A Tale of Two Lovers

real wolf

 

Thunder cracked and rolled, shuddering the ground under Inka’s feet. She felt it through the stiff hide of her boots, through the thick fur lining. Peering into the downpour, she tugged her cloak tighter around her shoulders and tried to dismiss a lurking sense of apprehension. Trees bent and tossed in the cold wind, sending rain spray against her face as she stared into the gray deluge.

She saw no one. But she couldn’t make herself close the door.

Someone was out there.

Moments later, the dark figure of a man loomed, walking and leading a horse. As they neared, she could see another man slumped on the horse’s back. Inka briefly considered whether she should seize the heavy dagger she kept by her bed.

She should have felt them coming. How had her vision failed?

They approached her entry and stopped, giving her time to read their energy. It radiated in pale blue waves.

“We need your help,” the walking man said. “Will you provide succor?”

Inka locked eyes with the man, searching within him for evil intent. Sending blue energy could have been a shield. His weathered face streamed with water. Peering from under his soggy hood, his pale eyes reflected the gleam of her fire pit and spoke of his desperation. And his honesty.

“Come in, then,” she said, opening her door wider and stepping back.

He turned to his companion, pulling him off the horse and holding him up with his shoulder as they staggered into the cabin. Inka seized the horse’s reins and led it through the opening as well, walking it past the fire to a bed of straw where her own horse had once bedded. The horse shook itself, rattling the ornate breastplate. She slipped off the bridle and left the weary beast to the hay cradle.

With the door firmly fastened against the howling wind, she turned to study these strangers. The injured man had collapsed at the fireside as his companion peeled off his wet hat. With their hooded cloaks removed, she could see that both men wore a small dotted line along the right jaw, the mark of the distant Eirikr tribe.

“You’re far from your home,” she said, squatting to add more wood to the fire. Coals shifted and sent sparks into the air. Water droplets fell through the smoke hole at the top of her roof and vaporized in the flames with tiny hisses.

“Three days,” the man said. “I’m Darnoc. This is Conrad.”

The injured man lifted his head enough to make eye contact with Inka. His pale blue eyes created a shocking appearance in a face so dark with grime and blood. But it wasn’t the appearance alone that caused her breath to catch in her throat. His gaze conveyed a message so unexpected that her hand dropped to her waist belt to clutch her pouch of talismans.

“He’s a seiðmaðr,” she said in a hushed voice.

“And you a seiðkona,” Conrad said. His voice, though weak, cut through the roar of thunder and rain crashing outside, as though his lips moved only inches from her ear. His stare burned into her briefly before he shivered and his head dropped again.

“He’s suffered grievous wounds,” Darnoc said. “For myself, I ask nothing. But can you help him?”

Inka reached her hands to the fire. It wasn’t the weather that chilled her fingers but the sudden shift in her blood flow. What must she do? She had made oaths to the gods.

She stood with her fists on her hips, considering. At least she could offer brief shelter. “Remove your wet garments and warm yourselves.”

Darnoc hesitated then pulled off his outer vest and heavy tunic. A baldric with long sword clattered to the ground. His hands lingered at the waist tie of his trousers.

“I’ve seen men before,” she said, briefly glancing to his groin.

He yanked the tie and the garment fell in a soggy heap. She diverted her gaze from his cold-shriveled organ and muscled thighs and turned to her bedding where she gathered up two blankets of rabbit skins. At Conrad’s side, she helped Darnoc remove the baldric, vest, and woolen shirt. A long wound oozing blood crossed under Conrad’s arm along the bottom of his ribcage.

“Hold him,” she said, dropping the blankets at Darnoc’s feet. She knelt, tugging down Conrad’s wet trousers and lifting his feet one at a time to remove his boots. His skin felt like ice.

She grabbed a woven cloth from her basket and scrubbed his legs dry. Conrad grunted but did not flinch away. The force of her rubbing caused Darnoc to stagger slightly in his effort to hold Conrad’s weight and well he should. Conrad stood taller than Darnoc and every limb wrapped in muscle. A powerful man in more ways than one.

She swallowed in renewed apprehension.

“He’s lost too much blood,” Darnoc said. “I feared he’d die before we found you.”

“How did you know to come here?” She wrapped the rabbit skin blanket around Conrad and held it secure as Darnoc lowered him to the ground. Already she felt the force of his lovemaking against her breasts and thighs.

These two men did not arrive by accident. The gods had guided them here. Could she trust her instinct? The words of her oath haunted her.

“He told me the direction,” Darnoc said. “As if he followed scent.” He grabbed up the other blanket and tied it around his waist.

Inka briskly turned to the bronze cauldron she had earlier placed in the fire’s edge. The rabbit stew had cooked down. She lifted a nearby pitcher and poured more water into the thickened broth, then crouched at the far side of her hut to dig through her store of roots and herbs. Kneeling at the fireside, she quickly sliced a handful of parsnips into the pot as well as a measure of angelica seed. Dried chives sent up pungent scent as she stirred. With a smaller clean pot made purely of copper, she sliced angelica root and burdock root and added water before placing it into a nest of coals she mixed carefully with ash to yield the desired amount of heat.

