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♫ ♪ On the fourth day of Coffin Hop, Murphy gives to you… ♫ ♪
Yeah, that’s right, you actually get a post from little old me today, but don’t worry, I’m not gonna sing for you guys. That’s reserved for the shower and for work when I get really, really bored. So why don’t we just wipe that little intro out of our memories and carry on? (At this rate you guys will be glad to have the guest posters return on Monday.)
Today’s Coffin Hop post is a nice little follow-up from Jessica McHugh’s admission of what scares her yesterday: the fear that has its root in the knowledge—inexplicable or not—that something isn’t right. Rather than bore you to tears with talk, though, I’m going to tell you a story. Or rather, I’m going to let Gideon tell you one.
No new prizes to offer today, but commenting will get you another entry into the Day 1 contest. Now, happy reading, and happy Hopping!
Other Coffin Hoppers found HERE.
He didn’t know, as yet, what it was he’d become, and he no longer attempted to define himself. What he did know was that in the three years since he’d begun to change, it had become ridiculously easy to lure women to him—a lucky thing as he was uncomfortably aware of the restlessness in his skin, the hollow pangs that reverberated through his body when he tried to remain celibate. He had noticed, and it bothered him that he noticed so readily, that the women he laid with began, gradually, to lose something of their own kind, the very thing that seemed to draw him to them. His mother’s death presented him with the opportune moment to leave this place where they’d lived for the last year and a half. There was only the bumbling fool she’d married to deal with, but that wasn’t a thought worth considering right now. Right now his every thought went to finding a woman, to ridding himself of the crawling sensation that made him want to roll his shoulders and free himself of his own skin.
It required some thought. He was trying, after all, to show some caution, to avoid anyone else noticing the subtle changes in features of the women who laid with him. He’d already been with all of the women of loose enough morals—unwed women who couldn’t resist, married women bored with their husbands—in the town. He would have preferred someone new to him on this last night, so that he could feel the sharp tug in his gut at the moment when she opened for him and he slid inside her. It wasn’t so easy to obtain that with the women he’d already lain with. His body knew what to expect, and theirs almost seemed to be failing. He’d been greedy and shot down his own chances..
Accepting it, he settled for a woman he’d been with as little as possible—still a fairly ludicrous concept in this town where he’d been with every available woman on at least three occasions, and that low number only because the woman in question had died—whose features had only just begun to change and mark her.
Oh, yes, he thought as he led her into the shadows outside the pub and she stroked a hand over his arm with none of the hesitation she’d first shown. He would need to leave town as early as possible.
Through their linked hands he could feel her heartbeat—quick as a rabbit’s, pulsing blood through veins that now seemed closer to the surface. Were he a vampire, he imagined he’d have been thrilled by the sight of the dancing pulse in her throat. The scent of arousal, mingled with the barest hints of fear, wafting to his sensitive nostrils pleased him more.
He’d buried his mother—ironically, mother to an unnatural child and victim to the all-too-natural disease of consumption—three days prior.
Since then the buffoon she’d married in some desperate bid for happiness had spent most if not all of his time at the local pub, rarely coming back to the house he and his reluctant stepson begrudgingly shared. The atmosphere between them had been tense even with Margaret O’Faolain Walsh alive, she who’d more often than not needled both men to the breaking point of temper only to then forbid them from coming to blows. With the woman of the house in the grave, the two men were openly hostile towards each other. The younger male spent less time in the pub than his elder counterpart; where the elder was attempting, ostensibly, to drown his sorrows in spirits and gambling, the younger aimed only to learn which men were not at home so that he might visit their wives.
The bonus to these rare visits to the pub came in the form of the publican’s daughter, Annie. The family lived upstairs above the pub, and it hadn’t been hard for Gideon to convince her to sneak away with him four times before this. As she came to meet him now, he eyed her critically to note what had changed since the first time, noted the dilated pupils, the thinning skin. Her features had begun to change, but not so dramatically that she might not be able to function once he left, he hoped. He had no clue whether her features would return to normal; doubted it, but had no way to know for a certainty that she would have his mark forever.
The fewer black marks on his conscience, the better. He intended to return someday.
He’d allowed the girl, her family, and the oaf his mother had married to believe he intended to marry her, so as to facilitate their sneaking about. Martin Walsh had spoken of Gideon’s possible marriage to the girl as though it were something that stood a chance of happening, and in the beginning, Annie had spoken hopefully of a home they might make together, even of building a house that wasn’t located on a faery raft. Now, when they met outside the pub, Annie made no mention of betrothal or marriage, and Gideon had never corrected his stepfather. He had no intentions of marrying her, meant to leave before anymore talk of it came up or before his most deep-seated fear came true and he got the girl with child.
