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The 8th Instalment of Demon Interrupted: A Lakeland Witches Story

Demon Interrupted CoverI’m very happy to offer the eighth 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 months with the final episode on October 31 along with a special celebration and lots more Lakeland Witches fun.

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.

And this week, I’m very proud to share the new cover for the serial designed by the incredibly talented Kev Mitnik Blisse to go with the new covers of the Lakeland Witches Trilogy. Thanks Kev! You’re the best!

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

Enjoy Chapter Eight, 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 Heatwave Trilogy: Body Temperature and RisingRiding the Ether and Elemental Fire. Enjoy! 

Lakeland new banner10358733_753604251350423_1560284403319862756_n

Chapter 8

Necessities and Inconveniences

There was a loud crash in the kitchen followed by a distressed cry from Fiori. Tara belted her robe around her waist as she ran down the stairs, Kennet, close on her heels, was still wrapped in the towel from the shower. By the time she reached the last step, the tight stirring in her chest that rearranged itself, shifting and settling low in her belly told her that Lucia, her resident demon was back from her wanderings. ‘’Bout fucking time,’ she said under her breath, but all she got in response was a good dose of smug.

‘I’m sorry! I’m sorry.’ She heard Ferris’s voice from the kitchen along with a tense yelp from Elaine. But as she rounded the corner, it wasn’t Ferris she saw standing over Fiori, who had clearly lost her balance and stumbled against one of the kitchen stools. She would have tipped it over and gone off backward if the man crowding in hadn’t caught her. But though the voice was Ferris’ the body clearly was not, or at least not the Ferris the coven was used to. The dark man who had Fiori around the waist easing her onto her feet made the kitchen seem small. His broad shoulders practically blotted out the sun streaming in through the window behind him.

‘I’m all right! I’m all right.’ Fiori’s voice was breathless as she stepped out of the man’s reach, shoving a cascade of wild red hair away from her face. ‘I just … I just wasn’t expecting … you … Ferris?’

‘What the fuck?’ Tim, just back from farm chores, slid through the kitchen door in his stocking feet, looking Ferris up and down. Tim was a big man. All the men in the Elemental Coven were over six feet and well muscled, but the man standing before Fiori had another six inches at least, and his shoulders and biceps strained at a faded grey shirt that looked as though it might have been hand-spun from a different era. His clothing was all out of time, and yet it was not all from the same time. The trousers he wore looked as though they could have come from the American West. His feet were long and bare on the tiles. His hair hung dark and thick almost to his shoulders and his eyes were a shade of blue-green that Tara had only ever seen in glacier melt. The man was strikingly beautiful, and yet somehow just looking at him gave Tara goose-bumps. The way Fiori chafed her arms told her that she wasn’t the only one feeling his presence that way.

‘I didn’t mean to startle anyone,’ the man said with Ferris’ easy voice.

‘But you are Ferris?’ Kennet asked.

‘I am. Yes. It’s just that Elaine isn’t comfortable with the flesh I now wear, and I find I can do more in this form than I’d, at first, thought myself capable of.’

‘And the flesh you normally wear? Where is it?’ Tara felt a tightening in her stomach.

‘It’s unharmed. On the bed in my room.’

castlerigg_Stone_Circle1With a shudder that was nearly a convulsion, Tara grabbed onto the counter top and braced herself as Lucia shoved her way lazily from the nebulous place inside Tara’s body where she took up residence. Everyone else stepped back as the demon pulled herself free. The coven had adjusted to Lucia’s comings and goings much better than Tara had. She still found it disconcerting when the demon decided to make a public appearance in such a physically demanding way. Sometimes when Lucia visited unannounced, Tara felt as though her breastbone were splitting. It always seemed worst when Lucia was miffed at her. Sadly, she could not return the favour when she was miffed at Lucia.

‘How long have you been absent from your flesh,’ the demon asked without a greeting to the coven members present, though she did give Cassandra a slight nod of her head as she entered the kitchen with Anderson, but then Cassandra was her daughter. Tara still couldn’t get her head around that fact. Mostly the demon focused her fiery gaze on Ferris.

‘Last night when Elaine and I made love. It distresses her to be reminded of her dead husband, so I shed his flesh.’

Tara didn’t miss the blush that crawled up over the bruises on Elaine’s throat at the mention of making love with Ferris, and though the ghost grabbed possessively onto Ferris’s arm, it was clear she was nowhere near as comfortable with sex as everyone at Elemental Cottage was. ‘You want to tell us what’s going on,’ Tara addressed Lucia, but the demon ignored her and spoke again to Ferris.

‘You must return to your flesh then. It has been too long, and the flesh will perish without your presence.’

The sound that came from Elaine’s throat was that of a frightened kitten, but she held tight to Ferris’ arm.

‘How do you know this?’ Both Ferris and Tara asked at the same time.

‘I know because I led you to that flesh, Ferris, and I know because I know how one such as you exists and functions in the fleshly world of humans. This you would know too if you would but take back your memories.’

‘I … I can’t.’ Ferris said, stepping away from Elaine and glancing toward the door as though he wished to run.

‘I know that you wish to continue on as things have always been, dear Ferris,’ Lucia said, ‘but really, you must welcome back the rest of who you are or you will find the problems you cause for yourself and the rest of the coven do not bare thinking about.’

‘No,’ Ferris’ voice was strangely quiet for someone so large. ‘I don’t mean that I won’t, Lucia. I would never do anything to cause harm to Cassandra or to this coven, you know that. I consider these my family now. I mean that I seem to be no longer capable of taking back whoever it is that I was … whatever it is that I was before you sent me to watch over Cassandra.’

‘That’s not possible,’ the demon said, and the robe she wore suddenly danced like living flame. ‘I have given back what is yours, Ferris. You have only to take it.’

‘Though it’s true I don’t wish to take back what I’ve left in your keeping, I would never deny it if it were to cause harm to those I care about. I’m not lying to you when I say that I can’t. I don’t know why. But I can’t.’

‘Hold it, hold it.’ Tara stepped forward between Ferris and Lucia and felt the blistering heat of the demon, even though she knew it wasn’t real. ‘Just what exactly is Ferris that this is his true form and what’s upstairs belongs to someone who should have died, I’m assuming, a good long time ago when his wife killed him.’ She nodded to Elaine, who shifted from foot to foot, keeping her eyes to the floor.

Lucia still stood gazing toward Ferris as though she could see him even through Tara’s body. ‘It’s not for me to tell, Tara Stone. The pact that I have made with him was to keep his secrets even from himself until such time as I released him from my bond, and there are certain … safeguards within that pact that protect one demon’s secrets from the indiscretions of another.’

‘Pact between demons? What do you mean between demons, Lucia,’ Tim broke in. ‘Ferris is no demon. Is he?’ The room erupted in chaos with everyone speaking at once. In a sudden burst of light, Ferris disappeared, and a terrified Elaine would have disappeared too if Skye hadn’t taken her gently by the arm.

‘Where did he go? Dear goddess, where did he go?’ Elaine glanced around wildly and strained against Skye’s embrace. ‘What have you done to him? I don’t care if he is a demon. He would never hurt me. He would never hurt any of you.’

In a loud crack of thunder and another flash of light, the room became silent other than the fire-crackle flow and dance of Lucia’s robes. The demon had a flair for the dramatic, Tara thought sourly. When she was sure she had everyone’s attention, Lucia spoke quietly. ‘Ferris has only returned to the flesh that houses him. He has been away from it for too long. I am terribly sorry, Elaine, but he cannot remain in corporeal form without an anchor in the flesh, and at the moment it is much easier for him to continue on in your husband’s flesh that to find another host.’

