For your Valentine’s Day gift, I give to you this highly elusive story that is so damned difficult to find on the internet. Jericho Z Barrons is the enigmatic anti-hero of Karen Marie Moning’s highly acclaimed Fever Series. If you don’t know who he is, you’re in for a treat. You’ve gotta start reading the series.
If you do know Barrons (wink wink), I recommend you stop reading right now and pick up Darkfever. Read pages 49 to 60 in the mass market paperback. If you have the hardcover version, start a few pages into Chapter 4, beginning with this:
“Someone knocking at my door awakened me. I sat up, rubbing gritty, tired eyes that felt as if I’d just shut them seconds ago. It took me a few moments to remember where I was—in a twin bed in a chilly room in Dublin, with rain tapping lightly at the window.”
When you’ve finished reading to the end of that scene, come back and continue reading here. In Darkfever, you get Mac’s version of what happened. Here, you’re going to get Barrons’.
“Who is it?”
2 A.M.. Humans sleep. Her voice through the door is drowsy, sweet, southern, and young. So fucking young. Innocent. In my zoo, MacKayla Lane is an exotic.
“What do you want?” All trace of slumber is gone from her voice. She couldn’t sound more awake if she’d rolled over on a rattlesnake in her bed.
I laugh silently, mirthlessly. More than she can handle. “We have information to exchange. You want to know what it is. I want to know what you know about it.”
“Bright guy, aren’t you? I figured that out back at the store. What took you so long?”
Sarcasm fails to mask the fear in her voice. I choose my next words carefully. I want her to open the door of her own accord, invite me in. It signifies to me, that courtesy. “I am unaccustomed to asking for what I want. Nor am I accustomed to bartering with a woman.”
She is silent a moment, liking my reply, that I placed her in a class of women with whom I am willing to barter. It makes her feel she has a modicum of control over the situation—as if I am a ‘situation.’ What stands on her doorstep is a fucking cataclysm. Words. Why do they always ask for words? Why do they ever believe them?
“Well, get used to it with me, bud, because I don’t take orders from anyone. And I don’t give up anything for free.”
She called me ‘bud’.
I might kill her before I’m done questioning her for that alone.
“Do you intend to open this door, Ms. Lane, or shall we converse where anyone might attend our business?” Formality makes her perceive me as older than I am, less dangerous. I will wear any skin to get in.
“Do you really intend to exchange information?”
“And you’ll go first?”
“I will.” So fucking gullible.
“We can trade through the door.”
In her dreams. My dick isn’t that long. I came here for two things. I’m not leaving without them. “No.”
“I am a private person, Ms. Lane. This is not negotiable.”
“How did you find me?”
Bedsprings squeak. The sound of jeans being pulled on.
“You procured a hired conveyance at my establishment.”
“We call them taxis where I come from. And bookstores.”
Is that a little spine? Does she have a backbone under all that fluff? “We call them manners where I come from, Ms. Lane.”
“You should talk,” she grumbles. “It’s not my fault. Being threatened brings out the worst in me.”
She opens the door. Peers out. Puny ass chain across it. I could break it with a blink.
Fuck, I think. Just that. A multitude of various fucks, all in one great big clusterfuck. As in I am fucked if I want this…this…newborn imbecile. And she is so fucked if I take her. And fuck if I’m going to walk away. Letting her leave my store was bad enough. Should have killed the cabbie. Taken what I wanted then. Innocent. Soft. Smells good. Sleep swollen. Hair a blond tangle of invitation for a fist. I see it spilling down her back, grazing the curves of her ass. Me under her, behind her. Driving up into her. What will she do? Say? How does she sound when she comes? Does she, like most women, lose a part of her soul in sex? Leave it lying there for the taking? Fuck. “May I come in?” I don’t smile. My smiles don’t make people relax.
“I wouldn’t have let you up this far.
