Saturday, April 30, 2011

Your Latest Trick by Z.A. Maxfield

I've loved Dire Straits for a long time -- ever since my teen years when I first heard the song Sultans of Swing. This song, Your Latest Trick, always seemed to me to have such atmosphere, both in the music and in the lyrics. Plus it has a double meaning for this story as my main character is a magician.


Ten years ago, a double tragedy forced college sweethearts Bobby and Paul to break up. Guilt and recriminations have kept them apart, but for professional magician Paul, there's not a day that goes by when he doesn't think of Bobby with regret. When Bobby shows up at the bar where he's working it's a shock to say the least. Paul is the magician, but is Bobby an illusion?

Find out what happens when old lovers come face to face in "Your Latest Trick”

Rated - R - (adult themes and language)
Genre - M/M romance / Contemporary
Heat Level - Sweet

Your Latest Trick
by Z.A. Maxfield

“Trust me Kevin, forget about the hotel rooms upstairs, right here is where the magic happens.” Paul’s introductory bit of sleight of hand was planned as a brief introduction for the happy couple’s party video, so he let himself relax and shoot the camera a winning smile. “I’m going to put one of these foam balls right here in my pocket like this, and then I want you to take these two and hold them in your hand just like that. Clench them tight okay? Don’t let go.”

Kevin giggled and glanced over at Steve, his partner-to-be. “I feel so stupid doing this.”

“Nah Kev.” Paul lifted his arms to show that there was nothing up his sleeve. “You look great holding my balls in your hand.”

As predicted, the laughter was deafening. Someone shouted out, “Already?” and someone else coughed out the word slut. A wave of new jokes followed as the revelers, half of whom were firefighters and comfortable with each other as only people who live and work together can be, and all of whom were gay men, heckled their friends.

“Oh for heaven’s sake,” Paul teased, expecting a fresh wave of insults. “Give Kevin a break, this is hard.”

One of the guys yelled out, “So am I but you don’t see him holding my balls.”

“How many balls do you have, Kevin,” Paul asked.

“Two?” Kevin looked to the audience where Steve sat, and giggled again. Jeez, he was young. Did people really get married this young? He didn’t look more than about 23.

“In your hand, Kevin honey. Pay attention,” Paul deadpanned. “How many balls do you have in your hand?”

“I don’t know! They’re your balls.” Kevin put his free hand over his red face. Steve mimicked the gesture from where he sat in the audience.

“And your commitment ceremony is when again?”

“Tomorrow morning. If he’ll still have me after you get through with me.” Kevin squeezed his eyes shut.

Paul had to laugh at that. The kid was cute. “Everyone sees I’m not touching him, right? For the last time… How many balls do you have in your hand, Kevin?”

“Two. I have two balls in my hand.”

Paul said, “I’m going to give your thumb a tap here, but I’m warning you, this could make those balls disappear or it might get you pregnant. Things don’t always go as planned. Here comes the touch… One, two, three! Open your hand.”

And pop, all ten of the little green foam balls exploded from Kevin's hand. He looked suitably dumfounded.

“Okay, Kevin, you’ve been a great sport. Thanks for playing.” Paul turned to the camera and said solemnly, “From now on, the only balls Kevin will be playing with, Steve, are yours.”

Applause and hearty laughter followed, and as expected, the wait staff came in carrying the salad course.

While dinner was under way, Paul would have time to set up his thirty-minute stage act. The plan was for the group to eat, then take in the rest of his show. Coffee and dessert would follow after which he’d heard there would be another act of some kind. Probably music and dancing, either a crooner or some live DJ. Paul didn’t know and he didn’t care. By the time the dancing started he’d be home feeding his dog, Nudge, and that’s just how he liked it. You had to love dinner theater as a steady gig.

He gave himself a minute to stop by the bar for a drink and a visit with Kim, his favorite bartender. At five-eleven, she matched his height, and they were often mistaken for brother and sister.

As soon as she saw him, she lobbed a beer bottle at him, counting on him to catch it while she began some pretty fancy juggling. Three more bottles followed and he caught them and tossed them back while she rolled them over her shoulders and down her arms. She even popped one of them off the toe of her shoe at one point. The crowd around the bar began clapping in time to the throws. They’d practiced this enough times to make it look spontaneous -- even a little dangerous, but each of them knew exactly what was coming next and their timing was perfect.

Between them they juggled eight longnecks. She grinned at him. People certainly loved this shit; that’s why they came to the place. That and the fact that the bartenders and the wait staff would also break into song every now and again, and sometimes the boys and girls danced dirty up on the bar itself.

Besides his comedy magic act, Paul’s claim to fame was that he could identify each of the bars’ thirty or so whiskeys by taste alone, and he was Kim’s favorite partner for juggling. The other bartenders didn’t have his timing, so Kim cleaned up in tips whenever Paul was around, plus she comped him drinks.

He was counting down now, the routine about to come to its end, when he happened to glance up toward the end of the bar.

Only thousands of hours of practice made it possible for him to keep the bottles in play. His first thought when he saw the dark haired figure sitting by himself at the end of the bar, was…no. Just no.

It couldn’t be. Not here. There was no way. Of all the places for a guy as talented as Bobby O’Malley to have landed he’d never, ever be at this particular dinner theater bar in hotel-fucking-nowhere Nevada.