Tim made a sound like an angry bear and Lucia shot him a withering gaze. ‘I would not be so arrogant if I were you, Tim Meriwether. The fragility of your flesh is stunning. Even in those of you who enflesh ghosts and are so long-lived, your lifespan is but a heartbeat to one such as myself, to one such as Ferris. And even with such a lifespan, your flesh is delicate, easily broken, easily destroyed.’

‘Then I am a demon.’ Everyone turned to find Ferris standing once again in the unassuming body they had all grown used to seeing him in and, in spite of the flesh he now wore, Elaine moved to stand by him and took his hand.

Lucia studied him for a moment before she spoke. ‘Not a demon as such. Not in the way I am or Deacon was.’

‘Well is he or isn’t he?’ Tim asked.

‘The pact that I’ve made with Ferris will allow me to say no more,’ Lucia replied, not taking offence at Tim’s usual short temper. It is for Ferris to share his secrets, now that they are in his possession. Even if I wanted to, I now could not.’

‘I wasn’t lying when I said I can’t remember,’ Ferris said.

‘Then you are a danger to yourself and to the coven –’ Lucia replied without emotion ‘—I am not only unable to share your secrets with them, but I cannot give you again what I’ve already given. The magic of the bond and your service to me makes such a thing impossible.’

All colour slid from his face and he fisted his hands. ‘All right then. I’ll leave. I’ll return to Storm Croft, if that’s okay with Cassandra?’

Before Cassandra could respond, Lucia spoke again. ‘Do you not have people working for you at Storm Croft? And is there not a village near-by with several thousand souls in it? You cannot guarantee their safety from what will most certainly happen if you do not recover yourself, Ferris.’

‘He’s not going anywhere.’ Tara stepped forward and laid a hand on his arm, and Cassandra did the same. ‘He’s coven family. He stays here and you tell us what we can do to help him regain his memories and return to himself.’

Lucia’s robes flared until the flame of them nearly filled the room, then settled back around her benignly. ‘I cannot tell you what to do, Tara Stone, because I don’t know. If that is the journey you insist upon, and if you insist upon keeping him here, then I will do what I can to help, but the way back to himself is now a way he must find on his own.’ She raised a hand before Cassandra could speak. ‘Perhaps there are certain spells we can cast, magic we can use to aid him, but in the end, it will be up to Ferris to restore himself. And that is what he must do.’

‘Wait a minute,’ Tim said. ‘You released him from your bond, what if you renewed that bond? What if you made the same arrangement with Ferris that you had before?’

‘I cannot, Tim Meriwether. The bond that is broken is broken, and it was only ever made in the first place because there was a need for it and both parties agreed to it.’

‘Both demons,’ Ferris said.

‘That was how the pact was made, yes.’ Lucia said.

‘If I am able to remember who I was, what I was, will I be as I was before?’

Lucia moved to stand close to Ferris and laid a hand on his cheek. ‘You fear that, don’t you, Ferris? You fear what you cannot remember, but what you conjure to be so in your imagination. Oh how you borrow trouble.’

‘It can’t have been good,’ he whispered, ‘or you wouldn’t have seen fit to take it from me.’

‘If you survive what is to come and manage to do so without killing someone, then your past will be yours to bear, as is the case for all of us. However you will not be as you were before because who you have been since I brought Cassandra to you, who you have been since you have come the this coven has shaped you.’ She shrugged, her robe swayed and crackled slightly and she stepped back. ‘Whether all of these years have done more than added a simple patina to you long existence, I cannot tell. Only you can.’

‘I won’t hear any more of this,’ Cassandra said. ‘Ferris stays with us.’ Then she shot Tara an apologetic glance. ‘Or I go with him, wherever he goes. For a long time he was the only family I had.’

Anderson slid an arm around her and Tara nodded. ‘No one is going anywhere, Cassandra. We’ll do what we need to for Ferris. Lucia –’ she turned her attention to the demon ‘—What can we expect?’

‘There will be more irrational behaviour. Ferris will have less and less memory of that irrational behaviour when it happens.’

‘Will I be –’

‘Will you be violent?’ Lucia finished for him. ‘Not in the usual sense of violence.’

‘What the hell does that mean,’ Tim said.

‘There will be delusions,’ Lucia held Ferris’s gaze. ‘Hallucinations, and they will increase the longer Ferris is not himself.’

‘And?’ Ferris asked. The man looked as calm and unassuming as he always did.

Lucia took a deep breath, which she did not need and bit her lip, her eyes still locked on his. ‘And if you’re still unable to return to yourself, those hallucinations, those delusions will spread.’

‘What do you mean spread?’ Tara said.

Lucia turned to face her, then moved so close to her that the two were practically nose to nose, and the hem of her gown looked as though it engulfed Tara in flame from her hips down. ‘I mean that if Ferris does not return to himself soon, his hallucinations will effect all of you. Everyone in the coven will see what he sees, will experience what he experiences, and it will be as real to them as it is to him.’

‘Fuck!’ Tim whispered.

‘Some will be more effected than others,’ Lucia continued. ‘And not everyone will be effected all the time. I can give you no rhyme nor reason to who or how, nor can I tell you a timetable, only that it will be soon. Ferris has been too long outside the bond. His ability to separate from his host is proof of that.’

The room was deadly silent. Outside on the buddleia a black bird trilled. The clock in the parlour struck seven.

‘Then I have to go,’ Ferris said, his voice sounding no different than it always did. ‘I have to go somewhere isolated where I can harm no one. Or surely there must be someplace magical? What about the Ether?’ he asked.

‘That is a possibility my dear man,’ Anderson said. ‘But I would prefer it only as a last resort.’ He looked at Lucia, who nodded confirmation.

‘I cannot say what can be done, nor can I say how the coven may help,’ Lucia said. ‘I can only say that I offer any help I can give, and that Ferris must be willing to open himself.’

‘It doesn’t matter,’ Tara said again. ‘He’s one of our own, and we’ll not abandon him. We’ll find a way.’ During the conversation, Tara observed that Elaine had moved close and closer to Ferris until she held him around the waist in a tight embrace, her head resting on his shoulder. ‘Lucia, you’ll tell us all you can?’

‘Yes of course,’ the demon said.

‘And you’re immune to the hallucinations,’ Kennet asked.

‘Of course.’

Kennet hitched his towel around his waist and nodded. ‘That’s good to know in case things get rough.’

‘I can’t let you do this?’ Ferris said to Tara. Elaine whimpered at his side and tightened her embrace.

‘You have no choice,’ Tara replied. ‘You’re one of our own.’ There was a general murmur of consensus.
‘Besides, you heard Lucia; there’s no place you can go on this plane that’s isolated enough for safety. I Pic from ETO winBqxJnN_CEAIXatU.jpg-largementioned dream magic last night, and I think that would be a good place to begin.’ Lucia nodded her agreement, then without warning, stepped back inside Tara’s body, this time causing no more than a shiver up her spine.

‘We’re not doing anything on an empty stomach –’ Fiori said, picking up the spatula from the counter and straightening her shoulders. ‘The eggs have just been delivered from Jenkins farm. I was just about to make omelettes. Coffee’s brewed and the kettle’s on. Help yourself to fresh strawberries.

 

 

 

The 6th Instalment of Demon Interrupted: A Lakeland Witches Story

Demon Interrupted Image by KevI’m very happy to offer the sixth 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 months.

