She worked her hand harder, twisted her thumb faster, her body on the very brink of sanity. Darrow's skilful manipulations left her dangling over the edge of a vast crevice, a dark, frightening place where reality and fantasy collided. They worked together in perfect unison, holding her above the abyss with the tiniest thread. One more lick, one more twist of her fingers and...
"Darrow! We're back. The Counsil's just about to set up the lockdown and...oh."
She climaxed just as Thaltos' voice broke through her haze-filled mind. Her hips bucked as she threw her head back, her mouth open in a silent cry. Darrow never abandoned her body, instead giving her breasts gentle licks as she came down form her high, massaging her flesh to ease her decent.
Claire settled slowly back into the bed, her breath coming in short, harsh gasps. Closing her eyes, she removed her hand from her pussy, wrapping her other arm around Darrow's head to hold him close. She leaned over, kissing him on the cheek before collapsing into the sheets. A thin sheen of sweat coated her body, evidence of their shared escapade.
Thaltos cleared his throat, snapping her eyes awake. She was still too exhausted to get up, but awake enough to feel blood rushing to her cheeks. She pulled her legs up to her chest, rolling over onto her side to recover from her explosion.
"As I was saying..."
Darrow sat up on the bed, his gaze warm and welcoming. A tiny smile lay on his lips. "She needed help getting off. Are you going to chew me out for that?"
"No, but you could have invited us in on the fun," Silthos griped. "We would have been glad to help her."
She smiled. Of course they would. None of them would forego on a chance to watch her orgasm. Missing out on that would earn them a lifetime of taunting.
"As I was saying..."Thaltos spoke through clenched teeth, annoyed that his news feed had been interrupted. "The Counsil has been informed of Tarrin's return, and needless to say, they're pissed. The lockdown should start momentarily, and the guards will be patrolling for about three days."
"Good. Even if they don't find him, at least they'll scare him enough that he won't come looking for her." Darrow shifted on the bed, reaching out an arm to stroke her back. "Claire's got a bit of good news, too."
"Oh?" Silthos' voice perked up in interest. "And what is said good news?"
Darrow caressed her back, running his claws gently along her skin. "Do you want to tell them or should I?"
"I will." Groaning, Claire pushed herself up, turning so she could dangle her legs over the edge of the bed. She folded her hands in her lap, taking a deep breath before raising her head to look at her lovers. "I think...I'm ready to let you have me."
Thaltos' brows went up in surprised delight. Silthos, on the other hand, nearly rocketed off the floor. Darrow's eyes slid to the side, avoiding her gaze as a mischievous smile crossed his lips.
She giggled at their elation. She'd never seen anyone so happy, even if it was for her finally surrendering her virginity. Their excitement warmed her. Her grandmother had never been this happy, even when she'd aced her exams or won a track race. Being around such warm, caring people -- demons though they were -- made her feel special.
"And when would you like this to happen?" Thaltos crossed the room to sit on the edge of the next bed, his steel eyes burning with excitement.
She chewed her lip for a moment, contemplating the best course. "During the lockdown. When Tarrin kidnapped me, he said he would take my virginity and make me his. Losing it to you while he can't run around and grab me again might make things harder on him."
"So soon? Are you sure?" Thaltos leaned forward, interested.
"She has a point." Silthos joined them, taking a seat next to Thaltos. His eyes flicked to her. "What Tarrin said has a thread of truth to it. Even though you technically belong to us because of your parent's deal, if Tarrin were to take your virginity, he could dispute us for your ownership. Losing your virginity while he's too busy being chased could diminish his chance of trying to claim you."
"And even if he did try to stake a claim on you, he'd have a hell of a time trying to prove it if you weren't a virgin." Darrow joined in, his voice excited at the prospect of thwarting his rival.
She turned to him, cocking her head in confusion. "Why is that?"
"It's a bit like the insignia on your clothing," he explained. "Each demon or group of demons has a specific scent that they leave behind on the souls they own. If all there of us did break your virginity tonight, we'd leave behind a distinct scent that all other demons could identify. Just one of us would leave behind a smell. If Tarrin tried to claim you while you smelled like us, the Counsil would know that he's lying."
