Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Dares That Bind by Leigh Ellwood

“Vic, check it.”

Victoria Robeson set down her pen for probably the tenth time in the last hour. No, it had to be more than that, very likely, as she felt she had been generous in mentally lessening the frequency of Kerry’s interruptions. She leaned to her right through the open window of her booth—opposite the one from which she took tolls from outgoing cars on the Dareville stop of the turnpike—and scowled at the impish, wiry young man grinning back at her.

In the stale yellow light of his overhead lamp, she caught the reflection of a multitude of silver hoops lining each ear from shell to lobe, and the gleam of the thick stud centered just below his lower lip. She shuddered to think where else on his body one might find piercings. He could be a human key chain in addition to a pincushion.

“This better not be about hair,” she grumbled, “or make-up or stilettos or fishnets. Yes, you’d look good in it, and no, they won’t make you look fat. Whatever they are.”

Kerry swallowed, and Vic watched as the fashion magazine he curled in his hands sank just out of sight to the shelf below his register. “Never mind then.”

Vic grunted and turned back to her writing, only to realize the muse had dissolved in the late night mist. She leaned back in her stool, maintaining her balance, and sighed.

“I’m sorry.” Kerry’s voice came contritely. “I should know better when you’re trying to write. It just gets lonely out here when it’s not busy.”

“I know.” And it’s never busy. Vic had taken the graveyard shift as toll collector for exactly that reason. Her hometown of Dareville, Virginia couldn’t exactly be called a hipster nightspot. The mid-sized community just inland of the beach and more metropolitan Norfolk had essentially adopted a “lights out at nine” policy, and anybody out on the turnpike that connected southeast Virginia to the Outer Banks this time at night either had to be coming home from a late trip, running away from home, or just plain lost. It wasn’t unusual for Vic to assist drivers surprised to learn they had somehow come upon a toll road while looking for the interstate.

“Forget it,” she added with a slight smile, hoping to ease Kerry’s hurt feelings. “It’s just been a bad week all around. I haven’t done much writing here or at home.” Though Kerry didn’t work every shift, there was no need to explain the work obstacles. Kerry brightened and nodded in understanding.

“Bible Bertha bugging you again?” he teased.

“As much as your alliteration is improving, yes.” Vic laughed. Her name wasn’t Bertha, but the third worker who took the late shift often used the downtime to preach from her booth, making either Kerry or Vic her disgruntled, uninterested parishioner.

He suddenly sobered. “Things still bad at home, too?”

“Yeah.” She didn’t wish to elaborate. Her mother had become impossible to live with since her father embarked on his mid-life crisis with another woman. Older sister Kate no longer lived at home, therefore Vic bore the brunt of mother Marlene’s anxiety attacks.

Mercifully the approach of an outgoing car interrupted, and Vic took the toll and quickly changed the subject. “You know what, I’m listening. The writing can wait.” She rested her elbows on the bottom groove of the sliding windowpane—her thick jacket sleeves provided a nice cushion. “What did you want to show me?”

She knew Kerry enjoyed the attention. The studs and rings provided plenty of shock value and amusement when cars did pull up to pass through town. A slight flush crossed the bridge of his nose and spread to his cheeks as he produced the magazine, opened to a full-color orgy of leather and chain mail.

“I was thinking of getting a pair of these.” He tapped a purple-polished nail on a lower inset picture of a woman, naked but for a pair of black thigh-high boots, reclining in a backdrop of flowing red satin. Strategically crossed arms and bent legs concealed her bare breasts and other naughty bits.

“Doesn’t look like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman to me,” Vic said.

“Oh, hell no. Look closer.”

He held the magazine forward, but Vic just took it from him. “Good God,” she said on seeing how the heel of each boot nearly touched its corresponding toe. What person in her right mind would wear such a thing?

“Ballet slippers for masochists?” she asked.

“Close. Fetish boots.”

“How the fuck do you walk in those things?” Vic could feel her arches snapping just looking at the photos.

“Very, very carefully. But I really think they’re more for show.” Kerry grabbed for her booth and she surrendered the magazine. “There’s a new BDSM club opening at the beach. Supposed to be high class—memberships and rules, that kind of shit. Doug and I were thinking we could snag an invitation to their free open house on Friday.”

“I see.” The piercings and occasional dog-collar jewelry notwithstanding, Vic hadn’t pegged her co-worker for the ultra-kink scene. That an entire club planned to launch in a place she had always perceived as a sleepy little beach town also spoke volumes of her lacking observational skills.

