Spell Of The Dark Castle
His lips moved against her ear, sending shivers of pleasure down her spine.
“Xilomorah,” Dorian gasped, breathless.
Zofia gaped up at her husband. “What?” she asked, not sure if she heard him correctly, as they floated four or five feet above the bed, as usual, making love. All action had stopped, however, as Dorian returned her incredulous stare.
“What?” he said, looking startled as though a revelation had conked him on the head.
“You said Xilomorah,” she said. Smack dab in the middle of a glorious release, no less. “Why the hell would Xilomorah come to mind when you’re making love to me?”
“She turned me into a vampire,” he said on a withering gasp, as though he'd phased from having a release himself to coming to some monumental epiphany. “I just remembered it. That’s all.”
A twinge of fury swelled inside and Zofia pushed Dorian off with all her might. They both tumbled to the bed, bounced a few times and Zofia used the momentum to half-jump, and half-Transvect herself away from the bed and landed on both bare feet.
“What’re you doing?” he asked, the ire in his voice apparent. “I wasn’t finished.”
“You are now!” she bit off the words as she swept a wisp of sienna hair out of her eyes. “You let Xilomorah bite you!” Spying her lacy white panties on the floor, she grabbed them and pulled her legs through.
Dorian hadn’t been back as a wizard for a full twenty-four hours yet, after being a vampire for five years, during which he’d forgotten a lot of things—like how he’d been turned into a vampire. Zofia had suspected Xilomorah (who was Vesselvod Blood's half-sister—both were now very much dead), had been behind it. What a time for him to suddenly recall the witch while they were making passionate love. Her face burned and her heart beat madly. She was not a happy sorceress. She wanted to hex something—if Dorian got in the way, all the better.
“I didn’t let her bite me,” he said, drawing his lean, but well-muscled legs over the side of the bed. Dorian paused. She took in his human flesh tones, happy that he no longer sported the pale vampire skin tone of just a few days before.
“No?” she said, incredulous stare in place. “Then how exactly did you let that ugly crone turn you?”
“She wasn’t exactly ugly at the time.”
“No?” Zofia raised her eyebrows and waited for more. She never presumed that Dorian was like all the other Knights when he was on an assignment, and away from home for long periods of time and took a lover. Most sorceresses of Euphoria took this in stride when they learned their husband was having an affair, and simply had affairs of their own. Why couldn’t she? For one thing, she didn’t want to. Mother of two growing children, and in love with her husband, she didn’t feel the need. (Although she had dated the Ugwump, Sergeant Richard Keys, while living here on First World, but that was before she'd learned that Dorian wasn’t exactly dead, but un-dead.)
“You agreed we'd tell each other our worst secrets from the past five years,” Dorian blurted, looking incensed. “I told you mine, now it’s your turn.”
“Not yet!” She brushed an annoying length of sienna hair out of her eyes. “Not until you tell me exactly how Xilomorah seduced you.” Two fists found her slim waist as she gave Dorian full benefit of her dark glare. “Did you bed her?”
“Mom!” Blanche’s voice from down stairs filtered up to the bed room. They both ignored their daughter’s call.
“She seduced me.” He gave her a sheepish look, then dropped his gaze.
“And then what?”
He snatched up his jeans and boxers from the floor. He pulled the boxers up, holding out for more time.
“And then what? You had to get between the sheets with her?” Zofia snarled ferociously, remembering a line she’d heard in an Ugwump movie once.
“I was on assignment!” he snapped. “I was”—he gasped with his frustration—“extracting information from her and she bit me and nearly drained me of blood and then made me drink hers and—”
Zofia held up her hand to stop him. “Bluckh! That’s plenty of detail, thank you!” Locating her bra, she snagged it from off the lamp shade, thrust her arms through the arm holes but couldn’t hook it in the back. Struggling a few more times, she gave up, and pitched the thing across the room. “Stupid Ugwump thingamajig!”
A knock, then, “Mom!” Blanche’s voice filtered in through their bedroom door.
“Don’t come in!” They both shouted at the door.
Zofia threw on her T-shirt, then picked up a pair of shorts and hopped around on one foot trying to get into them. Dorian managed to snug on his faded blue jeans, and grabbed for his button shirt. He was nearly all the way dressed, while she barely managed to cover herself.
