Demon Interrupted Holiday Marathon Day 4

Demon Interrupted CoverWelcome to Day Four of the Demon Interrupted Holiday Marathon!

The Holiday Season is the season for TV and film marathons. Who doesn’t like to sit in front of the telly with a bowl of popcorn, their fave drink and totally veg out over blissful hours of  telly favourites? The holidays are also the time when we love to curl up with a good read. With that in mind, I thought it was an excellent time for a marathon reading of my paranormal erotic novella, Demon Interrupted, which I wrote and ran as a serial on my blog over six months earlier this year. BUT at that time, I could only manage an episode every three weeks, so I thought it would be fun to make it more easily accessible.

For those of you who don’t know, Demon Interrupted is a Lakeland Witches spin-off story set in the fabulous landscape of the Lake District with the witches of the Elemental Coven. With the completion of Elemental Fire, I left my witches with so many stories untold, and they left me with so many mysteries I wanted to know the answer to that I felt compelled to return.

Starting today, for the next nine days I’ll be running a sizzling, chilling instalment of Demon Interrupted for your reading pleasure.  Today I’d like to share with you chapters 7 and 8 of Demon Interrupted.  I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it. Thanks for joining for this Work in Progress.  And if you want to know more about the Elemental Coven’s sexy adventures, check out the Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy: Body Temperature and RisingRiding the Ether and Elemental Fire. Enjoy!

Chapter 7 Demon Interrupted



Lakeland Witches 2 RTEBack at Elemental Cottage the coven ate Swedish pancakes, an experience that Elaine seemed to relish. Ferris took as much pleasure from her enjoyment as he did from Fiori’s wonderful cooking. When, after much cajoling and threatening, Lucia still hadn’t returned, Tara ordered an exhausted Ferris off to bed. Strange that he should be exhausted. He so seldom felt any physical distress, and the need for sleep was something he had long-forgotten.

He turned his attention back to the coven leader as she spoke. ‘There’s nothing you can do in the state you’re in, and you’ll be more helpful rested. Elaine, if you wish to remain corporeal and sleep, Fiori will show you to you room or if you would prefer or you can go with Ferris. There was no doubt as to the ghost’s wishes as she slid her arm through Ferris’s, a thing that he took far more pleasure in than he would have expected.

Tara nodded. ‘Very well then. The rest of us will do some research in the library and see what we can learn while we wait for the bloody demon to grace us with her company. Ferris,’ she said as he turned to go. ‘I wonder, is it that you really can’t dream or that you choose not to?’

‘I don’t know,’ he replied. ‘Until Lucia freed me of my responsibilities, I was unable to dream, and I had no need of sleep. Back then I could barely remember my day-to-day existence. And now, as far as I can tell, my dreams haven’t returned to me, though there have been … instances,’ he nodded to Fiori, who nodded back. ‘Instances when I wasn’t really sure if what I experienced was a dream or not.’

Tara studied him for a moment then bit her lip. ‘I would suggest that you make no attempt to enter the Dream World until we can either talk to Lucia or find more information in the library. It might be safer for you under the circumstances. Then, I’m thinking we may very well need to perform some dream magic.’

Lakeland Witches 3 EFShe didn’t have to tell him that he would be the central dreamer in said dream magic. He shivered at the thought and drew Elaine closer to him. Just before Deacon was destroyed, he had seen the result of nightmares in Elemental Cottage. He had seen how the demon had played on everyone’s fears through their nightmares. He was still seeing the after-effects months after Deacon was gone. And what lie in his dreamscape that was so horrible that Lucia had thought it wise to block him from the Dream World altogether, he was pretty sure he would prefer not to know.

‘Get some sleep, both of you,’ Tara said. ‘We’ll wake you if there’s anything urgent.’

