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In The Flesh PART 15: Dark Paranormal Romance. Read & Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_n
I’m just back from Scotland well and truly inspired to write like the wind. That being said, it’s time for Part 15 of In The Flesh in which Susan learns more of the truth than she wants to know, but not nearly enough to get her out of the mess she’s in.

Read! Enjoy! Spread the word!

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 13, Part 14.

 

In The Flesh Part 15

“Susan? Are you all right? You’re shivering and I don’t want you to catch a chill.”

When I came back to myself I still stood naked in front of the mirror. But He was right, I was shivering.

“Darling, you’re frightening me. Please, go to the bed Annie has made up for you and get beneath the duvet and make yourself warm.”

I did as He asked without thinking, though it was fully of my own volition. He was not compelling me in any way I could tell, but the next thing I knew, I was curled in a fetal position in the on the mattress on the floor, the duvet pulled up to my chin, and still I shivered, as I struggled to get my mind round what he’d just said.

He sat next to me. I could feel the weight of Him on the mattress, and I knew He watched me. “Shall I rouse Annie to make you more tea? Perhaps that would help.”

“No. Let her rest.” I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing her the way she was now, and I really wasn’t up to another knife confrontation with my best friend. Until I had some plan of action to help her, to get her out of here, it was best to let her sleep.

He made no reply, but lay down next to me and in a moment, I felt his body naked against mine. “Please don’t.” I whispered.

“I only wish to warm you, my darling. I promise I won’t take you until you are ready for me.”

How there could be body heat when there was no flesh to generate it, I didn’t know, but there was, and I couldn’t help snuggling back against Him, doing my best to ignore that He was ready for me, whether I was ready for Him or not. It hit me then, that He was exerting control over himself by not trying to control me. Whatever lust I had for Him was no more than I would have felt for any well-endowed man, who lay next to me when I was under such stress. I knew, He could easily change that. I knew He could make me want Him to the detriment of anything else that could possibly matter. I reminded myself that He hadn’t said if I was ready for Him, but when. I needed, above all else, to remember that. His strategy was to replace Annie with me, and He didn’t necessarily have to force the issue to make that happen. All of those things were in my mind, but the fact that I might have been the one to released a monster into the world just happened to take center stage in my brain, at least for the moment.

“What you said. That can’t possibly be,” I managed between chattering teeth. “How I could have removed the gate and the padlock? I mean I couldn’t have. It isn’t possible. I had no key, I couldn’t have even found my way back to the crypt through that tangle of a garden without Annie’s help, and besides, I … I didn’t know you were there. How could I have known you were there?”

He smoothed the hair away from my temple and kissed me in the spot where my pulse thundered. “Of course you solicited Annie’s help, my darling. She helped you find your way back, but only you could open the gate. Only you could set me free.”

“I didn’t know you were there,” I repeated, my words sounding more like a plea.

“Of course you did, my little Scribe. You sensed me there in the darkness waiting for you, longing for you, and your words breathed hope into me. Don’t you remember your dreams?”

“I … vaguely. But I was drunk and I was only telling stories. Often what I’m writing about or thinking about invades my dream world. I don’t remember you, though, and I don’t remember releasing you.”

“Don’t you?” His hand moved down then to cup my breast and the press of his penis became more urgent against my bottom. “You convinced Annie to help us. Ultimately I could see that your plan was for her to ultimately get us together, you and me.”

“No! That was not my plan! There was no plan. It was only a dream, and I would never use my friend that way. Ever!”

He only kissed my shoulder and spoke quietly as though He were telling me a story. “Of course it was your plan. Annie would be mine. She would stay with me, satisfy me until you could come to me, until you could be mind. That was always our plan, my darling. I always knew that in my heart of hearts.” I felt him shrug. “A figure of speech of course. I have no actual heart, of course.”

“Oh Christ,’ I whispered, fighting back panic. Had I not awakened in both terror and arousal? Hadn’t my last thoughts in the dream world and my first in the waking been that I had opened a door I could not close again?

“This is insane! It was just a dream.” With all the force I could muster, I shoved my way up off the mattress and fled to the bathroom, snatching up my clothes, still on the floor where I’d dropped them. “It was just a fucking dream!” I shouted, sensing His presence behind me as I scrambled into my jeans. “I’m not crazy. I know a dream when I have one.”

“The dreams of a Scribe carry more weight than those of an ordinary mortal, Susan, do you not know this? Has no one told you? I would have certainly thought Michael would have said something, after all that’s what the bitch who owns him wants.”

“What the hell’s that supposed to mea? Why would Michael care? He has nothing to do it. I write stories! People pay me for them,” I said buttoning my shirt over my braless breasts while shoving the bra into my bag, “That’s what I do. I don’t live out my dreams! I don’t open doors into strange abysses, and I didn’t release a –”

Before I knew what was happening, He was on me, forcing me back against the sink. The mark on my breast suddenly burned like fire that spread down my torso, and I screamed at the press of him, still naked, still aroused and all hard invisible muscle that bore down on me like a suffocating weight. “What, Susan? You didn’t release a monster, is that what you were about to say? Do you think that you wouldn’t? Do you think that you couldn’t? Are you so naïve as to believe that what’s inside your head, what you put on the written page is any less monstrous, any less dangerous?”

“What else are you but a monster,” I shouted, “hurting me like this, hurting poor Annie who did nothing to deserve it! Nothing! If I’m the one to blame, leave her alone, let her go and –”

I swallowed back my words in a yelp as the floor tilted beneath my feet and the air around me crackled with static and ozone, and my head felt full and tight as though I were suddenly on a train passing through a tunnel at high speed. In my confusion, it took me a second to realize the roar that I thought was a sudden clap of thunder was the sound of His anger, followed by my scream as I found myself flying through the air and landing with a thud on the stone floor. A sharp shockwave raced down my spine and pinwheels of color exploded behind my eyes. For a split second I thought He’d broken my neck, but that was secondary to getting the breath back that he’d knocked out of me. Then, in an instant, the room righted itself and He was gone. I heard Annie scream, as he vanished.

I stumbled to my feet, still barely dressed, lost my footing in a wave of dizziness, and came down hard on one knee, yelling my friend’s name as I shoved through the door and down the hall. “Annie! Hold on, I’m coming. Hold –’ Then the kitchen door burst open, and the breath that I’d only just recovered was knocked out of me again as Michael scooped me up like I was a sack of grain, threw me over his shoulder and was nearly to the gate before I could do more than gasp. “Annie! Annie! I can’t leave, her,” I gasped as he shoved me into the passenger seat of my own car.

