by Rosanna Leo
Even from behind the closed salon door, Verity sensed him coming. Despite the party atmosphere in Dacre House, and the sounds of lusty revelers, she remained attuned to his particular footsteps. The determined thump of his footfall made her as excited now as it had three hundred odd years ago.
She perched on the edge of a velvet settee, crossing her leather-clad legs. And then, as she heard him reach the salon door, she decided against her pose and stood to reposition herself behind a scrolled chest of drawers. Tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear, she stood up straight and gazed toward the door, her heart heavy with anticipation. As much as she wanted to present a brave face, standing behind the bulky piece of furniture made her feel safe. In her hand, she gripped half of a tarot card as if it were a map leading to buried treasure. She glanced at the card.
Judgment Day. How appropriate.
So long. So very long. How had she existed all this time without him? Of course, she thought bitterly, it wasn’t as if she’d ever had a choice. He’d turned her away every time she’d pleaded with him over the past three centuries, a victim to his all-consuming guilt.
The old brass knob turned and the door creaked opened. John Martin walked in, the other half of the Judgment Day card in his big hand, and surveyed one corner of the room. Verity’s heart leapt, something it hadn’t done since the last time she’d appeared before him several decades ago. He was still beautiful, more so, if it were possible. His tall, bulky frame still filled a doorway. His brown hair was cut in a short, modern style that did nothing to erase the memory of the appealing curls he’d once worn. He wore black dress pants and a black shirt, reminiscent of his former Puritan garb. His blue eyes still burned fire.
He saw her and jumped back, dropping the tarot card. As he moved, his swan-feather angel wings unfurled and lifted him off the ground. He hovered and pointed at her. “I reject you, Satan, and your foul temptations!”
Despite wanting to cry, Verity forced her rouged lips into a smile and slid out from behind the chest of drawers. As a succubus, she had powers of her own, and needed no wings to take flight. She flew in his direction, wafting her gardenia perfume toward him in a teasing embrace. “It’s just me, John. Your Verity.”
The slight crinkle in his brow signaled his distress, but he hid it well, clenching his jaw and forcing his face back into a mask of cold calm. Damn angels, unfeeling creatures. “I don’t believe you.”
“Very well.” His grim smile lanced right through her. “You wish to play games. That must be why you lead me to this … this place of perversion.” He dropped his gaze to the floor, to where his tarot card fell. “I don’t believe the creature before me is Verity Chisholm because the Dark Lord has seen fit to conjure her image before me many times, only to make her disappear. I have been taunted by what I cannot have time and again.”
Her heart broke for him. It was just like her employer to engage in such savage sport. There was nothing he enjoyed more than mocking God’s company. Could this be why John had ignored her many entreaties over the centuries? Because he didn’t trust she wouldn’t disappear too? So much wasted time, and all because of her master’s games.
She hated Lucifer even more now.
“I swear on my life with you, John, it is me. Not some cruel phantom.”
He narrowed his eyes, looking her up and down, trying to see through her. His hard gaze stung, but she held it. And then, after the longest moment of her existence, she spied a softening in his eyes. Something in him broke. Her hands moved at her sides in restless surrender. He spoke in a cracked voice. “Verity?”
Thanks be to God! He believed.
Relief fanned its warmth through her core. She thought he’d turn her away again. So many times over the past centuries she’d approached him, but he’d warded her off. Casting her away like the demon she was, but which she’d never felt comfortable being. Anticipating another rebuff, she’d invited him here to Dacre House, New Orleans’ own “House of Sin,” hoping he’d succumb to a little Halloween temptation.
Only now she was tempted. Oh, to feel his arms around her again!
“I’d hoped by inviting you to this den of flesh and writhing bodies, I might convince you to do something crazy with me. Like hold my hand.” She pasted on what she hoped was a beguiling smile, but it trembled, crooked on her face.
“I can’t.” He shook his head, his eyes haunted.
Oh, how his guilt still dictated his every move. However, Verity knew underneath the stoic demeanor that was his angel armor, he was a man. One who hadn’t been averse to a little temptation in his past life.
Determined to crack his shell, she landed back on the floor, extending an arm to him. “John, it wasn’t your fault.”
He, too, dropped to the floor, unfurling his majestic wings behind his back. He took up a spot against the far wall, the farthest away from her he could get. “It was my fault! I didn’t save you, and look at the creature you’ve become. It’s because of me that you were damned, and I’ll never forgive myself.”
“Oh, my John.” He’d never come to her while guilt burned through his stomach like acid.
