Disclaimer: Characters and situations are all from my imagination.
Warnings: Sex and love between women
Feedback: Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Last Meal
by Geonn Cannon
Copyright © 2013 Geonn Cannon
This October was frigid, and wetter than usual. I remember how warm the club seemed by comparison to the outside, how it seemed like people were steaming as they walked through the door. Body heat and tight quarters combined so that all the flesh on display glistened and gleamed like we were in a communal sauna with the lights going out. I felt suffocated already as I followed my friends through the crush of humanity, bumped and jostled from all angles but thankfully not groped. I was dressed conservatively compared to the people around me, as usual. I clung tightly to Sara’s hand, so desperate to not be separated from the lifeline of ‘cool’ people that I was dragged along like a dinghy.
When we reached the bar we joined the scrum of people clamoring and hollering for attention from the three harried bartenders. The room was chaos. Flashing lights, bodies moving in strange disjointed ways that hardly seemed human in the green and yellow strobe lights. Sara and Chloe were focused on getting the bartender’s attention while I scanned for a nice quiet corner where I could hide with them until it was time to go home.
My eyes locked on her as if the rest of the room suddenly went out of focus. I noticed her because she was staring at me. Somehow she had pulled me out of the crowd and held me in her sights until I had no choice but to notice her. The other people in the club were just shades. Even the music faded to a dull heartbeat throb as I stared. The hair stood up on the back of my neck, and my mouth went dry.
She was regal and dignified, leaning slightly forward with her elbows resting on her knees and her hands loosely resting between her knees. Her hair was a wave of dark curls draped over her left shoulder, her bangs shading her eyes. Despite that, and despite the distance, her eyes seemed to have a pale blue shine that I initially put off to reflections from the lights that I could no longer see. She seemed older than anyone else in the club, coming off like the club’s owner or a businesswoman being shown a good time by some company that was wooing her.
She wore a charcoal gray suit, the white blouse underneath unbuttoned to show her upper chest but not her cleavage. Her lips were slightly parted, just enough that I thought I saw a sliver of pink tongue against the bottom one. It was gone too soon for me to tell for certain.
The woman was darkness - the hair, the suit, the eyes - but her skin was like marble and those eyes continued to shine like stars. The wall behind her was a crushed red velvet curtain, framing her like a jewel in its case. I could see movement out of the corner of my eye but it was like they were mirages. Only one thing mattered because only one thing really existed in the room. The corners of her mouth curled up into a smile.
I jumped and the world snapped back into focus. Without warning all of my senses were being assaulted from all angles and Chloe was holding out a cup for me. I took it and looked back toward the seductress, but the crowd had moved in to block her from my view. Chloe and Sara moved in close around me, one at either shoulder, and we moved through the crowd to find someplace to plant ourselves. I wasn’t really friends with Sara, but Chloe and I were roommates so we sort of adopted each other’s friends. Chloe and I had followed each other since our random assignment to share a dorm, moving out into our own apartment, getting jobs with the same company, and basically forming a small surrogate support system that made it easier for me to get away from home. The price of that connection meant I had to tag along on the nights out to drink and dance. It was my weekly attempt to act sociable, but all I wanted to do was run home and watch something on Netflix.
The girls got ahead of me a little bit, and then a group of people moved in like castle walls to separate us. I tried to find a polite way to get past them, but they were oblivious to my polite entreaties and the gentle taps I placed on their shoulders. I withdrew and started to turn around so I could find another way to reach the safe haven of my friends. I took one step and collided with Her, the woman, and her eyes were even more smoldering up close. My breath caught in my throat and the world shut down again. The colors drained out of the room and it became gray and black. Everything except for her. She was about three inches taller than me; just enough I had to tilt my head back to look into her eyes. The longer she held my gaze the taller she seemed until it felt as if I was on my knees in supplication to her.
“Hi.” Her voice was silk and smoke, the kind of voice that belonged on the radio late at night. It seduced with a syllable and drew in without effort. The simple and familiar word - hi - seemed to become a resonant chime that vibrated bells deep within my chest and sent shockwaves out to my heart and brain.
I parted my lips to respond but it was a lost cause. She lunged toward me and I flinched, but she only put her lips next to my head so she didn’t have to shout over the throbbing sound of the music. Her voice when she spoke was like a warm breeze that became caught in the shell and swirls of my ear. She said something that I couldn’t understand. “Zoya Kovalenko.” All I could think about was the collar of her blouse and the pale neck leading into it. “And you are?”
I realized she had introduced herself and I should do the same. “Liz Hodges.”
She stepped back and slipped her hand into mine. Her palm was warm and I watched as her fingers curled around my hand in a tight grip.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Liz Hodges. I noticed you noticing me. I hope you don’t think I was rude, but I couldn’t help myself. You are a very beautiful woman.”
“I... you’re...” I laughed nervously.
She was still holding my hand. The crowd and music and lights were still swirling around us, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away from hers. They weren’t as lustrous as they’d been from a distance and yet I was still hypnotized by them. She leaned in again, this time to my other ear, and she spoke in a confident and full voice: “We should find someplace quieter to get to know one another.”
I didn’t trust myself to speak, so I only nodded my head. She smiled and turned away from me. She was nearly out of sight with two steps, and I hurried to catch up with her. I sidestepped and avoided the other people who had become obstacles to my goal. I knocked the drink out of someone’s hand, ignoring their shout of protest. I think I stepped on the feet of three different people, and I was fairly certain I heard Sara or Chloe calling my name, but I was focused on the back of the woman’s jacket. She moved with assured ease and avoided collisions like she could see three steps ahead. The crowd seemed to move in conjunction with her, moving just before she would have had to change course, as if she disturbed the air around her and prompted their movements. She never looked back, assuming that I was following like a puppy on a leash.