“Maggie’s got her! It’s all right! Maggie’s got her and they’re headed for–” I accidentally elbowed him in the chest and he sputtered. “Fuck! How many goddam times are we gonna have to do the great escape routine!” Then he slammed the door shut, cursing as he hopped into the driver’s seat and shoved the key home. I don’t know how the hell he got it, and I didn’t ask as we pulled away from Chapel House like we were being chased by all the demons from Hell, and God knew one of them was fucking bad enough!

I stiff-legged the floorboard and shoved both hands against the dashboard with a sense of deja vu I neither wanted no appreciated. Then, when we’d put a good few blocks between us and that horrible place, I turned on Michael. “He said I set Him free! He said I’m the one who let him loose on the world, let him loose to do this to Annie. He fucking said you knew!”

Michael cursed under his breath, the tension in his body evident still in his suicide grip on the steering wheel. “I’m sorry, Susan. I was going to tell you. I said all the time we should tell you right up front so there’d be no surprises, so you’d know what you were up against, but Maggie said not to, Maggie said to wait. She said she had a plan. Some fucking plan!” He ranted, cursing the first born this Maggie would supposedly never have and wished every plague and pestilence he could think of upon her – some I’d never heard of, but I didn’t hear anything after that except for the beating of wings against my ears and the desperate draw of breath into my lungs. It was true. I released Him. How the hell could it be true?

“Susan?” It was the sound of my own name that made me realize the rant was over and Michael was addressing me. “Did you hear me? I’ll explain everything once we’ve reached the rendezvous point, well, Maggie can explain better than I can, but we need to make sure you’re safe first.”

I forced a laugh that was decidedly on the hysterical side, and I really didn’t give a fuck. “Safe? How the hell can you even use that word when He’s out there? And why the hell do you think I’ll actually believe you when you lied to me? You fucking lied to me!” I punched him hard in the arm with my fist, and he responded by trapping my hand against his body, driving with one hand on the wheel and the other holding my wrist away from him, but at such an angle that my arm twisted making any movement uncomfortable. That done, he let me have my rant, the fucker barely breathing hard as I called him every name I could think of, and then threatened him with some seriously creative bodily damage, none of which did he seem concerned about even for one second.

At last he spoke. “Are you finished? Because I need my arm back. A safe driver keeps both hands on the wheel.”

“Safe driving is the least of my concerns at the moment,Michael, and believe me,” I growled, “we’re not anywhere near finished, and I have no intention of dying before I kick you seriously in the balls a few times.”

“Fair enough,” he said, and then he released me.

“Where are we going?” I asked once my temper had cooled enough to remind me that I was scared shitless, exhausted and physically damaged, and if I were going to survive whatever happened next, I would need Michael’s help, whether I liked the plan of action or not.

“There’s a place in Cumbria, up in the fells. Friend of Magda owns it. No one will find us there.”

“And Annie? She’s in really bad shape, and she … she’s not in her right mind.” I swallowed hard thinking that my best friend had tried to kill me, then delivered me right into the mouth of the dragon. But that was forgivable under the circumstances. What was unforgivable was the fact that it seems to have been my actions that put her at risk in the first place.

“She’s in good hands, I promise.” He patted my arm gently. “Maggie will know what to do, and at the moment, we need her safe and out of the equation so he can’t use her against you.”

We turned of the M6 onto the A66 heading toward Keswick with Michael questioning me about what had happened. When I told him of his boss’ visit in the crypt, he unleashed some seriously colorful language and slammed his hand against the steering wheel hard enough to rattle the whole car. “Damn her! We had you safe. We had you away from Him, away from Chapel House. If I’d been awake, I would have known you were walking into a trap. I would have stopped you. We’d have all been safely away by now.”

I gave him a sideways glance. “And what about Annie?”

The muscles along his jaw clenched tight and his shoulders stiffened. “We got her out, didn’t we?’

“But that wasn’t part of the plan, was it?”

“I don’t know what the hell the plan is,” he snapped. “Clearly Maggie’s keeping me as much in the dark as she is you. We’ll have … words, when I see her.”

Before I could respond with some things I’d rather have with this Maggie bitch that were much more physical than words, Michael continued. “You need to sleep now. Alonso … well Alonso is a bit neurotic, though I understand that’s pretty typical of his kind. He doesn’t like people to know where he lives. Took a page from Maggie’s book where that’s concerned. Anyway, I’ll put you to sleep, and when you wake up, we’ll be there.

“Magic? You’ll magic me to sleep?”

He shrugged and I thought I saw a blush crawling up his neck. “I suppose you could call it that. Don’t worry, it’s harmless, but useful at times. God! Only three days ago, I didn’t believe in magic or angels or monsters. Shows what the hell I knew.

When I woke up, the car had stopped. It was dark outside and some unknown man was carrying me like a child.

“I’m not keen on Maggie using High View for her little capers,” the man was saying, his voice a purr of a vibration deep in his chest. I shivered and snuggled close for warmth but felt none.

“I’m not too keen on it either, Alonso, I’d much rather be in my own place where I can pull up the drawbridge, but looks like you drew the short straw this time around.”

I was about to ask what was going on, not that I expected anyone to give me a straight answer, but I fell back to sleep in this Alonso’s arms before I could manage more than a moan.

 

In The Flesh Part 14: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_nIt’s time for Part 14 of In The Flesh! I’m in Scotland while you read this, gallivanting about the Highlands with my Hubby and my sister, so I expect to come back fully inspired. In the meantime,  s the plot thickens and things get darker, Susan finds out that she has a few dark secrets of her own.

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 12, Part 13

 

 

In The Flesh Part 14

“What do you want,” I asked again, realizing that I didn’t actually know for sure – at least not other than the fact He wanted to fuck me. But there had to be more to the story than that, didn’t there? Surely.

“I want you to come away from there before you hurt yourself, Susan. Please.” The word ‘please’ sounded like perhaps He wasn’t used to using it, wasn’t used to making polite requests. I felt a warm hand on my back. “You need to eat. Then you can have a bath, and we’ll talk. I apologize for locking you up in this horrible place. I was angry. You were right. I behaved very poorly. Come. Please.”

As I turned to make my way back I could see anemic daylight from the now open door of the crypt. “Don’t try to 2015-06-30 11.27.42escape.” He spoke as though he’d read my mind. “You can’t. And I don’t want to hurt you again. I don’t like doing that to you, darling, really I don’t.”

“I don’t like it much either,” I said, standing and stretching when the crypt opened out into a space high enough to do so.

I walked stiffly through the tangle of vine and ivy, somehow sensing that I was being guided, though not being forced. This time, He didn’t take me past the sculpture of Michael. He took me round close to the aging brick of Chapel House and right to the open kitchen door. Inside, the smell of grilled meats and spices nearly overwhelmed me, and my mouth watered. I didn’t know how long it had been since I’d eaten. I didn’t know how long I’d been in Chapel House, but I was starving. There was doner kebab and pita bread and a pot of fresh brewed tea.

