Read Beast in Me (The Divination Falls Trilogy) Online
Authors: Sommer Marsden
BEAST IN ME
Book Two in the Divination Falls trilogy
An Erotic Novel
Published by Xcite Books Ltd – 2013
Copyright © Sommer Marsden 2013
The right of Sommer Marsden to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
The story contained within this book is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be copied, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the written permission of the publishers: Xcite Books, Suite 11769, 2nd Floor, 145-157 St John Street, London EC1V 4PY
For the man. I love you. For ever and ever. Amen.
Other books in the series
|Chapter Twenty One|
|Chapter Twenty Two|
|Chapter Twenty Three|
|Chapter Twenty Four|
|Chapter Twenty Five|
The lightning had led him here and he had no idea why. Prickling and poking at his heels in a way that only bespoke urgency. Cameron Bale ran up the dirt road, his sneakers kicking up enough dust to choke him. He could feel his aura flare with the bright surges of light and energy.
‘What the fuck is this?’
It was no use complaining, though. He’d been working with Brother Lightning way too long to question the nudges he received. There was work for him up this dirt road and wherever waited beyond. Maybe there was a bed and a hot cup of coffee and a –
‘Jesus! I’m going, for Pete’s sake!’ he growled as the thick, heavy tag of electricity thudded at him. People thought of being electrocuted as fast and hot and searing; Cameron found it a thudding, heavy, muddling sensation that left him feeling as if he’d been drained, not juiced.
The dirt of the road suddenly exploded, as if some hidden sniper had fired a bullet into the ground. But no, it was the lightning – herding him. Rarely had he experienced so much urgency, though. The wind whipped up as if it would storm, but nothing – not even a drop of rain – fell to the parched earth. The August sky was the colour of an ancient tombstone and the sudden chill that ripped out of the sky to wash over him brought goose bumps up on his skin.
‘Right. No road,’ he grunted, veering into the thick woods. He had to really focus hard, training his eyes over the dead leaves and fallen trees between flashes of lightning. If he didn’t pay attention he was going to fall and eat his own fucking teeth.
Admit it, dumbass, you do like the rush.
He sighed before dodging a fall of ancient dead wood that had once, he assumed, been a tree. The lightning had calmed but the wind had not. He heard them, then. The whoosh-hiss-pound of waterfalls. A fork of lightning spiked the sky back near the road, making its point – keep going, stay off the road. He skirted the falls and the pool they fed, marvelling at the blue-grey water and the spray that the still-aggressive wind tossed his way.
He stared at the churning water, trying to breach its depths with his gaze. He struggled as the wind lashed at his eyes, making him blink. It also tossed tiny whitecaps over the surface of the water, making it appear as if something lurked beneath it.
When another dull thud of electricity penetrated him, he moved along. Better to heed his elemental brother than to ignore the prompt and get a full jolt of juice. Up the hill, past the falls, over years of dead leaves he ran, until sliding down an embankment utterly by accident.
Cameron thought he heard a buzzing kind of laughter. It was not uncommon for his element to find humour in his mistakes, or even just his way of handling life itself. Cameron didn’t have time to be angry because he slid down the hill almost as if he were riding a bobsled. Only the bobsled was his ass. A yell tore out of him as he shot forward and plopped – hard enough to feel his tailbone complain – onto a stone patio in time to see a couple …
Yeah. They were doing it and, at the last moment, as the guy on top came, he flickered – lion-man-lion again – and Cameron bit his tongue to control himself. He knew of shifters, but infiltrating one’s intimate moment wasn’t wise to say the least. Accident or not.
The man turned, bared his teeth – though, thank goodness, in human form – and started toward Cameron, who could only backpedal and pray this guy didn’t rip him apart. Again he heard that buzzing, surreal laughter and wanted to tell its source off, but telling off an element was sort of … stupid.
‘What the fuck! Who are you –?’ The guy didn’t give him time to answer; he was rushing at Cameron and his muscles were big. His body was big. His fucking teeth were big and his structure was becoming malleable and his face was changing and …
‘Tryg! Stop! Can’t you see the poor guy might be hurt?’ the other man said, pulling on his jeans before moving toward them.
The lion had frozen, his breath tearing in and out of him, his eyes fixed and narrowed – full of wariness. ‘Luke, this is not the time to play Good Samaritan.’
