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Medusa in Your Head

There are lots of reasons why Medusa is the most interesting character in mythology to me, and why she inspired my
Medusa’s Consortium series. One of the biggies for me is that Medusa gets in your head in ways no one else can.

 

For Freud, she represented the male fear of castration. You’d expect that from Freud though, wouldn’t you? According to Freud, this fear is associated with that first view of mature female genitals — back in the day when muffs really were muffs – thus the association with snakes in the hair. The turning to stone is the resulting erection. Apparently there’s no evidence in the literature surrounding Medusa that she ever turned a woman to stone.

 

Medusa is also a classic example of god-bashing or in this case goddess-bashing. A conquering people often debased the gods of the conquered lands, the assumption being that they were able to conquer because ‘our-god’s-stronger-than-your-god.’ Greek mythology often shows this through the rape or seduction of someone by one of Greek pantheon – most often Zeus. Those being raped or seduced are usually local goddesses. Poor Medusa, however, gets a double whammy. She is raped by Poseidon in the temple of Athena, where she should have been under the protection of the goddess. Then, in the classic example of victim blaming, Athena curses her for debasing her temple – thus the snakes in the hair and the face that turns anyone who looks at her to stone.

 

From a feminist point of view, Medusa represents female rage. I suppose that’s as much why I chose to tell her story my way as anything. Strangely enough, I didn’t know about the feminist viewpoint when Medusa’s Consortium was conceived. I only knew that her story made me rage, that I wanted revenge for Medusa. That being the case, like everything a writer puts to pen, the story of Medusa’s anger has to be, on some level, the story of my own anger. The way Magda Gardener works through it as a modern anti-hero in my novels is, no doubt, on some level my way of working through my own issues. That, I guess, is far more Jungian than Freudian.

 

But then not everything is about penis envy. At least, for me, and from the point of view of Magda Gardener/ Medusa, it’s not the penis that is envied so much as the power it represents. It is the desire for the power and the freedom to control one’s own destiny. It’s the lack of that control that causes the rage. Magda Gardener and her consortium give me a wonderful way to retell her story in a modern setting, in a place where her revenge is ongoing, as is her redemption. And Magda Gardener’s redemption, her need for family and connection is every bit as important as her need for revenge. Here’s a little excerpt from Blind-Sided, in which Paul Danson, a New York City police detective in way over his head, meets Magda Gardener for the first time. Enjoy.

 

Blind-Sided 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 powerful 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, and 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?

 

 

We Meet At Last — Excerpt:

 

When he saw Magda Gardener for the first time, Paul was on his way back to his desk, updating Margaret on the phone. … At the sight of her, everything around him faded to background noise and he had a rabbit in the headlights moment. The only thing he wanted more than to run away before he caught her attention was to be the center of her attention. For a moment he stood unmoving, seriously fearing that he’d forgotten how to breathe. She wore faded jeans over legs that went on for miles all the way down to the black leather ankle boots that were totally soundless as she moved across the ageing tile floor with a dancer’s ease. Even in the baggy white cable knit sweater it was not difficult to tell that there were dangerous curves beneath. She had a yard of fiery golden ringlets just like in those Pre-Raphaelite paintings his mother used to love. My God, they looked almost like they lived and breathed and moved around her shoulders in adoration of the woman they belonged to, and yet, they were simply and carelessly tied back in a black ribbon. He couldn’t imagine what the eyes of a woman with such porcelain skin and such breathtaking hair must look like, and he had to imagine, because she hid them behind a pair of tortoise shell sunglasses. He didn’t know how long he’d stood there looking at her with Margaret all but shouting in his ear, asking if he was all right. It was only when she came to him, offered a smile and extended a hand that he remembered himself.

“Margaret, I’ll call you back,” he said and disconnected nearly dropping his phone as the woman’s warm fingers closed around his. For a second, he felt the room tilt and go slightly out of focus, and then her voice pulled him back.

“Detective Danson. My name is Magda Gardener. I need to talk to you about some missing persons.” She glanced around the room. “Preferably in private.”

“Of course,” he managed, nodding down the hall toward one of the empty interrogation rooms, very aware that all eyes were on them. He mumbled something about getting her a coffee or a Coke. She thanked him but declined.

“Please leave the door open,” she said when he made to pull it shut behind them. A slight flush of pink tinged her cheeks. “Afraid I’m a bit phobic where closed doors are concerned.”

He did as she asked, then pulled the chair usually reserved for suspects around to his side of the table and she settled into it, not waiting for him to ask how he could help her. “I’ve spoken to Vince Layton, and I know that the man calling himself Cyrus Rivers, has my people.”

After a couple of fish gasps, Paul responded. “You talked to Layton?”

“I did, yes. He was happy to talk to someone else who believed him, and he told me that you were the person I needed to see. Of course Desiree Fielding told me the same, but not very willingly, I’m afraid.” She offered him a warm smile that had his heart racing. “The woman means well, but she’s sometimes way too secretive. I, on the other hand, am not, Detective. I want my people back, and I want this Cyrus and the monster who pulls his chains … neutralized.”

