It’s Friday, and the end is upon us! Time for the final episode of In The Flesh, in which Magda takes control once again. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this novel as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. I’ll fee a bit bereft for the next few weeks when Friday rolls around. Please share it with your friends and enjoy! And thanks so much for taking this wild journey with me!
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, Part 24, Part 25 Part 26, Part 27, Part 28, Part 29, Part 30, Part 31, Part 32, Part 33, Part 34.
You can also read In The Flesh on Wattpad.
In The Flesh Epilogue
“Is everything all right, Alonso?” Magda knew that it wasn’t. She’d heard the little altercation between the vampire and his lover, and even had she not eavesdropped, she would have known what it was about. Everyone at High View knew what it was about. It didn’t take a great deal of intuition to figure it out.
“Fine. Everything is fine.” He made no effort to sound convincing. He knew she would know it wasn’t, and the look on his face told her he was resigned to her poking her nose in where he wished she wouldn’t.
“You’ll have to send her away, you know that, and the sooner the better. If you love Reese.”
“If I love Reese?” He spun around to face her with such speed that one with human vision might have thought it magic. However one would have to be blind not to see the anguish on his face. “Dear God, Magda, you know how much I love Reese. There is no ‘if.’ Besides, against my wishes, Susan is with the angel tonight.” The word angel was tinged with bitterness, the bitterness of jealousy. Then he added with a forced smile. “There, you see, the fledgling has left the nest of her own accord.” Then he added, “does that please you?”
“Michael’s place is just down the road. Do you think that’s far enough to keep you away from the child of your heart’s blood?”
He ran a hand through his hair and paced in front of the open French doors that looked out onto the night garden below, which Reese had built for him, to which the man had fled in his anger only minutes before. “Of course it won’t be enough. There’s no place in Cumbria, not likely any place in Britain, where she’d be far enough away from me that I wouldn’t go to her. She’s like my own soul. I never would have imagined it could be thus, since my maker didn’t take the time to bond with me or aid me in any way, I didn’t know.” He turned to face Magda, the desperation etched deeply on his beautiful face. “I didn’t know.”
“Even if you had known, the bloody demon left us with little choice. We all did what we had to, and you and Susan bore the brunt of the horrific choices we had to make. And now, now that we know he’ll be taking an active role in protecting and watching over her, I’m not sure if I feel better or worse. It behooves him to take care of her, to cherish her, and I know he can’t escape her, and yet still it makes me nervous. There are so many variables.”
“That’s what I have told Reese ad nauseum; that’s why I can’t send Susan away, not until she’s ready.” He nodded out to the garden again, to the place where Reese paced on the slate pavement. “He wants me to bring him over, and I keep telling him that I will as soon as Susan is able to fend for herself and do no harm. I can’t make him understand that I am not capable of giving two fledglings what they would need of me. There are times when I’m not sure I can even care for one as I ought. That is pretty evident, I suppose. But I can’t make Reese understand, in fact I fear that even his desire for me to bring him over is only because he fears losing me to Susan, and how could I bear it if I brought him over and it was not truly what he wanted? We must think this choice through carefully. It can’t be made in a jealous heat, in an act of desperation. He sees it as though I am choosing her over him, and the damned angel’s jealousy only makes matters worse.”
She dropped the bomb, figuring now was as good a time as any, and Alonso would take it better than Michael would, of that she was certain. “I’ve decided to take matters out of your hands. I’m sending her to New York City.”
“What!” He was at her side in what would have seemed like an instant to anyone with human eyes, but Magda’s eyes had been far from human for more centuries than she cared to count. Before he could reach for her, before he could lay distressed hands on her, she stepped aside, and he caught himself with all the dignity, all the grace for which vampires are known, straightened his jacket and took a deep breath she knew he didn’t need. “You can’t take her from me. She’s not ready.”
“I can, and I will. In case you’ve forgotten, Alonso, she’s mine to do with as I see fit. She belongs to the Consortium now. She came at a very high price, and there’s no overestimating her value, especially now that she’s a vampire who can walk in daylight, now with the Guardian inside her. You may be her maker, but that doesn’t mean you know what’s best for her, and neither does Michael.”
