Tag Archives: gargoyle

LOVER IN STONE, Installment No. 21

INSTALLMENT No. 21 #lips #Angel #gargoyle
“Merrick?” Angelia’s voice quavered like the chicken she was, and she silently cursed herself. The Chimera needed someone sturdy, not some quaking ninny, so she’d better stiffen her Ramen noodle spine to be strong for him. Even if she had to fake it.
Her lips had not suddenly gone dry, dang it. But the swiping of her tongue to moisten them was like a slap to the face of her denial. Which she chose to ignore, and stood up, coiling her sweaty fist tighter with Merrick’s hold so he wouldn’t let her go.
Because she saw his agony. Heck, she felt it.
Whatever he did up on that Archway wasn’t good.
She’d seen the bony carcasses, so did she really want to know the gruesome details?
Yes. If it meant she could ease some of that drowning grief from his gray eyes, then yes. She wanted to comfort him so bad the need to do it quivered inside her, her body demanding she open up and take him into herself.
Acting on instinct, she reached out, pulling Merrick’s rough hand around her back and pressing her body to his.
He hissed as his arm drew her in tight. Through the opening of his unbuttoned leather jacket, she could see the hammer-like blows of his heart punching the thick muscles of his chest.
Jiminy, she could smell him, forcing her to remember there was a reason she’d let herself get squashed this close to Merrick, and it wasn’t to bask in that crystalline wildness. She was trying to give him solace.
“You stop souls from entering Hell, don’t you.” It wasn’t a question; she’d seen the evidence. But she wanted to come across as accepting, not as some dang coward.
He growled his answer, and Angelia closed her eyes as the scrape of it dragged delectably across her skin, erupting goosebumps in its wake.
“Yes.”
Ooh, she so, so, so loved his growl. Why didn’t she want to bask? She needed to dredge up every ounce of self-restraint she had to keep herself on track. But she would, for Merrick’s sake. “And humans without souls who wish to pass?” She knew such beings existed. They were the stuff of her nightmares from as far back as she could remember. They were the things the Gargoyles and Chimeras of her dreams protected her from.
They were probably why she idolized the Kynd.
His forehead pressed to her crown, his uneven breaths caressing her hair. “Angel, no more.” When he pulled back to look at her, he somehow plumbed a reassuring grin, and the sight of it made her go all gooey inside. Maybe it was because he seemed to be asking for mercy while his strong teeth reminded her that physically, he wasn’t vulnerable at all. “This Castle is probably the last beautiful thing you’ll see for a few days. You should be paying attention to that instead.”
Pfft. She highly doubted it. Merrick was beautiful, what with his black bangs curling in little spikes across his forehead, like a row of mini scythes, and cupping his smallish ear, which dragged her attention so her gaze followed the cords of his neck to the leather of his collar.
And he’d just called her Angel.
She bet he didn’t even realize it.
Besides, when she pulled her mind out of the sexual gutter, she noticed she was experiencing something far more beautiful than architecture or a sinful body: she was aglow from receiving the compassion of a Chimera.
Now that she knew how well-guarded a secret that was, she felt the privilege of his gift. He was treating her like Kynd.
Which made him irresistibly sexy.
Even to a virgin.
Her core squirmed again, but this time it pulsated, wetting her panties.
The muscles of Merrick’s broad shoulders bulged as he lowered his head to take a deep breath.
Dear God, he was sniffing her! He’d feel, too, the heat of her hand, the heat of her thighs, and she had to struggle not to place his hand where she readied for him, she had to resist the flaming urge to pull it between her legs and ride his rough palm.
His fingers gripped hers so hard she thought maybe he might break her bones. But she couldn’t stop her eyes from wandering low, to watch his manhood thicken, stretching the leather of his leggings. Her tongue stole out to caress her lower lip, for different reasons this time.
“Come on, Angel.” As Merrick tugged at her to resume their march toward the Castle, she caught the glint of thick fangs. Which should have frightened the bee turds out of her. Seriously, what was he going to do with those? Bite her?
Oh, please, yes.
She ought to wash her brain out with soap. She wanted the Chimera to bite her? Maybe it was time to stop living with Vampires.
Kynd didn’t drink blood, she knew that much. But she couldn’t shake visions of Merrick’s sharp teeth pinching her nipples, or sucking her breasts in between them.
Gads. She wasn’t helping the situation here, not when her nipples went rigid with the promise of what Merrick’s mouth could do.
Turning her attention to where her feet were going would be far more helpful. Merrick was dragging her toward the Castle, so she shifted gears to follow willingly, and freed her mind from her breasts to think about the words he’d spoken as he’d pulled her with him.
He’d called her Angel again. Merrick might have spoken to her like his teeth were smashed together, but he had called her Angel.
An endearment, not a curse.
She knew that because he didn’t let go of her hand.
He kept hold of her.
And she took it for the truce it was.
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 22 coming Saturday, April 11, 2015.