She nodded in agreement. Another thought burst into her mind, making her nervous all over again. "But if a demon leaves behind a scent once the have sex, couldn't he rape me after the lockdown and leave his scent one me and claim me then?"
"Smart girl," Silthos' brows went up in surprise. "Thank god we didn't get stuck with a brainless one."
Darrow waved his hand. "Once our scent is on you, it's there for life. Even if another demon did try to rape you, our scent would overpower his. Nothing can change that, not even if you wanted to."
She shook her head vigorously. "I wouldn't want to. I don't want anyone but you three touching me. I trust you."
They grinned at her. She smiled back, a strange sensation of power crossing through her mind. With that one admission, she'd solidified their bond and secured her safety. At the same time, Claire felt like she had staked her claim on them, marking them as her own the same way their brand marked her as theirs. The four of them had marked their territory on each other. She just hoped others would take notice of the invisible 'Off Limits' signs they wore on their hearts.
"So...exactly how soon until your sex drive fires up enough to finally sleep with us?" Silthos leaned forward excitedly.
Thaltos glared at him, smashing his elbow into his ribs. "Clam down. She's just made the decision."
Silthos nudged him back. "I'm just curious. I want to know how long we have until she's ready."
"I think she'll give us plenty of notice, won't you, Claire?" His eyes shifted to her.
She smiled and nodded. "I'll try to call out a warning before I jump you."
"Wouldn't that be the day?" Darrow rested back on the bed, folding his hands under his head and closing his eyes. "A sweet little thing like you coming around the corner naked and tackling me. That would certainly be a surprise."
She turned to him, a small flicker of annoyance in her eyes. "Are you saying that I couldn't do that?"
He grinned. "No, I'm saying you wouldn't."
She punched his arm playfully. "I would! Just not now! Give me a little time and I might do more than just that."
A pounding echoed through the room, startling her enough to make her fall back on the bed. Thaltos stood, curiously calm, and walked over to the far wall. He waved his hand across the wall, a motion that made the shadows quiver and shake. Seconds later, an enormous demon with skin the color of fire and eyes like deep oceans entered through the shadows. He stood just inside the shadows, his eyes flicking around to scan the room. Those sapphire orbs settled on her, narrowing with interest.
Frightened by their new guest, Claire scrambled behind Darrow, attempting to hide from his gaze. Darrow's tail looped itself around her leg, holding her tight as he shifted his body to shield her.
"Yes?" Thaltos straightened his spine, showing respect to someone who was clearly far higher in the demon ranks.
The demon turned its attention back to Thaltos. "The Counsil has requested that the three of you help secure the corridor."
"All three of us?" Thaltos questioned. "Why?"
The demon snorted impatiently. "The matter at hand is closer to you than anyone else, especially Darrow. You've been requested to run a full sweep of the corridor before the lockdown begins in case the maggot is fool enough to risk coming out."
"We all can't go!" Silthos shot up. "Someone has to stay here and guard Claire. She's his target. We can't leave her here alone."
The demon turned his head to glare at Silthos. "We will have two soldiers guarding the entrance while you begin your search. All of you can return once the lockdown begins."
Silthos growled in disapproval. "I will not leave her alone. She's far too vulnerable, even with guards at the door. She-"
Thaltos raised his hand, silencing his friend. "This is no time to argue. We'll do the sweep and come straight back. This is something we need to do. Darrow would be the best chance we have at sniffing him out if he decides to rick it. Besides, with Tarrin running around, I'm not in the mood for defying the Counsil's orders."
Silthos crossed his arms and looked away, defeated.
Thaltos offered a small smile. "She'll be fine. I trust the guards with her, and we'll only be gone a few minutes."
Silthos scowled and mumbled to himself, his eyes flicking to her to show his concern. Darrow unwound his tail from her leg and stood up, turning to hug her tightly. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him close.
"You come back to me," she whispered.
"I swear." He pulled away gently, turning to the others. "Thaltos, do you think you could carve a window into the wall. It's maddening enough in here for us. She might like something to look out of while she waits."
Thaltos nodded, turning his attention back to the new demon. "We'll be out in a moment. Silthos, go with Dalgor and wait outside."
