The Dryad Ch. 04bymadam_noe©
Raven opened her eyes to the grey before dawn.
"What are you doing here?" she heard a pigeon ask. Turning Raven saw she was in Gr- James' bed, he was asleep, and it was Frank talking to her.
"Long story. Would you by any chance happen to know if my father is in my apartment?"
Frank snorted. "He tried to get in but Millie tore him up good. He took off, cursing your name."
Frank flew in and landed on the desk looking them over. "Should I even ask why you're bumping uglies with Mister America here?"
"None of your business Frank. Now get out of here, he's waking up!"
Frank cooed and took off with a flurry of wings. Before he woke up Raven undid her mask and took a deep breath.
"Good morning," James said sleepily. "I'd better call Susan, let her know not to worry."
He stood, naked but for the mask and Raven took a deep breath. "James, wait."
He turned and she felt her cheeks heat when she saw he was still tumescent with the morning relaxation. "What?"
"Tell her I took her advice and you spent the night with me. That is, if this isn't just a, um, three-time thing."
In his sleep he'd reverted to the James she knew, with his black hair and blue eyes, and the Gryphon mask was unsettling. "Would you at least take off the mask?"
He did and when it was off they were James and Raven, naked and uncomfortable.
She stared at him, so beautiful to her, and wondered if he'd have any interest in her if she hadn't been Dryad.
Making love in the night, and that's exactly what they'd done, had been between Gryphon and Dryad. It had been the big, blonde superhero who had stroked Dryad tenderly, kissed Dryad's skin with reverence, brought Dryad to overwhelming orgasms over and over again.
Now she was shy Raven Keppler, he was powerful James McBride, and except for the masks, they had nothing in common.
"Susan gave you advice?"
Too late she realized what she'd revealed and Raven blushed. Now he knew that she had been in love with him enough for Susan, the woman who'd raised him, to step in and play Cupid.
He crossed the room and drew her into a hug. His skin was rough, and so warm. She melted into his strong body, hiding her face, so terribly unsure of what he would say.
"Raven, I...I remember when we first met. I loved you then, and I love you now."
Her heart was thundering in her chest. "You- you don't mean that. It's Dryad you love, or think you love."
He pushed her back and stared down into her eyes. "Raven...it's you, it's always been you. I can't make you believe that, you have to look into your heart and see mine."
She pulled away and turned her back on him. She'd been alone for so long. She was poor; he was rich. She was a supervillain, he was a superhero. His father had been warm and loving; hers was a cold, calculating bastard. She was so wrong for him, on every level.
"Don't tell Susan. Look, we have work to do today, and tonight...tonight Gryphon and Dryad have to work together."
He stepped behind her drawing her back into his arms, his slight erection still thick, cushioned between her butt cheeks. "Will you retire Dryad when this is done?"
Unable to answer, she jerked a nod, and left him for the bathroom. When the door closed, she cried.
Raven was shaking. Her animals, her friends, were all scared. Millie tried to talk her out of it, they all did, but Raven knew her father had to die, or she'd never be safe.
She stood on the balcony, waiting as the sun slid down. He was out there, somewhere, watching her. He might have the costume on, be in his other form, but in her heart he was James.
He was James, and she knew he loved her as much as she loved him. She would prove to him she was good, no matter how long it took.
For James and her aunt, Dryad would live on, but she would help people. She would make a difference in the world. And Raven Keppler would follow her own dreams, make her own fortune. And maybe, just maybe, one day, she'd be the right woman for James McBride.
Sunlight died in a spectacular burst of reds and purples, night sliding blue and black over the horizon.
A speck was zooming through the high rises coming rapidly towards her. Raven hopped the railing, called goodbye to her friends, and floated, waiting.
Master Bloodless grabbed her painfully. "Bitch!"
She heard a distant growl and preyed Gryphon would take his time and wait as they had planned.
"Need me to read the map?"
"Bitch! You know where we're going!"
"Robinson Woods, but the map was too faded after that. Whatever you're looking for is buried, and you'll need me to talk to the trees."
He was hurting her with his grip and the smile that spread underneath his helmet was chillingly evil.
"Then let's go."
He took off at full speed, faster than Raven had ever flown, and she felt nauseous, fighting hard to keep her mind straight.
He stopped over the thick woods, and Raven felt the trees whisper their welcome to her.
"You go in and get it," her father whispered.
"I can find out where it is, but only if I know what I'm looking for."
"What your cunt aunt hid here ten years ago."
With that he dropped her, and sheer surprise had her falling. She recovered, floating, slowing down, but a golden streak crashed into Bloodless, and they began to fall.
They narrowly missed her as they fell, James punching her father as they went.
She let herself fall after them, using her powers to slow and awaken the trees.
"Catch them," she ordered.
The branches of a thick tree caught the men, shifting slowly, pulling them apart, wrapping them tight until neither could move.
"Dryad! Free me!" Gryphon bellowed.
