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Succubus Blues CHAPTER 13

Carter picked up a book and leafed through it lazily.His stringy blond hair had been stuffed under a backward baseball cap, and his flannel shirt appeared to have seen better days.

“Looking for altar supplies?” he asked me without glancing up.“Or maybe here to brush up on your astrology?”

“It’s none of your business why I’m here,” I snapped back, too flustered at the sight of him to think of anything funny or even plausible.

The gray eyes looked up.

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“Does Jerome know you’re here?”

“It’s not his business either. Why? Are you going to tattle on me?”

My words came out boldly, though part of me kept thinking if Carter really was the one behind the attacks, I’d have a lot more to worry about than Jerome’s wrath.

“Maybe.” He closed the book, holding it between his palms. “Of course, I suspect the long-term entertainment value will be greater for me if I just keep quiet and let your schemes proceed uninterrupted.”

“I don’t know what ‘schemes’ you’re talking about. Can’t a girl go shopping without getting the third degree? You don’t hear me grilling you about why you’re here.”

The truth was, I burned to know what he was doing. It didn’t surprise me that he knew Erik – we all did – but finding him here in light of everything that had happened lately only furthered my suspicions.

“Me?” He held up the book he’d been glancing through. Teach Yourself Witchcraft in 30 Days or Less. “I need to make up for lost time.”

“Cute,” I acknowledged.

“Commendation from a master. I’m honored. Have I given you sufficient time to come up with an equally cute alibi?” He set the book down.

“Miss Kincaid.” Erik shuffled into the room before I could answer. “I’m so pleased to see you. My friend just dropped off the earrings you asked for.”

I stared, momentarily puzzled, and then I remembered the pearl necklace, as well as the earrings I’d offhandedly requested.

“I’m glad he was able to do it so quickly.”

“Nice recovery,” conceded Carter in an undertone.

I ignored him.

Erik opened a small box for me, and I peered inside. Three tiny strands of freshwater pearls, just like the ones from the necklace, dangled from the delicate copper wires of each earring.

“They’re beautiful,” I told him. I meant it. “Thank your friend. I have a dress these will look great with.”

“That must be a relief,” noted Carter, watching Erik ring the earrings up at the counter. “Proper accessories, I mean. Cody tells me you’re doing a lot of dating these days. I don’t suppose you read the book I sent you.”

I slid my credit card over to Erik. Cody had seen my male entourage at the dance lesson, but I’d only told him about my subsequent date with Roman yesterday.

“When did you talk to Cody?”

“Last night.”

“Funny, so did I. And here you are today. Are you following me around?”

Carter’s eyes danced merrily. “I was here first. Maybe you’re following me around. Maybe you’re starting to get into this dating thing and want to find a cunning way to come on to me.”

I signed the credit card slip and handed it back to a quiet, listening Erik. “Sorry. I like my men to have a bit more life in them.”

Carter chuckled quietly at my joke. Sex with other immortals gave me no energy payoff. “Georgina, sometimes I think you might be worth following around, just to hear what you’ll say next.”

Erik looked up. If he felt discomfort at being in the crossfire of two immortals, he did not show it. “Then perhaps you’d like to join us for tea, Mr. Carter? You were going to stay, weren’t you, Miss Kincaid?”

I gave Erik one of my better smiles. “Yes, of course.”

“Mr. Carter?”

“Thank you, but no. I’ve got things to do, and from the way I understand it, Georgina operates best one man at a time. It was nice seeing you as always, Erik. Thanks for chatting. As for you, Georgina… well, I’m sure I’ll be seeing you very soon.”

Something in those words chilled me. It took every ounce of my resolve to sound calm as I called out to him. “Carter?”

His hands touched the door. Pausing, he glanced back at me and arched an eyebrow in acknowledgment.

“Does Jerome know you’re here?”

A slow, sly smile spread across the angel’s face.

“Are you going to tattle on me now, Georgina? And here I thought we were making such progress. Perhaps we should have drawn out the small talk a bit more. You could have asked me if the weather would change soon, I might have commented how pretty you looked today, etc., etc. You know how it goes.”

