Dec 09 2016

A Review of Satan!: Hell High Book 2 by Michael-Scott Earle

Satan!: Hell High Book 2 by Michael-Scott Earle

Satan!: Hell High Book 2 by Michael-Scott Earle

Last month on the Tale I reviewed the first work in the Hell High series by Michael-Scott Earle, and you can find that review here. I thought it was a delightfully fun story with quite a lot of promise, even if there was a catchphrase that made me roll my eyes when it happened a bit too often. Today, a review of the second work in the series just recently released to my delight.

I have been wondering about quite a few things, Sherman for one, just what’s with him, Charlotte for another, to see more of who she is. Beyond that, trying to get an idea of what’s going on, who’s involved and how both Sherman and Charlotte tie into things. The story has begun, the question of where things go and how it all works out is still to be seen.

It’s important to keep the tone, the flavour in a series. To keep the reader invested in the story and characters. Especially when there’s one single comment which made me raise an eyebrow and… wonder… what if…

,,,what if.

The work tells the story of:

Whoever thought having a succubus for a girlfriend would turn your life upside down? Now Sherman is on his way to meet Satan. Fortunately, he’s not quite the bad guy everyone has made him out to be. Less fortunately, The Lord of Evil has a job for Sherman, and let’s just say that if our impromptu hero fails, well, he’ll have 99 problems but a succubus won’t be one.

Sherman got the girl… sort of… mostly. She’s taken him to Hell, wants him to meet Satan and that’s just the high points of their relationship. Sometimes video games and anime teach you important things and Sherman is going to need everything he’s learned. But the one thing he hasn’t a clue about is how to talk to Charlotte, the love of his life, now that she’s right there in front of him.

Following directly on from the prior work in the series, the work has the same tone, the sense of action and the delightful main characters still playing off each other so very well. The past isn’t forgotten, if anything it brings this work into sharper focus character-wise and there is quite a bit of development that occurs for Charlotte but perhaps not quite so much for Sherman himself. Still, there are insightful moments for bot of their characters and as such, even with the breakneck speed, there are little flashes of something else going on which I thought worked well within each of them.

While quite a lot is told about Charlotte’s home, how things work, the beings that exist there and how they relate to each other, much of the story falls into a long chase as in the first work in the series, but with a difference. In this work the destination is reached and it’s nothing like one might expect. That’s not to say there aren’t some hints of how things are, but it’s more how so very odd this place called Hell is and how Sherman takes it all in stride. After all, anime and comic books have a lot of good information in them.

The focus on Charlotte’s character, on some of the succubi that are encountered was a bit more sexually charged at times, but it wasn’t over the top. The story sets up, in a way, a society of Hell, how it all works and acts like a “who’s who” in many ways. That didn’t come off as an info dump, but it did allow for direction which was needed in the story after the, quite literal, car chase was underway.

There’s one particular passage which made me smile, which has to do with baking. There’s also a little comment by Charlotte about three specific succubi… one of which has a rather familiar name and made me laugh delightfully. I thank the author for that little touch, it was a wonderful surprise by far. The problem is, however, seeing Charlotte’s personality and that name appearing… does make me wonder… with a bemused smile of course.

The twists in the story run from silly to quite serious and everywhere in between. When Sherman meets Satan himself, how that scene develops was everything I could have asked for, being true to all that came before and what might be next. Also, from my perspective, Sherman not needing that catchphrase from the prior work made this a better read. Sherman’s thoughts were more natural, more clear and the emotional context of them was stronger as well.

A stronger work overall, even if the chase aspects were a bit overdone at times. I will say that when there was time within the chase for Charlotte and Sherman to think, to try to make sense of things, that held me far more than the chase did. Beyond that, seeing Charlotte more of a succubus than the prior work was lovely. But she’s still holding so much of herself within and I wish there was more from her perspective in that. The meaning for Sherman being where he is, also needs to be explored more.

The threads are gathered together, and that’s a good thing. The action might need to be slowed a bit more, the story might need to be focused a little more. But these are quibbles. At its core, this a fun, cute story about two souls trying to figure out themselves. This should be fun to see what comes next when it does.

Four and a half out of five pitchforks.

Getting rid of that catchphrase helped a lot. focusing on Charolette and Sherman dealing with each other was wonderful. There’s still a lot of questions about Sherman, about Charlotte, but the answers will come in time it seems. The series continues to move at breakneck speed which sometimes works and sometimes not, but remains as delightfully funny and captivating as the first was. A solid sequel, leading to the next work in the series to come and I am dearly looking forwards to seeing what comes next.

