Sonya stood in the tepid darkness of the warm June night watching the couple before her. They were locked in a passionate embrace with the sheets tangled around their entwined legs. Having been a guardian angel since the dawn of creation, she had watched over countless souls and seen numerous couplings, but for whatever reason, Mr. and Mrs. Hemingway's encounters always touched her.
Sonya was the guardian over Hannah Hemingway's soul and felt a special family-like bond with her. She cared for the frail, gentle woman like a sister. They might have been sisters if not for their starkly differing appearances.
Hannah was petite with golden locks and enormous blue eyes that shone with life and innocence. She was a fair-skinned beauty who looked much younger than her twenty one years.
Sonya's long, straight, raven-black hair and bronze skin gave her a darker, more exotic look than the young lady of the manor. Her eyes were the darkest shade of brown, flirting with near blackness. The women were around the same height, with Sonya being an inch taller at five feet, four inches.
Hannah was the reason Sonya spent her days and nights here. She was sworn to protect the lady until the day of her death when she would be called home.
Hannah's husband, Jude had no guardian angel as he was not a believer in the faith she held, but being married to Hannah blessed him with the assurance that he too would be watched over by Sonya...until his wife died.
She silently observed their lovemaking in a state of utter contentment. Hannah was three months pregnant and both of the expecting parents were jubilant and spoke of nothing else.
A dark presence sent a chill through Sonya and put her on guard. A demon. She turned to see the infamous incubus she knew all too well: Nimbus.
“What are you doing here?” She questioned the entity.
He flashed her a cordial smile, but by the time the gesture reached his olive-green eyes, the look betrayed the deviant nature of his thoughts. “Look at them, Sonya. Where else would I be?”
“Are there no other lovers in the world copulating tonight that you have come all this way to my precise location by sheer coincidence?”
“I have been in England for some time now.”
“Your accent would suggest as much.”
The way Nimbus took to seating himself in a chair near her was disarming. He would not touch the Hemingways with a guardian watching over them. Still, he did not fear her anymore than she feared him.
“They appear to be enjoying themselves,” he mused quietly.
She felt his eyes on her, but purity and loathing forbid her to meet his searching gaze. If the irritated, objectified way she suddenly felt beneath his probing stare told her anything, the look his eyes probably harbored at the moment was one of licentious greed.
“Do you never touch yourself while you watch them?” He prodded.
Sonya spun around to face him. “No! Why would I?”
His grin was sinful and decadent. “To sate the ache in your vagina.”
She felt the heat of the blush in her cheeks spreading through her entire body like a forest fire. “What makes you suppose I have any such ache to contend with?”
His toothy smile amply revealed his pearly whites and for a few seconds, erased the truth of the fiend he had become. In this very human looking form, he was the uncanny image of the angel he had once been - one of prominence and respect. One with whom she had enjoyed an especially close camaraderie. That was before the fall. There was a division in heaven and sides were chosen. Nimbus followed Lucifer and was cast out of heaven with many others. Sonya remained faithful, as did most of the other angels who were still in the Almighty's service.
Losing her best friend had been difficult for her to accept, especially the way he had stood at the gates of heaven before being changed and thrown down to earth, and begged her to come with him. Not a tearful, imploring sort of plea. More of an insistent, demanding urgency as though his command would will her body into submission and his desire would turn her soul to the dark side, simply because it pleased him and she could do nothing but yearn to please him. She had never seen that side to him before. Ambition, strength and courage, but not a dark, controlling conqueror. She didn't know if his breech into her psyche was a new-found power of his, or if her affection for him had blinded her enough to subject her to torn loyalties.
Watching him disappear was a startling wake-up call that she was losing him forever and this scared her to death and almost – almost tempted her to follow him out of heaven. Her body had shifted as though about to take a step, when she felt Cassiel's hand on her shoulder and whispered: “Please,” had halted her. His beseeching murmur had brought her back to reality. His interference gave her clarity of thought and saved her from making a decision she likely would have regretted for the rest of her existence.