The Lakeland Heatwave 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. 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

Enjoy Chapter Six, 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 Heatwave Trilogy: Body Temperature and RisingRiding the Ether and Elemental Fire. Enjoy!

Lakeland heatwave banner1

Chapter 6 Demon Interrupted

Beneath the Weight of Shadow

‘I will go after the shadow and the ghost.’ Anderson helped Cassandra to her feet and moved to cut a door in the circle.

‘Not by yourself,’ Tara ordered. ‘We don’t know what this thing is. And Cassandra, you stay here,’ she called as the succubus joined him. ‘We need someone non-corporeal. Take Fiori.’

Anderson nodded his agreement, paused only long enough to brush a quick kiss across Cassandra’s lips then he and Fiori vanished from the circle.

‘Lucia? What’s going on,’ Tara called out as she scrambled to where Cassandra already knelt next to Ferris with his head in her lap.

‘He’s freezing, Cassandra said, pulling his robe over him and then reaching for a blanket at the foot of the sleeping pallet. She looked up at the coven leader as the others gathered around. ‘He’s not responding at all.’

‘Is he in the Ether,’ Tim asked. ‘Is that possible?’

The succubus shook her head. ‘He has no skills in the Ether, and no ability to go there unconsciously that I know of.’

Skye, who was trained in healing arts and had some skills in first aid, moved to his side and laid her fingers against his throat. ‘His pulse is faint, thready. Whatever that was –’ she nodded toward the cave entrance ‘– it came from inside him. Almost like it belonged there.’

‘Or like it didn’t,’ Tim said.

‘Goddamn it, Lucia, I need you,’ Tara yelled into the empty air, ‘Where’s the damned demon when you want her?’

‘She’s not known for being cooperative,’ Kennet said. He took a bottle of water from one of the rucksacks and handed it to Alice, who hunched trembling in the corner. ‘What happened?’ He sat next to her and pulled a Mackenzie tartan around her shoulders.

‘At first, I thought it was just a shadow,’ Alice said. She took a sip of water and wiped her eyes with a hand that was still none too steady. ‘It was like all of a sudden Ferris got … bigger … all over, and I don’t know why I didn’t think about it. I don’t know why it didn’t seem strange. It was so intense, so solid, nothing at all like shadow. And then when I … when I came, I knew. I could tell that whatever it was, it had taken with it Ferris’s essence.’ She shivered. ‘I’m sorry I panicked.’

‘You have nothing to be sorry for,’ Kennet said. ‘You had good cause.’

‘Cassandra, do you know anything about this? Has anything like this ever happened before,’ Tara asked. ‘You’ve known Ferris most of your life.’

She shook her head. ‘I knew Ferris possessed some magic, but honestly, until we came here, I’d never seen him use any of it. He was always there, but until we came here, I never really noticed him. Until we came here, he was … I don’t know. He was always there when I needed him, but it was almost like he didn’t exist the rest of the time.’

‘Lucia!’ Tara shouted again. ‘Where the hell are you?’ She turned her attention to her man. ‘What is it, Kennet? What’s wrong? I can see it on your face.’

‘Well –’ he moved away from Alice and laid a hand against Ferris’s chest ‘—the way that shadow left him, it reminds me of when Lucia possessed me, the way she left my body, at least when I was aware of her leaving.’

‘But you never lost consciousness when she left you, did you?’ Tara asked. ‘ I never have. Sometimes I don’t even feel it when she leaves, though I usually feel it when she comes back home.’

‘And speaking of the devil,’ Tim said. ‘It’s not like Lucia to stay away when she’s called. She never likes to miss a good party. How long can she be away from you, Tara, before … you know?’

‘Before I die again? I don’t think there’s a sell-by date, Tim. There’s some kind of connection inside whether she’s with me or not. I feel her absence, but not in quite the same way Kennet did, and certainly she never rendered me unconscious when she left, though I reckon she could if she were inclined.’

‘Wait a minute –’ Marie said, ‘– If you’re saying that Ferris is possessed by some kind of demon, we could have just sent Anderson and Fiori into danger.’

Just then Ferris’s body jerked hard, his back arched, and he began to convulse.

*****

It was good that the moon was full. It made following the shadow and the ghost much easier. Anderson felt no threat from either of them. He did not know what the shadow was, though it certainly seemed to him that the thing might have been in possession of Ferris’s body. Because there was much they did not understand of the situation, he preferred as many of the odds in his favour as possible.

‘The shadow –’ Fiori’s disembodied voice filled Anderson’s ear, or what would have been his ear had he had form other than that of thought and will ‘– he was with Ferris the last time he made love to me.’

Anderson glanced at her and continued following the disturbance in the air through which the strange couple had passed. ‘Did you speak to Ferris of this?’

‘At the time I thought I only imagined it. I was groggy from a bad dream and he comforted me. I didn’t feel threatened. It felt only as though Ferris were suddenly a much larger man, different, but still Ferris. I felt full of him, full of his presence. The space around me felt full of his presence. I don’t know, we all have secrets, and none of us really knows Ferris that well.’

‘My dear Fiori, even Cassandra does not know Ferris well, and though it seems that Lucia has released him of his responsibilities to her, he does not wish to know his past. I think that rather odd. It seems to me …’ Anderson’s words died in the throat he did not at this moment have, and he halted their progress with nothing more than an act of will. At the edge of the tarn that glowed silver-black in the moonlight, the strange ghost with the noose around her neck threw herself into the arms of the shadow.

‘I found you. Thank goddess I found you. Oh Ferris, I was so worried. I thought I’d done something wrong. I thought that when you learned what … what I’d done, you were angry and you left.’

‘I didn’t leave you. I swear I didn’t.’ The shadow spoke in a voice that was quite recognisable as Ferris’s. With careful hands, he removed the noose from around her neck and gave it an angry toss. Anderson could see the angry ligature marks on the woman’s delicate throat, and the curse that Fiori uttered told him so did she. ‘I don’t know what happened,’ the shadow said, ‘but I promise I didn’t leave you intentionally.’

‘Ferris?’ Anderson spoke softly, not wanting to startle the couple, and eased himself into a form that was fully visible, but had no substance. He was not yet certain if, indeed, the dark entity was Ferris. But the shadow turned to face him, and he could see the likeness of a man broad of shoulder and clearly several inches taller that Anderson, who was, by no means, a small man.

The shadow, who still held the woman in his arms looked up at Anderson and nodded. ‘I’m sorry.’ His voice was soft, unobtrusive, as Ferris’s voice always was. ‘I don’t know what happened.’

Anderson took a cautious step forward and Fiori followed, her eyes locked on the woman. ‘You are aware that you have left your flesh unattended in the dream cave?’ Anderson asked.

‘So it would appear.’ Ferris looked down at the large hand that was not resting on the woman’s shoulder and released a long breath of which Anderson was fairly certain he had no need in his present form. ‘I … don’t know what happened,’ he repeated. Then he glanced from Anderson to Fiori and back again. ‘Lucia? Is she in the cave?’

‘She was not present when we left,’ Anderson said, ‘But it must be said that we did not linger to take attendance.’

‘Perhaps you might introduce us to your friend.’ Fiori took another step forward, her eyes on the ghost.

‘This is Elaine.’ Ferris did not loosen his hold on her. ‘Elaine these are my friends from the Elemental Coven, Fiori and Anderson.’

‘They’re both … dead,’ the woman said, catching her breath as though the realisation shocked her.

