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An Unexpected Encounter with Alonso Darlington

I’ve been thinking a lot about Alonso Darlington recently as he waltzes back into the
Medusa stories, never being far off the written page anyway. I never imagined when I wrote the story of how he and Reese Chambers became lovers that he would figure into so much more than a simple M/M romance novella. As it turned out, Alonso and Reese’s tale was only the beginning.

 

Before I understood who he really was, who he worked for and where his tale would lead me, I was invited for a strange visit to his home in the remote part of the Lakeland fells, where he warned me to hold on to my hat. The ride was about to get wild. That being said, I decided that under the circumstances it was time to share that encounter with you again.

 

 

 

1st Entry

 

I’ve debated long and hard about posting the details of my encounter with Alonso Darlington. But ultimately the need to share, the need to bring details of this encounter to light, has overcame my fear that readers might think I’m a nutcase and the even bigger fear of what Alonso’s response to my sharing might be.

 

When I wrote the strange erotic tale of Alonso Darlington and Reese Chambers as a story to be published in the Brit Boys: On Boys Book Bundle, I had no idea what a rabbit hole it would send me down. It was just an interesting sexy story, made more so by the location and the fact that Alonso Darlington was … is a vampire.

 

This being the case, Imagine my surprise when I received an invitation from High View Manor to meet Alonso Darlington in person. I thought I had perhaps spent too much time in my own imagination. I even considered seeing my doctor. But when the first class plane ticket arrived to Manchester, I went. I maybe shouldn’t have, but since I had written Alonso’s story, it seemed that I should meet the man in person.

 

I arrived in Manchester with the sun setting in the West. The rabbit hole feel of my first encounter with the man became even more vivid when I was picked up at the airport in a black Land Rover with darkly tinted windows kitted out to compete with any limo I’d ever seen. The driver handed me a heavy winter parka and helped me into the back seat, where I found a basket containing freshly baked bread, cheese, meat, fruit, wine and bottled water. I drank the water, but was way too nervous to eat anything, and I certainly wasn’t going to meet Alonso Darlington tipsy from alcohol.

 

I couldn’t help but feel intimations of Anne Rice as the woman I know only as Talia led me through the renovated areas of High View manor house and out into the Cumbrian chill, down to the night garden Reese Chambers has been landscaping for Darlington. I knew better than to offer Talia a handshake. The woman’s a succubus and she’s a close friend to Darlington – his familiar, I believe is the term. I don’t’ know much about her, and frankly I was nervous enough without losing my wit or my virtue to a sexy succubus. Even her gaze felt way too intimate. The sooner I could get away from her, the better.

 

She led me as far as the stone steps descending into the garden, then nodded to where Alonso Darlington sat on the slate bench with his back to me. She offered me a smile that looked like she might be as likely to consider me dinner as Alonso might, then she left. For a second I stood taking in the sky awash with stars and the dark outlines of the fells all around, giving myself a chance to stop trembling. It didn’t help. It was a rare, clear night, and there was no wind, for which I was thankful because it was still damn cold that high in the Cumbrian fells. I was extremely glad for the coat the driver had given me and a bit amazed that it fit so well. I have broad shoulders, and getting a winter coat to fit is always an ordeal. With the heavy Northface jacket pulled tightly around me, I took a deep breath and descended the steps, just as Darlington stood and turned to greet me.

 

How can I explain the first time I saw him face to face? How is it possible that I wanted to freeze to the spot like the stone statuary around me, while at the same time, I wanted to rush down the steps, allow him to embrace me, and offer him my neck. How could anyone ever look at the man and think him ordinary? How could Reese Chambers have possibly resisted Alonso Darlington? I don’t remember the rest of the descent into the garden. The next thing I remembered was Darlington extending his hand to me.

 

‘Ms Grace, it’s a pleasure. Welcome to High View.’ His hand was large, and I took  it without question, feeling a little shiver at the unexpected warmth of his skin, wondering if he had fed recently, if that was the cause for the warmth that shouldn’t be there in the Cumbrian chill. That should have been a relief, but instead it served as a reminder that I was in the presence of an alpha predator, and while he loved Reese and Talia was his occasional lover, I might very well be nothing more than the midnight snack.

 

Of course he sensed my nerves. I mean really, I couldn’t hide them no matter how badly I wanted to. He leaned close to me and smiled wickedly. ‘Don’t worry. I won’t bite, unless of course you want me too.’