Still grumbling, Silthos made his way to the demon, casting one last concerned glance at her before they both disappeared into the shadows. Thaltos made his way over to the wall closest to the bed, motioning for Darrow to follow the others. He hesitated for an instant, then turned to leave, stroking her cheek with his hand before leaving her. She watched him vanish into the darkness, a sinking, lonely feeling beginning to blossom in her belly.
Thaltos flicked out on of his clawed fingers, tracing a monstrous circle into the rock. Where he touched, the wall seemed to melt, revealing the soft, dim glow of the soul marsh. As much as the place made her skin crawl, Claire did appreciate the idea of being able to look at something besides four walls and the beds. A fresh view of the outside might keep her from going insane and calm her nerves a bit.
Thaltos turned and walked over to her, kneeling next to her bed. He cupped her face in his hands, smiling gently at her. "We won't be any longer than a half an hour, I promise. There will be guards posted outside the door, so you should be safe until we return." He leaned forward, kissing her lightly on the cheek.
She nodded, tears starting to well in her eyes. "You be safe."
He chuckled, brushing a strand of hair from her face. "I swear."
He stood and walked toward the pool of shadow, glancing back to smile one last time before her vanished into the dark.
She sat on the bed, not moving a muscle for several minutes. Silently, she wished one of them would change their mind and come back to her, but the room remained still and empty. Lonely and frightened, Claire slid off the bed and walked over to the window, placing her hands on the smooth surface to peer out.
Below her, millions of human souls swirled around in the mist, searching for a relief that didn't exist and a silence that could never be found. She pitied them, saddened that their normal, uneventful lives had led them to this dreary fate. They were neither kings nor murderers, neither glorious nor terrible. They, ordinary people, were condemned to a life of loneliness and misery beyond comprehension. And they had done nothing, literally nothing, to deserve it.
Seeking some way to ease their grief and her own, Claire walked over to the bed and picked up her plate of food, walking over to the table and gathering more plates. She carried them over to the window, carefully placing them on the ledge. She hopped up onto the cool rock, resting her plate of beef and rice in her lap. She picked at her food, watching the souls wander aimlessly.
Curious, she plucked a ripe grape from a bowl and dropped it down into the mass of bodies. It landed softly in the hand of an old withered grandmother. The soul looked at the fruit in amazement before devouring it greedily. She snapped her head up, seeking the giver of the food.
Claire smiled and dropped another grape, watching the woman catch it and swallow it whole. She stared up at Claire, holding her hands out for more food.
"One more," Claire called down. "I don't know if I'm even allowed to do this."
The old woman nodded, watching as Claire rifled through the bowl to find an acceptable piece. She dropped the last grape down, a smile crossing her face was the old woman gulped it down. She looked up at Claire a final time, her withered lips forming words of gratitude.
She smiled back, watching the old woman hobble along in the mist. There was nothing she could do to save the woman from her torment, but at least she could ease the pain of endless nothingness. She tossed another handful of grapes down, staring out into the misty distance as the souls scrambled for her tiny hints of kindness. They looked up at her, throwing their hands up in silent cries for more. Smiling back, she tossed another clump down, her attention now turning to the swirling mists that surrounded the poor souls.
The mist curled and whipped around them, the mix of silver-grey and hints of cobalt catching her eye. The soft curves and cool hues drew her in, so inviting and intoxicating she almost thought it was calling to her. She leaned over the balcony, lost in the swirls of icy wind. She wanted to be closer to that mist, wanted to feel the cool air wrap around her skin and caress her cheeks. She leaned out farther, extending an arm to touch the swirls of cold.
The souls noticed her fascination with the mist. They waved their hands frantically, opening their mouths in silent screams. She looked at them, confused. She wanted to be near that mist so badly. It looked so cool and inviting. Why would they be so anxious for her to avoid it?
"What's wrong?" Her voice was slow, almost tired, as if the mist was draining her energy.
A thin tendril of the silvery mist lashed out, spearing through the air, barely missing her fingers. Claire cried out and jerked her hand back, leaning back into the room and scampering off the wall. She scrambled backwards, not stopping until her back was pressed against the hard wood of the bed. Gasping for air she closed her eyes and leaned her head back, trying to catch herself.
