I remember when this story was first published by Loose Id years ago. I loved it then, and I’m thrilled that the author has re-released it.
If you like ghosty, gothic and erotic, you definitely want to check out this Friday Feature!!
Serafina Fisher is having a little trouble sleeping.
It may be because she’s on the verge of breaking up with the fiancé who can’t keep it in his pants.
Or because she’s isolated in a strange, pagan place that whispers secrets in the dark.
Or perhaps thoughts of Gabriel, the sexy stranger who wants her body and soul, are keeping her awake.
Or because the shadowy creature who visits her nightly is driving her to erotic, hungering insanity.
But Serafina Fisher is having a little trouble sleeping…
He had long fingernails.
She couldn’t see them in the dark, couldn’t even seem to open her eyes, but she knew they were long. He was using them on her, lightly tickling her nipples with them.
She couldn’t move. She couldn’t stop him, she assured herself. But it was just the tips, the very tips of her nipples that he touched with those nails, flicking them again and again until she squirmed. Her belly tightened, and a fluttering feeling began in her abdomen, stirring up a liquid heat that seeped between her thighs.
And still he grazed just the peaks, even when she lifted her breasts in offering, even when she crossed her legs and tightened the muscles to keep the heat from possessing her. It was frustratingly delicious, like a drop of water on the tongue during a fever, and just as unsatisfactory.
It was driving her insane.
She rolled onto her back, giving him full access to her, and felt the heavy weight of his body against hers, pinning her to the bed.
And still those maddening fingernails played just the nipples, faster and faster now, refusing to touch any other part of her.
“It’s not enough,” she ground out, her hips beginning a slow, helpless gyration. “I want …”
“Yes, Serafina,” he whispered above her, his deep voice urging her on. “Tell me what you want.”
“I want …”
She was nearly breathless now, tingling with an energy that made her afraid, that settled and burned at the apex of her thighs, that made her ache to be touched. “I want … MORE!”
His huge hands abruptly seized her sensitized breasts, grabbing them with a possessive strength that made her gasp and sit…
… Straight up in the bed.
She stumbled into the bathroom, clicking on the blinding light and shoveling cold water onto her face with shaking hands.
Something was wrong here, terribly, terribly wrong. This was not like her. She wasn’t a particularly sex-oriented being. Oh, she had her occasional fantasies, her brief dreams of faceless men with useful, non-threatening genitalia.
But nothing like this. Never like this.
She didn’t have dreams that left her trembling and wet, thirsting for more. She’d never been that kind of girl, and sex had never been the earth-shattering experience it was reputed to be.
She stared at the haunted face in the mirror. She’d always thought it plain. “High-yellow,” her father had called it. “You couldn’t possibly belong to me.” She agreed. She’d always felt that, too. She didn’t belong to anyone, anywhere.
“A nice mix of coffee and cream,” Steve always said.
“Exquisite.” Gabriel had called her “exquisite.”
Sera didn’t feel exquisite. She felt tired and ill-used, and shadowy crescents had formed under her eyes. She had stayed up the night before, packing and preparing for the trip. The death of Steven’s cousin had been sudden and violent and, naturally, he was upset. Serafina had even driven for most of the ten-hour trip. She wanted to be a comfort to him. But twenty-four-plus hours of no sleep had taken its toll.
She apprehensively peeled back the plunging neckline of her gown and examined her breasts. The crests seemed unusually dark and taut, the skin sensitive, but there were no scratches, no abrasions.
What had she expected? It was just a dream, after all.
She quickly showered and dressed, leaving her hair to air-dry into dangling corkscrew curls. It was nearly noon. She had to get out of this house. Slipping into a good pair of denims and walking shoes, she considered making the bed, decided against it, and hurried out into the crisp afternoon air.
❄ ❄ ❄
Millcreek, Virginia, was an old Civil War town, now rapidly deteriorating into abandoned homes and an aged, sparse populace. Situated near the magnificent George Washington National Forest, it was lush with greenery and ripe with spectacular views at unexpected turns in the road. The air was clean and chilled, waiting to be warmed by afternoon sun, and Sera immediately felt invigorated as she trudged the mile and a quarter from the cabin.
