Happy Holidays and Welcome to Day Seven of the Demon Interrupted Holiday Marathon!
The Holiday Season is the season for TV and film marathons. Who doesn’t like to sit in front of the telly with a bowl of popcorn, their fave drink and totally veg out over blissful hours of telly favourites? The holidays are also the time when we love to curl up with a good read. With that in mind, I thought it was an excellent time for a marathon reading of my paranormal erotic novella, Demon Interrupted, which I wrote and ran as a serial on my blog over six months earlier this year. BUT at that time, I could only manage an episode every three weeks, so I thought it would be fun to make it more easily accessible.
For those of you who don’t know, Demon Interrupted is a Lakeland Witches spin-off story set in the fabulous landscape of the Lake District with the witches of the Elemental Coven. With the completion of Elemental Fire, I left my witches with so many stories untold, and they left me with so many mysteries I wanted to know the answer to that I felt compelled to return.
Starting today, for the next nine days I’ll be running a sizzling, chilling instalment of Demon Interrupted for your reading pleasure. Today I’d like to share with you chapters 13 and 14 of Demon Interrupted. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it. Thanks for joining for this Work in Progress. And if you want to know more about the Elemental Coven’s sexy adventures, check out the Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy: Body Temperature and Rising, Riding the Ether and Elemental Fire. Enjoy!
‘My darling, you are exhausted. You must get some rest.’ Anderson moved to stand by the chair where Cassandra sat next to Ferris’ bed and rested a hand on her shoulder. ‘Please, sleep but a little, and I will sit with him, for I need no rest.’
‘I can’t leave him,’ she replied, in a voice that broke Anderson’s heart with its anguish. ‘He would never leave me if I were … lost. I tried … I tried to go in, to chase the dream with him, but some force keeps pushing me out.’
‘And you’ve done so against my express orders,’ Tara said, entering the room. ‘We don’t know what we’re dealing with, only that Lucia served as Gateway for him into the Dream World, and if what she says is true, he has to find his way back to us on his own.’
Anderson did not ask the question that he knew burned in all of their minds, the question for which there was no answer. Was Ferris truly lying in his bed dreaming or had they all been pulled into a hallucination of his making? When he had been discovered thus, Tara had insisted that everyone but she and Sky leave Elemental Cottage and take up residence on Lacewing Farm to insure the safety of the coven. It was rare that Tara’s orders were resoundingly disobeyed, but in this case no one would leave the sleeping Ferris, and no one had even hinted at moving him into the scrying mirror prison for their protection. They were all encouraged that the rapid eye movement signified the man was indeed dreaming, but that too could be a hallucination.
‘Is he still running a fever?’ Tara asked.
Cassandra nodded. ‘Nothing’s changed. Has Marie or Alice learned anything more about this Elaine he speaks of? If we could find her perhaps she could help us.’
Tara shook her head. ‘Marie says there’s no records of an Elaine and Patrick Farringdon ever having lived in or around Storm Croft. Further more the records, which were pretty well intact back to the 16th Century show no hangings of any women there ever.’
‘But she’s real. I know she is. She has to be,’ Cassandra said. ‘And my gut tells me she’s the key to everything that’s happening to Ferris right now.’
‘No one is arguing with you,’ Tara said, ‘ but whoever she is, she didn’t come from Storm Croft. Marie and Alice are widening their searches.
Without warning, Ferris sat up wide-eyed in the bed and spoke in a voice that none in the room recognised. ‘My little witch, he suffers just as you wish, but I am in need of your company.’ Before Cassandra could question him, he fell back against the pillow.
What are you doing? How dare you bring him to me.’ Elaine cowered in the corner of the cot, blanket drawn up over her breasts. She trembled as she had not even when she had first summoned Ferris. ‘Get him out of here. Get him away from me!’