I blinked. His words this time invoked the note on my door.

You are a beautiful woman, Georgina. Beautiful enough, I think, to even tempt angels into falling…

Was he leaving me more clues? Toying with me in the way Cody had suggested? Or was I reading too much into this? Was he still just annoying Carter, bane of my existence, tormenting me like always? I honestly didn’t know, but I still believed of all angels to be taking down evil immortals in the city, Carter had the most opportunity.

“How pretty am I then?” My voice caught slightly. “Pretty enough to fall for?”

The angel’s lips twitched. “I knew you were coming on to me. See you later, Georgina, Erik.” He opened the door and left.

I stood there, watching his retreating figure. “What was he doing here?”

Erik set a tray with two cups down on the small table. “Come now, Miss Kincaid. I keep your secrets. You can’t expect me to do any less for him.”

“No, I suppose not.”

Nor, I thought as the old man went to get the teapot, did I want to risk endangering him by getting him caught up in immortal affairs. Well, at least caught up more than he already was.

He returned shortly and poured for us. “I had just put this on before you came in. I’m glad you’re here to share it.”

I tasted it. Another herbal blend. “What’s this one called?”

“Desire.”

“Fitting,” I observed. Angels and conspiracies aside, I still hungered for Roman. “Did you find out anything?”

“I’m afraid not. I asked around but learned nothing more about vampire hunters, nor did I get any indication of one in the area.”

“That doesn’t surprise me.” I sipped the tea. “I think something else is going on.”

He said nothing, prudent as ever.

“I know you won’t tell me why he was here, and I understand that…” I trailed off, determining how best to phrase my words. “But what do you… what do you think of him? Carter, that is. Has he done anything weird or seemed, I don’t know, suspicious? Secretive?”

Erik gave me a droll look. “Begging your pardon, but I have a number of customers – yourself inclusive – who fit that description.”

No doubt that was an understatement. “Well, then, I don’t know. Do you trust him?”

“Mr. Carter?” Surprise registered across his features. “I’ve known him longer than I have you. If any of those ‘suspicious and secretive’ customers can be trusted, he is certainly first among them. I’d place my life in his hands.”

No surprise there. If Carter could fool Jerome, he could surely fool a mortal as well.

Shifting gears, I asked: “Do you know anything about fallen angels?”

“I would think you are already familiar with that topic, Miss Kincaid.”

I wondered if he referred to the company I kept or the old myth that succubi were demons. For the record, we aren’t.

“Never ask a practitioner if you want to learn about a religion’s history. Save those questions for outside scholars.”

“Very true.” He smiled, thinking as he brought the cup to his lips. “Well. Surely you know that demons are angels who turned away from the divine will. They rebelled, or as it is commonly referred to, ‘fell.’ Lucifer is generally accredited as being the first, and others left with him.”

“That was in the beginning, though, right? One mass migration to the other side.” I frowned, still wondering about the technicalities of when angels fell. “What about later? Was that the only time it happened? Just that once?”

Erik shook his head. “My impression is that it can happen still and has happened in the past. There are even documents suggesting – “

The door opened, and a young couple walked in. Erik rose and smiled at them.

“Do you have any books on tarot?” the girl asked. “For beginners?”

Did he ever. Erik had a whole wall of them. The interruption frustrated me, but I didn’t want to disrupt a chance for him to do some business. I gestured him toward the couple, drinking the rest of my tea. He led them to the appropriate section, energetically explaining certain titles and questioning their needs in further detail.

I picked up my coat and purse, along with a box of the Desire tea. Erik watched me set a ten-dollar bill on the counter. “Keep the change,” I told him.

Pausing from his discussion with the couple, he remarked to me, “Check… let’s see, I believe it’s the beginning of Genesis 6… verse 2 or 4 perhaps? There might be something to help you in there.”

“Genesis? Like in the Bible?” He nodded, and I glanced around the book-lined shelves. “Where is it?”

