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.
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In the Flesh is very dark paranormal erotica. When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.
To read the story in its entirety up to this point, follow these links to Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14.
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.