Especially one thing that tugs at me and I blame the author for this. The big question of who is Charlotte’s mother, and is she a particular ebony-haired red tail Succubi Queen that has a bemused smile, needs to be answered. Along with if she likes cherries… Time will tell I suppose… But it would be a fun thing to see…

 

Tera

Dec 09 2016

A Review of Futa Succubus Joins a Gym by M. Dunn

Futa Succubus Joins a Gym by M. Dunn

Futa Succubus Joins a Gym by M. Dunn

The appearance of futa succubi characters in many works of erotica in the past year has become somewhat of a theme overall. It’s an interesting concept, one that if explored, rather than simply exploited, can make for interesting characters, stories, and more.

It is the problem that I find happens a lot in the short works of erotica that have become so prevalent of late. That the characters, their stories, fall to the side for the sake of the story getting to the erotica. There can be a balance, even in the most odd titles and the most sexual of situations. Having that does, really, make a difference.

Last week I reviewed a pair of stories about a succubus named Ellissa. The author penned another story about her that tells a bit more…

The work tells of:

I’m a succubus. And all I want are naughty human women. Pretty simple needs really. So today, I’m joining a gym because that seems like the place to meet naughty human women. And I meet this gorgeous, raven haired, toned and fit personal trainer, Kirsten. But somehow, she’s immune! To me! This isn’t supposed to be possible. What am I to do? Bring in a succubus friend to help me out of course. Except there is a lot more to this personal trainer than meets the eye and it seems that we might have our hands full with this one. To say things get sticky is an understatement.

Elissa has a problem, she is attracted to someone she’s met in a gym, but they are immune to her succubus powers. Calling in a friend, Brandi, they both soon discover that things aren’t always as they seem. Sometimes they are much better than expected for all.

The story, overall, is focused on putting Elissa and Brandi together with Kristen. There’s little else in the way of story being told, backgrounds being explored. There’s not very much character development as well and that’s a shame. There are a lot of hints about the ongoing “battle” between angels and demons, what they deal with, how things work when they confront each other.

I really wanted to know more about that as a whole. The hints are actually far more interesting than the erotica is. But there is a lot of skimming over things for all of the commentary from Elissa wanting Kristen, but not being able to influence her. As well, when Brandi appears, she’s really only interested in sex, and not a lot more.

Once the revelation about Kristen comes, and then the collected characters figure things out for themselves, the erotica takes over the story. It is a short hot flash, but the heat is muted, a bit lost overall. It isn’t quite stereotypical futa erotica, nor are the succubi themselves really stereotypical either. However, Kristen, when her true form is revealed, seems to be a little bit stuck in her ways, which was disappointing considering the first part of the work.

The work needs more story to balance the erotica. The erotica itself shouldn’t be rushed and the ending just seems a bit tacked on. Spending more time telling Elissa and Brandi’s stories would have helped It think, but more so, just more story overall is what’s missing here.

Two and a half out of five pitchforks.

There’s not enough time spent in developing the characters for all of the innuendo that comes in the story and I wish the time had been spent in making both Elissa and Brandi more than just being futa and succubi. The hint of that is in the story, but it isn’t developed, nor is Kristen’s story as well.

 

Tera

Dec 08 2016

Succubi Image of the Week 464

There are some images of Succubi that I find that have, at least to me, a very Dungeons and Dragons feel to them. Perhaps it is the artist’s style, how they appear, or something else, it seems like there is a specific appearance to some Succubi that lends them to that game universe.

Succubus by MiyuKinTan

Succubus by MiyuKinTan

This work is by an artist on DeviantArt called MiyuKinTan and you can find the original page on DeviantArt with this art here and this artist’s page can be found here as well.

Her overall look just works, save for her feet and hands, and I think that is why this art, for me, feels like something out of Dungeons and Dragons. She’s “evil” in a kind-of, sort-of way, which in that game Succubi are seen to be.

But in spite of that, she doesn’t “feel” completely evil or nasty. Perhaps that is in her smile, expression, or pose, but save for the darkness in her hands and feet, she doesn’t seem like it.

I find myself wanting to see her with normal hands and, perhaps, feet, which I think would be interesting as well.

 

Tera

Dec 07 2016

The corset is cute, the rest not so much so…

Clubbing Devil CostumeOccasionally there is a corset that almost manages to get away from being trashy and dips a toe, or bow, into being cute. I do like cute, and while this particular corset combination is that, the horns and pitchfork really can’t be called that at all.

This is called the Clubbing Devil Costume and it comes with the corset, the horns and the pitchfork. Stockings are not included and it sells for about $45 US.

Obviously I would be tossing the horns and pitchfork into the trash the moment the package appeared. But in doing so there’s really nothing that says this is meant to be a Devil Girl costume, and definitely not a Succubi one.

That said, there’s just a little bit of cuteness in the corset that I like. Perhaps this might be more suitable for a slightly naughty ballerina or something?

It is a thought.

