Authors: Bernadette Walsh
“Great,” Shari said. “Okay, ready Orla?”
I sighed. “Sure, I’m ready.”
Claire poured salt around the perimeter of our property while Shari followed her with a watering can, drenching Claire’s line of salt. I didn’t want to think about what the “warding” would do to the lawn or how I would explain it to Declan.
I saw Roisin standing on the sidewalk, laughing.
Claire and Shari continued their spell casting. They waved their arms. Roisin floated over to me.
“They are wasting their time, you know. Warding? A witch like you, a
witch, doesn’t need warding. You are your own protection.”
“They are only trying to help,” I said under my breath.
“Are they, so? I wouldn’t be so sure, my love. They are jealous of you, envious of your power.”
“They’re my friends.”
Claire, her face from red exertion, shouted over from the back of the house, “We’re done! You’re all set.”
“I guess that means you won’t be able to visit me now,” I said again under my breath.
Roisin laughed. “As if those school girls could keep me out, keep out anything that wants to get in. Be careful, my love. Those fools are dangerous in their own way. You don’t need them. Devlin women rely only on themselves and those who share the blood. They don’t need other powers because they don’t serve those outside the bloodline.”
I squirmed then. Roisin knew that I had drained the elementals, that I’d slept with Simon. “They are helping me, Granny. That’s all.”
“I am here to help you. Whenever you need me.”
“Ready, Orla? It’s almost time for our afternoon class,” Claire said, smiling now, the expression reaching her eyes as well as her lips.
Roisin floated through the “wards” and sat on my porch steps. The smile left her lips and her green eyes bore through me. I looked away. “Sure. Let’s go.”
The three of us sauntered down the street like a gang of teenage girls. I used to look at girls like us from my sitting room window back home. Tall, slim, with sheets of swinging golden hair. And me, fat and spotty and stuck inside with my mad mother, making sure she didn’t drop her knickers and chase the cat into the neighbor’s garden. As soon as I left home for university I met Declan, and ever since, my life had been centered on Dec and our lads. Despite Roisin’s warnings, I realized how much I ached for female friends.
We stopped into Sayville Coffee before class to load up on frappachinos. On our way out, laughing at Shari’s imitation of Marion, I barreled into a woman coming in the door.
“Orla? Is that you?”
Her pale face looked even more pinched than the last time I’d seen her. Lank, dishwater blond hair held back with a rubber band. And a black-haired girl, not more than four, clung to her hand, her green eyes beautiful yet vacant.
She dropped her daughter’s hand and threw herself into my arms. “Oh my God, Orla. I barely recognized you. You look fantastic! What on earth are you doing here?”
“We’ve moved here. Declan’s job moved us here for two years.”
“Here? In Sayville?”
“Yes. We arrived over the summer.”
Caroline stepped back. “Why didn’t you call?”
“I didn’t have your number,” I said, wincing at my lame excuse.
Claire touched my arm. “Orla, we really need to be going. We don’t want to be late for class.”
Caroline’s milky blue eyes welled with tears, but her mouth hardened into a thin line. “Well, don’t let me keep you. We live over on Cyprus Avenue, if you ever want to stop by.”
I touched the top of my niece’s head. Little Kathy didn’t even look up.
“I’ll do that,” I said.
Caroline nodded and then looked down as she and Kathy pushed past us.
“Who was that?” Shari asked.
“No one. It doesn’t matter. Let’s go.”
Marion and several others were already at the studio when we arrived. The candles had been lit, the circle formed. Shari and I took our places. Claire stepped into the center of the circle.
Simon walked through the door of the studio. “I’ll lead us today, Claire,” he said without inflection. “Sit down next to Orla.”
Claire nodded and sank down on the floor next to me.
The smell of burnt wood filled my nose, almost choking me. No one else seemed to be affected. A violent cough took me over then. Simon smiled and the smell left me. My coughing fit stopped.
“We have four weeks until Samhain. The other covens are ready. The Huntington coven has made great strides. The question is, are you ready?”
“We are, Simon,” Claire said.
“I hope so.” He clapped his hands twice. “Begin.”
We clasped hands and the energy hummed through us. Simon ran us through our exercises. We levitated. Shari called forth a mist. Everything we had practiced with Claire. It seemed a bit pointless to me, really. Like parlor tricks. But they seemed to make the group happy and I was happy enough to be part of the group. Grateful to be included.
When we were done Simon praised us. Then he said, “Orla, could you please stay?”
Shari couldn’t hide her smirk and Claire wouldn’t look at me.
“I only have a few moments.”
“That’s all I need.”
The rest of the coven left us, and it was Simon and me alone in the candlelit studio.
He stepped toward me and touched my hair. “I’ve missed you.”
I stepped back. “Really? Because I haven’t missed you.”
“I know that’s not true. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you.”
“Did thinking of me stop you from fucking half the Huntington witches?”
Simon smiled. “You sound a little jealous.”
“Do I? Well, I’m not,” I snapped. “You’re free to do what you like to whomever you like. Your sex life is none of my concern.”
“What you and I had was more than sex and you know it.”
I laughed. “That’s a nice line. Do you use it with all the witches?”
“It’s not a line. It’s true. I see you’ve been talking to Claire. I won’t deny what I do. Yes, sex is part of our practice. It binds me with my witches.”
witches? I’m no one’s witch.”
“I know, Orla. Your powers far exceed those of the rest of the witches. They may even exceed my own. But you have to admit, together our powers complement each other.” He stepped toward me and the smell of burning wood again surrounded me, but instead of choking me, now it entered my lungs, seeping into my veins. Its warmth spread out through my limbs. Simon kissed me on the lips. “Tell me you haven’t thought of me, that you haven’t missed me.”
