Generation 15: Chapter 26

Chapter 26

  I woke virtuously alone. Wasn’t sure if I should be disappointed, angry, or relieved that, except for the removal of the handcuffs, I was untouched. Decided to wait until after I’d spoken to Mr. Frank to pick my emotional response. In the meantime, a shower and a meal. The house was fairly small, so unless he was downstairs, I was alone. Definitely angry that he was apparently avoiding me after my unsuccessful seduction. I swept up the dried flower petals angrily. The door opened while I was dumping them in the trash.

“How could you?” I snarled.

“I…what?” Mr. Frank looked startled at my accusation.

“How could you treat me like a child?” Humiliation won.

“Um, no idea what you’re talking about…” he eyed me warily.

“You tucked me into bed.” Tears began to well in my eyes. I would not cry.

“Oh. That.” He relaxed.

“Yes. That!” Watcher, I was going to cry. I rubbed my eyes.

“Dariel, I realize some people would make all sorts assumptions about my character based on my sexual preferences, but I like my partners to be conscious and capable of consenting to sex.” He shrugged. “Cuts down on lawsuits.”

“But…” I bit my lip. “Alone?”

He reached up to cup my cheek. “Yes, alone. Because I didn’t trust myself to continue to be a gentleman if I shared a bed with you.”

“Oh.” I must have looked as uncertain as I felt because he cautiously put his arms around me. I immediately snuggled up against him.

“Shh, it’s alright,” he soothed as I sobbed softly in his arms.

“Sorry,” I said when I finally pulled away. “I thought that maybe you’d changed your mind. That you didn’t want me anymore.”

He snorted at that. “I’m not dead yet.”

“Huh?”

He gave me a crooked grin. “Dare, I’d have to be six feet under to not want you.”

“Oh.” I digested that statement. “Good. Where have you been? Or is that classified?”

“No.” He ran a hand through his hair. “I needed to talk to my employers. In person. About you.”

“Me? Why?”

He sighed. “Because of the contract you signed. You need to submit to a physical and psychological examination.”

“Why?” My wings fluttered rapidly betraying my agitation.

“It’s standard procedure…”

“I don’t care! Why?” I demanded.

“Several reasons…”

“Tell me.” Why was he being so evasive?

He sighed again. “Dare, the physical should be obvious: to ensure you’re healthy and not carrying any disease or poison or such…”

“What?! You think…? I haven’t! Not with anyone else!”

He rolled eyes. “Relax. I know you haven’t. It’s a routine blood test. I’m tested regularly too. There other is, well, because you might be a spy or assassin.”

“What?!”  How could he possibly think that?

“It is a time-honored tradition to use sex to get close to a target,” Mr. Frank replied dryly.

“Oh. I wouldn’t…”

“I know, but better safe than sorry. You’re scheduled to go in Monday.”

“Do I have a choice?”

“Yes. Move out,” he told me bluntly.

“Oh.” I wrapped my arms around me. If I left, I’d have to go back home. My stomach lurched at the thought.

“Dare…?”

“Okay. I’ll do it,” I whispered. It would have to be better, right? “Do they know I’m a Mer?”

He shrugged. “I haven’t told them. While I know they’ve done a background check, which you passed, I don’t know how much they do know about you.”

“I…wait! A background check?”

“Yes. Classified work, remember? You passed.”

“How do you know?”

“Because,” he explained patiently, “if you hadn’t passed, you wouldn’t still be living here.”

“Oh.” That made sense. I did wonder what had turned up as a result.

“So what’s for dinner?”

“What? How can you think of food?”

“Because I slept through breakfast and missed lunch arranging for your exams.”

“Um.” I ran a hand through my hair. “I don’t actually have anything planned. We generally fended for ourselves on New Year’s Day.”

He laughed. “Good thing I have several take-out places on speed dial then. Pizza or Chinese?”

“Mmm…pizza, but no anchovies.”

“You don’t like fish?” Pink eyebrows rose.

“Fresh fish, sure. Preserved fish?” I shuddered theatrically.

“Sushi?”

“Yeah, but we eat a lot of that at home. Chinese too. Pizza? Not so much.”

“Really?”

“Uh-huh. The Siren can’t handle gluten or lactose that well…so a lot of meat and vegetables. I don’t have a problem though.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.” I grinned. “When we first moved on land I pigged out on ice cream at a neighborhood barbeque. Terrible stomachache, but otherwise no reaction. The Siren had a few bites and had to see a healer.”

“I see. Good to know. You might want to keep that information to yourself. Especially if it’s common in Mers.”

“Okay, but why?”

“Because, my naive little Mer-fairy, some people might use it against yours.”

“Am I?”

“Are you what?”

“Yours.”

He chuckled. “Way to focus on the important stuff. Like potential weapons against Mers.”

“Oh. Um,” I shrugged. “Why would anyone want to attack us? We just want to be left alone.”

“Oh, Dare…” he gave me a quick squeeze. “I can think of several reasons, none of them good. Part of the reason it took me so long today was that I wanted assurances that you’d be left alone.”

“Huh?”

“They do know you’re a fairy. Fairies are rare. They might be tempted to use you or study you.”

“Oh.” I shrugged. “I’m not very good at the magic stuff.”

He snorted. “You picked my state-of-the-art lock, Mr. Not- Very-Good-At-Magic.”

I blinked. “That? A child’s trick.”

He gave me a skeptical look. “Ri-i-ight. Supreme okay?”

“Huh?”

“Pizza.”

“Oh. Right. Supreme’s fine.”

“Okay. Go find something to watch on TV.”

I gratefully escaped to the living room. It had been a very stressful and emotional conversation.

—-

I flipped through the channels. Nothing really appealed to me even though Mr. Frank had the deluxe cable package. I don’t know why. He didn’t watch it much. Maybe for previous roommates? I finally chose a rerun of some cop show.

Mr. Frank came in during the opening sequence. “So, it’ll be here in about thirty minutes.”

I nodded. He came over and perched on the chair’s arm. I flinched when he touched me. “Don’t.”

“Dariel, What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

He sighed. “You signed a contract. One that requires a significant amount of physical contact. How do you plan on fulfilling it, if I am not permitted to touch you?”

It was my turn to sigh. “It’s not that I don’t want you to touch me, but what’s the point? If I don’t pass your stupid tests, I’ll have to leave. I don’t want…”

“Because at least we’ll have this weekend.”

“Do you think that was enough?”

“Enough for who?”

“In Casablanca…they’d always have Paris. Do you think the memory was consolation enough after they parted?”

“Ah, my Dare…” he gently stroked my hair. “I don’t know. I just know I would have regrets if…”

I bit my lip. “I bought presents for you. Did you open them?”

“Just the contract. I left the others downstairs. Shall I fetch them now?”

I blushed but nodded. “Yes, please. I hope you like them…”

He smiled tenderly at me. “The best gift you gave me was your maidenhead.”

I blushed even harder. “I didn’t really ‘give’ it to you.”

“Yes, you did. Last night.”

“But…” I wrinkled my forehead in confusion.

“You offered yourself willingly to me. If you had been awake we would have had sex, yes?”

“Yes,” I whispered. I wouldn’t have refused him. Now…it seemed more.

“So…” he brushed his thumb over my lips. “Last night you offered me your virginity.”

I thought it over before slowly nodding. “Yes, I did.”

He kissed me briefly before going downstairs to get his presents. I played nervously with the hem of my kilt. Would he like them? I’d gone to a lot of trouble to get them…

Should I undress? Or would that be considered too forward? I wiped my palms on my kilt. What was taking so long?

“Dariel.”

I jumped. “Don’t do that!”

“Sorry.” He grinned unrepentant. “Did you know you squeal like a girl?”

“I do not!”  I unleashed a stream of Mer invective which caused him to wince.

“Enough!” he roared. The doorbell rang in the sudden silence. He took a deep breath. “I’ll go pay for the pizza. You…” He shook his head and left without finishing his sentence. Probably just as well. I arranged the brightly wrapped packages on the coffee table.

Mr. Frank deposited the cardboard box next to them and handed me a cold can of soda. “Here.”

“Thanks. Sorry.”

“Me too.”

I picked at my slice of pizza. The lawyer on screen droned on as he interrogated the Criminal of the Week.

“You need to eat.”

“Not hungry.”

