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Medusa's Heart: A Contemporary Paranormal Erotic Romance Novel, Page 1

Joey W. Hill




  Medusa’s Heart

  A Contemporary Paranormal Erotic Romance Novel

  Joey W. Hill

  Contents

  Summary

  Copyright

  Acknowledgments

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Part Two

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Epilogue

  Ready For More?

  About the Author

  Also by Joey W. Hill

  Summary

  "The point wasn’t to win a war that had been lost, or to stop a death that had long turned bones to dust. It was to heal a broken heart."

  John Pierce has been in covert operations all his adult life. He doesn’t know anything else but that and being a Dom, because that’s how he blows off steam and balances the nagging emptiness inside of him. Since he was a kid, he’s carried around an infatuation that’s grown into an embarrassing obsession. He’s in love with a myth—Medusa.

  “Mad Merlin” Maddock doesn’t think that’s crazy. He believes in powers deeper and stronger than men or gods, a connecting energy like the oceans. To those powers, healing a broken heart could create a ripple effect in the universe impacting all, even if that heart lives in the alternate dimension of folklore and myth. JP is the first one Maddock plans to send across those lines to bond with the woman he’s always wanted.

  JP agrees to be his first guinea pig for two reasons. One, Maddock is so damn convincing, and two, the need for her has tripled since he met the guy. If Maddock can send JP into her world, JP will let nothing stop him from claiming her for his own and healing her heart, because he’s sure as hell she’s the missing piece of his.

  He just has to make sure she doesn’t turn him into lawn ornamentation first.

  Medusa’s Heart

  Copyright © 2016 Joey W. Hill

  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

  Cover design by W. Scott Hill

  SWP Digital & Print Edition publication October 2016

  This book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the publisher, Story Witch Press, 6823 Neuhoff Lane, Charlotte NC 28269.

  Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without the publisher’s permission. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. (http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/). Please purchase only authorized electronic or print editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

  This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

  The publisher and author(s) acknowledge the trademark status and trademark ownership of all trademarks, service marks and word marks mentioned in this book.

  The following material contains graphic sexual content meant for mature readers. Reader discretion is advised.

  Digital ISBN: 978-1-942122-49-4

  Print ISBN: 978-1-942122-50-0

  Acknowledgments

  Part of the pleasure of writing this particular book was not only learning the many different versions of Medusa’s tale, but how her story connected to the mythology of other cultures. It was also uplifting to find out how, in some circles, this legendary character has evolved from the monster originally portrayed, into a symbol of female empowerment. I thank the readers who offered me leads to explore those different paths. Many of those references ended up in this book!

  Thanks as always to my team of critique partners, a dedicated group of both readers and authors. This book in particular was a complex and lengthy challenge, so I deeply appreciated your help. Any mistakes left are entirely my fault. I hope there won’t be too many, because I was editing and polishing right up to the final wire, thanks to the book being quite a bit longer than originally intended! But whatever dings are present, I hope they don’t interfere with anyone’s enjoyment of John Pierce and Medusa’s journey together.

  Finally, many thanks to Lady D, for her very important distinction between the therapeutic value of BDSM (good) and using BDSM as therapy (not always good).

  Prologue

  The familiar dream always started simply. She knelt at Athena’s feet, and rapture filled her, the joy of pure service, of living to praise the Goddess and carry out Her wishes. She was young, so sometimes she felt a passion about it that was almost physical. She wanted to stroke the Goddess’s feet and press her lips to them. Something deep inside her was stirred by doing that.

  And that was when the dream would change.

  She was with the unicorn. The creature’s mane felt like mist against her face, the coat smooth as rippling silk beneath her legs. But she’d sensed someone else, and slipped from the unicorn’s back to see who it was.

  The man was on a beach, walking. The weight of his gaze made her tremble. When she laid her hand on the unicorn’s shoulder, she whickered and somehow started to feel less substantial.

  Medusa stroked her, a mutual reassurance, but moved away to walk toward the man, drawn by his compelling gray eyes. As she walked, she felt her body grow…and change. What should have startled her, the snakes twining over her shoulders, didn’t. Because this was a dream and she could walk between childhood and adulthood, between happiness and loss. Through a curtain of tragedy, she emerged into a darker yet sharper world, more in focus.

  When she reached him, her knees quivered and she wanted to kneel, to press her lips along the top of his foot, glistening with the surf. Yet her reasons for it were different than with the Goddess. Something was awakening low in her belly, a fire that made her feel restless.

  “You want to kneel to me, don’t you, snake-girl?”

  She nodded. “Why?”

  “Because of a gift you have to give. One that I thank God you want to give.”

  He put his hand on her shoulder and spoke in a voice that stroked her throat and breasts, the sensation tingling down over the rest of her like a light rain. “Get on your knees.”

