A Perfect Man for Christmas

 

Fancy-Line

I undertook this project with eleven awesome authors.  It was a challenge to follow the story then come up with the next series of events for my assigned day,  Nine Ladies Dancing.  The original was posted to on several blogs for a blog hop.  Here is the entire story.  Enjoy!

Fancy-Line

 

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Fancy-Line

First Day of Christmas: Laurie Olerich

Christmas was coming, but Wynter wasn’t feeling festive. She was in-between men at the moment–and not in a kinky, sweaty threesome kind of way. Oh, she’d had dry spells before. That wasn’t a problem–usually. It was the timing that was problematic. This was a special year. The sun and moon and stars were aligned just so. Most women survived the holidays in spite of their single status. She was not most women. No. She most certainly was not. Leaning forward with a satin pillow clutched to her chest, she nibbled the tip of one claw and searched for an answer.

There had to be a way out of this mess. She really liked her head attached to her body.

Before a plan presented itself, her phone rang, sending a shiver down her spine.

It was him. Right on schedule.

As the church bells tolled the hour of midnight, Wynter arched her back, rocking her pelvis to match the furious rhythm of the man kneeling between her thighs. With his shaggy head flung back, neck straining with effort, he dug his fingers into her hips as he slammed into her with a shout just as her muscles contracted and she shattered around him with a cry of her own. As their breathing settled to something close to normal, Michael leaned forward to drag his mouth across her belly, dropping soft kisses over the newly inked tat that graced her hipbone.

“Sexy. I like that you’ve used my sigil.” His green eyes smoldered with passion as he traced the intricate symbol with the tip of his tongue. Nipping playfully, he held her impaled on his cock, shaking his head at her frown as she tried to move away.

“You say that like I had a choice. This was your order. I would’ve preferred a hummingbird.” She stopped squirming and bit her lower lip as his cock hardened for another round. With a mind of its own, her pussy twitched in welcome.

Come on in, big boy!

Love him? Hate him? It didn’t matter. Her body wanted him anytime. Anyplace. They’d been down this road more times than she could count. It wasn’t healthy, but who was she to argue? Her family’s future depended on keeping this creature happy. If she had to let him give her a screaming orgasm every now and then, she’d have to make that sacrifice. Taking one for the team… As if sensing her surrender, he let his mouth curl into a rare smile that promised pleasure.

Her tongue played along her lower lip as she met his stare with a challenge in her eyes. He was beautiful. No one could say otherwise. His smoky green eyes stripped her defenses to leave her naked and wanting. Her sisters said he could see into your soul. Maybe he could. Rumor had it he wasn’t human. Human or not, he was impossible to resist.

“We’re almost out of time, Wynter. Are you ready for me?”

Without breaking her gaze, she trailed a fingertip across the flushed skin of his throat and turned his chin downward. “I’m always ready for you.”

“Good girl.” He flashed his smile one last time before turning her around so she knelt on her knees. Clutching her hips close, he began to move with long, slow strokes that filled her to the good side of pain. She didn’t bother to smother the moan that escaped. God, he feels so good. To hell with Christmas. She tilted her hips to take him even deeper and gasped as his cock brushed that sweet spot deep inside. Closing her eyes, she shut out everything but the coiling pleasure in her belly. There’d be time for regret tomorrow.

Thirty minutes later, they lay sprawled in a tangle of tanned arms and long legs, too exhausted to move, not really awake, but not totally asleep. Craving one last touch, she tucked her face into his shoulder and drifted off.

“Don’t forget it’s your turn to bring a man this year.” His husky tone softened the threat in his words but it was impossible to miss.

She’d comply with his wishes or she’d beg for death. “Yeah, yeah. Beg for death. I–”

With eyes gleaming in the dim light, he pressed his mouth to her ear. “Don’t test me, Wynter. You know the rules. Bring the man.”

All righty then. So much for the afterglow.

She had her orders. She would find the perfect man and bring him to Christmas dinner. That’s the story she’d tell Mr. Perfect when she found him.

The truth was so much worse.

When she eased awake the next morning, Michael was nowhere in sight. Even the indention of his head on the pillow was gone. She brought her fingers to her nose and breathed deeply, searching for some hint of his scent. Nothing. As usual, there was not a single trace of his presence. It was as if he didn’t exist at all.

Except this time, he’d left a note on the nightstand.

This could not possibly be good.

Go to the courtyard.

Using the sheet as a sarong, torn between excitement and fear, she padded through the house until she came to the French doors that led to the frozen gardens of the courtyard.

Closing her eyes against the painful site, she groaned, “He didn’t.”

There, in the center of the tiny courtyard, stood a tree.

A pear tree to be exact. And in that tree huddled a partridge. One sad, lonely, fat partridge. The bird’s head swiveled in her direction; it’s beady eyeball zeroing in on her.

“And so it begins.”

Second Day of Christmas: Elaine Barris

Michael crunched through the ice and snow on the sidewalk as he made his way to the beast of a car sitting in Wynter’s driveway. His cock twitched at the memory of being inside her tight heat. She belonged to him as much as the 12 cylinder. If she didn’t already know he owned her, she would by the time this holiday was over.

“Fucking right, she will,” he growled and punched the car to life.

He eased himself back into the seat, flinching at the pain of where she had laced her talons down his back in passion as she writhed in undulating waves of orgasmic bliss. His flesh had mended enough to not be bleeding in rivers, but it stung.

His phone chimed in his pocket, and he drew it out, looking at the name displayed.

“Yeah? What do you want?”

“Where do I deliver the package?”

The sound of chirping and flapping birds was in the background.

“What the fuck do you mean ‘where do you deliver the package?’”

“What?” Gustav yelled.

Michael held the phone away from his ear before yelling back, “Where do you think you’re supposed to deliver it?”

“There’s no address listed on the shipping label.”

“I’m surrounded by fucking idiots!”

“Michael, sir, I– ”

“Forget it! Like everything else in this operation, I have to do this myself. Leave it where it is, and I’ll take care of it.”

He tossed the phone onto the passenger seat, and shifted into reverse, muttering to himself about the lack of good help.

Minutes later, he maneuvered the growling car up the ramp into the warehouse where he kept his business. Shifting into park, he threw the car door open with such force it bounced back, slamming him inside before he had moved to get out.

“Goddamn it.”

Gustav came running up to the car. Feathers were stuck to his face and hands; a few quills were between the rims of his glasses and head.

After opening the door more gently, Michael got out of the car and faced his inept employee.

“What the fuck happened?”

“They got out, sir.”

“How the hell did that happen?”

“I don’t know, sir, but they are trapped inside your office. We were able to seal the room.”

Throwing his fingers through his hair, Michael tapped his boots on the concrete floor as he thought about what a clusterfuck he was in. If he didn’t get those damned winged creatures back into the birdcage and delivered, there’d be hell to pay.

He turned his head to look towards his office, seeing the birds sitting on his coat rack in the corner.

Maybe this would be easier than he thought.

“Come on.” He pointed across the room to the golden contraption they had somehow escaped. “Bring it with you.”

Stalking over to the room, he stopped when he took hold of the door knob and looked behind him at Gustav.

“On the count of three.”

Gustav nodded and a few feathers fell from his clothes to the ground.

Michael went through the countdown, and then opened the door with his lackey at his heels.

“What the–” Michael said as his feet slipped out from underneath him, and he fell backwards, taking Gustav to the floor with him. “Shut the door!” he yelled as the birds saw their opening and took flight.

The latch closed before the two turtle doves were able to find their escape.

The men got up, and Michael raised his hands in front of his face and cursed, seeing them covered in the white slime of the birds’ excrement.

