I’m so excited to share that The Raven and the Aspen King, book two in The Dark Pool trilogy is nearly completed!
A few more chapters, editing and the usual publishing details, and we can dive back into the lives of Aiden, Sahara, Holly, Iona and of course, the dark horse, Richard.
There is no greater pleasure for a writer than knowing that a story and indeed, characters one has brought to life, have struck a familiar chord in someone’s heart; that dreams and memories have been awoken.
I’d like to share Chapter 44 with you, as a little tease of what is to come. (no pun intended, I’m sure)
I hope you enjoy this small bit of erotic fiction, and if you have not yet read book one, The Dark Pool, I invite you to get your copy here – The Dark Pool
It’s magic, mystery, lust and discovery. For those who seek to know more about conscious love, living authentically, and sharing in relationships without borders.
Enjoy, my loves!
He knocked and she answered, wondering why he didn’t use his key. Surely he must have one?
They stared at each other, Sahara’s eyes raking his tanned, athletic body, and the way his teeth flashed into a roguish smile. He extended his hand and taking hers, kissed it. He smelled faintly of something expensive, looking up at her with a curious gaze as his lips met her skin.
Sahara remembered. The essence of centuries past clung to him like the mist over the rugged moors they had once trod. The warmth of his touch spread along her spine and threatened to tempt her resolve. Richard let go just as her hips began to respond.
“It’s been a while,” he said. “How are you, my dear?”
He waited patiently as she processed all her emotions, his body close to hers. Iona hung back, watching their auras begin their familiar dance.
“I am well,” Sahara replied, wrenching herself away from his stare. Dropping her eyes, she smoothed herself like a sparrow ruffled by a strong headwind. “And you?” She finally found her manners.
Richard gave a little laugh. “As well as can be expected, considering recent events,” he whispered, and moved past her to embrace his lover.
“You return, like Saturn, with all your mysterious rings pulling us into your orbit.” Iona melted into Richard’s arms gratefully, for she had truly not known what to expect from him this time.
“I return to claim what is mine.” Richard’s voice bore no question of needing to be obeyed. He kissed Iona soundly, with Sahara’s eyes drilling into his back. Sensual and stealthy as a black jaguar, Richard commanded the room with unrelenting intent.
Sahara slipped away to sit by the fire, and allow them a few moments alone. Her legs barely carried her, as desire overwhelmed her. Aiden’s words rang in her head, and she sensed his closeness. The awoken magician now, Aiden was covering her with his protection. But she wished him here, among them.
“May I pour you a drink, Sahara?” Richard stood by her side, a bottle of wine and two glasses in his hand.
“Yes please,” she replied, grateful for the escape alcohol would provide. She reached up to take the goblet.
He sat down opposite her and observed her quietly. She knew that he was exercising great control, because his eyes could not lie. He wanted her, naked, begging and surrendered. Sahara shook involuntarily. She met his eyes and answered his desire in the only way she felt that she was allowed.
“I’ll be honest,” Richard said. “I liked it better when we didn’t know much.”
She stayed silent.
“Drink,” he prompted. She took a sip, closing her eyes as the warmth of the wine slid down her throat. She wanted him to hold her, and be free to feel his lips on hers. Once…it had been no sin to think this way.
She heard Iona working in the kitchen and a vision of Arinn rose, cooking over the outdoor fire, smoke scenting the air as the fat dripped from the meat she was roasting. Arinn had always made their meals, prepared their tonics, and cared for their well-being. Sahara’s brow furrowed. The word tonic spread caution across her subconscious.
“What is it?” Richard asked.
“I don’t know, I thought I remembered something…but it’s gone.”
Her eyes shot to his as she heard his thoughts. It wasn’t helpful, being able to read his mind. Just more perfectly timed torture. “I love you still…”
Her cheeks burned under his attention. She couldn’t help it – to stare at his forearms, the way he sat in his chair, the cut of his clothes, his raven hair – nor remember that she had once been his to command. She couldn’t help feeling that strange pull of his personality – arrogance tempered by his kind heart, nor the sharp intelligence that marked him irresistible. Time could not chase their connection away. But she had to walk away! She had to keep to the good.
“How’s everyone at home?” Was that a hint of anger that she heard in his voice?
“They’re fine.” And then, “Richard, was it surreal meeting Aiden? I know you were unprepared…but surely, you must have had a hint of fondness for him, once you knew?” She longed so much for them to be friends, now that their lives were inescapably intertwined.
