Equinox: A WIP
The sun was almost down and the shadows crept over the earth in pursuit of the receding light, eager to lay claim to the land for the next few hours. Even though it was late in the season, the fairy-like lights of the fireflies still flickered here and there across the less-than-spacious front yard, in the shrubbery beyond, and occasionally in the air. It wouldn’t be long before their lights went out for the long winter ahead.
The fireflies weren’t the only thing clinging tenaciously to the last vestige of summer. The flowers they planted along the length of the porch still sported blooms, vibrant colors against the bland brown of the log cabin, and further out, wild flowers sprouted up between the majestic trees. The pines never lost their color, but the oaks. . . The oaks had yet to turn. Not a trace of orange, yellow, or gold could be seen amongst nature’s canopy, which was unlike the trees they had seen on the drive up. Autumn was arriving all across the northeast coast, arriving everywhere except for her. It was as if Mother Nature had placed a dome over this particular area of the forest, a barrier against the approaching seasonal change so she could enjoy summer’s beauty for just a little longer, before winter came and blanketed everything in a pristine coating of white.
Standing on the porch, Jake Dougherty breathed deeply of the crisp mountain air and took in the beauty that surrounded him. God’s country is what his father would have called it, land uncorrupted by the touch of humanity, save for the cabin they were staying in and the SUV parked on the dirt path that passed for a driveway. But even that cabin, as beautiful as it was, was as closed to primitive as you could get. The water was piped in from a natural spring, the sewer he assumed passed into a septic tank somewhere behind the building. There was no electricity. They used oil-fueled hurricane lamps and candles for light, and the rooms were heated by a series of fireplaces. It was as near to perfect as one could get. There was only one thing spoiling it.
As if on cue, the shrill voice of his wife of ten months broke the stillness that lay over the land. “Jake, did you remember to pack the camera?”
With a sigh, Jake reached in the breast pocket of his flannel shirt and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. “Yes, dear,” he replied. He no longer tried to conceal the annoyance that peppered his tone whenever he spoke to her, especially since she seemed to be oblivious to it.
The door opened and he cringed inwardly and slipped the cigarettes back in his pocket as his wife came out to join him on the porch. She was a petite blonde with a flawless complexion despite the years she must have spent outdoors. Her skin was deep reddish brown, the product of a lifetime of sun worship, but it bore none of the damaging signs that would normally accompany that kind of exposure to the sun. As reluctant as he was to admit it, she was a truly beautiful woman, and any man would consider himself lucky to walk down the street with her on his arm, and so would he—if he was into that sort of thing. But Jake wasn’t.
Or at least he hadn’t been until this time last year.
Which is what he couldn’t understand.
He still had a hard time accepting the fact that he was married and, as Ivy Dougherty came to stand beside him, her belly fully of baby leading the way, that he was going to be a father. It was like living in a dream—or a nightmare, depending on your perspective. And for Jake Dougherty, it was a nightmare he hoped he would wake up from soon. But after ten months, if it hadn’t happened by now, he didn’t think he was ever going to wake up.
“Well, I looked everywhere and I can’t find it,” she said, placing her hands on her hips as if she expected him to go in and get it.
“Did you check in that blue sports bag?”
She turned a blank gaze on him, as if he had spoken in some language other than English. Whenever she looked at him that way, it was all he could do to keep from driving a fist into her face. He wasn’t violent by nature, but she was carrying this dumb blonde routine a bit far. Nobody could be that stupid. “That blue nylon bag on the bed.”
“Then don’t say you looked everywhere when it’s obvious you haven’t.”
“Don’t be that way,” she pouted, lower lip pushed out, doe eyes turned up to try soften up his mood. She took a step in his direction, intent on sliding her arm through his, but he stepped away.
“Well, then don’t be so fuckin’ stupid.”