“Oh, dear.” Gustav handed him his handkerchief, and Michael grabbed it, wiping his hands as he looked at the dotted floor.

“Open the cage.”

Michael lunged at the nearest bird, taking it by its feet as it fought him to not be confined. Thrusting its squawking body inside the cage, Michael locked it in, and then went to battle the other.

That one was crafty and flew through air, dodging the men’s attempts to capture it.

“Stop,” Michael ordered, and then they waited for the winged menace to settle down.

When it did, it landed on Gustav’s head and started pecking his scalp.

“Ow!” Gustav jerked at the pain of the pricks into his skin as pieces of his hair were plucked out.

“Don’t you fucking move.” Michael avoided looking the dove in the eyes as he waited until the perfect moment.

“Sir.”

“Shut up.”

Then the bird began to coo in a serenade of love to its partner who was locked up.

“That’s right,” Michael whispered, and in a flash of motion, snatched the bird by the neck from the nest it had been making out of Gustav’s tresses and thrust it into the cage.

Lifting it by the handle, he took it to Gustav’s vehicle.

“Give me your keys. I’m not letting these things shit all over my leather.”

“Yes, sir,” he replied and handed them over.

Michael sat the birds in the truck’s passenger seat, securing it by latching the seatbelt around it. After getting into the driver’s seat and starting up the engine, he rolled the window down for fresh air.

“Wynter had better find ‘the man’ after all of this. I did my part. Found the two fucking turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree.”

Third Day of Christmas: Kitten K. Jackson

I cannot disappoint Michael. Hmmm… Where to find the man… Where does anyone find a guy? If I knew the answer to that, I wouldn’t be single!

Along with finding a man for the ceremony, Wynter was also responsible for bringing three French hens to her mother’s house for Christmas dinner. The contrast between the two duties made her giggle at the absurdity of it all.

Cooking? Really? And why do they need to be French? What difference does it make? A chicken is a freakin’ chicken, right? “Don’t forget to save and bring the broth!” What does that even mean? What the hell is broth?

After a shower and a primping session, she went to her closet and took out a short black dress and her favorite boots, which had four-inch heels. Once she was completely dressed, minus panties, she posed in front of her full-length mirror. She leaned over, adjusting her bra, bringing all the weight of her breasts forward. When she stood, she admired their fullness. She tugged at the plunging neckline, exposing as much of her cleavage as possible.

The hard part is finding him. Hooking him will be easy.

Wynter decided to go to a club where the men would be primed and ready for the taking. As she entered the building and paid her cover, she felt eyes upon her. One intense blue pair caught her attention. They belonged to a tall man with black hair who wore his jeans, dark t-shirt, and black leather jacket like a boss. The way his gaze roamed her body said all she needed to know.

She gave him a sexy grin and a wink. She then turned and walked toward the bar. Before she could order, he was beside her.

“Put her drink on my tab, Joe.”

“You got it.”

“Thanks. I’ll have a rum and Coke, please.”

“What’s your name, gorgeous?”

“Well, it’s not gorgeous. It’s Wynter. But thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I’m Wes.”

After finding a table, sitting down, finishing her drink, and engaging in a few minutes of small talk, Wynter placed her hand on Wes’s thigh. His impassioned stare left nothing to the imagination.

“Come on,” she said.

Without hesitation, or even saying a word, he stood and followed her. She grasped his hand as she led him out the door and into the parking lot. She practically ran around to the back of the building with him on her heels.

When she stopped, he grabbed her and covered her mouth with his full wet lips, while his arms went around her waist, and his hands groped her with abandon. Her hand moved to his crotch and found proof of his lust for her—he was like granite.

“You want me, don’t you?”

“You know I do,” he said between hot breaths. “Am I hard enough for you? Big enough?”

“Oh, you’ll do just fine.”

He looked around and saw the vehicles belonging to the employees at the club. He walked her backwards toward one of the older cars, and then he lifted her, placing her on the hood. She leaned back on her elbows as he lifted her legs, spreading them apart and diving between them. She watched as he feasted upon her, knowing she had found the right man.

He will do just fine indeed.

As his tongue worked her clit, two fingers slid inside and out, then back in again, taking her even higher. Within a couple of minutes, she grasped hands full of his hair above his ears, pulling him closer into her. He moaned at her fervor as she cried out her orgasm.

When her breathing began to slow, he moved up and slipped his tongue into her mouth. Her own taste and scent drove her mad with desire for him, but she was on a mission, and it had to come first.

Pulling away from his luscious mouth, she looked into those eyes—ones she thought could have power over her if she allowed it, rather than the other way around.

“I need you,” he said.

“Oh, don’t I know it? I need you, too, lover. But there’s something I need more than your cock right now.”

“What?”

His mind was muddled by the lack of blood flow to his brain. The thought of anything other than slamming into her wet and hungry core was of no interest to him.

“It’s important, Wes. I need a favor.”

“I’ll do anything you want. Anything,” he said, as he lowered the zipper on his jeans. “But I need to be inside you.”

“No. I’ll let you have me any way you want me, but first, you must come with me to a very special Christmas dinner.”

“What are you talking about? I want you bad, baby, but I’m not doing the holiday family thing.”

“No! It’s not like that. Not a family thing.”

“Whatever. Yeah, I’ll go with you.”

“You have to give me your word before I take care of you.”

“I said I would go!”

She reached down and grabbed his cock while flashing a wicked grin. His excitement showed in his features when she eased off the hood of the car and went to her knees on the concrete.

She took him into her mouth, caressing him with her tongue while gently rubbing his balls. She got him off in no time. She then swallowed and stood, wiping her mouth.

“Okay, let’s go.”

Nervously avoiding eye contact, he said, “Baby, I’m sorry, but a friend came here with me tonight, and I can’t leave him without a ride.”

“He can take a cab.”

“I can’t do that to him.”

“We have a deal!”

“Sorry but thanks. It was awesome.”

Pressing her body against his, she glared into his eyes while fighting to keep her claws from appearing.

“You will go with me, or you will die right here, right now.”

Fourth Day of Christmas: Rebecca Royce

Michael stared at the scene in front of him and wished he could laugh. Only he’d lost his sense of humor sometime in the last century and had yet to see it return. He rubbed at his chin and looked at his secretary. It was so hard to find good help and so far Trixie had been an excellent employee. But, of course, the first time he asked her to do something complicated he ended up…well…he wasn’t entirely sure where he’d ended up just yet.

Where he wanted to be was inside Wynter’s thighs, grinding her to completion until she called out his name, coming again and again, until she never thought about another male for the rest of her existence–Until she forgot there was such a thing as other men.

“I asked you for four calling birds.”

“Yes.” Sixty year old Trixie with her arthritic knee and back pains—she did like to talk about them—rocked back on her heels. “But it turns out, sir, there is no such thing, really, as a calling bird.”

There had to be. He shook his head. He still didn’t understand exactly why he was looking at the scene in front of him. “I’m sure if we… what is the word… Google it. We can find out what a calling bird is.”

“That is exactly what I did. And it turns out that there are two distinct meanings to the words ‘calling bird.’ I wasn’t exactly sure which one you wanted so I brought both. This seemed like the best place to show you.”

Well, now, at last an explanation. He walked forward. The basement of his office building wasn’t exactly the place to run into problems. Too many civilians running around and although his enemies might claim otherwise, he really wasn’t in the business of killing for no good reason.

“I see the birds. You have four of them. In that cage.” He couldn’t believe how much of the damned rhyme required some kind of poultry. So far he was up to his neck in the creatures. Everywhere he looked, something was squawking.

