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In The Flesh Part 5: Free Story in Progress. Enjoy!

Happy Friday Everyone! And to start your weekend off with a thrill and a chill, enjoy Part 5 of my dark paranormal story, In The Flesh.  psyche_et_lamour_327x567

In the Flesh is a dark and sexy story that has had several incarnations in its shorter form, but never quite worked because it needed space to grow. I couldn’t think of a better place for it to grow. In the Flesh is a blend of paranormal erotica and almost, but not quite … okay, quite possibly … horror. What I’m sharing with you, this version, is an expanding work in progress. You get it just shortly after I write it, and as far as what happens next, well … we’ll see. 

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.

 

In The Flesh Part Five

It was a trickle of sweat under my arms and along my ribs that brought me back to myself. My arse ached from sitting rose imageson the hard cement of the pavement. The sun baked down on my back and a large hand gently stroked between my shoulder blades. At some point, Michael had joined me. I couldn’t say when.

“You’re all right. You’ll be fine. It’ll be okay.” His voice was barely more than a whisper, but his touch was solid and comforting. “I know it’s a lot to take in, but better you know. If you don’t know, you can’t fight.” He stood and offered me his hand. “Come on back inside. I’ve had Izzy keep the food warm. You need to eat.”

Back in the Little Chef, Izzy delivered the reheated plates offering me a look of sympathy. Then she nodded at Michael, refreshed our coffee cups and left. He gestured to my plate. Grudgingly, I forced the first bite of eggs past my gag reflex only to discover that they tasted pretty damn good.

Michael watched as I gulped two more bites, stuffed half a piece of toast in my mouth and washed it down with coffee. He raised his own cup and held my gaze. “When was the last time you ate?”

“I don’t know.” I thought about it while I polished off a rasher of bacon. “I guess the last real meal I had was the takeaway I ordered my first night at Chapel House.”

His gaze was beginning to make me squirm. “That’s a long time between meals.”

“I had a lot on my mind, what with Annie behaving so strangely and all.” But even as I said it, I felt the skin on my arms prickle. I wasn’t known for my lack of appetite, I, who never missed a meal augmented by several snacks in between. The only time I wasn’t hungry was when I was asleep, and even then sometimes I dreamed of food.

His own meal barely touched, he sipped his coffee, then leaned across the table, still holding me in blue scrutiny. “Susan, tell me about the dream.”

I’d eaten my breakfast and half of his and sat shivering in his jacket by the time I’d finished telling him about last night, struggling to keep the details to a minimum and the whole experience at a safe distance. We waited for Izzy to fill the cups again, and then I plucked up my courage, rubbing my arms, now tender where the bruises bloomed and darkened. “It wasn’t a dream, then.”

“Some of it was, fortunately.” He nodded to where I still chafed my arms. “Those are evidence that it wasn’t all a dream, but the fact that you woke up in your own bed… Well, something interrupted his efforts, I’d say.”

“But how could that be,” I said, remembering the feel of being battered, being invaded, falling through the bottom of the world, remembering the empty eyes of the angel, his hand extended to me in invitation.

He leaned closer across the table until his forehead nearly touched mine. I was struck by how large he really was. I was tall and well muscled, but he made me feel petite, delicate. Why hadn’t I noticed that before? His large hand came to rest on mine and his voice was a soft rumble I felt deep between my hipbones almost like the first intimations of a storm. And fuck, if he didn’t quote John Donne!

Bernini's Hades and PersephoneBatter my heart, three-person’d God, for you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend

Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

*****

Take me to you, imprison me, for I,

Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

By the time he was finished, I was shivering uncontrollably, and I would have laughed if I hadn’t been so frightened. “So he’s not God, this imaginary lover who seduced my friend and nearly raped me, but the rape part was a dream because God rescued me from this devil or demon or whatever the fuck he is before he could do the deed? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?”

He downed the last of his coffee and pushed his plate aside. “I’m only trying to tell you that nothing that’s happening to Annie or to you is straight forward. Things are always way more complicated than the stories in the mythology books, and even in the Christian Bible, make them out to be.”

We sat in silence for a long moment, watching a young couple try to settle two small children and a toddler into a booth nearby. “It was a seduction, not a rape,” he said absently watching the man settle the squirming child into a high chair. “He doesn’t want to take you by force. He wants you to come to him willingly. He’s not above hurting you if you don’t, but it’s your free will he wants most. He wants you to want him like you’ve never wanted anything in life. Your lust, your desire for him, that’s the thing that empowers him most, you see?”

Even the thought of my experience in the bathtub made my nipples tense, and that the sensation low in my belly wasn’t entirely fear made me flush with anger. “No. No I don’t see. I don’t see at all. Is he a demon?” I spoke the word through my teeth, the shape of it the bitter pip at the center of sweet, ripe fruit. “Or … maybe an incubus? I mean he did come to me in a dream, didn’t he?”

“He’s neither, but he has characteristics of both. He’s what he needs to be. He has no definition, not really, and
he’s attached to the place, you see? That place, the place where Chapel House was built, was a site of power long before Christianity came to Britain, long before there was even a name for the ancient powers, the forces that command the changing of the seasons and the ebb and flow of the tides. Back when people lived in fear of the dark, and offered sacrifice to drive back the forces they didn’t understand, the forces that led to famine, starvation, death. He was always there. That place, it’s his place, and he’s happy to share it, needs to share it, actually, but his hunger is as bottomless now as it was when the blood of virgins and young warriors stained the altar stone.”

“How the hell does a builder know all this stuff?” I asked, still shivering into the leather of his jacket.

He shrugged. “I make my living doing renovations of listed buildings mostly. I do a lot of old barn conversions as well, and church and chapel conversions, of course. I specialized in that area because I find the history of the places I renovate fascinating. I know just enough archeology to understand that old buildings often have a history older than the building itself, and that history often connects them with the space where they’re built. When your friend hired me to renovate Chapel House, I jumped at the chance. I got more than I bargained for,” he added as an afterthought.

P1020065               There was another long silence while the little family discussed the menu and the toddler fussed and wriggled. “I have to get my stuff,” I said.

“He won’t let you go easily,” Michael replied, slapping down money for the bill. “Especially if what Annie said is true, and he had her send for you. You’re the one he wants. You’re the one he’s chosen.”

I pulled the jacket tight around me. “You said he wanted me willing. Well I’m not.”

He held my gaze. “You weren’t even tempted?’

I felt colour rush to my face and the bruises on my arms tingled as though they had just been caressed tenderly. He didn’t wait for my reply. It was obvious, I guess. “Susan, you have no idea just how persuasive he can be. If you wanted him, if you were tempted even a little bit, he’s already found a way in. The only way to keep him from getting what he wants is to get as far away from him as possible, and even then he won’t make it easy.”

“Jesus,” I murmured, clenching my eyes tightly.

Michael said nothing, only sat watching me.

“And Annie?” I asked, at last.

He looked down at his hands now folded on the table as though he were about to say a prayer.

“What about Annie?” I asked again. Feeling my chest tighten and my throat constrict.

“I don’t know.” His voice was barely audible. “If he’s had her call you. If he’s already grooming you.”

“He’s not grooming me,” I said, a little louder than I intended. “I’m not his for the taking, and I want my friend out of there.”

He said nothing. Only sat looking at his hands. “I have to get my stuff.” I said again. “My phone, my car keys, my computer. All my stuff is there. I want it back.”

