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Posts Tagged ‘Blindsided’

I’m thinking about sex magic again. I think about sex magic a lot, actually. Certainly I’ve been thinking about it with the launch of Blindsided, as with every novel in the Medusa’s Consortium series. I’m always struggling to get my head around why sex is magic, why human sexuality defies the nature program /Animal Planet biological tagging that seems to work for other species that populate the planet. I don’t think I could write sex without magic, and even if I could I wouldn’t want to. I’m not talking about airy-fairy or woo-woo so much as the mystery that is sex. On a biological level we get it. We’ve gotten it for a long time. We know all about baby-making and the sharing of the genes and the next generation. It’s text book.

 

But it’s the ravenousness of the human animal that shocks us, surprises us, turns us on in ways that we didn’t see coming. It’s the nearly out of body experience we have when we are the deepest into our body we can possibly be. It’s the skin on skin intimacy with another human being in a world where more personal space is always in demand.

 

When we come together with another human being, for a brief moment, our worlds entwine in ways that defy
description. We do it for the intimacy of it, the pleasure of it, the naughtiness of it, the dark animal possessiveness of it. Sex is the barely acceptable disturbance in the regimented scrubbed-up proper world of a species that has evolved to have sex for reasons other than procreation. Is that magical? It certainly seems impractical. And yet we can’t get enough.

 

We touch each other because it feels good. We slip inside each other because it’s an intimate act that scratches an itch nothing else in the whole universe can scratch. During sex, we are ensconced in the mindless present, by the driving force of our individual needs, needs that we could easily satisfy alone, but it wouldn’t be the same. Add love to the mix, add a little bit of romance, add a little bit of chemistry and the magic soup thickens and heats up and gets complicated. I don’t think it’s any surprise at all that sex is a prime ingredient in story. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s any surprise that it is also an ingredient much avoided in some story.

 

Sex is a power centre of the human experience. It’s not stable. It’s not safe. It’s volatile. It exposes people, makes them vulnerable, reduces them to their lowest common denominator even as it raises them to the level of the divine. Is it any wonder the gods covet flesh? The powerful fragility of human flesh is the ability to interact with the world around us, the ability to interact with each other, the ability to penetrate and be penetrated.

 

So as I mull through it, trying for the zillionth time to get my head around it, I conclude – at least for the moment – that the true magic of sex is that it takes place in the flesh, and it elevates the flesh to something even the gods lust after. It’s a total in-the-body, in-the-moment experience, a celebration of the carnal, the ultimate penetrative act of intimacy of the human animal. I don’t know if that gives you goose bumps, but it certainly does me.

 

 

Excerpt Blindsided: Lusting for Flesh:

It was a dark place where she found him, with walls so high only a small patch of starlight was visible above, but she was a vampire now. She didn’t need the light, and he, well he had never needed the light, had he? He stood naked with his back to her. He was broad of shoulder. There were white scars like latticework across muscles stretched taut over his shoulder blades. At first she thought they were from a whip, but as she drew nearer, she saw that they were more geometric in form, as though perhaps they were some sort of ancient ceremonial writing. She traced the shapes of them with the tips of her fingers, and his muscles rippled with the sensation. With a start she realized she’d never seen his body before.

“That is because I have none,” came his reply. “Only in dreams can I wear the flesh of my choosing.”

“You’ve worn flesh often enough. I would have thought it was always of your choosing,” she said, making no effort to hide her bitterness.

“It was not my own, though. That pleasure, I have never known.”

“Only in dreams, you say. Then this is a dream.”

“You know that it is.” He didn’t turn to face her but leaned toward her, and she slipped her arms around him and rested her head on the flat of his back. His belly tensed at the touch of her hands, and he caught his breath in a soft moan. “Touch is what I longed for most,” he said. “I thought the lack of it would drive me insane while I languished in my previous prison. But here, with you, I’m closer to touch than I would have thought possible. I do not mind it, you know. It is no hardship to be nestled inside you, close to your heart.”

She released him and took in their surroundings once more. “This is the place I’ve created for you?”