Trixie moved to stand next to him. “Right. The translation most people subscribe to is that ‘calling birds’ is actually an Americanized version of the word colly birds. Some places that’s actually what they say. They’re, as you can see, black like soot. Hence the name, I guess. But they’re really thrushes even though they look like blackbirds. They’re actually not. Getting them here proved challenging, but as you can see, I was up to the task.”

The thrush took that second to chirp at him. Loudly. It didn’t like being in the cage any more than he wanted it in his basement. Particularly after the incident earlier with the two doves. Filthy creatures had tried to go at it right then and there. He shuddered at the memory.

If he wasn’t regularly getting any, the means of his messages shouldn’t be either. Damn it.

“That all makes sense.” He pointed forward at the problem she still hadn’t addressed. “What I don’t understand is why there are four clearly drugged men in my basement, half naked.”

“Sir, I really wanted to do a good job.”

He needed a stiff drink. “I’m aware of that. Get to the point.”

“There are multiple interpretations of the rhyme. Some people say it doesn’t mean birds at all. But that the term ‘four calling birds’ actually refers to the Evangelists. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. So I found you some. The one over there is Mark.”

He followed where she pointed. Mark was a stout fellow with dark hair and piercings on his nipples. Matthew, who she told him sat next to Mark, was blond. He’d guess on the early side of twenty-five. Luke, all the way to the right, he would put in his early forties although being

completely bald could make it hard to tell. And John was somewhere in his thirties with just the beginnings of a gut showing.

“You’ll note that in each of their laps I’ve placed a copy of their gospels, in case you wanted to refer to it.”

No. He certainly—most assuredly—did not want to read their gospels. Bile rose in his throat, and he pushed away his angst.

“Trixie, what did you drug these men with, and where did you find them?”

“They answered an ad looking to have an affair. I rented an apartment for the meet and greets. Took two days to get all the names covered. And they’re shot up on some good old- fashioned heroin.”

Michael shook his head and gritted his teeth. So apparently he was going to have to bury some bodies. Four—no, he looked at Trixie—five of them.

Terrible when one’s secretary picked this time of year to show her psychotic tendencies. He wouldn’t have minded seeing it around…the Ides of March. Did she have to do this now?

Although he had to give her credit–She’d been creative. In a million years he never would have expected to have a Matthew, Luke, John, and Mark drugged in his basement. Michael laughed, covering his mouth. Well there it was.

His sense of humor. Back for a brief second.

Wynter had better be finding them the absolute perfect man for Christmas. Although he supposed he could drop her off one of the four tied up and see if she liked one.

No, he smiled. Better she find her own guy.

“Trixie, where did I put my shovel?”

Fifth Day of Christmas: Elle Boon

Wynter barely kept herself from ending the man standing in front of her with a slash of her talons. A sound behind them alerted her to the approaching group of partygoers. “You are a man who does not keep his word. For that, you will not find satisfaction again unless it is with your one true love.” She let her magic flow into him, knowing he had no clue he’d just been dealt a proverbial cockblock.

“Whatever. You got off. I got off. I say we are even.” He turned away, stumbling into the wall on unsteady feet.

She decided the night had been a bust, but her body burned for fulfillment. Goddess, she wished for the green-eyed Michael. Shaking thoughts of him out of her mind, she headed toward the front of the club to catch a cab. There had to be a way–an easier way–to find the perfect man for her to bring. She’d look in the Book.

Laughing as she thought of the Christmas tale and why she hadn’t thought of it before. Five golden rings, and it had been five days, which now leads her to the Book–the sacred tome her family had kept as a diary of sorts throughout history. Surely if there was help to be had, it was in there.

“I need you to take me to the Warehouse District downtown.” She gave the cabbie the address. He eyed her up and down through the mirror. Probably thinking she was a hooker in her club outfit. She kept her thighs together, not wanting him to get a peek at her panty-less state.

When she sat back, crossing her legs, she had no doubt he was hoping he’d get a glimpse. Wynter gave him a frosty glare. Michael would be able to help decipher some of the old text in the Book, and help her with her other problem.

A shiver of awareness and need worked its way over her flesh at the image of a naked Michael. Wynter hadn’t been paying attention to the passing scenery and was surprised to find the cabbie hadn’t taken her to the address she’d requested.

She rolled her eyes. “Excuse me. This isn’t the location I asked to be taken to.” Seriously, she wondered if her luck could get any worse.

“Listen, I know you’re a working girl. What’s your rate?”

Wynter laughed. “Darling, you can’t afford me. However, if you put the car in gear and take me where I requested, I will let you live.” The threat wasn’t empty. She allowed her talons to lengthen, letting him see the black claws.

“What the…what are you?”

“I am a client who you picked up and asked you to take somewhere. Now, take me where you were supposed to.” She sat back, her gaze fierce. “Don’t make me hurt you. The mess would be traumatizing for the both of us.”

He swallowed audibly, his pudgy face a deep shade of red, which was better than the deathly white he’d become when she’d had to flash her talons. Wynter swore the world was becoming nothing but idiots.

As the cab came to a stop outside the location of Michael’s office building, she was disappointed to find it dark inside. She’d been sure he’d be there. The man practically lived at his offices.

“Fuck me running.”

“Not on your life.” The cabbie glared at her from the front.

Wynter rolled her eyes but spoke to him as if he was a child, which most men like him were. “Even if you were the last man on earth I wouldn’t screw you. Now, take me home.” She rattled

off her address, already knowing she was going to put a spell on him. She couldn’t allow him to do to another woman what he’d try to do to her. The thought that some defenseless person would fall into a trap like he’d tried with her made anger burn in her veins.

When he stopped outside her home, the sound of the locks popping instantaneously was almost comical. Keeping her breathing even, she thought of the right words to say so the spell would take hold and last forever. She let her power out, a whip of lasting words lashed him. He jerked as if hit by a force much greater than a tornado whipping through the small vehicle. Satisfaction curled her lips when he slumped in his seat breathing hard.

“You will never harm another. Goodbye, little man.” Wynter tossed a twenty dollar bill into the front seat.

She hoped she found something within the Five Golden Rings tome that would help her in finding the perfect man. Her body still burned from unfulfilled desire, and she cursed the fact Michael wasn’t where he should have been. Her night had started with such promise.

“Gah, how did my life become such a dang mess?” Shedding her clothes on the way to her bedroom, she had a quick shower before flopping into bed naked. The cool sheets on her still overheated flesh did nothing to ease her.

The Sixth Day of Christmas: Elizabeth SaFleur

Michael dusted off his pants and stepped back to admire his work. Unless you looked carefully, you couldn’t tell the earth floor of his basement had ever been disturbed or that a grave had ever been dug. He’d let the four men stumble out of his house, still reeling from Trixie’s heroin doses. But, Trixie? He’d had enough of her tricks.

He set the shovel against the wall and climbed the stairs to the first floor. He needed a drink. He had time for a few, actually, before Trixie rose again. She hated when he did this – buried her to teach her a lesson. She’d claw her way out, a string of curses getting louder with each shovel full of dirt she moved. By the time she pulled herself out, he’d have cracked opened a bottle of her favorite champagne, Piper Heidsiec, as a peace offering. More, louder curses would follow her stomping up the rickety cellar steps.

“Wipe your feet at the doorway,” he’d yell. “The maids don’t come for a few days.”

She’d curse more in her Old Norse language. But she always, always wiped her feet.

In the old days, after she consumed the full magnum—by herself—they might have a hate fuck. Just to seal the deal that he didn’t really mean to kill her. Lately he hadn’t felt like sinking himself into anyone but Wynter.

How was she doing? She better be finding that perfect man . . .

A sound from the basement stopped his thoughts dead. Yep, he heard a distinct rustle underneath his floorboards. Trixie was getting close. He dunked her well-deserved champagne in the ice bucket and grabbed his keys. He didn’t feel like their usual reunion. Rather, he couldn’t shake the image of Wynter, and her round hip decorated with his sigil.