This time he did look up at me and smiled. “Yes, she told me you were a writer.” Then he added quickly. “In the beginning, when she first hired me, she told me, and I know enough about writers to know that the tools of their trade are their treasure. Especially in this day and age.” Then before I could respond, he stood and offered me his hand. “Come on. Let’s get your stuff back.”

 

Twenty minutes later we stood together at the front door of Chapel House, our knocks unanswered. My calling through the door that I just wanted my stuff drew some suspicious looks from passers by, but no response from inside.

“She’s in there,” Michael said, before I could ask. “She’s just not responding.”

“So what should we do? Call the police?”

“I don’t think so,” he said, taking me gently by the elbow and turning me about. “I know another way in. You were staying in the makeshift guest room? I’ll get your stuff. You wait in the truck.”

We walked in silence back to the alley where he’d parked and he helped me up into the cab. “Wait here. I’ll be right back.”

“Hold it” I grabbed him by the arm. “My phone. I dropped it in the transept last night when I … when she was 2015-06-17 09.32.13-2with him … when he came after me.”

He placed a hand on my shoulder and squeezed gently. “Don’t worry. I’ll get it.”

“Be careful, Michael,” I called behind him as he headed through the wrought iron gate.

It felt like I waited ages for him to come back. I was just about to get out of the truck and see if I could find him when I noticed a splash of colour under a bramble thicket on the alley side of the fence. I slid from the seat, leaving the door open in case I wanted to return in a hurry. Reminded of the bruises on my arms, I wondered just what good I though that would do.

Sure enough, there under the brambles were my things, as thought someone had tossed them in a heap over the fence. Mindless of the prick of the brambles and the sting of nettles, I tugged and pulled both my travel bag and my shoulder bag free. Holding my breath, heart pounding, prickle flesh climbing my spine, I dragged everything back into the truck then slammed and locked the door behind me. My computer was safe in its sheath inside the shoulder bag, right where I always carried it. And slid into the little side pouch next to my car keys, I found my cell phone and my wallet. Everything in place. The clothes in the travel bag, my toiletries, everything had been neatly packed before it had been tossed over the fence. The relief of having my stuff back was short lived, my thoughts returned to Michael. What the hell was taking him so long?

Once again I slid out of the truck and closed the door carefully behind me. The alley was deserted. I smelled neither roses nor burning garbage. Perhaps Annie was occupied with her lover and neither of them noticed me. Or perhaps they were occupied with Michael and he was in trouble. As an afterthought, I opened the door again and pawed through the space behind the seat until I found a screwdriver, not a big one, but big enough to do some damage if I needed to. But then, what was I going to do, use it in my friend? Clearly it would do no good on this lover of hers. Nevertheless, I gripped it tightly, shut the door behind me and headed through the wrought iron gate.

Almost immediately I found myself engulfed in the overgrown garden. With heart pounding in my chest, I stood for a moment trying to get my bearings. It seemed like a straight shot from the back door to the gate this morning when Annie kicked me out. Surely I would have remembered the way. Surely it wasn’t so complicated. I squared my shoulders and moved forward into the garden, convincing myself that all I had to do was follow the main path. Ten minutes later, I realized the folly of my decision as I pushed and shoved through ivy and overgrown hawthorn, adding new scrapes and scratches to those already stinging from recovering my bags. I smelled neither roses nor garbage, only the thick, rank scent of summer vegetation. Surely I’d be okay. Surely I’d not drawn any unwanted attention, but where the hell was Michael? What was taking him so long? Christ! What if something had happened to him? Annie clearly Graveyard angel 1wasn’t herself. What if she’d taken the butcher knife to him? What if he was somewhere inside Chapel House wounded and bleeding while I was out here wandering around in the garden unable to get to him. Once again I wished desperately to wake up from the bad dream and find myself safe and secure in my own flat in my own bed. Instead I was brought up short, coming face to face once again with the stone angel, empty eyes locked on me, outstretched hand beckoning me, as though he might lead me to safety. But it was the sculpted face so full of concern, so focused on me, that held my attention. The face, suddenly familiar, suddenly recognizable. Though the eyes were empty, aged marble and not stunning blue, there was no mistaking the strong lines of the face, the square jaw. Even the broad shoulders, the posture of strength and determination, all familiar to me.

“Michael?’ My strangled whisper sounded like a shout in the deep silence. But then again, I might have yelped. I might have even screamed just before I turned to run.

 

In The Flesh Part 3: A FREE Story in Progress. Enjoy!

As promised, here is Part 3 of my dark paranormal erotic story, In The Flesh for you to read and enjoy. A few months ago, I posted a promise to myself to have more fun with my writing. As a part of psyche_et_lamour_327x567keeping that promise, I started a new online serial two weeks ago called In The Flesh. Today I’m very happy to post Part 3 of In The Flesh. One of the things I love to do most on this blog is share stories that you won’t find anywhere else. Writing stories for my blog rather than just sharing observations or navel-gazes always feels much more personal, and much more like I’m sharing more of myself with my readers. Plus, it’s just flat-out fun for me!

In the Flesh is a dark and sexy story that has had several incarnations in its shorter form, but never quite worked because it needed space to grow. I couldn’t think of a better place for it to grow. In the Flesh is a blend of paranormal erotica and almost, but not quite … okay, quite possibly … horror. What I’m sharing with you, this version, is an expanding work in progress. You get it just shortly after I write it, and as far as what happens next, well … we’ll see. 

I hope you enjoy it! 

 

 

To read the story in its entirety up to this point, follow these links to  Part 1Part 2.

 

In The Flesh: Part 3

 
Back at Chapel House, Annie went straight to bed, and I was faced with the prospect of another creepy night alone. “I think I might go home,” I said, sitting on the pallet next to her, watching her struggle to stay awake. “I mean you don’t feel well, and I’m only disturbing you. If I leave now, I can be home before midnight.” Besides I’d be glad to get away from the rubbish burning, which suddenly smelled particularly foul.

“No! You can’t leave.” She grabbed my arm in a grip that was surprisingly strong. Her voice was thin, breathless, punctuated by the racing of her pulse. “Please, Susan, I need you here with me. Please don’t go. I’ll be better tomorrow. I promise.”

Once I had agreed to stay, she relaxed back into her pillows, eyes fluttered shut, and sleep was so instant that for a second I thought she had fainted, or worse yet, she was dead. There was no denying that, in the pale light, she looked like a corpse. I brushed my fingertips over her cheek, smoothing her hair behind her ears where I could see the assurance of a shuddering pulse against the translucent skin of her throat. If I watched closely, I could almost swear I could see the blood coursing through the turquoise veins just beneath the surface. She moaned softly, her eyelids fluttered and the rise and fall of her chest indicated the deep even breath of sleep. Slowly, so not to wake her, I stood and made my reluctant back to my make-shift room.

I pulled up a mindless novel on my iPhone, something light and funny. I didn’t want anything with even the slightest rose imagesbit of creep factor. I just wanted to be well distracted until I could fall asleep, which I was pretty sure I wouldn’t do any time soon. I was wrong. Sleep overtook me nearly as quickly and as completely as it had poor Annie.
Long toward morning I woke with a start. The room was awash in the scent of roses, and I was certain someone had called my name. “Annie?” I half whispered. There was no reply, no sound other than the anxious breathing that must surely have been my own. Surely. The pitch black of the room pressed in all around me like another presence, so close that I felt if I switched on the light, I would suddenly come face to face with it. The bile of panic rose in my throat. I threw off the duvet and fumbled for my phone, dropping it on the mattress before I could finally slice the blackness with a sliver of light. The drop cloth curtains trembled on either side of me, no doubt from my own panicked actions, and the smell of roses thickened.

