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 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25 Part 26, Part 27, Part 28, Part 29, Part 30, Part 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?”
“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.”
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 still 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 scent 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.”
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.”