  When she did, she turned her face toward his hand and rubbed her cheek against his knuckles. Her snakes twined around his forearm, accepting him, holding him to her. He chuckled.

  “Trying to bind me, hmm? I think you might like it better if I do that to you. Make you helpless to give you pleasure. Say please, and I will.”

  “Please,” she whispered.

  “Head to the floor, hips in the air. Arms behind your back.”

  She was no longer on the beach, but in a room with black strips of cloth fluttering and concealing the walls. Gemstones
hung from the ceiling, sparkling in a soft light like the moon. She was naked, and felt self-conscious about putting her hips in the air, but he had commanded it. When she hesitated, he slapped her backside with his open palm, a stinging blow that awoke nerve endings she didn’t know she had. She wanted to please him. She put her forehead to the ground and her haunches in the air, and swallowed a moan when his thick fingers probed her slick flesh, teasing her.

  “Already wet for me. That’s the way I want you.”

  His approval warmed her and took away her embarrassment. When she adjusted her head so she could see his face, she memorized every feature. The serious gray eyes held memories he could not escape. The set of his mouth told her he preferred to be kind, yet the lines around it and his eyes said he had to be cruel and unyielding far more often, and it had taken its toll. His face was a story she needed to read and understand.

  He moved around her and bound her wrists at the small of her back, which awakened even more mysterious feelings. She felt like she did when she spent hours in the surf and her body was still moving with the force of the waves, even though she was on dry land.

  This shouldn’t be right. She was no longer the child on the unicorn. She was a woman grown. She shouldn’t want him to bind her. Being helpless was bad.

  No, not like this. This was the way she’d dreamed of being helpless…before the bad thing happened. The thought awoke an ominous foreboding. Behind the strips of cloth, shadows moved, and she saw glittering eyes that stirred fear.

  “Master…”

  When she looked up at the man with the piercing gaze and hands that stroked her flesh, heightening her desires, another’s image overlapped his. One that awoke dread in her body. Pain, terror…

  She would never call him Master. Not that one. She would tear apart the whole world, turn every living thing to stone, before he would lay hands on her again.

  She was at Athena’s feet once more, only it was not the Goddess. It was a statue, inanimate, uncaring. She was being pummeled, destroyed, torn apart. She cried for mercy, for help, and nothing and no one came. Nobody stopped it.

  Yet when she lay there, broken and bleeding, the man on the beach came back. He lifted her in his arms, held her, and carried her to the bathing chamber. He cared for her, making all the blood slip away, all the pain.

  She didn’t accuse him, didn’t blame him, for not being there to stop the pain. Somehow she understood he would have burned down his own world to do that if he could. But he was here now. That mattered.

  He laid her out on a mattress that was like a cloud, and bound her wrists and ankles with ribbons. Though he didn’t tie them tightly, once they were tied, she couldn’t free herself.

  “No,” she whimpered. “When you do that, he comes.”

  “Not if you let go of your fear and trust me. We have to trust one another.”

  He began to kiss her, starting at her feet. It made her heart hurt and yet grow inside her, to see his mouth on her foot, so reverent and loving. As if he was worshipping her, even while he had her bound. Fear of someone else gave way to fear of herself, of what she wanted.

  “Oh Goddess…” She arched as his mouth teased and played up her calves, her thighs, and then between them, his tongue stroking her.

  “You’re mine,” he murmured, raising his head. His gaze dominated her vision. “You want a Master. A flesh and blood one, who will demand your surrender and give you pleasure, help you find yourself again. And you’re my light, snake-girl. You don’t know it yet, but you’re the flame that can’t be quenched, even in the middle of the storm. I need for you to be real.”

  She was bound, yet his words gave her a power that, through her surrender to him, could never be taken away.

  The images of the two men overlapped again, and she saw those glittering eyes once more. The other was there, just beyond her decision. If she chose wrong…

  I will be waiting. And this time you will be mine forever.

  Medusa woke, her heart pounding, her snakes moving restlessly over her shoulders and neck. She felt like two people, because her heart was stuttering in terror from that last whispered threat, while the swollen flesh between her legs begged for the man who’d tied her with ribbons.

  She put her hand down there and moaned at the reaction that seized her, triggered by a single touch. While her body’s instinct was to curl into a ball, containing that powerful sensation, instead she spread her legs wide, so that it rippled over her and tore a cry from her throat. If he were there, he would command her to spread her legs, because he would want to see her release, the moisture bathing her hand and making her knuckles wet. He would let her keep nothing from him. She wanted to keep nothing from him.