All the same, Paul’s heart raced and stuttered like it hit a massive speed bump and he’d turned back to Kim barely in time to capture those last flying bottles, fortunately, in the nick of time. That beat having to pay for them, which would have been a first for him, and he’d never have lived it down. Without even looking at her he handed his bottles back, numbly aware that his mouth had gone dry. Instead of waiting for the drink she would pour him, he moved on. His feet seemed to have taken over, taking him past the rest of the bar sitters, until he stood close enough to see the man whose profile had stunned him.

There it was -- that tiny mark, that unique heart-shaped imperfection Paul had kissed a thousand times, right under an ear that no longer sported piercings. Right under hair so neatly trimmed that if it hadn’t been for that familiar little dash of color, Paul might have assumed he’d got it all wrong and kept walking.

He hadn’t believed, because -- for the first few years at least -- he’d seen Bobby everywhere he went. He’d gone on an emotional rollercoaster ride every time a slim, good looking dark-haired boy with Bobby's kind of coloring or anyone with Bobby’s sharp, straight nose and high cheekbones came into view.

Paul tried to get a grip on his emotions because it couldn’t be.

But it was.

“Bobby? God, it is you! What are you doing here?” Paul nudged into the barstool next to him. Bobby’s beer stopped halfway to his mouth as he turned in surprise.

All Paul saw after that was the miracle of the Bobby’s smile. Brown eyes lit up with recognition, and if there were creases around the edges or deeper grooves around his mouth, Paul didn’t notice. That same careless sweep of coal black hair fell softly over a regal forehead; it begged to be brushed back, but would fall right down over one eye seconds later like it was staging a coup. Lips that curved up in what seemed to be unabashed delight were still as full and looked as velvety as ever.

Paul’s gaze traveled lower and came to a screeching stop just below Bobby’s Adam’s apple where it landed on a Roman collar. At first Paul’s brain couldn’t make sense of what he was seeing, but it was beginning to become clear.

A priest? Bobby?

A priest?

Paul’s jaw dropped, and then because that seemed so rude, he clenched it shut on whatever expression of shock he was about to utter. He realized that Bobby was indeed wearing a Roman collar and a crucifix. No rings. No piercings. Short hair. Black trousers and lace up oxfords.

Bobby allowed Paul his reaction, saying nothing. Waiting.

Paul finally shook his head. “You’re a priest.”

“It would appear so,” Bobby replied.

Like always, the close proximity of priestly authority brought every curse word to the tip of Paul’s tongue. He closed his mouth on a torrent of questions that all had the word fuck in them. What the, why the, how the…fuck had this happened?

“But I thought… You didn’t get your degree in theater after all? You’re not… I thought you’d be in New York, trying to get famous. I've been waiting for you to show up on America's Got Talent.”

“In a way, everything is theater.” Bobby shrugged off Paul’s question as if that was old news. “I see you’re still working your magic.”

Stupidly, Paul looked behind him, as if he could see himself there doing his act or juggling with Kim. “Yeah. I’ve um…got a good little business. I do gigs at colleges and people hire me. I put a highlight tape on YouTube and it gets me noticed.”

“That’s good to hear. I guess you ended up okay then.”

"Yeah." Could regret kill a man? If so, Paul hoped his death would be quick. He’d regretted leaving Bobby for ten long years. Bobby hadn’t understood then, and there was no way Paul was going to be able to explain it now. It didn’t even make sense to him anymore.

“You never wrote or called to let me know what happened.” Bobby seemed interested in catching up, not revenge, but his curiosity opened old wounds.

“When Dad died, I guess I went a little crazy.”

“I got that part. Your father’s death broke a lot of people’s hearts. He was so young… and to die in the line like that. He was a good cop. But I never understood why you left school.”

“My mom had to bury my dad and I knew she couldn’t keep paying my tuition. I know there were options, but I thought… It doesn’t make sense anymore but at the time--”

“We could have found tuition money. You might have had to take on loans but together we could have made it work. You shut me out.”

I was grieving. And I don’t know if we could have found help. I wasn’t a great student. I didn’t have stellar grades like you did. Mom was barely getting by. And Amy and Meg were still at home and their shot at decent schools would've been over. Then came 9/11 and I thought that’s what I’ll do. I’ll serve my country and after, I’ll get my education paid for. Before Dad died, things were  strained between us." Paul's throat burned. "Joining up would have made him proud.”

“The way I remember it, we both protested getting involved in that war.”

“I know you never understood. It’s all muddled in my head now, but at the time it seemed like the perfect answer.”

“I thought we were on the same page and then you left and never looked back.”

Paul’s exhaled a painful breath. UC Santa Cruz. The first year of the new millennium. They’d burnt up the sheets in their dorm room, as desperately in love as any two people had ever been. Even now, just looking at Bobby -- even though he was a priest – Paul couldn’t stop himself from remembering how warm Bobby’s skin felt beneath his fingertips, the sound of Bobby’s voice crying out his name, the scent of Bobby’s hair when they woke up together after making love all night. Paul had never forgotten a minute of it.

“It’s not important now, anyway.”

“Meg told me about your dishonorable discharge.”

“Yeah.” Paul glanced at his hands. “I experienced a moment of ill-conceived honesty with someone because I knew she liked me and I didn’t want to lead her on. She reported me.”

Bobby’s eyes narrowed. “That’s…”

“Their loss.” The army was clearly still a touchy subject for both of them. Father Bobby. Jeez what the hell should he call Bobby now? “I figured let them get somebody else, right?”

