Theron, undying creature of the Night World, knew everything about making love. But though he was an incubus, a bringer of carnal visions to sleeping maids, he had grander ambitions. He plotted to step into the mortal world and rule as king.
The beautiful Lucia was imprisoned in a fortress atop a mountain. Her betrothed, Prince Vlad of Wallachia, wanted her purity intact; but when the prince broke a vow to Theron, nothing could keep her safe. The girl would be subjected to Theron’s seduction; she would learn all his lips might teach.
A demon of lust and a sheltered princess: each dreamed of what they’d never had. They were about to get everything they wished…and more.
Dark Paranormal category (PRISMs are awarded by the Futuristic, Fantasy, and Paranormal special interest chapter of the RWA)
SCARLETT LETTER Winner !
The Scarlett Letter is a sensual romance award. ‘Dream of Me’ won in the historical category.
Dream of Me
Maramures, Northern Transylvania
Theron stood in the doorway of the bedchamber of Dragosh of Maramures, watching as the succubus Samira crouched on Dragosh’s chest and sent him the nightmare that would cause him to break the engagement of his sister Lucia to Nicolae of Moldavia.
This was it; in mere minutes his end of the bargain with Vlad would be complete, and it would be only a matter of waiting for Moldavia to be crushed. Vlad’s body would be his, then, and he would forever leave the Night World. He would rule his own life; answer only to his own wishes; and it would be others who jumped to do his bidding. His whims would mean life and death. He would matter in a way that a dream demon never could, for each of his actions would leave a mark upon the world.
He would also breathe, and sweat, and feel the solid earth beneath his feet. He would age. He would have a wife, and do to her what he had only done to women in their dreams. He would know what it truly felt like to touch a woman, solid hand to solid flesh. For the first time, he would feel the desires and pleasures of being a man, rather than merely stealing the echoes of lust as experienced by women.
Theron looked at Samira as she crouched on the bed. She had long red hair, whereas Theron’s was black, but they had the same flame-blue eyes and pale, moonbeam perfect skin. Samira had everything a male fantasy could dream up, from plump buttocks to tiny waist, to full, high breasts that jiggled but never sagged. Demons had no sexual desires of their own, but Theron thought that were he human, he could do worse than to sink his sword into that bit of succubus flesh.
Maybe four millennia of playing in the passions of humans had worn off on him; he sometimes thought he could almost feel his own physical desires like a human. He thought sometimes of taking Samira with him onto the mortal plane; of finding her a human body to inhabit, at his side. He’d seen in her some of the same weariness of the Night World that he himself felt; seen some of the same longing for a different existence, although he sensed that she was afraid to admit it to herself.
They were breaking the rules of the Night World by meddling in the lives of kings, and would face the most severe of punishments if caught: Nyx, the Queen of the Night, would likely hand them over to the Day Gods to be ripped to shreds. He’d needed Samira’s help, though. He himself could only send dreams to women. A succubus like Samira could only send them to men. He¹d gambled that his friendship with Samira, and her weariness of the Night World would prompt her to break rules and help him, whereas the thousand other Oneroi — their fellow dream demons who were the children of Sleep — would have refused, and reported Theron to Nyx.
Dragosh moaned and thrashed as Samira perched on his chest, her hand on his forehead, sending the aging man a nightmare. Theron had left the details of the dream up to Samira, and didn’t care to know what horrors her imagination had created for Dragosh. Although skilled with dreams of sexual fulfillment, Samira was best known amongst the succubi for her virtuosity with sexual nightmares.
Dragosh’s thrashing disturbed the slatternly woman sleeping next to him, half-waking her. She opened bleary, sleep-clogged eyes, and a stunned moment later let out an ear-splitting shriek. The mist of dreams still infecting her vision made Samira visible to her for the space of a moment, until she fully woke and lost her glimpse into Night. The damned wench’s shriek broke Dragosh’s bonds of sleep, though, and he bolted up, grey hair wild about his head, mouth gaping, eyes showing white rims of terror.