‘It is I who comes to you my dear little sorceress, be at peace,’ Ferris spoke from the lips of Patrick Farringdon. ‘I use his flesh, for as you know, I have none of my own, not real flesh. Please do not worry, I promise you his mind is on a dark journey that he will not soon forget, just as you requested. But I saw no reason to waste an opportunity, after all I ride more than souls, dear woman, and for me, it is a treat to indulge in the pleasures of the flesh.’
She placed her hand to her mouth and forced back a sob, and for a moment he feared that she would faint, but her strength, as always, was astounding. She took two deep breaths and spoke. ‘I do not care what you do with his flesh while you are playing with him, rider. But if it’s pleasures of the flesh you desire, seek them out with the kitchen maid or a whore in the village, or the stable boy, as he does. He brings no pleasures of the flesh to my bed!’ She shoved off the blanket and opened her thighs to expose dark bruises and angry red trails that looked like her thighs had been scored with a knife.
Strange to feel nausea, as he did. Strange to feel the physical fist of anger deep in his belly, that any man would treat a woman such as Elaine thusly. ‘I am sorry,’ he said softly. ‘I will return him to his bed and to his nightmares.’ As he left her, the flesh he had claimed felt less supple, less living, much more like the puppet that it was to him. Once he had shoved the moaning, whimpering Farringdon back into his bed, he tweaked his hallucinations to involve physical pain that matched his mental anguish.
He did not return to Elaine’s tower, for he sensed she was no longer there and, in truth, the fresh night air cleansed him of the vileness he felt from the body he had worn. While it was no less true that Patrick Farringdon’s flesh was just a vessel, that Ferris had upset Elaine by wearing it coupled with the sight of what Farringdon had done to her made him feel defiled. He found her in the overgrown garden to where she had summoned him upon their first meeting. She sat on the ground, was wrapped in only a blanket, staring into the ashes of the fire pit. He did not instantly move into her presence, but hovered above her in his non-corporeal form and watched her.
For three days her husband had been abed in his ague, and none in the great house, neither the physician, nor the priest, nor the village healer, could determine the cause, though some who knew him well suspected it was bad rum, or perhaps something he had contracted from a whore in the city. Elaine had not visited his room, feigning that her monthly cycle was heavily upon her, keeping her confined. Ferris could not comprehend why one so desirous that the man should suffer did not herself long to see the sufferings which he had visited upon the despicable creature. It wasn’t that she had not the backbone for such a task. Ferris was firmly convinced that if she could bring upon the monster more suffering than he, then she would have never summoned him and made such a desperate and dangerous bargain.
‘But do you not want to see how I make him suffer for you, my little witch?’ He had asked as rumour spread throughout the great house and the village of Farringdon’s strange ailment.
‘My dearest wish is to not look upon him again until he is a corpse,’ she replied.
‘Do you not know that there are rumours whispered that you have not come to your ailing husband’s side because your sorcery is the cause of his illness?’
‘They are not rumours, my dear rider, and I do not fear them. My life I have already relinquished into your hands as soon as he breathes his last.’
‘Ah, but if they act upon their suspicions and, if you are tried and condemned as a witch, then I may lose my payment for services rendered. This would displease me greatly.’
‘Then make every moment of his suffering seem as a thousand years, rider. This, I know you can do. Finish up the task with haste and claim your wage.’ He had never met such a woman as she and, in truth, what he now visited upon Farringdon delighted him most because it pleased her, and because he wanted, with all of the heart he knew he did not have, to avenge her suffering.
She breathed out a sigh that settled as barely visible mist above the fire pit. ‘I can feel you watching me, demon,’ she said without looking up. ‘Take form that I may see you. Your body is not repugnant to me. In truth, I find you pleasant to look upon. Show yourself and come sit with me.’
His body. He could not now remember from whence his body had come. It was little more than a memory of a physical form he once held, of the flesh of a soul he had once ridden, but he had kept the vessel because it was pleasing to him and particularly responsive to the pleasures of the flesh, though not in the way real flesh was when he controlled it. But it pleased him that she found him easy to look upon, almost as if the act he could now no longer recall had been done only to satisfy this mortal woman.