Once the shock of the celestial mutiny wore off, Sonya became ashamed that she had allowed a friendship to become so precious to her she nearly threw away her place in heaven just to be with him. That would never do. She had other friends. What was different about Nimbus? Why was it vital he remain by her side for eternity? Why did he have to allow his greed to get the better of him? He ruined everything, but he would not ruin her. She would never idolize another being that way again.
Over the years, he came to her at random times trying to entice her to join him in the kingdom of darkness. He promised a wealth of power, pleasure and affection, but she always resisted.
Even now, here he sat ogling the married lovers and Sonya as though they were puppets existing only to perform in his lascivious show. She would have none of it. It was one thing to watch the Hemingways worshiping each others' bodies and to be moved by what she saw, perhaps even more than a little curious to know what that felt like. However, it was an entirely different matter to observe the sight with an incubus, who would more than likely be able to determine whether or not she was aroused by what she saw.
His dark, throaty chuckle was oddly appealing. “My dear Sonya, do you not suppose that an incubus is capable of detecting sexual arousal? Or do you suppose it is merely that couple's congress that is feeding me tonight?”
Her gaze darted away from the lewd expression written on his ruggedly handsome face. “Perhaps you feel only the sexual energy emanating from them and mistake it for desire on my part.”
There was a pause tangible enough to sink one's teeth into.
“Is that a lie, Sonya? Angels don't practice deception. Are you coming over to the dark side?”
She squared her shoulders and turned to face her taunting foe. “Never. It was not a lie.”
“Evasion of the truth or the implication of something that one knows to be false and tries to pass off as truth is akin to lying. Why should a pure, good creature like you have anything to hide beneath a blanket of deception?” His question was one of pure rhetoric as he pretended to give the matter considerable thought, “The only times one lies are to protect someone from getting hurt, or to keep from being discovered and punished. Now which is the case with you, I wonder?”
She rolled her eyes, focusing on the Hemingways. Their foreplay had become intercourse as Jude hovered over his wife and entered her. Their joined gasps sent a bone-jarring level of sensational awareness through Sonya's body that was far stronger than anything any act of voyeurism had ever triggered before. She wondered if Nimbus' presence had anything to do with it, or if she was merely feeling especially inquisitive tonight.
“I don't imagine it to be your fear that you will hurt anyone by concealing your desires. After all, how could a harmless night of unbridled passion hurt?” The lengthy pause was awkward and astoundingly scintillating. “I asked you a question, Sonya,” there was more than a hint of displeasure in his tone.
Sonya sighed with exasperation. He really was proving to be quite a nuisance tonight. She turned to face him with her hands on her hips like a scolding mother. “What, Nimbus?”
His eyes narrowed. “What blatant disrespect. If you were my woman I would punish you for it.”
“If I were your woman it would be a punishment unto itself,” she jeered. Why was he smiling at this? Why did she feel naked when her silken gown effectively covered her? Why was she feeling so hot and cold when the night was mild?
“You are a little hellion, aren't you?”
“You are the hellion,” she returned.
“You never answered my question.”
The lovers were panting and moaning, making any chance at focusing on providing Nimbus with an answer next to impossible.
“I asked whether or not you believed your secret desires would hurt anyone.”
Sonya tried to quell the flush in her face. “What you think of as desire, I merely attribute to a harmless fascination and curiosity, nothing more, nothing less.”
The hushed timbre of his sensual voice became dreadfully serpent-like, but in a flash, it was seductive again. “Yes. No one will be hurt by your wanton thoughts, so why deny them, or try to snuff out that which you cannot fight? Clearly sparing anyone offense or injury over your thoughts isn't the issue, so that only leaves fear as the culprit for your deception.”
She faced him indignantly. “I am not afraid.”
His lips remained a straight, emotionless line across his face, but his slanted, olive-green eyes were filled with obvious glee at his discovery. “You are hesitant to admit to your lust because you fear the wrath of God.”