Finally I emerged into the cold air, the cover charge I’d paid to get inside amounting to about fifty cents per minute. The tall buildings turned the street into a wind tunnel, and I stopped on the sidewalk as the icy wall hit me. People were huddled against the side of the building like barnacles and shivered as they awaited entrance to the club but none of them were Zoya. I hugged myself and looked up and down the street with increasing unease, fearing I’d fallen for a gag that would force me to wait in line and pay again just to get back into the club.
I decided to walk to the closest corner to see if I could spot the mysterious woman making a hasty escape but she found me before I got there. She emerged from an alley as if she was part of the shadows. She grabbed the lapels of my coat. I was spun, I was pressed against the wall, I was kissed and I was pinned, and I melted as her tongue eased its way between my lips. I sucked on the tip of it, and I felt her writhe as she held me against the bricks.
Her tongue curled back into her mouth, drawing mine with it, and she closed her lips around my tongue once it was in her mouth. My head swam as I pushed my hands into her blazer. Heat seemed to roll off of her in waves, creating a bubble of warmth against the cold October night. She stepped between my legs, which parted to accept her, bent her knees, and then straightened. I suddenly found myself straddling her, my back against the wall and my sex against her stomach, my body twisted and hunched as I wrapped my arms around her shoulders and began to grind against her.
Blood was pounding in my ears and yet I could still hear the voices and laughter of people waiting to enter the club. They were just a few feet away, and I knew that there was a chance someone could come around the corner and spot us. I would be mortified if that happened and I opened my eyes as if merely thinking it had drawn someone to the alley entrance. Even had someone been there, I wouldn’t have stopped. I couldn’t have stopped.
Zoya pulled at my clothes and I helped her where I could. She unbuttoned my shirt without breaking the kiss but I had to twist my head away to get my undershirt off. I had a passing worry about what was on the ground as she dropped it, but my fears dissipated when she undid my bra and closed her lips around my nipple. I arched my back and moved my hands to cup her head, choking back my cry of pleasure so I wouldn’t attract attention, but her tongue on my breast sent vibrations straight down the core of my body to my sex. It throbbed as I rubbed against the curve of her belly and continued as she peeled me off of her. She stepped back as my feet hit the ground and she stared hungrily at my exposed chest. Her hair was mussed from my groping and her bangs had fallen to cover her left eye.
“Take off your pants.”
It was only the fourth or fifth thing she had said to me, and somehow I found myself thinking it was long overdue. I pushed my pants and underwear down, gasping at the cold air and covering myself with one hand as I sagged against the wall. Zoya knelt before me, her hands on my knees to move them apart, and she whispered, “Touch yourself for me, Liz Hodges.” I had no idea how I heard her throaty demand over the howling of the wind, but I did as she asked. I rubbed myself with two fingers and then added a third, and I bit down on the inside of my cheek when she added her hand to mine. Her fingers pushed mine inside, and I brought my other hand up to cover my mouth.
She pulled my hand away and I watched as her lips closed around my fingers, sucking them clean while her hand remained on my sex. She rubbed me and I couldn’t stop myself from moaning. It was carried on the wind and she pulled her hand away to expose me to the weather. The shot of cold was enough to take my breath away, leaving me utterly helpless when she replaced fingers with her lips. My eyes rolled back in my head and I bent my knees to press down against her mouth. I rocked forward, cheeks flushed as I held her against me, riding her face as she opened me with her hips and thrust her tongue inside. Her nose brushed my clit and her breath washed over my entire crotch, the warmth spreading all over my lower body despite the weather’s attempt to freeze my extremities.
I doubt I actually lost consciousness, but my body was at war with itself due to conflicting reports. I felt freezing as I burned, and I felt like I was floating off into thin air while being firmly rooted to the ground. She curled her tongue against my clit and my mind corkscrewed up into the air, tangled with the wind, and then dropped back down into my skull. I felt like I was being taken apart one atom at a time, and I closed my eyes. The sensation was like having my foot fall asleep but spread across my arms, my legs, even my face tingled with a loss of feeling. I felt hollowed out as Zoya thrust her tongue deep inside of me and curled the tip as if she was trying to turn me inside out.
My orgasm was like an explosion. It felt like I was waking up in the middle of it, sensation flooding back into my body as it convulsed around Zoya’s tongue. I went limp and sagged against the wall. Reason came back with my senses and I realized I was practically nude on the coldest night of the season, just a few feet away from a crowd of people who must have heard at least part of what had just happened. My nipples were like stone and I crossed my arms over my breasts as Zoya stood up and covered my body with hers.
She kissed my lips, stroked my body and then moved her mouth to my neck. I lifted my head to one side and closed my eyes, bracing for the pinch that never came. I put my arms around her, pulling her onto me, and I nearly whimpered when I spoke.
Her hands stilled and I felt her lips twist into a smile against my neck. She kissed her way up to my ear, sucked the lobe and then stuck her tongue into the cavern. I trembled violently against her.
“Do you think me a vampire, darling?”
“Yes.” I was shaking so hard when I said it that the word was broken into two syllables.
She chuckled and the sound send shockwaves through me down to my toes. “Sweet thing,” she said, moving her hands up to my breasts. “Vampires don’t exist anymore.” She dragged her mouth across my cheek, turned my head, and captured my lips. I surrendered to her kiss, still feeling lightheaded and weak as she continued to hold me up. I pushed my hands into her clothes, feeling the weight of her breasts before moving down to the side spread of her hips. She pulled back and I followed her, but she put a hand on my shoulder to hold me against the wall.
“Want to touch you,” I mumbled, reaching for her again.
