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It’s NaNoWriMo Time with an Excerpt from A Demon’s Tale

Yup! I’m actually doing NaNoWriMo this year, and very excited about it I am too!  This is the first time I’ve participated in a couple of years. For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, which is every November. The challenge is to write a 50K word novel in a month. While my novels are always well over 50K, to be able to get that much done in a month means enough momentum to carry on to the end.

 

I’ve had the pleasure of participating in NaNoWriMo several times when my schedule has allowed it. Those times have resulted in Body Temperature and Rising, book One of the Lakeland Witches Series, The Tutor, which is a contemporary erotic romance, and a SciFi novel called Piloting Fury, which I’m still rewriting and deciding upon a home for.

 

This year I’m writing another novel in the Medusa Consortium series. This novel is a story readers have asked for, it’s the Guardian’s story, A Demon’s Tale. With the Guardian’s permission, here is a rough excerpt from Day One of NaNoWriMo and the prologue of the novel. Enjoy.

 

Guarding Her Sleep: Excerpt from A Demon’s Tale

He watched her sleep, something that he did every night, something that, until very recently, he had enjoyed immensely, for there was always the possibility that when she slept, she would dream, and perhaps in those dreams, she would visit him.  Truly, he treasured those visits. They were a time of getting to know her, of learning to understand her a little better so that he might become a more suitable companion, might better realize what behavior would be most pleasing to her.

 

In truth it was only in dreams that his constant, though unavoidable, presence was not a violation, however unintentional that violation might be. In the beginning, it mattered less, in the beginning when he was still angry at her for what she had done to him. But the anger was nothing compared to the mourning at the loss, her loss, what she had done to herself because of him. Mourning, such a very human experience, one of which he could not have imagined himself capable. And yet he had mourned, had hated it, had raged against it, that thing that made no sense to him, that loss that was so needless, that terrible, irreversible loss for which, in his solitude, to his horror, he came to realize he was fully to blame.  Blame had always been a thing he had thrust upon others, never a thing he had felt himself, never a thing he could have understood until she did what she did, until she made the sacrifice she had made. Because of him.

 

It was in dreams that he had slowly come to realize his need for her forgiveness. It was in dreams that slowly she began to give it. It was in dreams that, for the very first time, he found himself wondering at his true nature, doubting just how well he understood it even after so very long. It was in dreams that he could sooth her, comfort her, and he knew better than anyone just how very hard she battled to heal, to learn how to live now that she had been changed, to come to grips with her own losses and to fight for the protection of those she loved. The knowledge of what she brought to him in dreams, of the weight she bore in no small part because of him meant the guilt that he thought he could never feel was his constant companion driving him to seek redemption in pleasing her, in being useful to her. The irony of it all was not lost on him – a demon seeking redemption. How often had he wondered if perhaps he only dreamed such insanity. And yet when she came to him in dreams, he wanted nothing so badly as to be redeemed for her sake. When she came to him in dreams, he believed that perhaps in time, she would forgive him and come to feel more kindly toward him.

 

Yes, he had anticipated her dreams, longed for them and now, as he watched her sleep, he fervently hoped that she would not dream, at least not that kind of reality wrapped within a dream that had brought her to him. For to his horror, dreams were the one thing from which he could not protect her. The very thought made him frantic, made him rage, that he was so helpless against a violation greater than any he had ever committed in all his years. When these dreams came upon her, he could not free her, he could not protect her, he could only watch impotently while her worst nightmare grew into a reality he could not stop.

 

That the one who had come to her aid seemed as invisible, as incorporeal as he was
did not ease his worry, for the one who called herself Glinda was unknown to him. While everyone believed her trustworthy, he did not know her, he did not understand how she was able to pull his dear Susan from the depths of the nightmare when he, who was her constant and intimate companion could not, when he, whose power Susan and her companions had called upon with confidence could only watch her suffering. Who was this Glinda? Who was she that she could stand against the gods themselves and why did he find that even as he was grateful for what she had done for his dear Susan, he hated her that she could do for her what he could not.

