"Oh! I think I see Jonathon. Excuse me there, I think I have the chance to flirt some info on Francesca's spring line out of him. Stay here, I'll be right back."
At least Catherine was easy to spot, the wig and heels turned her 5'6" frame into a pole of white hair 7' tall, over most of the crowd. Kelly stood there at the meeting place of the tables and dance floor, already filling. The band was dressed as Michael Jackson in Thriller Zombie guise and the backup zombies from the video. They were playing Halloween songs, melding from "I Put A Spell On You" into "The Monster Mash" but keeping it lively and contemporary, barely hokey.
She saw a supermodel turned vampire, and some man dressed as Rasputin so convincingly she had to wonder if the urban legends that he lived might be true. Catherine was in deep conversation; she pretended she flirted with Jonathon to get information from the rival designer's businessman, but Kelly knew it hid a major crush. Perhaps with the anonymity of masks they'd stop playing the game and finally do it tonight, she thought with a smile.
Left to her own devices she headed for the buffet at the far wall. The French chefs looked only mildly irritated being dressed as werewolves in chef costumes, and fretted over the gourmet treats. Ham with blood orange glace, Beef Wellington made to look like cross-sections of legs and arms, but smelling of heaven, joined blue cheese and potato casseroles designed to look like swamps or graveyards topped with mushrooms painstaking decorated as tombstones. There were rolls and salads in the theme, vegetable medleys turned into pickled eyes and teeth with food coloring. There was a separate table for snacks; more traditional Halloween candy available in any dollar store or Bodega, she saw with a surprise. The dessert table looked like Martha Stewart had made it all, and knowing Richard, she probably had.
Feeling nervous she just took some candy corn and ate two pieces, looking around. How could she recognize anyone with a mask? She finished her drink and turned to find a waiter, bumping into a man in a tux and a cape.
He was big, just barely taller than her, and broad. His dark hair was slicked back like her own and his face was covered in a Phantom Of The Opera mask.
He steadied her. "I've taken no damage, my lady."
His accent was Irish, but not somewhere between Liam Neeson and Colin Farrell, she thought. "Well, that's good." He seemed very familiar but with the mask she couldn't place him. "Do I know you?"
"I haven't the pleasure. I'm Cillian Martin." He made a sweeping bow and took her free hand to kiss the back of it.
At his touch she felt a tingle, a definite tingle, and his hesitation spoke volumes. "I'm, ah," her brains tumbled for a moment, "Kelly. Kelly Quinn."
He dropped her hand and stood, suddenly all dark menacing energy. "Your husband...where is he?"
Involuntarily she glanced at her left hand, still in the black leather glove. Danger radiated off him, making her nervous. "He's, uh, he'll be joining me later."
"Kelly!" Catherine called, and all she could think was thank you, God.
"Well I have to go. Nice meeting you, Mr. Martin."
He watched her go, those hard dark eyes following her like a hawk sighting prey.
"Who was that? He looks like a good time."
"I have no idea. Look, he gives me the willies."
Catherine looked him up and down again. "Is this because you haven't gotten laid in...how old is Holly?"
Kelly glared. "I don't know, something's just off. Look, how was Jonathon?"
Catherine laughed, in her element. "Following the French rumors again, like always. Pastels and python...it's going to be a disaster."
Transported back into work Kelly shook her head. "Mixed media for shoes is good. Imagine classic python stilettos with a little yellow bow on back. Handbags could match."
"Oh my god! We'll need to rework everything!"
Kelly laughed. "You only saw half my sketches. Come on, let's forget work and find Richard."
"Good idea, I feel a shopping trip to Singapore coming on." Catherine took her hand and led her through the crowd.
When Kelly looked back, the stranger was gone.
He stumbled into the bathroom and with a growl sent the attendant running out the door. Cillian ripped off the mask and figured out how to use the...faucet it was called, that was right, and splashed cool water on his face.
He'd touched her skin, she'd been within inches of him. This woman was so tall, so strong. She had Siobhan's eyes and her lush corves, but she had the body of a warrior, so different from his soft, feminine Siobhan, but all the same it was her.
After centuries he'd found her, she was in the same place as the Quinn...and she was the Quinn's wife.