“Dariel…” I took a tiny bite before resuming picking at it. “Don’t make me feed you, my Dare.”

“Sorry. Just nervous.”

He patted my knee reassuringly. “Don’t be. I won’t do anything without your explicit consent.”

I didn’t comment when left his hand there. In fact, I shifted so my kilt rode up exposing my bare skin. I wished I dared more. His hand slid further up my leg as I shifted position to relieve a leg cramp.

“So, Dariel, shall I open my presents now? Or would you prefer to make out?”

“Presents,” I said softly. “Then we can play with them.”

“I want to play with you…”

I smiled shyly. “Open them,” I urged.

“Very well.” He gave me a caress before picking up the first package. He laughed when he saw it. “I see why you wanted me to open my gifts first. But, Dare, they’re not really necessary.”

“But…”

He lifted his wrist to show me his bracelet.  “This has a contraceptive charm it. I get tested a regular intervals for disease. My last one was a few days ago. I’m clean.”

“Oh. I didn’t know that.” I shrugged. “Thorn said that I was responsible for my birth control. Those are the only effective method for herms and occults.”

“Wise man.” He shrugged in turn. “I’ll use them if you want. There really isn’t such a thing as too much precaution.” He tapped his bracelet. “Even this fails.”

“How long does the spell last?”

“About a year, more or less. I got this one in October. Why?”

I did some quick math in my head. “Mr. Frank…I think it failed early.”

“Are you pregnant?!”

“No! No,” l repeated softly. “I’m not pregnant, but I was. I miscarried a couple of weeks after we, um, had sex.” I stared down at my hands.

He covered them with one of his own. “Dare, why didn’t tell me earlier?”

I rolled my eyes. “Because it didn’t seem important. I didn’t even suspect that I might be pregnant. Only my hormone levels gave any indication.”

“Still…”

“It doesn’t matter. I don’t want to be with someone who feels like he has to stay because I got pregnant.”

“Are you okay? Physically? Emotionally?”

I smiled and squeezed his hands. “Yes, to both. It was early enough that it was like I had a period. I talked to a counselor at the hospital a couple of times afterward. I do want children…someday.”

“You don’t have periods?”

I snorted. “Of course not. I’m a Mer. Blood in the water is not a good idea. Sharks.”

“Ah,” he rubbed the back of his neck. “I never really thought about it before…”

I shrugged. “Why would you? Six months ago you didn’t even know that Mers were real.”

It was his turn to snort. “Spoken like someone who is not a nerd.”

“Huh?”

“They spend a lot of time trying to figure out how things that aren’t ‘real’ work.”

“Mmm…finish opening your presents.”

“Eventually,” he murmured as he leaned in to kiss me.

I allowed him a brief, far too brief, kiss before pushing him away. “Now, now, if you don’t open your gifts, you won’t get to wrap your package.”

He laughed softly. “We wouldn’t want that, would we?” Another kiss before picking up the next gift. “Oh. My. We are optimistic aren’t we?”

I wrinkled my brow. “Is there something wrong with it?”

“Not really.” He kissed my cheek. “It’s too big for a virgin. You need to work your way up to something that size.”

“Oh, um,” I blushed. “I just kinda grabbed the first one I saw.”

“Jumbo size?”

I could Feel his amusement. I gave him an annoyed shove. He fell over laughing. “I’d never been in that kind of store before. Forgive for not spending hours picking out the right size and color. Surely I get credit for trying.”

“Yes,” he wheezed. “An ‘A’ for enthusiasm. ‘C’ for effort.”

“A ‘C’! Just a ‘C’?” I tackled him and began tickling him. He valiantly tried to fight me off. I had a sister and two ‘cousins’. He was badly overmatched.

“Fine.” He panted as we lay there breathless. “A ‘C+’. But no higher. I don’t care how much you tickle me.”

“Well, all right,” I responded somewhat mollified. Besides my kilt had wound up around my waist in the scuffle and his hand rested on my bare backside. “Next time I’ll do better.”

He trailed his hand along my hip. “Actually, to be perfectly honest, you are the only potential partner I’ve had who has augmented my toybox. Thank you for that.”

“You’re welcome. You should open your last gift. Even if it’s not right…”

“Dariel, no matter what happens, I won’t use your gifts with anyone else.”

I reached over to hand it to him. He sat up enough so he could tear the wrapping off. “Do you like it?” I asked after he’d stared at it speechless for a long moment.

“Oh, yes,” he breathed. “I love it.”

“Do we have to wait to play with it?”

“Mmm…it might sting a little more because the leather hasn’t been softened, but it’s really up to you.” He let the leather fringe slide through his fingers. In response I lay across his lap and pulled my kilt up exposing my bare backside. “I take it, that’s a ‘yes’?”

“Yes. I want you to hit me.”

He ran a hand up my thighs. “The term is ‘flog’.’

“Whatever.”

He gently pushed me off his lap. I remained crouched on the ground. “Stand up and brace yourself against the sofa.” I obeyed, though he made a few adjustments to my position. I gasped as the leather connected with my bare flesh.

“Shall I continue?” he asked courteously.

“Yes, please.”

He brought down again. He didn’t ask as it bit into  me a third time. Four. Five. A long pause. I heard the rustle of plastic. Then he gripped my hips and thrust into me. I shifted so I was braced on my forearms. My kilt hung down blocking my view of the action. Didn’t matter. I closed my eyes to better concentrate on what was happening between my legs. All too soon I was crying out my pleasure. He finished shortly after. I sank to my knees with my head and upper body still resting on the couch cushions. I could hear Mr. Frank moving around. Debated helping. Lost the debate. My backside stung.

“Dariel?”

“Hm?”

“You’re sitting on some of the wrapping paper.”

“So I am.” I reached down to tug it free. “I should help.’

He waved me back down when I made to stand. “No. I can manage.”

“Then why do you need me?”

“I can  manage. I just don’t particularly like to clean. And as for my cooking…there’s a reason I have Blackjack on speed dial.”

I laughed. “My cooking is hardly five-star.”

“It’s edible.”

“Your cooking can’t be that bad.”

He laughed. “Last time the fire department called for a Hazmat team.”

“Seriously?”

“Scout’s honor. The military wants to classify it as a bioweapon.”

“Oh, come on.” I threw a decorative pillow at him. He deftly caught it and swung it at me. I ducked and retaliated with its mate. He blocked and aimed for my legs. I scrambled backwards. He smacked me on my backside as I slid across the coffee table. I grazed his shin. He hopped back giving me time to gain my feet.

“You realize, Dariel, this means war.”

I narrowed my eyes. “Bring it.”  He grinned and lunged for me. I dodged and got him good with my own attack. I was a master at one-on-one pillow fighting. I discovered that he had some skills of his own.

“Enough,” he held up a hand. “Let’s call it a draw.”

“Never give up! Never surrender! Do you yield?” I panted.

“Perhaps. What are your terms?”

“Terms?”

“For my surrender.”

I blinked. Hadn’t expected this. I walked over to stand directly in front of him. He tilted his head back to look up at me. “My terms…” I mused. “My terms are these: you must…” I licked my lips nervously. “You must pleasure me. If I fail to orgasm at least twice I will consider our truce null and void.”

He stared at me before slowly smiling. “Your terms are acceptable. How shall I begin?”

I bit my lip uncertainly. I hadn’t really expected him to so willingly submit to my direction. He was in the perfect position…I slowly pulled off my shirt and undid my kilt. It pooled at my feet as I stood there completely naked. “I think…I think you know what to do.”

“Indeed.” He leaned forward. I dug my nails into my palms as he proceeded to fulfill the terms of his surrender.

—-

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Generation 15: Chapter 25

Chapter 25

  I woke alone in my bed. The soreness between my legs reminded me of what we’d done. I hoped he wouldn’t freak out (again). He could hardly claim I was a virgin this time. The weak winter sunlight streaming let me know that it was later than it should be. I debated going back to sleep. Decided not to. A quick shower later, I was ready to face the day (and Mr. Frank).

My employer was nowhere to be seen, but there was a familiar envelope next to my place at the table. Correction. Two envelopes. One held cash and a shopping list as usual. The other…a stapled packet with a note on top.

“Please read the enclosed contract thoroughly and return it to me by the first. I am more than willing to discuss all clauses as well as renegotiate the terms if necessary. V.F.”

