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In The Flesh Part 25: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_n

 

 

It’s Friday and time for Episode 25 of In The Flesh, in which Michael discovers he’s made a very big, very costly mistake.

 

In the Flesh  is very dark paranormal erotica. When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 

 

 

 

To read the story in its entirety up to this point, follow these links to  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4 Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16, Part 17Part 18Part 19Part 20Part 21Part 22Part 23, Part 24.

 

 

In The Flesh Chapter 25

“What the hell do you mean Annie’s gone?” I said, practically catapulting from the sofa. “She can’t be gone.”

“I’m sorry,” Cook addressed Alonso rather than me. “I brought her tea, and I was surprised to see she wasn’t in her bed. I had hoped perhaps she was improving. But she must have hidden behind the door. She hit me with the candlestick.” He touched his bleeding head once more as though he couldn’t quite believe it had happened. “When I came back to myself, she was gone. I can’t have been out for more than a few seconds.”

I turned on Magda. “You said your rock magic would keep her asleep, out of harms way, you said.”

“Clearly I was mistaken.” She didn’t seem to be the least bit rattled by the fact my crazy, half-starved friend was wandering around somewhere at High View.

Alonso was on his feet and through the door almost before I realized he’d moved. He called over his St Martha's Hill 3
shoulder as he headed down the hall, ‘I’ve got the whole place monitored with cameras so I can enjoy the property in daytime and protect my perimeters. The control room is just down the hall. If she’s outside we should be able to find her.” We all scrambled to follow.

I fell into step beside Magda. “I’ll never forgive you if something happens to her.”

She raised an eyebrow from behind the dark glasses. “The responsibility for your friend’s desperate situation does not lay at my feet, little girl, in case you’ve forgotten.”

If she had gut-punched me, I would have felt the impact no more. Michael moved next to me, clearly overhearing the exchange and slid an arm around my shoulder, but I jerked away. “The blame may lay at my feet, but it was rather convenient for the little act of thievery you two were planning at Chapel House, wasn’t it?”

Now it was Michael who had the freshly gut-punched look.

I shoved past both of them and fell into step next to Talia, who offered me a sympathetic nod. “Alonso always tells me that when comrades are reduced to placing blame, then the enemy has already won.” Seemed it was the day for gut-punches.

We all crowded into a room not much bigger than a closet, which was crammed with monitors and keyboards. Alonso sat down in a captain’s chair and began systematically pulling up the cameras around the property, all of which had the capability of zoom and, in some places, the places where the property was most vulnerable; there were multiple cameras for multiple angles.

“Nothing so far,” he said. “The mist is making it difficult to see anything. I’ve checked the vehicles in the rose imagesdrive and those in the garages, but none are missing. I would assume it’s her plan to go back to Chapel House. In her weakened condition, if she tries to go on foot or hitchhike, it would have to be almost entirely under the Guardian’s power. The woman is little more than a skeleton.”

“He could do that,” I said. “When she attacked me, I couldn’t believe how strong she was.”

“But that was more fear of losing him than it was any aid of his,” Magda said. “The ability to get back to him from here, I would think, would depend entirely on his strength.”

“And on him wanting her back,” Michael added, eyes locked on me rather than on the monitors which, so far had revealed nothing but a very soggy red squirrel, hunkering down in a fir tree to avoid the rain, otherwise the place was deserted. Alonso had sent the builders away when Magda and team had arrived, not wanting to put them in any danger or raise any suspicions.

It was then that it hit me with such import that I grabbed onto the back of Alonso’s chair to keep my knees from buckling. “He doesn’t want her back. He’s deserted her totally, and she has to know that by now. And if she knows it …” As the implications hit home like a an exploding bomb I raced for the door, in a burst of adrenaline, yelling back at Michael, “The tower, where your room is, does it lead to the roof?”

“Fuck!” That was all the answer I needed.

I took the stairs out of the basement two at a time with him right behind me. He passed me as we
2015-09-04 16.16.05 HDRsprinted through the hall on the main floor but then ran into one of the maids with a tray full of dirty dishes from our tea. He spun her around and barely managed to right her before both tray and maid could do a swan dive on the hard stone floor as I sped past the little pas de deux, barely missing being clotheslined by a flailing arm. The steps up the tower were narrow and winding, and I reached the ancient wooden door to the parapet a split second before he did. It was standing wide open, and the view beyond stopped me in my tracks, stopped my breath, stopped my heart. Michael had done the same, coming to a screeching halt right behind me. The tower of High View was shrouded in a light mist. The roof of it was barely big enough in diameter for a tall man to stretch out across. It was surrounded by a stone battlement that was clearly built for decoration, high enough to lean against, but not high enough to be defensive and, there on the far side, Annie was just stepping up onto the top of it. The rain, which had become a downpour plastered her borrowed nightdress to her body and rendered it transparent. She truly did look skeletal beneath it. Her foot slipped, and I screamed, but the wind and rain carried my voice away from her and she thankfully didn’t hear me, as she righted herself.

Before I could run to her, Michael threw an arm around my waist and pulled me tight against his body. “Let her go. It’ll be so much easier for us if you do.” I was suddenly overwhelmed by the smell of roses, and yet when I turned, there was no one behind me but Michael. Fingers of ice climbed my spine and I felt as if the world were tilting beneath my feet as he offered me an unnatural grimace of a smile and a jerk of his shoulders. “After all, that is what we planned from the very beginning, isn’t it my darling. She was only ever a substitute, a stop-gap, as it were, until we could be together.”

“Michael?” I stumbled out onto the parapet and fell backward on the wet stone but before I could scramble to my feet, he grabbed me by the arm and jerked me upright with bruising strength and uncharacteristic awkwardness, the smile on his face stretched too far, his eyes opened too wide and his breath came in labored, syncopated rasps.

“Yes, of course, Michael is here, just as you see, my darling. But as you can also see,” he gave a spastic laugh, “he’s not in control right now.” The smell of roses was suddenly so strong that I felt as though I were drowning in them.

“How?” I managed, the wind blowing my breath back into my mouth. I tried to pull away but his hand circled my wrist like a manacle that was too tight.

If it were possible, he smiled even wider, and then with his free hand, he groped my left breast so tightly
that I gasped, but it wasn’t until his thumb slid over Michael’s mark that I screamed in pain, more pain than I had ever felt in my life. The smell of roses was subsumed in the stench of burning garbage, and I would have fallen if he hadn’t held me there, hand around my wrist, stretching me upward as though I were weightless until my toes barely touched the ground. Almost before it happened, the pain passed and with it the stink, leaving me dazed and wondering if it had happened at all. “Remember, Michael allowed me use of this flesh, this lovely angel flesh of his. A very long time ago, it was, but time is of little relevance to one such as myself, and his mark on your flesh is my way back into his.” The spastic laugh came hot and heavy against my face. “Oh the poor lad was wrong in his assumption that by fucking what is mine, by marring it so, that he could keep it from me. Even more importantly, my darling, he was wrong in assuming that I didn’t pleasure your body that night when you returned to release me from the crypt, that I would not reward you for your gift to me by making love to you when we both wanted it – needed it so desperately. Oh yes indeed, he was very wrong. I had you that night, my darling. I had you over and over again with you begging me for more each time. You wore my mark deep in your very soul long before Michael’s feeble attempt to take what isn’t his.” He leaned in and kissed me with the awkwardness of an adolescent boy. “And then, I took the memory from you because I needed you able to function, able to do what had to be done until I sent for you. Michael’s marking you as he did was an extra gift. The lad didn’t realize, but in doing so, he gave me the gift of enfleshment.” He chuckled softly, more naturally, and I smelled roses again. “I think perhaps now it is time for me to give you those memories back, my darling, so you’ll stop fighting me, so you’ll understand your place is by my side, and now, so is Michael’s.”

