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Shlee tapped Eldon’s shoulder and pointed to a large rock. “I think that one is it,” she stated in his ear, barely audible over the blowing wind. They were still on his roc’s back, flying over the dry landscape on the border between Fire and Darkness’s demesne. Eldon was lost in his own thoughts, trying to figure out what he was going to say to the vampire. Somehow, ‘Hello. Nice to meet you. You have a wonderful fiancée, and oh, by the way, we’re also in love and there’s not a thing any of us can do about it,’ didn’t seem to be appropriate.
“Are you sure this time?” Eldon asked back. This was the third time she’d said it was the spot to land, only to get down there and have her change her mind.
“Stop being a brat,” she lightly slapped him on the shoulder. “Everything looks different from above. I’m used to following the trail and scent to it. That’s impossible from up here.”
He nodded and signaled their ride to land. The roc let out a raucous cry, and banked to the right. A few seconds later they were on the ground and Shlee was running towards the large rock. Large rock was an understatement, as it was nearly as large as the roc.
“This is it,” she yelled to Megan and him as they walked up. She was pointing to a spot near the bottom, where the boulder rose up and hung over the ground by about a foot. “This is the one. See right here? This is where we carved our initials after he proposed to me.”
Eldon felt his heart drop at those words. Because of what Gloria had done to him and Shlee, he loved her. It was one thing for her to mention it, and to know that they were heading to talk to the other man, but it was another to see the spot where he’d proposed.
“Now, this other fella is a vampire, right?” Megan asked, glancing up at the sky. “It’s light here, though a bit dimmer than earlier. I understand that only the Pillar of Darkness’s area is dark all the time, and that the borders, like here, aren’t as bright. But I gotta wonder, how did he manage to propose to you out here?”
“It’s how I knew he truly loved me,” Shlee said, her eyes sparkling. “Oh, he was covered up from head to toe, and wearing this big goofy hat, but the fact that he was willing to come all the way out here, just to spend a little more time with me, meant the world.”
Eldon felt Megan’s elbow jab him in the ribs. “You ever do anything like that to prove your love?”
Eldon glared at her a moment before thinking of his response. “I risk my life all the time. Or I used to, before I became permanent. There are other ways to show love.”
“Spoken like a man who isn’t willing to go the distance,” she scoffed. She flipped around to face Shlee, her deep red hair flipping around behind her.
Eldon ground his teeth in frustration. “I’m currently going to talk to my girlfriend’s fiancée, literally going into the Devil’s den to do so. I’m doing this so that she, at the very least, can be happy.”
“You don’t have to defend yourself to me,” Megan said with a laugh.
Eldon’s fists balled up until they hurt as he struggled to hold in his anger. Who did she think she was? He hadn’t asked her to come find him; hadn’t even wanted her to follow after them. She didn’t know him. What right did she have to make any judgements?
She glanced up at him, and he noticed something in her eyes. Was that approval? What the hell was wrong with her?
He chose to keep his mouth shut, and moved over to Shlee’s side. “Where do we go from here?”
“Northwest,” Shlee stated as she brushed the dirt off her legs. She pointed into the darkened horizon, and Eldon didn’t miss the hopeful gleam in her eyes.
“Cheer up, bucko,” Megan bumped him with her hip. “She looks the same way when she looks at you.”
He glared at the other woman, but was unwilling to admit that her words offered a little balm to his mood. It didn’t help when she ran up to the werewolf and asked, “So, how did you two meet?”
A grin split Shlee’s features as her eyes turned distant. “I was going to visit my uncle, who lives in the Pillar of Darkness’s demesne.”
Eldon didn’t want to hear this, but found he couldn’t stop himself. He took a couple quick steps and reached for Shlee’s hand. He told himself it was not to remind her that he existed. He loved her, and just wanted to be close to her. He would support her in whatever she needed. His heart lightened when she turned and smiled at him, before continuing her story. Megan on the other side gave him a speculative look, but said nothing.
“Some people think that it’s entirely dark, no light at all within there,” Shlee pointed to the darkening sky. “There is some light, though most humans’ eyes aren’t sharp enough to see it. That much light is forbidden without permission. Well, I haven’t been to my uncle’s place very much, and ended up getting lost. Despite my heightened senses, one of the creatures that live there snuck up on me.”
She fell silent for a moment, lost in memory. Eldon squeezed her hand offering comfort, and she gave him another smile.
“I don’t know if something bigger scared it off, but it left me bleeding out on the ground. I thought I was dead for sure. I didn’t dare call out for help, afraid of what else might find me.” She shuddered, no doubt remembering the experience that had to be horrifying. “I knew the second he approached. I could sense the wrongness in him. Despite my injuries, I tried to attack him. My instincts took over, but I was no match for him in that condition.”
“Wait,” Megan interrupted and shook her head. “You mean your fiancée, or someone else?”
Shlee let out a short laugh before answering. “It was Dimitri, my fiancée. He knocked me out within seconds. When I woke up, I was surprised to find I was alive. Not only that, but I was bandaged up. Of course, I was also tied up and couldn’t break free.”
“Did he make you his sex slave?” Megan asked with a gasp. “Daddy told me some men are like that. That’s why he taught me to defend myself.”
“What?” Shlee asked, shocked at the notion. “No! He was a perfect gentleman. He took care of my injuries, though at first I tried to eat him every time he came close. I’d shift into a wolf, but my bindings were magically spelled and still me.”
Despite himself, Eldon was hooked on listening to his girlfriend’s words. This was the most he’d heard about his girl’s other man, and while he wanted to hate the vampire, he was finding he might actually like him. Their surroundings had entirely darkened, though he was still able to make out the rocky ground as they went. It wouldn’t be too much farther before he was relying on Shlee’s guidance, unless he transformed. He couldn’t think of any forms that had superior night vision, though. Something he needed to rectify when the opportunity presented itself.
“How did he stop himself from killing you outright?” Eldon asked, seeing the flaw in her story. She was helpless in his power, and he didn’t take advantage of her? Vampires and werewolves were mortal enemies. It was literally in their blood. The two groups couldn’t stand to be around one another, without some inner instinct kicking in, demanding they kill each other.
“Because how could I hurt such a magnificent beauty?” a different male voice responded. The new man had an old Germanic accent, but was easily understood.
“Dee!” Shlee squealed and let go of Eldon’s hand. She ran to a tall, thin shadow and flung her arms around the other person. There was no denying the sound of kissing as the two lovers reunited.
Does she have to growl like that? he thought with more than a touch of anger. She growls that way when I kiss her neck… Stop it! She was engaged to him first. I’m the other man. This isn’t her fault… Seriously? How long are they going to make out?
“Who are our guests?” Dimitri asked, breaking into Eldon’s darkening thoughts.
“We’re not snacks!” Megan piped up, her voice a bit higher than usual.
Dimitri’s laugh was smooth and rich as it burst from him. “Of course not! My little wolf knows I’m not like others of my kind.”
“So… Um, you don’t drink human blood?” Megan all but squeaked. It was the most nervous Eldon had seen the woman. She hadn’t acted like that when facing the myrmidon, but this vampire was making her weak in the knees?
“Of course I do,” Dimitri replied with ease, making Megan gasp and move closer to Eldon. He had no doubt that it was so she could protect him easier. She couldn’t be afraid…. Not the Megan he knew. “But I don’t take it from the unwilling.”
“Hi, I’m Eldon,” he spoke up and held out his hand to the other man. If he just happened to step between Megan and the vampire, it couldn’t be helped. He wasn’t trying to separate the two. He had no reason to suspect that this smooth voiced man was trying to pick up another woman. And he knew she could protect herself. He was just trying to be polite, he told himself.
“Eldon…” Dimitri said, as though tasting the word. “Eldon… Hmm…. Dark hair and gray eyes…. As in Sheldon Lance? Son of the hero of the Chaos War, Lyden Snow?”
“Yes,” he replied, unsure he liked the fact that a vampire could identify him so easily.
“Relax!” the blood-sucker laughed, as though sensing Eldon’s misgivings. Or could Dimitri read his mind? That thought scared him. Somehow it was all right for a girlfriend to do it, but for a potential enemy? “I follow Shlee’s career, and know she’s been working with your family while maintaining her cover as a reporter.”
Eldon sighed in relief, until Dimitri continued on. “Of course, that doesn’t explain why you two were holding hands like lovers?” His voice didn’t get angry, but remained smooth, rich, and inquisitive.
Shlee finally unglued herself from his side, and he let her go, his head turned towards Eldon. He couldn’t be certain in the darkness, but thought the other man was staring right at him, and not Megan who had stepped up to his side.
“There’s something we need to tell you, Dee,” Shlee began, but Eldon interrupted. If things went badly, he wanted the other man to hate him, and not Shlee.
“Aphrodite, or Gloria as she goes by now, cast a love spell on both of us, not knowing that Shlee was already engaged to you.” That came out easier than Eldon expected, though his heart hammered in his chest like a bass drum.
Dimitri was silent for a long moment before he spoke. “And did you petition the old goddess to remove the geas? Or her son, Eros?”
“Eros?” Megan piped up. “As in Cupid? I thought he was a myth. And what is a gaysh?”
“Of course he’s real, you st—” Dimitri paused and took a calming breath. “Forgive me, this news has set my nerves awry. Many of the ancient gods had multiple names. The Greeks knew him as Eros and her Aphrodite. The Romans renamed them Cupid and Venus. A geas is from Irish folklore, meaning an obligation or prohibition magically imposed on a person.”