“I am hesitant to admit to something that does not exist,” she countered impatiently.
“Look at them, Sonya. Look very closely. See the way he kisses her with such savage hunger. Observe the way their tantalizing bodies move as one.”
The sound of a cushion elevating could be heard, indicating Nimbus was now standing. The quiet shuffling of cautious strides should have been cause for warning, but despite the insidious way he stalked toward her from behind, Sonya was unafraid. She could only smirk at the danger she considered to be entertainingly absent.
“You cannot tell me you have never wondered what it would be like to be Mrs. Hemingway...or perhaps Mr. Hemingway.”
She glared at him, but relaxed when she saw his teasing smile. “I am quite content with my identity, I can assure you.”
Hannah was whimpering. “Make me finish, darling. I need relief.”
Jude showered her face with delicate kisses and murmured sweet nothings while he rubbed the soft nub of her clitoris. “Soak me, love. I want to hear you cry my name when you finish and feel your cunnie squeeze my cock so tightly it sends me into orgasm.”
Sonya felt suddenly perverse for gawking at the pair with Nimbus standing there. Her nipples protruded through the fabric of her dress and her pussy clenched at Jude's words. She had wondered what Hannah was feeling numerous times. What it was like to feel a man's body against her bare flesh, the taste of a kiss, the powerful sensations of orgasm which stripped away all self control until only primal need and raw instinct remained.
“That should have been us,” Nimbus murmured softly.
Sonya didn't blush, but her heart rate quickened at his words, at his nearness. He stood right next to her – close enough to touch. Not that she would, or even wanted to; it was simply an observation. “You speak blasphemies.”
His tone became firm, authoritative – as it had been the day he was cast out. “I speak the truth and you know it. We could have been together, Sonya. We should have been. If only you had joined me.”
“And lost my place in heaven? I think not. My existence is a noble one. Yours on the other hand is damned.”
He bent down and whispered into her ear: “Your existence may be a noble one, but it has damned you to an everlasting curiosity that will never be satisfied. Deep down you will always wonder what it feels like to know a man sexually – to know love and by your own design you will never know either.”
Her chest tightened. Damn the ache. That hurt coming from him. “And you will never know peace, or the meaning of true love.”
He stared down at her until the power in his gaze willed her to lift her eyes to his. “There are many different forms of love, Sonya. Some innocent and platonic, others erotic and decadent. Some pure and self-sacrificing, others dark and possessive. You consider sacrifice and faithful service to the one who made you to be the definition of the word; whereas my interpretation would be to seek that which you desire most and to damn the consequences of pursuing it.”
“That is precisely why you are a fallen angel now without hope.”
“Perhaps, but I hold the answers to your forbidden questions. Ask me, Sonya. Ask me what it feels like to have sex.”
Her hands were shaking and her face burned with heat. “I can see plainly what it entails.”
“The mechanics do not take a genius to comprehend. You know how it is done, but you have no idea how good it feels. I could describe the wet, seductive heat of a kiss and the all-consuming fire of touch. The possession of physical union when there is a bond between the partners in question. The insurmountable rush of climax and the feeling of rebirth one experiences in the aftermath, but words will never accurately describe the most incredible feeling one can ever possibly experience.”
Sonya shivered when he brushed a strand of hair back from her face. The gesture was invasive and tender, evoking feelings of defilement as equally as it resurrected closeness long buried in the past and bitterness over chronic separation.
“Let me show you, little flower,” he whispered into her ear.
She smothered a gasp over the wicked fire that blazed in her canal. “You should go.”
“Immorality would be wrong, but you yourself claimed thoughts were harmless.”
“That is not what I -”
“Watch them, Sonya. Pretend if only for a moment that it is not Mr. and Mrs. Hemingway in that bed. It is you and me. Entertain that thought while they climax. That harmless thought that no one will be affected, nor injured by.”