Careful to keep the sliver of light, I slipped into my robe and hurried to check on Annie. Even in the stairwell I could hear her moans. As I neared the transept the air felt charged and heavy like that moment in a storm just before lightning strikes. The hair on my neck rose and goose flesh prickled up my spine. I held my breath as I tiptoed closer. The plastic drop cloths had been shoved onto the floor in a heap, and there in the moonlight she lay, thrashing atop the altar, her hair splayed like a halo around her head, her nightie pushed up over her hips. She arched her back and cried out, reaching her arms upward to something I couldn’t see.

I wanted to run, but instead, I stood frozen, bathed in cold sweat, waiting for logic to explain everything away, as the moonlight around her seemed to explode and coalesce with her ecstasy. The smell of jasmine, Annie’s favorite flower, cloyed at my throat making my head ache. After what seemed like an eternity, the urge to flee finally took control. Heart pounding, I stepped back, hoping to leave unnoticed, when suddenly I felt a rush of wind against my face and breathed the musky odor of sex. I stumbled backward, unable to hold back a small yelp. My phone slipped through my fingers and skittered under a pew as the scent of jasmine gave way to roses.

In the heavy press of darkness, I half ran, half fell down the hall back toward my room, tripping over the edge of a drop cloth thrown across the floor and coming down hard on both knees with a breathless curse. I pulled myself to my feet gasping for oxygen, groping at the wall for the electrical switch, desperate for light – any kind of light. Though I was disturbed by what I had seen, I was more disturbed by the fact that it had aroused me even through my fear. As my eyes
adjusted, light coming in from the small window in the door of the make-shift kitchen bathed the room in monochrome grey. Another gust of wind blew the door open with a loud crash. I yelped and jumped forward to force it shut. Then I could have sworn I heard my name again, called out with such longing that I couldn’t stop myself. With hands slippery from nervous sweat, I fumbled the door open again and stepped out onto the patio. The clutter of Terra cotta pots looked like strange squat specters in the dance of moonlight and shadow. Making my way past derelict strawberry jars, several bags of ancient compost and wheeless wheelbarrow, I immerged into a large garden over grown with weeds. It was the deconsecrated churchyard, I reminded myself with a shiver. In the bright moonlight, I stood holding my breath. Listening.

Annie had taken twisted pleasure in speculating about the graveyard that had once been the back garden. She had Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500imagined exhumed medieval skeletons taken to the London Museum to be studies and cataloged. She had imagined underground catacombs where ghosts of priests and and murderers alike scurried on secret missions, some sinister, some holy. I shivered at the thought and pulled the robe tighter around me. I had not found her speculation amusing then, and I found it even less so now. I found nothing about this place amusing. Fighting my way through a tangle of ivy I came to a stone bench that looked like it well might have belonged in a graveyard. Not wanting to go back inside Chapel House, I sat down, hoping desperately that if I thought long enough I’d find a rational explanation for everything that had happened or I’d wake up and discover it had all been a bad dream. Staying in places with intriguing pasts often brought me unsettling dreams.

I could smell roses again — old roses, not any sort of modern hybrid. Only old roses would smell so strong and so sweet amid the rank growth of weeds. As I breathed in the scent that seemed to be coming from just over my shoulder, I felt a humid breeze on my neck, brushing my nape, like breath exhaled with the settling of a kiss. The leaves rustled around

me, and the bench was suddenly in shadow. With a start, I turned to hear the sound of footsteps retreating down the path. “Annie? Hello?” I clamored to my feet and followed the rustle of leaves, the scent of roses always just ahead of me. “Annie, this isn’t funny, alright? This isn’t funny!”

I hadn’t remembered the garden being so large. It felt as though I wandered the paths for hours. My spine constantly prickled, but a quick glance over my shoulder always revealed no one following me. The paving stones were mossy and slick beneath my bare feet. I stumbled along ignoring the scratch of bramble and the sting of nettle, shoving my way through leaves damp with dew until I broke through, as though I’d just pushed aside a curtain. With a gasp, I stopped short, nearly losing my footing on the moss.

The smell of roses was overwhelming. The sense of not being alone crawled along my spine on little insect feet. In a small copse set between aging lilac bushes taller than my head and a gnarled hawthorn hedge that might have once been apart of a formal garden, he loomed over me. I swallowed back a scream just before it could escape, just as I realized he was an angel, or at least a statue of one.

Slightly more than human size, his weathered marble toes barely touched a low plinth, as though he were just alighting. One large hand was extended in invitation toward me, the other rested on his naked chest over his heart. A billowing veil of stone just covered his groin so that his perfect form, all but the most intimate of it, shown silver in the moonlight, frozen in a motion of welcome, muscles tensed in anticipation, empty eyes locked on mine.
With my heart battering my ribs, I stood unmoving, stone cold, as though I were his marble counterpart. I know this sounds crazy. And even after so much time has past, it still sounds crazy every time I think of it, and yet I knew then, just as certainly as I know now that something ancient, something primal, moved over my skin, like the brush of spider webs and dust motes, fingering its way deeper, into secret places, places in myself where even I never dare go. Whatever it was, it knew me, it understood me, and its longing for me was terrible.

The scream that echoed through the garden must have been mine, though by the time it happened, it was no longer an November on Downs 2011 1adequate expression of what was happening to me. I was pushed to the ground, or perhaps I fell. Looking back, it hardly matters now. I barely felt the bruise of cold stone against my buttocks and spine, lost as I was, in the realisation

that what I had feared, what I had disbelieved, was now upon me. And I could hide nothing from it because there was nothing left in me that it didn’t already know.

It closed around me, blocking out the moon, smelling of roses, hammering into me until I was certain I would break apart. And once I was certain it no longer mattered, I stopped fighting. I stopped pleading. My words became sand in my throat. And when I stopped fighting, the rock solid crushing of my soul became a gentle caress, a brush of full lips against my own, a cupping of breasts and groin, a bringing to awareness that in the midst of my own darkness, there was need, there was desire, there was lust as dark as whatever it was, whoever it was that held me, and I gave into it. The night convulsed like leaves in a storm, and I was falling through the bottom of the world, falling forever with nothing to stop me, nothing to slow my descent and no knowledge of what lie beneath. And that too no longer mattered.

 

In The Flesh Part 1 A FREE Story in Progress: Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_n

 

One of the things I love to do most on this blog is share stories that you won’t find anywhere else. Writing stories for my blog rather than just sharing observations or navel-gazes always feels much more personal, and much more like I’m sharing myself with you lot. Plus, it’s just flat-out fun! And if you’ll recall, a few months ago, I did write that I had promised myself to have a little more fun with my writing. 

In the Flesh is a dark and sexy story that has had several incarnations in its shorter form, but never quite worked because it needed space to grow. I couldn’t think of a better place for it to grow. In the Flesh is a blend of paranormal erotica and almost, but not quite … okay, quite possibly … horror. As I say, what I’m sharing with you, this version, is an expanding work in progress. I hope you enjoy it! 

KDG/GM

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Flesh: Part 1

P1020065“You’re early.” Breathing heavily, Annie stood in the door she had opened only a crack.

I wasn’t early, but I wasn’t stupid either. Her hair was mussed, her robe was carelessly wrapped around her and the flushed glow in her cheeks was unmistakable.

“Shall I come back in an hour? Two?”

She threw a quick glance over her shoulder, and from inside I caught the strong scent of jasmine, Annie’s favourite flower. “Thanks, Susan. You’re a dear.”