Still, adding some decent horns, some stockings and red heels, and possibly not having a pitchfork at all might help…

As things are however…

Two pitchforks out of five.

The cuteness gets the bonus points, but that’s all.

 

Tera

Dec 06 2016

A Review of The Long Night of the Gods: Lilith Awakens by M.H. Hawkins

The Long Night of the Gods: Lilith Awakens by M.H. Hawkins

The Long Night of the Gods: Lilith Awakens by M.H. Hawkins

A review of the second work in the Forgotten Ones series by M.H. Hawkins this time on the Tale. I wasn’t aware of the series’ first work until the second appeared in my daily searches of things succubish. Obviously the title of this work tells of who appears and in doing so, it drew me to read the first work and then this, the second. The first was very good in setting up the series, telling of the main character and her world.

The second work offers something more. A past, the representation of that past. Telling of a soul that is lost, in her own way, needing in her own way. The problem with need is that many times the need overcomes ourselves and what remains is shattered, lost and seeking always.

The work tells the story of:

Is the world worth saving? What wicked things would you do to save the ones you love?

As the gods wake and seek to reconcile the old ways with the modern world, they will face these questions. And as the End of Days looms and the final judgement is near, and it doesn’t look good for humanity.

While the best hope for humanity is Mea Harris, it seems like the harder she tries, the faster everything slips through her fingers. All the while, those closest to her continue to keep secrets while plotting behind her back. Can she truly trust them? Will she find the strength to forgive them of their past atrocities? And can she find the moral courage to do what is necessary, even if that means becoming a monster?

As Mea deals with her crisis of conscience and discovers more about her mysterious past, a new god, Lilith, rises. Beautiful, vicious, and full of ambition, she is not the one to be trifled with. Fed up with misogyny, her portrayal throughout history, and humanity in general; she has an axe to grind with both men and gods. But she’s perfectly okay with that and eager to get started. The gods are cruel and vengeful, but sometimes they have good reason to be.

What will the world do when it discovers that the gods are monsters and not its salvation?

It will get what it deserves.

Mea’s life is becoming more and more complicated. Her past is biting at her and the future is less than certain. Coming to terms with herself is one thing, but when a voice from her past appears, things turn darker still. Lilith has needs, Mea is trying to hold things together and all around them both the Gods play their games with the world and themselves.

The work builds well on the strife, the emotions and the events of the first work in the series. Mea’s discovery of herself brings her into contact with creatures and beings of power and she finds herself having to make choices along the way. There are many moments of dealing with her own soul and how her choices are changing her. As the series is about her, about the world that she must deal with, this then takes much of the story and presses it against her.

However, along the way, Lilith appears and in all honesty Lilith is a far more interesting character then Mea seems to be, at least so far. While Lilith can be thought of as a secondary character, her presence, when she appears, is powerful, holds sway in the story, and has a purpose. It is Lilith’s character that caught my attention the most. There’s a feeling of her having a split-personality, one moment kind, in her own sense of justice, another violent, harsh and cruel.

Lilith’s persona isn’t stereotypical, there are many layers to her and it is those levels that tease in the story, but really never quite comes out as much as I was hoping. The single scene which will remain with me more than any other, is her encounter with a child. It’s telling, emotional, heartfelt and more importantly, it tells her story without being an information dump.

Lilith isn’t really a succubus, she is a representation of the mythos otherwise, but regardless, she is sexually powerful, but at the same time she is sure, focused and in a lot of ways, the trigger for many other events that unfold. She is dark and evil at times, that aspect being dramatically made clear. But then there are instances when she is loving, caring, affectionate. The two sides of her character play well against each other.

Again, the work isn’t really about Lilith, save to introduce her to the series, to set up her relationship with Mea, and to connect the dots as to what’s happened so far. Being so, there’s little time spent in expanding on her true form, her powers, her will. It’s something that was missing for me, would have liked to see. If the next work in the series drives Lilith and Mea to be central I do hope there will be time spent actually telling Lilith’s story in detail and not in passing.

A well told action-adventure, some telling plots and well told and stone characters. The writing is excellent and I was held in the story very well. But Lilith wasn’t really in the story as much as she was hovering at the edges waiting to make her presence known. Hopefully that will be.

Four out of five pitchforks.

Lilith is a fascinating character, but she is so very much a mystery. There are delightful little glimpses of her character from time to time, but then the story pushes her to be “evil” and at times it really feels like she is for the sake of being so. The author noted they intend the next work in the series to appear shortly and I will be looking for that.

I’m hoping for Lilith to be developed more, her story told and not hinted at. There are plots within plots of course and that is well and good. But if she is meant to be what I believe she is, then telling more of her, what drives her matters.

Good storytelling does.