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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.

LOVER IN STONE, Installment No. 11

Installment No. 12  #hell #gargoyle
Angelia stood with Merrick’s pack in her outstretched arm, watching the Chimera sift through his emotions, seeing his mistrust shift to resentment as he reached toward her. She felt a pang of sadness for him, especially after having seen how affectionate and unguarded he’d been with his fellow Gargoyle only moments before.
The greeting had been a private moment, and one she guessed not many on the outside ever had the chance to see. That Merrick would let her witness it? A squirming twinge played in her belly, expunging the sadness, as she recalled the easy smile on his handsome face.
Like Darken’s eyes, Merrick’s had glowed warm, reminding Angelia of smooth-worn rocks on a sun kissed beach. He had looked down on her without masking his joy at seeing his friend, and her heart had stuttered at the sight of him.
If only she could elicit such affection from him.
Okay, so for now she’d be content with the bone he’d thrown her by not hiding his affectionate side, and ignore the tormented rage he was currently exuding the closer he got to her.
She was brave, darn it. She’d give him a bone, too.
“We should be going. The longer we take getting started, the—”
“The farther down we’ll have to go,” he snapped, snatching at his bag. But she didn’t let it go, and they both stood holding the bundle between them, united for an electric moment.
Was she feeling the heat of Hell, because it was getting awfully warm under her clothes.
Merrick’s smooth jaw ticked, his nostrils flaring like he was smelling something.
Dear God.
Angelia released her grip, and stepped off to preoccupy herself with adjusting the straps on her own backpack, making sure it fit snug, making sure the Chimera couldn’t see the flush on her cheeks, which she was sure was there, if the burning of her face meant anything.
She didn’t dare look at him, but started off, too self-conscious to look back. Yet each step that led her closer to Hell fluttered her heart, tingled her skin, like she was nearing her destiny. Which she felt certain was somehow entwined with that of the Scriptum.
And with the Chimera. Who was nothing like she imagined him to be.
Aside from her inexplicable fascination with the Kynd, Angelia knew she was just as prejudiced in her thinking as the rest of the world. She thought the Chimera chosen to guide her would look as hideous as those fashioned by the hands of man and mounted onto old buildings and churches.
Surprise, surprise.
She hadn’t expected him to have a Gargoyle form, or to have a physique like he posed for GQ in his spare time, or to have eyes that left his soul wide open when he let his guard down.
Not that she’d meant to, but she had seen the depths of his anger as she’d gazed into the slate of those eyes, and had felt like a trespasser. Never mind she’d yearned to drop the bundle she was holding to kiss those tortures out of him.
Well, she couldn’t overlook that part, actually—her cheeks still burned hot enough to remind her. So, she trucked along, oblivious to her surroundings while images of the Chimera and his leonine grace dominated her thoughts.
****
Merrick didn’t immediately follow Angelia. He stood as if planted as he waited for his heart to slog back to its natural rhythm.
Which it wouldn’t do so long as he kept thinking about the woman’s kind gesture and utter lack of retaliation. If she’d have just plunked his bag at his feet, he’d have understood. He would have bitten out some sarcastic comment and dragged her delicate ass down the path after that damned book.
Instead, she’d been nice, and that scraped at his rage without feeding it, confusing him. Ergo, his rapping heart.
Angelia’s backside grew incrementally smaller while he stood grounded like an idiot.
Finally taking off after her, he lied to himself that he didn’t want the view of that round ass a lot closer to him than it was.
He was merely concerned she was getting too far ahead of him for her own safety. They weren’t yet in Hell, but the rim around it contained its own dangers. For being one of the Literati she seemed awfully blasé about stepping across the threshold into the Vestibule.
Surely she wasn’t ignorant about what resided in the antechamber to Hell. It didn’t matter that all around them, stretching as far as the eye could see, was nothing but vast prairies of trampled grass, and an unattainable horizon, charred blood red.
The grass beneath their feet wasn’t merely crushed, it was macerated, the dents and crescent prints of unshod hooves and bare feet tattooed into the pulverized sod.
Yet, still the human walked on.
Undaunted or unaware?
Merrick wasn’t sure, but his mane thickened so the ends of it curled along the collar of his leather jacket. He wanted her safe.
For the deal I’ve made with Anton.
Yes. Of course, that was the reason why. It had nothing to do with the way his eyes kept drifting downward to watch her wiggling ass. Nothing whatsoever.
The woman swatted at bothersome flies, slapping one of the biting insects at her neck, which piqued that unfamiliar urge to protect her and made his chest too tight.
Scanning the plain they traveled across with renewed wariness, Merrick ignored his body’s reaction, and loped to catch up with her, even though he hadn’t a clue what he would say once he closed the distance.
He didn’t do small talk. He had spent too many centuries by himself to have mastered the art of chatting.
Yet, the second the smell of lavender drifted into his nostrils, his tongue loosened like a flapping sail in a stiff wind. “So, how does a human find herself as one of the Literati, anyhow? You’re no withered husk.”
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 12 coming March 7, 2015

