Chapter 338: After The GapAlexandra Erin on February 6, 2017 in Volume 2 Book 10: Lucky Thing, Volume 2: Sophomore Effort
In Which Mackenzie Takes It Lying Down
“So, tell me the truth,” Steff said that night, after I’d returned from the place where I left the necklace.
We were in bed, my bed… Amaranth’s bed, which I shared with her… her arms around me from behind. I was tired, she was subdued, but typically horny. It was a lazy, languorous night, more filled with closeness than passion. We moved together at a slower pace than her usual frantic desperation. It was…
It was nice.
“About what?” I asked.
I could feel her breasts, so soft and slightly cool against my skin, pressed against my bare back. Lying flat on your stomach is just not the most natural position for anal, no matter what you might think based on the general position of things if you’ve never tried it. The angle’s just wrong. I was too tired to prop myself up, though, and the bad angle helped to keep the slower pace. Steff had to work her way in instead of just slipping in with her semi-elven grace.
“You finagled some little consideration from the chain-thing before you buried it, didn’t you?” she said.
“No,” I said, then bit my lip against the flare of pain as her slim, hard dick opened me up a little bit more.
She was wrong. Not only had I not bargained or wished for anything for myself, but I hadn’t buried it at all.
I couldn’t be sure it would know when the sun set if it was underground, and I couldn’t be sure it would know that time was passing otherwise without any mind to glean it from.
Maybe the time-sensitive portion of my instructions had been unnecessary, but I’d felt it necessary to leave myself a window to make adjustments to the intricate weave of instructions I’d given in the event that I realized a loophole, and to make two last wishes that weren’t for me.
I didn’t remember making the final wishes, but I knew what they were: that I would find my way safely back to campus, and that I would immediately forget everything from the time I had left until I got back. It wasn’t fun knowing that there was another gap in my memory, but it was necessary.
I couldn’t retrieve the item or lead anyone else to it, because I had absolutely no idea where I had put the damned thing. It could have been anywhere I could have got to on foot. Given the expanse of largely untouched wilderness that surrounded the campus in several directions, that was saying something.
“But you had to be tempted,” she said, nuzzling my ear with her lips and whispering in her own best tempter voice. “I mean, if you had the know-how to shut it down, you must have the know-how to use it safely.”
“Maybe?” I said. “But not really. I mean, that’s how something like that gets you. It’s not that everything it might have given me would be tainted or twisted, but anything it gave me might be. Any request I gave it would have opened the door to some subtle insinuation, would have given it a chance to steer things to the point where I needed another wish… you don’t beat something like that by playing its game.”
“Yeah, but… your memories and stuff,” Steff said. “It would probably be able to…”
“I must have thought about it, but I’m pretty sure it couldn’t just conjure my memories out of the air,” I said. “I wouldn’t trust it rooting around in my head looking for more blocks to remove, because that would give it permission to make changes and I’m not sure I could foresee all the ways that could go wrong. So, that just leaves using it to find someone who knows what happens or who has my missing memories, which seems like a long-term project, which gives it too many chances to escape.”
“I don’t know, Mack,” she said. “I think you had a pretty impressive leash on it.”
Her admiration for me was genuine enough to send a surge of ardor through her. Finally having wormed her way inside, she pulled against my hips, thrusting herself in deep.
The angle was wrong for entry, but she was basically thrusting directly against the back wall of my sexy bits, hitting sensitive spots that she usually brushed sensually past. I groaned, briefly seeing white with the sudden and unaccustomed stimulation.
“But all it would take is someone else to see it and figure out what it is,” I said, panting as she found her rhythm and settled into it, “or to realize I’m using something to influence events and minds and start looking into what it is. No, no, no…”
“No, stop?” Steff said.
“Keep going,” I said. “I mean, no, it needed to go.”
“I’m… confused, but a little in awe of your willpower,” Steff said. “I didn’t think you had it in you. I know I wouldn’t have. Had it in me, I mean. I frequently have it in you, if you know what I mean.”
