Love is the greatest shape shifter of all.
Love can be humanity's greatest strength -- or our biggest weakness.
The poet William Blake knew this, and for the longest time I felt as though I'd been born into his Endless Night, my life destined for eternal misery. Tragedy stalked me with the persistence of an insatiable tiger: the death of my mother, my mistaken belief I had caused the death of my partner, Detective Mal Blake, the betrayal by Anton, my lover of three years, and his subsequent death at the hands of a demon of the worst sort.
But then, out of nowhere, Mal returned to me, and with him came Tommy, a divinely beautiful shifter. For almost half a year we've been inseparable, a threesome in every meaning of the word.
My name is Ciara Callaghan. I'm a cop, and I thought I'd seen love from both sides, seen both the best and the worst it can do.
I was wrong.
The worst is yet to come.
Publisher's Note: Although this story can be read as a standalone, the characters were first introduced in Endless Night, then appeared in Realm of Night. The books are understood best when read sequentially.
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Sweet Delight (Protect and Serve)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2013 Mikala Ash
I used to love poetry. Now I don't trust poets as far as I can spit.
They tantalize us with seemingly profound thoughts and evocative images, beguiling us, fooling us into believing they know something about the human condition. Now I think they are as ignorant and scared as the rest of us, arranging their pretty words not to reveal the secrets of life, but to quell their own deep disquiet.
I wondered, as I gazed at Tommy's lacerated chest, what would the poets make of that? My eyes lingered on his erect cock with barely controlled lust. He was beautiful, not just physically, but spiritually as well. He was an honorable man, brave, thoughtful and wise in a nerdy way. I was so lucky to have him in my life. That he lay there so close to death broke my heart.
I guess the poets have expended many words on the subject of broken hearts, but to me, at that moment they were just empty platitudes.
Since I was a little girl my favorite poet has been William Blake, mainly because of his references to animals, "Tyger Tyger" and all that. Not a surprising choice for a shifter, and his words had seduced me with their hints of dark and mysterious knowledge. He was deeply spiritual, and the religious underpinnings of his writing escape me, but I sometimes wondered if he was a shifter himself. He seemed to have an affinity with wild creatures, and for most of my life I believed he knew our souls.
For the longest time I'd felt as though I'd been born into his Endless Night; my life destined for eternal misery. Tragedy stalked me with the persistence of an implacable tiger: the violent death of my mother, my mistaken belief I had caused Mal's death, the betrayal by Anton, my lover of three years, and his subsequent death at the hands of a demon of the worst sort. But then, out of nowhere, Mal had returned to me, and with him came Tommy, this divinely beautiful shifter.
I dragged my eyes away from his beautiful but tortured body, and tried to think more positive thoughts.
Never in my life had I known such happiness. That I could attract the love of two exceptional men had not been in my stars; not by a long shot. Sure, we'd been busy killing demons along the width and breadth of the entire country, but we always found time for passion, and we often joked we were "fucking like demons." It kept us sane. I thought my life had turned around, and I'd been blessed with the poet's blessed state of Sweet Delight.
Then, slowly at first, things began to change. Mal became distant, quiet and secretive, so that sometimes it felt like just me and Tommy, though there were three of us in the bed. His participation in our lovemaking lacked enthusiasm. Sure, his cock was hard when I sucked him, and when I climbed on top he went through the motions, but no longer with the passion I'd craved for the three years he'd been gone. It was as if he was somewhere else, thinking thoughts that Tommy and I could not share.
That widening gulf between us hurt like a claw raking through my breast.
Mal had been more and more distant in the fortnight before we'd tracked down Sheldon Hicks. Since the battle in the warehouse, I'd hardly seen Mal. He was out hunting demons, and no, I couldn't go with him. Someone had to stay and watch Tommy.
I gazed at Tommy's torn flesh. He'd been ripped open from neck to crotch. There'd been so much blood. The sound of my own screams, begging Mal to help him, still echoed in my dreams.
After Mal had dispatched the demon, he'd seen us, and with effortless strength, he'd scooped us up into his arms and carried us to our car. He'd driven us to Doctor Fraser, the so-called "shifter healer" who'd originally saved Tommy years ago when Mal, then a humble detective, had found him lying by the side of the road.
Doctor Fraser had patched him up this time as well, and after a week where Tommy's life had hung in the balance, he'd let us bring him home.
That was three weeks ago.
Watching him made me think of how scared I was he would die, how alone I would be if he left me. Each moment was so precious. It mirrored the abject despair I'd experienced when I'd thought Mal was dead.
I thought about all the time we'd been together... a short six months... so many moments joined together. Like knots tied in a piece of string, one thought led to another, and inevitably turned to memories of my mother. She'd been a tortured soul, and we were always on the run from something. I was born in Louisiana, spent my infant days on a tuna boat in the Pacific, happily raised in Australia, and then returned to the United States when I was ten after Mother's brutal murder. Apparently one of her adventures on the wrong side of the law had gone seriously wrong.
Now Mal was distant, and Tommy was so badly injured, I wanted this all to be over. I wanted to be happy again, like I'd been on the golden Australian beaches...