Landon looked down at the address for River Ridge. It would be about an hour drive with traffic. Partially excited, but mostly nervous, he got in his truck and took off. Halfway there, Vod’s voice rang out loud and clear in his head.
Don’t do this, son. It’s a trap, I promise you. You will not get the resolution you are looking for.
“Fuck off, Vod.” He reached over to crank his radio, but before he could reach the knob, his hand became paralyzed.
You’re going to listen to me, Landon, whether you like it or not. His father’s voice boomed in his head louder than ever before.
“There’s nothing you can say to make me change my mind,” he said, making a left at the lights. “And stop taking control of my hand when I try to turn up the radio. You’re gonna cause me an accident.”
Landon, if you go to the witch, you’re going to die.
“I know, and I’m okay with that. There is no point to my life anyway. I’m cursed to drinking bagged blood, I can never have a relationship with a woman or sex, and I will constantly and continually be hunted by wretched-smelling vampires.”
You are not limited to bagged blood. You chose it and what a shame. One drop of your sweet Amy’s nectar on your tongue and you would never touch bagged blood again.
“Leave her out of it,” he growled, mashing down on the accelerator.
You want her, son, admit it. It’s not just my blood in your veins that makes you want to bury yourself in her sweet little honey holes, your heart yearns for her as well. Why else would you have spent all morning praying to God and your mother, who, by the way, cannot hear you? I, on the other hand, can, and I can give you what you spent all morning praying for. Amy can be yours forever if that is what you wish.
“That’s not what I prayed for. I prayed for the human side of me not to have to die so that I could have a chance at a normal life with her.” He looked again at the address as he drove past the wooden sign that read, Welcome to River Ridge.
I think you know that is not possible. However, before you get much closer, I need to warn you. Only part of you is going to meet with the resolution you seek. Your death will be the beginning of a far worse fate.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Landon turned the next corner and checked the house numbers one last time. Vod’s voice remained quiet as he pulled up in front of 1451. “Answer me,” he demanded, rolling up the window. He waited a few moments and still nothing. “You know what, Vod? Fuck you. Que sera, sera!” He heard a deep chuckle as he got out of the truck, slamming the door.
Indeed, my son, indeed.
He shrugged off his father’s last comment without reciprocating and knocked on Marie’s door. To his surprise, it was Amy who answered and although she looked lovely as ever, he also noticed it didn’t look like she’d slept much the night before.
“Right on time,” she said, sporting a halfhearted smile. “Please, come in.” Taking a step back, she opened the door wider, allowing him to enter.
The living room was spacious and well furnished, although the decor seemed a tad bit off. Who on earth would paint their walls fuchsia? The bookshelf in the corner looked well stocked with very old-looking books. The long brown sectional sofa looked like it had seen better days, and the coffee table in front of it was littered with books and papers. Just then a small black poodle came prancing into the room, stopping just a few feet from Landon, and began barking and snarling.
“Prince! That’s enough. The young man is our guest.” A thin middle-aged woman with black hair addressed the dog and he immediately stopped barking and went to lie down. “I’m sorry about that. He gets a bit protective at times,” the woman said.
“You must be Marie?” He took a step forward and offered the woman his hand.
“Yes,” she said, looking at his hand, but didn’t reach forth to shake it. “We have much to talk about, you and I. Why don’t you come into the parlor and we can acquaint ourselves.” Marie made a gesture for him to follow, which he did, looking back at Amy to see that she also followed.
The parlor, as Marie had called it, was more of a sun porch decorated with a lot of unfamiliar-looking plants and flowers. A pitcher of lemonade sat in the middle of a small round table with four chairs.
“Have a seat,” Marie said, gesturing to a chair as she took a seat. Amy followed suit, taking the seat across from her, leaving Landon to sit between the two of them. “Why don’t we start with you telling me why you’re here and how much you understand about your demon side?”
“The only thing I understand is that I don’t want it.” He continued telling her about his turning and although reluctant, he also shared how he’d killed his surrogate parents. “I have little to no memory prior to ten years of age, except that I witnessed a witch killing my mother and then herself. After that, I remember waking up in a warm bed in West Virginia thinking Frank and Janice were my parents. I had no idea what I was to become on my nineteenth birthday until it happened and the lust for blood consumed me like a rabid dog. It was Vod’s spirit inside of me that forced me to kill and drink from them. Once I realized what was happening, I tried to take my own life, but he wouldn’t let me. I’m here because my mother sent me. She said you and Laynett could help me get rid of my curse.”
“Your mother didn’t send you here, Landon. Isabella did. She and I concocted the apparition you witnessed that night after your row with those vampires. We had to wait until you were bitten in order to locate you.”