“Annie tells me you like kebab, and that you like your tea brewed strong. I hope it’s all right.”

“You did this?” I asked, stuffing a huge chunk of pita into my mouth and swallowing almost without chewing.

“I had her do it. She made the tea and ordered the kebab from the local shop, which delivers, a very useful service when sustenance is required, or so she tells me.” He chuckled softly. “Obviously I’m not very adept in a world designed for the enfleshed.”

“The enfleshed,” I smiled in spite myself. “That’s what we are?”

“It is yes. Awkward, but not without its elegance, flesh.”

“And it’s shortcomings,” I said, rubbing the knot on my elbow, which I had banged heartily on the wall flailing to keep from falling into the abyss in the crypt. “You said Annie prepared this.” I looked around the room anxiously. “Where is she? There’s plenty here for both of us.”

“Oh she’s not hungry,” came the reply. “She needs her rest.” Then He added quickly. “Please don’t worry about her, Susan. I’ll keep her safe. I told you I take care of my own.”

“Besides, she wants to kill me,” I said, suddenly not so hungry.

“She’s just very confused. She doesn’t understand how it is with us,” He said. “But she will with time.”

In spite of the sudden loss of appetite, I made an effort to eat. I knew that I’d need all my strength if I were to have any chance of surviving this mess, and what was happening to Annie, her slow starvation, I’d be damned if I’d let that happen to me. “Do you have a name?” I asked, around a mouthful of kebab.

“If you wish for me to have a name, then I shall have a name,” came the reply.

I took the teacup into my hand and sipped it, holding it as much for warmth as anything else. “Are you saying that your name is mine to give?”

“I’ve observed that names matter a great deal to the enfleshed, and that they matter a great deal more to one such as you, my darling scribe. They’ve long made no difference to me. But even as you sit there I can see your struggle to define me, and I must admit, I find it very exciting, this … being defined by the woman I desire.”

I felt the muscles low in my belly tighten at His words, then relax like butterflies taking flight. I squinted into blue moon 2the space across the breakfast bar from me, the space where I perceived Him to be. “Didn’t Annie want to know your name? I mean don’t all lovers struggle to define each other, to understand the uniqueness of the person they desire?”

He chuckled softly. “You would think so, would you not? But most people are too self-absorbed to consider the name of another or how the other defines himself except in how it pertains to them and their need to control that which they love.”

“And Annie? ”

“Oh my darling Annie was not so interested in defining me as she was in my definition of her, in my ability to … make her feel more herself.”

“By that you mean in your ability to make her come? I would think that would also have a great deal to do with her making you feel more yourself? Surely you can’t tell me that was of no interest to you?”

“I am what I am,” came the reply. This time, I felt Him standing next to me. “I am no less driven by my nature than you are yours. Now come,” I felt his hands on my shoulders and in my mind’s eye, I could almost make out the shape of his long graceful fingers, but surely it was only my imagination. “Come and have a bath,” he said. “Oh don’t worry, I won’t … attack you.” There was bitterness in His voice that I felt in my own mouth as though it were my own. I shivered and quickly downed the rest of my tea in an effort to wash it away.

 

True to His word, not only did he not attack me, but He left me completely alone to bathe. In spite of the stress of the situation, I felt my shoulders relax in the warm waters of the bath, as I lay back with my eyes closed. I gave up trying to plan my escape, at least for the moment, and my thoughts returned to the tunnel beyond the crypt, then to the dreams that I’d had the night after Annie first showed me Chapel House. I was surprised to find that a great deal of that time was sketchy in my memory, and with a sudden flash of insight, I realized I’d never written anything about that day, not in my journal, not in my notebook, not anyplace. I hadn’t spoken of it, dreamed of it or even thought of it until just now in the tunnel. A crypt, a deconsecrated church with a sketchy past, a great deal of drunken speculation on the story behind Chapel House, and yet I, a well established writer, who never let anything go unobserved or undocumented, had neither written about it nor thought about it, as though it had never even happened.

But I remembered now, as I sifted through my memories, that the tunnel had most definitely been barred shut and padlocked and right about where I nearly fell into the abyss. I remembered it clearly now. I remembered both of us making jokes about what was beyond the bars. I remember we did it until we scared ourselves, then we turned and left the crypt – not really running, but definitely not lingering, as though we feared perhaps those bars weren’t quite as strong as they look, and perhaps the padlock wasn’t really locked. I remember the feeling of my own flesh creeping as we laughed and joked about the release of demons from the pit of hell and about souls hungering for what He had called enfleshment, but Christ! It was just my imagination. That’s what I did! I wrote stories. I spent at least as much time in my imagination as I did in the real world – maybe more. It was Annie who had no imagination. But then she really didn’t need it. Her life already was a story. All of the things she wanted, all of the things that happened to her could have been the plot for a cheap romance novel or an episode of East Enders on steroids. She was the practical one, the one who made bags of money, which she spent on a luxurious lifestyle. She was the one who had no time for love, not real love anyway. Oh she had lovers, all right. Men queued to be with Annie. But for her it was never more than a dalliance followed by a minor drama of a break-up. There’d be a few tears shed, followed by some laughs with her girlfriends over too much wine, and then on to the next one. I was the one who would have happily lived in a cardboard box as long as I had something to write on. As for love, well my passion, the love of my heart, had always been the telling of stories. That kept me way too tunnel-visioned and in love with my own creations to notice even if a bloke did pay attention to me.

And why the hell was I thinking about all this now? Was it fear of losing my friend? Was it fear of facing my Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500own mortality? With a shiver, I realized that the lust, which had not left me since my first night in Chapel House, had eased back to a gentle buzz low between my hipbones, and my mind was suddenly clear.

I stepped out of the tub and dried myself, still thinking about the events of that night, which seemed like an eternity ago now, and with a start, I realized that He had left me unsupervised. I could have left. My car was just outside. My bag was on the floor by the sink. I suppose he’d had Annie get it. Christ, He used her like a zombie. But then at the moment she wasn’t much more, was she? With a shiver, I recalled how He had moved me to where He wanted me to go as though I were a puppet on a string. Still, He would have let me walk away just now. I knew He would have. I don’t know how I knew, but I did. He’d left me alone on purpose – to see what I would do. So why was I standing stone still and naked staring at myself in the mirror? Why wasn’t I already long gone?

I stepped closer to my own reflection, studying Michael’s bite on my breast, darkened now to shades of midnight blue and purple. There was no evidence of the burn from His touch, no evidence of anything other than a healing love bite. Why was I still here? Did I still think I could save Annie? Oh, I wouldn’t leave without her, I knew that. I also knew that it was entirely possible neither of us would leave at all. I knew as well that sometimes you just needed to run away, to fight another day, and yet I hadn’t, had I?

