SLEEPY WILLOW’S REDEEMED SOUL (The Narcoleptic Vampire Series, Vol. 4)
Release date: October 25, 2016.
Redemption: Where the end is just the beginning.
****SPOILER ALERT FOR VOLUMES 1-3.2 OF THE SERIES.****
**And…Dicey’s usual 18+ [Adults only] warning applies.**
There couldn’t possibly be any one single thing I enjoyed more on God’s green earth than being snuggled between these two perfect male bodies. Absolutely nothing compared to bathing in a sea of muscles, smooth flesh, fresh male musky scent, and—
“Willooow,” a strange voice whispered.
—little tickles of fine hair. Mmmm. These were the best moments of my afterlife.
The steady heartbeat under my fingertips set the perfect background noise for deep sleeping.
Shit. Not again.
“Willow,” the voice whispered again, “come to me.”
I shook off the whisper and rolled from my right to my left side, which meant my thigh went from draping over a warm body to a cold one. I went from a body full of fresh, pumping blood, to another one full of magic and someone else’s blood. I still felt contentment, being sandwiched between them. And irritation at having my sleep interrupted. If I could just ignore the voice…
Moments passed, and I began to drift back to sleep. Sleeping between these two amounted to a thick slice of velvety Heav—
“Willlllooooowwwww.” The whisper seemed more urgent. “I’m ready for you.”
“Go away,” I groaned, sick of being awakened by this faceless voice.
I scratched my neck then rested my hand back in Conda’s hair. I liked tousling his hair. But I hated being awakened by unknown voices. For someone with my sleep issues, having my sleep disturbed was really the worst kind of torture.
As I tried to get comfortable and back to sleep, the next call came more urgent, less whispery, and not androgynous. Determined to wake me, the decidedly strong male voice came in loud and clear, “I’m ready for you. Come to me when you’re ready.” Ah, fuck off. I was really close to ignoring it again, but “Come to meeeee!” rang smack dab in my ear, and I jumped up. A pair of lips had touched my ear and blown the stray hairs around it.
I didn’t just sit straight up in bed; I jumped clean from the bed to the other side of the room, clutching my gown up to my neck. Eyes bucked, looking around the room for the phantom, I discovered no one there other than my lovers.
“Willow, what’s wrong?” Aaron grabbed his underwear from the floor next to the bed and put them on, never taking his eyes off mine. “Why do you look scared?”
Uh… “Because someone keeps calling me, and it’s not you or Conda, and…” I looked from Aaron to Conda and back to Aaron “…it’s not telepathic. He touched me this time.”
“He?” Aaron looked concerned.
I nodded. “Definitely a he.”
Conda sat up in the bed next to Aaron, looking disoriented and maybe a tad annoyed. He’d had a late shift in Hades’s Voyeur Room, where people paid to watch him perform solo sexual acts. He was tired of me waking him with this unverifiable nonsense. “Come back to bed, baby. It feels early in the day.”
I looked around the candlelit bedroom I shared with them. No one else was present, not physically or otherwise. But there was no doubt in my mind that someone had come in the room and awakened me. Again. And this time he’d touched me to get my attention. “Ivan? Is that you?” My friendly ghost ex-boyfriend had gotten pretty good at going in and out of corporeal and noncorporeal states.
But he didn’t answer.
And I wasn’t surprised. I would have recognized his voice.
Max, is that you?
Again—no surprise, though I did feel disappointment. After years of chasing and taunting me through our metaphysical bond, my former maistre vampire had shut off our mental connection completely. I’d severed our blood bond using ritual magic and by becoming my own maistress. He’d gone a step further and abandoned me.
I had the nerve to feel sad about it…after resenting him for so long. To be shamefully honest—I missed him.
“Willow, are you okay?” Aaron walked towards me with outstretched arms. “This has been going on for a while. Is the voice—is he—saying anything different?”
“Nope. He just keeps calling me, telling me to come.”