"You two working together? I'll kill you both!"
"Gryphon, I'm sorry. I can't do this."
He stilled, staring down at her as she floated upwards. Both of them ignored Bloodless' bellowing. "Can't do what?"
"I can't let you kill him. He is mine to kill. He's my father, he killed my aunt, he is planning to kill me. I can;t let you do this, I have to do this to right the wrongs I've committed."
"Raven! Are you insane? You're not like this, you can;t do that!"
"He knows who you are? Whore!" Bloodless spat out. Raven floated over and kicked him in the stomach, making him double over as much as he could in the hold of the branches.
"Father, I know you killed my aunt. I know who you are. I know you're looking for something, but it's not here. It will stay buried, all knowledge of it as well, along with my aunt's secret."
She pulled the knife from the back of her suit which had been covered by her hair.
"No!" Gryphon said and began to struggle, but the powerful oak held him tight.
Bloodless was smiling at her. "Kill me, become like me. Your aunt never killed, you take after me, daughter."
"He's right, Raven! Don't do this."
She whirled towards Gryphon. "No! He's not right! You've killed, Gryphon. Sometimes superheroes have to kill, for the greater good!"
"I'm not arguing that, Raven. But not you. You're pure, innocent, and good. Let me!"
She turned from him but then Master Bloodless was free. She saw the moonlight glint of the dull knife and realized it was iron. He had instantly killed the branches holding him, and if it touched her, she'd be powerless.
She turned and floated as fast as she could through the maze of branches, then she felt it. The dull knife pierced her flesh and sank into her shoulder.
She dropped, hitting branch after branch, her body going numb. The ground hit her as she fell on her side, and the knife was jarred loose. She couldn't feel much, but she saw Bloodless slicing through branches fighting his progress.
"Thank you," she said to the trees, but without her powers, she knew they couldn't hear her.
"Raven!" James was screaming, apparently still bound.
"Gryphon! It's all right. When he gets free, try to stop him!"
"I won't let him kill you!"
"It's too late," her father said in a horrifying voice as he landed, looming over her. "Tell me, who is Gryphon?" His tone became cajoling as he picked up the knife. "Don't make me torture it out of you."
James roared as Bloodless raised the knife. "I'm James McBride!"
The knife froze and Bloodless smiled. "Oh? Prove it!"
She looked up and saw Gryphon's form meld into James. And with his slimmer build, the tree's hold loosened, and he burst free with a roar.
Bloodless dropped the knife and ran for a clearing to launch from, but James hit him. The two men hit the ground rolling, and before he could hurt James, the larger man snapped his neck.
It was over. Raven's mask slipped off, and when she smiled up at him it was Raven smiling at James. And then pain wracked her body, and she passed out.
She woke up in the apartment James kept for his night work. Raven was expecting pain but her body felt fine.
She sat up and realized she was naked, covered in a sheet. There was no one else inside with her, and so she stood from the couch and took the sheet with her, wrapping it around herself.
The one mirror there, in the bathroom, showed her no marks on her body. How long had she been there?
"One more superpower to add to the list."
She jumped at Gryphon's voice as he loomed in the doorway. He removed his mask and in a flash was James McBride standing there.
"Regeneration, like a tree regrowing a broken branch."
"How long have I been here?"
She turned back to the mirror. "Is he dead?"
His reflection nodded. "Raven, I-"
"No," she shook her head. "He deserved it. I figured it out. He was no superhero, all those years. He blackmailed my aunt into burglary. All that time, he was looking for something. Crystal, you said. I don't know if that's what it was, but it ruined my aunt's life, and then took it. It very nearly destroyed me. Thank you, James."
He pulled the zipper on the side of his suit and it fell. He was sweaty, had dried blood on his skin.
She dropped the sheet and embraced him. "It's done."
He kissed her deeply, and she clutched at his shoulders. Raven needed an affirmation of life, a need so desperate all reason fell away.
"Please," was all she could say, and he seemed to understand.
He lifted her onto the sink and slammed into her. She wasn't ready, but this wasn't about sex; this was an affirmation of life.
"Raven, I can't hold back," he whispered against her lips.
"Don't," she whispered back.
It was short and furious, and with each thrust her body grew softer, wetter. She wrapped her legs around his waist and arched her back with pleasure, the back of her head hitting the mirror as he pounded into her.
James peaked finally, his orgasm erupting from him in a long groan. She felt him empty inside of her, filling her completely, and it was a special kind of heaven.
"I'm sorry, that was selfish of me."
"No, it wasn't." She stroked his head and kissed him softly.
"I just- when I saw him stab you, I- I've never been so scared in my life."
"I know. James, let's get you cleaned off, you're wearing my blood."
He smiled, but it didn't touch his eyes. "Some of his too."
"Ew," she pushed him away but smiled.
He kissed the slope of a breast and opened the shower door, turning the dual heads on and let them run until they steamed up the room. "There's room for two in here."