What Annie had begun, perforce, to understand, Martin Walsh never would: Half-breeds—the spawn of Fae males and human women—were not considered excellent matches, nor fit to parent.
Now that she stood by him, he was even more aware that all he had to do was take her and he would rid himself of the dichotomous sensation that someone other than himself was walking about in his skin. The only sane part of himself seemed to be the spot on his arm where she brushed her hand over his skin. The control he’d fought so hard for, that he knew set him apart from his stepfather, snapped, and he forgot any thoughts of taking her from the alley to find a more private spot. Annie only gasped—more out of excitement than fear, which was unfortunate but couldn’t be helped—as she was pushed against the wall, moaned as impatient hands clamped on her waist, streaked up her sides to find her breasts. At first, she’d permitted him to touch her only because she’d heard the rumours of his asking for her hand; she’d come back the second and third and yes, fourth times because of the way he touched her. Normally, at first there were the finely restrained moves of seduction, things done deliberately to excite her and, in the doing, him. Now, though, that was gone, and he’d gone straight to the demanding impatience that made her heart race.
He lifted her skirts with a practised hand and cast them aside, growling under his breath when the cumbersome fabric got in his way. She wasn’t struggling as a first-timer would have; rather she was smiling coquettishly and tracing her finger along the neckline of her gown, teasing him. He wanted the fear in her, wanted the excuse for violence—was rough, knew it but didn’t care to prevent it, hands gripping tightly enough to bruise, teeth nipping at the skin she bared, gentle enough to have pleasure mingled with pain at first, then rougher until her breath exploded out on a stunned gasp and her hips rocked to grind into his, then pressed to the wall as far away from him as she could get.
For a moment he was thrown, not understanding what he’d done—then he touched his tongue to the tip of one tooth, tasted the hint of something—not himself, not her skin—and realized it had been him. The bite. She stared at him now with her eyes wide and glazed, her breathing short and shallow, anything that made her seem herself gone. Terror struck, the sudden certainty that he’d finally pushed his luck too far and had ruined his chances at going unnoticed—then he bit down, deliberately scraped his teeth over his own tongue, the sensation reminding him that no matter what he’d done, he still needed, still felt his skin humming with the tension of trying to hold himself in check. He fought it a heartbeat longer; then she licked her lips and he was taking, lifting her to brace her against the wall, freeing himself of his own clothing so that he could push into her.
She wasn’t what he wanted, but she was enough; she still moved against him, still panted and groaned and cried out when he made her climax. Her already wide eyes opened still further as she watched him—she’d never watched him before, and it made his urge to bite, to bruise, resurface—and he realized he’d blurred, his own hands looking foggy like a man’s vision after too many pints. Realized it, but couldn’t make himself care.
The world drifted back, was shoved away by the need to take and satiate himself no matter how long it took. Noise spilled from the pub as patrons stumbled home for the night; he clamped a hand over the girl’s mouth to silence her whimpers and ignored it, driving into her brutally, bent on getting what he wanted. By the time he found himself near climax, she’d already screamed her release into his hand three times—and he became, distantly, aware of a familiar voice that rang in the alley.
Figure still insubstantial, as if someone had drawn and then smudged his outline, he turned his head, teeth bared in a snarl at the intruder. Did the fool not know better than to interrupt?
Martin Walsh tentatively came forwards on legs that quivered with more than the drink and pointed a trembling finger at his stepson. “That’s not natural,” he began, his voice gratingly loud in the emptiness of the alley after the noise of the pub. “Ye’re not natural, boyo.”
Gideon reined himself in with a deliberate effort, contented himself that now, now he would have the chance to rid himself of this urge for violence. Slowly, his hands slid down Annie’s thighs; whimpering, the girl pressed herself against the wall, eyes still glazed, but something telling her not to move even once she found herself back on her own feet. His teeth flashed out in a cruel half-smile when Walsh stood close enough to see the state of the girl—the dilated pupils, the flesh that was far too pale even by Irish standards. “You finally noticed.”
Too late, Martin realized the danger. His eyes widened; his clumsy feet struggled to move backwards, to let him escape without taking his eyes off the predator. Gideon only came forwards, the calm walk all the more frightening. Martin turned and attempted to run, cries for help beginning to blubber past lips thickened and numbed with sudden terror.
Gideon leaped before Martin could reach the mouth of the alley, took the oaf down, grasped the head, and turned swiftly.
Annie screamed at the sound of it, but already Gideon was back to her, acting before he could think how to do it. One quick shove back against the wall, strategically made, and her head cracked.
He left the alley and the two bodies in it on foot, calmly, and left town the same way before the sun had risen, with a flicker of remorse for the girl and none for the man.