I skimmed it assuming it was a standard lease agreement. Nope, even with that brief look I could tell it wasn’t a standard anything. At least I hoped not. A more thorough perusal confirmed my first impression. It was a sexual contract. Watcher, I didn’t even know what half the acts listed were! I felt very young and naive as I sat staring at it. Could l do it? Could I really sign this? Was it even legal? I didn’t know, but there was no way I was consulting a lawyer about it. I decided to focus on something simpler: grocery shopping.

“Hey, Thorn,” I answered my cell phone in the frozen food aisle.

“Dariel,” he said in relief. “Are you alright? Your text was kind of cryptic.”

“Yes. I’m fine. I just went back to school.” Text? What text?

“Thank the Watcher. Why?”

“Oh, you know, it was a spontaneous thing,” I replied vaguely. Peas or corn?

“No kidding. I thought you’d been kidnapped! You weren’t answering your phone.”

I winced. “Sorry. I turned it off.” At least it had been off this morning. I tossed a package of mixed veggies into the cart. Stew would be good. Thick and hearty, perfect for warding off the chill.

Frell it, I was about ready to call the cops.”

“I said I was sorry. Why would you think kidnapping?” Accident, sure, but kidnapping?

“Long story,” he evaded. “Cy wanted to inform your aunt.”

I sighed. “Oh. Look, I just didn’t feel comfortable or safe there.”

“What? Why?”

“Athena.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I can’t talk about this now.”

“Dariel…I thought you trusted me.”

“I do, Thorn.”

“Then why…?”

“Because I’m in middle of the grocery store,” I replied. “Some things are private.”

“Oh. Er…”

“Ask Cy. He probably knows.”

I heard voices on the other end conferring. “She what?! Cy says that Athena tried to, um, have sex with you,” Thorn sounded outraged and embaressed.

“Yeah,” I said softly. “She did. So I left.”

Frell.”

Yeah, that pretty much summed it up. My phone went dead. I shut it off and shoved it into my coat pocket. One worry out of the way for now. Back to the shopping.

“Dariel.”

“Ow!” I yelped as the knife slipped. “What did I say about sneaking up on me? Mr. Frank.”

“Sorry. Do you need the ER?”

“No.”

“What’s for dinner?”

I glared at him. “I nearly sliced off my finger because you wanted to know tonight’s entree?”

“Well…” he tilted his head, “no.”

“Then…?”

“Did you read the contract?”

Ah. “Yes.”

“Any questions?”

“Are you always that,” what word to use? Settled on, “thorough?”

“Yes. It prevents misunderstandings if everything is explicitly stated.”

“And lawsuits.”

“Cynical, but sadly true,” he smiled.

“Mmm… Dinner will be ready in half an hour.”

“So, what is for dinner?”

“Out!” I pointed with the knife. He laughed, but left the kitchen. At least our exchange eliminated any lingering awkwardness over last night.

I did go on the Internet to research the unfamiliar terms. Many blushes ensued. I couldn’t believe people did those things. I gradually compiled my own list of ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’. Mr. Frank was scheduled to attend a New Year’s Eve party. I thought it the perfect opportunity to prepare my answer to his rather indecent proposal. He’d been avoiding me since the day after The Night. Worked for me. I had plenty of space to consider his offer without feeling pressured into saying ‘yes’.

I signed the amended contract, rolled it up and tied it with red ribbon. I carefully wrapped more ribbon around my groin. I’d practiced this so it went on smoothly. Picking up the small stack of presents (purchased at adult store), I made my way down to the basement. Now the tricky part: setting up.

I hadn’t dared to go into The Room while Mr. Frank was home and I hadn’t gotten a very good look the other day, so I was uncertain of the exact layout.

Wow! It was very…red. Which was personally an improvement over the surfeit of pink upstairs. Some people really took the whole color-coordinating thing way too far. I felt like I was living in a bubblegum factory at times. Still…

I glanced about. A bed (naturally). Several cabinets (locked). A shelf next to the door. A variety of hooks and chains fastened in various places on the walls and ceiling. A door which led to a bathroom with a jumbo-sized tub and walk-in shower. Tiled floors with built in drains. I decided not to think about why there were drains. The bed was comfortable enough. I arranged the packages around me before fastening a pair of padded handcuffs around my wrists and composed myself to wait. And wait. And wait. I yawned. Naturally there wasn’t a clock in the room. I yawned again. What was taking so long? I slumped against the pillows. My eyelids slowly fluttered closed. This bed was really comfortable…

Victor jammed his key into the lock. Why had he been forced to attend that stupid party? Boring, boring, boring. Boring people talking about boring, inconsequential things. Drunk, boring people. He would have prefered to be working. Intelligent life, he snorted in derision at the thought. If not working, then having sex. Preferably with his gorgeous roommate/employee. He felt a twinge of guilt over deflowering him. He cursed as he banged his shin against the coffee table. Something crunched under his foot.

He hoped it wasn’t anything importent or valuable. Turning on the lamp he discovered that it appeared to be dried leaves. A whole trail of them leading to the kitchen. Curious he followed it. The Mer-fairy was a better housekeeper than this, so the trail had to be deliberate. What was he up to?

Victor sighed when he saw the open basement door. How was he managing to bypass one of the most sophisticated locks in the world? The trail led downward. He pulled out a gun before heading down. It was probably the boy, but better safe than sorry. Victor pushed open the door to his playroom. His workshop was (thankfully) secure. His lips curled up at the sight that greeted his eyes. The boy lay curled up on the bed, fast asleep.

Victor shook his head in amusement as he holstered his gun. Obviously he had come down here intending to surprise Victor. Gently, he leaned over and shook the boy’s shoulder. No response. He shook harder. Still no response. Victor tried to ignore his own response at the sight of the nearly naked body in his bed. Something crinkled as he sat down. Paper. Good. He untied the ribbon and unrolled it. His eyes widened at the sight of his contract complete with signature. An additional page detailed the boy’s list of what he would and wouldn’t do or try. Now Victor was really pissed that he’d been forced to attend that party. The one waiting for him would have been far more enjoyable.

Victor bent to kiss the boy. No, not a boy. His lover. “Acres and acres and all of it mine,” he whispered as he claimed his prize. Dariel’s lips parted granting him access to the untouched depths of his mouth. Victor groaned in frustration as he still didn’t wake. Many people would call his sexual preferences perverted and unnatural, but even he had lines he wouldn’t cross. Sex with someone who was unconscious was one of them. His body insisted it didn’t matter. The boy had signed. Consent was implied.

Victor rolled off of Dariel before his body got him into trouble. Deciding that lying next to him in his playroom was a Very Bad Idea, he picked up the Mer-fairy and carried him upstairs to place him chastely in his own bed before retreating to the master bedroom. A cold (very cold) shower dealt with his own pressing need. If the boy truly meant it, there’d be plenty of time to explore every inch of that gorgeous body. If not…well, he had other interviews lined up.

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Generation 15: Chapter 24

Chapter 24

  I buried my face in his leather jacket. This was almost like flying! But much better! We zipped along the roads. My hands stung from the cold wind of our passage. Eventually the bike slowed and we pulled up in front of Mr. Frank’s house.

“Wow! That was awesome!”

He laughed. “You got that right, kid. Er…”

“Yes?”

“Could I take your picture? It’s for my daughter. She’s eleven and really into fairies…” he asked in an embarrassed rush.

“Sure.” He hastily pulled out his phone and snapped it. I spread my wings as I posed perched on his motorcycle. “Thanks.”

“It’s the least I can do after you drove me here.” I leaned over and lightly kissed his cheek. “For your daughter.” I watched as he roared off. Dawn’s early light peaked over the trees. I yawned the events of the past day catching up to me. Wearily, I let myself in and headed to my room. I’d just grab an hour or so and then make breakfast for Mr. Frank….

—-

Victor scowled at the irritating sound of a phone ringing. It wasn’t his and no one else was in the house. If his latest playmate had left his phone, Victor would be most displeased. His hand itched with the need to punish the offender. He paused outside the door to the Mer’s room… The sound was coming from inside! His eyebrows rose. The boy was supposed to gone for the entire break. What was he doing here? Curiously he opened the door. The fairy was sprawled face down on his bed. The ringing was coming from a leather jacket tossed carelessly on the floor. Victor wrinkled his nose at the mingled scents of alcohol and stale cigarette smoke. Absently, he noted that the jacket was much too big for the slender fairy. Also well-worn. What or who had the fairy been doing? He was surprised at the sudden flare of jealousy he felt at that thought.