“Well, that sums up those two all right,” Megan chuckled. “It’s obvious that they’ve been fighting it, but you can still tell they’re in love.”
“Would you shut up,” Eldon muttered under his breath. She wasn’t helping things with her questions, or her blunt talk. “Gloria hasn’t exactly been around for us to confront,” he continued in a mollifying tone.
“And so… what?” Dimitri asked, his tone starting to harden. “You came to rub my nose in it?”
“No, Dee!” Shlee pleaded and grabbed his arm. “It’s not like that. I still love you and want to marry you. We can show our races that we can exist in peace.”
“But you love him, also.” Dimitri said. It wasn’t a question.
“Yes,” Shlee admitted, and then rushed on. “But he’s a great guy. I think you two would get along great, if you gave it a chance! I know the situation isn’t ideal, but he’s willing to work with us.”
Dimitri finally turned his head away from Eldon and looked to the woman holding his arm. They remained silent, and after another nudge from Megan, Eldon forced words to form in his throat. “Like Shlee said, it’s not ideal, but she really does love you. I didn’t want to come between you two, and so we came to work things out.”
He didn’t want this. He didn’t want to share Shlee with another man, but she loved Dimitri, and he had no right to refuse her that love. Didn’t she have to share him with Mandy? He knew his feelings were unfair. He was being selfish, but he couldn’t deny how he felt. He did love Shlee, and she deserved to be happy.
“No, this is not ideal at all,” Dimitri said. Eldon wished he could see well enough to make out his facial expressions. He seemed too still for Eldon’s liking, making body language impossible to translate. The vampire turned to Megan and asked, “And this other woman? Is she supposed to be some sort of sacrifice? Or are we to share her as well?”
“Hold on there, big guy,” Megan put her hands up in front of her. “I ain’t here to be shared, or sacrificed. You might say I’m moral support.”
“Moral support?” Dimitri scoffed. “I’m ancient, and my morals may be a bit different from yours. You children and your current politics, ha! When I was still human, we may have had our fun. I knew that even after I married, I would still have my mistresses on the side, but they wouldn’t be public. My future wife might have her men as well, and as long as they were discreet, it wouldn’t matter. But to do so openly would be a disgrace.”
“Dee, my love!” Shlee pleaded with him, but he moved, shaking her from his arm. “I’m sorry! I never meant for it to happen like this. We can work this out! Please! I love you, Dee.”
Eldon hated seeing her plead like that. It tore at his heart to see her on the verge of tears, but this was between them. He had no right to step in the middle of this.
Up until the point where he saw the vampire lift his hand to strike Shlee.
“I should have realized that you would rut around with anything that had a cock between his legs,” Dimitri swung to hit Shlee, but Eldon caught the blow in the crook of his elbow.
“I’m not sure what kind of morals allow you to hit a woman,” Eldon grunted as he had to throw all of his weight behind stopping the blow. The man’s arm was surprisingly skinny for his height, but equally shocking was his strength. “But I was raised to treat women with more respect and dignity than that.”
Eldon didn’t see Dimitri’s other fist move until stars exploded in his head. He knew vampires were supposed to be strong, and while he was knocked to the rough ground, it was a lighter blow than he expected.
“Dee, no!” Shlee screamed as Eldon noticed the tall thin shadow step over him.
A light sprang, up from somewhere, illuminating the vampire. His fangs poked from between bloodless lips, and his dark eyes shown with hatred. “You had to ruin it.” Somehow the man’s voice still sounded smooth, even though there was a note of contained fury in it. “Everything was planned and worked out, but you had to come along and ruin everything.”
Eldon tried to get to his feet, but another swift blow had him tasting the dirt. Weaker than expected or not, those punches hurt!
“Dimitri, stop it!” Shlee yelled, using her fiancée’s full name for the first time. Eldon was vaguely aware of her trying to pull him away, but he shoved her to the ground and delivered a kick to Eldon’s stomach. “Megan, turn off that light before it’s too late!”
“You’ve ruined everything. All of my carefully laid plans are ruined now, thanks to you,” Dimitri spat on Eldon, the spittle hitting his cheek.
“Stop it or I’ll shoot,” Megan warned, ignoring Shlee’s demand.
The vampire moved with nearly lethal velocity as he knocked Megan’s pistol away and picked her up by the throat. He sniffed along her torso and grinned. “You smell like a virgin. Your blood will be sweet indeed. After I kill that fool, perhaps I’ll turn you into one of my thralls.”
“What’s wrong with you?” Shlee asked. Her eyes were golden in the light from Megan’s dropped cell phone. Her mouth extended out into a muzzle, but she hadn’t fully changed yet. “This isn’t like you, Dee.”
“Stop calling me that!” the smooth quality of Dimitri’s voice started to crack. “I’m so sick and tired of pandering to you, and putting up with your dumb names. I’m almost glad this whole thing has failed. At least now I can quit pretending.”
“Dee-Dimitri?” Shlee asked. Eldon could hear her heart breaking in her voice.
He rolled to his side, head still spinning, and saw Megan’s pistol a few feet away. Moving for it, he managed to regain his feet, but saw two of the vampire, holding two redheads. The two Megans were struggling to break free, but they were no match for the undead monsters choking them.
Eldon rubbed at his eyes, and the four people coalesced into two. “Put her down,” Eldon demanded and fired a round into the vampire’s back. Dimitri didn’t even flinch as he turned and gave Eldon a queer smile.
“That can’t hurt me. I wonder though, how are you even standing?” His voice still held his anger, but now there was a note of smooth curiosity. “I know your bloodline is strong, but you should be down with a cracked skull.”
“I’m just lucky, I guess,” Eldon said and aimed for the creature’s head. He’d expected things to go poorly, but not this poorly. His aim wasn’t as good as Megan’s but he started to pull back on the trigger.
Before he could complete the small movement, Megan blurred as she was moved between the two men.
“You can’t shoot me, without hitting her,” Dimitri taunted.
“Do… it…” Megan gasped through her almost closed throat.
Eldon squinted his eyes, trying to find a spot he could shoot and miss the other woman. There wasn’t one. He knew there were a few thin spots on the human body that he could shoot through to hit the vampire…. He stopped and dropped the weapon. That bullet would carry Megan’s blood on it, and end up strengthening the vampire. Short of a stake through his heart, holy water, or ripping off his head, there wasn’t much Eldon could do against this undead creature. As long as he held Megan, he couldn’t even get close.
“Put her down, and we’ll leave you in peace,” Eldon tried to reason with him. “There are three of us, and only one of you.”
Dimitri laughed. It was a dark and sinister sound that sent chills through Eldon. “You fools! You brought a light into the Pillar of Darkness’s demesne without his permission. Do you think you’ll get half a chance to leave here alive? You’d be better served letting me feed from your hearts, than trust to the Pillar of Darkness’s kindness.”
“Why are you doing this?” Shlee demanded to know, tears reflecting the light from Megan’s dropped phone. “I thought you loved me!” Her face showed fur sprouting from her wet cheeks, but she still looked partly human.
“Ha! I could love you no more than I’d love a rat! Worse, you’re a werewolf! It took every ounce of my willpower not to kill you after my friends weakened you. You were going to be an important part of my plan, though. With your help, I was going to destroy the werewolves! Now I’ll have to start all over again. All those months wasted! All that foolish simpering I had to pretend at, for nothing! And to think I actually had sex with a dog! I had to scrub my body for hours every time to get the stink off!”
Something snapped in Eldon. Without intending to, his body morphed into ogre form. In one quick step he smashed the phone, extinguishing its light. He stopped in confusion for a moment, knowing his target was before him, but unable to see with the sudden absence of light.
He heard movement and swung, but he struck nothing with his meaty fist. “Where you be, skinny thing?” Eldon demanded. The enemy cackled, and Eldon turned to face him. He tried hard to focus his eyes and made out the outline of the vampire holding a tasty morsel.
He took another step towards the fiend that smelled dead and dry inside. He had no doubt that it would taste terrible, but he wanted to destroy it. Another step and he would be able to smash the monster, but he heard a growl and watched as something streaked through the darkness.
Dimitri didn’t have a chance to cry out or cackle again. The tasty morsel in his hands dropped to the ground and gasped for air. The body that had once been Dimitri toppled over. His head lay six feet away at the forepaws of a light-coated werewolf.
“Eldon,” the scrumptious one said in a hoarse whisper. “I know you have a hard time understanding me in that form, but don’t hurt us.”
“No hurt pretty lady,” Eldon agreed. “Pretties are my friends.” He took the final steps up to where Megan and the vampire lay on the ground and lifted his foot high into the air. Megan flinched away from him, but doubled over as her body was wracked with a coughing spasm. “Fanged dead thing is bad!” He brought his foot down as hard as he could on the corpse. It gave a satisfying crunch as the ground compacted. When he lifted back up, he left a print almost a foot deep. Only dust and the remains of Dimitri’s clothes remained. “He hurt nummy doggy-lady. He hurt her no more!” Eldon was proud of himself for destroying the one that’d hurt his friend. He might not have delivered the killing blow, but he still felt good.
“Please change back, Eldon.” There was something in Shlee’s voice that filled Eldon with an emotion he couldn’t understand. It was as if despite how big he was, he couldn’t hold it in, and reverted back to normal. Only then could he recognize the feeling as sympathy and sadness. Apparently ogres weren’t designed for those emotions.
Shlee had changed back to her human form and was huddled on the ground, holding something. He went to his lover’s side, but when he placed his hand on her fully human shoulder, she jerked away from him.
