Happy Friday Everyone! And secrets are uncovered with part 9 of my dark paranormal story. Angels and demons, gods and monsters, sex and terror; when the boundaries are not clear, the journey can be deadly. But can the price be worth the paying?
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.
Episode 9 is full of secrets revealed and jealousy. Happy Reading!
In The Flesh: Part 9
For a long moment I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t speak. I felt cold to my core, and there was a strange ringing in my ears, but worst of all I felt jealous. “You were his lover? How’s that possible,” I managed, forcing the words up through my throat, which threatened to close. “How the hell is that even possible?”
“What do you mean how’s that possible? You and I just made love, same general principles.”
“Same general principles my arse.” I pushed up off the bed, grabbed the towel and wrapped it around me feeling suddenly very naked, indeed. I paced at the foot of the bed, jealousy just at the edge of my consciousness like the irritating buzz of a mosquito seeking a place to bite.
“What? Do you think an angel can’t be vulnerable, can’t want the same things you want?” The smile that curved his lips was almost a grimace. “I was a lot more beautiful then than I am now. But beauty’s a fleeting thing.” He waved his hand absently, still not looking at me. “I knew that was a part of the price, and I didn’t care. I would have done anything.”
“Well if it’s beauty he’s after, he sure as hell doesn’t want me. Annie’s the one with the looks. Not me.”
Suddenly he stood and pulled me to him, the look on his face shifting from confusion to complete understanding. “You’re jealous.”
I said nothing. It was no use denying what had to be written all over my face. That Michael had been with Him, that Annie was with Him, and that I still wanted to be, in spite of everything messed with my mind.
“I understand your jealousy,” Michael said. “Once he’s touched you in some way, in any way, you can’t help but want him. You can’t help but want him to want you and only you. That’s his power.”
I didn’t reply. What could I say? Instead I turned my back on him, trying to focus, trying to be logical. I didn’t want to be jealous, and I didn’t want to want Him. I knew what the result of wanting Him, of giving into that want, would be, and yet, I still wanted.
He grabbed my arm in a grip that was none too gentle and pulled me back to him. “Susan, it has nothing to do with beauty, what he wants. Beauty is far more fleeting than … other things.” He lifted my chin with a thick curled finger, forcing me to meet his gaze. “That he wants you, I can completely understand.” He pulled me close against his still naked body, making sure I was fully aware of his desire for me, then he took my mouth in a kiss distracting enough that I would have been perfectly happy to linger in a lip-lock with him for twenty years or so. But then he released me, guided me back to sit on the bed, and pulled his jeans up over his hips, commando, I noticed.
“Tell me,” I said, watching in fascination as he zipped his substantial self into the tight fit of denim. “Tell what happened.”
He shoved another log onto the fire then plopped down into the wingback chair. For a long time he stared into the flames, so long that I thought maybe he’d chosen not to answer; maybe it wasn’t something he could talk about. But at last he took a deep breath and spoke. “I thought it would be easier being human.” He lifted a shoulder in a lop-sided shrug. “I suppose we all romanticize the things we wish for before we actually have them. We don’t know the pitfalls and the difficulties until we’re faced with them, and then they’re such a shock, sometimes it’s too late.” He forced a laugh. “You’d think someone who had spent eons as a being only slightly less than divinity would have been aware of the threat of demons and spirits and such things that do a whole lot more than go bump in the night. I’d even met demons and incubi and spirits of the land. They never seemed all that threatening to me, but then I wasn’t human, was I? I know it’s insane to think that I could forget, I mean after all, it was a part of my job to protect humans, to ease their suffering from such beings.” He grabbed the poker and gave the log he’d just put on the fire a hard shove that resulted in a shower of popping and crackling sparks. For another long moment of gazing into the flames as though he sought wisdom there, he continued. “They were never any threat to me as an angelic being. I just assumed that would be true when I became human. I knew how things were, after all. I understood, and I was still me, at the end of the day. Surely I was safe from such things. But I wasn’t, was I?”