 

Thinking About Vegas Again

Five Things I Love About Vegas

After my first visit to Vegas in 2011, I knew I’d be back, and I knew I wanted to set a novel there. In fact, I’ve set several there now, the last being Buried Pleasures, with another one in the works for the Medusa Consortium series. The first novel that I set in Vegas, however, was Fulfilling the Contract way back in the day. Fulfilling the Contract is the follow-on to The Initiation of Ms Holly, and the second novel in The Mount Series.

 

As I begin to think about writing the next Medusa novel set in Vegas, I don’t think it’s at all surprising that I’m feeling a bit of longing for Sin City. I never thought I’d like Vegas. I expected to hate the place, and I totally fell in love. So what I’d like to do is share with you five things that totally intrigue me about Las Vegas.

 

Contrast

Las Vegas juts up out of the Mojave Desert like so many gigantic glass and concrete erections. It’s just so brazen, sky scrapers and lights and swimming pools in the most desolate place one can imagine all surrounded by high mountains and desert. It has OTT written all over it. Bright lights and decadence are all thrust up right smack dab in the middle of exquisite emptiness.

 

Views

Vegas and the surrounding area is a visual feast second to none. From my hotel room on the 22ndfloor of the Elara, I could see mountains and desert beyond the compact city. I never knew there were so many shades of kaki and gold and beige all hemmed in by the blue of the mountains. And then there were the Vegas lights. All night long, there’s always a riot of colour and sparkle, glass and steel, neon and fountains. A simple walk on the Strip – even in daylight is a people-watcher’s paradise. I never wanted to blink, never wanted to look away, and often found myself wishing my vision was 360 degrees.

 

Anonymity

As an introvert, you’d think Vegas would be the last place I’d want to hang out, but the thing about Vegas is that it’s a place where everyone is friendly and yet everyone is anonymous. One of the things I loved most was walking the streets amid the crowd and feeling exactly like one of the voyeurs I planned to write about in FTC. Because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, it was easy to be anonymous in a crowd of people who were all anonymous, which leads me to my next observation.

 

Recreation

When I say recreation, I don’t mean gambling, swimming, hooking up. Yes all of those things are happening. It’s all happening in Vegas. What I mean is that in Vegas there’s a sense that anyone can be whoever they want to be for the time they’re playing tourist, and no one, no matter how bizarre, seems out of place. There’s something almost magical about being able to go somewhere and be someone else for a few days. for a writer, being able to go someplace and watch everyone being someone else and wonder who they are when they’re not in Vegas is like a gift from the Muse.

 

The Feeling of Permission Granted

Strangely, though prostitution is legal in the state of Nevada, it’s not in the city of Vegas, and yet Vegas feels, at its very core, like a city waiting to give permission for almost anything. I suppose to some degree any time one goes on holiday and does the touristy-thing, one is set apart, out of one’s own context, able to act differently, feel differently, breathe differently. But Vegas has with it that extra adrenaline boost of permission. Go ahead, be naughty, gamble, drink, have sex with strangers, dance naked in the fountains, and in the morning, no one will be the wiser. At the core of the city, the Strip, the casinos, the hotels, there’s a libertine feeling, and yet one only has to walk a few blocks in any direction to discover normal Las Vegans simply going on with their lives.

 

All of those feelings, those observations, those experiences helped to inspire and shape Fulfilling the Contract and made the voyeuristic and BDSM play feel somehow a little more set apart to me, a little more secretive and naughty, and of course, outrageously fun. And since I’m waxing nostalgic and missing Vegas, I thought I’d share a little excerpt, a blast from the past from Fulfilling the Contract. Enjoy!

 

Fulfilling the Contract Blurb:

Limo driver, NICK CHASE’s bad night gets worse when he picks up TANYA POVIC at a bar only to discover the explosive sex they share lands her in breach of her very strange contract. Blaming himself that Tanya will lose the large completion bonus earmarked for her mother’s surgery, Nick negotiates with her boss, the tough and mysterious ELSA CRANE, to allow him to fulfill Tanya’s contract and secure her bonus.