Her eyes are green, angry. Her nipples are hard. Lust is absurd. It strikes in the strangest places at the strangest times. She doesn’t even realize she’s feeling it. She’s erected a barricade of propriety and lies between us. I despise the type of woman she is. I loathe her soft pink innocence. My body doesn’t concur. I wonder why her? Why not, say, a streetlamp for all we have in common? She’s chiffon and satin ribbons. I’m raw meat and razor blades. I have never been drawn to my opposite. I like what I am. “Your nipples are hard,” I murmur, allowing her the choice to hear it, or pretend she didn’t.
She blinks, shakes her head. “How did you get up here?”
Ah, the human ear has splendid filters. “I told them I was your brother.”
“Right. Because we look so much alike.”
The lace of her sleep-shirt flutters with each breath. She is trembling, trying to conceal it. I glance beyond her, at the tiny room. It’s little better than a let-by-the-hour. It won’t take that long to get what I came for. Business first. “Well, Ms. Lane?”
“Don’t hurt yourself.”
“Don’t be a jackass.”
“You have till the count of three then I leave. Two.”
“Oh, fine, come in,” she snaps.
I do smile then but permit it only because she has closed the door to unhook the chain and can’t see me. She opens it and steps back. I have found there to be little distance between the unlatching of a chain and the spreading of a woman’s legs. As if they can never unbar only a single entrance. It’s a disease called hope. Women suffer from it greatly.
She pushes the door flat to the wall. She thinks it makes her safe. I enter. Don’t bother to close it. That will come later. She toes a rug and a lacy bra beneath the bed. I will see much more than that before I leave.
“So, what is it? No, wait—how do you spell it?”
I pace a circle around her. She spins as I stalk around her, unwilling to give me her back. I’m going to have it anyway. Every way. “S-i-n-s-a-r.”
“Shi-sa. Shi-sa-du.” I continue pacing. I like the way her body moves. If she glances down, she’ll see my coat is open and my suit fails to conceal how hard I am. She never takes her gaze from my face. Few keep it there.
“Oh, that makes great sense. And the ‘du’?”
I stop circling, facing the door. She stops, her back to it. Three feet separate us. I can feel her. Smell her.
“Dubh is do? Should I be calling pubs poos?”
“Dubh is Gaelic, Ms. Lane. Pub is not.”
“Don’t bust a gut laughing.”
“Nothing about the Sinsar Dubh is a laughing matter.”
“I stand corrected. So what is this gravest of graves?”
Flippant. She has no business being here. Fio was right.
It would be merciful, Jericho. Kill her quickly before one of the others tortures her for days then rips out her throat.
Does mercy look like my middle fucking name?
Do it for me, Jericho. I can’t bear the thought of what one of the others will do to her.
One of them? Or me, Fio? Which thought can’t you bear?
I saw the look in your eyes. Jericho, how could you want that….that…that foolish, empty-headed child! What could she possibly offer you?
“Too long,” I say. Fiona has been with me too long.
“What?” she says blankly.
I’m suddenly furious that MacKayla Lane came to my city, thinks to play on the same field with me and mine, made herself my problem in any capacity. “Go home, Ms. Lane. Be young. Be pretty. Get married. Have pretty babies. Grow old with your pretty husband.”
“Oh, screw you, Jericho Barrons! Tell me what it is. You said you would.”
“If you insist. Don’t be a fool. Don’t insist.”
“I’m insisting. What is it?”
“Last chance.” For many things.
“Too bad. I don’t want a last chance. Tell me.”
I was lying anyway. Her last chance was her first one. She walked through my door. “The Sinsar Dubh is a book.”
“A book? That’s all? Just a book?”
“On the contrary, Ms. Lane, never make that mistake. Never think it just a book. It is an exceedingly rare and exceedingly ancient manuscript countless people would kill to possess.”
“Including you? Would you kill to possess it?”
“Absolutely. Anyone and anything that gets in my way. Always have. Always will. Reconsidering your stay, Ms. Lane?”
“You’ll be going home in a box, then.”
