The Witch's Demon
Part Four of The Coven Chronicles
All characters in this book are 18 or over.
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Steve woke late and alone, the soft light from the lamp on the side table the only illumination in the room. For a moment he lay confused, trying to piece together the memories from the previous night.
Good grief, he thought. Did all that really happen?
The strange, sexually charged ritual at which John and Susanna were welcomed into the coven. The revelations about their relationships. The astounding fact that, not only did the members of the coven truly possess magical power, but that somehow, he did as well. The truth about his adoption, and the incredible fact that he would be coming into a large amount of insurance money once he proved his identity.
And lastly, and most wonderfully, the night of beautiful lovemaking he had shared with Eleanor.
She was something entirely beyond his experience. Gentle even when she was at her most passionate. Innocent and depraved. Pure and wanton. Not one or the other. But both. Somehow she managed to hold to the poles of her paradoxical nature, and in so doing, enriched both.
Which made it bitterly disappointing that she was not there when he woke up.
He pulled on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and wandered upstairs. Susanna was sitting at the kitchen table, chatting happily with her cousin Hilda, when he entered. She turned to him with a smile.
"Steve! You're finally awake!"
Steve smiled back. It was almost impossible to be in a bad mood when Susanna was around. Her blithe good humor was infectious.
"Master of the obvious you are," he said, pulling juice and a bagel out of the fridge. "Good morning, Hilda. Did you spend the night?"
Hilda nodded. "I kept waiting for you to realize you had made a mistake and kick my cousin out of bed and come up for a real woman," she said, arching her back to emphasize her magnificent chest. "But she must have tied you up or drugged you or something. Susanna and I had to entertain ourselves," she continued, slanting a wicked glance at her cousin.
"Hilda!" Susanna exclaimed, fair skin blushing. "We did no such thing," she said to Steve. "Well, we did," she corrected, as Hilda cocked an eyebrow at her. "But not that way. Hilda and Mom and Aunt Sybil and I watched movies and played Monopoly," she said virtuously. "And you shouldn't say that Steve made a mistake, either," she scolded. "I could tell that they made each other happy. Eleanor had a big smile when she left," she informed him. She leaned close and sniffed. "How many times did you fuck?" she asked curiously. "Two? No. Three. And you made her cum four times. That's awesome," she giggled.
Steve turned to Hilda, his jaw flopping uselessly.
"Don't ask me how she does it," she shrugged, breasts bouncing distractingly. "Must be some crazy holdover from our hunting-God ancestor. But she can tell the most amazing things about you just by sniffing your skin."
"Is Eleanor gone, then?" he asked, deciding not to pursue the subject.
Hilda nodded. "Went over to her place with Johnny an hour or so ago. If I know those two they'll be shacked up all day. Dirty little perverts. She's probably riding his cock right now," she said as Susanna gasped in outrage, gazing steadily at him.
Steve looked back. For perhaps the first time in his life, he was grateful to the hateful Calvin Grant, whose verbal abuses had been harsher by orders of magnitude than anything Hilda could dream up.
"You'll keep a civil tongue in your head when you speak of Eleanor to me, Hilda Chamberlain," he said, voice cool but calm. "And how she plans to spend her day is her business, not mine. We haven't married or mated. So if you're intending to get a rise out of me by telling me she is in bed with John, you'll have to do a better job than that."
An admiring grin broke over Hilda's lovely face. From the other side Susanna squealed and gave John a hug.
"Thank goodness," Hilda said. "We were so damn worried you'd be one of those jealous types. Ellie was pretty sure you wouldn't be, and so was Aggie. They've got a good nose for sniffing out bullshit. But no one was certain. So Ellie told me to be as mean as I could.
"She wanted to stay, honey. But she was called by the Goddess."
"Called by the Goddess," Steve echoed numbly.
Hilda nodded. "I can't be sure, not knowing what happened in my cousin's pretty little head, but it sounds to me like the Goddess decided that she didn't want to take the chance of you and Ellie becoming too attached to each other. Has anyone talked to you about the dangers of getting involved with the Chamberlain women?"
Steve frowned. "Eleanor mentioned something about you guys being...single-minded at times."