“Neutralized.” Paul suddenly felt light-headed, like maybe he’d helped Layton finish off the bottle of Jack. “Look, Ms. Gardener, the two of us are on the same page here, and I assume you’re talking about Darlington and Weller.”

“And Susan Innes. He also has her now, though I’m sure Desiree didn’t tell you that.”

“Jesus,” he whispered, fighting the urge to hang on to the edge of the chair, which felt strangely unstable at the moment. “No she didn’t. Why not, is what I want to know?”

“Because you’ve been accusing her and Reese and Susan of … well of all sorts of things, and if you’ve talked to Layton and gotten the same responses I have then I’m sure you must understand that the three of them would like to keep the situation secret, and frankly the lives of Alonso and Michael may well have depended on it in the beginning, though now circumstances have changed.”

“And how exactly have they changed, Ms. Gardener?”

Her glasses slipped just the tiniest bit and his whole body erupted in goose flesh. He found that he desperately wanted to look away and yet at the same time, he never wanted to look away from her again. “Cyrus and his boss have my people, and they’re counting on me coming for them.” She pushed the glasses back up the bridge of her nose.

He swallowed hard with a throat that felt like it was full of sawdust. “What, you mean like an exchange – you for them?”

“More like I’m the cherry on the cake,” she said with a quirk of a smile.

He ran a hand over his stubble and puffed out a sharp breath. “So what exactly do you want from me, Ms. Gardener – a stake-out? Because if that’s the case, then you’re going to have to tell me exactly what the hell is going on before I put you, or my men, at risk.”

“Actually,” she stood and moved to pace the room, “I want to know what you know, Detective, and if you tell me what you know, I’ll tell you what you don’t know.” He was about to say that it didn’t work that way, when she continued. “For instance, I know that you and the lovely Dr. Margaret – she is delightful by the way – are battling with the fact that there just might be vampires in the world. I’ll make it easier for you. There are, lots of them, and yes both Desiree and Susan are vampires and Reese is the lover of one – Alonso Darlington. Though I reckon you’ve probably already figured that out – I mean about the two being lovers, since you’ve been in touch with the Cumbrian authorities.”

Paul heard everything after there are vampires in the world through a loud ringing in his ears, and the woman pacing back and forth in front of him seemed suddenly out of focus. She turned and settled herself on the edge of the desk looking down at him. “If you struggle with the existence of vampires, Detective, then the rest of the story is going to be a very hard pill for you to swallow.” The smile she offered him was empathetic and, to his surprise, she reached out and took his hand. “Detective you already know the monsters are real. You encounter them every day. While Desiree was shocked that she couldn’t glamour you, she shouldn’t have been. You have the capacity to understand the darkness better than most, Paul. I know this about you. I’ve done my research. You have the capacity to look for answers that others doubt, that others don’t believe possible. That being the case, why wouldn’t you be able to figure out for yourself that there are vampires and things much, much worse in the world? She gave his hand a squeeze and settled back on the desk. Her hair swayed as though it were suddenly caught in a breeze, “much worse.” Her voice was little more than a whisper and the look on her face was one of deep sadness. Paul just sat there. How could he respond to that? How could he respond to any of it?

“What do you want from me?” He managed at last, realizing that it was the question she should be asking him.

“I want you to help me find where Cyrus is keeping my people. I want you to take me to this place where you found Mr. Layton. I may be able to pick up something from it that you missed.” When he made no answer, she raised a golden eyebrow. “Detective?”

“She really did pull that man’s head off? Susan Innes did?”

“She did, yes, and that man was no man.”

“And she …”

“She healed Reese Chambers with her own blood, yes.”

“Jesus.” About now he was seriously wishing for his own bottle of Jack. “I can’t … How can I bring in the department on this? How can I get anyone to take me seriously about what you just told me – they already think I was drunk on my ass that night and that I went home with some bimbo.”

“It’s simple, Paul, you can’t bring them in.” She waved a hand dismissively, “Believe me it’s better that way. I have my own people and they’re prepared to deal with this sort of thing.”

“This sort of thing?” he snorted. “It happens often, does it?”

“More often that you would imagine. I clued you in because you basically already know, and because you can help. But you have to believe me when I tell you that stepping in yourself or bringing anyone else in will just get someone killed. I don’t want anyone killed, and I don’t want anything making us monsters look like the bad guys.”

“Us monsters?” he managed.

She gave him a bored look. “You knew that the moment you saw me, didn’t you?” She heaved a deep sigh and
shrugged her sweater down over her hips, “Look Paul, I can take from you what I need, and unlike Desiree, you won’t be able to stop me. I’m the one Cyrus and his people want for reasons that don’t concern you, reasons you and your whole department are far better off not knowing. What does concern you is that I can help you understand what’s going on and help you end it. What does concern you is that you’ll know the truth and if I believe you can live with it, which I do, then I won’t take it away from you when everyone is safe, and warm and happy at home again.” She gave him a look that felt like a warm buzz across his body and then she added. “There aren’t many people who really want the truth, Paul, but you do, and I believe you’re capable of handling it. What I want is your help to find the place where Cyrus is holding my people. The rest I can handle, and trust me, when I say, its better that way.”