And she aspired to write. How could she write if she couldn’t see?

“It’s the same night as the Brady Garriston concert, though,” Kerry said with a sigh, “and we have tickets.”

“How much is a regular membership to this club?” Vic sketched a fetish boot in her notebook.

“Five hundred a year. Can you believe that shit?” Kerry’s frustration rang out into the night. “They must use gold leaf in all their cat-o-nine tails or something.”

“Or an Italian marble torture rack,” Vic snickered.

“Hell, maybe they just bought Michelangelo’s David for the lobby and dressed it in an assless leather pants.”

“So blow off the concert and go.” Vic shrugged. “It’s a benefit show, so the charity gets the money anyway.” The tickets cost much less than five hundred dollars, she knew. She’d tried to get one for herself but the show sold out so quickly. Her sister Kate had managed to finagle two from a friend, and Vic insisted she take their mother as a means of cheering her. Perhaps if she played this right, she could buy Kerry’s.

“I know, but it’s Brady Garriston. I love him, he’s so hot.” Kerry swooned. “I can’t believe he’s, like, fifty. I would do so much stuff to him.”

“That right?” Vic’s focus fixed on a distance bright point down the turnpike, approaching from the south. Another visitor. “Busy night,” she murmured, not without a note of sarcasm. “You think people are traveling for this show? There weren’t many tickets to be had.”

“Dunno.” Kerry brightened. “Hey, wanna switch?”

Vic glanced down the road. The car seemed to be speeding, and she wasn’t sure if she could escape her booth in time, since it meant having to cross the narrow space meant for vehicles.

“Uh,” she began, but before any words could come Kerry had already slipped into her compact booth, giggling manically.

“Damn it, Kerry,” she grumbled, and burst free for the empty booth. God forbid the car should belong to someone from the state department of transportation with no sense of humor. “My drawer better cash out correctly this time,” she warned once she was safely inside, feeling tired of Kerry’s juvenile games.

“Big whoop, you’ve taken one toll all night. Who could fuck that up?” Kerry called from behind her, but the wild purr of a foreign engine drowned out his nasally voice.

Vic held her breath as the maraschino red Ferrari rolled neatly to a stop, the driver’s rolled-down window aligned with hers. Such a beautiful car, she observed, smooth and stylish even veiled with tiny beads of early morning mist. The overhead lights of the small toll plaza definitely did not do the car justice. In the daytime, or perhaps in the glow of pure, unobstructed moonlight, this car would look absolutely stunning.

And a driver to match, Vic thought, lightly gasping when a smiling face emerged from the darkened cab. As sleek as his ride, he wore shoulder length brown hair slicked back in a ponytail. Dark eyebrows settled over piercing green eyes that peered over small wire frames. A tiny soul-patch, just brushing his lower lip and tapering into a triangle, completed the look. His perfect grin struck her so much, as though she’d never before seen a man that she hadn’t prepared for her body’s reaction when he spoke.

“You are a surprise.” Neither deep nor high-pitched, his voice had a mellow quality that melted easily over her nerves. Vic relaxed then tensed, sensing her nipples harden beneath her uniform blouse. The driver gunned the engine and the warm roar vibrated through her.

“I’m sorry?” Vic had to cross her legs to stop the throbbing in her pussy.

He waved a hand slightly. Vic caught the flash of a ruby set in gold around his pinky finger. “I wasn’t expecting to hit a toll road,” he said. “Don’t worry. I have the money, but I will need a receipt, if I could get one.”

“Huh? Oh, sure.” Vic hit a button on the register. The drawer yawned open with a stale pinging sound and a receipt slid from its small printer. “Yeah, the turnpike opened up last year to take the pressure off the smaller state highways. Too many big rigs were passing through and tearing up the roads faster than they could be repaved.” She knew she babbled, but she decided it necessary lest her aroused nature overcome her brain and encourage her to stay something really forward, or stupid.

“Well, we can’t have that.” He sounded disinterested. Of course he did. What man in a Ferrari would give a damn about backwater Virginia roads and the poor saps like her who stood guard?

“Nice car,” she said. “Is this a Barchetta?”

He had her full attention now. Vic involuntarily stepped back at the surprised look on his face and wondered if she had committed some grave car etiquette error known only to Ferrari enthusiasts.

“Actually, yes,” he said. “It’s a 2001 550 Pininfarina Barchetta. You know your cars.” Yet, Vic couldn’t mistake his dry tone. He had pronounced it barketta, and Vic instinctively realized the proper Italian enunciation. Like with other Italian words, the H remained silent.