“I know. Maybe next time, Liz Hodges.” She touched her tongue to her bottom lip again, as she had the first time I spotted her in the club, but this time I knew she was tasting me. My whole body shook and it had nothing to do with the wind caressing my nakedness. She leaned in and kissed me as she drew my clothes back into place. My shirt felt wet but at least it didn’t have anything disgusting on it. She broke the kiss and looked down to fasten my pants, and she stroked her hand down my cheek as she backed away from me.
“I want to see you again,” I said.
“Good,” she replied, and then she was gone. I remained against the wall, trying to catch my breath and quickly touching my clothes to make sure everything was where it was supposed to be. I patted my pocket and discovered my billfold was still present. I hadn’t considered the possibility of robbery until it was eliminated, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
When I trusted my legs, I pushed away from the wall and stumbled out of the alley. I approached the bouncer and he recognized me, waving me past the velvet rope so I could go find Sara and Chloe. They admonished me for abandoning them, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell them I’d just had the most intense orgasm of my life in an alley with a woman whose name I didn’t even remember. I joined them at the table and feigned an interest in their conversation, but I kept looking around for evidence my mystery lover had rejoined us in the club.
We left two hours later without a sighting. It was easy to hide my disappointment with exhaustion; I was so wiped out that Chloe had to help me upstairs to my bedroom. I remembered her taking off my shoes and tucking me in. I wanted to thank her but lacking the capacity to . She kissed my cheek, smoothed down my hair, and whispered that there was a pan next to my bed if I needed to throw up. She shut the bedroom door quietly behind her and I let myself drift off.
I didn’t wake up for thirty-six hours.
To say I sleepwalked through the next few days at work would be an understatement. I skipped my lunch break to sleep at my desk and did the bare minimum with my ongoing projects. Fortunately there was enough goodwill with my team members that they didn’t hold it against me. Other than a few worried glances and Karen pulling me aside to ask if I was doing all right, they left me alone. I was sure it was just a twenty-four hour bug, even though it had lasted a few days by that point.
“Maybe it was something you ate,” Noel said.
I told him I hadn’t eaten anything unusual, but silently remembered that someone had eaten me. It didn’t seem likely she’d transmitted anything to me, certainly not anything that acted so quickly, but I was still a touch anxious. Then finally, on the fourth day, I woke up feeling a bit sprightlier. I showered, I ate a big breakfast to make up for the days I’d missed, and I went in ready to attack our project to make it up to my coworkers for picking up my slack. I felt like death warmed over but I eventually got back into the swing of things.
At night, I had dreams of Zoya. I saw her as I first did, at the club, backed by a solid velvet wall that seemed to pulse with my heartbeat. It throbbed faster when she approached me. In my dreams she put me down on the floor and fucked me while everyone stood around us and watched. I didn’t care; I wanted them to see. Sometimes she was dressed, sometimes she was nude, but I always woke feeling achy and exhausted. Sometimes Chloe eyed me weirdly during breakfast and I was afraid of what I might have said or done in my sleep. Judging by how tangled my sheets and blankets always were in the aftermath, I was anything but a passive observer of my own subconscious.
Friday night happened again. Winter had further sunk its claws into us, and we were forced to dress accordingly. I wore black slacks and a blouse with a skinny red tie and suspenders. Chloe chided me because it was the same outfit I’d worn to work that day, but I couldn’t be bothered to care. I had just started feeling better after my doldrums or whatever the hell they were. I was up for going out, but I wasn’t going to risk pneumonia in the hopes of attracting some girl who couldn’t possibly live up to what I’d done with Zoya. I was just going to get a few drinks and maybe be a wingwoman for my girls. We waited outside, freezing through our jackets and turned away from the street to protect our faces from the shards of frozen rain being spit down from the sky.
We got in and once again began cutting our way across the crowded floor to the bar. Chloe and Sara had paid for the drinks last time, so it was my turn. I made it to the bar and lifted my hand to get the bartender’s attention.
“I was so hoping you would come back.”
I had started to thaw out as soon as I got into the club, but that voice... it was like a spike of ice in my ear that melted and trickled water down my spine. My mouth was dry when I slowly started to turn in order to confirm the identity of the speaker, and I gasped as Zoya pushed herself against me from behind to stop my progress. I braced my hands on the bar, faced forward and saw our reflection in the mirror. She bowed her head and burrowed her face into my thick blonde curls, and she licked my earlobe.
“I’ve been tasting you all week. I need another dose.”
Her hands moved around my waist and pushed my jacket out of the way. My eyes widened when I realized what she was doing and I pushed my butt against her hip to try and get some distance between us. “No, no, no...”
“Sh. Do you want me?”
“Y-yes.” I side-eyed the people standing next to me, but they were oblivious. “Not here...”
“Here or nowhere. Choose.” She dropped her lips to my neck and I felt my resolve slipping. I was weak to begin with, but she took whatever strength I had left and replaced it with need and want. Once she’d touched me, I couldn’t bear to have that touch taken away before it was time.
I put my hands on her wrists and guided them toward each other. She pressed tight against me from behind and I closed my eyes as she undid my zipper and pushed one hand inside. She covered the bulge her fingers made in my pants with her other hand, stroking my underwear as her teeth grazed my neck. I tensed my fingers on the edge of the bar and bit my bottom lip as she touched me.
“Holy shit, that girl’s getting fingered.”
“Where... oh, wow. They’re hot...”
My cheeks burned, but I couldn’t bring myself to track the whisper to its source. All I cared about was getting Zoya’s fingers inside of me. One, two, four, her whole fucking fist, I didn’t care. She pinched my clit through my underwear and I arched my back. She moved her lips up to my ear and whispered a series of dirty, nasty things that made me gasp and twitch as she rubbed me, driving me to the edge without letting me go over.