 

Landscapes: FREE M/M Download in Anticipation of More Medusa!

FREE Download!

I’m elated to offer Landscape as a little pressie to all my lovely readers because this is one of my very favourite novellas with two of the most complex, most intriguing characters that I’ve ever written, if I do say so myself, and two that just keep right on surprising me.

As you know, I’ll be releasing Blind-Sided, book two of the Medusa’s Consortium Series this summer, with book three, Buried Pleasures, hot on its tail. That being the case, I’m starting the celebration early by offering a FREE download of one of the prequel novellas to the Consortium series, Landscapes! I originally wrote this novella for a wonderful anthology of sexy M/M stories called Brit Boys: On Boys boxed set. It was my first ever M/M and my first ever vampire story.

 

To say I fell in love with Alonso and Reese would be an understatement. I hope their story doesn’t cause a meltdown on your device because they’re players in a much, much larger story you won’t want to miss out on. I didn’t know this until I started writing In The Flesh, book one of the Medusa novels, only to discover Alonso and Reese right there in the thick of it. (if you’ve not read In The Flesh, be sure to before Blind-Sided comes out. I wouldn’t want you to miss any of the fun.) Needless to say, that hasn’t changed. Because Alonso and Reese are right in the middle of all the trouble in Blind-Sided as well. So I thought an introduction to these two sexy men was a great way to introduce all of you to a couple of guys who are so amazing that Medusa herself wants them on her team.

 

 

Here’s the blurb for Landscapes:

 

Alonso Darlington has a disturbing method of keeping landscaper, Reese Chambers, both safe from and oblivious to his dangerous lust for the man. But Reese isn’t easy to keep secrets from, and Alonso wants way more than to admire the man from afar. Can he risk a real relationship without risking Reese’s life?

Note: Landscapes has been previously released as part of the Brit Boys: On Boys boxed set.

 

More About Medusa’s Consortium Series:

 

Contrary to popular belief, Medusa is alive and well. Ever since she escaped Greece and the Olympians, Medusa/AKA
Magda Gardener has been secretly kicking ass and taking names.

 

Scheming to keep one step ahead of the Olympians and the havoc they wreak, Magda is a rescuer of monsters and demons and a thief of all things sacred to the gods who betrayed her. She is irreverent, powerful, rich and has her own agenda in which the lines between right and wrong are not always clearly drawn. For those she helps, those she draws to herself, life will never be the same. Like the Godfather, those who owe Magda Gardener never know when she’ll call in the debt, nor what will be required of them when she does. But the price for those who cross her, for those who hurt the ones under her protection, is worse than death.

 

As her Consortium of powerful misfits grows into a cohesive family, as plotting from Olympus threatens the modern world, it Magda finds it more and more difficult to keep herself apart from the lives of those she has drawn to her. Perhaps the Gorgon doesn’t have a heart of stone after all.

Here are Blurbs for the first three books of Medusa’s Consortium:

 

Book I – In The Flesh Blurb:

When Susan Innes comes to visit her friend, Annie Rivers, in Chapel House, the deconsecrated church that Annie is renovating into a home, she discovers her outgoing friend changed, reclusive, secretive, and completely enthralled by a mysterious lover, whose presence is always felt, but never seen, a lover whom she claims is god. As her holiday turns into a nightmare, Susan must come to grips with the fact that her friend’s lover is neither imaginary nor is he human, and even worse, he’s turned his wandering eye on Susan, and he won’t be denied his prize. If Susan is to fight an inhuman stalker intent on having her as his own, she’ll need a little inhuman help.

 


Book II – Blind-Sided 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 powerful 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, and 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?

 

Book III – Buried Pleasures Blurb:

The neon and glitz of Las Vegas is no vacation for SAMANTHA BLACK. All SAM wants is to get her friend, EVIE HOLT, away from ruthless magician, DARIAN FOX, who wants Sam to perform at his club, Illusions. A neon circus tent of strange and mystical acts, Illusions is one of the biggest draws in Vegas, and he’s hell-bent on including Sam in the program, holding Evie in his seductive thrall in an attempt to make that happen. But Fox isn’t the only one who wants Sam. The reclusive MR GRAVES, owner of Buried Pleasures, the most exclusive, and most mysterious casino in Sin City wants Sam. Behind every powerful man, there’s a woman, and MAGDA GARDENER is the shadowy woman behind Graves. Magda has her own reason for wanting Sam. Everyone wants Samantha Black because Samantha Black’s got talent! Besides the seductive musical genius she was born with, Samantha Black can literally kill with her song.

