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Nocturnal Confession: Damon Snow, #4

Nocturnal Confession: Damon Snow, #4

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Nocturnal Confession: Damon Snow, #4

ratings:
4/5 (1 rating)
Length:
180 pages
3 hours
Released:
May 29, 2015
ISBN:
9780993918056
Format:
Book

Description

In a world of incubi and unicorns, there must be something capable of curing Byrne… right?

For months, incubus and prostitute Damon Snow has been given assignments from his long-time cull and now lover Byrne. But after Byrne nearly dies and they travel to Bath to take the waters, Damon assigns himself one of his own: 

He must find a supernatural creature capable of curing Byrne. 

But when Damon once again encounters the incubus Frost, Frost taunts him with the truth ― Byrne isn’t dying from natural causes. Damon’s touch is killing him. 

Damon has to find a cure, and fast, even if he must break propriety and sanity to do so. But can he go so far as to confess he’s an incubus knowing he’ll lose Byrne forever? 

If you love a mysterious, erotic and deviant historical romance novella, download Nocturnal Confession now.

Released:
May 29, 2015
ISBN:
9780993918056
Format:
Book

About the author

Olivia Helling doesn't believe in love at first sight... but maybe, just maybe, it blossoms along a few books. That is, after all, how she fell in love with her husband. Olivia writes about the darkness and flaws from within, the struggle with self-confidence, self-perception and fear of failure, and fantasy and historical worlds that refuse to allow love between men. So be warned: happily ever after is not guaranteed. The protagonist and love interest don't always end up together by the end of one book. But when they finally come together, their love will be a thing of beauty. Want to stay up to date with Olivia’s new releases? Want to get behind-the-scenes looks at Damon Snow? Go to http://oliviahelling.com/freebook/ to sign up for free twice-a-month emails.

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Nocturnal Confession - Olivia Helling

forever?

Chapter 1

January, 1810

Covent Garden, London

Algae skimmed the surface of the black water, hiding whatever profane creature lurked below. Surely, there was a creature. There had to be a creature. Water on its own, even rancid sewer water, could never smell so foul by itself.

Or perhaps it was the black mould growing on the sides of the metal basins the owner generously called tubs. I called them chamber pots, giant chamber pots, made of tin instead of ceramic.

The basins actually made the rest of the cellar pleasant in comparison, with only cobwebs hanging from the bare stone and mud piled against the walls. Clouds of dust rained down when the familiar pounding above us grew too exuberant, the moaning of women muffled by the silence of the cellar.

I held my hand over my nose. I’d smelled some rather rank smells in my time, but those basins…

If the bagnio owner thought he was keeping my shillings, he should think again. And he’d known, the little bugger, seeming so confused on why we’d like to actually see the baths he advertised.

I glanced at the man leaning heavily against me as he weaved, clutching a white handkerchief over his nose to ward off the stench. For the first time in months, instead of his usual nightshirt, my long-time cull Byrne wore a banyan robe over his shirt and breeches. Even in the candlelight, I spotted the shadows under his eyes, his gaunt facial features, and the hint of yellow creeping around his features like Napoleon expanding his empire.

Only, he wasn’t my cull any longer. He was… something more. I didn’t know what to call him yet ― lover, beau, gentleman friend, mistress? ― But he wasn’t a cull any longer. I’d made sure to establish his feelings regarding me, and mine regarding him. And then we’d finally made love, and I hadn’t even had to write one of his blasted assignments first. Not like the first time.

Perhaps I should have written one. Perhaps then Byrne wouldn’t have fallen ill barely an hour later, emptying his stomach onto my discarded garments, all yellow acid and strings of red blood.

His physician had ambled in after the worst of it had been over. Byrne had been able to take several gulps of laudanum and had lain depleted in his bed. Then the physician had had the gall to perform only a quick examination, settling on the prognosis of mere nausea coupled with bleeding gums. With how much Byrne paid the physician, the charlatan could have at least given him a thorough examination to ensure his viscera were in order, but no, the physician had assured me it was only a common complaint for liver cirrhosis.

Then he had prescribed another concoction and suggested Byrne hurried along with the surgery. The physician was irresponsible, as simple as that. But Byrne had waived away my concerns and pleas to find a more respectable physician, and had moved up his surgery.