“I don’t stock it, Miss Kincaid. I suspect your own resources will be more than adequate.”

He returned to his customers, and I left, marveling at a man who could pull up biblical verses by number but not have a copy on hand. Still, he was right about me having ample resources, and my shift started soon anyway.

I drove back to Queen Anne and found the street parking full. Digging my permit out from the glove box, I hung it on my rearview mirror and pulled into the tiny, private parking lot bordering an alley behind the bookstore. So many employees wanted to use the lot, I generally tried to avoid it when I could.

As I walked toward the store, I caught sight of two cars pulled hood to hood and a redheaded figure leaning over them. Tammi. I liked the teenager a lot, but she also had a tendency to chat. Not wanting to delay my biblical search, I stepped into some shadows and shape-shifted into a nondescript man she wouldn’t know. I then walked on past her, barely getting a second glance as she jumped the car.

I changed back to my normal body once I was out of sight again. A momentary sense of windedness hit me, gone just as quickly as it had arrived. Cross-gender shape-shifting always took a bite out of me, which was why I had resisted Peter’s silly haircut-modeling suggestion. I had probably just lost a few days’ worth of my Martin-induced energy surplus. That left me with a couple weeks at least, but I felt the succubus feeding need stir slightly within me anyway, no doubt agitated by my perpetual longing for Roman.

The bookstore hummed with normal weekday business when I arrived. Immediately, I sought out our religion section. I had directed people to it on a number of occasions; I had even pulled select titles from it. What I had not done was pay close attention to just how many Bibles existed.

“Jesus,” I muttered, staring at the various translations. There were Bibles for women and men respectively, Bibles for teens, illustrated Bibles, large-print Bibles, gold-embossed Bibles. At last I caught sight of the King James Version. I knew little about it, but at least I recognized the title.

Pulling it off the shelf, I flipped to Genesis 6 and read Erik’s passage:

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

And the LORD said, ‘My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.’

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

Well. That cleared everything up.

I reread the passage a few more times, hoping to get something more out of it. I finally determined Erik must have given me the wrong chapter number. He’d been distracted, after all. This passage, by my estimation, had nothing to do with angels, falling, or even the cosmic battle of good and evil. What it did seem to be about, however, was human procreation. It didn’t take a biblical scholar to figure out what “the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men” meant, especially when children followed in the next phrase. Sex had sold books back in the old days, just as it did now. I wondered if Erik had given me the passage number as a joke.

“Are you finding religion?”

I looked up first into a Pac-Man T-shirt, then into Seth’s inquisitive face. “Found and lost it a long time ago, I’m afraid.” I shut the book as he knelt down beside me. “Just looking up something. How are Cady and O’Neill today?”

“Making good progress on their latest case.” He smiled fondly, and I found myself studying the amber-brown of his eyes. I’d had a few more e-mail exchanges with him in the last few days and enjoyed my mininovels, though our spoken conversation had seen little improvement. “I just finished a chapter and needed to take a break. Walk around, get something to drink.”

“No caffeine, I presume.” I had learned Seth didn’t drink caffeinated beverages, which I found both frightening and unnatural.

“No. No caffeine.”

“You shouldn’t knock it. It might increase your writing output.”

“Ah yes, that’s right. You don’t think my books come out fast enough.”

I groaned, remembering the day I’d met him. “I think my own words came out a little too fast that first day.”

“No way. You were brilliant. I’ll never forget it.”

His quizzical mask slipped briefly, just as it had at the dance lesson, and I once again saw male interest and appreciation cross his features. Crouching beside him, I again had a momentary sense of naturalness, like I normally had with Doug or one of the immortals. Something friendly and soothing. Like Seth and I had known each other forever. Maybe I had, in a manner of speaking, through his books.