“She’s not ready,” he repeated fervently.
“I know she’s not ready, and I’d never send her out into the world unprepared. You know that. But here is not the place for her training, not under the circumstances. I’ve been in touch with Desiree. She owes me, and she’s agreed to complete Susan’s training in all that pertains to vampires living amongst humans.”
He made a derisive sound in his throat at the mention of Desiree. “For what price?”
She shrugged. “Everything has a price, and it was one I was happy to pay, one that will benefit Susan in the end. I’ve heard rumours of a siren living in New York City.” She waved a dismissive hand. “Oh I know that the chances of such a glorious creature still existing are very slim at best, but the rumours have been consistent and … well let’s just say I feel that they should be checked out. It won’t be a difficult assignment for Susan, but it will be intriguing and satisfying — that along with what Desiree has in mind for her, should ease her into her new roll with the Consortium while she gets her feet under her as a vampire – so to speak. Here, she’s disruptive, at least at the moment.” She nodded to Reese in the garden. “In New York, she’ll be a benefit to both me and to Desiree, and she’ll learn what she needs to without the twin distractions of you and Michael. She wants you as badly as you want her, Alonso, and you know you’re both just a breath away from doing something you’ll both regret, something from which there’ll be no turning back. She may want you, but she loves Michael, just as you love Reese. She needs to be away from both of you, from all of you for a little while. The feelings you have for each other are a normal part of the sire and fledgling relationship, but that’s assuming that neither is in a pervious relationship or that if they are they’re not monogamous. Between you and Michael and Reese, there’s enough jealous testosterone in this house to make me dizzy. I can’t have that for Susan. I need her focused if she’s to realize her potential, and she’ll never be focused here, at least not without a little space away from both you and Michael. You know this, Alonso. You know it well. It’s only for a couple of months, just long enough for her to come to terms with what she is and what she’s capable of doing. Then she can come back without needing you or Michael. She can come back on equal footing.”
“She has never needed us. She has always stood quite well on her own. If anything we’ve needed her.”
“And yet here you and Michael are, behaving like two stags in rut.”
For a long time they stood next to each other in silence. A light breeze lifted the curtains on the French doors, and Reese now knelt next to one of the stone benches tending to some little detail in the garden – perhaps a stray patch of weed, perhaps a slate chip in the wrong place. At last Alonso spoke. “Have you told them?”
“Not yet. I will in the morning when they return to High View.”
“Does this have anything to do with the Guardian’s use of the angel’s mark on Susan? Are you afraid he might try to take over his body again?”
“It’s a precaution, nothing more,” she said, careful to keep her voice neutral. No one had any idea just how neurotic she was for her people, and what had happened between Michael and the Guardian had thoroughly unnerved her, even more so when she feared she’d have no choice but to take the life of her beloved angel. Everyone else within the Consortium was allowed their neuroses and foibles and public displays of bad behavior – what could one expect from a loose affiliation of monsters, mutants, and renegade gods? It took one to know one, she thought. But they didn’t have to know that, did they? They only had to trust that she had their best interest at heart. And her own, of course.
“When will you take her?” It was the deep sadness in Alonso’s voice that brought her attention back to the present.
“I’ve been on the phone with Desiree, and my pilot is making arrangements. He’ll fly from Manchester on Wednesday. Desiree will meet her at JFK.”
“That’s only three days.” Alonso made no effort to hide the disappointment in his voice. “They won’t be happy.”
“They’ll get over it. The truth is that it’s three days too many. Every day she lingers in this volatile complicated situation, the risk rises of something going terribly wrong. Emotions are running high in a group of very dangerous predators. I will not have the bear kill the lion, nor the tiger kill the eagle. I’ll tell them in the morning and then I’ll be keeping a very close eye on her, on all of you, until she’s safely on board the plane.”