“Okay, you lucky cow, but when I come back, I’ll expect details.” I barely managed a kissed on her cheek before the door slammed in my face.

Neither of us was famous for our successful love lives. Mine was basically non-existent, but Annie was notorious for her bad choices – usually married or narcissistic twats with a wide range of addictions. Annie hadn’t mentioned that she was seeing anyone, but I knew she had a lot on her mind with her heavy load at the estate agency and the renovation of what she was now affectionately calling Chapel House.

“It happens all the time,” Annie had told me when I went with her to view the place before she bought it. “No one’s religious any more so small churches are deconsecrated when they’re no longer in use, and they’re sold as boutiques, office buildings, houses and even pubs. But this one is about to become my home.” She had chatted away enthusiastically about the lounge that would be where the altar was, and how the whole nave would be open-plan living at its best, kitchen with an Aga, study in what had been the small choir loft, and the perfect en suite that she’d always dreamed of. What good was money if you couldn’t spend it?

After what I felt was an appropriate time at a nearby Starbuck’s, I returned with a nice bottle of chardonnay and my best tell me all about him smile. I knocked, then knocked again. I was just beginning to think she was having such an orgy that she had forgotten about me when the door opened and she squinted out into the fading evening light.

“Susan?”

She was still in her robe, but the glow was gone, and there were circles under her eyes. She forced a smile. “I must have fallen asleep.” Her anemic embrace alerted me to sharp angles and jutting bones that had been cushioned by shapely curves when I saw her three months ago.

“Honey, you’re thin. Must be too much shagging and not enough chocolate. I can’t wait to see what you’ve done with the …” She flipped on the switch behind her, and I could see, in the harsh light of a bare bulb, that for all practical purposes, she had done nothing with the place.

She looked around and colour rose to her face. “I’ve been busy.”

“Things wild at work?”

“I’ve taken some time off,” came the curt reply.

In spite of all her big plans, Chapel House was still a church, complete with dusty pews and an altar covered in plastic drop cloths.

“I see the previous owner hasn’t moved out yet.”

She ignored my comment. “I’ll show you around.”

“No need. You’ve shown me around before. Just find some glasses and fill me in on all your news.” I followed her down a narrow hallway into more recent addition to the building, added on to a small lady chapel no longer in use, which became a a small kitchen and a couple of rooms for classes and meetings, now all divided off by hanging drop cloths, just as they had been when she’d shown me the place before she bought it.

“You can sleep there.” On the floor behind one petition was a mattress with a duvet thrown over it. There was a dusty wardrobe in one corner and a backless chair for a make-shift night table. “Bathroom’s down the hall.” She gave a listless nod in the direction.

“Annie?” I took her in my arms. “What’s going on? What did you and Shag Boy get up to anyway that left you this exhausted?”

“Don’t call him that,” she pushed me away with an effort that seemed uncharacteristically fragile for the woman who had been her company’s best agent three years running. “I’m just tired, that’s all.”

I took her hand and led her into the kitchen. “A glass of wine and a nice take-away will set you right. You should have told me he’d be here, I could have come some other time, or he can stay. I mean I have earplugs, you know. And anyway, when do I get to meet him.”

She offered me a shrug and shoved limp blond hair behind her ear. “It’s complicated.”

I ended up drinking most of the bottle of chardonnay, and a lovely take-away was wasted, as Annie picked at her Mongolian beef and practically fell asleep at the table.

“Come on.” I took the glass from her hand and pulled her to her feet. “You’re exhausted, and I’m not sympathetic, but you can’t tell me juicy gossip when you’re falling asleep in your rice. Now which of these lovely rooms is the master suite?”

“I sleep there.” She shot a glance back down the hall toward the nave. “I like the way the moonlight comes through the big windows in the apse above the altar,” she added quickly.

‘Are you the sacrifice?’ I asked, taking her arm, and I was surprised at her strength as she jerked away.

‘I told you, I just like the light.’ In spite of her protests, I walked her up through the nave, trying to ignore the disquiet clenching at my stomach, as she shuffled up the aisle between the pews, past the transept and the chancel, to a pallet of blankets and pillows on the floor at the foot of the altar. The air was heavy with the scent of jasmine, but there were no flowers that I could see. I felt a chill finger its way up my spine.

P1020056“Annie, I’ve always known you were a little weird, but this is just creepy.”

“No really, look.” With a feline stretch, she lay back in a pool of moonlight and I caught my breath at the affect. It was as though she were lying under a luminous waterfall. In the monochrome tones of growing night, she appeared startlingly transparent. As the robe that she wore fell open, her nipples rose to and peaked, and the woman who had always been a little bit shy about her body tugged and shoved aside the robe until she lay naked atop the blankets, her hair spread across the pillow like a reaching shadow. The moonlight exaggerated the arch and curve of rib bones way too visible for the woman I knew. Goose flesh rippled over rice paper skin, and for a moment, in her writhing and stretching, in the soft moan that filled her throat, if I hadn’t been standing there watching, I’d have thought her to be making love with someone. In spite of what my eyes told me, I gave a quick glance around the room to be certain we were alone and even then, I wasn’t certain.

Annie was usually the take-charge chick between the two of us, but action seemed better than letting myself be freaked out by what was probably, what was hopefully nothing. I sat down next to her and pulled the mound of tangled blankets up around her chilled body, tucking her in. Before she could protest, I laid a hand against her forehead. “Annie, tell me what’s wrong. Have you seen a doctor? Are you ill?” My insides knotted at all the horrible things loss of weight and constant tiredness might herald.

“No! No Susan, nothing like that, I promise you.” She sat up and threw her arms around me in the most enthusiastic show of affection I’d had since my arrival. “Oh Susan, I want so much to tell you everything. I can hardly contain myself, but I just get so tired. You’d understand better if you knew him.”

“Does he at least have a name?”

She squeezed my hand and lay back on the pile of pillows. Outside somewhere close by someone was burning garden trash. I looked around to close the window, but none of the arched windows in the nave were open. Judging from the way my eyes burned, it must be quite a bon fire, I thought. Annie coughed and cleared her throat. “Please, Susan, if you’re my best friend, don’t ask any questions. Just let me tell you in my own time, in my own way.”

“All right. I’m listening.” A flutter of a breeze curled around the altar and rustle the plastic ever so slightly.

For a long time she didn’t speak. Her lips were the only things about her that were still full and shapely, but even they seemed pale and colourless in the moonlight. She smoothed the blanket carefully over her thighs. “I knew he was watching me even while Todd and I were still together.”

“Todd? You mean the married bloke?”

She nodded. “So many times I felt like someone was near me, looking out for me. I really didn’t realize who was pursuing me until after I broke up with Todd, about the time I moved in here.” She sat silently for a few seconds, staring out across the empty pews. “I realized I no longer wanted to live without him. That was the first time our relationship became… physical.”

‘Became physical,’ I chuckled. ‘Right.’

She ignored my sarcasm. The bow of her mouth, the way she curled a lock of hair around her finger, made her seem childlike, innocent. “Oh Susan, you’d understand if you knew him.”

I’d have called the police if I knew him, I thought, all the while wishing the neighbours would stop with the damned burning already.

“I know you must be thinking I’m crazy.”

“Hon,” I squeezed her hand. “I’ve always thought you were crazy, so what else is new?”

She forced a jagged little laugh and continued. “He was so angry when I invited you.”

The disquiet I felt escalated into something a little more tetchy. “Jesus, Annie, he controls who your friends are? That’s really sick.”