 

As the threat Sam lives under becomes darker and more violent, her only ally seems to be JON, the enigmatic homeless

man who lives in the storm tunnels beneath Vegas with his ginormous dog, GUS. When Jon gives Sam a poker chip from Buried Pleasures worth a fortune, and Magda Gardener is willing to do almost anything to keep her from cashing it in, Sam’s world turns upside down as she discovers what the chilling power of her voice really means. With Jon’s help, she learns to walk the line between life and death and comes to realize that it’s only her voice and her affinity with death that can get to the bottom of the horrors surrounding the outrageous success of Darian Fox and his magic.

 

As her feelings deepen for Jon and she becomes more and more fascinated with his underground world in the storm tunnels, she soon learns Jon has his own secrets. Too late she realizes that not only is she walking the line between life and death, but she may actually be falling in love with Death himself, and the poker chip she holds on to may well be the only thing keeping her in the world of the living. Death is taking no holiday in Vega. His reasons for being there are not pleasure. As powerful as Death is, there’s someone even he fears. If Sam is to understand her heritage and win the battle against Darian Fox, the stakes will be higher than she could have ever imagines, and not only will she have to work hand in hand with Death, but they’ll both have to work for the true queen of the darkness, Medusa herself, if they are to accomplish their task.

 

 

 

 

A Sneak Peek at Blind-Sided

 

As you can see, I’m working hard on the final rewrite of Blind-Sided, and yes I am a heavy drinker, when I work. coffee — hot and cold, iced tea and water. The clutter, well that’s just a part of my creative process, that and being too tunnel-visioned to notice. All that aside, I’m so excited with the rewrite of Blind-Sided. In addition to our usuals, Alonso, Susan, Michael, Reese, Magda, there’s a whole panoply of new players, and wow, are they fun … and scary.  I thought this weekend I would give you a shameless selfie that involves a bit of a tease from Blind-Sided, book 2 of the Medusa Consortium Series, a tease in which the plot seriously thickens. For those of you who haven’t read book 1, In The Flesh, be sure to check out my book page for a preview. Enjoy!

 

Blind-Sided- Now that I have Your Attention:

I killed someone tonight, Michael. I just snapped his neck. It wasn’t about blood, it wasn’t about losing control. I knew exactly what I was doing. He hurt a friend of mine – tried to slit his throat, so I killed him without remorse.

Susan paused, device in hand. She decided it best not to give details that it was Reese she spoke of and that his throat actually had been slit. She didn’t want to alarm Michael, if Michael actually even read her texts anymore. She continued.

My regret now is the constant reminder that I’m no longer human in that I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Sadly, Susan discovered that vampires couldn’t hide away in shock and sleep through their depression and trauma like humans could. Neither did sedatives or anti-depressants or alcohol work. A good topping up of blood, and lucidity, in all its ugliness, returned with a vengeance. For a long time she sat staring at the text on her iPhone. She could call him, but he wouldn’t pick up. She’d tried to call him, and she got only his voicemail. She didn’t want to trouble Alonso until she could talk to Reese about why he was here. She certainly didn’t feel comfortable bringing her problems to Magda Gardener. As for Desiree, well she’d made it abundantly clear that she wasn’t sympathetic. Susan had never felt more alone, nor more envious of Reese, sleeping peacefully and well healed on the wide four-poster bed she could easily imagine him sharing with Alonso. Desiree had them taken to Hawthorne House, which was in a secluded area on Long Island that felt a million miles from the hustle and bustle of the city. Susan had never been there before, but when she arrived a whole new staff of familiars and employees were there to serve, and Millie had already arrived with Doctor Carlson.

Once Susan was certain she’d get none of the easy rest and oblivion that engulfed Reese, once she had changed out of her ruined clothes and showered, she insisted upon staying with him, even though there was little she could do. He was drunk on her blood and sleeping like a baby – as for the wound at his throat, it had healed into a thin pink ribbon of a scar that looked as though he had done it years ago.

“Because he’s the familiar and the lover of a vampire,” Dr. Carlson had said, “he already has better healing abilities than the average human, but, there’s no way he would have survived what happened without your blood.”

Without her blood, her precious fucking blood – all of which she had taken from someone else, including the one who loved Reese, the one who had loved her too, in a different way. She stood and paced, device forgotten in hand. She was a thief now, as surely as Michael was for Magda but, unlike Michael, her survival depended on thievery. She deleted the text and shoved her phone in her pocket.

“You’re beating yourself up.” She turned to find Reese wide-awake watching her pace. “I’ve seen Alonso do it a thousand times. It doesn’t surprise me that his fledgling would do the same, though I suspect you were prone to it before you ever met Alonso.”

He made an effort to sit up, and she came to his side to help. As she rearranged his pillows, he eased his way into a sitting position. He moved slowly at first, as though he wasn’t sure everything would work okay. She realized she’d never seen him without a shirt before. The man wasn’t quite as big as Michael, but he was as well muscled, muscles he’d gotten from hard physical labor. As he shifted and the duvet fell back to reveal the hard ridges of his belly, an image of him feeding from Alonso’s heart’s blood, of him wrapped in her maker’s arms left her breathless with its power and its passion. How could Alonso not love him? She’d always liked and respected Reese, and she knew the extent to which he had fought to make sure their plan for the recapture of the Guardian had worked. He was worthy of Alonso’s love. In every way, he was worthy. Once he was comfortably seated, he cautiously lifted his fingers to his throat, which he cleared experimentally a couple of times.

