Haevyn and Emotional Cost

 

Haevyn_smIn Quentopolis women have been relegated to secondary status in many cases. Women of the working class society, lead very difficult lives. The Elite are treated more as pampered dolls, cosseted and spoiled, to be seen but not heard, with some similarity to that experienced in the 19th century. Yet, as with any society, there are some who do not tow the line, who break from this suffocating sort of bondage.

There are women–some surviving by their wits and intelligence, some by courage and an adventurous spirit–these are women who strive to break free. Some, like Silver from the first book in this series, end up paying a high price, including human and personal freedom. For some, such as the courtesan madam, Violette Goldswan, they wield their power through different, more shadowy avenues. And some, like Haevyn Breina, will attempt to rise through the more public ranks, clawing their way to a position where they have a chance of gaining societal acceptance as an equal, and gaining respect in the more demanding arena of this male-dominated society. None of this is accomplished without emotional cost. None of these women face and accept the challenges of this rather brutal society in quite the same way. For Haevyn, the rewards are worth the steep price. She does not back down from doing what must be done.

In Quentopolis, sexual relations and sexuality are very open and accepted parts of this society. For some it is about pleasure, for some it is a tool to rise through the ranks. Sex is used for negotiation; it is also a shared bond between friends. And it is also an art form, highly prized by a nobility class known as the Dominatae.

Haevyn Breina is of the Moondown Water District working class. Her parents were killed in a factory fire, leaving the care of her younger brother, Bhrett, in her hands. Responsibility came to her at a young age and she accepted it, along with every hardship and payment that security demanded. She gave up her virginity to a higher purpose and though it left her bruised and battered, she has never regretted her choices. When a brand new arm of the Regulate opens up to females, she jumps at the chance, even though strictly speaking the Compsociate Branch is considered by many to be simply a finely labeled government sanctioned army of courtesans in service to the upper Regulate officers. Haevyn accepts the challenge determined to rise within the ranks, but it is not without additional damage to her psyche.

Her lover and friend, Grisha, has served as her anchor, her “calm, safe haven” throughout her life. A simple fisherman, he is far distanced from the machinations of the political arena. But Grisha, more wise than Haevyn realizes, knows there is more that his lovely, wounded lover needs than the warmth and healing of his loving embrace. He knows very well how close to the edge she really is. But so is his other lover, an expatriate Orictan warrior by the name of Entreus.

In any world an emotional cost must attach, though all creatures deal with trauma differently. Some will splinter, some will rise to meet the challenge of adversity and fashion it into their strength. Some bear an anger or rage–they try to ignore or funnel through some other channel. Entreus funnels his rage and frustration through the illegal Cockrage events. Haevyn tries to bury her anger beneath a veneer of tightly-held control. Grisha knows this about each of them and has a sense of their needs.

How these three people adapt, grow, and hopefully heal is at the emotional core of this story. The journey is complicated by a very dangerous and deadly enemy to the city-state whom they must battle.

This is the world of Humanotica. Read an excerpt from “Haevyn,” the second book in the Humanotica series…

Read an excerpt from Silver, the first book in the Humanotica series.

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Haevyn buy links:

Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078C51G5Z
Smashwords Buy Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/816536
Books2Read Universal Link (B&N, Kobo, etc.): https://www.books2read.com/u/4DowAQ

 

 

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Silver buy links:

Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074PB91BV
Books2Read Universal Link (B&N, Kobo, etc.): https://www.books2read.com/u/mvjP6X
Smashwords Buy Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/772872

 

Tracking Backstory for My Soul He Seeks

Tracking Backstory for My Soul He Seeks

MySoulHeSeeks_smBrainstorming for this story started with word association. No, back up, it didn’t start there. It began with the image of a man. Hispanic, gypsy. What did he do? What’s in his soul? And so I dug deeper. Music is in his soul. What kind of music? There was no other answer. Flamenco. In researching, one line resonated with me, and with Ravol. Flamenco is at the very heart of the gitano culture with strong roots in Andalusia. And thus Ravol Nova was born.

Ravol possesses a dark and mysterious history. Rumors about his relationship, and the murder of his lover, Francesco, haunt him unceasingly. For me, this past came to life through a video on Youtube. Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch/?v=Y6slgaVCSxM. A duel of guitars in a sense. But for my story the duel started between a young Flamenco guitarist and a Flamenco dancer. What better inspiration could I find for the dancer than this Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXBctPuGIfU. Joaquim Cortes. Wow. Perfect. I had the passion and the pain of my backstory.

The foundation of Ravol’s dark haunting, is the murder of his passionate lover, Francesco, that has colored his life so deeply. But there was more, a lot more, because as I got into writing the story, I realized Ravol actually was a descendant of a lost gypsy tribe, the Zhalazti, which has its roots in Babylonian origins. (My story, “Run to Ground”, provides the foundation for the Zhalazti in more detail.)  And thus there is magic– a special magic he must harness and use in an effort to bring peace to his life. And he will use any means to find that peace. To that end, he acquires a special musical instrument. Enter, the young, auction house researcher, Byron Shepley, who has a very dark and somewhat disturbing history with the mansion Ravol now lives in. And it is on a dark and stormy night these two men will finally meet.

