At an archduke's reception, a handsome young nobleman falls under the spell
of a malevolent but irresistible sorceress. Two hundred years later, Belinda
Seward also falls prey to sensual forces she can neither understand nor control.
Stranded by a thunderstorm at a remote Gothic priory, Belinda and her boyfriend
are drawn into an enclosed world of luxurious decadence and sexual alchemy.
Their host is the courteous but melancholic André Von Kastel, a beautiful
aristocrat who mourns his lost love. André has plans for Belinda... plans
which take her into the realms of obsessive love and the erotic paranormal.
Digital :: Kindle US :: Kindle UK
Print :: Amazon.com :: Amazon.co.uk
It had all begun at the Archduke's reception, André recalled. Amongst
the sparkling smiles, the dazzling wit and brilliant music. He had been standing
on the sidelines, waiting for his beloved Arabelle to make her entrance, when
an unexpected chill had cooled his blood.
Looking up, he had seen a woman passing by, her white hand on her attentive
partner's arm. He had thought nothing of it at first; the room was full
of such sumptuously dressed women and a great many of them were also very beautiful.
But then she had turned around and looked straight in his direction and his
shivers had changed instantly to a fever. Her luminous green-eyed gaze had cut
right through him to his vitals, warming his body in exact proportion to its
previous peculiar coolness.
The unknown woman was breathtaking, and her manner more imperious than that
of a queen. In a swagged and tiered gown of red velvet with gold embroidery,
her shape was delicate yet magnificently voluptous. Her richly-coiled black
hair had a heavy bluish lustre that caught the lamplight as she nodded slightly
Who are you? he thought, then felt bereft as she began to move away from him,
her crimson dress like a vivid banner amongst the crowds.
A few minutes later, after questioning a passing acquaintance, André
had discovered the name of his raven haired enchantress. She was Isidora, the
countess Katori, and her reputation was as dangerous as her beauty. Rumour had
it that she practiced the magic arts.
This is wrong, he told himself, as his eyes hunted for her across the ballroom,
then followed her through the dance's complex figures. This is wrong,
he thought, gritting his teeth and trying to ignore his suddenly aching loins.
I should not want her. I must not want her. I'm in love and in a week
I'll be betrothed. It was only a matter of moments before his exquisite
Arabelle would be here. Witty, radiant 'Belle to whom he would gladly
pledged his mortal soul.
And yet still the flamboyant countess ruled his flesh. His guilty heart hammered
when, from out of nowhere, she appeared like a djinni before him, her full red
lips forming a smile that left him speechless.
'Sir, do we not know each other?' she enquired, her voice low and
teasing as she doffed a minute curtsey.
'I... I do not think so,' he answered, bending over her hand to
kiss it, and discovering that her skin was fine as silk. 'Count André
Von Kastel, Madam. At your service,' he said, releasing her, but reluctant
to let her go.
'Isidora, Countess Katori,' she replied, her faint accent making
her name a long caress. With a small graceful gesture, she nodded towards the
nearby dancers, then turned from him and walked away towards them, apparently
confident that he would simply up and follow her.
Vaguely ashamed of himself, André fell in step behind her, feeling like
a callow boy in his first pursuit of love's wild passion. This daring,
handsome countess had effortlessly made a youth of him, but to his chagrin,
she had also made him hard. His state of high arousal was surely visible to
all around him, but though it bothered him, there was nothing he could do about
it. And as they began the measure, he soon forgot to care.
Why me? he thought as they danced. His attire, a plain but well-cut coat and
breeches, was subdued compared to most around him, and his title was just one
amongst many others. His looks, though pleasant, he admitted, were not what
he would have called outstanding or remarkable. Why on earth had the countess
chosen him, a grey-eyed, brown-haired minor aristocrat of somewhat modest height,
when the room was awash with dashing dukes and elegant princes?
As the dance progressed, he longed to press himself against her. His swollen
member seemed to seek her female heat. From time to time, as the countess found
a score of sly ways to insinuate herself against him, he tried to clear his
mind of his lust for her and think of Arabelle. He imagined the shock and sadness
on his dear one's face as she found him like this with another; he pictured
the distress in her lovely eyes as he betrayed her. It appalled him, and yet
still he felt helpless. Each time her image came to him, like a vision of grace
and salvation, the woman on his arm appeared to sense it, and re-double her
sinuous efforts to addle his wits.
Countess Isidora's perfume was like a dense musky cloud that hung around
them, and when he thought of Arabelle, the odour subtly thickened. It filtered
into his brain like a rich miasmic mist and charged his mind with exciting images
that shocked him. Debauchery. Unnatural acts. Frenzied, bestial couplings. He
imagined himself naked and stretched out over the countess's smooth white
body, her firm breasts jutting upwards against his chest. And when, under cover
of the fast-moving dance, her lips touched his throat for just one second, he
moaned and fought for breath, his senses reeling.