“What?” he blurted, looking into Marie’s hazel eyes. “So, this is a trap. My father was right.” He started to get up from the table when Amy put her hand on his arm.
“Don’t go,” she said in that sweet voice of hers, her touch sending tingles up his arm and down his back. “Listen to the rest of what Marie has to say. Please?”
Damn, those eyes of hers made his insides stir, sending signals to his groin that he fought to control. Nodding, he sat back down, looking over at Marie, who gave him an agitated look, which he returned with one of his own. “Isabella is dead. I watched her drive the same knife that killed my mother into her own heart that night.”
“No, her body is dead. Her spirit lives inside of Laynett and has been since the night she and your mother died. You see, Isabella’s intentions for helping Vod were selfish. She used him to get what she needed for a salvation spell. A spell that didn’t work the way she thought it would and now her only hope for peace is to atone for her sin by undoing the mess she caused. Had she been able to find you and the book before your turning, you might never suffered the change. But now…” The woman paused, staring into her glass of lemonade.
“Now, both me and the book must be destroyed, right?”
“Yes,” she said solemnly, her eyes rising to his slowly.
“I had a feeling you’d say that, and I’m good with it. I don’t want to live like this. Death will be a welcomed resolution to this curse.”
Empathy appeared in her eyes as a weary smile spanned her lips. “You have a good heart, Landon. And as long as it stays that way for a few more days, you can take comfort that your soul will be saved.”
“So what will happen when the book and I are destroyed? Where will Vod’s spirit go and what happens to Isabella and Laynett?” he asked, lacing his fingers together before him on the table.
Marie seemed hesitant to answer, her eyes shifting to Amy, who looked back at her with the same curiosity as Landon.
“We die,” came a soft voice from the doorway. Landon jerked his head to see Laynett dressed in a pair of yellow pajamas; her hair looked thin, her cheeks were sunken, her complexion pale, and dark circles shrouded her eyes. She looked terrible to say the least.
“Lany, what are you doing out of bed?” Amy jumped up, rushing to her sister’s side.
“No,” Laynett said, pushing Amy’s advancing hand away, nearly stumbling in the process. “Vod’s spirit will be sent back to hell where it belongs and Satan will deal with him harshly for being such a fool as to be swayed by the follies of a witch. Then Isabella will be destroyed and I along with her.”
“No!” Amy shouted, her head cranking toward Marie. “You never said Lany was going to die too.”
“Amy, listen to me,” the girl said, giving her sister a sad face. “I’ll never be the same once Isabella is gone from me. I’ll be left with the mentality of a ten-year-old, not to mention what all the drugs over the years have done to me. I will never be capable of leading a normal life like you. I don’t want to live like that. If you love me, you’ll understand.”
Tears sprang to Amy’s eyes, making Landon want to go to her and embrace her, kissing away her tears, telling her everything was going to be okay. But he couldn’t do that. For one, he’d feel compelled to kiss more than her tears, and two, he was pretty sure everything would not be okay.
“Go back to bed,” Marie said, scowling at the girl. “We can’t use the location spell until the tonic I’ve given you has a full forty-eight hours to cleanse your system.”
“I’ve spent half my life in one bed or another, I’m not going back to bed,” she said defiantly, taking a few swaying steps into the parlor before her knees gave out.
“Lany!” Amy cried, darting forward, but Landon was faster and caught the poor girl before she hit the floor, swooping her up into his arms.
Marie stood up, letting out a long sigh. “You see, young lady?” she said, shaking a finger at her. “Follow me,” she said to Landon, leading him to a room not far from the parlor where he put the girl down in the middle of a queen-size bed. Marie made her drink a few sips of something that sat next to the bed, and within a couple of minutes Laynett’s eyes became heavy and she started to doze.
When they returned from the bedroom, Amy was just ending a call on her cell phone. “I’ve called for a cab,” she said, wiping a stray tear from her cheek. “It’s been a very long day and all of this is suddenly giving me a pounding headache.”
“Why wait for a cab?” Landon asked. “I can give you a lift. Your place isn’t far from mine anyways and if there’s nothing we can do to proceed until tomorrow, I may as well head home too.”
“That’s not a good idea,” Marie said, giving Amy a suspicious eye.
“I’d love a ride, Landon, thank you,” she replied, but kept her eyes focused on Marie’s. “Unlike my sister, I can handle myself.” She walked over to the table and gathered her purse from the back of her chair. “I’ll be waiting for you outside,” she said and left the room.
“You’re treading into dangerous waters,” Marie said, picking up her lemonade, swirling the ice in the glass. “The more you feed your desires for her, the harder it’s going to become to resist doing what you know you dare not, or all of this will be for nothing.”