She took the offered hand and hopped down, following him in. She moaned at the feel of the water sluicing down her body. She may have healed quickly but it still ached where she'd been grabbed and hit.
She reached for the soap but James snatched it away. "Let me clean up real quick and then I'll get you."
She smiled and watched him soap his magnificent body. The water turned pink for a few minutes, but then he was clean.
"Turn around," he husked, and she eyed his renewed erection with a faint smile.
She turned and felt his soapy hands slide over her shoulders, lifting her hair to fall forward. He stroked down her back slowly, and despite the heat she shivered.
He kneaded her muscles as he went, pausing every so often to soap up his hands. When he reached her buttocks she bit her lip as he firmly massaged the muscles, slipping a naughty finger in the cleft, stroking over her anus. Chills ran up her spine and her stance widened automatically.
He chuckled, but it was half a groan, and James fell to his knees to soap her legs. The touch of his rough hands on her inner thighs made her moan softly, but then he skimmed over her calves.
One by one he lifted her feet, soaping them carefully, tickling her, and they laughed together.
His hands moved up then and she gasped at the rougher press against her inner thighs. She grabbed the wall and the top of the door to steady herself, and then one hand cupped her pussy.
"Relax," he whispered, and slipped a finger between her folds to stroke her clit.
Her knees almost gave out, and he stood. One arm wrapped around her waist, pushing her against hiss chest as the other left her pussy to snake around her front and return.
He used a light touch, teasing, cajoling the pleasure from her, moving faster and faster by slow increments. She was shaking with tension, biting her lip, and then she felt her body swell and the orgasm burst free.
She screamed wordlessly, her knees giving out, and he held her fast, stroking every last shudder from her body.
"Oh, God," she sighed, head rolling back onto his shoulder.
"Now we're even."
She expected more, but he just soaped up once again as soon as she could stand, and began to slick his hands over her stomach.
Her muscles fluttered and she grabbed the wall again. "James, please don;t tease me."
He rumbled a response she couldn't catch, and then his hands found her breasts. She closed her eyes once more as he teased her hard nipples. Again and again his fingers slid over them, tightening her muscles, making her lurch with need.
Just when she thought she'd go mad, he gently pushed her forward into the spray, letting her rinse off until she was clean.
"Put your hands on the wall." He held her arms until she had them positioned below chest level, bending her at the waist.
His hard cock teased her butt for a breathless moment, then dipped low and parted the folds of her pussy. He sank in slowly, moaning along with her, until he was buried deep.
When seated, he refused to move. "James, please!"
He reached around her and placed the pad of a thick finger on her clit, and pulled out. He sank in and the motioned teased her clit, combining with the feel of sliding across her g-spot.
She was lost to his movements then, moaning mindlessly, her toes curling in the cooling water. His fingers stroked her clit with one hand, dug into her hips with the other, and she was relieved that he felt as tight as she did.
He made the slight whimper she knew meant his orgasm was imminent, and it burst the dam inside her. She came wailing his name, his hoarse cry making the walls shake, and it seemed to go on forever.
When she came down, panting, he was as weak as she, and the water had turned cold. James reached over and turned it off, opening the door and reaching for a towel, still swollen inside of her.
He toweled her back off before pulling out, turning her, and drying her front.
"Raven, will you marry me?"
Her eyes widened in shock. "What?"
"I've been thinking. Gryphon and Dryad would make a hell of a team, and so would James and Raven. Have you ever thought about what you'd like to do? You couldn't have wanted to work for me forever."
She smiled. "I'd like to become a vet."
He smiled down at her. "My own Dr. Doolittle."
Laughing she took the towel and returned the favor. "It's always been a dream, but loosing my aunt...I didn't think I'd have the chance."
He pulled a robe off the door, leaning far to get it, and wrapped it around her. It swallowed her up, ridiculously big.
He rolled the cuffs back, kissing her whenever their faces neared. "You can go to school by day, I'll work, and by night we can do so much good in this world. What do you say?"
She blinked up at him, fighting her nerves with a deep breath. "Yes, James McBride, I, Raven Keppler, will marry you."
He let out a shout and picked her up in a cradling hold kissing her soundlessly. "I'm taking you home, to bed. Crime fighting can wait until tomorrow."
She raised a brow. "So soon?"
He smiled down at her. "Whatever Bloodless wanted is still out there, and we can;t let it fall into the wrong hands. And there will always be crimes to be foiled."
She leaned up and kissed him slowly, pleased when she pulled back at his slightly dazed look. "Tomorrow night it is, but tonight you're mine."
"Raven, I always have been."
She kissed him again, and her heart opened wide in the knowledge that life was going to bee all right. With James at her side, there was nothing they couldn't conquer.
Thank you to all my readers who have written me asking for more of this story. Because of all the positive feedback, I'm considering doing a sequel. Let me know if you want that!