“The Lord works in mysterious ways.”

Paul shrugged. “I doubt that was the Lord, but you’re the priest. You should know.”

“I prayed for you an awful lot, Paul. I prayed for your safety and for you to change your mind. I prayed you’d come back to me.”

“That’s my loss too. God’s a tough rival, huh? But a much better guy.”

Bobby rubbed his face with both hands. “You’re still an idiot.”

“Look.” Paul licked his lips. They said confession was good for the soul. Maybe guys didn’t usually confess to Bobby over a sticky bar and a draft beer, but Paul knew he’d hurt the man and he didn’t want to live with it anymore. “I guess it’s pretty safe to say this now since I’ve got nothing to lose. I was an idiot. You’re the only man I've ever loved and instead of letting you in on it when I had a problem, I ran away. I’ve paid for that for a long time.”

“Ten years,” Bobby whispered.

“So far yeah. Ten years. But I’ll be paying for it for the rest of my life, I guess.”


“I know you found what you’re looking for, and I’m happy for you, but there’s not a day goes by when I don’t think of you. I’m fine, but I’m not whole. I gave you a part of myself in college and I’ll never take that back.”

“Don’t say that. The human heart is an amazingly resilient--”

“Don’t.” Paul held up his hand. “I don’t need you -- of all people -- to console me. I’m fine, really. I guess I just wanted you to know. I never stopped loving you. Not ever.”

Bobby swallowed hard. Paul saw his Adam’s apple dip, and when Paul looked back up into those fathomless brown eyes they shimmered with unshed tears.

Paul held his hand out offering to shake. “It was great to see you again, Bobby. I’m glad you found what you need. I’m glad we’re both okay.”

“Me too.” Bobby took Paul’s hand between both of his. His smile was enigmatic. “You’ll never know how glad.”

Paul glanced down at his watch, “I have to go set up. If you want, you can stop by and watch the show for old time’s sake. It hasn’t changed much, though.”

“I’d like that.”

“Okay…” Paul stood and glanced around. “Ask any of the staff and they’ll sneak you into the back.”

“All right,” Bobby nodded. “Thank you.”

Paul checked his equipment for the last time, and gave the sound guys a heads up. When he started his act, it took every ounce of concentration to keep his attention on his audience and not on the audience. Who knew if Bobby would bother to watch; he’d seen the act enough times to do it himself.

Paul called for volunteers from the audience and performed a rope trick -- a rather pedestrian illusion -- where he cut a rope and appeared to tie it back together, moving the knot along it’s length and showing it to be both cut and repaired several more times in several different places.

His mind was miles away trying to decide if he was glad he’d seen Bobby, or not.

In the midnight of his soul he’d always thought -- had always really believed -- they'd find their way back to each other. He’d harbored the secret hope that someday when he was finished punishing himself for leaving, or when Bobby got tired of looking for fame, or when they both figured out that what they’d had with each other was better than anything they’d ever find anywhere else, they’d be reunited. That someday he'd get to go home.

He had known that it was only wishful thinking, but even that was better than knowing there was no chance at all. His usual cheery dialogue with the audience died off toward the end of the show because his throat clogged and his eyes stung. He'd kept it together through sheer power of will as the illusions got harder and harder. None of these people was likely to realize they were missing out on the best of his jokes.

But Bobby would know.

When they finally brought up the houselights, he caught sight of Bobby standing by the door. It was an unguarded moment, and his face seemed thoughtful. Even sad. Damn Bobby. The last thing Paul wanted from him was pity.

The sound technician helped Paul get his gear off the stage and together they hustled it to the storage room. In the confusion he must have missed saying goodbye to Bobby. Since Paul didn’t really want to see him again -- since he’d said everything he had to say -- he didn’t mind that so much. At least he swallowed down his disappointment and told himself it was better that way.

In fact, the first faint stirring of something like closure pushed its way into Paul’s heart, and he let out a breath to give it a little space to grow.

He’d done his job. The audience had seemed happy. He made his way to the closet they laughingly referred to as a dressing room, and toweled off the sweat he’d accumulated during his act.

For the first time in a long time he wanted stay late and let Kim set him up with a drink or ten, but there was Nudge to consider -- the dog always waited so patiently for him that he generally just hurried home. She was always happy to see him. That made things better, even when -- like now -- it didn't seem they could get worse.

It was while he was taking one last look at the crowd -- hoping against hope that Bobby had simply gone to the men’s room and they’d still have a chance to say goodbye -- that he heard the musical theme from the film, The Exorcist.

Tubular Bells? He elbowed his way into the dark banquet hall and glanced up at the stage. Thick clouds of fog rolled and billowed out from both sides of the stage. The only illumination was a ball of light that glowed faintly against the black background but gradually grew in intensity. 

Eventually it was light enough to see it came from the top of a lamppost. Next to that, a figure appeared, one who wore a hat and an overcoat…a priest.

Paul slumped back against the wall, thoroughly confused until Bobby started to dance. His first thought -- that for a priest Bobby still had some pretty fine fucking moves -- gave way to an explosion of outrage as the truth hit his brain and flooded through his bloodstream like pure alcohol.

That bastard. That lying, conniving, beautiful little motherfucker wasn’t a priest at all, he was…

What the hell was he?

