Between the Books: Volume Sixteen
|Volume Sixteen - Damali's Dilemma|
|During||Newly moved into the house in Arizona…|
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The moment Damali’s head hit the pillow she was fast asleep. Moving, squashing disputes, building furniture, setting up energy barriers around the house, heavy training, and the evening workout took its toll. Her eyelids fluttered as she plunged into heavy REM.
Screeching Harpies were all around her, the ground was littered with their foul little gray-green bodies. Smoldering wings lay at her feet like discarded newspaper; shocked expressions remained frozen on dead gargoyle faces. Bits of spaded tails and claws slowly became embers in the approaching dawn. Her Isis blade chimed in the air as they crouched and then foolishly leapt at her again. Two handed, overhead swing and gook was everywhere. A hard fly-kick to the groin stunned a large one, just before she gored it.
Two went airborne at her back and lost their heads mid-flight. Running up an alley wall, and pushing off, she sliced two beasts in half, leaving entrails on the dank concrete. She watched them crawl over the dumpsters and perch in readiness to take flight again, breathing hard. Damali tilted her head; she could hear them easing down the brick walls and fire escape behind her. A quick funnel cloud formed and she hurled herself into it, her Isis spinning with her like a blender blade, leaving a greenish black mess in her wake.
“Yeah,” she said and spit on the ground. “Bring it, you nasty little bastards.”
They fled. She stood in the alley alone, wide legged and released a warrior’s battle cry. Carlos came out of the shadows and coolly leaned against the wall.
“You ready to go home?” he asked in a low, sexy voice. “I love to watch you kick ass. Good work out?”
“Yeah. Excellent.” She wiped slime off her cheeks and forehead with the back of her wrist. “I need a shower.”
He smiled. “Consider it done… that’s my favorite part. Post-battle.”
“After that adrenaline rush, the sex will be awesome, I promise you,” she said, smiling and still catching her breath. She rammed her blade into a section of dirt and bent over to breathe, resting her palms on her knees.
The next thing she knew, water was rushing over her and she was in a shower somewhere—exactly where, she wasn’t sure and didn’t care. All that mattered was that her man was kissing her hard and had his tongue halfway down her throat. Then just as suddenly she was clean and dry and lying in the middle of a bed she’d never seen.
His hands swept over her like a sudden storm, pouring down white-hot torrential pleasure enough to make her cry out in her sleep. She didn’t understand it, even while in heavy REM. By day she was lukewarm to Carlos’s affection, but the moment she closed her eyes and dozed off, she was on fire. Now was one of those times.
Eyes wide shut dream-state, she tried to gather her wits. Beyond a vamp seduction, this was damned near a possession. Her body was not her own, her mind melting under the inferno of his touch, all reason beginning to leak out of her ears as he caressed her throat with his tongue. The things he was saying went beyond Carlos’s normal trash-talking. It was blunt-edge raw, yet his fangs were anything but that.
“Baby stop,” she found herself slurring and not sure why.
Her mouth wasn’t responding the way it should, just like her limbs were way too heavy to use to defend her against his passion. He was all over her, wurking like a maestro, but for some odd reason a quiet inner voice told her that something was wrong. She gave up with a groan as acute pleasure slammed her, and just asked him to stop again inside her head.
“Why?” he murmured, knocking her head back with his jaw to expose her throat.
He drew in a ragged breath, and stared down at her on his hands and knees on the bed, his stone-cut abdomen contracting with desire as her fingers touched his chest, searching for his burn scar that strangely wasn’t there.
She looked up at him, her vision hazy, misted by sheer desire. His face was Carlos’s but there was something wrong with his eyes—the expression in them was too harsh.
“Don’t you want to?” he asked quietly, his smile just shy of sinister.
“I…” She couldn’t remember why not. Her gut was yelling no; her body was screaming yes. She had to wake up. “You feel so good I’m crazy.”
“If you’re still not sure, then I haven’t done my job, righteous,” he said with a low, seductive chuckle.
He kissed down the center of her chest and dropped down to blanket her, pulling one of her nipples between his lips, causing her to writhe from the attention. Heat from his skin touching hers felt like it evaporated every liquid within her to flood it all between her legs in a slick wash. Then just as suddenly, his hands slid down her sides and captured her hips. His sexy whisper into her navel made her feel the vibrations cascade through her womb.
“When I’m done raining thunder and lightening between your legs, then decide.”
His tongue felt like he’d actually entered her. Building, undulating pressure drove her to the edge of hysteria. He raised one hand and caught the shriek she released in his fist, lifted his head with a smile, and swallowed it. Before she could catch her breath, he retuned to the scene of the crime to send the sound wave back into her, making her claw the sheets and bite her lip not to holler.
“This is lightening,” he whispered, taking in a deep breath of air with a hiss, and then slowly licked from her bud to her canal as he exhaled another pleasure current.