“No, it’s not that. He’s been wanting to meet you for ages. He felt I didn’t want you to know about us, that I was ashamed of him. I wasn’t,” she added quickly. “I could never be. And anyway, it doesn’t matter. In the end, he convinced me that you were someone who would understand.”

That I had somehow gotten this bloke’s attention made me feel slightly queasy. “What else does he know about me?”

“He knows everything, Susan. He knows what we’re saying now, what we’re thinking, what we’re feeling.”

“What the fuck is he, a mind reader?”

In the growing gloom, she seemed as unsubstantial as the plastic on the altar. She pulled the blanket close around her with tightly fisted hands, knuckles chalk pale. “Susan,” her voice was a thin whisper that I might not have heard in a place less silent. “This is going to sound completely barking, but I think he might be God.”

*****

Part 2 will be up next week! 

 

Instalment 16 of DEMON INTERRUPTED: A Lakeland Witches Story

I hope you’re all enjoying Things that Go Hump on the Night as much as I am. What a fabulous line-up of the very best erotica writers we’ve thingsthatgohump300x200had, and will continue to have all through October!  It’s a month-long feast of paranormal chills, thrills and total sexiness — not to mention fabulous giveaways. And DO be sure to check out the fabulous giveaways and take advantage of lots of chances to win on the rafflecopter at the end of this post.

Also, if you’ve missed any of the exciting posts and chances to win from the first 10 days of Things that Go Hump in the Night, follow this link to the Calendar of Events, and here is the link to Day One.

BUT today, it’s my turn to bring you another instalment of Demon Interrupted.

As you’ve probably noticed, there has been more than one episode of Demon Interrupted, every three weeks recently. That’s because, like most
stories, DI took on a life of its own and would not be wrapped up quite as quickly and as easily as I planned at the beginning. That means that instead of the fourteen episodes I had originally planned for this serial, there will be seventeen. The series will still end on Halloween, the last day of Things that Go Hump in the Night.

And enjoy the scary, sexy, excitement of Things that Go Hump in the Night. Remember, the fun lasts all through October.

If you’ve missed the previous episodes of Demon Interrupted, find the links at the bottom of this instalment.

Enjoy Chapter sixteen, and thanks for joining the fun with this Work in Progress.  If you want to read more about the Elemental Coven’s sexy adventures, check out the Lakeland Witches Trilogy: Body Temperature and RisingRiding the Ether and Elemental Fire. Happy, reading! 

Chapter 16

The Undoing

Demon Interrupted Cover‘Elaine! Elaine, please wait!’ He shoved his way into the bothy behind her, but inside, he found himself looking into the eyes of a young shepherd, who stood over the hearth cooking porridge.

The shepherd nearly upset his cooking pot and fell back against the meagre stone ledge that served as a bed. ‘Milord, what are you doing here?’

It was then that Ferris realised he was wearing Farringdon’s body. The man had tried to run from his nightmares, but Ferris had taken advantage and rode him into the woods and into a cave. There he’d led the man deep into the winding tunnels and let him believe he was lost there in the dark, that no one would ever find him except for the demon that he ran from. As long as Farringdon clung to life, he would never be free of the demon. And in truth, the man would not live much longer. Ferris had become bored with his incessant grovelling and whining and grew impatient to get back to his little witch.

‘Milord?’

Ferris turned his attention back to the shepherd. ‘They all think you’re dead. They think she killed you and done away with your body. They come for her last night and took her off to the gaol, they did.’

The flesh that he wore suddenly felt icy and the heart in the chest he now controlled beat a wild tattoo. ‘They have taken her? They have taken Elaine?’

‘Yes milord. They thought you was dead.’ He squinted at Ferris. ‘In truth you don’t look so good, milord, shall I serve you some porridge.’

‘As you can see, I’m not dead. I’m perfectly fine.’

‘They don’t know that, do they? Everyone knows you think she’s a witch. Everyone’s afraid of her, and the way you look, who knows what vile magic she worked on you, even if she didn’t kill you.’

‘There is nothing vile about Elaine!’ Ferris backhanded the poor shepherd, who fell back on the bed and covered his bleeding nose with his hand.’

‘Please, milord, I meant no disrespect.’

‘I’ll return to High Moor and when they see that I am unharmed, they will release her into my care.’

The shepherd sniffed and wiped his nose on his sleeve. ‘Then you best hurry, milord. The elders are talking to hang her for her crimes. They think she’s cursed, ain’t that what you always said, milord? They think she’ll curse them all and their worldly goods and their seed.’

‘What crimes? She has committed no crimes!’ He grabbed the shepherd by the collar and shook him until his teeth rattled. ‘She is innocent. If anyone deserves their hatred, it is I.’

‘I’m sorry, milord! I’m sorry. Please! I meant no harm.’

He shoved the shepherd back hard against the wall and ran for the door. It was nearly half a day’s journey by horse back to High Moor House. Though alone, Ferris could make it easily in an instant, he needed Farringdon to prove that Elaine had not killed him. Though the man was deserving of death, which he would soon get, Elaine should not suffer for helping to rid the world of him any more than a farmer suffers from killing the vermin in his field.

He rode the horse at a murderous pace. Fortunately Farringdon had a taste for good horse flesh, and during the journey, he ended Farringdon’s worthless existence and chased his spirit from the vessel, which he needed in order to free Elaine, and which would be of more use to him purged of its evil. Any further tormenting of the toad’s soul paled in comparison to Ferris’ need to reach Elaine. He had to reach Elaine. His whole world, his whole existence had become only the need to be with her again, only the need to hold his dear little witch in his arms and whisk her away from this dreadful place. Yes, he would have to come to her as Farringdon, but once she was safe, he could quickly discard the vessel, and he would take her somewhere far away, somewhere warm and exotic, somewhere that they could be together and be happy.

castlerigg_Stone_Circle1Happy? The concept twisted his heart. In all his endless existence he had never thought about happiness. He had never contemplated what it might mean to be more than himself by virtue of giving himself to someone else, but since Elaine had summoned him he thought of little else. He urged the horse on still faster. He had not realised that the pleasures of the flesh hung in such a fragile balance with the frailties of the flesh. His heart ached, his stomach knotted, and the breath he now needed to keep the vessel viable raked at his chest like fire. He could not lose her! It was intolerable even to contemplate such a thought. He understood the frailty of flesh, he understood the delicate frailty of Elaine’s flesh, and he knew just how tenuous the life force was that animated all flesh. He feared that the frailty he now felt had little to do with the flesh he wore and had everything to do with frailties he had no idea a demon could experience.

The horse threw a shoe when he was but a short distance from High Moor. Cursing at the top of Farringdon’s lungs, he dismounted the lathered horse and continued afoot pushing the man’s weakened, unfit flesh beyond what it would survive if it were not animated by a rider. But even so, he could not save Elaine without the lump of flesh he wore as proof of her innocence and, indeed in his eyes her innocence shone like the sun. The rasping for breath, the hammering of the heart, the aching of muscles were easy enough for him to ignore when his plan was to discard the flesh of Patrick Farringdon as soon as Elaine was safe and away from High Moor. He prayed to the goddess of all things good, though he doubted she would listen to one such as he, he prayed on Elaine’s behalf. Surely the Divine would not deny one so vibrant, one so worthy, one who had already suffered so much. But he knew in the selfish depths of his demon’s being, that he prayed to a deity in whom he had little faith for one reason and one reason only. He could not lose her! He could not lose Elaine!