My mark.

Wynter was likely in some bar luring some man to his sure death—or the greatest pleasure he might ever know. Michael angrily slammed his car door shut. The clock read close to midnight. She might be home by now. Nah, finding the perfect man takes time, and she had only six days left. Ticktock, my feisty Wynter.

He pulled out of his drive, needing some time to think. He was only a mile from home when he had to slam on the brakes. His headlights illuminated a family of geese. What was with all the birds tonight? Everywhere he turned, something with feathers flapped at him.He punched his horn. The stupid poultry creatures didn’t move from the road. Rather they craned their necks and gawked at him with beady eyes. One of the geese squatted lower. A white oval object rolled from underneath its butt. Laying eggs? In the middle of the f-ing road? He chuckled to himself. Six geese a layin’. Hmmm. It was a sign? Eggs were a sign of resurrection and of life. A dose of unwelcomed sentimentality washed over him.

“Wynter, you must succeed,” he said, as if his words might be carried on the wind.
He drove a wide circle around the silly birds. Fifteen minutes later, he lurched into an empty parking space in front of Wynter’s place.If she wasn’t home, it meant she was out doing her duty. Good.

If she was home, he’d take her again and again. Even better.

Wynter lurched herself to sitting. Someone had breached her room; Michael’s silhouetted form filled the doorway. She fell backwards into her pillows. “What. Are. You. Doing. Here?” she asked, staring the ceiling.

“The question is what are you doing here? Find him so soon?”

She leaned up on her elbows. “I’ll have you know I found quite a few tonight. I’ve decided to raise my standards, however.”

He drew closer to her bed and snapped his fingers. The candle by her bed illuminated and sent light into his green eyes. “Oh?” His lazy tone irritated, almost as much as the growing arousal between her legs.

“Yes, I might bring two this year.”

He chuckled lightly. “One will suffice, Wynter. You always were insatiable.”

“That’s calling the kettle black, don’t you think? Why are you here anyway?” She was in no mood for more mystery. Her family’s Five Golden Rings tome may have cured her of ambiguities forever.

“Why do you think?” The zip of his belt through his trouser loops went straight to her clit.

“No.”

“Excuse me, what did you say?” He leaned over her body, his breath warming her skin.

Damn him. “I said, no, let me undress you.” Why not sate her appetite on him? She couldn’t let the night be a complete bust.

He straightened. “Good girl.”

She dropped the sheet and revealed her nude form. When his emerald eyes widened, a flush of heat warmed her skin. She enjoyed affecting Michael as much as she enjoyed the arousal he arose in her.

Before she had a chance to shed him of his trousers, he’d pulled his shirt over his head. Eager boy, she whispered to herself.

As he lowered himself into her spread legs, a moan escaped her lips. Yes, this is what she wanted tonight. Someone who knew what he was doing. When he pitched deeply into her, she cried out from the sheer pleasure of him filling her.

“So far, this is my favorite present of yours.” She clamped her inner muscles around his thick cock and felt his breath quicken over her neck.

“Fuck, Wynter,” he said.

“Yes, Michael. Exactly.” She drew a long gash with a talon down his back for good measure—in case he forgot her favors were not so easily won. Or was it because she wanted him to wear one of her marks, like she did his? Who cared?

For a few hours, she could forget everything and lose herself in the rhythm of his thrusts. Too bad all nights couldn’t be like this. Oh, and that, she thought as Michael reached a special spot deep inside her.

A spiral of pleasure ran down her spine, and she let a mind-wiping orgasm take her far, far away from duties and obligations and potentially beheading Christmas rituals. For now, what Michael called up from her body was all she required.

Seventh day of Christmas: Isobelle Cate

Wynter stirred in her sleep, her eyelids moving as she surfaced into consciousness. A low roar. Why was there a low roar in her room? She opened her eyes, slowly blinking, and saw that rain was falling steadily outside her window. The next thing she noticed was the heavy band around her waist, the warm hand that cupped her breast, and the wall of muscle heating her back. Her stomach concaved when she gasped. In all the times she and Michael had fucked, he had never stayed… she looked at her bedroom window … until … the … morning.

She eased around slowly to look at him. The harsh planes of his face were not as dangerous looking when he was asleep. The light stubble that shadowed his jaw made him incredibly sexy. She raised her finger to trace the contours of his mouth that gave her so much pleasure for hours until she asked him to stop. He didn’t. He gave her wave upon tidal wave of orgasmic bliss that left her boneless and sated. Just the thought made her body needy once more, desperately seeking Michael inside her again.

“You finished watching me sleep?” His deep rumble vibrated through her body all the way to her core.

Wynter didn’t stop the smile that curved her lips. “You’ve never stayed before. Couldn’t pass the chance to see the one who marked me with his sigil, in sleep, could I? I might not get the chance again.”

His mouth tilted upwards showing his even, white teeth. “Keep your end of the agreement and you’ll get to see more of me in the morning.”

“Ugh!” She whirled out of his embrace, tossed the quilt that covered them and jumped out of bed, naked. “Talk about a fuck me mood killer.”

Michael’s soft laughter only infuriated her more.

Grabbing a set of clean jogging pants and T-shirt, she left the room, slamming the door in satisfaction. Perhaps making coffee from scratch would allow her irritation to bleed out from her. She loved this part of the morning; grinding the coffee beans and allowing the fresh burst of flavour to lend its smell to the kitchen she hardly used for cooking.

She looked out of the window that overlooked her garden and the Jacuzzi which was now overflowing with water.

“Damn.” A crease marred her forehead. She hadn’t thought of covering the liquid massager last night despite the fact that the skies had already been overcast the day before, threatening to unload its burden. But it never did. Now with the rain pelting the roof, the house felt isolated from the outside world. If Michael hadn’t annoyed her so much, they would have continued where they left off and the kitchen would have seen more action than it had in the last few months.

Wynter sighed. Not being able to find a man for Christmas was making her miserable. Add the stormy weather and she could have a psychotic breakdown. She sipped her coffee as she stared out into the pouring rain, lost in thought.

Conjure a man.

Wynter blinked.

That was it! Surely her family’s Five Golden Rings tome would have something about conjuring a man for a brief span of time. There should be some harmless spell in that tome that had all sorts of writings, it was practically a grimoire.

“Got any left?” Michael leaned against the doorway. His jeans rode low on his hips, the waist unbuttoned. The taut muscles of his arms pushed and slid underneath his bronze skin when he lifted his arms to rake his fingers through his already tousled hair. Wynter’s own hands itched to run through those dark tresses as she lay on the table with his face between her thighs….

No, first things first.

“Here.” She handed him her mug as she passed, the coffee nearly sloshing over the rim.

“Where are you going?” he called as she rushed up the stairs.

“Be right back!”

Michael turned from the window when Wynter returned carrying the tome. She flipped through the pages. Her face, a mask of concentration. As soon as Michael saw what it was, he scowled.

“Wynter,” he warned.

“You didn’t say I couldn’t use magick.” She shot him a glare.

Michael glared back before looking away. “Go right ahead. I doubt you’d be able to do it.”

“Still worth a shot.” Her finger ran down the pages looking for that elusive spell.

May her ancestors forgive her if she made a mistake. Wynter couldn’t remember the last time she dabbled in the arcane arts, but time was running out for her. She ran out of the house and into the driving rain. She didn’t want to destroy the only abode she had, and if fire came out of her fingers, the water would quickly douse it. Michael followed her at a more leisurely pace, sipping from their shared mug.