These fictional facts represent the foundation of “My Soul He Seeks,” as both Ravol and Byron, in seeking resolution to their past histories, may discover a light of love shining through the darkness shading each of their souls, even though there is nothing remotely simple about the attraction they soon share.

“My Soul He Seeks” is a story of redemption and resolution in many ways. It is also about sacrifice and revenge.

One last little tidbit about this story. I needed to name my town…something special. Ternekill wasn’t just something I pulled from my black hat and pasted into the story. I starting researching names. I thought about the town and the story and the people.  The word “terne” I discovered is a Delaware Native American word for…wolf. What better name could I choose? Especially with Ravol’s history as descending from the werewolf clan, the Zhalazti? Having grown up in central New York near the Catskills, I finished off the name of the town with the word, “kill.” Two meanings, one the obvious–to murder, or kill. The other goes back to the roots of the area, and the early settlers of New York – the Dutch. Kill refers to a river or a creek. Kille, meaning riverbed or channel. Thus, the town’s name of Ternekill. There is reference in the story to a dark spot in Ternekill history regarding the Ternekill Creek.

Did I mention I love creating backstory?

Read the excerpt I posted last month for “My Soul He Seeks.”  Discover where this all leads in the sequel, “My Fate, My Destiny,” releasing June 26, and currently available for pre-order on Amazon.

 

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Gulietta – an excerpt

Blurb:

guliettasmallThe lovely and seductive Gulietta requires sex on an inhumanly frequent basis. It isn’t until the Roman immortal, Quintus, barrels into her life, revealing the identity of her father, that suddenly she’s dropped into a magical world populated with atyrs, fairies, and shapeshifters. It seems her “problem” is not rooted in human sexual dysfunction after all. Gulietta finally discovers who and what her father is–as well as what she is. And Quintus has made it clear he is the man who can provide exactly what she needs. That is, if her father’s game plan doesn’t get in the way…

 

EXCERPT:

Satyr’s Court, Reate, Italy

The wide braided red leather collars were a striking improvement over the boring black of her father’s court. The father of whom she’d only recently learned the identity.

Red marked the members of her newly-appointed attendants. Gulietta rose from the green vine-entangled cedar throne. She pulled a succulent purple grape from the wooden tray and popped it into her mouth. As she bit down, sweet juice flooded her mouth. Gulietta’s gaze drifted around the courtyard as she stepped off the dais. Dancing stopped. Flute music and drums ceased as all eyes turned to her. Who would have thought this was where she would end up? Who could have known that her curiosity about the big black door in the photograph would lead to her destiny? This was certainly not what she had envisioned for herself.

She brushed a hand down the curve of her naked hip. She pushed her long black hair over her shoulder. In this land, behind the black door, clothing was optional. An afterthought.

“Continue with the music,” she said as she strode across the garden, elves and fairies and lesser satyrs of the court making a path. Immediately the sound of music filled the courtyard once again. The fauns and nymphs began to dance, twirling and swaying to the light, cheerful music.

“Take care, Gulietta. You push me too far.”

The smile was wiped from her lush lips. Her horns tingled. A rack of antlers, feminine, yet deadly. She whirled around to face the tall Roman who shadowed her every move.

“Your duty is finished, Quintus. You have returned me to my supposedly rightful place. You have done your duty to my father. Why are you still here?”

Without warning he fastened his hand to her slender hips and yanked her toward him. Too close for her to drop forward and use her horns. She beat her hands against his iron-hard chest.

“Let me go. I’ve let you bully me as much as I’m going to.”

He shoved her backward until her back was against a stone wall. Only then did he remove one hand from her waist and fist it into her hair, effectively stilling her movements.

“Bullied you? I’ve protected you. I’ve guided you.” He leaned closer until his hot breath brushed across her ear. “I’ve claimed you. And now you belong to me, Sabine woman. Your father promised you to me if I brought you back safely.”
She struggled against him to no avail. That was the whole problem. Gulietta was a duty and nothing more. A means to an end for Quintus. More than a thousand years had passed since Sabine women had first been the coin of prosperity for Romulus, nothing but a way to populate Rome.

Gulietta beat her fists against Quintus’s chest, he arched her head to the side, exposing her neck, taut and bare. His mouth fastened onto her flesh, fangs scraping across and then piercing her skin. She felt the rush of hot connection as he quelled her anger, forcing her to submit.

His tongue licked across the aching wounds as she felt her resistance ebb away. And yet the blood rushed hotly through her veins. When he finally raised his head and forced her to look at him, his eyes burned like molten steel newly forged in fire. His expression dark and lusty. This man–no, this immortal Roman guardian–a servant to her father–dug deep into her heart. And she hated that she could not find the strength to resist him. She would give anything to not want him–to not need him–as badly as she did.