“Don’t touch me!” she screamed and huddled away from him.
Eldon jerked back, shocked at the hatred and anger behind her shout. This close he was able to make out Dimitri’s head in her hands. Her shoulders shook, and there was the unmistakable sound of her crying.
“Why, Dee?” she sobbed, her voice low and full of pain. “I loved you. We could have been happy. bursa escort You proved that our races don’t have to fight. Why did you make me do this?”
Eldon’s chest hurt. Shlee, one of his loves, was pining over another man’s death. A man who’d wanted her and her entire race wiped out. A man that never actually cared about her. Dimitri had manipulated and twisted her feelings, and now she sat hunched over his head, bereaving him.
“Give her a moment,” Megan said from right behind him. He would have jumped, but was too heart-sore to be startled right then.
“You did good,” he told her, unsure why he even spoke, unless it was a need to say something in return. “You stayed level headed, and didn’t panic when crap hit the fan.”
“Um… Thanks?” Megan said, confused. “Crap? Don’t you mean when the shit hit the fan?”
“Yeah,” Eldon sighed and turned away from Shlee. It hurt too much to look at her. “I guess I’m not in the mood to swear. And why are you surprised I complimented you?”
“It’s the first time you really have,” she told him. “And quite frankly, times like this are the best time to swear. A well placed fuck or damn can go a long way to making you feel better. Shit really is one of the least of the swear words. Only ass is less offensive to people whose too weak to handle the sound of simple words.”
Eldon wanted to smile at the spirit of the other woman, but couldn’t find the energy to lift his lips.
“For instance: Fuck, my phone just got smashed by a damn ogre, and I only had three months left on my damned-expensive contract,” Megan quipped and held out the remains of her phone. “Now I’m going to have to pay out the ass for a new one.”
“I’ll buy you a new one,” he said, shaking his head. Shlee continued to sob behind him, and while he wanted to go to her and comfort her, she’d made her wishes known.
“See, you should have said, ‘I’ll fucking buy you a new damned phone, bitch. It’s the least I could do for putting you through that fucked-up shit.’” She laughed, but even to Eldon, it sounded forced.
“You shouldn’t have brought light into my domain!” a new voice boomed.
Eldon spun on the newcomer, his emotional lethargy fleeing in the face of the new threat. He’d never met the Pillar of Darkness before, but that was the only person this could be.
“My Lord, Pillar, forgive us,” Eldon spoke fast, trying to figure a way out of this. They needed the man’s assistance to help Areth recover, and this wasn’t starting out very well. “We were attacked, and one among us didn’t know any better. It won’t happen again.”
“Damn right, it won’t happen again,” the Pillar declared, his voice seeming to echo off the very darkness. “Self-defense is no excuse. Ignorance is no excuse. You entered my realm and expected to remain whole? You, Sheldon Lance, should have known better. You will all pay with your souls.”
“The Pillar of Darkness? The Devil?” Eldon heard Megan mutter, but he ignored her.
“Lord Morningstar, please,” he replied. Eldon didn’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing that the pillar knew who he was. Too many people seemed to know him by sight. Good, because then he would know who he was connected to and it may offer some protection. Bad, because it was never a good thing to be known by Satan himself. “We came to speak with Shlee’s fiancée and to—”
“I know why you’ve come,” the other man interrupted Eldon. “You are much like your father. He thought I’d be more than happy to help when we spoke over two decades ago. I disabused him of that notion. I do not help those that cannot help themselves.”
Eldon glanced around, unsure what to say next. Shelly was supposed to be here with them for this, and Eldon hoped that his aunt and other girlfriend were able to rescue her. His hopes weren’t high, however. Even with the Pillar of Air on their side, getting in and out of King Aeacus’s stronghold alive seemed like an impossible feet.
After a few seconds of silence, Eldon returned his attention to the Pillar of Darkness. Why hadn’t he killed them? Or rather, the two women. He wasn’t sure if even this powerful creature could destroy Eldon and his permanent body. Not that he was interested in finding out. Megan stood at his side. He wasn’t sure if Shlee knew that they were in danger again as she continued to sob over Dimitri’s head.
“You want something,” Eldon said as he gazed at the shadowed being. He couldn’t make out a lot of detail, other than that the pillar was tall and broad shouldered. Darkness, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the absence of any light, flowed and flitted around his form like a fog, or some kind of clothing.
“Don’t we all?” Lucifer chuckled. There was still anger in his voice, but it was tempered by something else now. “Give me the woman at your side, and I shall grant you what you desire. Not only can I give you what you need to restore Arethusa to her body, but I can help return Gloria to you, and stop Jessica from fulfilling her plans.”
Eldon’s breath caught in his throat. He was being offered a lot. Hell, he was almost being offered the world. Gloria returned to his arms? Areth returned to life? Jessica stopped? And all he had to do was hand over the annoying redhead at his side. What was one life, compared to all that? It was Megan’s fault that the Pillar of Darkness was upset with them anyway. He hadn’t asked or wanted her here. He’d tried to stop her from coming along, and been outvoted. It was her fault. Perhaps had she kept her mouth shut, Dimitri wouldn’t have attacked them.
But Dimitri had other plans, and despite Shlee’s sorrow, it was a good thing that he was killed. He’d planned on killing the entire werewolf race, though Eldon had no idea how tricking and wooing Shlee was a part of that. And despite himself, he had to admit that she was a fighter, and a good one for a human.
Could he really hand over one person, for who knew what purpose the devil had for her?
One person’s worth… versus all that would be accomplished in return…
“Eldon,” Megan said, trepidation lacing her voice. “I don’t want to…”
“Shut up, wench,” the Pillar of Darkness demanded. “The offer wasn’t given to you.”
This was a new side to Megan that Eldon hadn’t seen. From the start, she was either overbearing or over-confident. Sometimes teasing, but always needling to get under his skin. Now her fate lay in his hands.
“No,” Eldon stated, his voice firm.
“Don’t you think this should be my decision?” Megan asked next to him, her voice growing firm.
“Do you have a death wish?” Eldon turned on her. Hadn’t she just asked him not to hand her over? “You know who this man is. What do you think he wants with you?”
“A lot more than you seem to want with me,” Megan glared back at him.
They were interrupted with Satan’s chuckling. “You truly are like your father, Sheldon.”
“Call me Eldon,” he replied, annoyed at both the devil and the woman staring daggers at him. “Sheldon sounds too formal.”
“I know it annoys you, and so I call you by that name,” Lucifer laughed harder. “And as for you, young lady, the offer wasn’t made to you, so no, it is not your decision.”
“Excuse me?” Megan demanded, turning her fierce gaze on the Pillar of Darkness. “Only I get to decide what happens to me. Free will, and all that.”
“No. You. Don’t.” the powerful man said, growing ten feet in height and towering over them. “While I applaud your tenacity believing in yourself, had he decided to hand you over, there isn’t a fucking thing you could do to stop me from taking you, and doing with you as I pleased. Or as my minions pleased. Or as my dogs pleased. The offer wasn’t made to you, and the contract is what matters.”
“What about free will?” Megan shot back. Under her breath she told Eldon, “At least he knows how to swear.”
“You would be free to hate what was done to you, or not. Free will only applies to your mind, but even that can be overcome.” The large man pointed to where Shlee still cradled Dimitri’s severed head. “She had free will to love a creature that intended her species doom. By all rights, she should hate the vampire, but she grieves instead. I didn’t think Dimitri could pull it off, but he almost succeeded. I gave him—” this time the pointing finger aimed at Eldon, “—the choice to have everything he wanted, by giving up a sacrifice that means almost nothing to him. His free will rejected my magnanimous offer. What does free will give you, other than pain and heartache?”
“It can give us love, and the power to choose our own destinies,” Megan shot back, not willing to back down from the imposing figure.
Once again, Megan was spouting off at the mouth, likely to get them all in worse trouble. Maybe he should have accepted the devil’s offer. But would his conscience have allowed that?
“And what has it gotten you, Megan Raquel Myers?” Lucifer laughed at her for a moment. “Did free will save your father from wasting away from cancer? Did it help you find the love you came to the Shadow World looking for? Free will didn’t come into it when the ancient goddess, Aphrodite, forced this man and the werewolf to love one another. Don’t mistake free will for something it is not.”
“You talk a lot,” Megan muttered, but at least she did it quiet enough that Eldon hoped the devil didn’t hear.
“Destiny is not for mortals to decide,” Satan went on. “It is an illusion when applied to the physical world. Spouted by priests, clergy men, and politicians, as they tell you what to do with your free will, all the while limiting your choices. All free will allows you to do is decide how you will face destiny.”
“How do you know about Daddy?” Megan asked, this time her voice cracked as she spoke. “He was a good man. His soul wouldn’t come to you.”
“Are you so sure of that?” Lucifer chuckled once more. “He played professional football before he became a sheriff. You know how many athletes I have in my domain? They make excellent physical labor. He was also a Sherriff. How many cops are corrupt? He may have been good to you, but that doesn’t make him a good man. Shall I tell you of the hearts that he broke before meeting your mother? Or after? Or perhaps of the lies that he told. I know every person’s darkest secrets. I know all their sins. That’s how I know your father.”
“Daddy was a good man,” Megan reaffirmed.
“He didn’t actually say he had your father,” Eldon muttered to her. “Now shut your mouth before you make things worse.” He turned to the large pillar and raised his voice. “Is there any other way we can get what we need?”