This time when He approached me, there was no scent of roses, but the scent of a man, a man aroused, but in control, a man who had not come with only sex in mind, a man who had come to court me. An obsolete term, perhaps, but it seemed to fit under the circumstances. My nostrils flared to breathe Him in, and my flesh tingled at the thought of all a person could learn from the smell of a man in his prime. And yet, this was not a man standing next to me. I dared not forget that, no matter what my senses told me.

“You stayed,” He said, and I felt his fingers caress my shoulder. I didn’t flinch, but closed my eyes and leaned back against warm flesh, flesh that was not really there. My senses traced the rise and fall and shape of him, and I liked what I felt. It took me a moment to catch my breath, and even though I expected him to, he made no attempt to do more than touch my shoulder.

“I have … questions,” I said, my mind unable to ignore the fact of Him, the fact that He was as naked as I was, and it was not difficult to tell, He was well and truly ready to make love to me if I asked. And if I asked, He would show me what the gods kept secret from all humanity except for their human lovers, and I would never be the same again. Quite possibly, I wouldn’t even survive it. All I had to do was ask. He wouldn’t deny me.

But he made no further move at seduction. He stood still, while I leaned against him, supporting my weight, but little more. “Of course.” His voice was warm and humid against my neck. “Anything I am able to tell you I will.”

“In the crypt, in the back, the tunnel?”

“Yes?”Graveyard angel 1

“There were bars and there was a padlock, a big one.”

“There were, yes. But they’re gone now.” He cupped my breast, and this time His touch didn’t burn when he stroked my nipple with his thumb.

“What happened to them?’ I arched against him, like a cat being stroked. ‘Did Annie have them removed?”

“Why no, my darling little scribe. Don’t you remember? You took them out. You removed them in order to set me free.”

 

In The Flesh Episode 13: Story in Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_nIt’s time for Part 13 of  In The Flesh. And yes, 13 is my lucky number, because the fabulously talented Kev Bliss has created a fantastic cover for In The Flesh. As the plot thickens and things get darker, I can’t help but wonder if Kev was reading my mind when he created it, and possibly even seeing the story before I did! Thank you, Kev!

 

Enjoy Part 13 in which Susan explores the crypt as well as some disturbing memories of a drunken celebration and strange dreams.

 

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 11, Part 12

 

 

In The Flesh Part 13

Once the panic passed and I was sure I wasn’t going to hyperventilate, pass out, or lapse into hysterics; once I’d stopped calling the bitch Michael worked for every name I could think of for not getting me the hell out of here, I crawled forward, as carefully as I could, one hand outstretched in front of me until I found the wall. Then I slowly followed it around making my way toward where I hoped the door would be. I didn’t know why I bothered. It wasn’t like I could get out, and even if I could, it wasn’t like I could just give Him the slip, was it? That was assuming I’d even have the will power to try. In spite of feeling like I’d had one helluva beating, in spite of being scared witless, my whole body still buzzed with a desire for Him that hurt almost as badly as the burn above my breast. Still, finding the door gave me something creative to do, something to think about other than the fact that I was trapped in a place created to inter the dead. Of course the estate agent had assured us that all of the sarcophagi had been removed along with any human remains, ages ago. All that had been left when Annie took possession was an empty space perfect for a wine cellar, the agent assured her.

‘Wine cellar my arse.’ The sound of my disembodied voice in the thick dark was startlingly loud, so I kept the rest of my ruminations to myself, as I felt my way along the bare rock, banging elbows and scraping knuckles. I was exhausted by the time I found the even-edged crack between the wall of the crypt and the stone that had served as a door for who knew how many generations. I could have cried with relief, as I inserted my fingers along the vertical axis and slid them up until I was certain what I’d found was, indeed, the door and not just some ancient crack in the stone wall. It was such a small victory, but any victory that was something to hang on to, that was something to keep the panic at bay, was a good one.

I tried to recall what I remembered about the crypt when Annie had taken me on the grand tour right after she 2015-06-30 11.27.42took possession of Chapel House. But we’d been so excited about her future home that while she speculated about the place’s gruesome past, or at least the way she imagined it, I hadn’t paid a huge amount of attention to detail, being, I’m ashamed to admit, more than a little creeped out by the place. In truth, there hadn’t been many details to pay attention to. There were no carvings, no sculptures, no grave goods of any kind, not even a stone vase for flowers. The walls were smooth stone without so much as catacomb-like niches for shrouded bodies. Truly, it wasn’t all that interesting as far as inspiration for good horror stories went. That was probably a good thing, considering my present circumstances. But still, it was a crypt. There had been corpses, lots of corpses over a long period of time. Best not think about that at the moment. Ghosts and ghouls I could do nothing about, but then again, I could do nothing about Him either, and what was He but a ghoul, all be it an outrageously sexy one.

As I recalled the crypt was long and rectangular, narrowing at the back to a tunnel that was barely high enough for me to stand in hunched in over. It was closed off at the narrowest end by rusted iron gate that was heavily padlocked. Beyond the bars, I had no idea where the tunnel led, and neither did Annie. If there were any existing maps or drawings of the crypt, she’d not been able to find them in her research of the place. Perhaps it was some kind of sinister escape route leading to a rendezvous point far beyond the churchyard walls, she speculated – possibly pirates, thieves, murderers or even clandestine lovers.

That night over way too much wine and double chocolate fudge ice cream, safe in her flat, safe away from the creepiness of the crypt of Chapel House, I’d done some speculation of my own, my imagination running wild with a story about monks and nuns and scholars and bishops frantic, not to escape through the tunnel in the crypt, but instead, desperate to keep something out. But just exactly what they were trying to keep out, my inebriated brain couldn’t quite sort. Still, Annie listened wide-eyed and squealed with delight, goose bumps rising on her arms, as I told her how the most powerful bishops and brightest scholars alike all tried to block the entrance to the tunnel to keep out the evil beyond, and all died horrible deaths for their efforts along with the poor monks and nuns who served Chapel House, and a fair few parishioners as well. All of this information, of course, was stricken from the records and kept secret, considered knowledge too dangerous for public consumption. She asked me if it was the tunnel to hell. But by that time I was way too drunk and had way too much of a chocolate buzz to imagine just where that tunnel led, or why it had been closed off. I had all sorts of ideas swirling in my head, though, like I always did when I was inspired, and Chapel House had inspired me as much as it had creeped me out. In fact it probably inspired me exactly because it had creeped me out. And while I was interested in all of Annie’s plans for renovation, I admitted to her, as we laughed and giggled that night, that I kind of liked the place just the way it was, though, I quickly added, I wouldn’t want to live there. As we both stumbled off to bed, I promised myself I’d write down all those intriguing ideas in the morning when I sobered up a bit, but I never did.