“How did it happen?” I asked. A part of me didn’t really want to know. A part of me couldn’t bear the thought
of anyone else being with Him. But He was a monster, I reminded myself. He was bad news, very bad news. Even as I thought it I couldn’t keep from thinking about how it felt when he touched me, how it felt when he spoke to me, almost like his voice was inside my heart.
“A part of my job was to be the guardian of sacred spaces.” He smiled and shook his head, “Sorry to disappoint, but I wasn’t that Michael, not the archangel. I was just a Michael, and I was one of many whose job was to safeguard sacred spaces and the people who worship therein.” He chuckled softly “I suppose you could say I was the divine version of a security guard. Not very glamorous, is it?”
“And you were sent to protect people from … Him?”
“Sort of,” he replied. “There are lots of beings attracted to sacred spaces because they are sacred. They shine like beacons to supernatural eyes. And because mortals come to those spaces open and vulnerable than they are in more mundane spaces, they can be the perfect places for these divine parasites, for lack of a better term, to attach themselves to a human.”
“Are you saying He’s a parasite?” The idea made me squirm. I liked the idea of some divine monster, some misbehaving godling wanting to seduce me, but I wasn’t so keen on the idea of a parasite attaching itself to me.”
“More than likely he was the original guardian spirit set to protect the place and its worshipers. Stability isn’t any more a given with protective and guardian spirits,” he shrugged, “with any kind of divinity at all, actually, than it is with mortals. And the truth is no one really knows what will drive them over the edge and when.”
“And is the same true of angels?” I asked.
“If your asking me how stable I am, well, I’m probably not the one to ask, but I think it’s pretty safe to say I’m a lot more stable than I was back in the day.”
“Back in the day?”
This time it was his turn to pace, staring straight ahead as though he could see into the distant past, as though he could see what had been as easily as what was. Maybe he could. “In the beginning, I was sent to help him, sent because the powers that be observed a growing instability in him, and they thought he was just overly tired. Some guardian spirits attached to places are content to serve and protect their place, pretty much in total anonymity, and pretty much for all eternity, without so much as ever wavering. They’re so connected with the place, they seldom have need for contact with the mortals who hold that place sacred.
“But He,” I could see a shiver run up his spine and over his broad shoulders, “He became fascinated with the mortals who worshiped in his space, and since that space had been a Christian place of worship for several hundred years, it fell to those who served the Christian god to set things right. It should have been easy for an angel. It should have been a walk in the park.”
The silence stretched between us, broken only by distant thunder. It took a second for me to realize I’d been holding my breath. He moved to slip the throw from the back of the chair over my shoulders and I realized not only was I was still clad in just the towel but I was shivering. I inhaled with a shudder and found my voice. “But it wasn’t.”
“It wasn’t.” He returned to pacing in front of the fire. “You see, the thing was, that I didn’t realize that something was amiss. I didn’t realize anything at all. In fact, it seemed almost the opposite to me. It seemed like everything was exactly as it should be and that he was …”
“He was what?”
Michael stopped mid-stride and stared into the flames as though seeking answers there. “It seemed as though he was the only sane thing about the place, and even more than that, it seemed like he was a kindred spirit. He loved humanity. He was fascinated by their tenacity, their ability to be both strong and vulnerable. And he was particularly fascinated by their ability to live in the physical world. Oh, that was a weakness, of course it was. Mortality always is
and always has been a weakness, the ultimate weakness, and yet to live in the flesh to feel pain and suffering and joy and love and lust and tenderness, to experience the five senses – how could any non-corporeal being not crave that? How could any god think that to exist without flesh was superior to blood and bone and all the passion and trauma and chaos that went along with it?”
“And clearly you shared His opinion,” I observed, nodding to his body.
“I did.” He came to sit beside me on the bed and took my hand, chafing my cold fingers. “Though had I had any idea the cost back before I made the decision, back before I chose the path of no return, I might have been too terrified to do what had to be done.”
“You mean that once you became human, you succumbed to him and became his lover?”
Michael shook his head slowly, and the chafing of my hand became a death grip. “Oh no, it wasn’t that at all. I became his lover long before I became mortal. In fact, I became mortal because I loved him.”