Satan’s eyes turned on him, and suddenly he felt very small. He held his ground and waited though, unwilling to show that he was intimidated. “You’re willing to make a deal with the devil, eh? My original offer still stands. Give me Megan, and I’ll give you Gloria, Jessica, and the means to return the faerie, Arethusa, back to her original form. Three for one. Sounds like you’re getting the better end of that deal.”
Which makes me wonder why you want her so badly, he thought. Unlike Megan, he knew when to keep his mouth shut. Eldon turned to the redhead, trying to understand what the other man was really after.
“You’re actually considering it,” Megan glared at him. “I thought you were better than that. I thought you were a man of principle, like Daddy, but I see you’re not. I—”
“For once would you just shut the fuck up?” Eldon snapped at her. “See, I do know how to swear.” He didn’t know if her gaping mouth was because of his demand for her silence, or for his choice of words, but at least she’d quit talking.
“I won’t take that deal,” he told Lucifer. “If it were giving myself up, that’d be one thing. I want all that you offer, but the price is too steep. Is there no other agreement we can come to?”
“I warn you, the price only becomes stiffer,” the man said, but at least he started to shrink in size. When Eldon didn’t respond by the time he was human height again, the pillar continued, “What you ask of me, just for returning Areth to her former self, is no small thing, Sheldon.”
“Why do you want Megan so badly, anyway?” He doubted he’d get a straight answer, but the least he could do was ask. “I mean, yeah, she’s gorgeous, and smart, and can kick some serious ass, but that doesn’t explain why you’re so desperate to get her.”
Why was Megan looking at him like that? He’d just asked a simple question. He thought back over his words, and realized he’d said a lot more than he’d meant to. He schooled his features not to give away what he suspected. He wanted desperately to look around, but kept his eyes locked on the Pillar of Darkness.
“Because she’s a virgin. You know how rare those are?” Lucifer replied with full candor. “I mean, sure, children usually are, but who would want a child? I prefer to satisfy my tastes with adults, and she’s one fine piece of adult. Look at the ass on her!”
“Well, aren’t you the ladies’ man?” Megan said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
Lucifer glared at them. “What trickery is this?”
“We’re in your domain,” Megan grinned. “Shouldn’t you know?”
“Forgive my presence, Lord Pillar,” Mandy said as she stepped closer.
“Dammit!” Lucifer swore. “I got too focused on the virgin fire-crotch in front of me.”
“You never change, Lucy,” Lysa’s voice floated to them. Four shadows materialized out of the gloom not five feet away. The Pillar of Air had a small light behind her. Eldon figured she was powerful enough to flaunt her disregard for the Pillar of Darkness’s laws.
Eldon saw his twin sister, and ran to her without another thought. He swept her up into a tight hug, tears of joy stinging his eyes as he knew she was alive and safe. Or rather, as safe as anyone was while in this dark place. It took him a moment to realize that her wriggling was her trying to get away from him. He set her down and stepped away, uncertain.
“Shelly? Are you okay?” he asked. She didn’t look up at him, but only hung her head.
“She’s been through a rough moment,” Sonia informed him. “Give her some time. I… I understand what she’s going through. Just… Just give her some space for now.” Was it Eldon’s imagination, or did Sonia sound like she was on the edge of tears?
“Shlee?” Mandy’s voice reached his ears. “Shlee? Talk to me. What’s wrong?”
Eldon glanced at the android one last time, then ran over to his girlfriends. “She had to kill her fiancée. He wasn’t what she thought he was. She won’t let me near her.”
“Did you and he start to fight over Shlee?” Mandy asked, shock and uncertainty thick in her voice. “Couldn’t you… I don’t know… No… You’re better than that.”
“No.” It was Shlee who answered. The first solid words she’d said since yelling at him to leave her alone. “Eldon was a perfect gentleman. I could smell his jealousy, but he was so supportive. He… Dimitri lied to me. He didn’t really love me, but I loved him so much.” Tears streamed from her eyes and dripped from her chin. “I was going to marry him. We were going to show our races that they could coexist. He…. They…. I….” She doubled over again, sobbing and cradling Dimitri’s head.
“I’m glad you’re all right,” he told Mandy, pulling her into a hug. At least she wrapped her four arms around him and hugged him back. “I missed having you with me.”
“I love you,” Mandy whispered to him. “Your sister was hurt, but we got her out. There is a lot to tell you, but now doesn’t appear to be the time. Just, whatever happens, be careful around your sister. Her mind is pretty fragile right now.”
“What did Aeacus do to her?” Mandy shook her head, refusing to answer, and Eldon knew he needed to be patient. For now, he was glad that his sister lived. He glanced at Shlee. “I don’t know if you can help, but she won’t let me near her.”
“I don’t know if I’ve ever been so thoroughly forgotten in my entire existence,” Lucifer’s voice sounded in the darkness.
“Don’t be like that, Lucy,” Lysa cajoled him. “They’ve all been through a lot, and it’s good to see them reunited, if a little worse for wear. Can’t you help them out? For me?”
“Don’t be like this, Babe,” Satan commented back. “You know I can’t. I have to extract a price from them.”
“For meeee?” Lysa wheedled even more.
Eldon stared at the two. If he didn’t know better, he’d think the Pillar of Darkness and the Pillar of Air were lovers. But he knew that couldn’t be right…. Could it?
“They brought light into my domain, without my permission, Pumpkin,” Lucifer, or Lucy, whined.
Lysa sighed but didn’t argue that point further. “So you thought you’d snatch up the virgin redhead? I knew she would tempt you.”
“What the hell is going on?” Eldon shouted. He realized how loud he was and looked around embarrassed, but everyone else was gaping at the two pillars.
“You can’t tell dad,” Lysa said, pulling out of Satan’s embrace. “He wouldn’t understand.”
“I don’t understand!” Eldon spluttered.
“I know he may not seem like it, but he treats me well,” Lysa replied, her tone going a bit defensive.
“And she treats me better than Eris ever did,” the other pillar replied. “The best part is, she doesn’t get jealous!”
“That’s because I understand who you are, Lucy,” Lysa rubbed her nose against Lucifer’s.
“You understand me the best, Pumpkin” Satan rubbed his nose against Lysa’s.
Eldon was going to be sick from the blatant display of PDA.
“Are you sure there’s nothing you can do?” Lysa pressed one last time.
“If I were to let them go unpunished, and give them what they came for, I would lose the respect of all my subjects,” the man stated, his voice regretful. “It’s my control over them that keeps them in line and from tearing into the other domains. You know I have to do something. And it has to be something significant.”
Megan stepped forward, her shoulders squared and a determined look on her face. “I’m the one that brought the light. I’m the one that should be punished. If….” She trailed off, and looked around at the others. Eldon saw her swallow hard, before turning back to the Pillars. “If someone is to pay for that crime, it should be me, and me alone. I didn’t know I was breaking a law here, but that’s no excuse. I accept my responsibility for my actions.”
Eldon stepped forward, unsure of why he did so. He respected Megan for taking the blame for her actions, but it hadn’t been all her fault. He should have told her what the rules were, before coming here. He’d failed also.
“I should be the one punished, Pillar of Darkness. I brought her here, without informing her of your rules.” Satan’s dark eyes fell on him, and he had no doubt that the Father of Lies knew every secret in his soul. “It was me that Areth sacrificed herself for, and for her that we have come for your aid. Allow me to take whatever punishment, or pay whatever price is required for bringing light into your demesne.”
“What are you doing, you idiot?” Megan hissed at him, but he ignored her. “I’m a big girl. I can take….” she glanced over to the devil, and Eldon noticed her eyes drop to the bulge at his crotch as she gave a shiver of fear. “I can suffer whatever he has in store for me.”
Eldon could have mentioned that he was practically invulnerable to any permanent damage, but kept quiet, keeping his eyes on his half-sister and Satan. Picturing them as lovers was still difficult, but Lysa’s arm around the devil’s waist seemed wrong.
The powerful creature of darkness glowered at them. There was anger in his eyes as he gently pushed Lysa away and stepped up to them.
“Did you plan this out, Sheldon Lance?” The Pillar of Darkness grew as he stepped closer, until he stood a good two feet taller than Eldon. Looking down, the Father of Sin ground his teeth. “Did you work out all the details of how to screw me over before coming here?” He stood upright and spun to face Lysa. “Or did you coach them?”
“What are you talking about?” Megan asked. “We came here to get what we need to save a fairy.”
“Lucy,” Lysa tried to interrupt, her voice calm.
Lucifer spun on Megan. Steam literally poured from his ears as he confronted her. “You mean to tell me that you just happened to do one of the few things that makes it impossible for me to touch your delectable flesh? That both of you did?”
“Lucy!” Lysa snapped.
Lucifer turned on her, his eyes somehow both angry and confused. “What?” His voice was deep, and demanded an answer to his single word question.
“I didn’t coach them,” Lysa’s voice returned to calm as she faced her furious boyfriend. “Look at them. Look at their souls. It’s who they are. She was raised to take responsibility for her actions, no matter what. Her father was a man of the law. And you know Eldon’s father. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree there.”
Despite Satan’s earlier assertions about Megan’s father, Eldon was sure Megan was glad to hear Lysa’s commendation for the man. The Pillar of Darkness looked like he wanted to argue, but when he peered at Eldon and Megan, the anger fell from his features. He looked around to everyone else, before shaking his head and shrinking back down to his original size. He took a few steps away, returning to Lysa’s side.
“What just happened?” Megan leaned over and whispered to Eldon.
