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by Belladonna Bordeaux
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: Jocelyn Thatcher is a humble dressmaker's apprentice determined to not go down the road of prostitution, as her own mother did. Thwarting her sensible plans for a decent vocation are the lurid sexual fantasies, which have begun to plague her hours. Those naughty little secrets lead her to a devastating truth--she's half fay. Lucius Domintius Stanton has served Satan for nearly three millennia. He's a Hell Rider--the living, breathing visage of death. Along with the other three Riders, he collects the tainted souls destined for hell. His world is tilted on its ear when he meets Jocelyn. Turn her over to the Hellfire Club or keep her for his own? A brief interview with Satan will set the course. His lust for Jocelyn might just kill her.
eBook Publisher: Atlantic Bridge/Liquid Silver Books, 2010
eBookwise Release Date: December 2010
3 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [138 KB]
Reading time: 81-114 min.
The Prophecy of the Seven Seals
The Angelic War might be far in the past,
But there is only one way for the peace to last.
The Seven pure strains will meet thrice each year,
and through conversation the future they'll steer.
Be aware and be warned of a simple fact.
The ramifications are fiery if you break this pact.
For every seal that is broken, the damage is done.
If all are destroyed, Hellfire and Damnation will be won.
* * * *
March 1770 -- Whitechapel, London
"That had best be Mrs. Caruthers coming to pay her bill." The bells over the door of the dressmaker's shop hadn't even had a chance to fall off their ring before Mrs. Whitestone was off her stool and headed for the front room of her establishment.
Jocelyn Thatcher sent a small, patient smile along with a nod to her employer. "She did promise to be in this day," Jocelyn reminded Mrs. Whitestone. "The family has been through a real snag. What with her son's death, things are bound to be forgotten." Blinking back tears, she felt for the mother's loss. "The babe was barely out of swaddling," she commented on a sniffle. It wasn't so much that she felt for the family. Nay, 'twas almost as if she'd lost a babe of her own.
And all the lectures from her employer made little difference when it came to her sorrow. That's how deep her emotions ran.
"You're too sweet for your own good, Jocelyn," Mrs. Whitestone reprimanded and clucked her tongue. She clapped, startling Jocelyn. "Keep your fingers on the task at hand. I'll see to this--alone."
She winced at the reminder of how she'd interfered the last time a customer had fallen behind on their payments. Not only had she bargained for a cheaper price on the cloth, but she'd also broken down in sobs over the woman's tragic tale of misfortune.
Aye, I am too sweet for my own good. I'm also bad, but you don't know that. Aye, ever since her last birthday she'd suffered from lurid dreams. Those no virgin would ever entertain unless she wanted to set her feet on the fast path to Hell.
Rather than wait for Mrs. Whitestone to exit the workroom, Jocelyn bowed her head and put three more stitches through the muslin lining. Nearly done. Less than a half-dozen stitches later, she knotted the thread and snipped the end. Her fingers lingered on the handle of the shears. An instinct suddenly assaulted her. Run. Her brain shouted. To where? her common sense rebutted.
She pushed the worry aside. 'Tis simple weariness. The long days of needlework, the personal drive to perfect her craft, aye, 'twas enough to make a person skittish.
She sighed as her body calmed. Her gaze lingered on her latest magnum opus, great work. If she did say so herself, the bodice was coming along nicely. 'Twas the one thing Mrs. Whitestone couldn't caterwaul over. Jocelyn's skill with a needle and thread was rumored to be the best in all the Tower Boroughs.
Not a bad lot for an abandoned babe.
"Jocelyn, join me," Mrs. Whitestone's voice permeated the curtain separating the work room from the front of store.
Jocelyn rose from her spot and reluctantly set the bodice on the well-worn table. A tremor of trepidation skittered up her spine when she walked to the curtain.
Forcing the unnerving inflection that set warning bells to jangle in her head aside, she stepped through the twin curtain panels and came to an abrupt halt. Her gaze glided over the man standing at the counter. Her heart thrummed to life. "Dear God in Heaven." He was gorgeous. Dark and deadly, she mused. Taller than most with broad shoulders and a face that would make an angel swoon, she bit her lip to keep from sighing when he leveled his black-as-original-sin gaze on her face. This man commanded all of your attention from the get and immediate respect from the go.
Before she could think about what she was doing, she bobbed a curtsy. Her legs were just starting their upward move when an unseen force gripped her heart. Terror shuddered through her.
'Tis only a man. Most likely he's shopping for a new ensemble for his wife. The internal lecture went a long way to relieving most of the tension from her muscles.
She shook off the rest of her worry with an almost imperceptible shake of her head. "Ma'am?" she asked, wondering at the stilted silence clinging to the room. The sun streaming through the front windows seemed to dim as if someone had settled a swatch of gossamer silk over the sun. Mrs. Whitestone appeared five shades of red and about to fall over from lack of clean air. Jocelyn reached for her. "Ma'am, are you hurt?"
