Amy Lane gave me a short Little Goddess Christmas story that she has posted on her site (there are other free stories too) for me to share here on The Book Tart. Cocklebur’s Christmas is set after Rampant, book 4 in the series, but really it is a peak into Green’s past. It contain strong language (the swears lol) and an m/m elements. I love seeing the relationship between Cory and Green and it makes me miss them more. Write faster Amy! Please click HERE to go to the Hot Summer Nights giveaway post with a fun excerpt from Vulnerable, an interview with Amy and a chance to win Vulnerable (one of my all time fav books!) or if you already own that, pick another book from her backlist. 🙂
Cocklebur’s Christmas—A short story of Green’s Hill
Green, Lord of Green’s Hill in the Sierra Foothills of Auburn loved Corinne Carol-Anne Kirkpatrick op Crocken Green very much—but that didn’t mean he was looking forward to spending the evening with her when she’d been left behind from a potentially dangerous mission.
“Don’t mope, beloved,” he said mildly, watching her trying to make her slightly widening bottom comfortable on the opposite end of the couch. Her body was changing, and the twin hearts in her belly were growing day by day.
The glare she shot him was hardly a ‘mope’. “Don’t patronize me, Green,” she snapped. “I’m…” Her eyes bulged, and he fought back a laugh. She was tired, her boobs hurt, her feet hurt, her back hurt, her ‘cooter’ hurt (interesting term—he loathed it, but it did make him laugh), her stomach hurt, she had heartburn, hemorrhoids, varicose veins and a headache. Yes—she had all the symptoms of pregnancy, but she didn’t want to whine. Not his beloved. So, she felt like shit, didn’t want to whine, and was even more pissed off because all of the things she didn’t want to whine about were the reasons she didn’t get to go on the mission. For his beloved, who was usually more vocal than discreet, this was a conundrum.
Her eyes were still bulging and her hands were flailing as she fought for words, and Green was about to put her out of her misery and soothe her, when her body betrayed her.
Her stomach growled, and true to the many conflicting emotions in her heart, her body sent her to the one she’d hate the most.
Her lower lip quivered and she sent him a look so full of misery it almost broke her heart.
“Aw,” she muttered, “goddammit, Green!”
He laughed gently, and put his arm out to her. She rushed to him and lay her head on his chest and allowed him to run his hands through her wildly curly reddish hair.
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of, you know,” he said softly.
“I couldn’t go with them,” she muttered. “I couldn’t go with them. I always go with them. I always… dammit, Green. I take care of them. And Bracken was so angry!”
Green grimaced. Yes, Bracken was angry. Thanks to an impromptu blood transfusion that summer, and some magical consequences, Cory could feel his anger, literally in her blood.
“Of course he was angry,” he said softly. “You two have been working as a team for nearly two years, beloved. How easy do you think it was for him to leave you here?”
“Well then he shouldn’t have… fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck…” The litany continued. Her next line would have been, “He shouldn’t have knocked me up!” but the worst part of her dilemma was that she’d accidentally counteracted both Bracken and Green’s birth control. It was how she came to be pregnant with sidhe twins, when her tiny mortal body would have been hard-pressed to carry one child to full term.
“Jesus, Green!” she finally burst out with. “Isn’t there one goddamned blessed thing I can bitch about that I didn’t bring on my own goddamned head?”
Green was forced to laugh. “Yes, beloved. You can bitch about being hungry. It’s my fault—I should have fed you sooner. Here, let me get you something.”
“I’ll get it,” a voice said over Green’s shoulder, and Green turned slightly and smiled. “Thank you, Cocklebur. That’s very kind of you.”
Green grimaced—first, because although Cocklebur had come over the pond around the same time Green did, he insisted on referring to Green like a superior, and second, because Cory was nodding enthusiastically for pie.
“There’s some chicken and vegetables in the refrigerator, if you don’t mind putting it on some bread and heating it up,” Green said, looking sternly at Cory as he said it. Her face fell, but he could tell by the way she rolled her eyes for form that she agreed. Pie would probably make her feel worse, and something healthy would make her feel better. The simplest logic wasn’t always the easiest to live with.
Cocklebur brought the food, and a bottle of water for Green, with a little flourish and a bow. “Hereyago, Little Goddess,” he said to Cory. “You just sit back and be the queen of the manor, right?”
Cory gave a passable impression of a smile. “Thanks, Cocklebur. That was nice of you. I could have gotten it myself, you know.”
The elf’s expression twisted, and for a moment, he looked almost ugly, an impossibility for a people known for their inhumanly perfect beauty. “You go ahead and be a lazy stropping cow, and see if I give a shit!” he snapped, and then flounced off, leaving Cory even more miserable than she had been before.
