Dark Impulse Ch. 22byAurora Black©
Grace tossed and turned in her sleep, consumed by a restless fever. Her dreams were filled with exquisite images and indescribable sensations, and her skin sizzled from every single thing that her shadowy dream lover did to her.
* * *
In her mind's eye, he was there. He hovered above her, his copper hair shining in the moonlight as he bent his head to kiss her lips, her throat, and lower. His large and powerful hands reached for her, caressed her all over until she thought she would melt like hot wax. His touch blazed a trail across her exposed skin, leading down to the secret hollow between her thighs that ached for him to fill it.
She felt him smile against her trembling skin before he lifted his head. The look in his eyes was hot and merciless, and for a moment she thought she was staring at the Devil himself. His wicked, teasing smile only added to the image.
"Please, what? You want more of this?"
As he spoke, he circled his fingers around her throbbing clitoris and caused Grace to arch her hips to seek more of the pleasure he gave. She moaned into the pillow, her eyes shining in the darkness of the bedroom as she watched him.
His green eyes glowed with satisfaction. "How about some of this?"
She gripped the sheets with her hands as he slid a thick finger inside her, then another. A low, primal scream escaped her as he began a maddening rhythm, taking her higher. Her head tossed from side to side as she tried in vain to speak.
He smiled again, breathing harder from watching her excitement.
"I've got all night, darlin'. Tell me what you want."
She raised her arms, reaching for him. "You. I want you."
His eyes burned into hers as he gently removed his fingers from her feminine core, and as she watched, he slowly licked away her wetness from them.
Grace could hardly breathe as he climbed on top of her, positioning himself at her entrance. Their eyes locked, and for the first time she believed all of the things that the emerald depths seemed to shout at her. They said that he did indeed want her, love her.
She gasped as she felt his erection nudge her inner thigh, and she took a deep breath and opened her sex to him. He pushed carefully inside, and she almost wept with relief as she stretched to accommodate him. She opened her arms and he fell into her embrace as she wrapped her legs around his hips.
Her lover began to move; the flames inside her body leapt higher, burned brighter. He kissed her soft lips and moved his head to whisper hoarsely in her ear.
"You are mine, Gracie. Do you understand me? You'll never be free of me; I am as much a part of your mind, heart and soul as you are of mine. To deny me is to deny yourself, and when you hurt me, you only hurt more. Accept my love."
She cried against his shoulder as she felt the walls surrounding her heart begin to crumble and fall, stone by stone. She looked up into the eyes of the man she loved and decided to take a chance, to trust him. "Yes, Gabriel..."
Groaning, he pounded into her harder and she screamed out her joy as she exploded.
* * *
Grace jumped at the sound of her son's voice as he gently shook her awake.
Rafe stared at her in the darkness. "You were having a nightmare."
The gears started turning again in her brain, and she was fully alert.
She smiled at him. "Yes... I was. Thank you, sweetheart."
Then a terrible thought came to her which forced her to add, "Did I say anything?"
Rafe shook his head. "No, you were just screaming."
Grace was relieved at that; she would have been mortified if she'd said anything to give away the true nature of her dream, never mind that her son was way too young to understand that sort of thing. She still would have been embarrassed.
She sat up in bed. "Did I wake you, honey? I'm sorry."
"No, Mom. I woke up a few minutes ago because I dreamt about him again."
She felt another shiver pass through her which was no longer from desire, but fear. She reminded herself to breathe normally. "Anything new in the dream?"
Rafe thought for a moment before replying.
"Everything is exactly the same except for the ending. Each night I have the dream, the ending is always slightly different than before. When he reaches for me to pick me up from the ground, the sun is in a different position in the sky behind him and I'm able to see more of his face and body."
Grace felt a lump in her throat. "How soon will it be before you see him totally?"
The little boy tilted his head to the side, regarding her curiously.
"Not long, maybe a couple of days. But I've already seen enough, I think."
She gasped softly. "Do you know him? Who is he to you?"
Rafe smiled brightly. "Yes, I know him. He's my guardian angel."
He leaned forward and kissed her cheek. "Goodnight, Mom."
