I’m very happy to offer the eleventh instalment of Demon Interrupted, a new story from the Elemental Coven that will be unfolding in its entirety right here on A Hopeful Romantic over the next few weeks with the final episode on October 31 — the final day of Things that Go Hump in the Night. All through the month of October, A Hopeful Romantic will be celebrating all things paranormal and all Things that Go Hump in the Night. There’ll be lots of great authors stopping by bringing with them lots of paranormal fun. There’ll be lots of great giveaways and lots of scary, sexy, excitement, so be sure to put Things that Go Hump in the Night on your calendar. More on that in a later post.
The Lakeland Witches Trilogy left so many stories untold and so many fun places in the lives of the Elemental Coven yet to be explored, that a serial seemed like the ideal way to share more of the coven’s adventure. With a coven that specialises in sex magic, it’s not only exciting to revisit my witches at Elemental Cottage, but it’s sizzling hot.
If you’ve missed the previous episodes of Demon Interrupted, find the links at the bottom of this instalment.
Enjoy Chapter eleven, and thanks for joining the fun with this Work in Progress. If you want to know more about the Elemental Coven’s sexy adventures, check out the Lakeland Witches Trilogy: Body Temperature and Rising, Riding the Ether and Elemental Fire. Enjoy!
Chasing the Dream
‘Lucia, I need you! Lucia! Lucia! Lucia!’ Shivering convulsively, Ferris woke croaking the demon’s name with a throat that felt like it had been bathed in hot coals. His head was pillowed on Tara’s lap, and it felt as though it would split in two. Someone had thrown a soft McKenzie tartan over him, and Fiori wiped his forehead with a cool cloth.
‘Welcome back,’ Tara said, smiling down at him.
‘Here, drink this.’ Sky handed him what looked like a glass of water, but it tasted herby and clean in his mouth and soothed his raw throat. He drank in thirsty gulps, nearly gagging.
‘Not so fast.’ She took the glass from him. ‘It’s stronger than you think. You’ll make yourself sick.’
As everything came back to him, he sat up in a panic. ‘It was … it was…’
‘It was a dream,’ Tara said, squeezing his shoulder reassuringly. ‘Your first in a very long time, my dear friend.’
‘And it was a doozy,’ Marie said, coming to sit cross-legged on the floor next to him. She was dressed once again in her pale blue ceremonial robe. In fact the whole coven was robed. He wondered how long he’d been out.
He drank again and looked around, the tension in his muscles dissipating with the sense of relief at being back with the coven, back in the Waking World. It had been only a dream. He had not betrayed them. He had not drawn them into dark hallucinations. They were all still in the Room of Reflection, and he was happy to see the horrific scrying mirror prison still untouched in its place on the altar. ‘It was a dream,’ he repeated, more for reassurance than anything else. Still not trusting himself, he looked around at the Elemental Coven, taking a mental head-count, Alice, Fiore, Kennet and Sky. Tim, Marie, Tara and Anderson. And, of course, his lovely Cassandra. Yes, they were all there, just as they had been when he entered the dream with Elaine. His stomach went into free fall. They were all there, but Elaine was not.
‘Where is she?’ He asked. ‘Where’s Elaine?’ Dear goddess, he hoped she hadn’t been so frightened that she’d fled. It must have been terrifying for her to see him like that, like he was in the dream. And humiliating for her to see herself as he had seen her with Deacon. Such a hideous creation from his unconscious would have caused anyone to run from him in horror. ‘Where’s Elaine?’ He asked again, struggling to keep the shame and the panic out of his voice.
For a moment, no one answered. The looks that passed between coven members were those same kinds of looks that flitted from person to person like a pestering insect when bad news is about to be shared.
‘Is she all right?’ He felt as though it were he who wore her noose around his neck, and that invisible hands were tightening it until he couldn’t breathe.
‘Ferris,’ Tara scooted closer to him and took his hand. ‘Ferris, You’ve talked about Elaine ever since you got back from Storm Croft. You even chased her across the fells when we were all in the Dream Cave, but Anderson and Fiori went with you and they didn’t see her.’
What do you mean they didn’t see her? I brought her back, we brought her back here to Elemental Cottage, and you asked her to stay, and we made love, and I left my body because it frightened her, the one I usually wear. Where is she? Just tell me where she is.’
‘Ferris,’ this time it was Cassandra who knelt next to him. He knew that look in her eyes; he knew that her honesty would not allow her to lie to him. ‘Ferris, no one has seen Elaine but you. You’ve talked to her, you’ve … been distracted by her, you’ve clearly seen her, been with her, but we, none of the rest of us, have seen her. At all.’
The feel of falling was so intense that Ferris shoved his hands against the floor to stop it. ‘And the dream magic? Who was I with then? Who did I dream with?’
She held his gaze. ‘You dreamed with the strongest dreamer, Ferris. You dreamed with Tara.’
‘No! That can’t be right.’ The ache in his chest seemed to have followed him from the Dream World and the sudden pressure in his head felt like his brain would explode. ‘She was here. Elaine was here and it was her I dreamed with. I know it was her.’ He forced himself to his feet. ‘Elaine! Elaine, please come back. I didn’t mean to frighten you?’