Realizing the man continued to stare at them, Jocelyn blushed. "Forgive me, sir."
"Your Grace," he supplied in a mesmerizing, resonant voice. "Lucius Dominitius Stanton, Duke of Landsdowne," he finished.
Forcing her feet to move, she joined her employer at the counter. He cocked one brow, an expression which not only added to his handsome features but gave him the air of a rakehell.
"Beg pardon," she said and bobbed another curtsy, "Your Grace, is their aught we can help you with?" Having sidled her way to where Mrs. Whitestone stood transfixed, Jocelyn managed to innocently nudge the aging woman out of her stupor.
"Give me a moment, Jocelyn. I'll fetch my sketches," Mrs. Whitestone whispered. Her breaths came in rasping gasps.
Without a nod, the woman fled to the workroom. Left to her own devices, Jocelyn sent a shaky smile to the man dominating the room. Unwilling to apologize to the man who'd thrown both of them into a tither, she inclined her head with all the grace she could muster.
"I am in need of a wardrobe befitting a woman of status." A shiver jerked through Jocelyn when he shifted his stare to her slight bosom then trailed his lascivious gaze over her torso to where the counter blocked the rest of her body from view. He reversed the direction of his inspection and in the process made Jocelyn feel as if she was on sale. He didn't continue speaking until he once more stared at her face. "I believe she's close to your size."
So, he's hunting down garments for his whore. A bit disappointed at him for what she viewed as his blatant disregard of the fairer sex, though she knew it was none of her business, Jocelyn swallowed hard.
A vision of the two of them embracing shot through her. She could feel his hands on her back. His strong grip massaged the perpetually tight muscles of her shoulders before caressing a hot path to her bum. He parted her arse cheeks to tease her dark hole. She gripped the lip of the counter, her brain focused on the vivid pictures playing out in her head. So realistic, she winced when in the vision he eased his pointer finger into her arse, his other digits working her pussy. "Oh my," she whispered on a stilted gasp.
A delicious bubble of pressure gathered low in her tummy and a foreign throb cut a quick path down her feminine walls. Closing her eyes to the images playing out in her mind's eye, she sucked in a lungful of air. The visions shifted to show her lying on a bed, her legs spread, his hands on her--in her. They stroked her channel. His mouth kissed its way across her chest and over her belly until...until...
She snapped her eyelids open in time to catch him smirking at her. The insane urge to kick him in the shins assaulted her. Pulling up the last of her wavering discipline, she blew out a breath. "What color does your..." she caught herself before she said 'whore', "...your companion prefer, Your Grace?" She finished her question with a mocking smile. At least she hoped she'd managed the affectation. 'Twas hard enough keeping her wits about her when her body was in a state of wanton lust.
His grin grew wolfish. "Which do you think suits a young debutante who has fallen from her lofty pedestal to land betwixt the sheets I've bought and paid for?"
"Your Grace!" Jocelyn couldn't help sounding offended. She was. Right down to the tips of her shoes. Rejecting her habit of planting her palms to her cheeks whenever she felt a fiery blush roll up her face, she pursed her lips.
"Come now, miss. You can't tell me you are unaware of what happens when a coin-hungry female tempts a consummate bachelor with her charms." He shrugged as if saying 'twas not uncommon for him to seduce young women on a whim and at every soiree. "'Tis delightful."
Sensing there was more to what he said than the obvious, Jocelyn took him in again. A wolf in gentleman's clothing but, oh so intriguing. Self-conscious, she was ignorant to those ways save for what the prostitutes had told her. They made the marriage act sound both filthy and intriguing at the same time.
Recalling how she'd laughed at the street walkers' description of the male sex organ, Jocelyn stiffened her spine. This won't do. Not at all. You are not a whore and you shouldn't be thinking these sinful thoughts.
She felt a noose tighten around her soul when the next image popped into her head. Goosebumps rose on her arms when she pictured herself on her knees, her mouth working over his manhood.
With a will born from self-preservation, she turned her mind to the task at hand. She stormed to the bolts of cloth lining the wall. If I were a debutante fallen from good standing...hmm. This time her smile felt genuine and ripe with cynicism. "Black it is then."
His laughter did amazing things to her pulse. Unbidden, she imagined what it might feel like to have his tongue teasing her core. She licked her dry lips. You're so sweet. The words echoed in her head. You're mine.
She forced her gaze to linger on the darkest bolts of cloth. Going to pluck down the heavy bolt they used whenever a woman required a mourning gown, she shook with tension. Her pussy screamed for something she didn't understand. "Stop it," she ordered herself.
