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In The Flesh Part 25: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_n

 

 

It’s Friday and time for Episode 25 of In The Flesh, in which Michael discovers he’s made a very big, very costly mistake.

 

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 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16, Part 17Part 18Part 19Part 20Part 21Part 22Part 23, Part 24.

 

 

In The Flesh Chapter 25

“What the hell do you mean Annie’s gone?” I said, practically catapulting from the sofa. “She can’t be gone.”

“I’m sorry,” Cook addressed Alonso rather than me. “I brought her tea, and I was surprised to see she wasn’t in her bed. I had hoped perhaps she was improving. But she must have hidden behind the door. She hit me with the candlestick.” He touched his bleeding head once more as though he couldn’t quite believe it had happened. “When I came back to myself, she was gone. I can’t have been out for more than a few seconds.”

I turned on Magda. “You said your rock magic would keep her asleep, out of harms way, you said.”

“Clearly I was mistaken.” She didn’t seem to be the least bit rattled by the fact my crazy, half-starved friend was wandering around somewhere at High View.

Alonso was on his feet and through the door almost before I realized he’d moved. He called over his St Martha's Hill 3
shoulder as he headed down the hall, ‘I’ve got the whole place monitored with cameras so I can enjoy the property in daytime and protect my perimeters. The control room is just down the hall. If she’s outside we should be able to find her.” We all scrambled to follow.

I fell into step beside Magda. “I’ll never forgive you if something happens to her.”

She raised an eyebrow from behind the dark glasses. “The responsibility for your friend’s desperate situation does not lay at my feet, little girl, in case you’ve forgotten.”

If she had gut-punched me, I would have felt the impact no more. Michael moved next to me, clearly overhearing the exchange and slid an arm around my shoulder, but I jerked away. “The blame may lay at my feet, but it was rather convenient for the little act of thievery you two were planning at Chapel House, wasn’t it?”

Now it was Michael who had the freshly gut-punched look.

I shoved past both of them and fell into step next to Talia, who offered me a sympathetic nod. “Alonso always tells me that when comrades are reduced to placing blame, then the enemy has already won.” Seemed it was the day for gut-punches.

We all crowded into a room not much bigger than a closet, which was crammed with monitors and keyboards. Alonso sat down in a captain’s chair and began systematically pulling up the cameras around the property, all of which had the capability of zoom and, in some places, the places where the property was most vulnerable; there were multiple cameras for multiple angles.

“Nothing so far,” he said. “The mist is making it difficult to see anything. I’ve checked the vehicles in the rose imagesdrive and those in the garages, but none are missing. I would assume it’s her plan to go back to Chapel House. In her weakened condition, if she tries to go on foot or hitchhike, it would have to be almost entirely under the Guardian’s power. The woman is little more than a skeleton.”

“He could do that,” I said. “When she attacked me, I couldn’t believe how strong she was.”

“But that was more fear of losing him than it was any aid of his,” Magda said. “The ability to get back to him from here, I would think, would depend entirely on his strength.”

“And on him wanting her back,” Michael added, eyes locked on me rather than on the monitors which, so far had revealed nothing but a very soggy red squirrel, hunkering down in a fir tree to avoid the rain, otherwise the place was deserted. Alonso had sent the builders away when Magda and team had arrived, not wanting to put them in any danger or raise any suspicions.

It was then that it hit me with such import that I grabbed onto the back of Alonso’s chair to keep my knees from buckling. “He doesn’t want her back. He’s deserted her totally, and she has to know that by now. And if she knows it …” As the implications hit home like a an exploding bomb I raced for the door, in a burst of adrenaline, yelling back at Michael, “The tower, where your room is, does it lead to the roof?”

“Fuck!” That was all the answer I needed.

I took the stairs out of the basement two at a time with him right behind me. He passed me as we
2015-09-04 16.16.05 HDRsprinted through the hall on the main floor but then ran into one of the maids with a tray full of dirty dishes from our tea. He spun her around and barely managed to right her before both tray and maid could do a swan dive on the hard stone floor as I sped past the little pas de deux, barely missing being clotheslined by a flailing arm. The steps up the tower were narrow and winding, and I reached the ancient wooden door to the parapet a split second before he did. It was standing wide open, and the view beyond stopped me in my tracks, stopped my breath, stopped my heart. Michael had done the same, coming to a screeching halt right behind me. The tower of High View was shrouded in a light mist. The roof of it was barely big enough in diameter for a tall man to stretch out across. It was surrounded by a stone battlement that was clearly built for decoration, high enough to lean against, but not high enough to be defensive and, there on the far side, Annie was just stepping up onto the top of it. The rain, which had become a downpour plastered her borrowed nightdress to her body and rendered it transparent. She truly did look skeletal beneath it. Her foot slipped, and I screamed, but the wind and rain carried my voice away from her and she thankfully didn’t hear me, as she righted herself.

Before I could run to her, Michael threw an arm around my waist and pulled me tight against his body. “Let her go. It’ll be so much easier for us if you do.” I was suddenly overwhelmed by the smell of roses, and yet when I turned, there was no one behind me but Michael. Fingers of ice climbed my spine and I felt as if the world were tilting beneath my feet as he offered me an unnatural grimace of a smile and a jerk of his shoulders. “After all, that is what we planned from the very beginning, isn’t it my darling. She was only ever a substitute, a stop-gap, as it were, until we could be together.”

“Michael?” I stumbled out onto the parapet and fell backward on the wet stone but before I could scramble to my feet, he grabbed me by the arm and jerked me upright with bruising strength and uncharacteristic awkwardness, the smile on his face stretched too far, his eyes opened too wide and his breath came in labored, syncopated rasps.

“Yes, of course, Michael is here, just as you see, my darling. But as you can also see,” he gave a spastic laugh, “he’s not in control right now.” The smell of roses was suddenly so strong that I felt as though I were drowning in them.

“How?” I managed, the wind blowing my breath back into my mouth. I tried to pull away but his hand circled my wrist like a manacle that was too tight.