“I’m stronger than the darkness that dwells within me. If I were not, I’d have left the moment you confessed to tricking me when I thought my mother’s spirit had sent me here. Amy needs someone right now, especially after what Laynett said and I don’t think she should be alone.”
“I agree she may need someone right now, but you, of all people, are not that person.”
“I understand your concern, but honestly, who else does she have to turn to? Does anyone else in her life know anything about what is really going on with her sister, or me, or you for that matter?”
“Your heart, as noble as it is, is not enough. You underestimate the demon that resides in you.”
“I’ll be the judge of that,” he said hastily and let himself out.
Amy sat waiting for him in his truck and he could see the tears streaming down her cheeks the closer he got. It wasn’t going to be easy to console her.
“Don’t do it,” she sobbed as he opened the driver’s door. “I’d rather have her alive in a mental hospital than dead. Just take me home and leave this place, Landon. Please! Laynett is all I have left. If I lose her too, I’ll…”
“Shhh,” he said, shutting his door. “Amy, you have to think about how your sister feels and what having Isabella’s spirit inside her does to her.” Starting the truck, he pulled away from Marie’s house. “Trust me. All things considered, I know and understand better than anyone how your sister feels.”
“You’re just like everyone else. You’re on her side. What about me?” she spat sarcastically.
“Hold on a minute there, missy,” he said, giving her a stern eye. “You have no reason to get all defensive with me.”
“Just once I wish someone could understand how I feel and what this has done to me over the years. You know, for a while my therapist had me convinced that none of this stuff was real. That Laynett was suffering from schizophrenia, that the book wasn’t real and neither are you. Then just when I start believing in her, you have to show up and turn my world upside down all over again.”
“Amy, I’m sorry for all you and your family have suffered, but this isn’t my fault. I’m doing all I can to end this nightmare for myself, for your sister, and for you. You might not believe me, but I care about you.”
She let out a fake laugh. “If that were true, you’d leave now and never return.”
“Don’t you think that’s a bit selfish on your part? Have you once thought of what it might be like to spend a day living your sister’s life? What it might be like to share your soul with the supernatural? Having Isabella’s voice inside your head constantly, nagging and prodding you to do things for her? Using you as a vessel to carry out her will?”
“Selfish? Really?” Her voice rose an octave as she turned to him, her eyebrows rising. “Try thinking about what I had to go through in high school because of her. How many friends do you think I had? None! I never got to go to prom because no guy wanted to be seen talking to me, let alone touching me. Oh, or how about this one? Can you imagine being seventeen and coming home to find your mother dead with a note on the table that said, ‘Sorry, baby, I just can’t do this anymore. Please forgive me someday.’” Her voice trembled and she looked away, balling her hands into tightly clenched fists.
“I’m sorry to hear about your mother,” he said softly, reaching over to put a comforting hand on her shoulder.
“Don’t touch me!” she growled, scooting as close to the window as she could. “This is all your fault. And I’ll never have a normal life.”
“Neither will I. I know how hard this is for you right now, but—”
“I don’t care!” she shouted. “Fuck you, Landon Reed, fuck you, and I hope you die a very painful death.”
Landon grit his teeth, forcing himself to control his anger. “Say you didn’t mean that or I’m pulling this truck over right now.”
“Go ahead. See if I care,” she spat, tears pooling in her eyes.
He remembered a picnic area not too far up ahead and pulled into it. Thankfully, it didn’t look like anyone was here.
“What are you doing?” she asked, alarmed.
“Something you’ll thank me for later,” he ground out, getting out of the truck. Moving with supernatural speed, he was opening her door a second later.
“Get out,” he ordered.
“Because I said so.” He reached for her wrist, but she pulled it away, trying to scoot to the other side of the seat. “I guess we do this the hard way,” he growled, grabbing her foot, pulling her back despite her struggles and then wrapped a firm arm around her middle, pulling her out of the truck.
“Stop it,” she squealed, squirming and hitting his shoulder. “Put me down!”
Carrying her to the back of the truck, he opened the tailgate with his free hand and sat down on it, putting Amy’s struggling body over his lap. With his strength it wasn’t hard to restrain her.
“Stop! What do you think you’re doing?” she cried.
She found out a second later when his hand met with her jean-clad bottom. “Giving you what you need and teaching you some respect,” he growled, landing one swat after another.
“Ow!” she cried, doing her best to break free of his hold. “You can’t do this to me.”
“Looks to me like you don’t have much choice in the matter,” he said gruffly, leaving no area uncovered. “Be thankful this isn’t on your bare ass.” He focused more on her lower cheeks, swatting them over and over.
