A while back I had the good fortune to participate in a lovely collaboration of authors--Kristi Cook, Charlotte Featherstone and myself on a Celtic anthology project. In these books, we celebrated the tales and legends of Celtic lore. In our last of these historical anthologies together -DARK PLEASURES-- we wrote of Samhain--the night when the veil to the otherworld is most thin.
These stories featured the Dark Lords who lived in the wood--a story that Charlotte's Gran used to tell them when she was little to keep youngsters from playing in the wood.
We put the twist on the tale and featured these Dark Lords in search for three women who were willing to sell their soul --at any price--for their deepest desires.
MASTER OF DESIRE ( A Dark Pleasures Novella)
by Amanda McIntyre
Suddenly, every shadow on her face seemed darker, every line deeper. She’d been far too busy, too focused on building her successful career that she’d missed building a life. What did she have to show for her years of devotion to her craft? Wardrobes filled with gowns, rare jewels given as gifts. More wealth and notoriety than ten people achieve in their lifetimes. Yet who was there now to share in this abundance, to enjoy the spoils of her success?
The strange occurrences with her imaginary man had given her ample reason to question her mental state, but she realized too what a scandal it would be if the fickle public should discover her secret affliction. Tonight, she would set aside the ghostly specter, drink lavishly to her successful career and perhaps consider a trip to the seaside if she felt up to it come morning.
She eyed the crowd, small, but with notable figures of the London ton still making an appearance. The show would survive its run. Careful to steer away from the temptation to search the crowd for a dark-eyed stranger, she found her fourth glass of champagne and carefully eased herself down on the bottom step of the grand staircase. No one seemed to notice, she thought with amusement, sipping her drink. They were far too engaged in trivial discussions about the latest in Paris fashions or the juiciest gossip. She grew bored, restless.
Their driveling conversations grow wearisome, don’t you agree?
The voice mingled with the pleasant buzz in her head. She chuckled, though, agreeing with this phantom in her head. Firm thumbs pressed against the back of her neck, kneading softly, delightfully easing away the tension.
“Where have you been?” she whispered, rolling her head side to side to accommodate his massage. The heavenly caress moved to the muscles between her shoulder blades.
I have been right here, waiting, watching.
Her eyes drifted shut and she leaned back supported between his muscular thighs. She inhaled the heady scent of wood smoke and an early-morning walk in the forest after a cold rain.
You’ve been under a lot of pressure, haven’t you, my lovely?
She nodded, lost in the bliss of his perfect fingertips on her flesh.
If you were mine, I would see to your every need. I have seen your desires, my lovely. I exist in a constant state of need, willing to satisfy each one.
Francesca’s throat grew dry. She imagined him seated behind her, gently massaging her shoulders, taking care of her. “You truly care for me, then?” Her words slurred softly, a quiet plea issued from a weary soul.
I am here to give you whatever you desire.
She smiled. His cool fingertips smoothed down the slender curve of her throat, dipping down inside the bodice of her gown, beneath her stay. “Who are you?” she asked, her thoughts in a lust-filled haze.
A woman’s voice, slightly stern, filtered through the murky waters of her mind. Francesca attempted to reach toward the familiar voice, but her arm flopped back to her side. Her appendages felt like dead weights.
“Help me, Monsignor. Get her to the chair, there in the hall. Away from public view.”
Francesca’s body lifted, pulled from her lover’s heavenly embrace. “No,” she whispered. “I want to stay.”