Evaporation and condensation must have been pretty busy because her backyard was now waterlogged and resembled a lake. With her eyes closed, the water raining on her like a benediction, Wynter chanted the spell. A roar filled her ears and she felt the water lap at her feet.

“What the fuck? More avians?” Michael shouted in disbelief.

Wynter opened one eye in trepidation, then the other in stupefaction. Her mouth agape, she stared at the seven swans swimming in her waterlogged garden. Black and white, they moved like the squares of a chessboard that could have come from Hogwarts.

“I told you, you wouldn’t be able to do it.” Michael shook his head. “You’re supposed to create a man, Wynter, not more animals who peck their food.”

“Well, men can be animals when they fuck and peck isn’t too far away from pecker which all of you have.”

“Don’t test me.” Michael’s face darkened. “It’s not funny.”

Wynter stifled her laughter at the same time she wiped the water from her face. She shivered in the cold but Michael’s face was priceless. “What? They’re just a bunch of birds. What do you have against them?”

“Nothing,” he muttered. “You’ve got five days left.”

That slowly wiped the smile from her face. Huffing and shaking her head, she said, “The bars didn’t prove successful.” She worried her lower lip before she brightened, stepping to enter the house. “I know. I’ll case hotel lobbies.”

“And the birds?” Michael looked at them warily, stepping to the side of the doorway to allow Wynter to enter.

She pirouetted to face him, tracking wet prints on the floor. “In the spirit of Christmas, I’ll give one each to the hotels I visit. I’ll need a ride though.” She winked, laughing at Michael’s scowl.

Eighth Day of Christmas: Kay Manis

“Thanks for the ride.” Wynter flashed Michael a mischievous smirk and slammed his car door, rattling the leather console.

She was going to pay for that. No one fucked with his baby…and by baby, he meant the Porsche 918 Spyder that purred underneath him.

Wynter tucked one of those fucking swans under her arm as she sauntered into the hotel lobby. She said you could attract more men with a swan than honey. “Don’t wait up!” She blew him an obnoxious kiss and waved good-bye as her luscious hips swayed from side to side. She was on a mission and as Michael wanted to stop her, he couldn’t.

Michael growled. Damn foolish woman is going to banish all to Hades.

“May I park your car, sir?” The valet saddled up to his Porsche, licking his lips in anticipation.

Yeah, right, you little pimply-faced kid. Like I’m gonna let you spin out the tires of my million dollar sports car.

Michael gazed out the passenger side window and watched helplessly as Wynter disappeared into the mass of half-naked men inside. What the fuck? Was there a stripper convention at this hotel? The men parted like melted butter and stared at her backside as she waltzed through the crowd. She was good. Too good. Fuck.

“Fine,” he growled through gritted teeth at the valet.

He stumbled back as if Michael had struck him.

Michael shoved the car door and held it open for the twerp but stepped in front of him before allowing him inside his precious baby. His massive body towered over the boy’s small frame. “If there is one scratch on this motherfucker, one teensy, tiny scratch when I get it back, I’ll rip your head off, shit down your neck and feed you to the fucking swans at my girlfriend’s house. Got it?”

Wait, what? Girlfriend? What the fuck? Did he just call Wynter his girlfriend? He hadn’t had a partner, a girlfriend, hell, a wife for that matter, in over two hundred years. If Wynter fucked this assignment up, that would all change though.

“Y-yes, sir,” the boy stuttered. “N-not a scratch.”

The poor kid sounded like a bumbling fool. Maybe Michael should put him on his payroll. He laughed at the lunacy.

Michael watched as the valet slid into the driver’s seat and drove away at a snail’s pace. Good boy. At least he wouldn’t have to cast a spell that kept the kid’s pecker limp for the rest of his life.

With a heavy sigh, Michael waltzed through the hotel doors, not surprised to see a flock of men around Wynter. They looked like the squawking birds in her back yard.

Girlfriend. Michael laughed to himself. Wynter was nothing more than a piece of ass, a mission. She could have all the men she wanted as long as she found the perfect one before Christmas.

As if sensing his presence, Wynter’s gaze caught his. One side of her plump lips curled into a delicious smirk.

Mission. Mission. He reminded himself. She’s just a mission. A means to an end…your end if you fuck this up.

Suddenly the shrill sound of women screaming came from behind him.

Michael turned on his heels.

Not one, not two but…wait…Was that eight fucking chicks flooding out of the elevator? Their screams echoed through the hotel as if their hair extensions were on fire. They were dressed the same, in hotel uniforms marking them as maids.

“A Dios, mio!” one shouted.

“Help! Help!” A pixie minx with red hair slammed into him. “Get it out of here!” She pointed back toward the elevator.

“What’s going on?” One of the strippers who’d been enthralled by Wynter saddled up to him.

He eyeballed the guy up and down, his menacing gaze obviously speaking volumes as the stripper stepped away.

He pushed the maid away and gazed down into her blue eyes. “What’s going on?”

“It’s a…”

“Yes?” he asked.

“Mierda es un reno!” a Hispanic woman screamed, jumping up and down, her hands slapping against her hips.

“Did you say moose?” His Spanish was rusty, but he was pretty sure that was the translation.

“No! Es un reno! Salga de aquí!”

“Holy, hell,” Wynter whispered next to him. “Is that a fucking reindeer?”

“Yes.” The redhead nodded, her body trembling. “And the man in the ivory suit asked if we wanted to ‘milk his reindeer.’” She used air quotes. “He made it sound–” Her eyes darted between Wynter and him as she leaned in closer. “–sexual,” she whispered.

“Kris Kringle,” he and Wynter said in unison.

Eight maids a’ milking.

That motherfucker was the biggest practical jokester Michael had ever met. “Enough with the symbolism, Kris,” he moaned.

“Ho, ho, ho!” Kris’s robust voice echoed through the lobby as he led the reindeer through the posh hotel like it was an everyday occurrence. “I didn’t mean you’re a whore, Wynter.” Kris laughed as he nudged my arm. “Although you have been on my naughty list for quite some time.” His white eyebrows waggled as he ogled Wynter.

Michael wanted to punch him in the nuts. Kids may adore him, but Kris Kringle was the biggest man whore on the face of the earth.

The reindeer picked that moment to lay a massive Christmas “gift” on the imported Italian tile floor.

“Ewww!” everyone groaned.

“Word in the Underworld is that you’re looking for the perfect man, Wynter.” Kris smirked and held out his arms. “Here I am.”

Ninth Day of Christmas: Bella Juarez

I need a fucking drink…

Michael made a hasty exit from the swank hotel with Wynter in-tow. He’d be damned if he was leaving her with all those naked men and Kris, so he’d sent her on her way. He tried to recall an end of solstice ritual that had gone worse.

Actually those few years during the Black Death were worse…

Comforted by the fact that nothing could be worse than the Black Death, he leaned forward to fire up the purring engine of his favorite girl.

At least this one doesn’t talk back…

The feel of Wynter’s talons tearing his back to shreds during one of their more rambunctious fucks made his cock twitch and a shiver run down his spine. He couldn’t shake the feeling or lose the lovely taste of her. He sat back for a moment and wondered what would happen if she didn’t bring the perfect man home for the holiday. Who started this ritual and why, when the stars and planets aligned just so, did they need it? Would their world, as they knew it really go to hell in a handbasket?

Wait. I’m from hell; it’s not that bad.

He glanced wistfully at the gilded doors of the hotel and placed his hand on the gearshift. Before he could shift gears and let out the clutch, a thud shook his vehicle and him down to his ancient bones. Bloody hell! What now? He threw open the door ready to do battle with whatever it was that had harmed his vehicle.

“Honk!”