“Is that another of your threats?”
“It is not I who will put you there.”
“I answered your question, now it’s your turn to answer mine. What do you know of the Sinsar Dubh, Ms. Lane? Tell me. And don’t lie. I’ll know.” I could Voice her, force her to tell me everything. Little fun there.
“My sister was studying here. She was killed a month ago. She left me a voice-mail message right before she died, telling me I had to find the Sinsar Dubh.”
“She didn’t say. She just said everything depended on it.”
“Where is this message? I must hear it myself.”
“I accidentally deleted it.” Her gaze darts to the side.
“Liar. You would make no such mistake with a sister you care enough about to die for. Where is it? If you are not with me, Ms. Lane, you are against me. I have no mercy for my enemies.”
“I already gave a copy of this recording to the Dublin Gardai. They’re working to track down the man she was involved with.” There goes her gaze again.
“Give me your phone.”
“Not a chance. But I’ll put it on speakerphone.”
She plays the message. Never takes her gaze from my face. The things I could teach her…if she could survive them.
“Did you know my sister?”
I slice my head once to the left in silent negation.
“You were both after this ‘exceedingly rare book’ yet never ran into each other?”
“Dublin is a city of a million-odd people inundated daily by countless commuters and besieged by a never-ending wave of tourists, Ms. Lane. The oddity would be if we had encountered each other. What did she mean by ‘you don’t even know what you are’?”
“I wondered that myself. I have no idea.”
“Hmm. This was all she left you? A message?”
“Nothing more? No note or package or anything of the sort?”
She slices her head once to the left in silent negation. I scan her eyes. Deep but there, a hidden mirth. She just mocked me. My dick gets harder.
“And you had no idea what she meant by the Sinsar Dubh? Your sister didn’t confide in you?”
“I used to think she did. Apparently I was wrong.”
“Who did she mean by ‘them’?”
“I thought you might be able to tell me that.”
“I am not one of these ‘them,’ if that is what you’re inferring. Many seek the Sinsar Dubh, both individuals and factions. I want it as well, but I work alone.”
“Why do you want it?”
“It is priceless. I am a book collector.”
“And that makes you willing to kill for it? What do you plan to do with it? Sell it to the highest bidder?”
“If you don’t approve of my methods, stay out of my way.”
“Fine. What else have you to tell me, Ms. Lane?”
“Not a thing.” She jerks a frosty look from me to the door.
I laugh. “I do believe I’m being dismissed. I can’t recall the last time I was dismissed.” Let her think I’m leaving. It’s time to close the door.
I’m nearly past her, nearly at the door, when I grab her and slam her back against my body. The back of her skull thuds into my chest. Her teeth clack together. She makes a wordless sound, protest, and another more guttural sound that is not protest at all. I band an arm beneath her breasts.
I can smell when a woman wants to fuck. I smelled it in my store. I smell it now. She can’t see herself yet, she certainly can’t see me, can’t admit what she wants. But her body knows. Lust is a thing of the blood. Doesn’t need head or heart. Her flesh is soft and pink. Her blood is red hot.
“What are you doing?”
“Need a fucking manual?” I press hard against her ass.
“You’ve got to be kidding! You’re totally not my type and you’re…you’re… how old are you anyway? Eeew!”
“Your scent says otherwise.” I inhale. So much sweeter this close.
“My scent? Like you think you can smell—you think I—-oh! Let me go! Now! Get off me! I’m going to scream.”
“You will most definitely scream. I promise you that.” Beneath my arm, her heart hammers, she breathes quick and shallow. Sexual excitement alters the lines of her body, fuses it into new lines against mine. A woman’s spine changes when she wants to fuck, a subtle, supple shifting at the base, a sharper curve at that hollow where back meets ass. Breasts tighten and lift, the slant of jaw changes, as the mouth prepares and muscles draw tight. I have studied humans for a small eternity. Intent infuses their every movement. Road maps to their inner navigation, plastered all over their skin. Born to be slaves.