She fought to banish the tempting thoughts from entering, but the sight and sounds of Jude and Hannah climaxing had her distracted long enough for Nimbus to inject a carnal thought into her head. An image of their naked bodies converging into one beneath the sheets was very clear, like a foreboding vision, or an alternate reality that existed inside the incubus' mind. She had no wings in his fantasy and he was not in his demonic form. Both appeared as human beings, naked and aroused. They looked possessed – utterly lost to abandon and given over to an unthinkable lust that promised a wealth of pleasure, but at what cost?
“The fantasy is so vivid, isn't it? So crisp and clear as though it were a foreshadowing and not merely a thought,” Nimbus murmured into her ear.
The scorching heat of his firm, sensuous lips pressing against her neck in an intimate kiss, sent a trove of sensation through her body. The moisture lingered after his lips retreated. When she didn't flinch at the bold contact, his mouth returned to her neck planting a series of kisses along the surface of her skin there.
“Can you see it, Sonya? There is no harm in pretending is there? No one to sustain any pain or suffering from an empty fantasy that will come to nothing?” His breathtaking whispers were hot and moist where they feathered her skin as he uttered those words.
For a moment she dared to imagine the physical manifestation of his enticing speech. The wicked thought was hurled into oblivion when the searing heat of his mouth enveloped the sensitive flesh of her neck in an aggressive suction that left her in a surreal state of near insanity. This was wrong, yet quite enjoyable. It was too much, yet somehow not enough. His palms running slowly up and down her bare arms were soothing and exhilarating all at once.
The cold, jarring slap of reality hit her and she became shocked that a demon's mouth was sucking her neck like they were passionate lovers. Then the thought occurred to her that he could leave a mark on her neck that would give away her brazen conduct. A stab of guilt plagued her conscience when she remembered that God was omnipotent and omnipresent; therefore already fully aware of her disloyal actions.
Sonya shoved Nimbus away in disgust and smacked his face hard. “How dare you!”
He dared to flash her an oh so charming grin that made her confounded heart flutter like a butterfly foolishly flying into a trap. “I'm glad to see you have finally warmed up to me again after thousands of years.”
“Is there a shortage of human beings and succubi that compels you to seduce angels now?” She quipped, trying to still the tremors overwhelming her heated body.
“There are plenty, of course, but you were always my favorite woman.”
“We were never more than friends, nor were we ever intimate.”
“In my head we have been countless times. Your lips claim platonic friendship, but your body tells me something entirely different.”
She squeezed her thighs together beneath her dress, trying to prevent the flush of shame over the trickle of wanton need rolling slowly down her inner thigh. “You are merely seeing what you wish to see.”
“And you are closing your eyes to the reality of the situation. Do you know the power you give me when you bury your head in the ground? I can feel the heat of desire permeating off every luscious curve of your body. I can smell the pheromones radiating from you. You are hopelessly bewitched by me and not simply because of the provocative show the Hemingway’s put on for us.” He stepped closer until she could feel the brawny fire of his body fanning her own in the mere inches that separated them.
She saw movement coming from behind him and knew that Jude and Hannah had risen from the bed to wash their genitals off at the washbasin before they slept. Their sweet endearments and mutual chortling were lost in the darkness that seemed to block their nude physiques from her sight until only the clothed, strong body of Nimbus remained.
“Look at me, sweet girl.”
Her eyes stung at the old pet name, but she couldn't look at him. He had lulled to her softly before and at other times demanded she forsake the light and join him, but he had never dared to touch her so intimately, nor conveyed such depth of emotion before.
The long, thick finger that hooked under her chin felt like magma against her skin as he angled her chin to meet the vessel of lust and jurisdiction his eyes had become. “There was a time when you would have obeyed my command. I still outrank you, you know.”
“In another kingdom. Your authority there means nothing to me.” When Sonya tried to pull away his grip on her chin tightened.