Before he could bestow upon me memories I knew I was better off without, he was interrupted by a cry that sounded like an excited child, and we both turned to find that Annie was no longer standing on the battlement, but she was standing next to us, eyes fever bright, the broad smile she wore belying her ill condition. “You came for me, my darling. I knew you would.” She took in the way he held my wrist and the way I struggled and her smile broadened still further. She practically buzzed with excitement. “And you’ll give her what she deserves, just like you promised?”

“Oh, I will indeed give her what I’ve promised, Annie, but sadly that promise doesn’t involve you.”

She looked from him to me and back again. The smile slipped from her face. She shifted from foot to foot. “I … don’t understand.”

“Annie! Annie, he’s going to hurt you. You have to get out of here before –” I caught my breath in a cry of dark moon image_xl_6338206pain as he pressed his thumb against Michael’s mark. Annie’s response was to laugh and clap her hands like a delighted child.

“Stop laughing, stupid woman!” Both Annie and I jumped, startled by the power of his voice even above the rage of the storm. “She is my beloved, I have sent for her. Do you not know? It’s not your place to laugh at my chosen.”

And just like that Annie was trembling all over, once again feeling the effects of the weather and the cold and the last few months of her ordeal. “But what about me?” Her lower lip trembled and she wrung her hands. I glanced desperately back at the stairs. Where the fuck was everyone? What was taking them so long to get to us? They had to know where we were. They had to!

“My darling, you already know the answer to that question.” He nodded back to the battlement. “You’ve served me well with your flesh, my dear Annie, and for that I shall never forget you, but your job has always been to prepare the way. How could you have ever doubted that? Surely you understood this when I had you send for the Scribe.”

She studied me for a long moment as though seeing me for the first time, and then the anguish on her face disappeared, and she came forward, pulled his hand away from my breast and kissed it, a thing, which he allowed her to do like some beneficent king. The moment he removed his hand from Michael’s mark, I could breathe again. I could think clearly again.

“Run along now, Annie, darling,” he said, giving her a little shooing motion, he might have given a favourite pet who was making a nuisance of itself. “Now your job is finished. Time for you to rest. Leave us to our lives together and free my beloved from her concerns for you.”

The wind howled around us and the mist thinned enough that I could see the battlement and the woods beyond. Perhaps he was right. It was inevitable. Even Magda said so. And at the end of the day, if Magda’s magic couldn’t heal Annie, than really, what could? What was left to her but to be sent away to some asylum where she would be drugged and tied to a bed to drool and piss herself until she wasted away pining for the lover who would never return for her. It was a kindness really. It was best to remember the way she was, the way she had been when she was whole, when she was my best friend. Though really, what did any of those memories matter now?

I watched as, on trembling legs, she fumbled her way onto the battlement, all the while He spoke softly to me, reassuring me, telling me that it was for the best, teasing me with little flashes of memory, of moments in the crypt, of the instant He first entered me, when I suddenly felt the entire world, every molecule of it, every breath of it. He teased me with little glimpses of Him nursing at my breasts with the innocent discovery of a child and, yet at the same time, with the passion of a lover powerful enough to set the tangled garden on fire and the whole city along with it. In an instant I saw the eternity we’d spent together that night. The heat of the body He’d not possess took me to heights of ecstasy I could never have imagined and, I, not unlike Annie, had come to those heights of my own free will, only to throw myself off into the abyss that would have terrified me had not He been there to catch me, had not He been there to kiss me everywhere, to enter me again and again, spilling the ocean of Himself into the tiny space that was my flesh, and spreading me over its surface until there was nothing left of me but a thin, transparent skin, permeable only to Him. I hadn’t known I could come like that. I hadn’t known I could be so opened, that I could contain so much and still long for more. Dear god, how could I ever, ever walk away from Him? What difference did the death of one person mean in comparison to being with Him?
What difference did the death of everyone who lived in High View, in Penrith, in Manchester, in all of Britain matter in comparison to being the one He chose to love?

In The Flesh 2 12006311_1476805985954344_6570546160088833292_n“And Michael will stay with us too, my love,” He was saying, as I watched Annie trembling and struggling and pushing her way up to stand on the very edge of the battlement, toes curled over rain slicked stone. “His flesh, his angel flesh, will be mine, will be yours, and we will be together, united as I’ve always wanted.”

A gust of wind whirled around us and something cold and wet thumped me in the chest. With a startled gasp, I reached up and felt Magda’s heart-shaped stone warming to my touch, and without thinking, I curled my icy fingers around it for warmth.

There was a gasp, a curse, the sharp smell of burning garbage and suddenly I was free, running toward the battlement screaming Annie’s name at the top of my lungs.

 

In The Flesh Part 24: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_n

 

 

It’s Friday and time for Episode 24 of In The Flesh, in which we learn just how Susan did release the Guardian from the crypt of Chapel House.

 

In the Flesh  is very dark paranormal erotica. When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 

 

 

To read the story in its entirety up to this point, follow these links to  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4 Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16, Part 17Part 18Part 19Part 20Part 21Part 22, Part 23.

 

In The Flesh Chapter 24

Back in Alonso’s basement drawing room, Cook had delivered still more coffee and tea along with little finger sandwiches that reminded me of high tea at the Ritz rather than a quick snack in a vampire’s lair before I exposed myself again. I took nothing. I didn’t think I could force anything past the tightness in my throat, but Alonso handed me a cup of Kenyan tea and plate laden with treats. “You need to eat,” he said softly. Michael sat me down and, before I could protest further, offered me up a miniature chicken salad wrap as though I were a child not capable of feeding myself. He’d stolen me! He’d fucking stolen me, I reminded myself and resisted the urge to, quite literally, bite the hand that fed me. With the first mouthful, however, I realized just how hungry I was. As I opened my mouth for another bite, I decided we’d table the Chapel House robbery discussion until after I’d eaten. With the second bite I remembered poor Annie wasting away in the bed upstairs. The next sandwich, I fed myself, then gulped the tea and braced for impact as Magda, once again, began to read the words I didn’t remember writing.

“Come to me, my darling. I need you to release me so that we can be together. You, my beautiful Scribe, are the only one who can set me free.” That’s what He kept saying to me, and I swear it felt as though He were whispering it in my ear.

Annie had gone to bed hours ago, and I should have. I should have been fast asleep, but I couldn’t settle, 2015-06-30 11.27.42
couldn’t calm myself, couldn’t focus on anything but what I’d experienced in the crypt at Chapel House and the sweet whisper of His longing against my ear. I wanted desperately to go back. I could sneak out of the flat and drive over there easily enough, but the garden was a jungle, and it was huge. After all it had been a graveyard once. I would never find my way back to the crypt, not without Annie’s help, and I most definitely didn’t want her help. I didn’t want her to know my secret. But the constant nag and niggle, the need to go to Him gnawed at my insides like a hungry beast. And His voice, I could hear his voice calling to me again and again, inviting me to come to him.

“Release me, my love. Release me and we can be together. I’ve waited for you an eternity, and now I can scarce breathe in my longing for you, in my need for you. Please, set me free so we can be together at last.”

Each time I heard His voice, it was as clearly as if he had been standing in the room next to me. And my response, well I’m not sure if my response was out loud, in my head, or in the open document on which I had poured the details of my earlier encounter in the crypt. “I can’t release you. I don’t know how to get back to the crypt and I don’t know where the key is,” I said, bracing myself, half fearing that He might say that he could guide me back to that dark, overgrown place, and half fearing that He would change his mind and get someone else – maybe Annie, to help Him. I couldn’t bear that. I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone else being with Him. I was just about to tell Him I’d do anything, anything He asked, when He told me a secret.