Samira beat her great black wings and rose into the air, hovering above the humans with a look of annoyance on her lovely, wicked features.
Dragosh threw back the covers and bolted from his bed. He ran across the room stark naked, his manhood so shriveled with cold that it nearly disappeared into the grizzled hair at his loins. He rushed by invisible Theron and pushed open the door to his chamber, running past his royal guards without pause. They were too startled to do more than stare and gape and stumble back from their prince, and ask confused, alarmed questions which Dragosh did not answer. When they regain their senses, they went in pursuit.
Curious, Theron followed, Samira along with him. “What did you do to him?” Theron asked, not really wanting to know. He was glad he wasn’t ever going to be on the receiving end of one of Samira’s mental works of art.
Samira shrugged, looking amazed herself at Dragosh’s violent response to the nightmare.
Dragosh came to another guarded door, that he pushed open without ceremony, stopping in the threshold. His breathing was labored and rough, catching on sobs, and he stood and stared with the eyes of a madman into the darkness within. Theron, with his Night World vision, could see the room as clearly as if it were day.
A tawny-haired girl, no more than fourteen years of age, slept peacefully on a bed in the center of the room. Dragosh’s young sister, Lucia.
Such a small, innocent thing, to be the cynosure of so many violent passions. Theron reached out his senses, trying to pick up some hint from Lucia of her own sexual desires. He caught a faint thread of lust; no more than a whisper through the Night World. She was on the cusp between childhood and womanhood; no longer one, and not yet fully the other. Her body had slowly begun to change, her breasts to fill, her waist to narrow, but the sexual longings that she felt were but a gentle mist compared to the pouring rain that would come in the next years.
He was sure that no incubi had yet visited her: it was the job of the incubi to relieve the pent-up sexual frustrations of women, and Lucia had had no time yet in her brief life for such frustrations. The incubi gave women pleasure in their dreams when they could find no such satisfaction with their fumbling husbands and clumsy lovers, most of whom seemed to have no notion that a thing such as a clitoris existed. The incubi also, on occasion, sent sexual nightmares to women as punishment for crimes like adultery with the neighbor’s strapping, horny young son — who somehow did know about the clitoris; mocking a husband¹s underwhelming penis; and doing a poor job of feigning orgasms. For Lucia, though, such crimes and disappointing couplings lay only in the future.
Dragosh calmed as he watched his sleeping sister, and then after a few shuddering breaths he turned and walked with the stiff gait of a old man back down the hall towards his own chamber. Samira turned to watch after him, then looked at Theron with both regret and accusation in her fiery blue eyes.
“Go,” Theron said, stopping her before she could speak. He could see the question in her eyes, asking if his bargain with Vlad was worth what she had just done to Dragosh. Of course it was, as far as he was concerned, but her silent accusation was unexpected: he had never before known Samira to show sympathy for anyone, or guilt for any of her actions.
Theron touched her hair, combing his fingers through the silken red locks, and then let his hand rest on her smooth, bare shoulder. A hum of sexual power flowed off of her and into his hand, then coursed through his own body as if he were a human male she had come to visit in the night, giving him a faint taste of what it was to be a man who lusted. “You did as I asked, and I thank you. Now go.” His hand tightened on her in warning. “This shall not be spoken of beyond you and me. Promise me that.”
Samira shivered under his touch, then nodded. It would mean the destruction of them both were Nyx ever to hear of this. Only Morpheus, Ikelos, and Phantasos, princes of the Night World, were allowed to meddle in the dreams of earthly kings and rulers, and thus perhaps change the course of human history.
Theron released her, his hand tingling, echoes of stolen mortal desire fading away in his body. The incubi and succubi had no sexual desires of their own; they felt only the shadows cast by the lusting bodies of humans. What he felt from her must be just such a shadow from the men she had visited. It taunted him, making him want even more to feel a desire that started from him own body; to feel it for Samira, or to feel it as Vlad did for Lucia, as such an overwhelming force that he would destroy countries in order to satisfy it.