He punched the mirror in rage and it hurt as the glass cracked. Damn, he'd forgotten so much of life; pain did not exist in this way cross the curtain. He was bleeding, too; real blood flowed from his knuckles. Oh, the Morrigan went all the way, didn't she?
He found a towel in the attendant's basket and wrapped it around the wound, though he could feel it slow already. What as he going to do?
"That's up to you," a sultry voice purred.
He turned to see a stunning woman, all strawberry hair, sensual features, and a body to die for covered in an old, flowing gown. She wore a red heart-shaped masque above her ruby lips.
"Cillian Martin. Warrior, wanderer, and now vengeance personified. How do you know me? I gave you the blessing of true love and when did you ever join in the dance as my effigy was burned for the crops? When did you ever sing my praises at the table when feasting on my wheat? How do you know honor me by continuing to exist as you are only for blood and death?"
"It's not true! I live for love!"
"You don't live at all, if I recall." She swept towards him, circling, and as her hand trailed behind her it passed through his chest. He was becoming a shade again.
"I love my dear cousin, the Morrigan, but all she knows of men is killing them. You were always such a good warrior, a strong sword arm for her to command. She is mad you were felled by an arrow, you who had seen such glory in battle sending legions onto her."
She still circled slowly and he remained stock still, afraid to move lest he slip through the floor into the very Earth itself.
"The woman you want and this Quinn you seek to bleed are here, tonight, in this very place. Think you can best the Quinn and still win your fair lady?"
"She'll remember, she'll know."
"She's had at least six lifetimes since she knew you. Husbands, families, happiness. How long to find the Quinn you want? Will it leave you one hour, two, maybe three in which to bewitch the Witch of Galway herself?"
"She knew me! She felt it when we touched!"
"Did she know love?" Standing behind him she managed to whisper into his ear though he was much taller. Her delicate hand trailed over his chest. "Is that why she ran from you, stinking of fear?"
"Stop it!" Finally he moved from her grasp and whirled on the goddess. "Why do you torment me!?!"
"You are the Morrigan's; your woman is mine. Despite my misgivings, you are the missing half of her soul. For all the lifetimes I have watched her, guarded her, I have never seen as happy as she deserves. For whatever reason, you are the answer to that problem.
"So tonight I task you; choose. Choose vengeance or love for you cannot have both. My power is different than my cousin's but I too can grant you life or take it; I am a goddess of fertility; of humans, of the earth. Gift me with love between you and your woman and I may free you."
"But the Morrigan demands blood!"
"Choose." There was power in that word, an unseen wind blowing her hair like fall wheat, her eyes pure white electricity.
He'd been born and raised to revere the Morrigan, a mother goddess side by side with the Virgin Mary. Turning his back on her after all she had done...for Siobhan, he would. For love, he would.
"I choose love."
She spread her arms and glowed golden, power filling the air around them. She laughed, that sultry laugh he'd heard before. "It is done; she must love you by sunrise."
"It's not enough time! I canna do it!"
She glanced back down, the power seeping into her once more, and smiled beatifically. "Oh, I have helped you. I have laid the groundwork."
"I've given you more help than you can dream of." Laughing as if it were a joke, she disappeared instantly. In her wake he felt something ethereal slam into him.
The weight of it was immense; knowledge. Memories: Siobhan's. And a woman named Sinead, a Mary, a Katherine, and more and more until Kelly. He saw their lives, their families in snippets, their desires, their loves, children, all swimming together until he did not know which child belonged to what woman.
It filled him, overwhelming him, and then it cooled. It cooled to visions, dreams, he knew, belonging to the woman Kelly. Those visions left him hard and aching, and desperate beyond measure.
Come what may in the morning; death, oblivion, or the love he dreamed of, Cillian was committed.
"You really do look lovely tonight, my dear," Richard told her for the third time.
Old enough to be her father, he was the patron who had financed her when she'd been a struggling designer fresh out of school working in the garage of the mother-in-law apartment she'd rented from a professor out on Long Island. Now with his help they had a decent studio on the very edges of Manhattan and could afford to take a limo to work. The #5 train was faster, in truth, but he insisted.
"And so do you. The wig is a little disturbing." He was dressed as Bram Stoker's Dracula, the older version fresh off the boat with the double bouffant. A paper thin blood-red mask covered his eyes, and when he smiled real-looking fangs showed.