She stared at his retreating back, unable to speak from the wave of self-disgust that had enveloped her at his words. She clenched her teeth, inadvertently biting her tongue in the process. The metallic taste of blood filled her mouth but she didn't notice, her thoughts elsewhere.
He's close to finding out about Gabriel on his own, if he doesn't already know. I have painted myself into a corner. My son, even at such a tender age, is already as intuitive as his father. It's only a matter of time before I'm exposed and my ugly lies will come to light. Where will that leave me? Gabriel will hate me, and so will Rafe. I'll be alone with my grief and the constant thoughts of what might have been if I hadn't messed things up in the first place. I would do anything to prevent that.
Grace lowered herself against the pillows and eventually settled into a troubled sleep which was filled with dreams of a man holding a child in his arms while she watched from a distance, wanting nothing more than to join them.
When they saw her, they laughed at her.
* * *
The next morning, Grace stood in the kitchen as she brewed a pot of tea. Her movements were mechanical, her mind focused on Gabriel and how she must disentangle herself from him, drive him away. She told herself that her dreams of him meant nothing, and that the feelings of yearning that simmered inside her would eventually vanish. Several times, the dream Gabriel's words came back to haunt her.
To deny me is to deny yourself, and when you hurt me, you only hurt more.
She closed her eyes briefly at the memory, opening them again when she heard the shrill whistle of the tea kettle. She hurried to pour the hot liquid, glancing at the wall clock beside the refrigerator; it was 7:30am. She had a doctor's appointment in half an hour.
The television was playing in the background as she loaded a tray with breakfast goodies to take into the living room. The popular morning talk show, along with its perky hostess, worked hard to spread the morning sunshine into every home nationwide.
Grace placed the tray on the coffee table and sat down just as the show returned from the commercial break. Upbeat music and nature shots followed, and a moment later the cameras focused on the cheering live studio audience and then on the hostess, who was preparing to interview the show's next guest.
She nearly choked on her toast when she recognized the man sitting in the easy chair on the set; it was Gabriel. He was wearing jeans and a baby blue turtleneck that fit him perfectly and emphasized his red hair and green eyes. The camera panned over him, and she was painfully aware that the majority of the crowd in the studio was female. She didn't like the thought of that, all those women devouring him with their eyes.
Like you are right now?
"Shut up," she muttered to herself as she grabbed the remote to turn up the volume.
The pretty blonde hostess smiled brightly at the camera, her blue eyes frequently darting in Gabriel's direction as she spoke. Grace wanted to slap her.
"Good morning and welcome to 'Juice & Coffee,' the show which you have kindly chosen to start off your day today. I'm Layla Stevens, and we have a very special guest with us this Tuesday morning. A man who eight years ago started his literary career in New Orleans with only a few dollars to his name, and is today one of the most successful authors out there. The Blake Backlash Trilogy, which has captured the imagination of readers worldwide, concludes with 'Sacred Blood,' a novel that has sparked a firestorm of controversy with several religious groups. Apparently, that's not enough to slow this powerhouse of a book down. Or its charming author, for that matter. Gabriel Knight, welcome to the show!"
Gabriel smiled warmly as he waited for the deafening applause to die down.
"Thank you very much, Ms. Stevens. It's good to be here."
The hostess pouted her delicately rouged lips, and Grace rolled her eyes.
"Please, call me Layla."
He tilted his head to the side, causing a lock of his hair to fall against his cheek as he smiled politely at her. Someone in the audience whistled softly.
"Only if you call me Gabriel."
Layla blushed and giggled, and Grace's eyes narrowed.
"Okay, Gabriel. Is it true that you're currently involved in talks with Hollywood because there's interest in bringing the Trilogy to the Big Screen?"
He thought for a moment before replying.
"I've been approached by movie producers a number of times these past few years concerning the novels, but for obvious reasons I'm not at liberty to name names. But yes, there has been a lot of interest in movie versions of 'Voodoo Murders' and 'Blood Wolves,' and soon 'Sacred Blood' will be considered as well."
Layla leaned forward. "Have any ideas about which celebrities will play the leads?"
Gabriel grinned. "I really couldn't say, Layla. I've been abroad for so long that I've completely lost track of all the talent Hollywood has to offer."