Before their exchange could escalate into an all-out argument, the door opened and Rafe Vargas stepped onto the porch, his wife, Daisy, hot on his heels. Despite the chill in the air, Rafe was shirtless, and the sight of the man’s bare torso, the deep caramel-colored skin with a thick coating of black fur covering the pecs that tapered off and ran in a thin trail down the man’s stomach to disappear past the waistband of his tight jeans, inexplicably took Jake’s breath away. Something stirred within him, but before he could put a name to the feeling, it was gone, disappeared at the same moment someone touched his arm. He looked down to see Ivy’s hand resting gently on his forearm. A shiver slithered along his spine and he jerked his arm away. The sudden movement caused his wife to lose her balance; she teetered on the top step and would have fallen if it hadn’t been for Daisy. Despite the fact that she was just as pregnant as Ivy, Daisy was quick to come to her sister’s aide, throwing daggers in Jake’s direction as she shoved him aside. Jake, grudgingly giving ground, met her gaze head on, willing them both to fall. Not that the fall would hurt either of them, but it might hurt the babies, and with the babies out of the way, maybe they, he and Rafe, would be freed from whatever hold these two women had on them.
As Rafe slipped between him and the two women on his way down the steps, he practically brushed against Jake in his effort to avoid coming into contact with either of the women. Their eyes met briefly. Jake could see the fear in the other man’s green eyes, a quiet, pleading desperation. It was the same look Jake imagined a fox might have in its eyes when it found itself caught in a trap and gnawed at its leg in an attempt to free itself and escape the death it knew was coming. It was the same look Jake saw in his own eyes whenever he looked in the mirror.
“Where ya goin’,” Jake asked.
Rafe paused, one foot still resting on the bottom step, and looked back at Jake. “We’re gonna need some more fire wood.” Jake noticed the way the man’s gaze danced back and forth between him and the wives.
“You want me to give you a hand with that?” Jake prayed Rafe heard the distress in his voice, his need to be away, but when the man responded, he realized he was on his own.
“That’s alright. I got it.” Before the words were even out of his mouth, Rafe was pushing away from the step. Without a glance at Jake, he hurriedly made his way around to the back of the house.
Under the watchful eyes of the Witches of Eastwick, Jake watched Rafe until the man disappeared from view. For a moment, he considered following the man out back, but he didn’t want to seem in desperate need of escape, so instead he went down the steps and started across the lawn. What he wanted to do more than anything else was to get into the SUV and head back to the city—Fuck everybody—but he wouldn’t, he couldn’t, leave Rafe to the mercy of those women. He felt a bond to the other man, one he couldn’t explain, that went beyond mere friendship.
He continued across the lawn, heading for the forest and that shadows beyond that waited for him to pass before they swallowed him whole. Halfway across the grass he stumbled as his head was filled with an annoying drone, a swarm of angry bees buzzing around in his skull. Looking around to see what might have caused him to trip, he shook his head, trying to clear it. It wasn’t the first time his thoughts had become clouded by this angry swarm, but this time he was able to think past it, which surprised him. There was only one thing that would clear it altogether, and that was distance between him and the woman he called his wife. The SUV called to him and he looked longingly at the huge forest-green vehicle. That would allow him to put a few miles between them in the shortest amount of time, but then thoughts of Rafe pushed their way into his head, and he knew he wouldn’t do it. Throwing a hate-filled glance in the direction of the porch, he turned and headed towards the tree line. He wanted—no, he needed—a smoke, and he didn’t want to hear his wife bitch about it.
Ivy watched Jake Dougherty walk away from the house. Deep furrows marred the beauty of her tanned features, giving her the appearance of an old crone, as she sent her thoughts toward the receding figure of the man. Stop. Turn around! COME BACK!
When the man didn’t stop, her hand crept protectively to her stomach as an alien feeling made its presence known, a feeling that had nothing to do with the baby growing within her. She could feel that foreign sensation settle there like a seed, an acorn, and as she continued to focus her concentration on Jake, she felt that hard shell crack open and that feeling spread, like the roots of the mighty oaks that filled the forest around them. Had she a few more years to her, she would have recognized the feeling for what it was—Fear—but she was still young. The closest she had come to knowing fear for what it was had been she had been selected to venture out into the world for the first time.