“Why can’t we hear it?” Aaron looked at Conda and opened both hands to show his helplessness. “He’s obviously supernatural. Conda should be able to hear him, at least.”
“I don’t know.” I trembled and looked at the floor. This time, I hadn’t just been startled from my sleep. I’d been touched…by a he that showed no signs of giving up his beckoning call any time soon.
“That’s weird.” Aaron wrapped his arms around my shoulders and held me close until my tremors began to subside. “He didn’t touch you inappropriately, did he?”
I shook my head. The touch had been light, just enough to say ta da—look what I can do.
“Wow. That’s really weird.” Aaron squeezed me tighter. “I’m here for you. We’ll figure it out.”
Yes, it was weird…which was saying something in my world. This was the sixth time I’d been awakened by that same voice this week alone. The voice had been calling me at the most inopportune times for months. It didn’t say much, just kept beckoning me to come. Using a neutral tone, giving no indication of whether he was friend or foe. It made me feel uncomfortable, but not entirely threatened.
I watched as Conda slid the comforter down below his hips until he exposed his personal comforter and began sliding his hand along the ridged, veiny side. While Aaron used soothing words and hug reassurances, Conda had a different, equally effective way of comforting me that involved physical intimacy of the deep stroke variety.
“If the voice is telling you to come,” his voice dropped an octave, “I can help with that.” Conda slid from the bed like a snake, beguiling and sensual, until he approached from behind Aaron.
I didn’t have the energy to tell Conda how unnerved the voice had made me this time, and how commanding come to me had really been. It had felt like a demand, coming from a place of entitlement. Of ownership. I was certain the voice did not mean for me to have an orgasm.
Disengaging myself from Aaron’s embrace, I hiked up my gown, turned away from them, bent over and grabbed my ankles. I’d accepted my wantonness some time ago and made no apologies for it. I would never turn down the pleasure Conda could and would provide. Not even on my worst day.
Conda plunged in without hesitation until his waxed balls touched my hairy lower lips and I could damn near feel him in the back of my throat. His pumping hips, with their familiar rhythm had me near climax in a matter of seconds. Aaron leaned in with one hand on my clit as I rode the first wave of anxiety and stress relief. True to Conda-form, Conda didn’t stop there. He kept going until my knees began to shake and my fingernails began to dig in my feet. Aaron put his other wrist to my mouth, and I struck him with the same fierceness Conda struck me.
Taunting laughter erupted suddenly from across the room and the phantom’s voice followed. “Sex with Conda and blood from Aaron will not bring you redemption,” he said. “But I can.”
I screamed as the glowing white figure flashed near the bathroom door and disappeared. Aaron jerked his wrist back as his blood wasted onto the floor.
Conda, thinking I’d had an intense orgasm, let himself go into bliss, clutching my thighs as he unloaded streams of semen inside me.
Only Aaron had noticed my reaction was not typical for the moment. Aaron held onto me as Conda let me go. A question molded Aaron’s face. “What happened?”
I covered my face with my hands in shame. “I saw him. He flashed in the room.”
“Who is he?” Aaron asked in frustration. “Why does he want you to go to him?”
“I don’t know.”
Conda went to the bathroom, started the shower water, and returned to the bedroom. “Who flashed in the room?”
“The voice,” I sighed. “He said neither of you could bring me redemption, but he could.”
Aaron and Conda exchanged glances.
I was just as confused as they were.
“Redemption?” Conda looked puzzled. “Wait—are you saying God appeared to you?” The hedonist in him hadn’t believe in God until after the Rapture. Now, he just didn’t care one way or the other about God. He only humored me with deity conversation, because he knew how much religion meant to me.
