The visions started the night of the winter solstice, the moon high in the sky. Frightened, Lorena sat up in her small cot in the observatory, perspiring despite the chill that had crept into the room. But for her gasp, the night was perfectly silent, so silent that she could hear her heartbeat like the pounding of drums.
Lorena felt the presence in her room like the warmth of a summer breath, the slightest caress of air across her skin. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw motion: the silken movement of a cat, the graceful ruffle of an eagle's wing on the air. She blinked, trying to figure out why such images had come to her. She was a biologist, but she rarely thought in terms of natural description.
Her heart pounded in her chest; fear made her senses come to life. She could feel the breath of the creature as it paced toward her. There was a raw, feral, smell to it, the sort of smell that made her reptile brain gibber in fear. She pulled the covers up over her naked body, shivering despite their warmth.
The moon shone on the creature as it moved into view, shimmering on its skin with a thousand muted colors. It was a woman, but like no woman Lorena had ever seen before. She was sturdily built, naked but for the feathers she wore. Lorena's breath caught. She was a supernatural creature, a goddess even, more beautiful than Lorena could have ever imagined. She was taller than Lorena by at least a foot, her long legs and curves accentuated by the moonlight.
The goddess leaned over her, pulling the covers back. Tracing lines of fire down Lorena's sternum, her ethereal fingers brushed Lorena's skin. Between her breasts. Touching her heart. The fire burned in Lorena's belly, radiating downward in gentle strokes of pain and pleasure, and she lay back on the bed, moaning despite herself.
The goddess' feathered headdress shimmered in the moonlight. She smiled, teeth sharp and gleaming. She leaned over and licked Lorena's stomach, her tongue as rough as a jaguar's. "Come to me on the summer solstice."
She left, disappearing and leaving Lorena gasping for air. The memory of the goddess' touch made her moan. Nothing relieved the need that grew inside her.
Lorena woke the next morning convinced it had been a dream, a sinful dream brought about by her desires, by the loss she felt at Sophia's impending wedding. There would be too much wine at the wedding. Her heart would be filled with the sourness of seeing her lover in white, smiling happily at a man.
When she pulled off her night shirt, she saw the marks. The five cuts on her abdomen ached with the memory of the goddess' touch. Drops of her blood stained her shirt, lines like unholy stigmata. Yet she couldn't bear to consider the goddess' touch as unholy. Despite her Catholic fear of pagan idols, the Goddess' presence had been pure and hungry. She had never felt something so real, so immediate, as the goddess' presence. Nothing in her religious experience compared with the lust she had felt, the sheer desire that burned through her.
She tried to ignore the memories of the sensation as she showered and dressed. Putting on a slip, she glanced at the bridesmaid's dress. Sophia was just being cruel. The dress was turquoise with silver beading that trailed down from the bodice to the hips. It was a flattering dress, one that Lorena suspected Sophia would have liked to see on her in another circumstance. She ran her hands down her hips and felt a flare in the marks on her abdomen.
-- from "The Solstice Kiss" by Vivian Caethe