Sunlight streamed through the high, dusty windows, as I idly wandered through the maze at the heart of this vast cathedral of knowledge and stories.  I’d gone there because my ever-dwindling to-read pile had finally given up on me.  I had tried going for walks, shopping, macramé, listening to music, drinking in front of the television’s flickering curse, but it was no good.  I was twitching like a junkie needing a fix.  Needing it badly.  Oh, so badly.

So I headed for my temple.  The place where all of the world, and so many things beyond, could be found gathered together in one magical place.

The cavernous building was ancient, and crumbling at the edges.  It was so weathered; it resembled a sugar sculpture that had been left in a light mist for too long.  God alone knows what its original purpose had been, or even how old it actually was.  But it was old. And, to me, at least, it was beautiful.

The fierce sunlight drew odd half-seen shapes from the shadows cast by the barely recognisable but still disturbing gargoyles and statues that adorned its pocked and pitted walls.  And it had beat down on my unprotected head as I had made my way there.  By the time I arrived and walked through the gaping portico that adorned its entrance, slipping into the green-tinted shadows within, my head was beginning to ache, and my vision to become fuzzy.

I stopped for a moment in the marble-sheathed entrance hall, letting the cool atmosphere ease the aching of my head, and removing my sandals, so I could soothe my feet on the smooth floor.  I stood, my back to a pillar, my eyes closed, breathing slowly.

Once I’d revived a little, I tucked my sandals behind the pillar.  I did not intend to put them back on whilst I was in the library itself, nor did I wish to be juggling them with an armful of books.

People sometimes give me odd looks when I walk around barefoot in public.  And, yes, slightly shamefaced, I will admit to occasionally doing it on purpose, just to see how many odd looks I can garner in a given amount of time.  But mostly, I do it because I enjoy the feel of the world under my feet.  The feel of rough tarmac, or stone worn smooth by centuries of foot traffic, or the endless wear of the sun, wind and rain.  Or perhaps the feel of grass.  Cool or warm, prickly or soft, dewy damp or crackling dry.

As I pushed through the dark, heavy wooden doors, and entered the library proper, my feet felt the change from cool marble to warm flagstones, and my nose twitched with the heavenly smell that greeted me.

Books.

The smell of thousands upon thousands of books, ancient and modern.  The bindings, the glue, the paper, the ink.  The absorbed and slowly-released odours of the places they had lain before finally coming here, to this vast and beautiful hall of words.

In the centre of this sacred place, there were row upon row of shelves, all crammed tightly with the stuff of my addiction.  Around the walls there were black-painted iron bars, twisted into phantasmagorical shapes, guarding balconies groaning with more shelves.  And in nooks and crannies, around corners, in small, secretive alcoves, more and yet more of the stuff of wonder.  The still air was thick and heavy with almost-silence, muffled by the millions of pages contained between the covers.  High, high overhead, the sunlight streamed down through thick, rippled, dusty glass, heating the air to a lazy temperature, motes dancing and swirling in the golden deluge.  Stuffy, heavy and hot, the air in that cavern quickly pacified me to wandering in a daze through the stacks – causing me to drift along shelves and around corners, deeper and deeper into the heart of the library.  Not really looking at the books I passed, merely trailing my fingers along their spines, feeling the texture shiver through my fingertips as I lightly brushed each binding.

Eventually, I drifted to a stop in a dead end.  Even this did not bring me out of my reverie, merely caused me to halt by one shelf, and begin to stroke the bindings a little more slowly, feeling the substance of each one with more concentration than before.

Slowly, slowly, my fingers came to rest upon one in particular.

The binding was old, of soft leather.  What was inside, I couldn’t tell, since whatever lettering that had been on there had been worn away by time and the caresses of countless hands.

But it felt…good.  Special…  Intriguing.  My fingers tingled, just a little.

So I picked it out from amongst its fellows and, opening it randomly, began to read.  The stories it contained – for it was a story book – were…absorbing.  Strange tales full of even stranger creatures. And the lustful things they did were even stranger.  Beguiling.  Absorbing.  Bewitching.

As I stood in that isolated alcove, in that vast library, reading, the air seemed to grow hotter with the tales.  The doings of the people and creatures made me shiver with delight and … yes … desire.  Soon, the occasional pleasant tickle of a bead of sweat slowly making its way down a curve or plane of my body was joined by another.  As a slow heat built up inside me, I felt a tiny trickle adorn the topmost part of my inner thigh.  I shivered again, plunging deeper into the story.

 

A voice at my ear breathed, “Hello.”

