Incubus Ch. 05byktmccoll©
Britt awoke in a bedroom she didn't recognize.
She attempted to sit up, winced, and fell back onto the pillow. Every muscle hurt. Her abdomen felt as though it had been pummeled. Despite her physical pain, her mind had a crystalline clarity and she felt more alert than she had in a long while.
Recent events came back to her in a rush. She was in Kat and Damian's farmhouse. She'd been ill, but judging by how she felt now, that illness had passed. She recalled her episode with Kat -- her first with a woman -- and the strange threesome with Kat and Damian -- her first of that particular scenario as well. Surprisingly, she felt no shame at these firsts. She knew that they had played a part in her cure and she regarded them with a sense of liberation.
Suppressing a moan of pain, she threw the covers back and rose. A silk robe was folded neatly on a chair. She wrapped herself in it and peeked out of the bedroom. She could sense someone downstairs but she wasn't yet ready for company. Instead, she made her way to the bathroom.
She locked the door and allowed the robe to fall off her shoulders to pool at her feet. She gazed at the woman in the mirror. The first thing she noticed was a ring on her left nipple, a twin to the one that Damian had affixed to her right. She supposed Kat had given her the new one, now that they were bound. She liked the symmetry but reserved judgment on the symbolism, unsure of what it meant to be bound to a succubus (not to mention her partner as well). She examined it; like Damian's ring, this one had no beginning and no end and gleamed in the light. The piercing had completely healed and nothing indicated that it had only recently been secured.
Backing away from the mirror a couple of steps, she took stock of the whole. While she still recognized herself, there was a new vitality about her. She couldn't put a finger on it, but the eyes were clearer, more penetrating, the mouth fuller, the jaw stronger. Her body too exhibited some subtle changes. Her breasts appeared fuller, her torso leaner. The small blemishes that had marked her body had been erased. While she had never been a slouch, hers body now spoke of vitality, power, and potential.
Being intimate with demons appeared to have some advantages.
There was a soft knock on the bathroom door. "Britt, are you alright?" It was Kat.
"Fine. Just fine. I just want to take a quick shower. Then I'll come down."
Britt heard Kat hesitate before her footsteps retreated down the hall.
Britt lingered in the shower for a long time, savoring the warmth of the water that coursed down the curves of her body.
Kat sat at the kitchen table with her elbow on the table and jaw cupped in her hand. She gazed into the middle distance, absently stirring a cup of tea, a newspaper open before her. Britt hesitated at the entrance to the kitchen.
Here sat a woman, a succubus, with whom she'd been intimate. Even in this most domestic of environments, Kat was beautiful. Breathtakingly so. She wore her dark hair in a ponytail. She wore a red sweater that clung to her voluptuous curves. Her nipples pressed against the material and it was evident that she wore no bra. She didn't need to. Britt felt a pang. She wished she could be so effortlessly desirable.
Britt had to shake her head. Before her sat a creature built for sin, to torment and to steal virtue. But Britt knew that Kat was more than a sexual predator. Her willingness to sacrifice for Damian spoke and her tenderness with Britt of a depth of emotion beyond what one would expect from a demon. Despite the short period that she had known Kat, Britt counted her as a friend.
"Hello," said Britt.
Kat smiled weakly. "Good morning. You're looking well."
"How long did I sleep?"
"I guess I was tired."
"Among other things. How are you feeling?"
"Great. Better than I have for a long time."
Kat got up and pressed a cool hand to Britt's forehead. "No fever."
"I feel fine."
These were uncharted waters. Britt's mind whirred. What was the protocol for the morning after with succubus with whom you'd just had a dalliance and whose ring now decorated your nipple? Did you bestow a good morning kiss? Did you pretend that nothing had happened?
"Do you hear Damian?" asked Kat, interrupting Britt's thoughts.
Britt closed her eyes. Nothing. Blissful silence. She shook her head.
"That's good," said Kat, still standing close.
Something inside of Britt quickened at Kat's nearness. She'd never been attracted to another woman. "Where is Damian?"
"Out. But he'll be back soon." Kat offered no explanation.
"Thank you for what you did," said Britt. "And for the ring." The memory Kat's scent and feeling of her skin came back to her in a flood. She threw caution to the wind and tentatively pressed her lips to Kat's.
