The Muse's Touch

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Regrets of the Past

“Anna Duffeld was a nun I met in the seventeenth century. Life was hard for women in the new world but she was bright, curious and adventurous. I was stupid, naïve and honestly damn awful back then. They say you could get a human addicted to you but I didn’t really believe that. I enjoyed corrupting innocents without thinking of the consequences. And once I introduced Anna to sex, there was no going back.”

Paige sat on the edge of the loveseat, back stiff as a board. She studied Davin as he spoke. His voice was steady, but he did not look up to face any of them in the room. With a start, she realized. This was what shame looked like.

Next to her, Ainsley gave her hand a squeeze in silent support. Her best friend had refused any suggestions for rest and had bullied Dante to putting her down on the other side of the loveseat. Inwardly, Paige was grateful.she wasn’t sure if she could get through this story without the emotional rock that was her best friend.

Dante rounded out the audience and remained standing behind Ainsley as if ready to help her with anything. It was endearing.

No one said a word. Davin took a sip of the scotch Dante had poured for him and let out a sigh. It was a bit early for a drink but in this case, Paige felt as though she could use one herself. Maybe it would calm the storm building inside.

“I told myself that we were scratching a mutual itch, that neither of us really had feelings for each other and when it was time to move on, I simply told her I was leaving. Thought that was all that was needed. I was wrong. She flipped when I told her I didn’t feel the same way.” The hollow look on his face broke her heart. “I ran, like a coward.”

“Davin, if Anna was a nun in the 1600s, how the hell is she still alive now?” Paige struggled to keep her tone neutral and her words even when what she really wanted to do was take Davin by the shoulders and shake him until he showed some emotion beyond the numbness he spoke with.

He swallowed and looked up at her. “Anna went dark. I had introduced her to the world of the supernatural and had no qualms sharing info with her. It seemed fun at the time, corrupting her faith and her innocence. Instead, it backfired. She started delving into the occult and found she had a little power enough to pull off minor spells and get herself apprenticed once she left the church.”

This was nothing like the Davin she knew today. A tiny voice in the back of her head whispered how much similar her own situation was to Anna. Was Davin leading her on? Was she addicted to the mind-blowing sex? Had he somehow ruined her in the same way, but modernized? She opened her mouth to speak but caught a subtle shake of the head from Dante. Davin Dear god, there was more?

Davin set his glass down. “She wasn’t content to let me go, was convinced that I would stay if she found a way to extend her lifespan to match mine. She struck a deal with a dark entity. Long life and power for sacrifices she would bring it for as long as she lived.”

Would she become that psychotic if Davin told her he was leaving? Probably not so but unease crept along the back of her neck. How would she know unless it happened? Paige shook her head. No, absolutely not. She was not some lovesick obsessive woman. She refused to be.

“Paige?” Ainsley gave her hand another squeeze, this time to jolt her out of her thoughts.

She groaned and sagged in her seat, her free hand rubbing her temple. “You mean to tell me that all of this is coming from some stupid cliche jealous stalker ex trope?” The writer in her saw beyond all the tangled webs to the simplicity of the situation they found themselves in.

“She’s got you there, Dav.” A new voice cut through the air as a girl of about eighteen descended from the stairs in the back of the room. Clad in a white sundress with silver hair bound in a braid, she appeared almost waif-like with her luminous indigo eyes.

She was gorgeous, delicate, like a precious doll. And yet, full pouty lips and a certain regal poise spoke of sultry experience. Somehow, the two aspects of this strange woman moved in impossible harmony with each other. Who the hell was she?

An urge to rise and bow tugged at Paige and she saw her confusion mirrored on Ainsley’s face. Dav. Davin’s siblings called him that. Was this then a succubus?

In answer, Davin rose from his seat and inclined his head even as Dante shifted to do the same.

“Ava. When did you get in?” Davin asked.

How long had she been listening to their conversation? Why didn’t Dante tell them there was someone else here?

Ava threw a glance at Dante and shrugged. “Late last night. Now introduce us.”

Her midnight voice rang with authority. This was a woman used to obedience from others.

“Paige, Ainsley, please met our eldest sister, Avaline. Ava, this is Ainsley and Paige.” Davin gestured to each of them.

She wondered if she should rise out of politeness more than anything but Avaline was already in front of her, face inches away from hers. Paige found herself being examined and as their eyes met, the depth of ancient wisdom she found in Avaline’s took her breath away. This was someone that has seen the rise and fall of civilizations. Someone that knows secrets that the human mind could not comprehend.

“So this is your chosen mate.”

Wisdom her ass.

“What?” Paige and Davin stared at Avaline in shock.

“No, I’m not…”

“She’s not my…” Great, now they were both tripping over each other’s words.

“Riiiighht.” Avaline lifted a delicate brow and shrugged. The blatant disbelief galled her but when Ava lifted a hand to cup Paige’s face, any further protests died in her throat. From the corner of her eye, she saw Davin’s hands balled into fists.

“Hmmm, there’s something about you.” Ava murmured. Paige gaped at her. The woman was moving so fast from one vague statement to another, she was giving Paige whiplash. “There’s definitely more to you than what meets the eye. I do hope you stick around, even if that brother of mine is a bit of a bonehead.”

Paige wanted to purr at the warm tone of approval. Not even Davin had this kind of effect on her. Was this because she was the oldest?

There was a spark of satisfaction when Paige also realized that she wanted to yell at Avaline too for calling Davin a bonehead. Perhaps she had some natural resistance to incubi and succubi? God, she hoped so.