LOVER IN STONE, Installment No. 10

 

Installment No. 10
The Chimera secreted his full self from view, maintaining just the Gargoyle part for Angelia to see. He seemed innocently unaware of his physique, like he had no inkling to the irresistible draw of it.
Angelia remembered to close her gawping, fly-catching mouth lest she embarrass herself. She was on a very serious, life-threatening mission. Any minute now, she was going to be passing through the Gates of Hell, nothing proverbial about it.
Turning her attention elsewhere, she noticed the bones scattered and half-concealed in the trampled and tufting grass. Like they were the stripped shells of cars at an abandoned junkyard. Ookaay. So, he wasn’t the Guardian in the sense that he took your ticket and let you in. The thrill from her flight drained south, abandoning her like rats from a sinking ship. What she needed was a life raft named ADOS, as in Attention Deficit-Ooh, Shiny!
Look at something else, idiot. Like that cheery sign etched into the keystone of the Archway.
Huh. It didn’t exactly say what she thought it was supposed to. “Why doesn’t the inscription read Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate?” Abandon all faith, ye who enter here.
Merrick pulled the leather of his pants up over his hips before turning to answer her.  “Because Dante got it wrong, and the world accepted it as truth,” he spit out, his anger over the mistake evident, and apparently too fresh, despite the centuries that had passed.
She felt an inkling of it herself. “So, there is hope after all? Why hasn’t anyone amended this?” Angelia knew she sounded a bit shrill, but she couldn’t help it. Dante’s error was colossal, and she couldn’t slow the wild threading of her pulse, the hammering of her heart as realization dawned. “There are people down there who can repent.” Not a question.
“Angelia,” Merrick warned, his tone a mere octave above a growl.
She gripped her pack, like maybe it could defend her. “Yeah?”
Merrick softened. A little. If she hadn’t been sucking up every gorgeous detail of him, she’d have never noticed. “Turn back.”
Quick as a spark, regret flashed in his granite eyes, then disappeared.
Well, well, well. Merrick wasn’t all stone. Her father had seen it, too, or he wouldn’t have agreed with the Triumvirate to let her go. Anton trusted Merrick, and so would she.
“I appreciate your concern—I do. But, I’ve got to do this. The Scriptum holds too many secrets to fall into the wrong hands.” She didn’t say she needed the boost to her self- esteem.
Merrick’s thick muscles stiffened as a growl boiled from the bottom of his lungs.
She would have been a block of wood not to feel the charge crackling through the air, or that growl rubbing across her flesh. Merrick thought she didn’t trust him with the Scriptum.
His anger was justified. The Scriptum was about the Kynd, after all. About him. But, Angelia didn’t trust anyone with such an important relic, not even the members of the Literati. The book had revealed its secrets to her, even if she was fuzzy about the details.
She felt wholly responsible for it because it had entrusted her with its encrypted knowledge, and it had been stolen during her whole damsel-in-distress routine. If she hadn’t fainted, it wouldn’t have been taken.
He needed to understand how responsible she felt about that, how compelled she was to right her wrong. “What I—”
Merrick spun around so all she could see was the length of his broad back tapering to his narrow hips. Which, sigh, were hugged in rich, brown leather. A nice view, but she’d been trying to explain something a little important.
“Hey, I was trying—”
Merrick glared over his shoulder. “Shut it, chickie. We’ve got company.”
Angelia clapped her jaw shut for the umpteenth time already that day.
Another Gargoyle maybe? Or something more dangerous?
She would not look at the bleached out bones scattered around her. Heck, no. Like squirrels gunning it for the nearest tree, her feet scurried her closer to her guide and protector. Feeling safer, she peered around Merrick’s side, and tried to catch a glimpse of who, or what, he was waiting for.