 

Elsa runs Mount Vegas, which offers voyeuristic pleasures for a price. Nick’s job, with Elsa and her quirky team, is to give clients something worth watching through the plate glass windows of Vegas’s luxury hotels and beyond. The learning curve is steep and kinky. As Nick and Elsa’s relationship sizzles and ignites more than hotel room rendezvouses are exposed. In this sequel to The Initiation of Ms Holly things get positively dangerous as Rita Holly and her team are called in from London to lend a helping hand. Bets are being placed. Will Nick fulfill the contract? Will he and Elsa take the gamble? And will they find a way to win at the high stakes, double or nothing, game of hearts?

 

Fulfilling the Contract Excerpt:

‘Surely you can give Tanya one more chance,’ Nick said. ‘And really, it was my fault. I’d had a bad day and I wasn’t on my best behaviour.’

Elsa tossed the headset back onto the dressing table and rubbed the back of her neck. ‘Mr Chase, unless you want to fulfil Tanya’s contract for her, this conversation is over. It’s been a long day, and I’ve had enough. Pagan will escort the two of you back downstairs and since Tanya no longer works for me, I don’t care if you fuck her brains out. Now if you’d –’

‘Alright,’ Nick interrupted. ‘I will.’

Suddenly all eyes were on him. ‘Tell me what to do and I’ll fulfil the contract for her.

After all, it’s my fault she’s in breach.’

Tanya gave a little yelp that sounded like a kitten in distress and Elsa laughed out loud. ‘Mr Chase, you don’t even know what Tanya’s contract involves.’

‘I assume it has something to do with what’s going on in room 2031. It’s not prostitution is it?’

‘No! No, is not prostitution,’ Tanya said, the excitement nearly vibration through her voice. ‘Is nothing like that.’

‘Well actually it’s something like that,’ Elsa corrected. ‘My people get paid for sex.’

‘I don’t understand,’ Nick said.’

She nodded him over to one of the scopes set up at the bedroom window. When he balked, she nodded again. ‘Go ahead; check out what’s going on in room 2031.’

Nick nearly knocked the scope out of focus at his first view of the naked ass of a man pistoning his cock into a woman bent over a big bed. Her head was buried between the legs of another woman, who was pinching her own nipples for all she was worth and writhing beneath the serious tongue action.

‘Then they are prostitutes.’ Nick’s voice was suddenly a whisper, as though he feared he might disturb the people he viewed through the scope.

‘No.’ Elsa leaned close to him as though she could see over his shoulder. ‘They all work for me, and they get paid a lot of money to have sex with each other while someone else watches.’

With difficulty, Nick took his eyes off what was going on in the scope. He suddenly felt dizzy. ‘Let me get this straight, these people –’ he nodded around the room ‘– All of these people and those –’ he pointed to the scope ‘—have sex with each other and people pay money to watch.’

Elsa nodded ‘A lot of money.’

‘And that’s what Tanya was doing? That’s what the contract’s about, having sex and letting people watch?’

‘That’s what the contract’s about,’ Elsa said. With a smirk, she pulled Tanya’s red panties out of Nick’s pocket where he’d forgotten he’d stuffed after he’d picked them up from the parking lot at the Mango. She handed them back to Tanya and replaced them with a black business card, briskly patting his pocket as she did so. ‘I know how much you loath your job, Mr Chase, and I can almost guarantee you’d find what Tanya does a lot more satisfying. But –’ she ran a hand down and gave his crotch a quick grope ‘– It takes some serious balls.’

He elbowed her away and shoved past Tanya and Pagan. ‘You people are all crazy if you think I would … if you think I might …’

Elsa offered him a smile that he felt, much to his discomfort, right down between his legs. Then she lifted an eyebrow and gave a shrug that made the dark gloss of her hair shimmer in the subdued lighting. ‘You asked.’

 

Airport Encounters: The Nose Knows


Tis the season. It’s that time of year at Grace Manor, and the Graces are off to visit family and friends in the States. This time it’s a double-whammy for me. Mr. Grace and I will be visiting our lovely nieces in the Cincinnati area. And then while Mr. Grace is off doing martial arts in NYC, I’m jetting on to Oregon to spend quality time with my sister on the West Coast. Of course that means there’ll be lots of time — quality and otherwise spent in airports. Whether you’ve ever had an airport rendezvous or not, such major crossroads so full of so many interesting people doing interesting things cannot help but inspire … fantasies. For us writers, that often leads to stories and novels.