“You need not return to Chapel House, my darling,” came the reply I hadn’t expected “There is no key, and the door to my prison, it means nothing. It’s only a symbol. One could tear it out from the very rock and rip open the earth above and I would still be a prisoner. You! You are the key, my darling. You’ve already begun the process of setting me free. Only a little more remains for you to do, and then we’ll be together. I’ll give you what you want, what we both so desperately need.”

“Tell me! Please tell me!” I did speak out loud then, feeling a longing for Him that I feared would tear me apart if He didn’t tell me what to do.

And then he was so close that I could almost feel the physicality of Him, so close that for a moment, I believed He had somehow managed His own escape. I swear, he kissed my nape and spoke against my ear in a whisper that was barely more than a breath. “All you need do, my lovely, is use your magic. I have read what you’ve written of our first encounter – each word of it like a caress driving me to lust and longing I can scarcely contain, and my heart races with anticipation. Each word is so carefully chosen, each nuance so evocative of our coming together. Your magic, my love, is our story set down for us to share later in our long nights together, when we are sated and reveling in the pleasure of each other. All you need do, my darling Scribe, is write my release, and I shall be free, indeed.”

There have, so often, been times when the worlds I create as I write bleed through to the real world and both become equally real to me. I think nothing of it. It’s a part of what I do, a part what I love about my craft. But this! This was different. The words I wrote returned me instantly to the crypt. I could almost touch the thick darkness as I entered. I don’t know how I could see, and yet I could. I could smell the dust on the ancient stone; I could feel the rusted bars as I curled my fingers around them. And then I felt His warm breath on my face from just beyond the bars. He cupped large hands over mine and His voice was that of a man just awakened from a deep dream-laced sleep and into the arms of His lover. “You’ve come for me, my darling, just as I knew you would. Now set me free. All you need do is open the door.”

Scribe computer keyboardMG_0777 So I wrote me in the darkness of the crypt, me with hands so anxious, but so certain in their task, me exerting all the force I could manage in my effort to pull the gate open on hinges frozen with age. I wrote the sound of rusty metal giving way. I wrote the smell of age and decay yielding. I wrote the anticipation of lovers who have waited an eternity. I wrote the scent of His desire of His longing, mingling with mine dark, fecund, primordial. And then the door was wrenched from me with astounding strength, and He shoved it aside and pulled me to Him and for a moment it was as though I had suddenly been reunited with the other half of me. I knew Him and I knew His heart, and I knew the depth of His desire. And I was overwhelmed with longing. But before that … Just before that … only for a moment, the moment He burst from the earth, the moment He shoved the gate from between us, I felt something else. I felt my body turning to ash on my bones in the heat of fire I knew I would not survive and, in the depths of the inferno I willingly plunged myself into, there was neither escape nor relief. My doom was sealed and I went to meet it rejoicing. But that was all forgotten in His embrace. He was free and it was me that He wanted. Nothing else mattered.

If there were words, I don’t remember them. If I could have found the words, the right words to express what it was like to be touched by Him, to be embraced by Him, to be loved by Him, they aren’t words that human ears could hear or understand, nor that human voices could utter; and if I had written them down, they were somehow lost between the moment of my desire and the moment of His sating me, for honestly, how could it have been more than a moment? In the next second I was back in Annie’s flat, lying on the floor in a beam of moonlight, curled around myself as though I could hold on to the moment just a little longer, the fast fading memory of Him taking me. And He did take me. He made love to me. Surely He did. Or at least I think He did.

And then He stood over me, all silver and translucent like the moonlight. I couldn’t see Him, but He filled the whole room with His presence, as He coaxed me to my feet and back to the open document, glowing pale in the dark study. “And now, my beloved,” He said. “Write me as your secret, a secret that even you won’t remember until the time comes for us to be together. Write me a place of safety, a place where I may sustain myself, a way in which I may control my longing until the two of us can be together again.” Then He saw the story I had told Annie, and His laugh was like the purr of a large cat. “Why my darling little Scribe, you have already written my place of safety, and you have given me this friend of yours to sustain me until you return to me. It won’t be long, my darling. I promise you it won’t be.”

For a long moment, the room was silent. All eyes were on me, and not all of them were without dark moon image_xl_6338206accusation. I couldn’t blame them. If I could look at myself, my eyes would be full of accusation. And contempt. I swallowed the rawness in my throat and spoke. “It was then that I heard Annie in the bathroom and I realized that I had to keep the memory stick safe. And, then the next morning I didn’t remember any of it. Like I said.”

“Did he fuck you?” Of course it was Talia who asked.

“I honestly don’t remember. Surely I would have. Don’t you think?” I looked from Magda to Michael and back again.

“Oh you would have if the choice had been yours to make. I’m certain of it,” Michael said. “But I doubt that he took you. If he had, you’d have never been able to stay away from him. And for whatever reason, he wanted you to stay away until he had Annie call you back.”

“But why?” I asked.

“Because you, he wants to savor. In his mind’s eye, he’ll not use you up, but he’ll keep you. You’re the one he’s waited for,” Magda said. “You’re the one who could release him. You’re the one who could write him and his story. You’re the one he wants as his consort.”

There was a murmur of surprise around the room and an uncomfortable shifting about. But that all receded to background noise at the thought of being His consort. I was right. I had been right all along. I was special. It was me He wanted above all others. It was me He had waited for, me He loved. It was the tingle of Michael’s mark that brought me, grudgingly, back to myself, back to the reality of the situation. I gulped down the last of my tea, now cold, in an effort to clear my head. “But you said, you both said, He’d use me up as He has the others before,” I finally managed.

“No doubt he will,” Magda replied. “You are human, after all. But using you up won’t be his intention. It seldom is.”

Still, she was wrong, a little voice in the back of my mind told me. I was different. Me, He would never hurt. Michael’s mark stung and burned and I bit my lip until I tasted blood, knowing that my logic was flawed, knowing the danger I was in and the danger I’d put everyone else in. Focusing, even with the burn of the mark, was an effort I could just barely manage. “If I set him free by writing his freedom, then why can’t I write his recapture too?” I asked.

It was Michael who answered. “Because you really, desperately wanted him free. But no one,” he laid his hand against my breast next to the mark and the pain eased. “no one who has been with him could ever want to put him back in his prison with that same intense longing.”2015-09-04 16.12.40 HDR

Once again we all sat in silence. I knew Michael was right. I might have freed the guardian, but I could never put Him back in His prison because there was just too much of me that didn’t want Him there. As though Michael understood what I felt and, no doubt he did, he slipped an arm around me and pulled me close, an act, which made the buzz of the bite above my breast once again pleasurable rather than painful.

“So then, Magda, what do we do?” Alonso asked.

Before she could answer, Cook shoved his way through the door bleeding heavily over one eye. “It’s Ms Annie, she’s gone.”

 

In The Flesh Part 17: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

In The Flesh 2 12006311_1476805985954344_6570546160088833292_nIn episode 17 of In The Flesh, Susan’s sojourn with Alonso Darlington and his entourage involves a return visit to a dream she doesn’t remember. Today’s episode is a little longer, in which much is revealed, and is often the case, when much is revealed, the plot thickens.

 

And check out the alternate cover the fabulous Kev Blisse has designed for me. Hard to say which I like best.

 

Read! Enjoy! Spread the word!

 

In the Flesh  is very dark paranormal erotica. When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 

To read the story in its entirety up to this point, follow these links to  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4 Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15, Part 16.

 

In The Flesh Chapter 17

‘What?’ I came out of the chair nearly upsetting my coffee cup onto the white linen tablecloth the servant had spread. ‘Talia’s going to sleep with me? Are you crazy?’ I could imagine Annie getting a good laugh out of this, elbowing me in the ribs saying if I wasn’t up for the task she’d be happy to oblige.