The ecstasy spasm that shot through her made her limbs twitch and vision blur with tears, but he never let her recover for the chain orgasm that lit her up. He just rocked her with another pleasure seizure again with a smile.
“This is thunder,” he murmured into her folds, and then dropped his voice two decibels and whispered into her valley, “ka-boom.”
It felt like she’d exploded into a million pieces of shattered glass. Shards of her lie all over the bed sobbing. The shudders hit one right after the other like dominoes, making her dig the crown of her head into the pillows with spine snapping arches. She reached for him blindly, grabbing at his shoulders, his hair, anything to pull him up her body and into her.
“Now you want to?” he asked, covering her with the scorching heat of his skin as her hips desperately lifted to try to take him in.
She sought his mouth like a woman possessed, her fingers raking his hair, her body trembling, her legs locked around his waist, sobs making speech impossible, her voice dissolved to a muffled groan swallowed and siphoned up and out of her again by his tongue that captured it.
“Ask me for what you want,” he murmured, sensually spilling rapid, hot kisses down her throat, making her come again as he slid against her drenched opening but didn’t enter her.
She knew what he wanted, but her mouth wouldn’t respond. It felt so good she’d been rendered mute. She tried to show him by slipping her hand between their bellies to guide him. But he wouldn’t move into the right position, just taunted her at the edge of oblivion. Frustration impaled her the way he wouldn’t, and she leaned up to bite him hard. He just smiled and brushed her mouth with a passing kiss.
“Jesus…” Her flat palm balled into a fist at his back.
But he stiffened in her arms. The haze began to fade. Then she realized that, for them to be at this point, he was waaay too cool. Uh uh. Clarity began to reassemble her shattered self. She pushed back on the bed. He pulled back slowly and arched an eyebrow.
“What’s the matter, baby?” he murmured with a half smile, his eyes stalking her.
She looked him over and then quickly gathered her legs up to her and closed them.
“Permission to enter denied!” She was out of the bed and had crossed the room of her dream.
He sat on the edge of the bed, his chest beginning to slightly smolder. “You don’t mess around do you?” he said rubbing the place that burned. “Sacred names in bed… shit.” He gave her a sly wink. “I thought that was sacrilege?”
Madame Isis was suddenly in her hand.
He stood slowly and materialized a black blade in his grip with a skull hand-protector covering his knuckles. “Let’s not get crazy in here, baby,” he said in a thinly veiled threat.
She glanced around for an exit and judged the distance to the door behind him. A minute ago there were large sliding glass doors, and the one behind him had vanished.
“All I was asking for was permission to love you right,” he said, calmly advancing.
“And what the fuck did I tell you?” she said, taking a fighter’s stance. “Hell no.”
He lunged, she swung. Steel met steel as she pivoted around him so give herself maneuvering room. He kicked over the table between them. She jumped back up on the mattress.
He smiled. “I was hoping you’d come back to bed,” he said in a nonchalant tone, seeming amused as he circled the furniture and jumped up on the foot of the bed, attempting to box her in at the headboard.
This time she lunged first, her blade clanging against his, and when he came at her again, she used the wall to propel herself up over and behind him, then swung, taking off a bed post.
“Temper, temper, but I love it,” he said, and then swung wild, taking off the other post and chasing her toward where the door used to be.
Whooshing sounds from his blade cutting the air behind her followed when she sidestepped him and jumped onto a dresser, leapt over to a small bureau, and came down in a fighter’s stance to meet his blade, Isis chiming. Then both blades vanished.
“Oh, shit.” She looked around the room fast.
“Foreplay at its best.” He tilted his head and his eyes went to half-mast. “Come on, let’s get back in bed, baby… now stop playing.”
“Okay,” she said, still breathing hard like him, then hauled off and sucker punched him, splattering blood from the blow and opening a gash on her knuckles from his fang.
He came at her like the wind. She yanked open the armoire door and slammed the wood against his chest, then somersaulted out of his reach. Rubbing his jaw, he just shook his head, his eyes now glowing black. Her gaze tore around the room, settling on the wood frame of a chair for a quick stake. The both took off towards it at the same time, and he caught her by the waist and made her fall, dragging her away from it to flip her over. But he wasn’t fully down, just crouched and descending. Seconds counted and she used them well to flip him over her to land on his back in the middle of the floor. She was up, had a chair, and crashed it against the wall, coming away with a sharp section of wood.
Circling each other, she kept judging his lunge, his exposure, what body part to impale first. Fighting naked had its disadvantages.
“Don’t even think about it,” he said snarling. “Then I won’t be playing.”
“Carlos, what’s the matter with you!” she shouted, her heart slamming against her breastbone, her eyes wild, and her grip on the wood tight enough to put splinters in her palm. “God in Heaven, what’s wrong with you? I’ll kill you first!”