Even though Byrne had insisted I needn’t wait during it, I’d paced in the drawing room. The surgeon had assured me this particular procedure was as safe as possible, merely draining the fluid from Byrne’s abdomen so his organs might rest better. Merely!

After all that, as I’d expected, the medical professions had no effect. Byrne was still as ill as ever, barely able to move his head or eat the rice pudding I had ordered for him.

And then Byrne had wasted his sorely won strength following me to this cesspit.

Fucking Rogers, I muttered.

What was that? Byrne asked.

He weaved so hard he nearly toppled me over. I glanced around us, found no comfortable place to sit, and then helped him over to the stairs, where he could at least rest on the step.

Never mind, I said. But―

My fingers curled, as if aching to wrap around Rogers’ neck and give him a good throttle.

Fucking Rogers! I exclaimed. I never should have listened to him. A bagnio, he said. The waters will help, he said.

Poor Damon, Byrne said. He lifted his hand and swiped a lock of hair from my forehead. I never expected you to be so…

So what? I asked. Concerned? Righteously angry?

Naive, he said. One would think with your experience, you would have known the bagnio was little more than a brothel.

I knew the brothel part, I said. When Rogers had suggested it, I had rightly scorned him. As if I would ever pay my own good silver to stay in a brothel. But do they not require a license? Rogers said ― I thought they must have proper Turkish baths.

They do, Byrne said, chuckling. He waved his hand at the tin chamber pots.

I wrinkled my nose. A dip in that is more likely to kill a man than whatever condition they suffer already.

That’s not why men come here, Byrne said.

I know. Upstairs, even as we spoke, men hired their beds for the night, and then swept into the attached cafe to find their lady of the evening, identifiable by the Ratafia cordial they favoured. As if any proper lady dared enter such a cafe.

And boy, do they ever feel well upon leaving, Byrne said, chuckling again. Fully cured of their aches and pains.

If they avoid the Spanish gout, I said. Although that will kill one much slower than these sorry excuses for Turkish baths.

Perhaps that is what I need, Byrne said, leaning heavily on me, snuffling my shoulder. The perfect cure-all. It would be a shame to waste the room, after all.

I shrugged him off. Don’t be ridiculous. We can’t actually patron the place. Someone would see us. Unless… Unless you finally yearn for female flesh.

Why, jealous? Byrne asked, smirking.

I turned away. Byrne cupped my cheek, bringing me back to look at him.

I was thinking we’d summon my coach and return to Mayfair, he said. Much more pleasant than this hovel.

Hovel. Hovel was an accurate term, but it still stung. It was the best I’d been able to afford. I’d paid for the night with my own silver shillings. I had thought… I had hoped… Byrne was right. I had been naive. Now my pockets were empty, with nothing but Byrne’s exhaustion to show for it.

Damon? Byrne tapped me on the chin.

I jerked my head out of his grasp, stood, and strode to the so-called baths. Perhaps they’re not as gross as they appear. Perhaps this is what Turkish baths are supposed to be like―

Damon, don’t! Byrne snapped. That water is vile. We’ll return home and I’ll have Andover draw you a bath―

I spun toward him. Don’t you care? I demanded. This is your life hanging in the balance, and all you talk about is ― is ― Where’s your fight? Where’s your… This is just like how you were with me, refusing to man up, cowering―

Damon! Byrne snapped.

Finally, some response, I said. You should be as angry as I am. This could have cured you, if some low-life hadn’t grown greedy―

Damon, be silent!

I crossed my arms, as Byrne regained his breath. I muttered, It’s as if you don’t care at all.

And you said it didn’t matter― Byrne stopped, breathing hard, then shook his head. He stared at the ground from a long moment, his side trembling, and just when I was ready to race to his side, in case I’d goaded him into another bout of illness, he said, Well, then, why don’t we attend Bath?

I stared at him. Bath? As in the town? As in the town two days from London, when I was skint and even on my best day, I couldn’t afford the stagecoach?

Yes, Bath. Byrne smiled. Actually smiled. As if he wasn’t dying, as if his liver wasn’t white and shrivelled by cirrhosis. How could he smile like that? Bath would be perfect. The waters there aren’t merely a cover-up for a less-than-savoury operation.