 

God, it’s embarrassing to say, but I might have given just the slightest bit of a yelp as I pulled my hand away, a bit quicker than I intended. Not a wise thing to do with a predator, I knew. But then I wasn’t at my best at that moment.

 

‘Thank you,’ I croaked. ‘I’ll keep that in mind.’ Then I blurted out. ‘Why did you invite me, Mr Darlington? I know you don’t take many visitors, especially not … like me.’

 

His laughter runs up my spine like the feel of soft fur on bare flesh. He nodded me to sit, then sat down next to me on the bench.  ‘Like you, Ms Grace? You mean a writer of erotic fiction? A blogger? A dreamer? A woman who lives most of her life in her head making up stories?’ He laughed again, and I shivered, but not from cold. ‘A woman who has a very … imaginative fantasy life?’

 

Before I could respond, he moved closer to me so quickly and with so little effort that, though I knew he’d done it, I didn’t know how. I only knew that it was definitely not a movement an ordinary person might make. Strangely, I was torn between scooting away, or scooting closer. ‘May I call you K D?’ he asked. ‘Certainly I would expect to be on a first name basis with anyone who knows me as well as you think you do.’ It was a damn good thing I was sitting because I was certain my knees wouldn’t have supported me if I weren’t. He continued. ‘I would say you’re probably even more of a recluse than I am, and I do apologise for the inconvenience of my invitation. I hope that the journey wasn’t too loathsome for you.’ He bowed his head to me slightly and I had the surprising urge to reach out and run my fingers over his silky dark hair. The predator image flooded my mind again and I did scoot back, just a little, and my heart sped up more than a little. Alonso’s knowing smile reminded me that he could hear the heart beating in my chest, he could sense the movement of my blood in my veins. I shiver thinking of everything about me that he might be able to sense, and then I forced my attention back to what he was saying. ‘Really, K D, why shouldn’t I be anxious to see you?’ His eyes were suddenly obsidian bright, and colder than the night air around us.  ‘After all, you’ve already told everyone who I am. What I am.’

 

Landscapesis a fictional story,’ I managed, unable to keep the trembling of my body from manifesting in my voice. ‘Mr Darlington, I –’

 

‘Alonso,’ he corrected me with a smile that was so friendly and inviting that I might have thought him just being hospitable if the circumstances had been different. ‘It’s Alonso. After all, we keep no secrets here, Do we, K D?’

 

‘I didn’t know you were real,’ I continued as quickly as I could, afraid I’d lose my courage, afraid I might actually do something stupid like try to run. ‘Believe me, everything I wrote, everything I published, it came from my head, from my imagination, from nowhere else. I would never –’

 

He leaned forward and shoved the hair away from my neck so quickly that I had no time to do more than gasp. My heart was beating way too fast and I could smell the terror rising in a cold damp sweat against my skin. He was going to take me. Right then and there, and no one would know the difference. My husband had been away in South Africa when Alonso’s invitation had come, and though I had emailed him, he had no more idea than I’d had as to where High View actually was, and he wasn’t due home for another ten days. I had told no one else because who the hell would believe me?

 

‘You wrote the story, K D,’ he whispered against my ear. ‘Surely you know I have ways of putting ideas in your head, thoughts,’ his mouth brushed my earlobe and gooseflesh rose along my nape, ‘fantasies.’

 

By that point in our encounter, things had become a bit vague. To my embarrassment, I confess it could have been fear. ‘Talia?’ I managed in a voice that sounded like it belonged to a frightened child. ‘Did you send her to me?’ I could feel panic rising. Surely not. Surely if he had, I would have remembered something.

 

He only chuckled softly, and stroked the tender spot behind my ear with the thick of his thumb. ‘Now why would I have done that, K D?’ I felt his warm lips against my throat, and I’m embarrassed to say that there was suddenly another feeling coexisting with the terror and the panic. ‘I’m not going to hurt you. But we do need to talk. We do need to come to an understanding, and I will keep you here until we do.’ And Christ! He actually ran his tongue up along that hammering pulse point where the blood runs so close to the surface, and I remember looking up and thinking I’d never seen such a beautiful sky.