“Poor girl’s getting worked over,” said with a chuckle.
“What do you mean ‘poor girl’? If that’s torture, tie me down and make me scream.”
I couldn’t take it anymore. “Fuck. Please...”
Zoya said, “Say the words, pretty girl.”
“Let me come, Zoya.”
She licked the shell of my ear and I sagged forward, my face almost touching the bar as I pushed my lower body back against Zoya’s hips. She held tight to me and thrust forward, pushing her fingers into me at long last. I was standing on my toes to match her height, my face beet red judging by the glimpse I got in the bar-back mirror before my eyes screwed themselves shut. Zoya groaned and murmured gently in my ear as she pulled me against her, and I felt as if she was actually pushing deep into me, holding me bent over the bar with her hard sex throbbing climactically inside of me. My lips parted and I came silently, choking off any sounds at the very last second before they were more than a squeak.
I flattened my palms on the bar then folded my hands together as if in prayer as she withdrew her fingers. She shaped her right hand to the curve of my ass, then gave me a single sharp swat. My whole body jerked, and my fingers curled into fists as she backed away. She bent down and gave me a final kiss on the cheek. “See you next time.”
I realized she was slipping away a second too late, pushing myself up and looking frantically in either direction for signs of her passage. Again! Again she had made me come like my whole body was being broken apart, and then vanished before I could return the favor. Not that I could return the favor in full, but I could at least go down on her as a thank-you. It was too late. She had already vanished, and all I saw were blushing people averting their gaze; the audience of my second-ever public orgasm. I kept my face to the bar and tried to zip my pants back up as subtly as I could, then stumbled and shouldered my way through the crowd.
I found Chloe and Sara chatting up a couple of romantic prospects at our usual table. Chloe moved to intercept me as I approached.
“Hey! Where’s the drinks? I heard some slut just got fingered right in the middle of the dance floor. Like, to climax. Can you believe... whoa. Sweetie. You okay? You look really pale.”
“I wanna go home,” I slurred. Halfway through the last word my foot must have landed on something slick, because having Chloe’s arm linked with mine was the only thing that kept me from breaking my nose on the floor when I fell.
I woke up in the cab. Chloe was holding me, my head on her chest and my legs curled up so that my knees were on her lap. I managed to say her name, and she kissed the crown of my head. “It’s okay, sweetie. We’re taking you to the doctor.”
“No... nome fye.”
“You are not fine. You’ve been sick all week, and I’m worried sick about you. When you’re well again, I’m totally kicking your ass for making me stress so much.”
“It’s okay,” she said softly, stroking my hair as I passed out again.
I was feeling well enough at the emergency room to be embarrassed by all the fuss, but Chloe insisted I had to stay and get checked out. The doctor eventually told me I had a vitamin D deficiency, gave me a prescription for some high-powered supplements, and we were on our way. I made sure I thanked Chloe profusely for taking care of me, and as a show of strength I made it upstairs under my own power. I undressed and crawled into bed, sure that the pills would do their trick and I’d be back to my old self in the morning. I fell asleep almost immediately, then woke up only briefly when Chloe tried to shake me awake for work. She even resorted to slapping and wringing out a wet washcloth over my face.
“Lizzie, baby, you’re scaring the shit out of me here.”
I got out of bed to show her I was able, and I let the water spray directly in my face in the shower. She offered to drive me to work and I took her up on it. Aahil noticed I seemed wiped out and put a blanket and pillow under my desk so I could zonk out if needed, and I was so grateful I kissed him on the cheek before crawling under. I slept through lunch, after which I was feeling lively enough to sit up in my chair and stare at the computer screen.
After work our manager Mr. Halpern asked me into his office. He talked slowly and gently, like a high school principal, and asked if I’d started doing drugs. He told me about treatment but I assured him I didn’t do anything stronger than caffeine. He didn’t need to know about the occasional joints I smoked. They weren’t causing my fatigue. I thanked him for his concern and he admitted he’d spoken to me because of my project partners. I was being unfair to them and skipping out on my share of the work. I felt like shit and promised I’d do better the next day.
On the way home we stopped at the supermarket to stock up on coffee, soda, and those little outrageously-priced bottles of 5-hour energy. I downed one in the car and felt like I’d gotten kicked in the esophagus, but I was awake and alert. I managed to make it until nine by making dinner for Chloe as a thank-you for all the help she’d given me over the past week, then crashed on the couch until it felt acceptable to drag myself to bed. In the morning I showered and dressed, tossed back another energy drink, and headed out to work. I apologized profusely to my friends, both for slacking off, and making them take the step of complaining to Mr. Halpern, and promised I would do better from that point on.
When it became clear one of us would have to stay late to finish the current step of our ongoing job, I immediately volunteered. It was only fair, after all. I waited until they were gone before I uncapped my third energy drink and tossed it back in a single swallow. I could feel the exhaustion creeping up on me as I sat alone in my cubicle. My desk lamp was the only one on the entire floor that was lit and the overhead fluorescents were off, making me feel like one of those colonial writers writing by candlelight. I cupped my hand over my face to yawn, then shook it off.
“Stop it, Lizzie. You can’t be tired after sleeping for ten days straight and pounding three energy drinks.” I slapped my cheeks, rolled my neck on my shoulders, and blew out a lungful of air. Maybe there was coffee left over in the break room. It would be the dregs, but I felt like that was exactly what I needed to jolt myself to full consciousness.
I got up and traversed the cubicle maze. As I passed the entry hall, I thought I caught a glimpse of movement near the elevators. I stopped and backed up, but the corridor was empty. I couldn’t hear the rattle of the cleaning crew’s cart, and I knew Mr. Halpern would have turned on the overheads if he’d come back. Maybe Aahil had taken pity on me again and brought me a sandwich from wherever they’d ended up.