It had been but one brief contact, yet incredibly he felt her serpent tongue
all over him. She was tasting him, savouring his skin and its hot, manly flavour.
No part of his anatomy escaped her, no secret was left unexamined. Her proximity
overpowered him and sapped his will.
Half out of his mind, and unable to resist her, he imagined her lapping his
belly and his privates. Her long devious tongue would wind seductively around
his member, finding new areas of near painful sensitivity.
Giddy with desire, André could not believe the messages of his senses.
It was difficult to believe that they were still only on the dancefloor. In
his dreams they were in huge bed somewhere, their limbs thrashing, their mouths
mating like rabid dogs. When his knees betrayed him, he stumbled towards her
and half fell.
'Shall we take the air, my Lord? You seem a little uncomfortable,'
the countess murmured. Then, without further consultation, she led him towards
a long, shadowed balcony.
Within seconds, all André's lustful prayers were answered. Her
red mouth plundered his, her tongue darting into it and exploring, while her
sure hands led his beneath her skirt. Through swathe after swathe of heavy lace
and crumpled silk, he was drawn, ever upwards and ever inwards, until finally
his shaking fingers met her treasure. He felt a nest of crisp, wiry curls, then
folded flesh rendered slippery by her juices. She was a furnace, a pool of liquid
satin, and her soft membranes flickered salaciously beneath his touch.
Almost numb with delight, André described a small movement with his fingertip,
and was rewarded by a savage growl of pleasure. His elegant, high-born countess
was twisting her hips like a harlot, and grinding her sex against the fulcrum
of his hand. Her churning, scissoring thighs caressed his wrist.
'Pleasure me, my Lord,' she demanded, rocking and swaying, 'Put
your fingers inside me, before I faint.'
Delirious, André obeyed her, his nose and mouth filled with her spicy,
rising vapours. Through what appeared to be a haze, an inexplicable thin blue
nimbus, he saw her beautiful face slackened by lust. Somehow - by sleight of
hand or by sheer force of will - she had released her breasts from her constricting
velvet bodice, and their unfettered fullness gleamed two pale fruits in the
cool night air. Her teats were dark, the brownish-purple of drying blood, and
he swore he could see them harden before his eyes.
'My Lord!' she cried, her voice slurring as her nectar wet his hand.
'Enter me! I crave it!'
He pushed first one fingertip, then a second inside her, and her whole body
shuddered, then bore down. Her weight, and the force of her, made his wrist
begin to ache, and to brace himself he set his feet apart. But still she was
unsatisfied by his efforts.
'Fill me, my Lord,' she moaned, her white teeth nipping at his neck.
'Give me more!'
He bored in with three fingers, then with four, and the countess keened like
a she-wolf in full heat. Her long, perfumed thighs opened wider to give him
access, then closed and locked unyieldingly around his arm.
'I spend, my Lord! I spend!' she shrieked, untroubled at being heard
by nearby dancers. The silky product of her rapture drenched his palm.
Only seconds later, she was down on her knees before him, her nails ripping
at his breeches to free his member. As soon as he was liberated, she laughed
wildly and plunged forward, wrapping her crimson lips around his tortured rod.
Never in his all his days had André experienced an enclosure so sublime.
The throat he was buried in seemed to undulate around him as if each muscle
had a distinct and separate life of its own. She was almost swallowing him whole,
he realised, and her sharp teeth were pressing perilously against his shaft.
'Madam, I beg of you,' he groaned, half in terror, half in ecstasy,
his body thrilled to greater hardness by the danger.
Her only answer was to reach in and grip his ball-sac, adding another layer
of jeopardy to his predicament. He buried his fingers in the coils of her hair,
trying desperately to control her, but he couldn't prevent her from engulfing
him even deeper.
Abruptly, in the heart of his pleasure, André felt an icy surge of revulsion,
of shame and betrayal, and at the moment of release, he thought of 'Belle,
mouthing her name and picturing her perfect jewel-like smile. How could he have
done this? How could he deceive her, damage her, break her faith? As he reached
his peak, he despised himself profoundly.
He had little awareness of what happened in the next quarter of an hour or
so, and of how they made their escape from the reception. All he remembered
was a racing carriage and a moonless night. The countess's witch-like
presence was like a drug to him, speeding up time and throwing a veil across
When they reached her luxurious apartments, she turned and surprised him. Instead
of leading him straight to her bed and stripping him, she paused, smiled obliquely,
and made the gesture of an accomplished hostess.