“Self-sacrifice,” Lucifer said, his voice sounding worn. “Duty, responsibility, a protective nature… All things that can protect a person from me. By being willing to take on all the blame, and protect the others, you both showed personality traits that show you’re good people.”
Eldon looked from Lysa, to Lucifer, and back again. What kind of a… a… creature was Lysa dating?
“So, you’ll help us, then?” Megan asked, her voice cautious.
Eldon didn’t like the way Satan started to laugh. There was something sinister and dark about it. It brought up images of dark things, performing evil actions, and doing so with glee. It wasn’t something he could put his finger on, but it told him that they were in a worse position than they were before.
“Perhaps.… But first of all, there must be punishment for bringing light bursa escort bayan into my demesne.” There was a glint in Lucifer’s eyes that Eldon could only call evil, and not just because of who the creature grinning at them was. “How torturous to have a virgin in my midst, and me not able to touch her. There will be recompense, and I will enjoy it.”
Eldon’s heart sank as he glanced over to the woman in question. He didn’t like where he thought this was going. To his surprise, Satan turned his attention away from Megan and looked at Shelly.
“Oh, and the secret you carry. That’s delicious!” Lucifer cackled in delight.
“Don’t you dare touch her,” Sonia stood and placed herself between the Pillar and the defeated looking twin.
“Can’t you see she’s suffered enough?” Eldon demanded. “Leave my sister out of this. Punish me. I’m the one that needs to atone for Areth’s sacrifice. No one else needs to suffer.”
“Don’t you understand, boy?” Lucifer grinned. “All you do by offering yourself up as a sacrifice is ensure that I can’t touch you. There must be a price paid for bringing light into my domain. After that, we can discuss the cost of my help for restoring Areth.”
“What do you want from us?” Mandy asked. She’d returned to Shlee’s side, comforting the heartbroken woman.
Lucifer folded his arms as he regarded all of them. The silence dragged on for a few seconds before Lysa softly said, “Go easy on them, Lucy. I know you have a reputation to uphold, but they’re family.”
“Family, huh?” His grin broadened. He turned back to face Shelly and Sonia. “I’ve changed my mind. We’ll discuss payment for my help with the golden faerie first. Secrets are something that can sit in one’s soul, festering, and growing darker. The longer they sit, the more they corrupt those that hold them. Generally speaking, I’m a fan of holding in secrets. I enjoy watching as a person struggles and fights against what they know they should do. But in this case, I think it would be better to get it out in the open. Doing so, would—”
“I fucked my brother, and enjoyed every moment of it,” Shelly interrupted the powerful being. All eyes swung to face her. She was on her feet, Sonia supporting her. Eldon felt hollow inside, hearing those words come from her mouth. Not only was the content of her statement unbelievable, but the fact that she’d dropped the F-bomb was jarring. “It was right after we rescued Brooke from Poseidon. Jessica became another person and forced everyone in the Orange Bubble to copulate. I—I don’t know how she did it. We were all in a sexual frenzy. Brock was with Brooke… Mei even screwed Mihale Maztaim. And I… I let my twin brother plow me like a dog in heat.”
Through her recitation, her voice was as hollow as Eldon’s chest. He didn’t want to believe her, but as she spoke, he was able to picture everything in his head with too much ease. He fought against the images, but something broke inside him. He remembered. He didn’t want to, but he knew what it felt like to thrust into his own sister and fill her with cum. What made the situation worse was the knowledge that he had thoroughly enjoyed it. He recalled the wanton look of lust and desire on Shelly’s face as she begged him to thrust harder. The way she’d squeezed him as she came again and again on his fat cock.
Then he remembered Gloria joining in, and the worst part… the part that made him want to sink into the deepest pits of despair, was the memory of Jessica ordering Gloria to make them all forget, and Gloria doing so meekly.
“Is that true?” Megan asked with more than a hint of disgust in her voice.
“It wasn’t by choice,” Eldon heard his own voice respond. He realized he was on his knees, his head in his hands. “It… it was blocked from our minds. We didn’t realize what we were doing at the time. We were under a spell.”
Those words sounded like excuses to him. Especially as his memories of Shelly’s moans echoed in his head. As much as he wanted to deny it, they turned him on.
“I guess with Mandy around, you can’t lie,” Megan’s voice didn’t lose that tinge of repugnance. “I still can’t imagine not knowing when you’re screwing your own sibling, though….”
“Satisfied?” Shelly’s voice sounded, finally showing a bit of emotion. “Does that meet your need for punishment?
“Punishment?” The Pillar of Darkness sounded confused. With a growing sense of dread, Eldon looked up. There was no way he could ask for more…. Was there? From the way Satan continued to grin, he was afraid—very afraid—that they were going to be asked for a repeat performance.
Lysa wouldn’t let him do that… Would she? It was unthinkable. Sure, she was the Pillar of Air, and had concerns of her own on a level he wasn’t sure he would understand. Technically, she was a god…. But she was dating the Incarnation of Evil, himself. She wasn’t exactly smiling at her boyfriend, but she wasn’t trying to stop him either.
“That wasn’t punishment,” Lucifer went on, either unaware of Eldon’s dire thoughts, or not caring. Could he read minds? “That was a down payment on my services for helping to revive Arethusa. I have no intention of punishing you, my sweet broken girl. I know what lies in store for you. Gaia may have done what she could, but that won’t stop you from suffering what has been done to you. I don’t believe there is a punishment I could conceive of that would suffice from you, anyway.
“As for your android lover…” Satan went on, and Sonia stood proud, awaiting his words. “The only way I could punish her, would be to do harm to you, which I’ll not do out of consideration for my lover. Besides, she didn’t break any of my laws. No. Part of my price has been met with your confession, Shelly Lance. The punishment must land on those who broke my laws, and the rest of the price must be paid by the one with the greatest desire to restore the fairy to her life.”
“Let me pay—” Mandy started, but was cut short by a wave of Lucifer’s hand.
“Shut your sweet mouth, if you don’t want to piss me off,” the Pillar intoned. “I need nothing from you, Destroyer of Lies, and the pup next to you has already sacrificed enough for one day. I enjoy the misery of others, but I’m not that cruel.”
Destroyer of Lies? Eldon wondered. Considering that Satan is the Father of Lies…. His thoughts trailed off as the dark Pillar focused on Megan and him.
“The punishment and balance of the cost must come from them.” Lucifer pointed Eldon’s way. It felt as though a lightning bolt struck his sternum as his breath fled his lungs. By Megan’s gasp next to him, she didn’t fare any better.
Despite having been willing to do whatever was necessary only moments before to protect Megan, now he doubted. He was still reeling from Shelly’s revelation. What more could the being want from him?
“I can think of no better punishment, than for Megan to give up her virginity to me,” Satan said. “And don’t think for a moment that I don’t know that that was what you had in mind, Lysa.”
“Aunt Lysa?” Shelly demanded in shock.
“My… virginity?” Megan wheezed.
Lysa shrugged in response. “Considering it will take a blood sacrifice, and I know how much my Lucy loves virgins, it made sense. It’s why I made sure that Megan found out who Eldon was, and even helped her get to you in time.”
Eldon felt as if his eyes were about to pop out of his head. Lysa had always been helpful in the past, but this was downright manipulative.
“But… But I lost my cherry years ago when I wrecked on my pedal bike,” Megan said, fear mixed with disgust in her voice. “I wouldn’t bleed from intercourse.”
“And he can’t touch her, anyway,” Mandy cut in. “He said so himself.”
“Hence, the balance of payment,” Satan’s smile returned to his handsome features. “Her punishment will be to fuck a person who can touch her, and who disgusts her at the moment. Her maidenhead can easily be restored, since she has never had a man inside her. His payment will be to take a woman that doesn’t want him. I know how noble a man he is. Their anguish will be delicious!”
Eldon looked at Megan, and realized that they’d been maneuvered perfectly. By making Shelly reveal what had happened, any attraction Megan had held for him was gone. She would hate every bit of his touch. And he, knowing that she didn’t want this, would make the act feel as though it were rape. He turned away, unable to deal with the disgusted look in her eyes.
He felt his hands shaking and balled them into fists. Without looking at the beautiful redhead next to him, he spoke. “I won’t make you to do this.” His voice was flat, but he couldn’t force any inflection into it.
Megan was silent for a long moment before she finally spoke. “It’s to save a life, right? I made a promise not to interfere with your mission when I came along. I screwed up and brought a light here. I’ll take my punishment.”
“But you didn’t know you were breaking a law,” Eldon argued. He turned back to face her, and was shocked to find tears streaming from her eyes.
“You idiot,” she muttered. Before he could think of how to respond, Megan looked around at their audience, and shuddered. In one quick movement, she gripped the bottom of her shirt and pulled it up over her head. She looked at him, uncertain as he stared at her in shock. After a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, she brought her arms up to cover her bra and chest.
The movement snapped Eldon out of his surprise. He was too accustomed to women almost throwing themselves at his feet. He wasn’t used to a woman who was self-conscious about their body, much less uncertain about the situation. He wasn’t sure how to react, but by the brimming tears in his eyes, he knew he wasn’t acting as she hoped.
Without taking the time to think, he followed his gut instinct. Stepping forward, he held her right wrist lightly in his hand. With gentle pressure, he pulled her arm away from her chest. “There is never a reason to hide such beauty,” he told her, thinking too late that it was the corniest line he’d ever used. Mandy’s snort told him she thought the same way. He spared a thought for his girlfriends, wondering what they must be thinking about this situation. Shlee might be too wrapped up in her own thoughts to even realize what was happening, or she may hate him for his part in her other fiance’s death. Megan was always pragmatic, but would she really be okay with him screwing another woman right in front of her, without her taking part?