She felt the familiar pain, a tug of lust that shot straight down to her vulva. She throbbed with desire, a need that thus far she had been unable to deny. And that only Quintus could ease.

“Quintus.” His name, an ache of longing. The smell of him. She leaned forward and licked at a nipple, tasting him, then suddenly drove her teeth into his flesh.

 

Now available at these ebook retail outlets:

Universal link for other bookstores (B&N, KOBO, etc.) : http://books2read.com/gulietta

Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E0U0DIY

Smashwords Buy Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/678748

My Soul He Seeks – EXCERPT

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Blurb:

#gay #erotic romance #contemporary #paranormal #gothic

Tonight two men are fated to meet, Ravol Nova, a Spanish flamenco guitarist, and Byron Shepley, an auction house researcher. On a dark and stormy night, at Terne House, one man may trade his soul for passion and surrender; and another man, with a dark and secretive past, may find the redemption he’s been seeking for so very long. What dangers may they greet when these two men finally come together, as they both come face to face with destiny?

EXCERPT:

There are always times when a choice can be made, and then there comes a time when the window is closed and the choice is taken out of your hands. At this moment as I sat there across from Ravol, I knew I had an opportunity to leave and instead I chose to let circumstances carry me along. As I watched he placed a hand on the curved top of the guitar case.
“You’re not interested in checking to be certain the guitar is what you expected? That it’s undamaged?” I asked. I found it hard to believe that a man would pay $50,000 for a guitar and yet be so uneager to look at it.
He stroked the top of the case with his long, elegant fingers. So pale, almost white. Nails manicured perfectly. I remembered his grip as he held my hand for longer than necessary. I found myself wanting to feel his hand upon mine once again. Perhaps I had moved to free myself a little too quickly. Or maybe not quickly enough.
“Heinrich and I have known each other a long time. He is an honest man. I assume he’s a fair employer as well.”
I nodded. Sometimes a little ruthless, he wasn’t a man to accept less than perfection, but I couldn’t say he wasn’t fair. “Yes, he’s a fair man.”
Heinrich was Heinrich Morgan, the owner of the auction house where I worked. At some level I was surprised that the two men would be on a first name basis. Is that what had brought Ravol to Ternekill?
Ravol stroked the dark case’s stitching with a rhythmic motion. Hypnotic for me. I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off his hand. The look of it almost drew me up and across the room, a magnetic force I’d never encountered before. I have to admit it left me breathless. Breathless and horny.
“How long have you worked for Heinrich? I understand from my conversation with him on the phone, you’re fairly new at the auction house.”
I nodded again, finding it difficult to focus on the question. His hand curled around the curve of the case and he stroked it with his fingertips. Slow, so riveting. I began to sweat. It was getting damned hot in here all of a sudden. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair. Was he taunting me to see how far he could push me? The fire in the fireplace seemed to roar and crackle, burning brighter and hotter than before.
I knew, without being told, that I was out of my depth with this man. He was no crony, no college friend, that I could flirt with playfully, and walk away unscathed from a night of steamy down-and-dirty sex. I was way out of my league.
Finally, I tore my attention away from his hand, from the way he flexed his fingers, the smooth look of his skin. Of the thought of him stroking my cock, gripping my balls. Away from the thought of those long, long fingers sliding into my ass. I couldn’t help wonder exactly how far his fingers could reach inside me.
I brushed a palm across my forehead. So damned hot in here I could barely stand it. I wiped my hand on my pant leg, rubbing back and forth.
“I think I should be going. That rain, you know.”
“Soon. Ramon will be bringing you something to eat. And some coffee to warm you before you leave.”
“I think I’m warm enough. By the way, thanks for the use of the dry clothes.”
He nodded rather regally. “It is nothing. Ramon is very resourceful. He leaves no detail unattended.”
“He seems very…thorough.”
“He is that.”
“Has he been with you a long time?” I asked, wondering if they were lovers.
“Yes. A long time.” Had he been with Ramon before his lover had been killed?
I turned to look at the stained glass walls. They glowed as brightly from this side of the glass as they did from the hallway. On this side of the panels the red glass seemed to shine far more intensely than the other colors. And those lofty, powerful angels with their black eyes, appeared to glare down at me.
“Ramon says these panels came from your home in Spain.”
“Yes, they did. I had them shipped here. Heinrich put me in touch with someone who could restore them to their former beauty. He did an excellent job. I was very pleased.”
I couldn’t help myself, perhaps it was the historian in me, or just that I needed to distance myself from Ravol. The man’s personality was strong enough to make anyone’s head spin. I stood and walked over to one of the panels, staring up at the black-winged angel with the glowing sword. I reached out to trace the silvered lead, zigzagging my index finger along the channel. “Beautiful work,” I murmured. “Sixteenth century?”
“Fourteenth,” he said from right behind me. I never heard him cross the room. “I understand you were a history major in college.”
“Yes,” was about all I could manage. I wanted to turn around, but I didn’t dare. I knew if I did, I’d do something I shouldn’t.
“And you were on soccer scholarship.”
“Yes. Until I busted up my knee.” Just then said knee began to throb. “I-I—”
“Tell me,” he said softly. “It must have been a great disappointment to you to lose the scholarship. Things like that change us. We set a path for our life and then suddenly everything alters. Just that quickly.”
Then slowly I did turn to face him. He was a tall man. And he was a beautifully dangerous man with a strange, sad and bloody history.
“You’ve faced loss,” I said. “A lot worse than my knee injury. But we recover, don’t we?”
His expression told me little. I stared at his mouth, his sculpted lips. They looked too perfect. His eyes kept me mesmerized. Kept me from moving away. I saw the flash of pain come into his expression. It flitted quickly and then the look of anguish was gone as fast as it had appeared.
“Yes, I have known loss.”
“I’m sorry. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything,” I said.
“It was a long time ago,” he murmured, even as he lifted a hand to cup my jaw. His thumb, long and shapely, caressed my bottom lip. I caught my breath and tried to steady myself. The man was intoxicating. Was he really making love to me? We’d only just met and yet—and yet, his touch seemed familiar to me. I welcomed it. And I didn’t want to leave.
Someone cleared his throat. The realization that someone else had entered the room broke the trance. Ravol dropped his hand away and stepped back. The shock of sudden disconnection had me reeling just for a moment. The ghostly sensation of his touch still warmed my jaw as I watched him turn to Ramon.
He didn’t seem embarrassed by being caught flirting with me. Maybe they weren’t lovers after all. Maybe they were just a man and his servant. I found myself hoping that was the case.
“What is it, Ramon?”
“The river has taken the bridge out. I just heard it on the news. And they say the power has gone out in town. There’s some concern about flooding and they’ve put the town on alert to evacuate. Mr. Shepley won’t be able to leave tonight.”