Ferris took Elaine’s hand and led her through Elemental Cottage and up the oak staircase, then down the long hall that led into the annex where his suite overlooked the fells. Inside, he closed the door behind them. Then he moved to turn down the duvet of the four-poster bed, marvelling again at the luxury and comfort that he had revelled in since his arrival at Elemental Cottage. As he unbuttoned his shirt, she stood unmoving by the door, her sapphire eyes wide. Her chest rose and fell rapidly as though breathing had become difficult. One hand lay against her breasts while the other gripped into a tight fists at her side.

He stopped his efforts and moved to take her hand. She was trembling. ‘I’m sorry. I assumed that you wished to share more than my bed. Forgive me for being so presumptuous. I hadn’t though that perhaps you simply didn’t want to be alone.’

‘I’ve never been with anyone but Patrick, not in the way men and women are together.’ She lowered her eyes down to where his fingers curled around hers. ‘And being with him convinced me that I never wanted to be with a man. But being with you is different. You wear his flesh, but you’re not like him. I wanted to be bold. I wanted to come to you and let you have … me. But now here I stand terrified because it’s his body I see, and yet I feel all these things inside me, Ferris. I want … I want things … things I never wanted before.’ A blush began in the valley between her breasts and worked its way up over the bruises at her throat to tint her pale cheeks deep rose. She forced herself to meet his gaze. ‘You’re so much stronger than he was. I know you could hurt me, you could hurt me as he did only so much worse.’Lakeland Witches 1 BTR

‘But I won’t, Elaine.’ He pulled her into his embrace and stroked her soft dark hair, felt her arms reluctantly circle his waist. ‘I would never hurt you, and I would gladly give you all that you want. I would do all that’s in my power to convince you that the pleasures that lovers share are exquisite when shared in respect and kindness.’ He lifted her chin and brushed a kiss across her full lips. When she didn’t pull away, he kissed her again, feeling his penis respond to the press of her in his arms. His hand slid between them to cup her breast, brushing a thumb across her nipple. Her eyelids fluttered and she inhaled the breath she didn’t need. ‘You never let me return the favour for what you did for me last night.’ He moved a thigh so that it pressed against the juncture between her legs. Her knees went weak and she trembled. He shifted to support her weight then lifted her in his arms and carried her to his bed.

Carefully he removed the delicate slippers from her feet then caressed his way up the inside of her ankle, then her calf, nudging her knees apart, kissing the inside of each. She squirmed beneath him, shoving at him. ‘No. Please don’t.’ Her hands rested on the top of his head in an effort to push him away. ‘You shouldn’t.’ She struggled for words. ‘If you want to … mount me, then I’m ready, but … down there is so …’

‘So intimate, yes I know, and so exquisitely beautiful.’ Before she could protest further he snaked his hand up to press against her bare pussy, and she bucked and inhaled a sharp breath. ‘Down there is the source of more power and magic than you can possibly imagine, my darling. Trust me, you have no idea how much it’ll delight me to touch you there, to kiss you there, to taste you there. And –’ he eased two fingers up to part her labia causing her to writhe beneath his touch ‘—you’re not yet ready for me.’ With a thumb, he gave the swell of her clitoris a gentle stroke and her hand fell away from his head and curled in the duvet as she arched her back against his touch. ‘There, you see,’ he sighed. ‘I promise by the time you are ready for my cock, you’re body will know it and want it and beg for it in ways that will delight you.’

Her response was little more than a whimper, but he could see that her hand curled in the duvet was a tight, white knuckled fist. He would ease her fears. He would show her how it should be. ‘Don’t be afraid, Elaine. Just let me make you feel good, just take your pleasure from me.’ When the grip of her fingers loosened slightly as her wetness grew from his stroking, he gently scrunched up the skirt of her gown. ‘I want to see you, Elaine. I want to look at the place that pleasured me so deliciously, the place that will offer you so much pleasure. Don’t be frightened, just let me look at you, let me touch you there where you need to be touched.’