Her shelter had long since provided ample space for her life. Built by men who came to her from the tribes of the river lands and mountains in search of her healing sorcery, the sturdy log and stone structure divided into three parts. To the right of the door, a line of hanging skins, baskets, and hay-lined pits held her food and medicines. To the left, a long bench separated the entry area from her sleeping space with its sumptuous bed of skins stuffed with straw. Beyond, a large work space held her loom, extra skins, tools, snares, cooking utensils, and weapons. At the back in her stabling area stood the horse, the first to occupy the space since her aged horse had died the previous year.

She was not yet old, but the years continued to pass. Nothing of the future held promise or threat and her days had lapsed into a monotony that she feared worse than age. She didn’t mind dying alone, only that whoever found her long-dead body would finally hold power over her. Not since the slavery of her youth had she yielded to another man’s will. The gods had been kind. If their kindness continued, if she upheld her oath, she would not rot but dry like fine herbs or meat hung to smoke. She wished her dried remains to be kept in a cairn or cave in the old way of the ancestors.

But her family had died long ago and as pledged, she’d borne no children. No one attended but for occasional tribesmen with offerings and requests. As the years passed, fewer tribes than ever knew she existed.

But now? Her future suddenly seemed irrevocably changed. Her blood ran hot. She saw herself in the hands of both men, her skin flushed, her legs spread. Why had her prophecies not shown her this?

As she stirred the stew, she studied these two men. The strong lines of their bodies bespoke their abilities as huntsmen and warriors. Whatever evil had fallen upon them, they must have fought bravely. Several gashes marred Darnoc’s chest and arms, and besides the wound on Conrad’s side, there were cuts on his arms and a bloody patch on his head that required attention. Despite the injuries and weakened condition, their powerful presence piqued her awareness in ways she had nearly forgotten.

If she broke her vow, what would be the outcome? She felt no more able to resist this fated meeting than to cut off her own hand. Her energy flowed in great looping spirals so strong she could see the purple color against the shadowed walls of her shelter. With her pulse rising, she checked the small vessel with its burdock and angelica root. The steaming concoction had turned dark.

She padded her fingers with a square of leather and lifted the medicine pot out of the fire pit, then retrieved the cloth she had used to dry Conrad’s legs. Squatting beside him, she examined the spot on his scalp where blood had dried black in a knotted mass of hair.

“He complained more of the head injury than his side, but the blood has long since stopped flowing there,” Darnoc said. “It’s his side that needs attention.”

“If the head wound is deep, it could be the source of his weakness,” Inka said. “I need to see it.”

She wet a cloth in warmed water and squeezed it partly dry, then began sponging the matted hair. Her gentle pressure on the area elicited faint groans from Conrad, who otherwise lay motionless on the skins. The wash water soon turned brown but her efforts revealed a short cut in his scalp. Probing gently with her fingertips, she examined the cut and the rest of his scalp before satisfying herself that the wound was, as Darnoc had said, the lesser of his injuries. The bone was not broken. With the healing liquid drained into another container, she mashed the softened roots and placed a poultice on the gash.

Inka pulled the rabbit skin blanket back from Conrad’s body. A trickle of blood oozed from the upper section of the wound on his side. She refreshed the bathing water and started sponging the area, careful not to tug at the wound. The swollen area around the cut had become an angry red color and felt hot to the touch.

Scenes flashed in Inka’s mind, his body healed and hovering over her, his lips sending magic through her veins. As she wiped his chest to remove the last of the blood stain, her brief glance caught his gaze, a thin glimmer of blue from slatted eyes. Her nostrils flared and she looked down.

Did he incite her wayward thoughts or did they spring from her long celibacy? She had sworn never again to mate with a man. Why did she suddenly think of such things?

“The wound requires stitches,” she said roughly, glancing at Darnoc. “You may have to hold him.”

“I can hold myself,” Conrad said. As before, his voice came clearly to her ears. Did he speak at all? “How deep is it?”

“Not into your vitals, for that we can be thankful,” she said. “The ribs are bruised but not, I think, broken.”

He grunted. She glanced up at Darnoc then returned her attention to Conrad’s wound. She took her time to examine the length and breadth of it, calculating the best method of closure and where she would need to leave a wick of cloth to drain off infection. Conrad stiffened as she rinsed the opening with root tea.

“Will you need mandrake?” she asked.

“No, woman. Do your work,” Conrad grumbled.

forestWith her bone needle, she drew thin threads of sinew through his flesh, tugging the gaping opening together. He flinched and his hands formed fists as she worked. She knew the force of those hands on her body, how he would lift her up in violent lovemaking. So great was the impact of her imagining that by the time she had fully closed the wound, her breath came in short gasps and moisture beaded between her thighs.

Again she found his eyes barely open, watching her. He sent thoughts to her, scenes of her ravishment, of the pleasure wrought by his hands and mouth. Again she turned away with the weight of desire in her chest.

She smeared root paste along the seam then placed a clean cloth over the long line of stitches before helping Darnoc move Conrad to a sitting position. She secured the dressing with a wrapping around his torso. Her fingers lingered on his skin, the muscle of his back and chest, the lines of his abdomen. A man of substance and intrigue—she wondered at the scene she suddenly viewed of him fighting, men on all sides, his sword breaking…

“Did your sword break?”

“Yes,” he said. “Why bother to ask?”