If it were possible, he smiled even wider, and then with his free hand, he groped my left breast so tightly
that I gasped, but it wasn’t until his thumb slid over Michael’s mark that I screamed in pain, more pain than I had ever felt in my life. The smell of roses was subsumed in the stench of burning garbage, and I would have fallen if he hadn’t held me there, hand around my wrist, stretching me upward as though I were weightless until my toes barely touched the ground. Almost before it happened, the pain passed and with it the stink, leaving me dazed and wondering if it had happened at all. “Remember, Michael allowed me use of this flesh, this lovely angel flesh of his. A very long time ago, it was, but time is of little relevance to one such as myself, and his mark on your flesh is my way back into his.” The spastic laugh came hot and heavy against my face. “Oh the poor lad was wrong in his assumption that by fucking what is mine, by marring it so, that he could keep it from me. Even more importantly, my darling, he was wrong in assuming that I didn’t pleasure your body that night when you returned to release me from the crypt, that I would not reward you for your gift to me by making love to you when we both wanted it – needed it so desperately. Oh yes indeed, he was very wrong. I had you that night, my darling. I had you over and over again with you begging me for more each time. You wore my mark deep in your very soul long before Michael’s feeble attempt to take what isn’t his.” He leaned in and kissed me with the awkwardness of an adolescent boy. “And then, I took the memory from you because I needed you able to function, able to do what had to be done until I sent for you. Michael’s marking you as he did was an extra gift. The lad didn’t realize, but in doing so, he gave me the gift of enfleshment.” He chuckled softly, more naturally, and I smelled roses again. “I think perhaps now it is time for me to give you those memories back, my darling, so you’ll stop fighting me, so you’ll understand your place is by my side, and now, so is Michael’s.”

Before he could bestow upon me memories I knew I was better off without, he was interrupted by a cry that sounded like an excited child, and we both turned to find that Annie was no longer standing on the battlement, but she was standing next to us, eyes fever bright, the broad smile she wore belying her ill condition. “You came for me, my darling. I knew you would.” She took in the way he held my wrist and the way I struggled and her smile broadened still further. She practically buzzed with excitement. “And you’ll give her what she deserves, just like you promised?”

“Oh, I will indeed give her what I’ve promised, Annie, but sadly that promise doesn’t involve you.”

She looked from him to me and back again. The smile slipped from her face. She shifted from foot to foot. “I … don’t understand.”

“Annie! Annie, he’s going to hurt you. You have to get out of here before –” I caught my breath in a cry of dark moon image_xl_6338206pain as he pressed his thumb against Michael’s mark. Annie’s response was to laugh and clap her hands like a delighted child.

“Stop laughing, stupid woman!” Both Annie and I jumped, startled by the power of his voice even above the rage of the storm. “She is my beloved, I have sent for her. Do you not know? It’s not your place to laugh at my chosen.”

And just like that Annie was trembling all over, once again feeling the effects of the weather and the cold and the last few months of her ordeal. “But what about me?” Her lower lip trembled and she wrung her hands. I glanced desperately back at the stairs. Where the fuck was everyone? What was taking them so long to get to us? They had to know where we were. They had to!

“My darling, you already know the answer to that question.” He nodded back to the battlement. “You’ve served me well with your flesh, my dear Annie, and for that I shall never forget you, but your job has always been to prepare the way. How could you have ever doubted that? Surely you understood this when I had you send for the Scribe.”

She studied me for a long moment as though seeing me for the first time, and then the anguish on her face disappeared, and she came forward, pulled his hand away from my breast and kissed it, a thing, which he allowed her to do like some beneficent king. The moment he removed his hand from Michael’s mark, I could breathe again. I could think clearly again.

“Run along now, Annie, darling,” he said, giving her a little shooing motion, he might have given a favourite pet who was making a nuisance of itself. “Now your job is finished. Time for you to rest. Leave us to our lives together and free my beloved from her concerns for you.”

The wind howled around us and the mist thinned enough that I could see the battlement and the woods beyond. Perhaps he was right. It was inevitable. Even Magda said so. And at the end of the day, if Magda’s magic couldn’t heal Annie, than really, what could? What was left to her but to be sent away to some asylum where she would be drugged and tied to a bed to drool and piss herself until she wasted away pining for the lover who would never return for her. It was a kindness really. It was best to remember the way she was, the way she had been when she was whole, when she was my best friend. Though really, what did any of those memories matter now?

I watched as, on trembling legs, she fumbled her way onto the battlement, all the while He spoke softly to me, reassuring me, telling me that it was for the best, teasing me with little flashes of memory, of moments in the crypt, of the instant He first entered me, when I suddenly felt the entire world, every molecule of it, every breath of it. He teased me with little glimpses of Him nursing at my breasts with the innocent discovery of a child and, yet at the same time, with the passion of a lover powerful enough to set the tangled garden on fire and the whole city along with it. In an instant I saw the eternity we’d spent together that night. The heat of the body He’d not possess took me to heights of ecstasy I could never have imagined and, I, not unlike Annie, had come to those heights of my own free will, only to throw myself off into the abyss that would have terrified me had not He been there to catch me, had not He been there to kiss me everywhere, to enter me again and again, spilling the ocean of Himself into the tiny space that was my flesh, and spreading me over its surface until there was nothing left of me but a thin, transparent skin, permeable only to Him. I hadn’t known I could come like that. I hadn’t known I could be so opened, that I could contain so much and still long for more. Dear god, how could I ever, ever walk away from Him? What difference did the death of one person mean in comparison to being with Him?
What difference did the death of everyone who lived in High View, in Penrith, in Manchester, in all of Britain matter in comparison to being the one He chose to love?

In The Flesh 2 12006311_1476805985954344_6570546160088833292_n“And Michael will stay with us too, my love,” He was saying, as I watched Annie trembling and struggling and pushing her way up to stand on the very edge of the battlement, toes curled over rain slicked stone. “His flesh, his angel flesh, will be mine, will be yours, and we will be together, united as I’ve always wanted.”