*****
‘His fever’s dangerously high,’ Ferris heard Sky’s voice as though it came to him through a long tunnel as he ran, endlessly ran, on Farringdon’s cursedly weak legs. ‘What the hell is he doing? We’ve got to bring it down. It’s almost like he’s rejecting his body.’

‘It’s not his body,’ Tim Meriwether said.

Ferris viewed them as though they were all looking down at him through a mist.

‘He’s dreaming.’ He felt his lovely Cassandra nudging at the edge of his consciousness, trying to ease her way into his dreams. ‘If I could just get in, maybe I could help him.’

‘Then hurry,’ Tara said. ‘If you don’t, there may be no choice but to…’

As the wall of High Moor appeared from the top of the hill, Ferris forced all thought from his head except reaching Elaine. He had to reach her on time. The burning in his chest, he knew beyond a doubt, was from far more than his efforts to push the flesh he wore beyond its endurance. Something was wrong, something that he should know, something far too important for him to have forgotten. The feeling of wrongness pushed at his sternum like a leviathan trying to escape, and he ran, stumbling and falling, ignoring bruises and cut, ignoring the hammering of the heart taxed nearly to failure as he raced down the stony road that led to the village.

‘He will not like this.’ He could barely hear Lucia’s voice above the roar of his efforts to breathe. ‘It was never my plan for him to go through this again, and alone. But he would not listen to me. He would not yield.’

She mattered not: nothing mattered but getting to Elaine. As he shoved his way into the gate, stumbling in the dust, the village was quiet. He saw no one on the streets and the feeling of wrongness tightened around him. A skinny cat blinked at him from its post atop a wood shed. As he rounded the corner into the square, he nearly ran into an old woman carrying water from the well.

P1020156‘Milord!’ the woman shrieked, dropping her water bucket. ‘You’re not dead!’

‘Where’s Elaine,’ he shouted, grabbing her by the shoulders and giving her a shake. ‘Where is my wife?’

The old woman yelped and dropped to her knees covering her head. ‘Please milord, don’t hit me. They thought you were dead. We all thought you were dead. We all thought she kilt you.’

‘Where is she?’ He screamed.

‘Oh dear goddess, please, mother, please don’t make him see this again,’ Cassandra cried out to Lucia.

‘I cannot prevent what he must do,’ the Lucia said.

He ignored their voices, even as the truth of it crashed around him, even as he forced his way to the village green hoping against hope that he was not too late.

‘Dear goddess, there must be something we can do,’ Tim cried out. ‘Cassandra, can’t you help him? Lucia? Damn it do something.’

The crowd stopped jeering when they saw him. They parted for him and the world went deadly silent as he stumbled forward to see what he never wanted to see, what he had blocked from his memories for 300 years.

‘Fill the tub with ice,’ Sky commanded. ‘We’ve got to bring his fever down.’

‘If this isn’t really his body,’ Tim said, ‘then he must be rejecting it. Is that what’s happening?’

‘He rejected it a long time ago,’ Lucia said. ‘Trust me, rejection of the vessel he wears is not an issue now.’

The silence dissolved into an endless roar long before he realised it was he, screaming his anguish to heaven. Four men lay dead at the foot of the oak, the last managing to cut her down before Ferris ran him through with his own sword. He kept no count of those he killed or injured in his rage before someone cut her down. Would that everyone in the village was dead and the place burned to ash and razed to the ground. Their lives he would gladly trade for the beating of a single heart. His own life he would gladly trade to feel once again the breath of the woman he cradled in his arms. But she was gone, and even he with all of his great power could not return her life force to her.

Cassandra sobbed in empathy.

‘Let him finish the dream,’ Lucia called out. ‘He has to finish the dream if he is to heal.’

But he would never heal. There was no balm for the depths of his wound, no comfort in the Ether, the Dream World or any realm beyond. The heavens opened and the rain poured turning the village green into a sponge and the streets of the village into a swamp. He did not remember when those who had come to watch her die had left. Surely they must have fled in fear for their lives. He remembered once pushing the battered flesh of Farringdon beyond its limits as he carried his beloved Elaine to a place on the hillside covered in heather and riddled with caves. There above the village in a remote place, he buried her near a stream that tumbled from a spring in the caves.

Two nights later, he attended the meeting of the village elders in the meeting hall. By then the rage in his belly had turned to ice. Only he walked away from the flames. From the side of her grave, he watched the blaze long into the night, heard the anguished cries of the villagers as they struggled to put out the fire and identify their dead. In his mind they were, all of them, already dead. They would sleep soon, and he would return to the village. If Elaine could not live, then neither could they, after all it was their actions that cost her life.

‘I don’t care! We have to get the fever down now,’ Sky said.

‘The ice bath is ready,’ Kennet replied.

But it was fire he watched, fire that burned, fire that avenged and yet it was the icy cold of death and emptiness he felt in his belly.

‘Come back to them, my darling Ferris.’ Cool lips pressed against his.

‘Elaine?’ He opened his eyes and found himself alone in his bed with Elaine leaning over him, caressing his burning cheek. ‘Elaine my darling, I told them! I told them you were here.’

‘No, my Rider, you are hallucinating once more. I am not real.’

Once again he sat on the hillside by her grave watching the flames rise in the night sky below.

Elaine sat down next to him and took his hand. ‘If you kill them all, every last one of them, and their livestock, even those from the next village who came to watch me hanged, I shall be no less dead. And you will live on, my darling Ferris. ‘You will suffer endlessly alone. I do not want that for you. I never wanted that for you. Go back home. They wait for you. They love you, and this world you see is now nothing but dust. It has been dust for a very, very long time. Remember it, for you must. Mourn it, for you lost much, but you cannot undo it, not now, not ever. Go home, my love, and remember that you are much loved by your little witch.’

He wanted to hold her, but she had no substance, like the mists that rose up from the high meadows at night.

‘Go to the Fire Demon, my Love. She will help you. She has use for you. Time does not hold her as it does me. Go with her, my love. Go with her and heal. Wait for me at Elemental Cottage, and when the time comes, when you have healed, I will come for you. We will be together again’ She blew him a kiss, then turned and walked into the hills.

He woke with a gasp of blessed oxygen as though it had been an age since he drew breath. The ice was no longer in his belly, but all over his body. The giant tub in his bathroom had been turned into the arctic and he was naked and shivering in its depths with the three strong men of Elemental Coven holding him in place while he struggled, Cassandra held his hand in an unyielding grip and Sky shouted, ‘hold onto him. Keep his head up! Keep his head up, damn it!’

‘I remember.’ He forced the words through chattering teeth. ‘Goddess help me, I remember.’ And then he wept as he had not wept in 300 years.

Don’t miss the sizzling final episode of Demon Interrupted coming October 31st!

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Here are the links to the previous episodes in case you missed them:

Chapter 1 Demon Interrupted: Perchance to Dream.

Chapter 2 Demon Interrupted: A Chat with a Demon

Chapter 3 Demon Interrupted: Enter the Shadows

Chapter 4 Demon Interrupted: Dark Chrysalis

Chapter 5 Demon Interrupted: The Empty Spaces in Between

Chapter 6 Beneath the Weight of Shadow

Chapter 7 Possessions

Chapter 8 Necessities and Inconveniences

Chapter 9 Demon Dreams

Chapter 10 Backlash

Chapter 11 Chasing the Dream

Chapter 12 The Summoning

Chapter 13 Tenuous Threads

Chapter 14 Corporeal

Chapter 15 The Vessel 

*****

GIVEAWAY!