Gooseflesh spilled down her sides. Hurriedly, she fastened the binding and adjusted the rabbit skins, causing it to slide away from his loins. His prick had awakened and loomed half stiff in its thicket of hair. Her breath caught as she quickly covered him.

“Already your magic heals me,” Conrad said. The corner of his mouth lifted in a half smile.

She fled to the far side of the fire to dip out bowls of stew. What of her oath? This man’s magic equaled hers. The old taboos of men who practiced seiðr rose fresh in her thoughts. Despite the myths, this man exhibited no signs of unmanliness. How could that be?

Ancient tales exalted men with the same or greater powers than the vǫlur even though in her lifetime only women practiced the craft. It must be true that some of them remained. In Conrad’s presence, she struggled to remain earthbound. Her thoughts flew from her in streams. No doubt he heard them.

Inka delivered two steaming bowls of rabbit stew to the men and sat across the leaping flames to enjoy her dinner. Darnoc, freshly washed and his hair tied back, made quick work of the food. Conrad’s hand shook as he lifted the bowl to his lips, but he refused Darnoc’s assistance.

“Spring comes in anger,” she said, seeking to ground herself. “The river will flood.”

“As we traveled here, the lowlands stood in water,” Darnoc said agreeably.

She dipped more stew for the men and gave them dried apples. They spoke of the season, the growing numbers of small-eared men infringing from the south, the need for new seed for their grain fields, the increasing value of amber. Conrad spoke little but the force of his thoughts overshadowed Darnoc’s words.

“What happened to your people?” she said finally. It was the question he wanted her to ask.

Shadows crossed the men’s faces. Darnoc spoke.

“The invaders came first as traders, only a few. Still, despite our desire to exchange goods, Conrad knew them as enemy. They wanted our gold and our women. By night, we sent the women to the caves with the children and gold, led by some of the older men. The rest of us prepared to fight.”

“The full force came at first light two days later,” he continued. “They arrived like ghosts with the rain, slipping in silence through our outposts.”

Conrad’s eyes opened fully as he gazed on her. “They threw a hare into our midst. Owls called from the forest, and it was not night.” He seemed to strengthen as he spoke. “From that we knew their spinners wove us in their magic.”

“Even with their magic, they fought like men,” Darnoc said. “They outnumbered us, but we killed and injured many as they came against us.”

“I fended them off with the force of magic. And I paid the price,” Conrad added. “They struck my sword and shattered my staff. They must have had a prophecy.”

“Why would the Norns weave against you?” Inka said. “Have you angered the gods?”

Conrad’s eyes flashed intense blue in the fire’s light. “This was not the will of the gods,” he said. “Men of the south have disturbed the work of Odin’s loom. I flew above them and danced to the drum. The blood stopped flowing from my wound.”

“He had no strength after that,” Darnoc said.

“The most grievous wound he suffers is not of the flesh,” Inka said. The truth of this test came fully to her thoughts. She turned her gaze to Conrad. “Their magic still binds you.”

“Hence my coming,” Conrad said, as if he had waited for her realization.

For the first time, the course of her life, her hard work, the long waiting, all made sense. This was the moment she had prepared for, the man who’d been promised. It had been so long, she had nearly forgotten she’d ever expected it. Now, with him here, she trembled at the prospect of their entanglement.

The storm raged as she instructed Darnoc. With Conrad resting full length on her bed, she removed her clothing. His prick stood erect without her touching it. She placed more wood on the fire and took her wand, brushing her breasts and thighs with its distaff head as if she spun linen threads for the loom. Her voice rose in a chant.

Lǫng es nótt, lǫng es ǫnnur,

hvé mega ek þreyja þrjár?

Opt mér mánaðr minni þótti

en sjá halfa hýnótt…

Soon Conrad’s voice joined hers. His words called to her. They held hands with Darnoc and spiraled above the clouds and into the starry night sky. She knelt at his side, placing her wand first on his chest where it rose and fell with his breath. Briefly she held it across his wound then lowered her lips to the line of stitches.

With soothing caresses, her lips urged the spirits of destruction to leave his body. Her incantations rose and fell, at times matching the howl of the outside storm. She draped her body over his.

Her form took the shape of a whirlwind teeming with insects, leaves, and hail. She became a turbulent stream  and flowed over him, touching him with her lips and sweeping him with her long scented hair. Voices rose and fell, voices of spirits both fair and foul. She hovered in the air above him, reaching with her wand to touch his hands, his feet, and his forehead.

He seized her wrist. “Make me whole,” he said. “It is our fate.”

The strength of his grip told her what she needed to know.

“The spell they cast is weak magic,” she said, settling her hips astride his loins. “But they will return, and with greater force. Your people must hurry to these hills and start anew. That is your future.”

He grasped her breasts as she straddled him and his touch sent lightning through her veins. The swollen tip of his prick found her wet opening and with a thrust of his hips, he drove himself into her.

“So it shall be,” he said.

The powers of wind and rain held nothing to compare to the storm that broke between them. Inka bucked and cried as his organ fed her long hunger. Her juices flowed. His stones gathered to hard knots that teased her buttocks at each full seating. Up then down, they danced the oldest dance. Her breasts swelled in his grasp. Her hips spread and opened to bring him deeper.

His ardor bloomed, increasing his girth until he stretched her belly with his manhood. She shook in need, called on the gods, and uttered Conrad’s spirit name. She had not known it before now.