The phone was in the inside pocket. Victor silenced the call. Whoever it was had called several times in the past few hours. He checked against the contacts list. A match. Victor dashed off a quick text: Safe. Will call l8r. He laid the phone on the nightstand next to the bed. His hand reached out to caress the fairy. It dropped before making contact. It was for the best that their relationship end now before it got complicated. Besides, he was interviewing a replacement later that day.

I woke and stared about the room in confusion. Oh. Right. I’d returned to Mr. Frank’s house. I rolled over on to my back and draped an arm over my eyes to block the sunlight streaming in. I ignored my pinned wing for the moment. What the frell was I going to do about my sister’s pursuit? Even if I liked girls I still wouldn’t have sex with her. Not to mention Mr. Frank…

I sighed and sat up. I should probably let him know I was back. Maybe he’d take pity on me and let me stay. I could probably find somewhere else but this was…home. I was surprised at that thought. Nowhere I’d lived before had felt like this small house.

I wrinkled my nose in disgust. Watcher, I reeked! First things first: I needed a shower. The hot water soothed my sore muscles even as the soap stung the numerous scratches I’d acquired during my journey. I wrapped a fresh kilt around my waist with a sigh of relief. I hated wearing jeans! I also opted to go shirtless. There was only Mr. Frank to see me and I didn’t care if he got an eyeful.

Now…where was my landlord? His bedroom was empty (and decidedly messy). I rolled my eyes and tossed an armful of dirty clothes into the hamper. It was right there! How could he miss it? Bathroom: empty. I picked up a crumpled towel and neatly folded it before hanging it back up. In the living room I straightened the couch cushions. I blushed when I discovered a discarded bra under one of them. Okay…moving on. Dishes went in the dishwasher. The fridge was (predictably) bare. Well, it was empty after I tossed the containers of takeout into the trash. I’d have to go shopping tomorrow. Mr. Frank wasn’t upstairs so that left the basement…

Girding my loins, I sent my magic into the lock. It beeped contentedly as it opened. I crept down the stairs. The earth pressed on me angry at my intrusion into its domain. I ignored it. I did wonder how the humans managed to not notice the earth’s anger at being violated like this. Mr. Frank’s workshop was empty (not that I entered it, but one could tell). That left the door at the end of the hall. Nervously I approached it. The lock was similar enough to the one at the top of the stairs so I had no difficulty opening it.

My jaw dropped at the sight of Mr. Frank standing there completely nude whipping someone else. I thought it was a man, but the angle made it impossible to determine. I stumbled backwards and bolted out the open door. My emotions were a confused jumble.

“Dariel, wait!” he called after me. Bare feet slapped on the concrete floor as he raced after me. I was jerked around and pressed against the wall.

I pounded futilely against his chest. “Get off of me!”

“You’re back,” he stated.

“Obviously. Now let me go!”

“No.” He pressed firmly into me. Very distracting.

Frell you.” I glared angrily into his pink eyes. I was getting tired of of being manhandled by every Tom, Dick, and Harry who lusted after me.

“I missed you.”

“Really,” sarcasm dripped from my voice. “You seemed very content with my absence just now. In fact, I seem to recall a certain pink individual informing me that there could never be anything between us.”

“Him?” he shrugged. “He means nothing to me.”

“Words. Just words. Stupid human words.”

“Oh, Dariel,” he murmured, “how can I convince you otherwise.” He tenderly stroked me cheek.

I pulled away uncertainly. I didn’t know what to make of this gentle side of him. “Mr. Frank, Victor, please let me go…”

He stepped back and let go of my wrist. I rubbed it reflexively as I hurried up the stairs. This was not how I’d pictured our reunion.

I sighed as the water cascaded down. Even though I hated swimming, I still found the sound and feel of running water soothing. My muscles gradually relaxed under the pounding shower. Watcher, I’d been such an idiot. Of course, Mr. Frank had found someone else. Why would he be interested in a half-Mer semi-virgin? I rubbed my wrist again. I knew better, but it still felt like his fingers were clamped around it.

“Aha! This explains it!”

I looked up to see Mr. Frank lounging in the doorway. He’d wrapped a robe around his slender body. “Explains what?”

“Why my water bill is so high.” He came over and perched on the edge of the tub.

“Oh. Um, sorry. I find it soothing,” I explained. Oddly enough our relative lack of clothing didn’t bother me.

“Really?” He looked intrigued.

“Mm-hmm.” I rested my forearms next to his thigh. I tensed a little when I felt him run his fingers through my short locks. Actually, that felt soothing as well.

“I sent my guest home.”

“You didn’t have to. I have no right to expect…”

“Hush,” he covered my mouth with his free hand. “I sent him home because I did not find him suitable. Your intrusion had very little to do with my decision.”

I kissed his palm lightly. “Still…”

“Still nothing. Dariel…”

“Yes?”

“May I ask why you returned so unexpectedly?”

I sighed. “It’s complicated. And kind of spur of the moment.”

“How did you get here? I would have picked you up at the station if you’d called.”

“I didn’t take the bus. I hitched.”

He was silent for a long moment, though I could Feel how much that upset him. “That’s brave…and incredibly stupid.”

“Yes, Mother, I was a naive idiot. If it hadn’t been for the bikers…”

“Bikers?” He raised one pink eyebrow in surprised inquiry.

“Yes. I want one.”

“A…biker?”

I laughed. “No, silly. A motorcycle.”

He shook his head, bemused. “I see you had an adventure. What prompted your journey in the first place?”

I shrugged. “Just a whim.”

“Hardly,” he replied dryly. “You are one of the least whimsical people I know.”

I shivered in spite of the warm water. “It’s…”

“Complicated,” he finished. “If you wish to discuss it…”

“I know where to find you. Thank you, Mr. Frank.”

“You are quite welcome, Dariel.” He idly traced one of the vines covering my torso. “These aren’t a tattoo either, are they?”

“No. They are the reason I tolerate fresh-water better than most Mer. Thorn thinks I’m part dryad.”

“Fascinating. How many species are you?”

I shrugged. “No idea. My father is…unknown.”

“I see. That would make things difficult. Have you considered genetic testing?”

I snorted. “Considering how humans treat other species, why would I ‘out’ myself?”

“Fair point,” he conceded.

A thought occured to me. “How do you block me from reading you? Or is that classified?”

He chuckled. “Hardly. It’s not common knowledge. Magic.”

“Really?”

“Yes.” He turned around and let his robe slide off his shoulders to reveal an intricate and barely visible tattoo.

I whistled. “That had to have hurt.”

“An understatement. Not all of it is magical of course.”

“It seems rather…permanent.”

He shrugged slightly. “Anyone willing to forcibly remove it from my back won’t quibble about violating my mind. This way it can neither be lost or stolen from me. You can touch it if you like.”

His skin was warm beneath my fingers. I traced the pattern lightly. My fingertips tingled when they encountered the magical tattoo. Even with that help, I found it difficult to visually pick it out. Boldly I explored the planes and ridges. of his exposed back. I didn’t dare probe underneath his robe even though my fingers itched to caress his manhood. Through the skin contact, it was easy enough to determine just how much he was enjoying my caresses. I was so engrossed in what I was doing that I was startled when my fingers got tangled in his chest hair.

“Dariel…” his voice was husky with desire. “Do I go…or stay?”

My cheeks heated, but I managed to keep my voice steady enough. “I think, I think you should…come.”

“Come,” he repeated blankly.

“Yes. Come. In me. If you want.”

“Oh. Oh! I want.” He pulled me roughly into his lap. On my list of places to have sex, the edge of a standard bathtub wasn’t anywhere near the Top 10. Watcher, it wasn’t even in the Top 100. I managed to acquire several bruises in interesting places. Never again.

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Generation 15: Chapter 23

        Chapter 23

  “Dari, I’m bored. Let’s go swimming,” Athena suggested a few nights later.

“Now? It’s the middle of winter!”

“Technically it’s the beginning,” she pointed out. “The solstice marks the start.”

“Pass. I need to study.”