She offered a little sob and her legs fell open giving him a view of the soft dark curls of her mound and the thickening moist folds of her pussy, splayed for his fingers, gripping and tensing against his scissoring and thrusting. While she watched, he pulled his slippery fingers from her warm depths, brought them to his lips and tasted them, and she blushed and turned her head into the pillow.

‘Don’t be shy, dear Elaine, don’t be shy about the response of your lovely body to what it knows it wants, what I’ll give it in good time. The more brazen and demanding you are, the more I’ll desire to push up inside of you.’ He uncurled her fingers from the duvet and guided them to rest against the aching bulge he had not yet released from his trousers. ‘I want to be inside you, Elaine. I want you to ride me and own me and take my cock as your slave.’ He gave her only a moment to contemplate before he buried his face against her splayed pussy and raked the flat of his tongue from her perineum all the way up the slit of her to end in a tightened suck of his lips against her hardened clitoris. The beginning of her protest died in her throat and was reborn as a deep catlike growl. This time when her fingers curled in his hair it was to hold him to her as he suckled and kissed and licked.

As she bucked and writhed beneath him, he nipped her clit and pulled back just slightly so that his breath blew across her apex. ‘What do you want, Elaine? Tell me what you want from me. Demand it of me, use me.’

‘I want … I want …’ She shivered and curled her fingers tighter in his hair as though she would drag him all the way up her body in such a grip.

‘Tell me,’ he gasped. ‘Tell me what you want and I’ll give it to you.’

‘I want … I want … I want you inside me.’ She groaned.

With his face still buried between her legs, he undid his fly and hissed between his teeth as he released his distended cock. Then he withdrew, wiping his wet face on the sleeve of his shirt as he slid up her body. When he could look down into the depths of her bright eyes, he cupped her bare bottom and shifted and maneuvered her so that she was open and ready. Then he lifted her legs around his waste, rose onto his knees and positioned himself. ‘I’m going to make love to you now, Elaine, and it’ll be good, so good.’ His words were lost in a thrust and a groan of pleasure that was near pain as he pushed inside her, feeling her tightness clenching anxiously at his cock as he slid home, and to his surprise, it felt very much like home.

With trembling hands, she shoved his open shirt off his shoulders and scored his back with her nails. ‘Ferris,’ she growled against his ear. ‘Dear god, Ferris. You’re nothing like him. Nothing like him at all.’
And this time he felt it happen as he had not felt it before. This time he knew when the whole of him rose from the body he possessed, shoving it aside as though it were nothing more important than his discarded shirt. Beneath him he heard her little yelp of surprise, saw in the dilated pupils of her sapphire eyes a tiny flash of fear that burned bright, then passed with a growl of desire. ‘It’s you,’ she gasped. ‘It’s you I want. It’s you I need to fill me.’ She wrapped her legs tighter around his hips, hips that were suddenly more muscled, and she ran her hands over his back that was now broader and longer. She thrust up to meet him powerful, hungry, much stronger than the frightened woman he had met only yesterday. ‘You fill me, Ferris, as I’ve never been filled. You fill me the way I need to be filled.’
Together they came in wrenching, shattering convulsions – Ferris, who had come more times than he could count since his arrival at Elemental Cottage, and this woman, this beautiful ghost, who had never known the pleasure of orgasm until now. As they trembled against each other, the flesh that had been the only flesh he had known for as long as he had memory lay next to them as though it only slept waiting for his return.

When they caught their breath, he could tell that it disturbed her, the body on the bed next to them, the flesh that had somehow housed the monster that was her husband before it housed him. ‘No harm has come to it,’ he said, kissing her ear. ‘It only awaits my return.’

She buried her face in his shoulder and shivered. ‘I would wish it harm.’ Her voice was a thick, angry rasp. ‘I would wish it a thousand deaths. I would wish it suffering that never ends. I would wish it anguish beyond anguish, I would wish all that and more but that it has been redeemed by you.’ She clenched Ferris to her and studied the inanimate flesh of her husband.