As I sat with my head pressed to the door of the crypt, my mind was suddenly flooded with memories of that 2015-06-30 10.12.08night after Annie first brought me here. The place had been officially deconsecrated. Chapel House and its surrounds were no longer holy ground, and yet who can really say what that means? That day while exploring the crypt, we had no sense of sacred or profane, no sense that we might be desecrating something, or that we might have treated anything with disrespect. In the evening we’d celebrated her closing on Chapel House and we made up stories, mad, insane stories. It was the first time we’d ever done that, but it meant nothing really. We were drunk and we simply followed our imaginations into the dark and let them run wild while we hung out in the safety of her very posh flat. But that night I had disturbing dreams. I didn’t remember the details, but I woke shivering as though from a nightmare, body slick with sweat, expensive sheets tangled around me. And yet somewhere in the midst of my dreaming, I’d slid my fingers between my thighs, and I woke as desperate with need as I was desperate to escape the nightmare. I had lain there writhing, breathing hard, aching all over as though a lover had brought me to the brink and left me unfulfilled. All I could remember was that in the dream, I opened the door, and once I’d opened the door, I couldn’t close it again, no matter how hard I tried.

But then the alarm went off and I was dragged hung-over, dry mouthed and head pounding, into the waking world. The dream had faded by the time I’d prop myself against the shower wall until the hot water was all gone. By the time we’d poured enough coffee down our throats and popped enough Paracetamol to take the edge off enough so we could hit the shops, I had totally forgotten it happened. Honestly, the dream never entered my mind again until this moment. That wasn’t like me at all. I kept a dream journal. I sometimes spent hours writing down every minute detail of the most troublesome and the most powerful dreams because I believed that they helped me understand myself. But on a more mercenary level, I also did it because my dream were quite often the inspiration for my stories. Like so many writers, I found dreams and their wild array of symbols and improper behaviors to be a treasure trove of creativity. Occasionally I even borrowed other people’s dreams if they were willing to share.

Before I knew what I was doing, I was hunched over nearly double, one hand resting on the stone wall, the other stretched in front of me to guard against obstacles I couldn’t see. I made my way into the tight space at the back of the crypt, heart pounding, stomach knotted, and cold sweat stinging my sightless eyes. What? Was I out of my mind? Christ, why couldn’t I just leave well enough alone? But there was no goddam well enough, was there? I was screwed and so was Annie if I couldn’t figure out how to get us out of here and away from Him. The space tightened still further. My thighs cramped. My knees ached, and I might have been more claustrophobic than I already was if I could have actually seen just how tight fitting the tunnel was. I didn’t remember it being so far to the end. But then we hadn’t actually gone into the crawl space. Annie had just shown her Maglite down the narrow passage and the beam had glinted off the metal bars dissipating in the darkness beyond.

I was just contemplating whether to drop to a crawl and continue on or to admit defeat and turn back when I
suddenly felt the air change. The musty thickness of the crypt gave way to a metallic chill that reminded me of high altitudes where it never got warm, where the wind always blew. The thought had barely entered my mind before an icy breeze hit me in the face and, had the shock of it not given me pause, I would have surely fallen. Cautiously I extended my foot and found nothing beneath it but emptiness. I yelped and jumped back, falling on my arse as the wind quite Graveyard angel 2da8f31cc622c5a47d15ff0c4f1e114abliterally howled over me.

Once I’d stopped shaking and got the bounce of my pulse in my throat back in control, I lay down on my belly
and extended my hands, blinking hard, light-starved eyes desperate to see something, to see anything. I inched my way forward until my arms and then my head and shoulders leaned out into emptiness. My skin prickled, and I fought back thoughts of demons or corpses reaching up from the pit to grab me and pull me down. There were times when a good imagination was not a plus. The wind stole my breath and whipped my hair like a flag around my face. I was just about to crawl away and move back into the crypt, when the cold iron smell of altitude was overwhelmed by the scent of roses. This time, I felt strangely calm at His approach. I would hardly say that I was glad for His presence, but then it beat the hell out of the alternatives at the moment. “What do you want?” I asked, my voice sounding unusually steady under the circumstances.

 

In The Flesh Part 12: Free Story In Progress. Enjoy!

psyche_et_lamour_327x567It’s time for Part 12 of  In The Flesh.

This time it’s Susan who needs rescuing, but will she survive the rescue as help comes from strange places? Welcome to part 12 of my dark paranormal story, In the Flesh. Angels and demons, gods and monsters, sex and terror; when the boundaries are not clear, the journey can be deadly. But can the price be worth the paying?

In the Flesh  is very dark paranormal erotica. When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 

Episode 12 in which Susan finds help in strange places, but is it the kind of help that can be trusted? Happy Reading! 

 

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 10, Part 11.

 

In The Flesh: Part 12

The fight or flight instinct had been short circuited, and I could do nothing but kneel over Annie’s sleeping form while the scent of roses grew stronger and stronger and the impotent terror inside me remained trapped like ice just beneath my sternum. I don’t know how long I stayed that way. Time never ran the same when He took control, but it was the feel of His hand tightening against my throat that brought everything back into sharp focus, along with the shocking awareness that I could no longer breathe. Panic rose up my spine as the pressure increased around my neck, a caress just tight enough to constrict the flow of oxygen. The world around me shimmered and effervesced as I struggled not to lose consciousness.

“If you relax it won’t hurt, and you might actually enjoy it.” I couldn’t tell if His voice was coming from in the dark moon image_xl_6338206room next to me or if it were in my head, but the cascade of goose bumps over my body left me in no doubt that it was His voice, and His hand at my throat. “You strike me as a woman who might just enjoy a little pain with her pleasure, Susan.” His chuckle was like soft fur against naked flesh. “Oh don’t worry, my darling. You’re safe with me now, and I protect my own.”

It was a total surprised to find I had unbuttoned my blouse and reached behind to unhook my bra, my hands moving of their own volition, my whole body desperate to be exposed to Him, desperate to feel His touch, even as the danger I was in spiked my pulse and flooded my body with adrenaline with which I could do nothing, trapped as I was.

“I promise I’ll keep you safe from harm,” came the velvety purr next to my ear. “I do not, however, promise that I won’t make you pay for running away from me.” Then he brushed my left nipple with invisible fingers, and suddenly Michael’s love bite, just above the areola, burned like a branding iron fresh from the flames, and I screamed.