****
The woman’s touch to Merrick’s back went straight to his groin.
What in God’s name is she to rile me like this?
Without turning around, he curled his fingers around her hand to remove its temptation. He didn’t need the distraction, or the pain, of his thickening flesh in his pants. Not when he was going to be greeting an old friend.
He almost leapt the entire distance from where he stood with the woman, to the Archway, where their visitor scratched his way to the top of the keystone and curled his muscled haunches to sit. Merrick left Angelia to stand on the ground with her excuses on the tip of her tongue, and her electric hands empty.
“Darken, my old friend. I was afraid you hadn’t heard my call.” He pulled the other Gargoyle close for a hard hug.
Darken’s strong arms enveloped more than just Merrick’s body. They were a balm to his raging heart, and savoring it, he held his friend for several long moments, enjoying the rare touch of another Kynd.
“Anything for a change of scene, Merrick, you know that.” Darken pulled back to reveal a smile loaded with a beastly row of sharp teeth. Yet his gray eyes glowed warm. An uncommon sight, given the Gargoyle had little to be happy for. Darken lifted his chin. “Who’s the human?”
Merrick turned, as if surprised to find such an anomaly standing on the ground below them. “She’s my charge. She’s going in with me.”
Darken whistled appreciatively. “No! Such a wisp of a thing, too. What’s she done to deserve her turn in the Circles?”
“Nothing. She’s the Vampyre Anton’s daughter. Under direction of the Literati, we’re going in together, and coming out the same way. I’m her guide.” Darken’s rare affability ran contagious, and Merrick harkened to it, his mood growing light—a welcomed respite.
Darken choked, incredulous. “Her guide?” He looked around Merrick to call down to the human. “You do know there are lovely vacation destinations right here on the surface, don’t you?”
Angelia nodded, and pointed two fingers to her brow, acknowledging the Gargoyle’s playfulness with a salute.
“She’s a little daft, Darken, pay her no mind.” Merrick grinned, and a rusted laugh scraped up his throat, sounding more like an angry crow than any effortless bubbling.
Thank God it was Darken he shared it with, his dearest friend. As Kynd himself, Darken knew all too well the weariness borne by those of their station. He understood, too, Merrick’s particular hardship, that he never observed joy, or love, nor any of the finer emotions that made creatures beautiful.
At one time, the Kynd were unabashedly open in their affections for each other. But since the Great Schism when they’d been cast from Heaven, too many didn’t have the opportunity to indulge their natural geniality.
God had seen fit to scatter them to the winds, where it was impossible for them to share in each other’s company for longer than a few stolen moments. As a result of this forced isolation, they were turning into the Grotesques the humans thought them to be.
“Aye, well, Merrick,” Darken’s good humor faded as he slipped an arm around his comrade’s shoulders. “If they can bring a spark of happiness, it’s worth the gamble, eh?”
“You’re a bloody philosopher, brother.” Merrick clasped the Gargoyle’s hand. “You’ll watch for me, won’t you? They’ve given us seven days. If we’re not out—”
“Aye. I’ll not let you surrender so easily, you nancy. It’s only been two thousand years and some change, you can’t quit on us already.”
His gratitude swamping him, Merrick clutched Darken to his breast.
After a couple of claps to his back, the other Gargoyle nodded, indicating the woman on the ground. “Besides, you’ve got company this trip. And by the looks of her, you’ll be too preoccupied to dwell on your inner demons.”