"It's heavy, but I like the effect. Vampires aren't supposed to be cuddly, and they sure as hell shouldn't sparkle."
Kelly laughed at that and the music stopped for a moment.
"Oh, do forgive this old man, I need a rest. I haven't eaten yet and the Beef Wellington looks heavenly. Will you join me?"
"Actually, may I have this dance?"
She glanced behind her and saw him, the stranger. He looked intimidating, but not scary. Still she felt herself tremble.
"I wanted to apologize for earlier."
"Kelly?" Richard asked.
'I'll be fine, Richard."
"All right." He toddled off but gave Cillian a look her father would be proud of.
"You were apologizing?"
"I am sorry. A, um, Donald Quinn owes me some money. I thought he might be here and you were his wife, but I was wrong."
"I accept your apology," she nodded as the band started into a slow tune she vaguely remembered form old Disney Halloween short.
"Shall we dance?"
She stepped to him and took his hand, placing her other on his waist. She wore both her leather gloves once more and he had at least two layers on, but that tingle resonated once more.
"How do you know Richard?" she asked to cover her awkward steps. Dancing was nothing she had time for, but he knew the steps and her fencing training helped greatly once she got the rhythm.
"I don't, not directly. Business."
"What is it you do?"
"Nothing important," he responded cryptically, swinging her gently. "And you?"
"Nothing of consequence," she responded equally.
"You're a designer. Very artistic, and rising in your field."
"How did you know that?"
"I've heard of you."
"Oh." She couldn't think of anything else to say so she let herself grow quiet, feeling their bodies move. Unwittingly they had melded into the same rhythm, and she could feel his hard, warmth pressed against her.
The tingle was everywhere. Her head was swimming, and suddenly his masked face danced in her vision, mingling with that of the dream man. She gasped and tore herself from his embrace. "You!"
He looked around at the few couples staring, vampires, and fairies and new celebrities dresses as dead ones. "The dreams. I know, I- I've had them too."
She gaped at him.
He stepped closer and took her hands once more, and Kelly let him. "What do you mean?"
"I've been searching for you, for a very, very long time."
Her breath froze in her lungs. Disbelief swam over her, and all she could think of was The Curse. "Oh, god, you're not a vampire, are you?"
"I'm afraid not. I am starving though, and that ham smelled divine."
"Are you going to kill me?" She blurted out.
He stopped dancing, eyes boring into hers. "Never. I have never harmed a woman or child in my life and I never will."
He seemed so ardent she shook it off. What did this all mean?
Suddenly his eyes left hers and she followed his gaze to a stunning woman with strawberry hair and a flowing gown. She was so beautiful, appearing to shine in the dim lights, that even Kelly could not take her eyes off her.
Moving through the dancers who parted for her, she headed for them. Drawing close she gave Kelly a motherly smile, and an enigmatic one to Cillian. Kelly blinked and she was gone. "What the heck was that?"
"A gift, I think."
"A gif-" Her body was filled with warmth. Something low in her body turned over and yawned awake from an ancient place, stretching. Heat responded, inside blooming out, and suddenly she was mad with lust.
He felt it too, and the look in his eyes behind the white mask was burning.
Suddenly, without shame, they were kissing on the dance floor. Just as in her dreams his lips were soft and firm, and he tasted of mint. The kiss was consuming, burning away all her fear of the night, the din around them. Her nipples hardened into aching points as she clutched him, desperate to feel his body beneath the suit.
"Not here," he said, breaking off.
"I have a room. I- I don't know what's going on but I can't wait."
"It's magic. Samhain is pure magic."
"Close enough. Come, show me your room." He took her by the hand and pushed through the crowd, leading her to the door and out to the elevator.
Once inside she pushed the button for her floor as the doors closed. He was on her in seconds, a ferocious attack of pure sensuality. His mouth devoured her as one hand palmed a large breast through her shirt, the other sliding up her legs. The glorified stretch pants did nothing to hide her and she knew her wetness had soaked them.
Never in all her life had she felt this...horny was the only word that came to mind. Always fearing an early death Kelly had lived her life wild and free, seizing the moment, never settling down until Holly came along. Cillian wouldn't be the first stranger she had known in her bed, but never had she wanted anyone this way.