Hilda nodded. "Obsession might be a better way of putting it. Or flipping psycho, if you want to be blunt about it. It wasn't a problem when it was just Johnny and the six of us. Well, five, really," she corrected herself. "I don't think Mom ever entirely approved of Johnny being our mate, and she just screwed him so the power would channel properly. When the years rolled past and she and Aunt Claire couldn't find a man of power...anyway, when it was just us and Johnny, there wasn't anything to worry about. We could watch each other and make sure no one got the upper hand.
"But then you came along. Craziest damn thing. We'd been looking for a man of power for years and you practically fall into our lap. So the Goddess is making sure you don't get too attached to any of us right away. Or us to you. Because if you do, we still have the same problem we did before. John and Susie are leaving for college in a couple of months. If you and Ellie were to mate exclusively, that would leave me and Aggie and hell, maybe Mom and Aunt Claire, too, all alone and gradually going bugshit crazy.
"So the Goddess called Ellie away before you woke up." Her face softened. "She wanted to stay, Steve. She really did. She cares for you a lot. But she did it for all of us."
Steve nodded. He didn't like it, but it was just one more impossibility in a month full of them. "So where is everyone else?"
"Aunt Sybil had a yoga class to teach," said Susie. "And Agatha went home. John gave her a very good time last night."
"She was damn near walking bowlegged when she left," Hilda said with a smirk.
"Aunt Claire is watching the store, and you know where John and Ellie are.
"So how about it, Steve? Who are you going to take to bed next? Me and Susie are both here. I can't speak for her, but I am ready whenever you are. Hell, she might like to join us. Or watch. She's a bit kinky that way."
Susanna blushed softly, fair skin turning pink, but she didn't deny Hilda's accusation. She slanted a sexy look at him, her tongue darting out to touch her lips.
Steve groaned and leaned back in his chair. "I'm sorry. But I can't."
"Oh, bullshit!" Hilda exclaimed.
"No, seriously," he said. "I just got paid yesterday. For the first time ever I have some money in my pocket. And I've got to buy some things. I can't go on forever sponging off of your Mom," he said to Susanna. "You guys are renting me a cheap basement, you pay for my food. Hell, you bought me a new bed. Yes, I know," he said, cutting Hilda off. "You bought it because you wanted a comfortable place to make love. And I appreciate it. But it doesn't take away from the fact that you bought me a bed.
"I need things. Toiletries. Clothes. An alarm clock. Some miscellaneous things. So I am going to go shopping today. I need to do laundry, too."
"And how were you planning on getting to the store?" Susie asked, eyes dancing.
"Well, I was thinking about borrowing John's bike..."
"Oh, don't be silly," she said. "You'll kill yourself, trying to ride the bike back from the store carrying all that stuff.
"Stick a load of laundry in the washer. That way you can get a start on it. Hilda and I will drive you to the store." She frowned. "Probably one of the big cheap stores for the simple things, and the mall for clothes. Wal-Mart?" she asked him.
Steve shuddered. "Heck no. That place will suck the soul right out of your body. Target or CostCo will be good enough for me."
"Well, get going," said Hilda impatiently. "The sooner you're done the sooner we can come back here."
He ran downstairs and quickly sorted his laundry, having grown accustomed to doing his own washing years ago. He hauled it upstairs and started a cycle in the washer near the stairwell. Susanna and Hilda were waiting by the front door.
"One second," he said. He pulled an envelope out of his back pocket, took out his wallet, and carefully counted out ten twenty-dollar bills. Writing Claire's name on the front, he laid the envelope on the kitchen table where she would be sure to see it. Considering a moment, he weighed it down with the salt cellar to be sure the cool morning breeze didn't blow it off the table.
He grinned at them. "I'm ready."
"Isn't he cute?" Susie said to Hilda. "Like a puppy who wants to go for a walk."
Shopping with Hilda and Susanna was an experience. They both enjoyed it, but in different ways. Susanna seemed to take the entire trip as an excuse to see what she could tempt Steve into buying. After the third time he had to put his foot down.
"No, Susie," he said, fishing an embroidered set of hand towels out of his cart while Hilda looked on, amused. "I don't need this."
He waved his checkbook in the air. "I've got about six hundred bucks. I've got a list of things I need. First I buy the necessities. Then I get the luxuries."
Susanna pouted. "But it was such a good deal. Look how much money you're saving," she said, showing him the sale tag.
"It's only saving money if I needed to buy it in the first place," he said, dumping a six-pack of cotton socks into his cart. "Now, please, put them back."