A gust of wind whirled around us and something cold and wet thumped me in the chest. With a startled gasp, I reached up and felt Magda’s heart-shaped stone warming to my touch, and without thinking, I curled my icy fingers around it for warmth.

There was a gasp, a curse, the sharp smell of burning garbage and suddenly I was free, running toward the battlement screaming Annie’s name at the top of my lungs.

 

In The Flesh Part 24: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_n

 

 

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 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16, Part 17Part 18Part 19Part 20Part 21Part 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, 2015-06-30 11.27.42
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.”

Scribe computer keyboardMG_0777 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 dark moon image_xl_6338206accusation. 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.”2015-09-04 16.12.40 HDR

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.”

 

In The Flesh Part 23: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_n

 

It’s Friday and time for Episode 23 of In The Flesh, in which much is revealed about Magda Gardener, but Susan’s discoveries only deepen the mystery behind the woman and her relationship with Michael and the Guardian.

 

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 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16, Part 17Part 18Part 19Part 20Part 21, Part 22.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

In The Flesh Chapter 23

“This is where I leave you, Hon.” Talia laid a gentle hand on mine, and there was a tingle that felt a greatS6302008 deal like sympathy. “She won’t welcome a spectator, and I’m not all that keen on being one.” She squeezed my hand and turned back toward the tunnel. I stood for a second gathering my courage. The rain had stopped, but the forest was shrouded in mist and though there were bright bursts of light coming from inside the bothy, the surrounding fell side was sunk in false twilight.

I could smell heat, almost like a forge before I approached the bothy, but the place was icy cold. There was no smoke rising from the roof. In fact, the place felt deserted, in spite of the trail in the high grass which, to my surprise, was littered on each side with a complete menagerie of stone garden sculptures – woodland creatures of all sorts from mice and voles, to rabbits, rats, even a fallow deer, many nearly lost in the high grass, and all so realistic that the deer and the fox both startled me before I realized the grey in which they slunk was not shadow, but the stone from which they were carved. Walking softly through the wet, recently flattened grass, perhaps on some unconscious level fearing I’d startle the stone creatures, but more than likely because, no matter how much I wanted to clear the air with Magda Gardener, I really wasn’t looking forward to the woman’s company – especially after my conversation with Talia.

The closer I got to the door of the bothy, the colder I got. Though the ice I felt in the pit of my stomach had nothing to do with the temperature, which was rather mild under the circumstances, the temperature around the bothy, however, appeared to be its own little microclimate, for which I knew the Lake District was famous, but this was no valley, no dale, this was a place of magic. My breath came in icy clouds as I drew nearer and, in spite of the scent of heat and the flashes of pale light from within, the grass and the stone creatures nearest the entrance were coated in hoarfrost, hoarfrost that I felt coating my lungs as I breathed, chilling me in places that had never known cold before. In spite of the chill, the bothy door was wide open. In fact there was no door at all and, yet, I had the very distinct feeling if I were not invited to enter, the lack of a door would not have mattered. I would have been forced to wait outside for eternity.

“Come in, Susan.” As though she had read my thoughts, I heard Magda’s voice before I actually P1020199saw her. But as I stepped across the threshold, my whole body shivered as though I’d just walked through a very large spider web and, though the room was icy cold, the smell of hot metal grew stronger as did the dance and glare of bright light.

Magda Gardener stood with her back to me in the company of dozens more stone carvings so realistic it was as though she had somehow frozen the toad in mid leap, the wood pigeon in mid preen, the hare in mid hop. There were birds, mice, even several butterflies with stone wings so thin, I wondered at the skill of the artist. They all looked as though the stone from which they were carved would suddenly warm to flesh, and they would all go on about their business oblivious of their recent stone prisons.

“These are amazing,” I said, reaching out to touch a badger that looked as though he would startle at my movement and scurry away.

“They’re just stone,” she said, her voice nearly as cold as the room. For a moment, I thought the woman was welding. She stood with her back to me, bathed in bright flashes of light from which I raised a shielding hand to my eyes. But there was no hiss of acetylene, no sparks from the torch, and she wore no welding mask. She was hunched over a wooden workbench strewn with stone chips and sculpting tools. I could hear the chink, chink of metal against stone, and the smell of heat was acrid enough to make my eyes water, in spite of the cold. I pulled the succubus’ jacket tighter around me, surprised that Magda worked in a loose-fitting shift that appeared to be made of unbleached cotton. It hung mid-calf, moving and flowing with her efforts. As I stepped closer I saw she was barefoot.

“I had forgotten you’re a sculptor,” with a chill, I remembered the life-like sculpture of Michael in the tangled garden at Chapel House.

“It’s an interest of mine,” she replied without turning around. “Something I fell into quite by accident a very long time ago. These days, I use it most often for sympathetic magic, sculpting what I wish to manifest.”

“And these,” I opened my arms to include the stone menagerie on the dirt floor of the bothy, “whatSt Martha's Hill 3 kind of magic are they?”

“Those are magic uncontrolled,” came her reply. “Mistakes with which I now have to live.”

“Mistakes? They’re perfect, so realistic, I half expected them all to scurry away the minute they saw me.”

“Would that they could.” She said, and the light around her flashed so bright, I closed my eyes and looked away. “Stop,” she commanded, as I stepped toward her. “Stay where you are. Let me finish this first.”

I did as she said. It was hard to imagine anyone not doing as Magda Gardener said in that voice of authority that you could feel right where all the blood flows in and out of your heart and right where the hips shelter your center of gravity.

“Magic?” I asked, standing on my tiptoes in an effort to see what she was doing.

“It is.” The smell of molten metal intensified, and the dance and arc of light reminded me again of an acetylene torch. “It’s to help your friend rest and to guard her dreams. I said stay put,” she commanded again as I pressed forward, “unless you want to end up like the animals on the floor.”

“What the hell’s that supposed to mean?” I snapped.