Zytarri: Blood for Blood, an excerpt

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BLURB

#futuristic #fantasy #vampires #aliens #erotic romance #science fiction #MF

Currently a #kindleunlimited selection on Amazon.

 

The Past…

Leora Saguna has become what her kind fear most—a blood huntress. Fueled by a lust for revenge for the assassination of her Alpha, she has violated every Sangorrian law to track the murderers down. And one day return to her infant daughter, Katriel.

Each time Noah Chisca watches his mark take macabre delight in her task, he is one dead bandit closer to earning the highest bounty of his career. Yet he can’t deny the desire that twists his gut. He takes her captive; she takes him as her mate.

The Present…

Katriel knows bonding with the mate her mother has chosen will ensure her future as heir. But the memory of the forbidden warrior monk who stole her heart haunts her, and she rebels.

Valyn’s identity is hidden until he’s proven himself worthy of Katriel. But fighting a deadly dragon is only the beginning of their nightmare, as sinister forces conspire to shake the foundations of Sangorrian society and unleash a reign of blood that may destroy them all.

EXCERPT

He tracked her for long hours, watched as the sun arrowed downward to a point where it stretched to a carpet of gold across the horizon. The sight was breathtaking as the light settled upon the shores of the murderous Sabul Sea, turning the acidic water a fiery red. Noah wondered if the crimson shade reminded the woman of her home planet. He quickened his pace as she headed toward the razor-sharp black volcanic ledge teetering over the surge.

If she dove into those swirling waters, her flesh would burn and peel away, a thousand times worse than any damage a blazing-red midday Zadolan sun would do to her. Far worse than any punishment and execution her own kind would inflict upon her for her vengeful misdeeds. It would be a slow and agonizing death, if the sea serpents didn’t get to her first. His long-legged strides shifted into a jog as he watched her remove her sword and carefully lay it on the ground. She slowly removed her skins of battle—she unlaced the tall boots and removed them, then she unlaced and removed the brown vest. As she began to remove the last piece, his pace increased to a dead run. He couldn’t take the time to appreciate the stunning, pale beauty of her skin. He could think only of what that terrible sea would do to her, and if she jumped, there was no way he could save her. He had to get to her before that happened.

Now naked, she knelt and prayed to her gods. Noah hoped her meditation would offer him just enough time to reach her. As he climbed the vicious volcanic rock, scoring his flesh to get to her, she gracefully rose to her feet and stood at the rim, gazing down into the roiling sea. The sunset bathed her in its pale copper light, and in any other circumstances, the vision would have frozen him dead in his tracks. Like a goddess, she stood poised above the deadly waters, arms stretched above her head.

It was just as she leaped that he caught her, a strong arm banded around her, dragging her away from the edge, sending them both to the ground. He twisted, taking the brunt of the rocky surface, locking her to him, protecting her. He wasn’t ready for the suddenness of her transition. The weary woman he’d tracked morphed almost instantaneously into a snarling, vicious she-cat. Fangs snapping, claws striking out at him, they rolled over the jagged ground. Her teeth scraped across his neck. He grabbed a hank of her hair and yanked back. As fast as she was, he anticipated her every move, foiled her attempts to maim him, to kill him—to drink him dry.