 

Tera

Dec 06 2016

A Review of the Angels and Demons series by Amanda Swallows

Fallen by Amanda Swallows

Fallen by Amanda Swallows

A review of a short, two work series that takes a bit of a different take on succubi as a whole. The first work tells the story of an angel falling, encountering Lilith, and other succubi. The second tells something of what succubi in this universe do. Both have their story to tell, but somehow the story doesn’t seem to really find its way so much as it stumbles looking for it.

Sometimes a choice made changes everything. Many times that one choice leads to another and an infinite number of choices thereafter. To remain true to one’s self is hard. More so in the face of seeing things you were never meant to know.

The first work in the series is:

The work tells the story of:

Witness the fall of an angel and follow her into the depths of hell as she learns the true nature of the universe. When she meets the Queen of Lust, her world is turned upside down as all of her beliefs are challenged and her boundaries pushed. The first of the Angels and Demons saga, this story reveals some of the nature of the universe and much of the depravity in the court of the Succubus Queen.

An angel makes a choice and finds herself barred from Heaven. Alone and without direction, Lilith comes to claim her and lead her on a new path. Not all paths are easy, the truth hurts. In the end, a choice has to be made, regardless of the circumstances.

Overall, the plot is well thought out, Ketara as a character is unique and tells a very strong story. The world is rich in characters, their stories vast and different. The problem is, however, the pain and suffering along the way and the lack of light that deepens as the work goes on.

Ketara suffers many different ways in this work, some of which are very nasty and brutal in how they effect her. I don’t particularly like reading about suffering and similar themes, so when this happened to Ketara, I found myself skimming those parts of the story.

As things progress, Lilith brings with her a lot of questions, a lot of things to think about. She’s the most interesting character of all, mainly for the cloak of mystery she carries with her. The other characters have their purposes, some of which drive the story well. But again, the focus on ‘teaching through pain’ bothered me.

There is a scattering of erotica, a mildly hot flash and one that really wasn’t so much so. The story overcomes this, Ketara developing as she must in the story. Much of the world around Ketara is never really explored, leaving many questions behind to think about.

Possibly the largest one is Lilith herself, but as well just as large a question is Ketara. Both aren’t quite who they were at the beginning and where that takes them would be good to follow up on. I feel like there was a lot of story left out for everything that happened to Ketara herself to divert the story. It would be nice to know more about that.

Three out of five pitchforks.

It’s an interesting beginning to the series which seems to suggest a path for Ketara and the reader to follow. But rather than continue to tell that story, the next work in the series moves away from telling of the world to a particular moment.

The Incubus by Amanda Swallows

The Incubus by Amanda Swallows

The second work, set some time in the future from the prior one, focuses on someone who isn’t a very good soul and a certain succubus coming to make them pay. The focus in on that aspect, less so on the succubus, or incubus herself, is somewhat unclear and as a result the story falls more into the erotica than telling the story itself, which was a bit disappointing.

Fantasies are one thing, reality another. Many souls are touched with darkness and must pay for their actions. That payment can be, many times, more than a pound of flesh. It is their own soul.

The second work in the series is:

  • Title: The Incubus
  • Author: Amanda Swallows
  • Length: 53 Pages
  • ASIN: B01DUWNMM2
  • Publishing Date: April 4, 2016
  • This work at Amazon.com

The work tells the story of:

Well after the events of Fallen, an unnamed incubus discovers the deepest desire of a man who can easily have any woman he wants… with a little chemical help. When his tendency to drug women in order to get them into bed lands him a woman he literally cannot get out of his mind, he realizes that all decisions have consequences. In his case, the consequences are dire indeed.

The story of a man who comes to find that when one does evil, one has to pay. Sometimes that payment is taken by those that know their wants and needs. When that happens, there’s no where to turn.

I found it difficult to get into this work, mainly because the main character is dislikable from the first page. There’s nothing to redeem them, and as such I really didn’t care very much about what happened to them. The story from their perspective is a bit dry, a little bland at times. But that changes when the succubus makes her appearance.

The succubus is never named, and it’s a bit confusing whether she is a succubus or an incubus in nature. She is a futa at one point, so the meaning of her existence is a bit blurred. She is a succubus however in her powers, being able to shift her form, capture the main character’s mind and thoughts, dragging him into her clutches.

For the most part, the erotica has some good heat to it, though there are some scenes, with one specific fantasy, which I thought were very uncomfortable. As this takes up quite a lot of the interactions between the characters, I found myself turning the pages at those points, really not liking what happened there.

That was a shame because the entrapment of the main character, how the succubus does so, was very interesting and I liked the story and plot through that. But when the story turned to the erotica, the story seemed to lose its way, falling back on some moments that were stereotypically pornish for the most part.

I wanted to see more of the succubus herself, but she’s a shadow, an idea, and as she has no name, it’s hard to become invested in her character. Knowing more about her, perhaps seeing things from her perspective, might have kept me in the story more than I was.