One of Wynter’s damn geese had decided to hitchhike. He stretched out his arms and looked to the heavens, pushed back his sleeves and started to unleash a spell that would level an entire modern city block. But when he caught the eye of the already scared valet, he opted to grab the gangly goose by its fat legs and toss it toward the hotel staff now gathered at the curb. An angry flying goose sent his gawkers scurrying. He slipped back into the driver’s seat and took off, spinning the tires as he floored the gas.

The hotel and goose disappeared in his rear window in a haze of white smoke. A drink at his favorite high-end gentlemen’s club would be just the thing to take his mind off of this whole ordeal—and Wynter, who seemed to be getting under his skin more than usual. He was at the club before he knew it. This valet knew how to handle his baby. Michael handed him the keys and an extra hundred dollar bill.

“You know what to do.”

“Thank you, sir. And yes, sir, I’ll take good care of her.”

Michael sauntered up to the front entrance, and the man who stood sentry outside with a clip board, unhooked the rope and stepped aside.

“Sir, should I call ahead for your suite?”

“Yes.”

Michael entered the noisy club and noticed not all of the stages were busy. He found that odd. A soft brush at his elbow made him flinch and turn suddenly.

Who the hell dares to touch me?

As tall as he was, he found his gaze level with sea-green eyes, and for a moment, he found himself breathless.

“Morgan? What are you doing here?”

The tall woman with the bewitching, sea-green eyes and long, midnight-black hair smiled a slow, evil smile. A perfectly arched eyebrow rose at his question.

“It’s my place; why wouldn’t I be here?”

Her soft Irish brogue was as smooth as the leather she wore. She could charm the life from a man if he wasn’t careful. Thankfully, Michael’s humanity had almost been fully stripped from him but the Morgan still had an effect on him.

“Why aren’t you preparing for the gathering? Your due will be paid. In full.”

Her soft laughter rose above the crowd and sent a chill down his spine him like almost no one else could.

“Oh, my sweet pet. My dues will never be paid in full. However, if your little hound from hell comes through, then I’ll be sated… for a while. Now let me show you to your suite.”

“When did you buy this place?”

As she opened the door, she laughed. “I took it in trade. The beast who owned it before me didn’t know how to negotiate, nor did he know how to take care of his property. The staff, especially the girls, were miserable.” She walked to the bar and took out a highball glass and filled it with two fingers of dark amber liquid. “Now that they’re being paid a proper wage and someone actually takes care of them, I’ve attracted some of the finest talent around.”

Michael took the glass of scotch and glanced out the mirrored window toward the floor.

“It looks empty. By now, all of the stages are usually full.” He took a sip. “That’s good scotch.”

“Life is too short for bad liquor. It’s early, darlin’. Don’t worry, it’ll pickup and when it does, enjoy the show.”

Michael flopped down into the soft leather chair and watched the night progress. Morgan had sent a bartender to keep the drinks flowing. No matter how much he drank he couldn’t quit thinking about Wynter. His exclusive bartender, a voluptuous redhead with the bluest eyes he’d ever seen, left no doubt that she was his, all of her, for the night. He wondered what the hell had gone wrong with him; he’d never pass up an invitation like that. Back a few months ago, he’d have fucked her until she screamed for mercy. Wynter never screams for mercy… He shook his head; what had his little hound from hell done to him? What transpired between him and her family was business, and he needed to stay focused. She had to find a man, and his homage to Morgan had to be fulfilled.

Focusing, he glanced out over the floor. He sensed the excitement rising around a lone stage that was still empty. The rest of the stages were full and busy. The girls were making money hand over fist, and the drinks were clearly flowing if the large number of topless waitstaff he saw weaving through the crowd was any indication. Along with the throngs of people out on the floor, he leaned forward in his chair in anticipation as the lone stage light and the spotlight moved over the crowd.

“What’s going on out there?” he asked the bartender.

“A new girl. I hear she’s out of this world.”

The music blared above the crowd and was so loud he could hear it clearly in his private suite. There were now nine ladies dancing on each of the stages, but one had now taken previously empty center stage.

The sweet Jezebel had come on stage in a traditional harem outfit. The entire crowd was mesmerized as she moved like a tigress. As the first scarf floated to the stage floor, he came to his feet. His eyes traced the dancer’s lithe body, and his dick instantly went to a full, painful, rock-hard erection. As the remaining scarves she wore fell one by one to the stage, the men at her feet fought over them.

Michael raced out onto the club floor, compelled to get a closer look at this new, bewitching beauty. Something about her held him like no one else could. Her lower face was covered by a veil, and when he got closer, their eyes locked. She made him feel as if she was dancing for him and him alone. He tore his gaze away from her hypnotic eyes and watched her delicate hand pluck a scarf from her hip. The unique tattoo on her hip was unusual and he took a closer look.

My sigil…

“Wynter! What the hell are you doing here?” he shouted as he leaped onto the stage.

Tenth Day of Christmas: Patricia W. Fischer

It worked. No matter how long she lived, Wynter knew she’d never be able to wipe the smile from her face when remembering this moment.

“What the fuck?” Michael stood nose to nose with her.

“You don’t like it?” she purred, running her hand up his chest.

His jaw clenched as his eyes bored into her. “Wynter, what are you doing?”

“You said to find a perfect guy. I’m trying.”

“Trying my patience.”

She couldn’t help but bask in the glory of her power over him–the lust in his eyes when he watched her move across the stage–the powerlessness of his rational mind.

Just like Morgan said…Out of the corner of her eye, Wynter watched the redheaded siren glide across the floor and to the bar. A wicked smile spread across the woman’s face. The very same smile she’d given Wynter as she explained to her how to attract the perfect man for the gathering.

“He’ll be the first one to jump onto the stage with you. To claim you,” the melodious Irish brogue danced in Wynter’s ears. “And all you have to do is turn him over to me.”

The wall of muscle in front of her growled, “Wynter, answer me. What the fuck are you doing up here?”

Her eyebrows hit her hairline as dread slammed her in the gut. Oh shit. Morgan’s not letting him out of his debt. She’s burying him in it.

The redhead raised her glass as if to toast Wynter on her perfectly played betrayal.

Her heart clenched. She wouldn’t let it happen this way. She wouldn’t let Michael down again.

Sliding up against him, she whispered, “Just do what I say.”

“What?” He started to step away, but she grabbed the front of his shirt and writhed against him. “Stop it. Get off the stage.”

“No way! Leave her up there.”

“Hey, get off the stage!”

“Let her finish!”

“I haven’t seen her tits yet.”

The scarf-grabbing observers began to express their displeasure at the show’s interruption and Michael’s personal stage show in front of the increasingly frenzied crowd.

Wynter backed Michael into the pole and slithered up and down his body. “Listen to me. We’ve been set up.”

A tug on one of the three remaining scarves distracted her. She glanced down to see a wide-eyed, plump man yanking on her clothes. She stretched her leg and let him yank the material free. He jumped around as he held the cloth above his head. The half a dozen others who held parts of her costume followed suit.

“What the hell are you talking about, Wynter?” His fingers wrapped around her arms, but she twisted out of his grip as she moved around him. “I owe Morgan, why would she–”

“Michael, trust me. Morgan set us up. I don’t know why.” The beat of the music increased and the men’s jumping followed suit. Wynter counted three more strips of material left on her outfit before she stood only in a jeweled string bikini. She continued to move about the stage, taunting, teasing the onlookers, but staying a safe distance from them.

“Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!” the men chanted as they leapt around, waving the strips of her clothing gripped tightly in their grungy hands.

The air sat thick with the smell of heavy cologne and cigarettes. One lunged for her, only coming back with another scarf.

“Son-of-a-bitch!” Michael growled. “I knew she was up to something.”

Morgan’s smile changed. Her eyes narrowed while she watched the performance.

