Genre: Historical, Interracial, Paranormal, Suspense, Romance
Cover Artist: TBA
Line Editor: TBA
Word Count: 34,700
Release Date: TBA
Margaret Thawley's watery nightmares hold the key to unlocking her past and her future. On the Philippine Island of Cagayan, she places her trust in the enigmatic warrior Rizal Malihim and his night lights, to keep her safe despite the terrifying tales. For in Cagayan, the natives warn, fireflies mask the dreaded berbalangs - ghoulish vampires swarming for victims to kill.
Grumbling, Sir Joseph levered himself from his cot and grabbed a leathery looking smock from a peg on the wall. “We should be approaching Cagayan, I best speak with the captain,” he muttered tenting the coverall over his bald head as he dashed out into the weather.
“He really shouldn’t run,” Rizal noted lazily, watching the older man slip and slide across the wet planking. “He’s got the wrong shoes for it.” There was more than a small dose of mischievous humor in his voice and Margaret found herself stifling laughter.
“I thought about what you said last night.” She started and winced at the sudden tension in the air. When was she going to learn how to hold a proper conversation? “You are right. There truly is no need for me to be on this trip with Sir Joseph. I can’t speak any language but English, I’ve no great grasp on math or science and my knowledge about history and foreign places is limited to books I’ve read.”
Taking a deep breath, she looked up and found his dark eyes watching her intently. “I know what I am supposed to have done to have been sent here, can you tell me differently?”
“To know that, babae, I would have to know what you were to have done.”
Margaret fell to sudden embarrassed silence. How to admit her foolish shame? She felt heat burn along her cheeks. “Come now, it cannot be as bad as that.” She could feel his amusement in the small room. Pulling the cloth curtain open farther, she tried to meet his eyes but couldn’t.
“I had an…affair.” The words sounded lame coming out of her mouth. His reaction was unexpected. Soft laughter echoed in the cabin. Chancing a glance upwards, Margaret went from wanting to sink through the floor in embarrassment to having a sudden urge to hit him over the head. “I don’t see how that was funny!”
The laughter in his eyes extinguished. With incredible speed he rolled off his cot, cleared the top of Sir Joseph’s, and landed roughly on top of her, pushing her back against the lumpy pillow. Errantly, he pulled the curtain closed, painting the alcove in shadows. The thunderous sound of rain faded into nothingness as he captured her hands from pushing against his chest, placing them above her head.
“So, sinta, you have had an affair with a man?”
Margaret held very still as he pushed himself between her thighs. Foolishly, she had tossed an old chemise and thin skirt over her shift, wanting to avoid the heat or abusing her new dress with repeated wear. She felt too well the thickness of his erection as it rubbed against her cleft. His weight pushed her breasts against his chest. Open-mouthed in shock, she watched as his eyes drifted closed in appreciation of her body.
Margaret choked, she should be screaming for help, her heart should have been galloping with fear, but no, she felt the way her body heated, softened in anticipation of his rough caress. The tempo of her heart wasn’t speeding in panic but thrumming deep and low, vibrant with want. She wanted this. “Yes,” she croaked.
“Then you have laid like this with a man?” He nipped the skin at the side of her jaw, and she quivered.
“No,” she admitted.
A knowing smile flitted across his face. “Of course, then he has touched you like this?” Slowly he slid the backs of his fingers from the column of her neck over the swell of her breast and lower, across the edge of her hip to the top of her thigh.
Her breath hitched as his fingers plucked at the thin fabric, hiking it above her knee. Panting beneath him, eyes wide in fear misted with want, she felt the heat of his fingers as his hand slid between them towards the delta of her thighs. Whimpering, she bit her lower lip. Locked in uncertainty, her body felt alert yet slumberous, it ached for the feel of his hands, but did she dare lay there and allow him to touch her body so intimately?
A single slim digit brushed again and again at the slick skin of her slit, and reflexively she parted her legs further. When his finger swirled around the aching nub of her clit, she gasped and arched allowing his finger to slide deep inside.
“Ah, there, I can feel the truth, mahalin, it is wrapped around my finger. You’ve lain with no man.”
“N-no, I ha-haven’t,” she managed to stammer as his finger turned and caressed a spot inside that she never dreamed existed. Heat flared as bright as a lightning strike through her body, and her bones burned with want. When he removed his hand, she cried out, wanting, no needing more. But he only smiled, a sad twisting of his lips as he tasted the fingers that had plumbed her depths before dropping his lips to hers to hush her cries.
“Perhaps then, he touched you here?” Smoothing the material of her skirt down, his hand moved to cup her breast. The way his fingers closed around the swollen globe made her head swim. The nipple tightened under the thin fabric and stood, an erect point rubbing against the soft cotton fabric. Delicately, he rolled the turgid flesh between finger and thumb, causing an aching wave of desire to undulate from the point of contact through her stomach to her core.
“Oh God, no.” She turned and buried her face against his shoulder.
“Did you want him to touch you like that?”
Blindly she shook her head no.
“What of me, shall I stop?”
“No, don’t stop, please,” she begged in a high thin voice.
“But I must,” he teased. “However, I need to know how this man touched you in this ‘affair.’ Did he kiss you?” Drugged by the feelings coursing through her body, Margaret blinked up at him owlishly. “If I may?” he asked, and she nodded hesitantly, unsure of what to expect.
His mouth covered hers, tongue licking at the seam of her lips and she was lost to the feeling, caught between her heart turning over and the moisture gathering at her cleft where the weight of his body pressed his hard male flesh against her softness. Her lips opened and he plundered her mouth, sliding against her tongue, conjuring images of his body moving against hers in the dark. Slowly, he pulled back; feathering kisses along her throat and jaw. Over the roaring of blood in her ears, she heard him ask, breath brushing hyperaware skin, “Did he kiss you like that?”
Unable to speak, she shook her head ‘no.’
“Then sinta, you have not had an affair, but you will.” With that promise he teased her lips open and tasted her mouth again as she arched against his muscled frame, oblivious to where they were, “But not today and not on this boat.” Gently, he traced the contours of her face with a fingertip as if memorizing every plane. His eyes were a dark enigma as he withdrew emotionally, then physically, to his cot. Her body felt splashed with cold at his leaving, but it was well-timed. Sir Joseph slipped and tripped along the deck, blustering back into the room.
“We’ve arrived!” he announced shaking water droplets around the room like a hound. “Did I miss anything?”
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