“Hello? Is someone still here?”
I had heard of people jumping out of their skin before, but this felt like the old Calvin and Hobbes strip where the kid’s skeleton literally broke through the top of his head. I spun around, half-frantic, and saw a woman standing in the darkness behind me. She was bronze-skinned with hair that was just a shade darker, cut close to the head with just a single wave over her left eye. She wore a leather jacket over a billowy white blouse, and her leggings were gray. A strap crossed her chest and I saw that there was a weapon of some sort strapped to her back.
“Is your name Elizabeth Hodges?” she asked, her voice thickened by some accent.
I blinked back tears, humiliated that my first reaction was to revert back to elementary school. I managed to control the quiver in my bottom lip as I nodded.
“You were treated for exhaustion at St. Vincent’s Hospital this past weekend. Is that correct?”
She stepped closer and I cringed. She held her hands up to try calming my nerves, but all that did was reveal the healed scars running over her palms.
“My name is Khait Massri. I mean you no harm. It is in fact my intention to save your life. I believe you are in grave danger. Have you been in contact with a woman called Zoya Kovalenko?”
My heart skipped. For some reason, a voice in my head insisted that I lie. I wanted to say I’d never heard of her and demand she leave before I called for security. I fought back those strange thoughts and nodded slowly.
“Have you been intimate with her?”
I’m sure I blushed, but I managed to say, “Yes.”
“More than five times?”
She broke eye contact and then swept her head from side to side as if searching the carpet for something. “It’s not ideal, not ideal, but there’s hope. A bit of hope, some hope. Okay. How do you feel?”
“I feel tired.”
“Of course you do.” She turned and walked toward my desk, as it was the only lit oasis in the room. I followed her, wary but eager to finally have some answers. She looked at my computer and then pushed all of my papers out of the way. They were notes from my team but I couldn’t find my voice to protest the way she was mistreating them. I watched her put them haphazardly aside and then she took a much-folded map out of her coat pocket. She spread it out on the desk and placed her hands on either border, bending forward so she could look at the markings.
“What did she give me? Is there, like, a... is it an STD?”
“What? No. The woman called Zoya, she ah. She is a, um. Qarinah?” She looked at me to see if I recognized the word, but I must have conveyed my confusion. She squinted and extended two fingers, rolling them in circles next to her lips as if trying to unravel the words. “There is another title, ahum. Hum. Ah, succubus. Yes, this is the word.”
I laughed. “That’s not real.” As soon as the words left my lips I remembered the first time I was with Zoya, I’d asked her to bite me thinking she was a vampire. Was succubus any less believable? I swallowed the lump in my throat and stepped closer to see her map. She had marked off several cities, and she picked up my pencil to mark this city as the next one in line. “So she’s... feeding off me?”
“Mm-hmm.” Her mouth was a thin line as she tapped her finger over the map. “You find her or she find you?”
“I... I was in a club. She approached me both times. She came on to me.”
“Same club both times? Good, this is good news.” She straightened and took out an iPad. Given her attire and the map, it was a little jarring to see her poke and jab at the screen. It was like watching a movie about cavemen where they hop into a Subaru. “You have address of club?”
I nodded and gave it to her, and I waited as she punched it in. “What the hell is going on here? Who are you?”
“Khait Massri. I tell you this.”
“No, I mean... what the fuck. You walk in here with a damn... a damn sword on your back, and you tell me I’ve been fucking a succubus, and that just makes sense to you? That’s normal in your world?”
“It happens every day in my world.” She looked at me again. “But not perhaps in yours. I apologize. I am member of a large organization. Normally I work in Africa, but Zoya and I have history. She came here to escape me, and I asked to be the one who came after her. She is elusive but I finally track her down this week. I find report of you, exhausted young woman, very pretty, and she choose blonde every time. I am sorry it took me so long to find you.”
I was having trouble keeping up but I just shook my head. “No, uh. It’s okay. I mean, you can’t find someone who is exhausted without them getting exhausted first, right?” I scratched my forehead and then pushed my hair out of my face. “Um. Okay. So what...? What do I do? What’s next? Are you going to stop her?” As much as I hated to admit it, the thought of losing such great sex was a bit of a bummer. But if things kept going the way they were, I would be a vegetable by Thanksgiving.
“I hope to catch her, prevent her from doing this to someone else. But she runs whenever I get close.”
“What if she doesn’t know you’re close? I could go back to the club, lure her out, and then you could take her down. She’d never suspect it.” I felt nervous discussing the possibility with this stranger, but I was about to lose the best sex I’d ever had. Part of me felt like I deserved one more time in the saddle, as it were.
Khait shook her head. “No. Too dangerous. If you cannot convince her to leave, she will have you again.”
“But you said five times was the red-line, right? There’s hope up to five times, right? This would only be the third.”
“I could lose four limbs, but that does not mean I would cavalierly allow two of them to get cut off if I could lose only one.” She carefully folded her map again. “No. I will attack her as usual and hope that she has let her guard down. Either I will be successful and capture her, or she will flee. Either way you are safe.”
“Yeah, but if you don’t capture her, whoever she finds in the next town won’t be. And what if she gets to five times before you find her again? What happens after five times?”
Khait hesitated and then answered haltingly. “The woman drops into a deep sleep from which there is no waking. Qarinah continues to visit her in the night and continue to feed until the girl expires.”
I shuddered to think how close I had come to that fate. I couldn’t let someone else face the danger. I hugged myself and said, “I’m going back to the club, and I’ll keep going back until I see her again. I’ll suggest we go somewhere a little more private before we do anything.”