And yet, at the same time, being this close to him proved disconcerting as well. Distracting. I began noticing things like the lean muscles in his arms and the way his messy brown hair framed his face. Even the gold sheen of light hitting his facial hair and the shape of his lips held my attention. Turning away, I felt the base thirst for life energy twitch in me, and I repressed the urge to reach out and touch his face. The outside shape-shifting had caused more damage than I realized. I still didn’t really require a true refill of energy, but the succubus instinct was getting irritable. I needed to squelch it soon, but certainly not with Seth.

I stood up hastily, still holding the Bible, wanting to get away from him. He rose with me.

“Well,” I began awkwardly when neither of us said anything for a few moments, “I need to get to work here.”

He nodded, the interest in his face turning to apprehension. “I…”

“Hmm?”

Swallowing, he looked away briefly then back to me, his eyes now focused with determination. “So, I’m going to this party on Sunday, and I wondered if maybe… maybe if you weren’t busy or weren’t working, you could maybe, that is, maybe you’d want to come with me.”

I stared, speechless. Had Seth Mortensen just asked me out? And hadn’t… hadn’t we just had a coherent conversation for once? Combined with me suddenly noticing how attractive he was, the very world seemed to be turning on its side. Worse still, I wanted to accept. Something about Seth suddenly felt natural and right, even if it wasn’t like the rollercoaster of excitement I felt with Roman. Somewhere in this bizarre, awkward relationship, I’d grown to genuinely like the writer independent of his novels.

But I couldn’t accept. I knew I couldn’t. I cursed myself for my initial flirtation; it had apparently stuck with him, despite my efforts to undo it and stay platonic. Part of me felt dismayed, part of me pleased. All of me knew what I had to do.

“No,” I answered bluntly, still stunned.

“Oh.”

I had no choice. No way could I have Seth attracted to me. No way could I risk anything but an arm’s-length friendship with my favorite books’ creator.

Realizing how rude I had sounded, I attempted a hasty recovery. I should have simply said I had to work, but instead, I found myself babbling on with a variant of what I had used on Doug over the years.

“You see… I’m not really interested in dating right now or getting involved with anyone. So, it’s nothing personal, I mean, the party sounds great and all, but I just can’t accept. I don’t ever accept things like that, actually. Like I said, it isn’t personal. It’s just easier not to get involved. To not date. Um, ever.”

Seth studied me for a long time, considering, and I was suddenly reminded of that first night when he looked much the same way while I explained my five-page rule with his books.

Finally, he said, “Oh. Okay. But… aren’t you dating that guy? The really tall one with black hair?”

“No. We’re not dating. Not really. We’re just, uh, friends. Sort of.”

“Oh,” Seth repeated. “Friends don’t go to parties together, then?”

“No.” I hesitated, suddenly wishing I had a different answer. “They can maybe have coffee sometimes. Here in the bookstore.”

“I don’t drink coffee.”

There was a sharpness to his voice. I felt like I’d been slapped. We stood there then in what was quite possibly among the top five most uncomfortable moments of my life. The silence stretched out between us. At last, I repeated my lame exit excuse: “I have to get back to work.”

“Okay. See you around.”

Just friends, just friends. How many times had I used that line? How many times had the lie been easier than facing up to the truth? I’d even used it on my husband so long ago, again hiding from the reality of a matter I didn’t want to admit to when things had turned sour between us.

“Just friends?” Kyriakos had repeated, dark eyes staring at me.

“Of course. He’s your friend too, you know. He just keeps me company when you’re gone, that’s all. It’s lonely without you.”

But I never told my husband how often his friend Ariston came to visit or how we always seemed to be finding excuses to touch each other. A casual brush here and there. His hand to help me up. Or the one day that still burned in my memory, when he had reached over me to grab a bottle, and his hand had grazed my breast. I’d given an involuntary gasp, and he’d lingered for a heartbeat before carrying on with his task.

And I didn’t tell Kyriakos that Ariston made me feel like I had in the early days of my marriage, like I was clever, beautiful, and desirable. Ariston lavished me with the attention Kyriakos once had; Ariston loved the sharp wit that had once gotten me into trouble as an unmarried maiden.