I must have lost consciousness, because when I came back to myself, my breast still stinging like fire, I was stumbling through the brambles and ivy of the garden, as though someone were pushing and shoving and herding me against my will. But then that was exactly what was happening, wasn’t it? I was moving in jerky, shambling steps like a marionette with an amateur puppeteer at the strings. To my horror, I had no control of any part of my body, least of all the arousal that should have been the last thing I felt at that moment. The small part of me that was still me, hiding in some tiny place in my brain, pushed and cursed and shoved her way to the forefront, reminding me that I was still there, that I couldn’t afford for one minute to lose control. I couldn’t afford to let fear, or worse yet, lust take over. In spite of the shit situation in which I clearly found myself, it was still a shock when I became aware of the heat of His body – the body that wasn’t real, I struggled to remind myself — pressed tightly against my back, pushing me forward.

He spoke next to my ear. ‘Surely you didn’t think Michael’s mark could protect you, did you?’ The soft breeze of his voice lifted a wispy strand of my hair, and I shuddered. ‘He can’t even protect himself without the help of that bitch, who owns him now.’ As His words turned bitter, I tasted them like bile at the back of my throat, along with cold terror from the realization that what I both most feared and most longed for was as much inside me as it was out. Frantically I sought the tiny part of me I could still access, and found it there, holding strong. That should have come as no surprise. After all, what would be the point, where would His victory be if He drove me from myself, drove me from my own sanity before I gave Him what He wanted?

The next moment, I was being shoved at the foot of Michael’s statue. As He released His marionette-like control, I lost my footing and banged my cheekbone hard against the edge of the plinth before catching my balance as the world around me erupted in an explosion of stars and pain that seemed somehow both closer than my own flesh, and yet distant, as though it didn’t matter, as though it no longer truly belonged to me.

“Oh, he’ll come for you, of course he will.” He spoke as though we were having a light conversation at the local Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500pub over drinks and nibbles. “He’s very heroic, our Michael.” He mantled me now from behind, undoing my jeans with nimble fingers and sliding his hand inside. In my peripheral vision, I was certain I could now make out the shape of bicep and shoulder in the grey dawn, the shadow of muscular thighs pressed on either side of me, but then perhaps that was just in my head too. “The dear boy is also very delusional, my darling.’ His kiss was warm against my ear, his words humid. “In his heart of hearts, he knows he’s coming for me as much as he’s coming for you. Yes, delusional like you are, Susan. You came at my calling, no matter what you tried to convince yourself about poor dear Annie, who’s now sleeping peacefully while I punish you.’ He clucked his tongue. ‘The darling girl needs a lot of sleep these days. Insatiable though, my Annie, just as Michael is, just as I’m sure you will be too.’ He pushed my hair aside and possessively kissed and nibbled the back of my neck until I quivered beneath him, my hands fisted against the marble of Michael’s feet, nails digging into my palms to keep focus on the part of me still present enough not to want to rut like a beast.

‘And when Michael has come for you,’ my attention was drawn back to the sound of his voice, to the fact that I was grunting and moaning like some animal desperate for relief, desperate for His touch, ‘when Michael realizes he can no more take you from me than you can take Annie, oh, I think that we shall have a delightful time together, the three of us. We’ll have to make it quick of course,’ I felt His erection pressing up against the back of my jeans, and I struggled in a sudden wave of panic that He barely noticed, so complete was His control of the situation. “That bitch will come for him, and take him from me, but she won’t be pleased, she won’t be pleased at all about his … relapse.’ There was another bitter chuckle and I caught a slight whiff of burning rubbish. He cupped my left breast and this time I cursed loudly and profusely as He hurt me, the feel of Michael’s mark like an abraded blister against my skin. And still I wanted Him. No matter what He did to me, no matter how he hurt me, I wanted him, I needed him to fuck me, I needed Him never, never to stop fucking me until I was weak and used up and there was nothing left, until I ended up just like Annie. The less-than-subtle reminder of my no-win situation really pissed me off.

‘So you’re going to rape me then, instead of being a real man about it? Oh I forgot, you’re not a real man at all, are you? A real man would …”

I don’t know what I said after that. I don’t know what He did after that. All I know is that it hurt. It hurt a helluva a lot, and he made it hurt long enough to feel like an eternity. Just before I passed out He spoke against my ear. “I take no one by force, Susan, but I promise you, when I do take you, you’ll beg me to give you the release you need. You’ll beg me as you’ve never begged before. And in time, in good time, I’ll give you what you need.’ Then I lost consciousness wanting Him more than I ever wanted anything in my life and hating myself for it.

 

“Oh my poor little naïve scribe. Such a terrible way to learn the truth, but at least now you know. It is possible to want the very thing that’ll destroy you, and to want it so badly that your own destruction means nothing to you.”

It was a woman’s voice I heard in my dreams through a haze of pain and lust so tightly linked that I wasn’t sure which might kill me and I didn’t care as long as I got relief from my suffering. A cool feminine hand came to rest on my forehead, and I tried to open my eyes, but that hand slid down like a blindfold.

“Best you don’t do that right now. You might not like what you see. Keep your eyes shut for me, darling, and let Psyche and Erosme check how badly that bastard has damaged you.” The accent was strange, nothing I could place, and just barely there, just enough to make me hang on her every word. Though I wasn’t entirely sure that had anything to do with the accent. “I’m not dreaming?” I managed, before she placed a bottle of water to my parched lips and tilted it until I choked, sputtered and then drank.

“Hardly, Hon.” Her laugh was like warm honey, but when I attempted to open my eyes for a peek, she shoved the hand back over them none too gently. “I said keep your eyes closed, now if I have to tell you again, I’ll blindfold you and you won’t like that one bit.”

“Who the hell are you?” I asked shoving the bottle away and clenching my eyes shut tightly as she removed her hand.

Another disembodied laugh. “I would have though you bright enough to figure that one out. I’m the bitch.”

“You’re the thief?”

There was a girlish giggle. “Is that what Michael’s calling me these days? Well it’s better than some of the other things I’ve been called, and some of those even by him. People can be so hurtful at times, can’t they? Well, never mind, sticks and stones and all that, but yes, I am the thief.”

“Where’s Michael?” I tried to force myself to a sitting position, but she pushed me back with decidedly more strength than I was expecting.

“Michael’s still at home, fast asleep, which is exactly where I want him, where we both need him, at the moment.” As she spoke, I felt her gentle examination not in the way I’d felt His touch, but in the way I’d felt the water against my lips. As she moved her hands over me, I could also feel her buttoning buttons and snapping snaps, effectively making me decent, for all the good it would do.

“Oh, don’t worry, he’ll come for you when he can do some good. I’m not about to risk him and lose both of you. These things have to be timed just right, darling.”

“He’s asleep because of you?”

She shoved the bottle back to my lips, and I was surprised at just how thirsty I was. “Well, actually, he’s asleep because of you. If he’d awakened when you left, he’d not have let you come alone. The boy has some strange sense of honor that’s not always very practical.”