He pulled her arms back around him and sighed with contentment as she laid her head against him once more. “This is how I have decorated. The place you created for me was only the shape of myself, both boundless and infinitesimal. Oh, it did not matter. I could see through your eyes, feel through your flesh, even though it no longer lived as it once did, even though you never spoke to me. I hoped that someday you would.”

“And when I refuse, you come uninvited into my dreams?”

“All dreams are uninvited, Susan, and perhaps this time it is you who have come uninvited into my dream.”

She thought about that for a moment. Was it even possible to visit the dreams of a demon? Did demons even have

dreams?

“Susan?”

“Yes?”

“If I had come to you more gently, if I had courted you and companioned you and been patient with you in the ways of your world, would you have loved me?”

“You never gave me that chance.”

 

Working Out My Demons

Over the years I’ve noticed certain recurring themes in my novels and stories. I’ve also noticed them in the novels of my
favorite authors – the ones whose entire body of work I devour hungrily. How can I not wonder about the psychology of those themes and what it is me and my favorite authors – quite possible all writers of story – are trying to work out in our own psyches. Back before I published my first novel, those recurring themes ended up in the enormous navel-gazing tomes of journals I wrote. These days they work themselves out in my stories, and so much the better, I think. Certainly it’s more creative and more fun.

 

Speaking of recurring themes, it hit me just recently that I seem to write a lot about demons. Almost all of my paranormal and urban fantasy novels have to do with demons in one way or another and, as I just released Blindsided, book two of the Medusa’s Consortium series, I found myself wondering just what my writing so much about demons says about me. Some of my stories are about exorcising the demon, getting rid of it completely, but most are about embracing the demon, or at least finding a way to live with it. Certainly that has turned out to be a major theme in the first two Medusa novels. Personally, I’m inclined to think that the latter is by far the most practical method of dealing with demons in real life. In reallife, unlike in fiction, our demons are not that easy to exorcise.

 

We all have them – demons. And they come in as many varieties as there are people. We writers have more than most, I think. Though I’m sure in my case a lot of my demons are linked very tightly to the fact that I’m just flat out, majorly, neurotic. Oh I’ve definitely tried exorcising them, but I’ve actually found that exercising them works better. And didn’t you see that coming from a fitness junkie and wannabe pole dancer?

 

The truth is I take the old adage ‘working out my demons,’ literally. I take mine out for a nice long walk or invite them to be my guests at the gym to sweat it out with the kettle bells, and it seems to suit them down to the ground. And yes, they are loving the pole dance training. I think they’re especially fond of the bruises. I guess maybe all that hard work and exercise wears them out enough that they forget to torture me. Or maybe after the endorphins have kicked in and we’re all well sweated and relaxing with a good protein shake or a handful of nuts, I just don’t notice their torment so much. But the truth is, they can often be quite useful, my demons.

 

Having said that, I guess it shouldn’t come as any real surprise that I write about demons so much. If there’s anything my demons like more than to be exercised, it’s to be the center of attention in a novel or a story. Frankly, I don’t think it matters if I’m writing about demons in the literal sense or if I’m writing about the less paranormal, more concrete demons my characters battle. By writing the story, but exploring the things that frighten me, the things that make me uncomfortable, I think I’m finding a healthy way to live with those inner demons. As neurotic as writers tend to be, the truth is that the best place to write the most powerful stories is right smack dab in the middle of the neuroses – the scarier, the more irrational, the more chaotic the better. It’s a helluva ride, but if I can stick with it, the resulting story is worth the bruises and the shear terror.

 

Telling a story is another way of exercising my demons. I make them work for me instead of against me. In truth, I don’t suppose I ‘make’ them do anything. I think maybe they wanted to be put to the challenge all along. Don’t get me wrong, they seldom make it easy, and they’re often uncooperative. They often make it as difficult and as uncomfortable as possible for my characters and they often make the telling of my characters’ tale as squirmy and uneasy for me as they can. What the hell else is a demon supposed to do?

 

Writing with demons … there just might be a book in there somewhere. Oh, wait a minute, I just wrote one! Anyway, my point is that sometimes the things that cause us the most stress and make us the most fearful are the things that not only make for the best fiction, but the fact that we do write from the place of our discomfort makes the writing all the more powerful and the demons all the more bearable.