A cry of frustration pierced her ears, as if the mist was in a rage for missing its target. She understood now why the souls were so frightened for her. The mist they lived in was nowhere near as soft and inviting as it looked. The fog itself was a predator, one that didn't care if she already had owners. It would have taken her anyway, possibly turning her into one of the innumerable, nameless masses that wandered in its icy winds.
Sobbing quietly, Claire hauled herself onto the bed and crawled towards the masses of pillows and sheets. She pulled the blankets back, settling into the warmth of the mattress and pulling the covers tightly around herself. She closed her eyes, frightened that another tendril of mist would creep into the room and pull in.
But no whip of silver ever came. Instead, the mist gave one last screech of anger, then quieted. She stayed in bed for a long time, her eyes flicking at every tiny sound. Between the evil mist and Tarrin, she struggled to decide which fate she'd found was worse.
"Claire! We're back!" Thaltos' voice boomed around the room an instant before he slipped through the shadows.
She perked up, tossing the covers back and sitting up to watch them enter. Darrow and Silthos followed behind him, clearly relieved to be through with their rounds. Darrow smiled warmly at her, then frowned in confusion.
"Why are you in bed? You aren't tired, are you?" He sounded disappointed. Without a doubt, all three of them had been talking about the prospect of finally claiming her body. Her sudden hesitancy cracked his excitement.
She shook her head, pointing a finger towards the window. "The mist, it-"
"Oh, that." He sighed in relief. "Yes. A bit hungry, that damned stuff. Be careful. It will pull you in if you give it a chance."
She shivered slightly. "It almost did." She looked back at them, curious. "Are we allowed to feed the souls down there?"
Thaltos shrugged his shoulders. "It's advised that you don't, since they get clingy once they find a person who gives them something. But no one really minds if you do. If you try to save the, then we have an issue."
She relaxed. "I was tossing them grapes earlier."
He smiled at her. "That's no issue. As long as you don't try to help them out of that mist, no one will care."
She nodded, her eyes still darting to the window just in case.
Darrow let out an exasperated sigh and collapsed down on the bed beside her. He folded his hands under his had and closed his eyes. "Thirty minutes of searching for the scumbag was more tedious than I thought it would be."
She looked at him worriedly. "Did you find anything?"
He cracked an eye open, smiling as he reached out and stoked her cheek. "Nothing. I guess that bastard isn't as stupid as we'd thought."
"Well, I suppose that's a good thing." She shrugged her shoulders. "If you didn't see any sign of him, that must mean he's too freaked out by the lockdown to risk anything. At least he'll leave us alone for a while."
"Well, for about three days, at least." Thaltos joined them on the bed. "The lockdown started once we cleared the hallway. We'll be notified when it's safe to come out again."
"Good." Claire leaned over and rested her head against his shoulder. She closed her eyes and breathed in his strong, smoky scent.
His arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her tight against him. She nuzzled his flesh, rubbing her cheek against the supple snow-white skin of his chest. Curled up into his embrace, she wanted nothing more than to stay there and fall asleep. When his hand traveled low to rest on her thigh, she twitched away, too absorbed in the comfortable feelings to be bothered by his sexual advances.
"Claire? Are you having second thoughts?"
She shook her head. "Just comfortable."
He laughed and held her close. She settled into his embrace, her mind drifting to things beyond Tarrin and the predatory mist. Subconsciously, she imagined what it would be like to finally lose her virginity to them. Would they be gentle and take their time with her delicate body? Or would they take turns pummeling her mercilessly? The thoughts made her shiver with anticipation.
If not now, then when? We've got three days. Might as well get it over with.
She pulled away gently, taking a deep breath and folding her hands in her lap. Her stomach twisted into a tight knot. She swallowed loudly, trying to calm the torrent of anxiety and excitement in her belly.
Thaltos noticed her apprehension, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Are you alright?"
She nodded. "Just nervous."
"About what?" he paused, his steel eyes widening in understanding. "Now? Are you sure?"
Taking another deep breath, she nodded. "Why not? We're stuck in here for three days. Doing it now will give me a little time to recover and put us one step ahead of Tarrin."
A smile broke onto his lips. Thaltos reached over and jabbed Darrow in the ribs. He shot up, turning to glare at his friend. The old demon's eyes flicked to her, then back to Darrow, a look of excited knowledge in the silvery depths.