Estimated reading time: 20 – 33 minutes
“Repossession of a Soul”
“That’s right, darling. It’s me, Julian. Your Julian.”
“You can’t be here. Why—”
Julian brushed his lips over hers, stopping Lily’s disjointed flow of words. Ever so slowly, his tongue coaxed hers to accept him—despite the harsh fingers digging to her soft skin. Lily leaned into Julian, mewling in a heady mixture of fear and excitement.
“You were out there,” she sighed between kisses. “In the club.”
Julian released her chin. His kisses grew feverish, constant with the passion of longing.
He removed the towel covering her hair. “Yes.” He slid his hands through the wet, dark strands. “I saw you, but you didn’t see me.”
“No, but I felt you.” Lily’s pale mouth opened into a perfect circle when Julian nipped her neck. “Is this an accident?”
“Did you stop looking—”
“Never.” His blue gaze glittered with enigmatic pain as he repeated the word again. “Never.”
Lily’s little hand crept out and touched his smooth cheek. This time it was Julian who moaned piteously.
“I never stopped looking either. I never stopped looking back, hoping to see you there.”
His gentle ministrations suddenly turned harsh. Fisting his hands, Julian pulled Lily’s head away. He ignored her swift cry of pain. “Don’t ever use this mouth to lie to me, darling. You showed your unique contempt for me all too clearly. Don’t insult me further.”
“As did you.” She watched as he brought his exquisite face closer. It tightened with supreme displeasure. She refused to cower. “I loved you and it meant nothing. Don’t judge me for getting tired of my pain.”
“Nothing? It meant everything!” Julian shouted. Instantly, his lips formed a taut line as he swallowed down the rage clamoring for release. “It meant everything then and everything now. As far as your pain goes…”
He tightened his fingers. Julian’s assessing stare caught the imperceptible wince marking her gaze.
“Forgive me, my darling. It slipped my mind that you no longer have the remarkable stamina of a Resurrector.” Julian tilted her head back. His lips and teeth worshipped the slim column, paying special attention to the area between neck and shoulder. “Now you’re just a poor, defenseless human.”
“I warned you already, Julian,” Lily whispered. “Don’t underestimate me.”
“Advice I kindly give you in turn.”
“You’re never kind.” The white ceiling held false attraction. “Just as I’m never more than a toy to you.”
“And you belong to me, darling doll.” He laved her skin with his cool tongue. “Don’t you remember the words I told you?”
“I do.” Lily’s eyes grew heavy with memory. Her voice rasped with anger and regret. “You’d break me before you let me go.”
“Those would be the ones.”
“Too late. You already did.”
Julian bit her hard. His words dripped with consolation. “No, I didn’t. You’d be dead if I did.”
Lily’s deepest fear stirred. “Is that why you’re here?”
Julian stopped his tender ministrations. He looked into her shadowed eyes and smiled. “Did I ever tell you that you talk too much?”
“I missed it. Please continue.”
And he never answered me.
Julian’s words inspired a complicated web around Lily—one she had fallen into time and time again. Complacent terror vied with more carnal emotions. Lily’s breasts felt full and heavy, her stomach felt tight with tension, her limbs felt weak, and she throbbed everywhere.
Most especially between her legs.
Lily could feel herself growing wet, aching to have Julian inside her. How could she want him though? Even knowing all they had become, how could she still want him so desperately?
Because you enjoy the game he plays. Pain first, ecstasy later. Nothing’s changed. It’s as if you never left. You want to play it again.
Lily felt a plea rise up out of her before she quickly clamped it down.
I can’t. It doesn’t matter how much we want to go back—we can never change what’s been done. I can’t change who I am now.
This wasn’t right. Being with him wasn’t right. It never had been. The old cloak of submission was sliding over her as if the two year separation had been only two minutes. And what’s more, Lily was the one rushing to put it on.
“It’ll never be the same. You can’t make it that way and I can’t keep trying.”