The feeling began to subside slightly when she saw Jake stumble. When he managed to recover his balance and start toward the dense wall of trees, the feeling surged and she was thankful for her sister’s presence, one hand resting on her forearm, the other still protectively around her waist. She reached out and grabbed Daisy’s thigh as the sensation traveled upward through her trunk, making it hard to breathe even as her heart rate accelerated. “Something is wrong,” she gasped. “I can feel it.”
“It’s the baby,” Daisy reassured her.
Ivy shook her head. “No. The baby is fine. This is something else.” She turned and met her sister’s gaze. “The man we know as Jake is not responding. I cannot control him anymore. Something is wrong.” There was a tremor in her voice as she added, “With me.”
Once again, Daisy said, “It’s the baby.” She caressed Ivy’s stomach. “It is drawing strength from you, feeding off you, making it harder for you to harness and spool The Power within you.”
“I do not like this feeling. If it is the baby doing it, I want it out of me. Please, Sister, take it from me. Now.”
Pulling Ivy closer, Daisy murmured in her ear, “Soon, Little One. Soon”
“Now.” Ivy struggled to pull away from her sister and what was meant to be a reassuring embrace. “I want it out now.” Finally, she broke free from her sister’s embrace. “I want to go home.”
Stepping down from the porch, Daisy opened her arms wide and spun around, laughing. “But you are home.”
Ivy folded her arms under her breasts and pouted. “No, I am not.”
“Yes, Little One, you are.”
Daisy sobered and looked at the younger woman, afraid of what Ivy might say next. “Yes, you are.” Although she knew it was necessary, she sometimes felt it was a mistake to send the young ones out into the world. The Gift bestowed upon them by the Old One only allowed them to live a little over a year on the outside before they needed to return for The Harvest. Sadly, there were those who chose not to return, seduced by the material things they were shown by the breeders they had chosen. She, on her first journey into the world outside 75 years ago, had been tempted not to return, but the fear of not knowing what would happen to her once The Gift was reclaimed was stronger than her attraction for the lights, the cars, the clothes, the jewelry,…the men. Upon her return, she had learned what had befallen those who had not returned for The Harvest and she was glad she had made the decision she had. Not even The Harvest was enough to make her turn her back on her people. At least she was alive.
Having experienced the seductions Ivy had been faced with, tension coiled within her as she waited for the other woman’s response.
“Then why can we not go and rejoin the others?”
Daisy smiled as the tension eased from her body. “Because it is not time yet. But soon, Little One, soon.”
Climbing the stairs, Daisy held out her hand to her Sister. As Ivy reached out, Daisy answered her. “Two days. We can leave in two days.”
Ivy’s hand dropped, and the look of anguish that came over the younger woman’s face touched Daisy’s heart. She could not bear to see her sister so unhappy. Surely there must be something she could do, short of leaving at this very moment, to remove that sorrow.
As the sound of Rafe starting his work out back echoed through the clearing surrounding the house, Daisy had an idea. Rafe would be awhile, and she didn’t think Jake would be back any time soon, which meant there would be plenty of time for what she had in mind.
“It’s only two days,” she said, moving so she stood behind Ivy. “What’s two more days?” She slipped her arms around the other woman’s waist. She could feel the tension fade as the younger woman relaxed under her touch. Her hands roved over the younger woman’s belly; the energy that radiated from the life within was intoxicating, making her giddy enough to throw caution to the wind. Her hands continued to roam Ivy’s body, cupping her breasts and gently kneading them. Ivy responded to her touch with a soft moan. Daisy wanted nothing more than to take her here and now, so close to the forest, where the breeze would add its caress to their skin, slip between their heated bodies and reach places their physical form wouldn’t allow them to reach, but she needed to be careful. It was too close to The Harvest to arouse the suspicion of the men. Jealousy was an ugly creature, and there was no telling what their response would be to the two women doing what nature had intended them to do. When Ivy turned in her arms and reached out to unbutton her blouse, she knew the younger woman was feeling the Call of the Wild the same as she was. She was able to suppress her desire long enough to disengage herself from the other woman’s arms, take her hand, and lead her inside.