‘Oh it’s nothing sexual,’ Alonso reassured me, gently patting my arm.

‘Well,’ the woman said with a modest shrug and a dip of her blue eyes that said she was checking me out. ‘It could be, if you want it to be.’

Before I could totally panic, Alonso slipped an arm around my shoulder and glared at this Talia person. ‘You’ll have to forgive my colleague, Ms. Innes. She has a very strange sense of humour. I promise, she’ll do nothing you don’t invite,’ I didn’t miss the threat in his voice, clearly aimed at the woman. Then he turned his full attention on me. ‘And I would suggest that what you do invite be nothing more than the sharing of dreams, considering that your … love life, as it were, is already somewhat complicated. You don’t need to add another complication to the menu.’

‘To the menu,’ the woman chuckled wickedly. ‘Oh, I like that turn of phrase, darling. Perhaps you should have been a Scribe yourself.’ She spoke to Alonso, but her gaze was locked on me. ‘She does look practically edible, don’t you think? Though I’m guessing you’re probably well-sated after feasting on Reese.’

Alonso growled at her. He actually growled and, I think — yes, I’m certain, he bared his teeth! My skin prickled and the fine hairs on the back of my neck rose. For a moment, I swear the man seemed more animal than human and, between him and the woman, who eyed me like I was dinner, I felt like I had been set loose in the primordial woods with the wild beasts.

‘What’s going on here?’ I started at the sound of another woman’s voice, one I’d heard in the dark of the crypt, dark moon image_xl_6338206and turned to see Maggie, with Michael right behind her. If I hadn’t been wrong-footed and frightened already, I certainly was now. Alonso and Talia might have been scary beasts in the woods, but Maggie was the huntress everyone feared, myself included. Even Talia was instantly subdued by her presence. In the midst of raised hackles, Michael came to my side and slipped a possessive arm around me, literally pulling me away from Alonso, just as a ginger-haired man in jeans and a plaid shirt entered the room.

‘Is everything all right?’ He asked.

Talia offered half a smile. ‘Of course it’s not, Reese. Come on in. You might as well join the fun.’ She gave Maggie a sideways glance and stepped up to flank Alonso on one side while Reese came to his other.

For a moment the room was deathly silent. Only Maggie stood alone, nearly blinding in her golden brilliance, and I couldn’t keep from wondering how someone so stunning could be so terrifying, and why. Even Talia paled in comparison – especially on my fright-meter. And the minute her gaze turned on me, even from behind the strange dark glasses she wore, I felt a tingle bone deep as though I had just passed beneath a high-tension wire and a million volts was just a heartbeat away.

‘How’s Annie?’ Christ in heaven, I don’t know how I found my voice in front of her. Maybe because I was still pissed off that she’d left me in the crypt at Chapel House. But she had rescued my friend, something I’d made a thorough mess of. I owed her hugely for that.

‘I’ve done what I can for her.’ Her voice was like honey dripping over hot flame. ‘She’s resting comfortably.’ She moved forward, gaze still locked on me, until she stood close enough I could feel her breath on my face, cool and sweet like the fell air. I was sure she could see how my pulse raced in my throat at her nearness. ‘Right now I need to know what you’ve done to release the Chapel House Guardian so I can learn how to return him to his prison. He was there for a reason, you know. Though I imagine you’ve figured that out by now.’ She gave me no time to defend myself and, if what everyone said was true, I had no defense anyway. ‘Since you have no memory of the momentous occasion, I need you to sleep with the succubus.’

‘Succubus? She’s a succubus?’ I nodded to Talia, who only shrugged modestly. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me! I have a demon trying to seduce me, an angel who’s marked me, and by the way, Michael, that mark — it hurts like a sonovabitch when the demon gets mad, and now you want me to sleep with a succubus? Honestly, I don’t see how the hell –’

‘Oh for fuck sake,’ Talia broke in, ‘stop being such a drama queen, do you really think I want to incur Magda’s wrath?’ She gave the woman a quick nod of her head. ‘If you want sex, you won’t get it from me. I’ll just tiptoe through your little dreamscape all nice and polite-like and prod a memory here and there as needed. You won’t even know I’m there. Your loss,’ she added under her breath.

‘I’ll stay with you,’ Michael said, giving Talia the look he might reserve for a rabid wolf.’

She cursed under her breath. ‘Anyone else want to join in? Why don’t we just make an orgy of it?’

‘Shut up, Talia,’ Alonso said. ‘We’ve already discussed this.’

Embarrassed by Talia’s bluntness and by my ridiculous whining when my friend’s life was in danger, I squared my shoulders and found my voice, cowardly though it was. ‘What do I have to do?’ I asked, hoping my trembling wasn’t as obvious as it felt to me. I was pretty sure it was only Michael’s support that was holding me upright at the moment.

2015-09-04 15.53.34               ‘You just have to go to sleep and dream,’ Talia said.

‘The juice,’ Alonso spoke, nodding to the empty orange juice glass on the breakfast table. ‘It contained some herbs that will make you drowsy very shortly. You’ll sleep in Talia’s arms.’ He nodded toward the door. ‘You should probably return to your room shortly, unless you want Michael to carry you.’

‘When were you going to tell me about this juice, about being drugged?’

‘I just did.’ Alonso replied ‘Besides, as Magda has said, we really have little choice if we want to put this monster back where he belongs and save your friend’s life.’

Magda lifted my chin on the curl of her fingers and, I swear, if Michael hadn’t been holding me upright, I would have fallen through the floor. Even through her glasses, there was something about being the center of her attention that made me feel like I was being unraveled one molecule at a time. But when she spoke, the situation became very tightly focused, indeed. ‘Susan, if I can’t sever Annie’s link with the Guardian, she will die. She’s been under his thrall too long. You’re the key, like it or not, and if you’re not willing to do whatever it takes, then it’s best you put a bullet in your friend’s brain right now, because her death will neither be easy nor quick. Do you understand me?’

There were no more jokes, no more snipes. The room was silent as a grave as I stepped away from Michael. ‘All right.’ I glanced at Talia, who nodded in return and stepped forward. ‘If it’s all the same to everyone, I’d like to make it back to my room under my own power.’ I was beginning to feel like my tongue belonged to someone else, and the floor felt a long way from my feet. With Michael flanking me on one side and the succubus on the other, I carefully maneuvered my way back down the hall. It was only as Michael kissed me possessively and tucked me down beneath the duvet that I noticed Magda perched on the edge of a sailor’s trunk in the corner near the bathroom.

‘Are you the audience,’ I slurred.

‘Afraid so, darling. Traditionally the dreamer and her dream walker are witnessed by a third party who doesn’t sleep and remains uninvolved in events so she can awaken the dreamers if … there are problems.’

‘Are you expecting problems?’ I looked from Talia to Magda and back again, to find Talia was stripping out of her clothes. For a second that thought disturbed me, but I was way passed holding a thought in my head for very long.

‘Possibly,’ came the reply that disturbed me way more than the naked succubus now sliding down under the duvet by my side. Whoever this Magda was, she pulled no punches and made no effort to soften the blows. Clearly the woman didn’t have to make nicey-nice.

Michael leaned down and kissed me again. ‘I’d wish you pleasant dreams, but under the circumstances … ’ He 2015-09-04 16.12.40 HDRshot Talia a warning glance, then settled near the foot of the bed on a battered captain’s chair that creaked under his weight.

My last memory of the waking world was Talia pulling me into her arms and kissing me as though she were pulling the breath from me, pulling me under, into the world of sleep, and just before I lost consciousness, I wanted nothing more than for Talia to keep on kissing me.

