? I wondered how that could be when Talia, Alonso, even Michael were as real and as physical as I was, but I’d save that question for later. There were more pressing ones at the moment. “So let me get this straight, you gain strength from his blood when you’ve done stuff for him, and he … feeds on you?”

She laughed out loud. “Oh honey, it’s way more than strength I gain from his blood. Taking a vampire’s blood is better than the best drug or alcohol high you can imagine. There’s nothing else like it, unless it’s to reciprocate and offer your own blood to one of their kind. Me,” she shrugged, “Well, I get my kicks mostly in other ways, and though I enjoy the exchange of blood, even need it from time to time when I’m weakened, I feed on an entirely different kind of energy.” Her gaze raked me like a physical touch and I felt my nipples harden. I caught my breath and stepped back. She just winked, then turned and walked on.

For a long time we walked on in silence, then I had to ask. “You can’t feed on the Guardian?”

“No. I have to have flesh, just as Alonso does, though for him the flesh and blood are a very physical need – different from my own. There’s a biochemical reaction that takes place in the body, in the brain when I feed, when a person dreams, when a person is aroused, when a person eats or fucks or gets excited or nervous or frightened or is satisfied in some other way. That’s just biology. I feed on that energy. Whatever it is that the Guardian may be, it’s not physical. There’s no biology where he is concerned. That’s the one thing denied him and the one thing he desires most, that physical experience, that biochemical reaction that happens when flesh meets flesh. That’s why everyone here but Alonso and Magda are vulnerable to him. Alonso is technically dead and Magda, well who the hell knows with Magda?”

“So, you can’t feed on Magda?”

Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500The tunnel suddenly opened into a small amphitheater-like cave, and we picked our way across the rock-strewn floor, slick with dripping water and moss. At the entrance, which was well hidden from the outside by a thicket of heather and hawthorn, we looked out onto the rainy fells. “I’ve never tried to feed on Magda. Though I have to admit, she’s sexy enough; the thought of entering that woman’s dreams scares the hell out of me. Now your angel, well he’s another matter. He gave up his angelhood ages ago. Technically he’s as human as you are now, though he’s … well I suppose you could say he’s enhanced. But, as I’m sure you know, the biochemistry is all there in spades. Him I could feast on quite happily, and the two of you together, oh well, that thought positively makes me wet with anticipation. If ever you’re open for a little ménage, Hon, I promise I’ll make it well worth your while.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” I hated to admit it, but after my experience with the succubus, the thought made me wet too. I quickly changed the subject. “So, Magda is flesh and blood, then, and the … biochemistry is all there, but for whatever reason, you’re scared of her and the Guardian wants nothing to do with her?”

“That’s pretty much it, yes. Not sure why the Guardian doesn’t like her, but I have a feeling that one taste of her energy would fry my circuits permanently. Might well be worth the risk, but I’m not that fucking brave. As for the whys of it all, well I’m not sure even she fully understands, and if you’re brave enough to ask, well go for it, chick, that’s all I can say.”

I would be brave enough to ask, I thought. I needed to understand who the hell this woman was if my life and the life of my best friend and my lover were in her hands. I needed to know if I could trust her. But even if I couldn’t, it really didn’t matter at this point. She was all we had. “Is she really a thief?” I asked.

“A thief?” The resulting belly laugh surprised me, and I waited impatiently while Talia regained control, wiping tears from the corner of her eyes, still chuckling when she was finally able to respond. “ I suppose now that you mention it, that’s exactly what she is, but on a scale that would take your breath away little Scribe.” She nodded to what looked like a ramshackle shepherd’s bothy half hidden in a wooded copse. “She’s in there.” She slipped out of her jacket and handed it to me. “Trust me. You’re gonna need this. Magda isn’t big on creature comforts when she’s practicing her magic.”

I shivered from something other than cold as I shoved my way into the black leather jacket warm from the succubus’ body and redolent with her musky, peachy, cinnamon scent. “So what did she send Michael to Chapel House to steal? I mean seriously, wasn’t she afraid something like this might happen with the Guardian if they started mucking about?”

I suddenly found myself in the woman’s hard blue gaze. She looked at me as though I were some new life form she was only seeing for the first time. “The Guardian was already released when she sent Michael to play cat burglar. Didn’t you know?”

“Me? How the hell would I know? I knew nothing about any of this until Michael rescued me from my butcher-knife wielding best friend.”

“Sweetie,” she stepped closer and pushed the hair back behind my ears in a gesture that sent tingles down my spine, her gaze suddenly softened to something that resembled sympathy. “Didn’t you know?”

“Know what?” The tingle became an icy chill. “Know what?”

Talia gave a quick glance out at the bothy and then squared her shoulders as though she had just made a major decision. “Magda commissioned Michael to … to steal you.”

“What?” I suddenly felt as insubstantial as the spider webs clinging to the ceiling. “What the fuck’s that supposed to mean, she hired Michael to steal me. I’m a person, not an object. She can’t steal me. And neither can he,” I added trying to keep the hurt from my voice.

“Oh she can, and she will. She has stolen more people than you can easily imagine, Hon. Michael’s one of them. And Michael, well he’ll happily aid her because he wants you almost as badly as she does. Maybe more so considering the power of his mark on your body. I can feel it from anywhere in High View. Shouldn’t doubt that I could still feel it all the way to Penrith.”

“Why?’ The word came out sounding entirely too much like a sob.

“What do you mean why? You’re a Scribe. Do you have any idea how rare that is? No one else could have P1020199

released the Guardian but a Scribe and not even every Scribe could have done what you did. That’s the only explanation for his return to the world of the living. It didn’t take Magda and Michael long to put two and two together. They knew your friend wasn’t a Scribe, and they knew that the Guardian was already feasting on her. Remember Magda rescued Michael from the Guardian, and together they imprisoned him. They both understand the way it is with him. You’re what he’s after. Your friend is just a little snack. He knows what you are as well as they do. You hold his future in your hands, and he knows it. That makes you far too valuable for them not to steal you away.”

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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