An overwhelming feeling of guilt accompanied Rafe Vargas as he made his way around to the back of the house, but there was something eating away at him, something that made him feel even more uneasy than being around his wife lately, if that was possible. It was ridiculous, he knew that; after all, he and Jake had been friends for years, but lately there was something passing between them that set off the alarm bells in his head. It was there in the way Jake looked at him when he thought no one was looking, with longing and a thinly veiled simmering intensity that had Rafe blushing whenever their eyes met. It made him uncomfortable and he was always quick to look away, afraid that holding the other man’s gaze would invite something more, something his mind told him he did not want, but there was no denying his body’s response whenever that gaze was turned his way. And even though he turned away and was no longer looking at Jake, he could still feel the weight of the other man’s eyes on him. It always left him with an unshakable feeling that they shared some forgotten connection, a bond that ran deeper than just friendship. It was the same way Rafe felt when he first met Daisy, like something lost was suddenly found, and now that it was found he never wanted to lose it again, and while the feelings toward his wife were still there, every time he looked at Jake, he questioned the feelings he had for her. And lately, within the past month or so, whatever he felt toward Jake seemed to be growing. His feelings for his friend were becoming stronger than the ones he had for the woman he married, and that was just wrong. W. R. O. N. G. Wrong. Don’t get me wrong, he argued with himself as he walked. I love Jake. I do. We’ve been friends a long time. He’s like a brother to me. So, yeah, I love the guy. Just not that way. I’m not gay. I’m married, for Christ’s sake, gonna be a daddy any day now. But no matter how convincing the words might sound in his head, no matter how much conviction he put behind them, they felt hollow, like he was lying to himself.
He glanced over his shoulder in time to see Jake disappear into the woods. For a moment he considered forgetting all about the wood and going after his friend, even took a couple of steps in that direction, but then quickly thought better of it. Given the confusing swell of emotions coursing through him, not to mention the unwelcome swelling between his legs, he didn’t trust what might happen should he and Jake be left alone together. Better to focus on the task at hand. It was an effort to turn his back on his friend, but he knew he was making the right decision.
Stepping around the corner, he cut across the yard to the small toolshed. The building had seen better days and probably wouldn’t last another winter. The small window was busted out, and the weathered boards were badly warped. Next to it, scattered in the grass were three logs—hardly enough to get them through the week, but it would suffice for now. He’d split those tonight and tomorrow morning he’d head out to cut down another tree.
Reaching the shed, he reached out to flip the latch, but they never quite got there. Instead, his fingers fell on something carved into the wood of the door. It was a heart, and within that heart were a pair of initials—J.D. and R.V.—and below them, 2gether 4ever. From the smooth texture of the scarred wood, it was obvious that this had been done some time ago, but when? And by who? Those initials, it had to be a coincidence, but as his fingers slowly traced the deep groove that formed the heart, his mind was bombarded with a series of images, images that couldn’t possibly be real. A younger Jake, shirtless, grinning mischievously, a pocket knife in hand. Behind him, a shed. This shed. Jake carving something in the wood. Jake stepping aside to show what he had done. Jake taking somebody in his arms. Kissing that person. As the images flashed by, Rafe knew he was that other person. The phantoms of the past reached through the years, and he could feel the other man’s arms around him, could feel the press of his friend’s lips against his own. He could even smell the cologne Jake always wore, and below that was the intoxicating aroma of the man’s sweat mixed with the musky scent of lust.
What the hell is going on?
