This is book one of my Secrets of the Senses series. I call it metaphysical fiction. The book isn’t sex-centric like my erotica, though this excerpt contains one little getting-to-know-you scene. It’s really a story about Aonghas, a gifted guy with a skewed view of himself, and pretty much everything else. He works to change that, sometimes with success, sometimes not. As gifted as he is, he’s far from perfect. That’s what I love about him.
I’ll be talking more about Murmur as the release date approaches.
Excerpt from Murmur, Chapter 3
Fog on the moors is beautiful. In that ethereal atmosphere, one can believe himself to be floating in a cloud; the limited sight, the vaporous essence creates a world within a world, at once exciting and playful, and foreboding. On one such evening I walked through the low scrub, careful of my footing, cloaked within the fog and feeling myself to be a phantom traversing an otherworldly landscape. The sky grew darker, the fog thickened with the approach of night. I gave up sight, and navigated relying on other means, other senses—my knowledge of the terrain, my instincts. It was a thrilling experience that brought to full attention all of my being, and I walked with bold confidence.
Something grazed my legs and wound its way between my steps, like a cat claiming ownership. I stopped, looked around me, but all I could see was the vapour of the fog, nothing more. I began to walk again, and felt the same sensation: the same intention of animalistic marking, claiming, as I watched the fog swirl at my feet and around my legs, curling over my ankles and calves.
What is this? I put the question to the sabball, and heard Ose’s laughter.
Magus has come out to play. I was on the verge of asking for clarity, when I chose to hold back the answers and instead search for meaning on my own. Magus? I’d not heard this name before, if it was indeed a given name; but clearly it was the name put to this phenomenon.
“Magus,” I said aloud. The fog seemed to draw back, flowing away from my legs.
The darkness was increasing, my way becoming more difficult, and I reasoned that it was not the time to engage this Magus, whatever it may be. Fear? Probably. And also reason. Whatever this thing, I preferred not to approach it from a place of vulnerability, possibly forcing the sabball to come to my rescue, thus spoiling the hunt.
“Leave me now,” I ordered out loud. “Another day, we might engage. Now go.” My walk was uninterrupted after this. Soon my druidic stronghold loomed before me in the mist, which had grown heavy and dank. I dropped to my hands and knees and crawled inside, grateful for the shelter. Even so, Magus had left an unsettling impression, and I could not calm into restfulness. I sat facing the open cavity, my senses vibrating.
“Aonghas?” I nearly jumped from my skin, hearing my name spoken so clearly and at the very mouth of my cave. Then I realised it was the voice I had sought, and believed I would never again hear.
“Maon?” I crawled forward in the dark and reached out. My fingers touched the wet wool of his cloak, and I moved my hand upward to grab hold of his arm and pull him inside. “Where have you been? I searched for you, I thought I had dreamt you.”
Maon crawled in at my lead, dropping to sit beside me. “I dreamt you,” he said. “I dreamed of you. I’m glad to be with you again, my friend. Help me with my cloak.” He took my hands in his, guiding my fingers to the large brooch that held the cloak closed at his neck. I opened the clasp, dropping one side of the cloak away and securing the brooch closed on the other. Tucked along the metal, wound behind what felt to be a large gemstone in its middle, were stems of a plant. My fingers brushed the tiny leaves, bringing to life the scent of thyme. It seemed to me that the plant must be a talisman for him.
He shrugged the damp garment from the back of his shoulders, and lifted it away. “Do you have wine to share? I would welcome a warming drink.”
Perhaps it was because of my recent discovery beneath the druid stones, perhaps it was my encounter with the seemingly animate fog that caused my senses, my intuitions and attentions to rise up out of their self induced haze and sharpen to incongruities; I found the manner in which he addressed me—not asking, but commanding my assistance, my hospitality—a breach of our still new acquaintance. I was not one to care much for rank and privilege; it would never have occurred to me to report the taking of game on the lands if I had witnessed such an act, but I did feel this way of address to be much too intimate for the current level of our familiarity. However, I let it pass; I had other things on my mind. I reached for the wine, hesitant to ask the question ready at my lips, but at the same time I needed to know so I that could set all aside and focus my attentions on him. “Maon…” I pressed the wine skin into his hand. “Did you…feel anything in the fog?”
There was a long pause before his answer; he was drinking the wine, and perhaps pondering my oddly put question. “Only the damp,” he said. “Why do you ask?”
“No reason,” I quickly returned. I didn’t want to talk of ghostly nonsense, my strange encounter; not yet. I had enough strangeness to conceal without adding more to the tally; I didn’t want to appear fanciful or superstitious. And I felt silly, as phantom suspicions were the very things I sought to expose as unnecessary fantasy tales. “How did you find your way in such gloom and darkness?”
“Perhaps I was guided by the scent of lavender.” He drank once more before passing the wine back to me.
I don’t know why this struck me as impertinent, but it did. I couldn’t tell whether he was intentionally being elusive, or perhaps only playful. “I have no lavender with me,” I said.
I felt his fingers caress my cheek. “The scent clings to you, as part of you,” he said. “I found my way, and now I’m here, with you. Don’t you think we should take full advantage of our time together?” Then he kissed my mouth, at first catching only one side before finding his mark, covering my lips with his. He tasted of salt, that of the sea spray, and that of his own. The sweet intoxication of wine clung to his breath, and a palpable taste of earth, of heathers and herbs flavoured him.