He did as she commanded. Strange that he allowed such a fragile being so much control over him. ‘I am sorry that my actions earlier displeased you. It was thoughtless of me. Though I meant it as a gift for both of us, I had not thought that in your weak mortal eyes, and with the burden of human memory upon you, you would not be able to see Farringdon’s flesh as I do, as nothing more than a vessel, which might be of some use to me.’
She reached out and laid a hand against the broadness of his chest, and he became aware that he was naked. He had always come to her naked, and for some reason this pleased him. It pleased him even more that she did not disapprove. ‘I have no objection to you using his flesh in any way you see fit, rider and, I assure you, I understand better than you think the use of flesh as a vessel, as a tool. Still, the sight of him sickens me, and I would require much more than my allotted time on this earth to look upon Patrick Farringdon’s flesh and see it as just a vessel. For that I apologise. I would ask, no I would beg, that when you’ve done as I have asked and when you take me, whatever use it is that you have for me, that it will not involve his flesh.’
He closed his fingers around hers and pulled them to his lips. ‘I have no wish to cause you pain, my dear little witch. You have suffered enough. You have my word that your service to me shall not involve that vile creature’s flesh. And now, I would offer you a small token of my esteem.’ He pushed the blanket open where it covered her thighs and she gave a little gasp of surprise as he eased it away from her soft flesh until the dark nest of curls that protected her womanhood was exposed. Then he very gently pushed open her legs, forcing her to lean back and place her palms against the earth for support. At first she tensed, then relaxed as he viewed her injuries. The breath he did not need, he drew in a hiss. ‘There is nothing I can do to this vermin to whom you are so hideously yoked that he does not deserve.’ Then he lowered his face until he could smell the scent of ocean and honey and sunrise nestled delectably just below the soft curls, and he placed a kiss on one inner thigh. The catch of her breath was sharp with surprise and perhaps a little pain, and she curled her fingers in his hair as he moved to do the same to the other.
‘What have you done?’ Her voice came out thin and childlike.
‘I have healed what Patrick Farringdon has wounded.’
With a little gasp of awe, she looked down to find the wounds on her inner thighs gone and pale healthy flesh in their place.
Before she could respond to his efforts, he moved to rest his head on her belly and she lay back on one elbow and welcomed the weight, fingers caressing the crown of his head and the nape of his neck. ‘Would that I could undo all that he has done and take that memory from you, my dear little witch.’ He planted a kiss on her navel, and felt her belly tense beneath his lips.
‘Do you have a name, rider? Oh I know that demons keep their true names secret, but you must have some name that I may call you.’
He lifted his head and met her gaze. ‘I am called Ferris when I have need of a name, and it would please me if you would use it when we speak.’
‘Ferris,’ she cupped his cheek and held him in the thrall of her dark eyes. ‘Why did you bring my husband to me tonight?’
‘I wished to show you that flesh can give pleasure as well as pain, for I believe this you have not known, and I mistakenly surmised that you would be more comfortable with mortal flesh than with my demon form.’
For a long moment the only sounds were the slight breeze in the trees and the rumble of distant thunder that threatened rain. He, who had no breath, felt as though he were holding it in his chest, waiting for her to speak.
When, at last she did, it was as though she released the breath he had been holding. ‘And can you not do that better with this body in which you came to me?’
‘The body in which you summoned me?’ He reached out and pushed the blanket away from her shoulders so that he could see her breasts, nipples raised and swollen against her fullness. Surely he was just receptive to the thunderous beating of her heart beneath them, but it felt as though something inside him mirrored its thunder and rejoiced in its nearness. ‘I can, my little witch. If you wish it.’
There was another moment of silence, in which his whole world became the beating of her fragile human heart and then she spoke in a whisper, as though her voice had left her. ‘I wish it, Ferris.’
It could not be that he felt such relief, such delight in her desire for him. He was a soul rider. Human emotions fed him; they did not affect him. He was incapable of feeling what transient mortals felt, and yet his desire for her was somehow beyond the need of his cock. He stretched out above her, sheltering her as the sky shelters the earth, and the sound in her throat was dark and rich and aching as her arms encircled his neck.