Susie walked dejectedly away.
"You hurt her feelings, you know," Hilda said softly to him. "She's only trying to help. It's not easy being the youngest. John gets more attention because, well, he's John. You know. The entire 'sire of the next generation' thing. The same thing is going to happen to you. Eleanor and I have jobs and stand on our own two feet. Mom and Aunt Claire have been independent ever since our grandmother died.
"But Susie and Agatha," Hilda sighed. "They need to know they have value. We were very worried about Aggie for a while," she said, "but she seems to be doing okay now. We should have seen her low self-esteem a lot earlier. Susie," she said, watching her walk back to the cart, "is usually so cheerful you can't tell if anything is wrong.
"So be careful with her, is what I'm saying. Or I break your neck."
Steve looked at her, surprised.
"You're a lot smarter than you let on, aren't you?"
"Yes," she said simply. "I am. We all are. Well, maybe not Aggie," she allowed. "She doesn't even try to hide that fact that she's a genius. But it never hurts to let people think you're an oversexed tramp, which I am," she said, curling a finger around a strand of red hair and giggling mindlessly. Steve rolled his eyes.
"But it's not all that I am," she continued. "Granted, I like sex. I like sex a lot," she said, voice low and smoky. "And I decided I would be happier at the gym helping people make their bodies better than I would be in a college classroom or an office. But we're all smart. There is no way the coven would have survived for so many centuries if we hadn't been bright enough to outsmart most people and wise enough to hide it."
Susanna came back to them. Steve thought for a moment, then pulled a small flat box out of his pocket.
"Susie?" he asked. She looked up at him, bright eyes shadowed. "I'm sorry about earlier. I know you were just trying to help."
"It's okay," she said, a small smile flitting across her face. "I should have been thinking. I know you don't have much money yet." Her face lit up. "Hey! Why don't you let us get some things for you! I have Mom's credit card..."
"Susie," said Hilda warningly.
Steve shook his head, smiling. He gave Susanna a one-armed hug. "No. I appreciate the thought, but I need to pay my own way. I've got a job and I'm making decent money. I'm not going to ask you guys to do what I can do for myself."
He held out the box. "I meant to give this to you last night. It's a graduation present. Congratulations."
Susanna squealed happily and opened the box. Inside was a silver chain, linked with flat disks stamped in a sunburst pattern. "It's beautiful!" She put it on and held it up.
"It made me think of you, because your face is always shining and cheerful, like the sun," Steve said awkwardly, looking at his shoes, blushing fiercely.
Seconds later he was wrapped in a hug. "What about necessities coming first?" Susie teased, her body warm and pliant against his.
"This was a necessity," he said firmly.
She sniffled against his neck, then looked up at him, eyes hot. "Can we go home soon?" she whispered softly, body undulating gently against his. "I'm so horny for you right now, Steven. You can't believe how wet I am. Down there," she said, eyes looking up at him shyly, red lips swollen with desire. "And I can tell you want to fuck me. Fuck us." Hidden by their bodies, her hand dropped down lightly to touch his erect cock. She sniffed. "And Hilda is even hornier than usual. I can smell her juice. And look at her nips. They're all hard and poky inside her shirt."
He shuddered and took a deep breath. Gently, he untangled himself and looked in the cart. "I just need to pick up some boxers and then we can go to the mall and shop for clothes."
"Waste of time," Hilda murmured, walking just a little bit closer than was necessary. "The only reason I want a man to wear underwear is so I can take it off."
There was some sort of protest going on near one of the entrances to the mall. As they parked Hilda could see signs waving, and the indistinct mutter of chanting voices.
"What's going on over there?" Steve asked.
She snorted mockingly. "It's Saturday, so all the weirdos are out. The mall is one of the places they get themselves all riled up. If it isn't Obamacare it's abortion. Or gay marriage. Or prayer in school. Or guns."
They went in by a different entrance, avoiding the shouting. Hilda quickly took charge and dragged Steve into a clothing store. Standing in the men's section, she ran an eye critically over his body. "What are you, babe? Thirty-two waist, thirty-four inseam?"
Steve shook his head. "Thirty, thirty-four."
Hilda frowned. "Too thin for as tall as you are. You're not going to gain much weight, working on the road crew. But you're eating better than you have in years, I bet. So you're going to put on muscle. We'll put you in a thirty-two and you can keep your belt tight until you fill out a bit." She nodded firmly and started pulling clothes off the shelves.