“It’s amazing you couldn’t remember this yesterday,” she said, still hopping around on one foot. “And today, you remember every last detail. You’re really amazing—”
“Please,” Dorian drew out the word, giving her the I-can’t-believe-you’re-this-mad look. “After eighteen years of marriage, I would think we could tell each other our nasty little secrets without becoming unhinged.”
Finally Zofia fell back on the bed, thrust legs into her cut-offs, and zipped them up. Standing, she returned a challenging glare. “Unhinged, am I?” she said this in a much calmer tone than she was really feeling.
“Yes,” he said in his usual clipped fashion. His own sapphire gaze took on a slightly triumphant cast. A swath of raven-black hair fell across his brow in casual indifference. He hadn’t buttoned up his shirt, and he was giving her a peek of his virile chest. She found she couldn’t tear her eyes off his washboard abs (he used to do a thousand sit-ups and two hundred and fifty push-ups daily as part of his physical regiment to keep fit for his job as a Knight), and it gave her a sudden twinge of desire. She tore her eyes away. “You were the one who suggested this. I can hardly wait to hear what your little dirty secret is,” he said and then added with an imperious gleam, “I know all about Richard, so that can’t be it.”
He knew very well that she had not gone against Code. It was the other thing she had done which was a terrible Taboo (besides doing it with him while a vampire, and that was just as bad), and she feared more what Dorian would think, or do because of it. Never mind what the Heathweian Council of Wizards would do to her, once they found out.
“You let your male hormones run away with you. What I did, I did for my child!”
“Ho-ho! So-o-o, you did do something you’re ashamed of, but it was all for the good of our child?” He achieved that imperious expression all wizards of Euphoria were capable of as he folded his arms across his chest. “Which one was it? Blanche or Elton?” he asked low, so that Blanche wouldn’t hear.
“Don’t you change the subject!” she barked. “Exactly what were you doing at the time you met Xilomorah—and don’t give me the excuse that you were on assignment at the time—”
“You know I was on assignment, and whenever I’m on assignment—”
“—I’ve every right to interview anyone and everyone who may lead me—”
“MOM!” Blanche suddenly appeared out of thin air into the room. One moment she was out in the hall, the next she was standing right before them.
“WHAT!” both Zofia and Dorian shouted, throwing their sixteen-year-old daughter angry scowls.
Blanche jumped back from their sudden outburst.
“Jeeze! Chill, you guys,” Blanche retorted, looking slightly scandalized. “Someone’s here.”
“Who?” Zofia asked.
“Can’t this wait?” Dorian asked bitterly. “It’s probably that stupid Ugwump neighbor of yours—that Lulu woman—”
“Lolly,” Zofia corrected.
“It isn’t Lolly,” Blanche interrupted. “There’s a Bubble out in the backyard, just hovering.”
Both Zofia and Dorian exchanged startled expressions. A Bubble was used almost exclusively by an Immortal to get around from place to place. It was also handy for traveling from one planet to the other. Just as Dorian had traveled back to their planet, Euphoria, last night via the Sorcerer’s Tree—the only other magical way sorcerers could travel from one place to another. He had returned to their planet to report to his boss, Stephen Restormell, Head Commander of the Knights of the Witenagemont, that he was no longer a vampire, but a wizard again (thanks to the spell Zofia and Tillie had done on him). Stephen had welcomed him back into the fold as a Knight. Afterwards, Dorian had returned home early in the morning, slipped into the bedroom, stripped off all his clothes and woke Zofia with his lovemaking. He’d mumbled into her ear that the Immortal, Paradeep, and possibly Stephen would arrive later on in the Bubble to pick him up and return to their planet. But they were early. By several hours.
Forgetting their argument, Zofia and Dorian both swept past Blanche, and rushed out of the room. Dorian’s broad shoulder slammed Zofia into the wall, making a full-out effort to be the first one to get downstairs.
“HEY!” Zofia cried, and shot forward, Transvecting down the stairs to the front entry where she passed him up. They banged into one another, and Zofia slammed into the wall, knocking a picture askew. Zofia readjusted the picture magically, and then zoomed through the threshold, into the dining room only to be halted by Blanche’s form as it suddenly popped out of nowhere, right in front of her.
