Grace ran her fingers over the small silver box. It was a beautiful trinket chest, one that she’d spent many hours admiring as a small child. A small thrill raced down her spine knowing it was hers now.
The intricate carvings had always beckoned to her: the wavy lines, antiquated script, and Maltese-like cross had glinted beneath the noonday sun in the display window for months, calling to her, taunting her, but no more.
She turned the chest over in her hands, relishing the cool press of metal against her flesh. Something close to desire surged through her veins and came to rest in a low coil near the pit of her stomach. Closing her eyes, she moaned, delighting in the first forceful throb. True pleasure held no price.
Shame colored her cheeks, suffusing them with an unpleasant burn. She tried to tamp down the savage impulses rocking her body, but to no avail. The small voice of reason in the back of her mind started to scream, railing that this was not how she was raised. Good girls didn’t desire shiny things. They only sought to be closer to God. Proper girls didn’t desire at all. They clung to virtue above all else and remained innocent and pure.
“We all have our moments of weakness, my love.”
The box tumbled from her hands and clattered against the wooden floor. Whirling, Grace searched for the source of the breathless whisper. Her wide gaze darted around her bedroom, glancing off the antique dresser and veiled canopy bed, but she found nothing. Sheer lace curtains fluttered in the late autumn breeze wafting through the open window. They billowed outward, reaching for her before they intertwined and melded like two spectral lovers engaging in a primal dance.
“Who’s there?” she whispered. The burn in her face deepened as embarrassment crawled over her. Cold silence loomed in hushed reply.
Weeks had passed, but her obsession with the box had grown no less. Grace shifted, squirming against the hard wooden pew. The preacher’s voice droned in her ears, but her mind was a million miles away. Her mother’s bony elbow gouged her ribs, threatening to pull her back. Gritting her teeth, she rebelled, the pain driving her deeper into the fantasies that enveloped her.
Candlelight flickered, casting a dim golden glow through the room. Thin tendrils of smoke twisted from the fiery tips where it drifted to meld with the shadows. A strange, but not unpleasant smell flooded her nostrils. It was heavy and sweet, reminiscent of damp earth and the dry, brittle leaves that lined the streets.
Grace tensed. Her eyes tried to probe the darkness cloaking the far reaches of the room. Her skin tingled, the small hairs on the nape of her neck lifting with a keen sense of danger and a thrill of excitement. She was not alone.
A tall figure emerged from the blackness. For a moment, the two appeared one, until it stepped forward on soundless feet.
“You have come to me.”
She shuddered at the deep voice. The dulcet tones seemed to wash over her, caressing her body in ways she’d never dreamed possible. Grace teetered, sensing her body hovering on the brink of some delicious precipice. Her eyes drifted shut and she trembled with savage pleasure.
A fathomless chuckle rumbled in her ears, the figure amused by her breathless confession.
“Do you not find it ironic that you pick this exact moment to supplicate yourself at my feet?”
Her eyes snapped open, and Grace blinked in confusion. “What do you mean?”
He stepped closer and she strained to decipher his face in the shadows. They seemed to drift with him, cloaking him in their obscurity despite the candle’s attempts to light the room.
“Nevermind, my sweet. It is unimportant. All that matters now is your happiness. I am here to serve you.”
“Who are you?” she asked, forcing a swallow past her tightening throat.
“Me?” he said, pressing closer. She jumped as long fingers threaded through her hair and stroked her head in a gentle brush. “I am a giver.”
“A giver of what?”
Grace’s heart slammed against the walls of her chest as the figure leaned over her and his face became clear. A long, straight nose loomed above full and sensuous lips. Eyes the color of illuminated whiskey peered back at her, unblinking. She fought the urge to recoil in her chair, feeling them probe clear down to the depths of her soul. It was an unnerving sensation—one that left her feeling robbed of all defenses, stripped down naked and exposed.
“The giver of all that your heart desires,” he whispered. She shivered as his warm breath caressed her skin. “And perhaps something more.”
“What if I asked for riches?” She swallowed against the fear blossoming in her throat.
“Then you shall have them, my sweet. All that you could imagine is yours for the taking.”
That shrill voice rose in the back of her mind. It was frantic, pleading, insistent that whatever this was wasn’t human—that she turn away from the madness before it drew her in any deeper. The hot, almost scalding brush of his fingers beckoned her away from her worries, and she fought a smile.
There was tenderness in his touch, a reverence she had not felt since she was a child and her grandfather would stroke her curls. She’d never known the love of a father, but somehow, she sensed this could be better.
Her gaze lifted once again to lock with his. “What are you?”
The figure leaned over her, pressing his soft lips against her cheek. White teeth flashed with the knowing smile he bestowed. “Consider me an angel if you must, love. I am but a humble servant here at your command. My only purpose is to satisfy your longings, whatever they may be.”
Grace’s eyes drifted shut. She found herself titling to the side, her face upraised, longing for his touch. It was a brutal slap from her mother’s gloved hand that greeted her instead. Stunned, it took her a minute to readjust to her surroundings. The preacher’s voice continued to drone on in the distance. Cold ire flashed dangerously in her mother’s iron stare.
“You will uphold yourself and behave properly in the house of the Lord!” she hissed.
Grace couldn’t help but liken her to a venomous serpent. In that moment, her mother’s eyes were every bit as lethal and assessing as a snake’s. Sighing, she slumped back against the pew. The heady scent of incense hung in the air, mingling with the cloying mixture of sweat and perfume riding the crowd. She tensed as a warm breeze swirled past, one not carried by the slow churning of the ceiling fans overhead. It brushed her cheek leaving a pleasant tingle in its wake, and the tantalizing smell of earth teased her senses.
A small smile curved her lips, despite her mother’s scrutinizing stare. Even the preacher faltered in his sermon, his eyes seemingly searching out hers through the crowd.
Grace didn’t care. All that mattered was the sultry whisper she heard as the invisible fingers touching her face slid free. A lone word cloaked in promise, assuring all would be okay:
To be continued…
~ Adriana Noir
© Copyright 2012 Adriana Noir. All Rights Reserved.