 

It was a cry of terror that awakened me from a mundane dream of sitting at the big desk in the study of Annie’s old flat tapping away on the keyboard of my Mac. After all the dreams I’d had, or thought I’d had recently, after the way dreams had bled so convincingly into reality, I was totally prepared to be the one screaming like a banshee and making a fool of myself. I was completely unprepared to find that it was Talia doing the screaming.

I shoved my way from under the duvet and fell on my arse in the middle of the floor amid blinding light, confusion, shattering glass and screams. Michael helped me to my feet, and eased me back onto the bed. By the time my eyes adjusted to the light, I discovered Alonso sitting in the middle of the floor with Talia in his arms. She was wrapped in a blanket, sobbing and trembling against his shoulder. Magda knelt next to her and Reese stood behind them shoving aside pieces of the shattered mirror from one of the wardrobe doors with the toe of his hiking boot.

When Magda saw that I was awake, she moved to my side, motioning Michael away from me. ‘Are you all right?’ She lifted both of my eyelids in turn, staring into each like she was an optometrist.

I shrugged her away. ‘I’m fine. What happened?’ I nodded to Talia.

‘The succubus claims the Guardian’s inside you, that he confronted her in your dreams. Was he there?’

‘Christ, Maggie, you’re as subtle as a heart attack,’ Michael spat. ‘Do you even know what tact is?’

She shot him a warning glance, and he shut up. ‘Clearly you weren’t seeing the same things, she saw. Were you dreaming?’ Suddenly all eyes were on me.

‘I was, yes. But it was nothing important, certainly nothing about Him,’ I shuddered at the thought of the dream visits I’d had from Him. No, if he’d been there I’d have known.

‘I know what I saw,’ Talia said, looking at me as though I had two heads.

‘Susan, perhaps you should tell us what you remember,’ Magda suggested.

I told them, a little embarrassed that I’d had such a mundane dream and poor Talia had clearly had a nightmare. ‘There’s no way He could be inside me,’ I added. ‘I’d know. I mean surely I’d know.’

No one nodded agreement. Instead they all gave me the jaundiced stare. That did nothing to make me feel Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500better. For a moment, no one said anything at all. Then I remembered my friend, who supposedly was resting comfortably somewhere in the bowels of High View and an icy prickle crawled up my spine. ‘What about Annie? If He’s here, won’t He go straight for her? I mean isn’t she an easy target?’

Michael shot Magda an accusing glance, which she ignored. ‘Trust me, Susan, she’s safe from him.’

‘Instead he was drawn to the succubus?’ I said.

‘Everyone is drawn to a succubus,’ Talia replied with a convulsive shiver. ‘That was the whole point.’

Unnoticed, Reece had gone into the bathroom and returned with a glass of water, which Talia took from him with a nod of thanks.

‘I was the bate.’

‘Jesus!’ I suddenly felt queasy. ‘You mean you went into my dreams knowing you might encounter Him there?’

Talia gave no answer, only sipped at her water.

‘Just because it’s a dream, doesn’t mean it’s not real,’ Magda said. ‘The only one who would have half a chance against the Guardian if he were to choose the dream route, which I’m guessing is how he got to you, was Talia. She feeds on dreams, especially sexual dreams.’

Talia forced a laugh. ‘That didn’t work out so well, did it?’

‘So it was you He was waiting for then, not me,’ I said, standing to pace by the bed. ‘All I had was a dream about writing, something I do every day.’

‘Oh he wasn’t trying to seduce me,’ Talia said. ‘He was trying to chase me out, and that’s exactly what he did.’ She forced her way to her feet with a little help from Alonso and Reese, then came to pace next to me. ‘Tell me about your dream in as much detail as you can remember.’

I shook my head. ‘All right. It was a writing dream. I have them all the time. I have them more often when I’m close to a deadline. Usually those involve my laptop breaking down or my entire manuscript being deleted, that sort of thing.’

‘Look, what might seem completely mundane to you could be critical,’ Alonso said. I noticed his arm was now draped protectively around Reese’s shoulder and the two had crowded into the shadowy space next to the wardrobe away from the window.

‘It is strange,’ I said, sifting through the jumble of events of the past few days. ‘Every other dream I’ve had up rose imagesuntil this one has been either sexy or nightmarish or some bizarre combination of the two. Even if I just doze. I’ve dreamed a lot,’ I added.

Talia studied me for a second, brow drawn, then she huffed out a sharp breath. ‘May I try something?’

‘Of course.’ The words were barely out of my mouth before she pulled me into her arms and kissed me. She kissed me hard and deep, and I returned the favor with more gusto that I would have thought possible. Somewhere far off, I heard Michael protest and Magda cut him off. In the back of my mind for a split second, I heard Katy Perry singing I Kissed a Girl, and then the world went blank as though someone had just pushed the reset button.

 

I set in front of my Mac the tap, tap of the keys filling the silence like the rhythm of my pulse. The moon hangs heavy, framed by the open window in Annie’s study. I’m tipsy, but not drunk, at least not too drunk, but I can’t sleep. My whole body buzzes, but it isn’t an alcohol buzz, it was like being in the zone when all the words flow onto the page, and the story I have inside me explodes like magic, like an orgasm. I’m breathless and trembling and pushing, pushing, always pushing against it, rubbing against it, feeling it penetrate me, fill me, ride me in the darkness until every last breath, every last word, every full stop burst onto the page, and I’m left weak and trembling and wrung out.

Then I’m no longer in Annie’s comfy flat. I’m in the crypt at Chapel House, the darkness awash in the scent of roses, sweet, sweet roses. I’m writing away with insane focus, something that has to be said, something that has to be freed onto the page. And, fucking hell, I’m horny. I’m always horny when the words are flowing. When the story’s coming fast and furious, it makes me want to come too. I’m writing. I’m writing. I’m writing! The silver light bleeding through the bars in the tunnel, touches me like the words do, touches me exactly where they do, in places so private no one has ever touched me there before. And I’m shy, and I’m embarrassed, even ashamed, and I’m overwhelmed with desire that burns me and flashes across my synapses like sheet lightning. And I need! Oh God, how I need! I’m writing. I’m writing …but what I’m writing is more powerful than any story I’ve ever written, and I want more, good Christ I want so much more! I want it all and I need it with an ache that will surely destroy me if I can’t have it!

And the door’s not locked, and I’m terrified and aroused, and intrigued, and I can almost see the words flowing Scribe computer keyboardMG_0777onto the page as, with trembling fingers I open the barred door that creaks with ancient disuse. And He’s there like light itself splitting the darkness. And I write Him onto the page, feeling His lust, His need, His passion in every word. And when I’m finished, trembling and spent and replete, He’s there, fully present, fully mine to possess.

Then I hear Annie in the bathroom. The toilet flushes, and I hold my breath, hold my secret tight so she won’t hear. And when I’m sure she’d gone back to her bed, with fingers cold against the keys, I copy everything, all of it, every word, every nuance, every stuttering heartbeat onto a memory stick. Then I hide it away. But before I do, I delete the words from my Mac so no one else will see, no one else will share in my ecstasy, in my passion, in the shame that so arouses me.

It’s only then, when I feel His breath against my neck, and the scent of roses fills the night air, that I realize I can’t close the door.

 

In The Flesh Part 16: Dark Paranormal Romance In Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_nIn episode 16 of In The Flesh, whisked away from Chapel House by Michael and the mysterious Maggie, Susan finds herself tucked away in the High Fells of the Lake District, where help comes from an old friend — one not particularly happy to see Maggie, and the help he offers may be as bad as the problem itself.

Read! Enjoy! Spread the word!

In the Flesh  is very dark paranormal erotica. When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 

To read the story in its entirety up to this point, follow these links to  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4 Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13, Part 14, Part 15.