“Then you came to rescue me?” I asked, shoving the water bottle aside.

“No, of course not.” With her thumb, she wiped a dribble of water from my chin as though I were a sloppy child. “I came to make sure you weren’t damaged too badly, to make sure that rat bastard doesn’t hurt you beyond repair before it’s time to do what we have to.”

I felt the chill just behind my sternum deepen. “I’m the bate then, to distract Him while you and Michael get whatever it is that you’re trying to steal.”

This time the laugh was damn near a belly laugh. “Oh no, Sweetie! You’re not the bate at all. He is.”

“What do you mean, he is? Who is?”

“The asshole who terrorizes this place. Who else?”

‘What? Jesus! Are you serious? How the hell can he be the bate?”

“Shshsh!” She placed a cool finger to my lips. “Afraid you’ll have to trust me on this one, Sweetie. Now I have to go before he gets back. If he finds me here that would spoil everything.” She grabbed the bottle away from me, leaned in and kissed me on the cheek and I felt a waterfall of silky soft hair fall around my face as she did so. “Oh, and Sweetie, 2015-06-30 11.27.42best you don’t tell the bastard I was here. Though I do enjoy watching a good temper-tantrum, it’s not in my best interest at the moment, and certainly not in yours.”

As she turned to go, I could hear the sound of soft footfalls and the whisper and swish of fabric against skin. I
risked a peek. The shape of her in the darkness was golden and nearly blinding. I blinked hard and my light-starved eyes teared. I saw only her back as she opened the door to leave. Her hair was long and bright like living flames. She
was light on her feet, like Michael’s statue, just touching down from a heavenly flight, but I was as sure as I was of my own name that whoever she was, she was no angel.

It was only as she shut a heavy door behind her, only at the sound of stone scraping stone, at the sudden plunge into total darkness, that I realized where I was. I was in the crypt beneath Chapel House. I could panic. I could scream. I could thrash all I wanted, but no one would ever hear me. No one would ever know I was there.

 

In The Flesh Part 11: Free Story in Progress. Enjoy!

psyche_et_lamour_327x567I’m off to Eroticon this weekend with the lovely Lily Harlem, where we’ll be teaching our Crafting Creativity workshop. I hope to see you there, but whether you’re joining us or not, I’ve left you a little snippet of my own creativity. It’s time for more In The Flesh. It’s time for Part 11, and the plot definitely thickens.

Called from the depths of disturbingly sexy dreams, will Susan survive an ill-fated rescue mission? Welcome to part 11 of my dark paranormal story, In the Flesh. Angels and demons, gods and monsters, sex and terror; when the boundaries are not clear, the journey can be deadly. But can the price be worth the paying?

In the Flesh  is very dark paranormal erotica. When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 

Episode 11 in which there is a call for help in the middle of the night. Happy Reading! 

 

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 9, Part 10.

 

In The Flesh: Part 11

In that space between sleep and wakefulness, in that place where you’re never really sure what’s real and what you’re dark moon image_xl_6338206dreaming, I became conscious of someone fondling my breasts, someone with large hands, someone with very warm, expressive lips, someone who was both deliciously sloppy and yet surgically precise in eliciting desire far removed from both mouth and breasts. The love bite above my left nipple ached and tingled with the stimulation, and I arched and groaned and reached out in the darkness for Michael, in whose arms I’d fallen asleep after way more ravishing than I would have thought either of us could survive considering the day we’d just had. Then the buzzing of my phone dragged me into the waking world. I rolled over and fell out onto the floor, biting my tongue and cursing under my breath trying not to wake Michael and, at the same time, surprised that he was still sound asleep. I grabbed my handbag from where it sat on the floor next to the nightstand and fumbled for the phone, slipping into the bathroom to answer.

“Susan! Thank God I got you. I’m so sorry, I’m so, so sorry, Susan. I don’t know what happened, I can’t explain it, I was asleep by the altar one minute and then the next thing I knew I had a knife and I …” Annie’s voice on the other end of the device dissolved into wracking sobs, with me stupidly trying to calm her, trying to convince her that it was nothing, that it was no big deal that my best friend had come at me with a butcher knife. At last there was silence except for her breathing and snuffling. I sat naked on the commode, shaking as though I’d been out in the cold. It was nerves, I told myself, just nerves. She couldn’t get to me on the phone. He couldn’t get to me on the phone. And then Annie dropped the bomb.

“Susan, I need you to come get me. I need your help. I’m a mess, I know that now, and I need to leave. I need to get out of Chapel House for good before it’s too late.”

“All right.” My voice sounded breathless, unsteady, like it belonged to someone else. Christ, what was I saying? What was I agreeing to? Was I nuts? “Just let me wake up Michael and we’ll be there as soon as we can.”

There was silence on the other end of the phone, and for a second, I thought she had disconnected. “No, please don’t bring that man. You mustn’t. He’s dangerous, Susan. I know he’s charming and sexy, but he’s dangerous.” Her voice was wet with tears again, rising in desperation as she spoke. “He’ll hurt you. He’ll hurt us both. He isn’t who he says he is. Please, you have to come alone. It’s the only way I can get away from here.”

“Annie,” I drew a deep breath as much to calm the shakes as anything, “My car’s still at Chapel House. When rose imagesyou chased us away I had to leave it there. I can’t come for you without Michael’s help.”

“Yes you can! Take his lorry. I know you can drive it, at least as well as he can. Please! He’s got another car. He can come later and get it. Please, Susan, please! There’s no one else I can turn to.”

There was another long silence in which I could hear her crying in helpless gasps. I never could stand to hear her cry. “Look, I don’t even know where I am. I slept the whole way to Michael’s after we left Chapel House. My phone has a good GPS. I’ll set it and then let you know how soon I can be there. There shouldn’t be any traffic at this hour. Oh, and Annie, you meet me outside. I’m not going into that place again, do you understand? You meet me around by my car ready to go, or I’m not waiting. I’ll text you as soon as I’m close. OK? OK!”

“Yes! I’ll be there, I promise. Oh, Susan, thank you so much. And Susan, please hurry.” The line went dead.

I should have realized something was wrong that Michael had slept through even that much of a disturbance, but I wasn’t at my best. And when I rifled through the basket on his nightstand where he kept his keys then stumbled into my clothes and he still didn’t wake up, I should have suspected something wasn’t right. I should have. But how the hell did I know how soundly the man slept? And though I half hoped my less than quiet efforts would wake him and force the issue, when they didn’t I found myself in his lorry alone driving south on the M40 toward Manchester, Chapel House programmed into the GPS on his dashboard. I remembered when I got in that I’d seen him stash it under the passenger seat when we went to the Little Chef. Annie was right. I could drive a small lorry with no problems. I’d driven a delivery van to help put myself through Uni. I stopped long enough to get a large coffee at an all-night petrol station and then it was a straight shot in the wee hours to Chapel House.