“You’re delusional. I don’t want you. Get out of my room.”
“So you can crawl back into bed, weep for the sister you lost and brood about your own ineptitude? Scribble down your silly plans and plot vengeance? You don’t even know what the word means.” But she could learn. “Are you in such a hurry to be alone with your grief? Is it such a grand bedmate? When’s the last time you lost yourself in a good, hard fuck, Ms. Lane? Have you ever? I think it’s always been gentle, nice and sanitary and when it was over, you lay there wondering what all the fuss was about.”
“You’re crazy! You know that, right? You’re abso-frigging-lutely crazy. How dare you come in here and threaten and bully and be shitty to me then try to sleep with me? Then make fun of perfectly good sex!”
“I have no desire to sleep with you. I want to fuck you. And there is no such thing as perfectly good sex. If it’s “perfectly good,” I mock in falsetto, “he should be shot in the head and put out of everyone’s misery. Sex either blows your fucking mind, or it’s not good enough. You want me to blow your fucking mind, Ms. Lane? Come on. Do it. Be a big girl.”
Her whole body jerks in my arms. “I don’t even like you.”
“I don’t like you either. But my dick is hard and you’re wet—“
“You can’t know that!”
My hand slides to the top button of her fly. “Want me to prove it? If you persist in lying, you leave me no choice.” I pop the first button, then the second. Her spine changes against my back, yet more curve, more pliancy. The human body is remarkable.
“Are you wet, Ms. Lane? Yes or no?” When she makes no reply, I pop the third button. “Let’s make a deal. I’ll check and if you’re dry, I’ll leave.”
“Answer the question.”
“It’s none of your business.”
“Tell me to stop.” I pop the fourth button. There’s only one left.
“I hate you.”
“I can live with that. Have you fucked since your sister was murdered? Let go, Ms. Lane. For once in your circumscribed little life, let the fuck go.”
She is suddenly steel in my arms. She pushes back with her hips, twists and turns in my arms, slams her hands into my chest and knees me in the balls. Or tries. I block it with a knee at the last second.
“You don’t know anything about me!” Her chest heaves, a pulse beats wildly at her throat.
“I know you better than those you call your best friends. I see you.”
“Yeah?” Her jaw juts. Something flashes deep in her eyes. I go still. What was that? Something very different from what she shows on the surface. I didn’t expect it. Interesting. “Just what the fuck do you see?” she practically snarls.
“A woman who’s lived in a cage all her life. And hates it. Bored in there, aren’t you. Waiting for life to happen. And when it finally does, it steals from you what you loved most. So take back. Explode. Lash out. Blow up.”
She stares up at me, wets her lip.
“Scream. Curse. Rage. Take it out on me.” I step forward, cup her hard between her legs, rub with my palm. The heat she’s throwing off is amazing. “Tell me to stop.”
She is motionless a long moment. Finally she slices her head once to the left.
I shove my hand down her pants, the fifth button pops off and clatters across the floor, I push my finger inside her and her knees go out from under her as clamps down on me, hard. She’s so fucking wet. We go down to the floor together.
“I’m sick of feeling like this,” she hisses. “I hate my life. I hate everything about it!” She strangles me with my tie, clumsy in her haste to get it off. Still living in the world where boys undress completely, and girls lie back and wait. Only two things need to be naked.
“Fuck the tie. Unzip my pants.” She yanks it open so hard she breaks the zipper of my ten thousand dollar suit. I pick her up by the waist of her jeans and dump her out of them. She pushes up from the floor to turn but I’m behind her. I shove her back to the floor. “Stay there. I want you this way.”
“But you said I could—“
“Your turn next.“
“This is about me, remember? That’s what you said. I want what I want now.”
“Try, Ms. Lane, just try.”