Wounds littered her body and blood dripped from the rocks by the time he had her on her belly, her hands and feet tethered with bindings of tough leather. Breathing hard, he yanked her up. Her black hair spilled over her shoulders, cloaking her nakedness. He wanted to push it back, to expose her and drink in her beauty. Almost as if she heard his thoughts, she lifted her head and glared at him. Her mane flew back. She straightened her shoulders and lifted her head proudly, her lips drawn tight in a twisted semblance of a smile. “So kill me,” she said. “Or do you mean to have the savage Sangorrian first and then kill her?”

By the gods, she was magnificent. If he followed the lawless rabble of Zadolan, he would take her right now. Spread her out on this hard, unyielding rock and brutally fuck her, and then slit her throat. If he were true to his blood and to the barbarian he’d been brought up to be, that was what he would have done. It would have made his job easier. The council had not demanded she be returned alive.

But Noah Chisca had made his destiny his own. And within him dwelled an ethical imperative not grounded in Zadolan lawlessness. He’d created his own set of laws. He wasn’t after rape. He didn’t want the money the council had offered. He didn’t want her dead.

“Don’t presume to know me, Leora Saguna of Ebonnia.” He grabbed her arms and yanked her against his body. “I’ve tracked you since your first kill. I could have had you any time I wanted. Your council wants you back—dead or alive.”

“So kill me now. It seems to me I would be much less of a burden that way. You’re a bounty hunter—I would expect you’d prefer the most expedient way of collecting your reward.”

“It’s a hefty one, I’ll give you that. As I have few needs, it would set me up nicely for the rest of my life.”

She closed her eyes and tilted her head back, exposing her long, beautiful neck. “Then do it.”

He curled his hand into her hair and gazed at her lush, blood-tinged lips and the hint of lethal incisors. And then he swooped down to capture her mouth with his own, tasting her savage nature, exploring the passion of her mouth. He drank of her as greedily as she’d drunk the blood of her enemies.

He pulled her closer to him as he deepened the kiss, felt his own blood fill her mouth as her teeth razed his tongue and his lips. The fire inside him roared with a savageness he’d never experienced before.

And then she became a heavy weight in his arms. He pulled back and studied her. He loosened his tight grip and lifted her unconscious body into his arms. His strong, beautiful blood huntress had fainted.

Amazon Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BWP7QHP

Deadeye – EXCERPT

Dark and deadly adventure awaits in the old-west town of Deadeye. Vitus, a displaced Roman soldier, and Caecilia, handmaiden to a lusty goddess, must embrace a world of lustful and devious demons, in a town of high-stakes gamblers, quick and murderous gunslingers, vicious outlaws, and pretty soiled doves in order to succeed in their mission. And then there’s the hell-zombies who guard the place.

deadeye_smJustus, an incubus, is the son of the demon lord of Infernia, who also happens to own this decadent western town–a lusty sex demon who must shed his dark shadow in order to accept his destiny as a Nacraecian Dreamweaver Sorcerer, a destiny inherited from the blood of his dreamweaver mother. There’s more dangers than what’s just on the surface awaiting these three.

Three who meet, three who must face their duty to claim their destinies, three who risk everything to be free.

EXCERPT

1880s, The American West

Caecilia.

Where was she now? He’d last caught sight of her—what was it? Paris, a century ago. She’d been working on the stage at the time. Vitus had been sent there to retrieve one of Apollo’s daughters and dispense with the demi-god who had spirited her away. Vitus didn’t allow himself to dwell on Caecilia’s whereabouts too often. It did no good, served no purpose, other than to irritate the hell out of him.

The living had a way of thinking of hell in simplified terms, Vitus thought as he leaned forward in his saddle and surveyed the deadly western landscape spread out before him. The sun beat down hot and boiling. The saddle leather creaked as he leaned back, pulled out the makings and rolled himself a cigarette. He stuck it between his lips, lit it, and inhaled deeply, then released the smoke into the air. One of the simple pleasures he’d embraced from this time, and this untamed western land was one of the few places that challenged his innate warrior nature.

Gods and their vengeance. Long lasting and purely hell on earth. But even hell was only what you made it and not exactly the same for everyone. Being dropped into the court of Apollo had not led to an easy path for Vitus, but it was one he was familiar with and one he had learned to embrace.

I don’t need another lover, Roman. I want a gladiator to entertain me. I’ve become bored and I thank Diana for her most timely gift. Let us hope you prove to be worth the time. Immortality should offer plenty of opportunity for you to hone your skills. We shall see.

“Hey, stranger. You heading down there?”