She took a long slow breath. “Do you believe you can resist her touch? The first two times, you had much control over what happened?”
She had me there. “I know the risk this time. Before I thought it was just a really great orgasm. Now I know my life is at stake. I’ll be able to stop her.”
I must have sounded more confident than I felt because she took a long slow breath before she nodded once. “We will require a plan of action before we make any move against her. You are certain you are capable of this?”
“How long have you been chasing her?”
“Personally, thirty years. But she is inhuman. She has been active for nearly twelve centuries.”
I felt like I’d been hit in the stomach. This couldn’t be real life. I couldn’t be talking about a succubus with a hunter straight out of a video game. But I did the math. If Zoya could use up a woman in five weeks, then how many thousands of women must she have left in her wake in a millennium? My head was swimming. I couldn’t let her take any more, even if it meant I had to be her last meal.
“Someone has to stop her. Might as well be you and me.”
Khait looked at me with something like respect and nodded her head. “Very well. Let us prepare. We haven’t much time.”
“We have three days. I mean, she hasn’t been feeding on anyone else, has she?” Khait inclined her head in a way I took to be acknowledgement. “And she only sees me on Fridays at the club. So we know where she’ll be and when she’ll strike. We have time to make sure we do this right.”
She thought for a second and then nodded. “And it will give you time to regain your strength. It’s good... you’ll need as much as you can get. The feeding of a q-- of the succubus is cumulative. She has already drained you nearly empty twice. The third time it will take even longer to recover and your resolve will be at its lowest point.”
I rolled my eyes. I was all set to be gung-ho until she started talking like that. “Whatever. Just tell me what I need to do and I’ll do it.”
“All I require from you is rest. You must be ready when the time comes, and you must have your senses about you enough to relocate to a place where I can stop her. Otherwise this will all be for naught and you will be too weak to help me.”
“Okay. All I have to do is the same old routine. Sounds easy enough.”
“What do you mean ‘no’?”
Chloe shrugged. The collar of her sweater tumbled off her shoulder and she tugged it back into place. “Sorry, Liz. I just don’t feel like going out.”
I couldn’t believe it. Friday night clubbing was like a religion to her and Sara. I went along just because I didn’t feel like sitting home alone while they had all the fun, and now the one time I actually needed to go out... I was dressed to the nines and ready to go, while she was in yoga pants and a baggy sweatshirt. She dropped onto the couch and began skimming to find something to watch, so I stepped in front of the screen.
“We have to go out.”
“No, we don’t. I just want to relax.”
“Did you have a bad day at work or something? Do you need cash? I could buy the drinks... I’ve kind of slacked the past two weeks, so...”
Chloe shook her head. “I just don’t want to go. You’re blocking the TV, you know.”
“Screw the TV. Come on. You know I never want to go out.”
“So what the hell, Chloe?”
She tossed the remote onto the couch and stood up so quickly I thought she was going to hit me. When she spoke, she sounded furious. “Because the last two times we’ve gone out, you’ve gotten so sick I thought you were going to die. The past two Saturdays I’ve sat by your bed and held your hand, and both times I didn’t know if you were going to wake up. Something is going on with you, Liz, and it happens every time we go out. I’m not going to worry about you again tonight.” She was shaking and her eyes were wet. When she stopped speaking she looked away and down at the floor. “I can’t do that again, Liz. So let’s just stay in and... and watch something stupid on Netflix, okay? Please.”
I was stunned. Did Chloe... like me? I wanted to surrender to her. It was the hardest thing in the world to not give in, because I saw the pain in her eyes and realized she’d been covering it up for two weeks. I thought about her staying with me in the emergency room, how she’d stayed up to make sure I was okay on the days when I was so sick. But Zoya was still out there, and if she discovered Khait was closing in she would move on to another unsuspecting girl in a different town.
“Chloe, I’m sorry.”
“Then go out alone. See if I care.”
Her voice was devoid of emotion, but I could tell it was a trial. “I’m sorry, Chloe. Really, I am.”
I wanted to give her a hug, but I knew it wouldn’t be welcomed. So I grabbed my pocketbook and left the apartment, hoping there would be a chance to fix things in the morning. Assuming I was still around in the morning to make amends with anyone. I had done nothing but work and sleep the past three days in anticipation of Friday night. I was increasingly afraid of what would happen once I was face-to-face with Zoya because goddamn it she was the sexiest woman I’ve ever seen, let alone been with, and I feared I would give up my life willingly if she offered to go down on me again. But I managed to remember that could literally happen, and I powered through the fictional temptation every time.
When I got to the bar, the line outside was mercifully short due to the freezing cold weather. It was still a week before Halloween so people might also have been pacing themselves for the big party. I usually dressed up with Chloe to hand out candy to kids in our building but given how mad she was at me... no. We’d get through it. I just had to get through tonight in one piece and then fixing things with her would be a piece of cake.
I was halfway across the floor when I felt her eyes on me. I forced myself not to look, ignoring the pull I felt from the far side of the room. It was almost like she was calling me; I could hear my name under the pounding beat of the music. I went to the bar and waited to be served, and Zoya gave up waiting for me to notice her or respond to her entreaties. I felt her presence right before she pressed against me from behind, her hands on my hips, her face in my hair. She breathed deeply and I went weak in the knees, but she kept me upright.
“Helwa... you made me chase you. That makes me wild.”
I parted my lips to respond, but her hands slid up to my breasts and cupped them through my blouse. Words failed me. I had a vague memory of Khait and what she expected from me, but all I cared about was the tingling in my nerves running straight down between my legs as she teased my nipples to erection through the combined barriers of my shirt and bra. I was already wet when she began assaulting my neck, and I wet my lips as I pushed my hips back against her. She pressed back, and soon we were writhing against the bar again.