I shrugged. “Yeah…I guess.” God was the only one who could wash away my sins with the blood of his son and redeem my damned soul, so it had to have been him. “Except….” I wasn’t satisfied with that conclusion. For one, the entity in the room annoyed me more than made me feel at ease. God wouldn’t pester me, would he? “God would bring joy and peace and love and—”
“Longsuffering,” the voice said from near the bathroom again. “God would also bring you chaos, war, blind faith, unquestionable obedience, intolerance, ignorance…”
What a weird thing for God to say. He wouldn’t gain anyone’s trust talking that way. Something felt eerie about this. His offer of redemption directly conflicted with his list of Godly attributes. I should just return to ignoring the voice since Conda and Aaron couldn’t hear him anyway. What was the point of ruining our daylight hours over phantom whispers and riddles? It…he would go away. “God just wasn’t the way I imagined he would be.”
“Gods never are.” Conda laughed and shut the bathroom door so he could shower.
It wasn’t funny to me. “He also knew both of your names, Aaron.” I cast my eyes down to the floor, knowing how absurd it all sounded. I considered getting in the shower with Conda and forgetting about this unwanted intruder.
“Well, that would be understandable if he was God, right, but…” Aaron sat on the edge of the bed and pulled me with him.
“God, my ass,” Conda shouted from the shower. His sensitive hearing kept him engaged in the conversation. “If he’s God, I’m the Easter Bunny,” he laughed. “I mean, what’s with all the coded talk and the wakey-wakey act at all times of day? Nah. I’ll bet this is just some invisible supernatural playing a prank on you. Maybe another ghost.”
“The room’s warded though. No one’s supposed to get in without an invitation now.” I opened the door leading to the corridor and confirmed the markings at the threshold were still there. Nope. An invisible man had not penetrated our threshold ward and stumbled into our territory.
“Or…” Aaron took both of my hands in his and rubbed them. “Maybe it’s time for you to see someone…professionally, I mean. To find out what’s really going on, Willow.”
I looked into his pools of silvery blue and smiled. I couldn’t be insulted by the suggestion coming from him considering his own stints with mental health disorders. If anyone knew the signs of psychosis, he probably did. Plus, Aaron’s concern was one of the things I loved most about him. Perhaps the time had come to question my mental acumen. Considering how long it had been since I’d seen my therapist, Dr. Floyd, perhaps I needed a checkup. Then again, perhaps I had not fully healed since Dr. Dougie performed my last organ transplant to his human ally blood donor. I could probably use some fine-tuning, if not an overhaul and recalibration of my system.
I loved both Conda and Aaron…and Remi, though he was currently unavailable. We all had a great thing going, and if getting some help would bring some peace to our time together, I needed to make more of an effort toward getting that help.
“I think you’re right.” Because what if this was the onset of schizophrenia? I kept hearing a voice no one else could hear. It had progressed to the point of seeing and feeling him. “Maybe I do need help, Aaron.”
So did getting help mean I needed to see an MD, PhD, witch, psychic, pastor…? Did I start with Dr. Floyd, the doctor who’d been like a father to me, or someone else? Who had the right gift, skill, and tactic to help me at this very moment? Who would be most sensitive to my different layers and be able to provide a holistic approach? The dilemma troubled me already.
“I can help you, Willow.” A sharp edge clawed down the side of my face. “Come to me for redemption.”
Shiiiit! I almost left my skin when I jumped this time.
“Is the voice back?” Aaron grabbed my shoulders and shouted, “Willow! Ask him who he is and what he wants.”
Huh? Oh, yeah. Aaron had a point. Ignoring the phantom wouldn’t work. I needed answers. “Who are you?” I looked aimlessly around the room for wherever the bright light would flash next.
It slowly began to form and take shape next to Aaron, except Aaron kept his eyes on me, totally unaware.
“Star,” the phantom whispered through faded pink lips. “My name is Star.”
A chill ran down my spine. With all the early morning wakeups, I had a bad feeling he meant Morning Star. “Well, Star. What do you want with me? What can I do for you?”
He laughed. “Nothing. It’s what I can do for you—give you the redemption your heartless chest desires.”
I folded my arms. He didn’t scare me. Not when I could clearly see the shape of an anatomically normal male figure glowing in the dark. “There’s only one way I’m getting redemption, and that’s by earning my way to God’s redemption. I’m going to be saved by his grace.”