Perhaps a little temptation wasn’t amiss.
She took a step toward him, the click of her stilettos sounding loudly on the hardwood. “Surely an angel is permitted one small sin?”
He rushed forward like an ominous wind, a thunder cloud. Verity closed her eyes and let his power inundate her as he grabbed her arms. “Do you know how long I’ve dreamed of holding you?” he uttered, his nails biting into her skin as he squeezed her. “Even in going to Heaven, I was sentenced to hell.” His gaze seared her, so fiery it was almost neon.
“Existing without you has been hell for me too.” She closed her eyes, relishing the feel of his fingers on her body, and then opened them. “I love you still.”
“How? Why?” He released her arms and shoved away from her, pain etched in every line on his face. “It’s because of me they killed you. You should hate me.”
“Even as the noose was placed about my neck, John, I never hated you. I’ve spent the last three hundred and twenty-one years counting each dismal second away from you.”
She bit her bottom lip, determined not to cry, but her time away from him had worn her down. Despite her best efforts, those damn tears fell.
He flew to her and brushed away her tears. “Sweet Verity. Please don’t. Your tears are about the only thing that could kill me.”
Her lungs constricted. He stood so close. His breath warmed her, making her body break into goose pimples of delight. How this man tempted her. Satan had seen fit to make her a succubus, with legions of men at her disposal to choose from if she wished. Her role was to tease men into states of infidelity, but she’d proven a failure because the only man she wanted was John.
Before his guilt claimed him again, she leaned in and brushed her lips against his. Temptation in its softest form. Raw energy sizzled and wove between their bodies even with an innocent kiss. Her succubus hunger, while rusty, was still strong. She hooked a fingernail into his shirt collar and pulled downward, slicing clear through all the buttons. She watched them fly out of the corner of her eye. Inserting her hand between the open flaps of his shirt, she reveled in the smooth skin of his nipples and tugged at his chest hair. When she traced his mouth with her tongue and he moaned, she experienced the sweet thrill of triumphant reunion.
Still mine. John gazed at the beautiful succubus in his arms, Satan’s instrument of lascivious evil, and the angel in him wanted to recoil. His role demanded he recoil and repent. He was supposed to be a fucking paradigm, for God’s sake. His role had been detailed to him with celestial clarity: lead lesser beings out of temptation. Show them the way.
Right now, he just wanted to find the way into her skin-tight pants and devour her heat.
He stared at Verity, wanting to glimpse evil, but seeing only the woman he’d loved in Salem. By St. Michael’s sword, she was still there. He could see her under the red lipstick and unnaturally long lashes. Could feel her generous curves under clothing that would have given an old Puritan minister a coronary. If he looked hard enough, he could almost see her as she was then—a sweet girl with black locks and a smile that lit up her green eyes. He’d always known she was a curious thing. After Sunday service, she’d pull him aside, full of questions about his views on Scripture. Her eyes warmed by something other than religious fanaticism.
Her interest had been for him, and it hadn’t taken them long to succumb to their mutual passion.
John had been a young teacher in the Salem community, a pillar, a man recognized for his scruples. But when Verity Chisholm flounced by him the first time, her soft hair peeking out from her cap, he’d been smitten. And when she’d brushed by him at a barn raising, her shy smile made his chest expand, and his thoughts had swiftly turned irreligious.
Their first transgression had been a kiss one night, a mere touch of the lips in the woods behind the parsonage. Neither of them had been able to sleep and had sought solace in the stillness of the outdoors.
“Mister Martin,” she’d whispered upon encountering him. Her bosom had heaved under her woolen garment. “John.”
Aching as he’d never ached for anything in his life, he’d taken her in his arms. It wasn’t long before he took her up against the outer walls of the parsonage. They’d continued to meet at night while the good folks of Salem were abed. He’d swallowed her cries of ecstasy so they would not echo in the woods. And with each velvet thrust, John’s love for her grew.
However, the Chisholm’s had promised Verity to another—Samuel Williams. The man was a jealous so-and-so who’d spotted them in the woods not long after they’d begun their nightly trysts. When he’d seen Verity on her knees before John, he’d spread the rumors about them being deviant witches. How they’d worshipped the devil during their foul nocturnal practices.
And of course, the citizenry of Salem were only too pleased to add their names to the growing list of accused witches. Being a community leader, John had been so sure they’d both be acquitted.
They’d been promptly condemned.
On June 30, 1692, they were led to Gallows Hill. Verity had screamed, had struggled in her captor’s arms. Ignoring the sweat of terror on his own brow, John had turned to her and implored, “My love, cease your struggling. We will soon be together in Heaven.”