There was another stretch of silence. Reese now sat on the bench looking out over the beck below, unaware that he was being watched by monsters, though Magda figured he’d grown dangerously used to that by now. At last she pulled a long breath and stretched her aching back. “Go to Reese. Make it right. He’s waiting for you. Surely you can see that. I’ve never minded members of the Consortium having relationships, and even I’m enough of a romantic to know that when it’s right, it’s worth preserving. Trust me, in three months, when Susan returns, you and Michael will both see more clearly; Michael will hold her more dearly and you will hold her more loosely, as it should be. In three months all that’s passed between you and him, all the strife between you and Reese, will be seen from the proper perspective that time lends to all things.”
Alonso said no more, nor did he gesture his leave-taking. He simply turned and moved through the French doors. Halfway down the path, his pace slowed to a more human pace, a pace that would not startle Reese. When Reese made no response to his approach, Alonso came to stand behind him and rested his hands on the man’s shoulders before bending to speak in his ear. Whatever it was Alonso said, it had Reese reaching over his shoulder to pull the vampire into a kiss. Magda realized she was smiling. God, would she never outgrow the romantic streak that softened her heart ever so slightly? But then it was good to see such devotion, good to cultivate it in others whenever she could. She had long known that was as close to the high walls around her heart as love would ever get. None of them had any idea how tenuous the thread that tethered her to humanity was at times, and a little romance in the Consortium helped her strengthen that bond. They all feared her, as well they should. But she knew as none of them would ever know, that she was by far the most dangerous of all of them, the most dead, in many ways, and what she had built, what she had created, her Consortium of wayward monsters had been the family she’d never had. They did what she wanted. She was the tyrant who ruled them, and yet their happiness was not something she could be jealous of when it was one of the few things that touched her heart. She would have Reese and Alonso happy. And in time, Alonso would bring Reese over, but not because Reese felt threatened by Alonso’s attention to another. In time, Michael and Susan would be together. Oh not in Michael’s little house. She had other plans for them, plans that demanded they be together. Her plans were always way more wide-reaching and far-viewing than any of them knew. That was how she had kept herself safe all of these centuries. That was how she made sure no one could take what belonged to her. But, where Michael and Susan were concerned, well she hardly had to force the love of eternity, did she? All she had to do was cultivate the right circumstances, the right conditions. That’s all she ever had to do, actually. And it had never been that difficult with her intuition and the fact that she was the scariest bitch any of her monsters had ever dealt with.
In the meantime, there might just possibly be a siren seducing the Big Apple with magical songs. Now that would definitely keep Susan occupied for a couple of months. She turned to the credenza and poured herself a glass of Glen Morangie, which Alonso kept on hand especially for her. She drank it back and poured another. Soon Susan would learn, as they all had, that – for good or ill — time was irrelevant in the gaping jaws of eternity and it was the monsters with which one surrounded oneself that staved off the emptiness and made that dark endless throat of time a little more bearable.
“To the Consortium.” She raised her glass in salute, watching Alonso and Reese, side by side on the bench, heads together, no doubt talking quietly which, knowing them as she did, was, no doubt, foreplay for a night of passion. “To the Consortium.” She said again, then she drank back the whisky and turned to go home.
Susan and Michael’s story continues, along with the rest of Magda’s Consortium in
Book 2 of the Medusa Chronicles
In New York City away from those she loves, living with the enigmatic vampire, Desiree Fielding, Susan Innes struggles to come to terms with life as a vampire whose body serves as the prison for a powerful demon. When prophetic dreams of blood in the snow and three men in a deep cavern become harrowing nightmares, Susan begins to question her sanity until Reese Chambers arrives from England, desperate for her help. Alonso Darlington, his lover and her maker, has been taken captive and Reese has been warned to tell no one, but Susan, who he is to bring back with him. They’ve barely returned to the British Isles before Susan receives her own message from a man calling himself only Cyrus. He not only holds her maker prisoner, but also her lover, the angel Michael, and if she wishes to see either of them alive, she’ll come to him and not tell Magda Gardener, the woman they all work for and fear. With no help coming from Magda, she and Reese must turn to the Guardian – the terrifying demon now imprisoned in her body. He alone can help them, but how can she possibly trust him after all he’s done?