Vitus tugged at the corner of his black felt hat and dipped it down lower. Fingers whispered across the handle of his Colt as he twisted around to inspect the newcomer. He liked the feel of the weapons of this age as he had the swords and daggers of his own time. In some ways they were faster and more efficient. A sword allowed for a bit more artistic endeavor, but when up against other weapons of the same caliber, one had to make do. Or die.“Ponderin’ the possibilities,” Vitus responded. Language was another thing that had turned serviceable. Earthy and practical. Lazy language that masked intention. In this land he’d had to adapt, to learn their language, assume their mannerisms, adopt their clothing. Folks were wary of people who spoke differently, had different ways about them, different rituals. So he’d adapted. The gods enjoyed this age of bloodshed, of lawlessness. They bathed endlessly in the violence.

“You know what’s down there, don’t you?” the dandified down-and-out gambler in the threadbare suit asked Vitus.

“Yep, I’ve heard.” Vitus squinted as he focused on the now fiery-tinged landscape. He felt the ferocity of that heat just beneath his skin. The pain was welcome and he absorbed its rejuvenating intensity.

“A king’s ransom at those tables in Deadeye. A poker game to beat any other, I hear.”

“So they say.” Deadly games, no matter the choice. “Surprised you didn’t take the midnight train into Deadeye. Would have been safer than crossing the desert.”

“No ticket. Ain’t easy to come by. I’ve already waited months kicking my heels in that one-horse town on the other side of the ravine. Lost my partner there when he got too antsy and tried to lift a ticket that warn’t his. Damn gunfighter shot him right between the eyes. Thought it best I hightail it outta there a’fore I was next. So, want some company?” the newcomer asked hopefully.

Deadeye. That’s what they called a shot like that in these parts. A shot like that got you respect on this side of the ravine. It gave you position, one of the fastest ways to get an audience with Zevodious.

The gambler looked so pale and cool to Vitus. He wanted to draw the gambler to him, to absorb the chilliness of his flesh. At least cooler compared to Vitus’s own flesh. But if he touched the gambler, Vitus would quench himself with the bracing human energy, like a tall icy drink of water. Attractive human energy undulated around the man. It was pretty, sexually enticing in a human sort of way. It was bright enough to light the sky in the dead of night. Not obvious to humans—but to Vitus’s kind—those of the night? He would be a beacon to the hell-zombies who would just be rising and surely ravenous. Not much flesh on the gambler—he’d obviously seen lean times. The creatures would make short shrift of him. Vitus doubted the man would make it much past sunset if he went down there right now.

“Nope. Not too keen on crossing the Saguaro at sundown. Wouldn’t advise it. You go down there now, you go it alone.”

“No need to be unfriendly. My name’s Cuthbert. You got a name, stranger?”

Vitus didn’t even turn to look at the man. He knew the lure of gold wouldn’t keep the idealistic fool from trying to cross the Flats. Yep, sun-up as opposed to sundown would be a better time for Vitus to make his way on down to cross Temptation Flats. No reason to put himself out fighting off hell-zombies when there wasn’t a need to do such. He nudged his horse off to the right and away from Cuthbert.

“Hey, where you going?”

Vitus didn’t even slow, his mind on other matters. He’d made his intentions clear enough. Every man made his own choices, and lived or died with them.

“Well, fuck you. I’m not waiting another damned minute to get what’s coming to me. More for me when I get there.”

Get what’s coming to him. Sure enough he’d be on the receiving end of some mighty focused attention. Vitus heard the desperate bravado tingeing those words. He might have kept the gambler for the night, fucked him, enjoyed him and his cool, pale energy. Vitus could have warmed Cuthbert thoroughly with his own fire until the gambler completely forgot what he came here to do. The gods would have enjoyed the lusty exhibition—they always had enjoyed a taste for earthy. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

But the moment they navigated Temptation the gambler would only have lost his soul in Deadeye, one way or the other. Why put it off? Vitus wasn’t that needy. Not yet. Nor did he care that much what happened to the gambler. Not really. Another soul to be claimed by Zevodious.

He heard the click of the gambler’s tongue against his teeth as Cuthbert urged his horse forward and down the ridge. Vitus looked at the horizon, at the blaze of fiery orange coals stretched across the sky.

“Shit. What do you think, hoss? Let the bastards split him open and use him serviceable. Earthy and practical. Lazy language that masked intention. In this land he’d had to adapt, to learn their language, assume their mannerisms, adopt their clothing. Folks were wary of people who spoke differently, had different ways about them, different rituals. So he’d adapted. The gods enjoyed this age of bloodshed, of lawlessness. They bathed endlessly in the violence.

“You know what’s down there, don’t you?” the dandified down-and-out gambler in the threadbare suit asked Vitus.

“Yep, I’ve heard.” Vitus squinted as he focused on the now fiery-tinged landscape. He felt the ferocity of that heat just beneath his skin. The pain was welcome and he absorbed its rejuvenating intensity.

“A king’s ransom at those tables in Deadeye. A poker game to beat any other, I hear.”

“So they say.” Deadly games, no matter the choice. “Surprised you didn’t take the midnight train into Deadeye. Would have been safer than crossing the desert.”

