"Siobhan," Cillian moaned. His hands fisted in her hair, the setting sun glinting off the red highlights, so bright against the sea of emerald grass around them. His beautiful woman looked up at him, blue eyes sparkling with mischief, but her soft lips kept going.
His tunic was off now and she kissed the ridges of his abdomen, softly teasing, nipping at him. He wanted to force her down to his cock, throbbing with need inside his hose, but the witch was intent on unmanning him.
"Please," he breathed again, pure need.
She raised her delicate chin to him but this only gave him a clear view of the mil-white tops of her breasts. He groaned and closed his eyes to her throaty chuckle.
"Hush now, me love," she whispered and began unlacing the hose. He trembled as she moved slowly, ever so slowly. Her long fingers finally touched his cock, coolness meeting pure heat.
Cillian's pleasure grew immensely, and then her wet mouth ensconced him. He cried out and she stopped, leaving him wet to the cool air.
"Hush now me love, the ghosts be out soon. You don' wanna be bringin' the great hunt down upon our heads, now do ye?"
"Woman, don't tease me!"
Again came the throaty laugh which melted into a hum as her lips wrapped around him. She gripped his shaft with one hand and his balls with the other, and began to move. Her tongue teased the swollen head of his cock with every pass, gripping him as tightly as her hand. Faster and faster she went, timing her strokes perfectly to his moans, sucking gently, and his balls lifting higher, need curling inside him as she moved and moaned with him.
Siobhan was a minx; just when he thought the pleasure would burst on him she slowed, stilled, and when he caught his breath she began with ferocity. Too soon and not soon enough he felt himself spill over the edge. He cried her name out with pleasure even as her hand flew to cover his mouth, and she drank his seed greedily, sucking him dry.
Spent, he lay in the grass for a moment, and stared at the distant peak of three of the Twelve Bens rising up into the sky. "Why did ya quiet me, woman?"
"Do you want everyone ta know you've been pleasured by the Witch of Galway?"
He sat up and gathered her into his arms. "I'll no be havin' you say such things. Ye are no witch; you're my woman. Everyone knows this but not ye."
She kissed him back. "Soon, my love, soon we can be together."
"When? Why must I wait? Woman I am past grown; I ha' seen war, left our island and crossed the ocean back, all to return to the sweet lass I knew."
She smiled at him, crinkling the dusting of freckles across her nose. "You know I was raised w'some o' the old ways, but not all. We shall be married, soon as m'father dies. He willna let me marry a Catholic, no matter what kind of a man ye might be."
Cillian spat in the grass. "I canna wait, my love. I've known such pleasure by your hand, let me show you what it feels like."
She blushed then, surprisingly innocent, and prepared for the old argument he never won. "You know I canna-"
He covered her mouth and leaned in close. "Be quiet, woman. I hear horses, it could be the bastard English again."
She moved his hand and laughed. "I have no land, no coin, nor do you, my love. They willna rob us, what could happen?"
"They could take ya in the vilest way and burn you alive."
Her eyes widened but then she laughed. "Yer not serious atall, are ye?"
"Bloody Mary lives to do such vile things to protestant women. Everyone knows your family are the only ones who don' worship Jesus well and truly."
She punched his arm. "I may be no Catholic, and my family may have taken to King Henry's faith, but I follow the old ways. Even if they burn me I will come back for ya. You'll never be rid of me, Cillian Martin. 'Tis Samhain, a time of magic even yer stuffy arse can surely feel. I- oh, gods!"
The world went black as pain engulfed him, and the last sound in Cillian's ears was Siobhan's cry of anguish.
He was so familiar, but who was he? When Kelly asked he cocked his head almost like a dog in a clear way that spoke of not understanding. He was stunning, that much she knew, but something was out of place. His long hair was dark and his brown eyes lit up like warm honey when he smiled. He was built rough, putting every male model she'd ever worked with to shame; broad shoulders, long limbs, narrow hips, and corded muscle between. He wore something strange, was that from Francesca's fall line? It looked like a very high quality costume from an Elizabethan movie, yet the balloon shorts and glorified pantyhose did nothing to hide his masculinity.
"Chevon," he said again, so clearly she guessed it was a name. She looked behind her and almost stumbled. She could have sworn they were just in a room, and now they were in a wide field with distant hills.