He held the sides of his head and closed his eyes tightly. “Enough! You’re dreaming! Why would you even go there? You would kill me after all we’ve been through… just because I was real horny and was playing a little rough with you this morning? Damn, D! Look outside, its daylight!”
The windows reappeared where they had been; the sliding glass spilled sunlight into the room; the door suddenly resurfaced out of the wall.
She looked at the makeshift stake in her hand as slow, eerie confusion filled her. “Wake up, wake, up, wake up,” she screamed, and then slapped herself in the face.
Damali sat bolt upright in the bed. A cold sheen of perspiration made her nightgown cling to her body. She checked her knuckles for a gash and her palm for splinters, and found neither. It was well past dawn, sleeping hours for the team, akin to the middle of their night. She glanced around the bedroom and saw the other female Guardians, their slow, steady breaths of slumber undisturbed.
Out of the bed like a shot, she snatched a terry robe, not caring whose it was. She was on a mission.
Stealing out of the room on tip toes and then running down the hall to where the un-paired male Guardians slept, she cracked open the door. Her gaze ricocheted around the room. Everybody was knocked out.
It was so uncool to open their door, and if she made a pssst sound to wake Carlos, Mike would roll over and spot her. All she could do was stare at Carlos and watch him sleep for a moment and then shut the door. But as she was backing away, he opened his eyes and focused on her.
She quickly motioned for him to come out of the room and into the hallway, making faces and mouthing the words. He raised an eyebrow, glanced around at the sleeping team, and carefully got up trying to avoid squeaking the bedsprings.
The second he slipped past the door and shut it behind him, he reached for her. She backed up. “What’s wrong? I thought—”
“What were you just dreaming?” she whispered through her teeth. Her question came out in an urgent hiss. “I don’t know, I just woke up, gimme a minute,” he said, appearing honestly confused. “But shit, since we’re up and you ain’t got nothing on in the hallway… and came in the room for me—”
“I just needed to ask you a question,” she said, beginning to pace.
He caught her arm and pulled her against him hard. “Damn… first thing in the morning, ask me anything, baby,” he murmured against her neck.
“I didn’t come down here for that,” she said, struggling to get away.
“Why don’t we take this conversation into the bathroom?” he whispered against her neck through a heavy breath, nuzzling it gently. “Where there’s a lock on the door and we can… talk.”
“We go in the bathroom just to talk, got it?” she whispered back, glancing around like a thief.
“Yeah, I got it,” he whispered, kissing her ear. “Too many people in the house to be carrying on in the hall. Cool.”
He let her go; she ran down the hall quietly in her bare feet. He was on her heels, and gently pushed the door closed behind them and locked it. She crossed the room and stood in a very small space between the toilet and the tub. He made the space even smaller by putting his hands flat against the wall on either side of her head and leaning down.
“What did you wanna talk about?” he asked, practically panting. His eyes were glowing silver and his expression serious.
“I had this dream,” she said, trying to concentrate.
“Oh, baby… I feel you,” he whispered, dropping his hands to cup her face.
“You don’t understand,” she said, holding his wrists and capturing his gaze.
“Yes, I do,” he said through a labored breath, and then swiftly took her mouth.
“Wait,” she mumbled into the kiss and broke away gasping. “Something crazy happened in the dream. We were making love—”
He kissed her again, harder, this time pressing her back to the wall. “Uh, huh…”
“And, see, what had happened was, you got all crazy on me, but—”
He kissed the words right out of her mouth again while beginning to untie her robe. “I bet I was crazy… losing my mind. It’s been weeks since the last time,” he said against her throat.
She grabbed his face and it was burning up in her hands. “You were so hot, unnaturally so and—”
Another hard kiss stopped her explanation. His fingers were now tangled in her hair as he moved against her.
“I know what you’re taking about,” he said on a heavy breath into her locks, now practically fighting with the terry robe and nightgown.
She flat palmed him. “You do!” she said in a hard whisper.
“Shit, of course I do,” he said, looking bewildered. “Hot. Definitely burning up.”
“I mean, you were in my dream?”
“No, but I can take you there, wherever that was—uh, what do you want me to do, baby? Mind lock? Show me the fantasy and it’s yours.” He was babbling and breathing hard.
She narrowed her gaze. “I wanna see your scar.”
He ripped his t-shirt over his head, chest heaving. “Baby, por favor, what’s the matter?”
“We were making love,” she said slowly, looking at the scar.
“I got that part—can deliver that part.” He moved closer but she held up her hands, inspecting him.
“And you were so hot,” she said, tilting her head, her voice taking on the tone of a forensics expert.
He nodded, and sucked in a deep breath. “Yeah. No doubt.”
“And you were going down on me.”
He dropped to his knees and looked up at her. “Done.”