Trick pants hit the floor and the question became rhetorical. Asked and answered. His man Bobby was a stripper, and he was grinding his goodies against the lamppost for all he was worth. Paul couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing with his own eyes. Bobby shook his still-pert thirty-year-old ass and… damn.

What we’ve got here is a room full of firemen who are going to have to put themselves out.

Tubular Bells gave way to some dance music featuring a sexy beat and Latin chanting, during which a now nearly naked Bobby showed off a six pack and a pretty badass tattoo.

Paul laughed so hard he got a dirty look or two, but Bobby was so gloriously hot. He was the very definition of a "bad thought". The kind the priests used to make then all do penance for. 

It turned Paul on so much that if he didn’t leave right then, before the houselights came up, he’d get busted for standing there with enough wood to build another hotel. He waited inside the dressing room, tapping his foot nervously on the floor and – for the first time in years, he chewed his thumbnail to a nub.

The door burst open and Bobby came through, all of him, flushed and sweaty, still wearing little more than a thong but carrying his priest get-up crushed into a ball between his hands.

Paul stood so fast his chair fell over behind him. “Father, I must say you’re giving a whole new meaning to the term defrocked.”

“I can explain.” Bobby picked up a terry cloth robe and covered himself, but it was close enough in the tight space that Paul could detect the enticing scent of his skin. The air fairly crackled between them. Bobby was looking at his lips in a way that weakened Paul’s resolve to call it an early night.

He groaned. “I have to get home to my dog.”

“Your what?”

“My dog.” Paul moved forward, hardly noticing that he was in motion at all. “She’s a Lab.”


“Do you have someone to go home to?” Paul asked. That was something he really, really wanted to know. Was Bobby off limits even if he wasn’t a priest?

“No.” Bobby swallowed. “There’s never been anyone since you.”


“I never thought I’d ever see you again. How could you be right here, juggling your damned bottles in this dive bar? I’ve been in town for six months and now I bump into you because of this silly priest gig. You… you told me you still love me. Is that true?”

Paul spoke thickly, “Yes. Always.”

“I’ve never forgotten. I love you too. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the truth, but suddenly you were there and telling me everything I’ve waited to hear for so long. Fuck. Kiss me.”

Paul forgot restraint. He forgot decorum and composure and the fact that at any moment his employers might walk through the dressing room door. He opened his arms and Bobby came crashing into them, tilting his head back for a passionate kiss. Their lips met and meshed. Bobby yielded to gentle pressure and Paul’s tongue slipped inside to explore the moist heat of Bobby’s mouth. He still tasted faintly of cinnamon.

Paul pulled back. “Am I dreaming?”

“I hope not.” Bobby cupped his face like he was precious or something. 

“If I am, I don’t want to ever wake up.”

The End


My latest novella, All Stirred Up is available at MLR Press!

To read an excerpt or buy the book, go HERE.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Song to the Siren by Kelley Heckart

I came across this song by accident as I was searching through my cds for a song that I could use for this theme. My Robert Plant cd had collected dust in my cd rack and I picked it up in the hope of finding the right love song. My love song had to be something unusual because I am sort of, well, unusual. As soon as I read the lyrics to Song to the Siren, a story began to form in my mind-a twist on the Siren myth.

How will a Siren find love when her voice lures men to their deaths?

Rated - Adult - Appropriate for 18 years and older only.
Genre: Historical/Paranormal
Heat Level: Sensual


Song of the Siren
by Kelley Heckart

Pelagios waited for the maiden to approach him, too stunned by her beauty to move. She came to him, a lovely vision of a bronze-skinned maiden with bright blue eyes, the brightest blue he had ever seen-like a clear summer sky. They gazed at one another and exchanged shy smiles. She glided toward him. Her nearness sent his pulse racing.

He reached out, touching her silky black hair. Her red lips beckoned him. Eager to know what her lips would feel like, he captured her soft mouth in a lingering kiss. Her supple body pressed against him, her breasts touching him in a pleasing crush of soft flesh and hard nipples. Thrilling tingles coursed through his body.

A sharp pain in his thigh jolted him awake. He looked up into Drakon's cruel eyes and realized he had been kicked in the thigh. The dream he'd had was still fresh in his mind, the dream maiden unlike anyone he knew. His mouth still tingled from her kisses.

"Well, look what we have here," Drakon said with an unfriendly grin. "The son of a sow is napping instead of doing his work."

Drakon's companions roared with derisive laughter.

Pelagios cringed. He wanted to run, but the young warriors had him cornered behind the stacks of baskets and wooden chests that had recently been unloaded from a merchant ship.

"What? What did you say?" Drakon leaned over close to Pelagios, his eyes narrowing with dislike. "I forgot you are too dumb too speak. It's a wonder your father is such a celebrated commander."

Pelagios stared hard at the king's son.

"He looks as if he wants to fight me," Drakon said with a laugh, "but everyone knows the son of corn-eaters cannot fight."

"Drakon, you must have something better to do than taunt poor Pelagios."

Both young men turned toward the source of the soft feminine voice.

Carissa stood with her hands on her hips, her eyes sparkling with challenge.

"Cousin, even you cannot deny he has the dark coloring of the natives," Drakon replied. "Everyone knows his father found him on an island."

Carissa glided toward the group and leveled an unyielding gaze at Pelagios. "I find him quite handsome."