“It means I’m working with powerful magic and unless you want me to make a mistake and lose control, you will shut up and stay still until I’m finished.” The tone of her voice hadn’t altered. There was no anger, no frustration. In fact, she could have been giving me her grocery list, but the light over the worktable flared, and for a second, the air was virtually toxic with the smell of burning. For a second I felt as though my skin was freezing solid on my flesh and my lungs were solidifying in my chest. But before I could choke or gag, certainly before I could make a move for the door, the light dissipated, the air cleared to the point that I could smell nothing but the fresh fell breeze, and the room was suddenly warmer.

I only noticed her dark glasses laying on the end of the workbench because she reached for them.
2015-09-04 16.17.13When she turned to face me, she was wearing them again. “Here, put this on.” Before I could respond, she slipped a black chord around my neck on which hung a heart carved from what looked to be the local stone. I drew it up into my hand and ran a thumb over the perfectly detailed feather etched on its surface.

“It’s a protection spell,” she said before I could ask. “No one is to touch it but you. Well, your angel can touch it, of course, but only because the two of you have been physically joined anyway and he’s given you his own protection spell. The heart represents your heart. The quill is a symbol of your craft. A scribe’s magic lives through symbol, therefore it’s you, not I, who will empower it with what’s needed when the time comes. You may not know it yet, but your craft is the most powerful magic you have with which to fight the Guardian.”

I settled the heart between my breasts. “And that’s why you want to steal me?” I hadn’t meant to be so abrupt, nor to sound so ungrateful, but I didn’t like having choices taken out of my hands.

If she were upset by my lack of gratitude, she didn’t show it. “You undid my efforts, Susan, and now the Guardian is free once again to wreak havoc. Anyone who can do what you did, I want as an ally.”

“An ally is not a possession,” I said.

“On the contrary, I’ve found that it’s usually best when your allies are your possessions.”

I barely heard her words as my gaze came to rest on the object she’d been working on. When I reached for it, she slapped my hand away. “I told you the magic is for your friend. Don’t touch magic that belongs to someone else.”

I was cold again, cold to the core as I studied the tiny image on the table resting among stone chips and dust. It could have been Annie asleep in miniature, just as I’d left her a few hours ago – the body too thin beneath the duvet, the face racked with exhaustion. Even the details of the bedding and her tiny hand gripping the headboard were identical. Once again I was certain the piece was carved from local stone, but it was polished shone as though it were somehow lit from within. “Jesus,” I whispered, bending to look closer. “It could be her, living and breathing in miniature.”

“In truth, it does contain a tiny bit of her essence – a strand of hair, a clipping of a fingernail, but 2015-06-30 11.27.42
it’s only stone, Susan, taken from that cave, in fact.” She nodded to the cave I’d just come out of. ‘After you’re little visit, I was forced to redo the magic,” she said, picking up the piece, which was no bigger than a small chess pawn and turning it over in her hand. “Your unauthorized contact with her raised unconscious longings, made her restless. I’ve had to strengthen the magic to protects her, and to protect all of us.”

I recalled the butcher knife incident with a shudder. “I’m sorry,” I said, “but she’s my best friend, and I — ”

“And you don’t trust me with her. I understand that. But not trusting me is exactly what the Guardian is counting on. He’ll make you doubt everything you know to be true. Knowing that to be the case, knowing that the moment will come when you’ll want desperately, need with every fiber of your being to believe him, I will tell you the truth now, Susan, listen to me now, in this place of magic and know I speak truth. I rescued you, with Michael’s help, when no one else knew you even needed rescuing. I took a ridiculous risk and rescued your friend as well, though I’m still not sure what I can do for her. I am the only one who has ever fought the Guardian and won, and even though your fantasies of him are sweeter than any romance you’ve ever written or read, the truth is that in a few months you’d have ended up just like your friend, and the Guardian would be seeking yet another to devour. This would have been your fate had I not rescued you. You know this to be true. And you must also know that Michael fights the same battle, the same desires, but he is already allied with me. He won’t fight his battle alone, and neither shall you.” Her gaze locked on me from beneath the glasses, and she slipped the image of the sleeping Annie into a small leather pouch that hung around her neck and tucked it back inside her shift. Then she turned for the door and motioned me to follow her back to the cave.

“Rescue is not the same as stealing,” I said, scrambling to keep up.

“I believe the Guardian would beg to differ.”

“That doesn’t mean I’ll belong to you. If we all live through this,” I added.

She stopped in the middle of the cave, deep enough that the natural light had dissipated to dusk, and still she wore the glasses. As she held me in her gaze, no – it was more than that, for a moment I wasGraveyard angel 2da8f31cc622c5a47d15ff0c4f1e114ab certain she held me in her thrall – but as she held me there, I was suddenly, irrationally very glad for the barrier the glasses provided. “No one belongs to anyone, my darling girl, but what you will come to understand if, as you say, we survive this little adventure, is that some debts can never be repaid.
Therefore the loyalty we feel, the sense of gratitude, goes much deeper than simply belonging to someone. I have stolen you from the Guardian, but at the end of the day, it will be you who will steal yourself for my purposes and give yourself over willingly.”

“You’re purposes? What the hell are your purposes?” I asked.

“Why to write, of course. You are a Scribe, after all. Come now.” She found a Mag Light at the entrance to the tunnel and nodded me to follow. “The others will be waiting. It’s time we return to Alonso’s drawing room to finish your little story.”

 

In The Flesh Part 22: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

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In episode 22 of In The Flesh, Susan discovers the chilling truth about what Magda Gardener and Michael were trying to steal from 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 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16, Part 17Part 18Part 19Part 20, Part 21.