“How do you feel?” She carefully sat down on the edge of the bed, as though she feared she might break him, strangely close to tears at seeing him like this. At least this one thing she had done right. Alonso would not lose the one he loved.

“Fine, I feel fine. A bit of a blood hangover, but then you know, that’s not a bad thing.” A blush crawled up his newly healed throat, and he rearranged the duvet in his lap to cover the more obvious symptoms. A blood hangover meant a buzz no drug could possibly match, and it made both the giver and the receiver horny as hell when it was shared during lovemaking. Fortunately the exchange had been only one way. She had been in no position to experience anything but the horror of the situation. At least he had been spared that. She’d leave him to take care of himself in a minute, but first she had to ask. “Do you remember what happened?”

“Of course I remember,” he said. “You didn’t shield yourself when you fed me.” His face darkened. “You had other
things on your mind, like saving my life. Oh God! Oh
Christ!” He caught a deep breath and his pulse hammered wildly in his throat just above the scar. For a second she thought he was having some sort of seizure. “It’s Alonso. That’s why I’m here. Alonso’s been taken, kidnapped!” He tried to shove his way out of the bed but she held him.

“Fuck! What? Who kidnapped him? Reese, who has Alonso?” At last she gave up trying to be gentle and shoved him hard against the headboard. “Calm down, and tell me what the fuck’s going on. I can’t help until you do.”

She had just managed to settle him and get him to drink some water when his cell phone rang and they both jumped. It lay on the bedside table where one of the servants must have tossed it when they undressed him. With a move surprisingly fast for a human, he grabbed it and switched it on. The color that her blood had returned to his cheeks left. He nodded to her and put it on speaker.

“It’s as I suspected then,” came a rough baritone voice on the other end, a voice that sounded like whoever it belonged to was a two packs a day sort of person. “Reese Chambers is alive and well in spite of my Myrmidon’s best efforts.” There was a chuckle that sounded more like a cough. “Which is more than I can say for him, from what I understand. Seems like our little scribe of a vampire is not so jealous of her maker’s lover that she wouldn’t move heaven and hell and pull the head completely off my poor unsuspecting servant to save him. But then unlike you, Mr. Chambers, she has another lover. Don’t you Ms. Innes? An angel named Michael, am I right?” Before Susan could respond he continued, “Never mind. You don’t need to answer that, I know all about your angel. You see he’s now keeping your maker company as my guest.”

Susan’s blood turned to ice in her veins, and her nails cut half moon circles into her fisted palms. “Who are you,” she asked, “and what do you want?”

“You may call me Cyrus if you wish. As for what I want, all shall be revealed to you in good time. I’ll expect you to meet me at midnight tomorrow. I’ll let you know the place. Though there have been rumors, Ms. Innes, that you are a vampire who’s able to walk in the daylight. While I’m intrigued by the idea, I prefer the mystique and the magic of the midnight hour, don’t you?”

“It isn’t going to be easy for me to get to the UK and be where you are by midnight tomorrow,” she said.

The chuckle was like a clearing of the throat. “Oh I’m not in the UK. I’m plenty close for you to sleep late, have a nice snack and still be there on time.”

“How do I know you have them? How do I know you’ve not killed them already?”

Susan’s phone rang. She nearly catapulted off the bed and yanked it out of her pocket. “Pick up, Ms. Ennis,” Cyrus said. “Lover boy is dying to talk to you.” There was the laugh again. “Well not actually dying, and he won’t be as long as you two do as I say.”

With fingers icy even for a vampire, she connected. “Susan, don’t worry,” came the blessed voice before she could speak, the voice she’d been desperate to hear, “I’m all right, Susan. Alonso’s all right too. Cyrus has us safe underground so Alonso won’t be caught out and –”

One didn’t have to have a vampire’s preternatural hearing to recognize the sound of a fist slamming against flesh. She roared, and Reese cursed, then Cyrus came back on the line.

“I’m curious, Ms. Innes. If while you’re here, I slit your angel’s throat and restrain you just long enough that your only alternative is to let him die or turn him, could you do that? Could you actually turn an angel into a vampire?” He chuckled to himself. “I would think that would be the ultimate abomination to your god, wouldn’t you?” Susan’s stomach clenched to a painful knot. “Can you imagine such a thing as an undead angel cursed to roam the earth and feed on the blood of those he is sworn to watch over and protect?

“I’m retired,” she heard Michael’s voice in the background, clearly struggling to breathe through the pain of what must have been a gut punch. She swallowed back a sob of a laugh. One of the things she loved about the man was his sense of humor.

And then anger threatened to strangle her. “If you hurt him, or if you hurt my maker, I won’t rip your head off like I did the vermin you sent tonight. I’ll make sure you live long enough to suffer for your deeds.”