‘As are you, my dear woman,’ Anderson replied. ‘However, Ferris is not, and I cannot think it is healthy for his flesh to have him too long absent from it, so I would humbly request that we all return to the cave as quickly as we may.’ Almost before he finished speaking, the two vanished, and he and Fiori followed suit.

*****

Another image from KevAlice let out a little squeal and crab-walked backward as the shadow-man, who had left Ferris’s body in such a hurry, materialised in the cave with the ghost of a young woman in his arms. Instantly Ferris’s physical body calmed on the floor of the cave.

‘What the fuck?’ Tim said, glancing from the couple to Ferris on the floor and back again. Then Anderson and Fiori materialised next to them.

‘This is Elaine. I am told she is a friend of Ferris’s.’ Anderson spoke as calmly as if he were making introductions at a dinner party. For an instant no one in the cave moved. All eyes were on the couple. Skye still knelt next to Ferris’s body with her hand resting against his throat and Tara and Cassandra knelt next to her. Tim and Marie and Kennet sat near Alice.

With a sharp catch of his breath, the shadow-man, who seemed much more man than shadow now, eased forward and stared down at the flesh that had only recently housed him. He did nothing but stare. The ghost, Elaine, did the same. But hers was a more fearful countenance, and Anderson thought it strange that she held no such fear for the shadow-man as she did for the unpretentious fleshly man now unconscious on the floor of the cave.

‘There’s still no sign of Lucia.’ Marie spoke to Anderson and Fiori.

Kennet growled. ‘Not much nightlife in Keswick on a Wednesday night. I suppose she could have gone to Penrith … or Birmingham.’ He shrugged. ‘Hell she could have gone to Bangkok for all I know.’

‘I’ve never heard of a demon clubbing,’ Marie said. ‘I can’t think it would be much fun without a body.’

‘I don’t know what she gets up to when she’s not at home,’ Tara said. ‘She doesn’t tell me and I don’t ask, but damn it, I hate it when she ignores me, and I know that’s what she’s doing.’

‘I fear it’s me she’s ignoring,’ the shadow-man said. ‘And I can’t say that I long much for her company either, but under the circumstances, I suppose it would be good to know what’s going on.’ He didn’t sound very convinced of it.

‘Are you some kind of demon?’ Tim asked. A ripple of tension passed through the room. Tim had a reputation for being blunt and saying what was on his mind, but the shadow-man did not seem offended. Instead he stood contemplating the idea. And the shape of him was beautiful, Anderson thought, much more like a god than a man, fit to grace the temple of Apollo, fit to kindle the lust of any libido. And yet in the shadow there was no flesh.

‘I can’t truthfully say,’ he replied to Tim, ‘As far as I know, I’m Ferris Ryder, and that –’ he nodded to the body on the ground ‘—is also Ferris Ryder, though I have no idea how that can be. I think that perhaps Elaine –’

Tara raised a hand to silence him. Carefully she came to her feet and moved toward Elaine, who stood just barely inside the entrance of the cave now and seemed to be inching slowly in that direction as the conversation unfolded. ‘Elaine –’ Tara’s voice was only slightly more than a whisper ‘—how is it that you suddenly wear the flesh?’

Instantly all eyes were on the woman, and there was a collective intake of breath, for she was, indeed, in the flesh. A fact that surprised even her.

‘Is it because of you?’ Tara looked up at the Shadow-man, who shook his head.

‘Apparently I can choose to be … corporeal if I want,’ Elaine replied. ‘Though in all honesty, I have no memory of even being a ghost until I met Ferris, who was wearing the flesh of Patrick last night.

‘Who the hell is Patrick,’ Tim asked.

‘He is Patrick,’ she nodded to Ferris’s body. ‘And how he now lives but is not Patrick, I do not know. I killed him myself. Of that I’m certain.’

A harsh choking sound drown out the coven’s murmured response to Elaine’s confession, and all eyes were once again on Ferris’ body, which went rigid, then gasped a desperate breath, and it was as though by doing so, he rendered the shadow-man little more than a wisp of dark smoke, which swirled in the air, then vanished into Ferris’s corporeal chest.

Elaine let out a little cry and her knees gave just as Anderson caught her against his chest.

On the cave floor, Ferris spasmed twice then sat up and looked around the chamber. Cassandra knelt next to him and handed him a bottle of water. He drank deeply and coughed.

For a long moment the only sound in the cave was his effort to catch his breath.

‘Ferris?’ Skye said, at last. ‘Are you back with us?’

He nodded, then his gaze settled on Elaine and held, but he did not speak. He only stared at the ghost in the flesh.

When the silence had stretched beyond the point of uncomfortable, Tara laid a hand on Ferris’s forearm and spoke, ‘How much of what just happened do you remember?’

castlerigg_Stone_Circle1He started to speak, then cleared his throat as though his voice had rusted from disuse. ‘Everything. I remember everything.’ With ease that belied what he had just endured, he stood, holding the blanket to him to fight off the residual chill from his unconscious state, and moved slowly toward Elaine, reaching out his hand.

When she cautiously moved to his side, he spoke, still not taking his eyes off her. ‘At least I remember everything since my arrival in Cumbria a few hours ago.’ He looked back at Tara. ‘Before that …’

‘Before that what,’ Tara prompted.

He released a slow breath that echoed in the chamber like a wind. ‘Before that there are … blank spots.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 5th Instalment of Demon Interrupted: A Lakeland Witches Story

castlerigg_Stone_Circle1I’m very happy to offer the fifth 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 months.

The Lakeland Heatwave 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. 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

Enjoy Chapter Five, 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 Heatwave Trilogy: Body Temperature and RisingRiding the Ether and Elemental Fire. Enjoy!

Lakeland heatwave banner1

Chapter 5 of Demon Interrupted

The Empty Spaces in Between

‘How the hell did I get here?’ It took Ferris a few seconds to realise that there was no one else in the SUV and that it was he who had spoken. He was no longer in his study at Storm Croft, He was no longer in Surrey at all, nor was Elaine with him. He was on the A 66 following a farm tractor, along with a half a dozen other vehicles, crawling toward Keswick. The sun was just going down, and the saddle-backed behemoth of Blencathera loomed large to the right of him still catching the last rays of light on its western flank.

She had killed her husband. The last memory Ferris had before coming back to himself in Cumbria was Elaine revealing to him that she had killed her husband, that she had been hanged for that reason. Surely he had misunderstood her. Surely there were extenuating circumstances, but he’d had no time to ask or at least he had no memory of asking. There had been long stretches of time of which he had no memory during the years he served Lucia, watching out for Cassandra. In fact, on occasion, it almost felt as though he could choose to shut down, like a computer when it’s no longer being used. Back then the lapses in memory, the loss of time, hadn’t seemed strange at all to him, nor had they mattered. But now things had changed. His life had changed. He remembered every detail of the time he’d spent with the Elemental Coven, and he would have wanted to miss none of it. Now, the loss of such a significant stretch of time and, at such an inconvenient moment, was more than disturbing. Surely Lucia was responsible. The tractor turned off near Threlkeld and Ferris sped toward Elemental Cottage, anxious to get home, and truly, Elemental Cottage felt like his home now. He didn’t know whether he was desperate to talk to Lucia or desperate to avoid her.
Demon Interrupted Image by Kev‘You’re just in time for dinner,’ Fiori called from the kitchen, as he walked in the door. ‘Sea bass, at Anderson’s request, of course.’

‘Is Tara around?’ He said, not wanting to ask specifically for Lucia.

‘She and Kennet had some errands to run in Keswick,’ she replied. ‘They should be back soon.’

