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Serpent's Storm

Amber Benson - Author

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ISBN 9781101477243 | 320 pages | 22 Feb 2011 | Ace | 18 - AND UP
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Calliope just wants to make it big in the Big Apple like any other working girl. But Callie is also Death's Daughter, no matter how much she tries to stay out of the family business. And now her older sister has made a deal with the Devil himself to engage in a hostile takeover of both Death Inc. and Heaven-once they get Callie out of the way.

–1–

Waking up next to a deliciously hot, naked man––one who was in my bed of his own volition––was like the most glorious feeling in the entire world. Right up there with winning an all expenses paid trip to Tahiti on the Price Is Right or having someone gift you a twenty-four hour shopping spree at Barneys, Saks and Neiman Marcus all on the same day. Yes, those were the things that rated A++ in my book and having a naked man in my bed topped every one of them.

In the past I’d been utterly opposed to the idea of buck-naked sleeping because of my ‘in case of fire’ phobia, in which I become the dumb girl caught running around her apartment building like a naked lunatic on holiday, giving all the firemen a ‘Calliope Reaper-Jones Boobies on Parade’ show while they try to put out the flames. I was a modest maiden when it came to giving out free jiggle shows. I did not want to be that girl, no way, no how.

But I guess proximity changes everything––and once I actually had a man in my bed to be naked for, well, all my buck-naked sleeping misgivings strangely evaporated, fireman booby parade be damned!

You see, for me, puberty had come and gone without even the possibility of a steady beddy-buddy. Sure, I’d dated a few guys here and there, but none of them had ever hung around long enough to become my boyfriend, or anything so trite. As much as I hated to admit it, this phenomenon had to be at least fifty percent my fault. It wasn’t like I was ever: “Hey, male person I just schtupped, why don’t you stay and watch me wash my face in the morning?” I suppose I was just as eager to have them go, as they were to leave.

I didn’t understand why I behaved this way, but it had quickly become a pattern I was repeating well into adulthood. Maybe it came from being a late bloomer, or maybe I got bored easily…or maybe I just didn’t have what it took to make a real connection with someone unless their last name was Prada or Versace.

But then I’d met Daniel (the naked man in my bed) and everything had changed. For the first time, I’d wanted a man to stay at my house, to share my space, to eat my food…I’d wanted him to laze around my bedroom in the mornings while I got ready for work, talking to me, telling me how sexy I was in my underwear––which I knew had to be a lie, but I loved it anyway. Having a man in such close quarters was at once thrilling and completely decadent, which was a brand new experience for me. For the first time in my life, I was a wanton woman and I loved every minute of it.

But then a week into the co-habitation, I had a complete and utter change of heart.

At first, I didn’t understand why my feelings had changed so abruptly. I’d been nothing, but excited to have Daniel come stay with me while he got his new life started, so it was a shock when I realized my lack of happiness stemmed completely from the realization that Daniel wasn’t the ‘bad boy’ I’d assumed him to be.

You see, ever since he’d been released from his duties as the Devil’s Protégé (and taken up residence in my bed) he’d become a lot less exciting to hang around with. I was still ridiculously attracted to him––which I guessed was a positive––but sex was quickly becoming the only thing we had in common. Now, when we weren’t doing the nasty, all he talked about was how much he wanted to help the denizens of Hell and how the Devil deserved a one way ticket to a jail cell in Purgatory for all the misdeeds he’d perpetuated on his subjects. It seemed like every conversation was a rehash of this same subject until I could hardly stand to be around him anymore.

I’d expected James Dean: what I’d gotten was Mother Theresa.

Daniel was a do-gooder. An all around nice guy who just wanted to help other people––including the entire population of Hell––and the truth was I didn’t really see where I fit into the equation. I had needs, wants, neuroticisms…all the bells and whistles that went along with being a girl and my man needed to be as interested in those things as he was in maintaining the balance between good and evil in the universe.

Of course, it didn’t mean I wasn’t interested in helping out the peeps down in Hell.

Far from it.

I’d promised Cerberus, the three-headed Guardian of The North Gate of Hell––and the father of my hellhound pup, Runt––that I’d make a trip to heaven and take up his plight with God¬¬. And as soon as things had cooled down a little at work, I had definite plans to go to Heaven––just like I’d promised Cerberus––and make good on my tete-a-tete with the powers that be. I didn’t know if I could really make God put a stop to all the nasty stuff the Devil was doing down in Hell, but I was going to give it my best shot.