“No ticket. Ain’t easy to come by. I’ve already waited months kicking my heels in that one-horse town on the other side of the ravine. Lost my partner there when he got too antsy and tried to lift a ticket that warn’t his. Damn gunfighter shot him right between the eyes. Thought it best I hightail it outta there a’fore I was next. So, want some company?” the newcomer asked hopefully.

Deadeye. That’s what they called a shot like that in these parts. A shot like that got you respect on this side of the ravine. It gave you position, one of the fastest ways to get an audience with Zevodious.

The gambler looked so pale and cool to Vitus. He wanted to draw the gambler to him, to absorb the chilliness of his flesh. At least cooler compared to Vitus’s own flesh. But if he touched the gambler, Vitus would quench himself with the bracing human energy, like a tall icy drink of water. Attractive human energy undulated around the man. It was pretty, sexually enticing in a human sort of way. It was bright enough to light the sky in the dead of night. Not obvious to humans—but to Vitus’s kind—those of the night? He would be a beacon to the hell-zombies who would just be rising and surely ravenous. Not much flesh on the gambler—he’d obviously seen lean times. The creatures would make short shrift of him. Vitus doubted the man would make it much past sunset if he went down there right now.

“Nope. Not too keen on crossing the Saguaro at sundown. Wouldn’t advise it. You go down there now, you go it alone.”

“No need to be unfriendly. My name’s Cuthbert. You got a name, stranger?”

Vitus didn’t even turn to look at the man. He knew the lure of gold wouldn’t keep the idealistic fool from trying to cross the Flats. Yep, sun-up as opposed to sundown would be a better time for Vitus to make his way on down to cross Temptation Flats. No reason to put himself out fighting off hell-zombies when there wasn’t a need to do such. He nudged his horse off to the right and away from Cuthbert.

“Hey, where you going?”

Vitus didn’t even slow, his mind on other matters. He’d made his intentions clear enough. Every man made his own choices, and lived or died with them.

“Well, fuck you. I’m not waiting another damned minute to get what’s coming to me. More for me when I get there.”

Get what’s coming to him. Sure enough he’d be on the receiving end of some mighty focused attention. Vitus heard the desperate bravado tingeing those words. He might have kept the gambler for the night, fucked him, enjoyed him and his cool, pale energy. Vitus could have warmed Cuthbert thoroughly with his own fire until the gambler completely forgot what he came here to do. The gods would have enjoyed the lusty exhibition—they always had enjoyed a taste for earthy. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

But the moment they navigated Temptation the gambler would only have lost his soul in Deadeye, one way or the other. Why put it off? Vitus wasn’t that needy. Not yet. Nor did he care that much what happened to the gambler. Not really. Another soul to be claimed by Zevodious.

He heard the click of the gambler’s tongue against his teeth as Cuthbert urged his horse forward and down the ridge. Vitus looked at the horizon, at the blaze of fiery orange coals stretched across the sky.

“Shit. What do you think, hoss? Let the bastards split him open and use him as an appetizer? Or try to save his sorry gambler ass? And for what? He’ll just put himself right in the path of killing in some other damned fashion? But hell-zombies—there could be an easier way, I reckon.”

Storm tossed his head, eyes of crimson flame rolling back. The silver bridle jangled, sharp hooves stomped impatiently.

“I was afraid you’d say that.” Vitus tossed the remains of his cigarette. He opened his black duster and checked each of the pockets, considering which of the array of weapons would get the job done the fastest. He checked the special bullets in the twin silver-plated five-shot Colt pistols. He checked the keen edge on the single-edged hunting cleaver. And then there was his favorite—the three-pointed African iron-forged throwing knife gifted to him by a chief several years back when he’d saved the man’s son. Yep, his personal arsenal was in order.

He nudged Storm forward and down the slope just as he heard the first muffled scream. The gambler’s terrified horse, eyes rolling back, galloped past them headed back up the ridge. The second scream echoed through the darkened sky. “Come on, hoss, sounds like ole Cuthbert needs some help. Zevodious’s hell-boys are getting ready to have themselves some fun tonight.”

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Bone to Metal – an excerpt from Silver

Humanotica, Book 1

Silver, born female, is now an owned gender-mated trinex thanks to the edicts of the Politico Judicalati and time imprisoned at the Factorium. She must choose between her charismatic power-elite, secretive owner, Minister of Acquisitions & Antiquities, Lel Kesselbaum, and a seductive revolutionary, Entreus, a humanotic who tempts her with freedom.
Not all is as it seems–allies who may be traitors, lovers who are more than they appear. A power-mad government, a machine known as the Elite Logical Life Core that uses human intelligence for its knowledge source. The Factorium that acquires humans as research fodder for their experiments and then spits them out when they are of no further use. Sex used as a tool to unearth enemies and traitors, and intimately align allies. Love that is not simple, relationships that are dangerously complex. This is Silver’s highly-complex world.

One misstep in the fight for freedom could mean death for them all.

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Warning: Not for the faint of heart.