Two and a half out of five pitchforks.

Some of the fantasies are a bit uncomfortable, the main character is dislikable overall. There’s not a lot of time spent with the unnamed succubus/incubus to develop her character further. The work just feels like there is a lot of possible directions and plots that weren’t taken which was disappointing.

The two works were described as being part of a saga and if that’s true, then I’d like the next part to be less about the erotica and telling more a story as in the first work. There’s a lot that’s interesting here and it can overcome the erotica if given a chance to.

 

Tera

Dec 05 2016

Second Encounter By TeraS and her Adored Brother

A short time ago, I shared a story called “Encounter” on the Tale. Today, with a dear loved friend’s help, we have what can only really be thought of as the …

 

Second Encounter
By TeraS and her Adored Brother

 

A promise is a promise.

Always.

She said that he would see her again.

She’d promised.

It felt like that he’d been waiting … forever.

But … she’d promised.

Waiting for her to walk around a corner, appear on the other side of a room … looking for her in a crowd, seeing a flash of red … not quite her’s … catching a glimpse of ebony hair, not as wild as hers … he didn’t give up on her promise.

He did wonder where she was, when she’d make herself known. Time passed, the seasons changed, and that moment still hadn’t come to be. Her card, the one that held her promise, didn’t carry the sweet scent of cherries any longer. But nonetheless, the memories of that night, of her being close, caring about him … those memories returned when he held that card. It was something that helped him to smile once again.

Yet time passed, as it does. Hours had turned to days, days into weeks, and she’d not returned as she’d promised. Still, the card didn’t exactly say when he’d see her, nor did it ask for him to wait for her. It was a promise, telling him that there was someone out there that cared about him. Her words to him, her smile, that promise she held openly for him, asked that he not give up, not turn away.

Asked him not to give up on his own promise.

He’d taken the chance once, and encountered her. The time came when he had courage once more to take a chance, to see what might be. She’d want that of him, ask him to try. He didn’t think it a poor idea, to try, to see who he might encounter. Perhaps there would be someone that he would be able to call his love. The weeks turned into months of encounters with those who didn’t see the value in dating him, of being with him. He was close to some, they seeing him as a friend, sometimes a confidant, occasionally a brother.

The promise began to feel threadbare.

The leaves fell from the trees; the weather was turning cold. Halloween arrived as the nights became longer, the depths of the shadows becoming more pronounced. A thought brought him along to a secret that made him look at the card, think about what she’d said and her promise, what such a thing meant.

The promise seemed not as it was before.

Thanksgiving arrived and with it came the reminders of another promise broken. The one he’d loved was with another. It wasn’t completely unexpected, but seeing her with another, the two of them laughing together, was a hard thing. He’d given his heart, she’d taken it, then she moved along. It broke his heart a little more knowing that they were together and he was alone. It was a time of thanks, at least it should have been. He couldn’t quite see how there was much, if anything, to be thankful for. The moment she’d been there wasn’t as clear, some of the details were slipping out of his memories. Sadly the choice of the one he loved made the day less happy within himself, a little bit of sadness creeping in.

The promise faded just a bit more in his eyes.

The snows came, the winds carrying the frost and the cold of the winter season. Christmas came, bringing with it wishes for those that could still hold onto their hopes and dreams. The family gathered, as was their way, he being alone as the moment played out around him. Watching his parents open their gifts brought a soft smile. That smile was a little wan as his brother and wife played with their two children, laughing as their presents are opened … together.

Though he hid it well, the promise was heartbreaking.

The eve of the new year arrived, the night upon which promises were made for the coming year, when those fortunate to have another in their lives were able to share their wishes as the old gave way to the new. But this was not what came on this night. He did not go out into the world, to find himself amongst humanity, sharing in the moment, to gather within a promise for another year to be. His place was in his apartment, alone … if not quite alone.

Pika, his only friend, at least the only one that hadn’t abandoned him, watched silently from a window ledge as the merrymakers sang and carried on far below. The cat’s deep grey eyes cast themselves across the room, falling upon a soul that had lost faith in their promise. He sat silently, listening to the laughter outside, his hands slowly rolling an empty can of Diet Coke between them. His eyes were haunted, there was pain in them. The year had burdened him, bent him, pushed him until, finally, depression had become his constant companion.

But that was not quite true. There was one other companion with him. Setting the empty can aside, tears in his eyes, he pressed a finger onto the card she’d given him, dragging it across the table. Six months now since she’d appeared. Six months since she’d given him the card. Turning it over, her name remained there.

Tera.

He considered tossing it aside, knowing that she’d never return. That her promise was—like every other one—untrue, and it brought tears to his eyes. Closing his eyes, he brushed one hand over them, wetting his skin. A single tear rolled over his cheek, passed into space, and then fell onto the card he continued to hold in spite of his feelings.