She touched him too; popping buttons on his shirt she felt his chest, all hard muscle covered with a light sprinkling of hair. He moaned into her and then his hips moved between them, forcing him to withdraw his hand. He ground his erection into her, making her gasp.
The doors slid open and a man pardoned himself, letting them close again. She rubbed herself on Cillian like a cat in heat, feeling she might die if she couldn't have him inside her.
Finally the doors opened to an empty floor and it took her lust-addled mind a moment to realize it was hers. "We're here."
"Hurry," he whispered urgently, nipping her earlobe.
She caught the doors and led him to her room, fishing for her key card. Once in she flipped on the light and then he was there. Her patience shredded and she tugged off her sword belt and handkerchief, pulling at his cape and coat. He pulled them both off together and then she pulled his shirt open, the remaining buttons flying off.
He bent to kiss her again but Kelly stopped him, panting. "Masks."
He pulled his off as she did hers, and both stopped, staring. He was the man from her dreams, the very man. Her heart thundered as reason threatened to intrude, and then he touched her again, cupping her face. "You're so beautiful, so unique, but your eyes...I have dreamed of them since I was born."
His words made little sense but his touch enflamed her.
She drew him into a kiss and worked as his pants open, sliding a hand in to cup him. He was rock hard and long against her palm. Cillian whimpered as she stroked him, and with a smile she broke the kiss, sliding her lips to his chin, nipping at his neck and collarbone, and laving a nipple.
His hands moved to fasten in her hair as she slid down his firm stomach to his exposed cock. She licked him gently and he moaned softly; she swallowed the head and sucked firmly, working his pants further down to slide as much of his cock into her mouth as she could.
"Chevon," he moaned.
Her head snapped up. "What? Is that a name?"
"I- I'm sorry."
She just smiled. "When I'm done the only woman's name you'll know is mine."
"Of that I have no doubt, but Kelly, dear, there is something I have waited a very long time to do."
He pulled her up, picked her up so her legs wrapped around his waist. Kelly purred and rubbed against him, pressing the fabric of her pants into her hot aching pussy. He walked them to the bed and set her down with a bounce. Kneeling between them he grabbed her low collar and with a single tug, ripped it open.
Before she could do more than gasp he was there, one large hand gripping a breast as his mouth fastened on the other nipple. She loved this, she had missed this, and she forgot about everything but the feel of him then. His tongue and teeth worked one nipple hard and the other was treated to a painstaking gentle stroking by his thumb. She grabbed the sheets, twisting, moaning, encouraging him.
He switched his mouth and his hand reached down to her pants. They wouldn't give so he had to break off so she could kick off her boots and work the stretchy material down with him.
He became a cyclone; she felt his hands and mouth everywhere. He kissed every inch of skin with sweet reverence until she was mindlessly begging him to do something, anything, to make her cum.
At last his lips moved between her legs and at the first touch of his tongue she reared up, swearing in three languages. His mouth fastened over her, suckling, as his tongue toyed with her clit, attacking it from every angle. He moaned and the vibration made her slam back into the coverlet.
When a large finger slid inside her she worried for a moment she would wake and he would be gone. Then he curled it forward and pressed and she came with such a loud wail it was nearly a scream. All through it Cillian didn't stop, not until she came down, begging him to leave off, she was so swollen and sensitive.
"Now," she said. "Pants off," she demanded at his confused look.
Reason left when he undressed completely. His body was perfect, strong, and she wanted every inch of him in her mouth, but if she didn't have that delicious cock inside her she'd go mad.
He tried to kneel between her legs but she surprised him. Hooking an ankle behind his she grabbed his shoulders and rolled him to his back. Kelly didn't stop to gloat, she covered him, centered his cock, and sank down.
The feeling was incredible. It had been so long, and strangely with him it felt so right. His face was a work of beauty, anguish and pleasure in one.
Then he jerked her forward and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her to his chest. Cillian kissed her deeply, palming a breast, and she struggled to move. The end result was sliding against him rather than thrusting, rasping her clit on his hair, his thick cock stretching her.
She clutched at his shoulders as his hand slipped from her breast to her hip, driving her to undulate against him, the other keeping her pressed to him. His hips responded, moving against and surging into her. Kelly chewed his lip, frantic to move faster but he refused her.