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The Executive Decision Trilogy on Tour!

AED new coverBeginning tomorrow, May 26th, I’m celebrating my romantic erotic Executive Decisions Trilogy with a two-week blog tour and a giveaway of two signed print copies of the first novel in the trilogy, An Executive Decision.  I’m very excited about this huge event – never done a two-week tour before. I’ve packed up my blogging bags, got my passport all ready, and I’ll be off first thing tomorrow, for two fun-filled weeks with some fabulous blogs all over the world, talking about the fabulous Northwest of the US where the Executive Decision Trilogy is set, interviewing characters, talking inspiration, and giving insights into the evolution of the trilogy and the fun I had on the journey to its completion. I hope you’ll follow the tour, enjoy the sizzling excerpts and have a good time. Join us at these fantastic sites on these dates and help us celebrate The Executive Decision Trilogy

IC new coverFollow the Executive Decision Blog Tour:

The SubClub Books Mon May 26th

Illustrious Illusions Tue May 27th

Slippers and Stilettos Charlotte Howard Wed May 28th

Romance lives forever Thur May 29th


ARE Café
 Fri May 30

Books and Banter  Mon June 2nd

TE new coverDestiny Blaine  Tue June 3rd

Lisabet Sarai  Wed June 4th

Snarky Mom Reads  Thur June 5th

Blood Lust and Erotica  Fri June 6th

 

 

 

SBTS for AED Trilogy

 

 

Strangely Sexy: The Latest Heat from Harlem Dae

Hi Kd, thanks so much for inviting me over to play today. I’ve brought with me a new co-authored short story BDSM trilogy that’s just hit the shelves and I’m really excited about – A Bit of Strange.

Last year my co-author Natalie Dae and I were playing around with BDSM plot lines as we came up with the idea of sex with a stranger as a basis for a new relationship. We loved the thought of sexy sideways glances, mutual attraction and then a secret liaison somewhere ordinary but super risqué. Add in the BDSM factor and our imaginations were soon running wild. A Bit of Strange is published by Totally Bound and the final book is out now – this serial is definitely best read in order as it follows the journey of two souls finding what it is that really hits their spot and makes them shine.

It was great to write, and as I always find when working with Natalie the tales we tell are edgy, out there, dark and pain is pleasure, danger is excitement. This experience was no different and from trains to supermarket to dirty alleys these two strangers really do try each other on for size, in every sense of the word. But there are elements of romance, of heart-strings being tugged, of course there are, because A Bit of Strange is also a story of attraction and commitment as well as love and lust – I hope you enjoy, though trust me, you’ll never look at those big trolleys at the supermarket they move boxes around in the same way again!

Beauty and Pain

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Totally Bound

 

Pain and Pleasure

Harlem Dae 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totally Bound

 

Pleasure and Danger

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Totally Bound

 

A BIT OF STRANGE

Strangers who share the touch of heated skin, the gasps of delight joined bodies create and the bliss a moment of ecstasy generates, are bound by an invisible thread that is as strong as it is vulnerable.

But can that thread turn to more, become a force to be reckoned with, the foundation of a beautiful experience and a future where dominance and submission become a part of life?

That’s something Isabelle wants to know, wants to experience, but is her new man up for the job? She has very definite fantasies, a particular flavour of strange that hits her spot. Only time will tell if their next daring interlude will pave the way for so much more than a brief encounter.

Harlem Dae 4First Reader Reviews

“Gabriel is one tough Dom and he is going to make sure she submits to him and him alone – Oh I can’t wait for the next one!!!”

“Lily Harlem and Natalie Dae are a fearsome duo. When you get these two ladies writing together you know it’s going to be great.”

Also on the shelves all good ebook retailers –

All Romance eBooks

Amazon

Amazon UK

More about Harlem Dae and their BDSM work can be found on the Harlem Dae website .

 

Smut for Good Fun in the Sun Blog Hop for RNLI Lifeboats: Have Some Fun, Do Some Good!

SMut for Goodsfg-fits-cbh-facebook

It’s that time again! Time for another Smut for Good Blog Hop! This time it’s all about Fun in the Sun, and with the days getting longer and the temperatures rising, who isn’t thinking about enjoying a little al fresco friskiness? All you have to do is follow the links below to join in the fun with chances to win prizes galore and make a difference in a positive way by helping raise money for RNLI Lifeboats.