“Vili!”

She saw in his eyes the truth of her knowledge, demanding,. His eyes, now fully open, shone with his gifts. The fire leapt and curled and in its golden light, she saw them both transformed.

“And you Vé,” Conrad said. “Darnoc, fulfill us with your ecstasy,” he commanded.

Inka glanced at Darnoc and knew his hands had long since caressed both their bodies. His blue eyes glimmered as she stared at him. He was the vardyger, the spirit of Conrad present in equal time. He grasped her thighs, moving her legs forward as he too straddled Conrad’s thighs.

“Give me your mouth,” Conrad said. His eyes darkened. “Your lips like honey, your skin like the petals of flowers. I have never known a woman so fair. Even the gods desire such a woman as you, dear Inka, sacred made flesh.”

Her lips brushed his jaw, the sharp jut of his cheekbone, the line of his brow. When her mouth touched his lips, a fresh spike of need pierced her so intensely that she cried out and shuddered. Sweat covered their bodies.

Conrad’s tongue thrust and licked in her mouth. Darnoc’s teeth nipped at her shoulders. Their hands moved over her shoulders, her breasts, her buttocks until she didn’t know which man touched her in which place.

The ride rose and fell over rough land, hooves clattering as the wolf’s teeth nipped at her heels. Darnoc tugged her hair back, holding on as if a horse’s reins. Sheets of fire coursed over her skin. Her nipples stood at hard points. Waves of need lapped in her center, circling ever tighter until their breath came as one, their voices mingled.

Wanton desire had been denied to her for so long. Now this man with his broad shoulders, with his clever glance, this man whose life fit hers like a hand in a glove—he had arrived. Tears filmed her eyes. Her body trembled with his sorcery.

Hot seed burst from his prick to fill her center. For a moment, she hovered at the brink of a precipice. Then his thumb found her stiff clitoris and pressed. Her hips shook as her vagina brought him to her sacred altar.

Together they flew skyward, arms outstretched to the stars. Joined, they kindled fire and lightning. Their voices mingled in primal song, the song of songs from whence flowed the wealth of life itself. For unmeasured time, Inka knew nothing but the spell of Conrad’s arms.

“The magic is not yet complete,” Conrad whispered. His hand motioned to her. She watched as he lifted himself, turning over her. She saw that he was Darnoc then, holding the lengths of her golden hair in his fists as he spread her legs with his knees.

With her legs pushed open, Darnoc thrust his erect organ into her cleft. The force of his taking shocked her. She turned to look at Conrad lying beside her. His blue eyes watched her, his white teeth gleamed in his smile. Her gaze fell to his bandages. No blood marked the white cloth.

They slept in each other’s arms. Darnoc fed the fire during the night and she fed their appetites during the days. Each day Conrad grew stronger, driving out the threads of the Norns to block their wicked loom of fate.

Each day she rode Conrad, shielding him from the infecting spirits. Each day he grew stronger, his gaze more provocative, his words more enchanting. She sat beside him while they spoke of mysteries in their lives that they now knew they had shared. Her need to understand slipped away. She accepted the truth before her eyes.

Hours slipped past as the men changed from one to the other, one man in two forms. They dipped their lips between her legs, tasting honey. Her breasts swelled. Essence fed to her and from her, freely given. The room whirled with purple and blue light as Darnoc then Conrad quenched her long hunger, as she fulfilled her destiny.

Full of health and strength, Conrad took his cock in hand. He called her name. She rode like a Valkyrie, bringing his semen to flood inside her. The room spun with light. Their chants rose and fell. Her loom of linen thread sang. Their song wove a cloth of bright colors, red crossing blue, yellow crossing red.

“Will you have me?” Conrad sat across the fire, slowly chewing his dried apple slices. Perspiration shone on his chest. His long hair fell across the side of his face, hiding part of his blue gaze. His image shifted and she saw both men.

“Both of you,” she said, smiling. “My oath barred me taking a man. It did not ban me from taking two. But what do you take in return?”

“Long life in our joined magic,” he said, his face gleaming in the firelight. “Wood for your fire, meat for your hearth. In turn you will weave our cloth in all three colors. You will join me in serving our tribe.”

“So the gods have asked,” she replied.

She lifted her mug of mead and watched as he lifted his mug in their promise.

magic

Visit my Pinterest board “Magic” for some enchanting images.

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Have a Steamy Christmas!

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With everything she cared about gone, Dominatrix Macie Fitzgerald has built a new life in service to those in need. A special kind of need. But when she sees Jarrod’s name on the list of applicants to her next training session, she isn’t sure she can handle it.

Everything has been too easy for Jarrod Bancroft–rich parents, football star, law degree, high powered job, women by the score. He wants whatever Stonybrook Academy can dish out, much as it scares the hell out of him. Can he accept the pain, the humiliation, the unending deprivation that Madam requires? And why does her voice sound familiar?

Unfortunately for Macie, the years that have passed since Jarrod was her student have done nothing but make him more magnificent in every way. She faces her biggest challenge as she struggles to fulfill her professional obligation to give Jarrod what he wants. What he needs.

Warning: This story of 20,000 words contains scenes of explicit sexual activity and extreme BDSM. Adults only.

