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Authors: Anna Sanders

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BOOK: Fire Licked
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When Cris had been flying near the wreck of Mother Nature, he’d been attempting to get an award-winning picture of the eruption. But in the middle of fighting with his equipment, he heard the someone choking in the forest, which had rapidly turning to wasteland. He didn’t hesitate to fly through the haze.

It was easy for him. He was used to fire, heat and the fumes they put off. His lungs did not struggle and his roughened skin absorbed the heat instead of succumbing to it. It did not take him long to find the dying bandit against a tree, and he thought little of swiping her up from the danger before she was as crystallized as the rock around her.

All of that romantic, heroic effort for her to turn around and be pissed at him.

Cristis watched as she rose from the bed to flounce into to the restroom. All the while she coughed, her insides still brittle from her ordeal. But she slammed the door with force enough to shake the walls and left him standing alone like some jilted child.

Trying to ignore the irritation spreading through him, Cris turned back to his tripod. The view from the apartment he’d hijacked was nothing compared to being in the thick of the eruption, but this was enough distance that the bandit wouldn’t die a breathless death. And it was close enough that he could still get some amazing footage. Add what he’d gotten above the range before the womanly distraction in the bathroom, and he was sure to cop a couple grand.

Which, let’s face it, he needed kind of desperately. Maybe some cryptids were swimming with wealth, but Cristis had left his riches behind. It was so boring, knowing where his meals were coming from every night. Freelance photographer, carnival junkie, casino dealer, bartender, rancher—those were all more of his speed.

The aggravation of a bandit returned from the bathroom. She had her hands on her hips and an sour look on her face. “How did I get clean?”

“I washed you,” he answered with a shrug. “You were having trouble breathing with so much crap on you.”

“And this,” she tugged at the too-baggy shirt and pants she was wearing. “Is yours?”


“Why you do all of this?” she demanded again, as if his motives were still unclear to her.

“Because,” he sighed. “I saw someone in danger and I couldn’t look the other way. If I had known that you were attempting to conjure some killer to eat you… maybe… well… no. I would still have saved you. Because that’s one of the stupidest fucking things I’ve ever heard in my life.”

“And what if you’re wrong?” she threw at him. “What if Cherufe does not accept no sacrifice? What if he keeps the killing going, so that nobody has a home here?”

“And what if you were forced to accept that your pack’s beliefs are scarily medieval? There were seismic and geochemical studies predicting this. Why do you think the evacuations started so early? The alert has been at red for weeks. Do you see any humans leaving sacrifices in their wake? No! They’re too busy getting the fuck out of here!”

She stared at him for a long time, obviously not sure whether to be further offended or just plain haughty. “Why are you even here?” she asked him when other words failed her.

“This is why,” he pointed at his camera. “This is a historical event. I’m making my mark.”

“You were able to do this all of the way into the mountains?”

“Yes. I was rather up close and personal. But like I said, that worked in your favor—”

“What are you, if no Cherufe?”

He held out his arm, showing skin a bit rougher than a human’s. “I’m a demon. The dark touch. Ever heard of us?”

She scoffed. “Of course. Demons caused so many wars and eruptions themselves!”

“Well, I can’t make a volcano explode, but yeah, I could probably start a war.” He went back to staring down the lens of his camera. He’d definitely started some sort of battle in this apartment. “Not interested in causing any problems, though. Just trying to earn a decent living.”

“And now you stand in the way of the safety of my pack!”

Cris turned to glare at her again. “Then why don’t you go back? Huh? I promise, I won’t save you this time.”

Isidora’s mouth hang open wordlessly for a moment, before she huffed. “It is too late now!”

Cris laughed at her. “Right! Too late! You don’t want to go back there anymore than I wanted to leave you there, so shut up and enjoy your life. You mongrel.”

“You do not talk to me this way,” she growled. “You do not know me! How dare you?”

“Your act is barely convincing, sweetheart. I may not be able to read other cryptids that well, but I’ve got intuition on my side. And you definitely are thankful to be out of that wreck.” He turned the video off in lieu of still photos and began to snap rapidly, zooming in for better focus. “Why don’t you just thank me and stop pretending?”