As I should have, too, she thought. So she pressed her lips together as he continued searching for toll money.

Whoever he was, Vic decided he must certainly be among the idle rich since he didn’t appear to be in any hurry. She watched him rifle through his wallet and make a note somewhere with a pen. Perhaps he didn’t have a small enough bill for the toll?

“Do you know where the Dareville Inn is located?” he asked finally.

“Sure. First exit off this road. Stay to your right and follow the signs to the historic district. It’s just on Main Street right after the Dare House Museum.”

“Thanks. My GPS can’t seem to find it.”

Vic chuckled nervously. “Yeah, we’re kind of a ‘blink and miss it’ town. Not surprised you can’t see it from space.” The response came spontaneously, yet relief washed over when he laughed at the poor excuse for a joke.

He handed her two folded dollars bills just as she handed him the receipt. In the split second their fingers brushed Vic squeezed her thighs shut to once again temper the ache in her pussy. His gaze held her for a few seconds, yet long enough to make her forget she had to work.

“Have a good morning,” he said and, smiling, urged the car back to speed once she set the green light.

“You, too,” she whispered, coming out of the trance only when something hard slapped her back. She cried her high-pitched surprise.

“Was he a movie star or something?” Kerry demanded, awestruck. He stood just outside the booth, bouncing with excited energy. “Did you see those wheels?”

How could she, for the gorgeous man who steered them, and apparently her as well? One more minute trapped between the Ferrari’s vibrations and his smoldering looks and she might have come on the spot.

Instead of answering, she moved to put away the toll money when she noticed a slip of white among the bills. She unfolded the cash to reveal a business card emblazoned with a cute logo of checkerboard letters, B&W.

Alton Weiss, President

Black and Weiss Entertainment Group, Inc.

On the reverse side, there was a phone number written in black ink, along with a terse note:

Call the second you get home. We’ll discuss how to improve your pronunciation skills, among other things.

“What is it, what’s wrong?” Kerry asked. He tried the door to the booth. “Did you lock this?”

Vic’s heart pounded, like she’d been called to the principal’s office to be punished. What sort of “discussion” did this handsome stranger have in mind? Did she really want to know?

You know you do.

She turned to Kerry and pointed north. “Get back in the other booth. There’s a car coming.” It’s the not only thing, either.

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Immortal Desires by Crymsyn Hart

Panic doused Jacquelyn’s brain as she scanned the grove. Even in the darkness her eyes picked up the splashes of gold, burnt orange, and cranberry intermixed with the emerald green pines. The leaves still provided plenty of cover for any creature wanting to hide among the branches. The sun had set a few hours ago, but she and Crimson had planned the hunt for days. Now she and her friend were the only ones left strong enough to take on their foe.

Jacquelyn searched the shadows with well-trained eyes for any sign of Simon. He was a powerful vampire, controlled by a darkness that had driven him mad. Only with Crimson was he still lucid. It didn’t mean anything now. Not after all the horror he had caused. They’d tracked him to this isolated place after Jacquelyn had discovered a mutilated corpse in the center of the Great Hall. She had gone to her friend, demanding that Simon be stopped. His killing spree had taken too many friends and loved ones from them both. Finally, Crimson acknowledged what needed to be done, knowing Jacquelyn was right. Simon had been a danger to their kind for far too long.

Friends for over eight centuries, Crimson had been there the night Jacquelyn had died and was reborn as a vampire. For two centuries, Jacquelyn had despised the night, the moon, and Andrew, the one who had sired her. Eventually, her maker washed his hands of her, letting her find her own destiny. Only then did she realize there was more to live for in the shadows than she had ever dreamed. However, freedom had come with a great sacrifice. Years away from Andrew had made her heart pine for him. He’d been taken from her before she could ever reconcile her feelings. Time and loneliness had drawn Crimson and her together until they were night-sisters. Through the ages they had lived together, cried together, and watched as their comrades were slaughtered.

Now Jacquelyn stood at the edge of the clearing with Crimson at her side. Loneliness and hatred filled her soul. Precious moments had been stolen from her, Andrew, and her child who had died in her arms. It was time for the hunter to pay for his crimes.

