Monday, 26 January 2009

Dark Enchantment - story 11: Darkling I Listen

Take a deep breath ... and breathe out ... and relax ...

If you've stuck it out all the way through these excerpts from the dark, strange and perverse stories in Dark Enchantment, you might be surprised to hear that the very last one, Darkling I Listen, is a gentle vanilla romance about first love. Okay, so it's set in a giant cemetery, with ghouls and a lynch mob and Death himself, but it really is quite sweet, honest. Oh, why am I bothering...

‘Let me comb your hair for you,' said the sorcerer. It was something he had never suggested before.

So, sitting between his knees with her back to him and holding the pall-cloth closed over her breast, she let him work the fragile ivory teeth through her locks. His hands were unhurried and careful. She liked the feel of them on her hair, the soft tugs of her scalp, the shivers that worked down her spine as an accidental brush of a finger tickled the nape of her neck. She could see his pale foot, as bare as the feet of the dead, that emerged from under the hem of his robe and rested on the step next to her. She could feel the solidity of his thigh and knee as she leaned against him. They did not talk. He never spoke very much around her, though he seemed to seek her company. His quiet hands, his dark eyes, the hint of a hooded smile now and then, were all she had from him to think on through her days alone.

She watched him twine her dark locks about his pale fingers, as if appreciating the contrast in colour. When he began to stroke her neck she shivered with pleasure and made no protest. After a moment’s hesitation he moved again, his fingertips caressing her skin, tracing the lines of her vertebrae, the curve of her shoulder, the hidden paths of her veins. The pleasure of the sensation was pure and elemental. She wanted to arch like a cat and purr, but she forced herself not to wriggle out of terror that he would stop. She was not used to being touched. No human had hugged her or patted her hair or held her hand in years, and her reaction to this now was almost too intense to bear. Her lips parted and her breath came quicker between them. Her eyelids fluttered, suddenly heavy, her eyes unable to focus.

‘Do you like this?' he whispered, his lips close to her ear. The question was too ingenuous; it did not do justice to the riot of sensation his fingers were evoking, so she only murmured agreement. In response his fingers slipped around to the front of her throat and stroked her down to her collarbones and up to her chin, which she raised for him. Her pulse was beating harder, faster, and she knew he could feel it. 'Yes. You like it,' he said, and 'Yes,' she replied.

‘Your skin is so warm.' His voice was low. 'Life burns under it, like sunlight.' His fingers descended to her breastbone and at his touch there she spasmed with shock, unable to help herself, and he cupped his other hand about the swell of her shoulder to still her. Then gently he drew the cloth from her grasp and let it drop, baring her breasts. She made a little noise then in her throat, her hands curved uselessly in mid-air, neither defending her modesty nor knowing where to go. Making up for the loss of the garment, a blush warmed her from top to toe. Long pale fingers swept down, tracing the curve and swell of her flesh, circling a nipple which tingled to aching. 'You have grown and changed, yet you are still Zulkais, my necropolis child. I hardly know what to do with you.'

‘Do this!' she told him, and heard him smile.

'And this?' he asked. His cool fingers found their target and closed upon the little bud of flesh, teasing with little circular caresses. Her nipple stirred to his touch, stiffening at once, her areolae dimpling. She felt suddenly as if her skin, too alive with sensation, did not belong to her at all, that it was as strange as a new garment. She leaned back into him, moaning a little, as he tugged at her. 'So soft,' he murmured: 'So tender. You are too young, Zulkais.' The maiden protested at that. He sighed then and his fingers played on her one after another like a harpist striking rippling chords. 'Not too young for love. But too young to love me.'

She pressed her face against his arm, the grey robe rough against her cheek, and begged, 'Don’t stop.' He slid his other hand down her spine and began to rub her back, low down, his fingers pressing into the muscle. She felt as if her whole body might open to let him in, as if her bones were turning to water.

'Do you know what you want?' he asked, and though she did because she had watched birds and animals and the ghouls and remembered enough of life outside the walls of her sanctuary, she could not bring herself to answer except by moving to his touch. She knew she wanted this to go on. She did not know how she could have lived so long without this exquisite taunting pleasure.


7 comments:

Nikki Magennis said...

I want the ghoul!!!

I *loved* the ghoul!

Wintersinger said...

Arg! I can't believe that I have to wait until March to get my hands on this book!!

*pouts*

Every single one of these stories sounds amazing. I can't wait to read them.

Janine Ashbless said...

The ghoul is a real sweetie, isn't he?
In as much as a corpse-eating undead thing can be sweet, anyway...

Delighted to have whetted your appetite Wintersinger :-) But what has happened to your blog? It's gone blank!

Wintersinger said...

Hmmm, that's weird. Thanks for the heads up...

Janine Ashbless said...

It's not just your blog Wintersinger. I can now only read Adult blogs on Blogger by going in via Safari. Explorer isn't reading the warning page. It says there's a coding error on line 12.

Hey, I've meant to switch to Safari for some time anyway.

Justine Elyot said...

Hi, Janine, sorry to hear you're having adult blog access woes.

I just wanted to tell you that I'm not sure my appetite could be any more whetted than it is after reading your DE snippets. 1K more words to write before I can read it properly - YAY!

Janine Ashbless said...

"I see you shiver with antici-pation" ...

Sorry, I'm of an agegroup liable to quote the Rocky Horror Show without warning. Anyway, you won't be shivering in that spiffy sweater.
;-)
Hope you enjoy the book! And nice Amazon reviews will always earn my undying gratitude.