 

The other thing about demons is that they seem so much less terrifying when I’m writing my brains out with a story that won’t let me rest until it’s finished. It’s almost like there’s no room for demon intimidation when I’m in the grip of a tale needing to be told. For that bright and shining span of time it almost feels like instead of the demons possessing me, I possess them. Perhaps that’s the true story I was trying to tell with In The Flesh and now with Blindsided. Perhaps our demons don’t possess us so much as they drive us, and if we can just figure out how to buckle up and go along for the wild ride, then living with demons, writing with demons – paranormal or otherwise — can actually be useful.

 

From Blindsided, here’s a little peek at just how helpful a demon can be. Michael has been mortally wounded; Alonso is chained and just when it looks like no help is in sight … enter the demon.

 

 

Enter the Demon – Blindsided Excerpt:

 

“You’re unable to fight, angel,” Cyrus said as Michael struggled to his feet. “If you surrender to me now, I won’t promise you a painless death, but perhaps it will be a little quicker, since I am expecting a guest at any moment.”

The impact was like being hit by a bus. And then it was as though the fucking bus shoved its way right on into his chest and parked there. “I don’t remember you being so rough,” he managed, his eyes watering from the experience, his heart hammering with the adrenaline rush.

“I don’t remember you being in such desperate need,” came the Guardian’s voice inside his head.

Michael knew that wasn’t true. He was always in desperate need when he was the Guardian’s lover, but then again, it was never like this, never with those he loved depending on him. Back then, it hadn’t mattered if he lived or died, but it mattered now. More than anything it mattered now.

Immediately he was full, in a way he’d never been full before. Even when the demon had taken possession of his body, it hadn’t felt like this. He felt no pain, in fact he felt so much more than himself that he wondered if he could survive it.

“You will survive it. The need of our cocks was never as great as this need, my darling Michael. I have given you more of me than I ever did before, more of me to use as needed, for I have promised Susan that I will bring you and our Alonso back safely. I have promised that we will defeat this deformed bastard of the sea god, and I will see that promise fulfilled.”

“That totally works for me,” Michael responded.

“Angel? With whom are you speaking?” Cyrus’s voice broke into the conversation. “Are you calling upon your scribe? Surely you know she can’t help you with her puny words. And Magda Gardener, well, she doesn’t care enough about you to be in any hurry to save your unholy skin, even if she could, and she can’t. Perhaps you’re delirious? Perhaps I’ve hurt you too much for you to fully experience what I have planned for you? Is that it?” But even as he spoke, he stepped back, sheathed the knife and lifted the axe at the ready.

“Trust me, Michael. Trust me as you have never trusted me before, and we shall defeat this creature together.”

Michael gave up the last vestiges of control and felt the Guardian fill every muscle fiber, every cell, felt the exquisite timing that even a retired angel could have never managed, and just as the axe fell, when it was but a hair’s breadth from severing his arm at the already-wounded shoulder, he shifted. The blade came so close that it literally shaved the hair from the skin.

As though the world around him had moved into slow motion, he grabbed the handle just above the axe head, and in one smooth movement he gave it a hard yank. Both blade and wielder went flying, hitting the metal cage where he and Alonso had been imprisoned with such force that it bent and almost collapsed.

As Cyrus struggled free, Michael scrambled to the cross so quickly that he barely knew he’d moved. He took the chains that bound Alonso in a hand that he recognized as his own, but with power he could scarcely imagine. A single tug, and the chain broke and coiled free with a clatter around Alonso’s feet.

“Watch out!” He heard Alonso’s voice in his head just in time to shove him out of the way and swing the chain, sending the end whipping out to coil around Cyrus’ neck and pulled him off balance.

“You wanted a battle. You got one,” Michael roared, feeling the Guardian even in his voice. “You will not hurt me or mine ever again, and you will take the message to your child-raping father that he’s not welcome here ever!”