 

Ever had an airport encounter? I’ve never had the pleasure of an airport encounter myself. But who hasn’t fantasised about having one? Travel figures prominently in a lot of my romance novels and it has been that way since the beginning with my very first novel – in fact it’s been that way since my very first short story. The thing about travel is that you spend a lot of time being in that space in between, and it’s in that space in between that unexpected things, almost magical things happen. No place represents the space in between more than airport lounges. Most of the time you do whatever you have to in order to keep busy and keep from getting bored. But there are times when you get way more from an airport lounge that just good coffee and a comfy place to wait for your flight. Certainly that’s Liza Calendar’s situation in To Rome with Lust. Liza’s all about olfactory encounters, and this particular one is a delight to the sense of smell. Enjoy!

Book three of The Mount trilogy

(Click here for Book One | Book Two)

The adventure that Rita Holly began in The Mount in London and Nick Chase took up in Vegas continues when a sizzling encounter on a flight to Rome has journalist, Liza Calendar, and perfumer, Paulo ‘The Nose’ Delacour, in sexy olfactory heaven. The heir apparent of Martelli Fragrance, Paulo wants Liza’s magnificently sensitive nose to help develop Martelli’s controversial new line. Paulo has a secret weapon; Martelli Fragrance is the front for the original Mount, an ancient sex cult of which he is a part, and Paulo plans to use the scent of sex to enhance Martelli’s Innuendo line. As Liza and Paulo sniff out the scent of seduction, they become their own best lab rats. But when someone steals the perfume formulas and lays the blame at Liza’s feet, she and Paulo must sniff out the culprit and prove Liza’s innocence before more is exposed than just secret formulas.

 

to-rome-with-lustLiza thought she had only dreamed such an exquisite scent. She’d certainly never smelled anything so sexy while she was awake. It was all very strange. Her dreams had always been the only part of her life that was olfactory-free. She sat in the business lounge at JFK dozing, blocking out the noise and the smell of the busy shuffle. But this smell was different. This smell was just too delicious to ignore. It intensified, then faded, and she snuffled and inhaled and shifted in her seat.

Delays due to heavy thunderstorms meant the place was packed with passengers awaiting a spate of flights going out at nearly the same time. But her flight wasn’t delayed. She was just there way early, thanks to Carl. After an unplanned night alone in a hotel room, she couldn’t get out of New York City fast enough — not after what she’d seen … and smelled. But she didn’t want to think about Carl. Time to move forward.

She had just slipped back into that space between wakefulness and sleep when the scent wafted over her again. There was no denying it was the primal smell of male. It was the smell of desert lightening, of sage and juniper and thick, dark night. It was the smell of sex – or at least the intimations of sex or what sex might be like with a man who smelled so irresistible.

Jesus, was she really going to have sexy dreams right here in the airport? What next? Would she be rubbing herself against the sofa while all the businessmen and the tourist pretended not to notice? Surely it was only because of the sex she’d expected to get last night, but didn’t. Surely it was just her angry unconscious inventing an olfactory fantasy, but God, the man smelled good – better than anyone she’d ever smelled, and she smelled everyone! She inhaled again and her deep intake of scent came out sounding like a sigh. Her lips parted just enough to take in the fullness of the experience. She could almost taste that hypnotic smell of masculinity. Her nipples chafed against her bra until they dominated the front of her sweater with an achy tetchy fullness that matched the tightening she felt between her thighs. It was as though the man stood right over her. She could smell expensive fabric weighted and warmed with the heat of his flesh. His crotch, where the delicious scent was purest, was so close that her mouth watered. The scent was heavy, thickening, male — driven by passion. Letting the dream take control, Liza shifted, uncrossed her legs and leaned forward to draw in his scent, wanting nothing so much as to touch, to caress, to experiment on ways to arouse from her dream man more of that delicious scent.

There was a soft grunt, a startled gasp, and a large hand came down heavily on her shoulder. There was a desperate clearing of a throat and a slightly accented ‘Pardon me.’