As Samira began to disappear, returning to the plane of the Night World, Theron turned again to Lucia’s doorway. He gazed intently upon the sleeping, innocent princess, trying to sense what it was that drew Vlad so strongly to this girl above all others. Why did humans fall in love or lust with one person, but not another? The differences between the choices seemed too small to matter.
Before he was aware of what he was doing, he was standing beside the bed, looking down at Lucia. Unaware that there was a demon present, one of the guards closed the door to the chamber, leaving Theron alone with the girl.
Lucia slept with one hand fisted in the sheet and drawn up close to her chin, as if she were cold. Her long honey-brown hair was a tangle over the pillow, over her neck, and over the edge of the bed. The full face of youth was beginning to show the high cheekbones of the woman to come, and the lashes that now lay so thick and innocent upon her cheeks would soon be turned to flirtation and sidelong glances.
It occurred to Theron then that if all went as he planned and he took permanent control of Vlad’s body, Lucia would be his. When she was old enough to marry, he would have a beautiful, virginal wife on whom to play out every sex act he’d gleaned from the minds of women over the past four thousand years. It would be her flesh to which he put his solid hand; her virgin passage that might be the first into which he sheathed himself. She would be the one who would share his bed every night, and be his to explore as he pleased.
Vlad wouldn’t be the one to despoil Lucia; he would be.
Without desires of his own, though, he felt no lust when he looked down at Lucia. He was achingly, miserably devoid of any desire for her at all. What he truly felt was curiosity that this young, oblivious thing could rouse such fervor in the heart of vicious Vlad.
Perhaps he could find a way to have Samira possess Lucia’s body. It would be far more interesting to pierce her maidenhead if it was ancient Samira living behind that innocent face, rather than an ignorant human girl. He had seen too much of the sleeping minds of human women to be intrigued by them any longer. He and Samira, however, could rule side by side, demons over humans, and indulge in every carnal act ever known to mankind. Samira could be his equal and a challenge. A human girl like Lucia was nothing in comparison. She was only a body and a childish, simple mind.
Lucia’s eyes opened.
Theron froze. Was she still asleep enough to see him and shriek? Or was she fully awake, and oblivious?
She was neither. He felt his skin tingle with a sense of eeriness as Lucia’s gaze slowly traced up his body, paused at his genitals, and then drifted up and settled on his face, her own facial expression showing no change from the slackness of sleep, her petal-pink lips slightly parted as she breathed peacefully. Her eyes were an unusual tawny yellow at the center, shading to green and then dark brown around the edges of the irises.
“Why are you in my room?” she asked in a husky, sleep-thick voice.
He flinched, startled by the sound. He’d never been spoken to like this, never had more than a scream from a waking woman. And sleeping women did not ask direct questions! He’d seen women who walked and talked nonsense and sometimes even ate in their sleep, all with their eyes open, though. Maybe she was one such as those, only…
“Have you come to steal my soul?” she asked.
“I don’t steal souls,” he said, feeling a trickle of alarm. She was asking lucid questions and making sense, which is something sleepwalkers didn¹t quite manage to do.
“Are you going to hurt me?”
“Probably not.” There was something strange and unusual about this girl. And to a demon, unusual could mean dangerous.
“Why are you frowning at me?”
“Because you’re not supposed to know I’m here. Are you awake?” he asked frankly.
“I don’t know. You tell me.”
He walked to the foot of her bed, watching as her eyes tracked his movement. Her body didn’t stir, though, her hand still fisted and tucked beneath her chin, her chest still rising and falling with the deep regularity of sleep. It was unsettling, and the trickle of alarm turned to a full-on river, even as the felt the rising tide of her desire. His presence was magnifying her own small passions, far beyond what they should be for a girl not quite yet a woman. The incubi derived no pleasure from such unnatural yearnings.
He should leave this place, for her sake and his own. He began to back away.
“Are you real?” she asked.
The question made him pause in his retreat. “Only as real as your dreams.”
“Perhaps I am only as real as your own dreams. Tell me, demon, why have I visited your dream?”
“Demons do not dream.”
“Don’t they? How sad for you. Then how do you know what to wish for?”