Smut for Good: Fun In the Sun is a blog hop with prizes galore to raise money for RNLI Lifeboats as a part of Smut By the Sea. To find more fun in the sun and seek out further prizes, please visit http://smutforgood.co.uk , and if you can please visit the Smut for Good Fun in the Sun Just Giving page http://www.justgiving.com/funsun and donate whatever you can to help us reach our target of £100 to support the RNLI http://rnli.org/ who help those not having fun in the sun!

http://smutforgood.co.uk

I’m adding my only little prizey to the list. Leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of my outdoorsy, fun romp, Surrogates. And to titillate and inspire you, check out the naughty excerpt below.

SurrogatesBlurb:

DANIEL ALEXANDER III takes his marriage vows seriously. Until he gets the balls to ask his wife, BEL, for a divorce, watching each other masturbate is all he can offer his beautiful gardener, FRANCIE CARTER. But when Dan’s friend, SIMON PARIS, agrees to be his surrogate, affairs of the heart get complicated.

Surrogates Excerpt:

surrogates‘I’ve always thought clearly,’ Francie said. ‘I’ve always been the one who lets logic rule, the level-headed one. That was before this happened.’ She glanced down at her watch, then stood and paced back and forth in front of the love seat. The sunlight rendered the skirt of her dress transparent, revealing the curve of her buttocks and the way the thong settled in between them against all the places he wanted to kiss and touch and make love to. It revealed the tiny V of lace covering her soft tight curls, nestling protectively above the part of her he wanted to open and spread and taste like sweet fruit.

He had just shifted to give his cock a little more space in the bind of his jeans when his cell phone beeped into the tight summer air, and they both jumped.

He yanked it from his pocket, and she came to his side. ‘Is it from Dan?’ she asked.

He nodded. ‘He’s not coming.’

‘What do you mean, he’s not coming?’ Francie grabbed the phone away from him and read:

Must cancel. Have an emergency meeting. Will make it up to you.

She handed the phone back to Simon and sat rigid on the edge of the love seat. He could see her pulse hammering in her neck. He could see the rise and fall of her throat as she swallowed hard. But there were no tears.

‘I should go then,’ he said softly.

She didn’t reply, only sat there without looking at him.‘I can’t make it tomorrow. I’m in Guildford all day.’ He could smell her, like he could smell lavender in a garden at high summer long before he could see it. The smell of her sex he had memorised from the very first time he held her in his arms, but the rest of her scent had unfolded itself to him more slowly. The smell of outdoors was always on her, the smell of earth, the smell of clean female sweat. All of it, the whole of her, the rise and fall of her breasts as she breathed, the cadence of her breath, the heat radiating from her body, all of those things, settled around him tight-fitting and raw. ‘I need to go,’ he said again, resting a hand on the curve of her shoulder.

‘No you don’t. You don’t need to go.’ She shrugged off his hand, popped up off the love seat and headed out the door of the summer house at a fast trot, leaving her garden shoes behind.

Still barefoot himself, he followed her across the warm grass out past the rose garden, down over the hill into the mini wilderness that would become the Renaissance garden, and down to the deep pool at the edge of the stream. She undid the tie at the side of her dress and shrugged it off without breaking pace, stepping out of her thong and giving it a toss before she moved into the calm deep of the water, then dived under. For the tiniest fraction of a second, he feared she might mean herself harm. But she surfaced before he could even get his T-shirt off. She floated with her head back and the tips of her nipples breaking the surface. ‘Well?’ she called out. ‘Are you coming or not? You can swim, can’t you?’

‘Of course I can swim.’ He stripped off and stepped into the bright glare of the water. He was already erect, and her watching him did nothing to ease the pressure. ‘You know what’ll happen if I catch you?’ he said, nodding down to his cock.

She swam towards him in an easy crawl stroke. ‘You’re assuming you’ll have to catch me,’ she said, and then she dove. It wasn’t until he felt a tug on his hips and her mouth tightening around his cock that he figured out what she was up to.

‘Jesus,’ he gasped as she cupped and gently squeezed his balls. His feet were just barely touching ground. She seemed to be slowly pulling him with the nips and tugs of her mouth deeper and deeper until he had to tread water to keep his head from going under, careful not to kick her as he did so. And still she didn’t surface.