Jacquelyn’s lips were dry from running her tongue over them and then her fangs. She nicked her cheek to draw blood, trying to still her human-beating heart. Even though she feared the worst, there were no others to aid Crimson. Many of the vampires had gone into hiding, cutting themselves off from the web that connected all their kind. Others had fallen into deep hibernation to sleep away the impending millennium, until hunger called them from their rest. With the dawn of the twentieth century, vampires were spread thin throughout the world because of Simon’s killings. Now the only ones strong enough were standing at the edge of the meadow waiting for him to appear.

Leaves rattled like skeletal bones in the slight breeze that had kicked up. Instinct hardened Jacquelyn’s nails into razor-claws. She had to be prepared. Simon was over fifteen hundred years old and his madness gave him even greater strength. Jacquelyn was barely over eight hundred and, when she was created, she had never imagined a day when she would be fighting one of her own kind. Granted, she was strong, but not powerful enough to take on the hunter alone. Her companion was twenty years older and stronger. Crimson had the added advantage of being Record Keeper among their kind. A great mental spider web linked Crimson to all vampires, allowing her knowledge of them as they were born and awareness of their deaths. It was a privilege passed down from the Mother of them all every nine hundred years. Jacquelyn was next in line. She was learning from Crimson a little at a time, taking in some of her blood to gain the power. Jacquelyn could also divine the future and manipulate fire when it was lit. Now she needed all of her strength against Simon. This was to be her final test.

Crimson glanced over at her. Her friend’s mahogany hair blazed red when the moonlight caught the highlights woven in her long braid. Her porcelain skin was bleached bone white in the light of the full moon that peeked out from behind ominous clouds. Rain was in the air. The atmosphere swelled and weighed on their skins. Jacquelyn gave her friend a small smile, but she saw the hurt in the other vampire’s eyes. It would break Crimson’s heart to destroy the one she loved, but Jacquelyn had already had so many stolen from her that her heart had been hardened for centuries.

“You ready to do this?” asked Crimson.

“As I’ll ever be.”

“My, my, two birds with one stone. Won’t this be fun?” Laughter echoed in the hollow as Simon’s voice blew through on the wind of the upcoming storm.

Jacquelyn stepped into the clearing, letting her anger and hunger bolster her strength. “Show yourself! Or are you too much of a coward to face us?”

Crimson kept her eyes locked on the trees, hunting for her lover. A thunder crack shattered the silence. Jacquelyn found herself knocked to the ground. Jacquelyn stirred and saw her friend had been thrown into a massive oak. She raced to Crimson to be sure she was all right.

“You okay?”

“He broke a couple of my ribs. Distract him for me for a minute.”

Jacquelyn nodded. Crimson grimaced against the pain and pulled herself up along the tree trunk. Blood moved to the broken bones mending the breaks.

“I’m no coward, little vampire. You shouldn’t have come looking for me. You were warned to flee to the New World. You would have been safe.” A dark shape sailed through the trees.

“You can’t force us out of our home. Someone has to stop you from killing your own kind. You stole Andrew from me. You took my child. Haven’t you figured it out yet? Your dead bitch-master isn’t pulling your strings anymore.” Jacquelyn searched the branches. There was no movement anywhere. All the animals were hushed. She looked toward Crimson, who shrugged that she didn’t know where he had gone. The wind blew up again. Wetness dampened her skin from the fine mist blanketing the clearing. Jacquelyn shivered. The night was not going the way she planned.

“Aren’t we perceptive?” Simon’s velvet voice purred in her ear. “But I kill for power. And yes, Kathryn might be dead, but who says that death is the end? Sometimes we move through the cracks.”

She spun around to find Simon standing before her. He was almost seven feet tall with long, curly black hair and piercing dark eyes tinged purple which held Jacquelyn enthralled. His face was angular with sharp cheekbones. A thin mustache lined his upper lip and made his ivory fangs more pronounced.

They stared at one another, moments ticking by like hours. The moon moved silently behind dark clouds. The fragrance of the rain, the pine, and the musk from the fox hunting for his nightly prey filled the air and heightened her senses. Lightning lit the sky, striking a nearby tree. Fire erupted from the dried bark, inflaming the copse with its warmth. Jacquelyn’s gaze slid toward Crimson, who was on her feet, her nails curled in readiness. Simon followed her gaze and smiled. Heat flickered against Jacquelyn’s flesh. The flames were yards away and slowly being eaten by the sudden downpour, but one instant was all she needed. Energy built within her mind, moving into the center of her palms. She threw the heat at Simon, seeing the illumination in her thoughts. His clothes ignited and a shocked expression passed over his face. His scream pierced the sky. He tore at his shirt with nothing more than his hair and skin charred, but it was enough. Crimson pounced. Her fist punched into his exposed flesh to find his heart. Crimson’s nails only made it halfway into his chest before he threw her off and set his eyes on Jacquelyn. Blood trickled out of the dent above his heart. Strings of flesh and muscle dangled from the open wound, reweaving themselves into his body. Simon had underestimated her once, but not again. The wound was already healing. His smile widened and his fangs extended to full length. Jacquelyn looked around and saw her friend sprawled on the grass unmoving. She focused her attention back on Simon, but he was gone.