Turning back he was closer. She had to lift her chin to meet his eyes, rare for a woman six feet tall. His hand cupped her face and he leaned in, smelling of mint and the earth, a heady combination.
His kiss knocked her socks off, and when she next opened her eyes they were lying down, and she wore a gown. It was tight in the middle and low-cut, the skirt huge. Where had her jeans and t-shirt gone? Her feet didn't feel like there were sneakers on them any longer.
Then he kissed down her neck while a hand lifted that skirt. Her legs were bare and his large hand was hot against her skin, his mouth hotter. He ripped the laces of the dress and she could only gasp as he chuckled, and then he captured a nipple.
It felt so good she relaxed into his embrace. Something told her she should fight this, that it was wrong, too early, but another part of her felt nothing but pure love. He nipped and then laved her with his tongue, soothing the gentle bite.
She moaned, begged him, but only got the confused look again. His hand faltered, then moved closer and closer to her center. Spreading her legs, Kelly moved her hips impatiently. He said something foreign, but she could tell he was cursing, and then his fingers brushed her just as he sucked her hard nipple.
"Yes!" she cried, holding his head, moving her hips more urgently, rubbing herself against him. She was wet, aching, and wanted so badly to be filled. Mindless with need she tried to trap his hand, to slide a finger in, and finally one of her own hands began to fight the skirt to reach him.
Before she could, he slid a thick finger into her and his thumb rasped her clit. Shimmering on the edge of orgasm she yelled in frustration at his lack of movement. Then that finger pulled out and-
BUZZ. BUZZ. BUZZ.
Sleepily Kelly shook it off and rolled over, bypassing the snooze button to yank the alarm's plug out of the wall.
Cursing, she sat up, remembering she'd installed a battery last week. Her sleep-addled mind couldn't figure it so she settled for throwing it into the open closet. Lying back down she pulled a pillow over head and groaned.
She'd had the dream again, a different variant. They were always the same man, but always different, and very, very erotic. And just as always, right before it got good, something woke her up. She'd never reached orgasm with the dream man, but what she'd experienced over the years blew every real date she'd ever had out of the water.
They'd been coming more and more, almost every damn night that month. Maybe it was just her brain's way of avoiding thinking about The Curse, she thought with a shiver.
She been debating masturbating but that thought cooled her ardor. Instead she got up, showered, dressed, pushed past the quiet room of the apartment's other occupant, Holly, and squeezed into the 3'x6' area that passed for a kitchen. As she made coffee to go and grabbed a cereal bar she cursed every television show and movie she had ever seen that convinced her apartments were human-sized in New York City. Before she'd moved there she'd also thought they all bordered on Central Park, she remembered with a laugh as she headed downstairs and out into a cool Brooklyn morning.
"Hey you," Catherine called from the limo.
"Hi!" Kelly called back and wrestled her way in, trying not to spill the coffee while carrying the bar and her portfolio, and waving to the kids lingering on the steps of the next Brownstone over waiting for the school bus.
"Let me take those so you can get belted in." Catherine took the portfolio and set it in the front seat, then put the coffee in the cup holder. "On to work," she called to the driver. Turning back to Kelly she smiled. "You seem frazzled today. Holly?"
"No, she's visiting her grandmother. It's these strange dreams I've been having...I think they're related to The Curse."
Her best friend and business partner laughed and smoothed her black hair back. Catherine's white skunk streak was partly natural, finished with bleach, and made her stark bone structure and bright red lips look artful beneath Gypsy brown eyes. "You mean the family curse your mother swears your father broke?"
"I'm serious. It goes all the way back to England before my family got here."
"They moved her e with you in utero, and it was a plane, darling."
"I'm talking back to when people said 'thou,' 'twain,' and spoke like a good version of Robin hood."
"Men in Tights," Catherine said with a smile, "the best in my opinion. It's silly superstition, nothing is going to happen to you. Look, the winter line is all done, we have some downtime before the spring line sketches are due, and it's Halloween. Tell me you're coming to Richard's party tonight."
"For countless generations someone in my family has died the night of Halloween in their thirtieth year, we're talking back to the dark ages. And you want me to go to a dumb party?"
"Your father is still alive and well my dear, the curse was broken long ago, if it ever existed. Probably just a run of bad hearts but wise choices in wives have bred recent generations stronger. And isn't it only for the men of your family?"