'A glass of wine, my lord Count? she queried. 'The pleasures of
the flesh are prone to make me thirsty, and I am sure they must do the same
'Yes, thank you, Countess,' replied André, feeling as profoundly
out of his depth as he had done earlier. He accepted a goblet-like wineglass,
that was as large and ornately decorated as a liturgical chalice, even though
a panicked inner voice entreated him not to.
The wine had a heavy, unusual taste, somewhat bitter and vaguely alkaline on
the tongue, but he was, he realised, just as thirsty as she had suggested, so
he drank it down despite its strange flavour.
When he put he put aside the glass, composed his thoughts, and turned around,
his companion the Countess, was naked. Catching his breath, André looked
back towards his goblet in confusion. At the reception, their dealings had been
so hurried and so fumbled that he could almost believe he had only dreamed what
had happened, but now he knew it was all true, and that the pale, curvaceous
body before him was a prize he had won; his to enjoy, ripe and ready for the
Yet he still hesitated.
'The wine... it tastes...' He swirled the pungent residue around
his mouth. 'Tainted.'
Isidora looked at him, her green eyes level, unblinking, 'I did add a
little tincture to it, my lord, something of my own devising.' She smiled
narrowly as he thrust the goblet along the sideboard and away from him. 'But
do not worry, it is simply to increase your pleasure.' She paused delicately.
'It will enable you to endure.' Her tongue darted out, more serpentlike
than ever, it seemed to André, as the room began to tilt ever so slightly.
'With this in your veins you will last forever, my dear Count.'
She began to laugh in a wild and odd way.
André felt unsteady now, and as they had at the reception, his knees
began to buckle precariously. Isidora flew to his side, then helped him toward
a couch, one firm breast brushing his arm as he leant on her.
'Who are you?' he asked again, his head spinning as she deftly undressed
'I am Isidora Katori,' she said archly, flinging away his shirt
then attacking his already torn breeches. 'And very soon I will be your
lover for all time.'
'I... I do not understand,' he stammered, suddenly longing to get
away from her but not able to. His brain was sending messages that he should
throw her off, grab his clothes and flee these apartments immediately; but bizarrely,
his body was helping her disrobe him. And as breeches came off, and were tossed
away after the shirt, his penis bounced up in a lewd salute.
'You will,' she said softly, her hands gliding fleetingly over his
body, before she turned away and poured him more wine. 'Drink,'
she ordered, pressing the newly filled goblet to his lips.
André experienced again that strange phenomenon - his mind issuing instructions,
while his body ignored them and did the opposite. Silently screaming 'No!'
he drank the wine.
When the goblet was empty, Isidora took it from his lips and hurled it to the
floor, where it smashed into a thousand glinting shards.
'Now, my lord Count, you are mine,' she cried, her voice strident
as she flung herself across him. 'We need only one final element to complete
the process.' With an animal groan, she sank down onto his penis.
The pleasure he felt inside her tight, wanton channel was even greater than
that he had experienced in her mouth. Against his will, he writhed beneath her,
bucking upwards to increase his penetration, whilst Isidora worked his body
without mercy. Her flawless white skin was streaked with shining sweat, and
her face was a twisted mask of dark hunger. As he looked up at her, André
felt his strength begin to ebb. His manhood was still rigid inside her, but
elsewhere he felt a great and surging weakness, like a torrent of tidal water
rushing through him. Somewhere in his very innermost centre, he experienced
the sensation that every cell in his body was beginning to melt. He was expiring,
being snuffed out, his life extinguished; and as he realised it his member leapt
A weird, singing light began to rise through every deliquescing part of him,
and when it reached his brain, Isidora crowed in triumph, riding his release
like a giant foaming wave.
I'm dying, André thought with an odd detachment, and knew that
there was nothing he could do to stop it. With his seed still spurting, and
his body still jerking, he breathed his last to the sound of Isidora's
laughter. And the evil pulse of her unholy, gripping flesh.
But as blackness fell, and his eyes closed, and a stark cold replaced the fiery
heat of sex, he saw an image of poignant horror in his mind.
It was Arabelle, his precious love, and she was calling to him. Her lovely face
was glistening with a river of doleful tears and though she was nearby, he could
barely hear her voice. There was a barrier of solid crystal set between them.
She's gone too, André realised as it ended.
Arabelle is gone and we never were as one...
© Portia Da Costa and Virgin Books 1996
Digital :: Kindle US :: Kindle UK
Print :: Amazon.com :: Amazon.co.uk
Join Portia's Mailing List
Visit Portia's Reader Lounge