She turned and started toward Crimson, but she found herself in mid-air. Great pain seized her back and everything went numb. Her breath stopped and the thud in her chest was silent. Death called Jacquelyn, had its hold on her, as she found herself above the meadow looking down. She wasn’t ready to depart life. She tried screaming to Crimson that Simon was about to impale her, but Crimson came up quick enough and grabbed Simon around the throat, slamming him into the nearest tree.

Jacquelyn smiled. The clearing grew faint and the chill of rain didn’t concern her anymore. In her last moment, the vampire witnessed her friend’s hand plunge into Simon’s chest and come out dripping with blood. In that instant, all of Jacquelyn’s woes fell away. A peace she never knew in life infused her soul. The task they had set for themselves was done. She could rest knowing no more of her kind would fall victim to Simon’s hands. Satisfied, Jacquelyn surrendered herself to the awaiting light.

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Hungry Heart by Jamie Hill

“Could I buy you a cup of coffee?” Knight didn’t seem to want to leave.

“I don’t think so. But really, thanks.” Gil wasn’t sure he could keep from swearing for that long.

The man raised his hands. “No hidden agenda. I promise you, I have no microphones or tape recorders. I just thought we could talk. We could stay here if you’d rather.”

Gil cocked his head sideways. “Why would you want to do that?”

Knight shrugged. “You seem like the kind of guy I could talk to. I don’t have that many friends. Most people are afraid I’ll turn something they say into the opener on the ten o’clock news.”

“Now there’s a sentiment I can relate to.” Gil nodded, feeling a smile creep over his face.

Knight smiled. “How about this? I’ll give you some dirt you could use on me to help convince you I’m being sincere.”

“I don’t want—”

“Nope, I insist. Here you go. I’m gay. In this day and age, I’d love to tell you that doesn’t matter in my line of work, but it still does. A person can be gay, they just can’t act gay, or talk about it at all. Isn’t that pathetic?”

Gil coughed. “Yeah, it sucks. This day and age.”

“Please, don’t think I’m coming on to you or anything. I just hoped we could talk, and I wanted you to feel secure in the knowledge that it’s off the record. Everything we say remains between us.”

“Okay, why not?” Gil shrugged. He didn’t intend to talk about his job, no matter what the man said. But, coffee would be nice. The fact that Knight was gay had nothing—scratch that—everything to do with his decision. He glanced at the tight fitting jeans the guy wore, before turning and walking into the house.

“Thanks for giving me a shot.” Knight followed him in.

Gil closed the doors behind them. “I’ll put on some coffee, Mr. Knight.”

“Call me Brian.” He glanced around the kitchen cautiously.

“Brian.” Gil smiled. “I’m Gil. I guess you knew that.”

“Yeah.” He returned the smile. “It sounds much nicer than ‘Captain’.”

Gil scooped coffee into the filter and added water. “I kind of like ‘Captain’.”

Brian laughed. “I’m sure I would too, if I’d earned such a prestigious rank.”

Gazing at him, Gil shook his head. “You sure are a smooth talker. Guess that’s a requirement in your line of work.”

“Somewhat.” He looked at Gil’s bicep. “About like muscles are in yours.”

“Shit.” Gil felt his face redden and busied himself retrieving mugs and watching the coffee brew. “Take anything in your coffee?”

“Black is fine.”

“Me too.” He stared at the dripping liquid, not sure what to say.

“Did I surprise you with my announcement? Some people insist they knew I was gay all along, but others had no clue.”

“I didn’t know.” Gil continued to face the counter. His cock had risen in his jeans and turning around now would be problematic.

“Not seeing anyone, either. Dating is tough when you have a high profile job. I guess I don’t have to tell you that. I read you’re not married. You seeing anyone?”

“Not at the moment.” Gil’s voice cracked slightly. The coffee had finally finished brewing and he poured two cups.

“Let me help you with that.” Brian had moved directly behind him. His breath blew across the back of Gil’s neck.