The Interview

The InterviewRachel let the job applicant, Rob W–, pour her a drink. She’d already gulped one martini in an effort to put the tiring day behind her. Sheer craziness to go into this tired. But the appointment had been made ten days earlier, and men eager for this particular job weren’t exactly thick on the ground.

Well, that wasn’t quite it. More like, men capable of meeting the job requirements weren’t easy to find. Plenty of men applied. Few were chosen. This one had all the credentials—gorgeous, tall, muscled, self-assured, and a hint of provocateur lurking at the corner of his sensual mouth.

She had taken her time dressing, trying to get in the mood with a fitted white spandex blouse and a straight gray skirt that fell from a wide waistband to just above her knees. Her breasts pressed against the spandex and crowded the low V-cut neckline. Underneath, she wore panties made in the new loose-leg style.

Somewhere midway through her therapeutic martini, she had examined herself in the mirror, infuriated that when she leaned close to see her skin, everything was out of focus. She had roamed around for a few minutes trying to find her reading glasses. Her dark auburn hair curled in an attractive jumbled mass around her head, but she thought her green eyes looked tired. She had jerked off the glasses and tossed them onto the bathroom counter. How would she know? She couldn’t see her eyes with the glasses over them, and couldn’t see up close without them. And then he’d knocked.

Why the hell was she nervous?

“Thanks,” she said as he handed her the glass. Anyway, it didn’t matter how she looked. His job was to make even the most unattractive woman feel supremely fabulous. He interested her only in a clinical way, which made things more difficult for him. His future clients, assuming he passed her test, would be eager to have him.

“Tough job?”

“Yes, in a way,” she mused, sipping the martini. “But it’s our careful preparation that allows us to offer such an exquisite selection to our clients.”  Her breath hitched slightly as he leaned toward her. Points for that.

She hurried on. “As I’m sure you know, when you meet with a client, the situation is entirely in your hands. You have to consider her special requests, of course, if she has any. Many women don’t. You have to put her at ease and pursue your seduction. She has to see you want her.” She ran her hand through her hair, feeling suddenly embarrassed.

He settled next to her on the couch and turned his body to face her. “Yes, I know, it’s a delicate situation,” he said smoothly, looking at her with dark blue eyes that crinkled at the corners. He leaned forward, set her glass aside, and brushed his lips over her mouth.

His mouth felt firm and yet sensitive, and she let herself respond. His hands came to her shoulders, tugging her slightly toward him. Then he slid his touch over the front of her blouse, pressing against her breasts in a motion that showed her he knew what a woman liked. Her nipples hardened, and he let his palms linger over the knotted peaks for a moment with his hands slowly circling.

The tip of his tongue tickled against her upper lip, and she inhaled at the sensation as her mouth opened slightly. He had a scent of cut grass, clean and sweet. The vodka asserted its gentle relaxation, and she felt moisture gathering between her thighs as he continued to stroke her breasts.

Moments later, he stood up and pulled her up in front of him. His smile said he knew he would please her. More points. She let him back her up to the wall while he kissed her again, until he pressed her between his muscled chest and the cool wall and she could feel his bulge against her belly.

His mouth trailed down her throat and into the valley between her breasts. One by one, he released the tight buttons and followed the trail with his lips, until her blouse and bra hung open and his mouth seized first one breast, then the other in an erotic play of tongue and teeth.

“Beautiful,” he whispered.

Christ. Her sex pulsed with a surge of moisture. She felt his hand at her knee, sliding up her thigh, and then he encountered the loose panty legs.

“Um, I love these,” he murmured against her breast. His hand slid inside the panties and found her wet secret, and his fingers immediately began stroking.

“Oh,” she breathed. “Um.” Okay, maybe not so clinical now.

His fingers teased and probed until her knees became wobbly. He crouched then, shoving her skirt up to her waist and sliding the loose panties to her ankles before bringing his mouth and hands to her center. His fingers pulled her swollen lips apart and she felt his tongue licking at her stiff bud.

“Oh, yes.” Her head fell back against the wall. With her lower body on fire, her breasts full and tingling, she honestly didn’t know how much longer she could stand up. His hands swooped around her buttocks, massaging and tugging while his face buried between her thighs. A finger penetrated and her knees gave.

With a quiet chuckle, he stood up, wiping his mouth on his sleeve before starting to unbutton his shirt. His chest came into view, far more incredible than the application photos had led her to believe. Muscled shoulders, lean ripples down his abdomen, a dusting of dark body hair over the chest that narrowed to a thin line at his belt—she licked her lips and leaned to graze his flat nipples with her mouth.

He pulled the belt open and unbuttoned his pants, but didn’t go further. He kissed her again, stroking his tongue along her lips and plunging deep into her mouth. His hands worked at her skirt fastening until he had dropped it to her feet and only her blouse and bra remained hanging from her shoulders. He half carried, half walked her to the bedroom while his mouth again sucked at her nipples. She longed for him now, her entire body throbbing with need.

Random thoughts raced through her mind. What was it about men that made their lovemaking so intense? Size, for one thing—bigger, stronger in every dimension. Scent, for another, musky and sharp, probably a hundred pheromones she couldn’t consciously identify but which nevertheless called to her in some mysterious primal language.

Spread back on the bed, she closed her eyes as he sucked and toyed between her legs. Blissfully erotic, his teasing brought her to the brink and held her there. She wanted to scream.