“I haven’t thought of you. I haven’t missed you.”
“Liar.” He lifted me up and placed me in the middle of the circle of candles.
He snapped his fingers and the candles’ flames leapt higher. Smoke, smelling of roses, encircled us. The smoke was intoxicating and I felt lightheaded, as if I’d drunk a bottle of champagne.
Simon tore the clothes from me and I stood in the circle, naked. He snapped his fingers again and the smoke became alive. It touched me and it was as if a thousand fingers caressed me. Everywhere.
Simon’s clothes fell from him. He grabbed my ponytail and pulled my hair loose. And then he kissed me. My head buzzed and my good intentions were burnt away by the heat of his touch.
He pushed me onto the hard floor that the smoke had made soft. I ran my hands along his smooth skin, and all I could think of was having him, possessing him. The smoke continued to work its magic and when he entered me I was liquid, molten, malleable. His. All his.
It was his turn to give me his power, and I felt his element, air, enter me through the smoke. I felt it join mine as it traveled through my veins. I rocked beneath him. I begged him for more, for him not to leave me. Pleaded with him to love me.
Simon said nothing as he pounded away at me, eyes closed, as if I wasn’t even there. And still I clung to him, my legs wrapped around his hips, begging him to open his eyes, open his heart to me. The smoke licked my skin, in places it even bit me, and still I clung to him, pleasure mixing with pain.
My nails tore at his perfect flesh, and he opened his eyes. But they were not his. They were green and his breath as his lips engulfed mine smelled like moss, like a dark cave. Like the earth. My old scar burned.
He swelled inside me and continued to pound at me, tearing me almost asunder. I cried out as the smoke ripped out pieces of my flesh, as his teeth tore at my lips, as my body shuddered in ecstasy. I cried out as I lost consciousness.
I slept, for hours it seemed. Then soft lips touched my forehead, my neck, the tips of my nipples, and I groaned in pleasure yet could not open my eyes, could not rouse myself from my heavy slumber. I felt hands, soft hands, caress my mound, fingers slip inside me. The deep fog of sleep let nothing but these tender ministrations slide through. I felt the buzzing in my head, the coursing of the power through my veins easily slip out of my skin and into the soft, sucking tongues. Again and again the fingers, the tongues, the long silky hair that spread out across my belly brought me to the brink. My body roiled in orgasms. And still I slept on. And when I awoke, I was curled in Simon’s arms. We were alone. And I felt cold, very cold.
I met Simon at the yoga studio after class. He no longer needed to announce he wanted to see me after our sessions. I knew. They all knew, and the witches no longer chatted in the hallway after our session, no longer lingered outside the studio’s steps. They cleared out of there. So that Simon could fuck me. Like he fucked all his witches.
There was no longer any pretense that I needed to be seduced, that he cared for me more than his other witches. He knew I was compelled to submit to his every command just as I understood he had to meet with me every afternoon, with me and only me, ignoring his legions of other needy witches. Our blood, our elements, called to each other and we were both slaves to our need.
I was not proud of what I’d become–a font of endless need–but I was helpless to stop it. I’m not sure either of us even took pleasure in it anymore, yet every afternoon we were there. Together.
After Claire turned the key in the lock Simon looked at me, deep black hollows beneath his eyes. “Take off your clothes and lie face down on the floor.”
I did as I was told, taking my customary place within the circle of candles.
“Spread them. Wider.”
I dutifully spread my legs. His hand pressed down on my back, crushing my nipples into the cold wood floor.
A familiar musty smell filled the room and entered my mouth. Something was different this time. The air was heavier. My old scar tingled.
Simon didn’t attempt to woo me or seduce me with foreplay. He spread my legs wider. His nails clawed my bare back, drawing blood. I cried out in pain. As he entered me he continued to scrape the skin of my back and tear at my flesh. All the while he growled into my ear, “Mine, mine, mine.”
Blood poured from my wounds, covering the floor. This was no longer pleasure mixed with pain. This was agony. “Stop it, Simon. Please.”
My pleas only excited him and he crushed me beneath him. He withdrew from me and I cried with relief. “Oh, thank God. I couldn’t take much more.” I tried to lift myself from the floor.
“Shut up.” He slammed my head into the floor. His nails tore at the flesh of my inner thighs. I cried out again. He thrust himself into me and rode me. Like an animal.
Before I lost myself to unconsciousness, I turned my head. Claire and Shari, naked and crouched on the floor like two kittens drinking from saucers of milk, lapped from the pools of my blood.
I woke hours later, my wounds healed, my head clear. I was alone, a note from Simon beside me. “
I am leaving for Sag Harbor. I will see you at Samhain. Lock the door on your way out.
As I dressed in the low light of the studio, a cry that sounded like my own came from the small office. I opened the door of the office and the eerie glow of the computer screen lit the dark room. On the screen, a miniature me lay on the floor within the circle of candles, naked. And beside me were Claire and Shari. Claire crouched beside my head, sucked from the center of my forehead. Shari sucked from my right nipple. My eyes were closed, but I was writhing in ecstasy. A gold light emanated from my body. It entered both my coven mates’ mouths.
“Don’t be greedy, girls,” Simon said, offscreen. “Save some for me.” Simon then spread my legs and drank from between them, the strange gold light flowing into his mouth. My body bucked in orgasm. Shari laughed.
When there was no more power left to be drunk and the gold light dulled, their greedy tongues detached from my body. The three of them fairly glowed. Beside my lifeless form, Shari and Claire lay on the floor side by side. Simon took turns plunging into them as they all moaned in the ecstasy of my shared power and their shared flesh.
Roisin appeared by my side. “They’ve been draining you, love. Draining you of your powers.” Roisin’s cold hands stroked my hair.
I stumbled against her. “I feel sick.”