‘Francie,’ he grunted. ‘Francie don’t stay down too long.’ But fuck, it felt so good, it felt so dangerously out of control as she sucked his cock then cupped his buttocks, then fingered his anus. Damn it! He wanted to bear down, he wanted to thrust, but the water held him in precarious weightlessness, and still she sucked and fondled. ‘Oh God, Francie! Good Christ, Francie please.’

One finger was buried knuckle-deep in his arsehole while the other hand kneaded his balls right on the border between pain and pleasure. And her mouth! Fuck, her mouth had him gripped and sucked in a tight wet paradise with her tongue flicking over the underside of his cock, and still she didn’t surface.

‘Francie… Francie enough!’ He grabbed her under the armpits and hauled her up. She surfaced enough to take a deep drag of air then she took his mouth, pulling him under in the process. And she held him there, her mouth on his, tongue darting, teeth nipping, gulping at him, and he gulped back even as his lungs cried out for oxygen. And just when he thought he’d have to manhandle her into shallow waters, she gave a powerful kick, moved into position, wrapped her legs around him, and his cock slipped into her tight grip just as his feet touched solid ground and the water broke over their heads. Oxygen raced back into starving lungs, taken in through their noses as they continued to eat and lap and nip at each other’s mouths. He took her face in his hands and pulled her away enough that he could look into her eyes. ‘Jesus, Francie, you scared me. I thought we were drowning.’

‘We are, Simon,’ she said, biting his lower lip then tightening her grip around his waist and matching his thrust. ‘We are drowning.’ He could tell by the tremors that began around his cock and shivered up her spine that she was coming. Her grip was far too tight and demanding for him not to follow suite.

They crawled to the grass at the edge of the stream, collapsed into each other’s arms and fell asleep. When he woke up, the sun was setting and she was gone. He went to her cottage and knocked, but her car was gone and the place was dark and silent. There was nothing to do but go home and hope that he hadn’t ruined everything. But then it was hardly his fault, was it? He really did try to practice some restraint. Somehow that didn’t make him feel any better.

http://smutforgood.co.uk

 

 

Sex and Relationship Therapist, Sarah Berry Talks Shop, Kink & ‘What’s Normal’

It’s my pleasure to welcome Sarah Berry, good friend, sex and relationship therapist and all around fabulous person, to A Hopeful Romantic to talk about her work with us.

Sarah BerryKD: Sarah, when you and I first met, you were the editor of Forum Magazine, and you were also a very talented writer in your own right. During the time I’ve know you, you founded the Fannying Around Women’s Group and always had an understanding of what was lacking in the area of women’s sexual health and the information and sources of information that are available. Becoming a sex and relationship therapist was the logical next step for you. What was the biggest change for you?

SB: Thanks KD. I think learning to be myself was a challenge. As a journalist at events I had to be larger than life as I was competing with a lot of other journalists to get the column inches. That said, when I was interviewing people on a one to one basis, I was much happier and relaxed.

When I started training some years ago, I thought therapists had to be this blank canvas with no discernable personality. I stopped wearing colourful clothes and tried to be very serious. But I realised that being human was very important to the process and that the way I was in my journalist interviews was more the person I should be as a therapist, things fell into place.

Now I am a professional version of myself, which means I am not trying to be something I am not, so I can concentrate fully on the client. Rather than being stuffy, disconnected and serious, I am warm, empathetic and down to earth. The relationship I build with the client is a huge part of the process in person centred therapy, as is being genuine, congruent and transparent.

KD: Sarah, you recently said to me, and I quote, ‘I actually think while some (people who lead alternative lifestyles) are having the life of Riley others are confused while others assume all therapists wouldn’t understand alt lifestyles (and I hate the word alt like I hate the word vanilla).’ Could you comment on this statement and tell us how that has affected the direction your career as a sex and relationship therapist will take.

SB: The media is quick to sensationalise kinksters, assume they are all survivors of abuse or fear they are all wannabe criminals. So the kinksters defend themselves by pointing out how the BDSM scene is very well policed and their mantra of being safe, sane and consensual. So there is a “them and us” type situation.

The reality is some people have a great time, some are working out what they want, some are new to the scene, some are veterans, some are still learning, some spend their time spouting dogma about the “right way” to do things… You don’t need to label yourself as a kinkster to enjoy a spot of spanking, and you don’t have to relish pain in order to be kinky. Some kinksters have been abused and successfully use kink to work through their pain while others can harm themselves by reliving the trauma. It is complicated; things can go wrong and things can go right. I will be blogging about being kinky on my new website http://www.LondonKinkTherapist.co.uk.