So he did care, at least a little bit.

And Ashton won’t dare to leave London during session, Byrne said.

My shoulders dropped. Was that all Byrne worried about? Fine, Viscount Ashton still hounded Byrne about their gambling hell, although he had stopped threatening to have Byrne replaced after he had hired me for an assignation with him.

Byrne still hadn’t confided in me what his business was about, and I hadn’t told him Ashton had enlightened me.

His reach doesn’t extend as far as Bath, Byrne said, so we needn’t worry about any assassination attempts.

My eyes bulged out of my head. You said you’d take care of that.

After my assignation, Ashton had made me an offer ― accept a position as his valet, or he would silence me forever. Unlike Byrne, Ashton took his privacy very seriously. Ashton, for one, would never suggest we take advantage of a brothel.

I had declined, choosing Byrne over a guaranteed guinea a week, on top of room and board.

Mostly, Byrne said. But Ashton likes to play with a strong hand, so he wouldn’t rule it out.

Had Byrne known what Ashton would do before he had sent me to him? I narrowed my eyes. A year ago, I would have thought Byrne would sell his own mother to the work house to get ahead, but now… Did I mean enough to him to protect me against his own advantage?

Bath would be a wonderful holiday, he said. You’ve never been away from London, have you?

Of course I have, I said. I’d been to Cambridge, at a cull’s expense, once or twice. But that had been years ago. But perhaps there’s something else in London. A more reputable bagnio, perhaps?

He tilted his head, looking down upon me, as if I’d suggested a whore could have a heart of gold.

Damn it, he was going to make me say it. I can’t afford Bath.

Nonsense, Byrne said. Just how much did Byrne think I made? Obviously I’ll cover your expenses as well as pay you for your time.

My heart cringed in my chest, and I struggled to keep it from showing on my face. Byrne didn’t seem to notice my struggle.

What would be a fair rate? Since you will not be able to work while you’re there… Hmm…

I don’t need… I swallowed. I did need coin. I’d spent it all, on luxuries like food and laundry, and the bagnio and library subscriptions. I’d hardly had more than a few mouthfuls of gin on any given day, not since I’d gone on my drinking spree.

But Byrne shouldn’t have to pay me. He shouldn’t… pay me. I wasn’t… I wasn’t his molly anymore, was I? I had thought I had become more. I had wanted to become more.

Byrne didn’t think so. He hadn’t even hesitated to offer to pay me. Of course he wouldn’t. For years I’d only been his molly. Why would I think it would suddenly be different?

Will the stagecoach not trouble you? I asked. You barely made it here from Mayfair.

I’ll manage, Byrne said. All I have to do is sit there.

All he’d had to do was just sit in the coach, but he’d still leaned heavily on me and made nauseous sounds. I don’t know if the Dovers will let me leave for very long.

You’re not their indentured servant, are you? Byrne asked.

But―

But what? he asked. Would you rather Brighton instead? Is Bath too old fashioned for you?

No, of course not. That isn’t the problem.

Then what is?

I… What was the problem? Besides being cut off from all the libraries and sources I’d used to search for some mystical cure for Byrne, none of which had turned up anything so far.

And the infirm raved about the waters of Bath. Perhaps they would prove to be the mystical cure Byrne needed.

Which only left the issue of feeding? If I wasn’t working… I’d figure something out. For the past month, I hadn’t been doing more than snatching bites of lust while earning enough coin to afford the next book. Perhaps it was as my fellow incubus Frost had said ― the more experienced incubi needn’t feed as much. Perhaps for once, Frost had told the truth ― no, but I’d figure something out, if need be.

Damon? Byrne asked.

Fine, we’ll go to Bath, I said. That is, if you meant me to come?

Byrne snorted. Would I pay you if I didn’t?

That wasn’t exactly reassuring.

Now come here, Byrne said with a wicked grin. No one is like to come down this way, not with the main attraction upstairs.

I tilted my head, frowning at him, but he ignored my chastisement and held his hand out to me.

We can be quick, Byrne said. As quick as rabbits.

I rolled my eyes. And as wanton as rabbits too. He opened his legs so I might kneel between them, and I did, pressing forward to catch his lips with my own. It had been so long… Too long since Byrne had been in any shape for such attentions.

He

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