To her credit, she does. But I’m stronger. I get my way first, not that she’s complaining from the noise she’s making. Fist in her hair, I spread her legs wide as they’ll go, crush her flat to the floor. Later I’ll take her on her hands and knees. Now I need her still as I can keep her. I grind between her legs and she makes a choking noise. Slick with all that wet she supposedly wasn’t, I drive into her. Air explodes from us both. She arches her neck and howls. I don’t move for a moment. Movement will fuck me royally right now.
She bucks beneath me. “Move, you bastard!”
“When I’m ready.”
I close my hands on her ribs. She fights. She’ll be bruised in the morning. I dredge up a few hated memories. My blood goes cold. I get harder. I begin to move, lose track of time. Four hours feel like four minutes. For something so soft, she takes her fucking hard, with a twist. I taste her. I could eat her alive. She closes her mouth on my dick. I close my hands on her head. I might not let her go. Slick with sweat, I defile her with reverence. Or revere her with defilement. Every. Inch. Of. Her. Motherfuckingfinebody. She likes it. No holds barred with this woman. I wouldn’t have believed it of her. And she does scream…
Hours later I roll over on my back, fold my arms behind my head and let her rock her world all over me. Fuck if she doesn’t.
Her head is thrown back, spine arched, she’s oblivious to rules, to moral order, to all but inner imperatives.
I leave just before dawn.
At the door, I turn back and look at her. And shake my head. Her back is to me. She’s wrapped a sheet around herself.
She turns slowly and I say fuck beneath my breath. Already she’s changing. It began when I started putting my clothes on. Now it’s nearly complete. Her eyes are different. Wary, guarded, tinged with that human emotion I despise the most: regret. I was wrong. She wasn’t ready. Not yet.
By noon, she’ll hate me. By tonight, she’ll have convinced herself I raped her. By tomorrow, she’ll hate herself.
I cross the room, clamp a hand over her mouth and crush my arm across her chest, compressing her lungs so she can’t draw a breath. She lives at my discretion. I can take her breath. I can give it back.
I wonder, pushed to the wall, stripped of all defenses, tested beyond endurance, just who might MacKayla Lane become?
I press my mouth to her ear. My words are soft. “Go home, Ms. Lane. You don’t belong here. Drop it with the Gardai. Stop asking questions. Do not seek the Sinsar Dubh or you will die in Dublin. I haven’t been hunting the it this long and gotten this close to let anyone get in my way and fuck things up. There are two kinds of people in this world: those who survive no matter the cost, and those who are walking victims.” I lick the vein fluttering in the side of her neck. Her heart is beating like a frightened rabbit. Fear doesn’t arouse me. Yet my dick is so hard again that it hurts. I should end it here. Rip out her throat, leave her dead in her dingy, small flat. Perhaps I’ll kill her tomorrow. Perhaps I’ll chain her in my bookstore for a time. I’ll give her a single chance to run. If she stays, I am absolved of responsibility for anything that befalls her. “You, Ms. Lane, are a victim, a lamb in a city of wolves. I’ll give you until nine P.M. tomorrow to get the bloody hell out of this country and out of my way.”
I let her go, and she crumples to the floor.
Then I bend over her, touch her face, whisper the ancient words of a druid spell and when I am done, the only memories she retains of this night are of conversation and threat. She will never know that tonight she was mine.
The Fever Series has got to be my all time favourite read. I do believe that I’ve gone through it from the first page of Darkfever to the last page of Shadow fever at least 5 times. Each time, I’m completely drawn into her world of paranormal, romance and girl porn. You’re seriously missing out if you enjoy this genre and have not read KMM.
On a separate cryptic and personal note – You, my personal Barrons, asked me the same thing today. Words, why do I need words? Don’t your actions already explain everything? They do, but I still want to hear you say them.
Happy Valentine’s Day from Tuppy and me! (That’s a heart under his untidy paw, if you haven’t realised.) The BF’s sick in bed in flu and I’m down with food poisoning so we’re just gonna lie around together. We hope you have a better one than what we’re gonna have.
Enjoy yerselves folks, be safe! *wink*