As one reviewer said about this story: …an intensely sexual read, with innovative obscenities and novel delights that never cease to amaze…

You’ve been warned…

 

 

EXCERPT

“This is the package from Dr. Starlinger?” he asks as he picks up the small parcel from the gleaming surface.

I cringe at the thought of what is inside, but I try to keep my expression impassive.

“Yes, Dominor.”

He studies it almost reverently and then carefully peels back the layers of white cotton. I want to twist away. My stomach roils at the sight of the innocuous-looking wooden box.

“Lovely,” he murmurs as he raises the lid and strokes a finger over the contents. He lifts the small, thick envelope holding the thin silver punch cards—the latest replication of my brain patterns. They’re a duplicate set to that which will be fed into the Core by the doctors. It is mandated by the Politico that all information, whether set to government gold or non-official silver or bronze, be assimilated into the community intelligence of the Core for processing. Not to do so is considered a traitorous act punishable either by Factorium confinement or death.

They appear to be such fragile things to hold the contents of my thoughts, my emotions, the very essence of my human energy. I know there will be more changes from the previous version. There always are; it is inevitable. Even though the doctors don’t tamper with my brain, what they do to my body impacts my mind, so the cards are always etched and studied after modification.

The minister walks to the closet and steps inside. There are secret places hidden within the walls of this estate. I’m not privy to most of those secured rooms, but I know they exist.

I know where he’s headed as he disappears inside the closet. Another hidden door leading to a secret vault. This room alone he’s shown me, when he placed my first memory cards into safekeeping within the vault.

It’s where he keeps these bits of prized possessions I always return with from the Factorium. These new items will be placed into the box inside the drawer marked with my human name, Elissa Longview. The woman I’d once been. More pieces of me to be separated and locked away. Inwardly, I rage with my impotence. But the anger seems less fierce than it used to be. I try to call upon the full flame of my anger. It worries me that I can no longer depend upon its empowering fury to remind me of my losses, to keep me strong.

Later, he will bring out the red velvet box, along with his personal Intellometer. He’ll attach the wires to himself and feed my thoughts into his own mind. He will watch me as he dissects the changes, assimilates them into his own thought processes. Compartmentalizes them in order to access them when he wishes. Sometimes he’ll echo my own words back to me to prove his control even of that part of me he allows to remain mechanically unaltered. When he does that, I feel utterly vulnerable and powerless. Which, of course, is what he wants.

I, who had once dreamed of becoming an engineer and working in the mysterious Factorium, am now simply a product of it. High aspirations for one so lowly born, and an orphan, at that. But I’d almost made it. I would have, if not for my attraction to Minister Kesselbaum—and for his to the young man I’d pretended to be.

I had learned over the last many months to suppress my human thoughts as much as possible, compartmentalizing and locking them away as though they were separate from me, so he couldn’t find them when he assimilated the silver cards I always returned with. It had become a game of sorts, something to live for. A battle of wits against my owner. I think he knows what I do and enjoys the challenge. I can’t hide my body—what is left of it. He owns me in total. One speck of emotion I can secret away is a small battle won.

But my mind is something he hasn’t replaced—at least not yet. There is ongoing research at the Factorium in that area. As far as I know from his discussions at various social functions where the doctors are present, the experiments thus far haven’t been completely successful. I know my time is running out. There will be no glimmer of memory of what I was. But he will have it—there, in that red velvet box—on the sets of cards that one day will contain all I had been.

There are others in that secret vault. Deliveries when his manservant will present him with a box. He will open the package, examine the contents thoroughly and then take them to the hidden room to be assimilated later and locked away. These he will not share with me.

He’s not in the mood for a private concert tonight, but I’ve been given a sheaf of music to memorize. I’m reprieved from that this evening. Tonight there are other games he wishes to engage in, other torments at hand.

I sit in a chair in front of the fireplace, wearing a transparent white lace negligee with matching wrapper trimmed in black satin. The corset beneath rises to just beneath my breasts, forcing them up against the expensive material. My ribs are constrained tightly, forced close. I know he is testing the modifications. Will they yield as they are meant to? Or will they snap the same as my fragile human bones would have done with such tight confinement? My breaths are shallow, painful. The front of the gown dips low, exposing the full curves of my breasts. My silver-tipped nipples shimmer in the firelight. My legs are curled beneath me. I hold myself erect, shoulders straight. Now I am able to breathe. I sip from the glass of golden cognac Silver3_smhe has allowed me this evening. Warmth curls in my belly. It helps to mellow the pain.

He sits across the room at his desk, the red velvet box opened, a soft sky blue polishing cloth in his hand. He has already carved his initials—and mine—into the marrow. He lifts out the first piece from the box and holds it up to the light. Instinctively, I brush the fingertips of one hand along my imprisoned ribcage. I want to reach out to snatch the items from the desk, and my fingers curl into a clenched fist against my flesh.

Not my fingers. Not my ribs. Not my legs. What will be next?

 

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