Finally plunging inside with fingers and his mouth clamped on her hard bud, he sent her over the edge. Her body writhed and bucked, captured in his strong hands, at the mercy of his tongue. Heat seared through her in the long aching climax.

His voice whispered close to her ear as his face brushed through her hair.

“Do you want me?” he challenged her.

“Yes,” she whispered back. “Yes.”

He leaned back to a kneeling position between her legs, and made a deliberate play of unzipping. He let the slacks fall down his thighs to expose the stunning manhood peeking out from his shirt tails. No briefs, her brain registered. A fresh wave of heat rolled down her belly.

He ripped his clothes off and then lowered his body over hers, spearing her with his thick cock and sliding all the way in.

“Oh, Christ,” she groaned.

He felt huge inside her. Her hips spread to accommodate him. He moved after a few seconds, sliding out a small distance before ramming back up to the hilt. Oh, shit. She twisted underneath him, deliciously caught between pleasure and pain and suddenly desperate to have more.

He slid out slightly further, then rammed all the way in again. Distantly, her rational brain analyzed his method and gave him a ten out of ten for everything. But more to the point, he was fucking her real nice, thick cock sliding in and out, his mouth reaching down to capture her nipples or forcing her mouth open for an invasion of his tongue.

Damn. Gooseflesh broke over her body as his cock kept driving at her, out almost the whole way, in as far as he could go, now slightly faster, and her pussy clenched repeatedly in orgasmic surges as he shook her body with his plunges. Her hands streamed over his chest, his biceps, his broad shoulders straining in his exertion as his body filmed in sweat.

“Do you want me to come?” he breathed.

“Oh, yes,” she begged as her hips thrust up against him. “Please.”

He shifted to a faster, harder movement then, scooting her slightly up the bed as he drove into her. His hands seized her shoulders, forcing her down against his assaulting hips. His cock filled her belly.

His chest hair brushed her nipples and his pubic bone repeatedly crushed against her throbbing bud until the hard knot exploded in waves of orgasmic frenzy.  Pleasure shuddered over her as his hips bucked and pushed. She felt his semen burst into her in fast hot jabs and she grabbed his buttocks, wanting him never to stop.

Dimly, she acknowledged the session had ended. He kept his arms around her shoulders as he eased onto one elbow, then lay beside her for a few minutes. When his breathing slowed, he kissed her again and caressed her breasts, bringing a fresh wave of arousal over her. She turned toward him and traced his jawline with her finger.

“You are good,” she smiled, “and hired.”

“That’s good to hear,” he said in a husky voice. His eyes lingered on her face for a moment before examining her body. “Not difficult. Do they all look as great as you do?”

“Spoken like a true gigilo You flatter now. But no, not to be vain, but you surely realize lots of the women you see will not be greatly attractive or young. Can you handle that?”

“I think I can.” He heaved himself up from the bed and tossed her the panties. “Just wear those, no blouse or skirt allowed,” he joked as she sat up.

She felt warm and happy, just how all their clients should feel at the end of a session. When she had pulled the panties up her legs and reached for the blouse, he came up behind her and grabbed her breasts. He pulled her back against his hips, and she was incredulous to feel his cock already hardening against her buttocks.

“You are our kind of guy, Rob,” she muttered as her nipples tightened under his hands. Maybe, in this case, a bit more interview time would be required…

What she wants…

The profile of his wide shoulders was unmistakable, the way his neck turned. Shock tore through Tyler. She wheeled around to face the direction they’d just come and grabbed at Ronnie’s arm.

“Come on,” she hissed.

“What the…” Ronnie’s dark eyes flashed as she glanced around.

Crowds thronged the big parking lot and sidewalks, clustering in friendly mobs at each of the farmers’ market colorful canopies flapped in the breeze over booths where tables overran with bright yellow squash, deep red tomatoes, onions with long green tops, heaps of okra and green beans, baskets of apples, peaches, grapes. Fresh cut red and yellow zinnias, giant pink and white lilies, sprays of white baby’s breath and blue cornflower, daisies and sunflowers brimmed from tall cylinders. Bunches of aromatic herbs sent their fragrant scent into the warm sunshine—basil, sage, chives, many more that Tyler couldn’t name.

Children ran by laughing, and for a moment, Tyler felt suspended in time, like she no longer stood there frozen but had somehow floated into the air and hovered over the scene like a gliding bird. Ronnie squeezed her hand.

“Ty?”

“L-Lee,” she managed. “I’m sure it’s him. My god.” Tyler forced herself to take a breath. Her skin felt tingly, like her whole body had gone numb.

Ronnie peered around, and Tyler jerked on her hand. “Don’t look. He’ll see you.”

“Where the hell is he?”

“Back there, halfway down,” Tyler tilted her head briefly. “Don’t look, damn it. Let’s get out of here.”

“Hey, calm down. You’re acting like you’re in high school or something. What’s the big deal—I thought you were over him.”

A flush spread up Tyler’s neck and her cheeks were on fire. The big deal. She could hardly form words, let alone imagine trying to stand in front of Lee Hatfield with his blue-gray eyes staring down at her. She swallowed and stifled the impulse to run. Instead, she forced her feet to move, one step, then another, until she could put as much distance as possible between them. She shouldered through a crowd gathered around a pancake stand. The scent of maple syrup cloyed in her throat sending more unwanted memories racing through her mind.