Her green eyes had taken on a bright sheen, a wildness, and somehow John had known she didn’t believe God would reunite them. As the noose was placed around her delicate neck, he’d expected her to call out in supplication to the Lord, but she hadn’t. Crazed by the deranged proceedings, his lover had instead cried out for the Lord of Hell.
“You want a witch,” she’d screamed. “Well, I’ll give you one. I curse you all, and I pledge to serve Satan in the afterlife so that I may return and plague you. God of hell, save me!”
Even as the executioner fitted the rough noose around John’s own neck, her curse rang out in his head, the greatest torment of all. And as he died, he’d prayed to God to release him from the prison of his body and to forgive his lover her crazed outcry. Made insane by terror, she’d cried out for Lucifer, and he’d answered, just as God had heard his prayer and let him join the ranks of the angels.
He’d spent an eternity plagued by guilt, a guilt so powerful and vile, he’d run from her every time she’d appeared before him, pleading.
“I need your forgiveness, Verity.”
“There’s nothing to forgive. Just be with me.”
Her gardenia scent teased him. Her soft skin beckoned. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to master his urges, but his head still swam.
“We’ve wasted too much time, John. Please.”
“But we serve different masters. If we give in, what then?”
For the first time since he’d seen her in the salon, she appeared angry, a bitter sparkle in her eye, her ruby lips twitching with nerves. “I don’t know. We’ll probably be punished. Again.”
He watched as her breasts rose and fell within the confines of her corset. John knew angels didn’t sweat, but the strange moisture at the back of his neck sure felt like it. He cried silently to God to intercede, but heard no response.
Did that mean this wasn’t so wrong?
Expecting an outcry from the gates of Heaven, but unable to stop, he leaned forward and slid his tongue across the tops of her heaving breasts.
She still tasted like sweet manna.
Would he risk his soul for this woman? Fuck yeah. Why hadn’t he done so already?
Even as he moved to pull her closer, Verity resisted, a victim to her own nerves. Slowly, he embraced the shaking creature, ready to burn in the pits of Hell for another small taste of her. Something primal inside him snapped into place, and his long-denied need for her flared. His devotion flew away and even prayer wouldn’t save him. Right now, all he wanted to worship was her.
He touched her cheek and forced her to look at him. “We’re in a den of sin, my love. Sin with me.”
Verity gawked at John as he pressed against her, and her mind reeled. She’d been so sure he’d turn her away as he always had, but when he’d licked at her breasts and she saw the demon cast to his eyes, it scared her. She hadn’t ever wanted to lead him astray … not really. She’d merely wanted another moment in his arms, knowing that was probably all she could ever have. However, the famished look in his luminescent eyes spoke of much more than a moment.
How on earth had the seducer become the seduced?
Would he hate her in the morning when he was called before the Almighty for his grave transgression? “Now I feel guilty,” she whispered.
He gritted his teeth. “No. I refuse to let you suffer how I did. I want you, my soul be damned.”
He traced the length of her bare arms, smoothing his thumbs along her skin, and she shivered. By the time he dug his hands into her hair, she was ready to beg. Damn! Didn’t he know having her scalp massaged made her giddy with pleasure? Of course, he did. He knew the effect of all his touches on her. He took her mouth in a deep kiss, his tongue playing her like an instrument. As he did, he spread his massive wings behind him as if sheltering them from God’s view.
Suddenly, she regretted the garb she’d chosen for this shindig. Maybe she should have left the stilettos, tight pants, and corset at home, because the sight of them seemed to be driving her angel into a frenzy of need. His hands shook as he caressed her. He bit at his bottom lip, and the veins in his neck throbbed.
John blinked once and uttered words that would make the seraphim blush. Her clothes fell away from her body, leaving her as naked and vulnerable in front of him as she’d once been against the parsonage wall. “What are you doing?”
His answer was to fall to his knees before her, the angel venerating the demon. He placed his hands on her thighs. His eyelids fluttered as he glanced at her. “Just a taste.”
“Dear God,” she moaned. Finally.
As John’s tongue made contact with the folds of her pussy, they took flight together and soared around the cavernous salon. They hovered about two feet from the ceiling, buoyed by powers of flight. His tongue on her skin made her feel like the curious girl she’d once been in Salem, rather than a jaded demon who’d seen and done everything. With each swipe, with every soft suck, memories of their love filled her, the love which had been ripped away from them and which she’d mourned for eons. Its loss had turned her into a cold, vile thing, one who spent its days half-heartedly leading men into sin, and then spent its nights dreaming of John.