“Study what? Classes don’t start again until after the break. You used to be more fun,” she complained. She down on the couch beside me and idly ran her fingers over my jeans.

“Don’t.” I moved away.

“Don’t be like that. I miss my baby brother is all.”

“I’m not that much younger than you,” I reminded her.

“Younger is younger. Please?”

“Fine. A short swim.” Reluctantly I followed my sister down to the beach. I had a bad feeling about this. Athena had been far too touchy-feely lately for my comfort. It was the reason I was still wearing my jeans in spite of the discomfort. The Siren’s warning ran through my head as I picked my way among the rocks. I had excellent night vision but I still didn’t want to risk a sprained ankle or worse.

“Hurry up, slowpoke! Last one in the water is a rotten egg!”

I rolled my eyes at her impatience. She knew perfectly well that I hated swimming. She paused at the water’s edge to strip. I shivered involuntarily at the sight of her bare flesh. I slowed my steps a little suddenly reluctant to get naked with her. What was wrong with me? I was reacting as if my sister was a desireable female. A potential mate. I didn’t dare lower my mental shields.

“Dariel!”

“Coming,” I called.

“Not yet,” she said wickedly as she turned around.

My cheeks burned at her comment. “Athena…”

“What?” The minx was the soul of innocence. I didn’t believe it. No one could be that oblivious.

“Nothing.” I bent to dip my fingers in the water. “You aren’t serious about swimming in that, are you?” I tucked my chilled fingers under my armpit.

“Wuss. The exercise will get your blood moving.”

“My blood is moving, thank you very much.” South, straight to my groin. “I don’t need any help.”

“Are you sure?” She moved close enough that her bare breast brushed my arm.

I swallowed hard. “Quite sure.”

“I can think of more…enjoyable…means of keeping warm.”

I jumped when she caressed my backside. I wasn’t imaging things. My sister was trying to seduce me! I grabbed her wrist and wrenched it away from my…anatomy. “Athena, stop! I’m your brother!”

“So? Why shouldn’t we mate? Isn’t it better than being Joined to a stranger?”

“It’s illegal!” I shoved her away, even more grateful that I was wearing jeans.

“For humans.” She replied disdainfully.

I felt nauseated. Couldn’t she see? “Yes, but…”

“We’re not human! Why should be bound by their rules?”

“Our Aunt…”

“Her? She won’t care once the baby comes.”

“What baby?”

“Ours, of course, silly! I’ll bear it. I know how much water scares you. It’s the perfect solution!”

“No. I can’t.”

“Of course you can! I have enough experience for both of us. Just relax. I’ll do all the work.”

“What? That’s not the issue! I’m not having sex with you! You’re my sister! How could you possibly think I find you desireable?”

“That says otherwise,” she answered, gesturing at my erection.

“That has all the sense of a gnat! A stray breeze affects it!” I narrowed my eyes. “Are you using our link to influence me?”

“So what if I am? Can’t you feel it pulling us together? We’re meant to be mates!”

“No, we’re not,” I said coldly.

She stared at me for a long time. “I hate you, Dariel! This isn’t the last of this! You will be my mate!” She hissed before pounding up the path to the house.

Joy. Now how was I going to explain this?

—-

I stood there staring at the water for a long time. I couldn’t go back into the house where my sister was waiting to ambush me. The thought of having sex with her made me sick. Why had she thought that it would be a good idea? I began walking, not to the house, but rather toward the long road back to the college. Back to him.

I sat wearily on a rock next to the road, massaging my sore feet. A few hours by bus was a lot farther by foot. Maybe I should just call home. As if in response my phone rang. I glanced at the display before turning it off. l had no interest in crawling home with my tail between my legs. Still…it would take forever to walk back. And I had no money. I realized with chagrin that I’d forgotten my wallet.

A car slowed. “Need a lift?”

“Um…” I’d heard stories about people accepting rides from strangers, never to be heard from again. Cautiously I lowered my shields. Not that I knew what a serial killer Felt like. Curiosity…and lust. Okay. I could deal with that. “Sure, but I’m a little light on cash.”

He snorted, the lust increasing. “You wouldn’t be hitchhiking if you weren’t. We could probably work something out for repayment.”

I blushed. I could imagine what my aunt would have to say about that. “What exactly did you have in mind?”

“Are you male?”

“Herm.”

He nodded slowly. “Adult?”

“I’m eighteen.”

“Good. Don’t need trouble with the law,” he explained.

I nodded in turn. I tucked my chilled hands under my armpits. My wings fluttered uncertainly. “What…?”

“Get in. We can talk until the next town.”

“Talk?”

“I’ve never met a fairy before. You are a fairy, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I was raised among humans though.”

He grunted, “I don’t like men.”

“But?”

“But…” he glanced sidelong at me, “I’ve never, you know, with a fairy…”

“And?” I prompted.

He colored and spent the next several minutes concentrating on the road. Not that I objected. It had begun to rain or sleet rather heavily. “Would you touch me?”

“Now?” I asked doubtfully.

“No. When we part ways.”

“Define ‘touch’.” Considering the lust emanating from him, I had a fairly good idea what he meant.

He blushed, “You know, use your hand…”

“I can do that.” Probably. I wiped my hand on my jeans. “Now?”

“Nah, when we part company.”

“Okay.” Because I really wanted to spend the trip worrying about it. Was there anything more boring than staring out into dark woods watching the rain (or snow) reflect the headlights? Obviously the driver thought so as well because he reached over to switch on the radio. Saxophones filled the car.

“Jazz. Can’t stand it but it keeps me awake,” he explained.

“Ah.” Not entirely unpleasant. I dozed. I jerked awake at the sudden cessation of motion. “Wha-?”

“We’re here.”

“Thanks for the ride.” I reached for the door handle.

“Not so fast.” He grabbed my wrist. “You owe me for the ride.”

“Oh. Right.” l took a deep breath and reached for his zipper. He shoved me against the door and used his knee to wedge my legs open. “Hey!” I protested as I shoved ineffectually against his bulk.

“Never had a fairy before,” he leered leaning close as he fumbled with my zipper. I was very glad I was wearing jeans. I screamed as loud as I could. Someone banged on the window. I twisted so I could unlock the door. It was yanked open and I sprawled backwards. I think I hit my head because the next thing I knew he was gone and a bearded stranger was kneeling beside me.

“How do you feel?”

“Sore.” I gingerly touched the back of my head.

“You’ve got a hard head, lad.”

“So I’ve been told.”

“Do you want an ambulance? Or the police?”

“No. No.”

“What were you doing with scum like that?”

I flushed. “Hitchhiking,” I muttered. “I promised him a handjob in return for a lift. He…wanted to renegotiate our deal. Thank you for your timely assistance.”

The group laughed. “And people think we’re a menace,” one said wryly. I looked curiously at my rescuer.

“We’re motorcycle aficionados. Some people think that automatically makes us criminals,” he shrugged.

“Bikers.” I laughed.

“Mmm…,” he led me into a crowded bar. I shivered and moved closer. This was not a nice place and some of them were not very nice people. “He’s with me. Anyone got a problem, take it up with me.” He looked around. Not surprisingly no one had a problem. Of course he had several inches and pounds on me (and pretty much everyone else in the room). The bathroom reeked and I gingerly used two fingers to turn on the tap. The cracked mirror made it difficult to assess my injuries but as far as I could tell, the only one was the lump on the back of my head.

My escort leaned casually against the wall. “All better?”

“Yes, sir.”

He laughed. “Nah. I’m Bubba.”

“Seriously?”

“Nickname. I’d buy you a beer, but I doubt you’re legal.”

“You care?”

He shrugged. “Tito does.”

“Who?”

“The bartender/owner.”

I smiled, “Thank you again.”

“Where you heading? I’ll give you a lift on my hawg.”

“Your what?”

“Bike.”

I bit my lip as I mulled over his offer. I thought he was sincere (and not dangerous), but I’d thought that about my would-be rapist. Slowly I nodded.

“Ever ridden a bike before?”

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Generation 15: Chapter 22

        Chapter 22

  “Mr. Frank?”

“Yes?” My employer looked up irritably from the papers he was reading.

“I leave for home the day after tomorrow, may I leave my things here until after break?”

“Have you found a new place?”

“No. I’ve been so busy with finals that I haven’t had a chance to look. Have you found a new housekeeper?”