He measured his words before he spilled them. Sitting forward, and gesturing for her to join him in his chair, he bared his heart.
“I do like him. I admire the way he’s built his reputation. I like his integrity. Ironically, I also hate that about him…at the present moment, since it doesn’t suit me.” He gave a wry smile, and made room for her in his lap. “We’re still arguing over the same women it seems.”
“Was it hard, to remember your relationship with him? To remember what we’d been through? I’m still making sense of things. He’s the best of all of us. Like Dagr was.”
“It was strange to see myself in love with a man, because I just don’t desire that at all now. And finding the reason why I go this tattoo.” He tensed as Sahara ran her fingers over it. “Actually, once we’d spent a few hours together, he felt like a long lost brother. It was familiar. He tried to convince me that working together would be a bad idea. But I couldn’t let go of it. I know that he’s meant to build my home. He’s the only one who can.” Richard took Sahara’s glass and put it down on the side table.
“I don’t want to share Iona with him, but I want him to share you. How’s that for a double standard?”
“Why do you think you feel that way?” Why she asked she did not know. She could easily guess his answer.
“Because she loves him, and that’s dangerous. But you don’t love me, so he has no reason to worry about you leaving him.”
“Half of that is true,” Sahara whispered back, her hands in his, his lips pressing to her forehead. “I won’t leave him…ever again. But you’re wrong about the other. I do love you…and Iona. It’s still dangerous for him to share me, and he doesn’t want to, if it can be helped. He will protect Holly to the ends of the earth. I don’t want to mess with that.” She wished he would let his lips wander.
“I remembered something after I met Aiden. A night you and I shared long ago. You’ve always been his, we loved each other but you were his. You’ll always be his. But the time we had together was the only time I was truly a good man back then. You made me good.”
Richard flashed his smile at her. “Aiden told me that he kissed Iona. He didn’t exactly apologise, but he did tell me. I can’t even be pissed at him because he makes it impossible and it would be terribly hypocritical of me in any case.”
“I want you to meet Holly.” Sahara slid to the floor at his feet. Being in his arms was too damn hard.
“I will. I want to meet her. Half out of curiosity, to see what has him so enamored, and also because you love her. I want to know everything about you.” He shrugged in that French way. Europe had left its mark on him.
“It’ll be a shock, Richard.”
“Oh? Why’s that? I’ve met plenty of beautiful women.”
Sahara shook her head. “Because she’s the exact image of Arinn.”
Richard looked perplexed. “Truly? How is that possible? I can’t imagine…!”
“You won’t need to imagine. She’s as beautiful and as innocent as Arinn was in the early days.”
“Now why do you say early days? Did something change? I’m still grappling with Iona to tell me about our relationship. I sense years together but we’ve only uncovered that one night.”
Sahara laid her head in his lap. He stroked her hair gently. Sahara longed to ask him to pull it, to lay her on the carpet and cover her.
“I don’t know either.” Sahara moaned. Unbearable, this game of pretending they could stay away from each other. “I want to know.”
Iona appeared, a tray of appetizers in her hand. She put them down on the coffee table, and folded her long, gazelle legs underneath her as she sat beside Sahara. The energy shifted as it always did when she was in the room. She smiled.
“Planning anything without me?” she asked.
“No.” Sahara answered, taking a tiny asparagus tart from the tray. She stared at it for a moment, then put it down.
“Something wrong with it, my love?” Iona purred.
“No. I don’t think so…I’m not hungry anymore.” Sahara shook her head, trying to shed the sense of dread she’s had over the last hour. Strange.
They teetered on the brink of madness all evening. Through dinner while Richard and Iona caught up amiably, setting aside more serious discussions for another day, and while Sahara picked at her food, trying to catch a memory by the tail.
Ion watched her closely, and always the perfect hostess, tended to her every need. Richard’s expansive energy kept her magnetized to him, every now and then touching her hand. It would be so easy to slip into their arms, to allow them to lead her into naughty games, perhaps let her see that wicked, wicked room! She was wet with imagining what they did in there, and wishing she could be their slave. But her love for Aiden and Holly kept her pushing away the instinct to allow herself to be seduced.
Richard’s voice broke in on her thoughts. “What do you think, Sahara?”
“Hmm? About what?”
“Iona says that dominance by seduction is the best way to a woman’s heart.”
Sahara blushed, as if they had caught her in her illicit thoughts.
“I think that I know better than to be caught up in a conversation like that.”
“Don’t tease her.” Iona laughed, clearing the table.