Turning the card over to look at her promise, he spoke to himself: “She called me a man of honour. She said that I was good, that I shouldn’t be alone. Why am I? Why isn’t it enough to be understanding, to care, to be there for someone? Why can’t I find someone who loves me? I’m the stereotypical nice guy that finishes last, that can’t find happiness.”

The tears came, the imagined truth he knew must be real pushing him. The card became damp, what little light there was around him shimmering where it fell on the wet card.

“I do everything a good man should … and that isn’t good enough for anyone.”

The card fell from his fingers, the last little bit of the promise being taken with it. It was more than depression, more than self-loathing, and his cat’s fur bristled as she watched him. He stood by the window, a hand stroking her fur, but she knew something was very wrong with him. The sight outside did nothing to help his mood as he watched the snow fall lazily towards the street below. He could see people walking together, happy couples on their way to parties to ring in the new year.

Those thoughts were finally too much. With a sigh, he nudged Pika off the window ledge and drew the curtains closed to blot out the scene outside. The lights were soon dimmed and he walked into his bedroom, once again alone.

He wasted little time, soon crawling into bed, the sheets pulled over, curled under them, a pillow clutched against his aching head. The bed shifted—it can only be Pika, he knows—and he didn’t stir from where he lay. He felt her walking over the sheets, nudging his shoulder with her nose, purring in an attempt to curl up with him. But he didn’t want to; he didn’t have that want inside of him.

What he wanted was something he’d never really had. Someone to love, to lay with in the night, to talk to, to have that connection, that need, filled within him—the need to feel their heat, to have a moment of passion, of love. But all his twin size bed had waiting on the other side of him was an empty space.

“… not worthy of anyone … never find someone to love me …”

His cat was the only one to hear the words whispered, to see the glint of his tears still being shed. The night moved closer and closer to the end of the year and he said not another word. When he felt Pika jump off the bed, he knew: at this moment, like so many before, he was alone.

The clock on the bedside table moved towards midnight, the seconds ticking away. Off in the other room, the card still was wet with tears. Over by the window, a cat peeked through a gap in the drawn curtains, watching the snow fall.

Then, she mewed.

Once.

Then, she purred.

A slim hand, tipped with red nails, lightly played over her fur, making her tail dart about in pleasure. But that warmth faded as she looked into a pair of oh-so-green eyes, a questioning mew echoing in the room.

The fingers scratched her ear then were drawn away, followed by the soft sound of heels clicking on the floor. She watched the shadow draped in red as it moved to the card, picking it up, then leaving. She bounded from the window in chase, darting between the shadow’s legs and rushing onwards.

He hadn’t fallen asleep, though he wished that he had. He was restless, turning over, trying to be comfortable. Coming to lie on his side, his eyes focused upon the clock.

It was just a moment before midnight … a single moment.

It seems to go on … forever.

He waits for the hands to move, to mark the passing of time.

But they didn’t.

Reaching out a hand towards the clock, his eyes still wet, he let a sniffle escape. He drew a breath, and in the back of his mind he sensed something in the air …

Cherries.

But his mood rejected it, and he closed his eyes, sighing.

She watched from the doorway, her so-green eyes considering him, his soul.

The bed shifted. It had to be Pika, of course; there was no one else there, he believed. It was the cat nudging him with her nose, trying to get him to roll over, to look, to see. But he wasn’t interested.

She mewled, then bounced off the bed. Somehow that seemed to be appropriate, no one wanted to be with him away. Nothing happened for a time, then the bed shifted again.

Deeply green eyes considered him now, the tilting of a head to the right, her raven locks falling wildly about her shoulders, covering her left eye. Flicking a finger through those errant locks, she held a soft smile as she reached to him, her right hand brushing against his bare shoulder, but he didn’t respond. It was another dream, a fantasy; it wasn’t real. The hand traced his shoulder, then he felt the touch of nails against his skin. He couldn’t ignore the soft lips that pressed against his shoulder next, however. Nor could he ignore a voice from the past: “A gentleman shouldn’t be left alone.”

His eyes remained closed. He didn’t want to open them, didn’t want to find this was all a dream. But he did reply: “You?”

“Yes. I promised.”

He opened his eyes, needing to know she was really there.

It was her, there was no question—the concern in her eyes, the soft smile playing on her lips. He’d expected her to see her as she was that night, but she wasn’t. A long, fuzzy, red, oversized sweater caressed her body. She looked, in many ways, like the girl next door, not the seductress she was said to be. There wasn’t something erotic pulling on him. What was tugging was the look in her eyes, one that reflected his one wish.

“Talk to me… please?”