Because of this difficult backdrop I try to listen to my clients and not make assumptions about what they do or how they think. Just because someone is into BDSM (which stands for bondage, discipline, dominance, submission and sadomasochism) it does not mean this is the cause of their problem. Sometimes people do use kink to harm themselves but it doesn’t mean they must eschew all kinky practices in order to have a healthy sex life. Each person, couple or group I see is different and we work out what they want and need together then we work out how to help them get there.

KD: Sarah, I know a little more about the journey that led you down the path to therapist than most people do, and it’s an amazing journey. Would you share some of it with our readers please.

SB: I think you’re meaning that I have overcome my own psychosexual issues. My struggle with vaginismus inspired me to start Fannying Around. But even though I have overcome it, I think sex is a journey for everyone – whether you choose to have it, can’t have it, are alone, have a permanent partner or enjoy a variety of partners at a time. I am always learning and open to new thoughts and ideas. If I wasn’t I think I would be a rather jaded therapist.

KD: Are there future plans for Fannying Around?

SB: I do really want to bring Fannying Around back. It was a wonderful forum and I learned a lot from the members. I will be sure to let you know.

KD: What was most difficult about your transition from editor/journo to sex and relationship therapist?

SB: I think it has actually gone pretty smoothly. I always cared about what I wrote and I had the luxury of writing for the people that I was covering – rather than being sensational. Now I am even more mindful of being inclusive of sexualities, genders and preferences which can be a bit tricky when giving quotes to heteronormative places that want you to fit into their neat way of thinking.

KD: What do you think keeps people from seeking out the help that’s readily available for them, the helpSarahBerry therapists like you provide?

SB: I think people assume you need to be experiencing real tragedy or be really “fucked up” in order to see a therapist. But everyone has stuff, and at different times this can affect our relationships, work and social lives more than others. To be in therapy doesn’t mean you are a victim. In fact I have a great respect for anyone who walks into my office.

Therapy can help you unpick a problem, work out solutions, help you improve communicating – especially if your arguments always follow the same pattern and neither one of you feels heard – or deal with unresolved issues or grief from the past.

Some people fear seeing a therapist will open a can of worms, maybe if they have experienced grief or do not want to disrupt a currently amicable relationship with a family member. But it is possible to deal with any disruption from past events by looking at what is happening in the here and now. If you do not want to relive the past you do not have to. You are in control at all times.

KD: Could you talk a little bit about ‘what’s normal’ from the standpoint of a therapist? I know this is something that is always a hot topic, and more than likely one of the main reasons people seek you out.

SB: I’m always hearing statements like: “I just want to be normal,” “I want a normal relationship,” “Our sex life isn’t normal. But the idea that there is a normal is massive misconception. Everyone is different. We all have different ideas of what good sex is or what we want from a relationship – if we want one at all. And what this idea of normal does is alienate anyone who feels they are normal; it creates freaks out of anyone who feels they don’t want a lot of sex, or who maybe has a fetish or who doesn’t want to be married. A “problem” is only a problem if it impedes your own sense of what you want, disrupts your work, social life or relationships and/or if you are causing harm to others. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to completely change yourself to fit in with the norm. It could be that you can find a new way to express yourself. Life would be boring if we were all the same, fancied the same people or had the same desires.

KD: What does the future hold for Sarah Berry, sex and relationship therapist?

SB: Well I will continue with my private practise and carry on learning about the world of sex and relationships. I would also like to do more group therapy and more writing.

KD: How can people get in touch with you?

SB: You can contact me through my website sarahberrytherapy.co.uk, via email at sarah@sarahberrytherapy.co.uk or call me on 07581 231313.

 

 

 

The 6th Instalment of Demon Interrupted: A Lakeland Witches Story

Demon Interrupted Image by KevI’m very happy to offer the sixth 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 months.

The Lakeland Heatwave 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. Here are the links to the previous episodes in case you missed them:

 

Chapter 1 Demon Interrupted: Perchance to Dream.