"We're bound now," Kat responded, wrapping a hand behind Britt's head and returning the embrace with breathtaking urgency.
Confusion and desire battled within Britt. She clutched the sweater at Kat's back, knotting it in her hands. What have I started? she thought.
Kat then quickly disengaged. A bewilderment that mirrored Britt's own etched her face. She returned to her chair. "I should be thanking you. Without your sacrifice, Damian would be dead."
Her sacrifice. Britt remembered now: she would never have children. She waited for the regret to come, but it didn't.
"How are you doing?" asked Britt.
Kat shrugged. "I don't know."
It was obvious that yesterday had cost Kat dearly, but Britt was afraid to ask how much.
At that moment, Damian bustled into the kitchen, bags of groceries in his arms. Seeing Britt, he stopped dead in his tracks.
Britt stood, similarly frozen, her eyes on Damian. That he had recovered too was clear. He was no longer that washed-out phantasm of the morning before.
He set down his bags and approached. Britt breathed in his scent and submerged herself in the aura of his masculinity. He looked strong and vital; lean, handsome, and indescribably desirable.
This isn't good, she told herself, this Pavlovian lust response to these demons.
He placed a finger under her chin and lifted her face. His piercing blue eyes searched hers. "You're well," he said finally, his deep voice stroking mysterious strings deep within her.
Britt nodded. She wanted him to kiss her and leaned closer. I've got to stop this, she told herself.
Kat came to the rescue. "You could use some breakfast," she said.
While Damian busied himself at the stove, Kat set out a plate, cutlery, and filled a glass with orange juice.
"Just me? What about you?"
Kat and Damian exchanged glances. "We've already eaten," said Kat.
Britt cursed herself for her stupidity. They were demons, after all. They took their sustenance in the beds of the vulnerable. They'd probably been up all night. The realization momentarily dampened Britt's desire for them and enabled her to regard them anew. She knew that she couldn't begrudge them their nature, but at that moment it was difficult to separate the intimacy they had recently shared with the reality of nightly visitations with strangers.
"So what now?" asked Britt as she pushed her plate away.
Damian settled in at the table opposite Britt. "Kat and I have discussed it and we want you to move in with us."
Britt was floored. Move in? She glanced from Damian to Kat. The tightness of Kat's smile suggested that she was less enthused with the proposed arrangement than Damian.
Britt thought about it for a moment. "No," she replied.
Damian was obviously shocked. Kat leaned back in her chair and directed a brief nod to Britt.
"No. I have a degree to finish. Thanks to you, I'm way behind."
Damian sputtered. "Degree? We have everything you could possibly want here."
"Except for a degree. What would I do with myself all day? I appreciate your offer, but I'm going back, Damian, whether you like it or not."
Kat said, "He's not used to taking no for an answer."
Damian looked crestfallen and Britt's heart went out to him. "That's not to say you can't visit," she added.
Damian perked up.
"But I don't want you sneaking in like you have been. You come to the door like a gentleman. Ring the doorbell. And another thing: don't count on your demonic wiles to get your way. I'm onto you. If you're going to get anything from me, you're going to have to earn it."
Britt laid her hands flat on the table and leaned toward Damian. "You might be a little out of practice, but I'm one girl you'll have to court."
* * *
The first half of the drive back to Britt's apartment passed in silence. Britt couldn't erase the image of Kat, alone, waving to them as Damian's Porsche sped away from her.
Damian was obviously bewildered and hurt that Britt hadn't acceded to his request. Perhaps it was the ease with which he enjoyed his conquests over women. Perhaps he had never before been denied.
Britt probably would surrender to him eventually, but something within her resisted the temptation to make it easy. More than anything, she needed time. Notwithstanding the fact that he was an incubus, they had lifted the lid on a box that contained any number of complications. Britt had unwittingly become a point in a triangle that, however manipulated, contained one or more sharp and uncomfortable angles. Achieving some sort of equilibrium would take time.
"So how long have you and Kat been together?" asked Britt when the silence grew oppressive.
Damian shifted in his seat and glanced at her. "A long time."
"What's a long time?"
"Six or seven...." His voice trailed off.
"Years?" prompted Britt.
"Hundred. Six or seven hundred years. I don't remember exactly. I'm bad at anniversaries."
Britt slouched more deeply in her seat. What had she done, getting between two demons who had seen any number of empires rise and fall?