The tales about her told of what she could do, but his mood, his mind, pushed him towards one single conclusion as he closed his eyes: “Nothing to talk about.”

“There’s always something to talk about.”

She gave him some time to think, to reply, but, when he didn’t, the bed moved again, her body flowing over the sheets. A ebon-haired, red horned and tailed vision lay beside him. She paused there, considering him, then she moved a little closer to him. Then he felt her spooned against him, one arm draped over his waist, the other lightly caressing his hair: “I promised.”

He sighed, it was almost in defeat: “I’m … ready.”

Her reply was concerned, almost hurt: “What … do you mean?”

Slipping out of her embrace, he rolled onto his back, waiting for her: “Take me … please. I’m ready for you to claim me and … just let it be over.”

She was fluid, moving from being beside him to straddling his legs, looking upon him: “Since when?”

“Halloween: I read a story about you.”

“Tell me.”

He couldn’t; it would only make things worse.

Her hands roamed the sheets over his chest: “Not all stories are true.”

“You are the Queen of the Succubi aren’t …”

The touch of a finger over his lips stopped him: “I do like to think that I’m not as ominous in person …”

She removed that finger, her hands lying lightly on his shoulders: “… and, please, you know my name.”

He still hadn’t reopened his eyes, but knew when she lay closer to him, the heat of her body warming the sheets: “Why … why are you here, Tera? Why after so long … why now?”

Her long hair tickled over his shoulder as she came closer still, her lips nuzzling against his cheek lightly: “I was called here.”

It wasn’t much of an answer, leaving out the who and the how. But that didn’t seem to matter, as her voice was sweet, smooth, and delicious. She spoke not in lust or want, but simply in truth.

He opened his eyes.

She had risen up again, drawing back, allowing him to see her, as she was, for the first time. She hadn’t changed from that night they’d met. There was the matter of her horns, of course, and he knew that her tail was somewhere as well. But she was herself, as the stories had told.

The red sweater was so much more perfect for her than that dress was, he realized. The expression he had made her giggle lightly, tilting her head to the left, a lock of ebon hair covering one of her lovely green eyes: “Are the stories close?”

“Not really.”

They were both silent for a time, just looking at each other, he trying to marshal his thoughts, she content to wait for him to do so. Time continued to pause and it took a grey-eyed cat jumping into bed with them and mewing for the moment to break.

Regarding the cat, the red-horned seductress sighed: “Pushy thing, isn’t she?”

He watched his cat rub herself against Tera’s thigh, looking at him expectantly: “Pika?”

Tera traced a finger over the cat’s back: “The stories about me and cats are, for the most part, true.”

He didn’t know what to say as his furry companion found a corner of the bed and curled up there.

“I’m not here to claim your soul. I’m here … because.”

“Because … why?”

The sigh was an aching one: “I’ve seen you suffer… watched from afar and saw. I felt your need. I felt the call of your heart … I’m here now.”

His blue eyes locked onto her deep, emerald orbs. He looked intensely into them as he expressed what he believed to be the truth: “You should just take my soul. I’m not anyone special.”

She shook her head, her mane dancing wildly about her: “No. Sorry. Not going to happen. Nothing good comes of that. You are not going to die at my hand, nor any of my kind. You are better than you know, and it would not be a mercy or a gift.”

“So, is this just out of pity?” the question was as blunt as a crowbar.

Her tail appeared behind her, the tip looking over her shoulder at him it seemed: “Pity? Oh, my dear sweet, none of this is for pity’s sake. I don’t do pity. This isn’t about sex; this isn’t about a quick roll in the hay. You are better than that and you know so.” Her expression turned soft: “This is about mending a lonely heart and helping its owner find a path to happiness.”

“Why?”

She had, of course, a bemused smile: “Why not?”

The clock striking midnight came unexpectedly. He found his lips pressed against her own, a kiss like none he’d felt before. She loved him, more than anyone had, more than anyone really could. It wasn’t for sex, passion, or raw need. She … just loved him. As the kiss broke, she kissed his lips twice more before her lips brushed over the tip of his nose: “Happy New Year.”

He … smiled. Something he hadn’t done since that night they’d first met. She’d come because she loved him. It wasn’t a love that could really be put into words, exactly. The next kiss was a little deeper, their tongues entwined, fingers cupping cheeks, the delicious moment of accepting.

He closed his eyes again, savouring her touch, her curves against his skin. He knew, truly, that if he wanted, he could let himself go, be buried within her, be held by her. She could do anything to him and she would allow him whatever he wished.

In all of the heat, the need, the desire, one part of him won that battle. Opening his eyes, she was still there, eyes warm and glinting, waiting for whatever he wished. Her smile said, without a word, that it was okay, whatever he wanted from her.

He knew, exactly, what he wanted: “Will you …?”