“I really wish you’d warn a person before you Evanish in front of them, Blanche!”
“Sorry, Mom,” Blanche said, but couldn’t hold back her mirth. Ever since four a.m. this morning, she’d discovered she had the power to Evanish—disappear and reappear—anywhere at will. She’d been popping in and out of rooms all morning (except for theirs, thank wizards!), showing off. Tillie had knocked on the door revealing this bit of news, but Zofia was a little too busy to go and watch.
“Must be nice,” Zofia muttered, half under her breath. The power to Evanish skipped a generation, and no one knew who in the family would inherit the powers when they became sixteen or seventeen.
“There’s a huge Bubble out in the garden!” Elton’s voice filtered in from the kitchen. The screen door slammed. Then slammed again.
Zofia Transvected quickly through the dining room, eying Blanche’s birthday cake lathered beautifully in white icing as she sped by. The thought of the dark chocolate layers of cake hidden beneath the snowy perfection nearly took her off stride. She could hardly wait until later on for the party to begin. She’d been hankering for a large piece of chocolate cake ever since Tillie had finished it late last night.
Her thoughts were snapped back to focus by a shrill scream from the backyard. Zofia surged out the back door, only to collide with the rest of the family stalled in front of her.
Withershins, the now-white unicorn, trotted up to greet Blanche, nickering and seeking her touch. But over the garden hovered a Bubble about the size of their potting shed. Rooted to the spot, on this side of the hedges, stood Lolly Vosserman, nosy neighbor and hardass. Her bright red hair in curlers, wearing a pink, terry-cloth robe over her tubby body, and fluffy pink slippers rounded out the prying Ugwump’s form. She looked more as though she’d stumbled into a surrealist's painting. Eyes wide, her mouth even wider, she stood gaping up at the large iridescent Bubble, hovering just ten feet above the squash and cucumbers. A broom in her pudgy hands, she shook it menacingly at the Bubble as if she could shoo it away like a stray cat.
“I knew you people were odd! That’s a UFO!” Lolly cried, glaring at them.
“Omiwizards!” Zofia gasped, unable to think of some sort of explanation to douse this woman’s panic at seeing what appeared to be a gigantic soap bubble in Zofia’s backyard. It wasn’t anything like the pictures of UFO’s that the tabloids had on their front covers, that Zofia had ever seen. But, then Lolly wasn’t all that bright. She'd called Withershins a donkey, for wizard's sakes.
The small, white dog in Lolly’s arms barked loud and incessantly. Lolly screeched anew.
Looking up, Zofia watched as the huge iridescent, ball-shaped object just slightly larger than a Volkswagen Beetle, lowered itself to the ground.
“I thought you said Stephen wasn’t coming until tonight,” Zofia said while wringing her hands, gaping at the Bubble making a soft landing. She wasn’t in any way, shape or form to be in Stephen’s presence again. The last time she had seen him—just a day or so ago—he had kissed her . . . and she’d had an orgasm. That had frightened her (after she had gotten over the glowy feeling of it all), as to what he was capable of—in bed, or out of it, for that matter.
“I did. I don’t understand why he’s here, now, in broad daylight,” Dorian said. “Must’ve gotten the time zones all mixed up.”
The dog in Lolly’s arms leapt to the ground and charged the Bubble, barking nearly as shrilly as Lolly screamed. Perth and Argyll, Zofia’s cats, scrambled between everyone’s legs and arrowed after Lolly’s dog.
“Mr. Tigges!” Lolly screeched. With broom in both hands, she galumphed into the yard.
“NO!” Zofia cried out. “Dorian! Do something!”
“What do you want me to do?”
Dorian patted himself down, in search of his wand. “Blast! I must’ve left my wand somewhere,” he slurred.
Before Zofia could stop her with her own Powers, Lolly suddenly vanished into thin air, her dog disappearing a second before her. Stopping just short of the spot, Perth and Argyll spun about and tried to scamper away. Both yowling as they clawed desperately, striving to keep ahead of something which acted like a huge vacuum. Their fur, which stuck out, now sucked back across their bodies. They could no more pull themselves away from this invisible vacuum than turn back into warrior women. Both were sucked into the invisible plane and vanished as had Lolly and her dog.