Anderson and Cassandra were just coming down the stairs. When Cassandra saw Ferris, she threw her arms around him and kissed him on the cheek, the buzz of her energy making him feel like he’d just drank a couple of strong pints. ‘You’re back. We were worried you wouldn’t make it in time. How was Storm Croft?’

‘Same as always,’ he said, brushing the hair away from her face and nodding his greeting to Anderson. ‘The grounds are lovely this time of year, keeping the gardeners busy.’

For the first time he could remember since he’d arrived at Elemental Cottage, he didn’t taste the meal, even though he knew it was delicious. Fiori’s sea bass was spoken about in hushed tones, and it was always a favourite for Full Moon dinner. The new potatoes and baby carrots with peas were fresh from Tara’s garden, but he didn’t taste them. Even the white chocolate cheesecake with fresh strawberries was wasted on him. Neither did he hear the brisk banter and laughter that was always the best part of a meal shared at Elemental Cottage. His mind was on his encounter with Elaine — if it really had been an encounter. And surely it had to have been because he didn’t dream. Yet it would have been easier if she had been only a visitation from his dreamscape.

Later as he unpacked his bag before he showered for the Full Moon Circle, he discovered among the socks and carefully folded black shirts several dusty tomes about demons and several more about the history of Storm Croft. He didn’t remember packing them. He didn’t even remember having them on the shelves in the library at the great house. Most of the relevant volumes, Cassandra had brought back to Elemental Cottage when she had made it her permanent residence. The books were all leather bound and, from the looks of them, quite fragile. He would have never transported such treasures so carelessly, and yet here they were. Very carefully, he placed them on the bureau and grabbed his robe.

He could hear the rest of the coven milling about downstairs. He’d had no chance to talk to Tara, since she and Kennet had had a flat tyre on the way back from Keswick and had made it in time to eat their portion of the feast in the kitchen after where Fiori had kept it warm for them. As he joined them for the walk to the Dream Cave, he realized he really didn’t know how to approach Lucia. She had always approached him. Demons usually did what they wanted and in their own time. Just because she now resided in Tara, didn’t mean she was always there, present and accounted for. She needed flesh no more than she needed to breathe, but after Deacon’s defeat and Tara’s horrible sacrifice, no one was completely sure that Tara could now live without Lucia’s possession of her. In truth, Ferris was at a loss. There was no knocking at Lucia’s door, and he would just as soon the rest of the coven knew nothing about what had happened at Storm Croft.

‘Guess we’re together tonight, since you don’t dream and I’m not all that good at magic.’ Alice fell into step next to him as they made their way to the cave. Normally Full Moon was celebrated under the open sky whenever possible. Ferris had no idea why Tara had decided to do the circle in the cave.

‘Your magic is far better that you give yourself credit for, Alice, and you can hardly compare yourself to a coven of witches who were raised to it.’ Ferris and Sky had been tutoring Alice on basic magic. She really was quite gifted. She had only recently made her first forays into the Ether with Cassandra. It had taken her some time to overcome her fear of the place after Deacon had dragged her there, along with Ferris, as his captives. She would, indeed, be a huge asset to the coven when a little more emotional healing had taken place and she was a little farther away from those nightmarish memories of what Deacon had done to her. He laced his fingers through hers. ‘We’ll offer support this time,’ he said, giving her hand an encouraging squeeze. ‘It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.’

She smiled up at him. ‘It’s a safe job. Not so important to you, maybe, but then you’re not nearly as neurotic as I am.’

She had no idea, he thought.

When everyone was gathered and all of the candles were lit around the perimeter of the cave, Tim spoke up. ‘Why are we in here doing dream magic on a gorgeous night like this? I would have thought we’d gather down at the tarn.’

Tara, who had been speaking softly to Anderson, her second in command, looked around at her coven. ‘We’re here tonight because of a dream that Kennet and I had together. We, all of us, have suffered from what Deacon has done to us, and though there’s been a lot of healing, a lot of rebuilding those bonds that make us a family, we all know how much we’ve lost and how far we have to go.’ She turned to Fiori. ‘I know you’re still having nightmares, Fiori, and I know there are several others among us, maybe even all of us who are either suffering from nightmares or well … basically post traumatic stress.’

She looked right at Ferris, and he felt heat crawl up his neck and over his cheeks. Living in the cotton wool present that Lucia had created for him, he had never suffered from anything for very long. But things were different now. For all of them.

The High Priestess continued. ‘Our most intimate act, even more so than the sexual bond we all share, is the act of sleeping and dreaming together, is the act of allowing each other to walk our dreamscapes. In that there’s bonding. In that there’s healing.’

‘In that there’s embarrassment and humiliation,’ Tim groused.

Everyone chuckled uncomfortably. Tim was right, but so was Tara. She offered him an unimpressed look. ‘Nevertheless, Mr Meriwether, we will dream together.’

‘There are Swedish pancakes for afterwards,’ Fiori offered with a cheery smile.

‘Well that’s at least something,’ Tim said.

Tara glared at him. ‘I’ll feed your share to the dog if you don’t watch your mouth, Meriwether.’

‘We don’t have a dog.’

‘Harry Gibbons up the road does. Nice big collie. Loves Fiori’s cooking.’

Once the circle was cast, Ferris took Alice’s hand and pulled her down onto one of the sleeping pallets that ringed the cushions on which the main dreamers would dream. For maximum magic, tonight that couple was Tara and Kennet. They were the most powerful dreamers. But the coven was strong in dream magic. Tim and Marie, and Cassandra and Anderson also excelled in it. Ferris knew that was a good thing, and yet he always dreaded it, especially after his recent encounter with Lucia and what had happened to him at Storm Croft. But dream magic was sex magic, as was all of the magic the Elemental Coven practiced, so when Alice shrugged out of her robe and reached for him, he was fully erect and completely focused on bringing her to the brink of orgasm and keeping her there as long as possible. This, he could do, and this would keep his mind from wandering where it shouldn’t.

He was intimately familiar with Alice’s body, as he was with all of the Elemental Coven. Alice was a keen fell walker and he loved the feel of her hard muscles under soft feminine curves beneath his hands, beneath his lips, beneath his body. He loved the feel of her biceps as her arms encircled him. He loved the tensing of her pectoral muscles when his hands and his mouth found their way to her high, firm breasts with their nipples peeking candy floss pink at the flick of his tongue and the purse of his lips. The swell of them fit the cup of his hand and together formed a tight cradle for his erection to tunnel through as her tongue flicked over the anxious advance and retreat of the head of his cock.

He loved the way her stomach tightened and ridged in anticipation as he kissed down the slope of it, lingering to tongue her navel before descending to briefly rest his cheek against the softness of her pubic curls. Her strong fingers always fisted in his hair in a nearly painful grip as he shouldered open her strong thighs and continued his descent to kiss the Keystone, always distended and pressed in anticipation from beneath its hood. Then, to the soundtrack of sex all around him, he buried his face in the swelling depths of her, seashore-scented and wet.

As the magic built all around them with each thrust, each caress, each kiss, she groaned low and throaty and lifted her feet onto his shoulders, giving him better access, along with a view all the way back to the gripping clench of her anus, giving herself the leverage to bear down. He lapped the honey and salt taste of her with long strokes of his tongue and sucked and tugged at her inner folds as if he were starved for the feast she offered. She bucked and writhed against his mouth as though she were riding a horse in need of taming. He stroked and suckled and licked her open, relishing her mother of pearl arousal, sticky and warm on his fingers, feeling his own arousal surge and press outward above the achy weight of his full sac.