‘But my God. Who in their right mind would come rushing in during …’ The smaller man cleared his throat and blushed a little. ‘That?’
‘A pervert?’ The big guy snorted.
‘Look,’ Cameron said, scrambling to his feet and perching on the low stone wall that led to the woods he’d just fallen from. ‘I’ll just go. I’m not a pervert, I swear.’ He took a step. Felt a warning sizzle of energy in his foot.
‘No. Not a pervert.’ The man he had heard called Luke cocked his head and said, ‘He was prompted here.’
Cameron took another stop into the woods. Prompting be damned. He wasn’t going to get ripped apart by a territorial lion. He vaguely heard Luke say, ‘And he’s hurt. And he’s about to be hurt mo –’
That was the last Cameron heard before a bolt hit him full force and he felt his body sag-drop-drift back over the stone wall and back onto the dimly lit patio. All he had time to think was, Great Spirit, my ass hurts …
He opened his eyes to a hovering brown blob. A big, huge blob that was hanging down close. Cameron blinked and the man came into focus a bit more. Dark hair, smiling brown eyes, a huge head – my God, he gave big a new name. Right behind him was a pretty blonde woman, much smaller than the inspecting man, with water-blue eyes and an easy smile.
Cameron jolted when he glanced left and there was the lion, leaning close, staring at him as if he were a newfound life form.
Then he remembered the sudden and heavy jolt from Brother Lightning that left no room for argument. He was not retreating from this place. He was meant to be here.
‘Here …,’ he said aloud.
‘Is Divination Falls,’ the big man boomed and Cameron’s heartbeat took off like an anxious bird.
‘My God, Sam, don’t scare him,’ the woman said and set a hand on Cameron’s knee. She stood further down than the giant. Her hand was warm. Cameron realised they’d put him up on something. He struggled to see, but she patted him again. ‘Calm down. It’s just a patio table. We wanted to make sure you were OK. If you fuss, though, you’ll roll right off.’ She smiled and he relaxed.
‘Why’s he smoking?’ the big man asked.
Again, the pretty lady spoke. ‘Well, unless I’m imagining it, when I touch him, I can still feel the thrum of electricity in him. Where’s Luke?’
‘Right here!’ Cameron saw the smaller man from the intimate moment emerge from the house, a glass in his hand. ‘I thought he might be thirsty when he woke up. Being juiced like that might leave a guy parched.’
He smiled and Cameron felt hope that they weren’t going to kill him or lock him up. ‘Can I sit?’ he managed.
‘Can you?’ the lion asked with a twist of his lips. ‘Or will we help you?’
The man with the water snorted and said softly, ‘Now is not the time for nitpicking, Tryg.’
‘Sorry, Rabbit.’ And then the lion was the first to put a hand out. Against his better judgment, Cameron took it.
‘Shall I make introductions?’ the woman asked, patting his thigh. The man with the water offered him the glass and when Cameron took it, their fingers touched.
‘Wow,’ he said.
‘Sorry,’ Cameron muttered, taking a small sip of the cold liquid. ‘Residual arcs.’
‘How can you be alive?’ he asked.
Cameron shrugged. ‘Happens all the time.’
‘I’m Eliot,’ the woman said, moving on with her introductions. She patted his leg again. ‘The town …’
‘She sees stuff no one should see,’ the lion interjected.
Eliot almost frowned, but it appeared her pretty face couldn’t manage such an expression. ‘I am the town seer, for lack of a better word. This is Luke, new to Divination Falls, and he’s like me.’
‘Sexy,’ Luke – the man with the water – said and it actually made Cameron laugh despite the Twilight Zone feel of the moment.
‘This is Sheriff Slaughter,’ she said, waving a hand at the gigantic man with the gigantic head.
‘That’s a reassuring name,’ Cameron said, shivering.
‘Hey, you can choose your friends, your lovers, your career –’ the big guy said ‘– but not your name.’ He grinned and clipped Cameron gently on the shoulder. ‘How you feeling?’ But then he pulled his hand back fast, eyes going wide.
‘I’m OK. Considering.’ Cameron took another sip of water. It was the sweetest thing he’d ever tasted.
‘Considering I almost ripped you apart because you were being all creepy voyeur on me and my guy?’ the lion growled.