"Well mom and dad had just me, and we're pretty sure Uncle Ben is gay so probably no cousins lurking around."
"Broken, see? Besides, if you're going to be maudlin it's full costume required; death can't recognize you."
Kelly looked askance, red brow arched. "Did you ever see 'The Masque Of The Red Death' with Vincent Price?"
"I did, gorgeous set design, those colored rooms. Come to think of it the yellow room, that should be the signature color for the spring collection. Simple lines suggesting something Mediaeval. I'm so sick of seventies retro, if we're going back in time for inspiration let's do it right."
Kelly laughed quietly, used to her friend's tricks. "I'm not going to the party, so don't pretend I said yes just because you changed the subject."
"And why not?"
"For one thing I don't have anything to wear."
Catherine laughed. "This is why I handle the business and you're the designer. Honey, we employ ten seamstresses full time and have more fabric than an Olympic opening ceremony. If that's your best excuse then check and mate."
Kelly just looked out the window. She wanted to believe The Curse was broken, that her father hadn't been just lucky to survive his 30th Halloween with a minor cut, but what if death came? How could she leave this world behind? She was so young, life had so much to offer.
She thought of her dream man. Often he had a sword, a big wicked looking one, some of the dreams began with her watching him at practice and he'd looked like he knew how to use it. If only he were real and with her, maybe she wouldn't have to fear death and Halloween so much.
The sensation of becoming corporeal was always jarring. One moment Cillian was in the shadows of the cairn, watching the misty curtain between worlds rise and wane with one of the three faces of the goddess taunting him for years at a time. And then the Morrigan granted him his bitter wish, and he entered the world again.
At sunset, a time of crossing, the place where he would find the next Quinn suddenly materialized. Rather he did, but it always felt backwards. First came the dizziness, then the sick feeling, making him fall to his knees. As it passed he heard her tinkling laughter, the Morrigan in her elder face, the washerwoman who held power over death, but this time he heard a throaty sensual laugh that didn't fit the warrior goddess, even in her maiden form.
Normally what came next was the pain; the pain of memory. Of standing over his own body and that Siobhan. Of seeing her prone form. Of seeing the lord laugh about what fine sport humans made. Of the lord's men pulling out the arrows and laughing, leaving them to rot. Of the pain of being alone.
He'd searched all night for the shade of Siobhan, hiding from the Great Hunt and the scary things he'd only ever half-believed in. When dawn came the Morrigan had been there, a striking woman with ink-black hair and a harshly beautiful face. It had been she who had taken him through the curtain to the land of the dead.
There he'd met many of his fallen brothers, the people of his line, but he could find no comfort. Siobhan was never there, and he had haunted the Morrigan until she finally told him Siobhan had gone on. Filled with purity and love, she'd been granted another mortal life, and until he found peace, Cillian was a shade once and forever.
It had taken mortal years of begging for vengeance before the Morrigan had granted him a boon. Lord Richard Quinn had killed them on Samhain, but he had killed another young couple in the 3 days after Lughnasadh, a bloody act forbidden by the goddess Áine.
So Morrigan gave him quarter; on a Samhain ten mortal years after his death he took corporeal form to visit vengeance on Richard Quinn. It had been a quick death, but he had not been granted new life, and for one night he searched fruitlessly or Siobhan's new body only to be yanked back at sunrise. He remained a shade in the Cairn, waiting for the curtains between worlds to thin so he may search the living for his lost love, whom he could sense.
Fourteen mortal years later he again took corporeal form, and faced the son Richard Quinn had left behind. And so when every descendant reached thirty he returned to life in a body his own, always at the place where he would find the Quinn. Long ago he's lost his taste for vengeance but until the Quinn bled he could not leave the place he'd been sent, only after could he leave and search for Siobhan's soul in a new body.
Now he could sense neither. For the first time in over half a century he could sense neither the Quinn nor his bonny Siobhan. Fighting panic he rose to see he was in a strange room. There was a bed, a...dresser, he knew. The Morrigan always granted him the words of the new time and place but it came slowly at first. This was a hotel room, a fine one, but the Quinn should have been there. The man had a suit laid out on the bed, he must be close.
He tried the door and it opened, but an invisible wall held him.
"What is this!?!" he cried, only to hear that sensual woman's laughter.