‘I need you inside me,’ she whispered, a whisper he felt more than heard. ‘I need you inside me, Ferris.’ He pulled away wiping his wet face against the back of his arm. As he rose above her to position himself, holding his cock in one hand and spreading her folds with the other, something flashed dark in his peripheral vision. It all happened so fast. He blinked, and as he thrust into Alice’s depths, the afterimage of Elaine danced across his eyelids. Distracted, he scanned the perimeter, but there was nothing. Alice lifted her legs and wrapped them around his waist thrusting up to meet him, and his full attention returned to the magic, to her pussy’s gripping, slippery caress of his cock.

And Goddess, his cock felt big! It felt big enough to fill the cave, and the ache in his balls felt molten hot and heavy. As Alice’s grip around his waist tightened and the tension rippled up her spin, up his, and as they reached the point at which he intended to hold her, the high plateau of arousal that would weave their own thread of magic into that of the rest of the coven, he marvelled at how tiny she seemed beneath him, how delicate she was in his embrace. He marvelled that he didn’t tear her apart with his need, with the violence of his thrusting. He marvelled that she cried out as she did, that her need matched his.

It wasn’t supposed to happen. It shouldn’t have happened. They had played their part in dream magic often enough to know how to control it, and yet he felt the clench of her orgasm grip his cock, he felt her heals kick against his spine, and he lost control. He lost control and emptied himself into her, coming in wrenching waves, growling like a wild animal, and he came as though he would turn himself inside out.

It was only in the last throes of his release that he realised her legs were no longer around him, her palms Fells in the mistwere hard at his chest shoving him, and the sound of her arousal was drown out by the sounds of fear. Over the buzz in his head he heard her breathless cries, ‘Get away from me! Get away from me! Where’s Ferris? What have you done to Ferris.’

It was as he moved to calm her, still struggling to figure out what had just happened, that he saw Elaine just beyond the periphery of the circle and, before he could stop himself, he shoved to his feet and ran toward her, feeling the protective magic of the circle as though it flayed him of all skin when he forced his way through without cutting a door. ‘Elaine!’ He called out. ‘Elaine, don’t go!’

‘What the fuck?’ Tim cried out. Someone else called Ferris’ name. Behind him he heard the shouts of the coven as the circle erupted in chaos, but his eyes were locked on the ghost fleeing toward the fells. It was only then that he realised he’d left his body behind in the circle on the cave floor.

 

 

 

Demon Interrupted Chapter 4: A Lakeland Witches Story

I’m very happy to offer the fourth instalment 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 months.  The Lakeland Heatwave 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. Here are the links to the previous two episodes in case you missed them:

Chapter 1 of Demon Interrupted: Perchance to Dream.

Chapter 2 of Demon Interrupted: A Chat with a Demon

Chapter 3 Demon Interrupted: Enter the Shadows

Enjoy Chapter Four, 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 Heatwave Trilogy: Body Temperature and RisingRiding the Ether and Elemental Fire. Enjoy!

Lakeland heatwave banner1

Chapter 4 of Demon Interrupted

Dark Chrysalis

‘Wait! Wait don’t go! Who are you? Please don’t leave.’ Ferris shoved up from the chair, cramming his cock into his trousers as he went and, before he realised what was happening, he burst through the bookcase, right on in to the big modern kitchen behind and out through the thick stone wall into the extensive herb garden. He found the woman standing beneath an ancient oak, still holding on to the coiled length of the rope.

When she saw him, she uttered a yelp of surprise and dropped the lead of the noose, backing away from him, her eyes wide with terror. ‘Who are you? What did you do to him? What are you?’ Ferris felt a wave of dizziness that was swallowed up in panic. How the hell had he just gone through two solid walls? The ground beneath him tilted and in another wave of dizziness he fell to his knees, shaking his head, which buzzed as though it were full of angry bees.

Demon Interrupted Image by KevBefore he could clear his mind the woman rushed to him grabbed his hand and pulled him to his feet. With wild eyes, she glanced at the door to the kitchen. Her complexion was marble-pale, her breathing was desperate. ‘Hurry, oh god, please hurry!’ If he catches you, he’ll kill you. Especially if he sees you with me,’ she sobbed. ‘ I thought he was gone. I thought he was dead. Oh, how can this be happening all over again?

She yanked hard, practically dragging Ferris. With the buzzing still raging in his ears, he followed as she tugged him with all of her strength, coiling the rope around her arm to keep from tripping on it. ‘Oh, hurry, do hurry! I know a place where he won’t find us,’ she called over her shoulder just as she passed through the high stone wall at the edge of the garden.

Ferris cried out and raised a hand to protect his face, but there was no need, her momentum and her tight grip on his hand pulled him through as easily as if he had been nothing more than mist, and they found themselves in an overgrown topiary interspersed with vine-tangled statuary that lined an aging reflection pool. It was a part of the property that had been derelict when Ferris became caretaker at Storm Croft. Though plans had been drawn up to restore it, Ferris was not a wasteful man, so when it became clear that Cassandra would never make use of it, he had not bothered to carry through with the project.

The woman guided him to sit on a moss-covered stone bench next to the pool. ‘He won’t find us here. He hates this place. He says there’s something evil about it. That’s why I always came here, because I know he’ll leave me alone.’

Instead of sitting, Ferris slid onto his knees in front of the pool and, with shaky hands, splashed water onto his face, fearing that he would pass out, then come to himself and the woman would be gone.

‘What are you?’ she asked again. ‘You’re no ghost. I know you’re not.’

‘Of course I’m no ghost. But I know that you are and …’ He stopped mid-sentence. The buzzing intensified in his head and the dizziness once again rolled over him. Staring back at him in the moonlit water was a face other than his own. He leaned forward until he nearly fell into the pool, and found reflected back at him a face broader and sharper boned, with hair that was pale and longer than his own, and the body … he ran a hand over the chest, a hand that responded to his thoughts, but a chest that was broad and muscular, beneath shoulders that blotted out the moonlight in their heft.

‘What are you?’ the woman repeated again. ‘Did you resurrect him? Did you kill him?  Does he know you?’

‘I don’t know who you’re talking about.’ Ferris fell back onto his arse on the concrete edge of the pool. ‘But this is not my body. This is not me. I don’t know what happened.’

The woman came and knelt next to him, her eyes moving over him, her hand still gripping the coil of the rope. ‘How can you not know?’

‘Tell me,’ he said. ‘Tell me what you saw.’

She took his hand and pulled him up onto the bench. ‘I was … doing my duty to him …’ she bit her lip, and her eyes filled with tears. ‘All this time there’s been peace. It didn’t matter how I paid for it. All this time I thought he was gone and that I was free.’

‘What do you mean doing your duty? You were with me and you … well you had sex, with me and then you were afraid and I realised you were a ghost and then … somehow I followed you here.’

‘No! No it wasn’t you I was with. I would have never … done that to a stranger. It’s only that he always expected it of me, and when I saw him back again, I didn’t want to make him angry. I don’t understand. I thought I was free of him. ’ She covered her face in her hands and began to sob.

Not knowing what else to do, Ferris pulled the woman gently to his chest and to his surprise she threw her arms around him. ‘If you have killed him then I owe you a debt I’ll never be able to repay. If he is dead then you’re my saviour.’

‘Madame, please,’ he pulled her hands into his and eased her back so he could look into her dark eyes. ‘I don’t understand any of what you’re speaking. I have killed no one, and I promise you that it was me with whom you had sex. And now I find myself in a body with which I am not familiar, a body that’s no more fleshly than your own. His first urge was to call out for Lucia. Lucia would know what was happening to him if anyone would, but the woman drew his attention back to her.