Defeated, Isidora sank into the foot of the bed.

Cris tried to ignore the many emotions playing over his new roommate’s face. In spite of his harsh words, the woman was not going anywhere until he was sure she would not harm herself. He had no intention of letting the bandit waltz out the door after he’d already plucked her from the carnage.

“You must be hungry after all that blather.” He stopped taking pictures and stood upright. “I’ve been told I’m an abysmal cook, but I think I can manage a rare piece of meat for you. That is what you’re partial to,

She nodded mutely.

“By the way, what’s your handle?” he asked her. “I told you mine. I can’t just keep referring to you as ‘bandit’ all day.”

“Isidora,” she answered.

FOR A SIX-HOUR PERIOD seismic activity increased at Puyehue-Cordón Caulle to an average of 230 earthquakes per hour. The increase was felt for miles.

Still, the two acquaintances were perfectly safe in their haven. The continuous shaking did not faze Cris and Isidora as they ate together at the table.

“This is all a part of nature,” Cris explained. “Even though it’s a violent, terrifying event, it will also re-fertilize the land and rivers. There’s a reason for this.”

“Yes, there is. The Land Gods are roving,” Isidora said. “The only way they will stop is with distraction. And after they are sated, then they will grow back the earth and make it stop trembling.”

Cris was compelled to agree with one thing. If there was an ounce of truth in anything the animal was saying, then it was true that she would make a perfect little distraction. What a tart she was. It had been a full day and still Isidora was on his case.

Being in close quarters with the bandit had brought him to one not-so-startling conclusion: he was going to take her as his own. But first he had to win her over with his illustrious charm. That meant holding his tongue when she insisted that her ridiculous beliefs were reality.

Anyway, it wasn’t like he could deny that listening to her crackpot theories didn’t hold some appeal. He was supposed to be able to influence those with his will, yet found himself mesmerized instead by the way Isidora’s mouth moved. Or the way she trilled her tongue on certain words. The mongrel was spellbinding, even if she was wrong.

“How many women has your pack killed… I mean… ‘gifted’ to the lava lords?”

She lifted her eyebrow at that. “None. It has been a very long time since Cherufe decided to split the earth. Our pack has known nothing but peace, and that is why we must secure more for ourselves.”

He decided to change the subject before he said something that put him in permanent hot water. “Would you like to see my portfolio of other natural disasters?”

When she gave a nod, he stood up and went to the bed. Stooping down to reach underneath, he drew out a large leather suitcase and rifled inside of it until he found a large folder. He put it on the table.

She opened it and stared at the first photo. It was of a sky lit with lightning, at least thirty streaks of it.

“Ai!” she exclaimed. “Who angered the sky?”

“Nobody angered it. It’s the lightening fields in Venezuela. It’s an amazing phenomenon that takes place for one hundred and sixty nights out of the year.” He pointed at the album. “That photo got me an award. And it was the front cover of… some nature magazine. I can’t recall the name.”

She was far from impressed by his cred, that was for sure. She gazed in fear and wonderment at the picture. “Someone has hurt their God,” she whispered, tenderly touching the photo.

“Look at the beauty of it instead,” he advised, dragging his chair over to be closer to her. “Isn’t it amazing what nature can do? Nearly three hundred strikes, all taking place at once…” Cris covered her fingers with his, dragging it over the plastic covering. “People still live here. Go to work here, vacation here. They live normal lives despite the very real danger.”

Isidora found herself mesmerized by his voice. The gently touch of his hand was nice, despite the tougher quality of his skin. Her posture went from rigid concern to lax curiosity.

“Here, look at the next ones. They aren’t nearly as… shocking…” He smiled widely at his own pun.

Cave of crystals in Mexico. Stunning sand formations in Arizona. Oceans with frothy waves breaking over black sand. The book abounded with beauty. “This is your passion,” she said, looking at him. “You go to these places and you steal their memories for your books.”

He shrugged a shoulder. “That’s one way to look at it.”

“They will be preserved forever.” And finally, she sounded impressed by him.