Merrick gazed down on Angelia, who had perched on a boulder to better watch the reunion. She was braiding her long, blonde hair into a golden plait.
“She’ll keep me on my toes, for sure.” He grinned for Darken one last time, but knew shadows prevented any merriment from reaching his eyes.
But the specter that bothered him most was the same uneasy feeling he’d had back in the gallery with the Triumvirate, when Merrick had first seen the human woman consoling the Vampyre.
Jealousy.
Impossible.
Kynd didn’t do jealous. Or any other base emotion they associated with humans. At least, they hadn’t before they’d been cast to Middle Ground.
Merrick shrugged to settle his wings even though they were tucked and hidden. The jealousy thing was but one more torment he would have to quell as he navigated the Circles of Hell.
Maybe he should be the one to turn back, let the Triumvirate find someone else to guide the human in her search for the Scriptum. Because now as he prepared to set foot beyond the Archway, his doubts walked in on cold fingers, gripping his heart with a chilling fist.
He hadn’t been kidding about reminding Darken to come looking for them after seven days.
Two thousand years of observing the torment of millions of tainted souls, of destroying creatures trying to sneak through the gate to raise…hell, and Merrick wasn’t far from pitching his own lot in with the former Angel’s.
At least then he would no longer be Witness and Guardian, would no longer have to endure the endless burden of his Kynd.
In Hell, the Chimera could let his rage have its due. He could give in to the violence steeping like a fetid brine in his soul. Better that than to poise on a building’s ledge, his fury still shackled to him. He would be unable to vent its poison as he perched helpless, entirely consumed in stone.
Merrick stole another glance down below. The woman was standing now, moving toward their packs. “I guess it’s time to go.” He winked at Darken, masking the fear that crept in with his doubts.
“I’d say. She looks like she’d go without you. Who’s guiding who, anyway?”
Merrick shoved his fist against the thick muscle of Darken’s shoulder. “Funny. You’re a regular comedian. I’ll come back just to catch your show.”
The other Gargoyle nodded, his smile slipping as he grew serious. “No, but you will come back. See you soon, old friend.” Clapping a rough palm to Merrick’s back, he pushed the Chimera down the wall. “Now get going, you’re wasting my time.”
Merrick landed easily on his feet, and didn’t look back as he left Darken atop the Archway. Still, though, his thoughts remained behind on his brotherkynd.
They had been cast from Heaven together, along with all the other Gargoyles and Chimera. And Merrick might have plucked the short straw when he’d been assigned to watch over the Gates of Hell, but Darken’s lot wasn’t any better. The Gargoyle was shackled to Death, and it didn’t take much imagination to figure out how that particular duty ate away at a Kynd’s soul.
Darken knew full well the agony of too many centuries lurking within the rim of shadows, when such a fate ran counter to the true hearts of the Kynd.
Not that anyone bothered to know. Gargoyles and Chimera had been vilified, and there they would remain, eternally maligned.
Merrick shrugged his shoulders again, this time to slough off his gloom, and walked toward Angelia, who held his pack out for him.
For a brief moment, he thought she’d pay him back for his ill manners back with the Triumvirate, and he tensed, ready to snag his supplies before she could drop them on the ground as he reached for them.
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 11 coming Tuesday, March 3, 2015.