“Sure.” He held out a cup and once Brian accepted it, he moved away quickly. “We can sit in the other room.” Gil sat in his favorite chair and motioned to the other one, across from him.

“Thanks.” Brian sat and sipped his coffee, watching him.

Gil tried to think of something safe to talk about. His job was off limits and the gay thing was headed into dangerous territory. He wasn’t sure what else there was. Seen any good movies lately? sounded lame.

“You seem nervous.” Brian set his mug on the end table.

“I guess I am. I don’t hang around with TV people much.”

“I’m just a regular guy. I really don’t want anything from you besides conversation and maybe friendship. I didn’t have any ulterior motives when I came here.”

For some reason, Gil believed him. He was quite sure the revelation of Brian’s orientation wouldn’t sit well with the man’s employers. Brian had no reason to put his career on the line—or perhaps he did have one. The same one that stirred in Gil’s denims as he sat there, debating his next move. “I believe you, Brian. I might be making a mistake—I sure hope not—but sometimes in life you just gotta go for it.”

“That’s the way I’ve always felt.” Brian gazed at him.

Gil set his cup down and, with his heart beating like he’d run a mile, he asked, “How’d you know I was gay? I walk funny or something?”

“You are?” Brian exhaled. “I had no idea. I hoped—an unmarried guy at your age, you know.”

“Hey!” Gil frowned.

Brian laughed. “I saw your file, Captain. We’re the same age. So no, I’m not suggesting you’re old. I’m simply suggesting I was interested in you, and had to take a shot. I crossed my fingers and hoped I wasn’t making a mistake. You know the feeling.”

“Yes, I do. That’s not the main feeling I have right now.”

“Me either.” Brian stood. “Want to frisk me for microphones or something?”

“I want to frisk you, but I ain’t looking for microphones.” Gil rose and moved toward the hall. “Follow me.”

Brian did as requested, stopping only when he got to the doorway of Gil’s bedroom. “This is nice. I rent an apartment. It must feel good to own a place of your own.”

“Yeah.” Gil faced him. “Feels real good.” He pushed Brian up against the doorway frame and their lips met. His tongue traced the seam of the other man’s lips and he groaned when they opened willingly. Brian tasted like coffee and mint, and Gil couldn’t wait to taste more. Running his hands over Brian’s chest, he tugged the shirt from his waistline, trying to pull it off.

Brian raised his arms in cooperation and his shirt went flying. He caressed Gil’s pecs and shoulders, unbuttoned the shirt and kneaded flesh all at one time. “Oh, yeah.”

Gil nuzzled Brian’s neck as his hands continued to massage the lightly furred chest. Moving lower, he jerked the snap of Brian’s jeans open and reached a hand inside. The bulky erection he found there excited him, and he shoved the denims down, seeking more contact.

“That feels good.” Brian clutched Gil’s shoulders tightly as Gil fondled him.

“Gonna feel better, real soon.” Dropping to his knees, Gil dragged the man’s pants down to his ankles. He admired the thick, full cock and hanging balls before nuzzling them.

“Oh, yeah. Better. Much better.” Brian sighed.

Gil chuckled. “We’re just beginning. Hang on.” He sucked the stiff erection into his mouth and deep-throated it. The crown nudged the back of his throat and he swallowed, wanting to take it all.

“Oh, God. Oh my ever-loving God.” Brian clutched the wall with one hand and Gil’s hair with the other. “Take it. Take it all.”

Groaning, Gil ground his face into the nest of curly, brown pubic hair. He had no problem taking it all. In his academy days, he prided himself on sucking two cocks at one time. Now, one nice shaft was plenty—and this one was about as nice as they got. He sucked harder, taking the prick deeper down his throat.

“Shit!” Brian grabbed a handful of hair, urging Gil to stand up. “I’m close!”

His response was to grab the man’s ass cheeks and press deeper. That should let his lover know what he wanted. The full load, straight down my throat. It’d been too long. Gil moaned with pleasure and swallowed as the first stream hit his tongue. It tasted musky and slightly salty. Gil’s own cock throbbed as he ingested the warm cum.

Brian’s body jerked as his climax lingered for what seemed to Gil like an eternity. He leaned against the doorframe, groaning and gasping. “God, that was fantastic!”

Gil smiled to himself as he stuck with the shudders, sucking the last possible drop from the man’s gorgeous cock. When he was sure the orgasm was over, he sat back on his haunches, breathing heavily.

“You’ve got one talented mouth.” Brian ran a hand over Gil’s face. “I haven’t had a blowjob like that in—well, ever. That was incredible.”