“Stop it! I’m older than you.”
He let out a hearty laugh. “Really? How old are you?” he asked.
“Twenty-four,” she ground out through gritted teeth, kicking her legs back and forth.
“Then I suggest you start acting like it and take your spanking like a good girl.” He placed a few carefully aimed spanks to the backs of her thighs, listening to her howl and gasp for breath. “I’ll behave… just… ooh… stop!”
But he didn’t stop. He moved back up to her plush round bottom and peppered each cheek until she was sobbing and eventually he felt her body go limp, giving in to the punishment he delivered. He knew then she’d had enough.
“You know I had no more choice in my life situation than you did. Do you think I chose to be born a demon and live with this curse? No. Not anymore than Laynett had when Isabella possessed her, or than you had in having her for a sister.” As he lectured, he didn’t stop rubbing away the burn he’d created in both his hand and undoubtedly her hind end. “Now, then, do you have anything more civil to say to me?”
“I’m… I’m sorry,” she uttered in a tiny voice that made his heart melt.
“Shhh,” he soothed, turning her and pulling her up into his lap.
She instantly put her arms around his neck and her head on his shoulder, clinging to him as she caught her breath.
He put his arms around her and held her close, rocking her back and forth. “It’s going to be okay, Amy. I promise.” After a few minutes when her breathing became slow and even, he pulled back.
“No,” she murmured, clutching him tighter. “Just hold me a little while longer.”
“Okay,” he replied, stroking her soft silk-spun hair, resting his chin on the top of her head, wishing he could hold her like this forever. Wishing things could be different and she could be his.
The sun had long since set and she’d fallen asleep while he held her in his arms, caressing her. Moving slowly and carefully so as not to wake her, he carried her to the passenger side of the truck and put her inside.
She stirred, opening her eyes groggily. “Am I home?” she muttered.
“Not yet, but soon.” Making sure she was comfortable, he closed the door as quietly as he could, went around to the driver’s side, and got in. He should have fixed his muffler while he had the chance at Owen’s, he thought as the truck roared to life, startling the sleepy girl next to him.
“I’m cold,” she said, scooting close to him, laying her head on his shoulder and her arm across his midsection.
“Snuggle close, then,” he soothed. “I’ll keep you warm,” he whispered, wrapping an arm around her shoulder.
She nuzzled into him and within five minutes she was sleeping again.
For the next thirty minutes, he held her warm body against his while he drove, knowing this would be the only time they would ever be this close. The scent of her shampoo smelled so sweet and her skin felt so soft while he trailed his fingers along the bare skin of her arm.
As he turned onto Louisa Street, parking in front of her house, his heart sank, feeling heavy in his chest. “Amy… honey, you’re home,” he said tenderly, giving her shoulder a gentle rub to rouse her.
She groaned, mumbling something he couldn’t understand as she sat up, rubbing her eyes as she yawned. “What time is it?” she asked, her voice hoarse from sleep.
“It’s almost midnight,” he said, getting out, going to the other side of the truck to open her door. “Come on, sleepyhead, let’s get you inside and put you to bed.” Taking her hand, he helped her out of the truck. The night air chilled her and she started to shiver. Putting his arm around her, he led her up the walkway and onto her porch. “Where’s your house key?”
She fumbled with the zipper on her purse, digging around for her keys. “Here,” she said, handing them to him. “It’s the blue one.”
Taking them, he opened the door and they both went inside. Although it was dark, Landon didn’t have any trouble seeing and spotted a lamp on an end table near her sofa, which he turned on. As he turned back to her, he noticed she’d slipped off her shoes, dropped her purse in an overstuffed armchair, and was making her way down a hallway to what he presumed to be her bedroom.
“I have to pee,” she said, hooking a left into the bathroom.
The open door at the end of the hall must be her bedroom. Not wanting to listen to her do her business, he took a peek in her bedroom. It looked well-kept but not overly fancy. A few pictures sat on her dresser, the couple he’d seen in the old country house and some of her and Laynett. When he heard the toilet flush and water running in the sink, he took a seat on the edge of her bed, waiting for her.
“Being nosy?” she asked, entering the room.
“I prefer curious,” he replied, winking at her as he stood up. “I want to check your bottom, tuck you into bed, and then I’ll be on my way.”
“I’ve already checked it. I have your big turkey prints on each cheek, thank you very much.” He noticed a blush creeping over her cheeks. “Why did you spank me?” she asked, opening her closet and taking out a knee-length Tweety Bird nightshirt.
“You were in need of an attitude adjustment. I’ll turn around while you get into your nightshirt,” he said, doing so.