“No. I have interviews with a couple of prospects while you’re gone.”

“That’s good,” I said lamely. I squashed the sudden surge of jealousy his statement engendered.

He grunted in response. I couldn’t decide what that meant.

—–

I supposed it was too much to expect my employer to drive me to the bus station. I ignored the stares I received as I waited for my bus. I’d actually taken the precaution of wearing jeans even though they chafed my scales. Nothing could hide my wings though. Fairies were still rare enough to be considered exotic.

Thorn picked me up.

“You okay?”

“Yes.”

“Dare…Cy’s pretty upset with you for leaving early after Thanksgiving.”

I winced. “How upset?”

“Very. He had to explain your absence to your aunt. She wasn’t happy.”

“Sorry,” I muttered as I picked at an imaginary speck of dirt on my jeans. “Needed to finish a paper.”

“Due that Monday?”

“Um…,” I didn’t want to lie to him.

“Thought so. So what didn’t you want your aunt to know? A girl?”

I flushed. “No. Just worried about my grades.”

He snorted. “I wasn’t born yesterday. Young people always think they’ve invented sex.”

“Thorn!” I squirmed uncomfortably in my seat. l so didn’t want to have this discussion with him.

“Dariel, I don’t care who or if you’re dating. I just want you to be happy.”

“I don’t want an arranged marriage.”

“Don’t blame you. I wouldn’t want one either. Have you told Cy this?”

“No. He…I can’t…not with him.”

“He’s not the bad guy here.”

“No. He’s just the Queen’s puppet.”

“Dariel!” Thorn sounded shocked at my comment. “How could you think that? He loves you like a son.”

“No. He doesn’t.”

“Dariel–!’

“Don’t defend him. I’m the telepath not you. I know precisely what he feels.”

“I’m his mate. We don’t have secrets from each other.”

“Maybe you don’t have secrets…” I could Feel his anger as the rest of the trip passed in silence.

—-

The Siren glanced curiously at me when I got out of the car. :What’s wrong?:

“Nothing,” I growled.

“Thorn?”

My foster father sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “It’s nothing.”

“If it’s nothing, than why are you two so upset? I could Feel you a block away.”

“I told you, Siren, it’s nothing. I guess I’m still a little stressed from finals.”

“Uh-huh. The Queen was most insistent about seeing you.”

“Can’t it wait?”

“No.” The Siren’s refusal was flat and uncompromising.

“But…!”

:No, Your Highness, the Queen commands. If you fail to meet with her…:

  I slammed the car door in frustration. I wasn’t cut out to be a Mer Prince. I struggled to control my breathing as I thought about all that water closing over my head. I knew I wouldn’t, I couldn’t, drown but l still panicked.

“Hey, take it easy,” Thorn murmured soothingly. I jerked away from his touch as if it burned.

“Don’t touch me!” I said reflexively. He wasn’t a telepath so he couldn’t pick up anything from me.

“Fine! Teenagers!”

I flushed a little at the exasperation in his voice. I’d been feeling rather…unsettled since I’d left the house. I just wanted to pick up my bag and run back home. Home to Mr. Frank. Home to Victor. What the frell was wrong with me?

“Dariel,” Athena’s voice was husky as she greeted me. My body tightened at the sound.

“Athena.”

“I missed you.”

“Yeah,” I mumbled as her brief caress set my nerves on fire. I backed away in confusion…and promptly tripped over a chair. I was immensely relieved that I’d worn jeans instead of my usual kilt. I’d never been particularly body shy but at that moment I really didn’t want my sister to see my genitals. The way she was looking at me…

“Athena!”

“What?” She snapped at the Siren.

“Go help Thorn.”

I breathed a sigh of relief as she left. The moment had passed. “Thanks, Uncle Cy.”

He gave me an odd look. “You’re welcome. Dariel…try not to be alone with her.”

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” He shrugged and flicked his fingers dismissively. I glared at him. He was lying through his teeth. I knew from experience that nothing I could do or say would induce him to tell me until he was good and ready.

—–

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Generation 15: Chapter 21

        Chapter 21

“Morning,” Mr. Frank greeted me.

“Morning,” I replied uncertainly. He’d refused to get involved with me because of my lack of experience. I had no idea how last night would affect that.

“Sleep well?”

“Eventually.”

“Dariel…”

I shrugged. “If you wanted me to actually sleep, you should have chosen a different ‘punishment’.”

He flushed. “I wish to apologize for my behavior. I was out of line. It won’t happen again.”

“Why not?”

“You have no idea what you’re asking. It will not happen again.”

I stared after him thoughtfully as he stalked down the stairs to his basement lair. It wasn’t entirely his decision whether or not we became involved. I had sufficient evidence that he found me desireable. The trouble was that I had no idea how to convince him that I did know what I was asking. Especially since I was a little foggy on the specifics. Something to think about over break.

—-

“Dariel!” Thorn pulled me into a warm embrace. “We missed you.”

“I missed you too.” I hugged him back, even though as a telepath I hated being touched.

The Siren lightly touched me with his fingertips. “It is good to see you. You are well?” :The Queen wishes to see you, Prince Dariel.:

  I grimaced. :Why? I still have several months before my year is up. Surely she isn’t reneging.:

  :I do not believe so, but…: He shrugged eloquently.

“Dare!” Thorn and the Siren’s two children pounded down the stairs to greet me. Coraline hugged me while Kelp just watched. I totally understood that he was far too old for such displays.

“Hey, you two.’

:Dariel. You came alone?:

  :Yes. I don’t want to talk about it.:

  :Aunt won’t accept that.:

  :You told her?:

  :Of course not! The Siren did. I didn’t tell him either. I overheard them talking. He doesn’t know. He just suspects that you might be dating. Neither of them are happy about it. She wants you to Join immediately. Once that happens, you won’t be able to do anything.:

I felt cold. I didn’t want to be Joined!

“Dari? Is something wrong?” Thorn asked in concern.

“No. I’m just tired. It was a long trip,” I lied. I liked him, but I couldn’t trust him not to tell the Siren. I fled upstairs as soon as possible.

—-

I sighed in relief as I fumbled with my house key. It had been a long week. It was good to be home. This place felt more like home to me than my foster parents’. Mr. Frank’s car was nowhere in sight. A little unusual, but then I’d left him to fend for himself for a week. I deposited the containers full of leftovers on the counter. Thorn always made way too much. They’d be eating leftover turkey for at least a week. I grinned when I opened the fridge. It was predictably empty. Oh well, I could go shopping tomorrow. In the meantime I’d fix a simple sauce using the turkey I’d brought home. Mmm…throw in some rice, maybe some tater tots…

My mind was preoccupied with culinary possibilities when I heard…something. I paused. It sounded like a scream. Muffled. Cautiously, I lowered my mental shields. I slammed them shut at the wave of fear and pain. Ouch. I rubbed my throbbing temples. Another muffled scream. It sounded as if it was coming from the basement. Great. My employer would not be pleased if he discovered that I’d violated his workshop again. Still…I was certain that someone was in trouble down there. I didn’t think it was him…

Sighing, l retrieved a knife from the drawers and used my meager magic to pick the lock. My heart pounded as I crept down the stairs. I swallowed as the darkness engulfed me. I know…the sea gets just as dark in the depths. I never liked them either. Another scream. Clearer this time and definately female. A thin glimmer of light beckoned me onward. My bare feet padded noiselessly to the door. I flattened my body against the wall as I eased open the door. My hand tightened around the knife handle. Why was l doing this again? I was a Prince! I had (in theory) people to do this sort of thing. I poked my head around. I must have made a noise because Mr. Frank turned to look at me. I bolted upstairs.

I retched. Whatever I expected, it hadn’t been that! He had…my mind shied away from thinking about what my employer had been doing. I suppose a part of me must have known considering what he’d done to me. Could I stay here? Did I even want to? Would he let me after I’d witnessed that? Watcher, I was so confused. I snatched up my keys and headed for the grocery store.

—–

“Dariel, we need to talk.”

“No, we don’t,” l said as I busied myself with putting away the groceries.

“Yes, we do,” he insisted.

“There’s nothing to talk about. You’ve made your position perfectly clear. Your personal life is none of my business,” I responded curtly.

“You’re mad.”

“No. As I said, it’s none of my business.” I shut the fridge door with a trifle more force than necessary.