‘Show me pleasure, my demon. Show me all things I have not known. For in truth I shall never know them if you do not show me.’ Her lips curled in a smile as one hand left his neck and found its way to his cock. ‘Will there be room inside me for the sizeable staff you wield, rider?’
With his thigh, he eased open her legs and caressed a path down her belly, his fingers cupping their way through her curls. She gasped and bucked beneath him as he found her hardness. ‘Do not you worry my little witch, I will be certain that your womanhood is well prepared before my staff does your bidding.’
Her laugh sizzled along his flesh like the magic that had drawn him here. ‘My dear demon, no one’s staff has ever done my bidding.’
‘Then I am honoured that mine shall be the first.’ He opened her heavy folds with a stroke of two fingers and his cock jerked in her fist. ‘I believe your lovely portal weeps with joy at the very thought of commanding my staff, dear little sorceress. What new and powerful magic is this that you work on me, that I, who can have all and desire nothing desire you as I have never known desire.’ He raked his thumb across her hardened pearl and sighed as she sucked her lower lip and ground her bottom against the blanket. ‘And the scent of you, my dear woman, I am transported to paradise by the fragrance of your desire for me. And if the scent of you leaves me in such ecstasy, I can scarce imagine your sweetness on my tongue.’
‘Ferris no. Ferris, you shouldn’t.’ She squirmed in an effort to escape him, but he held her until she calmed, then lowered a kiss just above her mound of her womanhood.
‘Oh but I should, little one, and I must, and I promise you shall take pleasure in feeding me from your nectar.’ And he tasted her, from the hardened pearl of her lust to the very boundary of her nether hole, finding the deep, narrow well of her pleasure silky wet and honey and salt against his tongue, delighting in the vibrations of her moans, the tremblings of her pleasure. As the storm broke above them and the first raindrops dewed her soft flesh, he released her pleasure to flood her folds and down onto his face as she bucked and writhed against him.
‘Ferris! My demon,’ she cried out. ‘What have you done to me? Oh dear Goddess! I am undone!’
‘I have only begun to undo you, my darling witch. For there is a lifetime of pleasure you have not had, and I will do my best to make this moment seem as a thousand years. A thousand years of pleasure with you, my dear little sorceress, would never be enough. Taste your sweetness, my love.’ He rose above her, face glistening with her release, and she kissed him and ran her tongue along his jaw and over his cheek, and the ache in his cock was such as he could have never imagined.
She pulled away breathless, and held his gaze. ‘I now wish to command your staff, my sweet demon.’ With one hand, she reached for him, with the other she held open her swollen folds and, as he pushed into her tight depths, the storm broke in earnest.
‘You cannot stay here and continue as though nothing is wrong, my darling Elaine.’ Ferris took form behind her and wrapped her in his arms. ‘I fear for your life. Surely you had not anticipated the suspicion Farringdon’s … sudden illness would cast upon you. The accusations are no longer veiled. Though there is no loss of love for Farringdon, him they loath, but you they fear. And fear drives mortals to do unspeakable things.’
Elaine leaned back against his chest and he tightened his embrace. ‘I anticipated everything, my dear Ferris. Surely you were not expecting that I would survive the choices I have made without paying a price. It is a price I have always been willing to pay.’
Perhaps it was. And in the beginning, perhaps it was a price he could have also accepted. It was a fair trade, her life sacrificed to him for his riding of Farringdon’s soul and the evil creature’s demise, but now Ferris found he did not want her death. He did not want to ride her soul. He wanted her as she was, and he wanted her to know happiness that had not been a part of her life. He took her hand and guided her deeper into the overgrown garden. ‘There is another way, my darling, a way that will silence the accusations of the villagers, a way that will fulfil my promise to you and yours to me.’ He settled onto a lichen-covered stone bench and pulled her onto his lap.
‘And what is that way, my dear rider, that would silence the mob and leave me hale and hearty to do your bidding?’