For a moment there was silence, for a moment she thought she’d lost the connection, and then Cyrus spoke again. “You may have the blood of your maker in your veins, woman, but he’s such a civilized vampire. You’re not like your maker at all. No, I see you have the barbaric heart of the vile bitch who owns you.” This time there was no chuckle.

“So you know Magda Gardener?” With stealth she supposed came from living among monsters, Reese had moved to her side, holding the throw from the end of the bed around his waist with one hand and shoving his phone close to hers with the other. It was then that she realized he’d been recording the conversation, and her respect for the man, which was already high, went up still another notch.

“Let’s just say she’s … an old friend of the family – one we’d do anything to reconnect with. Which brings me back to our little rendezvous, Ms. Innes. You are to come alone and –”

“She’s not coming without me,” Reese interrupted, pressing in close enough for her to feel his body heat and smell the
scent of him, so like Alonso, and yet so different.

“You may come if you like, Mr. Chambers, though it’ll do you no good. It is only that I wish to meet face to face to tell you my terms. You’ll not be allowed to see your lovers, neither of you. Nevertheless, you will come to me, and the two of you will bring no one else, and you will tell no one. You will most especially not tell Magda Gardener. If you do, I’ll make sure your lovers are delivered back to you in pieces much too tiny for you to resurrect with your vampire blood, Ms. Innes. Do I make myself clear?”

“You’re clear,” Susan growled.

 

Exploring the Darker Side of Being Human through Paranormal Romance

I’ve got my head down at the moment working on the final rewrite of Blind-sided, the second of my Medusa’s Consortium novels, which is the sequel to In The Flesh. For me the rewriting of the final draft of a book has never been a hardship, but rather something I thoroughly enjoy. It’s the time when the story deepens, becomes more textured, more three-dimensional. And it’s the time when I get to know my characters and their motivations better. What’s not to love?

 

It’s the easiest thing in the world for me to get lost in my writing and enjoy the wonderful experience of letting my characters tell me what happens next. Characters are often so full of surprises when I let them tell the story. It’s especially exciting when I’m writing paranormal because a good bit of the time, it’s a vampire or a demon, or even Medusa herself whispering in my ear. (I always keep my eyes shut when she’s doing the talking, though.) I’m never thought I’d write vampires. In fact, I balked at writing paranormal in general until I realized that paranormal is the perfect place to explore the darker side of the erotic without all the rules and regulations that restrict contemporary erotic fiction. In fact, paranormal is a great way to explore the dark side of human nature, full stop! And it’s the perfect place to contemplate that age-old question: Who are the real monsters? I’m discovering that, quite often, it’s not who I think. Having said all that, there are several aspects of reading and writing paranormal stories with erotic elements that particularly intrigue me.

 

The first off, no one insists on vampires and shifters and other scary dudes wearing condoms. It’s pretty much a given that there is nothing safe about fucking a vampire or a demon, and if the whole idea doesn’t scare the reader as much as it turns her on, then it’s not proper paranormal, is it?

 

That brings me to the second reason I love to read and write paranormal — the very close relationship between fear and arousal. The iconic sex scene between the young and beautiful couple in a horror movie is always followed by the ghoul, serial killer or other baddie killing the lovers in a horrible way. I suggest that a part of what is so arousing about paranormal sex is the breaking of so many taboos, the attraction to something that the world says should horrify us. And it is horrifying – of course it is. Still, we Just. Can’t. Resist. That the boundary between what arouses us and what terrifies us is so permeable, that crossing that boundary can get us into all kinds of trouble and then some, means that the story of that boundary crossing is unputdownable, even as it gives us goose bumps and makes us want to hide behind the couch.

 

The rules of what is forbidden in erotica by most publishers don’t apply to paranormal. Some of the most erotic scenes I’ve ever read are of vampire taking blood from or giving blood to their lovers. Blood is the river of life. It contains the magic of who we are as individuals, and yet we don’t have to lose a whole lot if it until we die. That it’s all contained in such a fragile sensitive vessel as the human body only amplifies its preciousness and its power.

 

The final fascination for me is that paranormal is the perfect place to explore dubious consent and loss of control. When dealing with vampires, demons, witches and magic, is consent ever less than dubious? And is there any other place to explore safely that total loss of self-control that is giving oneself over to the forbidden? Add to it the very real possibility that, with all our human frailties, there’s no guarantee of survival, and how can the resulting story not be intriguing?

 

The truth is that while we might be happy to dabble in the darker side of our sexuality, on a fundamental level, the very act of sex is frightening. It is the losing of self in the other, the opening to the unknown. It is the allowing ourselves to be more vulnerable than we are in any other act. It is the giving up of control. All of these elements are, by nature, a
part of sex — sex that carries at its core both the possibility of conception and of death.

 

That all we fear and all we desire in sex can be raise to the nth degree when placed in a paranormal setting and examined from the intimately terrifying safety of a book gives us a vicarious experience that allows us to experience the darker side of our desires, of our humanity. I would suggest that there are few better ways to explore our humanity than taking an erotic journey with the monsters who are more like us that we can easily admit.