But I didn’t let the above-mentioned subject color everything I did. I still tried to have a real life outside of my quasi-supernatural existence, unlike Daniel, who had no interest in anything from the human world––movies, clothes, eating out at nice restaurants––unless he could connect it back to the Afterlife.

Daniel was consumed with the idea of freeing Hell from the Devil and he spent a lot of our time together pushing me to drop everything and go straight to Heaven, start bugging God for his/her help. When I explained to him how crazy work was, how I couldn’t afford to piss off my boss anymore than I already had or I was gonna lose my job, he just looked at me like I was the most selfish person on the face of the Earth.

To Daniel my job was unimportant, especially when compared to all the crap the Devil was doing down in Hell. Losing my job was a small sacrifice; one I should make willingly, so he could assume the Sally Struthers position in the ‘Feed the Downtrodden Minions of Hell’ commericals.

The odd thing was that although we were having these very intense disagreements about what was more important––my job or the servitude the inhabitants of Hell were forced to endure––none of it seemed to impact our sex life. All the arguing had actually served to make the physical stuff even more heightened, which was annoying because I couldn’t see the fairness in having our bedroom antics be so amazing, while the rest of our relationship was slowly disintegrating.

“What’re you thinking about?”

Daniel’s face loomed large over mine, a grin on his handsome mug. He had an amazing smile, one that made my heart do the flip-flop dance every time he flashed it in my direction, but the smile didn’t linger long. He knew I was holding something back––and I had no idea how to even begin to broach the subject with him. As the weeks had worn on and I hadn’t conceded to help get the ball rolling up in Hevane, things had deteriorated to the point where non-verbal communication was a heck of a lot safer then opening my mouth.

I felt guilty. No, worse than guilty. I felt wicked and wrong for having these kind of not nice thoughts, especially while the person I was having said ‘not nice thoughts’ about was lovingly stroking my ribcage with his index finger and making my toes curl with happiness as he lay across my bed, his warm head draped on my exposed stomach.

“Nothing,” I finally replied, glad he couldn’t read my mine.

He lifted his dark, tousled head and raised an eyebrow, thoughtfully.

“You’re thinking about something.”

He rested his head against my collarbone so he could kiss the curve of my neck at his leisure, all the while stroking the flat part of my belly with his hand.

I had a hard time thinking logically whenever Daniel was touching me. As his hands roved over my body, I felt an electric shiver race from my stomach to my breasts, leaving a tingling feeling in its wake. Daniel knew what his hands were doing to me and took full advantage of the situation, running his fingers up between the smooth flesh of my ribcage then cupping one globe of trembling flesh and pinching the pink nipple so hard, I cried out in pleasure. Arching my back so the length of his body and his cock were pressed against me, I opened my mouth, willing his lips to find mine. He took the hint, letting his mouth trail light kisses across the hollow of my neck, up the smooth incline of my jaw, all the while using his fingers to lazily stroke my captured nipple until it was hard as a rock.

“Oh, God,” I moaned. “You feel so good.”

He liked that. I could feel him smiling against my mouth before he slid his tongue in between my lips and devoured me.

“Wait!” I said sitting up so abruptly Daniel was forced to release me from his embrace, or risk smacking his head into the headboard in recompense.

“What?” he said as a frown creased his brow.

“I can’t do this,” I barked at him, pulling the covers off the bed to cover myself with. Apparently, I’d chosen thus very moment to purge all the poisonous thoughts that’d been building in my head every since he’d shown up at my door and started harassing/sleeping with me.

“Do what?” he said, looking perplexed as I wrapped my naked self in the comforter and crawled down to the bottom of the bed, trying to put a little distance between me and his naked (re: distracting) man parts.

“I just don’t think we should be having sex anymore,” I replied lamely. “I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”

“I don’t understand,” he said, sitting up and, thoughtfully, putting a pillow over the distracting man bits. “I thought we liked each other…”

He trailed off, scrunching his forehead in confusion. I closed my eyes, trying to buy myself a little time. I didn’t really want to have this conversation, but the relationship couldn’t keep going the way it was going or else I was gonna tear my hair out in frustration.

“Look, I don’t want to be a bitch, but you are seriously buzzkilling our relationship,” I began.

“Excuse me?” Daniel interrupted, grabbing a pair of boxers off the floor where he’d dropped them the night before and slipping them on.

“You talk about the same stuff over and over again and it’s hard for me to feel like anything other than a conduit to Heaven––”

“I can go there without you anytime I want, Callie. I thought it would be more effective if we put the request in together.”

“Oh,” I said, looking down at my hands. This was a new piece of information. “Well, then, I think you should just go now and then I’ll go later––”

“Callie,” Daniel said, his voice taut with feeling, demanding my attention. I looked up, expecting to find a scowl on his face, but he was only gazing at me with a quiet intensity, his countenance broadcasting nothing but sincerity.