Brightly-colored material from her costume caught Wynter’s eye.

She counted. Eight. Remaining? Two more pieces.

For a total of ten.

Joyously, the men jumped, danced, and…leapt.

Ten Lords a Leaping.

“Where’s the back door?” Wynter leaned over as she coaxed a man to rip a strip away.

“I’m looking at it.”

As she turned around, she glared at Michael. Despite his frustration, the corner of his mouth curled up. “The backdoor to the building, shithead.”

His eyes went wide and he nodded. “I know how to get there, but Morgan’s got her goons all over the place. How are we going to get out?”

A slow smile spread across her face. “Jump in the crowd and follow me.”

Without pause, she spun to the end of the stage, offering the last of her scarves to the tallest man of the group. As soon as Michael stepped off the stage, she leaned forward and asked the man to help her to the floor.

Morgan began to move forward with her bodyguards in tow.

Panic grabbed Wynter by the throat as she watched Michael make his way to the back of the building. He glanced back at her and pointed.

She started to move forward but knew one of the body guards would cut her off.

Morgan’s abilities far exceeded her own. Magic wouldn’t save her in here.

Looking around at the chaos of men leaping with her scarves, she tried to figure out a way to work them up even more. No cloth napkins, no jackets, no…nothing but the clothes she had on.

“Wynter!” Michael’s shout penetrated through the crowd as Morgan quickly got closer.

Her heart ached for him. “Run!”

She unhooked her top and spun it over her head. “Join me, boys!”

Shirts, belts, and scarves went flying as all the onlookers spun their clothes in all directions. No one could see where anything was.

In the chaos, Wynter rushed towards the back of the club. Michael was nowhere in sight. As she reached the curtains, a heavy hand grabbed her and slammed her against the wall.

Eleventh Day of Christmas: Riley Bancroft

Covering her exposed breasts with one arm, Wynter clasped the other hand into Michael’s and they burst out the back door of the strip club. Relief washed over her as she followed him down the alleyway in a sprint. Boots slapping the pavement behind them reminded her that Morgan’s goons were hot on their heels and Wynter kept up with Michael’s long-legged strides.

Oh, those legs, his thick muscled thighs and the way they clenched when he slammed…

“Ummph,” she exhaled on a breath as they rounded the corner of the building and she slammed into his back, coming to a halt.

A melodic tune filled the air among cheers and chants along the street. Wynter couldn’t believe her eyes. People lined each side of the sidewalk; some had beers in hand. Others sang along to the music. Irish step dancers, wearing custom dresses, pranced down the middle of the road. Behind them, a marching band played “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” rhythmically walking to the beat. No, not a traditional marching band, bag pipes…all piping away.

“You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me,” Michael growled and tugged her through the crowds. “Who has a parade this time of night?”

“Apparently someone who appreciated eleven pipers piping,” she laughed in sarcasm at the irony. Someone was playing a cruel joke on them. Whether they incited it upon themselves or if Morgan truly orchestrated this all … they all would soon find out.

Wynter’s family had come into debt with Michael because they wanted the five rings tome–the grimoire he’d stolen from them decades ago–back in their possession. In return, he asked for a piece of property of his own. One who could fulfill his every wicked desire whenever he felt the need to be sexually sated. One who he would mark with his sigil to be his for eternity. One who would provide the “perfect man” for him as a sacrifice every time the stars, moon, and planets aligned in sync with the solstice festival. Luckily or unluckily for her, she happened to be the item he wanted.

Men ogled and hollered at her while she and Michael pushed their way down the sidewalk. Wearing only bikini bottoms in December wasn’t the best fashion choice, but hey, who’s judging when one was about to climb up a stripper pole?

A few blocks down the street, his black Porsche sat parked next to a curb. An older lady stood next to it with a scowl on her face and she tapped her foot. Trixie yelled some Norse curses. “Next time make it two bottles of champagne!”

“I’ll do you better than that, Trix. I owe you. For once, you did something right.” He released his grip from Wynter’s hand. “Hop in,” he commanded.

The immediate loss of his touch on her skin sent a lonely ache through her gut, but she jumped into the car still covering her breasts. “Trixie’s not just your secretary, is she?” The tension in the air between the two had been undeniable and definitely had a hint of angry desire mixed in. “How’d she know where we would be?”

He popped the car in drive. Wheels fishtailed as he spun away from the curb. “She’s a Valkyrie. They have protective powers over the mercenary they have sworn to protect. Trixie safeguards her chosen in battle.”

Peering over her shoulder at the older woman growing smaller in the distance, she asked, “Aren’t they supposed to be immortal? She looks…well for her age.”

“They age extremely slowly. Trix was actually quite the looker in her heyday—quite the female warrior and strategist.” The tone of his words and raised brows hinted at something possibly more.

She spun around to face him in her seat. Heat filled her chest, blooming outward, and set her face on fire. “I’m sure she was quite something to you; that’s for sure.”

A sinful smirk lifted the corner of his mouth. He didn’t take his eyes off the road. “Jealous, my pet?”

“Me? Jealous? Of course not. I mean, just the other night I had my lips wrapped around another man’s cock while he got me off.” By no means would she be put in her place. Michael’s the one who locked her into this arrangement with him to begin with.

His knuckles blanched white around the wheel. The haughty expression he sported now replaced with a sneer. “I think it’s time we washed that dirty mouth out.” He veered the car off to the side of road, slammed it into park, and unzipped his pants.

Long, thick, and hard, his cock popped out of his jeans as if breaking out of jail. “Your mouth. Now.”

When she met his gaze, those brilliant emerald eyes bore into her. Not only into the depths of her soul, but further. Her pussy throbbed with his command. This man undid her every single time. The closer she got to him, the more time they spent, the more she craved him. She couldn’t get enough.

Her chest rose with each deep inhalation as she licked her lips. By damn, she wanted him to hunger for her like she was starting to with him. “No.” Wynter dropped her arm, revealing her breasts, and moved to place her back against the door. Pressing her shoulders back, the cool air in the car teased her already sensitive nipples. She propped her feet up on the middle console to spread her thighs. “Your mouth. Now.”

Sinful desire filled his eyes and a growl vibrated from his chest. He placed his thumb over her clitoris, drawing small circles. “Do not forget who you belong to. Nor the debt you must pay for your family. Shall I make you orgasm like this? Bereft of my cock filling you?”

She tried not to move her hips in rhythm of his touch, but found it difficult as her sex clenched in response to the tender strokes. Damn, he had a way of driving her body to the need of passion.

He increased the pressure and thumbed her harder. His eyes focused in on her. “Answer,” he bit out.

You will not moan. You will not…she couldn’t stop the sound from leaving her throat. Oh the tortuous ways he pleased her. Body thrumming to life, the exquisite tickle spread throughout her aching pussy, and she couldn’t deny her response to him. “No.” She needed to have him inside and hitting the soft spot that always sent her over the edge.

“Come and mount me, Wynter.” He moved her bikini bottoms to the side uncovering her pussy. “I can see you’re ready for me.”

How his brusque words made her lust for him more, she had no idea. All she knew or cared about was the fever escalating in her body to have him. She moved in her seat and climbed on top of his, straddling his waist.

“I’m always ready for you.” The tip of his shaft barely breached her nether lips. She rocked her hips back and forth to, coating him with her juices.

Michael gripped her hips and slammed her down on his thick cock. “That’s right. You will always crave me.” He nipped her bottom lip before sliding his tongue into her mouth.

Using his shoulders as leverage, she pulled up and then came down hard on him—riding him. Tingles spread throughout her womb with each penetration.