“Way...” I worked my throat, trying to get my voice back into it, and I managed to croak, “Wait!”
Her hands slid down my stomach, heading straight for my skirt. “I don’t like to play slow, beautiful...”
“No, I mean... I-I wuh-want to touch you. I want to make you feel good, too.”
She licked my neck and I forgot what words were. She spoke a few of them but I couldn’t translate from the original English to whatever fucking language I was currently working from. All I could understand was her body against mine, the shape of her breasts and God, the fog of pheromones currently embanked around me, and she was willing to touch my pussy and I was a-okay with that so long as she did it soon. I wanted it bad. I wanted it more than I’d ever wanted anything. I didn’t care if I got to go home, I didn’t care if my last thought was “More!” as long as it meant I’d gotten a little.
I had a vision of Chloe sitting on our couch, angry and sad, crying her way through some dumb movie on TV. I wanted to be there with her. I wanted to put my head on her lap and have her stroke my hair and make fun of the stupid movie with me. Oh, God, she did like me. She liked me, and I would be lucky to be with someone like her, so why had we kept coming back to this club? My mind was like a pea circling a wine glass, held to the sides of my skull by centripetal force and I was dizzy enough to break through the wall of desire.
“I want to give myself to you,” I said.
Zoya’s hand hesitated on my skirt, covering the heat of my sex, and I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep focused on this new tack.
“You have no idea what you’re saying.”
“I do.” I swallowed hard. “You make me feel so amazing, Zoya. I want to feel that way forever. I want to give you everything. You deserve more than a, a quick fuck in a bar. Please. Let’s go somewhere. Make love to me all night. Please.”
She was pressed tightly enough against me that her shiver transferred through me. Given how strongly she came on, I bet it had been a while since she had a meal last the entire night, and the thought made her mouth (or other parts) water.
“You would give yourself to me willingly?”
I pulled her hand away from my crotch because I couldn’t concentrate with its pressure. To cover the move I brought the hand to my mouth and sucked her fingers. She moaned as I circled the tip of her middle finger with my tongue. “Every last drop. Take it all. Please, Zoya. Feast on me.”
She groaned and pressed hard against my ass. “Come with me...”
“That’s the plan,” I said.
She chuckled throatily and I nearly gave up the game right then and there. What was one more orgasm, one more four-day recovery period? But I thought of Khait, I thought of the women who would be victimized in the future and those who had been taken in the past, and I closed my eyes as Zoya spun me around and kissed me. Her tongue was in my mouth and it tasted like sparks, like ozone burning my nose and the backs of my eyes as she tasted me. I put my hands on her breasts and squeezed, sliding down to her hips and spreading my legs a little so she could fit between them.
It was just an act to make her think I wanted to go with her. I told myself that loudly and repeatedly in my head, but the reasoning faded between recitations. I had to make her believe I wanted it, and what easier way than actually desiring it? Right? I was just playing a part... right?
She pulled back with a gasp, then a growl, and she grabbed a handful of my hair in her hand. “Let’s go, little girl.” Her accent was thicker now, her eyes darker, and I realized I was seeing who she truly was. Some of the glamour had worn off and I realized she wasn’t nearly as beautiful as I originally believed. Oh, she was still attractive, but there were elements of something other to her now. Her skin seemed gray rather than porcelain now, and her teeth were more sharp than blunt. I smiled regardless, wondering if my foreknowledge had opened my eyes to what she really was, or if she was just trying less hard to entrance me. I was already on the hook, so she didn’t have to waste energy on holding the illusion. Whatever it was, I slipped my hand willingly into hers and let her lead me through the crowd.
We stepped out into the cold again. Her spell was so strong I nearly forgot myself and the plan. “Wait, uh. Not the alley.” Khait and I had planned for something a little more contained. She was following us, keeping an eye on us so that Zoya felt she had some measure of control and confident she wasn’t being herded into a trap. But I felt a twinge of fear as I let her guide me out, and I resisted the urge to look around to confirm my savior was keeping up with us.
“No. If we’re going to take all night, there is a place. A very special place.” She spoke in her native language once more, winked at me, and then began to run. I struggled to keep up but, when I stumbled, she took over and half-dragged me onward until I found my feet again. I have no idea how far we walked. Before I would have counted it up to being insanely turned-on, since I really was hornier than I could ever remember being, but now I felt the tingle on my lips and tongue and knew she’d bewitched me somehow with that kiss. I couldn’t spare a thought of my own, couldn’t even bring up my own hand to brush my hair out of my face.
I was helpless.
We reached an old, dark building. It wasn’t just that the lights were off on the corner and none of the windows were illuminated; the building actually seemed to be cloaked by shadows. We stepped through the edge of the darkness and I couldn’t see Zoya anymore. I clung to her as she opened the door and pushed me inside. I hugged myself because it had to be at least twenty degrees colder inside than it was outside. The plan was for Khait to follow us, but we’d gone too fast and too far... what if she didn’t see the building? What if it was blocked from her sight?
“It’s cold,” I said, and the words puffed out in front of me in a white cloud.
“I will warm you, my sweet,” she purred as she sidled up behind me. She stepped around in front of me and put two fingers under my chin to angle my head back so I was looking into her eyes. “Will you give yourself to me willingly?”
“Take off your clothes.”