He had at least three of his portfolios with him, and he showed her many things. The one thing she seemed to love the most was that he had been all over the world at least twice. She had never seen much beyond the Puyehue Lake.

“There is so much to see,” she said after she closed his last book. “So much beauty.”

“Yes,” he answered, staring at her. “There is.”

Isidora found herself discomforted by his intensity. “Why do you look at me this way?”

“I have a hard time reading you,” he admitted. “That is one of my gifts. I can see into people. But it doesn’t work with other cryptids. I guess I shouldn’t expect it to work with you.”

She frowned. “What are you looking for?”

“Just… I don’t know. Further insight. I don’t know much about you.”

“So you try to read my mind instead of asking me?”

Cris smirked. “It’s how demons usually operate. It’s quicker.”

“We will be stuck in this room for more days, yes?”


She gave him a small, secretive smile. “Then that’s plenty of time for getting to know one another.”

His cool gaze flitted up to meet her fervent one. “Tell me,” he said, his voice husky. “If I were your Cherufe, what would you have given me?”

Isidora shifted on the bed so that she sat at the edge, one leg swinging down while the other tucked itself beneath her. “All of myself. I would have succumbed to you, and given into your fire.”

His eyes smoldered. “That’s a good answer.”

“You ache to serve a fire demon?” Cris sauntered toward her.

“I was chosen…” Her words were becoming mere whispers. Isidora reached out a hand to touch the hard contours of his abdomen when he reached her. “But perhaps a regular demon will have to do.”

His throaty chuckle made her grin.

Isidora undid the snap of his snug jeans. Slowly, her nimble fingers manipulated the zipper until the fabric parted to expose gleaming skin. She tugged the flaps aside and down, revealing his growing erection.

She began to caress him. It drew a hearty breath from deep within him.

What was once soft flesh quickly became iron in her grasp. And damn it, Cris felt himself already going saggy in the knees. Maybe it had been a while since he’d gotten laid. Or maybe he’d been thinking about this, for enough nights on the cold floor, that it coming to fruition was exactly what he needed at this point.
Who gives a fuck?
The temptress was running his sense aground.

Eventually the touch of her hands turned to a tender test with her mouth. Starting underside, Isidora wetly dragged her tongue from the head of his shaft down along to the base. There she swirled it in tiny, exact circles before cupping his sack for a kiss. After that, it was a lot of sloppy up and down work with her perfect little mouth. Drawing his member deep into the hot cave of her mouth before sucking back with precise expertise that had him hoarsely groaning out his approval.

Between long pulls she whispered hot things in her language that he didn’t understand and didn’t ask about. She could have been plotting to kill him for all he cared. As long as it was with pleasure, he wasn’t stopping her.

Soon, a niggling voice told the demon that he was being selfish, letting Isidora do all of the work. If she continued the fun would come to an abrupt halt, and he had no intention of letting her foreplay go unrewarded. With supreme effort he used his hips to pull back, and using the tip of his finger, he urged her toward him by her chin.

When she had risen on her knees to his eye level, he wiped her lips with the pad of his thumb. The bandit wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her soft body to his, but Cris was too impatient about getting her unclothed.

With hurried tugs and rips, soon the two of them were fully naked. They each took a moment to commit every sight to memory, looking their fill before their hands and mouths went wild once more. Isidora clamored to have him on top of her. She used as much strength as she could to pull him down onto the bed, legs splaying open so that their bodies could contour naturally.

“Please, don’t make me wait,” she begged of him.

Cris held her ample breasts in his hands as his mouth plucked and licked her nipples. He wanted to listen to her and bury himself snugly into her moist opening. But no—she would endure some of the teasing that he himself had to resist.

Looking down upon her with a wicked smile, Cris lifted her leg by the thigh with a hard grip. The action spread her legs even further apart, allowing his other hand to blaze a trail to her throbbing clitoris.

“But it’s so much fun,” he breathed hotly against her neck. His fingers twisted and pried, making her shudder beneath him. “Surely you don’t mean to make me stop.. .this…”

BOOK: Fire Licked
4.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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