Spark into Flame Chapter 6
- Spark into Flame Chapter 5
An dark figure intrudes on Sky and Ember's paradise, interrupting their honeymoon.
Sky lay beneath a tree, a mat of moss soft beneath her arms. Pink petals fluttered down from the flower-laden branches. Tall blue flowers surrounded her, hiding her. No one knew she was here in the garden room except Ember. And he’d posted guards at the door to make sure no one intruded while he brought his request to the king.
Despite the fact that she was safe here, she couldn’t shake the terror trembling through her whenever she thought about tomorrow, when she'd see her father again. Darkness had descended over her, casting a shadow over the beauty of the garden.
She tried to shed all thought from her mind, just feel, as she often did in her garden at home. But unwanted images kept appearing. Her father, smiling, holding out his hands in false welcome…. His face, pleasant, but a savagery lurking behind those copper-brown eyes—the hunger for the flesh of a young girl….
She cut off those images before they could go further—to their inevitable end. She laid her head on the moss, and brought up an image of Ember. So beautiful….
She examined the image of him from every angle. Relived her night and morning of ecstasy. Longing poured through her.
But even as she thought of him, darkness carved through her heart.
She stood and walked among the flowers, caressing their petals, recalling the name of each one. Some she did not even know—rare blooms from other worlds. She wound among the blooming trees and the dancing little stream along the side of the path.
Ember will be with me tomorrow, she thought. I don’t have to be afraid.
Besides, my father never hurt me after I was fourteen. He’s mostly ignored me except for shooting insults at me…. He’s not even interested in me that way anymore. Why should it matter what he did so long ago? I should push it to the back of my mind—cut it out—not let it invade my life. I have a new life now…the past is nothing more than a nightmare….
Come in here, my little ambrosia. I have something for you…..
She tore away from the voice, the image beginning to materialize with it—fled down the path—
I won’t let you take me. I won’t let you take me—
Blindly running, she almost crashed straight into Ember.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, grasping her arms, smoothing back wild locks of hair from her face.
He searched her eyes, looking a little doubtful.
How long can I keep up this pretense, she thought….how long can I pretend I’m not damaged beyond repair…
He kissed the tip of her nose.
“I talked to my grandfather. He thinks he’s going to live forever—so he won’t have to worry about me becoming king anytime soon—but he doesn’t want my behavior to reflect badly on our family. To him, my father’s a lost cause, but maybe I can be fixed. Anyway, he told me to do what his brother says. I persisted, but he had other things on his mind. I went to my father, but there was nothing he could do—he’s out of the king’s good graces at the moment.
“I hate the thought of having to leave you for something that’s just contrived by Shade to manipulate me. Maybe we don’t need the king’s authorization to maneuver out of Shade’s demands. We could go to another world. That’s what we were going to do for our honeymoon anyway. But on the less developed worlds, Shade doesn’t have such an extensive network. We could disappear for a while….”
“Oh—could we?” Hope sprang up in her heart.
“He’d be furious, but I’d deal with that. After the banquet tomorrow we’ll leave to any world you desire.”
“Why can’t we go before the banquet?”
“Don’t you want to see your family?”
“Besides, it’ll lull him into a false sense of security.” His face was alight with excitement. She was excited with him—but at the same time, she felt like she was sinking through the floor….
I’ll just see my father for a little while, then we’ll leave. But still, she felt that if she saw him, he’d lock her in chains again, and nothing would help her recover…she’d lapse into the nonperson she’d been for so long, hollow, half-alive….
She couldn’t tell this to Ember, though. She didn’t want to raise his suspicions. And so he let her take her to the dining room, and they ate supper together.
It was a good supper—huge, food spreading out over the long, ornate table. She lost herself in the sensation of tastes and textures.
Laughing, she followed him back to their bedroom, her hand in his. He lifted her up, twirled her around. “It’s been too long,” he said, voice close to her ear. “Too long to be away from your touch. You are everything—” He kissed her on the mouth. She kissed him back, a fever rising in her as she realized there was nothing between them. They were together, alone—she needed to feel his skin on hers. Shed these encumbering clothes.