 

In The Flesh Chapter 22

“I really need to go.” Michael kissed my ear and cupped my breast, thumbing the nipple that was just peeking from the cloud of geranium scented bubbles. After we’d made love, we slipped down the stone staircase to my room, which, I discovered to my delight, was just below his. He’d requested it that way. For my protection, he said, so he could get to me quickly if the need arose. And since High View was in the process of renovations, this was the best Alonso could do. Once we were back in my room, Michael had filled up the big bathtub and undressed me at his leisure, pausing to kiss and caress as necessary. Then he guided me down into the warm sudsy water and crawled in with me, to bathe me, he said — an act that was accomplished after another, less frantic, reinforcement of his mark. Warm, clean and sated, I leaned back against the humid rise and fall of his chest half dozing, trying hard to pretend that we were simply two lovers enjoying a little wet afternoon delight.

“I may be borrowing trouble,” he said, “but something doesn’t feel right. It shouldn’t have taken Magda so long to reconvene our little … reading group.” I felt his shrug against my back. “Though she’s not the kind who thinks to inform anyone of a change of plans. Still. I don’t like it. I suppose a delay could be a good sign, but I’m not an optimist when it comes to working with Magda, and certainly not where the Guardian is concerned.” Over my mild protests he stood, causing a mini tsunami of scented water, and offered me his hand.

When we were both dried and dressed, I reeled him in for a lingering kiss. “You don’t have to sleep all St Martha's Hill 3alone up there in that cold little tower, you know.”

He caught my hand and pulled it to his lips. “Are you inviting me to share your bed, Ms Innes?”

“Well I was just thinking that the mark could probably use a bit more reinforcing. Just to be sure. And, just in case you might need to get to me in a hurry or something. You understand.”

“You have a good point.” He nodded in mock seriousness.

“You have a better one.” I rubbed against him.

He groaned into my mouth in a deep lazy kiss. “As much as I’d love to discuss my point with you and give you another demonstration, I really need to find out what’s going on.” He kissed me again, giving my arse a good kneading as he shifted up tight against me, then he nipped my lower lip. “I promise we’ll continue this discussion later.” He turned to leave, then turned back to me. “I need you to stay put in your room until I com back for you. After everything that’s happened, the protective spells around this space have been reinforced to keep you safe when you’re alone. I’ll be back for you, or someone else will, shortly.” He waited until I nodded a reluctant agreement, then he left me leaning breathlessly against the edge of the door as I watched him disappear down the corridor.

As soon as he was gone, the world came rushing back. There was no more pretending that we were just ordinary lovers, there was no way to pretend anything was ordinary anymore. Fighting off the rising panic, my first thought was to boot up my laptop and document the events of the past twenty-four hours. Writing things down always helped me focus and see things more clearly – often things that had completely escaped me in the midst of the action, and I very much needed to see things more clearly right now. Then I remembered that the laptop was still in the study, where we’d all been titillated by my encounter with the Guardian. My stomach knotted at the memory. Well I fucking needed it! I couldn’t just sit around and fret. I needed to do something, anything to keep from going nuts, to keep from convincing myself that the Guardian was the love of my life and I needed to hurry back to Him. Ignoring Michael’s request, I took a deep breath, flung open the door and headed for the study. After all, the study was surely safe from the Guardian, deep in Alonso’s vampire friendly basement. I was sure I’d be fine there. The problem was I’d only been there once, and that was following Alonso’s lead. High View was a complicated maze of ruins and renovations one could easily get lost in and never be heard from again. It was the perfect hangout for a vampire and his pet succubus, I thought. Not so great for a confused writer though.

After two wrong turns and a dead end that led to a fairly creepy tunnel, I was just beginning to get dark moon image_xl_6338206seriously concerned that I might really be lost when I turned a blind corner and nearly ran into Talia. I gave a little yelp, and she responded with an amused chuckle. She was dressed in faded jeans, riding boots and a black leather jacket that hugged her perfect curves. Even in the dim light of the passage she looked terrifyingly beautiful – not like an angel. I knew very well what an angel looked like, felt like. Talia wasn’t like that at all with her waves of dark hair and red lips, with her blue eyes that looked right through you. Talia was like everything beautiful, everything desirable, everything dangerous and forbidden rolled into one breathtaking package. Christ, whatever happened to just normal everyday, sexual attraction between two ordinary human beings? I was out of my depth at every turn, and this was the safe place! I was about to apologize for being so jumpy and ask directions when she brought me up short.

“Are you looking for Magda?”

“As a matter of fact, I am.” At least I was now, now that perhaps I had someone to help me hunt her down. I asked innocently, “do you know where I can find her?” I had a few things to say to the woman and if Michael was overly protective of her, perhaps someone else could point me in the right direction.

“As a matter of fact, I do,” she said, folding her arm over mine and turning me down the hall toward the dodgy-looking tunnel. As she grabbed a Mag Light from a shelf near the entrance, I felt a tingle at the base of my spine, but I wasn’t sure if it was from the idea of entering the maw of the tunnel with a succubus I didn’t totally trust or just the fact that her hand against my bare forearm made me slightly giddy. “I would imagine you have a lot of questions for her,” she called over her shoulder as the tunnel began to narrow and she took the lead. “Not that I would expect too many answers if I were you. The bitch isn’t exactly known for her open door policy.”

“You don’t like her,” I said, scurrying to keep up with the pace of someone who was clearly familiar with the tunnel.

“I like her just fine. In fact I admire the hell out of her. But I don’t expect straight answers from her, and when she does get around to straight answers, usually I wish the hell she would have lied, but then that’s just Magda Gardener for you. Can’t say that I really blame her for trusting no one and using every resource at her disposal, and believe me, she’s got ‘em. Resources, I mean.”

“She certainly seems to have Michael by the shorthairs,” I said, stooping slightly as the tunnel narrowed still further and my heart rate accelerated accordingly.

“Hon, she has everyone by the shorthairs, even if they don’t know it.”

“Are you sure you know where she’s at?” I asked, shivering as a gossamer strand of spider web raked across my cheek.

Her chuckle was low and throaty. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to seduce you in some dark musty corner, if that’s what you’re afraid of and, as I said earlier, Alonso doesn’t feed on his guests, even uninvited ones.”