 

 

The Bet: Part 4 of a Grand New Medusa Consortium Story

 

While I’m away in China, I have a very special treat for you lovely lot. I’m sharing with you a five part story, never been read, never been published before, from the Medusa Consortium Series. Ever wonder how our fallen angel, Michael Weller, once lover of the Guardian, now Susan Ennis’s lover, and long time friend and member of Magda Gardener’s consortium lost his angel hood? Well wonder no more. This is a little peek into Michael’s backstory, taking place while Michael is with the Guardian and wants very much to give his lover a very special gift.

The Bet is complete in five parts, all of which will be posted here during the next two weeks. While I’m in China, I’ll have no access to my blog, nor email, nor Facebook, nor Twitter, so this is my gift for you to enjoy until I get back.

 

 

PART FOUR

He blinked, then blinked again. “What? You think because of what I am, I’m innocent?”

“Oh I know you are.”

This time, he did look away, but not before she saw the desperation drawn tight across his face. When he spoke it was little more than a whisper. Anyone else might have missed it, but Magda never missed anything. “I have a lover, and it’s … well it’s complicated.” He drew a shaky breath and struggled to meet her gaze again. “I’m … I have no innocence to bet.”

She managed not to laugh this time. She understood innocence well enough to be just a little bit empathetic, but she would allow herself only that little bit. Empathy was not her strong suit. She tried hard not to sound condescending, not when this was the moment she’d been waiting for, the moment that the true wager would happen. “You think having a lover, having sex means you’re not innocent? The leaving of Eden wasn’t predicated upon two people having sex, was it?”

When he didn’t answer, she continued. “Being naked and understanding that we really are naked and alone in our own skin, that’s what leaving Eden is all about, and you, my dear Michael, are nowhere near naked yet.”

“What about you?” He raked her with a look that was anything but sexual, and yet he blushed. “You’re not naked, are you?”

She finished the whisky in a quick gulp and ordered another with a nod of her head. “I cover myself, like all of us who were forced from Eden, hoping no one will notice just how naked I really am. Though I probably needn’t worry. Everyone else is too concerned about covering their own nakedness to notice mine.”

The fine muscles along his jaw tensed and relaxed. He clenched a fist on the top of the table. “And you want to see me naked?”

“It isn’t about me seeing you naked. It’s about you seeing yourself that way. You waltz in here out-glitzing a Vegas showgirl all clothed in your shiny immortality and the protection of your maker and expect to get what you want by just losing a few hands of poker.” When he opened his mouth to protest, she pointed to her Ray-Bans. “Oh I see a lot more than most, Michael, and the owner of this place, well if anything he sees even more than I do. Hell, you might as well have your maker’s signature stamped across your forehead. You’re not fooling anyone but yourself, and the gods, well they like it that way just fine. But if you want to play the game in Buried Pleasures, you place your bet. Otherwise, don’t waste my time.”

He sat for a long moment studying her as though she were trying to trick him. He needn’t have worried. There were no tricks at Buried Pleasures, and everyone there ended up as naked and exposed as everyone else. Well, everyone but her and Jack Graves, but they’d both paid their dues a long time ago. They both knew that the breath of eternity blowing in your face always smells of death.

“And if I lose?” His gaze darted from her to the deck of sealed cards then to Graves standing with his arms crossed looking down on them from the mezzanine.

“If you lose, you get what you came for.” She nodded up to Graves. “He’ll sort the details with your maker and then you’re all his.”

“Wait a minute.” Michael shot another glance at Graves. “He’s not …”

This time she didn’t even try not to laugh. “Of course he’s not Satan. Granted, I suppose the storm tunnels might be mistaken for hell, what with the scorpions and the rats, but it suits Graves. He’s the only one who deals in mortality, and that is what you want, isn’t it, to be finite, to have a beginning and an end, to be a real boy?”

He bit his lower lip and gave a barely perceptible nod. Then he glanced over at the dealer as though he were afraid she might rat him out to his boss. Magda couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for him.

“Then trust me, this is the only place you have any chance of that happening. You are sure that’s what you want?” She quirked her head to the dealer, who gave him a questioning look.

“More than I’ve ever wanted anything,” he whispered blinking back emotion.

“And consequences be damned?”