Cyrus fumbled free of the chain, hefted his axe and charged, his rage sizzling through the chamber. But Michael had some rage of his own. Add that to the Guardian’s and Alonso’s and they were damn lucky the place didn’t blow itself apart. Michael tore an aging metal pipe from the wall and met Cyrus blow for blow, while Alonso took on the now advancing Myrmidons, snapping the neck of the first one and arming himself with his sword as he shoved the corpse aside and attacked.

“You’ll pay for your blasphemy with punishment clearly your god was too weak to exact,” Cyrus roared. His rage was an old rage that stank of fear and helplessness and needs unmet, things that Michael would have never recognized without the Guardian in residence. He ducked and rolled, and the axe came down in a flare of sparks against the concrete where
Michael’s head had been. He’d barely made it to his feet when the chamber went icy cold, and the skin on his bare arms goosefleshed as the presence of something familiar, someone familiar, filled the space.

“What is it, Cyrus, the truth not to your liking?”

All heads turned as Magda Gardener strode into the chamber, the walls coating with hoarfrost at her approach, even with her dark glasses still in place. Michael had never seen her so angry. Around her face the golden hair flew like a banner, and the serpents peeking from beneath her locks and coiling around her arms hissed, mirroring her rage.

 

 

Redeeming the Villain

I don’t know about you but there are few things I find more boring than a villain who is just flat out evil. You know the kind I mean, the kind who would pull wings off butterflies just for the fun of it, the kind who would kill for no reason. Therein lies the problem. What makes a villain boring is when I have no idea why he’s such an evil bastard, when I can find, in the story no motivation for such despicable villainy, no driving force. I need motivation! I need to be able to identify on some level with what make him who he is.

 

The best villains are the ones you sort of have the hots for, the ones you can’t help but like. Even as you hate them, you still “get” them, you still understand that they, like everyone else, have baggage. They’re complicated. They have histories, they have quirks and neuroses that sometimes make them do horrific things and at other times make them surprise us with their humanity. They’re the ones you think of almost as much as you do the hero in a story. The best villains are the ones who, in spite of every horrible thing they do, you still want to see them redeemed.

 

What I hope I’ve created in Blindsided’s villain, Cyrus, is a character so twisted that he will at times make readers’ skin crawl, but a character so complex that he will, at other times make readers wonder how he might have turned out differently under different circumstances.

 

On the other hand, Blindsided has given me the chance to bring back the villain from In the Flesh — The Guardian,and toy with another fascinating story trope – what is it that makes us human, and how do we redeem ourselves and live in community? How do we care for one another when we’ve never been taught?

 

Can a villain be redeemed? Should a villain be redeemed? Let’s face it, what makes a villain interesting is that he is dangerous and unpredictable. Is the taming of a villain akin to de-fanging a vampire?

 

The one thing the Guardian will never be is tame or safe. The one thing Cyrus will never be is free of his history, the history he despises, free of the baggage that goes along with. Working with two such delicious villains in the same novel and pitting them against each other has been a real treat for me. I hope it will be for you too.

 

Here is a little excerpt of the Guardian’s observations about Susan and Reese’ first encounter with Cyrus. They have been kept in the dark, unable to get a good view of Cyrus’ face, but the Guardian is very observant. Enjoy.

 

 

Blindsided – Villainous Descriptions:

 

“He has one eye,” Reese said once they were tucked safely back into the limo and fighting the traffic out of Midtown. Neither of them had spoken before out of fear they might be overheard, but Desiree was deeply paranoid, so her limos were pretty much invasion-proof tanks.

“What?” Susan said. “How do you know?”

“I had my phone camera on selfie. Oh, I didn’t use it. I didn’t dare, but I had the angle just right that I got enough of a look at him to see that he wore an eye patch.”

“I love you, Reese Chambers,” she said, giving his hand a hard squeeze.

He forced a smile. “I couldn’t see much else. What about the Guardian? Did you enlist his help?”

She shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “Not intentionally, but he felt we were under enough of a threat that he made his presence known.”

“And?”

“Mr. Chambers is right, Susan. This Cyrus wears an eye patch. He is very much not human.”

“What else?” Reese asked, scooting to the front of his seat as she conveyed the demon’s words.