“Very happy to hear that, on both counts,” I said, raking my elbow on a rough outcropping of rock I rose imageshadn’t noticed in the wavering illumination of the Mag Light. Then I added quickly. “Michael tells me you’re his familiar – Alonso’s, I mean.”

The chuckle came again. “Oh, indeed. I’m very familiar with Alonso. I offer him blood and he reciprocates, when my energies are drained in his service. I’m his eyes in the daylight, and his flesh when he needs me to be. I add that … feminine touch to his household. I’m not his lover, though. Not now anyway. He’s head over heels for Reese, and that’s fine with me. I prefer human lovers. Their dreams are really quite … twisted, surprisingly. I know, right? Wouldn’t you think the dreams of a vampire, certainly a vampire who has been through what Alonso has would be far more exciting? But,” she turned and I suddenly found myself nose to nose with her, breathing in her cinnamon and peaches breath, “vampires and succubi and things that go bump in the night are born of the human psyche, you know. The veil between the dream world and the real world is so much thinner than anyone who hasn’t walked both could easily imagine.” She reached out and brushed a spider web from my hair. “I would think a Scribe would know that.” Then she turned and continued on.

Born of the human psyche? I wondered how that could be when Talia, Alonso, even Michael were as real and as physical as I was, but I’d save that question for later. There were more pressing ones at the moment. “So let me get this straight, you gain strength from his blood when you’ve done stuff for him, and he … feeds on you?”

She laughed out loud. “Oh honey, it’s way more than strength I gain from his blood. Taking a vampire’s blood is better than the best drug or alcohol high you can imagine. There’s nothing else like it, unless it’s to reciprocate and offer your own blood to one of their kind. Me,” she shrugged, “Well, I get my kicks mostly in other ways, and though I enjoy the exchange of blood, even need it from time to time when I’m weakened, I feed on an entirely different kind of energy.” Her gaze raked me like a physical touch and I felt my nipples harden. I caught my breath and stepped back. She just winked, then turned and walked on.

For a long time we walked on in silence, then I had to ask. “You can’t feed on the Guardian?”

“No. I have to have flesh, just as Alonso does, though for him the flesh and blood are a very physical need – different from my own. There’s a biochemical reaction that takes place in the body, in the brain when I feed, when a person dreams, when a person is aroused, when a person eats or fucks or gets excited or nervous or frightened or is satisfied in some other way. That’s just biology. I feed on that energy. Whatever it is that the Guardian may be, it’s not physical. There’s no biology where he is concerned. That’s the one thing denied him and the one thing he desires most, that physical experience, that biochemical reaction that happens when flesh meets flesh. That’s why everyone here but Alonso and Magda are vulnerable to him. Alonso is technically dead and Magda, well who the hell knows with Magda?”

“So, you can’t feed on Magda?”

Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500The tunnel suddenly opened into a small amphitheater-like cave, and we picked our way across the rock-strewn floor, slick with dripping water and moss. At the entrance, which was well hidden from the outside by a thicket of heather and hawthorn, we looked out onto the rainy fells. “I’ve never tried to feed on Magda. Though I have to admit, she’s sexy enough; the thought of entering that woman’s dreams scares the hell out of me. Now your angel, well he’s another matter. He gave up his angelhood ages ago. Technically he’s as human as you are now, though he’s … well I suppose you could say he’s enhanced. But, as I’m sure you know, the biochemistry is all there in spades. Him I could feast on quite happily, and the two of you together, oh well, that thought positively makes me wet with anticipation. If ever you’re open for a little ménage, Hon, I promise I’ll make it well worth your while.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” I hated to admit it, but after my experience with the succubus, the thought made me wet too. I quickly changed the subject. “So, Magda is flesh and blood, then, and the … biochemistry is all there, but for whatever reason, you’re scared of her and the Guardian wants nothing to do with her?”

“That’s pretty much it, yes. Not sure why the Guardian doesn’t like her, but I have a feeling that one taste of her energy would fry my circuits permanently. Might well be worth the risk, but I’m not that fucking brave. As for the whys of it all, well I’m not sure even she fully understands, and if you’re brave enough to ask, well go for it, chick, that’s all I can say.”

I would be brave enough to ask, I thought. I needed to understand who the hell this woman was if my life and the life of my best friend and my lover were in her hands. I needed to know if I could trust her. But even if I couldn’t, it really didn’t matter at this point. She was all we had. “Is she really a thief?” I asked.

“A thief?” The resulting belly laugh surprised me, and I waited impatiently while Talia regained control, wiping tears from the corner of her eyes, still chuckling when she was finally able to respond. “ I suppose now that you mention it, that’s exactly what she is, but on a scale that would take your breath away little Scribe.” She nodded to what looked like a ramshackle shepherd’s bothy half hidden in a wooded copse. “She’s in there.” She slipped out of her jacket and handed it to me. “Trust me. You’re gonna need this. Magda isn’t big on creature comforts when she’s practicing her magic.”

I shivered from something other than cold as I shoved my way into the black leather jacket warm from the succubus’ body and redolent with her musky, peachy, cinnamon scent. “So what did she send Michael to Chapel House to steal? I mean seriously, wasn’t she afraid something like this might happen with the Guardian if they started mucking about?”

I suddenly found myself in the woman’s hard blue gaze. She looked at me as though I were some new life form she was only seeing for the first time. “The Guardian was already released when she sent Michael to play cat burglar. Didn’t you know?”

“Me? How the hell would I know? I knew nothing about any of this until Michael rescued me from my butcher-knife wielding best friend.”

“Sweetie,” she stepped closer and pushed the hair back behind my ears in a gesture that sent tingles down my spine, her gaze suddenly softened to something that resembled sympathy. “Didn’t you know?”

“Know what?” The tingle became an icy chill. “Know what?”

Talia gave a quick glance out at the bothy and then squared her shoulders as though she had just made a major decision. “Magda commissioned Michael to … to steal you.”

