The Muse's Touch

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The Aftermath of a Feeding

Her sleep was dreamless, and she didn’t stir until early the next morning. Bleary-eyed, Paige languished in bed, too lethargic to do more than watch dust motes dance in the rays of the early morning sun filtering through the window.

“Good, you’re awake.” Davin entered the room with a tray ladened with food: heaps of French toast, bacon, eggs, sausage, toast plus more variety of fruits than she could discern. It was enough to feed five people. Her stomach rumbled.

He set the tray down on one side of the bed and turned to pour from a carafe that he must have brought in while she was still sleeping. The offered glass of orange juice looked tantalizing enough for her to sit up and take it in one hand.

She rubbed her groggy eyes with her other free hand and brought the glass to her lips. “How long have I been sleeping?” Fresh and so sweet. Not the store stuff she bought.

Davin glanced at his watch. “About fifteen or sixteen hours.” He sat down next to her, careful to keep a distance. “It’s normal. Your body needed time to replenish your energy.”

The fear returned. Sleeping for sixteen hours after a lusty bout of sex wasn’t normal. Neither was how drained she was. The absolute lack of energy made every movement harder as if weights tied down each of her limbs. In contrast, Davin was a picture of health, cheeks rosy, wounds including the one on his hand, healed as if none of it had ever been there. Paige checked herself. At least she didn’t seem to crave his touch or sex. Oh goodie, her bar was so low that as long as she hadn’t turned into a nymphomaniac, then it was still an okay day.

“How are you feeling?” There was a new wariness in his eyes.

Perhaps it was the way he looked at her, so careful and hesitant. Perhaps it was the food heaping over the tray. Or perhaps it was the distance he kept between them. But something in Paige softened. He couldn’t help what he was. And if ever he would have lost control, it would have been yesterday. Instead, here she was, still alive. He hadn’t drained her to death.

“Exhausted.” Paige mustered a weak smile. “Like I just trained with Dante for twelve hours.straight.”

“Food and a soak in the bath might help.” His eyes didn’t meet hers.

“Davin. It’s okay. Yesterday was my choice.”

“I know, but it wasn’t much of a choice. I should go, let you eat in peace.” He turned as if to head for the door, his body hunched over.

He reminded Paige of a small child ready for a scolding.

“Davin.” Paige reached out and grabbed his hand, giving it a gentle tug back towards her. “I’m angry at you for lying, not for who or what you are.”

“What I am is not good for you.”

Her heart ached at the sadness in his voice. That was true but regardless, she gave his hand a squeeze. “Have you told me all the complete truth?”

“That I’m a long-lived incubus demon that has to feed on sex to live? Yeah, I can’t think of anything else.” The self-deprecating chuckle that followed had Page shaking her head.

“Then whether you’re good to me is not for you to decide.” That was all she could give him in the form of reassurance for now. The rich aromas of bacon beckoned, and she turned to investigate, grabbing a piece and munching on it.

The slack-jaw combined with the stare of amazement he wore amused her but busy with food now, she didn’t dignify it with a retort. Instead, her body craved fuel, and she submitted to its demands, eating with gusto. In between gulps, she gestured to the tray. “I can’t finish all this by myself, you know. Would be a waste.” She kept her eyes on him until he reached for a piece of toast.

When his body began to relax, Paige returned to the food herself. By silent agreement, neither of them discuss further what happened last night, chalking it up to a one-time necessity. Or that’s what she told herself.

Davin finished much faster than she did and she was still placing a bite of French toast in her mouth when he rose from the bed. “Let me draw you a bath. I’ll put a warming spell on it so no rush, okay?” He didn’t wait for her reply when he walked towards the master bathroom and only then did she realize that she was still in his room.

Her eyes roamed, studying the space. It was sparse, devoid of most personal touches save for a small low bookshelf, upon which sat a small reading lamp. A large armchair stood next to it, a throw draped over its back. As she munched on her last bite, she slid off the bed with shaky legs and made her way over.

There they were, her own books standing in a neat row along the top shelf. Every single thing she wrote was there, even the collection of short stories that hadn’t sold well and had been out of print for quite some time. He wasn’t lying. Paige blushed. This somehow felt personal, even intimate.

Eventually, she made her way to the bathroom, gasping at the luxury that greeted her eyes. An iron clawfoot tub stood in the middle of the pristine white tiles against the backdrop of a ceiling to floor window. If not for the unobstructed view with no other buildings reaching this height, she would have serious issues about being naked in this bathroom. A two-sinks vanity stood to the right while a large shower stall, big enough for three, stood to the left with more jets than she thought possible in a shower.

“Yeesh, so that’s how the one percent lives,” she muttered to herself as she stripped. Might as well enjoy it while she could. Treat it as a splurge on a spa trip or something. She sank into the tub and exhaled. Oh, bliss.

A cushion lined the back of the tub and she rested her neck, letting her head fall back. Her muscles relaxed and her eyes closed once more until she began dozing again. The water never cooled but stayed warm as the minutes ticked away until Paige lost all track of time.

A phone ringing woke her enough to open her eyes before she closed them again. None of her business. And then, she heard voices and none too soft ones. Even with the door closed, she heard every word.