“No, you are not.”
Okaaay. My whole body stilled. I stared bug-eyed. “Why not?”
Aaron almost spoke out of concern for my one-sided conversation, but stopped when I held up a hand to wave off his questions. Star and I were finally getting to the good stuff.
“Because I am your redeemer…your morning star.” Star spoke as if that made all the sense in the world.
Morning Star. I shook my head in disbelief. I’d grown up southern Baptist, believing God sent his son, Jesus, to die on the cross for my sins. Then I’d given up my soul in exchange for magical reanimation and learned a bunch of prophecies that involved me being instrumental in the End of Days. Now, the Devil was in my bedroom pretty much telling me he was going to save my soul from…God. Nobody’s luck ran as bad as mine.
“My redeemer? What do you mean? Redeem me from what? Only God can save me from my sins.”
“You keep saying that.” Star intertwined his fingers and spoke with ancient patience. “Truth is, only I can redeem your mind. Only I can show you what he doesn’t want you to know—that there are no sins. You don’t need salvation. You need emancipation from your indoctrination.”
“Willow…” Aaron shook my arm. “I’m worried. What’s he saying?” Aaron shook my arm again. “Willow?”
I held up my index finger signaling for Aaron to hold on as I continued chatting with Star. “So, you’re the fallen angel? The Prince of Darkness of this world?”
“Yes. I am Lucifer.” He bowed low, way low then rose slowly. “And you are my chosen one.”
Grabbing Aaron’s phone from his hand, effectively prevented Aaron from completing his call for help. Star had all the answers I needed. “Chosen for what?”
My eyebrows raised in question.
“To lay with the man who has multiple souls, to birth the Antichrist into the world, to lead the demon army, to ascend to your throne in Hell. Surely, you must have studied it in the texts or at least guessed it by now. You must come to me for redemption.” Star tacked on a lopsided smile at the end.
No, no, no, no, nooooo. That was not how this was supposed to work. Not how any of it was supposed to work. This was some bullshit right here. I squeezed Aaron’s hand for reassurance that I was still in the physical realm. “B-b-but God is my redeemer.”
He shook his head and smiled, finding it funny that I still held on to that same line. “Yes. God is your redeemer.” He walked up to me and circled me once. “I am your God. And I will redeem you.” He stood next to me and lifted my chin with a warm, smooth hand. “I am here to relieve you of guilt. To absolve you of condemnation. To give you unconditional peace and acceptance in enjoying the carnal pleasures made available to you.” His thumbs rubbed both of my cheeks.
“Don’t ever touch me.” I snapped my head to the side to avoid the sense of being owned by Star.
He raised open palms out to the sides of my face as a gesture of acquiescence to my will. However, when he spoke, he carried authority and power. “It’s time for you to understand something, chosen one. The world as you know it is upside down. It’s backwards. The God you have worshipped and served is not what you think he is. The gospel as you have learned it, is incorrect. It is one-sided, corrupt, and biased. The Bible is not the true source of divination. The Book of Unbiblical Prophecies is the one true roadmap for the universe and mankind to follow. It is the true manuscript prepared by the deities, for we are many.” His glow began to fade. “Nothing is as it seems. Remember that.” He faded even more. His voice dropped to a whisper again. “I’m ready for you. Come to me when you are ready.” His glow faded until he vanished.
I took a half step back. Actually, it was a full blown stumble. “Go ahead and make the call, Aaron.” I handed his cell phone back.
“To Dr. Dougie? I was thinking maybe a CAT scan…maybe get your narcolepsy meds checked…”
Side-eying him, I realized Aaron and I weren’t on the same page in getting the help I really needed. I shook my head and rubbed my temples. “No, sweetie. Dr. Floyd.” I sank down to the floor next to the bed. “I need mental help, and I need it right now. Please call my therapist, Dr. Floyd. He’s the only one I trust to fix me.”
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