 

 

In Pursuit of Mr. Sands Part 2

Mr. Sands’ story, as I suspected, is far from finished. Last week we left Elise North at a Wetherspoon’s  keeping an eye on Daniel Sands as he kept an eye on the woman who had been his inflight meal. Elise North is a PI with something extra, and … you guessed it, she works for Magda Gardener. Can’t tell you how much fun Elise and I are having pursuing Mr. Sands in this unfolding Medusa’s Consortium tale. I hope you’re enjoying our voyeuristic encounters as well.

 

If you missed Part 1, follow the link

 

In pursuit of Mr. Sands Pt. 2

Safely tucked in my booth at Wetherspoon’s, I observed Daniel Sands observing his victim. The word victim didn’t really feel right under the circumstances. The glow in the woman’s face spoke of a well-satisfied lover rather than a victim. And if I wasn’t mistaken, Daniel Sands observed the woman with true affection and more than a little bit of pride. I knew Magda Gardener had at least one vampire on her consortium, and there was a succubus. Both could drain a life away easily and without batting an eye to satisfy their needs, but they didn’t. It was clear that neither did Mr. Sands, though I didn’t know if that were always the case or simply because it was not wise to leave a string of dead bodies on a commercial airliner. As I watched him watching her, I couldn’t help but bask – vicariously of course — in a little bit of their afterglow.

I followed him following her to the car park. Oh they didn’t notice. I have a way of going unnoticed when I want to. It’s one of the skills Magda hired me for. I watched him watching her from beside a black Audi, and I felt the exact moment when he chose to let her see him. She had just settled into her Mini  – an older version — but she didn’t start the engine, as I knew she wouldn’t. Instead she looked around her in nervous anticipation. Oh she wouldn’t have seen him if he hadn’t wanted her to. Being able to hide in plain sight was one of his survival techniques just as it was mine. At the moment when her heart rate had accelerated just so — you know that moment I’m talking about — when the serious gallop of foreplay isn’t enough any longer, when the body demands more. At that moment when her anticipation was palpable and so was his, he took from her once more. Oh it was just one little nibble. I suspected from a distance he could do little more, but that was another question to add to my growing research list. With his taking, he offered her one last little reward before he freed her completely from his thrall. It only took a raise of his hand to rest and a slight flexing of his fingers, and she came. I felt the pulsing of her orgasm deep in my chest. And him, well there was a sense of euphoria that radiated off him like heat waves. If it were even possible the glow of good health and maleness at its prime that he exuded grew even stronger. And then he just stood there watching as she drove away.

I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders and got into the car Magda’s people had provided – an apple red Merc AMG that fit me like a glove. Inside I pulled up Magda’s number on the blue tooth.

“He touched me,” I said when she picked up. “On the plane when he was making his rounds. I had to let him. I had no choice really.”

“And?”

“Why, yes, I’m fine, thanks for asking and no, he didn’t hurt me and he didn’t suspect anything.”

Her silence told me in no uncertain terms she was unimpressed with my sarcasm. “And?” She repeated.

“He’s staying at a flat in Soho. He stays here in London until he’s ready for another night flight, unless he decides to fly home.” I recited the address.

“You found all that out from touching him?”

“No. I found that out by taking a peek at his landing card in the Passport control queue.”

Her chuckle was like fur against bare skin and I couldn’t help but wonder if our fearless leader was perhaps a powerful succubus. I’d heard that she could be very charming, hypnotic, in fact. But mostly I’d heard she was flat out terrifying, and she liked it fine that way. It left no doubt as to who was in control of the Consortium. Other than that I knew little about her. I’d never met her personally. She recruited me through a friend of a friend. In the year I’d worked for her, I’d not spoken to her at all until I was assigned to tail Daniel Sands. Him, for some reason, she took a personal interest in, so I was given a phone with only her number programmed in. It was equipped with several other high tech upgrades that made me feel a bit like 007. I knew it was as much her way of tracking me as it was mine of finding her, but then I did have a subcutaneous chip for that. So, what I could glean from the situation was that Magda Gardener wanted Daniel Sands very badly, that Magda Gardener had very deep pockets – which I already knew, and that I was not nearly as expendable as she might have me believe. Listening to her voice and even knowing what I knew, I still had a hard time imagining that she could be more terrifying than some of the nightmares I’d come up against. The thing is, working for her was interesting, and the pay and the benefits were incredible.

“You’re a resourceful little shadow, aren’t you,” she all but purred in my ear. And I all but preened my response.

“I do my best.” I smiled at my reflection in the mirror above the visor as I refreshed my lippy.

“You’ll be texted the address of your flat in Soho as soon as we secure you one. It’ll be ready when you arrive.”

I was practically drooling at the thought. Magda Gardener had expensive tastes, and she treated her employees as though they did too. Having said that, she would have no qualms about making me stay in a crack house if that’s what it took to secure what she wanted, and I’d certainly stayed in worse.