‘Sorry, I was prodded here. I didn’t mean to –’
‘Prodded here? Dude, you came bumbling through and then you were zapped. How in the world are you going to pin that on anyone but yourself?’ The lion shook his head, still miffed.
‘And this is …’ Eliot held out a hand to him and waited, smiling.
‘Um, Cameron … Cameron Bale,’ Cameron said.
‘This is Cameron, everyone, and unless I’m mistaken, he’s a weather worker.’
Cameron’s mouth popped open and then a wave of relief flooded over him. ‘Yes,’ he whispered.
‘What’s that mean?’ the lion grunted.
‘It means, lion of mine,’ Luke said, ‘that if Cameron is here, he was prodded to be here.’
‘With electricity?’ The sheriff looked dumbfounded.
‘Exactly,’ Eliot said.
Cameron nodded and downed the rest of the glass of water.
‘Hungry?’ the one called Luke asked, taking it from him.
Cameron was starving, but still a bit leery of the lion they called Tryg and the sheriff.
Eliot caught the look and chuckled. ‘Stop scaring him, Sam,’ she said to the sheriff and brushed her hand over his back. The big man blushed. Interesting.
‘Sorry. I didn’t mean to. I’m just …’ He shrugged, blushing harder. ‘Being me.’
This made the lion laugh until the one called Luke said, ‘Tryg, since you’re so jovial, why don’t you go get our guest a sandwich.’
Tryg stopped laughing and stared at the younger man for a minute. Something in his face softened and he said, ‘Sure thing, Rabbit.’ Those insane amber eyes turned to Cameron and he said, ‘Roast beef and Swiss OK?’
Cameron’s stomach grumbled loud enough for all of them to hear.
‘I’ll take that as a yes,’ the lion said, then was gone.
Instead of sprawled on the table, they got him seated and then all grabbed drinks and sat down with him. Cameron still felt a bit like a new life form they were all examining, but Luke and the woman Eliot sat closest to him so he felt more secure than he expected.
There was a brief flash – possibly due to a surge of electricity in his cells – where he could picture the lion and his mate going at it. Lips and teeth and fucking … It all coursed through him, riding the bullets of power that still randomly fired inside his body, making him wish for better times. Easier times. When he had his lover and things had been good.
Cameron shook his head. ‘Thanks for the sandwich. I really am sorry. I should go –’
He went to stand and the man named Luke gently tugged him back down. ‘And where would you go?’
‘My car is way out at a gas station down off the highway. I left it there. I didn’t know why, but …’ He glanced up. ‘Lightning led me so I followed.’
‘Do you shift?’ lion and sheriff said in near unison.
Cameron blinked. ‘What? Me? No. I’m human. I’m not a shifter.’ His eyes, against his will, darted to Tryg.
Luke laughed softly. ‘Yes, he’s the king of the jungle, this patio even, but he won’t hurt you, Cameron. Tell him yourself, Tryg.’
‘I won’t hurt you, Cameron,’ Tryg said, his amber eyes glowing briefly. Cameron was no fool. He heard the unspoken “unless you make me”.
‘You are?’ Cameron turned to the woman who’d called herself Eliot.
‘Me? No. Just your run-of-the-mill psychic seer type person. And Tryg, Divination Falls calls to all magicals. Not just shifters. The pull just happens to be the most prevalent with shifters.’
The big man had the good manners to look a little chagrined. It almost made Cameron smile.
‘And you?’ he turned to Luke. ‘He called you Rabbit. Are you?’
‘Nope. Just a messed-up psychic empath who sleeps with a lion and somehow got an animal nickname.’ He winked and pushed the last of the chips on his plate toward Cam. ‘And might I remind everyone that Cameron got through the magical barrier?’ He smiled at Cam. ‘Eat. You still look pale.’
‘You?’ Cameron whispered, saving the best – the biggest – for last. Then he took a nibble of his sandwich.
Sheriff Sam Slaughter nodded his giant head and said, ‘Yep, I shift. Can you guess what?’
Eliot slid down in her chair, smothering the giggles that fled her lips. ‘A bear,’ she snorted. ‘He’s a big-ass brown bear.’
Cameron felt the colour drain from his face. He was feeling lightheaded again. ‘Oh.’
‘Don’t worry about it,’ the sheriff said, his laughter booming off the stone walls of the patio. ‘I’m a teddy bear, really.’