“What?” Obviously enchanted with the rush of tasting her shoulder again, the vampire didn’t foresee what would happen next.
Lily pushed Julian away. Surprise blessed her when Julian stumbled and fell. Not giving him a chance to recover, Lily savagely kicked him in his midsection. She then picked up her towel and ran.
I gotta make it to the door! He’ll never expose himself if there are others to see him.
Lily only made it a few steps before Julian tackled her to the ground. He flipped her over only to feel her nails rake his cheek. His eyes flashed gold before settling back to azure.
“All right, you wanna play rough tonight? I’m game.”
“Let me go!” She bucked against him. Desperation ruled Lily’s reason, knowing she no longer had the strength to make Julian bend to her will. “Get off me!”
“No.” He picked her up, ignoring a tangle of kicks and hits, and headed towards the bed. “I like the posts, Lily. A little flea market, but it’s still good. I’ll have to make sure we put them to marvelous use.” He tossed her down and turned away with preternatural speed. Julian came back with a discarded towel before Lily had a chance to scramble to freedom. Without a word, he shredded the towel into strips and methodically tied Lily down.
“You can’t do this!”
“You’re wrong. I can do whatever I want. I can remake our world and I can remake you. Not because I want to, but because you won’t let me be anything other than a dirty demon.”
The words tore through her panic. Fatalism took Lily by the hand and led her to her doom.
You’ve created this monster—just as he created you. Now it’s time to join him in the dark. Maybe if you do, it’ll be over. No more fear. No more nightmares. No more ghosts.
Her calmness set his nerves on edge. “You’re agreeing with me?”
He shook his head once. “Since when?”
“Since I let you in two years ago.”
Julian considered her words before smiling rakishly. “Behold my lady—submissive as viper. Where’s your lie?”
“No lie.” Lily’s tone dripped with baby softness. “I killed your clan. I nearly killed you. I set your house on fire. I left you. I humiliated you almost as badly as you humiliated me. Don’t draw this out.”
Understanding skimmed his expression. He kissed her lips once. “You’re absolutely right, my love. Business first always, eh?”
“It’s how you taught me.”
“So I did.”
“It’s also how I’ll make you pay.”
“So you’ll try.” Julian’s smile died. “Shall we play our respective parts?”
Regret dipped his shoulders once before familiar dysfunction took its place. He instantly struck. Wrapping his hand around her neck, Julian snarled, “You bitch! I should kill you! How dare you think that you can just up and leave? You think everything between us would be over? That is what you thought, isn’t it? ISN’T IT?”
Taking her cue, Lily spit in his face. “I needed it to be over! I couldn’t take being your toy! I couldn’t take being whatever it was that you wanted! I couldn’t take not having the strength to stand up to you! I hated losing my dignity to you! I hated seeing and knowing that I wasn’t the only one…”
Lily abruptly stopped. She glared at him behind a sheen of angry tears.
“The only one?” Julian let go and stood by the bed, never letting her leave his sight. “So that’s, forgive my choice of words here, the heart of the matter isn’t it, Lily? Not the other bullshit you were spouting, but my lack of fidelity. Imagine that! Even knowing about the nature of the vampire, you still expected faithfulness from one.”
Hearing his mocking scorn, Lily shook from the murderous passion running through her. “I expected you to be a better man.”
“No, you expected me to be Ian.”
“I expected you to be faithful!”
“Why ever would you think such a thing? We weren’t married and were barely dating. As far as anyone knew, you were the deranged Resurrector stalking me. Besides, I never promised you fidelity, Lily.” As soon as the words left his lips, Julian knew he had just broken one of his creeds.
He just lied.
“You swore you saw only me.” Her raspy voice quaked. “You swore it, Julian.”
