Lakeland Heatwave, Book 3
by K.D. Grace
eBook ISBN: 9781908262219
Print ISBN: 9781908262202
Using powerful sex magic, revenge-obsessed Kennet Lucian makes a deal with the lusty fire demon, Lucia, to help him end Deacon’s reign of terror. Having her own reasons for hating the demon Deacon, Lucia agrees to help…for a price.
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Seven Years Ago
Kennet ignored the pain, and it was strangely easy to do being as close to death as he was. There was little left to lose. It took all of his concentration to form the spell in his head. It might not even work, but at this stage it was all he had — that and the burning fire of helpless rage that kept him safe from his losses, kept him at arm’s length from the grief until he could make contact or until he died. Whichever came first.
With a last push, his whole body tingled, and pain shot up his spine. Surely this was death. But consciousness remained in his broken flesh. He had managed to partition himself off from the pain and the drugs. This was too important. This was his only hope. Hope was a word that tasted bitter in his mouth. He meant revenge, didn’t he? Surely there was no hope left. It had gone out of the world with Patrice and Annie. One last push, one last sting of pain, and he was there in the cave. He was naked, but he felt neither the cold nor the stones that should have been cutting his feet. Back in the hospital, would they think him only dreaming, or would he have slipped into a coma for his efforts? Made no difference.
The descent began gradually, then steepened until he had to lean back to keep from falling, but he imagined that was only necessary because he was still thinking in physical terms. Physical terms. If he were to survive this, he would be thinking in terms of physical pain once he returned to his body and probably more pain than he had ever experienced before. And the physical, well that was really nothing compared to the rest of it. He kept moving downward forever, it seemed, but he knew time passed differently in the Dream World, if that’s where he was at. It certainly wasn’t the Ether.
He saw the glow of her long before he reached the bottom of the shaft, and he wondered what guise she would take. The light danced like fire on the walls of the cave and was refracted off faceted crystals, like the inside of a geode, he thought. But he barely had time to think before he saw her, and he was relieved that she had taken human form. There were other forms she could have taken, other forms that he might not have found so easy to look upon. She stood with her back to him, and even so, he felt her presence through every cell of his body, both cold and hot, expansive and contractive, not pain as he knew it, but a force that made him feel like his own weight was suddenly collapsing in on itself like a dying star, too much to bear. Too much to bear.
And then she turned to face him and he knew he wouldn’t survive. How could he possibly survive her? She eyed him for a long time, way too long for comfort, and even naked as he was, he felt exposed, as though she had peeled back his flesh and looked into the very heart of him, the very soul of him that now felt dark and fractured like an empty river bed. He couldn’t look at her face. He desperately wanted to, for some unexplainable reason, but he couldn’t lift his eyes from her beautiful feet, Botticelli toes, he thought. Such a stupid thing to think at a time like this. Aphrodite on a half shell she wasn’t. The dry heat of fire should have burned him to a cinder where he knelt. And he was kneeling, though he couldn’t remember when he’d taken the position of obeisance.
She moved around him in a tight circle, so close that he was certain the heat of her would burn the skin from his body, so bright that after images of her danced behind his eyes when he closed them, and he had to close them. She ran a hand along the top of his shoulders to the nape of his neck and stood behind him, so close the he could feel her breath warm and sweet against his ear. It was sweeter than anything life had ever offered him, her breath, her touch. And he was suddenly, embarrassingly erect.
She moved to stand in front of him. He would have tried to cover himself, but the weight of his arms was terrible. He could tell she was looking down on him, and the feeling of arousal suddenly intensified, flashed bright and settled low in his chest into a tight knot of fear. And yet he wanted, deeply, irrationally, needed her to touch him.
Then, she did the unthinkable. She curled a finger under his chin and lifted his head until he knew if he opened his eyes he would die from looking into her face.
When she spoke, it was as though he were glass shattering, falling into tiny pieces in the ecstasy of her voice. ‘We have met before, Kennet Birch. You had not grown so tall then. Adolescence is unpredictable, I’m told.’ Her hand closed around his chin to a nearly painful grip. ‘Look at me, Kennet Birch. If you have come this far, then you will look me in the eye and tell me why you are here.’
Painfully aware of his vulnerability and his hard-on, he opened his eyes slowly and looked up at her. For a split second it was as though he were looking into the mid-day sun, but before he could shade his eyes, the light of her softened, dimmed, cooled. And the face he looked upon was achingly beautiful, young, slender, pale, with lips full and pink. Her hair hung in long golden ringlets around her shoulders and down over the robe she wore, which appeared like flames leaping to touch and caress her.
He groaned out loud as everything in him turned molten in the roil of fear and rage and helplessness all wrapped up in almost unbearable lust.