How she longed to start over with him.
His large wings slid against her body as they floated. Their soft caress was echoed in the reverent glide of his tongue into her pussy. John opened his mouth, covered her mound, and sipped at her juices. His most intimate kiss was ruthless and demanding, something he’d only ever been during their lovemaking. His fever for her had eradicated the gentle angel and replaced it with one of the avenging variety.
As his licks and bites once again made her feel like a blushing virgin experiencing her first orgasm, she writhed and shouted. Luckily, her crazed moans were muffled by the sounds inside and outside the mansion. Hook-ups were happening all over the house; the evidence was heard within the walls of each room as they seemed to groan and sigh. And the atmosphere only made her hotter.
John tortured her clit by locking his lips around it and sucking for all he was worth, giving her the pleasure that had so long been denied. And as he saw to her needs, he reached down between his legs, palming his cock.
Just as she was ready to succumb to the delicious torment, he removed his mouth from her swollen pussy and caught her eye. She looked at him, almost afraid of the devilish cast in his gaze.
“My little devil,” he said, chuckling.
Then he blew on her pussy and caused a hurricane of sensation to roll over her body. Even as they continued to float around the room, he spread her legs wider so she remained captive to the overwhelming volleys of pleasure. He’d removed his mouth, but his magical breath made it feel as if a thousand mouths were on her, all of them seeking to make her come harder. One blow, and she felt tongues on her clit. Another soft breath and invisible teeth tortured her nipples. Yet another exhalation and fingers claimed all her intimate entries, filling and stretching her. Any orgasm he’d given her back in Salem, life-changing as they all were, was nothing compared to the monumental wave now crashing over her. She threw her head back, felt her womb seize and contract with pleasure/pain, and screamed in a language she didn’t understand.
John, the man, had been a generous, clever lover. Clearly, John, the angel, had learned a few new tricks.
Her climax seemed to go on forever. John continued blowing on her quivering mound, and the invisible mouths assaulted her until she had no choice but to close her eyes and roll over. Her angel caught her in his arms and flew her to the floor and then laid her on the velvet settee. She turned away from him and pressed her feverish brow against the smooth upholstery. Her body still jolted with each breath she took, and her screams of ecstasy still echoed in her ears.
John sat next to her, caressing her hip, and then turned her toward him. He was naked now as well, having disposed of his clothes in the blink of an eye. And even though his perfect, muscled form called to her, she resisted.
“No more,” she implored, feeling less like a demon than she ever had.
“You wanted this, Verity,” his deep voice rumbled. “And there will be more. Much more.”
As he positioned her on the settee, she groaned.
What am I doing? Why am I doing this?
It was because Verity Chisholm’s cries had haunted him for ages. He’d meandered through the centuries, happy to be doing God’s work, but always knowing something was missing. He’d prayed, led countless souls to the light, and had led lost souls out of harm’s way, but nothing had ever given him the satisfaction he’d felt holding the woman he loved.
Making her come, as they’d flown around this New Orleans salon, had filled his soul with happiness and reawakened desire. For centuries, he’d forced her memory to the back of his mind, knowing she was off-limits. She was one of Lucifer’s own; he was pledged to the Lord. There was no way this could have had a happy ending.
And yet he’d missed her so much. Had fretted and tortured himself about her, had wondered what sins the devil inspired her to commit in his name. Right now, she didn’t look like a sinner. She looked like the sweet woman he wanted to take to bed night after night.
He pulled her into a sitting position and grinned. She was boneless within his arms. He’d dazzled a demon. And Lucifer had once said angels were boring.
His cock hardened further, straining for her. He pulled her over his legs so she straddled him. She looked at his cock as if she were afraid of what it would do to her. He slid its bulk back and forth along her wet seam, teasing her, teasing him. Gripping her with one arm around the waist, he lifted her a few inches. With the other hand, he readied his cock head at her entrance.
“Verity,” he choked out in anticipation of fucking her. “Close your eyes.”
She obeyed, and he impaled her on his cock, finally finding his way into the sweet bower that had been his only real home. She wiggled on his lap and took him deeper. He held her, unmoving. Saints alive, her tight channel felt better than ever.
Before he lost himself completely, he used his powers to whisk them away, away from the salon, away from New Orleans. Flying through the air on a stratum no human eye could discern, he carried her to the place that meant the most to them. The place where they’d fallen in love.
Once they were in Salem, he commanded, “Open your eyes.”