He lifted her fingers to his lips and kissed them. ‘Farringdon battles me day and night, but he weakens. I have only drawn out his suffering this long because you have asked it of me. I know the route that will take him swiftly and painfully to death’s door. But, my dear little witch, these superstitious villagers will lay the blame at your feet, and you will be tried for his death.’
She nodded. ‘I expected nothing less. But you are the demon, we have made a pact. My death belongs to you. The power is yours to claim your prize even as the flames lash at my skirts, is that not so?’
‘It is so, and when our pact was first made, I cared not about the suffering of my prize as long as in the end the prize was mine to claim. But now …’
He took her face in his hands and held her gaze. ‘I do not wish your suffering, Elaine. I do not wish you to know the grip of a soul rider and the madness it brings.’
She studied him quietly for a moment, then her delicate shoulders rose and fell in a shrug. ‘Then you do not wish to … possess me?’
The embrace with which he surrounded her was hard enough to cause a gasp of breath. ‘More than anything I wish to possess you, my darling Elaine – body and soul.’ He kissed her fervently. ‘And heart.’
Her eyes misted and she swallowed hard. ‘My darling Ferris, all of those things, you already possess, and you have almost from the beginning.’ She nodded behind them to the great house. ‘But I cannot undo what has happened, and never in a thousand lifetimes could I go back to Patrick if we called off our agreement, not after being with you.’
‘But what if you could? What if you could make them all see what a loving, deserving wife you are, how you have taken the ne’r-do-well who is their master and turned his heart to the loving devoted husband he should be? Do you think they would call you witch then? Do you think they would shout for you blood then?’
‘You are suffering from your own hallucinations, my dear rider,’ she said, smoothing his hair from his face.
‘No, I am not.’ He held her hand to his cheek. ‘Listen to me, Elaine, if you could but see the flesh of Patrick Farringdon as only a tool, if you could trust me to chase from his flesh all that was that vile creature and leave only the vessel, I could wear that flesh. I could assume his role as your husband and no one,’ he squeezed her hand, ‘no one would ever know otherwise. He would be gone, and you would be safe and esteemed and loved as you should be, and I would be at your side.’
She began shaking her head before he could finish, so he spoke faster, ‘In our chamber, in our bed, in the private places I could wear this body if you would prefer it, my darling, but you would not have to fear for your life as you do now.’
‘No! I will not consider this path, demon. I know that what you speak is true but you do not know the suffering he has caused. If you did, you could not so easily look upon his flesh as just a vessel.’ She raised her hand to keep him silence. ‘Yes! I know that you speak the truth, and what you say makes sense, but I cannot abide even the vessel of him, and that you would wear it would defile you, my love. I cannot consider such a thing.’
For a moment the two sat in silence. Then she spoke. ‘I am still yours to do with what you wish, and if you must snatch me from the flames because of what I do to Patrick, then so be it.’
‘Even if I treat you like a queen and take for you a palace in some distant land, you will still be a fugitive. Is this what you wish?’
‘I do not see how my legal status could be of concern to a demon.’
‘Your legal status is less a concern to me, my dear little witch, than your happiness, and once Farringdon has been destroyed and you are a fugitive with me, the time will come when you will crave what other mortal women have, things that I cannot give you.’
She pushed herself to her feet and turned toward the path back to the great house. ‘I am not other mortal women, my demon. Surely this you know by now. Finish what you have begun swiftly before I am the fuel for the fire, then take me and all shall be well.’
He relinquished corporeal form and followed her, making himself as a caress of spring sunshine wrapping around her, hovering close to her soft flesh, enfolding her, he whispered against her ear. ‘I beg you to reconsider, my love.’
She gave a little gasp at his presence. Her eyelids fluttered and her nipples hardened with the pleasure he gave, moving in places only a rider could reach. ‘And I beg you to understand why I cannot.’