As for Kyriakos… well, I assumed he loved those things too, but he didn’t show it so much anymore. His father was making him work longer and longer hours, and when he finally got home, he would collapse into bed or seek the solitude of his flute. I hated that flute… hated it and loved it. I loathed that it seemed to hold his attention more than I did.

Yet, on some nights, when I sat outside and listened to him play, I felt awed at his skill and that ability to create such sweetness.

But that didn’t change the fact that I slept untouched more often than not. When I told him I’d never get pregnant that way, he’d laugh and tell me we had all the time in the world for children. This troubled me because I honestly – and irrationally – believed that having a baby would somehow fix everything between us. I ached for one, missing the way my little sisters had once felt in my arms. I loved the honesty and the innocence of children and liked to think I might help guide one into becoming a good person. Nothing seemed so sweet to me in those days as cleaning cuts, holding small hands, and telling stories. Furthermore, I had reached a point where I needed to know that I could have a baby. Three years of marriage was a long time to go without a child in those days, and I’d seen the way others were starting to whisper that poor Letha might be barren. I hated their simpering and sickeningly sugared pity.

I should have told Kyriakos everything that was on my mind, every last detail. But he was so sweet and worked so hard to provide for us, I couldn’t bear it. I didn’t want to shake the contentment that ostensibly filled our household just for my own self-gratification and need for attention. Besides, it wasn’t like he always neglected my body. A bit of coaxing, and I could sometimes get him to answer my desire. We’d come together in the middle of the night then, his body moving in mine with the same passion he used in his music.

Yet, looking at Ariston some days, I had the feeling he wouldn’t need any coaxing at all. And as empty days without Kyriakos passed, that started to mean something.

Just friends, just friends. Standing there in the bookstore, watching Seth walk away, I half wondered how anyone could still use that line. But I knew why, of course. It was used because people still believed it. Or at least they wanted to.

When I returned downstairs – feeling sad, angry, and idiotic all at the same time – I stumbled upon a scenario guaranteed to make my day even weirder: Helena from Krystal Starz stood there in front of the registers, gesticulating wildly to the cashiers.

Helena here. On my turf.

Swallowing my confusion over Seth, I strode over in my best managerial way, still carrying the Bible. “Is there something I can help you with?”

Helena spun around, making the crystals around her neck tinkle as they hit each other. “It’s her – she’s the one. The one who stole my staff.”

I glanced behind the counter. Casey and Beth stood there, looking relieved to see me. Tammi and her friend Janice must have been somewhere else in the store, for which I was grateful. Best to keep them out of this. I kept my voice cool, ever-conscious of the customers observing.

“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”

“Don’t start that with me! You know exactly what I mean. You walked into my store, made a scene, and then lured away my staff. They left without notice!”

“People have recently applied for jobs here,” I responded blandly. “I can’t really keep track of where they used to work. As assistant manager, however, I can empathize with the inconvenience of employees who leave without giving notice.”

“Stop that!” Helena exclaimed, hardly resembling the cool, collected diva from last week. “Do you think I can’t see through your lies? You walk in darkness, your aura wreathed in fire!”

“What’s on fire?”

Doug and Warren walked up, obviously attracted by the mounting spectacle.

“Her,” Helena proclaimed, pointing at me, using the New Age raspy voice.

Warren eyed me curiously, as though actually assessing for flames. “Georgina?”

“She stole my employees. Just came in and took them like that. I could sue, you know. When I tell my lawyers – “

“Which employees?”

” Tammiand Janice.”

I cringed, waiting to see what this new development would unleash. Despite his many shortcomings, Warren did have a smooth sense of customer service and professionalism. I worried what might ensue if my poaching received further investigation.

He frowned, trying to match faces with names apparently. “Wait… didn’t one of them jump my car today?”

” Tammidid.”

He snorted dismissively. “We’re not giving them back.”

Helena turned beet red. “You can’t – “

“Ma’am, I am sorry for your inconvenience, but I can hardly pass back workers who have signed employment papers with us and are unwilling to work for you anymore. There’s always turnover in retail. I’m sure you’ll find someone soon.”