She opened her eyes and found herself nose to crotch with a very expensive suit not quite able to disguise a very nice package. Her fingers were fisted in the edges of the front pockets of the trousers, reeling their wearer ever closer and closer to her salivating mouth. She yelped and practically shoved the guy, who might have fallen if not for the hand resting on her shoulder. ‘Oh my god! I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,’ she gasped. ‘I was dreaming.’ Her face burning and her pulse did a drumroll in her ears as she raised her eyes up and up and up the length of the well filled-out charcoal suit to meet rich caramel eyes looking down at her from beneath thick midnight lashes. The scent hit her in waves, making her giddy, making her want to sniff like a dog in heat, making her feel wrong-footed and out of focus.

‘Must have been some dream.’ His eyes sparkled and he offered her a half-smile. His warm hands fell to cover hers and disengage them from his pockets. ‘I can’t tell you how sorry I am that I woke you, but I’d really hate it if your dream got us both kicked out of the lounge.’ His thumbs brushed over the backs of her knuckles before he released her. ‘Is it all right if I share you sofa? The lounge is really crowded.’

‘Yes! Of course, please.’ She shifted and rearranged herself, resisting the urge to fold her arms across her perky nipples. It was even harder to resist the urge to pant and sniff. My God, if an aphrodisiac could be inhaled, his scent would so be that aphrodisiac. She felt moist and swollen, splayed in the crotch of her panties, too tender for the weight of her body against to sofa.

‘Are you all right?’ The man’s eyes had darkened with concern. ‘You seem in distress.’

‘Fine! I’m fine,’ she said with enthusiasm that made her sound like a dork. ‘Just outrageously embarrassed.’

‘Don’t be. You made my morning, and gave me something I’ll smile about for what’ll be a very long, very tedious flight. You sure you’re all right?’

‘You smell amazing,’ she blurted out before she could stop herself, then she felt the flash-fire burn rise to her cheeks again. Jeez! Could she sound any more stupid?

He raised an eyebrow and cocked his head. ‘Thanks. Ode d’ generic hotel soap,’ he said.

‘No, it’s not the soap, I mean I can smell that too, but …’ What the fuck was it with her? She practically attacked the guy — who handled an embarrassing situation very graciously all things considered — and now she informs him she’d been sniffing? ‘Never mind. I … like I said, I was dreaming.’

He leaned forward in a wave of scent that made her dizzy with lust. ‘No, please, don’t be embarrassed. I’m very airport-4interested in all things olfactory. And I’m really flattered that you like the way I smell.’

‘I’m sorry. I have a sensitive nose.’ She forced a laugh. ‘I guess maybe I’m a little closer to my animal roots than most people. I … I pick up on scent … way more than most people do. Bit of an evolutionary throw-back, I’m afraid.’

His smile was practically edible. ‘Humans are mammals. Mammals live through their sense of smell. We’ve just gotten lazy and forgotten how to do that. Real scent is hard to come by in a world that’s been deodorized, sanitized and scrubbed. Apparently you remember.’

Oh, she remembered all right. She remembered so much more than she wished she did at times. She could feel his dark, rich gaze against her, feel his scent baring down on her, now spiked with the cinnamon nip of curiosity. She knew what was coming. She waited for it.

‘So,’ he leaned still closer and everything in her felt giddy and humid. ‘Tell me what you smell?’

God, she knew he was going to ask that. She should have kept her damned mouth shut. To ask her to describe his scent was like asking her to describe what she thought sex with him would be like, and with a scent like his, she could imagine it would be pretty fucking amazing. On the other hand, if he stayed leaning close like this, she’d have a few more seconds to sniff and enjoy before he suspected her of total nutterdom.

‘Don’t be embarrassed. As I said, the sense of smell and the way we humans use it is of special interest to me.’

She leaned in and inhaled deeply through her nose. After all he had given her permission to sniff. ‘You smell like summer lightening … at high altitude. She inhaled again and closed her eyes, hearing the catch of his breath. ‘Beneath that, you smell like evergreen and the earth around tree roots.’ His breathing accelerated. She leaned still closer, and the slip and slide of fabric on fabric informed her that he’d done the same until they were nearly touching. She inhaled again. ‘You smell like a rainstorm on the wind just before it arrives, but that’s because you’re skeptical, and I don’t blame you.’