“No, no, that’s not what I meant.”
“Then sit on the edge of the tub. Shit!”
“No, what I’m saying is…”
His gaze tore around the bathroom. “You want me to put down a towel so you can stretch out?”
“Carlos, get up. Please! I’m trying to tell you something important.”
“Your period didn’t come on?” He was on his feet. “What’s the matter, baby?” he said, talking fast. “You had a dream, something happened. We were in the mix. Okay. I’m clear. Then, what?”
“I don’t know,” she said slowly.
“Oh, Jesus…” He dropped his head and held onto her shoulders.
“That’s it!” she whispered hard. “You were just about to get inside me and I said, ‘Jesus,’ and you pulled up.”
“I did?” He looked at her with a shocked expression. “Naw, girl, you were definitely dreaming, if I did something that ridiculous. That’s a green light, if ever I heard one.”
She finally smiled. “Yeah, that’s why I knew something was wrong.”
“You still in the mood?” He smiled and sealed the space between them. “’Cause if so, I’ll have you calling on The Almighty in three-part harmony this morning. No problem.” He kissed her slowly and made her robe fall to the floor. “The bathroom has great acoustics. I ain’t heard you hit high notes in a long time.”
“People can hear,” she hedged, glancing at the door and still shaken from the dream.
“They’re asleep,” he murmured, shedding his drawstring cotton scrubs. “So… time is of the essence.”
“In the dream we had an awful fight,” she said, trying to piece together what had now become foggy in her brain.
His eyes slid shut as he closed the space between them and kissed her neck. “Oh… baby… my bad… then let’s seriously make up, right here, right now.”
“But… I didn’t tell you how the dream ended,” she whispered.
“Doesn’t matter, now that you’re awake,” he whispered, rubbing against her with a shudder from the skin-on-skin contact. “Damn… you’re still so wet from the dream.”
He kissed her hard, wrapped his arms around her waist, and allowed his tongue to tangle with hers. “Oh… Jesus… girl… you feel so good. I promise it won’t take long to squash that argument.”
A light tap on the door made her straighten, and she swallowed his groan of frustration. She cut her eyes at him to be quiet and then shrugged an apology.
“Got a bladder 9-1-1 in the hall, whoever’s in there,” Berkfield said in a gravelly morning voice.
Carlos closed his eyes and allowed his head to fall back. Damali mouthed the words ‘I’m sorry’ and quickly flushed the toilet.
“Be out in a minute,” she said in a singsong voice and scooped up her and Carlos’s clothes in a jumble. “Just need to put on my robe.”
“All right. Holler when you’re done. I’ll be in the kitchen starting coffee to take my mind off the fire hydrant situation going on here, D,” Berkfield fussed. “You ladies need to give us guys a break—and not take forever.”
“Okaaay!” she said in an unnaturally high voice, yanking on her nightgown and robe. “Two minutes max.”
“Why’d you tell the man that? Two minutes? He said to holler when you were done. Come on, tresora… baby, please, turn on the shower, he won’t know.” Carlos put his palms together like praying hands. “Okay, then, two minutes, por favor,” he whispered, his grim expression holding out for hope.
“You crazy? Berkfield will be back here in a second,” Damali whispered, pushing Carlos out of her way.
“Hurry. Get your stuff on!” She glanced around nervously, speaking in short, quiet bursts. “Okay, here’s the plan. I’ll leave, you get in the shower. I’ll close the door behind me and try to stall him. Then you act like you just happened to stumble down the hall and got in here before him, like you didn’t know he was waiting. Then you flush the toilet, and then, then, let that poor man get in the bathroom—okay?”
“He’s a man,” Carlos grumbled. “If it’s that bad, he can go take a whiz behind the shed in the yard.”
“I’m serious,” she said, glancing over her shoulder and issuing Carlos the evil eye.
“I’m serious, too,” he said, getting into the tub and yanking the shower curtain closed around him. “Only ‘cause I love you would I put up with this shit.”
“You remember the plan?”
“Yeah,” Carlos said flatly as he peeked out from behind the curtain. “Meet me in here, later?” he asked in a more peaceful tone as his gaze traveled over her.
“The whole house will be awake then.”
“Just slip into the shower with me later, they won’t hear us.” His eyes searched hers. “For real, I’ll be quiet.” “The mood is blown, Carlos.”
He closed his eyes and hung onto the curtain. “Don’t tell me you were in the mood. Just shoot me.”
“We’re supposed to be cool because of the newbies, anyway.”
“Aw… baby… have a heart. I’m gettin’ the shakes, it’s been so long.”
She blew him a kiss. “Bye. Maybe… tomorrow. Life in the house is complicated, you know that… and this dream is worrying me—I can’t remember it all the way, though.”
He just looked at her and mouthed the word ‘tomorrow’ like she’d staked him.
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