“It’s a dead issue, Lily! Besides, you know we were set up by that pious, bureaucratic, useless, outdated governmental party—”
“Set up? If you had any honor there would’ve been nothing to set you up with! But Nephilim knew you very well, didn’t they? Put the bait out and good old Lord Douglas will come out with tail wagging. All it took for you was a room full of naked girls and you were right there. Like always.”
“Don’t blame me for Vickery Hill.”
“Who else is there?” Lily exploded. “I’m an exile because of you! I’m not a Resurrector anymore because of YOU!”
“Wrong! You’re not a Resurrector anymore because you were never meant to be one!” Julian saw how quickly his words ripped open Lily’s private wound. Something akin to pity pricked him. He gentled his tone. “Come on, darling. You never wanted the job. You couldn’t stand living there. You know, as well as I, that you’d be lying at the bottom of that lake by now if you were still the Resurrector.”
Lily shook her head. “Not true. You don’t know that.”
“It is true! How many times would it have taken, Lily? How many times did you have to die to understand that guilt is USELESS?”
She swallowed once but the emotions still made her voice warble. “You have no idea what I’m walking around with, Julian. You can’t even begin to understand.”
“I don’t want to. I don’t care.” His viciousness made Lily gasp. “I never cared about your life outside of me, darling. It was always my intent to take you out of there. One way is as good as another.”
“Even if I got branded a whore?”
“Even better.” He flashed a lupine grin. “I’ve always been partial to whores.”
“I know. Too bad for you I wasn’t willing to be with one.”
Julian dipped his head. His hair fell in a messy sprawl. “I’m not a whore, darling—just a man.”
“One in the same. Do you really think it doesn’t matter? I told you before. I’d do anything, BE anything for you, but there’s one thing I’d never do.”
“Why hold me to a standard that doesn’t exist?”
“How would you know?” he asked slyly, hatefully. “You never saw it at home. Daddy sure as hell never could live up to you and Mommy’s expectations, could he?”
“You’re not my fucking father.” Her voice became remote, belonging to that of a disinterested stranger. “I saw my mother die each time he came home smelling like his latest whore. It wouldn’t have hurt nearly as much if he had beaten her instead of screwing around on her. I swore I’d never be like my momma. Now look at me.”
Julian lost some of his obnoxious swagger. “They never mattered, Lily. It wasn’t even about them.”
“Them? Why don’t we call THEM what they are? Vivian, Cynthia, and all the ones whose name you don’t even know. They were your lovers.”
“Wrong! You were my only lover.”
“You fucked them, Julian. You put your fucking cock inside them. That makes them your lovers and that makes me an idiot for not killing you when I had the chance!”
“Women and their debatable notions of fidelity.” Julian plopped down on a nearby chair. He dropped his head in his hands. “Lily, I cannot ask you to understand something I don’t understand myself. Suffice it to say that I truly regret those events.”
He conceded to the venom in her voice. “Affairs.”
“Only to your vanity,” he swore with one hand across his heart. “You always had my loyalty.”
“I didn’t have your loyalty. I had some kind of obsession but never your loyalty.”
Julian peered at her through his disheveled hair. “Which is by far a singular compliment to your person.”
“Quit speaking to me like an old man!” she snapped, finally showing some liveliness. “You’re not a British lord anymore and you haven’t been for almost two hundred years.”
Julian’s cultured accent faded into its adopted American cadence. “I missed you.”
Lily looked away.
Encouraged by her silence, he confessed, “I adore you, darling. I know I hurt you. I can see it now when I couldn’t see it then. I want you back, Lily. I want you happy.”
She caught him with her stare. Greed gleamed like honeyed poison, tempting Julian lean forward, just to see if it was possible to glimpse the girl he once knew. “Will you give me anything I want, Julian?”
Julian tilted his head. He assessed the sincerity of her question. “If that’s what makes you happy now, then yes.” A measure of disbelief narrowed his gaze. “How much?”
“I’m not talking terms. Tell me what else you’d give me.”
“Name your price.”
