I enjoy telling a story or scene from a single point of view and later revisiting it and telling the same story or scene from the point of view of a different character. It’s not just being lazy, I promise, it’s because frequently the scene will take on a totally different flavour depending on whose head you’re in for it–in particular if it’s a power exchange scene. The top experiences things a whole lot differently than the bottom, for example.
A few months ago, when Demons, Imps and Incubi came out Literary Escapism invited me to retell one of the scenes from my contribution to it–Circles Within Circles–from a different point of view. I was super stoked to do it 🙂
In this scene, originally published at Literary Escapism in July 2015, Cairn, an incubus, has just been accidentally summoned by a woman, Mary, who needs his help to protect her brother, a soldier stationed half a world away. Originally this scene is told from the point of view of Mary so it was fun to take a look at it from Cairn’s perspective.
Though Cairn could tell from the gray light which trickled down through the cellar door that it was daylight, she carried a lantern with her as she descended the stairs. Its flickering light bathed her, emphasizing the warm tones in her red-gold hair. She’d changed into a dress rather than the cotton nightgown she’d been wearing when she summoned him, but her feet remained bare and she curled her toes around the rough wooden stairs with each step.
“What is the date?” he asked as she reached the bottom of the steps.
She hung the lantern from the pillar just outside the circle which bound him. “April 7th, 1917.”
“316.” It had been three hundred and sixteen years since he had last been summoned—since Ferenc had cursed and exiled him. Just over three centuries. Funny. It had felt much longer.
“Nothing,” he said with a shake of his head. Ferenc was just a man and would be long dead by now—he was no longer a priority. Keeping this red-haired witch happy enough to avoid banishment until he could find a way out of the circle? That was what he needed to worry about. Later, when he was free, he would find Ferenc’s grave and piss on it. “What did you bring?”
“I brought his pillow. I thought he might have left hair on it, and, well, he dreamed on it every night.”
The girl looked embarrassed, but the soldier’s pillow would make the perfect focus to help Cairn target his spell. He told her as much as he took the pillow from her fingers…mmm her fingers—they were callused and warm with small, slightly-chewed fingernails. While his lips kept moving only part of his attention was focused on the words coming out of it, the other was distracted with images of all the places he would like her to touch with those fingers. He imagined how it her palms would feel pressed against his chest, the look on her face as she moaned in pleasure and her nails scraped down his back…
“Pardon?” she said again, and he wondered if perhaps his proximity was having more of an effect on her than he had imagined.
“I said,” he replied. “This will work perfectly. Now I need you to join me.”
“What? I don’t know what kind of—”
Cairn resisted the urge to laugh. He was an incubus. Where did she think his power came from? Instead he held his arms up, palms out, to stop her protest before it could build too much momentum. “You are asking me to cast a powerful spell on a target far away. My powers are weak from centuries of banishment and disuse. I need to recover them.”
“Well, that’s very well and good,” she said. “But I don’t see—”
“I’m an incubus,” he said.
Her thoughts were written across her face as clearly as the arcane symbols she had etched into the packed earth floor around him. He watched, biting the inside of his cheek to keep from grinning as confusion was replaced by understanding, then shock, and finally anger.
“You want me to have sex with you, or you won’t save my brother.” Anger simmered beneath her words and her eyes narrowed.
“Or I cannot save your brother,” he corrected. “Unless you know someone else who would join me?”
“No,” she snapped and Cairn arched an eyebrow at the vitriol in her voice.
“How do I know you’re not just trying to trick me? That you’ll keep your word?”
“The circle binds me. So long as it remains intact, even when I am at full power, it will not let me lie, leave, or break my word.”
“So you say.”
“A test, then. Kiss me. Kiss me, and it will restore enough power that I can protect your brother a short time, at least until sundown. After that you can decide about the full spell.”
“And how long does the full spell last?” She shifted her weight from one foot to the other while her fingers clutched at the folds of her skirt. Poor thing, she looked terrified, but he would bet his life she was no virgin.
“Until the next blue moon.” He suspected his girl would keep talking, keep asking questions, until she talked herself out of this. He could not have that. This was so frustrating! In addition to his magic being weakened from spending so long without sustenance it felt dampened, dull as an old sword. Something else was definitely going on with this girl, increasing her resistance to his powers.
“Kiss me,” he said low in his throat, putting all of his will into the words. Her pupils dilated and she stepped toward him, pressing her bare toes against the salt circle that constrained him.
“Kiss me,” he repeated.