 

My body stiffened, and the book fell from my nerveless grasp , landing open on the floor.  Though the air in the library was perfectly still, the pages riffled and turned, and then were still.  My startlement instantly turned to readiness.  For what, I was not certain.  I had heard no-one approach.  Yet here was a voice, whispering a greeting.  So close that I could feel the hot breath that made the voice tickling my ear, and brushing the fine and delicate hairs on my neck and shoulder.

I did not turn around.  Not yet.

Now I was more alert to my surroundings, I could clearly feel the presence behind me.  My back fairly sizzled with the sense of another body, standing closer to me than any person had a right to do.  I could feel the heat of him, far more than the hot, lazy air around me.  His was a sharp, dry heat that burned through the thin cotton fabric of my summer dress, bathing me in…what?  I was not sure, but unwillingly admitted to myself that it felt good.  The owner of the voice spoke again.  Softly.  Oh, so softly.  In a voice half way between a whisper and a sigh, and with a hint of amusement, he said, “Well, then.  Will you turn around?  You called me, after all.”

“C…called…?” I stammered.  Swallowing, I tried again, my voice quavering, just a little. “I…I called no-one.  I was…reading.”

I sensed amusement from behind me.  The soft, seductive voice spoke again.  “Indeed you were.  And enjoying the story too, were you not?”

“…I…er…I…”   I faltered, and then stopped, blushing deeply.  The voice chuckled.

I felt a finger trace its way slowly down my spine, from the nape of my neck to the top of my buttocks.  I shivered, and felt a twitch, deep in my body.

“Will you not turn around?” The voice asked again, with a very evident smile. “Please?” he added, more softly still.

I took a deep, slightly quivering breath.  Slowly, slowly, I acceded to the request.

Standing behind me was a figure.  Apparently that of a man, but subtly, unmistakeably not.  Everything about him was very, very slightly different.  Perfectly proportioned, but elongated.  On a busy street, in normal clothing, he would be easy to miss.  Apart from the eyes.

It would be hard to miss the eyes.

Deep, deep blue, almost violet, they burned from his nut-brown face like beacons, drawing me in, absorbing.  Possessing.

I looked away, as I felt myself being pulled closer, taking an involuntary step back as I did so.  This allowed me to see the rest of him.  His well-shaped arms and chest.  His waist…his hips…his…  I gasped and raised my eyes back to his chest, concentrating on the lines and whorls tattooed all over him.  The lines themselves were almost as absorbing as his eyes, which I dared not look at again.  Not until I had steeled myself to do so.  Deep within my body, I began to tremble.

Though my gaze was centred squarely on his chest, watching the lines there subtly shifting with each breath he took, I could still see the corners of his mouth curl up, just a little more.

“Are you afraid, little reader?” he asked.

I shook my head, and immediately gave lie to that as he took a slow step towards me, and I took another involuntary step back.

He seemed amused by this, the smile growing a little wider as he stepped forward again, causing me to step back.  I squeaked in surprise, as my back hit the wall at the end of the alcove.  My breathing became a little heavier as I realised I had nowhere else to go in this narrow gully between the bookshelves.

I watched him take another step closer, until he was standing almost as close to me as he had been before.  I sensed movement to one side, and my eyes darted to it, to watch his hand come slowly up, rising towards my face.  As he ran a finger along my jaw to the point of my chin, he whispered, “Please don’t be afraid of me, little reader.  I only wish to see the eyes that took such pleasure from my story, and to bring more pleasure to them, if I can…  Will you let me look into those eyes again, as I did from the pages?”

As he said this, I felt the tip of his finger put the gentlest of pressure under the point of my chin, as he encouraged me to lift my head.

Slowly, slowly, my eyes travelled up his chest, over his throat and chin, past his still slightly smiling lips, past his nose, until they eventually came to rest where he wished them to.  Just for a moment, my heavy breath stilled, as his eyes held me, still and quiet, in their thrall.

Then, he moved his head.

Closer.  Closer still.  With infinite care and tenderness, his lips, feather light and as soft, brushed mine.  Slightly parted, I tasted his sweet, sweet breath, and I was lost.  And he knew it.

Carefully, gently, he took my face between his hands, and kissed me a little deeper, his lips parting a little more, the tip of his tongue sliding between my lips.  It was as soft and sweet as his breath.  Tasting the deliciousness of it, I immediately wanted more.  Raising my hands to place them either side of his neck, I kissed him back, more deeply than before.  Soon, he released my face to run his hands down either side of my body, his thumbs gently brushing the sides of my breasts as they passed by, causing deeper shivering, and my body to tremble more than it had before.