The Guardian didn’t wait for her to ask. His voice felt like an intimate whisper in her ear. “While he was very well dressed in a bespoke suit, he smelled of something more earthy.”

“More earthy? What do you mean, more earthy?” she asked, raising her hand to silence Reese when he opened his mouth to speak.

“Like sheep? Seriously?” She responded to the words only she could hear.

“Sheep? Here in New York City?” Reese said. “What else?”

“Susan, if you would just let me speak through your voice, I could—”

“No,” she said out loud. “I don’t trust you.” Then she blushed at Reese’s raised eyebrow.

“You don’t have to speak out loud. I can hear your thoughts just fine, remember?”

“I know that! I fucking know that!” This time she only thought her words, but she still felt the heat of embarrassment rise to her cheeks.

“What’s he saying?” Reese asked.

Fighting back a flood of memories, she listened as the Guardian spoke in what felt way too much like a lover’s voice—way more sensual than a voice inside her head should have been, and God help her, it felt good, even as it terrified her. But he was her prisoner, she reminded herself, and she would not lose control again. She focused on his words, and her translation became almost simultaneous.

“Cyrus is big, the Guardian says. I sensed that too just in the space he occupied,” she added. Then she continued relaying the Guardian’s thoughts. “He’s Michael’s height, but heavier built, though not fat. His hair is very blond, and while he’s flawed—that’s what the Guardian says—he’d still be considered handsome if he were to walk the streets of Manhattan, though he doubts that he often does that. He says that Cyrus is not a cosmopolitan man. In fact, while his clothing is bespoke, it lacks subtlety, as though he isn’t quite familiar with the way a man in this day and age should dress.”

“In this day and age?” Reese asked.

“He has the distinct feel about him of a being out of time, of not knowing quite how to act here in this age and place. I got that too. And also it was in the way he spoke.”

“I wondered about that,” Reese commented. “Though I forget sometimes because I’m used to it around Alonso. Magda and Talia seem to have adapted to the modern use of language a little better, but then they’ve not made the effort to isolate themselves that Alonso has.”

The Guardian chuckled softly, and Susan felt the sensation inside her chest. “Having experience of such isolation myself, perhaps I am quicker to pick up on his discomfort.”

Susan didn’t translate that. It was meant for her ears only, and it was meant conversationally, as though he spoke to a friend. But she wasn’t his friend. She fucking wasn’t his friend! As though he’d read her thoughts, which no doubt, he
had, he withdrew slightly. This time he spoke more formally, and Susan resumed the translation. “He’s not working for himself.”

“Then who?” both she and Reese asked at the same time.

“I do not know,” came the Guardian’s response. “But whoever it is, this Cyrus fears him a great deal.”

Susan translated this to Reese and the Guardian’s voice became close and personal again.

“His fear of whomever he serves makes him both dangerous and unpredictable, Susan. You must be very careful.”

 

A New Excerpt from Blindsided

Happy Sunday my Lovelies. I’m having my coffee and my oatmeal and thought I’d share this insightful excerpt with you from Blindsided, my new release and the second book in Medusa’s Consortium. One of the things I’ve loved most about writing Blindsided was the interaction between Alonso and Michael and their struggle to deal with their feelings for Susan and for each other as their own relationship evolves. Lots of evolving relationships in Blindsided. This is one of my favourite scenes from their imprisonment. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Blindsided Blurb:

In New York City, away from those she loves, living with the enigmatic vampire, Desiree Fielding, Susan Innes struggles to come to terms with life as a vampire whose body serves as the prison for a deadly demon.

When Reese Chambers arrives unexpectedly from England, desperate for her help, she discovers that Alonso Darlington, his lover and her maker, has been taken captive and Reese has been warned to tell no one but her. Before the two can make a plan, Susan receives her own message from a man calling himself just Cyrus. He not only holds her maker prisoner, but also her lover, the angel Michael. If she wishes to see either of them alive, she’ll come to him and not tell Magda Gardener, the woman they all work for and fear.