“No! Tell me what YOU would give ME.”
Silence crept forth, lengthening its stay and distancing the two even further.
“You don’t even know, do you? Happiness. You still can’t recognize it. All you can do is destroy it.” She laughed once. “I’m stupid, Julian, but I’m not that stupid. You don’t mean a fucking word you just said.”
“That’s not true!”
“Two years ago you begged me to forgive you for Vivian only to keep me from killing you. So what are you after now? I can’t stab or shoot you like I used to, so what is it?”
Julian’s eyes hardened. “Bitch.” He tossed back his hair, smoothing it over his neck with a negligent hand. “Fine. I always did wonder if you were smarter than you appear.”
“Out with it.”
Julian crossed his arms over his chest and pretended to ponder her order. Arching his brows, he smirked at the naked vulnerability he saw behind Lily’s anger. “What did you want to know, my sweet?”
Lily let out a low hiss of air. “Why are you here?”
“To take you back.”
“Back to where?”
“To wherever I fucking feel.” He bit his lip with avarice. “As I’ve told you before, I’m an extremely greedy creature. I never let go of my possessions.”
Lily swallowed a flow of venomous, hurt-filled words. She broke with the rules of their game and issued her challenge.
“Okay. You’re right. How can one woman ever be enough for you?”
Julian crossed his legs, patiently waiting for her to finish having her say.
“You don’t need me. You need closure.”
He arched a brow in supercilious humor. “Closure?”
“Yes. I’m sure you’ve heard of it before. You needed to know why I left and I needed to know that you’re still a dick and always will be. So do us both a favor and get the hell out of here. After all, I’d hate to deprive the world of its all-time favorite lover.” She jerked her chin towards the door. “Leave. Now.”
Julian’s smirk immediately disappeared. He stalked over to Lily. His lips hung over hers. “Not likely, darling. First, I’m going to show you what I do to pretty little girls that leave before I’m finished with them.”
Knowing she’d never evade Julian, Lily didn’t bother to struggle against her bonds. However, she gritted her teeth and hissed, “Show me and die. I do what I damn well want. You’re not just going to walk into my life again after two years and tell me what to do!”
“Need I remind you that you FUCKING LEFT ME?! I’m not walking back into anything that I walked out of! You are mine, Lily, now and until the end of time. Mine.”
Female fury made Lily buck against him. She slammed her head against his chin and howled with pain.
“NO! Never again! I will NEVER be that broken girl again! I turned myself inside and out for you, Julian! I might as well have cut out my heart and given it to you! And what did you do with it? You threw it away!”
“Yes!” Julian laid full length on top of Lily. He wrapped his arms about her slender waist and buried his lips in her hair. “Yes, I did! I took your heart and put it in a little cage. I looked at it, reveling in the sin that it belonged to me. But I didn’t care for it. I let it grow wings and fly away. So let me devour it this time. Let me consume it…and you. I swear it’ll be different.”
Lily sagged in his hold. The blinding rage burned into ashes, threatening to disintegrate her completely.
“All I can think about is you with all those girls…doing to them what you did to me…it’s like I was garbage. I trusted you. I believed in you, despite who and what you were. Jesus, Julian! You lied to me for three months. You made a fool out of me.”
His face reflected her haunting sadness. “Forgive me, Lily.”
The wretched finality in her voice woke the wounded beast in his. He wrenched away from her. “What about you, Lily? You swore you’d never leave me! You promised to love me forever!”
“I kept my promise!”
“Liar! You’re pushing me away! Now and then! You’ve never really wanted ME…you’ve only wanted Ian. Julian doesn’t matter to you. It doesn’t matter that Ian was a fucking liar who never showed you his true face. You’ve saved all your love for Ian and left none for me.”
Lily shook her head wildly. “That’s not true! It was you who could never let go of the past! Ian, Julian, you’re one in the same!”