“Aw. Goddammit, Green—I didn’t mean…”
“Yes, I know. Hush. Here. Eat your food. Sleep. That’s just his way. He’ll apologize in a minute…”
“I know, I know, and everything will be better.” Cory tucked into her food and didn’t harp on the obvious. With Cocklebur, that’s pretty much what you had to hope for—that someday, things would be better.
“Would you like to know why that is?” Green asked, as she was eating. She looked at him with a full mouth and nodded. She hadn’t wanted to admit it, but he could see she’d been starving. She did too much in her day, he thought worriedly, but he didn’t say anything.
“I’ll tell you… better yet, take a nap on me while I work, and I’ll show you,” he coaxed, thinking this could be the only way he would get her to rest for the rest of the pregnancy.
“Show me?” She swallowed, and then yawned. “I mean, you know, show me? Can you do that?”
“Absolutely,” Green told her. “Here. All done?” She nodded and he took the plate from her. With a thought, he summoned tiny sprites to take the mess away and then pulled her head down on his lap so he could smooth the hair from her face. “Now I don’t do this often, but if you’ll let me, I’ll let you dream it. It will be like watching a movie in your sleep, yes? Except, you’ll get to feel it, too.”
Cory giggled. “Uhm, how much am I going to feel?” she asked drowsily. “I mean, uhm… Green. You, uhm… you’ve slept with everyone at the hill. Is this dream going to be…”
“X rated?” Green grinned. “Damned straight, beloved. If you’re going to be napping instead of shagging…”
“No worries, luv. You just close your eyes and dream. It will be a little scary at first, but it will be a lovely dream at the end, and maybe you’ll understand our bloke a little better at the end of it, okay?”
She managed a little moan of comfort, as she pillowed her head on his thigh and fell asleep.
Green started the dream where all things started for the two of them.
Adrian. Adrian had just been turned vampire, and they were walking along the beach in the bay. His white-blond hair was shoulder length and curly, held back in a queue like Green’s longer, butter-colored hair. His sky-spangled eyes were almost transparent in the thin moonlight, but his insouciant, love-it-or-lay-it grin was fully in place as he played a puppy-like game of kicking a rock through the surf.
It was back in 1850, and so much of what was industrialized and full of metal and oil now was simply beach. Yes, some of it was putrid with the lack of plumbing, but some more of it was… beach. Salt water. Salt water that broke all magic, good and bad. Oh, the purity of clean, abrasive, salt.
Green was barefoot, as all sidhe preferred to be, and he was enjoying the feeling of the sand between his long toes. It was long ago, and simple things were more easily acknowledged for giving the most joy.
They were far away from the busiest part of the harbor, and the ships were all sleeping in their berths. There was a stand of eucalyptus trees before them, as the bay widened to open sea, and as Adrian’s booted feet and Green’s bare ones splatted in the shallow layer of surf, there was a far away scream.
They looked at each other, apprehensively. Green was not a power at this point—he had no people, and no ambitions for them. But that scream had sounded desperate, and in pain, and the two of them had strengths that other people did not. Adrian was not adept at vampire’s flight at this point, but that didn’t stop him from giving a grunt and a leap into a shaky course through the air, even while Green began to move with that burst of Goddess speed that humans always thought of as magic.
By the time Green got there, it was all over but the blood-drinking.
Adrian was a blur, tearing men off of some poor creature, and doing it viciously. There were two bodies lying near Green, their blood seeping into the surf, their throats torn out and their eyes glazed. As Green drew closer, his gentle vampire had the third by the hair and was screaming, “What did you do to him?!!!”
“Nothin’! We clapped him in irons and he screamed!”
Green took another look at the poor thing, kneeling in the surf of the early morning dark, and caught his breath. The pointed ears, even covered in a snarled knot of dark hair, were unmistakable.
“He’s sidhe,” Green muttered, hoping to get Adrian’s attention. He’d seen Adrian kill, since he’d been a vampire, but he’d never seen such vicious bloodshed from his once gentle beloved. A part of him mourned, sickened, but another part—the part who had rescued Adrian from his own oppression—rejoiced. Oh, Adrian—by all means defend the weak and wreak vengeance on the abusers—it’s who you were re-born to be.
The creature in the surf gave another pitiful scream and Green stood decisively.
“A’—do me a favor. Put your toy down and take those things off his wrists, yes? I can’t touch them—they’ll do the same to me. You can go feed on your bloke then, and then get your arse back to the darkling.”
“Right, Green,” Adrian told him obediently. Always—Adrian would obey Green always, except for that last, terrible disobedience many, many years in the future.