Pyle’s General Store sat in the heart of downtown Millcreek, a sprawling metropolis of four large brick buildings. Sera smiled at the huge pickle barrel at the entrance of the store, and the dirt-yellow dog and two old men in rockers parked on the front porch.
The interior was a chaotic blend of souvenirs, supplies, car parts, and innumerable Confederate flags of every imaginable size. The moldy heads of long-dead animals hung frozen on the walls, their glassy orbs fixed upon twirling, feathered dreamcatchers that danced above the crowded aisles.
She felt the eyes of the owners fasten on her as soon as she entered. Mr. and Mrs. Pyle wore cheery red nametags identifying themselves. Sera wondered if she was wearing one that said “shoplifter.”
“Hello,” she murmured politely. Ignoring their silent stares, she picked through slovenly stacks of materials.
“Afternoon.” Mr. Pyle spat a wad of tobacco on the warped wooden floor. “You ain’t from ’round these parts.”
“No. But don’t worry.” She smirked. “The money’s green where I come from, too.”
He leaned over the counter, trying, she was sure, to get a clear look at her behind. “Staying up there at that new fishing shack, ain’tcha? Single girl, are ya?”
“Yep.” She considered a broken rack of colorful, crocheted shawls. “There’s only one of me.”
Mr. Pyle sauntered away to answer a telephone in the dark recesses of some back room, mumbling something to himself about “uppity Northern folk deservin’ what they git” as Mrs. Pyle slipped from behind the counter.
“You’re staying in the Manning house?” she asked quietly.
Serafina took stock of the woman she’d barely noticed upon entering. She was late-middle-aged plump, dressed carelessly in an old checkered dress that gaped open at the bosom. Her hair was a mix of metallic blond and gray, and she wore no makeup. But her speech was clear, lacking some of the pronounced accent of her husband’s, and her faded blue eyes were sharp and intelligent.
“Yes. But I’d hardly call the shack ‘new.’ My fiancé and I are sleeping over for a few days. Death in the family.”
Mrs. Pyle nodded. “Lots of women from around here have stayed there. Menfolk like to use it when they’re fishing. Are you … are you alone up there right now?”
Sera paused, picked out one ivory-colored wrap with an elegant fringe finish — and lied. “No. No, my boyfriend’s at the house waiting for me. I just felt like taking a walk.”
She brought the shawl to the counter and dug into her purse in search of money as Mrs. Pyle sidled over to the antique cash register. “No, he’s not,” said the older woman.
“I beg your pardon?”
“You’re all alone up there. I can tell.” She unlocked the cash drawer, caught it, and shoved it back in. “You look tired.”
Sera started, dropping the twenty-dollar bill she was passing to the woman. “Wha– what did you say?”
“I said that’ll be fifteen ninety-nine.” The older woman spoke loudly enough for her husband to hear, then pressed Serafina’s change into her hand, studying her. “You’re a pretty little thing, you know that?”
Sera reached for her bag, flustered. “I don’t –”
“Except for the shadows. You carry the specter of shadows just there, beneath your eyes. You look tired, child. As if you haven’t slept.” The woman grinned and leaned forward with a sinister wink, whispering. “I know how that is. Like you had an itch your whole life, one you couldn’t quite get a handle on — and you finally got it scratched, hmmm?”
Sera retreated from the counter, a thousand icy pins prickling the nape of her neck. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“It’s all right, sweetie. You just run back on up there, and get as much rest as you can. As often as you can.” Mrs. Pyle laughed, digging a rough finger inside the scooped neckline of her dress and into her cleavage. “I won’t tell if you won’t.”
Serafina ran. Ran as if her life depended on it, out of the store, down the road, and around the spur until the horrid little shop was completely out of view. She slowed her pace only when she ran out of breath and her feet began to feel like lead boots. It was one big asylum, this little hole-in-the-wall town. What in God’s name was the woman talking about? She’d mentioned that cabin, that nightmarish little cabin that forbade sleep. How had Mrs. Pyle known? She’d behaved as if Sera understood, as if they shared some dirty little secret. It made her want to vomit. And a small, forbidden voice in the back of Sera’s mind, like the sounds from the lake at night, whispered, “You know. You know …”
Be sure to run and get this story now. It’s unique, and wonderful. You’ll enjoy it for sure.