He nodded his response as though he had suddenly lost the power of speech. Then he motioned to the dealer. She opened the deck and shuffled. Michael carefully took each card dealt him as though he feared one of them might explode. She watched him rather than her own cards. The last few seconds of eternity was something she’d never seen on anyone’s face before. While this might have been exactly what Michael had wanted, she could almost taste his fear. Before he could turn over his last card, she placed her hand over his. “It’s not too late to change your mind. I’ll completely understand if you want to back out, and so will Mr. Graves.”

“I won’t … change my mind.” He tried to pull his hand free, but she held it. “Once it’s done, it’s done. There’s no going back. You know that?”

“I understand.” He took a deep breath and pulled free.

It only took one hand. One hand and the angel, Michael, lost spectacularly. Then Magda sat back and watched him change. Oh there were no feathers dropping to the floor from the wings that no one could see, no tinkle of a golden halo hitting the marble beside his chair. There was no crash of thunder or strike of lightening, no roaring voice from heaven and no flaming sword guarding the way back to paradise. His hands shook a little as he pushed the mountain of chips to Magda’s side of the table. He sank back into his chair in a motion that was more one of a weight settling than a weight being lifted. Magda knew the difference very well. A thin sheen of sweat broke on his high forehead and slowly his attention shifted to Graves, who only smiled down at him and lifted a glass in salute. At last he found his voice. “He’ll come for me now?”

 

The Bet: Part 3 of a Brand New Medusa Consortium Story

 

While I’m away in China, I have a very special treat for you lovely lot. I’m sharing with you a five part story, never been read, never been published before, from the Medusa Consortium Series. Ever wonder how our fallen angel, Michael Weller, once lover of the Guardian, now Susan Ennis’s lover, and long time friend and member of Magda Gardener’s consortium lost his angel hood? Well wonder no more. This is a little peek into Michael’s backstory, taking place while Michael is with the Guardian and wants very much to give his lover a very special gift.

The Bet is complete in five parts, all of which will be posted here during the next two weeks. While I’m in China, I’ll have no access to my blog, nor email, nor Facebook, nor Twitter, so this is my gift for you to enjoy until I get back.

 

PART THREE

“Look Michael,” she scooted back to her chair and examined her manicure, “what I’ve lost, it’s no big deal to me. For me this really is just a game, something I do for entertainment when I’m bored. The owner and I are old friends, so from time to time he allows me play with the guests.” She nodded to the bustle of the casino awash in the bells of slot machines and the hiss and flutter of cards all muffled in the mutter and buzz of the guests. “There are plenty of other people I could play with, some even more desperate than you are, which makes the game all the more intriguing.” She patted the back of his hand, “Or perhaps I’ll just go out and enjoy Vegas. Unlike you, I find the city fascinating. So if you want me to keep playing, you’ll have to make it worth my while.”

He licked his lips and blew out a heavy breath in a gesture she’d have expected from a desperate loser, not a winner. Then he glanced around as though he expected to find a solution to his problems in some other part of the casino he’d not yet been to. “This is all I have. I don’t own anything else.”

This time she didn’t even try to disguise the predator within. She tossed back the rest of her champagne and ignored the ribbon from her hair as it slid off onto the floor. Then she slapped down the glass, her gaze never leaving his. She had to hand it to him, he didn’t look away. He didn’t even flinch. “Oh I know you don’t own anything. But that,” she waved a hand over the pile of chips, “that’s not all you have. Come on Michael, use your imagination, entice me.”

The color rose to his pale face, and he sputtered. “What, you mean like … sex?”

She rolled her eyes, a gesture he missed what with her glasses. “I said use your imagination.” She made a point of looking him over until he squirmed and blushed just like an adolescent. Then she inhaled the hot iron scent of his nervousness, of his desperation, a scent so familiar in the plush halls of Buried Pleasures, a scent ever present in spite of all the perfume and deodorant and shower gel attempts to make the losing and the winning
more comfortable. But on Michael, the smell of desperation was mouthwatering with its added sharp edged, thunderstorm bouquet stimulated by a new experience with which he wasn’t at all comfortable. “While you are pretty easy on the eye, I have no way of knowing how good you are in bed, and frankly, I don’t have to gamble for good sex if I want it. Besides, don’t you think that’s a bit cliché?”

He blushed even harder.

“Look, you wouldn’t be in Buried Pleasures if you weren’t desperate, if you weren’t willing to risk everything, and this,” another wave at the table, “you being my sex slave, none of that has anything to do with what you came here for, or what you’ve got to lose. So come on, Michael, make it worth my while or I’ll find someone who will.”