The silence between them stretched, but the storm inside of him raged, and she felt his agitation with a prickle of goose flesh and a rising of fine hair. Human flesh was fragile, surely she, who had been injured and abused by the horrid creature who had been forced upon her knew this better than most. He would not have her so broken by those who did not understand her suffering
Without the hindrance of flesh, he could hear the rush of her blood in her veins and the acceleration of her breath like the wind on the moors. He could feel the tingle of nerve-endings aware of his presence and the pleasure, as well as the danger, it might carry. At last she spoke. ‘End it soon and take me away from here, Ferris.’
‘Very well, then –’ he took physical form again and she yelped at his sudden appearance ‘– you leave me little choice but to bring him back to himself.’
‘What?’ She scrambled away from him as he reached for her but she was not so fast as a demon. He caught her hand and pulled her back to him.
‘It is only a temporary respite for him, my little witch, and only to silence the accusations.’
The tension in her shoulders dissipated, but even in the darkness, even with his limited corporeal vision, he could see the shudder of her pulse in her throat. ‘Then what?’ She asked.
‘He will wake tomorrow miraculously recovered. He will say that he believes one of his enemies in Edinburgh has poisoned him, and he will leave at dawn to speak with the authorities in that city.’
She blinked. ‘I do not understand how that will help me. I want him dead.
‘Oh do not you worry, my little one. I shall be the one controlling his vessel, and he will know, and understand exactly what is happening to him as I do. I will not take him to Edinburgh. There is a shepherd’s bothy I have seen on my night prowlings in an isolated place in the hills. I will take him there, and when I am done with him, he will believe fiends from hell have chased him and dragged him to meet their master. His body will be found along the Edinburgh road, robbed and murdered, set upon by ruthless bandits.
‘And then I shall come for what is mine.’
She released a long, shaky breath. ‘How long will you need?’
‘Two days; no more. I can take him sooner, but since you wish me to ride his soul until his mind breaks, then it is a task best savoured.’ And he would enjoy this one’s end immensely. ‘I will make sure that his body is swiftly found and that there is no doubt to your innocence, my darling Elaine. In the meantime, you must be seen in public places. You can use the excuse of your bleeding time no longer. You must do your best to go about as you did before you summoned me to you.’
Later in the night, he took flesh and slid down next to her under the blanket on the cot, where she lay curled on her side. He moved close until his body pressed against her and she moaned in her sleep. He hoped that her sojourn in the Dream World was a pleasant one. It had been his plan simply to watch her while she slept, but as he hovered above her, his urge to touch her drove him to take flesh and, in corporeal form, watching was not nearly enough to satisfy his need for her. Almost of its own volition, his hand went exploring, first to cup her breasts and then to slide down and caress the centre of her pleasure until it hardened to his touch and she squirmed against him and awoke to the feel of his manhood distended and stiff against her bottom. ‘Ferris?’ Her voice caught in her throat and her body jerked against him as he tweaked her.
‘It is I, my little witch. I could not stay away from you knowing that I would be deprived of your exquisite company for two endless days.’ He worried his hand between the press of her thighs, and she lifted her leg and bent her knee and trembled as he opened her folds and stroked. ‘Oh, my wicked little sorceress, your treasure is wet with the dew of your lust. Were you, perhaps, dreaming of me?’
‘Always,’ she sighed, sleepily. Then she reached behind her and fisted the length of his manhood. ‘And if the dream alone has not left me aching for the magic of your staff, then your fondling most definitely has, my love.’ She lifted her bottom and shifted until the valley of her gaped for him, and with a thrust of his hips, he pushed up into her from behind. He slid into her easier now, though the tightness of her sheath still astounded him.
She was always ready for his touch, always receptive to his cock, and he was ever amazed at the loveliness of her in the depths of her pleasure. She was beauty incarnate. She was the goddess herself, and she was his – he, a demon who had never been possessive in the way some demons were, certainly not in the way mortals were, but she was his heart, the heart he did not have, and now feared he could not live without. Her clenching and thrusting back against him brought him fully into the moment they shared. The ache of his load was heavy, at the very threshold of bursting. The bud of her pleasure tightened and stiffened against his tweaking. Her breath, her beating heart, her heat, her passion, her flesh — the most beautiful he had ever beheld, were, all in the present moment the simple eternity he wished for, an eternity with her. And when she clenched and convulsed against his cock, he could hold back no longer, and he filled her with his lust, grown heavy for her.