Gil kissed the man’s palm and rose to his feet. “It’s easy when you have good material to work with.”

Brian chuckled and dragged Gil to him for a languorous kiss. When they separated, he kissed Gil’s face, tracing a warm trail to his earlobe and lower to his neck. “Tell me what you want,” he murmured. “I can give you head, or I can bend over and you can fuck my ass. It’s your call.”

Gil squirmed as Brian’s lips and tongue teased his flesh. “I’d like both, please. First things, first. Bending you over and fucking you senseless sounds good right about now.”

“Oh, yeah!” Brian leaned down, sucking a flat nipple into his mouth. “I’d love that.”

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The Song of Orpheus by Selena Kitt

“If you spend any more time in there, you’re going to turn into a mermaid!”

Eurydice lifted her dark head from where she was reclining in the water, seeing the centaur pawing at the edge of her stream. “Chiron!” Her eyes widened in surprise and delight. She grinned. “Nymphs aren’t mermaids, horse-boy. You just want to turn everyone half-breed, don’t you?”

The centaur snorted, sounding very horse-like in spite of his human torso. “Not if they all turn out like my brothers. I swear I’m the only civilized one in the lot.”

Eurydice stood, twisting the water out of her long, dark hair, and saw Chiron’s eyes moving over her nude form appreciatively. She smiled at him as she stepped out, patting his chestnut flank as she reached for her wrap. It was the standard Greek dress for women, a long, thin strip of material she wound about her body in an intricate way. It clung to her curves. “You certainly are the best of them. What are you doing here, anyway?”

His dark eyes moved over her body before she finished pulling the material around her and closing it without any fasteners. He cleared his throat, running a hand through his long, dark hair. “Apollo insisted I come for the whole ‘Find Aristaeus a Wife’ shindig, since I was apparently responsible for his birth, or some such rot.”

“Hazards of being an oracle, huh?” Eurydice’s hand moved over the horse’s back, feeling the strong muscles there. “Didn’t you introduce Apollo to Aristaeus’ mother?”

“Not exactly. I think the exact prophecy, as I recall, was Apollo would take the nymph, Cyrene, to Libya, where she would bear him a son, named Aristaeus—he who would become revered among men for his skills with the land and the animals.” Chiron shrugged, looking over his broad shoulder at her. “Eurydice, dear, if you don’t stop petting me like that, my baser natures may just take over.”

“Sorry.” She dropped her hand with a blush. “It’s just such a nice, shiny coat.”

“And you are a glistening star.” His rump swung around as he faced her, stunningly human completely from the waist up. “You know how I have a thing for nymphs.”

“Nymphs are nigh irresistible when we want to be.” She cleared her throat and changed the subject. “So this nymph, Cyrene—how could she travel so far from her domain?”

He gave her a sad look. “She was a Nereid, not a Naiad, like you, my dear.”

“Oh.” Eurydice’s hopeful eyes dropped, and she sat on the bank of the stream with a sigh. “So basically, as long as she was near the sea, she could travel anywhere she wanted?”


“But I’m stuck here by this little creek.” She sighed, kicking at the water with her foot.

“You love your stream.”

“Yes, well…sometimes I think it does not love me.”

Chiron’s tail swished. “I’m sure there are many men—or half-men—who might settle with you here beside your waters.”

“Oh Chiron…” She reached up and patted his flank. “I love you like a brother, you know that.”

“Well, my dear, there will be plenty of men to choose from at Apollo’s son-worshipping.” He snorted at his own pun and she smiled, shaking her head. “Won’t you at least accompany me? So few give me as much pleasure with their very company as you do.”

She laughed; standing and stretching. “With all the honey you spread with your words, I’m surprised you haven’t attracted more than just flies, horse-boy!”

He grinned. “Wanna go for a ride?”

“I thought you’d never ask!” She eyed his back, long and sleek. Placing her bare foot in the stirrup he made with his hands, she swung her leg over his flank, arranging her robe and settling herself on his back.

“Love that little wiggle.” He glanced over his shoulder and waggled his eyebrows at her.

“You’re so bad!” She slapped him near the tail with her hand and his eyes widened.

“Watch it—I like that too much.”

She laughed, wrapping her arms around his waist, feeling the hard ridges of muscle in his belly as he began to trot across the stream, carrying her with him. He was a fine specimen, really, of man and equine, and while he’d made it known on several occasions he would settle by the stream with her, she doubted he could do so for long.