“I’ll bet my wings.” He blurted out, and then quickly glanced around to make sure no one was listening. No one was. In Buried Pleasures, no one cared.

This time Magda laughed outright. “Your wings? Seriously.”

“Yes! My wings.” He glanced around again and then leaned far over the table speaking between barely parted lips. “I know you may not believe it, but I’m –”

She all but snorted as a cocktail waitress delivered her a whisky and one for Michael, which he hadn’t ordered. “I know what you are, and so does he.” She nodded back to the owner. “Frankly, I’m a little surprised he let you in at all. He’s a live and let live sort of guy, Mr. Graves, and he usually doesn’t poach on anyone else’s territory.”

“What? Is he afraid God will strike him dead?”

She huffed out a laugh. “The gods don’t worry him much. But still, he doesn’t like to ruffle feathers if he can avoid it. He plays the long game, you know.”

“Well then if he knows what I am, and if he has no problem with it …”

She waved a dismissive hand. “Honestly, Michael, what the hell am I going to do with your wings? Sell them on eBay?”

His face reddened again. “I was thinking more along the line of Sotheby’s.”

“Oh please! You think some trophy hunter is going to mount them on the wall? Oh you are big game, I suppose. But angels giving up their wings is at least as cliché as people betting their bodies for sex in Vegas casinos. Wings are nothing. Wings don’t make you who you are. Wings are just the cherry on the top.”

This time he buried his face in his hands and shook his head. She waited for it, waited as though she had all the time in the world. At last, he forced himself upright, sucked in a heavy breath and met her gaze, way better than most would have. She liked that about him. “All right. Then you tell me. What do you want?”

She leaned in toward those stunning blue eyes, letting the Ray-Bans slip again and the hair fall in a mad cascade all but brushing the pile of chips. She leaned forward until he squirmed in his little chair and grabbed onto the table with a crushing grip, but he didn’t look away. “Unlike Mr. Graves, I don’t mind poaching at all. What I want, Michael, is you’re innocence. If I win, it’s mine. If I lose, you go back to where you belong and accept your fate.”

 

Brand New Snippet from A Demon’s Tale WIP

Hello my Lovelies. Here’s a brand new excerpt from A Demon’s Tale, Book Four of the Medusa Consortium series. The Guardian keeps surprising me with unexpected twists and turns, and I keep loving his story. In this snippet, he takes a little revenge for himself while seeking out something far more vital for the Consortium. But can he revert back to his old ways after all he’s been through?

 

A Demon’s Tale WIP: Possession and Revenge

“You’re back even sooner than I expected,” he said without looking at the witch. “Tell me, did you make your excuses to the sea god? Did you tell him there was someone who fucked you better than he?”

 

“You pushed me out.” There was disbelief, there was frustration, there was plenty of rage her in voice, but all of that was negligible. What assured him that he had her exactly where he wanted her was the raw, desperate need beneath that rage, just as he had known it would be, just as he had planned it. When he made no response, when he didn’t even bother to turn toward her, her rage peaked. “You pushed me out without finishing me. You left me … unable to do anything.” The trembling in her body caused tiny ripples along the construct, and he smiled to himself for he knew well the desperation growing in her. “I can’t go to him like this. I had to send one of my maids to make excuses, to say that I was working on a plan and a spell and I could not be disturbed.”

 

With a single thought the construct shifted and morphed around them until the stood beneath the shelter of willow trees hanging heavily around a spring. The catch of her breath told him that she recognized the spot. “You betrayed me here, Circe. Surely you didn’t think I’d forget.”

 

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, falling to her knees, “Gods, I’ve wished a million times that I hadn’t done it.”

 

“Liar.” He barely mouthed the words, but her flinch was a tremor of delight along his nebulous being.

 

“Give me what I want,” she raged, forcing her way to her feet, hands clenched at her side in tight fists. “Give me what I need or I swear I’ll tell him about you. I swear I’ll –”

 

“You’ll what?” He turned on her, his voice so loud now that she covered her ears, a thing that would not avail her. “He already knows about me, and he already knows that he cannot destroy me without destroying the very thing that he desires to possess.” He wrapped his non-corporeal self around her so suddenly and so completely that she yelped, her shocked surprise well laced with fear. Good. He wanted her fear. He delighted in her fear. “If you, my wicked little witch, do not give me whatIwant, then I shall simply destroy the construct and leave you as you are, unsatisfied and insatiable with no relief to be had.” He moved so close to her ear that he knew she could feel his words inside her head, “and you will have no way back to me.”

