Sarelle’s return to her loved ones brings a brief measure of solace, even as she mourns all that changed in her absence. Rene’s presence and Sar’s pact with Shaker add as much tension as comfort, as the delicate balance of Sar’s life threatens to collapse under the weight of all she endured as Michael’s prisoner. Determined to reclaim her life, Sar fights back, inadvertently sparking Danial’s memory as an unseen ancient enemy prepares to strike a fatal blow.
Just before the first snow, the bulbs I’d ordered a month in advance arrived. Devlin joined Lash and I the next night in planting them around Darkness’s grave. “There’s something disquieting about me planting flowers called ‘I Love the Sun’,” Devlin said in a lilting voice, as we worked. Lash burst out laughing.
I stopped digging and gave him an exasperated look. “I told you, I ordered ‘Harvest of Memories,’ Dev. They sent me the others because they were out, and this kind is yellow, too.”
“Whatever you say,” Devlin said, obviously trying not to laugh. “I’m just saying—”
“Shh, Oathed One.” I planted my last bulb, then patted the ground. “Rest easy, good dog. You are loved and remembered.”
After we came in, Devlin and Lash excused themselves to take a conference call. Telling them I was heading to bed, I headed up to Devlin’s bedroom, peering inside first to make sure Rene was not there waiting for him.
There’s nothing for it. I’m going to have to start knocking first. Another peculiarity in my life is nothing new at this point.
I’d no sooner taken off my clothes than I felt a soft touch of hot skin as a large hand caressed my naked back. I let out a yelp, and darted away, looking back to see Shaker standing there behind me.
“What are you doing here?” I exclaimed, grabbing a robe, and slipping it on.
“You didn’t call for me,” Shaker said, giving me a faint grin. “Not that you said you would. But I expected you wanted to see me, after our dream together. So here I am, in case you did, and were too shy to ask me to come. And in the flesh too, so you’ll get the full experience this time.”
Time to say it. “I’m sorry. I don’t.” Shaker looked dumbfounded, then chuckled. “My bad, then. But are you sure? I can whisk us away to Maui, where we can lie on hot sand and make love in the waves.” He gave me a look with enough intent and cunning glee to make me freeze. “We’ll make them steam, Mistress. No one here will be the wiser, I guarantee it. Just say the word, and you can have your heart’s desire—”
“What, Terian?” Shaker said, advancing languorously. “That whelp needed a little quiet time. I heard what you said to him. Most of it made him feel better. So it was a good thing.” He reached out for me. “Come to me, Mistress. I wish to worship you again. And this time I’ll use a spell to make our night together seem to last days instead of only hours—”
“Stop,” I said loudly, and Shaker stopped, looking disgruntled. “Sar?” Seth said from the other side of the door. “Are you alright?” “Fine,” I called back loudly, then turned to my demon, who had taken my distraction as an opportunity to move closer.
“Leave,” I said adamantly to Shaker. “I’ll call you if I need you. But you have to go. You can’t be here, not like this!”
“I’ll settle for another dream,” Shaker said, sliding closer. “Let me touch you gently, as I did before and kiss away your pain. You have only to ask. I’ll give you anything you want—”
“There aren’t going to be any more shared dreams. I want you to go,” I said stridently. “Who is Mistress here? Go!”
“I must be losing my touch,” Shaker said humorously. “It’s the hooves and horns, isn’t it?”
In spite of myself, I began to grin at his humor, then pushed it down. “Go or I’ll start quoting Scripture! I mean it!”
“Quote me some of Solomon,” Shaker said, grinning widely. “Or I will quote some to you, my Valkyrie goddess—”
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Tara Fox Hall's writing credits include nonfiction, erotica, horror, suspense, action-adventure, children's stories, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal fantasy Lash series and the paranormal romantic drama Promise Me series. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice. All of her published children's stories to date are free reads on www.childrens-stories.net.
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