Megan’s arm pulled free and she took a step away from him. Eldon was acutely aware of everyone looking at them, watching him fail.
“You don’t have to try and seduce me,” Megan told him. “Just get naked, and let’s get this over with, so I can go home. I’m going to need a shower after this.”
“Ah,” Satan interrupted, appearing between them, “I almost forgot a single detail.” In the blink of an eye, he turned on Megan and pulled her into a kiss. It wasn’t passionate, or even seemed to involve tongue, but their two mouths pressed together as he held her tight.
Megan struggled against his embrace, trying to break free, but the Pillar of Darkness was too powerful. When he finally moved away, Megan swung as if to slap him, but he was no longer there, having materialized next to Lysa.
“What the fuck did you do that for?” Megan all but screamed at him.
“Was that really necessary, Lucy?” Lysa asked, an arched eyebrow aimed at her boyfriend.
“He has to take her full virginity,” Lucifer spoke, and Eldon noted that his lips were literally smoking. In fact, every part of him that had touched Megan leaked smoke. “I ensured that she had the maidenhead to break.”
“I knew that part,” Lysa said. “You have to make it a painful punishment, and there must be blood. I meant the kiss. Look at you! Touching her that much, while she’s protected by her willingness to sacrifice has made you all smoky.”
“You what?!” Megan’s scream hurt Eldon’s ears.
“I told you it would take a blood sacrifice, and that it could be restored,” Lysa shrugged. “I’m sorry for the pain you’ll suffer, but this is necessary.”
Eldon always looked up to his half-sister, but he didn’t like this new side of her that he was seeing. She didn’t appear to be malicious, but she wasn’t trying to stop the Pillar of Darkness from being cruel, either. He thought she was genuinely trying to help them get what they needed in order to restore Areth, but also that she didn’t care who was hurt in the process.
Eldon glanced at Megan, and saw that her face had gone stark white in the dim area they occupied. Her hands hovered over her stomach, as though she could feel where her hymen was restored. She no longer covered her chest, and Eldon noted that her bra was an ash gray color, made of thin, frilly material. In fact, it looked like the type of bra a woman might wear if she were trying to look fancy, but naive about what men really liked.
He caught himself staring, and turned back to the couple of Pillars. Satan no longer smoked, but stared at Megan hungrily. It dawned on him that the devil could touch them, but that it caused him harm to do so after they tried to sacrifice themselves.
Taking two steps forward, Eldon placed himself between Satan and Megan, facing the woman. His hand cupped her chin and turned her face up to look at him. “Ignore them,” he told her, keeping his voice calm and soothing. “Block them from your mind. I’ll understand if you can’t go through with this, I—”
“Idiot!” She spat at him and stepped back. “Do you think I’m not strong enough to endure this? Daddy didn’t raise no weak little girl. Stop trying to coddle me, Eldon. I told you, you don’t have to seduce me. I can do this. Just… just get naked, already.”
Eldon paused to look at her for a moment, shocked at her change in demeanor. She looked fierce and determined, and in no small part absolutely gorgeous. Her chocolate brown eyes blazed with her vehemence. Her chest rose and fell with her breath as she stared him down.
“Just answer one thing,” Eldon said, taking half a step back to give her some space, while at the same time pulling his shirt off. He waited for her nod before asking his question. “Why are you willing to go so far for us? You don’t owe us anything. As far as I know, you’ve never even met Areth. Why would you give up something that is obviously precious to you, for a faerie you have no connection with?”
Megan’s lips twitched as she tried to form an answer. Eldon didn’t know if it was Mandy’s ability affecting her, keeping her from speaking something that wasn’t true, or if she didn’t know the answer, and so couldn’t speak at all. Eldon waited, trying to give her the time he felt she needed.
“What does it matter?” She spoke, her voice scathing. “I thought you and your family were supposed to be some sort of sex crazed people. Do you not want to fuck me? I know I’m not your sister, but I can promise that I’m pretty tight. I might not have the experience of your vampire loving, werewolf girlfriend, but I’ll do whatever it takes to get this over with. Or is it that I don’t have enough hands, like Mandy? What’s wrong with me, that you won’t get naked and take my virginity? What does it matter, why I’m doing this?”
Eldon felt each one of her words strike his core. He refused to look at his sister, or girlfriends, though he heard each of them snap some retort at Megan’s words. Even Shlee came out of her slump to snarl something that Eldon mentally blocked out.
“Or maybe you’re weaker than I thought?” Megan pressed when he didn’t answer her. “I thought you might be strong enough to handle a woman like me, but now I can see that you’re a scared little man. You can’t do what it takes. I told you when I met up with you that I was looking for a man that could handle me. I see now that you’re not that man.”
Something shifted in Eldon. He couldn’t put his finger on what, but his emotional pain at her words evaporated. With a glance at Mandy, he thought he understood, maybe not everything about what Megan was going through, but enough. He started to chuckle.
Megan stared at him, her face turning red with rage as his chuckle became a laugh. She started to splutter something, but closed her mouth as he undid his pants and let them fall to the ground. His ever-hard and coiled cock sprang free. She stared at it with a touch of fear in her eyes.
“I believe the true question here, isn’t whether I can handle you, or if I’m man enough, Megan,” Eldon said, easily making his voice sound confident, without being too cocky, “but whether that skinny body of yours can handle me.”
By the spark that flared in her eyes at his challenge, he knew his hunch was right. Megan was a strong woman. She wouldn’t be someone that would roll over and let him have his way with her. She had to be conquered.
“Do you think I want that sister-fucker touching me?” She tried to sneer, but her voice was uneven.
Inside he flinched at her comment. He really wished she’d quit bringing that up. The wound was still fresh in his psyche, and it wasn’t as though he’d really had a choice. With a little effort, he took a step towards her and bolstered his ego.
“I don’t think I’m going to give you much of a choice,” he said, hating his own words. He sounded like a rapist, instead of the respectful man his father raised him to be. He closed the distance between them and pulled her tight against his chest. “You said you wanted to get this over with, and I intend to do just that.”
She put up a token effort to get away from him. He’d seen her fight, and knew she had the skills to evade his grasp if she really wanted to. The fact that she had recovered her gun and it sat at her waist also didn’t escape his notice. She was about half a foot shorter than him, and he leaned in to press his lips against hers. She continued to squirm in his arms, but he noted that her face pressed harder against his.
He decided to take it a step further, and unsnapped her bra. With a curse, he backed away from her, feeling at his bottom lip with his hand.
“You bit me!” he growled, looking at his fingers to make sure there wasn’t blood. He realized a moment too late that it was foolish to do so. Even if she had broken his skin, he would have healed before too much blood could have leaked out. Besides, it was much nicer looking at her bare chest, since she let the bra fall to the ground as she backed away.
Her breasts were smallish, perhaps a B-cup, but what really grabbed his attention was how high they sat on her chest, and how tiny her nipples were. There was almost no areola, but the nub poked from her pale freckled flesh almost half an inch.
“Oh, can the big macho man not handle a little bit of nibbling?” she mocked him in a high voice.
“So that’s how you want to play it, huh?” he challenged her back. She smiled at him, but there was no mistaking the mocking lilt to her lips. Closing the distance one more time, he slipped his hand into her red tresses, grabbing a handful of her shoulder-length hair, and yanked back. At the same time, his left arm moved around her lower back and pulled her warm body hard against him. He felt her hard nipples dig in just under his rib cage.
With a growl that was half challenge, half hunger, and all lust, he brought his teeth to her exposed throat. He started with a quick nip, just enough to show he meant business, but not break the skin. He followed that up with grazing her sensitive flesh as he moved up to her jawline. She wriggled against him, and he couldn’t tell if she was trying to get away, or press harder against him. Either way, he didn’t lighten his grip in her hair, nor around her waist. His mouth moved back to her lips, and this time they were parted, allowing his tongue to venture into her mouth.
When her teeth came down, he didn’t pull back. He recalled back to the first time he’d kissed her, when in her then-boyfriend’s form. He’d taken charge then, also. In a way, it explained why she was so willing to chase after him. Something inside her wanted to be dominated, and he’d done that when they’d first met. As her teeth continued to apply pressure, causing pain but not any actual damage, he used his grip on her head to pull her in tighter. Most women hated to have they faces crushed in this fashion, but there was no mistaking her moan as she let up on her teeth, and her tongue joined his in both contest and dare.
He knew he hadn’t won her over yet, but only attained a small victory. Releasing her hips, he brought his left hand around to her front, squeezing her right breast hard enough to make her gasp. He pulled hard on her hair, yanking her head back and leaned in further, taking her left nipple between his teeth.
He felt her fingers dig into the back of his head as he worked his jaw side-to-side, teething on her rubbery nub.
It dawned on him that this wasn’t the behavior of a virgin. He could see how she had the seeds for this in her personality, but weren’t virgins supposed to be uncertain their first time? Hadn’t she been shy for a moment after first removing her shirt? It was only after Lucifer had kissed her that this side of her came out, and she became mean. Had he done something more to her than just restore her hymen?
All at once he released her and stepped back. She stumbled for a second, her chest heaving and her body flushed. She stared at him, shock and surprise in her eyes at being abandoned all of a sudden.
He met her eyes and watched as the spark of anger rekindled, seeing the lust that also lay within their dark depths. He knew what he was dealing with now. He understood in that moment that she was manipulated by Lucifer in the same way Lysa had manipulated this whole situation. The Pillar of Darkness had awoken her true nature, but it was against her will. He could stop now, and not feel guilty about taking advantage of her.