LOVER IN STONE, Installment No. 9

Installment No. 9
“Wait, I’m coming.” Getting breathless, Angelia turned back around to give her father a quick hug. “I’ve got to go,” she nudged her chin toward an impatient Merrick bounding toward the stairs.
“I could speed you there so you arrived before he did,” Anton lifted a dark brow, accenting the mischief swirling in his silver eyes.
“No,” she grinned, unable to resist his stoic charm. “He’s right. I’ll catch up.”
“It’s good-bye then, chickie. Be careful.”
“I will, Papa. And hold Mom tight, give her my kisses.”
“Of course.”
Angelia spun on her heels and ran for the staircase.
Of course her father would most assuredly hold her mother to him. He was going to have to. Marguerite was going to go berserker. Guilt anyone? She felt bad for leaving her father with her mess to clean up, but she had no choice. Merrick was right about needing to leave as soon as possible. Enough time had been wasted. The Scriptum could already be within the Second Circle and spiraling farther downward by the minute.
As she ran, she shuffled the pack to her back, cinching the belts across her chest and waist to keep it from bouncing. Her heart thumped too hard, but no telling if it was because of the daunting prospect of her mission, or the exhilaration of going on an adventure with a real Chimera.
She couldn’t separate the two things, not when her feet drew her closer to Merrick. Slowing as she neared him, she sized him up until she was standing so close she could smell the smooth leather of the clothes he was folding into the pack at his bare feet. Some other scent teased her senses, too, something crystalline and very male.
Merrick turned when she approached, and Angelia ripped her eyes from his broad, naked chest with its flat nipples, to look up into a tight face. Slate gray eyes hit her so hard she took a physical step backward. Away from him.
“That’s right, chickie. Not too close.” His sneer revealed one long, thick, and very sharp canine. “You wouldn’t want the big, bad Gargoyle to eat you.”
“If that’s to intimidate me, you’d better try harder. I was raised with Vampires.” She was a braggart, an empty windbag in the cruel face of his taunting.
“If you’re not scared, human, then you’re a bigger idiot than I pegged you for.”
Her retort never left her lips. Merrick abruptly yanked her snug against his taut, naked body, and exploded around her with a snap and flutter so thunderous she’d have cowered if he wasn’t holding her so tight.
She understood then, in one terrifying blur of black feathers that swallowed her body whole, that she was indeed an idiot.
And so very beyond her realm as the Chimera engulfed her in his wings and rocketed her toward Hell.