It became a competition to see who could breathe the hardest. Her belly muscles trembled and tensed way down low; in her panties, the clench and release, clench and release had left her swollen and pouty. She opened her eyes just a slit, then closed them again, but there was no mistaking the shape of his growing erection. Her own scent spiked all honey- butter and nutmeg.

‘What else?’ he breathed. ‘Is there more?’

‘Your curiosity smells of cinnamon and there’s a bit of irritation, tart, tangy, almost like lemon.’ Her eyes fluttered open at the same moment his did.

‘Oh it’s not you,’ he said quickly. ‘I mean I’m not irritated with you. It’s this trip. I didn’t plan to take it and now I find out … wait a minute. You can smell emotions?’

‘Kind of,’ she said, trying not to look at his erection, as he shifted to rearrange himself a little less conspicuously. Then she couldn’t resist. ‘What about me? Can you smell me?’ Jesus! Why did she ask such a loaded question?

mountboxsetHe squirmed again, which did nothing to hide his needy package. A blush rose to his cheeks. ‘Maybe … Possibly.’ He inhaled a shaky breath through his nose like he was afraid of what he might smell. ‘The more we talk … the more I smell.’ His eyes fluttered shut again. ‘You’re … not wearing perfume.’

‘I never do.’ She eased herself closer, resisting the urge to rest a hand on his thigh. ‘It interferes with other smells.’

He nodded, as though he completely understood. ‘You smell like the sea, but you also smell like honey and butter melting over hot bread.’

Did she just whimper? Oh god, please say she didn’t just whimper and shift her bottom against the sofa. Surely she
didn’t do that.

This time he inhaled boldly, pushing forward on the sofa, his eyes closed, suddenly making no attempt to cover the heavy strain against the front of his trousers. The cinnamon scent of him spiked and became more peppery. ‘Jesus, I can’t believe we’re doing this.’ His voice was little more than a whisper between parted lips, lips that Liza would only have to lean into to touch with her own. ‘I can’t believe I can smell all that. I’m probably imagining it.’

‘No you’re not. You’re not imagining it,’ she whispered back.

He was suddenly breathing as though he’d just ran a marathon, each breath through his nose, each breath followed by a gulp, almost as though he were eating the scent of her.

‘People are looking. We should stop.’ She barely got the words out before he leaned in just a tiny bit further and, in his enthusiasm, his lips brushed hers. Everything spiked in a sharp stab of scent that went straight to her pussy, as they both gasped and sat back, eyes wide, fingers pressed to lips.

The delayed flight to Paris was called over the intercom immediately after one to Frankfurt and, in the jostling and shifting and gathering of belongings, no one paid any attention to them. She wasn’t sure it would have made any difference even if they’d suddenly been center stage. Their gaze locked on each other, cheeks flushed, chests heaving, they sat locked in a moment so tight, so full that its breaking apart was inevitable. It was ridiculous. She was seconds away from coming, and his cock was about to burst his trousers. And his lips, my god his lips, she could think of so many places on her body she wanted those lips.

‘I have to know,’ he gasped. ‘Surely you want to know too.’ Then he did the unthinkable. He curled his fingers into the back of her hair and pulled her to him. This time their lips met with a clash of teeth and a gasped swallow of oxygen that transitioned into parted lips and darting tongues and an absolute explosion of scent. If he had smelled amazing by himself, if his scent had sharpened hers to the cutting edge of orgasm, then the mixing and blending that happened when they touched, when those two scents came together was shattering. ‘I’ve never smelled anything like it,’ she breathed into his mouth.

‘Me neither,’ He bit her lower lip and tugged and their blended smell became darker, more spicy, tones of earth and sea, pepper and honey and my god the guy could kiss!

She came first with a guttural grunt of an orgasm that began deep in her pussy and washed over her like a riptide. She tried desperately to hide it, but he knew it. He felt it, she even thought he smelled it, and he tightened his fist in her hair, breathing her into his open mouth. Both his hands then slid to her shoulders in a grip that was almost painful as he pulled back. His eyes locked on hers, and his whole body convulsed, and again, and again, his deep mocha gaze holding her tight as pupils dilated and eyelids shuddered.