Richard stood at the back of Sahara’s chair. “Go sit down, both of you, I’ll do this.” And he shooed them away.
“What’s wrong?” Iona leaned her back against a chair, sitting on the floor by the fire. Sahara lay across her legs, clit vibrating, mind in a terrible tangle.
“I can’t be here with the two of you. I can’t help what my body is feeling. I want you to undress me and lay me out for the taking. I want Richard’s mouth on mine and your fingers…” She broke off, miserable.
Iona’s fingers gripped in Sahara’s hair. Her voice resonant with need, she said, “I want to see you begging for my whip!”
Sahara groaned and curled into a ball. “Please don’t. I can’t say no to you.”
“Don’t say no.”
“I lied. I want you. So badly that it hurts my heart. I want you in my bed, and in my life like before.”
“I’m going to get a hotel room. I’ll break my promise to Aiden if I don’t.” She let Iona’s hand caress her face and travel ever so slowly towards the neckline of her shirt.
“I don’t want you to go. You must stay. Please, Sahara. We have so little time together, and I know that you want this! I want to see Richard with you…one more time?”
“There will never be only one more time!” Iona’s hand found her breast. “There will always be another time and another, and then we’ll end up in each other’s life like before. I love Holly, Iona. She’s my beloved, and there is nothing that can change that. You have to accept it!”
The sudden pain of Iona’s fingers pinching Sahara’s nipple ripped like lighting through to her groin. She sat up, eyes blazing. “You have no intention of letting me go, do you? You don’t care who I love or even honoring what this lifetime is meant for!”
Iona, with a demonic look on her face, ripped Sahara’s shirt from her shoulders, staring hungrily at her erect nipples. “No! I don’t care! I love you and nothing can make me change my mind. I have waited six hundred years for this; a chance to be your lover, to be your beloved!”
Richard stood in the doorway, a dish cloth gripped tight in his hands, his jaw tense, devouring the scene before him.
“For Aiden, then.” Sahara pleaded. “For him. Can you not do it for him?”
Iona collapsed onto the floor, weeping. Sahara went to her, broken, a shamble of emotions and need. The mood around them softened as Richard tuned out all the lights and put on some music to soothe their souls. He brought a packet of herb, and gently picked Iona off the floor.
“Come, my love. It is high time we found out what this is all about. I am tired of being put off. Pull yourself together.” His voice was loving but terse; he would not to be trifled with.
Sahara let him re-arrange her shirt, obediently standing while he gently tended to her, his desire raw and blatant.
“I think we should smoke a joint and I’ll pour us some scotch; then we can talk over all the things.” Richard sat down and began to roll their herb, quiet, contemplative. He was especially seductive like this, a man with his mind engaged, and his heart seeking truth.
“You know, if we were just any other four people, this would be easy to navigate. We would either agree to be polyamorous or we would not, but at least we would have all the information at hand that we needed to make that decision. But this situation is far from ordinary.” He placed the three joints in a crystal ashtray and stood to pour their drinks. “But we are prisoners of our past lives and that has to end. We can pretend that we can stay away from each other, but let’s face it, at least two of us are incapable of trustworthiness.” He raised his hand to stay their protests. “Don’t even bother. I know Iona, and Sahara, you have been honest about your feelings.”
Iona shot him a venomous look. “Are you saying you can be trusted? I doubt it!”
“I’m not saying I don’t want what the two of you want, of course I do. But here’s the thing, I know that I won’t initiate it, while you would. That doesn’t exactly make me a saint, but if anyone in this room can behave, it will be me.” He passed Iona a lit joint, and then one to Sahara, then took a slow drag of his own. Inhaling deeply, he pointed at Iona. “Oh, this is good. I don’t know where you get this stuff, my love, but it’s always the best there is.
“I don’t mess around with my spiritual journeys. It’s the same as I always get, organic, bio-dynamic, incubated in a pyramid container, surrounded by a crystal grid, and spoken over. You won’t find any better.”
Sahara took a small drag and allowed herself to be infused with the sacred energy of the herb. A few more drags and she was fully open to spirit, floating between here and there.
“This is better.” Her nerves untangled, she thanked the plant deva for her wisdom.
They sat without talking, in the soft light of the room, the fire making shadows on the walls. Richard served their drinks and sat behind Iona on the floor, cradling her close, once in a while dropping tender kisses on her head.
“Are you feeling better now, darling?” He asked, as Iona lifted her lips to his.
“I am, thank you.” Her voice was soft, yet tinged with a hint of rebellion. “It took us so long to find our way back. So long, and I waited so patiently for our lives to return to what they once were.”