With no help coming from Magda or her Consortium, Susan and Reese must turn to the Guardian – the terrifying demon now imprisoned in her body. He alone can help them, but how can she possibly trust him after all he’s done?

 

 

What I didn’t want to know – Excerpt form Blindsided:

For a long moment, they lay in silence, the rise of their steamy breath in the freezing air the only movement. Michael observed that Alonso really had internalized the appearance of respiration. Even in pain and several pints low, he still kept up the human ruse. He wondered if in time Susan would do the same. No doubt if the demon living inside her thought it would protect him, he would make damn sure she breathed regularly. That was one more argument he and Susan had left unresolved. He had all but accused her of spending time with the Guardian and keeping it from him. He’d hurt her with his words, and she’d been angry. Fuck, how the hell did he think she’d respond to such accusations? He hated unfinished business, especially when he wasn’t exactly sure he would ever get the chance to finish it. But this was Susan he was talking about, and Reese was no slouch either. The two would find a way. He was sure of it, and when they did he wouldn’t want to be in Cyrus’ shoes.

A soft grunt from Alonso as he tried to get comfortable brought Michael’s attention back to the present. “I was

thinking,” he said, “I can stretch my wrist out far enough for you to feed. Would that help at all?”

Alonso made another attempt to move and cursed under his breath. When he was in control of the pain, he spoke. “It wouldn’t do anything about the silver, but it might make me strong enough to do something worthwhile if we get our chance.” Then he added, “Are you sure you want to do that? You’ve fed Susan. You know what it’s like, and I don’t have the strength to shield myself if you do.”

Fortunately Michael could still shield himself. He didn’t figure Alonso knowing that Cyrus had one of his henchmen slit Reese’s throat and that Susan had killed the bastard and healed Reese would be helpful right now. He would withhold that information until it could do them some good, a lesson he’d learned from Magda, the hard way. “I’ll do my best to be as non-observant as possible.”

Truth was, he couldn’t stand the thought of the man being weakened in this way. Alonso’s strength had always been a given, and being a part of Magda’s Consortium meant the vampire always had his back. You could do a whole lot worse than having a vampire as strong as Alonso as your ally—especially when the woman you work for has so many enemies. And now there was one more to add to the list—Cyrus, whoever he was. Without being able to bring Magda into the situation, they were short-handed in a serious way. He needed Alonso strong.

He wriggled and squirmed as close as he could get, then extended his arm, wrist up, maneuvering so that Alonso would have to move as little as possible. “Pretty sure Hal won’t disturb us for a little while,” he assured him as he positioned himself, glad, for the first time since he woke up in this icebox that he had on only a T-shirt. “There’s a poker game going on in a warmer part of our villa, and he likes to gamble. He’s on a winning streak at the moment.” When Alonso raised an eyebrow, Michael shrugged. “I hear things—especially when I eavesdrop. Besides, my hearing’s as good as yours, you know?”

“But not your manners,” Alonso said with an attempt at a chuckle that came out more like a clipped hiss.

“I can be well-mannered when it serves me,” Michael replied. “I’m an angel, remember?”

“Good, then prove it by trying not to pay too much attention to my inner workings while I feed.”

Before Michael could respond, Alonso clamped down on his wrist—none too gently. “Ouch, you bastard. Why don’t you just rip it open and gnaw on the bone a bit while you’re at it?”

While Alonso made no response, Michael could have sworn the man was smiling around his efforts to chew the offered wrist off. Then the flood of feelings, memories and experiences hit Michael like a sledgehammer. He would have been embarrassed, would have looked the other way, would have shut it all off if he could have. He simply hadn’t expected Alonso’s inability to shield to be so complete. The silver was doing a real number on him.

Right at the forefront of all that Michael neither wanted to see nor feel were images of Susan, naked and clutched in Alonso’s arms while he drained her life away. Through it all, Michael had sat helplessly watching, knowing that there was nothing he could do. But along with that image was a wave of gut-wrenching sadness. For the first time Michael realized that Alonso had truly not wanted to make Susan into a vampire. Even as he drained her, his heart broke for what would now be the gift he would give to her. How could Michael have believed that a man who lived in forced solitude to protect the world from the threat he saw himself to be could have ever wished that existence on anyone else? And yet in his jealousy, in his own pain and loss, that’s exactly what he thought.