She relaxed her grip on his chin, and offered him a smile that made all of his nerve endings sing with its beauty. ‘I’ve not worn human form in quite some time, but if my form is to be the last you see before you pass beyond the land of the living, then I shall offer something that won’t send you thence with terror in your heart. That would be terribly unkind of me, would it not, Kennet Birch?’
‘Thank you … my lady.’
She laughed as though she had just heard the best joke ever. ‘Your lady, I am not, Kennet Birch. Nor is my ego so delicate that whatever you call me shall matter one way or another. I will ask you again. Why have you come?’
She turned and walked away from him, and for a second he felt as though the light had gone out of the world. As his gaze followed her, he realized that they were no longer in the depths of a cave but in a garden in high summer. He could smell the roses and the lavender. He could hear the insects buzzing. ‘You know why I’m here.’ The stab of pain nearly doubled him over at the reminder of his loss.
‘Having nothing to lose has made you bold, Kennet Birch. Though I am not surprised. As I recall, you were already so as a youth.’ She waved a slender hand. ‘Yes I know about the death of your wife and your sister. And though I’m sorry for your loss, it has nothing to do with me. It is long since I have interfered in affairs of the flesh.’
‘It has everything to do with you!’ Pushing himself to his feet, with an effort that was gargantuan, he came to her side. ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend.’
She raised a golden eyebrow and turned to face him. ‘I am not your friend, Kennet Birch, and even if I were, I hardly see how an alliance with you would help my cause.’
‘Of course you see. Together we can defeat him.’
She absently plucked a blood-red rose from a bush that climbed tenaciously on a stone wall, sniffed it and studied it as though she had never seen anything like it. ‘I fail to see how you could possibly be of help.’
‘I could give you flesh.’ The words were out before he could stop them, and his heart nearly exploded from his chest as she crushed the rose, raised an arm in a flourish that was almost like a flash of lightening, and they were once again back in the cave.
She stood close to him, so close that he could feel her breath coming fast and furious against his face. Her eyes were fire, her presence made him feel as though every fiber of himself were being shredded and being unmade even as he breathed. ‘You are beyond brazen, Kennet Birch, to offer such a thing, as if I would want to walk among humans again, as if I would want to take up residence in their weakness and need.’
‘But you do,’ he found the courage to whisper, not even loud enough for her to hear, and yet she heard. He was certain she heard the very movement of his blood in his veins. ‘You do want to take up residence in our weakness and our need. That’s what you’ve always wanted, isn’t it? And that’s the only way you’ll ever be on equal footing with him.’
She studied him for what might have been ages, and he felt as though the pressure of her scrutiny would crush him.
‘I have never worn man flesh.’ She nodded down to his penis.
He blushed and surged and blushed again. His heart raced. ‘Does it make a difference?’
She shrugged, still studying his cock as though she’d never seen one before. ‘Not really. Flesh is flesh.’ On a whim, she reached out and stroked his erection, and he gasped as the touch of her shivered up his spine and blossomed bright inside his head.
She continued to touch him, but her eyes were now locked on his face, and he tried desperately not to thrust against her. ‘I am only touching your cock, Kennet Birch, and it is all you can do to keep from spilling your seed at my feet.’
‘That is the most sensitive part,’ he breathed. ‘Of a man, I mean.’
She moved closer and ran a splayed hand up over his ribs. And he did spill his seed with a desperate gasp as though he could never get enough oxygen again. And he was embarrassed and terrified and angry, and it was as though the whole range of emotions exploded in his head in an instant. Then she leaned in and brushed her lips against his, and for a split second the world flashed before his eyes more vivid, more perfect, more complete than he had ever seen it before. He knew things, he saw things, he felt things, things beyond him. And he would have dropped again to his knees, but he couldn’t, not held in her gaze as he was.
‘I have barely touched you and you are overwhelmed, Kennet Birch. Do you really think you can survive my possession of you?’
He forced himself to hold her gaze, trembling suddenly as though he were in the grips of some powerful illness. All of him ached, and he knew the real world was bleeding through. There was very little time. ‘I won’t survive if you don’t possess me. My coming to you has guaranteed that.’ He wrapped his arms around himself as the shakes became more violent. ‘You said it yourself, I have nothing to lose.’
‘And why would I want a sick and broken male body?’ She asked. Her eyes blazed in the dance of firelight that always seemed so close to her.
‘If you possess me, you can heal me,’ he said. ‘And anyway, if you possess me and I die, well it really doesn’t matter at this point.’
For an eternal moment she studied him. She studied him until he looked away. His head was fuzzy, his body ached even in the dream world. He couldn’t hold much longer.
She lifted his chin once again so that he met her gaze, and the shakes stopped. The pain went away. He felt his head clear.
‘If I do what you ask of me, even though you live, your life is forfeit. You know this?’