The young sidhe in the surf screamed when Adrian touched him, gibbering something about ‘monster’ and ‘unclean’. To his credit, Adrian ignored the elf: he’d been prepared for such accusations when he turned. In a moment, the deadly iron was shattered and thrown out to sea to rot, and the elf plunged his blistered, burning wrists into the soothing healing of the surf.
Adrian picked up his dinner then, and disappeared. The dinner’s frantic screams were mercifully cut short within a few heartbeats, and Green turned to the task at hand.
He was gentle, as he plodded more deeply into the chilly surf and fell to his knees in front of the elf-boy. He held out his hands with some command—the sidhe were raised to defer to their elders—and the boy put his hands into Green’s with simple trust.
The bloody blisters started at mid-palm, became lesions at his wrists, and then faded to mere painful, postulating blisters again near his forearm.
“Oh, lad,” Green tutted. “That’s well and truly painful, boy-o. Here—can you hold them up? If I give them a kiss, maybe, they’ll feel better, right?”
“I’m not a boy.”
Green glanced at the young sidhe in surprise as he held the excruciating cold-iron burn to his lips and breathed lightly. The boy (or not) gave a sigh as some of the blisters receded, leaving only swelling. “No?” Green asked, before moving up to the more damaged part of his wrist.
Two furious green and brown eyes glared back at Green from that tangle of dark hair. “I’m grown, same as you,” said the elf, his mouth compressed tightly, and Green breathed a little more healing to his skin.
“How many years?” Green asked. The Goddess’ children tended to reach sexual maturity and then… stop. Frozen at their most beautiful. Age was often hard to discern. Green himself was nearly sixteen-hundred years old, but he tended to still believe the best of things, and many sidhe mistook him for much younger.
“A century, perhaps,” the sidhe snapped. “Old enough to leave home!”
Green frowned at the wrists, which were still ulcerated and raw. “Indeed,” he murmured. “Care to tell me how this all happened, then?”
“No,” the other elf snapped. He looked away, irritated and disgruntled. “Humans don’t… they don’t understand sport, do they?”
“Sexual sport?” Green extended a careful pink tongue, and watched as the boy tilted back his head and sighed gustily. Yes—Green’s touch was potent, even here by the salt water that canceled magic. He drew power from sex, he expended it in healing—sometimes, the act of healing became sex, and he drew power from that too. The young sidhe’s body (for a century was still quite young) must be tingling by now, growing heavy and full. Good. Arousal was good—it made the heart sleepy and warm, and not bitter and angry, and that too was good for healing.
“No,” Green answered, as the elf nodded reluctantly. “They don’t understand it. And sport among males is… difficult. They’ll do it, yes—but they won’t acknowledge that it happens. And when they do acknowledge that it happens, they seem to think it requires some sort of effort on their part to show the world that they are the type of men who would do that.”
“What type of man is that?”
Green shrugged. “I have no idea. I like them all.”
The young elf sighed. “Me too,” he said mournfully, and Green had to smile.
“Me too.” He extended a pointed tongue then, and started lapping gently at the deeper wounds. The elf winced, and then gasped, and then sighed.
“That’s very good,” he conceded, as the surf lapped at their knees. “Uhm… do you… uhm…”
Green grinned. “Am I a healing elf to the base of my cock?” he asked boldly, and was rewarded by a wicked grin.
“Yes,” the young elf breathed. “Yes.”
“Then yes,” Green murmured, taking his breath and the softness of his lips and the sweetness of his tongue to the inside of the elf’s arm, where he teased the tender tender flesh there. “But I think we should exchange names first, right?”
Green grinned. It suited him—prickly, wicked, and apparently used to getting himself into scrapes. “Green,” he murmured, moving on his knees so his lips were on the elf’s bicep, and then his shoulder. The cheeky little bastard went in for a kiss, but Green dodged it, and continued to tease with his lips and his tongue along the top of the elf’s shoulders. He pushed aside the tangled dark hair and traced a path to the other shoulder, down the other arm. He stopped and suckled on that tender, sensitive crook of inner arm, and then breathed down the forearm, to the wrist. The arm was mostly healed, just from Green’s genuinely given touch and free desire, but Green made sure all of the painful blisters and the bloody divots in Cocklebur’s wrists were gone and healed before he put the boy’s palm to his mouth. (Century or not, he was still a boy.)
Very carefully, using the scrape of teeth and the tickle of tongue, the press of lips and the suckling of all three, he planted a deliberate kiss in the center of the long-fingered sidhe palm.
Cocklebur let out a whine of arousal that cut through the crash of the surf, and Green grinned at him from there on his knees.