 

“No! No please!” She reached desperate clawing hands for flesh that was not there, even as he completely surrounded her with himself. “Please don’t do that.”

 

Her trembling in his embrace fed his own hunger, the need raised to impossible heights, desire that would, indeed drive her insane if she found no relief, and he, and only he, could offer that relief. The power of such knowledge swelled within him as surely as arousal swelled and hardened maleness, and oh how he longed to physically know that arousal. “You betrayed me, little witch, and I have a very, very long memory. You betrayed me and abandoned me in this worthless place to languish, a thing you cannot even imagine. I can think of no good reason why I should not do exactly that. In fact, that is precisely my plan.”

 

“No! No Please don’t.” She fell to her knees and reached and groped for any physical trace of him, so very near and yet always just beyond her reach.

 

“Did you think that just because this was a dream construct you could come and go as you pleased, take whatever you desired and I would have no recourse but to play your pet?”

 

“No I didn’t. I didn’t think that. I only wanted –”

 

“Don’t lie to me, Circe.” This time he made himself physical enough that he could shake her until her teeth rattled, and even to that she responded as though he had stroked her breast or fingered her sex. “I know when you’re lying, darling. I know that is exactly what you thought you could do. You thought my prison had rendered me powerless. You thought I would be glad for the distraction. And while I have enjoyed our little rendezvous, I am bored now, for you have given me no reason why I should continue this game now that I have achieved my revenge.”

 

“No! No please! I’ll do anything!” And this time, he let her feel flesh that was not there as she wrapped her arms around his legs, in her subservient position and gave a little gasp at the feel of an erection pressed close to her cheek as she held him there. She even made an effort to take him into her mouth, looking up at him, her gaze limpid, coy, submissive.H e let her service him, for a moment, lingering to relish the thought of what was to come next, for as he curled phantom fingers into her hair and allowed her to feel his pleasure, he knew that she was his, that she would give him what he wanted.

 

“Anything, my wicked little darling, anything I ask of you?”

 

She whimpered and nodded as he gently pulled her to her feet, making sure she felt the flick of a tongue and the nip of teeth over her nipples as he did so. He drew her near and created for her the sensation of naked flesh against naked flesh, of need rubbing up against need, and she shivered and bit her lip until he could smell the blood. He moved in close and took her mouth, sucking at her wound much as he knew his dear vampires did, and he was surprised at how that thought intrigued, aroused him even. He let her feed on his mouth in turn as though she starved for it, for truly she did just such. And then he pulled away and whispered over the rise of goose bumps across her nape. “Then let me wear your flesh.”

“What?” She pulled away startled, eyes wide, the rapid staccato of her heart a constant shimmer along the construct, a constant strumming of his own arousal. “You … you want to possess me?”

 

“Only for a little, my love, and as I do, I shall give you such a release as you shall never forget, such delights as your flesh can barely contain, and indeed, could not without me there lending my power at the core of you. For you see, I am unable to possess mortals without eliciting their deaths far too soon for my pleasure to be satisfied. Only once in my long existence have I been able to come and go in the flesh of another, as I pleased. But before you betrayed me and bound me in this forsaken place, I would have possessed you, for I believed you could house my power in your flesh.” He moved to stand behind her, splaying fingers up over her belly to cup her breasts and tease her nipples to tight peeks. “Can you imagine such power we would possess,” he now shifted and made subtle maddening thrusting motions, which brought his penis in long tentative strokes at the juncture between her buttocks. “Why even the sea god himself could not defy us. And the pleasure I could give you, the pleasure I could give both of us is as nothing you could come close to imagining, even in your many eons of life. If you would do this for me,” he said reaching around to cup her sex and seek out her pleasure point so tender and ready. She cried out and thrust her hips forward as though to force from his exploring fingers what she so urgently needed, but he only chuckled and pulled back a feather’s breath before her completion. As she sobbed out her frustration, he cupped her again and covered her neck and shoulders with kisses. “Do this one thing for me, my wicked little witch, just this one thing, and I will consider the debt you owe me paid and my revenge complete.”

 

“It won’t hurt?”