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12th Instalment DEMON INTERRUPTED: A Lakeland Witches Story

Demon Interrupted CoverI’m very happy to offer the twelfth instalment of  Demon Interrupted, a new story from the Elemental Coven that will be unfolding in its entirety right here on A Hopeful Romantic over the next few weeks with the final episode on October 31 — the final day of Things that Go Hump in the Night. All through the month of October, A Hopeful Romantic will be celebrating all things paranormal and all Things that Go Hump in the Night. There’ll be lots of great authors stopping by bringing with them lots of paranormal fun. There’ll be lots of great giveaways and lots of scary, sexy, excitement, so be sure to put Things that Go Hump in the Night on your calendar. More on that in a later post.

The Lakeland Witches Trilogy left so many stories untold and so many fun places in the lives of the Elemental Coven yet to be explored, that a serial seemed like the ideal way to share more of the coven’s adventure. With a coven that specialises in sex magic, it’s not only exciting to revisit my witches at Elemental Cottage, but it’s sizzling hot.

If you’ve missed the previous episodes of Demon Interrupted, find the links at the bottom of this instalment.

Enjoy Chapter twelve, and thanks for joining the fun with this Work in Progress.  If you want to know more about the Elemental Coven’s sexy adventures, check out the Lakeland Witches Trilogy: Body Temperature and RisingRiding the Ether and Elemental Fire. Enjoy! 

 

Chapter 12

The Summoning

‘What the hell?’ Ferris roared like an angry beast as he fought his way out of a blackberry bramble to land with his naked arse on the hard ground. The thick summer night effervesced with the tingle of strong magic, and the sting and bite of the bramble were evidence that he had been called, very unceremoniously, into physical form, but who would have treated him with such disrespect? And other than Lucia, the Fire Demon, and the demon who now possessed that evil aberration spawned in the Americas — what was it he called himself Deacon — there were few who could have done such a thing. Besides, what would either of them want with him? And certainly it behoved them to treat him with a little more respect than to up-end him bare-aresed and bleeding in a thicket. Whoever had done it, when he found them, they would be sorry for humiliating him so. He would make certain that they …

The yelp of a female voice put a halt to thoughts of punishing the transgressor. As he turned, the dance of firelight dazzling his eyes made him think for a moment that it was Lucia, who had summoned him. The Fire Demon’s sense of humour was evil at best. But the flames were nothing more than a tiny blaze set in an insignificant fire pit. And then he saw her. Beyond the blaze the woman stood as naked as he was with lustrous dark hair that hung down her back and over the swell of her breasts. He would not have imagined it to be possible, but the slender woman, body burnished golden in the firelight was the source of the magic that had summoned him.

‘What do you want, little girl, and why have you called me in such an uncivilised manner?’ He said, making his voice as thunderous as possible and pulling the shadows around him like a cape because it lent him at least a little of the dignity she had stolen from him.

But she did not cower. Instead she squared her shoulders and stood to her full height, which, as with most mortal women, was not significant compared to him. ‘I am no little girl, Rider, and I have summoned you to do my bidding.’

Though he made no effort to hold back the roar of his laughter, the mortal did not so much as cringe. ‘You summoned me to do your bidding, little one? You are either very brave or very stupid.’ With a sudden flick of his wrist the wind rose and swirled around her, whipping her hair across her face and then back over her shoulders, and he saw that she was, indeed, no little girl. Her breasts were in the full bloom of womanhood crowned by roseate nipples that peaked in the cool kiss of the wind he had summoned. His cock rose in response to her, and for the first time since his unceremonious arrival, he was pleased to be in physical form. This human, this mortal woman was delicate of build, skin as pale as the finest porcelain, skin that seemed lit from within, skin that contrasted with hair that was night itself and eyes that were like a moonless sky. Her hips flared away from her center as though they hugged the soft pillowing of dark curls that caressed her womanhood, and she stood unladylike, with her feet set wide apart on the ground so that even his tempest did not unbalance her.

‘I am neither brave nor stupid,’ she said, when the wind settled enough that she could catch her breath to speak. ‘I am without recourse.’

He moved closer to her, so that the fire did not interfere with his vision of her, and still she did not flinch. ‘You must be desperate, indeed, if you would summon a Soul Rider to do your bidding.’

She ignored his statement. ‘You have it within your power to visit horrible hallucinations upon those who displease you, do you not? It is within your power to drive them form their sanity, and it is said that you have power even to drive them to their death. Is that not so?’

He moved still closer, until he could see the rapid rise and fall of her chest that belied the nerves she hid so well, until he could feel her warm breath against the body that now held his essence. ‘Shall I demonstrate that of which I am capable upon you, little one?’ As he reached for her, she stepped back.

‘I do not need your demonstration, Rider. I only need you to use those powers in my service.’

This time he stepped close enough that she had to bend her slender neck back as far as she could to look up into his eyes. ‘And might I ask what’s in it for me?’

‘Anything.’ Her breath caught in her throat and for the first time he felt the passion of her request with the intensity of the powerful magic she had just performed and what that magic had cost her. And was that passion tinged with more than a hint of despair? ‘Anything you ask.’

‘And if you are the payment I demand?’

Her eyelids fluttered and her voice was little more than a whisper. ‘As I have said. Anything you ask.’

That she did not frighten easily, that she was braver than most men who had, ultimately, cowered before him made him want to taste her fear all the more. ‘Then I shall have you.’ He pulled her to him and took her mouth, not expecting the full pout of her lips to part for him, not expecting her body to relax and soften into his embrace nor her arms to encircle his neck. As his tongue flicked over hers, he was stunned to find it was not fear he tasted; it was power, exhilaration, need, mixed again with a heavy patina of desperation, and all of those tastes in this woman made him want her even more. His cock stretched hard, pressed against the tensing muscles of her belly. The pillowed press of her breasts against him in her battle for breath made him want to take more of her breath, so that the pumping of her lungs would keep her fullness rising and falling and nestling against him.

He unclenched her fingers from behind his neck and guided her hand down between them, down to rest on his cock. ‘It has been long since I have worn flesh. My need is nearly beyond my control. It may well be that I would split your fragile frame in two, little girl.’

Before the words were off his tongue, she circled his hardness with slender, but strong fingers, and began to stroke the length of him, whispering in his ear. ‘I told you, whatever you asked, and I am not nearly so fragile as you might think.’ But then the brazen child did something he could have never anticipated. She stepped out of his embrace, back just enough that he could not easily touch her. ‘But I am not yours for the taking until you have done my bidding, Rider. Then split me in two, you may, or in a thousand pieces if it please you.’

He growled his frustration, and his cock bucked against his belly. ‘I do not need your permission to take you, little one.’ He took a menacing step closer to her, and she stepped back again until she stood flush with the bramble behind her. ‘Nor do I need to do your bidding. After all, your invitation was not very polite, now was it?’

‘There was no invitation, Demon. There was a summoning and a bargain to be struck.’

‘Again, I will ask you why should I not take what I want now rather than wait. I am the one who –’

His words died in his throat as her power buzzed over him, a bolt of lightning and a touch of silk and he sucked breath to keep from humiliating himself as the content of his balls threatened to spill itself at her feet. Though in truth, he was not sure that perhaps it was his very life force that this woman, this witch threatened to coax from his cock with her magic. He raised his hands, palms facing her, in a gesture of peace. ‘Tell me then, what is it you want, little witch.’

She studied him for a moment with eyes bottomless as the night sky. ‘I want you to ride the soul of my enemy. Make him suffer long and hard, make him pay for what he has done. If this you do for me, then I am yours to do with what you will.’

