An Excerpt From: Beast of Dreams

© Copyright Cynthia Williams, 2004

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave, Inc.

Late in the afternoon, after slashing her way through several kilometers of vegetation, Amanda arrived, dirty and sweaty, at the mineral springs. She shrugged her shoulders to loosen the straps of her backpack and let it slide to the ground. It was a relief to dump the thirty kilograms of weight.

Tired as she was, she knew she had better set up camp first before she climbed into one of the hot pools. As fast as she could manage, despite her tired muscles, Amanda soon had her tent, pallet, and security perimeter set up.

Eager to see if the springs were safe enough for swimming, Amanda dug out her analyzer and dipped it into the largest pool. The temperature was almost too warm, but she figured that she would be fine as long as she didn’t prolong her stay in the pool. She added purifying tablets to kill any microorganisms, and then set up her spare perimeter alarms, adjusting the relays so that any animals approaching too closely would receive a moderate shock.

Satisfied that she could strip off her environmental suit and still be reasonably safe, she quickly removed her attire and the underclothing she wore beneath.

Sliding into the hot water, Amanda let out a pleased sigh. Although she was allowed a sparse weekly shower aboard Sirus’s ship, nothing felt as good as sinking into a hot pool of water. She looked forward to soaking out the accumulated aches from nine hours of hiking and slashing.

Karrick arrived at the rocky outcropping just as Amanda began soaping her body. He admired the way she stood tall and proud, the sun illuminating the water droplets that clung like tiny glass jewels all over her body. He liked the fact that she was so well-rounded. She was very beautiful, and in the unconscious pose she made below in the pool, she reminded him of the instruction module illustrations he’d seen of various gods and goddesses when, as a teenager, he’d studied Greek and Roman mythology. She looked like Venus, he thought, as she stood on the seashell after emerging from the blue sea.

He wondered in his loneliness if there was any way he could make her his goddess.

Though hairless compared to the wolfan females, he found the appearance of her creamy skin erotically beautiful. He could imagine rubbing his palms over her silky smooth skin while she moaned from his touch.

He couldn’t wait to merge his mind with hers again but this time he knew better than to try and force her into a dream state. Last night he had been so anxious to find out what was going on, he tried to rush things by imposing his will on her to rest. Instead, she’d grown wary, sensing she was watched, and it was actually several hours before she was relaxed enough to fall asleep on her own. He knew he would just have to wait a while and be patient.

Amanda towel-dried her hair before drying the rest of herself off. She shook the large damp cloth and laid it flat on the sun-heated rock. She stretched before lying down gracefully on her stomach, resting her head on her crossed forearms. The sun warmed her skin, and after a while she dozed off.

Karrick knew he should try to glean information about why the woman was on Eridani. However, his psi talent was strongly affected by whatever emotions possessed him at the time he attempted to use it. He could only hope that his libido would be tamed enough this time to allow him to focus on finding out the information he needed.

Despite his resolve, lust poured through his veins as he smelled Amanda’s clean feminine musk and the sweet scent of her freshly bathed skin. He was having a hard time separating the hunger he felt for her from the pack’s need for knowledge.

Emotions, especially strong ones like lust, love, or hate, tended to color his manipulations, with the resulting dream often a composite of what he was actually trying to create and whatever feelings or events he was obsessing on at the time.

It was no wonder he was getting distracted by her during the dreams, he thought. Every minute since he’d first seen her, he’d been obsessed with the uniqueness of her bare skin and her curvaceous well-toned body.

He had to be very careful. Whatever was in her mind would impact the form the dream took. He planned to adapt his manipulations so they made some kind of sense to her, fitting in with whatever logic governed her dream.

Slowly, he began the gentle mental pushing that enabled him to enter her dream. It was akin to pushing a pin slowly into a soap bubble without bursting it.

He was in a room with curved stone walls, ornate tapestries hanging on them. There was a feeling of tranquility, for which he was deeply grateful.

Tall narrow windows let in rectangular pools of sunlight. He assumed he was in a castle of some sort. The large bed against the wall showed that the room was clearly a sleeping chamber. But the odd decorations in the room, like the wall sconces, seemed to have surrealistic human form and shape. Something about the setting seemed naggingly familiar. It was a part of some fairy tale or a similar kind of story…

He saw her and his heart rate leapt a bit. Her back was to him and she could turn around any moment. He forced himself to calm down. Because his mind was merged with hers, any anxiety coming from him would affect her as well.

He stepped back into the shadows so he could watch her unobserved. She sat on a stool, brushing her thick mass of tawny, shoulder-length hair. A sheer white dressing gown hung provocatively from her shoulders. He stiffened with the sudden yearning that overwhelmed him.

She began to turn toward him and in the moment her forest-green eyes registered his presence, a look of shock came upon her face. Her knuckles were white where she clutched her brush; her breath caught in her throat. Karrick chastised himself for forgetting to change his appearance.

Karrick instinctively maneuvered her so that she needn’t be afraid. He searched his brain for something that might make sense to her and it came to him. He whispered into her mind, this was the beast, her beast, and he would not harm her because she was Beauty.

A cry of delight broke from her lips as she relaxed. Yes, this is the beast who brought me to his enchanted castle so that I would take the place of my father, she thought. She smiled beguilingly at him.

“You must have been out hunting, Beast. You’re wearing your leathers, rather than the fine clothes you usually wear,” she said, looking up into his eyes.

He spoke, his voice a low growl, “Does this displease you, Beauty?”

“No, but I worried about you being gone for so long. I haven’t seen you for several days.” She gazed at him coyly from underneath her long eyelashes. “I missed you dreadfully.”

Her acceptance of him nearly unmanned him. Until now, he’d been afraid that his actions in the other dream would’ve turned her against him permanently. “I missed you, too, Beauty,” he said huskily, as he stepped close to her. His desire made him run a furry finger underneath the sheer cloth draping her creamy shoulders.

She gasped with pleasure, her eyes closing to savor the moment. Her grip on the dressing gown loosened, and it fell off her shoulders down to her waist and hips, where it puddled. She opened her eyes and tilted her head back to look him boldly in the face. The feminine heat of her gaze was a command.

He drank in the sight of her unadorned splendor and fell to his knees, overwhelmed by his desire for her.

Moved by his need for her, she opened her arms to him and spread her knees apart to draw him in. Her exposed breasts hung provocatively, the ruby tips hardening as his chest drew close to hers.

He pressed his body between her legs, only inches separating them. He stared hard into her eyes and asked, “Are you frightened of me, Beauty?”