Next, Avaline turned to Ainsley. “Oh, you poor thing. I am so sorry you got hurt because of Dav’s mistakes. If there’s anything I can do to help, please let me know.” Her voice gentled as she touched Ainsley’s hair, stroking the curls. She leaned closer and whispered to her before smiling at the stunned expression on her face. “Don’t worry, it’ll come in time.”

Paige wanted to know what Avaline whispered to Ainsley. Later. Hopefully, there was a later.

“Dante.” Avaline straightened, her tone commanding once more. “You’re on guard and service duty. Make sure Ainsley here is taken care of until she makes a full recovery. Anything she needs, you can send the bill to me.”

“Yes, Ava.” Dante nodded again, a man of few words.

“Please Avaline, it’s unnecessary,” Ainsley protested.

“Nonsense It’s the least I can do.” Again a gentle, almost mothering smile, so at odds with her childlike appearance.

It was the first time she saw Ainsley’s protests brushed aside. Paige blinked once, twice. Avaline’s dominance and command over the room were staggering.

And then she turned to Davin.

“You. Davin Murphy.”

Davin winced.

“You better fix this, you hear. It’s time you deal with Anna once and for all. And maybe if you’re lucky and grovel hard enough, your mate may forgive you for putting her through your mess.”

“I’m not…” Paige made another attempt at correcting her.

“It’s all right.” Ava winked at her though Davin looked as though he had swallowed something rotten.

There was no arguing with that woman, was there?

“Yes Ava,” Davin echoed with a sigh of exhaustion.

“I’m heading out. You all get some rest.” Avaline waved and walked out leaving more questions than answers.

The four of them stared at the door Ava left by.

“Well, that was…” Paige started.

“....a thing.” Ainsley shook her head.

“Now what?” Dante asked. It was a good question and Paige turned to Davin only to see others do the same.

“I’ll handle it,” Davin said at last. “Dante if you can stay here to protect Paige and Ainsley, I’ll meet Anna at the appointed time and get Lillian back. She won’t hurt Lillian for now.”

Yeah, no.

“No way!” Paige sprang up from her seat. “You are not going alone.” He was insane. He can’t simply walk into all of that alone. The woman was unstable at best and so far, she had stayed several steps ahead of them. This was a trap.

“Yes, I am. I am not putting you in any more danger.” Davin shot back.

She stared at him, her temper rising until it roared in her ears. Of all the times he could have chosen to pull a neanderthal, stupid macho stunt...

“Ainsley, would you like me to show you to a guest room to get some rest?” Dante’s quiet voice cut through her thoughts. It was a tactical retreat.

“Good idea,” she muttered in reply and allowed Dante to carry her away with a last glance of worry and apology thrown her way. Paige understood though. This was her battle.

She closed her eyes and drew a deep breath to rein her temper in. Yelling would do no good. “Davin, if you think I’m letting you do this alone, you have another think coming.” Her warm brown eyes opened and hardened “Don’t turn this into some atonement shit. This Anna hurt my friends. She made this personal.”

“I can’t stand…” He swallowed and tried again. “Already knowing now that all this is because you’re with me…” Finally some emotion. His voice cracked.

“What you did to Anna was wrong. And it is a wrong that needs to be righted.” She dared a step forwards towards him. “But that was also a long time ago and I know that is not who you are.”

“How can you be so sure?” His quiet voice broke.

His fear was palpable. That alone spoke volumes. His confession about Anna brought with it a new clarity and suddenly, all his previous hesitations made sense. He was his own bogeyman. But another memory resurfaced.

They laid in bed, basking in the afterglow. The sex was sweet, tender mixed with the amount of aggressiveness that made it so much hotter.

“You know, I’ve been writing these little shorts but I’ve been toying with an idea of a novel.”

“Why not?” His eyes twinkled with excitement.

“It’s a big commitment… I don’t know if I can hold a complex enough story for a full novel.”

“Well, you never know until you try.” Shade rolled to his side and propped his head up with his arm. “I know you can do it. You’re driven. You can do whatever you set your mind to. Besides, you can always bounce ideas off me and if you need inspiration…”

The wink he gave her made her giggle, her cheeks blushing despite their naked state. He closed the distance, pressing his lips on hers and she forgot all her doubts.

“I’m not.” She gave him a weak smile. “But it’s what I choose to believe. Because sometimes what you need the most is someone to believe in you. Just like how you believed in me.”

Davin swept her into his arms and held her to him as if he was clinging on to a life preserver. He pressed his lips on the top of her head, burying his face against her hair as he sucked in deep breaths. Her own hands rubbed his back in slow soothing circles as she remained buried against him.

“Do you see why I can’t lose you?” His whisper tickled her skin.

“And do you see that if I’m to be a part of your life, I can’t always be under your protection alone? I need to stand on my own two feet.” Paige pulled back to look up at him, eyes intent. She may be only human but damn if she was going to be the princess in the castle. “Lillian is my responsibility too and I refuse to run away from this.”

It looked as though Davin was about to protest but he heaved a heavy sigh instead. “Did I tell you that you are one of the most stubborn and infuriating humans I have ever had the pleasure of meeting?”

Paige laughed then and reached up to pet the top of his head. “Yes, you’ve said as much before.”

He pulled her hand down and kisses the inside of her palm, his eyes closing as if he were savouring the taste of her. Paige shivered. “We should talk game plan.”

“Later,” Davin murmured. “Let me make love to you. Not feed. Just make love.”

Everything in her tense at his hushed words, even as her body responded to the request by growing damp with desire. But it was her heart that began to race at an abnormal speed. He had used to L-word. No, it was just used as phrasing for sex. Was it?

“No more thinking, my Sparrow.” Taking advantage of her momentary silence, he swept her off her feet and carried her away.

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