The sun finished setting and still he could not leave, so Cillian sat on the bed and dreamed of the chance that night. If he could do this quickly, he could find her...but without his ability to sense her soul, just how would he do it?
Then he noticed the folded piece of stiff paper next to him on the bed. Opening it, he smiled, and the large suit beside him made sense. The game was on.
"I feel silly."
"You look gorgeous," Catherine said with a smile. She herself was dressed as a zombie Marie Antoinette. Inventive and detailed; the black ribbon at her neck seemed to ooze fresh blood and her skin was deathly pale with only a few accents of rot. Beneath her slim black masked she smiled.
"At least people can tell what you're supposed to be. Cool idea; but me?" Kelly stood in the mirror of the room Richard had given them. "I look like Johnny Cash as played by Tits McGee."
Catherine laughed. "Honey, you have the build to be Tits McGee twenty-four seven if you like. You're the dread pirate Roberts, and the sexiest I think any of these stuffed shirts will have ever seen."
She stared at herself in the mirror. Tight black stretch pants were stuffed into heeled boots (like she really needed to be 6'3" she thought with a sigh), and in the back a half skirt trailed. Since she'd only seen this style in movies about courtesans she doubted anyone would get an impression of dark & dangerous about her.
On top she wore a billowing-sleeved black shirt and handkerchief over a ponytail, and black mask, although she showed more cleavage than Cary Elwes ever had.
The rapier at her side, a gift from Richard, felt good. It wasn't buttoned for safety like a foil; it was real and old. Her family may have lost their fortunes after years of dying at thirty, but some traditions remained. It had seemed silly in childhood but tonight she was glad for all the fencing lessons with her father.
"As I'll ever be." As they were leaving Kelly had a small change of heart and dove for the small courtesy fridge. She grabbed a bottle of whiskey the size of a thimble and downed it one go.
"Impressive. Need a minute for the liquid courage to work?"
"No, I'm good," Kelly said through the coughing. Laughing, Catherine ducked her head so her giant wig wouldn't get knocked off. "Hey, how come I'm not zombie Roberts? Or maybe the dread vampire Roberts?"
"Sweetie, when each Roberts retires he passes the mantle to someone new. You're very much alive and I think it's quite feminist."
Stepping onto the elevator Kelly gave a wry smile. "A modern pirate? Shouldn't I be Somali?"
The doors opened and in the lobby of the Pierre was a sight only Halloween could bring: jet setters of the world dressed in full costumes. "Is that Donald Trump?" Kelly asked as they stepped out.
Catherine squinted at the people posing for photographers out front. "The clown or the jester?"
"I thought this was a costume party."
Catherine gave her a wry smile. "Sarcasm is a defense mechanism."
"You know I hate hobnobbing."
"Richard Aulom is the reason we're afloat, getting noticed, and have a real shot at a decent spot next fashion week. If he booked us to perform an opera tonight we'd have to agree."
"At least the drinks are free."
Catherine laughed and led her to the Grand Ballroom. A serious affair, security was high, and a man with a tux and a gun checked their invitations carefully. Kelly was surprised no one asked them to remove their masks, but after a pointed stare he nodded, and let them in, moving to tell the next Big Bad to check their names and note their costumes.
Inside was a different world. In the real one Kelly was used to Halloween parties for kids; trick or treating, houses with paper back cats and vibrating ghosts, bobbing for apples. This was somewhere between a very high class dungeon and a vampire's layer. All black and red, the floor-to-ceiling windows had billowy black curtains. The chandeliers sported flame lights as did the sconces, and the only decorations were acrobats on pedestals dressed in a variety of tight and revealing costumes. For all she knew Richard had rented out Cirque Du Soleil for the evening; he certainly had the cash to do so.
Everywhere she looked the rich, powerful, and- was that Paris Hilton?- ostensibly famous were dressed in full costume and smiling as much as any child at a neighborhood party.
"Nelson's blood?" A waiter dressed as a convincing mummy offered.
"What's in it?" Catherine asked, eyeing the champagne glass with the dark liquid.
"Dom Perignon, rum, port, brandy, blood orange juice, and spices."
Catherine grabbed two and passed the other to Kelly. "Here's to a great year, and a promising future." They toasted and drank. It was strong, spicy, and Kelly fought the urge to drown the glass to calm her nerves.