(Anthology) Forever Read online





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  FOREVER

  An Ellora’s Cave Electronic Publication in association with authors:

  Marilyn Lee, Stephanie Burke, & Louisa Trent

  MS Reader (LIT) ISBN # 1-84360-142-7 Mobipocket (PRC) ISBN # 1-84360-146-X Other available formats (no ISBNs assigned): Adobe (PDF), Rocketbook (RB), & HTML

  Ellora’s Cave, Inc. of the USA, Ellora’s Cave, Ltd. of Scotland. All Rights Reserved.

  The Quest: Hunter’s Passion © Copyright Marilyn Lee, 2002.

  A Man Called Lust © Copyright Stephanie Burke, 2002.

  Touch Me © Copyright Louisa Trent, 2002.

  This book/e-book may not be reproduced in whole or in part by email forwarding, copying, fax, or any other mode of communication without author and publisher permission. To do so is a crime punishable by heavy fines and the confiscation of your computer.

  Edited by Cris Brashear & Martha Punches.

  WARNING:

  The following material contains strong sexual content meant for mature readers. FOREVER has been rated NC-17, erotic, by five individual reviewers. We strongly suggest storing this electronic file in a place where young readers not meant to view this e-book are unlikely to happen upon it. That said, enjoy…

  Touch Me

  © Louisa Trent, 2002.

  Prologue

  She came to him in delirium.

  Wrapped in the silvery robes of moonlight and nothing more, she whispered, “Touch me.”

  At the soft plea, John Hawk lifted his feverish head.

  The husky female voice was low and soothing, melodious in tone, a siren’s song he would recognize anywhere. Instinctively. It didn’t matter that his mind’s image of her was indistinct, that her features were undefined by memory; his knowledge of her was primal. He knew her the same way an animal knows the scent of his mate.

  Hawk pushed aside the fine mosquito netting that surrounded the cot and slid his naked body to the edge of the sweat-soaked mattress. He sat there, contemplating his precious hoard of matches.

  The supply was dwindling.

  Making up his mind, he reached for one and struck it against his nail. When it flared, he lighted the rusted kerosene lamp, turning the wick to low. By the faltering glow, he surveyed his squatter’s shack.

  Only one wavering shadow appeared on the patched tarpaper wall.

  Disappointment swamped him, though deep down inside he’d known she wouldn’t be waiting for him in the darkness.

  He was so bloody tired! Tired of having only the noises of the jungle for companionship. Tired of sleeping with only the illusion of her. He needed more; he needed to fuck her—

  Hawk untangled himself from the rumpled bedding, and carrying the lamp, dragged his feet across the tiny room. He collapsed a few steps later onto a surplus orange crate, his makeshift chair.

  The writing materials were also improvised: his paper was a piece of cloth torn from a faded shirt; his ink, the blood that flowed freely from his slashed left forearm; a sharp stick served as his pen; his lap did double-duty as his desk.

  He was aching. Trembling. Chilled to the bone. He didn’t know which was spiking more, his fever or his cock.

  A toss up, he decided, impatiently swatting a lank of blue-black hair out of his burning eyes and willing his erection away; he couldn’t compose a letter with a hard-on.

  But his brain, like his dick, refused to cooperate.

  His thoughts were disjointed. Chaotic. A scattered obsession, a confused compulsion, going round and round inside his head, faster and faster, spinning out of control, the jumbled mess circling in an unending loop that led…

  Nowhere. Absolutely nowhere.

  Except to her.

  The phantom half sentences, those ghostly phrases, wouldn’t take form. It was as though his brain’s circuitry was no longer connected to his hand—

  Shit! Why couldn’t he concentrate? Why couldn’t he get it to together? Why couldn’t he write the damned message?

  Because he was in tough shape, that’s why. His condition was worsening, he admitted to himself, no longer able to deny the truth. Since his escape from imprisonment, the episodes of illness were becoming progressively longer and closer together…

  But always, when he was at his weakest, the green-eyed witch would come to him, whispering, Touch me…

  He had no watch, no clock, but sometime between the darkness of a starless night and the hopelessness of an unforgiving dawn, his mind cleared. His thoughts converged and became orderly. Completely lucid, it came to him what he needed to say. Exactly. Precisely.

  Clamping his left hand over his right wrist, he forced his once dexterous gun-hand to move. He refused to give in until the words, those slippery phrases, took shape.

  The individual red letters were barely legible: Abrupt slashes. Twisted circles. Misshapen dots of ink-blood spilled across the scrap of cloth. Some words stuck to invisible lines; some hung suspended.

  The result was grotesque. Obscene. Anyone reading the message would think a raving lunatic had given substance to the words.

  And they’d be dead right.

  Only a friggin’ nut would write this letter, since there was no way in this hell to post it:

  Witchy-woman,

  A wild raptor trembles on the branch, his plumage broken.

  Flight is impossible; the sky is too far away.

  Will you catch the bird before he falls?

  SOSays, Accipiter

  Exhausted, Hawk extinguished the small nub of brightness. He gave himself over to the darkness…and to the ungentle courtship of his hand.

  He fisted his cock, his fingers jerking up and down the hard length. Just like the devil’s own magic, he saw her once again.

  She was golden fair, as beautiful as any cherished dream he’d ever had and lost. When she opened her arms to him, she glowed pale and unadorned. And he knew she was his.

  For once.

  For always.

  Catherine.

  Chapter One

  Catherine Covington hurried towards the Common, her long russet skirts whipping around her ankles.

  This was the first day of dress rehearsals at Pilgrim Village, a historically accurate reproduction of an early seventeenth century farming community, and she didn’t want to be late.

  Dressed in a plain but heavy English yeoman’s gown, her feet sturdily booted in black leather, she raced along the packed dirt lanes, shivering against the cold despite the warmth of her winter wool cape.

  The opening season at The Village began the fifteenth of March. As this was the first of February, there were no curious stares, no tourists begging her to hold still while they snapped her photo, no million questions in search of an answer.

  Catherine wasn’t very good at answering personal questions, but as the ‘first-person’ historical interpreter of midwife and healer, Euphremia Catherine Prim, she was take-no-prisoners kick ass…

  Er…that is to say, she was most excellent.

  As she recreated Mistress Prim’s daily life, Catherine was well used to questions and stares and photo ops. She could stay in character, maintaining her period accent as well as her dignified poise under the closest scrutiny, even when the rudest comments were made.

  Head down, Catherine rushed through the Common’s m