His fingers moved to the initials carved within the heart, and as his fingers traced their form, the images kept coming, as did the sense memories. He could feel everything as it was replaying in his mind, the press of Jake’s body against his own, the kisses fluttering on his shoulder, the other man’s arousal pushing against him. He closed his eyes and let the memories take him. His legs trembled at the intensity of the sensations, his own erection straining behind the zipper of his jeans. Phantom fingers circled his navel, trailed their way up along his stomach a feather touch that left him shivering in anticipation. His nipples hardened as invisible thumbs grazed ever so gently over them. “Do it,” he gasped. The breathy exhalation turned into a moan of intense pleasure, and as past and present merged together and impaled him, his crotch was flooded with the heat of his climax. Heart racing in his chest, he dropped weakly to his knees and continued to fall forward, catching himself with his hands before rolling over onto his back. The grass was cool against his heated flesh, and as he stared up into the darkening sky, he saw Jake leaning over him, looking down at him, a smile on his face and his eyes alight with the fire of the love they shared. Rafe reached up to pull the other man down, but just before he could slide his fingers through Jake’s hair, the man began to fade.
Words failed him when he tried to say more. He wanted to get up and follow Jake, but whatever the hell just happened left him feeling as weak as a newborn. He couldn’t even keep his arm up without his body shaking with the effort, so he let it drop to the grass at his side. The visions… the memories… whatever they hell they were continued to flash through his head so quickly he could barely keep up with them. They left him feeling dizzy, disoriented, and if he tried to slow the progression of images as they played out, they retaliated by sending a sharp, stabbing pain to his temples, so he lay there enjoying the afterglow of his orgasm and waited for the world to stop spinning and his strength to return.
Once inside, Daisy wasted no time leading her sister through the rooms to the bedroom she shared with her breeder mate, and with each step they shed themselves of the symbols of modesty the society they lived in for the past year forced upon them. By the time they reached the mating chamber they were as nature intended them to be. There was no shame as they looked at each other with a burning desire in their eyes. It was as if the energy within them, magnified by the additional life force they both carried, would not be contained. It was shining out from their eyes and radiating from every pore, every opening, and was a sight to behold. Had it been able to manifest itself in physical form, Daisy knew she would have been blinded by the sheer intensity of it.
With a smile on her face, Daisy held out her hands to her sister, and the younger woman came forward eagerly. From the moment their fingers touched, the energy began to flow between them, through them, igniting a spark of pleasure that caused them both to gasp. They continued to move closer to each other until their nipples brushed together, igniting yet another spark of pleasure. Daisy slowly caressed her sister’s arm, enjoying the sensation the physical contact brought, and when she reached the other woman’s shoulder, she slipped her hand around her neck and pulled her in for a kiss. Ivy met her lips with an open-mouthed urgency as hands brushed her hips on their way to fondle her breasts. Every innocent touch was far more sensual and far more arousing than anything her mate had ever done to her, but then there hadn’t been that ethereal energy flowing between them. That was something she only shared with her sisters. With them there was no need for anything more intimate that what she and Ivy were doing right now—a shared kiss, an innocent caress—to trigger a climax. It was the energy flowing between them more than the intimate contact that brought about the sexual release. Already she could feel the pleasure beginning to build at the core of her being. It was too soon, but she knew there was little time for what they were doing. There was a chance either of the men could walk in at any moment, but she needed this. She had been deprived for too long and she wanted to make it last.
Over the past year moments like this were few and far between, which was a new experience for her. In the past she and her sisters, were she fortunate enough to be within close proximity of one of them, were able to openly share intimate moments with each other, and they were often encouraged by their chosen mates to do so. Sometimes the men would join in, but most times they were content to pleasure themselves while they watch. This time around, however, Daisy found she and Ivy had to focus most of their time and energy on keeping to the two men apart. It was the first time Daisy had ever encountered two men who were attracted to each other and showed no interest whatsoever in women. In fact, when she and Ivy first happened upon these two men, both were naked and the one with the darker skin was being mounted like a woman by the lighter-skinned man.