"Allow me," he whispered against her ear. His hot, damp breath on the nape of her neck stroked another shiver from her. Out of her peripheral vision she watched his hand rise to grasp the thick bolt of black taffeta. She watched his fingers dig into the layers of fabric and dreamed it was her tender flesh he gripped.
Spreading her arse cheeks.
Ready to drive his cock deep into her cunt.
"Please make it stop," she murmured.
"Jocelyn, come away from there," Mrs. Whitestone's words permeated Jocelyn's passion-fogged senses. "If I may, Your Grace..." The slam of the dressmaker's sketch book hitting the counter sent a resounding thud through the shop. "Pink. I have it on great authority and nearly thirty years of experience that every woman whether they are ten and five or five score prefers pink."
"Then I defer to your superior knowledge, Madame."
The moment he dropped his arm to his side, Jocelyn shrank away. For a moment she looked him over. What are you about? Why come to Whitechapel when you could send a servant to do your bidding? She sighed. The eccentricities of the haute ton were forever beyond her sensibilities. I don't like you. I don't want to have aught to do with you.
Her common sense might say it thought of him as a horrid predator of innocent flesh. However, her body could care less. It knew what it wanted and that was the man who dominated her thoughts.
Tilting her gaze to his face, she moaned when the visions stirred her body into a mass of twittering nerves and unrequited lust. She couldn't shake them away this time. Nay, they bespoke, nearly forewarned, she had met a man who would do aught with a woman and damn the consequences.
"I can't..." her words trailed off.
"Jocelyn," Mrs. Whitestone's sharp barked command brought her back to the here and now. "Pink."
She quickly stepped to the shelf where the brighter, lighter cloth was kept and plucked several bolts from their spots. Laden with the heavy material, she made her way to the small table upon which Mrs. Whitestone consulted with her clients. Still, she was aware of the glare planted squarely on her back. Snippets of the lewd images shot across her mind's eye. The last was of him nipping at her neck. Drawing blood. Bringing her to an earth-shattering climax. "Ah," she whispered, her fingernails dug into the calloused flesh of her palms. Contractions ripped through her, but in the background of the nightmare she could hear the faint echo of satanic laughter.
Flustered, ready to jump out of her skin, Jocelyn took a few shaky steps back from the table. She focused her line of sight on the pink satinette, but couldn't really see the happy color. She was caught in between the folds of two powerful forces. One was the sudden onslaught of wanton lust. The other was her undiluted resolve to not let the world know she was a vixen parading about as a hard-working young woman--a struggle she was losing with an alacrity that scared the tar out of her.
Desperate to be quit of the man who had brought on this nightmare, she managed to bob a curtsy. "If you'll excuse me, I have a frock to finish." I have to save my sanity too.
Mrs. Whitestone agreed with a nod. The Duke continued to smile as Jocelyn strode for the workroom. Once she was safely behind the curtain she wrapped her arms around her waist.
"Did I just meet the Devil's disciple?" she asked the scuffed and scarred hardwood floor.
She had the sinking suspicion she had.
"Morrigan and Bahne, take Commerce Street. From there cut off the half-fay's escape route near the chapel." Lucius delivered his orders in a cold, hard voice. The tone, along with his call to assemble the Hell Riders, purposefully cloaked in disinterest. If aught of them suspected he was actually attracted to Jocelyn, there would be hell to pay and he'd be the one paying it.
Still, there was no denying his reaction to her. From the moment he'd smelled her luscious scent his cock was hard. She'd started a fire in his accursed soul. An inferno which left him craving her body.
Get to it. Dithering serves no purpose. Not for yourself or for the lass.
An insane jealousy clawed at his gut when he pictured Jocelyn laid out on a banquet table, her body the property of the Hellfire and Damnation Club. The Royals and common paranormals alike were allowed to do anything to the maiden in that situation, save kill her. A growl grew in his chest. Nay.
He gritted his teeth as he raised the cowl of his cape. The unholy power of Satan flowed upward, through his steed to course into his body. His comrades followed suit. He watched Morrigan's face transform from flesh and blood to a hollow skull. Fire burned in her eye sockets and he knew if she spoke, she'd talk in the language of the damned.
"Are you certain she can't teleport yet?" Morrigan asked, excitement tingeing her words. Her mount shifted beneath her. Like the rider, the horse was anxious for the hunt to begin.
"Positive." He adjusted his hold on the reigns of his black when the horse tried to rear. "The information I garnered from the seamstress spoke of a half-caste coming into maturity." Which was fortunate for them. Not even they, the Hell Riders, the official collectors of damned souls, could catch a fay maid once she came into her powers. It also didn't hurt their mission that she was only half-fay.
Wheeling his horse around, he motioned the fourth rider to join him. "Robert, you are with me," he told the youngest of their rare breed.