However, Areth would remain forever as a golden statue if he did. She had stated before Satan’s kiss that she was willing to do whatever it took to accomplish their mission, though she refused to say why.
He let his lips turn up in a wolfish smile, which stoked Megan’s ire higher. He waited for her to open her mouth before dodging escort bursa forward and throwing her over his shoulder. He gripped both sides of the waist of her pants, and used all of his strength. The strong denim jeans didn’t stand a chance as they tore at the crotch and back at the seems. He heard the button pop and the zipper pull apart until her hips and rear were bare. With a light slap to her rear, he found she wore skimpy gray panties that were barely more than a G-string.
“Ow! Put me down, you ogre!” she screeched at him. He spanked her again, a little harder this time as she kicked. “Ow! Stop that!” He pulled the remains of her pants down to her knees, keeping her balanced on his shoulder. Unable to kick as well, he gave her another slap, but this time let his hand rest on her smooth flesh. He took a moment to admire how firm the muscles under his hand were, and noted that she was no longer squirming or fighting him.
He turned his head, and caught the side of her panties in his teeth. With a jerk of his head, and clamping down hard on the cloth, he felt the fabric snap and cut free. With ease, he shrugged her off his shoulder, and caught her in his other arm. With one fluid motion, he yanked the remains of her skimpy coverings down to her knees to join the rags of her pant.
Eldon allowed his gaze to move slowly up the lithe body in his arms, admiring the toned and sometimes freckled flesh, until he reached her face. The anger was gone, the hard chocolate of her eyes melting into desire and need.
Her hands came up to grip the sides of his face and pulled him down into a kiss that was equal parts passion and gentleness. There were no teeth involved this time, as her tongue slithered out to meet his in harmony.
Without breaking the embrace, Eldon sat on the hard ground. He heard something from the direction of the two Pillars, and before he knew what was happening, the solid ground became a soft bed.
Despite seeming as though she had capitulated to him, Eldon knew he needed to keep up the dominant stance. He pulled his lips back from hers, and returned his hand back to her head. Applying pressure, he guided her down until her face hovered over his firm manhood.
She looked up, evaluating his eyes. He saw her growing defiance, and smiled in response.
“Suck it,” he commanded, and tightened the muscles of his cock to make it twitch.
He waited for her to open her mouth to argue. Using his grip on her head, he forced her down until his meat stretched her lips. He prayed to no one in particular that she wouldn’t grow too defiant and use her teeth to punish him. Inside he was torn, feeling as though he were using this woman as an object, rather that the thinking, feeling person he knew she was.
When he felt her tongue swirl around the sensitive rim, he moaned and released her head. Thinking and feeling she may be, but she was willing to play along with the devil’s request, in order for them to complete their mission here.
Her hand gripped him at his base, squeezing hard enough to let him know she wasn’t completely dominated, but her bobbing head said she would comply. She wasn’t able to fit in much beyond her lips, but it was enough to elicit a steady stream of moans from deep in his chest.
Reaching down with his right hand, he ran his fingers through her thick red hair. The color was much deeper than Shlee’s strawberry blonde hues, and shoulder length, and despite everything that’d happened to them since she’d joined his group, it was soft to his touch. Her eyes lifted back to meet his, and he saw a glint of a smile in them, before sucking hard on his knob. Her head dropped back down until he felt himself compressed against the back of her throat.
He was caught off-guard as her teeth scraped the few inches in her mouth while she pulled off him. She still wasn’t cowed.
Her fist pumped his twisted and saliva soaked length as she half-glared, half grinned at him. “Do you really think you’re man enough to handle me?” The challenging tone was back in her voice. “I may be a virgin, but I’m also a redhead and all that entails. You may have an original-shaped and giant cock, and it’s apparent that your women seem to like it, but I’m not them.”
Her mention of his women reminded him that they had an audience. Looking around, however, he found they were in a dimly lit room with black walls, and a single glowing orb of light hanging from the ceiling. The bed they lay upon was a four-poster affair, with a dark gray coverlet, and two matching gray, large pillows. The lack of color was disturbing to his eyes, but at least he could see, and they appeared to be alone.
For a split second he worried what’d happened to his sister, his girlfriends, and the others, but dismissed his concerns almost immediately. He didn’t know why they were given privacy, but wasn’t going to complain either. He didn’t want anyone else seeing how he was treating Megan.
All those thoughts jumped through his head at lightning speed, and he brought his full attention back to the woman kneeling between his legs and jacking his rod.
With a growl, he sat up, gripped her shoulders, and threw her to the bed. He jumped atop her, between her legs. She squeaked in surprise at the sudden movement, uncertainty crossing her pretty features. His strong hands held her to the bed as he licked his lips and looked down at her, meeting her excited stare.
“You think you’re so great, but in a bit, you’re going to me moaning and begging for more.” He placed the head of his driver against her garage. Looking down to see her sex for the first time, he noted how her petals were hidden within her outer folds. She had a sparse bit of red growth, as though she hadn’t shaved down there in a few days, with a thicker trail that told him she kept a landing pad. What kind of virgin kept that area so manicured? Or had she done it before meeting up with them, in the hopes of winning him to her bed? Regardless, he was here now, and ready to take what she offered.
“You think, huh?” she taunted back, but shifted her hips in preparation. She pressed against him at the same time he applied pressure. He felt her unfold enough to accept the tip of his tip, but she was tight, and he wasn’t built for an opening this small.
With a grunt, he readjusted his angle, and tried again. He could feel the heat of her, ready to take him in, but he was too big.
Unwilling to give up, he took a different tactic. Arching his back, he took one of her long nipples between his teeth, while reconnecting with her lower down. Gripping himself at his base, he rubbed himself against her slit, noting the way she jerked every time he bumped her clit. She was wet, and willing, but he was going to have to get her more relaxed, or stretched out a little before he’d be able to deflower her.
“I don’t know how this is going to help, but you can keep doing that all you like,” she sighed in contentment. He noted her change in attitude, and decided he liked this side of her better.
He kept this up for a couple minutes, before switching nipples, and biting down a little hard as he pressed his hips forward again. He felt himself go a little further, almost enough for the head to make it past her inner labia, but not quite. He knew with his strength, he could bulldoze his way in, but that would also tear her sensitive flesh, and he wasn’t about to make her first time a nightmare.
Balancing himself on one elbow, he use that hand to tweak her other nipple, and returned to rubbing himself against her. Megan’s breathing grew deeper even as it picked up its pace, and he knew he was close to getting her off. He continued his steady pace as her hips started to move in time with his. Her moans sounded sexy as—well, considering where they were, sexy as hell!
One of her hands grabbed the back of his head and pulled him tighter to his chest, and the other went to his hip, encouraging him to increase his pace. With a grin that she couldn’t see, he applied more pressure as he slid his slippery toadstool up and down her fertile ground. Within seconds, her moans hit a fever pitch, and her fingernails dug into the back of his skull. He aimed his tool and thrust again, but made it no further than before.
She grunted at the attempt, and he felt her pushing down, trying to take him in. Her inner folds surrounded the angry purple head of his prod, but it was like trying to jam a three inch screw into a one inch socket. He was too big and hard, and she was too small and tight.
“Fuck,” she swore as Eldon lifted his body a few inches away from hers. “Well, that’s not exactly how I pictured this would end.”
“I didn’t think you were the type to give up so easily,” he replied, glad to be the one to challenge her first.
She looked at him with one arched eyebrow, but he chose to use actions instead of words. Sitting back on his calves, he put his arms under the crook of her knees and hauled back. She gasped in shock as her entire body moved, until her head, neck and shoulders were the only parts of her still touching the bed. Her thighs rested on Eldon’s shoulders, her knees bent and her heels touching his shoulder blades.
Eldon got an up-close look at her coochy, and liked what he saw. As he’d noted earlier, her inner labia were small, hidden almost completely by her outer labia. The only part visible was her clit at the top, as it peeked from between her shiny folds. This close, he could smell her arousal, a sweet but pungent scent in the room.
Without any preamble, he leaned in and tasted her sweet pearl. Her hips jerked as his tongue lapped at the sensitized nub, and he hugged her waist, keeping her immobile, and practically upside down in his lap, with her lower back and rear against his muscled chest. He crossed his arms in front of her, and was able to grab each breast, pinching her sharp nipples between thumbs and forefingers.
He pulled away from her clit as he sensed her getting too sensitive. Using the flat of his tongue, he ran it the length of her slit, enjoying her taste. Every woman was different, and Megan was a little more tart than sweet, but still made his mouth water.
Wanting to tease her, and drive her desires higher, he would bring her to the cusp, then back off, switching tactics. One moment he would nibble on her clit, then pull away and shove his tongue into her as deep as it would go. At least that part of him could enter her! Next he might nibble on her small labia, or lick along her length. Every now and then he would drop lower, and tongue her anus. She was shocked the first time he did it, but seemed to enjoy it after that.
While he did this, she twisted her arms behind her, and used both hands to stimulate his thick cock.
After several minutes of bringing her up, just to let her drift back down without climaxing, Eldon lifted his right hand up to join his mouth, leaving his left to play with her very firm breasts. He tongued her asshole for a few seconds, before slipping his middle finger into her tight hole. He didn’t have sausage fingers, but they were thick enough that he could tell this was going to take some work. She was easily wet enough that his single digit sank right in, though her inner folds hugged his finger tight. With this angle, he was able to stimulate her clit with his palm, while sliding his finger in and out of her. His tongue continued to tease and slobber over her anus, and this time as she rose for her climax, he didn’t pull away. He rubbed hard against the inner front wall of her vagina, milking the quarter-sized spot that was a little rougher than the surrounding flesh.