“What the hell happened?”

“Finn, calm down.”

“Calm down? You were near death! We all felt it!”

Another voice spoke, lower and softer such that she couldn’t quite make out what they said.

Shit. Paige shot up, water spilling out from the bathtub. No matter for now. Barefooted, she looked around and grabbed the first piece of clothing she could find, the fluffiest of a robe. It would have to do for now. She spared just enough time to wring the water from her hair before she emerged out of the bathroom.

She cracked the bedroom door open to glimpse what was going on but given the bedroom was the last one at the end of a long hall; it was hard to see. So on tiptoes, she crept out to the hall.

Dante and another one she recognized from the club who must be Finn, stood with their backs towards her. Finn spoke with large exaggerated arm movements even as Davin held up both hands.

“I’m fine. See? Completely fine.”

“You fed.” Dante was quick to point that out. How did he know?

When Davin only tilted his head in puzzlement, Dante gestured towards his hand.

“The wound on your hand healed.”

Oh, that’s how he knew.

“Yes, I did” Davin set his chin and stiffened, everything in his lose challenging his brothers to disapprove.

Paige summoned her courage with a deep draw of air into her lungs and stepped out into view. “It was consensual.” Her hands on her hips, lips pursed, she looked at the two, also challenging them to say another word as they turned to face her.

“Paige...” Davin hurried to her side and imposed himself between her and his brothers.

“Her?” Finn sounded almost hysterical.

“The inugami?” Dante asked. Understanding dawned on him.

A weary sigh escaped Davin’s lips and his posture relaxed. “Yeah. Its owner juiced it up and set it waiting for us in the garage after we came back from your place. Paige,” he nodded towards her, “killed it while it was trying to end me and got me up here.”

“That would explain why we felt you at death’s door then you were fine.” Dante nodded as if everything had been early explained while Finn crossed his arms across his chest with a humph. Was the white-haired incubus pouting? Paige ignored him and turned to Dante.

“Felt?” It was not part of her reading.

“Because we all share the same mother, we all can sense each other to some degree. Just enough to know if one of our own is about to move on,” Dante answered.

It was a closer call than Paige imagined.

“The only reason we didn’t come storming up here right away was because we all felt Davin was fine about five to ten minutes later. Wait why are we explaining this to the human?” Finn looked between Dante and Davin. “And what inugami?”

“An inugami was after Paige. We’re still not sure why. And Paige knows about everything, anyway.”

Dismay marred Finn’s otherwise beautiful features. “The others are gathering. You will have to explain all this to Ava once she gets in town.”

“Ava?”

“Avaline, our oldest sister.”

“Oh.” Paige paled and leaned against the wall for support. It was the second time she heard the name, and she sounded still just as scary.

“Paige?” In an instant, Davin was at her side, one hand on her elbow. “You okay?”

“Just a little wobbly still, I guess.”

“Let me help you back to bed. You need more rest.”

“Davin, I slept for sixteen hours already.” She knew she sounded whiny but she was tired of resting.

“Bed.” The hardened expression on Davin’s face broke no argument and with a huff, Paige let him herd her back to the guest room, regardless of the others, and into bed. The new clean sheets felt soothing to her skin as she stripped off the robe and try as she might to stay awake, she slipped back into slumber.

When she woke next, silence had resumed in the apartment once more. Paige spied her large pack in the corner. Davin must have gone downstairs to retrieve it while she passed out. Grateful to have her stuff again, she rummaged for a fresh set of clothes and slipped on proper clothes this time. She crept out of the bedroom to see Davin pouring over a book. At her footsteps, he looked up and rose from his seat.

“How are you feeling?”

“You really have to stop asking me that.” Paige smiled to take the sting out of her words.

He levelled her a look of admonishment.

Paige attempted to ignore it. “What about the others?”

Davin closed the book and rose from his chair. “Don’t worry about them. We bicker like the siblings we are but they’ll come around. They’re my family. Let me handle them.”

For once Paige didn’t argue. She didn’t want to touch his family dynamics with a ten feet pole. Her gaze travelled to the book on the table. “What are you reading?”

“A book on divination,” Davin admitted. “But to be honest, I can’t make heads or tails of it. Now that we’ve lost the connection to whoever made the inugami, it’ll be harder to figure out who was behind all this.”

So they can attack again. Maybe with something even nastier. Paige shivered.

“Dante suggested that we visit an oracle.”

Why oracles existed would surprise her at this point, she had no idea. “Sure, oracle, why not?”

Davin chuckled. “I need to check on the bookstore, then we’ll go. You up for it?”

“Yes! Stop babying me.” Paige rolled her eyes.

“I can’t help it!” Davin laughed a little, sending slivers of warmth travelling across her skin. “You saved my life. The least I can do is worry about you and spoil you a bit.” His eyes lit up as his lips quirked upwards with that cheeky smile, looking much more like himself.

Good. She didn’t want him guilt-ridden and walking on eggshells around her. Still, Paige raised a brow then shook her head, refusing to let him know how relieved she was. “Fine. I’ll take the spoiling. But stop worrying. I’m okay now. Come on. I want to see this bookstore of yours.”

“Okay okay. Let’s go.”

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