“You are so beautiful, Sonya.” He coursed the fingers of his free hand through her dark tresses affectionately like she always imagined him doing, only the manifestation of the fantasy was so much richer than she ever fathomed it being, “Such a waste to let so much loveliness go unseen and untouched. Your body was made for pleasure. Your will designed to be overcome. Your spirit broken, until you willingly live and breathe to please your master.”
His words were a dark caress of a nirvana she had never tasted. The teasing kiss of a forbidden paradise that loomed dangerously near, but tauntingly just beyond reach. One could fantasize if they dared, but did one called to be set apart endeavor to reach out for the lush promise of illicit pleasures that were sure to end in damnation?
How could she look at someone so evil and see only good? How could she salivate for a liaison that would be cursed in heaven and could only be regarded as right by the powers of darkness? Mankind made that mistake long ago - casting a second glance at forbidden fruit. Touching, tasting and now like many of the former angels, they were fallen. She must not follow in their footsteps.
“Just one kiss, Sonya. God isn't going to throw you out of heaven for that.” Nimbus leaned in, the hush of his spellbinding murmur sending an array of lascivious thoughts through her head.
The humid warmth of his breath fanned her face and there was something profoundly spiritual about breathing in the very air he had held in his lungs only a second ago. If only for that brief moment, time stood still and nothing else mattered, only that their spirits were communing as one. The racy thoughts of each of them seemed to ignite mentally into one flame that brought them closer together until Sonya couldn't deny that they were of one mind.
With his inviting, supple lips closing in slowly, she realized that she held it in her power to make them of one body as well, or to walk away. It was her decision. Before she had looked upon his provocative suggestions as impossible, but now they seemed very possible, even likely in the face of temptation. Was he getting into her head and trying to control her mind, or was she making a conscious decision to surrender to him?
Sonya snapped herself out of the erogenous haze. His strength inhibited her gentle attempt at retreat as he held her face still and moved in again. “I will call on one of the archangels if you don't leave now.”
He released her with a sigh of frustration. “You won't always be able to hide behind them, Sonya. Someday you and I will be on the same side.”
The tepid air filling the void that appeared between them when he stepped away from her, felt cool and desolate. If she had been ashamed of her subtle acceptance of his designs on her before, she was utterly stunned by the sense of desertion she felt from the space he put between them. “We will never be on the same side.”
His tone softened. “We were once.”
Her chest felt tight and heavy in lieu of the achy spasm in her heart. The unbidden tears would not be withheld this time. “Before you betrayed me – I mean God.”
His gorgeous eyes narrowed. “You betrayed me.”
“Me? I'm not the one who joined a rebellion.” The tears came faster and she cursed the dreaded sniffle that inevitably removed all doubt from his mind that she was weeping, “Why did you leave me?”
His answer stabbed her heart. “Why didn't you come with me?”
The pierced look in his eyes seeped into her soul. He dropped his shields and his weapons and there was no more warring between kingdoms of light and darkness. No loyal angel and vile demon. There was only a broken man and a crushed woman who had something they never fully understood until they lost it. Or perhaps the true curse was the potential that they never really lost what they shared. Its ghost lived on in memories and dreams; in hopes and fantasies.
I almost did. Sonya didn't dare say this for fear he would use it against her.
He stared at her long and hard for a moment as though he was waiting for her to speak those words to him, or to say anything at all. When she didn't, he left, but not before vowing: “It won't always be like this. Next time you weep it will be on my shoulder. And next time you shudder it won't be in fear. You will tremble with delight at my touches. One day you will worship me as your master and you will bow before me.”
Her stomach turned in revulsion over his sacrilegious speech. Only the moisture gathering in her folds revealed her elation. “You speak blasphemies.”
“I swear an oath,” his raised voice startled her, “when you give into your risqué yearnings, I will be the one to enlighten you on your descent into ecstasy. When your will bends it will be to mine, when you bear a child it will be my blood running through his veins. When you draw your final breath it will be my name on your lips.”
Sonya was hypnotized by his words even as they disturbed her. “God would never allow it.”