There was too much in him that loved liberty and the freedom of roaming. He was, by no means, the wild half-breeds his brothers had proved themselves to be—but Chiron had an undeniable love for adventure, and Eurydice couldn’t roam any further than her stream itself did. Roaming too far from home would force her to wither and die, like a grape left off the vine in the sun.

However, a secret longing burned in her belly, and it wasn’t for Chiron. It wasn’t for any man she had ever met, but she just knew she would know him when she found him. She yearned to find the man she would be willing to follow, regardless of her circumstances. He existed, somewhere, she was sure of it—the man she would sacrifice everything for.

Eurydice saw something out of the corner of her eye and squeezed her thighs around Chiron’s sides. He gave a distinctly whinny-like sound. “Hey!”

“I think I just saw Melina!” She urged him left, and he cantered that way, towards a clearing. Sure enough, her friend was standing in the field, her arms held up to the sky. “Wait, Chiron!” Eurydice grabbed his long, dark hair as if it were a mane, pulling back and he slowed, shaking his head and glancing over his shoulder at her.

“What was that for?”

“She’s taming the bees.”

“She’s what?”

Eurydice dismounted, sliding to the ground. “Stay here for a moment. You’ll see.” She approached her friend quietly, her bare feet making no sound on the soft grass. Melina covered with a carpet of bees, the softly buzzing insects crawling over her skin from head to toe. When she had first seen Melina performing this trick a few years ago, Eurydice had panicked, running forward and waving her arms wildly, trying to make the bees scatter. She winced at the memory. She had caused her new friend several unnecessary stings that day—but Melina had taken it in stride, and they had spent a nice afternoon doctoring her wounds and chatting in Melina’s little cottage.

“Melina?” Eurydice called softly, still keeping her distance. The woman’s eyes opened and she stared out at her friend from two blue eyes lost in a moving blanket of insects. Eurydice thought she caught the hint of her smile, and then Melina started to spin. It began slowly, her bare feet shuffling on the grass, her steps minute and perfected. The insects started to rise, a few at a time, then in larger numbers as she turned faster, her arms thrown out to her sides. Soon she was spinning like a top, her blonde hair revealed now and whirling around her face in a cloud as the bees took flight, going off again on their daily business.

Chiron came up behind Eurydice, pawing the ground. “That’s impressive!”

“She does it every day.” Eurydice shook her head, her smile bemused. “Melina, this is Chiron, the centaur. Chiron, this is my friend, Melina.”

“Pleased to make your acquaintance.” Chiron bent one jointed leg and bowed his head briefly. “May I ask…what is the purpose of that daily death-defying stunt?”

“I’m just keeping them happy.” Melina smiled from where she had collapsed on the ground, still gently shaking her head free from a bee or two. They buzzed gently around her face, but she showed no sign of fear. In fact, they seemed to kiss her cheek before taking flight again with their brothers and sisters. “Angry bees don’t produce good honey. Happy bees are good workers. They love being seen for the magical beings they are.”

“Is that so?”

“Chiron is taking me over to a festival Apollo is having for his son.” Eurydice held a hand out to her friend. “Do you want to come with us?” Melina took the outstretched hand, looking askance at the half-man, half-horse. “Do I have to ride?”

“You’ll let bees crawl all over you, but you’re afraid of horses?” Eurydice laughed.

“It’s not the horse ride itself…” Melina shrugged, giving Chiron an apologetic smile. “I’m more afraid of the falling off.”

“I’ll go slowly.” He winked, making his hands into a stirrup again. Eurydice helped Melina mount first then swung herself up behind her, putting her arms around the other woman’s waist.

“You said you’d go slowly!” Melina squealed and grasped Chiron tightly around the middle as he galloped over the field. She buried her face in his back, and he rumbled laughter as he leapt nimbly across a small stream.

“But then I wouldn’t have two beautiful women clinging to me, would I?” Chiron slowed, grinning back at them with a wink.

Eurydice smacked his rear. “You are bad!”

“It’s part of my nature.” He shrugged, but his smile never faded. “And we can’t help our natures can we?”

Eurydice sighed, thinking of her attachment to her stream. “I suppose so.”

“Oh, I don’t know.” Melina dared to peek around Chiron’s broad back to see where they were going. “I think people can change.”

“Spoken like a true mortal!” Chiron laughed; the sound rumbling through him. Eurydice could feel it between her thighs.

“Come on, horsie.” She squeezed her legs around him, digging her knees in. “Play nice.”

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