‘It wasn’t you! It wasn’t this body,’ she gestured to his chest. ‘It wasn’t you I was with. If it had been, if he had found out, he would have hurt me.’ She grabbed her head between her hands as though she were in pain. ‘This isn’t right! None of this is right. He’s dead. I know he’s dead. And I’m dead because of him, but in all these years I have never seen his ghost. I believed that he went to hell. A man such as he could have gone nowhere else. And you’re not him! I know you’re not him.’

‘Who?’

‘Patrick! Patrick Farringdon.’ You’re not Patrick. Patrick’s dead, and yet I’ve just been with him.’

‘I don’t know any Patrick Farringdon,’ Ferris said. ‘My name is Ferris Ryder. I have been the caretaker of Storm Croft for almost thirty years now and…’ His voice faded as though it were drown out by the roar of a wind. He could see the woman’s lips moving, see the alarm in her dark eyes, and then it was as though he were being sucked into a maelstrom of sound and distance, then unearthly silence.

But the silence was short-lives with the sudden rush of air into his oxygen-starved lungs seconds, or possibly even years later. He could not tell. For an instant he felt as though he were suffocating in his own flesh. The angry swarm of bees returned to his head, and there was someone talking, frantically talking.

‘How can this be? How can this be? How can this be?’

He jerked hard enough for his neck to pop as he came back to himself, once again slouched in the brown leather chair at his desk. His trousers were open. His cock was still wet from sex.

The woman cowered by the sofa, hands twisting the rope she held. ‘What are you? It’s Patrick’s flesh I see with my own eyes, but it’s some one else who animates him. You are not my husband. He was a monster, even now as I look into his eyes I see he’s not there. There was no kindness in him, and you, you’re too big for his body, and yet there you dwell. Who are you?’ She glanced over her shoulder as though she were once again about to flee

‘Please don’t run. I won’t harm you.’ In a sudden wave of embarrassment, Ferris yanked his trousers up over his arse and tucked away his cock. ‘My name is Ferris, as I have said. It was me with whom you had sex. I promise you, I don’t know any Patrick Farringdon.’ But he could almost guarantee Lucia did.

castlerigg_Stone_Circle1Slowly the woman moved toward him, one hand resting against her chest, the other holding the rope. ‘How can this be?’ she said again as she brought her free hand to trace the curve of his jaw. ‘This body is like his in every way, but you who animate him are other.’

Ferris took her hand in his and heard the catch of her breath. ‘I promise you I’m not him.’ He didn’t tell her that he was unsure of who he was, but he knew with absolute certainty this flesh that now housed him was not his own. He silently cursed Lucia, equally certain that somehow this was her doing. ‘Who are you, my dear lady?’

‘I am Elaine,’ she said, still studying him as though her eyes deceived her. ‘As you have said, I am dead.’ She nodded down to the rope in her hand.

‘And how is it that you still have form and flesh? Strong magic is required for a ghost to wear flesh.’

‘I don’t know,’ she said. ‘It’s as though I’ve only just came back to my flesh when I saw you there … pleasuring yourself … I felt compelled to touch you. That I was able to do so stunned me … and then, even though I thought you were Patrick, I felt … my own arousal growing. That I had not expected. That I never experienced with Patrick. I only ever experienced fear with Patrick.’ Her pale cheeks flushed crimson and the hand that had returned to her chest clenched in a fist.

‘Did your husband do that to you?’ Ferris nodded to the noose around her neck.

She didn’t answer immediately, and when she did, she avoided his gaze. ‘In a manner of speaking, I suppose he did.’

‘Take it off,’ he said. It’s disturbing and morbid.’ Before she could respond, Ferris stood, took the noose in his hands. With sure fingers, he slipped the knot, lifted it off over her head and tossed it aside. Then he pulled her into his arms, fearing that she would faint from the stress of her experience. ‘It’s alright, Elaine. I am not Farringdon, however I may look, and I won’t hurt you.’ He guided her to the sofa and sat down next to her.

Another image from KevHe pushed the hair back over he shoulders, marvelling at how soft it was, exposing the ligature marks purple and angry. ‘Great goddess, woman, what happened?’

She pushed his hand away from her throat. ‘I was … hung for my crime.’

‘What crime?’ The woman was scared of her own shadow, he thought as she sat trembling next to him. What could she have possibly done? ‘Elaine, you’re already dead. You can tell me. Of what crime were you accused.’

Her eyes were bottomless, and her face was paler than moonlight on the high fells. The breath she no longer needed tore at her lungs as though she had been running, but she did not look away. ‘I killed Patrick. I killed my husband.’

Now available —  Chapter 5 of Demon Interrupted: The Empty Spaces in Between 

 

 

 

Demon Interrupted Third Instalment: A New Lakeland Witches Story

Another image from KevI’m very happy to offer the third instalment 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 months.  The Lakeland Heatwave 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. Here are the links to the previous two episodes in case you missed them:

Chapter 1 of Demon Interrupted: Perchance to Dream.

Chapter 2 of Demon Interrupted: A Chat with a Demon

Enjoy Chapter Three, 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 Heatwave Trilogy: Body Temperature and RisingRiding the Ether and Elemental Fire. Enjoy!

Lakeland heatwave banner1

Chapter 3 of Demon Interrupted

Enter the Shadows

Ferris left for Storm Croft early the next morning. He was anxious to take care of the estate’s business and be back to Elemental Cottage in time for the Full Moon circle. Fiori had packed him a picnic basket with enough food to see him through an entire Cumbrian winter. His takeaway breakfast included two enormous bacon butties on her homemade sourdough bread, a punnet of fresh strawberries she’d picked from Tara’s garden and a flask of Skye’s black tea blend with lemon verbena. There were homemade ginger biscuits tucked in too for elevenses, and that was just for the morning. Eating had only been an act of sustenance before he had joined Cassandra at Elemental Cottage, where it had become a sensual pleasure – one among many.

He had made it all the way to Birmingham without much traffic on the motorways and was back in Surrey just before noon. The groundskeepers were busy with trimming the topiary and deadheading the roses in the formal gardens. He walked in the early summer sunshine inspecting their efforts. Cassandra had never cared what the grounds or the great house looked like. For most of the time before she had fallen in love with the Elemental Coven’s High Priest, Anderson, she had lived her life as though she had no home. He had always felt compelled to make sure that though she might live that way, she was not without a place to lay her head, a good place, a safe and comfortable place to return to when she had need. There was no shortage of funds for the upkeep, and unless she told him otherwise, he would continue to keep Storm Croft as though its owner were coming home tomorrow and bringing the whole Elemental Coven with her.

Inside, he skirted the grand drawing room and the great hall, both of which had, only yesterday, had their lush wood floors waxed. Using the servants’ stairs, he headed for the small apartment behind the kitchen where he maintained his office and living quarters. Cassandra had offered him free choice of any of the above floor suites, but he had never desired more than a simple accommodation. The housekeeper had left the post of interest stacked neatly on his desk along with invoices, receipts and any other documents he might need to peruse. The ledgers he needed for the monthly records were set aside as well. He still preferred the feel of paper and fountain pen to the sterile tap, tap, tap of the laptop keyboard when it came to the monthly book keeping for Storm Croft. Of course he made sure Cassandra had everything at her electronic beck and call, should she ask for it, though she never did.