It was a minute before Layla realized that he had stopped talking. Clearing her throat in embarrassment, she shifted her gaze away from his lips and continued.
"What brings you to New York?"
"Other than promoting the novel, I'm here on personal business and some sightseeing for good measure. This is my first time here, and I want to enjoy it to the fullest."
His words surprised Layla. "Really? This is your very first time here?"
He nodded, a bit uncomfortable with the hostess' attention. "Yes, that's right."
She shook her head in disbelief. "Wow. Everyone should come to visit New York at least once, you know? What sights do you most want to see, Gabriel?"
"Oh, the usual stuff. The Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty..."
Grace was startled by the ringing of the doorbell, and she hurried to open the door. It was her father; he had come to watch Rafe while she went out.
She smiled at Hiroshi. "Morning, Dad."
He smiled back as he stepped inside and closed the door.
"Hi, honey. Is the little man sleeping?"
She led her father into the living room and poured him some tea.
"Yes, and he'll probably be asleep for a while. He had another dream last night."
"The same one? With the stranger?"
She nodded silently, her eyes fixed on the swirling brown liquid in the teacup.
"Grace, look at me."
She swallowed hard and met her father's eyes, which were shadowed with concern.
"Is there something that you haven't told me about Gabriel Knight?"
She smiled without mirth. "How much time do you have?"
Hiroshi patted the sofa cushion beside him. "Come sit with me."
She sat down silently, unable to believe what she was about to say.
He waited patiently. "I'm listening."
The words were there, waiting to be released. Her throat felt like it was closing up.
"I don't want you to think that I'm crazy, Dad."
He frowned at her. "I know for a fact that you're not, sweetheart. Tell me."
Grace's gaze shifted from her father to the television. She pointed at Gabriel.
"You know his books, the supernatural detective stories? They're based on real events."
Hiroshi was confused. "When you say 'real events,' you mean the actual police cases that he used as a reference to build the fictional stories around, right?"
She shook her head vehemently, breathing hard.
"No. I mean that everything is real. The police cases, the folklore and magic. Even the creatures. All of it is real. Gabriel is a Schattenjäger, Dad."
"It's German for 'Shadow Hunter,' a defender against Evil. He was hired to track down those things and eliminate them, and then he wrote books about his experiences. I helped him in those cases, and we grew... close. That's why I was so reluctant to return to school all those years ago and then ran off to Germany. I went to be with him."
Hiroshi watched his daughter as she stared at Gabriel's image on the screen. He saw the telltale moistness in her eyes, and everything clicked into place.
"He is Rafe's father, isn't he?"
Grace couldn't speak; the tears streaked down her face as she nodded. He opened his arms and she gratefully sank into them, crying her heart out against his shoulder. He kissed her forehead and rocked her like a baby. "It's okay. It's going to be okay."
He held his daughter while he looked over her shoulder at the TV. He reached for the remote and restored the sound that Grace had muted when he arrived.
The hostess continued her line of questioning about the novel.
"A warning to the viewers that haven't read the book: If you don't want to be spoiled, please mute the television for the next minute or so. We will flash a message on the screen to let you know when we're finished discussing this topic."
Layla returned her attention to Gabriel. "There has been some disappointment among your die-hard fans concerning the ending of 'Sacred Blood,' when Fujitsu leaves Blake for places unknown. Some have been so bold as to circulate a petition asking for a fourth installment to give them closure. What's your view on this, Gabriel?"
He looked straight into the camera, and Grace caught her breath at the intensity of his eyes. It was as if he was speaking directly to her, and she shivered.
His face was serious as he spoke. "I consider myself to be a romantic at heart, so I want Blake and Fuji to wind up together as much as everyone else does, if not more. But there are certain issues to consider first: With the horrible way that Blake treated her in the book, is it really possible for Fuji to forgive him and enter a relationship with him? Or would she move on, find someone who would love her, respect and worship her the way she deserves? Blake was a fool, and she had every right to leave him. He wasn't worthy of her, and he failed to realize what a treasure he had in her until it was too late."
The entire studio echoed from the applause and catcalls that erupted from the women in the audience. Layla stared at Gabriel in shock and heightened interest.
"Wow! You're very passionate about your work."