  Only when the climax ebbed did she turn on her side and draw her legs up to her stomach. She folded her arms and tucked her face into their shelter, hiding even from her snakes. The dreams held so many things beyond her understanding. Innocence and fantasy, nightmares and pain, surrender and pleasure. And pain somehow was a part of the surrender and pleasure, as much as it was part of the nightmare. But a different kind of pain.

  Would darkness and light forever war within her? She wanted to embrace the dark part of her soul that craved one man’s mastery. But how could that not be more of the same sickness that had gripped her ever since she’d come here? She was a force of destruction, only she seemed to be destroying herself from the inside out.

  Yet despite that knowledge, she soothed herself to sleep not with unicorns, the Goddess, or trying to forget what could never be forgotten, but by imagining him holding her, whispering all the things he would do to her and for her. He parted her legs and entered her, stretching her body, demanding everything from her. Heart, body and soul.

  It was the only way to be free.

  Or lost forever.

  Chapter One

  John Pierce Zeus laid the branding iron in the fire and stepped back, contemplating the shore. Sunset would come in a matter of moments, and he wanted to see it, since it would be the last he’d view in this lifetime.

  There were other ways he could have done this. Ensorcelled contacts that Maddock was 99.9% certain would work. Eye drops that could temporarily take away sight.

  “Science and magic can eliminate the need for noble sacrifices. Make them pointless. Idiotic—in case my sarcasm isn’t getting through your thick head.”

  Maddock—“Mad Merlin” as they’d dubbed him—had delivered that scrap of wisdom in a tone as dry as coffee beans. But he’d also told JP that intuition was the key to finding his path on all of this. Stronger than science and magic combined, intuition was the closest kin to love, devotion, loyalty…need and yearning.

  He had to do this the right way, the way she would understand. Not a happily-ever-after, but a battlefield, where blood and honor meant more than victory. He understood that path, too.

  His chest expanded on a deep, painful breath as the sun approached the horizon, its movement accelerating as it always did, the decline of the day rolling the golden sphere toward the pocket of night. His throat ached, but he wouldn’t shed tears. It wasn’t his way.

  His buddy Lot Lakeney called him Triple-D, the “Dungeons & Dragons Duke.” Lot said JP stayed fortressed in his head like a mother’s-basement-dwelling geek, yet he was built like John Wayne on steroids, and possessed the Duke’s cinematic stoicism in the face of any threat. He also had the best grasp of all the things Maddock had taught and told them. It was as if the information had always been inside JP.

  But that was why he was here, wasn’t it? Every person Maddock had brought to his unlikely cause had been identified based on a specific criterion. Namely, that each one dreamed of someone who was the stuff of legend or mythology, someone whose story had been marked by tragedy. “Dreamed” was probably too kind a word. Haunted by, obsessed with, driven to…what? Fix it. Fix something the world believed was fiction, a legend or myth. And by doing that, the world would be a better place.

  No, the drive was less
altruistic than that. Each one of them believed that fixing it on the back end would balance something inside, fill an emptiness.

  So he was here not just to save her, but to save himself.

  He’d been recruited barely out of his teens into a world that was as opposite to Maddock’s world of magic and unicorns as Bubble Yum was to napalm. Maddock had had a hell of a time convincing him that he wasn’t fucking with him. But in the end, it was one point that brought JP to the table.

  “The number of people who’ve done what you’ve done, for as long as you’ve done it, probably wouldn’t count up to a full set of fingers. If anyone deserves to get lost in a legend, it’s you, JP. I can get you there. I promise.”

  The word “deserves” wasn’t a word that any covert ops agent wore comfortably. But Maddock had talked him into this, and here JP was. Because he needed to be near where she was, even if it was a fucking fantasy Maddock was creating in JP’s head, and he was really in a padded cell somewhere, thinking he was on a Mediterranean island.

  It didn’t matter. He’d take that reality, because on the back end of twenty years of pretending to be part of the darkest underbelly of society, she’d become far more real to him than anything else.

  He knew she’d been watching him ever since he’d arrived this morning. The portal was supposed to open up on the beach, but apparently there’d been a tide miscalculation, so he’d been dumped ignominiously in the water. Way to make a cool entrance, JP. Dripping and feeling foolish, he’d trudged onto the beach. Seeing the number of rotted boats and pillars of crumbled stone littered along it, useless pride had given way to sober realization of the challenge he faced. Some of the boats were beached on the sand, while others rocked in the shallows with a hollow creaking.

  The view facing away from the beach was less ominous. The island had lush forests and plenty of fresh water sources, but the greenery and meandering streams decorated a variety of rocky peaks, the stone providing gray and earth-toned contrasts where they jutted up through the forest. In his world and time, centuries in the future, the island was a coveted vacation destination for advanced rock climbers. At the end of their day, they enjoyed the poolside bars, restaurants and exclusive resorts.