It was never difficult for Ferris to find something to do at Storm Croft. For most of the years of Cassandra’s life he had occupied himself with the day-to-day tasks waiting for her to need him, grateful when she did, feeling that she was somehow safer under the big roof of the great house, under his protection, beneath Deacon’s radar. And though he might have wished it, Ferris had never been able to keep her there.

castlerigg_Stone_Circle1And now that Deacon was no longer a threat, now that Cassandra had the happiness Ferris had always wished for her, he was reluctant to move away from the routine that had so ordered his life. In spite of Lucia’s little gift, he wanted no more journey of discovery than what was happily offered him in life at Elemental Cottage.

The afternoon passed to evening, with him grazing on the feast Fiori had packed, packed as though he would be digging ditches rather than crunching numbers. In the bottom of the basket was a bottle of Boudreaux that Cassandra had tucked in, wine that she and Anderson had purchased on a holiday they recently made in France. Ferris knew little about wine. He drank nothing but water before he came to Elemental Cottage, but his lack of knowledge did not lessen the pleasure of it. Whoever he was, or whatever he was, strong drink had little effect on him beyond the gentle buzz that always made him want sex.

It was late and the moon hung heavy through the window of his study when he finished the last of the wine and turned his attention, at last, to the weight of his cock in his trousers. He laid his hand against his fly as he mentally went over the list of all he wanted to accomplish on this journey south. He stroked his length and, it stretched and swelled in response. As his other hand slipped below to cup himself, he felt the amazement he did each time his penis drew his attention to its need to be satisfied. He had no memories of sexual desire before arriving at Elemental Cottage. In all those years he had not missed what he could never recall having. And yet upon the very night of his arrival among the witches of Elemental Coven, he cock weighted his trousers like heavy stone and he’d had both Fiori and Sky several times before the night drew to a close.

And there were skills, sexual skills that he had not known he possessed. He knew how to use his tongue and teeth, his fingers and lips on a nipple, on a clitoris, on the labial folds that swelled with sucking and nibbling. He knew how to pleasure a man when the need presented itself. He knew when to stroke and where. He knew when to stop. He knew precisely the edge and how to bring lovers to that edge and hold them there until they were mad with the need to come. He know when the mount them, he knew how to pleasure their nether holes until they wet themselves in waves of pleasure. He could hold the weight of his need for as long as he willed it, and if he wished to empty himself into the gripping tightness of a lover, he could also will himself to remain hard and continue thrusting after his release. As far as he knew, all these skill were his with no previous recollection of having had sex. He had skills that could not have been instinctual, and yet skills that his cock demanded he now use on a regular basis whether he was among the witches and their consorts at Elemental Coven or alone.

At first he believed his surge in libido was because Elemental Cottage was long steeped in the sex magic of its residents, and his body responded to that magic. But he quickly discovered that it mattered not where he was, his desires did not diminish, and the stroking and caressing his cock simply because it felt good to him had become a part of his routine. It was coven practice that the pleasures of the flesh were pleasures one should share generously with oneself, as well as with others, and they were indeed pleasures in which he took delight.

He opened his trousers and lifted his erection free from his boxers sucking his bottom teeth in a tight gasp as engorged flesh came in contact with the heat of his palm. He shifted his buttocks forward and scooped his balls free with his other hand. Then he took a moment to look down at himself, distended and pale against his black trousers. The housekeeper now lived in the gamekeeper’s cottage. She had left hours ago. He was alone in the big house and it was a long time till morning. He closed his eyes and leaned back in the leather chair, stroking and cupping. Sometimes he thought about sex he’d had at Elemental Cottage, sometimes he fantasized about situations that were not a part of the experience of which he had memory and wondered if they were experiences from his past. And sometimes he just lost himself in the feel of his own body, the sheathing stroke of his fist, the cup and fondle of his balls.

The journey down from Cumbria was a long one and he had forced himself to wait, feeling the uncomfortable surging and swelling and tightening in his cock as he travelled the motorway, anticipating the relief that was always welcome at the end of the journey. And even then he had held himself, held the weight of his need close to his body, felt it tug at him while he inspected the gardens, while he balanced the books, while he paid the bills. And now after the meal and the wine, now it was time. As he stroked, he thought of the deep valley between Fiori’s breast, the way she cupped them around his cock as he thrust; he thought of watching Skye’s skilled tongue snake up over Alice’s splay while she sat on the kitchen counter bathed in afternoon sunlight, skirt hiked, panties kicked to the floor. Fiori’d had every intention of chasing them out that day so she could begin dinner. Instead she had joined them. He had watched her ease three fingers into Skye’s wet slit from where she bent over. He watched until he could take no more, then he opened his fly and entered Fiori from behind. Dinner was late that night. No one had minded.

As he stroked and thrust into his hand and ground his buttocks into the leather chair, his mind was a whir of memories of sex at Elemental Cottage. How could he live among them and not constantly be aroused, and not constantly long to connect. Thrust … stroke … cup … His body knew the rhythm so well now, and it would settle for nothing less. Thrust … stroke … cup … It was as if a whole new world had opened to him, a world of pleasure and sensuality, of colour and texture. Thrust … stroke … cup … Outside a tawny owl trilled. Inside the pipes rattled as the heater kicked on just before his breathing drowned out all other sound. Thrust … stroke … cup …

How he had not seen her in the corner, he could not imagine. She sat quietly on the sofa in the shadow. It was the tight whimper and the nervous clearing of her throat as she came forward that got his attention. Before he could do more than blink his surprise, she dropped to her knees in front of him, shoved his hands away and took his cock into her mouth, deep into her mouth, keeping wide eyes that were nearly black in the dim light locked on his face.

Because he didn’t dream, she was not an apparition from the Dreamscape, and there was no doubting her flesh and blood solidity. She had no scent, therefore she must be a ghost, though how it was that she had flesh, he didn’t know, and any thoughts he had of who she was or why she was kneeling in front of him with his cock in her mouth did not linger as she tongued the underside of him and cupped his buttocks to draw him deeper into the tight tug of her cheeks. Motion became frenzied and desperate as he curled his fingers in her tumble of dark hair in an effort to either regain the control she had taken from him or lose it more completely.

It was only as she lifted the skirt of her black gown and moved to straddle him he became fully aware that her clothing was not of this era, though he could not say from which. Her eyes watered from the effort to accommodate his heft, an effort made by one whose arousal was not yet at the level of his own. But she thwarted his attempt at foreplay, pushed his hands away and persevered. Her tight struggle down onto him made him cry out and breathe in shallow gasps to control himself, holding the soft swell of her hips beneath the taffeta of the gown.

She rode him with her arms around his neck and her soft breasts swaying beneath the deep plunge of the bodice. She rode him with her lips pressed to his ear, whispering frantic words he could not make out as his breathing crescendoed to a roar, then a harsh grunt as he convulsed his release in hard, desperate shudders. It was a release he had not yet expected, one he would have never permitted until he had first satisfied her, but as he reached for her to return the favour, she shook her head wildly and shoved off his lap, stumbling backward onto the floor as she did so. ‘Don’t hurt me, please don’t hurt me! I thought you wanted me. I thought you wanted me to do … my duty.’

Demon Interrupted Image by KevIt was only as she regained her footing and backed away from him that he noticed the rope around her neck. How in goddess’ name could he not notice the rope around her neck? For a charged moment, she stood gazing at him, one hand pressed to her chest, the other holding the looped coil of rope. Then, before he could speak, before he could calm her, reassure her that he would never harm her, she turned quickly and disappeared through the wall of books at the back of the study leaving him stunned and shaken, but there was no denying that he was wide awake and his cock was wet from sex.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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