“What?” I suddenly felt as insubstantial as the spider webs clinging to the ceiling. “What the fuck’s that supposed to mean, she hired Michael to steal me. I’m a person, not an object. She can’t steal me. And neither can he,” I added trying to keep the hurt from my voice.

“Oh she can, and she will. She has stolen more people than you can easily imagine, Hon. Michael’s one of them. And Michael, well he’ll happily aid her because he wants you almost as badly as she does. Maybe more so considering the power of his mark on your body. I can feel it from anywhere in High View. Shouldn’t doubt that I could still feel it all the way to Penrith.”

“Why?’ The word came out sounding entirely too much like a sob.

“What do you mean why? You’re a Scribe. Do you have any idea how rare that is? No one else could have P1020199

released the Guardian but a Scribe and not even every Scribe could have done what you did. That’s the only explanation for his return to the world of the living. It didn’t take Magda and Michael long to put two and two together. They knew your friend wasn’t a Scribe, and they knew that the Guardian was already feasting on her. Remember Magda rescued Michael from the Guardian, and together they imprisoned him. They both understand the way it is with him. You’re what he’s after. Your friend is just a little snack. He knows what you are as well as they do. You hold his future in your hands, and he knows it. That makes you far too valuable for them not to steal you away.”

 

In The Flesh Part 21: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

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As the situation grows more intense and Annie’s condition deteriorates, in episode 21 of In The Flesh, Michael and Susan help each other.

 

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 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20.

 

In The Flesh Chapter 21

‘It’s not all you want, just for Annie to be okay. You’re bargaining, Susan. In your head you’re bargaining.’ As Michael came and settled beside me on the bed, I could smelled the cold fell air on his skin and the hard muscles of his forearm were cool as he brushed against me. He took Annie’s hand and gently tucked it back under the duvet, then he took mine in his own. ‘You want to go back to be with Him. You think if you go back to Him, he’ll make everything all better because you’re certain that you’re the one he’s been waiting for all these centuries.’

When I tried to pull away, tried to be offended, he held me tight. ‘I know that’s what you want, rose imagesSusan, because it’s what I want too. It’s what anyone who’s ever been the center of His attention would want, but they’re all dead.’ His words were like an ice bath waking me from a deep sleep with a cold that went clear to the core of me. He continued. ‘They’re all dead because of Him. It’s just the three of us now. And Annie, well no matter what happens, just like you and me, she’ll want that same thing, she’ll want with all of her being to go to Him. Until her dying day that’s what she’ll want, and that day won’t be long in coming if we can’t figure out what to do to imprison the Guardian again.’

I bit my lip and looked down at his large hand folded over mine, his thumb stroking my knuckles in much the way I had Annie’s. ‘Is that why you left the study while Magda was reading? Because you wanted to go to Him?’

He took a deep breath and looked up at me from beneath thick lashes. ‘Partly. Your … account of what happened to you in the crypt, your first encounter with Him, made me think of my first time being in His presence, made me think about what it had cost to be free of Him.’ He suddenly seemed to have trouble breathing, ‘And it made me realize once again that I’m not free of Him. I want to go to Him so badly that it feels like fire burning me up insides, and I’m not likely to ever be free of Him unless Magda can figure something out.’

For a moment we sat in silence. ‘I’m sorry,’ I said at last. ‘I didn’t know when I wrote those things.’ I bit back a sob. ‘I didn’t even remember writing them until Magda started reading, and even then it’s sketchy in places. But I never meant to hurt you. I didn’t even know you.’

‘I didn’t think that you meant to hurt me,’ he said. ‘I wasn’t offended, believe me, I wasn’t. It was Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500
just, well I remembered all over again His way … His way of never letting go of anyone He’s ever touched, and I felt it more strongly in your words than I had since I was the object of His affection, that’s all. Well, that and, I was jealous. I’m always jealous when someone else has His attention. Just like you are. Just like Annie is.’

‘Christ, I’ve made such a mess of things!’ I shoved my way off the bed and paced the perimeter of the room, which was small, almost dungeon-like by comparison to my own. ‘I can’t just sit here and do nothing.’

‘You’re not doing nothing,’ he said watching me pace. ‘You’re working with people who can help. Magda has a plan and you have to trust her.’

‘How can I trust her when she left me in the crypt? And what kind of magic is she working on Annie? How do I know that her solution is not to just kill Annie and be done with it?’

Michael’s jaw tightened beneath the stubble that had grown enough to make him look even more dangerous than he usually did. ‘If she wanted your friend dead, she’d already be dead, not lying here in a clean bed in a safe house.’

‘A safe house? With a vampire and a succubus, and who knows what else? A werewolf or two? Maybe an army of zombies? Fuck, I’m open to anything these days. Good thing the beasties and ghouls are all on our side, isn’t it, Michael?’

‘It is, actually,’ he said in a voice so calm that you’d think I’d just made some benign comment about the weather. Then he added, ‘they all work for Magda. Well, Alonso does, the others work for him. Talia and Reese are his familiars.’

‘Jesus, I’m living a Bram fucking Stoker novel!’

The unexpected chuckle of a response was laced with a hint of bitterness. ‘Oh nothing so simple blue moon 2as that.’ Then before I could question further he said, ‘Look, Magda does what’s necessary, and she seems to be able to see and understand just what that may be without all the squeamish grey areas of conscience most of the world has.’

‘That doesn’t make me feel any better, Michael. What? We’re all just collateral damage if she decides it’s best to throw the baby out with the bath water? Is that it? Who the hell is she, anyway, and why does she always wear those Men In Black glasses?’

His lips thinned to a tight, straight line, as though they were suddenly sealed. ‘Her story’s not mine to tell. You’ll have to ask her yourself.’

‘I bloody well will,’ I said, turning toward the door.

‘Wait!’ He grabbed my hand and guided me out into the silent corridor, pulling the door shut behind. ‘She’s not here at the moment. You can talk to her when she gets back.’

‘Where is she?’