‘If its presence disturbs you, I’ll take you to the room that Tara has assigned to you, and we’ll leave it here until I again have need of it.’

‘Can you do that?’ She whispered.

‘Yes. Yes I can.’ Strange he had never realised before that he could leave the flesh he wore, but he was now as certain of it as he was of the fact that the body now sleeping next to them was nothing more an a means to an end. It was a temporary home for him, and he had had lots of temporary homes in his long existence. He stood and lifted her into his arms. ‘We shall leave the flesh here, then, until I have need of it again.’ He nuzzled her neck. ‘But my need at this moment is a different kind of need, a very powerful need, Elaine, and I feel that your need is no less so. Shall we adjourn to your room then?’

Once he had eased her down onto the bed in the room that had been assigned to her, he removed what remained of their clothing and buried his cock once again in her depths. He thought for the tiniest of moments how strange it was — the situation in which he found himself. That he possessed Farringdon’s body was abundantly clear. That he had possessed other flesh in the past was equally clear. As he felt Elaine’s delicious tightness around his erection, he rolled and settled her atop him so that he could enjoy the dance and sway of her breasts, so that he could fondle and caress and pleasure them. As he cupped her fullness he couldn’t keep from wondering if he could take solid form, and indeed a much more desirable form than that Farringdon provided, why did he need Farringdon’s weak flesh at all?


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Chapter 8 

Necessities and Inconveniences

There was a loud crash in the kitchen followed by a distressed cry from Fiori. Tara belted her robe around her waist as she ran down the stairs, Kennet, close on her heels, was still wrapped in the towel from the shower. By the time she reached the last step, the tight stirring in her chest that rearranged itself, shifting and settling low in her belly told her that Lucia, her resident demon was back from her wanderings. ‘’Bout fucking time,’ she said under her breath, but all she got in response was a good dose of smug.

‘I’m sorry! I’m sorry.’ She heard Ferris’s voice from the kitchen along with a tense yelp from Elaine. But as she rounded the corner, it wasn’t Ferris she saw standing over Fiori, who had clearly lost her balance and stumbled against one of the kitchen stools. She would have tipped it over and gone off backward if the man crowding in hadn’t caught her. But though the voice was Ferris’ the body clearly was not, or at least not the Ferris the coven was used to. The dark man who had Fiori around the waist easing her onto her feet made the kitchen seem small. His broad shoulders practically blotted out the sun streaming in through the window behind him.

‘I’m all right! I’m all right.’ Fiori’s voice was breathless as she stepped out of the man’s reach, shoving a cascade of wild red hair away from her face. ‘I just … I just wasn’t expecting … you … Ferris?’

‘What the fuck?’ Tim, just back from farm chores, slid through the kitchen door in his stocking feet, looking Ferris up and down. Tim was a big man. All the men in the Elemental Coven were over six feet and well muscled, but the man standing before Fiori had another six inches at least, and his shoulders and biceps strained at a faded grey shirt that looked as though it might have been hand-spun from a different era. His clothing was all out of time, and yet it was not all from the same time. The trousers he wore looked as though they could have come from the American West. His feet were long and bare on the tiles. His hair hung dark and thick almost to his shoulders and his eyes were a shade of blue-green that Tara had only ever seen in glacier melt. The man was strikingly beautiful, and yet somehow just looking at him gave Tara goose-bumps. The way Fiori chafed her arms told her that she wasn’t the only one feeling his presence that way.

‘I didn’t mean to startle anyone,’ the man said with Ferris’ easy voice.

‘But you are Ferris?’ Kennet asked.

‘I am. Yes. It’s just that Elaine isn’t comfortable with the flesh I now wear, and I find I can do more in this form than I’d, at first, thought myself capable of.’

‘And the flesh you normally wear? Where is it?’ Tara felt a tightening in her stomach.