Chapter 2 Demon Interrupted: A Chat with a Demon

Chapter 3 Demon Interrupted: Enter the Shadows

Chapter 4 Demon Interrupted: Dark Chrysalis

Chapter 5 Demon Interrupted: The Empty Spaces in Between

Enjoy Chapter Six, 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 Heatwave Trilogy: Body Temperature and RisingRiding the Ether and Elemental Fire. Enjoy!

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Chapter 6 Demon Interrupted

Beneath the Weight of Shadow

‘I will go after the shadow and the ghost.’ Anderson helped Cassandra to her feet and moved to cut a door in the circle.

‘Not by yourself,’ Tara ordered. ‘We don’t know what this thing is. And Cassandra, you stay here,’ she called as the succubus joined him. ‘We need someone non-corporeal. Take Fiori.’

Anderson nodded his agreement, paused only long enough to brush a quick kiss across Cassandra’s lips then he and Fiori vanished from the circle.

‘Lucia? What’s going on,’ Tara called out as she scrambled to where Cassandra already knelt next to Ferris with his head in her lap.

‘He’s freezing, Cassandra said, pulling his robe over him and then reaching for a blanket at the foot of the sleeping pallet. She looked up at the coven leader as the others gathered around. ‘He’s not responding at all.’

‘Is he in the Ether,’ Tim asked. ‘Is that possible?’

The succubus shook her head. ‘He has no skills in the Ether, and no ability to go there unconsciously that I know of.’

Skye, who was trained in healing arts and had some skills in first aid, moved to his side and laid her fingers against his throat. ‘His pulse is faint, thready. Whatever that was –’ she nodded toward the cave entrance ‘– it came from inside him. Almost like it belonged there.’

‘Or like it didn’t,’ Tim said.

‘Goddamn it, Lucia, I need you,’ Tara yelled into the empty air, ‘Where’s the damned demon when you want her?’

‘She’s not known for being cooperative,’ Kennet said. He took a bottle of water from one of the rucksacks and handed it to Alice, who hunched trembling in the corner. ‘What happened?’ He sat next to her and pulled a Mackenzie tartan around her shoulders.

‘At first, I thought it was just a shadow,’ Alice said. She took a sip of water and wiped her eyes with a hand that was still none too steady. ‘It was like all of a sudden Ferris got … bigger … all over, and I don’t know why I didn’t think about it. I don’t know why it didn’t seem strange. It was so intense, so solid, nothing at all like shadow. And then when I … when I came, I knew. I could tell that whatever it was, it had taken with it Ferris’s essence.’ She shivered. ‘I’m sorry I panicked.’

‘You have nothing to be sorry for,’ Kennet said. ‘You had good cause.’

‘Cassandra, do you know anything about this? Has anything like this ever happened before,’ Tara asked. ‘You’ve known Ferris most of your life.’

She shook her head. ‘I knew Ferris possessed some magic, but honestly, until we came here, I’d never seen him use any of it. He was always there, but until we came here, I never really noticed him. Until we came here, he was … I don’t know. He was always there when I needed him, but it was almost like he didn’t exist the rest of the time.’

‘Lucia!’ Tara shouted again. ‘Where the hell are you?’ She turned her attention to her man. ‘What is it, Kennet? What’s wrong? I can see it on your face.’

‘Well –’ he moved away from Alice and laid a hand against Ferris’s chest ‘—the way that shadow left him, it reminds me of when Lucia possessed me, the way she left my body, at least when I was aware of her leaving.’

‘But you never lost consciousness when she left you, did you?’ Tara asked. ‘ I never have. Sometimes I don’t even feel it when she leaves, though I usually feel it when she comes back home.’

‘And speaking of the devil,’ Tim said. ‘It’s not like Lucia to stay away when she’s called. She never likes to miss a good party. How long can she be away from you, Tara, before … you know?’

‘Before I die again? I don’t think there’s a sell-by date, Tim. There’s some kind of connection inside whether she’s with me or not. I feel her absence, but not in quite the same way Kennet did, and certainly she never rendered me unconscious when she left, though I reckon she could if she were inclined.’

‘Wait a minute –’ Marie said, ‘– If you’re saying that Ferris is possessed by some kind of demon, we could have just sent Anderson and Fiori into danger.’

Just then Ferris’s body jerked hard, his back arched, and he began to convulse.