To see another person’s inner workings through the blood meant more than a voyeur’s little look-see. It meant experiencing the feelings that ran deeper than the blood, whether they belonged to the person who fed, or to the person being fed upon. It meant experiencing them as though they were your own. That was in addition to your own, and Michael’s inner workings were unsettling enough without adding Alonso’s to the mix. No wonder shielding was the very first lesson both vampire and familiar learned. It was respect. It was decency. It was something that Alonso couldn’t do for himself in his weakened state. Too late, Michael discovered to his horror that, under the stress of the situation, he was no more able to shield himself than Alonso was.

He could do nothing but relive the memory of Susan feeding from Alonso for the first time, of Alonso giving her back the life he’d taken, giving it back through the gift of his blood. Michael held his own painful memories of that horrible time, memories of watching helplessly as his beautiful Susan lay naked in Alonso’s arms, the fledgling of a vampire who found her way more attractive than he ever intended. She’d done it all so that she could become a prison cell for a demon who lived for lust. She’d done it all to save him, to save all of them. And yet it hurt as nothing ever had hurt in all of Michael’s long existence.

The exchange of blood was like that. It carried with it incredible lust and longing. Michael felt it in the tiny exchanges he’d made with Susan, a bonding that deepened not only their lust and their longing, but their love and desire for each other. How much more would that be the case when the exchange was complete, when a whole life was given up in the blood and then taken back?

Alonso loved Susan with all of his heart. The place she held within it didn’t eclipse Reese’s, but it balanced it in a way Michael couldn’t comprehend, and he was certain Reese couldn’t either. In an instant, he understood exactly why there was trouble in paradise. And just when Michael struggled to get his head around that unwanted bit of information, Alonso’s fantasies broadsided him. The things the man fantasized about doing to Susan made Michael at once insane with jealousy and on fire with lust. In spite of the former, his cock responded as though the fantasies were his own.

“I need you to stop now,” he forced the words up through his tight throat. Alonso didn’t respond, lost in the flow of blood as he was, and even though Michael was shielded, he doubted himself, doubted his abilities. He sure as hell didn’t want the bastard to see his thoughts, his inner workings. He panicked and jerked back. “Goddamnit, Alonso, I need you to stop. Now!”

But even in his weakened condition, Alonso held tight, pulling deeply and roughly at the flow of blood. Pain shot up Michael’s arm clear to his shoulder. Then, with a groan that was agony of a different kind, Alonso pulled free, gave a quick sealing lick to the wound and turned away with a hiss of pain and the smell of newly-burnt flesh. This time the tension in his shoulders, the wracking drag of unnecessary breath wasn’t from physical pain.

Michael pushed himself back against the wall, the jangling of the shackles on his ankles and wrists drowning out the sound of their ragged breathing. He shoved as far away from Alonso as he could get, the ache in his groin a vivid reminder of the violation he’d just committed. Christ, he hadn’t meant to embarrass Alonso. In spite of his own embarrassment at doing the unthinkable, he couldn’t force back the jealousy of the closeness Alonso shared, and what he felt for his only fledgling. Nor could he fight back the lust. Not his fault. Not Alonso’s fault either, and yet he hated him for it. He hated that there was so much more than just jealousy caught up in his feelings, so much more than anger and frustration. “Alonso, I’m—”

“Shut up, Michael.” There was another groan as the man shifted further from him beneath his silver chains.

Michael looked down at the bite marks on his wrist, wondering what the hell had inspired him to ask a vampire, whose secrets he was certain he didn’t want to know, to feed from him. It wasn’t like it would do either of them much good at the moment.

He watched Alonso’s back for a long time until he was fairly sure he’d lapsed into unconsciousness again. His own lust eased, dissipating into the cold metallic air that now smelled faintly of his own blood, and he was relieved for his solitude. The bite mark on his wrist was nearly healed. Angels healed as fast as vampires—physically, at least. The healing from what had happened to Susan, the bond she now inadvertently shared with Alonso, well, that wound wouldn’t heal so quickly. None of them could have possibly known the consequences of her choice. She was a fledgling vampire with a demon living inside her, a demon who was her prisoner, a demon who had once been his lover, and who had often resided in him.