“I know all of this is hard for you, Cal,” he continued. “And I’ll go to Heaven without you if that’s really what you want, but I’m not gonna let you push me away without a fight.”

“Huh?” I said, feeling as if the rug were being pulled out from under my feet. Here I was trying to tell him why he was ruining our relationship and, instead, he was turning it all back around on me.

“You push people away,” he said, reaching out and taking my hand. “Especially when you’re scared. I know I’ve been trying to force you to deal with the promise you made to Cerberus, but if you’re not ready to do it then I won’t press you anymore.”

I gulped, uncertainty distracting me from my righteous sense of anger.

“But we don’t even get along––” I babbled, my brain searching for more words to bolster my argument, but not finding any.

“I think we got on great,” Daniel said, as he lifted my hand to his lips and softly kissed my knuckles.

“In the sack maybe,” I replied, the words sounding rude even to my own ears, but I was feeling the pull of his physical nearness and I hoped rudeness would stave attraction off.

“You don’t really mean that,” he said, a grin stealing across his face.

“I do, too.”

He turned my hand over and kissed the delicate flesh of my wrist, making my heart flutter pitifully.

“No, you’re just scared, so you’re putting together all kinds of irrational arguments in your head. You’re such a girl.”

“Whatever!” I said, resenting the implication. I might be a girl anatomically, but I hardly ever acted like one¬¬––well, at least I thought I hardly ever acted like one. But now Daniel was starting to make me feel uncertain about that, too.

“Yeah, I know you pride yourself on being surly,” Daniel laughed, “but you’re just a big marshmallow underneath it all.”

I smacked him on the arm, but he used the opportunity to grasp my wrist and leverage me toward him, the covers slipping away as he wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me close. He smelled yummy, like cinnamon and cloves as he slid his hands over my breasts, cupping them in his hands and making me squirm.

“See, I told you we get on great,” he whispered as he nuzzled my neck, peppering kisses across my collarbone.

As much as I wanted to disagree, I found that I couldn’t. My body had betrayed me, giving in to the lull of sex as Daniel slid has hands between my legs, his fingers slipping wetly inside me. I moaned, knowing the argument would have to wait for another time because pleasure was what my body craved now. I gave in and kissed him, our tongues entangling while his fingers worked me like a harp, sliding in and out of me, faster and faster until I could hardly contain myself. I was in agony, on fire with the need to feel him inside me, but when I reached for his cock, he crawled on top of me.

“I want you to feel good,” he said, nipping at my earlobe, then his lips roaming down until they found my breast, needing the nipple taut with his teeth. I couldn’t breathe, my brain overwhelmed by a warm, tingling sensation deep in my belly.

“You’re gonna make me––” I moaned, my voice thick and drugged with sex––as a wave of pleasure hit me and I cried out, my back arching in ecstasy, his slick cock thrusting inside me while I climaxed. The orgasm was overwhelming, taking over my entire being with its sweetness, my body trembling as I fell against him. A moment later, he came inside me and I clutched his body tightly to my own, not wanting to ever disentangle myself from his embrace. Spent, I couldn’t put together a coherent thought, but as he collapsed on top of me I knew I was utterly satiated by what he’d done to me.

“Feel better?” he whispered and it took all the energy I had left to nod my head ‘yes’. “Good.”

I wanted to close my eyes and go back to sleep, but my eye caught the face of the digital alarm clock of my bedside table and I nearly choked. It was almost time to be at work and I had left myself zero time to shower before I got dressed. I was just gonna have to be late; I reeked of sex and a shower was the only cure.

Ugh.

“I gotta go,” I said, pushing myself up onto my knees.

“You don’t have to go,” Daniel said, but I ignored him as I crawled off the bed and began searching for my robe.

“I’ve told you a million times, if I’m late for work––”

“Hyacinth will have your head,” Daniel finished for me.

“Exactly,” I said, as I dragged the robe from its hiding place under my bed, slipping it over my shoulders before making a beeline for the bathroom. Worried about being late and getting my head bitten off at work, I didn’t even take the time to say good-bye.

“I’ll miss you, Cal…” he called after me, but he didn’t make a move to stop me––and I was too preoccupied to notice the hurt look on his face.

Funny thing was, when I thought back to that moment, the only thing I remembered was the sense of finality I felt as the bathroom door clicked shut behind me. Little did I know then, the next time I saw Daniel two people I loved would be dead and my whole world would be utterly changed forever.


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