I tried not to think about that fact too much. I planned to park the lorry a few blocks away so Michael wouldn’t be at risk when he came for it. Then I would meet Annie at my car, shove her in, rev the engine and get the hell out of Dodge. There was no contingency plan. I could barely get my head around the idea that I was going back to that horrid place at all. But I was not, under any circumstances, going back inside, or into that damn maze of a garden either. I didn’t dare. Even thinking about it made the bite above my breast tingle and my nipples harden inside my bra. Michael’s mark. Would He find Michael’s mark offensive? Would it make any difference to Him. I had no intention of finding out. I gulped coffee, burnt my tongue and drove on with the radio cranked to keep me awake and to keep me from thinking about Him, about what I would do if He came for me, about what I would do if Annie showed up with a knife. Fuck, I didn’t even have Michael’s mobile number. But he would know. He would know where I’d gone, and I would come back as soon as I’d scooped up Annie, whether she liked it or not. I wasn’t sure how much I trusted Michael, knowing that he was an ex-angel and a thief, knowing his connection to Him, but at the moment, whether Annie liked it or not, he was my only ally.

I found a quiet place two blocks from Chapel House and parked the lorry just as intimations of dawn were St Teresa BerniniEl-extasis-de-Santa-Teresa4graying the night sky. I left the keys in the truck bed just beneath the edge of a toolbox under a tarp. It wasn’t a good sign when I called Annie and she didn’t answer. I left a message and a text that I would be at my car in two minutes. I would wait for her in the car no longer than five minutes, and then I was out of there. Best live to fight another day, I thought, shoving the phone into the pocket of my jeans and knuckling my car keys at the ready.

Chapel House was dark and silent, at least what little I could make out from beyond the overgrown garden where I’d parked my car what seemed like a hundred years ago now. I had already pulled up Annie’s number again by the time the car came into view with her nowhere in sight. “You’ve got five minutes to get your arse out here. Do you hear me? Five, starting now!” I disconnected and punched in a text with the same message. When I got to the car she still wasn’t there, and I wasn’t surprised. It took every ounce of self-control to keep from checking over my shoulder toward the garden gate. I felt certain I was being watched. I felt like my skin would crawl off of me as I got into the car and locked all the doors. Fat lot of good that would do, I was sure, but it still made me feel like I was doing something. Then I waited. Five minutes came and went then ten. Chapel House remained dark and there was no sign of my friend. I called again and texted. I had just started the engine to make my getaway and regroup when the phone rang. I yelped and jerked so hard that my neck popped like gun shot. I answered without greeting. “Annie, for fuck sake, where are you? I’m waiting. You have to come now.”

At first there was just sobbing, and I broke into goose flesh suspecting the worst. “Annie?”

She sniffled and I could hear her heavy breathing. “Susan, I’m sorry, I hurt my ankle. I can’t walk. I need you to come, please. I just want out of here, please come get me. I’m so, so sorry.”

“Sonovabitch,” I whispered beneath my breath. “What the hell did you do?”

“I was in a hurry to meet you and I missed a step, came down wrong. I think I broke it.”Graveyard angel 1

“All right. All right! Tell me where you’re at and I’ll come get you.” If I were a praying woman, I would have been saying every prayer I knew. I was anyway, and making up a fair few as I shoved out of the car and headed into the lion’s den. She said she had left the front door unlocked. She said she was just inside. But she wasn’t. Fortunately the ambient light of the coming dawn and the fact that I’d had time to let my night vision adjust to the dark interior meant I could see all the way up the nave to the transept. There the pale glow of the setting moon shown off Annie’s hair, her frail body barely visible beneath the blankets of her pallet next to the altar. I held my breath and moved on tiptoes up the isle all the while feeling as though I were being watched from just beyond my peripheral vision. I sniffed quietly. There was no smell of burning garbage, no scent of jasmine or roses, just the smell of dust on aging stone, both overpowered by the smell of sleep and sex as I drew nearer where Annie lay.

For a terrifying moment, I thought she was dead. It was only as I knelt next to her and touched her cheek, which was unusually cold, that I saw the rise and fall of her chest beneath the duvet. Annie was sound asleep, her mobile phone clutched in one hand. I carefully pried it from her fingers and checked her calls. Sure enough, mine was the last number she’d called less than five minutes ago, I would guess, and yet she now slept like the dead, tracks of tears on her cheeks still visible in the anemic light of her mobile.

With goose bumps rippling over my arms and up my spine I leaned forward and shook her none too gently. “Annie! Annie wake up,” I whispered, “We have to go, now.” But she only moaned, rolled over and pulled the duvet tight around her. For a moment I knelt next to her wondering what the hell to do now. I couldn’t just leave her. I’d come all this way, and she was within my grasp. There didn’t seem to be any threat at the moment. Maybe there were times when He wasn’t paying attention, times when one could sneak in beneath His radar, so to speak, and if this were one of those times, I couldn’t afford not to take advantage.

“Annie!” I shook her again, harder. Still nothing. As an afterthought, I lifted the duvet and looked at her ankles beneath the light of my own mobile. Her feet were bare and dirty, ankles stick thin, but there was no bruising, no swelling, no trauma at all that I could see. I threw off the duvet entirely and saw that she wore a summer dress that fell below her knees. On the floor, she lay sprawled on a wrinkled sheet. Maybe I could drag her. She couldn’t weigh much now, and I was strong and well-muscled. I glanced behind me down the length of the nave. Surely I could make it, and then there was just pavement to the car. I could do it if I had to, and it certainly looked like I would have to.

I was just smoothing the sheet beneath her to ease my efforts when she grabbed my wrist in a vice grip and I yelped, the sound of my voice echoing across the transept. “What the hell are you doing here?” she asked. Her eyes were wide and black in the low light, as though they were empty.

“Jesus, Annie,” I tried to pull away but she held me tightly. “You know what I’m doing here. You fucking called 2015-06-30 11.27.42me to come get you.”

Even in the dim light, I could see the confusion clouding her expressive face. “Why would I do that?” she asked, still clenching my wrist with a hold I was certain would leave bruises. Then her lips curved into a beatific smile and she chuckled softly. “Oh yes, now I remember. He asked me to call you. He said when you got here, I could rest and he would punish you for your interference, and then he promised that when I woke up, when he’d finished with you, everything would be OK again.” Without another word, she released her hold on me, rolled over and was instantly sound asleep. I was left kneeling next to her not knowing whether to try and complete my task or to run like hell. A cool breeze ruffled the plastic sheeting over the altar, catching the frail moonlight like a ghost rising from the grave. The space around me was suddenly awash in the scent of roses, and I realized I was too late to do either.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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