‘On business that’s none of mine, or yours.’ He said, tightening his grip on my hand. ‘She keeps her own council and for the most part the less I know about it, the happier I am. I wager Alonso feels the same.’

‘She’s a scary bitch, that’s what she is,’ I said, wishing the instant I’d said it that I hadn’t, wondering if maybe she was listening, just waiting to catch me out, to catch me saying or doing something I shouldn’t, so she could lock me back down in the crypt. Maybe I was the bate; Maybe I was the collateral damage necessary to imprison the Guardian again.

‘No one who knows her would argue that point,’ Michael said. ‘But she’s the only one here who has a clue how to deal with the Guardian, the only one I know to ever imprison Him. And He was there, safely out of commission for a long time, a very long time, thanks to her.’

‘Until I released Him.’

‘I have no doubt He deceived you into it. No one was supposed to be able to hear him or be 2015-06-30 11.27.42aware of him in any way, and no one has been before you. Magda says it’s to do with you being a Scribe. I don’t understand it all. She’ll have to explain.’

‘I’ll add that to my list of topics for conversation at our next little coffee clutch,’ I said.

‘Despite the woman being a scary bitch, or possibly because she’s a scary bitch, she’s our best chance of locking Him away again,’ Michael said.

‘You believe that?’

He nodded. ‘If we do as she says, I think she’ll get us out of this situation without that collateral damage you mentioned. If we do as she says.’ At the passage that led down into the basement to Alonso’s study, he turned aside and led me up a winding set of stone steps circling what had to be the inside of a tower.

‘Where are we going? What’s going on?’ I asked, struggling on the uneven steps. The words were barely out of my mouth before, halfway up the stairs, he pulled me through an arched doorway we both had to stoop to enter, and into a round stone room not much bigger than a janitor’s closet. It contained nothing but a twin bed and a nightstand, the only light coming from a small slit of a window at the back of a curved wall. Nothing else caught my attention before he slammed a heavy wooden door shut behind us and took my mouth in a scorching kiss pressing me up tight against the wall until I could feel the hard geography of his body shifting and undulating against mine which, before I knew what was happening was returning the favor.

‘Where are we? What the fuck are you doing?’ I honestly didn’t care what the answer to the first question was, and the second was just plain stupid, really. I knew the answer, and I knew what I was doing too, as I tugged at the belt to his jeans. There might have been a small part of me wondering how I could jump from the roller coaster of concern for my friend and plotting to get back to the Guardian to wanting to shag Michael’s brains out, but I shoved the thought aside as he went to work on the buttons of my shirt.

‘The mark, my mark,’ he emphasized. ‘It burns because it’s not been reinforced properly. I had St Martha's Hill 3intended to take care of it. Believe me, I was looking forward to it, but between the Guardian and Magda, I didn’t get the chance. It needs to be made stronger if it’s going to help protect you. Or me.’ He shoved the shirt off my shoulder and all but ripped the hooks of my bra open before he scooped my breast free, bent and began a delicious, tetchy suckle and bite, suckle and bite of the mark he’d left just above my nipple during our earlier love-making. If the Guardian’s touch had brought me excruciating pain through that mark, the feel of Michael’s tongue, his teeth, his lips brought me exquisite pleasure – far more pleasure than even his skilled fondling of my breasts should have been able manage.

As I ripped at his fly, he returned the favor, shoving my jeans and knickers down over my arse with a slight of hand that felt like magic … probably was magic, come to think of it. I wriggled and squirmed them down around my ankles and kicked one leg free, sending a shoe skittering across the stone floor, all the while he sucked and nipped, cupped and explored, and the mark sent heat waves of pleasure through every nerve ending in my body.

‘Get ‘em off! Get ‘em off, get ‘em off,’ had suddenly become my mindless mantra. I was much less graceful in my efforts than Michael had been in his, my hands made awkward, fingers unsteady by my own need. He responded to my uncomfortable tugging and shoving with a harsh, humid grunt against my breast. While wriggling and shifting as best he could in order to aid my efforts, he brought a jean-clad knee in between my thighs to open my legs, then teased me by bringing it up to rub and stroke until I was all but squatting onto it, rocking against it. Then he lost patience, gave a guttural curse, and shoved 2015-09-04 16.17.13my hands away to deal with his uncooperative jeans himself. All the while his mouth remained hard at work on my breast, on his mark.

With that same slight of hand movement that had freed me from my clothing, he managed his jeans –commando beneath, I noticed — though I barely had time to notice anything before he cupped my buttocks in large, calloused hands and lifted me. In one effortless thrusting of his hips, he pushed up inside me, gasping as though someone had knocked the breath out of him. I arched my back against the wall to get closer to his efforts, my legs circling his waist, one foot still trailing jeans and knickers, frantic to get a grip, frantic to have him where I needed him.

He bit my breast, and this time I did feel pain, delicious ecstatic pain that radiated in waves down over my belly to throb like a heartbeat deep in my core each time he thrust. Then he raised his head, taking my mouth savagely before pulling away, bathing me in the hot coffee scent of his breath and the hotter, darker, scent of his lust. ‘I won’t share you with Him, Susan. You belong to me now, and I might have been forgettable in your little account that Magda so kindly read, but I’m not now, nor will I ever be again.’

I grabbed him by the hair with a white-knuckled fist and forced his mouth back to my breast. 2015-08-24 12.54.32 HDR
‘Then you bloody well better make sure I don’t forget, Michael; do you understand me?’
In response, he bit again, and I cried out, but this time in orgasm, my head thump-thumping against the wall with each convulsive tremor as Michael clamped down hard and suckled as though he were a vampire and I was the main course. In all honestly, I wasn’t sure that he hadn’t drawn blood. Whether he had or not, the delicious result of the act was his own release, with each brutal pounding of his hips filling me with his fire, burning me, biting me, suckling me until the world disappeared, until I couldn’t recall my own name if my life depended upon it; until I could recall only one name, the only name on my lips over and over again, ‘Michael! Michael! Michael!’

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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