He was unsurprised when she screamed, and hot cum geysered up from her hole, splattering against his hand. He jammed another finger into her at the same time, and continued to roughly finger her. Her inner muscles squeezed and rippled around his invading digits.
“Oh shit. Oh shit, ohshitohshitohshit!” she panted as he worked her up to another climax. He managed to get another finger cramped into her miniscule hole as she soaked his hand a second time.
With a twist of his hips, he managed to roll Megan onto her stomach as he straddled her back. Without pulling his hand away, Eldon dismounted her and moved to sit behind her. She lifted her rump into the air, allowing him full access to her most intimate parts. He brought his left hand down hard on her rear, leaving a red handprint, and enjoyed the way her cunt crushed his fingers in response.
Leaning back in, Eldon bit the spot where his hand left a mark.
“Oh, fuck!” Megan screamed into the dim room. “What are you doing to me? Are you using magic on me, or what? Whatever it is, don’t stop!”
“This isn’t magic,” he smiled, his ego stoked. “I’m just that good.”
“Hmm, you fingers feel huge in me, but I like it,” she mewled back to him, her face was pressed against the smooth coverlet, her ass in the air moving in time with his thrusts, and enjoying the feelings coursing through her body. He sucked on one of his fingers, then spit on her puckered rear hole. “Oh, damn!” she grunted when he slipped that finger into her backdoor. She started to thrust harder, and he knew she was climbing that inexorable hill towards another peak.
He was prepared for it when it came, and he had his cock aimed to receive her hot fluids as they poured from her quivering hole. While she still lay shaking from her high, he pulled all his fingers out, lined up his pole, and drove it home.
“Ahhrrgh!” her scream echoed through the room as he shot past her outer defenses and shredded her maidenhead in one go. He gripped her hips hard to keep her in place as she tried to pull off him. “It hurts! Oh, God, it hurts!” she cried and thrashed on the bed.
He didn’t say anything, but held her as still as he could. Her pussy was incredibly tight, and if he hadn’t worked her up to be so wet, he probably would have torn more than just her hymen.
“Mother of fuck!” Megan gasped, lifting up onto her hands and looking back at him. Her father really had taught her how to swear like a soldier, though Eldon suspected that Oberon could teach her a curse or two. “I thought it was bad when I lost it riding a bike as a teenager. That was a fuck-ton worse! Do you have your whole arm up in me?” She turned her torso around enough to look closer, and her eyes almost bugged out. “That’s your dick? Damn. It feels like you’re in my stomach, but I barely have half of you in me.”
He gave her unmarked rear cheek a sharp slap and met her eyes. “Think you’re ready to see how much you can handle?”
“What are you?” she asked with wonder. “None of my past boyfriends could even last past a simple blowjob. You’re not human, I know, but are you some sort of sex god?”
“I assure you, he is no god,” Lucifer’s voice sounded around them. The walls to the room faded away, revealing their audience, though thankfully the bed stayed underneath them. The pillar of darkness had Lysa’s legs wrapped around his waist, and there was no doubt that they were screwing by her frantic motions.
Shlee and Mandy sat on a couch, watching Megan and him. Shlee’s eyes were still dark and her cheeks were tear stained, but the look on her face was one that Eldon could only call pride in her boyfriend. There was no sign of Dimitri’s severed head.
Sonia and Shelly held each other on a separate couch, though neither one of them were watching the festivities.
“Do you mind going away?” Megan asked, annoyance in her tone. “Right now I want to see if I can make him cum. It’s the least I could do after all the orgasms he’s given me.”
“We’ve been able to watch the whole thing,” Mandy spoke up. “The walls were invisible from our side.” She had her two lower hands between her legs, rubbing herself through her pants. Her left upper arm was around Shlee’s shoulder, and the right one was fondling one of her own breasts.
“Ugh, whatever,” Megan groused. “Ignore them, stud. Let’s see what we can do.”
Distracted by all that was going on around him, Eldon had loosened his grip on her hips. She was able to pull forward with a slight grunt of pain, but reversed the motion a moment later and took him a bit deeper inside her burning hole.
“Are you sure you’re ready?” he asked, gripping her hips again to hold her tight.
She shifted her hips, wriggling her rump, and Eldon couldn’t deny she felt great. “You’re already in, and can’t break another hymen. Come on, big stud. Don’t let me down now.”
Part of him felt it was still too soon, and she should still be sore. The larger part, or at least the brain that was firmly lodged in her vaginal tunnel, took her words for the challenge they were.
With a grunt as his only verbal response, Eldon pulled her tighter to him. She gasped as he stretched her tiny hole even more. Her elbows gave out, and her face landed on the soft bed.
She felt so good, so tight and wet, that Eldon wanted to slam into her again and again, but held himself in check. Despite her words, he knew she would still be sore. Looking down to where they were connected, there was no mistaking the blood that mixed with her lubricant coating his thick penis. Lucifer was getting his blood sacrifice. With careful deliberation, he pulled his hips back and pushed her hips forward, until just the head was inside her.
“Is this what you want?” He asked, punctuating his question with another slap of her firm ass. With a secure grasp on her, he moved her hips in a spiral pattern as he crammed his twisted phallus back inside her. He moved her in counterpoint to his shape in order to make sure she felt every bit. He felt every inch of her grasping twat, and couldn’t hold back a moan of pleasure.
“Oh, fuck!” Megan wheezed. She turned to face Shlee and Mandy. “How do you women take this thing? Ungh… It’s huge. He’s splitting me in half.”
Shlee’s tired face split in a grin. “If you can’t handle it, I know Mandy is woman enough to do so.”
Eldon’s heart went out to Shlee at her words. She wasn’t recovered enough from having to kill her fiancée, but she was still helping him out in her own way.
“I didn’t say I couldn’t take it,” Megan grumbled. “It’s just… Oh, God, it’s huge!”
Eldon kept up his steady pace, noting that Megan was starting to increase the tempo on her own. She was taking more and more of him inside her, but there was still plenty to go. Grinning, he let go of her with his right hand, allowing her to set the pace, and spit onto his fingers. He rubbed that saliva against her backdoor, and felt her shudder when he slipped a finger inside. She picked up the pace, no longer swiveling her hips, but shoving back against him with increasing force as he fingered her anus.
After a few minutes of this, as he felt himself growing closer to completion, he pulled his finger out, applied more saliva, and then slipped a second one in her. Her head thrashed on the bed as he leaned forward, and reached around her frame to grip her left breast. The fingers of his right hand felt his cock sliding in and out of her through the thin flesh separating them as he did all in his power to stimulate her.
“You wanted to make me cum?” he asked in a low whisper. “Because here it comes.”
“No… Not in—Oh… fuck!” she exhaled as he thrust forward, hitting bottom in her, and blasting her womb with his ejaculate. He had no intention of getting her pregnant, so wasn’t worried about that. He lost track of everything except for the wonderful way her pussy shook and shuddered around his exploding dynamite stick.
When he returned to reality, he felt his cum leaking down his legs. There hadn’t been enough room in her uterus to hold it all, and much had squelched from her stretched hole. With a weary groan, he rolled to the side, his over-sensitive penis sliding from her hole with a sloppy, slurping noise.
“Why the fuck did you cum in me?” Megan slapped his chest. “I don’t want to get pregnant! You better take responsibility for it if I do.”
“You won’t,” he said, shaking his head. On an impulse, he reached over and pulled her head to his, kissing her deeply. She struggled for a few seconds, still angry with him, before giving into the kiss. A few seconds later, she gripped his left nipple and twisted hard.
“Ow!” he shouted and pulled away from her. “What was that for?”
“Don’t think this makes me your girlfriend,” she told him, covering her crotch with one hand. “You’re still kind of an asshole, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to walk right for a week. Maybe I’ll let you take me on a date, or something. Still should have asked before coming in me, even if you are fixed.”
He decided not to correct her thinking about why she wouldn’t get pregnant. He was about to point out that he wasn’t looking to get another girlfriend, but Lucifer spoke up first.
“Well, that was a great show. Lysa hasn’t been that wild in a long time.” Eldon looked at the Pillar of Darkness, and was thankful that they were both clothed, though holding each other tight. “You’ve more than earned my reward, Eldon Lance. I officially give you my blessing.”
Eldon felt something behind his navel twist, causing him to sit up and double over in pain. Sweat beaded on his head as the agony increased. Shouldn’t his body be able to recover from whatever was done to him? He heard someone screaming, but was so far gone in agony that he didn’t know it was him.
Before the torment swallowed his consciousness, Eldon had one final thought. Doesn’t the devil give curses, not blessings?
From the Author
Thank you for your comments on the previous chapter, and thank you for sticking around for these chapters. I love to hear from you, the readers, even if it’s to point out mistakes.
The next chapter might be a bit in coming, though it is already posted on the blog. I’m working hard and fast on chapter 24, but my time is still fairly limited.
Anyway, please let me know what you think of this chapter. The lewder things are going to be a bit more sparse starting with chapter 23 as things start to come to a close. In other words, those that read for the story, keep going after this. Those that are after the thrill of the lewd, rush of the inappropriate, and as much as a deviant as I am will have to go through a couple chapters before things heat up in that arena.