DANE , THE LORDS OF SATYR
“Dieux! Where the devil is it?”
The sound of the woman’s voice drifted to him through a grove thick with olive trees. The early October breeze rattled silvery-green leaves on gnarled branches, alternately revealing and concealing the meddling female from view.
As she moved past in a direction parallel to him, he angled his jaw so his eyes could follow her.
Perfect. Now he wouldn’t have to go hunting tonight.
But he was still in transition, not yet fully in control, and so for now only filed the information of her arrival away to be considered later. Breathing deep of the cool twilight, Dante continued to slowly ease his way into a mind that belonged to another—Dane, his reluctant host.
It’s for your own good, Dante soothed. For your protection. I’ll be gone again come morning. Relax now. Sleep.
But Dane ignored this and fought on with an inner strength that was as admirable as it was futile. Subjugation could not be pleasant for one so strong-willed. This changeover was always a strange time and an uncomfortable one, dredging up memories they would both prefer to forget. So Dante treaded carefully, confident he would ultimately prevail. Just as he had on the night of the full moon last month, and during all the Moonfuls which had come before over the latter half of Dane’s life.
In a matter of moments, he’d assumed full possession. He was Dante now. Not a person in his own right, but rather an alternate personality that lay dormant inside Dane and only came forth when required. On occasions such as this one.
Slowly, he uncoiled from his crouch on the forest floor. He shrugged broad shoulders, adjusting himself to the fit of this familiar set of bones and flesh he’d donned. The mind and therefore the body were his for the present. He would be master of them only until dawn.
The tailored linen shirt he wore hung unbuttoned and open in front, gleaming white against the shadowed flesh of his sculpted chest. He flexed his hands and found them sore. He noted the ax on the ground a yard away and the felled limbs, the piles of encroaching vines, which had been freshly cut away from twisted trunks nearby.
Ah yes, he remembered now. When he’d first come into consciousness, they’d been working.
He and Dane.
Two facets of the same mind. Possessors of a single body.
And it was a body women admired, sought, swooned over. Six and a half feet of solid brawn, wide of shoulder, narrow of hip. A strong column of throat, topped by a square-jawed masculine face with a prominent blade of a nose, and crowned with tousled sable hair. A face bearing a distinct resemblance to those of his brothers. It would have been too handsome save for one feature. From below straight brows, eyes of icy silver reflected the world, making him appear otherworldly and strange. Which he was.
Through the fabric of his trousers he found the feature that perhaps rendered him most aberrant. One he reveled in on these nights. Fondly, he stroked its considerable length with the pad of his thumb as if sharpening a precisely made weapon meant only to give and take pleasure. Already it stood thick and lofty and barely confined within his trousers.
This cock of theirs symbolized the entirety of Dante’s role in things. He was the fornicator—only one aspect of the whole that was Lord Dane Satyr. Brought forth whenever this body’s lecherous need rose. He relished his role. And Dane envied him for it. Craved it for himself.
A thrashing sound reached his ears. The woman. He’d known she was there all along of course, had been tracking her with a small corner of his mind. Now his eyes found her again.
She moved heedlessly through the grove, thinking herself alone. Now and then, she paused to tug at a branch, plucking an unripe olive or two from it. Holding these small bits of plunder to her nose she then pocketed them as if gathering samples. The olives would not be ready for picking for another month, so he briefly wondered at her actions. But curiosity was not a failing of his. Dane, however, suffered from a wealth of it. And look where that had gotten them.
Beyond her the sun had just met the horizon, a huge ball of juicy orange jailed by black cypress spears that marched along the hilltop opposite this one. It turned her pale skin to gold, the shadows of her face to lovely bruises, her dark hair to coal. She was dressed fashionably and well in a prim gray dress that blended with the trees here. Perhaps twenty years of age or a little older. And shapely.
He smiled. They’d only been here a few weeks, but already he liked this new world. A Sickness had killed many of the female species in ElseWorld that usually served as mates for his kind, and rendered others unable to bear satyr offspring. Only the members of the Council had the luxury of keeping their own women. Yet, here, women delivered themselves right to one’s doorstep.
His prey disappeared into a clearing and he moved after her, keeping her in view. Her head was bent to study something she held. A small book. A page flipped under her lace-gloved hand, a frown creasing creamy smooth skin between her dark brows as she strained to make out its text in the failing light. Whatever she read on its pages caused her to sigh in frustration.
“Honestly, Maman! What am I to do with these scribbles? Couldn’t you have done any better than this on so important a matter?” Glancing around, she fanned the gilt-edged book back and forth in one hand with obvious impatience.
Gifted with a natural stealth enhanced by a decade of training and field experience as an ElseWorld Tracker, he soundlessly moved in her direction, intent on cutting off her exit to the road. Though she had no way of knowing, she’d come at a most opportune time. Night was falling. A very special night to those of Dane’s kind. Once the moon rose, all would begin.
He made a cursory, visual survey of the grove. It was protected. Dane had bespelled its perimeter himself that very morning. If any humans wandered too close, they would find themselves repelled by forces they didn’t understand. Since she’d managed to trespass, he could only assume she must be of ElseWorld blood.
His eyes swept her again. She was slender, but pleasingly curved. Fey perhaps. On this special night, her blood would be stirring as well, though not as high as that of the satyr. Not as high as his own. When one lived only ten hours a month, one was understandably eager.
A light breeze gusted at his back, whooshing past him to ripple over mistletoe, betony, chicory, fennel, rosemary, and saffron that grew low on the forest floor. He watched it make its way toward her, carrying with it his scent.
When it ruffled her skirt and pulled at tendrils of her hair, she stilled--a woodland creature made suddenly and acutely aware of danger. Her eyes shifted in his direction, twin flashes of emerald. His own eyes narrowed and he smiled, pleased at what he’d read in her glance. Recognition. Only an ElseWorld creature could detect the scent of another. His blood pumped a little faster at this confirmation of his initial assumption. A female from his own world would make for a far more interesting engagement than a human one might have.
“This is private land.” He stepped free of the forest’s shadows into the small clearing in which she stood.
She whirled to face him then, her skirts sending the leaves eddying around her. His nostrils flared, waiting for her scent to ride the air in his direction. He’d know what sort of creature she was soon enough.
When her fragrance reached him, its delicate, delicious impact enfolded him like a physical caress. His senses analyzed and sorted through its nuances, and a prickle of awareness swept his skin. His body reached a stunning conclusion regarding her origins a split second before his mind did. He could actually feel his eyes dilate, his heart gasp, his blood halt in his veins.
“Gods, who . . . what are you?” he demanded.
Frozen in place, they simply stared at one another with only a dozen yards of sylvan forest and shocked silence between them. Even the air around them seemed to hold its breath.
Then she pivoted on one dainty, booted foot and hared off. She was getting away!
(Thanks for reading this excerpt from Dane, The Lords of Satyr.)
© Copyright 2009 by Elizabeth Amber.
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