As lust began to course through me, his hands glided over my hips to come to rest on the swell of my buttocks, squeezing gently.  He pulled my hips closer to him, and I could feel the lust coursing through him, too, as he pressed my body between his and the wall.  I moaned into our kiss as my insides turned to water and I felt the incoming tide of need rushing through my body as a hurricane began to build deep inside my soul.

Pulling his head back very slightly, he gently sucked my lower lip then, releasing it with a graze of teeth, he kissed his way along my jaw line to my neck, and began, with infinite care, to kiss and nibble his way down towards my collarbone.  Still caressing the back of his head, my fingers buried in his hair, I moaned again, a little louder, as he nibbled the skin just below my collarbone, just above the neckline of my dress.  Moving his hands there, he began to unbutton the front as he kissed and nibbled the hollow of my throat.  My head thrown back against the wall, my breathing became heavier, tiny noises of lust and need escaping my lips as he undid the last buttons on my dress, sliding his hands around my waist.  My skin burned where he touched me, the sheen of sweat doing nothing to dampen his fire.

He kissed his way down between my breasts, then lifted his lips from my skin to trail the very tip of his tongue across my salty skin, to take one of my aching nipples into that sweet mouth of his.  Moaning louder still, I arched my back as he took that nipple between his teeth and gave it the gentlest of tugs, his tongue flickering over the end, raising such fire in my belly as I had never known was there.  His hands slid up from my waist to cup my breasts gently as, with teeth and tongue and lips, he mercilessly teased first one nipple, then the other, until it felt like my whole being was drawn into those small parts of my quivering body.

Struggling for breath now, I whispered, “…please…please…I need…”

I broke off with a gasp as he trailed his tongue over my breast, back up towards my neck, and bit a little harder than before.  Hard enough to release the sensations from my nipples and send them rushing back through my body.  Pressing me back against the wall again, more firmly this time, he caressed my thigh as he drew it up towards his waist.  Eagerly, I wrapped my arms around his neck, and my thigh around his hips as he effortlessly lifted me up and I wrapped the other leg tightly around him.

There was a breathless pause, as the tip of his desire rested against the pulsating centre of mine, and then slowly, slowly, he slid all the way inside me, filling me completely with his heat and his passion.

My gasps and moans grew louder still, and more frequent as he slowly slid in and out of me, alternately kissing my neck, and sinking his teeth into it.  His fingertips dug into my buttocks as mine dug into his back and shoulders.  The tempo of his movement increased, his thrusting hips grinding me against the wall harder and harder, my legs gripping his waist with the fervour of a woman possessed.  Pressed tight to the wall by his passion and heat as I was, I still moved with him, snaking and  heaving my hips in time with his.  The hurricane in my soul was building ever stronger, spinning ever faster, my back arching, the storm-driven waves of passion mounting higher and higher until, breathtakingly, they broke over my head, and I sobbed and screamed my release.  A moment later his voice, which had been silent all this time, joined mine, our voices meshing and melding and spinning through that ancient and cavernous space until the very roof shook with the sound of our joining.

 

When I came to, lying curled on the warm flagstones of the library floor, the sun was no longer streaming through the windows – the light outside had taken on a curious greenish cast and I heard, even through the thick walls of the library, a long, low growl of thunder.  Dazed and confused, I sat up, looking around me in the dimmer light of the clouded late afternoon.  I was alone and, for a moment, considered that I may have fainted in the heat, and dreamed a fever dream.  Then my eyes fell on the book, lying where I had dropped it.

Its cover was very firmly closed.

As I became more aware of my body, I realised I was also pleasantly sore, and, looking down, noticed little red crescents on my skin, their rouge mostly faded, but obvious to me, at least.

I stood up carefully, testing my limbs against the pull of the earth.  They were a little shaky, but held me well enough as I stood, then bent down and picked up the book.  As I held it in my hands, I felt a slight tingle from the binding, but it was soon gone.  I heaved a sigh of satisfaction and loss, whilst a bittersweet smile tugged the corners of my still-tingling lips.  Hesitating, I clutched that book to my breasts, just for a moment, and then replaced it on the shelf.  Perhaps I would find it again, some day.  Or, perhaps, some other lucky soul would trail her fingertips across the binding, feel its unique call, and release the ink devil.

Another low, rumbling growl shook the air, louder this time, drawing a broad smile from my lips.  Hurriedly, I twisted and turned my way through the labyrinthine heart of the library.  I stopped for a moment, to retrieve my sandals from behind the pillar, and they dangled from my hand as I ran from the portico into the first fat drops of the storm.

The drops quickly became a downpour, and I danced and sang amid the storm’s blessings, washing my skin in its cool, magical bliss.

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