“Well, your dick is in my actual butt right now, so, yes, I do know what you mean,” I said. “You’re not usually this chatty.”
“Sorry!” she said. “I just feel like I missed out on something important, and I have a zillion questions.”
“Well, I literally can’t answer most of them.”
I’d chosen to spend the night with her out of comfort, because I really thought I deserved a little fun after giving up promises of riches and power, dealing with a malignant magical entity, and most of all going into the woods, and of all my lovers, it seemed like Steff would demand the least of me.
Amaranth was supportive, charitable, and generous, and she asked so little, but there were times when even that had a weight all its own.
The next day, I’d have to tell Hazel and tell her the good news: that since the thing we were dealing with couldn’t reliably influence dwarves, Andreas’s show of devotion had probably been genuine.
Even that seemed like too much to deal with, after what I’d gone through. Even if I couldn’t remember going out into the woods, I’d done so. My survival class had probably made it a little easier, but no more pleasant and certainly not safe.
Even if my reasoning for not bargaining with the thing was solid… and I was sure that it was… that didn’t mean that working my way around to those points had been a picnic.
I hadn’t exactly carried the weight of the world on my shoulders, but there was a burden in carrying an item like the chain, and it had taken a toll on me.
“You know, I think this is the first time I’ve fucked you since your makeover,” Steff said. “You’ve always been a little bratty, no offense…”
“Coming from the queen of brat subs, I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“Oh, honey, I’m not coming yet,” she said. “As I was saying, you’re not usually this… self-assured?”
“Well, I did just defeat a major something or other,” I said. “And… turning down its offers left me feeling really good about myself. Like, I had absolutely no confidence that I could succeed on my own until it gave me the option not to. I thought I might, sure. But when I had to weigh the possibility of getting that kind of help…”
“I’m kind of glad I missed the excitement for once,” Steff said. “I know I wouldn’t have said no. I don’t think I could have stood to watch you just cut it off and throw it away. ‘cause I’m pretty damned sure I’m not going to make it on my own.”
“You’re still in college,” I said. “You’ve got time to figure things out.”
“More time than you think,” she said. “I’m already behind schedule for graduation, and now I’m… well… I’m thinking about changing majors.”
“Really? Why?” I said, trying to sound interested but not overly happy.
“Oh, there are a lot of reasons,” Steff said. “Part of it is that I’m not sure I’m the same person I was when I first registered, part of it is that I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to what it is I really want out of life and what I want to do after college, and part of it is definitely that they’re finally kicking me out of the necromancy program.”
“Ah,” I said. “I guess that would do it. At least you don’t have to worry about losing your soul or being eaten by zombies as much anymore?”
“If I’m honest, it was partly the low survival rate that attracted me,” Steff said. “I don’t know if you noticed, but, uh… I kind of have a nihilistic side.”
“Next thing you’ll tell me that you have a transgressive streak,” I said.
“Yeah, yeah,” Steff said. “Three years ago… even a year ago… I was pretty sure I either wanted to be an evil overlady or dead, or both. I didn’t really see a future for me in a world where I got along with living people on their own terms. Now, I’m having a hard time seeing any future with me in it… but I’m also a lot better with the idea of just being myself.”
“That’s good,” I said. “Because I like you a lot better than I like Romanticized Supervillain You or… you know.”
“Dead Me,” Steff said.
“Yeah,” I said. “Viktor’s probably relieved that you’re giving up the whole domain-of-dread plan.”
“…he probably would be.”
“You haven’t told him?”
“There’s no reason to,” she said.
“Oh?” I said. “…oh. I knew you were going through some stuff, figuring things out.”
“Consider them figured. I loved him… I’ll probably always love him, but our future together was always part of the fantasy,” Steff said. “I was a channel for him. He was part of the illusion for me. Illusion… do you think I’d make a good illusionist? I mean, that would let me keep the aesthetic.”