When there was no answer and when the only response from the coven was shared looks of distress, he changed tactics. ‘Lucia? Where are you, Lucia? Please, I need you. I know she was here. Elaine! She has to be here. Lucia, please, help me?’ In a wave of vertigo, he grabbed his throbbing head between both hands and would have fallen if Anderson and Tim hadn’t caught him and eased him back onto the cushions.
When he had calmed a bit and Sky had forced him to drink a little more of the herbal concoction, he spoke. ‘If you dreamed with me, Tara, then you must have seen her. And the rest of you all witnessed. Elaine was there.’
‘Elaine grounded you and sent you back to us, ‘ Kennet said. ‘But what Elaine represented in your dream journey none of us can actually say. That’s for you to find out.’
‘She doesn’t represent anything,’ Ferris growled. ‘She’s real, as real as Anderson and Fiori and Sky. She’s real, and I need to speak to Lucia. Please.’
Kennet bristled. ‘You know Lucia doesn’t come on demand,’ he said. The man would know better than anyone since he’d lived as her possession for over seven years, years that had taken their toll on him.
Tara laid her hand on Kennet’s shoulder. ‘You know Lucia. She’ll show up when she’s ready, Ferris.’ He couldn’t keep from noticing the way she rubbed her fingertips absently over her sternum, the place that Ferris had always thought of as “the door” where Lucia came and went to her new possession. In spite of that demonic lifeline that she now provided for the high priestess, Ferris knew as well as the rest of the coven that the truce between Tara Stone and the demon, who took up residence in her was an uneasy one at best. Tara nodded to Sky. ‘Let’s open the circle, get something to eat and then get some rest. I think we all need it, especially Ferris.’
He balked as she stood and offered him her hand. ‘I’m not safe. You know that. I need to stay close to the scrying mirror in case you have to put me there …’
‘Bullshit,’ Tara said. ‘You need to be with your family right now, not in horrid isolation.’ This time he took the offered hand and came to his feet.
‘And will I dream if I sleep?’ He asked.
‘Quite possibly, the coven leader replied. ‘The dam has burst in a big way and we still don’t know who you are or what you need to know to recover your memories. But you’re not going to hurt any of us, and I’m very encouraged by the fact that you did dream rather than hallucinate.’
‘He hallucinated Elaine,’ Tim said, then added quickly, ‘possibly.’
‘He didn’t,’ Cassandra responded. ‘If Ferris says Elaine is real, then she’s real.’
Ferris was encouraged that Tim, who was inclined to be argumentative, only shrugged and nodded.
‘In the meantime, if you dream while you sleep –’
‘I don’t need to sleep,’ Ferris interrupted Tara. ‘Perhaps it would be better if –’
‘As I said,’ she held him in a cast-iron gaze, ‘in case you dream, you’ll sleep with Kennet and me, since we’re the strongest dreamers.’
Kennet moved to take her hand and the look in his eyes convinced Ferris that it was useless to argue. ‘Besides,’ Kennet said, ‘You’ll be there when Lucia returns – not that she won’t find you wherever you are, but I like to stack the deck in our favour.’
Fiori’s classic late-night fry-ups with some of the best Cumberland sausages on planet Earth, was just the ticket for the caloric needs of the coven after performing such intense magic, and everyone ate with gusto. Ferris went through the motions but tasted nothing.
‘Ferris, are you sure Elaine and Patrick Farringdon lived at Storm Croft?’ Marie spoke around a mouthful of eggs. ‘Because I’ve been doing some research and so have Cassandra and Alice and none of us can find any evidence of any Farringdons at Storm Croft.’
‘She knew her way around the great house and she where the overgrown garden was,’ Ferris said, ‘and she spoke of the place as her hideaway from Faraday. I don’t know. Anderson, is it possible she might be from somewhere else? I thought ghosts were attached to places.’
All three of the coven ghosts chuckled and Anderson replied. ‘My dear man, as you can see we three are very far from the places in which we lived our lives, and though Fiori and I are not terribly far from the places of our deaths we are in no way attached to them. Indeed, Tara and I have been friends across several continents and all after my demise.’
‘That’s true,’ he said.
‘Then isn’t it possible that Elaine visited you in the place that she knew you would remember rather than the place where you knew her?’
Goddess, he loved the young succubus! She was the heart of him in so many ways and, as the others nodded agreement around the table, he felt relief that perhaps they now doubted him a little less about Elaine. He wanted them to believe him, needed them to believe him. He could not … would not believe that he had only imagined Elaine.
Tara and Kennet had drawn him into their lovemaking, as he had known they would. And as Tara welcomed him between her legs while Kennet caressed and fondled both of them, Ferris could feel the magic they wove around him, the protection spell along with the spell that would ease his passage into the Dream World. So strong was their magic that by the time he emptied himself into Tara, he already felt as though he’d been drinking champagne from Anderson’s special stash. The boundaries had softened to a gossamer blur and the world around him dissolved into images wrapped in soft gauzy cotton.