“You will allow it. Your curiosity will pave the road to your ruin. I have you, Sonya. I always did and I see now that I always will. Your downfall will be my greatest triumph.”
His heartless taunting scourged her, while his words evoked images of a chain ensnaring her heart. He was walking away with the key and she would always be ruined because of it - damaged without him, but damned with him. “Maybe you could...”
“Repent? Why would I do that?”
His smirk milked a tear from her eye that almost seemed as though it endeavored to comfort her on its slow, soothing journey down her cheek. “Why not? Some of the fallen angels realized the error of their ways and pleaded forgiveness. God in his mercy made them cruxim to -”
“Prove their repentance by slaying and feeding off of vampires,” Nimbus finished with obvious annoyance, “Yes, I know. Spare me the lengthy history lesson. Why would I want to be a half breed? Black angels are worthless to God and Satan because they have broken faith with both sides and are gods unto themselves.”
“But at least they are contrite of heart. You pandered after evil and coveted the deity of the Almighty and you don't even feel remorseful.”
“And neither will you when I'm through with you,” he promised her darkly, “I will change you, Sonya. No matter how long it takes to acquire you, or what I have to do to break you, I will do it.”
Sonya quivered at this, her sudden bout of anger immobilizing the current of tears. “You will try.”
“And I will succeed.” His salacious eyes honed in on her voluptuous chest until the nipples pebbled beneath the weight of his shameless gaze.
She averted her eyes to fend off humiliation at being reduced to an object of lust to him; yet strangely, it was this same awareness that had her clitoris pulsing with need. “I don't believe you would risk damning my soul in the name of coitus.”
“It is that precise naivety of thinking that makes you vulnerable to a truly malignant being.”
“Regardless, you cannot expect for an angel and a demon to mate and escape the wrath of God.”
He heaved a sigh, only to give her a smile that was pure evil. “Then I will just have to make you a demon too, won't I?”
Her jaw dropped in horror. “Impossible.”
“Not exactly. You are aware of the mating and claiming rituals between shape shifters, whereby they are irrevocably and unconditionally bound to one another forever, yes?” He continued when she nodded, “And you are aware that when a human is claimed by a shifter and bitten during that ritual, they eventually become whatever creature their mate is?”
Chills of raw fear and understanding snaked up and down her spine. “But that can't be the case with demons. They have no soul and it would be wrong.”
The promise of absolution resonated in the hot, dark timbre of his gentle murmur. “An entity doesn't have to possess a soul in order to be bound to someone eternally and irreversibly...do they, Sonya?”
Her eyes fell, heart sinking at the sense of loss flooding her mind in a thousand different words and memories all doomed to eternal separation because of one agonizing, fateful decision he made long ago. “I...I don't want that, Nimbus. I don't believe you would do that to me.”
“Then you are a fool!” He hissed, “I sold my soul for power and knowledge. Do not think for a minute that I would not be willing to go to even greater lengths to obtain you.”
Sonya shivered. The vow was equal parts flattering and sheer desecration. She watched him leave, relief warring with abandonment.
She watched Jude and Hannah sleeping peacefully in each others' arms and for the first time since she had become Hannah's guardian, she felt a tinge of envy at what they had.
Jude held no belief in God while Hannah was devoted to her faith. She married a nonbeliever, but she wasn't being punished for it. They respected each others' differences, but an angel and a demon would only be able to go so far before others followed and incurred judgment for their perversions.
Still, she had seen the love of the Father and his mercies. Her loyalty was a sincere one, but so was her affection for Nimbus. She wished they weren't on opposing sides, but she had made the only wise decision to make during that rebellion. Of course, Cassiel was the one who gently held her back and opened her eyes to the folly of the rash decision she almost made that day. He saved her in a sense and she lived a glorious existence.
On the other hand, whenever Nimbus showed up randomly in her life as he sometimes did, doubt began to sow its poisonous seeds in her. Cassiel had definitely saved her that day from a fate worse than death. Then again, she sometimes wondered if he had simply prolonged the inevitable.