 

Chapter 16

It was deep night when I woke up with my heart hammering in my chest. I was groggy, disoriented and completely naked. It took me a few seconds to convince myself that I was no longer in the crypt at Chapel House. Then I recalled the events of the past – what was it anyway, twelve hours? Twenty-four hours? Maybe more. I remembered Michael quite literally carrying me away from Chapel House. I remembered Annie’s screams, and I remembered waking up in the arms of some man named Alonso, who clearly wasn’t happy at having unexpected guests in the middle of the night … or at least I thought it had been night. Nothing was very clear to me at the moment. The past few days were an insane blur that I still hoped against hope to wake up from and find it had all been just a bad dream.

Once my eyes had adjusted to the ambient light, the room was far from dark. The heavily carved wooden bed I was in looked ancient and battered. Next to the bed a trunk, no less battered, served as a bedside table, with a bare-bulbed lamp on top, cord disappearing over the edge into the dark. The other furnishings in the room looked to be a double-doored wardrobe and more trunks, lots more trunks and wooden crates. Clearly the room had been thrown together in a hurry to accommodate me, though as I turned onto my side it was easy to feel that the sheets and bedding were not only clean, but of the highest quality, possibly even brand new. The bed faced a large curtainless window, which opened to the night, to the light coming from the waning moon and the star-filled sky.

Without turning on the lamp, I stood and moved to the window, nearly tripping over my bag, which I had no memory of Michael grabbing before sweeping me away, but then I had not much memory of anything but fear and lust and anger. There was quite a bit of anger thrown into the pot when I found out Michael had kept the truth from me. The thing was, I had no memory of the truth myself. Could everyone be lying to me? None of it made sense. How could I have ever released a demon spirit from his prison beneath the crypt of Chapel House and set Him loose on my friend with the plan of returning to claim Him as my lover? I was a lot of things, and like most writers, I had a fair-sized streak of self-absorption, but I wasn’t vicious or cruel, and I considered myself a fairly decent human being in spite of all my neuroses and foibles. Of the two of us, Annie had always been far more self-absorbed, and I figured that was a part of her gift, a part of what made her as successful as she was. Not that I wasn’t successful, but my idea of success was quite different from hers.

As I moved toward the window, I had an overwhelming need to breath fresh air and was surprised to find that though the glass in the window itself seemed ancient, it opened with very little effort on my part. The air was that of high places, bracing and sweet, cold enough to raise chill bumps across my bare arms and delicious enough that I was reluctant to shut out the chill. After inhaling several lungsful of the intoxicating fell air and gazing up at more stars than I had any idea could be in a night sky, I made a more coherent effort to take in my surroundings. The bare slate floors were covered with a path of what looked to be very old Turkish carpets that ran from the bed to the window, in front of the wardrobe, and then to a door across the room, behind which I discovered a well-equipped bathroom – far more modern and luxurious than the rest of the room. I splashed my face with cold water, ignoring the urge to have a wallow in a very large claw-footed tub. From somewhere in the house, I heard the sound of voices, or thought I did anyway. I found my clothes neatly folded on a large trunk at the foot of the bed and slipped into them, now shivering from the cold breeze coming in the window I was not yet willing to shut. If someone was up in the house, perhaps they could answer some of my questions. Would Michael be here? What about this Maggie woman? Oh, I had a thing or two I wanted to say to her alright, don’t think I didn’t!

I pushed open the door that looked new and unvarnished and, on tiptoes, made my way down a long hall, my 2015-06-24 12.46.27feet silent on the slate floor. The place was not totally unlike the crypt at Chapel House, the walls were bare stone and the windows along one side were deep as though they belonged in some Medieval castle, and certainly the view out the window from my bedroom had done little to diminish that notion. I half expected the staircase to be narrow and winding down the inside of a tower, but I didn’t make it to the stairs, wherever they were. Just down the hall next to my room, a set of open French doors led into a darkened study. There was an open set of identical doors across the room, which led out onto a balcony. It was from there I heard voices carrying on the night air from down below. I couldn’t make out the conversation, but I did make out my name, so I eased my way across the room and out onto the balcony. Below, I could see a narrowly terraced garden above a beck running steeply down the hunched back of the fell. In the garden on a stone bench sat two men in quiet conversation. Neither of them was Michael, but I recognized the bigger of the two as Alonso. He sat with his arm around the shoulder of the other. The tone of their speech was soft and conversational, and I leaned forward over the stone railing holding my breath to hear something, anything that might give me a clue as to what was going on and where I was. Alonso was speaking to his companion, who offered a soft laugh at whatever the man had said. It was as Alonso slid his hand down the man’s back to rest low on his hips and drew him close that I realized what I was watching, what I was listening to, had become intimate and no longer had anything to do with me. Just as I turned to go back into the study and back to my room, Alonso pivoted on the bench and looked up at me. I swallowed back a yelp, and stumbled away from the railing, not terribly subtle, but it was dark, and I’d managed neither to fall nor cry out. I certainly had done nothing wrong. The doors to the study had been open and inviting. If Alonso had not wanted me there, all he would have had to do was close the door. But then again, supposedly I was notorious for opening doors not meant to be opened.

I made it halfway across the study, heading back to my room when Alonso’s large form blocked the door in front of me, and this time I did yelp.

His full lips twisted in a wicked smile, then he offered me a very formal bow. “Alonso Darlington, at your service, Madame.” The man was not quite as big as Michael – nearly as tall, but of a more slender build. Still, he gave the illusion that he was much larger than even the angel. “I’m sorry for startling you, Ms. Innes. I forget sometimes to make noise when I approach. I have startled Reese terribly more times than I care to admit. Though the other members of my staff and my colleagues are used to my … unusual ways, for Reese’s sake, I truly am trying.”

It wasn’t so much his silence as it was his speed that startled me. No human could have moved from the garden below so quickly. “Reese is the one you were with?” I asked, steadying myself on the edge of a large antique desk that dominated the room, willing my pulse to slow to a gallop. If this Alonso wasn’t human, the last thing I wanted was to anger him by saying the wrong thing.

“The one you saw me with.” His face lit with a smile that I knew full well was reserved for thoughts of one’s lover. “Yes, that’s Reese.”

“I … I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude.”

“You intrusion, my dear, is hardly your fault, and I do apologize for the state of the room you have been forced to endure. High View is being renovated at the moment, and we are in a shambles. And of course, I’m deeply sorry for my less than cordial welcome.”

“You don’t like Maggie, whoever the hell she is. I got that. Frankly, I don’t like her very much either, so no need to apologize.”

“It isn’t so much that I don’t like her. I have a great deal of respect for the woman, and in truth, I owe her much.” He moved to stand next to me, and I could feel him studying me, but looking into his eyes made me feel ever so slightly off balance, so I looked away, taking in the surroundings of what was not a study at all, but a lovely library that would have fit right into any stately home I’d ever toured. “It’s just that whenever Magda shows up, things get more complicated than I’d like them to be, and I try very hard to keep things simple and to not draw attention to myself.” As if he anticipated my next questions, he added. “Your friend is sleeping peacefully. Magda and your angel are with her at the moment.”

“He’s not my angel,” I snapped.

Alonso offered a low, throaty chuckle. “Oh I think that he is, my dear.” Before I could protest, he pulled an iPhone from the pocket of his black jeans, punched in a number and waited for a second, then I heard a woman answer.

He offered me a quick, reassuring smile that was nearly as hypnotic as my first glance into his eyes. “Talia, darling, if you’re finished, our guest is awake and we have need of you in the library.” He returned the cell phone to his pocket and motioned me to the leather sofa in front of his desk. I happily obliged, my legs still feeling none to steady. “You must be hungry. I’ve had Cook prepare something for you, figuring that the monstrosity who held you prisoner would have had little forethought for your creature comfort.” Then he added, “no doubt your angel has encouraged you to eat. Food is always essential in the presence of magic or one can find oneself in serious trouble.”