Ronnie tugged on her arm as she walked beside her. “You’re not solving anything, you know. If he wants to see you or talk to you, he’ll find you no matter how many times you escape.”

“No,” Tyler shook her head, her jaw clenched. She stopped at the crosswalk, staring intently at the traffic signal willing it to change. “Anyway, he doesn’t want to see me. I just can’t have it look like I want to see him.”

“You do want to see him, silly. It’s written all over you.”

“See?!” Tyler stared again at the light. More people gathered, waiting to cross to where all their cars were parked. Another crowd had gathered on the opposite side. “He’ll know. I can’t do this. I should have known this was a stupid idea.”

“What, going out? Damn it, Tyler, you can’t hide forever.”

The light would never change. She was trapped here, and any minute he would be standing behind her, whispering in his low rumbling voice. His hands would grip her shoulders, her waist, and her body would soften, and his mouth would lower toward hers. She closed her eyes as tears welled in the corners. Her lip hurt, and she realized she’d bitten it so hard she tasted blood.

Like magic, the light finally did change, and they were swept across the wide boulevard with the rest of the crowd. Gravel crunched under her feet as they neared Ronnie’s white compact sedan. Ronnie stopped and rested against the back of the car, peering up over her sunglasses.

“You’re ridiculous, you know. There’s nothing in the world you want more than Lee Hatfield. You know it and I know it.” She waved her hand as Tyler started to protest. “Yeah, yeah, I know. You’re still being ridiculous. I wanted to spend the morning over there, buy some veggies, have some pancakes. Now I’m over here at my car way too soon.”

Tyler crossed her arms. “Fine. I’ll stay in the car. You go over there and do whatever.”

“No, hell no, you might stroke out if you thought I’d see him, maybe talk to him, tip him off about how you really feel.”

“No. You wouldn’t dare.” Tyler stood straight, pulling her long dark hair back from her face and twisting it over her shoulder. A faint breeze stirred over her neck. Insanely, it felt like Lee’s lips brushing her skin, and her nipples instantly puckered. Unbelievable.

“No,” she repeated inanely. No to the avalanche of emotion cascading through her body. Just the sight of him. She shook her head.

Ronnie swore darkly and flipped the car door locks before yanking open the driver’s side door. She rested her foot on the side rail and stared at Tyler across the top of the car. “Let’s go,” she said in a resentful tone.

“Maybe it wasn’t even him,” Tyler muttered, brushing a loose strand of hair back from her cheek. “Maybe it was just somebody with the same kind of body and hair color.”

“Right,” Ronnie said, her face contorted into an expression of disgruntled impatience. “Maybe it wasn’t. Why couldn’t you think of that while we were still over there? I could be eating pancakes right now. I’m starving to death.”

“I know.” Tyler sighed and looked up. A few white fluffy clouds drifted across the bright blue sky. “I’m sorry. It probably wasn’t him.” She scuffed her loafer in the gravel. “Look, seriously, I’ll hang out here at the car while you do whatever over there. I’ll watch people. Bring me some pancakes.”

“Oh, for God’s sake, Ty, you’re starting to piss me off. Why can’t we both go back over there and do what everyone else is doing—you know, walk around, see friends, smile, buy stuff, eat? You think I’ll have any fun knowing you’re sitting over here in the damn car?”

“Can’t.” She shook her head, feeling the panic rising again in her throat. “I’ll be fine.”

With a few choice words, Ronnie slammed the car door and stalked off across the lot. Tyler sighed and remained leaning against the car watching Ronnie merge into the waiting throng at the street crossing. Stupid. Selfish. Coward. She couldn’t argue that she was all those things. But it had taken months to get over Lee. Okay, she wasn’t over him. But at least she was eating, although her clothes still hung loose around the waist. And sleeping, although some nights she sat up in bed holding her breath, his touch fresh from her dream, her heart pounding in her chest.

It was what she had to do to survive.

***

Tyler sat in the hot car with the front doors open to coax a slight breeze across her. Sweat pooled between her breasts and under her arms. This truly was one of her more absurd moments, she admitted to herself. First, she didn’t know for sure it was Lee. Second, even if it was, why couldn’t she just take the chance of seeing him, and if she did, have the composure and self-confidence to calmly say ‘hi’ and go on with her business? It wasn’t like he’d make a scene in public.

And if he did somehow say something pointed, she could always walk away.

But why go through it? Why risk standing close enough that his scent could swell in her nose and make her pulse flutter? Why struggle to keep her eyes from roaming over his gorgeous face with its stubborn jaw, his chest, those damn arms with their ropey muscles and bulging biceps? She licked her lips and realized the flesh between her legs had swollen.

“Damn it!” She flung the door open and heaved herself out of the car to pace in the gravel. Her hands clenched and unclenched, dangerously close to seizing the first thing she could find and throwing it hard against some large inanimate object. She wanted to cry so badly, but hadn’t she shed the last miserable tear already? Imaginary buckets of salty tears loomed in her mind.

“Ty.”

The low voice caught her completely by surprise. She jumped a foot and uttered a muffled shriek. Her breath came fast and blood pounded in her ears. No, this cannot be happening.