He tried a different tack. “You’re back early. I wasn’t expecting you until Sunday.”

I shrugged. “I wanted to finish a paper. I didn’t think you’d have…company.”

“Yes, about that…,” he rubbed the back of his neck. “Your living here was always supposed to be temporary. Only as long as it took to find a proper roommate. One with security clearance. You…well, you don’t exist prior to six years ago.”

“I’m a Mer,” I replied softly.

“l know but I can’t tell them that. They’d want to study you.”

I shivered. If there was any truth in movies I didn’t want that. “Thank you for that.’

“You’re welcome. Dariel…”

“Don’t. Just don’t.” I cut him off. l had zero interest in listening to his justifications. He left me to finish putting away the groceries alone.

I wished I knew what to say. But then I had no idea how I really felt. Luckily finals were only a couple of weeks away. Studying for them provided sufficient distraction from my sort of love life. I wouldn’t be permitted to return if I failed.

—-

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Generation 15: Chapter 20

      Chapter 20: Dariel

   I sighed as I loaded the last dish in the dishwasher. My employer had been avoiding me since I’d revealed my telepathic abilities to him. I really didn’t care about his mysterious project. I just wished I knew what to say to him to convince him of that. I was far more interested in the “possibilities” he’d mentioned. Were they sexual or related to his work? I desperately wished that I dared discuss it with Thorn. But, no, I couldn’t.

I whirled around at a small sound behind me. I clutched the first thing that came to hand.

“Just what are you planning to do with that? Core me?” Mr. Frank asked, amusement in his voice.

I glanced down and flushed. “No,” I replied as I replaced the tomato corer, “you startled me.”

“I thought you’d gone to bed.”

“No. I had to study but I didn’t want to sleep with dirty dishes.”

“Your diligence is commendable. However I would hate to see your studies suffer due to sleep deprivation.”

“So eager to have me out of your hair?”

“No,” he responded softly. He reached up and gently brushed the skin under my eyes. “Bags are not a good look.”

“What do you care?” My mouth felt dry. My tongue was two sizes too big.

“I care. I’m afraid I’m going to have to punish you for your negligence, Dariel.”

He was far too close to me. A few more inches and he’d be very aware of my response to his…suggestion. ” How?” I whispered, my heart pounding furiously in my chest.

He smiled wickedly at me. “I have a few ideas. What do you think would be an appropriate punishment?”

I shook my head mutely. I didn’t know. It seemed like such a minor infraction. He stepped even closer, pinning me against the counter. I Felt his surprise at my reaction…and his pleasure. He leaned even closer. I closed my eyes in nervous anticipation of our first kiss. His breath was warm on my cheek. I gasped as his lips (and teeth) closed over my earlobe. Not what I’d expected at all! Felt good though. Really, really good. Especially when he bit hard enough to hurt.

One hand clamped firmly around my bicep. The other touched me lower down. Much lower down.

“Please…,” I begged.

“Please?” he purred. “I am punishing you. You shouldn’t be begging for more.”

“Trust me,” I panted, “what you’re doing is pure torture.”

“Good.” Abruptly he stepped back leaving me painfully aroused.

“Aren’t you going to…?”

“No.”

“But–!”

“You’re being punished, remember?”

I silently cursed him as he headed off to bed. My body tingled from his “punishment”.

—-

  :What are you doing?:

  :I would have thought that would be obvious.:

  :Yes. Shield better. It’s very distracting.:

  :Sorry. I’m alone.:

  :I know that!: Athena snorted mentally. :Why?:

  :What do you mean?: I sagged against the cool tile of my shower, spent. Physically at least.

She rolled her eyes. :Why aren’t you with the object of your…affection.:

  :I’m supposed to be chaste, remember? Aunt would kill me if she found out I was sleeping with a human.:

  :Yes.: Amusement laced her mental voice. :She gave me that lecture too. I just go to the free clinic for condoms.:

  :You don’t buy them?:

  :Of course not! Thorn and the Siren would freak out if they found them. I’m just giving them one less thing to worry about.:

  :How very considerate of you.: I replied dryly.

  :That’s me. Considerate to a fault.: She said cheerfully.

I laughed aloud at that. :It’s complicated.: I hesitated. :I think it’s more than mere lust. At least on my part.:

  :On your part? Can’t you read her?:

  :No. I think…she…wears a charm or something. I only pick up surface emotions and only when we’re touching.:

  :A witch,: she said distastefully.

  :I don’t think so. The Feel of the magic is the wrong gender.:

  :Leave.: My sister urged. I could Feel her fear.

:No.:

  :She’s bewitched you, Dariel.:

  :Maybe,: I admitted, :but if I go home now, I’ll be admitting defeat. I haven’t even finished one semester.:

  :Stubborn male.:

  :Yes. It’s the only way to win the right to choose my mate.:

  :Is that really that important?:

  :Yes!: I said emphatically. :Do you really want to Join with someone you don’t love?:

  :What’s love got to do with Joining?:

  :Nothing.: I sighed. :Good night, T’ena.:

  :Night, Dari.:

Wearily I shut off the water. My sister would never understand my reluctance to Join, mate, with a stranger. But then, she wasn’t the one who would be forced to carry his offspring. It didn’t help that I shared the Siren’s preference for males. What would be tolerated in him was absolutely forbidden for a Prince of the Blood.

I flopped still nude on my bed and draped an arm across my eyes. There had to be a way to get out of an unwanted Joining. Well, a way short of deliberately getting pregnant. l knew that was what had disgraced my ilharn. If I did that, I’d spend the rest of my natural life imprisoned in some underwater prison. I shuddered at the thought. I’d go mad if I couldn’t feel the wind on my wings. They might even amputate them! My wings fluttered in distress. I took a deep breath to calm myself. I really didn’t need to have a panic attack.

—-

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Generation 15: Chapter 19

Chapter 19: Dariel

  “Are you going home for the holidays?” Mr. Frank asked a couple of weeks before break.

“Yeah. Not sure how it will go.”

“Why not?”

“Because of, you know…” I mumbled with a blush.

“You don’t exactly have a scarlet ‘A’ tattooed across your forehead. How will they know that you had sex if you don’t tell them?”

I sighed, “My sister already knows. At least about the sex if not the other stuff. l knew the first time she…”

He held up a hand. “Stop. I have no desire to hear about her sexual exploits. Why do you discuss such things with her?”

“I don’t really have much of a choice,” I muttered as I began cleaning up.

“Explain.” It was not a request. I shook my head. My mental abilities were something I had swiftly learned to hide from land-dwellers. “Dariel,” he grabbed my wrist in a painful grip.

I gasped as the pain sent tingles straight to my groin. I carefully made sure my reaction was hidden by the sink as I looked at him. “I can’t tell you.”

His pink eyes narrowed dangerously. “And yet you feel free to discuss my proclivities with your sister?”

“It’s not like that,” I whispered even as my desire increased.

“And just what is it like?” He trapped me against the counter. I could feel his…interest in my answer.

I futilely tried to push my hair behind my ears. “Um, it’s not…I don’t do it on purpose. It just happens. Our minds are linked. It’s kind of a twin thing.”

His lips thinned and his hand tightened imperceptibility on my wrist. “Magic,” he said flatly.

“Of a sort.”

“Can you do this sort of thing with others?” Cold anger.

“Non-Mers? Yeah. It’s, um, easier. Unless the target has magic. Strong magic kind of…jams the signal?”

“Mer. I thought they were the fever dreams of shipwrecked sailors.”

“That’s what they wanted you to think,” I admitted relaxing slightly. “Safer that way.”

“Mmm,” he mused. His free hand came up to lightly trace one delicate wing. “These surely did not come from any sea-dwelling species.”

“No,” I breathed huskily. “My father wasn’t a Mer.”

“How does one fly?”

“Magic. They aren’t as delicate and flimsy as they look.”

“No? It would be a fascinating experiment to find out their limits…” He kept fingering them thoughtfully. I discovered just how sensitive they could be under the right circumstances.

“Yeah.”

“You signed a non-disclosure agreement. It covers everything that happens in this house. Including our encounter. I could have you prosecuted.”

“For telling Tina I had sex?”

“No. Perhaps for telling her about the other stuff. My work is classified.”

I shrugged. “I know nothing about your work. Doubt I’d understand it. I’m failing College Algebra.”

