There were voices beyond the sliver of light. The bedroom door stood slightly ajar. Mary heard bits and pieces of the conversation. She was not happy. Her husband, Carson, was hissing at a woman, arguing with her in a whisper. The woman’s voice was soft and slow. Mary heard the promises that voice held.
Carson would lose the battle.
That was less a surprise than realizing a woman had the audacity to come into her home. To threaten the sanctity of her home and try to entice her man, no less. Mary slipped out of bed and into a silk robe. Peeking through the opening of the door, she had to move her head to see either one. Carson stood behind a chair in the living room. The woman leaned toward him, one knee on the seat of the chair. Her skin tight sheath of a dress was pulled down even further in that position.
While Mary was sure that wasn’t lost on Carson, she was more concerned with what the woman was saying. Oh, she couldn’t hear it, but she could guess. Vows, dark and sweet, of pleasure for the rest of his life. Carson began to lean over the back of the chair, caught up in the woman’s voice. Mary bit her lip, her hands turning to fists at her side.
She threw open the door and strode across the room so quickly, she might have flown. Carson jumped back, his gaze all over her but skittering away when his eyes met hers. She’d deal with him later. It was the young woman who interested her at the moment.
“I assume this isn’t some horrible coincidence,” she opened the conversation dryly.
The woman gave a short laugh. “Hardly.”
“You’re young,” Mary observed.
“But not inexperienced,” the woman countered.
Mary’s voice took on a hard edge, commanding, “Your name. Now.”
The woman tried to resist, shaking head to toe and baring her teeth as she spat the answer, “Nicoletta Borgia.” She eyed Mary warily.
Mary folded her hands together, tapping her index fingers against one another. “Ahh, I see now. Your family still holds a grudge?” Nicoletta looked away. Mary sighed and used Command again. “You shall answer.”
The girl struggled, but slumped, powerless against the spell. “They speak as though it was yesterday. Perhaps it was. Time does not pass evenly in the Pits.” Nicoletta looked down at her hands.
“You explained your family. What is your place in this game?”
“Game? How dare you?” Nicoletta’s dark eyes flashed. “I was lessoned in you from the time I was spawned. That I turned out as I did made them happy.” She smiled slowly and leaned forward. “I was the perfect tool for their revenge.”
From his protective spot behind the chair, Carson found his voice. “Game? Revenge? What the hell is all this?”
Both women flashed looks at him. He gasped, taking a couple steps back. Mary said in a gentle voice, “Carson, go to the bedroom. Once we work this out, I’ll come to you.” He nodded. With a brief hangdog look in Nicoletta’s direction, he turned and left the room. Mary noted he didn’t close the door all the way. That was fine. He knew enough already. He deserved the truth now.
“’I’ll come to you.’ You take a lot for granted, you old thing,” Nicoletta sneered.
“You never had a chance, child,” Mary countered, smiling contentedness as Nicoletta’s anger was blotchy on her perfect complexion.
“I got pretty far for someone who never had a chance,” Nicoletta replied stiffly.
“Did you? I saw a man fighting your best by hiding behind furniture. Perhaps you should consider going back to the old ways.” Mary’s voice was so sincere, though her eyes twinkled merriment.
“Floating into a home and taking a man’s soul while he sleeps?” Nicoletta sliced the air with an open hand. “The old ways may be for some, but not for me. Men line up and volunteer to fulfill me.”
“Your work with those who line up has not gone unnoticed. The stories of withered corpses are on the national news. It is time for you to go underground, to pass some time before you return. If you are clever, and I believe you to be, you will vary the locations in future.”
Nicoletta nodded. “I hate it, but must admit your advice is sound. Involvement of the authorities would prove… messy.” Nicoletta looked toward the bedroom door. “How is it you are happy?”
“I spent decades raising a man to be Pope, young one. Not your relative, of course. The basis for their hatred. Be that as it may, do you think raising another talented man to power would be less of a pleasure? I must confess as well, this one suits me. I enjoy him.” Mary smiled as though to herself.
“Very well, Meridiana. You shall have it your way. I will go to the Pits, where my family will likely cast me out. Perhaps for the better. You will, as promised, go to him. I wish you both the luck of the gods.” Nicoletta shimmered sparks for a moment then disappeared.
Right, time to go to Carson. No matter how many times she did this, it didn’t get easier. Rare was the human who could accept she was a demon, a succubus. That she could be one who didn’t want to take his soul, draining his body? All the more difficult. Even without the truth coming out, she usually left before the questions began. “You look just as you did the day we met” eventually turned to “Why don’t you age at all?”
The confrontations from the high-spirited younger succubi were tedious, but rare. Her reputation as a destroyer of upstarts was well-known. Perhaps Nicoletta’s warning would bring them to a halt. Meridiana doubted it. With a deep breath, she went to Carson, hope her only solace.
© 2011 JC Rosen
From Wikipedia: According to Walter Mapes in De Nugis Curialium (Trifles of Courtiers),Pope Sylvester II (999–1003) was involved with a succubus named Meridiana, who helped him achieve his high rank in the Catholic Church. Before his death, he confessed of his sins and died repentant.