Get to it. The order rang in his head like the final clash of steel against steel during a heated battle. He nodded. Time to collect Jocelyn and deliver her to Falstaff Manor and her destiny.
"Good hunting, Hell Riders," he said.
He spurred Shadowfax into a run and raced from the alley. The black horse neatly jumped an abandoned cart and turned toward his destination. He could feel his cape fly around his shoulders. The chilly air rushing over his chest and shoulders did naught to gut the fire burning in his soul or the lust hardening his cock.
Droves of mental pictures assaulted him as Shadowfax raced over the cobblestones. Jocelyn on her knees, his master's fingers gripping her head while she serviced his penis during the Black Mass Banquet.
Nauseated when the vision changed to show a common werewolf rutting on her, he dug his heels into his mount's side.
You deserve better.
His transformation complete, the unearthly shriek of the Horseman, better known as Death, screamed from between Lucius' parted lips. Rage filled his soul. Lucius Dominitius Stanton rode again. The only difference from when he garnered all the fear there was to be had in the Ancient Times was now he had the unholy power of Satan at his disposal.
I'd spend another century burning before I'd see you fucked by a common paranormal. He spat, trying without much success to rid himself of the foul taste filling his mouth.
Careful what you wish for, he thought. The chains tying him to Hell were stout and strong. 'Twas not unheard of for Satan to punish a reluctant rider for a rebellious thought, he reminded himself.
Stop thinking with your cock. 'Twill not help Jocelyn.
'Twouldn't do him much good, either. His teeth clacked together when Shadowfax jumped an abandoned cart. Levering his torso low, he urged Shadowfax on.
Turning his head, he watched Robert point toward the end of the street. A low baying howl broke the night twain. Werewolf. "Hurry," he shouted. Another, higher pitched cry sounded. The common werewolves in the area were tracking the Hell Riders, hoping to devour Satan's bounty hunters' prey after the soul was captured, as they were wont to do. 'Twas a mistake this go 'round. They weren't tracking Jocelyn to collect her soul, but to capture her for the Hellfire and Damnation Club. "We have to get Jocelyn and make it across the Thames before they charge."
Aye, across the Thames and into the jurisdiction of the Cu Sith. He wasn't entirely sure the leader of the Harbingers of Death would welcome them, but there was no help for it. He had to get Jocelyn to safety. No matter how questionable the sanctuary might be.
Robert nodded. Before long, Robert's horse was neck and neck with Shadowfax. "There she is," Lucius' young companion yelled, trying to be heard over the thundering hooves.
Lucius took in the scene with a sweeping glance. Jocelyn. She clung to the wavering shadows cast from the streetlamps. Even he could see her terror-widened eyes. An emotion he'd never felt afore stole into his being and wouldn't let go. 'Twas a combination of concern and something else he couldn't name but he thought the sensation might be compassion.
She shivered and her steps quickened until she was nearly in a run. The rank odor of wet dog tickled Lucius' nostrils. His heart pounded hard in his chest. The hungry growls of the werewolves grew in volume. "Come on, Shadowfax. Come on. Just a little more speed."
In the back of his mind he wondered where Morrigan and Bahne were, but forced his brain to focus on the danger at hand. Vicious snaps from deadly jaws nipped at his ankles. He kicked the pack leader away with his booted foot. Hell.
He had one option to save Jocelyn from becoming the werewolves' supper--face them and let them devour a pound of his tainted flesh.
"Grab Jocelyn. I'll hold them off until you are safely across the river," he ordered Robert.
"Are you sure?"
Hell, I'm not sure of aught at the moment. "Do as you are told, pup."
"Lucius, she's just a woman."
The power of Robert's insult smacked him square in the chest. Make up your mind, Hell Rider. Is she just a woman--or is she more? The voice of his master, Roshan, echoed in his head. Only you can decide. Make your choice. Sighing, Lucius glanced over his shoulder at the pack. Choice? He had a choice? His master had lost his senses. Or, mayhaps, I have.
Steeling his spine he exhaled slowly. "Protect her as if your soul depended on it."
Sawing on the reigns, Lucius spun Shadowfax around. The black horse reared. Shadowfax snorted as his hooves crashed down on the cobblestones. The horse bowed his head and whinnied. He raked long marks into the pebbled roadway with the tip of his hoof.
A moment ticked by as Lucius sized up the scene. He narrowed his eyes on the shaggy dark-haired wolf lying on the ground. It shook its head before lurching to its massive paws. "You want me?" Lucius asked the pack leader. He narrowed his eyes on the cur still trying to find his balance. A smirk crept across his lips. "Come and claim me."
His sword rang from his scabbard and he kicked Shadowfax toward the pack. The werewolves growled as one, their hackles raised.
Shadowfax danced beneath him. The war horse was ready to engage his foe.
Lucius' battle cry rattled the shudders on their hinges.