“Stand up,” he commanded. The elf did, revealing a sidhe’s long, rangy body, with narrow hips, shoulders, and long torso, clothed only in tattered cotton breeches. His erection (fully sized, although the elf seemed a little short for most sidhe) fell heavily forward, pushing the fabric outward, and Green played with it for a moment, making it bob and jump.
Cocklebur whined again, pushing against that teasing, one-fingered touch until Green’s throaty chuckles were close enough to warm the fabric, and the elf threw his hips forward in desperation.
“Thought you weren’t a boy,” Green chided. “Men have more control.”
“Just wanted some sport…” Cocklebur admitted painfully, and Green remembered himself. Sometimes touch was as important as air to a sidhe, and sometimes more so. It had apparently been that way for this elf on this night, to lead him to the dire straits that Green and Adrian had discovered on this lonely beach in the moonlight.
With no further teasing, he pulled the trousers down from the young man’s white-pale flesh, opened his mouth, and engulfed that taut, burgeoning cock all the way to the root.
“Goddess… oh Goddess…” Cocklebur all-but sobbed above him. Fingers clenched in Green’s queued hair, the bite of pain making Green’s own arousal sweet. Green pulled back, and then engulfed that sweet flesh again, and again, and again, until Cocklebur forgot himself, pumping satisfyingly into Green’s mouth without regard for Green’s own pleasure.
Green liked it when those he healed could do that. Sometimes the surest way of knowing if someone’s heart was healed was knowing that they felt safe to be selfish. Cocklebur was certainly that, clenching Green’s hair, seeking his own pleasure with grunts and wordless cries. Green cupped his hairless balls and squeezed gently, and Cocklebur gave a shout that Adrian could probably hear, back at their windowless flat, and then, as Green moved two spit-slickened fingers to his tender entrance, he all but screamed into the pre-dawn fog.
His come, when it came was hot and thin, and Green swallowed most of it. He waited until Cocklebur was bent double, clutching Green’s head to his groin and sobbing, before rising to his feet, dripping with cold surf, and claiming a thin, only slightly pouty mouth in a kiss and letting the elf taste what he had spent inside Green.
The kiss deepened, and lingered, and Cocklebur pulled back and took a lap at the corner of Green’s mouth.
“It’s clean,” he breathed. “No cold-iron bitterness. No pain.”
A healing elf of body and spirit—it was Green’s best gift. The only person he couldn’t seem to heal completely, he thought sadly, was Adrian. He did not know that the only person who could do that had yet to be born.
“All healed,” Green said at this moment. “All better.”
The young elf smiled slyly. “Would you like some recompense, guvnor?”
Green frowned. Goddess, he hated the old-country ways. But Cocklebur was showing appreciation, and affection, and it was something he probably wouldn’t have done just minutes before, when only his flesh was healed.
Green took the offer for what it was: gratitude and kindness. He put Cocklebur’s hand against his own trousers and pushed. Cocklebur’s eyes got big and round, and Green bent his head and whispered, “You want this? You want me inside you, pounding you until you scream come?”
Green caught the younger elf when his knees went weak. He had a knack for knowing, sometimes, what a partner would want, what would fill the empty spaces inside a young man or woman’s soul.
“Oh Goddess,” Cocklebur groaned. “Yes…please yes…please…”
They were wet, and they were cold, but that little plea had two pleases and two yeses, and Green searched the coastline for a stand of trees, a hidden patch of damp grass, because Green would not deny that begging for the world.
Cory’s sleeping, burgeoning body squirmed against Green as the dream ‘came’ to its logical and truthful conclusion. He smiled a little as he finished the work he’d been doing on his laptop as she’d slept and dreamed his memories. He’d been scenting her arousal for a good fifteen minutes. When she woke up from her nap, she would be… well, in a better mood, and wasn’t that the truth.
“Mmmm…” she groaned against him, the unbridled decadence of the sound making him hard. He shut his laptop and turned as she was sitting up and wiping her eyes. She grinned at him sleepily, and, as usual, the first thing she said caught him off guard.
“Awesome dream, beloved—but I don’t think I’m going to get into Cocklebur’s good graces that way. Don’t you think I have enough on my plate?”
Green grinned back. “You’ll think of some way to do it besides that, I’ll grant you. In the meantime…” His hands, long and skillful, swept down under her arms and to her waist. Yes, it was bigger, but one of the children she was carrying was his, and that was about the sexiest flesh he’d ever felt.
“In the meantime, what?” she batted her eyes at him, and he obliged her.
Leaning in, he whispered into her ear, “You want me inside you, pounding until you scream come?”
“Oh, Goddess yes,” she breathed, and he swept her up into his arms and took her to his warm, dry room, to oblige