In The Flesh Part 24: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!
It’s Friday and time for Episode 24 of In The Flesh, in which we learn just how Susan did release the Guardian from the crypt of 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 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.
In The Flesh Chapter 24
Back in Alonso’s basement drawing room, Cook had delivered still more coffee and tea along with little finger sandwiches that reminded me of high tea at the Ritz rather than a quick snack in a vampire’s lair before I exposed myself again. I took nothing. I didn’t think I could force anything past the tightness in my throat, but Alonso handed me a cup of Kenyan tea and plate laden with treats. “You need to eat,” he said softly. Michael sat me down and, before I could protest further, offered me up a miniature chicken salad wrap as though I were a child not capable of feeding myself. He’d stolen me! He’d fucking stolen me, I reminded myself and resisted the urge to, quite literally, bite the hand that fed me. With the first mouthful, however, I realized just how hungry I was. As I opened my mouth for another bite, I decided we’d table the Chapel House robbery discussion until after I’d eaten. With the second bite I remembered poor Annie wasting away in the bed upstairs. The next sandwich, I fed myself, then gulped the tea and braced for impact as Magda, once again, began to read the words I didn’t remember writing.
“Come to me, my darling. I need you to release me so that we can be together. You, my beautiful Scribe, are the only one who can set me free.” That’s what He kept saying to me, and I swear it felt as though He were whispering it in my ear.
Annie had gone to bed hours ago, and I should have. I should have been fast asleep, but I couldn’t settle,
couldn’t calm myself, couldn’t focus on anything but what I’d experienced in the crypt at Chapel House and the sweet whisper of His longing against my ear. I wanted desperately to go back. I could sneak out of the flat and drive over there easily enough, but the garden was a jungle, and it was huge. After all it had been a graveyard once. I would never find my way back to the crypt, not without Annie’s help, and I most definitely didn’t want her help. I didn’t want her to know my secret. But the constant nag and niggle, the need to go to Him gnawed at my insides like a hungry beast. And His voice, I could hear his voice calling to me again and again, inviting me to come to him.
“Release me, my love. Release me and we can be together. I’ve waited for you an eternity, and now I can scarce breathe in my longing for you, in my need for you. Please, set me free so we can be together at last.”
Each time I heard His voice, it was as clearly as if he had been standing in the room next to me. And my response, well I’m not sure if my response was out loud, in my head, or in the open document on which I had poured the details of my earlier encounter in the crypt. “I can’t release you. I don’t know how to get back to the crypt and I don’t know where the key is,” I said, bracing myself, half fearing that He might say that he could guide me back to that dark, overgrown place, and half fearing that He would change his mind and get someone else – maybe Annie, to help Him. I couldn’t bear that. I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone else being with Him. I was just about to tell Him I’d do anything, anything He asked, when He told me a secret.
“You need not return to Chapel House, my darling,” came the reply I hadn’t expected “There is no key, and the door to my prison, it means nothing. It’s only a symbol. One could tear it out from the very rock and rip open the earth above and I would still be a prisoner. You! You are the key, my darling. You’ve already begun the process of setting me free. Only a little more remains for you to do, and then we’ll be together. I’ll give you what you want, what we both so desperately need.”
“Tell me! Please tell me!” I did speak out loud then, feeling a longing for Him that I feared would tear me apart if He didn’t tell me what to do.
And then he was so close that I could almost feel the physicality of Him, so close that for a moment, I believed He had somehow managed His own escape. I swear, he kissed my nape and spoke against my ear in a whisper that was barely more than a breath. “All you need do, my lovely, is use your magic. I have read what you’ve written of our first encounter – each word of it like a caress driving me to lust and longing I can scarcely contain, and my heart races with anticipation. Each word is so carefully chosen, each nuance so evocative of our coming together. Your magic, my love, is our story set down for us to share later in our long nights together, when we are sated and reveling in the pleasure of each other. All you need do, my darling Scribe, is write my release, and I shall be free, indeed.”
There have, so often, been times when the worlds I create as I write bleed through to the real world and both become equally real to me. I think nothing of it. It’s a part of what I do, a part what I love about my craft. But this! This was different. The words I wrote returned me instantly to the crypt. I could almost touch the thick darkness as I entered. I don’t know how I could see, and yet I could. I could smell the dust on the ancient stone; I could feel the rusted bars as I curled my fingers around them. And then I felt His warm breath on my face from just beyond the bars. He cupped large hands over mine and His voice was that of a man just awakened from a deep dream-laced sleep and into the arms of His lover. “You’ve come for me, my darling, just as I knew you would. Now set me free. All you need do is open the door.”