Her direct gaze and blunt words made Pelagios's cheeks burn. Though emboldened in his dreams, in real life he had never kissed a maiden.

Drakon laughed. "Look, you have embarrassed him and made him speechless," he said, putting up his hand as if to wave them away. "You are right. This is a waste of my time. He will do nothing but scrub decks the rest of his sorry life." Drakon strode away with his band of warriors. Armed with spears, they headed toward the forest to hunt.

Pelagios stood, wishing he could be included in the hunting party.

"Do not look so sad," Carissa said. She put her hand on his shoulder. "Drakon is ill-mannered and probably envious of you," she said with a sweet smile. "You are much more handsome than he is."

He regarded her with what he hoped was a polite expression, but inside it humiliated him to have a female defend him.

Pelagios walked away from her and toward the wharf. His father's warship bobbed in the ocean, the giant mast creaking in the gentle breeze. The briny sea air caressed his cheek and he longed to sail the seas.

It was his eighteenth year and he should have been celebrating his life, but instead brooded about how useless his life was. He would never command one of his father's ships for to be an able commander one had to have the trust of the men.

Filled with frustration, Pelagios left the wharf and entered the thick woods on the other side of the island. He stopped before some bushes and glanced around. When he was certain no one watched him, he retrieved the spear he'd hidden there.

Using all the skills he taught himself, he crept quietly into the woods to hunt for the large boar believed to roam the forest.

He tuned his ears for any subtle sounds of movement in the brush and sniffed the air for the rank, wild scent of a boar. Shouts filled the air. Pulse racing, he ran in the direction of the shouts, dodging low branches and protruding roots.

He came upon the young warriors in the clearing. They surrounded a large boar with huge yellowed tusks.

Pelagios entered with caution, spear raised.

Tension blanketed the clearing like a thick fog.

The boar made a sudden lunge toward Drakon. Filled with excitement, Pelagios shouted, forgetting no one would hear him.

The boar stopped a finger-length from gutting Drakon and turned its attention to Pelagios.

The boar heard me.

In a flash, the beast charged at him, its beady, dark eyes filled with hatred.

The thrill of taking down a large boar surged through his body. He waited for the animal to reach the tip of his spear, his body coiled and ready, his heart thundering in his chest. On shaking legs, he stood his ground and thrust the spear into the boar's heart.

The boar grunted and fell over, dead.

He wondered at the strangeness of what happened, how the boar could hear his voice. What did it mean?

Silence filled the clearing.

The young warriors, including Drakon, stared at him open-mouthed.

While Drakon stood silent, his companions approached Pelagios and slapped him on the back in congratulations.

For the first time, he smiled with happiness.

Later that night, the great Mycenaean king, Xenos, armed Pelagios with weapons and made him a warrior.

"Today Pelagios proved his might as a warrior, saving my reckless son's life," King Xenos said, his deep voice booming with appreciation.

Everyone in the feasting hall cheered Pelagios on. Carissa smiled sweetly at him and his father looked proud. The only frown Pelagios saw was on Drakon's sullen face.

That night he lay on his bed pallet, thinking of what had happened that day, how his life appeared to be changing. The lovely maiden filled his thoughts and he composed a poem to her, thinking of her red lips as sweet, ripe berries, her eyes as endless pools of sparkling blue.

He fell asleep with a smile and dreamed of the maiden again. She looked happy to see him and pressed an eager kiss to his lips. Filled with confidence in the dream, he pulled her close in a lingering kiss that set his blood on fire. She moved her mouth down to his neck and used her tongue to caress his earlobe.

His body screamed with need, his penis growing hard. He had only one thought-to bury his erection deep inside her soft flesh.

He awoke with a start burdened by an erection and frustration that his dream had ended so suddenly.

* * * * *

Melina sat on her small island, pining away another day of loneliness. Years ago, her sisters had cast her out for the crime of wanting to love a man.

But loving a man was impossible because her song always lured them to their deaths. With a forlorn ache in her heart, she stared at the piles of bleached human bones scattered on the white sandy beach below.

Yesterday and last night she dreamt of a young man, a handsome man with long black hair and green eyes. Hope filled her body with warmth. She recalled every contour of his body, how his firm male lips captured her in a passionate kiss, how his muscular chest pressed against her. It was as if the dream were real.

She tried to fall asleep during the day again, but was unable to achieve the deep sleep needed for dreams. She waited out the day riddled with impatience, eager for night to come so she could dream of him again. And for once since her exile, the sunset looked more beautiful to her, the golden red hues dancing across the top of the water in a glittering display. Comforted by darkness, sleep claimed her, opening the doorway to her dreams.

He looked happy to see her, his eyes filled with affection. She decided to speak to him, thinking he would be safe from her harmful voice in dreamland.

"What are you called?" she asked, allowing him to take hold of her hands. His touch filled her with anticipation for more of his kisses and caresses.

He looked solemn for a moment, shaking his head and said, "You cannot hear my voice."

"I cannot hear your voice?" She watched him with curiosity.

With a surprised expression, he asked, "You heard me?"

She nodded.

His eyes brightened with joy. "No one has ever been able to hear me." Grasping her hands in a firm, tender grip, he said, "I am called Pelagios."

His resonant voice sounded magical to her.

"And you, what are you called?" He gazed down at her, drawing her close.


"Your name is as beautiful as you are," he whispered. He dipped his head and kissed her.