For a moment they sat stunned, staring at each other, struggling to catch their breath. He looked shell-shocked, and she must have looked at least as bad. ‘I’m sorry,’ they both said at the same time as they mirrored each other in a airport-7nervous laugh.

Then the intercom called the flight to Rome. ‘That’s my flight,’ she gasped, awash in a wave of embarrassment. She
babbled something about duty free and gifts, sounding like a total idiot. She grabbed her bag and her laptop and fled, feeling certain everyone was watching, feeling certain everyone knew exactly what they had done. It didn’t matter though, at the end of the day, she’d never see the man again. And she’d never smell him again. That saddened her.

 

 

 

In Training — Not Me, the Novella

Does anyone else love a good training story as much as I do? Earlier this week, I shared another one of my pole posts with you lovely lot. While being the main character in my own ‘in training’ story, I love to read other people’s stories of being in training even more,  and … oh yes, in case you didn’t know, I also love writing fictional in training stories. While my pole tale has unfolded mostly off the written page with me offering only little glimpses of it to you now and again, can you imagine how it would be to be put through the hard paces of a really tough training programme on reality TV? Oh, I can! And that’s exactly what In Training is all about. Here’s a little excerpt I thought I’d share with you today, since I’m in training mode. Enjoy.

 

In Training Blurb:

Getting fit on reality TV is PR guru, Lauren Michaels’, brainchild for gym equipment and fitness company Physicality, Inc. The brilliant PR stunt involves one brave volunteer who wants to be fit badly enough to submit to the not so tender training techniques of personal trainer, Wolf Jennings, whose successful, but non-conventional, methods would make a drill sergeant look like a fluff ball. But when CEO and owner of Physicality, Inc., Claire Amos, decides her PR ace in the hole needs to walk the walk, Lauren finds herself between a kettle bell and a hard place… er, a hard trainer. That’s nightmare enough, but for six weeks, 24/7, the explosive chemistry between the two will be sweated out live on camera for the whole world to see. What could possibly go wrong?

 

In Training Excerpt in which Bets are Placed:

“On your knees, Michaels! Do it on your knees. You can’t do a full press-up until we strengthen those spaghetti arms. Do it like this.” He demonstrated the modified press-up. “Now I want you to do as many as you can in thirty seconds.” While thirty seconds lasted forever, as many press-ups as Lauren could do didn’t take long at all before she fell to the mat with her arms trembling. “Damn it, Michaels, you gotta be willing to push yourself. I can’t do it for you.” He reset his timer. “Do it again.”

 

***

 

“Well, this isn’t an auspicious beginning, Misty,” Del Allen said as they observed the training session going on in the gym below. “As much as I admire Claire Amos for believing her people should walk the walk, it’s clear to me that Lauren Michaels’ heart just isn’t in it. One has to wonder why the waste of time, energy and money for someone who doesn’t want to be here when there are so many who really do. I’ve said it before, I hope Physicality has a back-up plan because I’m betting Lauren Michaels won’t make it to the end of the week.”

“The real question, Del, is not whether Wolf Jennings can ‘get someone there,’ but whether he can motivate someone to wanthim to. Certainly this is a world away from what Lauren is used to, and apparently she didn’t know she’d be participating until twenty-four hours before.”

 

***

 

It was near the end of the fourth day when Lauren finally broke. “I can’t do any more,” she gasped after what seemed like miles of lunge walking back and forth across the gym with a dumb bell in each hand—dumb bells that got heavier with each step. “I need the hot tub. When do I get to use the hot tub?”

“When you’ve earned it,” Jennings growled. “Now do it again.”

“I hate you,” she forced the words out, no longer caring if the ever-present cameras picked up her remark or not. She reckoned that would be one more reason for the ‘sack Lauren and hire me’ faction to tweet nasty things about her. It’s not as if she wouldn’t trade places with them in a heartbeat.

“I’m not here for you to like,” came the reply. “Keep your back straight, shoulders back. Head up!”