Outside the tower’s big window, an owl trilled and the sky paled with intimations of dawn. ‘I must go soon, my love,’ he said, kissing the nape of her neck.
‘Yes, little witch.’
She turned in his arms to face him. ‘When you have finished what you must do, when you return for me …’
‘What will you do to me, once I am yours?’
He gathered her to him so tightly that her breath rushed from her in a little sob. ‘When I return for you, little one, I will possess you, all parts of you,’ he gave her a hard fast kiss just to demonstrate, ‘And I will do such things to you as you can scarcely imagine, wicked things, filthy wet things, things that will make you mindless with lust. I will make you writhe and tremble. I will make you beg and pant, and I will take you again and again and again until you are lost on the sea of my lust with only me to keep you from the tempest, with only me to keep you from the waves.’ He bent and bit her nipple enough to make her flinch, and then to sigh softly. ‘And I assure you, my dearest little witch, I will protect you from none of it.’
She wriggled in his arms and rolled until she was on top of him and the covers fell away so that he could see her exquisite nakedness in the greying light, as she lifted the rounded pillows of her bottom and squatted over his cock, which throbbed once again with his need for her. As she sheathed him, she spoke in a thick voice. ‘I would expect you to give no quarter, my demon,’ she said, ‘for I owe you a great debt.’ She rocked against him, guiding his hands to her breasts. ‘Use me as you see fit.’
‘Elaine! My beautiful little witch. Elaine … Elaine … Elaine…’ Ferris awoke in his bed in Elemental Cottage calling out for her name.
‘Welcome back.’ Cassandra’s voice was nearly a sob. She sat on the edge of his bed clenching his hand in a white knuckled grip and bathing his face with a cool cloth.
‘I assume you’re making up for lost time?’ He squinted in the morning brightness streaming through the window to find Tara standing at the foot of the bed smiling down at him. ‘Either that or you just enjoy the Dream World so much you decided to stay for awhile.’
‘Elaine?’ He croaked. His voice felt as though it hadn’t been used in an age.
‘Still no sign of her,’ Cassandra said, offering him a glass of water, which he drank back thirstily.
‘Well then I have to go back. I have to go back to the Dream World. I was with her only just a few seconds ago. I was there to … Her husband … he deserved to die. He was a monster who deserved to die. He hurt her. Where’s Lucia? I have to go back.’ As he pushed himself into a sitting position, he caught sight of his reflection in the mirror, and the world spun and bucked around him, and for a second, he thought he would vomit. ‘Him! How can I be him?’ He shoved his way from the bed and stumbled to the mirror, running his hands over his face, the face of Patrick Farringdon. ‘I promised her I wouldn’t. I had a plan. How could this have happened? Why would I do this to her? I understand! I understand why she didn’t want me to wear his flesh, his hideous flesh!’ He fisted his hands in his hair and roared. ‘I can’t be him. I can’t! I promised her. I promised!’
‘Come now, my dear fellow. You can help no one in this state. Come back to bed. Fiori has made you some soup, and once you have regained your strength, you can tell us everything.’ Anderson slipped an arm around him and tried to pull him away from the mirror, and before he could fight the man off, Kennet joined him. Together, with strong, but gentle coaxing, they eased him back under the duvet just as Fiori arrived with a tray. He would have refused it in his torment but for the arrival of Alice and Marie right behind her.
‘We’ve found your Elaine, Ferris,’ Marie said. ‘No wonder we couldn’t find her at Storm Croft. She lived on the Scottish boarder.’ She paused and glanced at Alice, then at Tara, as though she were looking for permission, then she bit her lip. ‘Over three hundred years ago.’