‘Yeah. I’m sure,’ Cameron said.
‘So if he’s not a shifter and he’s not with a shifter …’ Tryg cocked his head and the wild animal in him was so obvious to Cameron it was unnerving.
right here.’ Luke sighed. He patted Cameron’s hand and Tryg actually growled. That made the younger man snort. ‘
here for a reason, obviously, and stop growling. I touched his hand. It’s no big deal.’
‘Tryg’s still learning to deal with being attached to someone,’ Luke said to Cameron. ‘Want some cookies?’
The question was so odd and off the cuff that Cameron automatically nodded his head. Luke rose to get them and a voice called out over the gate. ‘Knock, knock. Anyone home?’
Tryg was on his feet in an instant, nose moving subtly as he moved toward the gate. Only two steps toward the barrier and his body softened. ‘Father Finn, what can we do for you?’
Tryg opened the gate and the sheriff turned toward the tall, silver-haired man. He wore traditional priest blacks with the white collar. When he smiled, Cameron’s tension fled. He was a nice man. Anyone with a brain could tell that.
‘I saw a lightning strike this way. I was up in the top room with a cup of tea. I love storms, especially sudden ones, and it looked to strike around here. And –’ He lifted his head, sniffing. Cameron wondered what animal he might be. Apparently, Brother Lightning had led him right into a whole town of shifters. ‘The smell of ozone led me here.’
Cameron bristled. Did he smell?
The man walked straight to him and smiled. ‘Now I see why.’
Luke came out with a huge plate of cookies. The lion grabbed one before he’d even made it half way across the patio. ‘Shifters,’ Luke said and rolled his eyes. ‘Father Finn,’ he said, smiling.
The priest sniffed at him again and Cameron felt a blush heat his cheeks. ‘Sorry,’ he mumbled, but took two cookies when Luke presented the plate.
‘Don’t be, son. Are you OK?’
Cameron actually laughed. It was all so bizarre. ‘I’m fine. Nothing that doesn’t happen all the time.’
Father Finn’s sharp blue eyes travelled over him and he smiled. ‘I’ve never met one before.’
‘One what?’ the sheriff asked, watching them.
‘A weather worker.’
‘Why does everyone know what the fuck a weather worker is but me?’ Tryg asked.
Luke choked, saying, ‘Language.’ He jerked his head toward the priest, which caused the older man to smile.
‘Because there are very few of them,’ the priest said.
‘Hey, you’re great, all of you. Thanks for saving me,’ Cameron found himself babbling. He stood too fast and white speckles blossomed in his field of vision. ‘But I have to go.’ He turned and headed, instinctively, toward the low stone wall he’d fallen over to enter the home of the lion and his mate.
‘And where will you go?’ Father Finn asked.
‘Back to my car,’ he sighed. His legs were shaky and he felt like his head wasn’t quite attached to his body, but he was moving and he’d make it. No problem.
‘And what happened the last time you tried that?’ Father Finn asked softly, making no move to reach Cameron. His voice carried very well; Cam wasn’t sure if that was from being a priest and needing to get your words to the congregation no matter how distracted, or if it was hyperacusis from being struck. His hearing was often off the charts for days and days after a full-on strike.
Cameron put his foot on the stone wall and felt the brush-tug-thump of electricity nibbling at his aura. Damn.
‘I got struck,’ he said, trying to force himself to move despite the warning niggle of energy. Why the fuck was lightning doing this to him?
‘You clearly need to be here,’ Finn said. ‘Do you have a place to stay?’
‘I’m not staying.’ Cameron put his other foot on the wall and immediately jumped back when lightning licked at his ankles. The small bolt made a crisp noise like a green twig snapping. ‘Damn it!’ he roared, suddenly losing his tiny shred of control.
‘Come stay at the rectory,’ Finn said, laying a hand on his shoulder. Cameron knew he had to be giving off ticks and pops of juice from even that minor strike but the man never moved his hand. ‘I have room there and you’re welcome.’
Cameron found himself suddenly exhausted, defeated and open to any nicety anyone wanted to give him. Despite the tiny flares of hot-headedness from the lion, they’d all been kind, sympathetic, and welcoming. He knew when he was defeated.
With a final glance at the sky, Cameron said. ‘OK. Thank you, Father.’