It was with a start he noticed Elaine sitting in the rocking chair by the foot of the bed watching him. ‘Elaine! Elaine I’ve been looking all over for you. Tara, Kennet, you see, I told you she …’ His words died in his throat as he discovered that he was alone in the bed. But it wasn’t Tara’s bed, nor was the room familiar to him.
‘She’s waiting for you,’ Elaine said. Then she stood and motioned him to follow.
‘Am I dreaming?’ He called out to her as he struggled into his trousers.
‘You mustn’t keep her waiting,’ she spoke over her shoulder.
He followed her into a long corridor lined with endless doors, each one identical to the other and, though he ran to catch up with her, he never seemed to get any closer. By the time she descended a staircase into a grand ballroom hung with chandeliers and lined with gilt mirrors he felt certain he had entered the Dream World again. The staircase continued downward through an enormous library whose shelves of books disappeared into the distance in front of him and above him. Then he descended to a drawing room where a blaze crackled in an enormous stone fireplace, and still they descended with Elaine always just ahead of him, just out of reach. Each floor revealed a different room, some grand, some plain, as they endlessly descended through dungeons and boudoirs, through kitchens and studies, through wine cellars and crypts. For days they descended. He could feel more than see the rising and setting of the sun, the turning of the night sky overhead. Elaine was always just out of his reach, moving as though she had conviction, moving as though nothing could stop her. He didn’t know how long they had descended before he realised the stairs were gone and they lowered themselves on bare rock, the path steepening with each step they took. Though there was no lighting that he could see, the deeper they went the brighter the red dance and shift of firelight reflected off the rock.
When the path became nearly too steep to walk, when he was convinced that surely they approached the centre of the earth, the space opened before him into a vaulted room and in the middle of that room stood Lucia, the dance of flames coming from the robe she wore. He was stunned by her beauty, which Elaine did not seem to notice. The woman moved, without stopping, without acknowledging the presence of the fire demon, to a stone ledge at the back of the chamber upon which she lay down and crossed her hands over her breasts as though she were laid out for burial. Before Ferris could call out to her, Lucia shrugged out of her robe and placed it over the supine woman. ‘Rest, my darling,’ she said, dropping a kiss on Elaine’s forehead. ‘I have no further need of you at the moment. My business is with this one.’
When she turned to him he was stunned to discover that, naked, her brilliance was even more dazzling that when she had been clothed in the fiery robe. She stood before him, the image of perfect womanhood and ancient power, terrifying and deadly, wild and exquisite, and yet his eyes darted back to Elaine.
‘Is she all right?’ he asked.
‘She is dead, my old friend, and has been for a very, very long time.’
‘So’s Anderson. So are Sky and Fiori,’ he said, desperate to erase the finality of her words.
‘And so they are.’ She reached out her hand. ‘But you did not come to me in order to discuss the afterlife of ghosts, my dear Rider. Look at you –’ she stroked his cheek with a scorching fingertip ‘—you have come to me in all your magnificence. How could I possibly resist?’ It was then that he realised he was no longer wearing the flesh of Patrick Faraday. He, like Lucia, was unclothed, as though he too had thrown off his robe and stood in the shadowy darkness that was his true nature. And though he did not know what that nature was, naked in himself, he felt full and strong and well-muscled. He felt power surge through him that he was certain human flesh could not contain, and he wondered how he had ever managed to fit himself into such a small and fragile vessel as Faraday.
Before he could contemplate further, Lucia moved into his arms and kissed him and guided his hands onto her breasts. ‘And now my dear Ferris, now that you have yielded to the world of dreams, I will guide you deeper.’
His cock responded mightily to the caressing and coaxing of the demon, who cupped his fullness until it felt as though it had never been emptied in all his long existence, and the need was unbearable. When he felt that he could hold it no longer, when he felt he would come in her hand, she pulled away and guided him to the ledge where Elaine lay beneath her robe. ‘I am a fire demon who has possessed, in succession, two witches powerful in Dream Magic, but neither Tara Stone nor Kennet Birch, nor any of their formidable coven can take you where you need to go, my dear Ferris. Even I may not perform such a
task. But I owe you a great debt for your patient and steadfast care of Cassandra, and I shall do what I am able to repay it.’ She sat on the edge of the bed and opened her legs wide so that he could see the depths of her — mother-of-pearl-slippery, swollen and splayed in welcome.
He practically fell to his knees on the cave floor and buried his face in her wet warmth, kissing and laving and lapping at her until he was intoxicated with the taste of her. His face was heavily dewed her juices and the Gateway was open and ready for him. Then he rose to his feet, gripped her behind the knees and thrust into her. It felt like he came instantly. It felt like he came forever, convulsing and trembling with her whispering in his ear, ‘chase the dream, Ferris. The Gateway is open to the depths of it, and you have but to enter. Chase the dream.’
Here are the links to the previous episodes in case you missed them:
Chapter 6 Beneath the Weight of Shadow
Chapter 7 Possessions
Chapter 8 Necessities and Inconveniences
Chapter 9 Demon Dreams
Chapter 10 Backlash