‘It’s unharmed. On the bed in my room.’

castlerigg_Stone_Circle1With a shudder that was nearly a convulsion, Tara grabbed onto the counter top and braced herself as Lucia shoved her way lazily from the nebulous place inside Tara’s body where she took up residence. Everyone else stepped back as the demon pulled herself free. The coven had adjusted to Lucia’s comings and goings much better than Tara had. She still found it disconcerting when the demon decided to make a public appearance in such a physically demanding way. Sometimes when Lucia visited unannounced, Tara felt as though her breastbone were splitting. It always seemed worst when Lucia was miffed at her. Sadly, she could not return the favour when she was miffed at Lucia.

‘How long have you been absent from your flesh,’ the demon asked without a greeting to the coven members present, though she did give Cassandra a slight nod of her head as she entered the kitchen with Anderson, but then Cassandra was her daughter. Tara still couldn’t get her head around that fact. Mostly the demon focused her fiery gaze on Ferris.

‘Last night when Elaine and I made love. It distresses her to be reminded of her dead husband, so I shed his flesh.’

Tara didn’t miss the blush that crawled up over the bruises on Elaine’s throat at the mention of making love with Ferris, and though the ghost grabbed possessively onto Ferris’s arm, it was clear she was nowhere near as comfortable with sex as everyone at Elemental Cottage was. ‘You want to tell us what’s going on,’ Tara addressed Lucia, but the demon ignored her and spoke again to Ferris.

‘You must return to your flesh then. It has been too long, and the flesh will perish without your presence.’

The sound that came from Elaine’s throat was that of a frightened kitten, but she held tight to Ferris’ arm.

‘How do you know this?’ Both Ferris and Tara asked at the same time.

‘I know because I led you to that flesh, Ferris, and I know because I know how one such as you exists and functions in the fleshly world of humans. This you would know too if you would but take back your memories.’

‘I … I can’t.’ Ferris said, stepping away from Elaine and glancing toward the door as though he wished to run.

‘I know that you wish to continue on as things have always been, dear Ferris,’ Lucia said, ‘but really, you must welcome back the rest of who you are or you will find the problems you cause for yourself and the rest of the coven do not bare thinking about.’

‘No,’ Ferris’ voice was strangely quiet for someone so large. ‘I don’t mean that I won’t, Lucia. I would never do anything to cause harm to Cassandra or to this coven, you know that. I consider these my family now. I mean that I seem to be no longer capable of taking back whoever it is that I was … whatever it is that I was before you sent me to watch over Cassandra.’

‘That’s not possible,’ the demon said, and the robe she wore suddenly danced like living flame. ‘I have given back what is yours, Ferris. You have only to take it.’

‘Though it’s true I don’t wish to take back what I’ve left in your keeping, I would never deny it if it were to cause harm to those I care about. I’m not lying to you when I say that I can’t. I don’t know why. But I can’t.’

‘Hold it, hold it.’ Tara stepped forward between Ferris and Lucia and felt the blistering heat of the demon, even though she knew it wasn’t real. ‘Just what exactly is Ferris that this is his true form and what’s upstairs belongs to someone who should have died, I’m assuming, a good long time ago when his wife killed him.’ She nodded to Elaine, who shifted from foot to foot, keeping her eyes to the floor.

Lucia still stood gazing toward Ferris as though she could see him even through Tara’s body. ‘It’s not for me to tell, Tara Stone. The pact that I have made with him was to keep his secrets even from himself until such time as I released him from my bond, and there are certain … safeguards within that pact that protect one demon’s secrets from the indiscretions of another.’

‘Pact between demons? What do you mean between demons, Lucia,’ Tim broke in. ‘Ferris is no demon. Is he?’ The room erupted in chaos with everyone speaking at once. In a sudden burst of light, Ferris disappeared, and a terrified Elaine would have disappeared too if Skye hadn’t taken her gently by the arm.

‘Where did he go? Dear goddess, where did he go?’ Elaine glanced around wildly and strained against Skye’s embrace. ‘What have you done to him? I don’t care if he is a demon. He would never hurt me. He would never hurt any of you.’