His strong hands gripped her shoulders and moved lower, tentative strokes that grew more confident with each caress. Her dress slipped from her shoulders, falling in a whisper at her feet. Tenderly, he cupped her breast, lowering his mouth to trace her nipple with his tongue.

A powerful tingle rushed from her nipple to her sex. Her inner thighs throbbed with yearning. He kneaded her backside, pulling her into his erection. The ache between her thighs deepened and she let out a soft moan. He gently pulled her down to the ground.

He pulled off his tunic and stood naked before her. In the dream world, her fears about joining were replaced with eagerness to lay with him. The sight of his jutting phallus filled her with anticipation of what pleasures he could bring her. The weight of his body pressed down, his mouth delighting her with passionate kisses. His erection caressed the tip of her sex and plunged inside. Sensations of heat and pleasure pulsed within her. He thrust deeper into her core, sending her into bliss.

Breathless, they lay side by side in dreamland.

She awoke the next morning with the sunrise. Her body still tingled from her dream tryst, her lips feeling tender and bruised.

For the next couple of weeks they met in their dreams. On the last night, they lay together in a tight embrace.

"How can we meet outside of our dreams?" he asked.

His question made her bristle.

"Melina?" He glanced at her.

Fear gripped her. She backed away from him. "We cannot meet outside our dreams."

"Why not?" He reached out and held her hand.

"Please do not try to find me," she said, her heart aching. "It is dangerous for you." She slipped her hand out of his grip. With a final solemn look, she pulled herself from the dream.

She lay in bed for a long time, tears wetting her cheeks.

* * * * *

Pelagios sat in the meadow thinking of Melina and wondered why she didn't want to meet him out of the dreams.

A bird landed near him on a low branch. He recalled how the boar had heard his voice. Thinking of the poem he wrote for Melina, he remembered the words and put them to a melody. He sang the song, surprised at the pleasant sound of his singing voice having never tried to sing before. The bird tilted its head toward him and chirped in harmony to his voice. It was the most extraordinary sound he had ever heard, but no one would ever hear his voice. Melina can hear my voice. But she could probably only hear him in the dream world.

He closed his eyes and willed himself to sleep, trying to reach out to her. He needed to see her, to feel her, and wanted more than anything to meet her out of the dreams. There was something lacking in the dreams. The dreams seemed too perfect, too contrived. He imagined how it would feel to touch her, to taste her and to smell her skin in the real world, to have her soft breasts crushing against him. The dreams seemed so real, but the thought of how the walls of her heated sex would feel stroking and squeezing him in real life made him shudder.

He fell asleep with a faint, eager smile. In his dreams he saw a shadowed figure. "Melina?" He approached, his heart beating with anticipation.

A man stepped out of the shadows.

Pelagios stopped. Disappointment washed over him. "Who are you?"

The man regarded him with keen eyes. "Who I am does not matter," he said, taking a step closer. "Why I am here does."

"Does it have to do with Melina?" Pelagios asked, looking suspiciously at the strange dream man who brought with him the smell of poppies.

The man nodded. "If you want to find her you need to be prepared." He handed Pelagios a piece of vellum.

Pelagios accepted the vellum covered in Greek letters.

"You can read, can you not?"

Having spent his life in seclusion, he had eagerly learned to read and write. "Yes." Pelagios looked at what appeared to be a spell of some kind. "I am not a sorcerer. How will this help me?"

The man's eyes gleamed in an odd way. "I can give you what you need, but only you can decide what to do."

Pelagios awoke, pulled from the dream by a sharp pain in his side. Drakon sneered at him.

Pelagios stood and glared at him. This time he wasn't going to allow Drakon's kick go unnoticed.

Drakon gave him a derisive grin. "I had to kick you to wake you up," he said. "The warships are preparing to leave."

He stared hard at Drakon, furrowing his brow in doubt. "I thought we were leaving tomorrow."

"The tides are in our favor now." Drakon looked down. "What do we have here?" He stooped to pick up what looked like the piece of vellum the man gave Pelagios in his dream.

Pelagios lunged for the vellum.

Drakon jerked it out of his reach. "It must be something special."

The king's son couldn't read very well so the only reason he would take it from him would be to taunt him.

"Come get it if you want it," Drakon laughed.

Pelagios lunged for the vellum again.

This time Drakon jerked it back so fast that the vellum went sailing through the air and caught in the wind.

The vellum blew away down a nearby cliff. He hadn't had the time to memorize the words. He clenched his fists at his sides, ignoring Drakon's smirk.

* * * * *

"A frown does not become you, Melina."

Melina jerked her head to the side toward the slightly mocking feminine voice. Aphrodite stood next to her in all her radiance. The goddess looked at the ocean below the cliffs. "Such beauty and you are still unhappy."

"It would look more beautiful to me if I was able to come and go as I please." In a subconscious movement, her large black wings twitched and fluttered behind her.

Aphrodite glanced at her wings. "Well, you cannot blame me for clipping your wings," she said.

Melina narrowed her eyes in frustration. "But you turned us into birds." Aphrodite had turned her and her sisters into bird-women when they refused her request, but it was the Muses that clipped their wings out of jealousy.

"You should have done as I asked," she said with a sidelong look. "Only too late have you decided to yield your maidenhead."

"You have been watching me," Melina said tersely. "Are you here to taunt me?" She had come to regret her decision of refusing to give up her virginity to any man or god of her choosing. She had found a man to love and now it was too late.