She turned on me, still pointing. “I won’t forget this. Even if I can’t get you back for this, the universe will repay your cruel and twisted nature. You will die miserable and alone. Unloved. Friendless. Childless. Your life will have amounted to nothing.”

So much for New Age love and kindness. I hardly feared her comments about dying, but the other adjectives dug in a little. Miserable and alone. Unloved. Friendless. Childless.

Warren, however, felt no such concerns for me. “Ma’am, Georgina’s the last one I’d accuse of having a ‘cruel’ nature or leading a meaningless life. She holds this place together, and I trust her judgment implicitly – including the hiring of your former employees. Now unless you would like to make a purchase, I must ask you to leave before I’m forced to call the authorities.”

Helena spouted off more curses and woes to us, no doubt entertaining the customers waiting in line. To my surprise, Warren continued holding his ground. He usually went out of his way to smooth customer relations and put our best foot forward, even at his employees’ expense. Today he didn’t apparently feel like humoring anyone. It was refreshing.

When Helena left, he retreated to his office without another word, and Doug and I stood there, astonishment quickly giving way to amusement.

“The things you cause, Kincaid.”

“What? Don’t peg that one on me.”

“Are you kidding? Freaky witch women never showed up before you started working here.”

“How would you know? I started before you.” Checking my watch, I turned thoughtful. “You’re still here for a while today, aren’t you?”

“Yup. Lucky for you. Why?”

“No reason.” I left him there and walked to the back offices. Instead of turning left for my office, however, I turned right into Warren’s.

He sat at his desk, packing his briefcase, preparing to leave now that his car was ready. “Don’t tell me she’s back.”

“No.” I closed the door behind me. This made him look up. “I just wanted to thank you.”

Warren eyed me shrewdly. “Kicking irrational customers out is part of my job.”

“Yeah, but last time I didn’t get praised. I had to apologize.”

He shrugged, thinking of an incident from a year ago. “Well, that was different. You called an old woman a hypocritical, pathological Nazi neophyte.”

“She was.”

“If you say so.” His eyes still watched my every move.

I walked over to him, setting the Bible down on his desk. Climbing onto his chair, I straddled his lap, making my tight red skirt ride up considerably, revealing the lace-covered tops of black thigh-highs underneath. I leaned in to kiss him, at first just running my teeth tauntingly over his lips, and then suddenly pressing my mouth in hard. He returned the kiss with equal fervor, hands automatically sliding up the backs of my thighs to cup my ass.

”Christ,” he breathed when we broke apart slightly. One of his hands moved to my face, the other toyed with the thong I wore under my skirt. His fingers ran along its lacy edge and then pushed upward inside me, at first just delicately probing and then sliding up the full length. I was already wet from a sudden desire and breathed deeply as I savored those long, smooth strokes. Warren watched me with approval. “What’s this all about?”

“What’s what? We do this all the time.”

“You never initiate it.”

“I told you, I’m grateful.”

That was true, actually. I had found his defense rather endearing. Also, still burning with Roman-lust and now maybe Seth-lust, I suddenly found Warren convenient in the wake of my grouchy succubus hunger.

The hand by my face wound up a lock of hair, and he turned pensive, although he didn’t stop what he was doing between my legs. “Georgina… I hope… I hope you know what we do here in no way affects your job. You have no obligations – no danger of losing your position here if – “

I laughed out loud, surprised by this oddly considerate side. “I know that.”

“I mean it – “

“I know that,” I repeated, biting his lower lip with my teeth. “Don’t go soft on me all of a sudden,” I growled. “That’s not what I’m here for.”

He didn’t interrupt again, and I let myself sink into the pleasure of contact. The feel of his tongue in my mouth, his hands brazenly exploring my body. After a long morning of sexual frustration, I just needed it from someone – anyone. He unbuttoned my blouse and tossed it to the floor, where it rested in a black, silken pile. My skirt and thong followed, leaving me only in thigh-highs, bra, and heels. All black.