Sahara watched them kiss, and marvelled at just how beautiful they were together. He, so debonair and she so fragile in her beauty. Life was strange, and cruel, and beautiful all at once. Richard’s hand strayed to Iona’s neck, and instantly, she was alive to her passion. Fascinated, Sahara stared at how hungry their kisses became. She lowered her eyes when Richard caught her licking her lips.
“I’m too tired to talk now,” she said, unable to face Iona’s stubborn longings for the past. “I think I’ll just close my eyes. No need for you to move.” She curled herself up on the sofa, pulling the blanket over herself.
“Will you truly be comfortable here?” Richard asked, tucking her in. But she was already fast asleep, having begged her guides to anoint her with slumber. It was the only way out from the desire that smote her being.
What awoke her, she never discovered, but she sat bolt upright, and surrounded by darkness, followed the soft sound of some mysteriously beguiling music down the long hallway.
Padding quietly on her bare feet, clothed still, she found herself facing the doorway of Iona’s spare chamber. It was ajar by centimeters. Sahara crouched to the floor, pulse quickening. Her eyes adjusted slowly to the dim light inside the room. She trained her ear to discern the voices, which undulated between Iona’s breathless pleas to Richard’s commanding baritone. She could barely make out a bed, high and with four posters, Iona’s figure standing at one of them, arms tied behind her, a long gown open to the waist, breasts bound by rope; the scent of incense perfuming the air.
Sahara’s palms began to moisten. She should turn away, but the scene before her was mesmerising. Richard, shirtless, in jodhpurs and riding boots, stood before Iona, a whip in his hand, the end of it just under Iona’s chin, forcing her to raise her head high.
“Look at me, my lady,” Richard commanded.
“I can’t,” Iona replied, voice acerbic, “with your whip in my face.”
“Careful!” Richard warned. You forget that I own you and can whip you for your sharp tongue. Look at me!”
Iona turned her head, then spat on the floor. Sahara sucked in her breath. What century was this? She rubbed her eyes, then sprawled back on the floor as it opened abruptly.
“What in Christ’s name are you doing here?” Richard stood over her, a scowl on his face.
She looked up at him, along the length of his muscular legs, accentuated in their riding pants, the shine of his boots, the belt at his waist, his defined core, the lust in his eyes.
“I…I don’t know…I heard music.” She cowered but not from fear. It was a learned, expected response.
“Get in here!” Richard held the door open wider, a sardonic grin on his face now, and fully expecting to be obeyed.
“I can’t. I’m going.” Sahara turned, but was caught by her hair in Richard’s solid grip.
“You must, my lady. I won’t take no for an answer.”
“But Aiden!.” She heard herself pleading, even as her sex grew wet and she trembled from desire at being handled with force.
“Aiden, Aiden, Aiden! I am sick of hearing what Aiden wants!” Richard bent down and with ease picked Sahara up, cradling her to his chest. She felt the pounding of his heart. She sensed the melting of his soul. She looked him in the eye and was surprised to see tears.
“What is it, my lord? How can I please you?” This was madness! Was she so easily turned away from loyalty towards her beloved?
As if reading her thoughts, Richard spoke. “You aren’t to worry about your precious Aiden. I have instructions from him, and there is nothing to be concerned about.”
Spoken to him? Was she their chattel? Were they deciding what she could or could not do?
“And what does my beloved say?” she asked, still in his arms, aching for the feel of his mouth, so close to hers as he answered.
“That should you find yourself here, unable to flee your desire, I should take you. He may not have given your permission, but he gave mine.”
“Impossible! He would never!” She moaned as Richard’s teeth found her neck, while one hand pulled her head back to expose it.
“Oh, but he did. And do you know why?”
“No. I don’t know. Please Richard…” She was slipping into oblivion.
“Because you have always been the good one. The one who tried to make everything right when things went wrong. The one who forgave the unforgivable, the one who tried to keep us all together, to be a lady when your soul screamed whore. You don’t need to always be good. He loves you that much.”
“What are you talking about, keeping us together; forgiving the unforgivable? What do you know?”
“I’m not in the mood for talking, Sahara. And anyway, he’s only sent this much information, I am still in the dark just like you. I imagine that sooner or later, our lovers will grace us with what they know.” He pointed toward the bed. “But for now, you may serve me by tending to my lady’s needs.” And he placed her at Iona’s feet. © Monika Carless, The Raven and the Aspen King.
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