“I honestly don’t know if I could respect myself if I dated an illusionist,” I said.
“How’s Nicki, by the way?”
“Okay, touche,” I said. “But, you know, she really does more glamour?”
“Which you once said is the only form of magic lower than illusion,” Steff said.
“Your exact words were ‘Glamour is for people who can’t manage real illusions.’”
“…that sounds like something I would have said,” I said. “Before, you know, my character growth.”
“This was last week at lunch,” Steff said. “I guess you had a hard time seeing the look on Nicki’s face through all your character growth.”
“What? I didn’t… did I?”
“No, you didn’t,” she said. “This was, like, a year ago, long before Nicki’s college application was a gleam in a guidance counselor’s eye. But doesn’t it say something that you almost believed me?”
“Well, I have been known to let a rant get away from me,” I said. “I think it says something about my character growth that I didn’t dismiss criticism out of hand.”
“Seriously, though, picture me as an illusionist,” Steff said. “Summoning phantasms instead of phantoms. Animating images instead of skeletons. They could be images of skeletons, even.”
“How many of your courses would count, though?”
“Well, I knocked out a lot of my general education requirements my first two years,” Steff said. “Almost nothing in necromancy is portable, except the safety stuff which would be useful in a summoning or warding program… but just between you and me, that was never my strong suit.”
“Yeah, you’re not exactly the most rigorous person I know,” I said.
“You want rigorous?” Steff said. She grabbed my hair in a bunch on the back of my head and yanked on it, slow and hard, while she thrust down, slow and hard, burying herself to the hilt and then grinding her hips against my ass.
“Oh, sweet fuck,” I said, as the inside of my eyeballs exploded and set fire to my brain. “Steff, Steff!” It was too much. I wanted more, I wanted it to go on forever, it was going on forever, but it was too much. “Basement! Basement!”
The pressure stopped.
“No,” I said. “Just… too much.”
“Ha!” she said. “I fucked you right through pleasure and looped around to pain. Mirror masochism. You want to stop?”
“Less rigorous?” I could hear the grin.
“Less rigorous, damn it,” I agreed. “Before was good. Slow, even, steady.”
“My specialty,” she said.
“No, it isn’t.”
“No, it isn’t,” she said. “But maybe worth learning.”
“I think illusion might be a good fit for you,” I said, thinking in particular of her artistic talent that she had always downplayed, because she compared her coordination and perception to her elven cousins. “I just don’t know if it would be worth it throwing those credits away. I mean, you said it… you’re already behind for graduation.”
““So? I didn’t make any real friends until the class behind me showed up. And I’m not going to forget the stuff I learned, even if I can’t make a career out of it,” she said. “And even though I can’t legally use a lot of it in a more than ‘for entertainment purposes’ capacity without a license… hell, even if I couldn’t use any of it, ever, as an illusionist… would that be any reason to chase a major that’s wrong for me? If I spent two, three years heading down the wrong road already, it’s not going to save me any time to go trekking farther down it before I go looking for the right one.”
“I guess that’s true,” I said. “I honestly think illusion would be way better for you than summoning or diabolism or warding. I just… I worry about you making a mistake and not finding out about it until later.”
“Well, if I knew it was a mistake when I was making it, I wouldn’t make it,” Steff said. “I mean, that’s a generic ‘I’, obviously. I make that kind of mistake all the time.”
“I wouldn’t have you any other way,” I said.
“I’d have you any way I can get you,” she said.
“Do you think you can have me quietly?”
“Why? My dulcet tones starting to grate?”
“No,” I said. “I’m just… I’m tired, and I have a lot to think about.”
“Like what?” she said. “Sorry. You don’t have to answer.”
“Just, what you said, about throwing good… road miles… after bad ones,” I said.
“Do you think you’re on the wrong path?”
“Not generally,” I said. “But it never hurts to stop and take a look at where you are, and where you’re heading.”
“Yeah,” Steff said. “That’s probably why I never bothered doing it.”