I’d barely made it to the motorway before I got the text with the address of my temporary digs. I was impressed. Clearly I wasn’t the only savvy person who worked for Magda Gardener. The place was right across the street from Mr. Sands’ flat with a perfect view of his big bay window and the entrance to the building. I arrived to find the fridge was fully stocked and the closet full of clothes. We’re talking high-end designer stuff that I knew would fit me like a dream. Most of the time I’m called upon to travel at the drop of a hat. There’s seldom time to pack. I receive a passport, credit cards and cash – whatever I’ll need for my cover. Can’t count the number of gorgeous outfits and expensive jewelry I’ve had to leave behind because of time restraints and other … more pressing issues. The necessary accouterments are usually waiting for me when I arrive. As I said, Magda Gardener has expensive tastes. The place was also equipped with state of the art surveillance equipment. The bugs, I would have to find a way to get into his flat myself. But I was confident I could do that with no problems. I made a quick sandwich, drank a gallon of water and, after a quick shower, I went to work.

Pretending to be doing a customer relations survey for the airline, I telephoned the woman who had been Mr. Sands’ inflight meal. Sarah Martin was her name, and she managed a bookstore in Brixton. She had scrimped and saved for her holiday in the Big Apple, had gone with empty suite cases and came back with them crammed with bargains. Being upgraded to first class for the trip home was the cherry on the fabulous holiday cake for her. Sadly, all she remembered about her first class flight was that the food was fab and she’d slept right through most of it. Oh, and the flight attendants had been particularly helpful. Perhaps that one final orgasm had also wiped her memory of events Mr. Sands would prefer she not share with nosy people like me and Magda Gardener. None of the flight attendants who knew about Mr. Sands could be reached for comment. I was informed they’d all made quick turnarounds on other international flights, which I found rather strange since after an international flight, one would have expected at least an overnight layover to rest.

All this I did by phone, along with loads of online research of incubi in general and what information I could find, scant little that it was, on Sands specifically. We suspected he lived somewhere in the Hebrides. But no one knew exactly where, and in truth he was nearly as much of a highclass vagabond as I was. Most of the research was connected to resources Magda had given me when she gave me the assignment. I had lots of time for research and phone calls because for two days and nights Mr. Sands didn’t leave his flat. I know because I could see him moving about inside. He wasn’t secretive about his presence. He never drew the curtains, even when he was fresh from the shower or undressing for bed. Perhaps it was a part of his thrall to hide in plain sight and yet be so irresistibly visible that he was like a peacock fanning his tail and advertising for a mate. At any rate, he had my full attention.

It was the second morning that I began to suspect he knew he was being watched, that he even relished the idea. Of course he would, wouldn’t he? But I never thought for a moment that I was in danger. He was, after all, just an incubus. I’d dealt with worse.

He slipped from the bathroom in a wave of steam with nothing but a towel tucked low around his hips. I nearly spilled tea down my shirt at the exquisite view he afforded me. I watched with heart racing as he disappeared momentarily and returned with a cup of coffee and a copy of The Guardian. Okay, I’ll admit it delighted me more than it probably should have, since this was my job. But he parked himself in the wing backed chairs smack dab in front of the big bay window and, as he sipped and perused the paper, folded for an easy one-handed read, his other hand strayed to his lap. As though he were barely mindful of the act, he opened the towel and cupped himself absently. Any man might sit in the privacy of his living room on a Sunday morning and, without giving it a second thought, reach for a fondle and a caress and perhaps a little scratch of his junk. I would do the same if I were a man, if I had such an interesting, intriguing appendage there between my legs always vying for my attention. But that Mr. Sands was indulging in such an ordinary act of maleness was what made it so extraordinary. I don’t know why I expected him not to indulge in what was such a quintessentially male act, but by the time he laid the paper aside, leaned back into the chair and opened his legs for a good grope, I couldn’t have looked away if I wanted to.

He couldn’t see me. I was sure of it, and it was my job to spy on him. Still there was something so naughty about me watching while he stroked and caressed his lengthening cock, that it was all I could do not to feel guilty. And perhaps the guilt, the little niggle of shame put the edge in my own growing arousal as I adjusted to hold the binoculars in one hand and slip the other inside my panties.

His fingers were long and slender as they curled around his heft and moved up and down the length of him. His efforts became ambidextrous as he palmed and cupped his sac while fisting and stroking his erection. The shifting of his hips, the tensing of the muscles in his thighs and his flat, tight belly, the way his toes curled into the soft carpet — together they were all such human acts that it was easy to forget they were being performed by someone who was not human. With a start I realized I was mirroring his efforts, toes curling, hips thrusting, fingers darting in and out of slick depths and over rising hardness. I could hardly believe what I was seeing, nor what I was doing, and it was only as my shuddering release shook the binoculars fracturing the arching spasms of his own release, unashamedly poured out onto the floor in front of him that I raised the lenses just enough to take in his face. I expected to see a man lost in his own pleasure, not a man whose cold eyes were locked on me. I swallowed a yelp of surprise, as though he might somehow hear me and the last thing I saw before I dropped the binoculars on the floor and fled my vantage point was his mouth quirking in a wicked smile.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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