"You really think me cruel," the goddess said with a feigned look of hurt.

"Then why are you here?" Melina eyed her with suspicion.

"I am here to offer you the chance for your wish to come true." Aphrodite gave her a sincere look.

She sensed the honesty coming from Aphrodite. The goddess knew about her dreams, about Pelagios. Tears stung Melina's eyes. "Even if there was a way for him to come here safely," she said with a glance at her wings, "he will run in fear when he sees me."

Aphrodite shrugged. "Perhaps, perhaps not."

"What do I do?"

"I cannot tell you what to do," she said, her lovely face compassionate. "You must decide for yourself, but try to be open to the idea of love, and believe."

Melina stood alone on the sea cliff, the warm sun caressing her cheek in a fond farewell from Aphrodite.

She realized that Aphrodite had been involved with the dreams because the dream world where she met Pelagios seemed too life-like to be a simple dream.

That night she tried to reach out to Pelagios in her dreams, but couldn't find him. She awoke disappointed and worried that she had chased him away. Yearning for his passionate kisses and caresses, she stared out across the ocean, her heart empty and forlorn.


The simple word echoed inside her head, slowly filling her with hope. 

* * * * *

Exhausted from staying up all night helping the other warriors and crew members fight the lashing waves, Pelagios still couldn't sleep, not with the storm still raging. The storm tossed the massive warship like it was a small toy, the waves crashing over the bow with the fury of a gigantic hammer that kept pounding without pause.

He wondered if enough offerings had been given to Poseidon to grant them safe passage, for the Sea-god appeared to be furious.

Out of the hellish black night the wind, rain and waves continued to pummel the ship. Pelagios shivered from the wet and coldness that engulfed him. He could hear his teeth chattering. His world spun around and all he could do was hold on to the rope to keep from falling overboard. Somewhere in the dark, men shouted and then went silent. There was nothing more anyone could do to save the ship. They were in Poseidon's hands now.

He waited for the loud crack that would indicate the mast had broken, but he never heard it. Something hard flew out of the blackness and hit him on the head. Unconsciousness seized him. His last thought was of Melina. 

He became aware of gentle rocking and burning heat.  He opened his eyes and the bright sun blinded him. The hard deck of the ship rocked beneath him. He realized that it was morning and the storm had blown away.

Someone shouted a command. Men hurried by him.

Rising unsteadily, he stumbled and had to grab the wooden rail. A dull ache pressed against his head and he remembered being hit by flying debris. He touched his head and felt a sizable lump.

"It's unfortunate that you didn't fall overboard."

Drakon's familiar voice grated in his ears. He turned to face him.

"You are the reason this has happened," Drakon said, spitting over the side and wiping his mouth on his sleeve. "You are the bringer of ill fortune."

Pelagios looked over Drakon's shoulder and saw a group of warriors looking at him with fear. He shook his head.

"No?" Drakon stepped close to his face. "This has never happened before."

He wanted to shout that it wasn't his fault and struggled with the frustration of not being able to communicate.

"The ship survived the storm, but we lost many good men," Drakon looked out across the sea, "and we are lost, blown somewhere far away."

Pelagios looked at the sea. No. This is not my fault.

One of the young warriors stepped forward. "Maybe if we throw him overboard now, we will find our way back home."

Drakon looked at Pelagios, his expression serious, as if he considered the suggestion.

The vast ocean stretched far into the horizon. Pelagios saw a speck that appeared to grow. He blinked and looked again. The speck was still there. He pointed toward what he thought was land.

The young warriors gathered around him, and looked out across the sea.

The man high up on the ship's mast shouted, "Land. I see land."

Men scrambled to adjust the sail so the wind would blow the ship toward the island.

Filled with excitement, Pelagios watched the island grow larger as the ship drew closer. He hoped that by finding land, the other warriors would stop blaming him for the ill fortune that had befallen them so far on the sea voyage.

The young warriors chattered and laughed amongst themselves.

Excluded from their conversations, Pelagios felt like an outsider. Even though he had been accepted as a warrior, the other warriors ignored him for the most part and Drakon didn't even try to hide his dislike for him.

The island emerged before the ship, waves crashing against jagged cliffs that stretched to green meadows and woodlands.

The shipmates shouted warnings to each other, trying to keep the ship from crashing into the rocks.

A strange feeling settled into his mind. A brief hush fell over the ship and then the most beautiful singing he'd ever heard paralyzed his thoughts. He desired nothing else but to throw himself onto the rocks.

The ship changed course, heading straight for the dangerous rocks.
Other thoughts tried to break through the fog of enchantment for it had to be some kind of spell-a Siren's death song, and he couldn't resist it.


He faintly remembered the spell written on vellum.


The beautiful singing unlocked something within.

The singing voice sounded like Melina.

Melina was a Siren, a sailor's worst fear.

The isolated thoughts grew stronger. He struggled between following the song to his death and a tiny thread of thought that made him think he could save the ship and crew. And another thought that further clouded his mind.

Melina betrayed me.

He couldn't believe she would betray him and recalled her affectionate smile. He struggled to remember the spell written on the vellum. His head throbbed with pain.

Love. Melina. She had felt so wonderful in his arms.

The more his head ached the further the spell slipped from his thoughts.

The ship sailed closer to the rocks.

He was running out of time.