She did and gasped. Even though they were still joined and he ached to start thrusting, he held immobile as she looked around with tears in her eyes. They were behind the parsonage, back in the year 1692. Even though the building had been in ruins for years, it now stood as if untouched by time. It was nighttime, and all the good souls were in bed, leaving them quite alone, without even Samuel Williams’ prying eyes for company. As much as Verity’s perfume filled John’s senses, other scents made themselves known: embers from a dying fire, pine needles, and the delicious aroma of someone’s mutton stew. It took him back in time and made him happier than ever.
Verity wrapped her legs around his waist. She held on to him and kissed him hard. The succubus part of her showed through when she nibbled his bottom lip. After several loving, biting kisses, she gazed at him and smiled. “I was so happy in this place with you.”
He cupped her cheek. His heart pounded with love for her. “One last time here, my love.”
She nodded as fresh tears coursed down her cheeks.
After wrapping his wings around her so her skin would be protected from the rough wooden wall, John pinned her to it. He moved his hips against her, luxuriating in the tight grip of her pussy. She seemed to know just how to squeeze him. She’d always understood what he’d needed, more than he had. A smile. A gentle caress. She’d given him so many gestures of love during their short lives together, and he’d wasted the last few centuries denying them both an eternity of love.
On a grunt, he plunged deep inside her, moving so slowly he could have been turning back time. Verity cried out, her head falling forward onto his shoulder. He nipped at her neck and thrust again, faster this time, building up a momentum that was as painful as it was blissful. He fucked her, making silent promises with his possession that even he didn’t fully understand. All he realized was her body unraveling all around him and the delicious tightness of his balls as they slapped against her bottom. She squeezed his ass with her small hands, and he clenched, moving faster against her, sliding ever deeper.
Becoming one with her again.
As they reached climax together, John burrowed his face against her neck. When he finally looked up, his face was as wet with tears as hers. Stars shot across the sky, and he knew God’s angels were on guard, ready to take them down on a single word from on high. What they’d done was blasphemy, treason.
And for the first time in his long life, he didn’t give a fuck. This was his woman. Hell, she always had been.
Before any angelic warriors could take aim, John whisked her back to New Orleans. They landed in the salon, on the settee. He gazed at her fragile beauty, transfixed. Still so hungry, he touched her moist pussy, and she gasped. With a smile, he knelt before her, spread her legs and drank from her one more time. Verity wiggled under him, her hips moving with a sinful grace that would cause angels to barricade Heaven’s door. She grasped his head, burying her fingers in his hair, and held him fast. Summoning his powers to delight, he tongued her clit and absorbed her body’s soft sigh as she came in his mouth.
Complete wonder. His personal Paradise.
When he swallowed her last tremor, he got up and sat with her, holding her to his heart. After several minutes, they reached for their clothes without a word. Neither of them addressed what might happen next.
The Halloween party was in full swing. Loud music pumped from speakers, a musical segue to new debaucheries of which he wanted no part. He dressed and watched as Verity slid into her tight pants. When it came time to adjust her corset, he walked over and gently removed her hands, and fastened it himself. She stared at him. All hope had disappeared from her eyes. The twinkle was gone, replaced by shadows.
He laid his forehead against her. “I was so wrong to run from you. So wrong to let my guilt stand in the way.”
Her eyelashes fluttered over eyes that no longer held the allure of the temptress. She was all softness and vulnerability now. “John, what I said at the gallows … it was my fear talking. I don’t want to be a succubus. I want to be with you. I love you.”
“I know. I always knew. And I love you, too.” He kissed her as a new sense of determination filled him. He could fix this. He had to fix this. “Maybe we can still be together. Maybe you could join me in the ranks of angels.”
She shook her head. “What if Lucifer won’t let me go? What if God won’t take me?”
God couldn’t be so cruel. They’d spent centuries apart for their innocent follies. They’d made their mistakes and had paid for them. Surely heaven wouldn’t refuse a soul who was truly penitent. They’d already suffered through one judgment day. Surely God wouldn’t make them endure another.
He tipped up her chin and absorbed every beautiful detail on her face. “Whatever happens, we’ll do it together this time. I won’t let you go.”
Verity let out a deep breath and swallowed. He could tell she was willing to take on the powers of heaven. This time, he’d be with her every step of the way. He wouldn’t let anyone take her. He’d fight and bargain and beg for his woman. Reaching for her hand, he offered her a grin of encouragement.
With one more kiss for luck, they left the mansion and swiftly took flight.