 

“And what if it does when the pleasure will be as nothing you can even come close to imagining in your fragile little mind. Indeed, I know full well that you find a great deal of pleasure in pain. Giving it,” he bit her ear and she trembled, “as well as receiving it.”

 

“Will you allow me then to come back to you whenever I want?” This time she was bold enough to reach a hand back to pull his hips nearer, as she leaned slightly forward to open herself.

 

But he slapped her hands away and turned her into his embrace, offering her the face that he did not have, the face that he knew would both terrify and enthrall her. “Of course I will, my darling, for I am as in need of entertainment as you are in this prison, and I would delight in the pleasure we can find in each other.”

“All right. Do it.” The strain of her need was evident in the shadows beneath her eyes

and the sheen of perspiration that reeked as much of fear as it did arousal.

 

“Then kiss me, my love, and I will go in through your breath. It will take only a moment.”

 

A Scary Encounter on the Flight Home

As you know, I’ve been in the States visiting family the last three weeks. It’s been a happy time spent playing with the nieces and then later huckleberry picking and road-tripping with my sister. It’s been a restful, healing time away from the Guardian and the interview that, I’ll admit, had me pretty frazzled. The last thing I expected when I boarded the plane to Heathrow for the return flight was an encounter with Magda Gardener. Here’s what happened. 

 

“I know what you’re doing.” I’m instantly wide-awake. For a second I don’t remember where I’m at, but then the flight attendant brushes past me in the aisle and I can just make out the sonorous buzz of a snore coming from the man in the seat behind me. The too warm cabin suddenly feels like the arctic, and my arms prickle in a wave of goose bumps. I feel like my insides have turned to ice and the urge to run is cut off at the pass. I can’t run. I can’t even breathe. And just as panic sets in, the feeling passes and I’m breathing again, gasping like I’ve just run a marathon.

 

 

A warm finger nudges the hair away from my cheek. “Did you think I wouldn’t figure it out?” A breath of a whisper brushes my ear. I recognize the voice and I’m covered in goose bumps all over again.

 

Slowly I turn in my seat to find the empty space next to me filled with Magda Gardner, who’s smiling down at me as though we are just two girlfriends having a chat. “I know what you’re doing,” she repeats in a low even voice. “Though I doubt that you have any idea.”

 

“I figured you’d find out soon enough.” I try to sound like I don’t care, like it doesn’t matter to me one way or another that the woman knows I’m interviewing the demon who lives inside her vampire Scribe. Seriously, you can’t sound anything but bat shit crazy if you say something like that out loud in casual conversation.

 

“And you didn’t think it might be wise to at least give me the heads-up?” Her voice is still ridiculously conversational, bestie casual.

 

“I had no way of giving you the heads-up when I don’t even know how to get in touch with you.” Not that I really wanted that information. I’d prefer the woman forget all about me entirely, but Magda Gardener/AKA Medusa, never forgets anything … or anyone if she has a good use for them.

 

Without being asked, the flight attendant delivers her a whisky in a cut crystal glass. I assume Magda is back here with me because she’s slumming from first class. The attendant delivers me a flute of champagne. Magda Gardener is a lot of things, but she’s not cheap.

 

She thanks the woman, then dismisses her. Once she’s gone back to the first class cabin, Magda lifts her glass. “To lies and the nasty truths they uncover,” then she sips daintily.

 

I go through the motions of joining her in a drink. Enjoying what I’m sure is very expensive champagne is impossible under Magda Gardeners scrutiny. “I didn’t lie,” I say.

 

“Was it Susan who contacted you?” she asks, running a well-manicured nail around the rim of the glass.

 

“It’s not like he could contact me on his own.” I reply.

 

“You should have told her you wouldn’t do it unless I knew.”

 

“He didn’t want you to know. Any good journalist wouldn’t reveal her source.”

 

“You’re not a journalist,” she says, “and he’s not a source. He’s a demon, a monster, and you’re way out of your depth of experience no matter how good you are at what you do.”

 

“I didn’t say I was good.” I was neither smug nor arrogant about a situation that scared the crap out of me from the beginning. I would have gladly turned down the offer if I hadn’t feared the consequences of doing so.

 

“Believe me, there’s no question of your abilities or I wouldn’t have allowed you to write my story and the stories of my people. “But the issue is what contact with him will do to you. It’s already affecting you, whether you’ll admit it or not.”