****

They stopped at the Archway, where for the past two thousand years Merrick had perched as Guardian to those passing into Hell. He felt the grass on his bare soles as he alighted, his bones registering the solidity of the earth beneath him.
Yet, his skin and muscles felt so much more as he basked in the warmth of the body he pressed to his. The human woman’s heart pumped fast, priming her blood so it raced beneath her skin. Her unique blend of honey and lavender puffed under his nose.
He wasn’t sorry for the nectar of her, he was chagrined to have caused her fear. He’d done it on purpose, like a lout, in a fit of temper. Because she unnerved him. The confusing part? She did so even in his distilled form.
The human woman wielded a power over him that shouldn’t be possible. He’d gloried in the contrasting silk of her cheek against the thicker skin of his torso, the heat of her breath, the clinging of her delicate, yet strong arms around his waist as he’d vaulted them into the sky.
So help him, he fought not to dig his lion’s claws into her, resisting the urge to press her tighter with his padded palms. God in Heaven, but the ancient Vampyre Anton and his wife had named their foundling correctly.
This human seemed like an angel.
And strike him dead if he harmed her. As it was, he danced on the edge of suffering his demise. Because he was holding her too tight, even with both sets of their feet solidly planted on the ground. He should release her, not stand there gripping onto her like a stricken imbecile.
He was Kynd, dammit, he didn’t do the mating thing. He was not a performer in the carnal arts of creation.
Folding his wings with a powerful ruffle, he slid the rest of the Chimera behind his bare skin. In his shift, he kept the human woman trapped upright in his changing arms, lest she wobble and teeter to the dirt.
He gazed down at her when he was finished, to register her alarm, her vertigo.
Well, wasn’t he the lucky one: his night just brimmed with surprises.
The woman seemed barely fazed, just a little flushed, gazing up at him with those dark blue eyes shining with the thrill of her ride.
Merrick released her as if her skin caught fire and would burn him.
****
Swaying like a lone two by four standing vertical, Angelia glanced straight up into the fierce glint of granite eyes, and clamped her jaw shut. Which did wonders for her balance. Good thing, too, since Merrick scraped her nerves until they sang for him. She didn’t need him knowing it.
But their passage through the sky?
Sheer terrifying exultation, unlike anything she’d ever experienced. The Chimera had gifted her with something wondrous.
Flight.
Scary, yes. But she’d felt incongruously safe in Merrick’s grasp. She’d forgotten all about his tenuously tamped rage as the air ripped over them, across the surface of his feathers, filling her ears with a sound she could only liken to the strains of a choir. A sound which resonated to the core of her, as though it was a deeply buried memory she couldn’t excavate.
But she’d dig later. Right then, she’d rather think about how being wrapped snug in those singing wings, she’d felt none of the frigid night sky. Only the Chimera’s strength, his heat, the rough skin of his chest against her face, as if he was encased within a film of stone.
Immediately, she thought of his eyes, so like slate, too, and stole another glance up at him, steeling herself against the vision.
He moved before her as naked as Adam. Well-built, powerful, his muscles dragging on bone, flexing as he bent over his pack to retrieve his clothing. She watched transfixed as his spine curved, his ribcage expanding masterfully as he drove his hand into the sack. Two symmetrical scars lined his back. Where he kept his wings?
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 10 coming Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lover in Stone, Installment No. 7

 