Christ, was he jealous of Susan now, too? Or was he jealous of the demon for sharing an intimacy with the woman he loved that he would never have? But then neither would Alonso. Fat lot of comfort that was.

 

De-Scribing

While I posted parts of this blog several years ago, with Blindsided just out, it seemed more appropriate than ever, and with me away on retreat allowing my characters to dictate what I write, I had to share these thoughts with you.

We writers of fiction often play god creating both characters and plot and setting that created world in motion to see what happens, to even control what happens. We actually get to look inside the heads of our characters and see what’s going on there, what motivates, what inspires, what frightens, what excites. In a lot of ways that’s the norm. That’s what the writing life is supposed to be like, that’s supposed to be our experience as we plot the story and shape our characters.

 

But in every good writing experience I’ve ever had, in almost every novel I’ve ever written, there comes a point when I stop being the creator, when I stop telling the characters what’s going to happen and how they’ll react to it. There comes a point, a certain threshold – usually when I’m most deeply into the world I’ve created, when the characters rise up and rebel. They stop being my puppets and they start telling me exactly how it’s going to be. They make it very clear to me that I have been demoted from god, creator of the fictional world and all who live in it to … well … to a glorified secretary and little more. They tell me what to write and I don’t argue. I just write, because at that point, they know what’s best.

 

OK, the position is actually a bit more glamorous than that of a secretary because my characters now drag me along, whether my bag is packed or not, to wherever the plot takes them and through whatever twists and turns unfold in the process. I become the war correspondent reporting the action on the front. I become the Scribe, responsible for recording the facts, responsible for writing the truth as my characters see it. I also become their advocate. It becomes my job to speak for the character to the readers, to make sure the readers ‘get them’ and their plight.

 

The Scribe! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what that means, especially as I work on the Medusa’s Consortium series in which the roll of the scribe becomes a lot more important. I’ve been trying out that position, opening myself to the idea of being prepared for anything. The result has been several stories I’ve shared with you on this blog, as well as some highly imaginative incidents that may or may not have involved strong drink, too little sleep, and a sense of humor that is most active when the imagination is stimulated. The story of the storyteller is another story within itself. The storyteller, the novelist, the war correspondent, the reporter, are all quite often used as plot devices that frame the story. In fact the story within a story, the plot within a plot, the play within a play is as old as Shakespeare and probably older.

 

It’s old because it works. It works because it give more dimension and also allows the Scribe a little bit of distance, a little bit of space to say, while pointing the finger, ‘Hey, it wasn’t my idea! They told me to say it! It’s their fault, not mine!’ If ever there was license for a writer to misbehave with abandon, I’d say the Scribe is it. So, I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this. My new release, Blindsided as well as In The Flesh are both Scribe stories, in which our scribe, Susan Innes takes center stage. Encounter in a Dry Canyon and the encounters with Alonso Darlington as well as the lady in the sunglasses, (and you all now know that this lady will be putting me through my paces for a long time to come) are all examples of the writer as Scribe, of the writer only there to observe and tell the characters’ stories.

 

Being a Scribe for the characters and events of an intriguing story means that I, the writer, gets the hell out of the way
and let the characters tell the story, let them guide me through the events as they unfold. If I’m not in the way, the story is one step closer to its purest form, colored by the characters views of events and experiences rather than my own, and that has to be the difference between Nescafe and a freshly made, triple espresso with whipped cream on top!

 

While I’m away in Zagreb on my writer’s retreat, I hope to spend a lot of time getting out of the way and letting the characters dictate the story to me while they drag me right on into the middle of the action. I think that’s the very best place for a writer to be, and when it happens, it’s a heady experience! It’s also an experience that affects the writer in ways too much control over a story never could. So, bring it on, I say! But I don’t say that without a certain amount of fear and trepidation as I settle my sweaty fingers onto the keyboard and take a deep breath.

 
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© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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