“FUCK YOU!” Julian slammed his hands on either side of Lily’s head. “I am NOT him! I don’t act like Ian, I don’t lie like Ian, and I’m not weak like Ian.” A low growl rumbled deep within his chest. “My name is Julian Douglas and you would do well to remember it.”
Lily’s pulse thumped in time with her panic. The monstrous fury in his eyes threatened to incinerate her. But she still had to ask the question. “Why can’t you accept who you are, Julian? Why did you have to separate yourself like this?”
His claws dug into the mattress, easily ripping through the synthetic material. “Why couldn’t you?”
Lily clearly heard all the other unspoken questions.
Why couldn’t you accept me? Why did you constantly look for Ian in my every word, every smile, and every deed? Why did you keep hoping Ian would come back even while you loved fucking me?
Defeat pressed in. “Just go, Julian. Go back to your mansion by the lake. Go back to your money. Go back to your world. Go back to Vickery Hill.”
Her tired directives infuriated Julian past endurance. He yanked her chin back to him and snarled, “You have no idea of what my life has become since you left! None! Don’t you dare tell me where to go!”
“Yeah? Well at least you can go back, Julian! I can’t! Ever! You don’t know what it’s like to lose your family, your dignity, to be turned out of the town you grew up in…the town you protected…to have the Spirit abandon you…”
Julian wanted to rub it in her face. He wanted to speak of all the nights he spent, pressed between death and despair. He wanted to watch her eyes well up with tears, knowing she was the cause of ultimate fall. Instead, he squeezed her and whispered, “Please forgive me. I’m not always in my right mind…I hate so much…and you pay the price…I’m sick and we both know why…but I can’t live without you. You’re my life, Lily. I need you.”
She sobbed in response.
Julian pulled back. He began to stroke her hair with feverish consideration. “You don’t need the Spirit. We have a bond, Lily. We’re connected.”
Lily cried in despair, “Not anymore. Just like I’m not a Resurrector anymore, it’s the same with us. We’re not bonded anymore. It was severed that night when you wouldn’t—”
“I’m not talking about that! We’re still bonded, Lily. It’s beyond choice, beyond Fate…don’t deny what we are.” When he saw her eyes drift, Julian pleaded, “Punish me all you want. Just let us be like we were. I lead—you follow. By the time I’m finished tonight, you’ll never want to leave me. You’ll be begging for me to stay. And I’ll do it. I’ll do it because I want to come home.” He pressed his hand against her mound. “Let me come home, Lily.”
His ragged words pierced her. Instead of renewing Lily’s jealous fury, they only fanned the flames of her lust. Lust that belonged to the cleft between her legs and the cavity inside her chest. Why couldn’t she forgive him?
Living without Julian was hell. Living with him worse. It wasn’t just Julian. It was the vulnerability to something greater than him.
He won’t protect me and I can’t protect myself. I can’t…
No matter what Lily’s logic suggested, her heart demanded a completely different subset of emotion.
“I will never forgive it.”
“I’m not asking you to right now. I’m just asking you to let me be yours. Can you do that? Just once?”
A sob caught in her throat. The agony threatened to send her into an abyss. It killed Lily to know of his betrayals. It killed her to still want him in spite of them. It killed her to wonder if they’d ever change. And it killed her to know that terror could overpower lust.
But he’s all that I have left of home, my past, my heart. I can forget, just for a little bit. Afterwards, I’ll give him hell. Afterwards, I’ll deny I ever forgave him. Afterwards, I’ll curse myself for even wanting him to get this far. Afterwards, I’ll remember every bit of pain locked behind my lust. Afterwards, I’ll keep one step ahead…but for now I’ll forget everything but this.
Julian rubbed his palm in slow, sensuous circles. “Do you know how much it’s tortured me to not be here? Two years I’ve dreamed of nothing but this. And now that you’re finally beneath me…”
A thousand past erotic memories assailed her weakening mind. The ecstasy she had found time and time again in Julian’s arms was too powerful…too addictive.