*****

It was good that the moon was full. It made following the shadow and the ghost much easier. Anderson felt no threat from either of them. He did not know what the shadow was, though it certainly seemed to him that the thing might have been in possession of Ferris’s body. Because there was much they did not understand of the situation, he preferred as many of the odds in his favour as possible.

‘The shadow –’ Fiori’s disembodied voice filled Anderson’s ear, or what would have been his ear had he had form other than that of thought and will ‘– he was with Ferris the last time he made love to me.’

Anderson glanced at her and continued following the disturbance in the air through which the strange couple had passed. ‘Did you speak to Ferris of this?’

‘At the time I thought I only imagined it. I was groggy from a bad dream and he comforted me. I didn’t feel threatened. It felt only as though Ferris were suddenly a much larger man, different, but still Ferris. I felt full of him, full of his presence. The space around me felt full of his presence. I don’t know, we all have secrets, and none of us really knows Ferris that well.’

‘My dear Fiori, even Cassandra does not know Ferris well, and though it seems that Lucia has released him of his responsibilities to her, he does not wish to know his past. I think that rather odd. It seems to me …’ Anderson’s words died in the throat he did not at this moment have, and he halted their progress with nothing more than an act of will. At the edge of the tarn that glowed silver-black in the moonlight, the strange ghost with the noose around her neck threw herself into the arms of the shadow.

‘I found you. Thank goddess I found you. Oh Ferris, I was so worried. I thought I’d done something wrong. I thought that when you learned what … what I’d done, you were angry and you left.’

‘I didn’t leave you. I swear I didn’t.’ The shadow spoke in a voice that was quite recognisable as Ferris’s. With careful hands, he removed the noose from around her neck and gave it an angry toss. Anderson could see the angry ligature marks on the woman’s delicate throat, and the curse that Fiori uttered told him so did she. ‘I don’t know what happened,’ the shadow said, ‘but I promise I didn’t leave you intentionally.’

‘Ferris?’ Anderson spoke softly, not wanting to startle the couple, and eased himself into a form that was fully visible, but had no substance. He was not yet certain if, indeed, the dark entity was Ferris. But the shadow turned to face him, and he could see the likeness of a man broad of shoulder and clearly several inches taller that Anderson, who was, by no means, a small man.

The shadow, who still held the woman in his arms looked up at Anderson and nodded. ‘I’m sorry.’ His voice was soft, unobtrusive, as Ferris’s voice always was. ‘I don’t know what happened.’

Anderson took a cautious step forward and Fiori followed, her eyes locked on the woman. ‘You are aware that you have left your flesh unattended in the dream cave?’ Anderson asked.

‘So it would appear.’ Ferris looked down at the large hand that was not resting on the woman’s shoulder and released a long breath of which Anderson was fairly certain he had no need in his present form. ‘I … don’t know what happened,’ he repeated. Then he glanced from Anderson to Fiori and back again. ‘Lucia? Is she in the cave?’

‘She was not present when we left,’ Anderson said, ‘But it must be said that we did not linger to take attendance.’

‘Perhaps you might introduce us to your friend.’ Fiori took another step forward, her eyes on the ghost.

‘This is Elaine.’ Ferris did not loosen his hold on her. ‘Elaine these are my friends from the Elemental Coven, Fiori and Anderson.’

‘They’re both … dead,’ the woman said, catching her breath as though the realisation shocked her.

‘As are you, my dear woman,’ Anderson replied. ‘However, Ferris is not, and I cannot think it is healthy for his flesh to have him too long absent from it, so I would humbly request that we all return to the cave as quickly as we may.’ Almost before he finished speaking, the two vanished, and he and Fiori followed suit.

*****

Another image from KevAlice let out a little squeal and crab-walked backward as the shadow-man, who had left Ferris’s body in such a hurry, materialised in the cave with the ghost of a young woman in his arms. Instantly Ferris’s physical body calmed on the floor of the cave.

‘What the fuck?’ Tim said, glancing from the couple to Ferris on the floor and back again. Then Anderson and Fiori materialised next to them.

‘This is Elaine. I am told she is a friend of Ferris’s.’ Anderson spoke as calmly as if he were making introductions at a dinner party. For an instant no one in the cave moved. All eyes were on the couple. Skye still knelt next to Ferris’s body with her hand resting against his throat and Tara and Cassandra knelt next to her. Tim and Marie and Kennet sat near Alice.