"You've lived together that long?"
"Off and on."
"She's like a sister to me."
"Does she think of you as a brother?" asked Britt more sharply than she'd intended.
Damian frowned and drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. Finally, he said, "What else could she think? It's not like we've ever been intimate. Nor could we have been."
Britt resisted the temptation to punch him in the shoulder. Typical male, she thought. Believing that intimacy -- or love for that matter -- had to be expressed horizontally. For a guy who'd been around for hundreds of years, he certainly hadn't learned anything about women.
"Is there something I should know?" he asked.
Of course, Damian had no idea of what had passed between Britt and Kat, and Britt herself had no idea of what it had cost the succubus.
"She loves you, Damian."
She speedometer crept up as Damian digested this. "Um... I don't suppose you mean in a sisterly way?"
"I don't know. I don't think so."
Britt walked him through it. "If the roles had been reversed, if Kat had found a cambion for herself and that person had insinuated himself into your lives, how would that have made you feel?"
They drove in silence for several minutes.
Britt placed a hand on Damian's thigh. "Let's give it some time. This is all too new for all of us."
Damian nodded. "You might be right."
But Britt only half-believed her own statement. What did 'some time' mean for beings who'd been around for hundreds of years?
They drove into a small town and Britt asked Damian to park.
"Why are we stopping?"
"I need some fresh air."
Damian shrugged and pulled the Porsche into a parking spot.
After perusing the boutiques that lined the main street, they found the mouth of a trail that ran like a narrow ribbon along the top of limestone cliffs that restrained the roaring river almost a hundred feet below. A cold wind whistled through the gorge. Fallen leaves crunched underfoot.
Britt stopped at a lookout and Damian approached from behind, tentatively wrapping his arms around her. She leaned into him, welcoming in the contact.
"This is one of my favorite spots in the area," she said.
"I can see why."
Britt turned in his arms and faced him. "Tell me everything's going to be okay."
"I can't. But I hope so."
Damian continued, "This is new to me too, Britt." He tightened his arms around her. "Nothing in all of my years has prepared me for this. My nature doesn't allow for long-term commitments or meaningful relationships."
Britt searched his eyes.
"Perhaps until now," he concluded.
Britt pressed her lips to his and she melted into him.
When he broke the embrace, he whispered, "I'm learning as I go. Please be patient."
They returned to the car, hand in hand.
It was late when they arrived at Britt's apartment. It seemed like ages since she'd last been there.
"Aren't you going to let me in?"
"I never do that on the first date."
"This is hardly our first date."
"I think it is." Britt smiled at him innocently.
"You can kiss me again, though. Just a kiss, mind you."
Damian smiled and took her in his arms. For someone who was learning the ropes at the courting game, he certainly knew how to kiss. Despite her resolve to resist, she found her will weakening.
Footsteps sounded in the stairwell.
"Damian," she whispered.
He stared at her, hunger in his eyes.
"Your horns are showing."
Damian looked surprised and shimmered. His horns disappeared just as Britt's neighbor rounded that last flight of stairs.
"Good evening, Britt."
"Hello, Mrs Dabrowski."
"Yes it is."
"Ah, you have a young man," she said in her thick Polish accent, as though noticing him for the first time. Britt suspected that the old Polish agony aunt had fully sized him up before she'd reached the landing.
Britt made introductions.
"He's a handsome one."
Britt smiled. "I think I'll keep him."
Mrs Dabrowski winked conspiratorially. "Mind that I don't snatch him away from you."
Damian rolled his eyes behind the old lady.
"I'll be careful."
The neighbor turned to her door and fumbled with a large ring of keys. How many locks could an old woman need to open? Britt wondered.
Mrs Dabrowski hummed a tune off-key as she sorted through them, selecting one which didn't work and then another.
Damian hissed with impatience.
Britt silently thanked her neighbor for providing her a means of escape. "Good night, Damian. I had a great time." Britt kissed him on the cheek.
"Ah ha!" cried the old lady as she pushed the right key home.
"Call me tomorrow."
Before Damian could react, Britt fled into her apartment and closed the door. She leaned against it and listened.
After a few moments, she heard Damian's steps retreating down the stairway.
* * *
Britt spent the weekend submerged in her studies. Her illness had created a seemingly insurmountable backlog. Damian called every evening. After berating her for her disappearing act, he agreed to give her space.