INSTALLMENT NO. 7 #gargoyles #romance
Merrick didn’t look at the woman. He needed to keep his gaze drilled on the ancient trio seated in front of him. The clothing he wore had grown tight enough as it was, he didn’t need it cinching his crotch. Nor did he need to dwell on why he thickened in that region in the first place.
“The Scriptum, it seems, won’t come back in your hands.”
Oh, but damn. Her voice stroked like warm silk across his skin, making his chin tilt to better indulge the caress of her tone. He ground his jaw the second he realized what he was doing.
He was acting like a dog who loved the scratch of his furry ears.
“I’ll bring it back,” he growled, and instantly regretted the alarm flaring in those blue-black eyes. Merrick took an unpracticed step back. “What I meant was–”
“Of course you will, Mr. Merrick,” she assured him, as if she’d never flinched. “But I’m afraid that’s not the issue.”
Mr. Merrick. Like he wore a business suit and wasn’t part Gargoyle.
“Only she can bring it back. The Scriptum wanted her to touch it. She has to be the one to bring it back.” Aro’s needling grated on Merrick’s one nerve, and his claws pierced into his fisted palms.
Ignore him. Ignore her. Concentrate on the Triumvirate.
No better advice had ever been given. With a practiced eye, he watched the trio’s every subtle movement. His sharp hearing trained on the slender thrumming of their pulses, on Anton’s heartbeat.
The Vampyre suffered, yet did not speak against his daughter’s participation, or Aro’s assumption.
“If you don’t trust me…” Merrick dangled the bait, his sly gaze holding to the three in front of him.
“It is not a matter of trust, Merrick.” Anton rose, pushing his knuckles against the highly polished table top. “It is a matter of my daughter’s safety. She must go in, but she cannot go in alone. We need you, Chimera, to escort her, to keep her safe. That is all we ask.” He spread his hands, as if defenseless.
Because he was. This daughter meant a lot to the Vampyre. “And the Scriptum?” Merrick challenged.
Anton hesitated less than a heartbeat, yet Merrick couldn’t have missed it. He wasn’t just Gargoyle. His blood was an elixir of three formidable creatures, and Merrick knew the Vampyre could smell the subtle potency of the combination.
Even without being the one to escort Anton’s daughter through Hell, the Vampyre would deem it necessary to respect him. It would be perilous to do otherwise.
Resignation softened Anton’s expression. “I wish I could say it meant nothing. But I, too, have my duty to my kind. We will all benefit from the teachings of the Scriptum, its secrets. We cannot leave it in the hands of those who have stolen it away to Hell.
“My daughter is the one to retrieve it for us,” he admitted, his breath vacating his lungs on a long exhale. Anton’s silver eyes held Merrick’s, and hid nothing of his fear for his adopted daughter.
Merrick locked his gaze where it was while he chewed on his predicament.
The seconds limped by.
Keep not one, but two, precious items from getting destroyed? A nearly impossible feat given where he and the woman were expected to go.
“It will cost you,” he finally conceded, as forthright as the Vampyre who stood at the dais.
“Anything, Chimera.” The deal steeped down to the two players, as if the others in the room evaporated like non-essential vapor.
Well, not all of the others. Merrick never lost the trace of the human woman’s scent, of her watching him. She watched her father, too. He couldn’t have missed a single gesture of hers if he tried.
Anton and the Triumvirate would pay for that, too. Why not. “When I bring your daughter back with this book, you will owe the Kynd a building in their honor. One engineered with their retirement in mind.”
He couldn’t bring himself to say their deaths. The Kynd didn’t truly die. At first, anyway. They spent centuries encased in stone, perched on eroding ledges. They witnessed ceaselessly, watching the living below them until their bodies crumbled under the incessant ravages of time and weather.
Christ on the cross. Where was the deliverance from that torture? Oh, right. There wasn’t one. The Kynd got the nosebleed seats to the eternal game of life. Perennial passes for every season.
“It will be done, Chimera.” Anton’s acceptance rained on Merrick’s pity party, but his attention snapped back to the fore, like a pitbull scenting blood.
Just like that? This woman meant an awful lot to the Vampyre, and he cursed that he might fathom why. Merrick risked an appraising glance toward the woman who had cost the Vampyre so much, surreptitiously observed her dark eyes pool with tears, her fingers press to her lips before they formed the words Papa in a dreadful sigh.
Dear God. He wanted to hold her. Not just feel her small body enclosed in his arms, but to rub himself all over with that honey-lavender scent.
By thunder, Anton would pay. The Chimera would not rescind this deal, not when this human woman confounded him, made his body ache to do things it had never done before.
Merrick nodded his agreement, then peeled his attention onto the rest of the Triumvirate. “You mentioned packs for the journey. We’ll leave before this hour is up.” He didn’t wait for their reply, but stalked from the stone room that had begun to press on him like a cave.
He hated the underground. But more than that, he hated that he felt as if he’d just bargained for more than what was on the table.
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 8 coming Saturday, February 21, 2015