With a sharp catch of his breath, the shadow-man, who seemed much more man than shadow now, eased forward and stared down at the flesh that had only recently housed him. He did nothing but stare. The ghost, Elaine, did the same. But hers was a more fearful countenance, and Anderson thought it strange that she held no such fear for the shadow-man as she did for the unpretentious fleshly man now unconscious on the floor of the cave.

‘There’s still no sign of Lucia.’ Marie spoke to Anderson and Fiori.

Kennet growled. ‘Not much nightlife in Keswick on a Wednesday night. I suppose she could have gone to Penrith … or Birmingham.’ He shrugged. ‘Hell she could have gone to Bangkok for all I know.’

‘I’ve never heard of a demon clubbing,’ Marie said. ‘I can’t think it would be much fun without a body.’

‘I don’t know what she gets up to when she’s not at home,’ Tara said. ‘She doesn’t tell me and I don’t ask, but damn it, I hate it when she ignores me, and I know that’s what she’s doing.’

‘I fear it’s me she’s ignoring,’ the shadow-man said. ‘And I can’t say that I long much for her company either, but under the circumstances, I suppose it would be good to know what’s going on.’ He didn’t sound very convinced of it.

‘Are you some kind of demon?’ Tim asked. A ripple of tension passed through the room. Tim had a reputation for being blunt and saying what was on his mind, but the shadow-man did not seem offended. Instead he stood contemplating the idea. And the shape of him was beautiful, Anderson thought, much more like a god than a man, fit to grace the temple of Apollo, fit to kindle the lust of any libido. And yet in the shadow there was no flesh.

‘I can’t truthfully say,’ he replied to Tim, ‘As far as I know, I’m Ferris Ryder, and that –’ he nodded to the body on the ground ‘—is also Ferris Ryder, though I have no idea how that can be. I think that perhaps Elaine –’

Tara raised a hand to silence him. Carefully she came to her feet and moved toward Elaine, who stood just barely inside the entrance of the cave now and seemed to be inching slowly in that direction as the conversation unfolded. ‘Elaine –’ Tara’s voice was only slightly more than a whisper ‘—how is it that you suddenly wear the flesh?’

Instantly all eyes were on the woman, and there was a collective intake of breath, for she was, indeed, in the flesh. A fact that surprised even her.

‘Is it because of you?’ Tara looked up at the Shadow-man, who shook his head.

‘Apparently I can choose to be … corporeal if I want,’ Elaine replied. ‘Though in all honesty, I have no memory of even being a ghost until I met Ferris, who was wearing the flesh of Patrick last night.

‘Who the hell is Patrick,’ Tim asked.

‘He is Patrick,’ she nodded to Ferris’s body. ‘And how he now lives but is not Patrick, I do not know. I killed him myself. Of that I’m certain.’

A harsh choking sound drown out the coven’s murmured response to Elaine’s confession, and all eyes were once again on Ferris’ body, which went rigid, then gasped a desperate breath, and it was as though by doing so, he rendered the shadow-man little more than a wisp of dark smoke, which swirled in the air, then vanished into Ferris’s corporeal chest.

Elaine let out a little cry and her knees gave just as Anderson caught her against his chest.

On the cave floor, Ferris spasmed twice then sat up and looked around the chamber. Cassandra knelt next to him and handed him a bottle of water. He drank deeply and coughed.

For a long moment the only sound in the cave was his effort to catch his breath.

‘Ferris?’ Skye said, at last. ‘Are you back with us?’

He nodded, then his gaze settled on Elaine and held, but he did not speak. He only stared at the ghost in the flesh.

When the silence had stretched beyond the point of uncomfortable, Tara laid a hand on Ferris’s forearm and spoke, ‘How much of what just happened do you remember?’

castlerigg_Stone_Circle1He started to speak, then cleared his throat as though his voice had rusted from disuse. ‘Everything. I remember everything.’ With ease that belied what he had just endured, he stood, holding the blanket to him to fight off the residual chill from his unconscious state, and moved slowly toward Elaine, reaching out his hand.

When she cautiously moved to his side, he spoke, still not taking his eyes off her. ‘At least I remember everything since my arrival in Cumbria a few hours ago.’ He looked back at Tara. ‘Before that …’

‘Before that what,’ Tara prompted.

He released a slow breath that echoed in the chamber like a wind. ‘Before that there are … blank spots.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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