Gabriel looked at the camera again. "What can I say? I was inspired."
As she wiped the tears from her eyes, Grace was touched by his words while Hiroshi remained silent and curious about what the younger man would say next.
Layla consulted her interview notes.
"Which brings me to my next question: Is there a special lady in your life?"
Gabriel grinned widely. "Yeah, you could say that."
Grace felt a sense of satisfaction when she saw Layla and the female audience members struggle and fail to hide their disappointment.
The hostess continued. "And does she know what a prize she's landed?"
Gabriel blushed nervously.
"Actually, she doesn't want anything to do with me at the moment."
Shouts of "Oh my God," and "What on earth?" came from the crowd, and Grace wanted the sofa cushions to open wide and swallow her up.
Layla's attitude instantly changed from disappointment to shocked disbelief.
"Are you serious? I find it very hard to believe that any woman could resist you!"
Gabriel laughed before looking straight into the camera again.
"You're very kind. Her reaction is natural and just, believe me, but I hope that this won't go on for much longer. She is the most brilliant woman I've ever known, and I love her very much. I've got all my cards on the table, and it's up to her to decide where to go with this. She has complete control, and I am at her feet."
The entire studio was silent; all the women were hypnotized by his words. Finally, the hostess stirred out of the trance and saw the signal that an angry cameraman had been trying to give her from behind the scenes.
"Oh! It's time for the break. Gabriel, thank you very much for being with us today."
Gabriel grinned. "It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me."
A lone woman shouted from the audience, "I wouldn't mind having you, sugar!"
He blushed hard, wanting nothing more than to get out of there.
Layla turned to address the camera. "We have just spoken with Gabriel Knight, the author of 'Sacred Blood,' the third and final novel of the Blake Backlash Trilogy which is just flying off the shelves. Available in bookstores everywhere."
A commercial for drain cleaner came on, and Grace fumbled to switch off the television. She stared at the blank screen, dreading what she had to do when she saw Gabriel later that afternoon. She turned to her father. "What time is it?"
Hiroshi glanced at his watch. "It's 7:50."
She let out a small cry as she leaped off the couch. "Jesus! I'm going to be late!"
He watched as his daughter hurried to put on her coat and grab her purse.
"What's this meeting about, again?"
Grace hated lying to her father, but she didn't want him to know where she was really going. "It's about that upcoming exhibit at the Guggenheim that I mentioned."
Hiroshi followed her to the door.
"Don't worry about the boy. Do what you have to do."
She adjusted a scarf around her neck, and met his eyes in the mirror.
"I don't know when I'll be back."
He opened the door for her. "Take your time. See you later."
She kissed him on the cheek before leaving, and when Hiroshi moved to close the door he saw Rafe standing nearby, wiping away tears. Oh, damn.
He closed and locked the door before walking to the little boy.
"How much did you hear, sport?"
Rafe's tiny chest moved up and down with his heaving breaths.
"Everything, and I saw him on TV as well. He's exactly like he was in my dreams."
Hiroshi moved to pick him up, and Rafe continued talking.
"He loves her, Grandpa, but she's scared. I wish that there was something I could do to make Mom feel better, but I can't. Like he said, it's her decision."
* * *
Dr. Neil Weissman, Neurologist
Grace sat across the desk from the young doctor, clutching a medical pamphlet in her hands as she looked around at the office walls. She saw detailed posters which featured various illustrations of brains, both healthy and blighted by disease, and for the first time she wondered which category hers belonged to.
Dr. Weissman brought her attention back to him by clearing his throat, and she estimated that he was only a few years older than herself. His brown eyes were kind as they met hers, and he looked again at his notes before he spoke.
"So, Mrs. Anami, you said before that your mother recently died of brain cancer, and you suspect that you may have inherited a similar condition?"
She sighed. "Yes, I do. I've been feeling very strange for the past month, and I can't shake off the feeling that the cause may be physical rather than psychological."
The doctor leaned forward in his chair. "Why would you think it was psychological? Have you been under a great deal of stress lately?"
Grace scoffed. "You have no idea."
He opened a desk drawer and retrieved a clipboard and pen. "Okay, let's discuss your symptoms. Have you experienced bouts of vomiting, particularly in the morning?"