“Fuck, Wynter. I want you to want me without the debt.” He clamped a hand on the nape of her neck and branded her with a punishing kiss. The husky way he said her name, the way he claimed her.

Her thigh muscles quivered as the energy pulsated, building up, and overflowing. Her inner walls clenched and released. Pleasure overflowed as warm bursts jetted inside and she milked Michael’s cock into sweet oblivion with her.

Foreheads together, their breaths mingled in quick bursts.

“Goddess. That was amazing,” she whispered against his lips.

Michael tensed beneath her.

She could have sworn he froze up like a block of ice.

“Don’t ever say that Morgan’s name again.”

Twelfth Day of Christmas: Brenna Zinn

Morgan, curses, debts, a perfect man, sacrifice…

Morgan, curses, debts, a perfect man, sacrifice…

Try as she might to search for the perfect man, all Wynter’s thoughts focused on Morgan, curses, debts, a perfect man, and sacrifice. Again and again, the mantra replayed in a tireless loop through her mind as though the words themselves held the key to solving her predicament.

If only such a thing were possible.

Wynter rubbed her slim neck, fully appreciating her entire body being in one piece. Michael wouldn’t really cut off her head at the solstice festival if she failed her task, would he? With Morgan, that tricky witch, demanding her dues from him, did he have a choice?

She pondered the second question, not truly knowing the answer.

A cold wind blew down the street, lifting and tossing the red and gold stands of her long hair in the air. Above her, the sun peaked in the brilliant blue sky on this, the shortest day of the year. The winter solstice. Time was running out. In a few short hours, the alignment of the stars, moon, and planets with the solstice festival would take place.

She still needed to find the perfect man.

The sad fact of the matter was, she knew the perfect guy. And, if she were completely honest with herself, she loved him. Tall, handsome, magical and kinky as hell, Michael was the perfect man…for her. He would easily be too much for a normal human woman, but she was none of those things aside from the woman part. As a phoenix shifter, she was as far from being a normal human as Santa Claus. Well, actually more. And although she could be reborn from her ashes, she’d need to wait at least 500 years to be mature enough to fly, let alone have sex again with Michael. Where was the fun in that? Five hundred years was too freaking long to wait.

Why hadn’t she realized she loved him before? She’d picked a hell of a time, or lack thereof, to finally figure that out.

Morgan, curses, debts, a perfect man, sacrifice…

There has to be a way out of this mess.

When did this crazy situation start? How did it start? Where could she find the answers? Not from Michael or Morgan. They’d never tell her. Her family had gone deep into hiding almost a thousand years ago. No way of knowing where they were to ask them. Phoenix shifters tended to stay to themselves, even away from other shifter family members. Hard to catch and hard to hold. That was their way and always had been.

When she arrived home, she stomped the snow from her boots and tossed her coat aside, determined to find some miracle that would keep her head atop her shoulders. After pouring herself a glass of wine, she pulled the heavy Five Golden Rings tome from its place on the shelf and settled in for some serious researching. Page after page, she combed through each spell and the various handwritten notes on the margins, losing herself in the familiar magic. Then she came across a page she’d never noticed before. Not once since she’d been given the tome so many centuries ago had she seen its red and green print or the colorful illustration of an oak mistletoe branch.

Oak mistletoe, she recalled, was sacred. The plant bestowed life and fertility, and was considered a powerful aphrodisiac. The berries and stiff barbed leaves had been regarded as a sexual symbol throughout history.

It was also Michael’s sigil.

She flipped the page back and forth several times, trying to make sense of the extra sheet. The spell on the page before and the notes on the page after were ones she’d read dozens of times. How had she possibly overlooked this particular spell all these years?

She leaned in and read the first paragraph of the unfamiliar page. Then the second, and then the third. Each word caused her heart to beat a fraction harder. By the time she’d finished the page, it thudded deep in her chest as though being pounded by twelve drummers drumming

The hell?

Michael’s beast of a car roared in her driveway, pulling her attention from the book. She glanced at the clock. Exactly four o’clock. He was on time, as always.

Wynter met him at the door, her heart still hammering.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked before he stepped into her house. With a shaking finger, she pointed to Five Golden Rings tome on the table. “Why was this-all of this–kept from me?”

His eyebrows knitted, creating a deep valley between his emerald eyes.

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Tell you what?”

“I read the spell, Michael, and the notes. I know.”

“Spell?”

“Don’t play stupid with me.” She swallowed back the strong emotions rising within her. “Not now.”

For a brief moment, he looked as though he might attempt to carry on his charade of confusion, then he shook his head and smiled wanly. “If you’ve seen the page, the time has come for us to talk.” He took her hand and led her to the couch in the living room. “Here. Take a seat. You may need it.”

They both sat, still holding hands, she at the edge of the seat. Despite his palm warm against her skin, her insides pricked and shivered as though exposed to frigid gusts of wind.

“Do you remember me before I stole the tome?”

His question caught her off guard.

“No. What does that matter?”

“Everything.” He sucked in a long breath and slowly released it. “Before I stole the Five Golden Rings tome, I was a mortal man. We lived in the same hamlet back in England. I would see you each day when you walked by the fields I worked in. I knew from the moment I first saw you,” he stopped for a moment and stared longingly into her eyes, “that I loved you.”

You love me?

His unexpected confession sent a jolt of electricity down her spine that sizzled through her arms and legs, making sitting upright difficult. She braced herself with her free hand, her body swaying slightly. She started to speak, but he placed a finger on her mouth.

“Let me finish. There’s much to say.” He cleared his throat. “You never noticed me. So beautiful, wild and free, why would you? I was a simple farmer’s son. But I knew I had to have you. That I would die a thousand deaths to make you my own. So, I went to Morgan, the most powerful witch in the country, and asked for her help.”

Wynter felt her eyes widen.

“She told me you were a magical being, and that you could never be with a human man. The only way I could have you was to become a magical being too. She said she would do this for me under three conditions. I would have to provide a perfect man to sate her appetite each solstice when stars, moon, and planets all aligned. And, the perfect man would have to be selected by you, my chosen love. If you failed your task, I would have to behead you.”

A gasp escaped from her mouth. “That is how this all started?”

He nodded. “There’s more. To complete my transformation, I would need to give her the tome. She needed a spell within it. Once she had the book and the deed was done, she used magic to hide the page. Morgan said that only when you fell in love with me would my debt be paid in full and the page would be revealed.”

Unbidden tears welled and slid down her face.

“I’m so sorry, Wynter.” Michel brushed her wet cheek. “I loved you for so long and wanted you with all my heart. At the time, I would have done anything to make you mine. I never meant to cause you any harm, but there was no other way.”

Too choked with emotion to speak, she simply shook her head.

“Now that you know the truth, can you ever forgive me?”

He spoke in a voice wracked with concern. Pain and worry filled his eyes. In all their years together, she’d never seen him so wretched. His clear suffering both touched her heart and tore at her soul. At that moment she couldn’t imagine anyone loving someone more than she loved him.

Michael opened his mouth to speak, but this time it was she that quieted him by placing her lips on his. She wrapped her arms around his neck and he drew her in close, deepening their kiss. When they finally parted, she smiled.

“Morgan’s going to be pissed,” she said, still finding her breath. “She’s not going to be sated with my help tonight or ever again.”

“You forgive me?”

Wynter grabbed his hand and stood. “You’ve got a lot of sucking up to do. A lot.” She pulled him up and headed to the bedroom. “And I think I know the perfect way to start your penance. This is the longest night of the year, and you won’t be sleeping one second of it. Just be careful of all the feathers when we get in there. If you ever buy me another bird for Christmas, I’ll personally make sure you get on your hands and knees cleaning up after it. Then again, having you on your hands and knees doesn’t sound too bad.”

 

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