I stepped back and kept my eyes on her as I undressed. The fog in my head was so thick that I was breathing heavily, my hands trembling as I undid the buttons. I let my blouse fall and realized Zoya was undressing as well. My breath came faster and I dropped my eyes to the lacy red bra, the smooth lines of her abdomen... She was gorgeous again, perfectly proportioned, like a fantasy come to life. I brushed my tongue over my lips and stepped out of my skirt. She stepped close again and used her fingers to part my lips, letting me suck them into my mouth. She tasted so good, her fingernail sharp on the center of my tongue. I moaned and she put her arms around me, one hand between my legs to rub me through my panties. I lifted my leg and hooked it on her hip, and she pushed me back. She lowered me so gently, and stayed so close to her, that I didn’t realize she was laying me down until my back hit the cold floor.
“I will make this as enjoyable as possible for you,” she cooed, and she ran her tongue over my cheeks, across my brow, and then from the tip of my nose up to my hairline. I was so far gone I found it intensely erotic, quaking as she sank lower... farther down, between my legs. I planted my feet on the floor and bent my knees outward.
She settled between my legs and lowered her head, and I trembled in anticipation of her touch. I felt her breath on my upper thighs, and reached down for her hand.
Khait seemed to peel out of the shadows, and I heard Zoya hiss just before Khait’s studded boot impacted her head and knocked her back. My eyes opened completely and I shouted, “No!” I started to get up but Khait pushed me down, leaving me sprawled on the concrete as she advanced. She drew her sword from the scabbard hanging off her back. Zoya had flipped over on her stomach, hands flat on the floor and rump raised as she faced her enemy.
“Massri! I thought you dead.”
“Quite near, thanks to you.” She swung her blade and Zoya effortlessly avoided it by scurrying like a spider across the floor. Now that she was distracted my head was clear, and I could only cross my arms to cover myself as Khait swung again. Zoya caught the blade by clapping her hands flat on either side of it, and she managed to wrench it out of the hunter’s grip. She threw it and I heard a metallic clatter as it fell, even though the shadows closing in on my vision prevented me from seeing where it landed. Khait ignored the loss of her weapon and pounced, raising her fists over her head before bringing them down on Zoya where her neck and shoulder met. Zoya went down, and Khait put a knee on her back to pin her against the ground.
“This is where your feast ends, qarinah!”
“I existed long before you, and I will see your ashes scattered, hunter!” She moved faster than my eye could follow and bucked Khait off. She swung out one hand, her fingernails turning into talons, and she cut a red line across Khait’s stomach. Khait cried out and fell with a sprinkling of blood following her down. I watched in horror as Zoya got to her feet, now fully hideous. Her beauty had transformed, the pale skin now wrinkled, gray and sickly. Her eyes were hollow caverns and her lipless mouth pulled back around bat-like fangs. She looked at me, her once lustrous hair hanging in limp reeds around her face.
I’m sure I let out a scream of terror as the beast pounced on me and cupped my face in its nauseating hands.
“Sorry for this,” she said in a whispering, shuddering voice. “But I require sustenance for this battle, and you are the only food I have on hand.”
I felt my energy seeping out of me as I screamed, saw it like a pale blue smoke passing into her gaping mouth. My eyes rolled back so the last thing I saw was the ceiling rather than the hideous creature she had become.
I think being dead would feel better, which was small solace. I ached everywhere. It hurt to open my eyes. It hurt to keep them closed. I felt nauseated lying down, but I knew that sitting up would make me vomit. The blanket was too heavy on me, but I knew the room was too cold to do without it. I rolled onto my side into the fetal position and let out a thin, high-pitched wail. My head pounded as if someone was literally burying a nail in the back of my skull. A hand slid over mine and I pulled away, but it held tight. I opened one eye, then the other, and saw Chloe kneeling next to my bed.
“You stupid bitch,” she said through her tears.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered.
She closed her eyes and leaned in, and touched our foreheads together. “I thought you were dead when that lady brought you home.”
“How long have I been sleeping?”
I groaned and tried to plant my face in the pillow, but moving my neck that much hurt. “I’m sorry, Chloe.”
“Are you okay?”
I shook my head very carefully; I owed her the truth at least. “But I think I will be. The woman who brought me home... what did she look like?”
“Tall. Black, with great hair. She looked like she’d been to the wars, but at least she was standing. She told me to tell you thanks.” She smiled. “Actually she said, ‘convey my gratitude to your friend.’ Some people you hang out with.”
I managed to smile. “She won.”
“I guess.” She reached up to stroke my hair away from my face. “I called Mr. Halpern and told them you’re taking a week off. You’re sick, babe. You need to heal, and if I have to take my sick days to take care of you, then that what I’ll do. And we’re not going out next Friday.”
“Smart woman.” She leaned in and lightly kissed my cheek. “Feel better, Liz. I would... if anything happened to you, I’d...”
I shushed her. “Did you spend the night in here?”
“In the chair, yeah.”
I scooted to one side. “You need rest, too. Get in here.”
“In... bed with you?”
“You’ve been sitting up with me so much, and sleeping in that damn chair... you need to lie down and sleep without worrying. And... I just want to be held.”
She stood up, toed off her shoes, and crawled under the blankets. She put her arms around me and I rested my head on her chest. It seemed to soothe the majority of my aches and pains so I scooted closer. I had no idea what had happened after I passed out, but it seemed like I had been cored like an apple. But Khait was the one who brought me home, so that made me hopeful she had succeeded. At least everything I’d been through had achieved something. And maybe it had gained me something I otherwise would have missed.
“Liz?” Just a soft whisper, enough to get my attention but not wake me. I was too exhausted for a conversation, so I stayed quiet. She kissed the top of my head and whispered, “I’m so glad you’re okay, Liz.” A pause, and then even softer, “I love you.”
My heart swelled, and the pain receded just a little more. I wanted to repeat it to her, wanted to finally admit we were more than just friends and roommates. But it had waited this long, and it could wait another few hours until we were both awake to do something about it.
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