“Could you send the information without understanding it?”

I bit my lip. “I don’t know. I mean, it’s possible, but Messengers are the strongest of the strong and specially trained.”

“And how do I know that you are not?”

“I guess you can’t,” I admitted. “You’ll just have to trust me.”

“Trust is not something that I’m used to extending.”

“Know the feeling…”

“Oh?”

“Mers don’t really trust me because I’m not pure-blooded. Your people freak about the whole mind-reading thing.”

“Personally? I find the possibilities suggested…intriguing. But your ability could potentially compromise my work. That makes it worrisome.”

“I can’t read you. Not even when your skin touches mine. I think your secrets are safe.”

“Perhaps. I must think on this…”

—–

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Generation 15: Chapter 18

Chapter 18: Dariel

  “Ready?”

“Ready,” I confirmed. I hated having to trust a normal person, but lacking easy access to the ocean, I needed regular salt water baths. The best place was at the local spa. I eased into the water and transformed. . . or tried to. I got sick, dizzy and passed out.

I woke in the ER. “Where am I?”

“The ER. How do you feel?”

“What happened?”

“Spa attendant said you’d come in for your regular appointment and just collapsed. Sound about right?”

“Yeah. What’s wrong?”

“Lab’s still running tests. We’ll let you know.”

I nodded. I didn’t get sick! Something was seriously wrong with me! I lay there staring at the poster on the wall, worrying. Who thinks that sick people really want to read about the warning signs of cancer?

“All right, Mr. Prince, the tests are back. Just one more exam and then we’ll talk.” The doctor lifted up the gown and smeared gel over my abdomen. He hadn’t commented on my scales or leaf tattoo (wasn’t really a tattoo, but looked like one).

“Well?” I asked anxiously.

“I’m sorry,” he shut off the machine. “It appears as if you had a spontaneous abortion. A miscarriage . According to your blood work you are pregnant. I can find no evidence of an embryo or fetus though. There was blood on your thighs when you came in so we also did a rape kit.” He paused. “You had no idea, did you?”

I shook my head. “No. It hasn’t been long enough since for me to even consider it.”

He shifted uncomfortably for a bit. I was released later that evening. The hospital was generous enough to pay for a cab back to my employer’s house.

“Where have you been?” Mr. Frank demanded as soon as I walked in.

“Hospital. Sorry I didn’t call,” I responded tiredly with considerable sarcasm.

“Are you well?”

“Two days of complete bed rest. Also my employer has to ease up a little.”

“What was wrong?”

“Just exhaustion,” I lied. I wasn’t ready to reintroduce the topic of what had occurred between us in the basement. I had no idea how he’d feel about me being pregnant or the miscarriage. I didn’t know how I felt about it. Relief and guilt.

—–

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Generation 15: Chapter 17

Chapter 17: Dariel

  I groaned as the sun stabbed my eyes. What?! I glanced at my alarm clock. “Frell!” I was seriously late for my first class. I fell out of bed as my abused body protested rapid movement. “Frell.” I added some more bruises. Last night had really happened.

  :Dare? Are you all right?:

  :Go away, T’ena. I’m fine.: I really didn’t want to discuss it with my sister. It was even odds whether or not she’d go blabbing to our aunt.

:You’re in pain.: She protested.

:Stubbed toe.: I lied.

 :Liar. I wouldn’t notice a stubbed toe.:

  :I just got a little too much exercise yesterday. Now I’m paying for it. A hot shower will help. Now go away. I’m late for class. Unless you really want to watch me wash my genitals?:

  :Gross!:

I breathed a sigh of relief as my sister’s mental presence faded. It had been embarrassing enough to pick up leakage from Thorn and Cy’s nocturnal activities, I really didn’t want to share mine with my sister. Luckily there was precedent for separating twins in adolescence and early adulthood. Increased physical distance translated to increased mental distance. Very important for proper sexual development.

The shower did help and I managed to get to my second class on time. Not that I paid much attention. Sitting hurt and every time I shifted position, I was reminded of my ‘punishment’. Of course, thinking of that reminded me of the aftermath. I really wished I could wear undergarments by the end of class. I held my notebook in front of me while I dashed to the men’s room.

  :Dare?:

  :Go away! I’m in the bathroom!:

  :I’ve seen you take a leak before. That’s not what you’re doing.:

  :If you know what I’m doing, then why are you asking?:

  :I’m in a meeting and you’re distracting me.:

:Sorry.: Blessed release. I panted with the effort of being quiet.

  :Keep your shields up!:

She always had to have the last word. I sighed as I cleaned myself up. What was I going to do? Eventually she’d figure out that I was doing more than touching myself. Which begged the question: did I want to pursue a sexual relationship with Mr. Frank?

—–

“Mr. Frank!” I was startled to see my landlord waiting in the living room when I got back from class.

“Dariel,” he paused. “I wished to apologize for my presumption last night. I overstepped my bounds.”

“Um…”

“How are you feeling?”

“Sore.” I dropped my pack and headed for the kitchen.

“What are you doing?”

“Making dinner. I slept through breakfast and skipped lunch.” I pulled out a selection of vegetables and began neatly dicing them.

“You’re very handy with a knife,” he observed.

“You should see me with a rock.” I grinned at him.

“Mmm…” He seated himself at the bar while I worked. “May I ask a personal question?”

I shrugged. “You can ask. I reserve the right not to answer.”

“Fair enough. Did you enjoy last night?”

I blushed and then cursed as the knife slipped. “Do you really need to ask?” Bright red blood swirled down the drain.

“Yes. Do you want to go to the ER?”

“No. Could you get a band-aid?”

“Of course. Allow me.” I was silent as he tended my injury. “I must apologize to you again, Dariel. If I hadn’t distracted you, you would not have been injured.”

“Yeah. Um, can you not ask questions like that when I’m holding a sharp object? Really don’t want have to explain it to the ER staff.”

“Agreed, but you still haven’t answered my question, Dariel.”

I sighed as I pulled away. “Physically? Yeah, I enjoyed it. Mentally? Emotionally? Very, very confused.”

“What did you enjoy the most? The intercourse or the spanking?”

I blushed again. “What did you enjoy the most?”

“Hmm…that is a tough question.” He rested his chin on his hand as I continued cooking. “May I ask another personal question?”

“Sure.” I checked the noodles.

“How much experience do you have?”

I jerked my hand back as the fork fell into the pot. “Frell!”

“Are you burned?”

“No. Your timing sucks.”

“My apologies.”

I told him where he could stick his apologies as I banished him from the kitchen before I set the place on fire. Without him to distract me, I managed to finish dinner without further mishaps.

“Dinner is good,” he commented.

“No thanks to you.”

“Sorry.” He patted his mouth with his napkin. “Now that you are not surrounded by hazardous objects, will you answer my questions?”

I choked on my water. “Are you trying to kill me?”

“No. I’d like to think I’d be far more successful if I actively wanted you dead.” He sipped his own water.

I blinked. “Not quite sure how to take that.”

He shrugged. “Take it as you will. I particularly enjoyed seeing your buttocks turning red under my ministrations.”

“Oh. Um…”

“Would you be interested in doing it again?”

“Um…,” I toyed with my fork, drawing patterns in the excess sauce. “I don’t know. You, um, already know how much experience I have.”

He choked this time as my confession penetrated his brain. “Are you saying that…? I was…?” He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Are you a virgin?”

“Not anymore.”

“I see.”

I sensed him withdrawing even as sat there. “Mr. Frank…”

“No. This discussion is over. We will not mention last night ever again. It never happened.”

“But… !”

“I do not bed virgins. Ever.”

I stared after him in bewilderment as he stalked away. I Felt his anger and humiliation. Shouldn’t I be the angry, humiliated one? He was the one who had rather forcefully deflowered me.

My phone rang. “What?” I growled.

“Hello to you too, Dare.”

“Sorry, Thorn. What’s up?”

“That’s what I want to know. Cy’s all twitchy, but won’t tell me why.”

“I can’t tell you.”

“Why not?”

“Cause if you know, then the Siren will know and if he knows then the queen will know…”

A long silence. “I see. Telepathy can be incredibly inconvenient at times can’t it?”

“Yes.”

“Be careful and study hard.”

“I will.” We chatted for a few more minutes about my classes before hanging up.

—–

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