My hand slid through his thick hair, dripping wet from the mist. I wanted to put aside everything else, but the suddenness of the kiss felt very much like he meant to silence me, distract me with physicality. I pulled my mouth away, though I kept my hand at the nape of his neck; I wanted, needed to touch him, to know that he was real. “You behave as though we’ve long been established lovers,” I said. “I know nothing of you, I don’t even know what you look like.”
“Then by all means, let’s have a look at one another,” he laughed. He pulled back, and I could hear the rustle of cloth as he began to undress. “Remove your clothes along with me. Touch will be our sight, we’ll look with hands, lips…”
I hesitated only for a moment. Of course I followed his lead, I ached to touch him, wanted to know him, and the intrigue of beginning our intimate acquaintance with every sense engaged save for sight was too irresistible to refuse. I wanted more of his taste, more of his scent, the heat of him, his solidity. I undressed, pushing my clothes off to one side.
He finished undressing, and his hand found my ankle. “I’ll look at you first. Lay down, on your back,” he instructed. I lay back, stretching out on top of the blanket. I didn’t say a word; the moment felt too magical, his was the only voice I wanted to hear. He crouched at my feet, and slowly began to run his hands from my ankles, over and around my calves, and up to my thighs. “Powerful legs; you do a lot of walking,” he said. A hand slipped along my inner thigh. “Though perhaps not much riding—of any kind,” he laughed. “No, not an equestrian like your father, but I can’t imagine you lack for lovers, all clamouring to be caught between these thighs.” His hands moved up, and he fondled me with a sure touch. I couldn’t hold back a soft moan, and my toes curled, my thighs tensed. “Very impressive,” he said. “Sure to leave a memory. And clearly you’re in need of attention—but that shall have to wait, I want to see the rest of you.”
I smiled in the dark, and my hand touched the top of his head, tousling the wet locks. I liked his playfulness, the light-hearted sensuality put me at ease and I was able to relax, enjoy his touch. His fingers moved over my belly, up along the short track of hair, then across my stomach and over my chest. “You’ve more hair below, I like it. It’s a pleasant reward—boyish on top, manly where it matters.” His fingertips ran along my arms, over the tops of my shoulders, and stroked gently at my throat. “Strong arms—you’re not afraid of hard work; broad shoulders, a graceful neck…” The pad of his thumb dragged over my lips, and he softly brushed the bridge of my nose and my eyelashes, along my jaw and up to my forehead. “You’re beautiful,” he said. “Roman blood, that’s certain. You have elegant features, finely formed. Your hair is soft, fine, and grows thickly on your head. What colour—no, don’t tell me. I want to keep that discovery for later.”
He kissed my mouth, and I began to slide my hands over his back. “Not yet.” He reached around to grab my wrists, stopping me. “It’s still my turn, I’ve not properly acquainted myself with all of you, but what I do know, I like very much.” Am I to blame that I succumbed like a lover to their hero? My body was fully at his command, my senses swam. He dipped his tongue into my mouth, buried his nose at my neck, licked and kissed down the length of my body, his nose and mouth ending their journey by coming to rest at the crease where leg and pelvis meet.
He nuzzled, he tasted, and I had to put a stop to it before I lost myself. I pushed at his shoulders, and sat up. “Enough, I want my turn, now.” I guided him down to lie on the blanket and knelt over him, bringing my lips to his forehead. “I want to see you.”
I used my mouth and fingertips in tandem to explore him, kissing, inhaling, tasting, as I learned the indigenous slopes and turns of his well-sculpted features, the breadth of his shoulders and brawn of his arms. My fingers tugged the light curls on his chest, I planted kisses at the underside of his ribs, and my teeth scraped his hip. He had a solid, athletic body, that of a young man who regularly trained his muscles to fulfil his demands. The scent of him was enthralling, sharp and sweet like earth washed clean, yet inherently unclean; the dusky perfume of the land surrounding us, as if he had sprung fully formed from the earth, a boy made just for me, an answer to my need. My fingers pulled along his thighs, opening them, and I pointed out the tip of my tongue to swirl at the root of him, feeling the heat pulsing though him in waves. He, too, was in dire need of attention, and I relished feeling him squirm beneath me, muscles tensing.
While I busied myself at this pleasing task, my hands continued their journey down his legs. Along the outside of his right knee, my fingers found the rough, puckered texture of a scar; a vicious, jagged thing, running the length of the knee and nearly the thickness of my thumb. I lifted my head, sat up on my knees between his thighs. “What happened here?” My fingers traced over the scar, and he stopped me by catching my hand in his.
“I was careless, it appears worse than it is,” he said. “Nothing broken, nothing severed, just a lot of blood.” He squeezed my hand and pulled me up to lay my body on top of his, skin meeting skin from shoulders to ankles. “It took months to work the stiffness from the scar, but now I can move my leg freely, there’s no hindrance.”
“When did this happen,” I pressed. “Is this the reason you didn’t return before now?”
He began to slowly move his hips against mine, pressing his hand to my lower back and rocking, circling, in the way of young boys just beginning to explore their sexuality. “Questions and more questions,” he whispered. “Do you ever run out of questions?”
“No,” I stated frankly. “I’m very curious by nature. But if you don’t want to tell me…” I didn’t want to push him to speak of things he rather not. Our bodies were hungry, ready for release, so I let go of the curiosities and focused on enjoying Maon. I put my hands to his hips, stilling him. “There are better ways to satisfy our needs,” I said. Once again I moved down to taste and nuzzle and lick, pushing him to the edge, tipping him over. And then, he did the same for me.