‘Are you sure this is a price you can afford to pay, little witch?’ With a move that was no more human than he was, he pulled her into his arms and fisted her thick mane of soft hair and shoved it off her shoulders, seeking to admire the delicacy of the mortal form, as one did art in a gallery — beautiful creations that were far too fragile for any practical purpose. Their fragility in itself a part of their attraction, and his ability to break them somehow made them even more valuable to him. With his eyes shut, he tracked the beat of her pulse to the soft spot on her throat, then bent to nuzzle her there, and just as she moaned a sigh, he bit her in that spot against the thud, thud of her tenuous life force.

At first he thought the near sob that breeched her lips was a release of her pleasure, disappointingly easy, he thought. It was as he opened his eyes that he saw the bruises on her neck, green and angry in the dance of the flames, and he realised the sob had been one of pain. Though he was no fire demon, the thought of his little witch — for that is how he thought of her now, as his possession — the thought of her in pain kindled a strange inferno in his belly that burned with the same rage he would have felt if someone had so marred the Mona Lisa’s perfection. ‘Who did this to you?’ Even as he spoke, he noticed other bruises on her arms, on her hips … on the insides of her thighs. ‘Who did this to you,’ he growled.

DI_teaserShe shoved her way free from his embrace and stumbled backward nearly falling before she caught herself. He could taste the rage rolling off her, overpowering the desperation, overpowering the longing, overpowering all else to the point that it was he who was rendered breathless by it. ‘The one whose soul I wish you to ride, the one who I seek revenge upon. He did this to me and more than even your demon eyes can ever see. He took everything from me, and I want him to pay! I want him to pay!’

‘Elaine! Woman! Where the hell are you, you little cunt.’

She jerked as though she had been shot, and in the next instant she was scrambling in the shadows for her clothes. ‘He’s not supposed to be here! He’s supposed to be in Edinburgh.’ Her voice was little more than a hiss. ‘And he’s drunk.’ The curse that she whispered under her breath was an ancient one in Latin, the shock of it coming from the lips of such a delicate female would have made his blood run cold, if he’d had blood. ‘I fear there will be more than bruises when next I see you, Rider,’ she said as she struggled into her gown.

As she turned to go, he grabbed her by the arm. ‘There shall be no bruises, nor any other sort of pain for you, my little witch. You are Elaine?’

She nodded, glancing quickly over her shoulder as the man roared more foul abuse into the night air.

‘And this roaring sack of excrement is the one whose soul you wish me to ride?’

She nodded.

‘And who is he to you?’

‘He is my husband, Patrick Farringdon, and I hate him with a hate that burns me like the flames of hell.’

As the man roared again, Ferris could sense the rage and fear and myriad other emotions racing through the woman’s delicate frame. ‘Elaine, what I do tonight is because I admire your bravery. This night, I promise you, he shall not harm you. In truth, he shall not harm you until next we meet. You intrigue me, my dear little witch, and I will hear your proposition.’

She surprised him by pressing a fervent kiss onto his lips before hurrying from the overgrown garden.

 

*****

 

Ferris found his little sorceress locked in a pleasant tower room that he suspected was the place to where she escaped the monster that was her thingsthatgohump300x200husband whenever she could. The walls were lined with books and there was a huge free-standing orrery in one corner of the room, close to a polished bronze telescope facing the large window that looked out onto the northern moors. On a huge desk, there were stacks of parchment and a holder with extra quills, not the kind of room in which one would expect a woman to spend her time.

As though she had heard his thoughts, she spoke. ‘This room was covered in dust when I arrived. Patrick Farringdon has no love for learning. He loves money and whores and torturing me. He doesn’t come into this room because I have convinced him it is haunted.’ A smile curled the corner of her lips. ‘He’s a very superstitious man.’

‘And yet her married you, little witch.’

‘Do you think I had a choice? He was more in love with my father’s money than he was afraid of my craft. After squandering his own fortune, marrying a witch seemed less loathsome than being poor. For him. For me nothing is more loathsome than being forced to do his bidding.’ Her voice was dark, venomous, and even Ferris’ skin prickled at the hatred therein. She shook herself and shrugged as though coming out of a bad dream. ‘I have no doubt that the time will come when he will use my craft against me to his advantage.’ She turned to face him, ‘If he lives long enough for such scheming. He has already let it be known among the villagers that I am a strange one, that I have … unholy tendencies.’

Ferris moved to stand behind her and closed the book she had been reading. ‘The death of one accused of witchcraft is not pleasant, my dear woman.’

She raised her eyes and looked out the window at the night sky. ‘I can only die once and then this suffering will be over. But I wish to insure that he suffers much before I do, and that my … dear husband … precedes me in death. Since he has not sought me tonight, then I assume you have paid him a visit.’

Ferris laid a hand against her jaw and pulled her hair back to reveal the angry bruise. ‘He will give you no bruises this night. Night terrors can be so troublesome, and they often leave one far too exhausted for such spineless activities as beating helpless women – for days at times, or so I am told.’ He slid his hand down onto her collarbone and was once again surprised to find she did not cower. ‘But then I see no helpless woman here.’

‘Is my proposal acceptable to you then, demon,’ she asked. From the angle at which he stood he could see the hardening of her nipples below the fabric of her gown and the rise and fall of the rounded tops of her breasts.

castlerigg_Stone_Circle1‘For the price we have agreed upon, I will do your bidding,’ he said. ‘It shall give me pleasure to lay waste to such a corrupt soul.’ He slid his hand down over her sternum and inside the gape in her gown to caress her breasts and felt the catch of her breath in unison with the catch of his own, which was only a memory of breath, but a memory he knew well. ‘In the meantime, I will enjoy the world of the flesh.’

She shoved his hand aside. ‘I am not yours to dispose of until you have given me what I ask.’ She pushed her chair back and came to her feet, turning to face him. ‘If you take me now, than I have naught with which to bargain.’

He bowed his head. ‘As you wish, my little witch.’ As he lifted her into his arms, she yelped and he felt her body tense against him as he carried her to the cot on the far side of the room where it was clear that she spent most of her nights. ‘Then you shall sleep, and I shall watch over you.’ He undid the robe that she had carelessly thrown around herself, the one she had worn from the garden, and slipped it off her shoulders. Then he guided her down beneath the blanket.

‘You don’t have to watch over me. That was not a part of the bargain.’

‘Indeed not,’ he said, as he settled onto the bed next to her. ‘But I must protect my investment. When my end of the bargain is fulfilled, I would not want my reward damaged and unable to uphold her end.’ He brushed a kiss against her lips. Her breath was warm and sweet and he longed to linger in it until dawn.

‘How can I trust you to keep your word?’ She whispered.

‘How can you not?’ He replied, curling up next to her on top of the covers. ‘What I have promised I will perform, now rest, my little witch, and be at peace.’

 

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Here are the links to the previous episodes in case you missed them:

Chapter 1 Demon Interrupted: Perchance to Dream.

Chapter 2 Demon Interrupted: A Chat with a Demon

Chapter 3 Demon Interrupted: Enter the Shadows

Chapter 4 Demon Interrupted: Dark Chrysalis

Chapter 5 Demon Interrupted: The Empty Spaces in Between

Chapter 6 Beneath the Weight of Shadow

Chapter 7 Possessions

Chapter 8 Necessities and Inconveniences

Chapter 9 Demon Dreams

Chapter 10 Backlash

Chapter 11 Chasing the Dream

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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