‘I know,’ he breathed. ‘It doesn’t matter.
‘You say that now in your hour of need. But when that passes, when you are whole and stronger and healthier than you have ever dreamed possible, when your heart heals and you learn to love again, you won’t be so anxious to let go of what is rightfully mine when the time comes.’
He suddenly felt more pain than he knew existed in the whole world, and none of it was physical. He inhaled breath that felt like shards of stone. ‘I’ll never know love again. I’ll never know life again, so there’s really nothing you can take from me that isn’t already long gone.’
Her gaze softened, and somehow he found that infinitely comforting. Then she moved closer and kissed him, slowly, languidly, as though they had all the time in the world, and his cock was hard again. She stepped back from him. One shrug and the robe of fire fell away, and the glow of her body flashed bright, then dimmed and steadied until he could see details, erect nipples atop high breasts, rounded hips, a golden splash of curls at the juncture of her thighs. ‘I am not like him,’ she said softly. ‘It gives me no pleasure to make those who dwell in the flesh my puppets. You will be, how is it you put it these days, you will be in the driver’s seat.’ She took him into her arms and kissed him hard, and when he feared he would disgrace himself again with his cock pressed up tight against the top of her belly, she pulled away. ‘However,’ she said. ‘If I grant your request, then I will possess you. All of you. You will belong to me, your life will mine.’ She gaze was painfully bright. ‘And if you earnestly wish to be rid of Deacon, then you will do as I say for as long as it takes us to accomplish our task, and it will take time. I know him. You don’t. I’m his equal. You’re not. And one more very important thing, Kennet Birch.’ She stroked his hair gently and whispered against his lips. ‘Never, never forget how badly I can hurt you if you defy me.’ Then she guided his hand down over her pubic curls. ‘If my terms are not acceptable to you, then you must return to your body and face your fate.’
Boldly, brazenly, he slid a finger down low and circled her clit, and her eyes fluttered. ‘If it weren’t acceptable to me, I wouldn’t be here,’ he answered.
She took his hand and guided him back to a chair that appeared from out of nowhere. It looked like a golden throne with no arms. What? Was he to petition her? He didn’t understand. But it was no throne at all. She pushed him down on it and stood before him caressing her breasts until her nipples were stiff and swollen. Then she raised one perfect leg and set her elegant Botticelli foot on his thigh, affording him a view of her wet and fiery depths. ‘I do not enter through your breath, Kennet Birch,’ she said. ‘As sex is your magic, so is it mine. You will go in through me, inside out. And your hunger for me will pull me into you when your libido surges brightest.’
And he was so hungry for her. She filled his head and his body with an aching want that even if he were not a practitioner of sex magic, he would understand was not mundane. And in his case, the fear that he would die if he didn’t have her here and now was a very real one. That he might die even if he did, that her possession might be too much for him, well that was a risk he was more than willing to take.
‘Are you certain this is what you want, Kennet Birch?’ she asked him as she moved onto his lap, positioning herself, opening her sex with her fingers.
‘I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.’ Even as he said it, he realized how silly that sounded, since either way his life as he’d known it was over.
‘Very well then.’ She settled to the point of contact, to the point at which he could just feel the head of his penis against the resistance of her opening. He reached for her breasts, and with the hand not busy between her legs, she cradled his head and drew him near so he could nurse. The electrical shock through his body caused him to jump and jerk, and at that very instant she settled onto him, sheathing him tightly, deeply, and he knew he was dying. This was the point of no return. It was as though the tight wet pull of her swallowed him whole. Then she cupped his chin and held his face again so he couldn’t look away from her shining eyes. Her voice was like warm honey, thick and sweet, and he felt the sound of it in his very marrow, in his very soul. ‘You are mine, Kennet Birch. No longer are you your own. I possess you, body, soul and life force. Even in name you are now mine, Kennet Lucian. You are mine until I have no further use for you, until I have used you up.’ She gripped him hard and he exploded inside her and the world blew a part into tiny particles and disappeared like flecks of dust in the darkness.
‘Bloody Hell! Dr Allen! Doctor Allen! Get over here. Now!’
Kennet inhaled delicious, abundant air as though he’d just remembered how to breathe. Then he fought his way up from under an unruly sheet to sit up on the bed. A woman and a man in hospital scrubs stood either side of him, holding him, and there was chaos and someone was yelling. It took him a second to register that it was him yelling over and over again, ‘Where the hell am I? Where the hell am I?’ And then the bright lights, the gurney with a body shrouded in a sheet next to him all came into focus. ‘Jesus! What the fuck am I doing in the morgue?’
The woman in scrubs standing next to him looked pale and her hands were unsteady. ‘Mr. Birch,’ she said, doing her best to stay calm. ‘You were declared dead almost fifteen minutes ago.’
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