The press of Ivy’s lips against her neck brought her back to the present. The warmth of the other woman’s tongue leaving wet trail along her flesh and it descended down her chest and followed the swell of her breast caused her to throw her head back and emit a soft purr of contentment. She took a tentative step backward, toward the bed, and without missing a beat, Ivy followed. She brought a hand up and twined her fingers through Ivy’s hair, guiding the younger woman towards the aroused peak of her breast as she lowered herself onto the mattress. The sensations they were feeling would have been magnified a hundred times had they been outside in and direct contact with the earth, but they couldn’t risk discovery. At least not yet.
As Daisy settled onto the bed, Ivy lowered herself on top of her, flicking her tongue over the nipple of her right breast. She wanted her sister to linger there, but the younger woman must have sensed the urgency because it was obvious she had other plans. Ivy continued to kiss and lick her way down her body, taking a moment to coo softly in their native tongue to the child within, and Daisy spread her legs, making it easier for her sister to access her nether regions, where Ivy’s fingers were already at work, gently circling, teasing, but not penetrating. Daisy arched her back, all the while running her fingers through Ivy’s hair, gently urging her downward.
Suddenly all thoughts of pleasure fled as Daisy felt something within her rupture. She sat up quickly, pushing Ivy away. Her first thought was the baby, but it only took a moment to realize the baby was safe. They weren’t, however. She didn’t know how it happened, but the control she had over the man called Rafe Vargas had been severed, the breaking of those invisible reins so strong it was like a physical blow. She didn’t know how much time they had before he came barging in, so they needed to be away, and quickly.
She struggled to her feet and held out a hand to her sister. “Come. We need to go.”
“What has happened?”
Impatient, Daisy snatched Ivy’s hand and pulled her roughly to her feet. “There’s no time for questions. We need to leave.” She was already moving toward the door, dragging her sister behind her. “Now.” She spied the keys on the dresser. The idea of driving the SUV sickened her. She hated all vehicles with their toxic emissions, polluting the air and destroying the natural world, but this was an emergency. Without giving it a second thought, she snatched the keys from the dresser as she went, and was all but jerked off her feet when Ivy stooped to gather up her clothes,
“Leave them,” she snapped at the younger woman.
“There’s no time.”
Heeding her sister, Ivy stood up and allowed Daisy to lead her outside.
Daisy approached the SUV. “Get in,” she barked, opening the driver’s side door and climbing behind the week. When Ivy was seated beside her, she stuck the key in the ignition the way she’d seen the man do and gave it a twist. The engine roared to life. She settled back in the seat and tried to remember what else he did. Her memory was usually better than this, but she wasn’t usually under this kind of pressure. She looked nervously out the window to see if the one known as Rafe was coming around the side of the house.
There was no sign of him yet, but she sensed the danger approaching. She looked in the mirrors trying to see what was behind them. She prayed to the Goddess she wouldn’t see the one known as Jake running from the forest. Of the two, he was the more dangerous. The way behind them was clear, but that didn’t stop her from turning in the seat and scanning the field through the rear window. With no sign of either man, she allowed herself to relax a little, which helped her focus her thoughts. Taking a deep breath, she shifted the vehicle into “Drive” and eased her foot down on the pedal.
At first, nothing happened. She pressed down on the pedal again, harder, but still they didn’t move. She looked down and saw the other pedal and shifted her foot over and pressed down. Ivy let out a squeal as the vehicle leapt forward, driving them both against the seat backs. She quickly stepped on the other pedal, and they were thrown forward as the vehicle came to an abrupt halt. She shifted her foot back to the other pedal and gently pressed down on it. The SUV started to inch forward.
Feeling a little more confident, she gripped the steering wheel and guided the vehicle into a slow circle until they were facing down the dirt road. Breathing a sigh of relief, she gave it more gas. The large vehicle moved more quickly, and at first it was a struggle making it go in the direction they wanted to go, but she soon got the hang of it, and once she did, they were on their way.