Addictive enough to forget why they were so wrong for each other.
“I know what you’re thinking,” he cooed softly in her ear. “You’re remembering what I can make you feel. Do you remember how you used to beg me to stay? Do you remember how you’d cry when I made you leave my bed?”
She shook her head. “I won’t beg, Julian. Never again.”
“Yes, you will. You’ll beg me like I’m begging you.” His hand left her. “There’s no shame between lovers, Lily.”
“There’s nothing but shame between us, Julian.”
“No!” he denied fervently. “We can forget these two years. We’ll pretend it never happened.”
“It can never be the same. I’m only twenty-one and I know that. How come you don’t?”
Julian ignored her. Instead, he continued as if she had never spoken. The pitiful man of before was replaced by a familiar devil.
“I bet you’re trying to guess if I’m going to fuck you or if I’m going to be gentle. I want to be gentle, but I know you like it best when I just fuck you.”
Lily jerked away. “Stop.”
Julian placed a delicate kiss on her ear. He lightly caressed her collarbone before moving down to her breasts. His large hands cupped and kneaded her flesh with a connoisseur’s skill.
“So soft, just like feather…will you let me kiss it, darling?”
A moan unwillingly escaped Lily’s lips. Her nipples grew hard. She was losing to her own wickedness.
“I left you, Julian.”
“I hate you.”
“I hate you too.”
The words, while casually spoken, still had the power to wound. “Why is this always the way between us?”
“It’s the same reason why I’ve traveled thousands of miles to find you.”
“Which is?” Lily gasped. She didn’t bother to look down to know tiny pinpricks of her blood dotted his claws.
“Neither of us can stop ourselves.” Julian shifted until his stare met hers. “The bitch of it is that we never could.”
She watched his arctic gaze reflect what she could never leave behind.
Crazed passion and death.
“It won’t change, will it?”
“No.” He placed one finger near her lips. A crimson drop lay on the tip. “But you want me so goddamned much you really don’t care.”
Lily arched her neck. Her mouth parted in wanton hunger.
“Do you?” he pressed further. “Do you care? Even knowing what I am, do you care?”
“Yes, I care. I care but never enough.” Lily’s mouth closed about the proffered digit. Her tongue laved the skin with perfect adoration.
Triumph made his eyes sparkle with sudden feral delight. “I’ve always known this truth. It was you who always denied it.”
Lily released his finger in favor of sliding her tongue down his wrist. “I’ve denied it, but so have you.” She watched his face melt with facile delight. “You want me just as much as I want you. Despite what I did.”
“And I will punish you for it, darling.” His sigh made it seem like the most wondrous delight. “Believe me.”
“For leaving or making you want me? Even knowing what I am?”
Julian laughed. His hand skirted her lips, stopping her volition only to begin his. “My little darling has become quite like her master. It’s as if we never parted company.” Euphoria possessed his entire body. “Only now I don’t want to talk.”
“No.” Shudders racked Lily’s body as his hand moved down her naked stomach. He teased her, once again running his fingers close to where she ached the most. “I just wonder how long we’ll draw this out before we lose control. Do you remember how crazy it’d be? At times, I wondered if we’d kill each other.”
Lily shifted, experimentally tugging on her bonds. “Maybe tonight we finally will.”
Julian laughed and dropped his head on her shoulder. His mirth danced between dementia and harmless amusement. “You think so? I could think of worse ways to go. Just promise me one thing.”
“What?” her lips moved reluctantly, already knowing the answer.
“This time—don’t miss my heart.”
This excerpt is from Devil’s Descent Volume I. The ebook will be shortly available for purchase. Print copies are tentatively scheduled for release late 2009/early 2010.
©2009 Claudia D. Christian. All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission from DelSin Publishing, LLC. DelSin Publishing, LLC and the author assume no liability assumed for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual or fictional events, locations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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