“Annie,” Luke’s voice sounded thick. “I’m not much of a talking kind of guy but there are some things I need to tell you.”
“M’hmm,” she moaned and closed her eyes. This was definitely a dream. She’d twice now had the best sex of her life with a man who touched her in ways she couldn’t have explained were she stupid enough to try. Said amazing sex-god-man had brought along a gorgeous friend and didn’t mind sharing. She was stretched out in his arms feeling the warm sun, smelling the sweet grass and reveling in the lazy delights of after-glow. Now he wanted to talk? Damn was her subconscious working overtime.
“You need to know two things, up front,” his voice sounded serious. She shook off the lazy fatigue and tried to concentrate. “First, I care for you.” The words were accompanied by a soft brush of fingers across her cheek. “There’s something about you, Annie. I can’t explain why just yet but when I’m with you I feel…” His voice trailed off.
“Complete.” She offered the word and held her breath.
His voice held a hint of laughter, “Complete. Whole. Yes, my love. That’s it exactly.”
“I feel that way too,” she pressed her lips to his skin as she spoke. Her mind screamed out the words her heart had been repeating since the first time she’d looked into his eyes. If only you were real.
His arms tightened for a second then he turned so that he could look down at her. His kiss warmed her body but it only fueled the cold ache of regret that had seized her heart. He wasn’t real.
His next words came only after he’d lifted her chin to force her to look into his eyes. “This is going to be hard for you to believe but promise me you’ll try.” She nodded silently and waited to see what her dream man would say next. “Annie, this is a dream but I’m not. I’m real. Tarris is real. We exist outside your dreams.”
She closed her eyes and shook her head. Her mind was certainly good at this game. He was telling her just what she wanted to hear at exactly the right moment. She opened her eyes and looked into his. “I wish you were, my darling. I really wish you were.”
“I am. I’m real. My name is Lucas Ursine. I was born in Paris. I graduated from Princeton longer ago than I care to admit, or than you’d believe. I have a degree in architecture but pretty much I spend my time rehabbing old houses in run down neighborhoods. I love the winter because the cold snowy weather is the perfect time to curl up with someone warm and be lazy. I’m the younger of a set of twins. I drive a red pick-up truck, I listen to country music when I’m alone but heavy metal when I’m not because it annoys my brother—the king of easy listening.”
A soft snorting laugh reminded her they were not alone. “Mark is so going to kick your ass when I tell him.”
“Mark is your brother?” Anna was astonished at the complexity of the fantasy. Astonished and a little frightened. Had the disease finally progressed to her mind? She should have a few more years before that happened. Usually the lungs gave out before the dementia took hold.
“Yes.” She caught the dark look he flashed to Tarris who stood up. He was mysteriously wearing the buckskin pants from earlier. He walked away from them as if to give them privacy or to avoid Luke’s glare, she wasn’t sure which.
“If you’re real as you say you are, how is it you’re in my dream? People can’t just pop into other’s dreams.” Unless they’re incubi. The incubus could do exactly that. Her eyes flew to Tarris.
“Yes,” Luke toyed with a lock of her hair. “I told you the truth. Tarris is a friend of mine. He’s an incubus.”
“He doesn’t look like an incubus, Luke,” she started to reason.
“Seen a lot of them have you,” he teased.
“No, I’ve never seen one before,” she admitted. But she damned sure knew what they looked like.
“Even if you had, Tarris wouldn’t look like what you’d expect. He’s never known the hunger and desperation that drives them to the darkness. He’s never hunted, never tasted an unwilling person. There are rules he follows and those rules keep him sane and safe. They also keep him from transforming completely.” Luke glanced over toward his friend.
Anna looked at the man trying to see him but saw only a subtle shifting, a darkening of his skin for only the briefest of moments.
“Annie?” Luke spoke her name with an anxious tension. “Annie do you believe me? Do you believe I’m real?”
“I don’t know,” she whispered. “If you’re real, why have you only come to me in dreams?”
“The first time I was as surprised as you,” his dark brown eyes gazed down at her intently. “This time… Well, I didn’t know who you were. I needed Tarris to help me find you.”
She watched his face. She wanted to believe him but couldn’t. “Prove it to me. If you are real, you’ll be there when I wake up.”
Luke frowned slightly and turned to look at Tarris who stood watching the water cascading down over the rocks.
“It is possible.” Tarris turned the startling blue gaze on her. “I’m with you now in your room, Anna. I’m sitting on the edge of your bed. I can drop you into a dreamless sleep and when you wake, Luke will be there. But once I do, there is no going back. Neither of you can hide who you are from the other. Each will know the other’s secrets.”
The ominous words chilled Anna but she felt Luke’s chest vibrate with laughter. “Shit, you sound more like a fortune cookie every day. Keep talking like that and someone’s going to make you an Oracle.”
A smile stretched across Tarris’ face. He looked at Anna and shrugged. “All right but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Perhaps appropriately, I received the first round of edits today on the third book in the Jewels of Ursus trilogy, Soul Stone. In Soul Stone, Tarris gets his story told. He wasn't as forthcoming as Luke and it took me much longer to get his tale out of him. As an incubus, he has more than a few secrets to keep. Soul Stone also tells the real story of what happened the night Jonas Ursine, the youngest of the Ursine's died. His death was what caused the rift between Mark and Luke.
As usual my editor, H, made it absolutely painless. She's wonderful like that even if she does seem to have this unnatural aversion to prepositions.
I hope you find yourself interested in learning more about my Bears.