He shifted his body, still in the chair, so that I could pull his pants off. Seeing him there – long, straight, and hard – made me move his hand out of me. Fingers no longer satisfied me. I wrapped my legs more tightly around his hips, as much as the chair would allow. Then, without further warning, I thrust my body down, plunging him inside me. I arched my body so that I could take him deeper, then moved in steady, repeated thrusts. Looking back down, I watched him glide in and out. There was no sound in the room save that of flesh on flesh and our heavy breathing.

With penetration came a flood of feeling and sensations from him – different from the physical ones. As a less noble soul, his energy and presence did not knock me across the room like Martin’s had. Succubi absorption depended on the victim’s character. Strong, moral souls yielded more to the succubus and took a huge bite out of the guy. Corrupt men lost less and consequently gave less. Regardless of his energy or moral fiber, I did catch snippets of Warren’s thoughts and emotions as I rode him. This was normal. They came through with his life force.

Desire certainly was foremost in his mind. Smug pride at being with a younger, attractive woman. Excitement. Surprise. He had little remorse about cheating on his wife – contributing to the lower energy yield – and even the brief fondness for me he’d displayed earlier gave way to raw lust. So fucking hot. So wet. Love the way she rides me. Hope she comes and comes on top of me…

I did, as it turned out. My movements becoming harder and fiercer as our bodies slapped together. My leg muscles clenching. Neck arched back again. Breasts hot and sweaty from where he’d clutched them. The orgasm reverberating through me. Spasms of pleasure growing fainter and fainter as my breathing slowly returned to normal.

And the energy fix wasn’t bad either. It had leaked into me slowly throughout our building passion, starting off as fine glittering threads. Near the end, however, it had become strong and bright, pouring into me, reinvigorating my own life, fueling my immortality in a glorious climax that rivaled the physical one.

When we both had our clothes back on, I made moves for an exit. Small energy loss or no, Warren always felt exhausted and worn after we’d been together. He thought it was the result of his age going up against a younger, more active woman. I did nothing to change his attitude but usually tried to discretely leave, so he wouldn’t feel self-conscious around me in his fatigue. I knew it bothered him to think he couldn’t keep up with me.

“Georgina?” he called as I moved to the door. “Why are you carrying a Bible? You aren’t trying to convert customers, are you?”

“Oh. That. Just researching something for a friend. It’s applicable, actually. All about sex.”

He wiped sweat off his brow. “After years and years of church, I think I’d remember any good sex scenes.”

“Well, it’s not so much a scene as a clinical description of procreation.”

“Ah. Lots of those.”

On impulse, I walked over to him and opened up Genesis 6. “See?” I pointed to the appropriate verses. “All these mentions of men taking women. They say it, like, three times.”

Warren studied the book with a frown, and I remembered that he had not opened this place without a substantial background in literary study. “Well… it’s repeated because here when it says ‘men began to multiply on the face of the earth,’ it’s referring to human men.”

I looked up sharply. “What do you mean ‘human’?”

“Here. The ‘sons of God’ aren’t human men. They’re angels.”

“What?” If I’d been holding the book, I would have dropped it. “Are you sure?”

“Positive. Like I said, years of church services. They use this term throughout the Bible.” He flipped to Job. “See?

Here it is again. ‘Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.’ It’s referring to angels – fallen angels in this case.”

I swallowed. “What… what were they doing in Genesis then? With the ‘daughters of men’? Were… were the angels having sex with human women?”

“Well, it says the women were ‘fair.’ Hard to blame them, huh?” He gave me an admiring sweep as he spoke. “I don’t know. This isn’t a point discussed a lot in church, as I’m sure you can imagine. Mostly we emphasized human sin and guilt, but I ignored that.”

I continued to stare at the book, dumbfounded, yet suddenly ablaze with ideas and theories. Warren eyed me curiously when I didn’t respond to his joke.

“Does that help you any?”

“Yes,” I said, recovering myself. “It helps a lot.”

I surprised him with a soft kiss on the lips, took the Bible, and left.

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