 

“You owe him. All of you owe him.” The words slip out of my mouth before I could stop them.

 

To this she simply chuckles and sips at her whisky. “I rather think it’s the other way round. He owes us, and he knows it. He’s got a helluva lot to answer for, in case you’ve forgotten.” She waves a dismissive hand. “Of course he loves Susan and Michael, at least as much as a being like him can love anyone. And I dare say he’s very fond of Reese and Alonso too. He wants them to think better of him. His existence is easier if they do.” She waves a hand. “As for what he did in the fight against Richard Waters, he has no choice but to obey Susan’s commands. You wrote the story. You know this.”

 

I stare at my barely touched champagne. I know better than to look her in the face. “You think that’s all it is, he’s just obeying commands?”

 

She doesn’t answer immediately, and for a moment I wonder if perhaps she’s chosen not to, but then she sighs softly, pushes the ever-present Ray-bans up close against the bridge of her nose and says, “I don’t know. But he and I have a long and unpleasant relationship. Neither of us has any real reason to trust the other. But don’t you think a demon like him would take whatever pleasure he could get in whatever from it took, even if he is a prisoner?”

 

“You think I’m the entertainment.” A cold shiver ran down my spine at the thought I’d too often contemplated.

 

“I don’t think anything. But I do know that no matter how completely he’s incarcerated, he’s still dangerous.”

 

“So what exactly is it you want me to do,” I ask. “It’s not like I wanted this job, but then that’s never mattered much to any of you, what I want, has it?”

 

Her lips curl in a smile that’s nearly sentimental, as though in her mind’s eye, she’s fondly recalling all of our encounters to date. “No. It hasn’t.” She downs the rest of her whisky then turns to face me, and like it or not, I feel compelled to look at her, even with the chill creeping over my arms and throat. “As for exactly what I want you to do, first I want this conversation to stay between us. He doesn’t need to know we’ve spoken. Second, I want you to limit your time in his presence when you’re doing this silly interview. I’ve already talked to Talia and she’ll be monitoring you more closely.”

 

“No.” The word comes out lacking conviction and sounding almost like a plea. “I won’t keep our conversation from him. He knows you’ll find out eventually, and I don’t want to be the one caught keeping secrets from him. It seems to me that could be a whole lot more dangerous than being above board.”

 

To this Magda laughs out loud and the woman sitting across the aisle from me looks up from her magazine in irritation. “Choose very carefully which monster you refuse,” she says. “He fears me, and he’s a lot of things, but he’s not stupid.”

 

“The way I see it, my choices are pretty thin on the ground,” I replay.

 

“He would possess you, use you up and spit you out in a heartbeat if he thought he could get away with it,” she said. “Don’t believe for one moment that he doesn’t know exactly what effect he’s having on you. He knows how you crave his company, even as you fear it. He knows how he worms his way into your fantasies, even though you try to deny it. He knows that the longer he drags out the interview, the more danger you’re in. He knows all of this, K D, and he keeps inviting you back.”

 

“I won’t lie to him,” I say, not even trying to hide the trembling that seems to have taken control of me. “If you want me to stop the interview, then you have to put an end to it. Otherwise I’ve made a commitment. Up until now, I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to, in spite of the uncomfortable, and dangerous situation it’s often put me in. I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t, but I’m not about to make it worse by lying to him.”

 

The glasses slip down her nose, and I nearly dump champagne in my lap I’m shaking so hard. My heart feels like it’ll beat me to death in its mad hammering. I can just make out the flutter of golden eyelashes before she pushes the glasses back into place. “All right. But we’ll all be monitoring you closely, and if I feel it necessary to put an end to the interviews, I will, no matter what you, or he, want. Is that clear?”

 

“Perfectly.” My voice is little more than a whisper.

 

“Good. Now drink your champagne.” She watches until I swallow it back in a single gulp, wishing I’d had her whisky instead. “That’s a good girl, now get some sleep.”

 

It’s the announcement of the descent into Heathrow that wakes me. The champagne flute is gone and so is Magda Gardener. There’s absolutely no evidence that she’s even been there. I return my chair to the upright position and close the tray table thinking about the encounter. With all that’s been happening to me since I began the interview with the Guardian, I’m well aware that it could have easily all just been a dream. But I’m certain that it wasn’t.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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