She fumbled with his ornate official jacket. He helped her unbutton it, and shrugged it off his shoulders. Then she lifted the embroidered shirt beneath it off over his head—her hands tangled in his soft hair—then flung it onto the floor. There—the astonishing being beneath. She stepped back, struck by how perfect he was compared to her unworthiness—and a sting of shame, of the uncleanness she felt—how dare she touch him with her contaminated fingers?
He took her inaction as cue to start on her, tenderly touching the robe at her throat. He slowly peeled it off, flipping it down over one shoulder, then the other.
The robe shimmered to the floor. She stood there, not willing to make the next move.
He stepped over to her. “Is everything all right?” he said. “We don’t have to do this now.”
“No—I want you. Please,” she said, not wanting to deny him but not wanting to feel the pleasure she did not deserve—not from someone like him—when she had such a disgusting secret hidden deep inside her.
He kissed her, his caresses so gentle—a shiver ran over her skin. Her father had done this….pretended to be gentle. Touched her like this—
He was not here but she could see him all the same and didn’t want it intrude on her image of Ember—how could that man corrupt any part of who Ember was—
That other man—if he could be called a man—could not be here—she fought the image, even as Ember kissed down her neck.
It would always be like this, the darkness layered over the light, unless something else could superimpose on it—she needed to forget, to wash the feeling of her father’s touch from her—cleanse it completely and maybe then she could shed this shame.
She could never be worthy of Ember, but maybe the only way to erase the past would be to let him tear it away so she could give him everything that she was—let him burn it away with his touch—
“Kiss me harder,” she said.
He withdrew. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Maybe you will like it.”
“Hurting someone is not my idea of pleasure.”
“Maybe I will like it.”
His eyebrows shot upwards. “Oh. I’ve heard that some like it rough—I just thought—well, you didn’t seem to want it.”
“Maybe I’ve changed my mind. I want to try something new.”
“Well, I suppose—I’m not experienced in any of it, not even from the trainer, but I will try. As long as—well, I don’t really want to hurt you, so you can tell me if it’s too much.”
She nodded, though fear tingled through her. She’d always been sensitive, always hated pain—
But this is for him. So he can have all of me. Burn the past out of my mind—rip it from my skin—
She’d thought it had been erased, until she’d learned she’d have to see her father again, visit his house. But maybe by tomorrow he would be nothing to her, once and for all—she could see him, but disdain him completely because another could give her everything that he could not—pleasure and pain were Ember’s while he was nothing more than a fading shadow—
She lay down on the bed, displaying all of herself for him.
He climbed up beside her. Lay on his side, tenderly brushed her cheek with his fingers. “This is kind of foreign to me. I—don’t really get this, but I want to please you. Is there anything that you have learned from the trainer that you’d like to try? If you had a trainer, that is. I know you didn’t go all the way.”
Her father lashing lightning across her—beating her—tying her—cutting her until she cried—no, she doubted that any kind of trainer would have used those methods….but it was all she knew.
She doubted Ember would go that far, and she didn’t want him to—but it needed to be enough—more pain than she could bear—
“Kiss me. Hard.”
He leaned over her, hesitancy in his eyes. He lowered his mouth to hers, kissing her softly as if to reassure her who he was. Then he kissed harder, hungrily attacking her lips.
She trembled with his touch—his savagery felt amazing—she felt how much he wanted her through his touch. She kissed him back, allowing her own hunger to override the plan—who cared about that when she felt like this?
But no, she had to keep it up. She pulled back a little and whispered, “Harder. I want to taste blood.”
Shock flitted across his eyes, as if he’d never considered she’d go that far, but he complied. Kissed her, hard, then bit down on her lip, just a tiny tear, but she tasted the salty tang of blood.
Her father had done this—
No—don’t let him in—maybe this isn’t working—but if the pleasure couldn’t erase it, the pain had to, or nothing would. She had to forge forward, even though she hated pain.
“Keep going,” she said.
“I don’t know if I can bring myself to hurt you—to mar your beautiful lips—”
She didn’t want to make him do something he didn’t like—the only way to keep going was to show him how much she liked this. But something in her was gratified to know that the only way he would hurt her would be against his will.
“Maybe we could try something else. Could you tie me to the bed?”
“Oh. I suppose.” He climbed off the bed and brought back the sash from her robe. Tied it gently around her wrists.