On Monday, she returned to the university. She stopped at the graduate studies office to collect her mail. On the secretary's desk sat an enormous bouquet, an explosion of color and scent erupting from a crystal vase.
"Wow," she said.
"Wow indeed," spoke a voice from behind the flowers. The secretary rose from behind the bouquet.
"Secret admirer?" asked Britt, smiling.
"You tell me," said the secretary, also smiling.
Britt's eyes widened as she fumbled with the envelope. She opened it and read: Awaiting your summons. Love, Damian.
"Oh my," she whispered, stuffing the envelope in her pocket.
She carried the vase upstairs to her office, eliciting curious gazes and some good-natured ribbing from her fellow grad students. She cleared some papers off of her desk and placed the vase on it. She sat and gazed at it.
She smiled dreamily. Awaiting your summons. Yes, she would summon him again. But this time it would be different. She was not one to play insensitively with the feelings of others, but she wanted to make a point. Damian had insinuated himself into her life uninvited -- or at least consciously uninvited -- and had unleashed a torrent of upheaval. Her cure marked a new beginning, one in which Britt would take some control. If her solitary weekend had taught her anything, it was how out-of-control the last few weeks had been. That being said, she had little doubt that she would summon him soon...
...but she would have a game plan.
She looked up.
A hulking presence in jeans and a sweatshirt stood in the doorway of the office. She frowned. Mike. Her boyfriend. Former boyfriend now, although he wasn't yet privy to the modifier.
"Where have you been? I've been calling."
Britt blinked at him. "Sorry. I've been sick."
"I was concerned. You might have called."
"I said that I was sorry."
Mike refused to be mollified. "What the hell is this?" he asked, gesturing to the flowers.
If he'd ever done the same, he'd know, thought Britt. "Flowers."
"I can see that."
Inspiration struck. "From a friend. Because I was sick."
Mike's eyes narrowed. "Some friend."
"Yes he is."
Britt winced. She'd blown it. The last thing she wanted was a confrontation at school. "He's just a good friend, Mike, that's all."
Mike looked doubtful. Britt scrutinized him, wondering what she'd ever seen in him.
...must think I'm an idiot...
The thought drifted through her mind unbidden. What was that? she wondered. It sounded almost like Mike, but he wasn't speaking.
"Okay. Great. He's a good friend." He sat in a chair across from the desk. He slouched, legs splayed. "We should get together. It's been a while."
Britt's eyes narrowed.
...maybe she'll let me fuck her one more time...
"What?" gasped Britt.
Mike looked baffled. "I said that we should get together."
Britt felt as though she were losing her mind. "I don't know, Mike," she stammered.
Mike frowned. "What's going on here, Britt?"
"I have no idea." Britt's hands trembled.
Mike stood, the chair scraping irritatingly against the floor. "Are you sure you're not still sick? You're pale."
...if she wasn't so hot, I'd...
"I'll call you."
"Sure," she whispered.
Britt ran through her phone messages when she returned home -- two wheedling messages from Mike, nothing from Damian.
She felt an unreasoning disappointment. Perhaps she should call him; she owed him that.
As if on cue, the phone rang.
"Hello, Britt?" It was Damian. Her heart soared.
"I'm just in the neighborhood and was wondering whether you wanted to get together."
Oh God. Please. Yes! "Sure."
There was a knock on the door. "Hang on."
She opened the door and there stood Damian, tucking a phone into his jacket. He smiled.
In the weeks that followed, Damian demonstrated that he was as decent a guy as a demon could be, attentive and caring, insightful and worldly, and yes, gorgeous and unfailingly desirable. He seemed content to allow Britt to lead their relationship, respecting her need for distance, never pushing but showing in a multitude of small ways that he genuinely cared. By the end this period, she yearned for him.
* * *
Britt paced her apartment nervously. She told herself it was to practice walking in heels, but in truth she was too nervous to sit.
The doorbell rang and Britt stared at it dumbly before willing herself to answer it.
Damian's jaw dropped as his eyes widened. Dumbstruck. Thoroughly gobsmacked. "Wow."
Bingo. That was the response she was hoping for.
Britt knew that he was watching her leather clad butt, out-thrust out as only four inch heels could do. She hoped that she didn't break an ankle.