He shook his head. Sleeping women did not converse with dream demons, and certainly did not pose philosophical questions to them. He was getting a strong sense of the otherworldly about Lucia, and maybe that was what had thrown Vlad into such a frenzy over her, whether Vlad knew it or not.
He grimaced as a thought hit him. This would be his wife, once he stole Vlad’s body? She’d probably know that he was a demon possessing a human — the human who should have been her husband — and have him exorcised. Mortal women did not like the idea of sex with demons, and marriage to one probably didn’t rate too highly on their scale of desirable matches. “Go back to sleep, Lucia, and forget you ever saw me.”
She closed her eyes obediently. With a sigh of relief, Theron began to slip away into the Night World. Before he did, though, Lucia’s lips curved into a smile.
“Dream of me, demon. For whether you wish it or no, we will meet again.”
How did she know that?
“It is you who will not wish it,” he said softly, and slipped away into the plane of the Night World.
They would meet again, but when they did, it would either mean he had succeeded in taking Vlad’s body, or that he had failed utterly and would be coming to her to take his vengeance.
Either way, she would not be happy to see him.
Reviews :: Dream of Me
“A wonderfully exotic, dark, haunting, and powerfully sensual paranormal historical romance.”
“This is the ultimate Gothic novel.”
Grade: A-, Desert Island Keeper
“Dark, sensual and wholly compelling, Dream of Me is an absorbing read from start to finish…
Dream of Me held my attention like too few books this year have, and I found everything about it fascinating. These characters, their relationship, and this storyline were all so creative and unique. This is one compelling, original story that shouldn’t be missed.”
“Lisa Cach has already amply proven herself to be one of the freshest voices in the romance genre. Dream Of Me merely reinforces it. With intense, dream-like love scenes, dark atmosphere, and complex characters, this two-book series is easily one of the highlights for romance in 2004. Don’t let these unique books pass you by, take a walk on the wild side and lose yourself in Cach’s world. ”
“Dream Of Me dares to be dark, morbidly funny, and sometimes, so simple in terms of storyline but getting there can be quite complicated for the characters who love freely, sometimes foolishly, often obsessively, but always without caring for what the reader would think of them.
…fans of wonderfully ambiguous characters in a romantic story that isn’t afraid to stick its neck out and be different will most likely find this book a treat. In a time when I am finding it really hard to sit through a pile of formulaic, safe romance novels, Dream Of Me is indeed a dream come true in so many ways.”
“…unusual and wickedly fun…”
“Lisa Cach has a vivid imagination coupled with a real talent for characterization which makes her books unique…. This is a dark, sensual fantasy that also has its share of sly humor. Theron is especially amusing: the demon without a soul who succumbs to love. Paranormal romance lovers should put Lisa Cach on their “must read” lists.”
“Lisa Cach continues her delightful romantic fantasies (see COME TO ME) with this fine character driven tale.”
Background Notes with Photos :: Dream of Me
If you’ve read the background notes to COME TO ME, then you already know the genesis of the idea for this book.
Bran Castle, pictured below, is the castle I used as inspiration for Lucia’s incarceration in the Transylvanian Alps. The real Bran is a very pretty bit of castle, at the entrance to a pass in the mountains. It was a favorite of Queen Marie of Romania, at the turn of the century.
Bran is often mistakenly associated with Dracula, for what reason I’m not sure, unless it’s that there’s a good road going there and it makes it convenient for tourists.
The real location of one of Dracula’s castles, Poienari, served as inspiration for the location of Lucia’s castle. Poienari is only ruins now, but it sits atop a crag in the Transylvanian Alps, and there are 1490 stairs carved into the mountain that one must climb to reach it. The day I went there, though, there were clouds having their bellies scratched by the mountain, and a steady drizzle. My luggage had been lost in Amsterdam, and I didn’t have a change of clothes. The prospect of climbing all those stairs in the rain simply to have a view into grey mist did not appeal, and I contented myself with the few peeks I had of it, as bits of cloud blew past.
See more Pictures of my trip to Romania.