Tera moved to straddle his waist, the only thing separating them was the thin sheet between them: “Yes.”

He took her hand and kissed her palm: “I want you.”

“I know. I can feel how hard you are. How you are aching. But …”

He smiled, she knew. He wanted her, but not in the midst of being depressed: “But that’s not what I want.”

She nodded: “Of course … You’ll know when. But …” Her fingers gathered up the bottom of her sweater, rolling it slowly up her body: “… sex isn’t the same thing as being intimate.”

Lifting herself off the sweater, she rolled it up until the edge was just above her navel: “That’s what called me here.”

Tugging a little further, the curves of her cleavage came into view: “For me, it’s been a moment since I last saw you. Sometimes I lose track of time, lose my place.”

The sweater was pulled upwards, over her horns; then she held the bundled red against her cleavage, hiding her curves from view: “You never lost me. You’ll never lose me.”

Tera slid off, moving to the side, pulling at the sheet as she did so, the sweater being dropped beside the bed, for the moment forgotten: “I’m part of you for as long as you want me.”

She stood beside the bed, completely nude, her fingers lightly tracing over her thighs: “You’ll always smell cherries.”

As she said those words, that scent he’d pushed away came back, stronger than before, clearer, more alive.

He didn’t understand, not really: “Cherries?”

A twirl of a finger was her reply: “Sweet … please turn over.”

He rolled onto his stomach, turning his face to the side. He then felt Tera straddling him again, their naked rears rubbing against each other.

Tera’s hands were warm, soft, passing lightly over his back. She focused on pleasuring him through her massage, working from his neck and shoulders, all the way down his back and waist. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the feeling of her delicate fingers working over his tight muscles. When Tera kissed his spine, he moaned lightly from the pleasure. When she draped her wild mane of hair against his skin, he shivered from the sensations.

Laying herself down, her breasts pressed against his back, she whispered hotly against his ear: “You will always have my love. You are a gentleman, a lover, an amazing man most of all.”

A soft tongue licked over his ear: “Listen to me. Don’t forget what I’ve said. It matters.”

“Why?”

She didn’t answer that question, instead slinking off to the side, then lightly touching his shoulder, her tail pointing for him to turn onto his side. Before, there had been a sheet between them. There wasn’t one now.

The ebon haired dream spooned herself against him. One long, slender leg draped over his own, her tail lying over both. Her lips nuzzled into his hair, one arm laying over his waist. The press of her cleavage into him told everything.

He was there, in her arms, being held.

“Will you be here when I wake?”

“I promise that I will be here when you need me most. I promise that you will always have my love. And I promise that I’m always with you.”

The scent of cherries was stronger than ever.

He nodded as he closed his eyes, drifting off into the first real rest he’d had all year. Tera remained with him all night, watching over him, watching his chest rise, smiling at the dreams that came. The night passed, the dawn soon coming to awaken him. She rose from the bed, careful not to disturb him. He was a good soul, a worthy one. That thought made her smile as she slinked quietly from his bedroom, letting him sleep.

He awoke later in the day to find that Tera had gone. Lying in bed, he smiled, remembering her, what they’d shared. Stumbling out of bed he walked into the living room, where he found Pika curled up in a chair…

… and a second sliver card waiting for him.

The note read: A promise is a promise … for always … forever.

The words gave him hope as he looked out the window, a new year begun. Pika woke up then and looked at him, giving a miffed, hungry mew.

“Right; you are the Queen around here, aren’t you?”

He didn’t think he’d seen a more kittenish smile as he petted her, knowing that she wanted food. He was in the midst of opening a can of tuna when there was a knock at the door.

“Hang on!”

He scrambled to get something on—answering the door in the nude wasn’t a good idea, after all. Rushing back into the bedroom, he found a sweater lying on the ground, and tugged it on … a red one.

“I’m coming!”

The smell of cherries came, causing him to freeze in mid-rush for the door. It was her sweater. His cat looked at him with probably the most kittenish smile he’d seen.

He was wrong about that when he opened the door: “Um … Hello?”

The woman standing at his door had a far more kittenish smile: “Um … Hi! I moved in across the hallway last night and wanted to introduce myself.”

The scent of cherries from a certain Queen drifted around the two souls as they looked at each other a very long time before she asked a question: “Do you like cherries?”

He smiled: “I do. They’re my favourite.”

Her eyes twinkled as she revealed what she’d been holding in her hands. A pie of a particular kind: “I love cherries.”

He noted that the pie had been partially enjoyed: “Would you like to come in? I have some rocky road in the freezer.”

As she crossed the threshold, they both smiled: one for the road that brought them here, one for the road ahead.

As the door closed, at the other end of the hallway, Tera leaned against the wall …

… smiling and enjoying some of that lovely cherry pie.

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