I didn’t bother to tell Alonso that the monstrosity he referred to had, indeed seen to my creature comfort, though I had no idea how long ago it had been. It bothered me that I found myself wanting to defend Him.

Alonso sat on the edge of the desk and crossed his legs at the ankles. I noticed he wore scuffed hiking boots, but then that was to be expected in the fells. “You say you have no memory of releasing this … entity into the world?”

“I have … sketchy recollections of dreams I had that night, the night it must have happened, but honestly, I Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500don’t know how I could have done such a thing. I couldn’t even find my way around the shamble of a garden at Chapel House, and I had no idea where the key was to the place where He was apparently kept prisoner. I seriously doubt if Annie did either.”

“He … yes, well it would have been easy enough for him to guide you and for him to give you the location of the key if a physical key were necessary. I’m inclined, however, to believe that the key was magical, and you, being a Scribe, would indeed have the imagination to figure out what was needed to release … him.”

“But why would I do that? Why?” I asked.

Almost before I knew he had moved, Alonso sat next to me and took my hand into his, which was large, slightly calloused and cold. My first urge at the rush of current up through my arm and straight to my heart was to pull away, but his grip was firm, and I was afraid to move, feeling like a rabbit in the headlights. Then he spoke, and I found myself relaxing into the hypnotic lilt of his voice, with its slightly strange accent and its deep-chested baritone. “For the love of your craft, Ms. Innes, for the love of your craft is reason enough. Surely you know that by now.” He stroked the back of my hand with his thumb, and I found myself calming still further. “Were you not inspired by the crypt at Chapel House, by the tangle of the garden, by the fact that it was once holy ground? I’m certainly no writer, and yet such places stimulate my imagination. Do you not think that such an entity as the one you’ve released would have recognized your urge to tell a story, your imagination so stimulated and taken advantage if it were at all possible.” Then he leaned close, holding my gaze, and I felt as though I were falling. “Does not the Bible itself say that ‘the word became flesh and dwelt among us, that the word is living and active and sharper than any double edged sword?’ Words have power, my dear woman, power that nothing else in the history of human culture, nothing else in the history of our human nature have. The storytellers of old were revered. They sat in the presence of kings and queens as their equals.” With a sweeping gesture, he took in the bookshelves that rose from floor to ceiling all around us. “Some of the words in this room were written thousands of years ago, those who penned them have long ago turned to dust, and yet we read their words, their stories, and we’re transported, at times transformed by the minds of men and women long dead. Surely you don’t think that an entity who has existed as long as the one connected to Chapel House would not know this, would not seize the opportunity to take advantage of the magic of the mind of a Scribe and the stories she can create?”

“But it was never my intention. I didn’t mean to. I only … We were drunk, excited about Annie’s new home. We were celebrating, telling stories. I …”

Alonso smoothed the hair away from my face and held my gaze. “You underestimate the power of your magic. I understand my darling. You’re not the first Scribe to have done so, nor are you the first to have paid a high price for such a mistake. You’re among the greats in that.” He glanced around the room at the myriad books, and then offered me a reassuring smile. “Never mind. First you must eat, and then we shall see what we can do to aid your memory.”

Almost if by magic, a man dressed in full livery arrived with a silver tray and sat it on a table near the window. Alonso took my hand and guided me to sit in front of eggs, toast and porridge all washed down by rich dark French roast coffee. He watched me eat silently making no effort to join me. But then it was the middle of the night.

I had just finished the last of the toast with homemade raspberry jam when a tall woman in a form-fitting turquoise dress knocked softly on the open door and let herself in. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She was — well for lack of a better word, she was beautiful. She had dark, thick hair, startling blue eyes, and she had that way about her that made more ordinary people, myself included, want to be close to her so that they could look at her, just constantly look at her because surely this kind of beauty couldn’t be real. Then I was reminded of Alonso’s sudden movement, of his all but admitting he wasn’t human, and I suddenly wasn’t so sure about the woman either.

Alonso stood and embraced her, kissing her on the cheek. The two mumbled softly for a few seconds, glancing dark moon image_xl_6338206occasionally over their shoulders at me. Then he took her hand and led her forward. “Ms Innes, I’d like you to meet Talia. She’s a colleague and a dear friend of mine. She knows your problem and recovering lost memories and understanding people’s dreams is her specialty.” He shrugged. “Well, one of them, anyway.”

The woman studied me for a second, then smiled and nodded her greeting. I seemed incapable of doing anything more than smiling and nodding back.

“Now that introductions have been made,” I forced my gaze away form her and back to Alonso, “if you’ve had enough to eat, me dear Ms. Innes, and you’re ready, Talia is going to sleep with you.”

 

In The Flesh Part 14: Dark Paranormal Romance in Progress. Enjoy!

In the Flesh 11880534_1463650103936599_545702979581425574_nIt’s time for Part 14 of In The Flesh! I’m in Scotland while you read this, gallivanting about the Highlands with my Hubby and my sister, so I expect to come back fully inspired. In the meantime,  s the plot thickens and things get darker, Susan finds out that she has a few dark secrets of her own.

In the Flesh  is very dark paranormal erotica. When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 

 

 

To read the story in its entirety up to this point, follow these links to  Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4 Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12, Part 13

 

 

In The Flesh Part 14

“What do you want,” I asked again, realizing that I didn’t actually know for sure – at least not other than the fact He wanted to fuck me. But there had to be more to the story than that, didn’t there? Surely.

“I want you to come away from there before you hurt yourself, Susan. Please.” The word ‘please’ sounded like perhaps He wasn’t used to using it, wasn’t used to making polite requests. I felt a warm hand on my back. “You need to eat. Then you can have a bath, and we’ll talk. I apologize for locking you up in this horrible place. I was angry. You were right. I behaved very poorly. Come. Please.”

As I turned to make my way back I could see anemic daylight from the now open door of the crypt. “Don’t try to 2015-06-30 11.27.42escape.” He spoke as though he’d read my mind. “You can’t. And I don’t want to hurt you again. I don’t like doing that to you, darling, really I don’t.”

“I don’t like it much either,” I said, standing and stretching when the crypt opened out into a space high enough to do so.

I walked stiffly through the tangle of vine and ivy, somehow sensing that I was being guided, though not being forced. This time, He didn’t take me past the sculpture of Michael. He took me round close to the aging brick of Chapel House and right to the open kitchen door. Inside, the smell of grilled meats and spices nearly overwhelmed me, and my mouth watered. I didn’t know how long it had been since I’d eaten. I didn’t know how long I’d been in Chapel House, but I was starving. There was doner kebab and pita bread and a pot of fresh brewed tea.

“Annie tells me you like kebab, and that you like your tea brewed strong. I hope it’s all right.”

“You did this?” I asked, stuffing a huge chunk of pita into my mouth and swallowing almost without chewing.

“I had her do it. She made the tea and ordered the kebab from the local shop, which delivers, a very useful service when sustenance is required, or so she tells me.” He chuckled softly. “Obviously I’m not very adept in a world designed for the enfleshed.”

“The enfleshed,” I smiled in spite myself. “That’s what we are?”

“It is yes. Awkward, but not without its elegance, flesh.”

“And it’s shortcomings,” I said, rubbing the knot on my elbow, which I had banged heartily on the wall flailing to keep from falling into the abyss in the crypt. “You said Annie prepared this.” I looked around the room anxiously. “Where is she? There’s plenty here for both of us.”