So I wrote me in the darkness of the crypt, me with hands so anxious, but so certain in their task, me exerting all the force I could manage in my effort to pull the gate open on hinges frozen with age. I wrote the sound of rusty metal giving way. I wrote the smell of age and decay yielding. I wrote the anticipation of lovers who have waited an eternity. I wrote the scent of His desire of His longing, mingling with mine dark, fecund, primordial. And then the door was wrenched from me with astounding strength, and He shoved it aside and pulled me to Him and for a moment it was as though I had suddenly been reunited with the other half of me. I knew Him and I knew His heart, and I knew the depth of His desire. And I was overwhelmed with longing. But before that … Just before that … only for a moment, the moment He burst from the earth, the moment He shoved the gate from between us, I felt something else. I felt my body turning to ash on my bones in the heat of fire I knew I would not survive and, in the depths of the inferno I willingly plunged myself into, there was neither escape nor relief. My doom was sealed and I went to meet it rejoicing. But that was all forgotten in His embrace. He was free and it was me that He wanted. Nothing else mattered.
If there were words, I don’t remember them. If I could have found the words, the right words to express what it was like to be touched by Him, to be embraced by Him, to be loved by Him, they aren’t words that human ears could hear or understand, nor that human voices could utter; and if I had written them down, they were somehow lost between the moment of my desire and the moment of His sating me, for honestly, how could it have been more than a moment? In the next second I was back in Annie’s flat, lying on the floor in a beam of moonlight, curled around myself as though I could hold on to the moment just a little longer, the fast fading memory of Him taking me. And He did take me. He made love to me. Surely He did. Or at least I think He did.
And then He stood over me, all silver and translucent like the moonlight. I couldn’t see Him, but He filled the whole room with His presence, as He coaxed me to my feet and back to the open document, glowing pale in the dark study. “And now, my beloved,” He said. “Write me as your secret, a secret that even you won’t remember until the time comes for us to be together. Write me a place of safety, a place where I may sustain myself, a way in which I may control my longing until the two of us can be together again.” Then He saw the story I had told Annie, and His laugh was like the purr of a large cat. “Why my darling little Scribe, you have already written my place of safety, and you have given me this friend of yours to sustain me until you return to me. It won’t be long, my darling. I promise you it won’t be.”
For a long moment, the room was silent. All eyes were on me, and not all of them were without accusation. I couldn’t blame them. If I could look at myself, my eyes would be full of accusation. And contempt. I swallowed the rawness in my throat and spoke. “It was then that I heard Annie in the bathroom and I realized that I had to keep the memory stick safe. And, then the next morning I didn’t remember any of it. Like I said.”
“Did he fuck you?” Of course it was Talia who asked.
“I honestly don’t remember. Surely I would have. Don’t you think?” I looked from Magda to Michael and back again.
“Oh you would have if the choice had been yours to make. I’m certain of it,” Michael said. “But I doubt that he took you. If he had, you’d have never been able to stay away from him. And for whatever reason, he wanted you to stay away until he had Annie call you back.”
“But why?” I asked.
“Because you, he wants to savor. In his mind’s eye, he’ll not use you up, but he’ll keep you. You’re the one he’s waited for,” Magda said. “You’re the one who could release him. You’re the one who could write him and his story. You’re the one he wants as his consort.”
There was a murmur of surprise around the room and an uncomfortable shifting about. But that all receded to background noise at the thought of being His consort. I was right. I had been right all along. I was special. It was me He wanted above all others. It was me He had waited for, me He loved. It was the tingle of Michael’s mark that brought me, grudgingly, back to myself, back to the reality of the situation. I gulped down the last of my tea, now cold, in an effort to clear my head. “But you said, you both said, He’d use me up as He has the others before,” I finally managed.
“No doubt he will,” Magda replied. “You are human, after all. But using you up won’t be his intention. It seldom is.”
Still, she was wrong, a little voice in the back of my mind told me. I was different. Me, He would never hurt. Michael’s mark stung and burned and I bit my lip until I tasted blood, knowing that my logic was flawed, knowing the danger I was in and the danger I’d put everyone else in. Focusing, even with the burn of the mark, was an effort I could just barely manage. “If I set him free by writing his freedom, then why can’t I write his recapture too?” I asked.
It was Michael who answered. “Because you really, desperately wanted him free. But no one,” he laid his hand against my breast next to the mark and the pain eased. “no one who has been with him could ever want to put him back in his prison with that same intense longing.”
Once again we all sat in silence. I knew Michael was right. I might have freed the guardian, but I could never put Him back in His prison because there was just too much of me that didn’t want Him there. As though Michael understood what I felt and, no doubt he did, he slipped an arm around me and pulled me close, an act, which made the buzz of the bite above my breast once again pleasurable rather than painful.
“So then, Magda, what do we do?” Alonso asked.
Before she could answer, Cook shoved his way through the door bleeding heavily over one eye. “It’s Ms Annie, she’s gone.”