“I’ll get ready for bed after you leave. Let me walk you out.”
“I’m not leaving until I’ve checked your bottom and tucked you in. Now you can either get into your PJs by yourself, or I’ll have to help you.”
She remained quiet and he didn’t hear her pulling down her jeans, so he turned around to find her standing with her arms crossed, glaring at him.
“Maybe you need a few more of my turkey prints, hmm?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. The blush on her cheeks deepened, but she still didn’t respond until he took a step toward her.
“Okay, okay!” she spouted, taking a couple of steps back. “Turn around.”
“Nope, you lost your chance at privacy when you got all defiant again.” He tried to keep from smiling and laughing as her mouth fell open. “I suggest you get to it. Patience has never been my strong suit.” He crossed his arms, mimicking her.
“Please?” she asked, her expression softening.
He shook his head slowly, unable to hide his smile this time. He chuckled when she stomped her foot and turned her back to him, pulling her powder-blue T-shirt over her head, tossing it to the floor, and quickly reaching for Tweety.
“You don’t normally sleep in your bra, do you?”
She let out an outraged sigh in response, reaching behind her to unfasten it, chucking it to the floor in haste. Her skin looked so soft and silky, making his cocks throb as he drank in the contour of her waist and the dip in her lower back. All too soon the view was gone as she pulled the nightshirt over her head before unfastening her jeans, letting them drop, pooling around her feet. Stepping out of them, she lifted her nightie, holding it around her hips.
“See?” she said, looking over her shoulder at him. “I’m fine, now if you don’t—”
“Panties too, Amy,” he said, his voice deepening.
She shot him a vicious scowl, but responded quickly, slipping her white panties down, letting them fall as she had her jeans.
The sight of her plush red bottom sent a torrent of arousal through him. “Good girl, now don’t move.” He moved directly behind her, putting his hands on her hips, and knelt down to make a better inspection of some light welts on her thighs. “You have very fair skin.” He lightly traced one of the pink welts with his index finger, feeling her shudder.
The scent of her arousal was unmistakable. Images of himself licking her wounds flashed through his mind. He wanted to caress each one with his tongue, working his way up to the sweet scent of her pussy where he would then…
Do it, son. She won’t stop you. She wants you as much as you want her.
The voice of his father yanked him from his wishful thinking. It was time to go before he found himself doing the one thing he dared not.
“You should sleep without panties tonight; it’ll help the heat escape so your bottom isn’t as tender tomorrow.” Reluctantly pulling his fingers from her smooth warm skin, he stood. “Let’s get you into bed now,” he said softly, turning her to face him. The yearning in those sweet amber eyes as she looked up at him caused his heart to skip a beat.
“Stay with me tonight?” she whispered, begging him with her eyes, placing her hands on his chest.
“I can’t do that, Amy, and we both know why,” he said, taking her hands in his, but she refused to let him pull them away.
“A kiss good night then,” she said softly, rising on her tiptoes, chin tilting upward as she licked her lips expectantly.
He hadn’t the power to fight it as they engaged in a passionate kiss, his arms slinking around her waist as he pulled her into his body. All his good intentions fled as her tongue entered his mouth, of which he took possession, his lips pressing tightly against hers.
Primal instinct rose in him as he moved a hand to her ass, cupping it firmly. As if to encourage him she brought her leg up, wrapping it around his hip, while moaning softly into his mouth. Without thought, he lifted her, feeling her legs engulf his hips, the moist heat of her pussy making indirect contact with his painfully throbbing twin towers through the Levi’s.
As her tongue twisted with his, he felt her graze one of his fangs that he wasn’t even aware had descended, a drop of her blood landing on his tongue. The taste spread like wildfire through him instantly, making his gums itch feverishly, begging for a proper bite. As if by instinct, in a flash he had her delightful body pressed firmly up against the nearest wall, his hands holding hers over her head while he ground against her, feeling her nipples grow hard against his chest. She squeezed him with her legs, silently begging him to take things to the next level.
Releasing her hands, he explored more of her body, kissing the slender curve of her neck while his hands roamed down her sleek sides and under her nightshirt. They both let out a moan as he trailed his palms upwards, finding her breasts, her nipples hard and perky. They were small, but delightfully soft and smooth, just enough to fill his hands.
Her touch felt so good as her fingers roved along his back, up over his shoulders, then around to his chest. Entranced by her gorgeous body and long slender thighs wrapped around him, he vaguely recalled having unfastened his jeans, but when her warm hand touched the head of his upper shaft, he came to his senses. Too late, he reached for her hand as it moved lower, brushing against the second hard length, pulsing and expanding with need.
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