He thought of Melina and how happy she made him feel in his dreams.

The poem.

Something stirred inside him like dying embers re-kindling into a roaring fire. The words to a new love song for Melina came easily to him-a Song to the Siren-words filled with yearning and magic. The Siren's deadly voice mingled with his song, harmonizing into one unearthly sounding melody before his voice grew louder and stronger.

The Siren's enticing death song faded away.

The men on the ship awoke from the enchantment and shouted commands to each other. They moved quickly to turn the ship from the rocks.

Pelagios glanced at the warriors who watched him with suspicion and fear. He looked back at the island where Melina waited. She hadn't betrayed him after all because she warned him not to come to her.

He leaped over the side and into the arms of the churning waves. 

* * * * *

She stared at the ship, her mouth open in shock. Her death song had been blocked by a spell. Melina was sure it was Pelagios's voice she'd heard above the waves crashing against the rocks below. His otherworldly voice had reached out to her, breaking the enchantment that lured the ship to certain destruction, lured the men to certain death.

But how? As far as she knew no mortal had ever been able to break the Siren's spell. She recalled the lyrics to his song with a pleased smile, warmed by the love and desire he spoke of in his words to her.

Perhaps something as simple as love had broken the spell.

I am waiting for you. Swim to me.

Rising up and under the waves, he battled the rough sea.

Tears blurred her eyes. She had to believe he would survive the waves pounding against the rocks.

She hurried down the path to the narrow beach.

He emerged from the sea, his clothes wet and clinging to every muscle on his body.

Her heartbeat quickened at the sight of him.

He had to be a demigod, a son of the Sea-god Poseidon, to have survived the pounding waves.

"Melina," he said, hurrying toward her.

Remembering her wings and her unusual feet, she hesitated with a stab of dread in the pit of her stomach, afraid this handsome demigod would reject her.

"Melina?" He slowed his step, his eyes dimming with uneasiness. "Are you not happy to see me?"

"I am," she said, lowering her gaze, "but I am afraid you will dislike my appearance." She opened her wings and allowed her bird-feet to peek out of the hem of the long dress.

His eyes widened, and then he gave her a reassuring smile. "That explains why you can hear my voice."

She tilted her head, wondering at his strange response.

"I learned from years of cruel taunts not to judge others harshly." He gazed at her with deep affection. "You are beautiful, and you make me happy when I am with you in dreams, and I am certain you will make me happy now," he said, taking hold of her hands. "That is all I care about."

He kissed her. She tasted the sea salt on his lips and she returned his kiss with eagerness, parting her lips. She delighted in the confident way his tongue made her mouth tingle as if they had kissed many times before.

Feeling him out of the dreams-his solid, wet body pressing against her-intensified her desire. Her skin prickled with excitement and her inner thighs throbbed with need.

He pulled off his tunic and placed it on the ground. His naked body rippled with the hard planes of muscle upon muscle as if carved from stone.

On the narrow strip of beach, he gently pulled her to the ground on top of his tunic and undressed her. She was aware of the waves crashing nearby and the soft, dry sand. Crashing waves and sand reminded her they were in the real world and heightened her urgency to lay with him.

In the real world she could smell his clean male scent mixed with the salty sea, and feel the scratch of his stubble as he traced her breast with his tongue, sensations that were lacking in the dream world.

His erection pressed urgently against her thigh. She squirmed beneath him, the ache between her thighs growing.

"You are more beautiful than my dreams," he whispered between kisses, "and your skin tastes so wonderful, better than I imagined." His mouth moved lower.

She squirmed in delight at the feel of his tongue flicking the soft flesh between her thighs.

He mounted her, his phallus touching her opening, the hardness and smoothness of him filling her with eagerness. She sucked in a breath, wondering if she should tell him she was unspoiled. His passionate kisses covered her mouth and stoked her desire. He plunged inside her.

Where was the pain?

The fleeting question slipped from her mind, her only thoughts were of the pleasure of his vigorous yet tender rutting. With each thrust, he rubbed against her soft nub, sending bolts of delight throughout her body. She was stuck in the place between bliss and release. She remained perched on the edge ready to soar, not wanting to surrender to the release and let the moment slip away.

The warm sun, soft sand, cool sprays of ocean and his deep thrusts coaxed her over the edge. She arched her hips, grasping him between her thighs as her body quivered and pulsed. She had the thrilling sensation of floating, that her wings allowed her to fly.

He rocked against her, letting out a satisfied groan.

She reveled in the bliss, her body tingling and flushed.

He gazed down at her with affection.

"I was unspoiled," she said, smiling. "I thought it would hurt."

His brow furrowed in thought. "That's odd," he said, blushing. "I had never joined with a maiden, but it felt like we had joined many times," he said with a frown, "but that's impossible."

She smiled with knowing. "I suspect our dreams were a little more than dreams."

He pulled her into an embrace, brushing her hair from her forehead in a familiar gesture.

Melina looked up toward the Heavens and said a silent thank you to Aphrodite and Morpheus, for only the god of dreams could have worked such magic. 

The End


Kelley writes Celtic historical romances with fantasy/paranormal elements. Her stories reflect her passion for history, storytelling and the supernatural. Inspired by the ancient Celts, her tales are filled with fierce warriors, bold women, magic, conflict and romance.

Kelley Heckart
'Timeless tales of romance, conflict & magic' Check out my long hair hotties!


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