In a loud crack of thunder and another flash of light, the room became silent other than the fire-crackle flow and dance of Lucia’s robes. The demon had a flair for the dramatic, Tara thought sourly. When she was sure she had everyone’s attention, Lucia spoke quietly. ‘Ferris has only returned to the flesh that houses him. He has been away from it for too long. I am terribly sorry, Elaine, but he cannot remain in corporeal form without an anchor in the flesh, and at the moment it is much easier for him to continue on in your husband’s flesh that to find another host.’

Tim made a sound like an angry bear and Lucia shot him a withering gaze. ‘I would not be so arrogant if I were you, Tim Meriwether. The fragility of your flesh is stunning. Even in those of you who enflesh ghosts and are so long-lived, your lifespan is but a heartbeat to one such as myself, to one such as Ferris. And even with such a lifespan, your flesh is delicate, easily broken, easily destroyed.’

‘Then I am a demon.’ Everyone turned to find Ferris standing once again in the unassuming body they had all grown used to seeing him in and, in spite of the flesh he now wore, Elaine moved to stand by him and took his hand.

Lucia studied him for a moment before she spoke. ‘Not a demon as such. Not in the way I am or Deacon was.’

‘Well is he or isn’t he?’ Tim asked.

‘The pact that I’ve made with Ferris will allow me to say no more,’ Lucia replied, not taking offence at Tim’s usual short temper. It is for Ferris to share his secrets, now that they are in his possession. Even if I wanted to, I now could not.’

‘I wasn’t lying when I said I can’t remember,’ Ferris said.

‘Then you are a danger to yourself and to the coven –’ Lucia replied without emotion ‘—I am not only unable to share your secrets with them, but I cannot give you again what I’ve already given. The magic of the bond and your service to me makes such a thing impossible.’

All colour slid from his face and he fisted his hands. ‘All right then. I’ll leave. I’ll return to Storm Croft, if that’s okay with Cassandra?’

Before Cassandra could respond, Lucia spoke again. ‘Do you not have people working for you at Storm Croft? And is there not a village near-by with several thousand souls in it? You cannot guarantee their safety from what will most certainly happen if you do not recover yourself, Ferris.’

‘He’s not going anywhere.’ Tara stepped forward and laid a hand on his arm, and Cassandra did the same. ‘He’s coven family. He stays here and you tell us what we can do to help him regain his memories and return to himself.’

Lucia’s robes flared until the flame of them nearly filled the room, then settled back around her benignly. ‘I cannot tell you what to do, Tara Stone, because I don’t know. If that is the journey you insist upon, and if you insist upon keeping him here, then I will do what I can to help, but the way back to himself is now a way he must find on his own.’ She raised a hand before Cassandra could speak. ‘Perhaps there are certain spells we can cast, magic we can use to aid him, but in the end, it will be up to Ferris to restore himself. And that is what he must do.’

‘Wait a minute,’ Tim said. ‘You released him from your bond, what if you renewed that bond? What if you made the same arrangement with Ferris that you had before?’

‘I cannot, Tim Meriwether. The bond that is broken is broken, and it was only ever made in the first place because there was a need for it and both parties agreed to it.’

‘Both demons,’ Ferris said.

‘That was how the pact was made, yes.’ Lucia said.

‘If I am able to remember who I was, what I was, will I be as I was before?’

Lucia moved to stand close to Ferris and laid a hand on his cheek. ‘You fear that, don’t you, Ferris? You fear what you cannot remember, but what you conjure to be so in your imagination. Oh how you borrow trouble.’

‘It can’t have been good,’ he whispered, ‘or you wouldn’t have seen fit to take it from me.’

