LOVER IN STONE, Installment No. 19

 

INSTALLMENT No. 19 #skin #Aristotle #first circle of Hell
Angelia didn’t like the honesty chiming through the words he spoke. Merrick was dead serious, which quieted her all the way to the bone.
“Don’t worry. I’ll get you back out before I do.” The Chimera’s moment of being unguarded evaporated as if it had never been. He was again the storm cloud passing over the sun.
And his snide comment pissed her off, a visceral reaction that rarely happened to her. Usually, she just got sad. But, maybe Merrick was right, and being in Hell did have its advantages.
Angelia balled up her sleeping bag and stuffed it into her pack while she indulged in a rare mental tirade.
Did he really believe she was so shallow that the only thing she could be concerned with was her own safety? Did he really think his choice wouldn’t bother his friend, Darken, either?
Merrick was the selfish prig, not her, believing that staying in Hell wouldn’t bother anyone.
How could he do it?
Yeah, she knew he harbored a thick rage he barely concealed, but still, it didn’t mean he had to dwell in this ungodly place.
She slatted at the drawstring of her bag, cinching it taut like a hangman who relished his job.
“Angelia.”
Merrick calling her name was just as enthralling as the voices in the river.
At least this voice she heard. Regrettably.
Swallowing a deep breath, she cocked a disgruntled hip. “What.”
Merrick ran his hand across the top of his head, mussing his black hair. He seemed frustrated with her, like he didn’t know what to do with himself. His whole body tensed, his jaw clamping. She saw the slate of his eyes harden as his rage resurfaced.
“What?” She wouldn’t gulp, damn it.
The Chimera, still in his sexy Gargoyle form, drew up to her. He was a full head and shoulders taller than she was, and definitely twice as wide. Angelia’s head fell back, just so she could keep looking at him.
Towering over her, his body electrified hers. They weren’t even touching and her hips felt the pull of him, so that she had to fight to keep herself from slinking up against him like some big cat in heat.
Merrick glared down at her, the depths of his rock-like eyes fluctuating, plunging impossibly deep, then constricting till they were flat and shallow.
“The Castle,” he growled, lifting a muscle-roped arm with a clawed hand at the end of it.
Well, hookay. She couldn’t see the muscles rippling under his coat, but she sure as dogcrackers was imagining them. Angelia peeled her wanton gaze from Merrick to look where he pointed.
“Full of learned men, from before Christ.” His voice scraped thick, menacing.
Yeah, that growling factoid ought to register a little stronger than it did. She should be heeding the message, not the vibration.
The Castle housed the greatest minds of all time. Aristotle, Ovid, Socrates. Yet, all she could think about was the Chimera, who moved to stand behind her. Very close behind her.
He felt huge looming back there. She could smell the leather he wore. She could smell him.
What were a few dusty, old minds when she stood next to such heat? Such life? She didn’t want to meet the revered minds of history, she wanted to get to know this Chimera who delivered her to them.
She didn’t need a side trip away from this Gargoyle-shaped man.
Merrick lowered his head to drag his nose along her nape, erupting goose bumps over every inch of her skin. “Someone might know where the human who stole the Scriptum was headed.”
Dear God, she was practically panting. “Good point.” And oh yeah, it was a lead to follow, even if he’d said it to taunt her. Because they were on an important mission.
Except.
“Merrick?”
“Hmm.” Ooh man, she loved his growl.
“I’d rather learn about you.” There. She said it. Looking dead ahead and not at him, but she’d said it. Maybe her little fit of anger had given her the courage. She didn’t know, or care, but she would risk his denial.
****
Merrick’s heart pinged, then swelled, then constricted again, like it couldn’t figure out what its job was. His whole body went rigid, so Angelia’s softness, in contrast, seemed like a warmth cushioning the thin space of air between them.
He didn’t want to tell her a damned thing.
He didn’t want to refuse her, either. Not this angel who strung every nerve within him to singing.
She had given him something of herself when he’d carried her across the Acheron, even if she hadn’t known it, and had been asleep while doing it. Christ, she was giving him something now, a thrill in his skin he’d not felt since…
Never.
Merrick had never felt this taut sensation before. It maddened him, drove him wild. It was all he could do to rein in his urges. He could and should give a little something back to this woman, no matter how she tormented him. No matter if she was human, she deserved his consideration.
He wanted to give her more than his consideration.
Jesus. What was happening to him? A day ago, he wouldn’t have given a rat’s ass about hurting any human’s feelings. Now? Now, he’d met Angelia, Anton’s miraculous, beautiful daughter, and his own emotions had somehow gotten tangled up with hers.
She wanted to know about him. The Vampyre’s adopted darling was looking beyond the Chimera’s thickening skin, past the rage simmering in his very muscles. Merrick knew how volatile he was, yet she was seeing beyond that.
No, she was coaxing him beyond his consuming rage, and it unsettled him.
So, for both of their sakes, he would opt to tell her something a little safer, a little easier on his baffled emotions, while he steered them toward the Castle.
He dared to brush his knuckles against the small of her back to bump her forward. Even through her clothing, his fingers measured the inward curve of her spine, the bowing out of her wonderful ass, and his hand curled into a tight fist lest it grope for something more.
“Kharon is Kynd, like me. That’s how I got you across the Acheron.”
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 20 coming Saturday, April 4, 2015.

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