She was halfway across the gym when one of the dumb bells slipped from her sweaty fingers, hit the floor with a loud crash, and she tripped over it, going into a belly flop in the middle of the gym.

“Get up. Keep going,” Wolf yelled, jogging effortlessly to her side. “Don’t be a wimp, Michaels. Finish it. I don’t train babies. Stop whining and keep going.”

“I hate you.” This time she all but yelled it as she hefted the sweaty dumb bell and forced her way forward a couple more steps before she dropped the weight again—this time on her foot. It was only a glancing blow. She jerked away just in time, but it was enough. It was fucking enough! She dropped the other weight next to its fallen compadre and stormed back across the gym.

“Where the hell do you think you’re going?” he said. “You’re not done yet.”

“Oh, yes I am.” She grabbed up her sports drink and her towel.

“What? Are you a quitter, Michaels?” Jennings stepped in front of her, effectively blocking her way. “Is that it?”

“What I am is sick of you yelling at me, sick of you treating me like a subhuman.” She hadn’t planned it, but when he didn’t move, it just happened. A quick twist of the lid on her sports drink and she let it fly. Her aim was true, hitting Jennings in the face with a shower of bright orange Lucozade. Then she stomped off toward her room. She hadn’t expected him to follow her, but then there were a lot of things she hadn’t expected about the man she’d met at the pub less than a week ago.

Legs still screaming from the workout, she took the stairs two at a time with him gaining on her fast. At the top, he called after her, “They’re taking bets on how soon you’ll quit. Did you know that, Michaels?”

She stopped dead in her tracks, as though she were suddenly frozen to the spot. For a second she squeezed her eyes shut, fighting back tears. Then she took a deep breath, squared her shoulders and headed back toward the stairs, stopping in front of him to meet his cold glare. “Then they’ll lose.”

Fucking hell! Did she just say that? Surely she didn’t mean it. She would do almost anything to get out of this chamber of horrors, and yet here she was marching back downstairs, picking up the goddamned dumb bells, taking a deep breath and willing her legs to move forward. When she got to the end, instead of stopping, she gave Jennings a defiant glare, from where he now stood at the foot of the stairs, then she turned and headed back across. Somewhere a long way off, she could hear gasps and chatter from Wolf’s mezzanine fan club, but it didn’t matter. The world around her narrowed to the in and out drag of her breath, the pain in her quads and the slow step and lunge, step and lunge, that pulled her forward.

At the end, she dropped the dumb bells and bent over gasping, eyes clenched shut, hands on her knees. When at last she had the strength to stand up, she was surprised to find him next to her, hair still dewed in orange. He handed her a bottle of water and a towel. While she drank, he wiped his face on his shirt.

She didn’t look at him, she was still battling the urge to cry. She knew all eyes were on her. After the drama she was now embarrassed to have caused, that was a given. But it was only Wolf Jennings’ eyes she felt in ways that were somehow even more intimate than his kiss at the pub. At last she handed him back the bottle and struggled to meet his gaze.

“That’s better,” he said. “Now drop and give me ten. Pull a stunt like that again and I’ll shove you on the treadmill till your Reeboks wear out.”

She did as he ordered, counting each press-up out loud and hardly feeling the effort, dazed as she was by what had just happened.

 

***

 

In The Closet, still sticky from the drenching, Wolf all but fell into the chair and waited. The room was affectionately called such because it was the only space other than the bathrooms, where there were no cameras. It was for Skyping with Claire privately. He didn’t have to wait long. He took a deep breath and answered the call, offering no greeting. “Claire, I’m sorry, I swear… that woman… I thought she’d broken her foot. I thought…” He ran a shaky hand through his wet hair and gulped a breath. “I nearly lost it. I thought I was—”

“You thought you were going to kiss her,” Claire said. “So did I, so did millions of other people.” She raised a hand, cutting off his response. “Before you say anything else, check the tweets.”

 

Lauren Michaels kicks arse!

I was half hoping he’d spank her.

He can spank me anytime.

I’d drop and give him ten.

I thought he was going to kiss her.

Bets on how long before he does kiss her?

Where do I sign up for sports drink removal detail?

About time she drenched him. He’s her trainer, not her torturer.

 

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.

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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