“Sorry,” he laughed, “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Forcing herself to straighten, Tyler brought her gaze around to meet his eyes. Damn those eyes, blue or gray or somewhere in between, only today they were blue as the sky. His words barely penetrated the drumming of her pulse. She tried to form words, but her mouth felt like it was stuffed full of cotton.

“I thought it was you,” he continued. “Do you know how many times I’ve tried to find you?”

She shook her head, still unable to speak.

“Months, Ty, ever since…” He cleared his throat and looked around. “What the hell, anyway? What happened?”

He stepped closer. All the memories she had worked so hard to erase flooded back into her mind, Lee with his rough laugh, his teasing touch as he melted her into submission. Lee with his powerful body poised over her, waiting for her to beg. His mouth and hands in all her secret places, pleasing her and bringing her to the edge. Forcing her to fall into an oblivion of absolute perfect joy.

Then newer memories. She stiffened and stepped back.

“What happened? I wised up, Lee.” Her voice sounded far away. “I found out about Gloria and the rest of your hidden world. Did you really think you could keep all that a secret?”

His eyes searched her face. “Christ, Ty, is that why…? All this?” He shook his head. “Why didn’t you say something?”

“What’s to say? Once I knew, I couldn’t un-know.” She swallowed around her dry throat. “I did what I had to do.”

“If you had asked…”

She cut him off, growing more angry by the second. “Ask what? How you could tell me you loved me and still see other women on the side? What’s there to ask, Lee? Damn you, anyway.”

His stare burned into her. The sun baked the top of her head and for a moment, she wondered if she really would stroke out like Ronnie said. This had to be some kind of bad dream. Lee couldn’t really be standing here three feet away, pretending she was the one who’d done something wrong. The idea of it sent a new surge of fury through her.

“Look,” he said, leaning toward her. “Let’s go somewhere, let me explain. I need you to understand.”

“You need?! Get real. Why do I care what you need?”

“Okay, sure.” He dropped his head. “What do you need, Ty?”

Her jaw fell open. This really had to be a freaking dream. “Seriously? Do you really think I’m going to stand here and tell you what I need? Or that I’m going to stand here one second longer and tell you anything?” She whirled around and began walking away. She didn’t know where she was going, except away from this man and everything they had shared and everything inside her that still wanted him. To the end of the earth.

She heard him seconds before she felt his big hand grip her arm to spin her around. He loomed over her, shadowing her face with his tall form and the dense whirlwind of unruly blonde hair that caught in the breeze. His mouth crushed hers, and she inhaled in the shock of it, drawing his familiar musk into her nostrils. His lips tormented her, demanding a response as his tongue darted against her lips and probed for entry. Spears of pleasure shot through her, pleasure and pain, fear and need.

His hands found her waist and pulled her tight against his hard chest. The bulge at his groin thrust against her swollen mound, and there was nothing in the world she wanted more than to yield, to open herself for the divine pleasure of Lee’s body against hers.

“Ty, I dream about you,” he whispered, tracing a line of kisses along her cheek and down her neck. “We have to figure this out. Please.”

“No!” she said, her body suddenly rigid. This was what she couldn’t do, wouldn’t do. She tried to pull away as a fresh wave of tears burned her eyelids. “No no no.”

He gripped her arms. “I’m not letting you go. You’ll disappear again.”

“Let me disappear!” she cried. “I can’t be what you want.”

“You are what I want,” he insisted with a gruff voice. “I can explain Gloria, whatever else you think you know. Just give me a chance.”

For a moment, Tyler wavered. Maybe she had been too quick to decide. Maybe what she knew wasn’t the whole story. Still, she had seen them with her own eyes, Gloria’s luscious body spread out naked on the bed, Lee half dressed, his head between her legs. Later, the short sharp words that Gloria used to tell her, pointedly, about the multiple obligations in Lee’s life that Tyler had never known. How could she have been so dumb, so clueless? Why hadn’t he tried to explain?

It didn’t matter now. She pulled herself free from Lee’s grip and twisted her hair together behind her neck.

“Leave me alone,” she said slowly, putting a cold edge to her voice. “It’s over and you know it.”

He shook his head, his gaze lingering on her face with an expression of disbelief. Against her will, she saw pain in his eyes, regret. She hadn’t ever noticed the lines spreading from the corners of his eyes, or the creases along either side of his mouth. He looked like he’d aged, or maybe he’d always been this way. Neither of them were exactly young.

But to see his face, now, with his expression etched in the lines, caught her off guard, and she wanted to wail in grief. If not Lee, who? If not now, when? Was her life going to trail off into a gray future of solitary evenings and distant memories of happier times?

She shook her head and turned. More than she could consider. Not her problem. As she took the first few steps back toward Ronnie’s car, she wiped at the tears that somehow had drifted down her cheeks. He walked behind her. She heard his steps in the gravel.

She waited beside the car again, shading her eyes with her hand as she hoped feverishly for Ronnie to appear. He stood a few feet away, his jaw pulsing.

“It’s not over,” he said finally. “There’s too much you don’t understand. But I’ll leave you alone. For now.”

His stare burned into her, his eyes saying things that registered deep inside her, and as she watched him stride across the parking lot, as his form grew smaller in the distance, the cord that connected them tugged at her heart.