“Harder,” she said. Not meeting her eyes, he yanked the sash tight around her wrists. She bit back a cry, trying not to show him how much it hurt. Maybe if she showed that it didn’t bother her, it wouldn’t bother him as much.
He tied the other end to the golden rung on the back of the bed. Pleasure trickled through her—now he could do to her what he wanted. But then, an image—
Her father, tying her down, twisting her wrists together—
She needed another image to replace it.
“Lightning,” she said. “Please—hurt me—”
Still looking hesitant, he touched her stomach, sending lightning snapping into her—he lifted his hand, little sparks licking down between his skin and hers—delicious tingles, snapping harder than before, yet without any real pain—gasping, she marveled again at his control, at his ability to know just what she liked—pain shot through her wrists but that didn’t matter—nothing else mattered while he was doing this—maybe this would be enough—
Lightning tingled like static at her throat, then he roved down over her stomach to her legs, her feet—no pain at all now—just little sparks, unbearably sweet—she laughed, trying not to writhe away from the tickling feeling—
He withdrew, kissed her on the mouth. “You like that?” he said.
She could hardly force the words from her throat. “Very much,” she managed. The past had all but disappeared—perhaps this was enough—she needed it to be enough.
He kissed her again, then followed the path of the lightning down her neck-- he nipped her skin lightly—
Her father looked down at her. “You like this, don’t you.”
“Harder,” she said, and he complied—the images stayed, sticking in her mind—
“Harder!” she screamed, needing Ember to erase it, erase it all with his burning touch—
Pain cut through her—she needed this—“More!” she said, and he kissed her lips, drawing blood, but he didn’t seem to notice this time—he kissed her in a frenzy, his body, packed with muscle, nearly smothering her—she wanted to cry out but couldn’t and he was pressing down on her and she couldn’t get out—her father—Ember—pain sliced through her wrists but he didn’t seem to care—perhaps all men were alike when it came down to it—
Lightning raked across her, striking outward from where he held her waist, shocking her—he let out lightning without reserve this time and it burned into her, cracking against her skin, lashing into her most tender parts—
A cry escaped her lips, rending her throat. He drew back, as if shocked himself.
She trembled, hanging from her wrists, blood trickling down her chin. She felt weak, and fear rippled through her—he had done this—like her father—
But tears trembled in his eyes. “I’m—so sorry—oh, Sky. I thought you wanted this but it was too much and—” He hung his head. “I shouldn’t have waited for a word from you—I should have known it was too far—I have too much lightning for my own good. I—” He reached for her but she flinched away—Hurt flashed through his eyes and it tore her.
“No—I’m sorry,” she managed, the words rasping through her throat. “I should have told you how far I wanted to go.”
She looked at him but fear trembled through her at the thought of his touch—just like with her father—
What have I done? she thought.
How could she remedy this? Let him know it wasn’t that big of a deal—let him keep going—perhaps it hadn’t gone far enough. Vestiges of the past lingered—perhaps they would disappear if he continued.
“It’s okay,” she said, trying to keep her voice from shaking. “Even if I cry out, it doesn’t mean I want you to stop. I like the pain.”
“You—can’t really like this.”
“I do. I want you to—take me. Don’t hold back your lightning—”
“No. I’m sorry if that’s what you want—I just—can’t. I can’t stand hurting you anymore. If I used lightning without holding back—there’s no telling what it would do to you. It might damage you permanently. That I could never live with.”
“I’ve—” She almost said, I’ve experienced it before—and I’m not damaged—I can always be repaired—
“I want you to keep going.”
“Please.” A tear slipped from her eye—a horrible pain crushing her chest—“Please. It’s what I want. It’s what I—” what I deserve, what I expect, all that I know—
A sob shook her, pain like a lightning strike ripping through her chest—she couldn’t get a breath, trapped sobs burned her throat.
He untied her wrists and she stifled a cry at the pain but his hands were gentle and he wrapped her in his arms.
The breath in her chest finally escaped, and with it, a cry tore from her. She curled up against his chest, hot tears pouring down her cheeks and he held her, stroking her hair until the tears dried and she lay there, hollow inside except for pain and guilt, the only comfort his strong arms around her, his touch the only thing keeping her alive.
Sleep shoved her beneath the surface of consciousness. Its dark water closed over her.
- Spark into Flame Chapter 7
Sky tells Ember about her horrific secret.
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