"Hey!" Steve said. "Don't I get a choice?"
"No, not really," Hilda said absently. "The difference between me and Susie is that she'll do what you tell her. I won't."
"You already got socks and boxers. That's good. Good cheap clothes that you need but no one notices." She dumped half-a-dozen t-shirts of varying colors into his cart. "How do you like those?"
"They're okay," he said slowly, "But the price..."
"You let me worry about that." She sighed and pursed her lips. "What next?" She looked at Steve. "How are you set for jeans?"
"I have plenty," he said. "They weren't even on my list."
"Dress jeans?" she asked, eyebrows raised.
"Well, no," he said. "Just for work."
"Men," she sighed. "You might want to take someone out to eat sometime and look good doing it, you know. Eleanor. Susanna. Maybe even me or Aggie. Or Aunt Claire," she said with a wicked grin. "Find out if the MILF is as good in the sack as her daughter is?"
She walked over to where the expensive dress jeans were displayed. "Try these on," she said, pushing a couple of pairs into Steve's arms. "And come out and show us how they fit. By the time you're ready I'll have some dress slacks for you. And some shirts."
Steve walked away, muttering about bossy women.
In the end, she got him to buy two pairs of dress jeans and three pairs of dress slacks; one black, one dark gray, the last olive green. He won the battle over dress socks, convincing her he already had several pairs for doing his door-to-door work. He refused a new belt, but let Hilda and Susanna pick out four new button-down shirts for him in varying styles.
As the items were rung up Hilda watched his mouth grow tight, face closing off as the total mounted higher and higher. As the amount passed four hundred dollars he leaned in and said softly, "We're going to have to put some of this back. I don't have enough."
She patted his hand gently. "I told you not to worry about it."
"Damn it, Hilda," he whispered harshly. "I'm not letting you buy all this for me. And I'm not bouncing a check the first week I have a checking account."
She grinned at him, ignoring his worries. "Just watch, grasshopper."
The cashier, a middle-aged lady with 'Anna' stitched on her blouse, looked at them expectantly. "The total is four sixty-seven eighty-two," she said. "How would you like to pay for that?"
Hilda leaned in. "I see that you're advertising a sale here next week, Anna," she said with a charming smile. "Steve here works days and he doesn't have a car. I don't suppose there is any way you can give him the sale price today?"
The cashier nodded without even blinking. "Sure, honey," she said, and punched in a code. "That takes forty percent off the slacks and the shirts, and thirty off the tees. You're down to two seventy-six forty-two."
"And if Steve here applies for a store credit card, your flier says he can save fifteen percent more?" She tapped the counter.
"Yep," Anna said, smiling at Hilda's cleverness. Steve rapidly filled out the paperwork, and the total reset again. "Two thirty-four ninety-six."
"Those jeans are awfully expensive," Hilda haggled. "We'd hate to put them back, but..."
Anna sighed. "One minute." She conferred with her manager and came back. "I can let you have them for sixty dollars each," she said. "But only if you promise to go away." She smiled, taking the sting out of the remark. "If you stay here much longer everyone else is going to wise up and start using the same tricks."
Hilda grinned. "Deal."
"One ninety-one oh-five."
Dazed, Steve signed for the total on his as-yet-nonexistent credit card as Anna bagged his clothes.
As they walked out of the store and into the concourse Steve said, "I don't believe it. You got dang near five hundred bucks worth of clothes for less than two hundred. And I didn't have to write a check. How did you do it? Was it...?"
"No, it wasn't magic," Hilda said, offended. Behind her Susanna murmured agreement. "It's all a game, Steve. When it comes to clothes, the price on the tag is just the starting point, just like a car or a house. They advertised the sale themselves on the door. And the credit card deal was available to everyone. All I did was take advantage of the loopholes."
Later, as they ate lunch in the food court, Hilda gave Steve more advice.
"Don't forget to pay off the balance on that credit card as soon as you get the statement. The interest on those things will eat you alive. In fact, it might not be a terrible idea to cancel the card and cut it up as soon as you pay it off, unless you are planning on coming back here soon. A standard credit card, which you'll need eventually, has a lower rate. I just encouraged you to get that one so you could get the discount."