‘If you survive what is to come and manage to do so without killing someone, then your past will be yours to bear, as is the case for all of us. However you will not be as you were before because who you have been since I brought Cassandra to you, who you have been since you have come the this coven has shaped you.’ She shrugged, her robe swayed and crackled slightly and she stepped back. ‘Whether all of these years have done more than added a simple patina to you long existence, I cannot tell. Only you can.’

‘I won’t hear any more of this,’ Cassandra said. ‘Ferris stays with us.’ Then she shot Tara an apologetic glance. ‘Or I go with him, wherever he goes. For a long time he was the only family I had.’

Anderson slid an arm around her and Tara nodded. ‘No one is going anywhere, Cassandra. We’ll do what we need to for Ferris. Lucia –’ she turned her attention to the demon ‘—What can we expect?’

‘There will be more irrational behaviour. Ferris will have less and less memory of that irrational behaviour when it happens.’

‘Will I be –’

‘Will you be violent?’ Lucia finished for him. ‘Not in the usual sense of violence.’

‘What the hell does that mean,’ Tim said.

‘There will be delusions,’ Lucia held Ferris’s gaze. ‘Hallucinations, and they will increase the longer Ferris is not himself.’

‘And?’ Ferris asked. The man looked as calm and unassuming as he always did.

Lucia took a deep breath, which she did not need and bit her lip, her eyes still locked on his. ‘And if you’re still unable to return to yourself, those hallucinations, those delusions will spread.’

‘What do you mean spread?’ Tara said.

Lucia turned to face her, then moved so close to her that the two were practically nose to nose, and the hem of her gown looked as though it engulfed Tara in flame from her hips down. ‘I mean that if Ferris does not return to himself soon, his hallucinations will effect all of you. Everyone in the coven will see what he sees, will experience what he experiences, and it will be as real to them as it is to him.’

‘Fuck!’ Tim whispered.

‘Some will be more effected than others,’ Lucia continued. ‘And not everyone will be effected all the time. I can give you no rhyme nor reason to who or how, nor can I tell you a timetable, only that it will be soon. Ferris has been too long outside the bond. His ability to separate from his host is proof of that.’

The room was deadly silent. Outside on the buddleia a black bird trilled. The clock in the parlour struck seven.

‘Then I have to go,’ Ferris said, his voice sounding no different than it always did. ‘I have to go somewhere isolated where I can harm no one. Or surely there must be someplace magical? What about the Ether?’ he asked.

‘That is a possibility my dear man,’ Anderson said. ‘But I would prefer it only as a last resort.’ He looked at Lucia, who nodded confirmation.

‘I cannot say what can be done, nor can I say how the coven may help,’ Lucia said. ‘I can only say that I offer any help I can give, and that Ferris must be willing to open himself.’

‘It doesn’t matter,’ Tara said again. ‘He’s one of our own, and we’ll not abandon him. We’ll find a way.’ During the conversation, Tara observed that Elaine had moved close and closer to Ferris until she held him around the waist in a tight embrace, her head resting on his shoulder. ‘Lucia, you’ll tell us all you can?’

‘Yes of course,’ the demon said.

‘And you’re immune to the hallucinations,’ Kennet asked.

‘Of course.’

Kennet hitched his towel around his waist and nodded. ‘That’s good to know in case things get rough.’

‘I can’t let you do this?’ Ferris said to Tara. Elaine whimpered at his side and tightened her embrace.

‘You have no choice,’ Tara replied. ‘You’re one of our own.’ There was a general murmur of consensus.
‘Besides, you heard Lucia; there’s no place you can go on this plane that’s isolated enough for safety. I
mentioned dream magic last night, and I think that would be a good place to begin.’ Lucia nodded her agreement, then without warning, stepped back inside Tara’s body, this time causing no more than a shiver up her spine.

‘We’re not doing anything on an empty stomach –’ Fiori said, picking up the spatula from the counter and straightening her shoulders. ‘The eggs have just been delivered from Jenkins farm. I was just about to make omelettes. Coffee’s brewed and the kettle’s on. Help yourself to fresh strawberries.