“Oh she’s not hungry,” came the reply. “She needs her rest.” Then He added quickly. “Please don’t worry about her, Susan. I’ll keep her safe. I told you I take care of my own.”

“Besides, she wants to kill me,” I said, suddenly not so hungry.

“She’s just very confused. She doesn’t understand how it is with us,” He said. “But she will with time.”

In spite of the sudden loss of appetite, I made an effort to eat. I knew that I’d need all my strength if I were to have any chance of surviving this mess, and what was happening to Annie, her slow starvation, I’d be damned if I’d let that happen to me. “Do you have a name?” I asked, around a mouthful of kebab.

“If you wish for me to have a name, then I shall have a name,” came the reply.

I took the teacup into my hand and sipped it, holding it as much for warmth as anything else. “Are you saying that your name is mine to give?”

“I’ve observed that names matter a great deal to the enfleshed, and that they matter a great deal more to one such as you, my darling scribe. They’ve long made no difference to me. But even as you sit there I can see your struggle to define me, and I must admit, I find it very exciting, this … being defined by the woman I desire.”

I felt the muscles low in my belly tighten at His words, then relax like butterflies taking flight. I squinted into blue moon 2the space across the breakfast bar from me, the space where I perceived Him to be. “Didn’t Annie want to know your name? I mean don’t all lovers struggle to define each other, to understand the uniqueness of the person they desire?”

He chuckled softly. “You would think so, would you not? But most people are too self-absorbed to consider the name of another or how the other defines himself except in how it pertains to them and their need to control that which they love.”

“And Annie? ”

“Oh my darling Annie was not so interested in defining me as she was in my definition of her, in my ability to … make her feel more herself.”

“By that you mean in your ability to make her come? I would think that would also have a great deal to do with her making you feel more yourself? Surely you can’t tell me that was of no interest to you?”

“I am what I am,” came the reply. This time, I felt Him standing next to me. “I am no less driven by my nature than you are yours. Now come,” I felt his hands on my shoulders and in my mind’s eye, I could almost make out the shape of his long graceful fingers, but surely it was only my imagination. “Come and have a bath,” he said. “Oh don’t worry, I won’t … attack you.” There was bitterness in His voice that I felt in my own mouth as though it were my own. I shivered and quickly downed the rest of my tea in an effort to wash it away.

 

True to His word, not only did he not attack me, but He left me completely alone to bathe. In spite of the stress of the situation, I felt my shoulders relax in the warm waters of the bath, as I lay back with my eyes closed. I gave up trying to plan my escape, at least for the moment, and my thoughts returned to the tunnel beyond the crypt, then to the dreams that I’d had the night after Annie first showed me Chapel House. I was surprised to find that a great deal of that time was sketchy in my memory, and with a sudden flash of insight, I realized I’d never written anything about that day, not in my journal, not in my notebook, not anyplace. I hadn’t spoken of it, dreamed of it or even thought of it until just now in the tunnel. A crypt, a deconsecrated church with a sketchy past, a great deal of drunken speculation on the story behind Chapel House, and yet I, a well established writer, who never let anything go unobserved or undocumented, had neither written about it nor thought about it, as though it had never even happened.

But I remembered now, as I sifted through my memories, that the tunnel had most definitely been barred shut and padlocked and right about where I nearly fell into the abyss. I remembered it clearly now. I remembered both of us making jokes about what was beyond the bars. I remember we did it until we scared ourselves, then we turned and left the crypt – not really running, but definitely not lingering, as though we feared perhaps those bars weren’t quite as strong as they look, and perhaps the padlock wasn’t really locked. I remember the feeling of my own flesh creeping as we laughed and joked about the release of demons from the pit of hell and about souls hungering for what He had called enfleshment, but Christ! It was just my imagination. That’s what I did! I wrote stories. I spent at least as much time in my imagination as I did in the real world – maybe more. It was Annie who had no imagination. But then she really didn’t need it. Her life already was a story. All of the things she wanted, all of the things that happened to her could have been the plot for a cheap romance novel or an episode of East Enders on steroids. She was the practical one, the one who made bags of money, which she spent on a luxurious lifestyle. She was the one who had no time for love, not real love anyway. Oh she had lovers, all right. Men queued to be with Annie. But for her it was never more than a dalliance followed by a minor drama of a break-up. There’d be a few tears shed, followed by some laughs with her girlfriends over too much wine, and then on to the next one. I was the one who would have happily lived in a cardboard box as long as I had something to write on. As for love, well my passion, the love of my heart, had always been the telling of stories. That kept me way too tunnel-visioned and in love with my own creations to notice even if a bloke did pay attention to me.

And why the hell was I thinking about all this now? Was it fear of losing my friend? Was it fear of facing my Bernini Hades and Persephone close uptumblr_lg4h59T3z31qe2nvuo1_500own mortality? With a shiver, I realized that the lust, which had not left me since my first night in Chapel House, had eased back to a gentle buzz low between my hipbones, and my mind was suddenly clear.

I stepped out of the tub and dried myself, still thinking about the events of that night, which seemed like an eternity ago now, and with a start, I realized that He had left me unsupervised. I could have left. My car was just outside. My bag was on the floor by the sink. I suppose he’d had Annie get it. Christ, He used her like a zombie. But then at the moment she wasn’t much more, was she? With a shiver, I recalled how He had moved me to where He wanted me to go as though I were a puppet on a string. Still, He would have let me walk away just now. I knew He would have. I don’t know how I knew, but I did. He’d left me alone on purpose – to see what I would do. So why was I standing stone still and naked staring at myself in the mirror? Why wasn’t I already long gone?

I stepped closer to my own reflection, studying Michael’s bite on my breast, darkened now to shades of midnight blue and purple. There was no evidence of the burn from His touch, no evidence of anything other than a healing love bite. Why was I still here? Did I still think I could save Annie? Oh, I wouldn’t leave without her, I knew that. I also knew that it was entirely possible neither of us would leave at all. I knew as well that sometimes you just needed to run away, to fight another day, and yet I hadn’t, had I?

This time when He approached me, there was no scent of roses, but the scent of a man, a man aroused, but in control, a man who had not come with only sex in mind, a man who had come to court me. An obsolete term, perhaps, but it seemed to fit under the circumstances. My nostrils flared to breathe Him in, and my flesh tingled at the thought of all a person could learn from the smell of a man in his prime. And yet, this was not a man standing next to me. I dared not forget that, no matter what my senses told me.

“You stayed,” He said, and I felt his fingers caress my shoulder. I didn’t flinch, but closed my eyes and leaned back against warm flesh, flesh that was not really there. My senses traced the rise and fall and shape of him, and I liked what I felt. It took me a moment to catch my breath, and even though I expected him to, he made no attempt to do more than touch my shoulder.

“I have … questions,” I said, my mind unable to ignore the fact of Him, the fact that He was as naked as I was, and it was not difficult to tell, He was well and truly ready to make love to me if I asked. And if I asked, He would show me what the gods kept secret from all humanity except for their human lovers, and I would never be the same again. Quite possibly, I wouldn’t even survive it. All I had to do was ask. He wouldn’t deny me.

But he made no further move at seduction. He stood still, while I leaned against him, supporting my weight, but little more. “Of course.” His voice was warm and humid against my neck. “Anything I am able to tell you I will.”

“In the crypt, in the back, the tunnel?”

“Yes?”Graveyard angel 1

“There were bars and there was a padlock, a big one.”

“There were, yes. But they’re gone now.” He cupped my breast, and this time His touch didn’t burn when he stroked my nipple with his thumb.

“What happened to them?’ I arched against him, like a cat being stroked. ‘Did Annie have them removed?”

“Why no, my darling little scribe. Don’t you remember? You took them out. You removed them in order to set me free.”

 
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